Between Darkness and Dawn
Chapter 10: So it Begins
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The tip of a boot woke Yrinvan out of a dead sleep. Tinald stood over him, glancing nervously about them.
“Go to sleep,” Yrin growled.
“It is midnight.” Tinald’s hesitant answer brought the other fully awake.
Grabbing the thin blanket he slept on, the servant jumped to his feet
and pelted down the stone hallways with Tinald following quickly
behind. He was out of breath by the time he reached the massive
wooden doors and threw the small metal plate open, looking quickly
about the tiny room.
“Tinald! The light, bring it here.”
Yrinvan grabbed the light from his friend’s hands, shoving the blanket at the other as he tried to see the prisoner.
“Ranger! Ranger?” he called into the darkness. There was no
response. Setting down the lamp he fumbled with the keys that
hung on one of the pegs by the door and pulled the entryway open.
Tinald gasped quietly as he leaned around and glanced into the cell. The blanket slipped from his fingers.
Slowly, Yrinvan knelt in the snow. The ranger was curled in a
fetal position, his head tucked into his chest, his sweat slicked hair
iced firmly to his features. The man’s lips were tinged a
frightening shade of blue and the color of his skin matched the snow
“Is he dead?” Tinald asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Yrinvan had seen many a servant end his time in Angmar in such a
fashion. He hated it: it was such a waste. Carefully, he
touched the prisoner. Aragorn was cold to the touch, too cold,
but the slave pressed on, feeling the man’s jugular for any signs of
life. A slow, erratic beat pulsed beneath his fingertips and Yrin
sighed in relief.
Turning quickly, he pushed Tinald out of the way and grasped the
blanket where the other had dropped it on the ground. Moving
further into the cell, Yrinvan carefully stepped over Aragorn and began
to sweep the snow away from the man, draping the blanket over him.
“He lives yet. Help me, we have to get him out of here.” Yrinvan ordered.
Tinald’s eyes went wide with fear and he glanced up and down the
passageway, expecting the Wraith to appear from the shadows at any
moment and condemn them all on the spot.
“We dare not!” He swallowed hard, shaking his head as Yrinvan’s
gaze snapped up to meet his. “Do you know what the Master will do if he finds us helping them? Remember what happened to
Tavin? We heard him screaming for a month before the end! A month, Yrin!”
Yrinvan’s gaze was unmoved. “Do you know what the Master will do
to us if this one dies while under our care? You heard him
earlier. This is just the beginning. He wants him
alive. I don’t know why, but he needs him for something.”
Gently, Tinald touched Yrinvan’s hands, stilling the other’s urgent
movements. “Master ordered him in here; it won’t be our fault if
he dies. Yrin, perhaps it is better that he does not live.
He is nearly gone. Let him go. Would you want to come back
to this place?” He swept his hand behind them, indicating the
dark lord’s house. “That would be mercy.”
Yrinvan glanced down at the ranger. The man’s breathing had
become shallower as he worked to save him. Perhaps Tinald was
right; what kind of future did the man have? It was better to die
a quick death than to endure the long torment of their Master’s
He remembered the desperate way the elf had pleaded for his
friend. They seemed very close. The ranger had at least one
thing for which to return to the living and he was not sure he should
take that choice away from him yet.
With a shake of his head, Yrin pulled the ranger up against his chest
and wrapped the blanket around the cold body. “It will always be
our fault, Tinald. Remember that, because it will never be his
fault, trust me. Help me get him back to the elf’s cell.
I’ll tell the Master myself.”
When Tinald hesitated Yrin glared at his friend. “Do you really want
him to suffer the same fate as your brother? He must have a
family somewhere; at least he has a friend. Wouldn’t you have
done anything to bring Givon back, to even have a few more days with
him? Help me.”
With a sad sigh of resignation, Tinald moved forward and helped his
friend pull the ranger into a standing position. “I hope you are
right and that the Master is in a good mood. As for friend and
family... you are all I have now, Yrin. I am not sure these two
are worth this risk.”
“It will be well, Tinald.” Yrinvan kicked the door shut and walked
slowly up the passageway, supporting the ranger between them. “I
know what I’m doing. Trust me.”
Legolas paced from one end of the small cell to another. Back and
forth, back and forth... there was some amount of hollow comfort in the
There was no sleeping tonight, not when worry for Aragorn’s well-being
ate at his heart constantly. The human’s clothing lay folded
neatly in a small pile near the back of the cell, far from the reaches
of anyone who might enter. They would have to take them from
him. Legolas stood in the cell staring out the high window that
served as a vent for the prison. Cool air fell through the narrow
slit but the thermal heating system kept the prison at a decent
temperature. It was much the same design as they used in
Mirkwood, harnessing the natural warmth of the thermal flows beneath
the mountains. That reminded him of how much he missed
home. His father must be worried sick about him by now. He
hoped Thranduil could someday forgive him if he never came back...
Despite what his father thought, he hadn’t chosen for it to end up this
The elf sighed. He knew that wasn’t quite true. Actually, he had
chosen this path. Estel had tried his best to leave him behind, but
he did not regret his decision to follow his friend anywhere, even into
this eternal darkness. He hoped his father could forgive him, even if Thranduil might never understand.
“Take care of Ada, Raniean.
You’re the only one who can. Trelan, make sure Raniean doesn’t
forget how to laugh, you know how he is. Please someone take care
of my ketrals. Don’t just put them out in the woods; they aren’t
used to the wilds anymore...” Legolas mentally commended his
family, friends and responsibilities into one another’s hands. He
didn’t mean to entertain a defeatist mentality, but it was strangely
comforting at the moment. He could not hold onto his worry for
all of them as well as his worry for Aragorn and their situation here
at the same time - one had to be temporarily laid to rest.
The door to the cell scraped open slowly and three figures stumbled into the dimly lit chamber.
The elf had been prepared for anything, even for the chance to attempt
an escape, but the sight that met his eyes was far from anything he had
Aragorn’s unconscious body was supported between Yrinvan and
Tinald. A thin, worn blanket was draped around his unclothed
upper body. Ice shimmered in his hair and clung to his pants and
boots; he was coated in a powdery covering of snow. What scared
the elf more than anything was that it seemed his friend was not
breathing. The human’s slightly parted lips were blue and his
skin was alarmingly pale.
Yrin spoke first. “He’ll need your help if he’s to make it.
I’ll have Ahnna bring up some heated water and some soup if there’s any
left. You’ll need to get him warm and fast. I’m
sorry,” he apologized quietly as the elf stepped forward quickly
and accepted the ranger from the guards. The prince wrapped his
friend protectively in his arms and pulled him back into the corner,
away from the humans who had brought him.
The look in the elf’s eyes nearly broke Yrin’s heart. He’d seen
that same haunted gaze before on so many faces. That combination
of fear for a loved one and condemnation towards those who had done
this... the barely masked question of how these slaves could be so
Dropping his gaze from the accusingly piercing blue eyes, Yrinvan
draped his arm around Tinald and led the man out of the room, quietly
closing the door behind them. The truth was they had saved
Strider’s life tonight, but that never absolved them of the blame of
endangering him in the first place. Yrin was used to that fact.
Legolas could hear their voices through the thick door as he gently laid Aragorn down.
“I’ll go tell the Master, you return to Ahnna and ask her to fetch the things I told the elf we’d bring.”
“Yrinvan...” Tinald’s voice wavered. He was afraid, but not for
himself. He was bitterly terrified of losing the other man.
Legolas recognized that familiar ache in the human’s voice all too well.
“Don’t worry, my friend,” Yrinvan assured quietly. “The Master will understand and if he doesn’t...”
Legolas couldn’t see the big man shrug but he recognized the tone of
his voice – a man on the verge of giving up, a man with no hope.
“Make him understand.” Tinald’s whisper was barely heard by the
prince as the two humans walked off in separate directions.
The servants wanted to help them. That revelation gave him
hope. Yrin had thus far been decent towards them, but the fact
that he seemed to have taken such a risk in bringing Aragorn back to
the elf surprised Legolas. Perhaps there was still room for a ray
of hope for them yet.
Quickly, Legolas grabbed the ranger’s clothing from the corner of the
room and draped the heavy leather coat about Aragorn’s shoulders as he
pulled the human more comfortably into his arms. He needed to get
the man warmed up and wakened.
Holding Aragorn against him, Legolas briskly rubbed his friend’s arms
and legs, brushing the snow and ice from his body and clothing.
Aragorn was freezing to death; the elf recognized the symptoms by now.
He laid his cheek against Aragorn’s cold face, rocking the man gently
and talking to him. The ranger started to shiver in his arms,
small tremors at first and then more violent shudders followed as the
elf’s body heat began to warm him.
Aragorn’s breathing became more labored and disrupted by the shaking of
his warming body. Legolas clung to him tighter, pulling the coat
and blankets over the two of them to trap their heat beneath the
coverings. He winced. This was going to be painful for the
man. Waking would not be pleasant.
“Wake up, mellon-nín. Tolo, come on Aragorn, come back. We’ve survived worse blizzards than this, mellon-nín,
you can’t walk out on me now,” Legolas whispered sadly. He did
not notice when the door scraped quietly open and a small, stooped-over
woman entered hesitantly. Gently rocking his friend, the elf
continued to whisper in the grey tongue, encouraging the human to fight
and return to him. He would not be able to continue living in
Angmar with the Witch-king if Aragorn left him. He had come this
far for his friend alone; if and when Aragorn forsook this world,
Legolas would follow. It was not defeat or despair; it was simply
a fact. Legolas would not linger to become like Yrinvan and
Tinald, good souls trapped by evil they could not hope to escape.
A soft touch on his arm startled Legolas and he shied from the contact,
pulling Aragorn more tightly against him. The ranger moaned
softly as the elf shifted him.
“Legolas...” Aragorn whispered repeatedly as the elf gently shushed him.
Beside the prince, a human woman knelt. She was disheveled in
appearance. Her hair hung in dark tangles around her face, but
her eyes held a spark that had not yet been quenched and Legolas noted
it before she quickly dropped her gaze. She carried a steaming
bowl of soup and a pitcher of warmed water. Carefully she set
them down near the elf and wordlessly removed a strip of cloth from her
belt. Dipping the fabric into the warm water she moved forward
hesitantly, asking for permission with her eyes.
Legolas watched her guardedly, not releasing the man he held. The
prince didn’t move as she pressed the blankets aside and lifted
Aragorn’s right arm. Placing the now heated cloth against his
armpit she lowered the man’s arm and repeated the processes on his left
“Do this here as well.” The woman quietly instructed, touching
the inside of Aragorn’s arms where they bent at the elbow. “It
will help him recover.” She placed the blankets back over the man
and shifted Aragorn in Legolas’ arms, pressing the human’s chest
against that of the elf. Aragorn’s chin rested on Legolas’
shoulder and he held the man’s face close to his own.
“Hold him closely; your body will heat him better that way.”
Standing stiffly the woman backed slowly away, “Talk to him. It
will hurt when consciousness returns and this is a fearful place in
which to wake.” She pushed the soup bowl closer to the elf with
the tip of her worn shoe before turning to leave.
“Hannon le, Ahnna.” Legolas whispered softly.
Startled by his words Ahnna turned and bowed slightly. “Avo bedo o hannad, hîr nín.
You are most welcome, my lord.” She answered just as quietly, unwilling
to meet the elf’s gaze. The words were halting, as if dredged
from long distant memory, but they were perfectly understandable, even
Turning, Ahnna left quickly, although she could hear the prince calling
her back. The woman’s response had surprised Legolas as much as
seeing a wood-elf that first day on the plains before the mountain had
Aragorn stirred against the elf, coughing as consciousness pulled him
back to the present. Speech continued to elude him however.
Aragorn felt restrained. He could not move and it frightened him.
Legolas felt the ranger tense in his arms and softly began to speak to
his friend once more, leaving the mystery of the woman behind for the
“Estel.” Legolas rubbed the ranger’s back in a soothing
pattern as he talked. “You are safe now. Just relax.”
The ranger’s teeth chattered as he drew in shaking breaths, trying to
still his body that was trembling with the effort of returning to
normal temperature. Aragorn cried out softly, burying his head on
“It hurts, Legolas,” he ground out through gritted teeth. His
fingers and legs had begun to warm up and the painful tingling of his
blood circulating through the cold extremities sliced through his
There was nothing the elf could do to lessen Aragorn’s pain.
Moving carefully, Legolas removed the wet cloths from the ranger’s
armpits and dipped them back in the warm water, placing them on the
sensitive skin of his inner elbows and forcing the human to cross his
arms to keep the fabric in place.
“Felt better when I was sleeping.” Aragorn chattered, trying to still the tremors in his body.
Legolas smiled softly as he glanced down at the human he was
holding. “Yes, I can imagine how good it must have felt sleeping
in the snow,” the elf teased lightly. He brushed the wet,
tangled locks of hair away from Aragorn’s face. “Considering it
is the second time I know of that you have been found thus, I could
think you wanted to make a habit of it. At least the cold seems
to have halted the poison for a little bit,” he said, noting that the
dark tendrils spreading from Aragorn’s shoulder wound had actually
receded a little.
With a snort of laughter Aragorn smiled, his mirth turning into a
grimace as he clenched his eyes closed and turned his face towards his
friend. He let the elf’s heat warm his cheeks; it was the only
part of his body that didn’t hurt at the moment.
The door to the cell clanged open harshly and darkness descended in the
room, dimming the light from the lamp and blotting the stars out
completely. Legolas held his breath, pulling Aragorn
instinctively closer to him.
The Nazgûl stepped into the chamber and glowered at the elf and
the ranger. The pitcher and soup bowl were just behind
Legolas. The elf pulled the edge of the blankets over them,
hiding them as the Witch-king entered. He did not want Ahnna,
Yrinvan or Tinald into get in trouble for showing them kindness.
Yrinvan stepped in behind the Wraith and glanced around his master at
the two occupants in the cell. He was slightly relieved to see
the ranger turn slowly towards them and glare at the Witch-king.
He had been a little worried that it might have been too late anyway.
“You live?” The words chilled the room by degrees and Aragorn
involuntarily began to shiver again. “That will be the last act
of mercy you witness in your stay within my palace. If the
poisons don’t kill you first your stubbornness to my lordship over you
The dark hood turned towards the servant that edged alongside the Wraith. “Slave?” The Witch-king questioned.
Yrinvan dropped immediately to his knees, touching his head to the floor before looking up to acknowledge his master.
The word and the force behind it brought back painful memories to
Legolas and he sucked his breath in, flinching as the dark power of the
Nazgûl brushed through him.
The Wraith did not miss the elf’s reaction.
“You remember your name as well.” The Nazgûl turned back at the
elf, dark amusement in his voice. “Good,” he purred before
turning back to the other human.
“You were right in your decision, Yrinvan. I will let it go
unpunished...this time.” He pushed the man out of the cell by the
darkness that encased him like a cloak. “Next time you try to
decipher my will without asking me, you will not be as fortunate.
Remember that.” The door to the chamber closed and the shadows
fled from the room, following their master out into the hall.
“I will come back for you later.” The echoes of the Wraith’s
voice resounded down the passageway, laden with dark promises.
“Pray I call for you before the poisons do their work.”
The room was silent for a long time as the inhabitants of the cell
rested in the shared warmth of their body heat. Legolas finally
broke the stillness by scooting the bowl of soup out from underneath
the edge of the blankets.
“I think I have never hated an enemy as I hate him,” Aragorn
whispered. He was worn out and did not even fight it when Legolas
tipped the soup bowl to his lips. Lying in the elf’s arms he
simply drank the warm, thin broth, feeling it all the way down to his
“Do not hate him, for he feeds on hate. Pity him,” Legolas
answered quietly, after laying the bowl back on the floor. He
gently touched the back of his fingers to the ranger’s now flushed
cheeks, redirecting Aragorn’s gaze. “He was a man once. Now
he is dead but cannot rest. He can kill our bodies, but where we
will find light and hope again on the other side there will be only
terror for him. There is no place for him in Mandos’ halls or
beyond. His soul is corrupted and will find only agony beyond the
circles of the world when it is released. He will live out
eternity in the Void with his master. He exists in torment and it
is all he will ever know.” Legolas knew of what he spoke.
What kind of creature might he have become if he had remained the
“I will not pity him.” Aragorn glanced up at his friend. It
was a terrible fate, true, but one that the Nazgûl had at one
time chosen for himself. No one had forced him to accept one of
Sauron’s rings and swear allegiance to the darkness in return for power
and supposed eternal life.
“Very well,” Legolas answered softly. He picked the bowl back up,
forcing the ranger to take another sip. “But you should not give
him your fear either. Hate and despair are his chief
weapons. He wants you to lose yourself to them so they will
destroy your soul and then he can win. Faith and hope are what he
cannot fathom and cannot stand up against. That is why and how we
must resist him.”
Aragorn’s eyes fluttered shut and he breathed deeply as his body gave into its weariness.
“He cannot overcome hope,” Legolas spoke softly, talking to
himself now. “And together we will make sure that hope is not
Setting the bowl down once more he gently cradled Aragorn’s head with
his free hand. Soft humming filled the cell. The sweet, low
tune filtered through the heating vents, carried on the warm currents
of air, and the servants on the floor just above the prison heard a
sound they had not imagined they would hear in Angmar – an elf singing
a lullaby to warm his friend’s heart.
Legolas held Aragorn all through the night, but morning came too
soon. Dawn brought Yrinvan back into their cell. The
servant moved quieter than most men Legolas had ever observed, but it
seemed as if all his movements were tinged with sorrow. The elf
admitted to still feeling angry with anyone who would willingly serve
the Witch-king, but he knew that he of all people should have some
understanding about what it meant to be the slave of a Nazgûl.
Yrinvan pressed his hand against Aragorn’s forehead, judging his
temperature before he urged him to his feet. The slave did not
allow the orcs that accompanied him to enter the cell this time.
“You must come,” Yrin said quietly.
Aragorn started to rise, but Legolas’ arms tightened around him.
“He almost died last night; you cannot expect us to...”
Yrin straightened up. “It does not matter what I think or expect,
don’t you understand?” his voice was flat, but there was a little bit
of regret behind the words. “The Master has sent for you, you
Aragorn struggled to sit up. He didn’t want to go, but it was not a choice that any of them had to make.
Legolas tried not to react as badly today, but it was no easier than
the day before when he and the ranger were separated, save that they
had expected it this time. Again, Legolas was left to wait in the
hall while Aragorn was taken into the dark study.
Yrin remained with the elf, letting the orcs go ahead with Aragorn.
When the doors closed behind the ranger, Legolas closed his eyes and
let his head rest against his bound hands. Wasn’t it enough that
he had been here once? Did they have to do it all over
again? He bit the inside of his lip. The orcs were not with
them this time, so he risked speaking to his guard.
“What is going to happen today?” the elf asked quietly, trying to keep
any bitterness out of his tone. “What will they do to him?”
“I don’t know,” Yrinvan admitted. “You must not worry about him
so much. You need to worry more about yourself. The Master
will send for you soon.”
“He is my friend,” the elf said with a slightly flinty tone.
Yrinvan looked at him long and hard. The elf didn’t understand
the way things were here. “He is your weakness. And you are
Aragorn found himself standing before the Nazgûl a second
time. The experience was no more pleasant than the first.
If anything, he was weaker now, his body worn down from his experience
in the ice cell. Of course, that was exactly what the Witch-king
The orcs pressed him to his knees, holding him in place as the Wraith
considered his captive. “I trust you enjoyed your evening?”
No one could say that the Nazgûl did not have a twisted sense of
Aragorn closed his eyes. He gathered his strength. It was hard to find.
“I have had better,” the ranger admitted dryly. The orcs did not
allow him to lift his head and he did not feel up to fighting
them. So he stared straight ahead, watching the Nazgûl’s
gloved hands. There was something almost evilly mesmerizing about
the way the joints on his gauntlets flashed and clacked like fish
scales in a dark lagoon.
A thin, silver rod rested in those hands. A short, narrow ribbon
that might have been made of leather hung from the tip of the rod,
falling down to dangle above the tops of the Nazgûl’s sharp-toed
boots. Something about it made Aragorn uneasy.
“Good. Then perhaps you will be in a mood to answer my questions
honestly this time.” His hand came to rest heavily on the
Aragorn could not resist shuddering at the evil touch. The
reaction obviously pleased the Witch-king who emitted a low hiss of
satisfaction. His grip tightened, causing the human to gasp
“We shall start with something simple,” the Wraith purred, driving his
sharp thumb against the poisoned wound. He knew the ranger was
already past time for more antidote, but he had no intention of giving
him any more yet.
At an order from their master, the orcs holding Aragorn removed his outer jerkin and tunic.
“And the bandage too,” the Wraith instructed.
Aragorn shivered slightly from the cold in the room as Legolas’
carefully applied bandage was roughly peeled back from the semi-healed
wound. The dressing clung to the injury and he winced as the orcs
yanked it away. A small trickle of blood ran down his chest from
the swollen injury. Glancing down he was disturbed to see that
the blood was tainted black. His wound seemed to be visibly
darkening in the presence of the Nazgûl. The pain of it
throbbed like a living creature inside his body.
The Witch-king looked down at the human. He turned the rod in his hands over slowly.
“I could take you into my world, mortal. I could pierce your
heart and destroy everything you ever were, erase it and form you anew
in the shadow... Perhaps I shall. But not yet... there is much I
want to know about you first.” He circled Aragorn with deliberate
“I promised to start with something simple, and so I shall. Who are you? What is your name?”
Aragorn’s gaze fixed on the stone wall across from him. He had
been through this once before with the Wraith. “I told you years
ago. My name is Strider, ranger of the north.”
The Witch-king sized Aragorn’s chin, gripping it tightly in his gloved
fingers and tipping it up to stare into his dark hood. “And I
think you remember my response to your answer then, mortal,” he
hissed. He unfurled the flexible end of the rod in his hands and
dragged it slowly up the side of the ranger’s neck.
Aragorn’s face twisted in unexpected agony. There was more to the
instrument than met the eye because the sheer, pulsing pain its mere
touch imparted was staggering. The human gasped, closing his eyes
until the rod was removed.
“That is not a proper name. I would know who your sire was.” The
Nazgûl’s voice was toneless, but demanding nonetheless.
Aragorn gauged his next words carefully. He did not wish the
Wraith to become too convinced he was hiding something about himself,
but neither did he wish to give too much away. “My parents perished when I was a child, I never knew them. I was
fostered in Rivendell for a time under Lord Elrond’s care. The
elves call me Estel. My own race calls me Strider.”
The Wraith considered this information. “You are a leader among your people?” he questioned.
Aragorn flinched when hesitation bought him a sharp snap across the
back of his shoulders with the ribbon-end of the Nazgûl’s rod.
“Yes,” he grit out between his teeth, knowing there was no good denying
what the Nazgûl could eventually find out through his own sources
if he tried hard enough. “I am one of the captains of the
northern Dúnedain.” The human downgraded his position a
“The elf, who is he?” The Nazgûl was wary of how easy he was
obtaining answers to his questions. Something inside him doubted
their truthfulness. There was something about this man that was
more than he presented himself. He was a wielder of power.
The pupil of a Wizard perhaps? The Wraith had reason to believe
that this human had been friendly with Gandalf the Grey... what had the
Istar been teaching him? Why did Wizards and elves count this
human among their number?
“Legolas is a wood-elf from Mirkwood. He is my friend,” the human
answered warily. He dared not lie because he did not know how
much the Wraith already knew, but neither would he give away anything
harmful. He was very aware that the Dark One was testing him.
“Then answer me this, Dúnadan,” the Wraith pressed. “What
were you and he doing in Mordor? What were you and he doing in
the Barrow-downs disrupting my people and destroying their homes?
These are the actions of a spy... but why? What do you hope to
achieve? What are the elves and the Istari planning?”
Aragorn licked his lips. His head was spinning. He needed
more antidote, it had been too long since the last dose. “I went
to Mordor to save my friend, and the Barrow-downs were an
accident. We are not spies and to my knowledge no one is planning
Three leisurely strokes from the Nazgûl’s excruciating instrument
made Aragorn hunch forward against the hands of the orcs that held him
captive. He hissed in pain. He hadn’t thought the
Nazgûl would appreciate that answer. The ironic thing was
it was the truth.
“You would have me believe...” The Wraith struck him sharply. “That it is coincidence that you have darkened my path so many times?” He struck the human again, this time drawing a thin line of blood.
“Say rather, extreme bad fortune,” Aragorn gasped through
clenched teeth. The actual blows themselves were sharp and left
small welts, but it was the strange, hot charge that crackled from the
rod which made the contact unbearable.
“Your bad fortune, mortal, was the moment you decided to lie to me, for
that is all I have heard from you,” the Nazgûl growled.
Aragorn’s fists balled tightly and he let his head drop forward as the
Wraith punished his unsatisfactory answers with a cruel, thorough
switching. Moving from back to front, the Nazgûl did not
spare the ranger’s chest and stomach. He paused over the human’s
slowly oozing wound. Very deliberately, he pushed the end of the
rod into the jagged cut.
A ragged scream was torn from Aragorn’s throat, although he did not
even remember opening his mouth. Dark electricity pulsed through
him, altering the rhythm of his heartbeat and searing through every
cell in his body. The Wraith twisted the rod cruelly, wringing
another hoarse cry from his helpless captive. When he pulled
back, Aragorn slumped forward limply, unable to even kneel on his own
for a few moments.
The Nazgûl leaned in close to the trembling prisoner, close
enough that Aragorn’s heaving breaths stirred the tattered edges of his
cowl. “I think you will answer more truthfully after you have
been better trained. I had hoped that yesterday might have taught
you something and we could avoid all this... but if you do wish to be
difficult, I can oblige.” A cruel amusement echoed in the evil
Aragorn had only a moment for the ripples of terror to chase one
another up his spine before the Wraith plied the rod to him again and
rational thought was banished in favor of blinding agony.