It was a fairly warm morning when Aseli woke, with sunlight streaming through the open windows, where birds of all kinds had come to perch on, whistling melodies that lifted the sleep from her eyes.
She cautiously pushed herself into an upright position, pulling the wool blankets off with ease. A sudden pain shot up her spine, making her wince in agony. It had been perhaps two months or so, since Gandalf had brought her back. For two months, she had been bound to the house, ailing and unable to move around much, but now, was able to move as she once did.
The tunic she had worn to bed was soaked with sweat, coming from the haunting nightmares that tormented her sleep. Deciding it was easily replaceable, she ripped it off, immediately feeling for the bandages on her back. She was careful in unwrapping the cloth, grimacing as it got looser, and as more of her skin became bare. Once it was completely off, she examined it closely, looking in disgust at the dried bloody stains that were here and there.
She tossed it aside, onto a pile that laid by her bedside, where numerous other soiled bandages and ripped clothes were. And just as she did every morning, she painstakingly bent her arms, reaching for her back, hoping to feel smooth, soft, and unmarked skin once again. But each time, she didn’t.
Each time, her fingers would brush across gaping gashes that were dark in color; wounds that scarred her back terribly, wounds that she had been told would never heal completely. Even the magic of the Elves could not do much, for they were made by dark magic. Every time her fingers touched a little too much, she would hiss, being thrown back into a memory – one of the many – she tried to repress. Being bound in a cage, locked and unable to move, bearing every lash of a fiery whip that snapped down on her back.
But that was not the start of it all.
They had come for her before that, Orcs. Creeping into the Mirkwood Forest, they had cut down her mother and father right in front of her, as she was helpless, for Saruman had placed a spell on her. She watched as the Orcs then swarmed around Radagast, who had so desperately tried to save her. And then a sack was placed around her head, and she was out cold.
When she woke up again, she was in a cage, naked and humiliated, surrounded by Saruman and his evil creations. He knew of her, and what she was capable of; he wanted her to become his war machine. He intended to take her, and break her into unfixable, unrecognizable pieces, so that she would have no choice but to serve him.
And although he managed to succeed in breaking her, Gandalf had come to her aide, right when she thought that she was going to give up. Saruman tortured her, for how long, she did not know, for she was kept in the dark, deep beneath Isengard. She was barely fed, moldy bread on the edge of a spike being held up to her mouth. There was no water, only a blood like liquid which just barely kept her hydrated. Her strength was waning and she began to feel the cold grasps of death.
She had been flashing in and out of consciousness when Gandalf arrived, a fierce storm of anger brewing in his heart. The murder of his friend was one thing, but the capture and inhumane treatment of another was something different. She could barely remember the flashes of light as the two wizards battled. Saruman was weakening, and he knew it was a fight he was losing. Gandalf delivered the final blow, knocking Saruman out. He quickly set his friend free, carrying her as they made a dire escape. But right before he left, the girl faced the extensiveness of Saruman’s studies in dark magic, as he regained consciousness long enough to place a curse upon her, one that severely restricted the power she had bestowed upon her by the Great Creator himself, Eru Illúvatar. The power to control the elements; fire, water, air, and earth, itself. Bending.
Gandalf thought she was dead, but traveled to Rivendell nonetheless. It was the home of Lord Elrond, known for his skills with Elvish medicine. While she was able to wake up again, the curse could not be lifted fully, leaving Aseli only able to use the few sub-skills of bending that she had learned. No matter how hard she tried, she could no longer bend as she used to. After her bed-ridden days were over, she asked to go back to Rhosgobel, the home she had shared with Radagast and her parents. Elrond and Gandalf hesitated in letting her do so, only allowing it once she convinced them that she needed to be away from everything, and that Saruman would not expect to have her return to there.
So here she was now, suffering from an ailment that would never leave her, for she was an immortal woman, belonging to the race of man. Her mother and father had come to Radagast, the tender to animals and plants at the start of the Second Age, fearing for their lives and that of their unborn daughter after Morgoth had been banished and Sauron came to power. They spent their days in the woods with the wizard, learning to let go of all material attachments, helping him in his ongoing work to care for living things. So pure were their souls by the time Aseli was born, that Eru Illúvatar himself, blessed the three with immortality, and Aseli, with more.
But soon after, once she had blossomed into a young woman, the other wizards of Middle-Earth, with an exception of Gandalf and Radagast himself, came to her warn her of her gift; telling her that it was no gift. They feared that the adventurous girl, who wished to someday travel the world, would bring too much attention to herself. Saruman himself had warned her that if she was brought to Sauron’s attention, the results would be disastrous.
And so they were, as the power of the One Ring came into existence during the Second Age, Saruman himself became corrupted, deciding to go after her, seeking her power for his own uses.
Aseli brought a kettle of water to a boil, intending to make herself a cup of tea, when she heard a knock at the door. She froze, unsure if she should answer. After all, no one really visited her except for Gandalf, and he too had not come by in a month.
There was another knock at the door, and then a voice. “We bring word from Rivendell.” That got her attention, and she made her way to the great wooden door. Pushing it open, she was surprised to see two elves in front of her with a basket of fruit in their hands. “Greetings, my lady. We bring word from Elrond. He is assembling a council of utmost importance. The One Ring has been found, and a quest is to take place to destroy it. The council will decide who is to go. Our Lord requests your attendance. The council will be held in two days.”
Aseli opened her mouth to respond, but did not know what to say. The One Ring lived? Who could have possibly found it? A council? A quest? It was all too much to think about at once. She took a deep breath, leaning against the door frame. If she left tomorrow, she would not be able to make it in time. But could she really say no to an opportunity to take down the one thing that had caused so much destruction in her life?
No. She couldn’t, and she wouldn’t.
“Very well. Send word to Elrond that I will not be able to make it to Rivendell in time for the council, but that I will join this quest you speak of. I suppose that if I get there a day late, the members of the quest will not be too far away. I pledge my full support.”
“Thank you, my lady. These are a gift from Lord Elrond. We will be expecting you. Good day,” the elves bowed, placing the basket in her arms before setting off. Aseli hesitantly placed it on the kitchen table, grabbing an apple before walking out to the nearby stables that were long abandoned save for one horse. Her best friend, Elasmer.
“We’re going to Rivendell tomorrow. Are you ready?” she asked, stroking his mane and offering the apple. He nuzzled her hand in response, happily crunching on the apple, apparently ready. “I suppose I am, too.”
Author's Chapter Notes:
Decided to restart the story! Changed quite a bit of it. Read on to see!
Chapter End Notes:
Reviews would be really appreciated! I think this is better than the previous version/idea I had.