The Family Line Part 101 – Into Shadow

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Part 101 – Into Shadow

A tear welled up in Theomin’s eyes as he finally saw what they were looking for. All that time back in ScreenShot02990-1 (2)Annuminus and the Valley of the Worms. All that time in Esteldin and searching for mention of the tunnels and they had finally made it. “Eotheron,” Theomin said emotionally as he grabbed at his friend’s arm; he could not think of anything else to say.

The eight stepped into the ancient carved stone work under the slopes of Weathertop. Theomin ran his hands over the stones walls of the ancient tunnel. So much time, so much memory was layed inside that tunnel. Not even when the hill was besieged by the Witch King did anyone flee into the tunnels. Not long after they entered the tunnels, the smelled an odd odor hit everyone. But Theomin had smelled it before.

“What is that smell?” Helesdir asked.

“It is the smell of stone that turns to fire. I have made it before with many of my explosive pots. But what is it doing down in here?” Theomin asked.

“I know not,” Sergee said, “but we should light a torch to see in there.”

“No!” Theomin warned him. “Any flame will start an explosion. We need an alternative source of light.”

“What of the stones?” Eleswith asked.

“I suppose,” Theomin said. Each of the three barers of the Amar Calads grabbed theirs. Upon retrieval, the door started to raddle as each door closed in on the company. As they began to close each of the three ran back toward the inside of the cave until the doors finally closed shut behind them, leaving out all sources of sun light all together. The only light that was left in the hall was the soft glow from the Amar Calads. “I guess that is it then. If there is an exit, it has to be from another place.”

“How do you know there’s another way out?” Eleswith asked.

“The ones who built the tunnels needed an exit somewhere. It has to be somewhere in here,” Theomin said.

“I agree,” Estonethiel said. “It would be rather unwise to build a tunnel that closes shut on one end and to not have an exit.”

“Unless you’re trying to shut someone in,” Eotheron said. Such a suggestion stirred fear in the company.

“Let us not dwell on that,” Theomin said trying to break that fear. “Let us continue down the path and hope for a way out.”

The company of eight continued down the paths of the serpent tunnels. Just a regular stone tunnel it was, made from the same rock as Amon Sul. Square it was in shape. Even the edges were sharp square angles of ninety degrees and it extended down lower and lower into the earth.

Quite a while it took the tunnel to go down until it abrubtly ended and the cavern opened up to a larger ScreenShot02975realm full of large buildings made of elven architecture. The rest of the company gasped at the enormity of cavern as Theomin gave a slight chuckle by something.

“What is it?” Sergee asked.

He looked at the buildings all around and said, “I suppose there were elves that lived under here after all.”

“I’ll venture to bet there is no weapon smithing going on here though,” Teryndir said half joking but half scornful as though he could not decide whether to joke about it or be angry about the lie Theomin told to ScreenShot02974get him there.

“The lost elves of Under Tower, Nuinminus,” Estonethiel said. “Only a myth I believed them to be.” She smiled, “So Theomin was right after all. The elves did live under here. How I wish I had my sight for such a wonder I believed this place would be.”

“So that means such a wonder must be a way out, right?” Helesdir said with hope more than anything. The company stayed quiet as Helesdir’s hopeful words melted away into anxiety.

They continued through the underground elven realm. The main pathway extended from the entrance straight down the middle of the elven realm toward the other end where a large wall was that bore another tunnel that went further down into the earth. All was dead and all was eerily quiet. Not even their footsteps echoed through the tunnel. The next tunnel was less thoroughly carved. The pathway on the bottom was filled with intriquite designs like a dwarven city but the surrounding walls and ceiling looked as though they were only excavated but not designed.

Down the path they went until they reached a point it leveled off. It continued along as the odd smell of fuel continued to grow stronger. Finally, they reached a large chamber. One end was connected to the entrance by a long and narrow bridge. On the sides was a black pitch-like substance but more liquidy than pitch. It streatched for a long while both to the left and right.

“I believe this is the sourse of the stench,” Theomin said.

“This must be what the ancient dwarves were working on,” Estonethiel suddenly realized. “It was an ScreenShot02961-1ancient weapon that they claimed could reduce any wall into rubble. They continued to refine it until they reached this liquid-like state. I remember hearing that with this new state of pitch came a terrible fire that burned very easily. Up in the sun, any concentrated light could ignite it. I remember hearing that many dwarves died stuff. ‘Such a substance should never be used by man, elf, dwarf or beast as it brings death to all. Like a hundred suns its eruption blinds the eyes, burns skins, and all around it blackens the sky with its evil breath,’ king Durin said. I have never seen such a fire nor do I care to.”

“It is probably why they stored it so low underground,” Magla said. “Such terrible power could be devastating for anyone.”

“Could this be the weapon they spoke of in the scroll?” Eotheron asked. “Such a great weapon this is. Much greater than I could ever imagine. Back in Helm’s Deep that night we were besieged by Saruman’s army, such a concoction was used, I believe, to destroy the deeping wall. Could this be that same mixture?”

“I am not sure,” said Theomin. “I cannot see Saruman venturing down here to retrieve such a substance. Besides, the scroll talked about the weapon being of one person, not of many. This seems like a weapon for an invading army.”

“He’s probably right,” Sergee said. “This type of weapon could not be harnessed by one man. I don’t believe it is this.”

“Then let us continue on. We still need to find the way out,” Eleswith said.

So they continued on, over the bridge of the watery pitch and to the other side. The tunnel continued on ScreenShot02925 (2)much like the previous tunnel. Nicely drawn designs below but the walls and ceiling were only carved out, almost like in a hurry. Soon, the sound of rushing water was heard far down the tunnel. The smell of moisture filled their nostrils. The humidity of the moisture laiden air made the company sweat as they came closer to the sound of water and soon, from the left side of the pathway a thin waterfall came draping over from some tunnel far above as it created a stream that crossed their path before them. They eight stepped over the stream and continued down the pathway along down ScreenShot02966-1 (2)the stream’s path toward another pathway that led deeper.

The path wound around with one steep path dropping off and the sheer rock cliff on the other. It wound its way deeper and deeper, heading down further into the abyss of the strange halls. Further down, a pathway opened up to a deep dark place where that same black pitch was layed in another large pool.

“What were the dwarves hoping to do with this?” Eotheron asked.

“My only thought was to use it against the armies of the Witch King,” Estonethiel said. “During the second age, the armies of the Witch King felled many lands here in what is now Eriador. The forces of evil were too powerful to combat so I assume the dwarves developed a solution to the problem. Never using it, they must have consciously buried it deep underground where it would not be touched. I felt the lining to these walls. My thoughts to this is like a flicker of flame to alcohol. It would burn. To what extent I know not but I feel that this black lake is extremely dangerous. Theomin was smart not to bring fire down here.”

“My only hope is that we never ignite the stuff,” Theomin said. “Disasterous it would be.”

“I felt the walls as we went past the threshold of the tunnel to the room of the black pitch,” Estonethiel said. “Thick it is but on either end of the entrances I felt notches in the walls, almost like a door. Perhaps in the event of something igniting the pitch, the doors would close.”

Theomin emptied a bottle of draught he was carrying and filled up the vile with the black pitch. “What are you doing, Theomin?” Eotheron asked.

“If this is anything like what I used in that Easterner camp back in the Wold when I saved you, this stuff will be a boon if we were to be confronted by enemies,” Theomin said as he filled up the rest of the vile.

“Best not to mess with it,” Eleswith said. “This stuff is buried deep down here for a reason.”

“My feeling is that we may need the stuff. If we cannot find a way out, this might be our only hope of bombing our way out,” Theomin said.

“Let us hope it does not come to that,” Estonethiel said solemnly.

The group pressed on over the sludge and passed into another hall. Theomin looked at the walls as he entered. Like Estonethiel said, there were notches in the wall that extended from the base of the wall around the ceiling to the other end of the wall. If it was a door, it was very thick as there were no notches for another two yards inwards from the other notch.

Further they went down into another corridore. Soon, large metal double doors marked the entrance to a large room. Much like the other rooms there was a single raised platform that extended toward the other end. Below both sides of the platform were large carved depressions that cradled odd shaped solid things, like statues of some odd creature. Inside were eight of the odd statues standing almost lifeless on each side in the depressions. As they continued, there had to be maybe two dozen of the frozen creatures.

The creatures themselves looked as though they were on their hind legs. A grayish black color they were with strange hands much like that of a man’s hands but with no fingered ends, only sharp claws they had. Their ribs seemed to be on the ouside of their chest, and met up with bones on their arms. Their heads seemed cocked to the side, as if they had been born into a sad tortured stated. The heads themselves were misshapen. No eyes were visible but horns they had protruding out of the chin of the jaw that held sharp teeth inside. Their heads held two horns that curved back like a ram’s horns but scailed and sharp. From the backs of the creatures were long thin barbs like the prickles of a thorny bush.

“What are those?” Helesdir asked as he looked at the strange statues.

“I know not,” Estonethiel said. “I feel nothing from them.”

“I hope they are not alive,” Helesdir said. “They give me the creeps.”

The eight continued on as Aches was stuck around the shoulder of Theomin. He seemed not to like the place. His claws bore into the tunic of Theomin’s very tightly and he shook fearfully. There was something there that he did not like too much and it also made Theomin uneasy.

Suddenly, it was if a gust of air blew through the entirety of the chamber, the sound of which was like exhailing, but no wind was felt by any of the members of the company. They paused and looked around. Each member’s eyes were wide, waiting for something to happen.

“What was that?” Helesdir whispered as if he felt his voice would awake something.

“I do not know,” Estonethiel said. “I feel nothing when I know I should feel something.”

“Something is alive in here,” Eotheron said. “Something is breathing in here.”

“We shouln’t be here,” Eleswith said as she clasped Helesdir’s hand in fear. Both their hands were moist with nervous sweat.

“We have no choice,” Theomin said. “We cannot go back; we must move on.”

The eight continued again through the odd shaped statues and on to odd figures egg shaped things sitting on the ground along with the odd statue shapes. About the eggs was a mist that seemed to rise up from the ground, as if something had been vaporizing from below.

“Don’t touch anything,” Magla said.

“Helesdir,” Eleswith whispered with a shaky voice, “I’m scared.” She never admitted her fear. Not even in the valley of the worms did she admit fear. She shook, making Helesdir shake as well.

From the foot of Teryndir’s boot, a small stone became dislodged from the rock and fell down into the ScreenShot02953 - Copy (2)small pits where the eggs were. All haulted and drew their weapons, ready for something. The small noise made all in the company panic, but it was only a rock.

Once the company realized it was only a rock, they exhailed in relief. “My heart nearly jumped out of my chest,” Eleswith exasperated but stayed as quiet as she could. “Don’t do that again.”

“I’m sorry,” Teryndir said. “It was my boot. Some rock stuck to it.”

“I feel something,” Estonethiel said. “Cries of ages past filling the void in the caverns. Pleas for help from panicing elves rushing from doom. The sounds are horrible. They sound as though they fill the room as it is many of them fleeing for their lives…”

“Enough,” Theomin had to stop Estonethiel. “Can you not sense we are already on the edge of fear. We need not induce more panic so that we do something stupid.” He looked to the other side. “Look, there is the exit from this place. Let us continue on.”

But no sooner did they reach the other side that they saw a large mound of bones. Bones from elves long dead in a scraping panic to leave the room. The mound grew larger as it was closer to the door, which was open.

Eleswith’s breathing became too eratic and she started to hyperventilate. Her panicing was causing her to lose breath and she fell to the ground in a loud burst of difficult breathing. She coughed loud coughs as they echoed through the chamber.

“Shut her up,” Teryndir loudly whispered to Helesdir.

“I don’t know how,” Helesdir said.

Another breath seemed to flow through the whole chamber, louder this time. It was as if the chamber itself was coming alive.

“Stay very still,” Theomin whispered. “Move not a muscle.”

That they did. They stayed very still, including Eleswith who had finally recovered from her panic. They watched outward into the vast army of frozen statues that filled the depressions around them. Each of the eight tried to stay very still, even their breathing was very shallow. Theomin concentrated on one of the statues that he could have swarn moved ever so slightly. He just stared at it for a long while. It was as still as he had thought. Not one movement, not even breath forced its torso to move. The head then moved ever so slightly to face the group.

The movement jolted Theomin as he told the group in the quietest voice, “Move,” he said with his hand gesture to signal them.

The group began moving toward the next tunnel but the odd statue moved again and then moved toward them. It was then that the same breath filled the whole room again and soon all the odd shapes that seemed like odd shaped statues moved toward them and descended upon them much quicker than the group had anticipated.

Soon, before they reached the door those odd creatures began to block it, “Fight through them!” Eotheron yelled to his group.

The group drew their weapons and fought through the blockade of those odd creatures until the path was cleared to reach the other side. The tunnel that layed on the other side had a double door but it was blocked by the many bones of dead elves strewn across it.

The group frantically tried to removed the bones. “Run!” Theomin yelled as the abandoned the bones and ran.

They ran through the corridor with the creatures in persuit. Soon, they came to another double door thatScreenShot02958-1 opened up to another room. With the creatures near to their heels, Eleswith, Sergee, Magla and Helesdir shut the door and leaned their weight on it. Without much waiting, the strange creatures rammed into the door, pushing the four off of it but they pushed their weight back on it yet again and dug in their heels.

The room itself had been naturally lit. Above, on the ceiling at the other end of the room, there was a hole. Small it was, maybe only six inches in diameter; enough for sunlight to pour in from the outside. Below, illuminated by the light was a hill-like platform flanked by two lower platforms below. Green grass they had growing on them as they only had mounds of dirt and rock just below. On the platforms, facing the door were small icons that bore a sun of the left flank, a small stone on the right, and above on the highest platform was a leaf.

On the very top platform, a single tree-like branch grew up from inside the grassy hill as it was lit from the sun above. The branch was black, tall, and contained no leaves on any of the small twigs it bore about the top. Around the branch, flashes of light illuminated the air around it, like fireflies in the night.

“Is this a way to get further into the tunnels?” Theomin asked. “I see only places for Teryndir, Sergee and I to go.”

“I know not, Theomin,” Sergee said as he struggled to keep the door shut. “Whatever we have to do, we need to do it fast. Soon, either this door will fall or we will be forced off of it.”

Theomin slowly approached the platforms when he had to stop. He looked at the signs and yelled back to Sergee, “I believe I need you for this, Sergee,” he yelled to his brother.

“Go,” Estonethiel said. “I’ll hold the door.” She went to relieve Sergee of the door as she placed her weight on it, which was more of a struggle than Sergee as she had to dig her heels more into the ground than Sergee.

“Come,” Theomin said as he motioned Teryndir and Sergee toward the platforms. “I am thinking the sun must mean the sky, so that is you, Sergee,” Theomin pointed to Sergee. “And the rock must mean the yours, Teryndir,” he said to Teryndir. “Stand on that platform. I will go to the highest one there…”

“What does the highest one mean?” Teryndir suddenly asked.

“I do not know, Teryndir. We must make haste as these creatures are bound to come through at any second,” Theomin said to his brother. Teryndir ran to the other platform as Theomin ran around. Luckily there was a ramp that led up to the top platform. He stood there in the light but nothing happened. “I do not understand,” Theomin said. “These symbles are correct.”

Teryndir ran up to the platform and looked at the tree. “Maybe we need to grab this tree.” He reached out for it and the moment he touched it a flash of bright white light from the tree struck Teryndir. He flew across the room and fell out cold.

“Teryndir!” Theomin yelled as Sergee ran to the aid of his brother.

“What ever you’re going to do, hurry up about it,” Helesdir yelled to the others. “These things are putting up a fight.”

Theomin layed his brother on his back and listened for a breath. “I hear nothing,” he said. He sat up and then, without thinking, he slammed his fist into Teryndir’s chest. He knew not why he was doing it, but he felt it was the right thing to do. He slammed his fist into Teryndir’s chest again and again and again and finally, with that fourth hit, Teryndir breathed in a sudden loud breath and woke.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I know not but whatever you did seemed to do something to that branch,” Sergee said. “Theomin, maybe since that’s your platform, you’re supposed to grab the tree.”

“Do it, Theomin,” Teryndir said.

All three ran to their platforms. Theomin ran to his and he looked at the tree. He was afraid to touch it after what happened to Teryndir. He took a deep breath and reached out to it. As his hand reached it, Theomin could already feel the sparks of electricity igniting toward him, shocking him just a little bit as he felt a steady wind swirl around him. The closer his hand got, the more the shocks consumed his hands and the winds swirled around him until he grabbed the stick. A blinding flash burst through the stick and strong wind blew all around the stick, almost forcing Theomin to let go of the stick, but he held on to it. The wind and electricity then died down as he took up the stick and held it up in his hand. He was amazed at how light it was, far lighter than any other thing he held in his hands. He looked to his friends who had been knocked to the ground. The shock subsided as all who were thrown to the ground stood up and then looked to the corner.

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“Theomin!” Eleswith yelled but she did not look at him. She looked at a body in the corner.

“Eleswith, I am here,” Theomin yelled to her. She turned the body over and there on the ground in Eleswith’s arms was Theomin.

Theomin looked at his body and then at himself. It was him, but he was still up on the platform. He looked at his hands and they glowed with a silvery radiance that his hands let off as he could see right through them. “What has happened to me?” Soon, clouds seemed to form about him, white clouds shining as if they emanated light all around it. He looked up to the hole in the roof that the sun had been shining through. All at once, the clouds closed in upon him and he was consumed by the light.

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That will conclude this book of The Family Line: From the Shadows. Thanks to all who have stuck with the story for this long. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to share my labor of love with you. The concluding chapter to the saga of The Family Line will continue in September.

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