I have been imprisoned for many days, or yet it seems so, in this accursed darkness, the reason for my confinement unknown to me. Stripped of both weapons and clothing, my bare feet trace the limits of my cell again and again, my hands groping the hewn stone walls plaintively in an effort to draw whatever small feeling of life the bare stone can provide. The smell of fear, that of others or my own I cannot tell, seems to seep from every crevice of this lightless space, assaulting my nostrils with an acridness I can taste in the back of my throat.
There is only one door in this cell, a heavy iron portal, smoother than the rough stone, and colder. I have touched it only once, tracing its large, worn rivets and thick metal bands with trembling fingers. But as I tentatively tested the strength of the unyielding iron, a horrible sensation engulfed my mind - one of suffocating, drowning, my lungs bursting for air long denied. The sensation came upon me so swiftly and unexpectedly that I could not immediately understand that the feeling was not physical, that I was not sinking into the depths of a vast, violent ocean. I sprang away from the door instantly but the unrelenting intensity of the feeling did not pass for many long minutes, and I slid to my knees on the chill, dirty floor, gasping, both enervated and terrified. When the breath came at last to my lungs, I began to weep in fear and despair until my thoughts returned to a semblance of normalcy. I do not dare touch the door since that time, though I know it to be my only means of egress from this room and my only possible escape route.
My thoughts, when not invaded by the ever encroaching gloom, seek memories of happier times as I struggle to maintain my sanity, for Elves' spirits will often fade quickly when deprived of the light of Anar and the living pulse of the natural world. These pieces of memory allowed a sort of respite at first, but now, the more I try to think on anything outside the darkness, the more elusive and distorted the memories become. When I am able to conjure a pleasant memory, the moment is so fleeting; the darkness so quick to return and so fearsome that I know I am losing the inner battle essential for my survival.
When first I found myself in this prison, I tried to maintain my mental fortitude by singing or reciting bits of poems and stories from my people and from my many travels in the world of Men. The old stories were difficult to recall and the poems and songs mere fragments. Eventually, the echo of my own voice in the dark became too unnerving for my increasingly fragile spirit and I fell silent. Now I cannot speak, even should I desire to do so, for my throat is parched with thirst. My empty belly, once growling angrily in need, now lies in subdued silence having given up its futile pleas for sustenance.
My ceaseless movement around the tiny cell is now the only thing that reminds me I still live, that I am not trapped in some walled oblivion between this world and the next. I cling to the wall in front of me, pressing my body to it as closely as possible, trying to will a dwarven feeling of comfort with lifeless stone into the desperate embrace. The pitted stone is cool against my cheek, arms, chest, belly, and thighs but the coolness brings no comfort, soothes not my troubled mind.
A sound fills my ears and I harken to it, startled for a moment at the strangely amplified volume in the echoing cell, before I realize it is the sound of my own gentle sobbing. And then I perceive another sound in the limitless darkness, distant at first but steadily growing. The sound slowly resolves into words, faintly and seductively spoken in smooth, flawless Sindarin. They are not spoken by an Elf but by another creature, one able to reproduce the beauty and poetry of my native tongue. Captivated, I struggle to understand the words; they are the first words I've heard spoken, except for my own, since I found myself here. When finally I make out what the creature is saying, it makes my blood freeze in my veins.
"Are you broken, my plaything?" it asks, and the walls echo back, "Are you broken? Are you broken?"
Anger stirs within my breast at the foul words. I shove myself away from the wall and ball my fists in defiance. I spin around helplessly, straining my tear-filled eyes to see the thing, though even if the creature was standing a pace in front of me I would not know it.
"No!" I shout, but the word is spoken only in my mind, as the sound that escapes my throat is an almost inaudible rasp.
I stand trembling, working my mouth to try to speak. My first reaction to the voice, one of anger, I now recognize as the wrong response, for the voice has gone and with it any hope I have of learning about my captor, of finding a way out of the darkness.
"Come back," I beg hoarsely. "Do not leave me." My voice sounds humbled and though I hate the thought of giving in, neither can I stand the thought of remaining alone in the cell, alone with the dark.
I have paced, wept, pleaded with the voice to come back but it has not. How long ago I heard the voice I do not know, but estimate it must be many days past. I lie on the floor of my prison in a half-stupor, no longer knowing or caring what happens to me, too weak from hunger and thirst to move, my now tearless weeping having ceased several hours before. I am fading and my death will come soon, but I do not fear my journey to the Halls of Mandos for I believe the god of Fate will grant me only a short wait within his fortress before my spirit is given new life. No, my death brings not fear but sadness in leaving behind my friends and the beautiful forests and mountains of Middle Earth after only short thousands of years within her favor. A shuddering, breathless sigh escapes me and at the same moment, the voice returns.
"Are you broken, my plaything?" it asks.
I close my useless eyes and run a dry tongue over my cracked lips. I was ready to die, ready to be free of this place, but the sound of the voice makes the small spark left within me flicker with want. I want to live. I do not want this place of crushing darkness to be my last memory. My mind makes the decision that my body and tortured spirit made long ago.
"Yes," I sigh, even within my mind my voice is hushed. "Only remove me from this darkness."
Behind my closed eyes there is a flash and I see the redness upon my eyelids that bespeaks bright light shining upon them. Cautiously I open my eyes, letting them adjust a little with each increment of opening until I can see my surroundings at last. I am in a huge bedchamber, lying on sea-blue silken sheets upon an oversized bed. A sheet covers me to the waist. I am alone.
This room is as light as the cell was dark, and my eyes, long accustomed to darkness, are stung by it. The light is artificial, not sunlight as my body craves, but for now it is enough. My head rests upon a soft, cool pillow and, with considerable effort, I raise my head slightly and see at my feet a massive footboard, carved of a wood with which I am unfamiliar. Forcing my head higher, I am able to see the rest of the room. The floors and walls are of moss-green marble, with decorative carpets in muted blues and greens. Finely crafted chairs and tables of dark, richly polished wood are arranged comfortably throughout the room. A fireplace is along the adjacent wall to the left; currently it is unlit but the room is pleasantly warm without it. There are two large, narrow windows on my right, but the view from them is of a leaden, twilight sky, neither day nor night. Two small tables flank the head of the bed and I see a pitcher of water on one of them, but am too weak to reach for it.
My arms are lying positioned on either side of my head and I try to move them down to make myself more comfortable. That is when I notice my weakness is not the only thing keeping me from the water but that my wrists, encased in golden shackles, are attached to the wall above the head of the bed by golden chains. The chains are long enough to allow me to sit but I know I cannot and I do not try.
'Plaything'. The word suddenly echoes in my head and I now realize its meaning. I close my eyes again. I live, but for how long, and at what price? It is my last thought before I fall into a horrified swoon.
When next I open my eyes, I am startled to see the figure of a man standing before me, though I know it is no man I look upon. For one thing, he is too tall to be a man, standing at least seven and a half feet. For another, his black eyes have not whites but rather a reddish glow. His night-black hair cascades down onto his muscular, bare chest and his features are finely chiseled, with a sculpted nose and square jaw line. He is beardless and his skin is deeply tanned and unmarked, save for a small white scar upon his left breast. His unlaced black leggings are made from some thick-skinned animal but are immaculately tailored, accentuating the muscles of his legs and thighs as well as the bulge of his groin. He stands with his legs widely apart and arms folded imperiously across his chest, regarding me with a possessive sneer.
I do not know what he is, or how he has managed to bring me to this place without my knowledge, but I know well what he wants from me. I find myself able to meet his gaze for only a few seconds before I drop my eyes. The only thing keeping me from shuddering in fear is my lack of strength.
He moves to the bed and pours water from the pitcher into a goblet. Placing one knee upon the bed, he reaches for me and I lie helplessly as he lifts my head and places the goblet to my lips, giving me drink. The water is sweet and cool, sliding unhindered down my parched throat as I swallow reflexively, refreshing me to a degree as it hits my lank belly. He removes the goblet and puts it back on the table. Still cradling my head in his huge hand, he places his other hand upon my chest, over my heart, and my body cringes instinctively at the touch. I look into his eyes again and see a keen, depraved regard.
"Are you broken?" he asks in Sindarin. His voice is the one in my head from before, deep and almost taunting. The Elvish words sound to my ears like a curse upon his foul tongue.
I swallow and close my eyes, "Yes," I reply, and in that moment, it is true.
"Look at me," he whispers.
I open my eyes reluctantly and meet his unnatural gaze. The red surrounding his black irises brightens as the hand he has placed on my chest begins to slowly stroke down my body, and now I do shudder and move my hand feebly to stay his. A chuckle rises from his throat and he smiles and touches the gold shackle at my wrist. He lifts my hand and places his own overlarge hand palm to palm with mine, comparing the size. My smaller paler hand against his larger darker one creates a significant contrast, the symbolism emphasizing our expected relationship. I know what he wants of me. I know that even if I were not still weak from my imprisonment I could not hope to match him in physical strength.
"Do your will with me," I sigh hopelessly, "and I escape you in death, for I will fade if you take me against my will."
He chuckles again, a knowing sound, and smiles evilly. "We shall see," is all he says.
He gives me drink again, and then lowers my head back to the pillow. He strokes my hair gently for a moment, arranging it upon the pillow like a child might do with a favorite doll. "Rest now, little Elf," he murmurs affectionately.
I stare obediently, sightlessly, at the ceiling and sink into a thin, troubled sleep.