Is this how it feels to be alive, to hurt, this aching for something that you cannot name? This fear? If so, I wish for my old existence back, the emptiness of spirit that nothing can fill - but that is lost to me. I have changed. I hear the steps approaching and even before raising my head I know that he is here, looking at me again, as he has for centuries uncounted - and yet this time it is different.
I can see the knowledge in his eyes as I watch him, warily. The hatred, the disgust, and something that I cannot place. He does not speak as his hand strays to the dagger at his side and I smile, bitterly, at the movement. So this is what it comes to. Yet I do not blame him. How could I, knowing that I have dragged him into death, and others before him? A creature of dark and evil and, even now, in this shape, I can hear the shadow whispering to me. He is growing stronger again, the void is weakening.
Wearily I watch him; tall and golden he stands, a light in my darkness, and I feel myself falling again, the air screaming around me until my body and soul breaks anew, over and over. I can accept the hatred that he has for me and I share his disgust; it is that unknown thing in his eyes that destroys me. Soundlessly, I tilt my head backwards, offering my throat to his hand and the cold metal. Can his knife cut through shadow? Can he end this thing that is called life? I do not know if anything can, but I find myself wishing that I had an answer. The chains around wrists and ankles chafe at me now as they have not done before. I wish to move, to fling myself upon him until all that I am bleeds into nothing on the hard steel. But instead I wait, my eyes closed.
I hear him move towards me, standing before me of me, and I can almost taste his thoughts, his hatred. It lights something inside me that I had thought forgotten; at the core of my being a heat unfurls slowly, tendrils of fire slithering through my veins. The pain and horror returns. This I cannot allow to happen and so I look at him again, soundlessly pleading for an end, but he does not move. Lunging, I cast myself at him but the chains once again hold me short of his body and the precious metal in his hand... The sound of steel against stone reverberates through the silence as the knife falls, unused, unbloodied. Confused, I look at him, meeting eyes as lost as mine, and I see what I did not expect from him. Open hands and tears. Tears…for me, for him? It does not matter; the crystal drops extinguish that which I had felt awaken within me, the fire fades and once again I am as I have been, a shadow of something that once lived.
I watch as he falls to his knees beside me and still he watches me as I watch him. Confused, uncertain and filled with fear, both of us lost. I do not understand what is happening; this feeling of choking from within is new to me, unwelcome and unwanted. So I try to hide. I lean my head against my knees, wrapping my arms around myself as if this would protect me against the thing that the Quendi call life, but I know that it will not. Nothing will protect me, nothing will save me. I am lost here, deserted in a nightmare of Irmo with no rules and I stand alone. Shivers run through my being as my mind screams, and still he watches me.
My shackles fall to the ground beneath me, soft hands rubbing wrists and ankles suddenly freed after centuries and my head snaps up. Has he lost his mind? Does he not realise what I am, who I am? He steps away from me and leaves me again and I stand, unchained and free. I stretch towards the heavens, my head thrown back against the stars. What do I feel? New emotions swirling through my mind, feelings I cannot understand and, for a reason unknown to me, a smile is born upon my face. Is this hope? This feeling of elation for what may be, is this what forgiveness feels like? And then he returns.
The heavy thud of metal on earth as he throws a sword at my feet, another held in his fist. I stare at the gleaming metal as the feelings I just had die inside me. To slay a bound beast, defenceless and to kill in battle, enemy armed and bested are different matters, and for him there can be but one choice. Numbly I bend, taking the sword and meeting his stroke with mine. I have fought, for longer than he has breathed in either life or both, I have fought. Deep in the shadows I fought for my master, where the fires burned I spilled blood; I have seen greater than him fall before me, and yet this is the one who I cannot fight.
His body shimmers in the night, slick with sweat as we struggle, his light and my darkness, his cool and my heat as metal sings. He is strong and fast as he adorns my body with sharp cuts from his sword but I am better. I have strength and speed beyond the Quendi and the longer we fight the stronger I grow, moving in patterns I had forgotten as the whisper of my master grows louder. I hear him calling me as he has not called since I fell; his voice is music in my mind, heavy and rhythmic as the beating of my heart. I move faster, seeing red rivers on the golden body and I laugh wildly in triumph as my victory draws closer. The voice in my head is deafening as I pause, my blade against his throat, a thin tendril of blood already running from the neck to the metal. I see death in his eyes; once more I see it as I once had and I hesitate.
Something is running down my face and I lift my hand, touching it. Inside my head the music is turning painful, too loud and too heavy. I bring my hand away, staring at the clear drops in amazement. Backing away from him, the sword falls to the ground as I crumble. The voice inside is screaming, screeching at me as I fail to obey my master. What am I now, a remnant of something dead, a weapon without purpose, useless, broken and cast aside? Destroyed, I shake as my master rages. I cannot breathe, cannot move as the noise grows and the shadows burst; darkness is flooding the sky and other screams grow around us.
A hand cups my face, lifting it as he watches me, falling to his knees beside me in wonder. I feel him wrap strong arms around me as I struggle to breathe, to think, to exist against the will of he who controls me. I tremble as the shadows betray me, frightened and lost as a newborn child. I cry, in pain worse than breaking, in horror worse than memories, as he tears my mind and soul apart until I fall to the ground, unable to move. I am nothing.