Everyone avoided the tower. It was believed to have ...
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Title:The Dark Tower
Author: Linda Hoyland
Warnings:very mild horror
Word count: 1251
Book/Source: LOTR book-verse
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
A belated birthday gift for Silivren Tinu
Everyone avoided the tower. It was believed to have been where a cruel lord imprisoned his daughter when she rejected the rich merchant he desired her to wed and set her heart instead on a poor, but brave soldier.
Neither the girl nor her lover were ever seen again. Rumours flew amongst the country-folk who lived nearby. Some said the girl had starved to death and her bones were in the tower still,others said she had hurled herself from the topmost window and her unquiet spirit still haunted the tower.
As for her lover, it was said that he had thrown himself despairingly into the heat of battle and been slain by the enemy.
Whatever the truth, the tower had stood empty for many years and was starting to crumble. Dwellings were still in short supply after the war, as was masonry, but no one would make use of the abandoned tower.
One day Aragorn and Faramir were out hunting in the woods near where the tower stood.
“I wonder why that tower is derelict?” Faramir mused.
“For a good reason no doubt.”
Aragorn did not appear interested,but Faramir's curiosity was aroused. He spotted a woodcutter and rode over to speak to him. He enquired why the tower had been left derelict. The old man faithfully related the stories he had heard.
“I would like to explore it,” said Faramir.
“You do not fear the ghosts then?” Aragorn teased.
“Not when I am with one who had power over them!” Faramir retorted. “Or are you fearful of meeting any more unquiet spirits?”
“I will race you to the tower then!” said Aragorn, preparing to urge Roheryn into a gallop.
“Please,sire,” said the Captain of the King's bodyguards. “Do you think this is wise?”
“You make camp and prepare our evening meal,” said Aragorn. He galloped after Faramir who already had a good start. The Steward was waiting for him at the entrance to the tower. “I thought you would have already explored?” said the King sweetly.
“I would not deprive you the pleasure of chasing a few ghosts should we find any,” Faramir replied. He cautiously pushed the door open. It was dim inside, the only light coming from a tiny window. Everywhere was covered with dust, and cobwebs hung everywhere. The two man had to brush them aside to enter. The were in a small round chamber with a staircase leading upwards.
Faramir sneezed. Then he heard it, a low guttural voice intoning words he could not understand. The words sounded like “Yock, hock hymie.” Then another similar voice took up the chant.
“Alas!” cried Faramir. “The Dark Lord's minions must linger here!” He drew his sword as a dark shape loomed out of a dusty corner.
There was an ear piecing shriek and two cats, hair standing on end raced down the stairway and through the open door.
Faramir breathed heavily.”How did they get in?” he asked.
“Through the window no doubt. It seems we have disturbed two amorous toms seeking the attention of their lady love!” He patted Faramir's arm reassuringly.”You look as if you have seen a ghost!”
“I have not heard cats sound so human before. Let us go and see what is upstairs.”
The steps led to a small room at the top of the tower littered with broken furniture which looked to have been smashed in a fit of rage.
“Something dreadful did happen here,” said Faramir, surveying the wreckage. Just then he felt something brush his hair. He gave a cry of alarm, before looking up and realising he had disturbed a bat.
“Let us leave the bats in peace,” said Aragorn. “Come inside in the sunlight. I have a story to tell you.”
A moments later the two friends were sitting side by side on grassy knoll and plucking sweet blackberries that grew in the bushes surrounding them.
“Long ago a Captain came from Rohan to Gondor to seek knowledge and experience,” Aragorn began.
“Captain Thorongil?”Faramir asked, his eyes wide with interest.
“The same, but he did not come alone. With him was a young Rohir who was skilled with the sword, but had the misfortune to be a poor horseman. This youth thought he might as well seek his fortune in Gondor, where he prospered and soon gained promotion. He met a young woman, the daughter of a lord and he loved her. Her father,though, was determined that she advance his fortunes by marrying a merchant. The lord, you see,had lost most of his fortune in a Corsair attack on his lands. As the young lady was determined to go against her father's wishes, he locked her in one of his watchtowers, there to stay until she relented.
I was the young man's Captain and he asked for my help. I would not usually have interfered in such matters, but it came to my attention that the merchant had already buried one wife. I had discreet enquiries made and learned that the merchant was known to visit brothels where even the women who worked there were loth to fulfil his needs; they were so perverse. I decided it would be wrong to give a dog to such a man, never mind a gentle young woman.
There are few locks barred to those brought up by Elves, so it was easy enough to unlock the door of the tower. I heard the young couple's vows and they were hand-fasted before me. Then they made their way to Rohan together. The girl was a better rider than her sweetheart. So off they rode together, sharing one horse with the young lady taking the reins.
“Then what happened?” Faramir was so engrossed in the story that he had hardly drawn breath during its telling.
“They opened a tavern in Edoras. I saw them when I was last there, they are old now, but contented enough and had seven children, who fortunately favoured their mother and were good riders.” Aragorn smiled and plucked another blackberry.
“But how did the story of the haunted tower come about?”
“I believe that the father smashed the furniture in a rage and then made no attempt to stem wild rumours. Because of his power and influence soldiers were sent out to look for the girl. I was one of them.” Aragorn stretched out his long legs. “I reported that I had come across the runaway pair slaughtered by Orcs and buried them where I found them. I did not enjoy lying, but neither the lord nor the merchant would have rested until they destroyed the young pair otherwise.”
“So nothing evil happened at the tower at all?”
“Much could have done , but the cruel fate intended for the maiden was averted. I think now time has passed I will order the present lord to repair his watchtower and put it to good use.I have never spoken before of what happened all those years ago.”
“I will not speak of it either,”said Faramir.
“I knew you would not, my friend,” said Aragorn.
“It will be a good thing if the tower is repaired and inhabited,” said Faramir. “Then no one need fear the place again. “He clambered to his feet.”Now we had better rejoin the guards ere they think ghosts have spirited us away.”