"Allow me to go ahead, my lady," Gaergath said. "But first...there is something I must put on."
He picked up the bag and opened it, and drew out the cloak...looking as black and obscene as the crown of Morgoth.
"It is Her cloak," he said, "and no blanket. Sauron got it from her and brought it to me, that it might take me to Angband. But I did not go. Here, take this..." He took the mithril dagger from his belt. "They will flee from it. It is Elvish work. It will protect you if you shed no blood with it...no human blood."
"I need it not," she said handing it back to him. "My cloak will protect me."
"You are sure of this?" he said. She nodded, smiling ever so slightly. And they went on through the darkness that would have seemed absolute, but for her light.
And then they were on the bridge. There were torches on it that burned with a lurid pale light, not like any fire Gaergath had ever seen before, save in nightmare.
Huan came up close behind them.
Lúthien began singing softly once more, the same song she had sung before. Gaergath had thought they should be silent, and yet there was such a power and beauty about her voice, it would keep off any evil influence surely.
And then he heard a soft growl from Huan.
And looked ahead. Something was coming out of the mist.
Lúthien went on singing. Gaergath looked at the dark shape and trembled. Huan growled once more, then bounded forward. Gaergath froze.
Lúthien stood silent then. A hideous snarling issued from the mist as the shape of Huan met with the shape of the thing ahead of them.
"A wolf," Gaergath whispered. Then he remembered his dagger, yet could not seem to bring himself to reach for it.
She nodded. "Stay here. Do not move," she said. Her hand reached over and took his arm.
"What if..." Gaergath had not thought it possible to feel such fear. Did she feel none at all?
Then the snarling turned to a high-pitched shriek, then a whimper. Then silence.
Gaergath saw Huan once more, dragging something toward them.
"My wonderful lad," Lúthien said softly caressing his fur. Gaergath drew back in horror at the sight of the dead wolf in the torchlight. Its blood looked black, and a stench rose from it that fairly nauseated him.
"Let us put it over the bridge," she said. "I will take the tail, and you take its front legs."
The last thing he wanted to do was to touch the thing, but he decided he had played the coward before her long enough, the least thing he could do was dispose of the body. They tossed the corpse over the railing, and Gaergath noticed that the pole which held one of the torches had been placed inside an iron flange on the side of the bridge. He had made just such a one in the forge once.
He removed the iron pole, which was about five feet long, and held it before him. He could see the torch consisted of a container of rather foul-smelling oil with a wick rising from it, a chimney that could be removed easily, and the fire was a pale green like that of foxfire. Lúthien looked at it thoughtfully.
And then they heard another growl.
Once more Huan bounded toward it.
This wolf was swifter than his sibling, and they were able to see it in its struggle with the great dog, who bested it rather quickly while Lúthien and Gaergath withdrew into the shadows. But before they could throw the corpse over, yet another came at them. Then three more, and then Gaergath recalled his dagger and took it out. And found himself confronted with a wolf that seemed strangely familiar. Its eyes had a red-yellow gleam in the light of Gaergath's torch as it snarled at them with a hatred that defied description.
"Hullo, Binya," he said holding out his dagger. "Remember this?"
Yet she did not draw back. He had forgotten he was wearing the cloak, which cancelled the power of the dagger rendering it just another blade. Before he could cast the garment off, she sprang, sinking her fangs into his wrist so that the dagger fell at his feet. He yelled in pain, almost dropping the torch, then he remembered it and took a jab at her, which she managed to dodge, but she released him also, then he saw a wolf spring at Lúthien. She took a fold of her cloak and waved it at the beast, which scuttled backward, then seemed to grow dizzy, and sank upon the stone beneath it.
Binya crept back once more, as more wolves came along, and then Gaergath moved toward her as she growled, bent to pick up the dagger barely noticing the blood dripping from his arm, and she sprang at him once more.
And he drove the dagger into her throat.
The most horrible scream he had ever heard rose from her, and she flailed before him, writhing in agony, and then she seemed to shift into human shape, though not fully. Gaergath looked at her in horror, as she bled and clawed at herself in her mortal torment. Then Lúthien stepped forth and waved her cloak over her, and she gradually grew calmer, then finally lay still.
Gaergath looked gratefully at her.
Then another wolf, larger than all the others, stood before them. This one was recognizable also.
Even Lúthien looked a bit frightened then.
Huan was fighting another creature, but he left off as Drauglir appeared, and the dog left off his adversary and took after the great wolf in a single lunge. Gaergath heard a soft moan from Lúthien then.
And he looked for his dagger once more, but could not see it.
Huan and Drauglir went rolling over the bridge, trying to get at each other's throats.
"Give me," Luthien whispered, taking the pole with the torch from Gaergath. Quickly she removed the chimney, although it burnt her fingers to do so, and made as if to pour the oil upon Drauglir, while Gaergath wished he had thought to do so. He did manage to find his dagger, however.
But then Drauglir shifted his shape until it was identical to the dog's, and so it seemed there were two Huans fighting, and so Lúthien stayed her hand, less she drench the wrong beast.
Then the two creatures broke apart, both of them bloody and torn, snarling at each other, and then they sprang once more. Then one of them made a terrible outcry, and broke away...reassuming its wolf-form. Drauglir ran back away over the bridge, while Huan came staggering toward Lúthien, who ran and knelt to embrace the dog, weeping a little.
"I see no more," she said after a while. "Let us proceed, but with caution."
"He has gone back to Sauron," Gaergath said. "That was Drauglir, the sire and grandsire of them all. He saw me kill Binya...she was his favorite, I think, of all his spawn. There is no telling what he will do now."
"I must go and free Beren," she said. "You go back, if you wish. I think you should. I can do by myself now, with Huan by my side."
"Nay, I am coming with you," he said although he wished more than anything else to do just as she suggested.
And then yet another beast emerged from the mist.
It was larger even than Drauglir.
There were other wolves far behind it, but they did not come close.
Its eyes gleamed redly, its fur iron black and giving off a faint coppery light, its claws at least two inches long and sharper than nails.. Lúthien gasped.
Gaergath dropped his dagger.
The monster approached Huan, then sprang suddenly, and this time the dog moved quickly aside, and the huge wolf went rolling over and over, then made for Huan once more. The dog dodged him into the shadows, and this time as the enormous creature uprighted itself, it saw Lúthien, and seemed to smile.
And it sprang at her.
Gaergath leaped forward then, catching the torch as she released it to wave the folds of her cloak at the thing. She barely eluded it then, as it fell once more on the stones, and seemed a bit drunk, staggering and falling to its knees. Gaergath saw his chance then, and raised the torch....
And stopped as he saw Lúthien fall. A horrid stench, even worse than that of the other wolves, pervaded the air, nearly choking the boy. He gasped and coughed, nearly dropping the pole, clutching at it with both hands.
The great wolf was down on all fours now, swaying and making whimpering noises in its throat...and Huan went after it then.
Gaergath went to Lúthien, who seemed to have fainted. He shook her shoulder, and then she raised her head.
"What...what is it?" she whispered. Then sat up, with his help, as she saw the struggle of Huan with the huge wolf.
They barely noticed the howls and bays from the creatures all around.
"It's Sauron, I think," Gaergath whispered. "It must be." Lúthien nodded.
"I fear Huan will not win this one," she said.
It was then that he took the pole, moved closer and flung the oil at the enormous wolf, then cast the torch at it, so that it went up in flames, and yet Huan did not loose his hold on it. And Sauron squirmed hideously, and then suddenly he seemed to diminish, then the flames revealed a huge serpent, with fangs fully six inches long, which it raised to strike at the dog, which maintained his grip on its throat.
With a cry, Lúthien moved forward once more, raising her cloak, whereupon it turned into something more, with two heads, and eight legs--a giant spider or scorpion it appeared to be, with horns and a large sucking mouth and a long pointed tail, and Gaergath thought he might swoon then.
Yet Huan did not release his hold.
The tail, which was at least six feet long, raised itself to sting the dog, lifting above its head and moving down.
Lúthien snatched the pole from Gaergath then, and jabbed it at the monster. The tail waved and the thing writhed horribly, shrieking, and tore itself from Huan's mighty jaws, leaving a portion of itself in them, and sprang at Lúthien once more.
And Gaergath came to himself.
And raised the clawed wings of his own cloak, saying, "Wolf!"