Sauron found himself clutched by the throat by an enormous beast.
He was naked, with nothing but his long hair to grip, his body sweating and partially burnt from the oil, yet he fought off the creature with all his might, trying to shift once more, but he had spent too much of his strength already, and the pain weakened him further.
Over and over they rolled, while Lúthien ran to see about Huan, who was whimpering from a deep wound, then she glanced about for Gaergath, whom she had not seen shift.
"Gaergath?" she said. He had not run away, had he?
Then she saw his dagger.
But as she bent to pick it up, a bloody hand snatched at her wrist, and as she jerked away, the hand grasped the weapon.
"Not yet, my lovely," Sauron said chuckling a little, and barely eluded her as she lifted the folds of her cloak once more. He lunged at the wolf again, and then she understood.
"Nay, you shall not!" she cried picking up the pole and bringing it down on his head with all her might...
...but not before he had managed to stab the wolf.
Huan made one last spring at Sauron, who stood in horror as the wolf began taking on human form once more.
"Gaergath," he whispered, looking at the boy who rocked on his knees, clutching at his side which was bleeding profusely. Then the dog brought him down once more, but Sauron did not fight him off this time.
"Gaergath," Luthien cried, running to him. He blinked up at her as she bent over him, reeling in pain, then he raised a hand to look at it. It was all bloody.
She looked back at Sauron, whose face was covered in blood, then seized the dagger from him, and he did not even resist.
"Kill him," Gaergath managed to whisper.
Whether or not she heard him, he never knew. She held the dagger to Sauron's breast, and spoke to him words Gaergath could barely hear, as he groaned and clamped his hand to his wound. The only ones he understood were "the mastery of thy tower."
Gaergath grew dizzy then, and through his pain-haze he saw something rise up hugely and blackly, and take wing, and it flew upward, and he felt something wet drip upon him as it vanished screaming in the night. Then he heard Lúthien's voice once more, singing, and felt himself being raised, and helped onto Huan's back as she removed the cloak from his shoulders and let it fall on the bridge. And he felt a trembling beneath him and a brightness grew all about, a sweet and fresh smell not unlike the air after a long rainstorm arose as her song issued forth.
And still singing, she held him with one arm around his waist and Huan began to move up the bridge, past the stinking carcasses which began to dissolve in the light.
Gaergath became aware of a coldness and an evil presence as they passed the form of Drauglir, which lay yet upon the stones, but so concerned was Lúthien with getting him inside and finding Beren that she did not notice the spirit of the great wolf leaving its bloody pelt and following behind.
As Gaergath awoke he wondered if he were in a dream. Yet it felt no dream.
He was alone in a room, yet he seemed to be looking down from the ceiling, and saw a form that strongly resembled his own lying on a table, partly covered with a blanket, blood seeping from one corner of the mouth. It was dark but he had no trouble seeing at all. There was another form lying all covered up nearby, and the covering was blood-stained. He heard voices, one of which he recognized as hers, and another he did not know. It sounded like a man's. They were speaking of him, he realized, and she was weeping.
We will bury him beside Finrod tomorrow, after we have quit this place, the man was saying. You are certain he is Sauron's son, my love?
Finrod? The name sounded remotely familiar, but Gaergath could not think where he had heard it before.
Then he heard another voice that sounded familiar, but he could not recall it precisely.
He is. I met him some time ago. Before I was taken captive.
You should have killed him, my lady, he said.
Then I could not have freed Beren, or you, Lúthien said through tears. His spirit would have remained, and I could not have banished it.
Then she entered the room with a tall candlestick in her hand. The cloak was gone and she stood in her blue gown. She came and covered the face of the form that resembled Gaergath, just before kissing its forehead, on which two of her tears fell. Then she set the candle beside it, and seemed about to speak, and two other male figures came into the room. One was Rimbrion, without a doubt...although somewhat altered from the last time Gaergath had seen him. His hair was nearly white, and some of it was gone, and his clothes were in rags and his face was scarred horribly, and he walked with a limp. A man followed close behind, with matted and bloodied brown hair and his clothing was ragged also, and he too carried a candle. He could not have been much past thirty, yet he looked considerably older, and walked with a limp also. Still, Gaergath could see he was yet handsome with a noble aspect, an aura of kingliness in the soft candlelight which none of the memories of darkness could diminish. He set his candle beside the other covered body, then came to Lúthien and put an arm around her, kissed her cheek and led her gently from the room, Rimbrion following, looking over his shoulder at the form on the table, then closing the door behind him.
And Gaergath felt himself rising, rising, until the form on the table dwindled, and he became swallowed up in brightness, and did not see a sickly greenish light coming up from under the door and floating through the room, to envelop the body lying beneath the unstained sheet in coldness, and to enter it, and he did not see the form stir and rise, and push back the sheet and drift toward the open window, smiling through the fangs that were slowly appearing through bloodied lips....
He saw only before him a great hall, and another female form who stood smiling all in white, opening her arms to him against the dark marble of the hall, which seemed dim although it had many tall windows.
At last, my son, she said.
Am I dreaming? he asked as they walked slowly down the hall, where many others stood conversing or strolling about, some looking out the windows, some seeming not to know where they were.
Nay, my son, she said. We are here, together at last.
What of Her? he asked. Where is she? Is she dead also?
She was dead long ago. But she is not here.
Did Sauron kill her?
Nay, he did not. It was as he said; he gave her your cloak, and took hers. But without her cloak, she grew weaker, and I was able to escape her once more. But I could not take physical form this time.
So she is still out there?
Nay, she is not. I locked her down below in her coffin as she slept in the day, and laid it with silver coins. She will not escape. She will be there until she dies, or for all time...or unless someone comes to rescue her.
What of Hyldreth?
She has gone, I know not where. Perhaps she will find her son. As I found mine.
What of...Lúthien? Will Sauron come back and kill her? I would go back and protect her.
I do not think she needs it, my son. I dare say the bards will have something besides her beauty to sing of now.
She smiled in the dimness.
I wonder if she could have dealt with Sauron if I had not used the cloak, he said. Perhaps I should not have done so. Perhaps things would have been...better.
You did well, my son. I am very proud of you. I knew someday, despite your faults, you would do something that would make me proud. I would have had you grow to manhood, and take a wife, and have a family, not to have died before you came of age. But so it must be. Many a soldier has died thus, with honor, before his life truly began.
So Finrod was a king, then? We will meet him here? And I shall be buried beside him as a hero?
Curonel sat silent.
Mother? I will be buried as a hero, yes?
She sat silent yet.
Mother, why is it so dim here? Why are we not in the Gardens?
We will not reach the Gardens for a while yet, my son. We must pass the Shadow first.
Why is that?
Because I did not forgive her. I locked her up, and cursed her. In so doing, I cursed myself.
Why should you have forgiven her?
Because it is necessary in order to achieve blessedness and purification. It just is. But we will get there, you and I. Together.
Why am I here also? Because I did not forgive him? Because I killed the farmer? I did much that was wrong, I know. But I embraced goodness at the end, did I not? Just a little?
To embrace goodness but a little is to embrace it not at all. Lúthien 's words, he recalled. A chill of despair rippled over him.
More than a little, my son. Which is why you will pass the Shadow. We will get there...in time.
In time. That is all I can tell you.
I am ready then, he said.
And so they moved through the Halls arm in arm, amongst the shades of those who had gone before them, and were coming behind them, and must move through the Shadow before they could enter the Outer Circles, an endless cavalcade flowing like a slow river through timelessness and unformed hope.