Izilba spoke against bearing arms, concealed or no, into the realm near about Kiliath, that strength or might would be no safe refuge, but instead they ought to trust to Zhera’, and his influence, should they be captured, or if freely granted entrance therein, to find him well and without guard.
Thus they came as ever, in secrecy, under false forms and names, through the land southwest of the sea, until directed by Doral north into the flat lands that bordered the Gorges; and it was in this place that news of their coming was issued, and lookouts reported all they saw of their ways, of who led the party, and of what design they could discern.
So again the border where once before Zhera’ had encamped, they were greeted by a welcome host, as honored guests of Queen Ifariel, or to suffer bonds and certain execution of her decree, be it unto death, or liberation. These choices were presented, moreover, under conditions that Izilba be also, if choosing wisely the invitation, borne upon a chariot, garlanded, in the saffron colored robes given as token of friendship by the queen.
To these demands Izilba consented, being constrained; and her kin was carried behind, Zilpharon as her man-servant; with Miriam maid to the children, boys painted also with saffron, and anointed in fragrant oil. So they came to the secret cut between the Gorges End and Sharp, where bismuth in great abundance was stacked all about, and glistened; as the party was borne to the House of Council-Judgment where sat the queen, she looked upon the parade parked outside, beyond her court, and stood before them, bidding them welcome, rest, nourishment, and good fortune at having come into her domain.
She went to Izilba upon her chariot tall, and kneeling, gave her the royal hand, wrapped still in a wreath, upon which hawks and other prey-birds might catch and land. But Izilba saw what was in her heart, and the wickedness hidden in the darkness of the people’s minds, eager to take her as the image of their queen divine, and to slaughter her with the boys, in cruel torment; yet this insight she concealed, acting as one beguiled, and eager to take up a place near; and servant to the queen. And nothing did she see concerning Zhera’. In the evening under guard and spying eyes and listening ears, she spoke with Doral in a tongue devised to mislead, and Miriam acting as translator, gave all in the words known to the people, but in a manner not at all like the meaning of Izilba’s thought, so they confounded the guards and keepers, and Zilpharon played the dumb-servant, brute to bear tasks for beasts; and kicking- man for the boys, so they would not fear, and also give away the purposes of their quest into that land.
Indeed, of their purposes, Ifariel did not inquire; but gave off that generosity and invitation without fear of consequence, was the custom of her house; a noble court among the rude lands. In their meeting before the House, Izilba was indeed addressed with a variant tongue of Westernesse, but acted the ignorant, and responded as one pretending to grasp what was not understood; speaking in a gibberish of sound to mimic those of the queen, though in truth she understood well what was said; and what intention these words concealed, and she was dismayed.
The land was much broken, brown, and dying under the fumes and reek issuing of vents, and many sick lay about. The sky was not blue, but a sickly yellow by day; and brown without starlight in evening. Signs of famine stood out, despite the rich produce left for their dinner, and the sacrifice of pig (boar) made, as it seems, in their honor to bless the land at their coming. In the ensuing days, a plan was devised for escape, for it was evident that Zhera’ was not here, and they feared to inquire if he had passed through, and whether it was northward or back south.
At mid-day the queen would pass through the streets upon her strange enormous beast, drawing a cart of food to be tossed to gatherers crowding about, who proceed to tear at one another, so great was their hunger. So their plans to escape they delayed, seeing in this valley a great folk fallen into misery and bondage, servants to a queen of mighty skill and cunning, willing to do all things for the preservance of her dominion.
Death she decreed, seeming at random, by unlucky chance; and men were stripped bare at her passing, some being then bound, and hooded as birds, then dragged behind the beast and its cart; seldom did any man perish thus, but should they complain, or murmur against this discipline, suddenly the decree was made accusing that man of crimes, and of furthering thus the slow demise of the land, its fruits and weather.
Though counseled in truth against her party bearing arms on this quest into Kiliath, she (Izilba) was herself concealing her great sword Makmahôd, under the ^hooded cloak she wore at all times, or within its folds, when commanded to undress and wear the ceremonial robes of that priestess committed to the servitude of their goddess. None dared to look upon her, for she saw through all darkness, into minds; and showed therein, should she will it thus, to know what passes and whither it leads.
So it was she came again upon the wheeled chariot by donkey pulled, down the way before the court, wearing the robes, yet also concealed under the cloak. And she was led upon a high stand to look out over the land, and here she was to be murdered, being tossed from that platform and run upon by the gathered crowd, an offering made for the longevity of their queen whose sickness was thought to pass into likenesses of power, and in Izilba all discovered a vessel capable of bearing sufficient illness to heal much that passed upon the land, into the homes, and settled upon all flesh.
Yet when presented, as one royal and to be gazed upon in wonder, admiration, and worship, she drew forth Makmahôd, and he sang as he slew, of Turin Turambar, and he sang of the dragon Glaurung whose blood he drank up without abating his thirst; he sang of taking on in the halls underneath, a companion who also slew mightier ones than any now before him. And the song was dreadful, echoing in the bones, as cracking and breaking sinews, and the slicing of flesh; so few would challenge Izilba, and these few died indeed, swiftly; rushing upon the queen, she demanded her man- servant and maid and children, and that Doral be dressed as their queen; and all that she asked be answered, or slaughter to cover their parched soil red would follow. So it was done, and Ifariel was as stricken pale, saying to them all she knew of Zhera’ and his faithfulness, and that southward his party had been spied, with Emmer and his kin as guide into that land where none now lived, as before, in settled towns.
Then Izilba spoke of the Gods, of Ulmo and Manwë, Aule and those who served the Eru, whose name had been forgotten in these lands as the shadow spread and reached into every corner and crevice of rock, now into Kiliath, sacred of old. Izilba then unwound the catch wreathed about the queen’s wrist, and held it high, pronouncing the people free of her bonds and ties, and declaring the queen anathema: subject to every decree and judgment issued from her own mouth, if these people would be as just to her – though mercy she counseled, leaving them to do as they would; slaying the great beast as she passed, and saying for all to hear, “Here is the sign your queen has died and passed into the West.” And she ran the sword through its smoking throat, and let the blood run out, and announced that meat here was sufficient to feed a great many, and that thereafter they should collect their goods and from this accursed land, depart; a rushing torrent, she warned, would fill all the valley and consume any that remained.
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