[II] The Nature of The Catastrophe

Before going any further with this chronicle, it should be explained where and how it all started, Helcequen’s illness, for want of a better word, that is. Although mostly in remission, it can revisit at the moments when her will is weakest, when she is tired and frustrated!

The scholars within the house of Vanimar did not just sit around and read old scrolls, they go on field trips, investigating directly themselves ,often in some quite dangerous circumstances.
One such trip was into Eregion with an escort of scouts and hunters from Vanimar’s Arrows, who were also interested in scouting movements and incursions of hostile forces in the area. Helcequen (henceforth Helce for brevity) and her fellow scholar Anawiel were seeking any relics or lore that may have remained untouched in these lands over the years. It turns out there were many but we should stick to the part that concerns this tale directly.

The party began a thorough investingation of the once great ring forges in the southern part of Eregion at Tham Mirdain and came across something that would live with Helce, probably the rest of her life.

Moving deeper into the structure, having cleared a few unpleasant 'infestations' that lurked there, they came into a large chamber that somehow was still protected from the worst of the weather, there was a large decorative mural on the wall, seemingly very well preserved.  It had a shimmer around it like some sort of aura.. not one you could see but one you could feel, even at a distance. It was very odd… magnetic .. intriguing, inviting, later Helce said she felt it wanted to be her friend.

To some extent all were effected, the Arrows normal level headed caution did not move them to council the scholars to stay back while they made the area safe.  As Helce walked closer it became clear the main feature was a figure .. tall, dark and noble, beguiling. The eyes could have been that of a living person, they invited you in, gained your confidence and opened the door to you spirit.  Helce, in a later conversation with Noriliel, her friend and healer, described it as if she wanted to give herself completely to the force in the picture she was falling into a bottomless pit with this powerful presence holding her.

If seemed to pick out Helce particularly and somehow held the others immobile unable to intervene. If it had not been for Nanthon, an old experienced scout she would have been lost forever in this shadow world. He alone was able to shake off the hypnotic effects, rush forward and drag Helce far enough away to break the glamour in which Helce was held.

The mural then was of Annatar, yes Sauron, in his most appealing guise when he taught the Elves his ring-lore, then betrayed them. This then was a trap designed long ago by the great enemy to ensnare any who saw it, imagine its potency when first it was painted and the malice and power that must have been poured into it. The party, Helce most especially, was badly shaken but it seemed that through the prompt and heroic action of Nanthon we had evaded a catastrophe. However the true nature of this trap was far more subtle, this had merely been a test, a preparation for the main feature.

Investigations and excavations continued and much of interest was found including something that was meant to be found … by Helce … she kept it secret. It was on orb, a large crystal ball to her eyes, similar in appearance to a Palantir of old, to those who are familiar, but not possessing any power to see. To some however it appeared a smooth spherical rock. On the return journey she started spending nights secretly looking at and this became an obsession when she returned to Imladris.

It almost drove Helce mad, the power of the mural had planted a dangerous seed in her mind, she was susceptible to dark influences. Some of the malice that was in the mural was also in this orb, Annatar (Sauron) was still calling to her through it and this device had been brought into the very heart of Lord Elrond’s house. Whether the Dark Lord was somehow able to work through this device or if it was merely a remnant of his will, is still a matter for discussion, but there is little doubt that the intention was for him to do that!

Helce was strong and matched her will well with it for a time but as the exhaustion of the sleepless nights took its toll she gradually weakened. Fortunately the weakening had also removed the desire for secrecy and Helce took to openly carrying it and sitting transfixed for hours. She was discovered by Norliriel her friend calling out to the deceiver to come to her and help all the elves, like he had before. A great battle of will followed and with help, Helce managed to rip her gaze away and cast the stone off .. it rolled away down the hill and Helce collapsed. The stone was gathered up and locked away in the vaults of the hall where it could, hopefully do no more harm.

The skill of Norliriel and other healers, Helce believed, was to contain the situation skilfully such that it was Helce’s own free will that cast the device aside, this is how her mind was saved that day. The experience and hurt will not completely heal but it is buried deep down.. After much rest and attention, she was to all appearances cured but given where her path would lead next, the malaise would manifest again before the day of the letter………