Title: Crimson Regret
Disclaimer: Tolkien owns Middle Earth and all associated with it.
Rating: R, might be higher later.
Category: Pure LOTR
Pairing: None really, so far anyway. There will be hints of all kinds though, but nothing solid for a long time.
Summary: The rage was all she had. For thirteen years it sustained her. . .
Notes: Very AU, because I'm messing around with quite a few things. I've been doing some reading up on the Harad since this idea came to me, and though some of the information I got fit my purposes, not all of it did. So this story is going to use parts of how Tolkien wrote Harad and its people.
Notes2: People of Harad speak Haradaic, which I cannot find a dictionary for. If anyone knows of one, let me know. But for now, I'm employing a lot of Hindi and Punjabi terms and names.
Notes3: Title from the Evanescence song "Tourniquet"
She was a beautiful creature once.
Her life had been wonderful, her heart light and carefree. She had once been young, she had once been uncorrupted. Once, her whole world consisted solely of her mother, her father, her brothers, and how much she loved them all. Once she had been happy.
But then her world came crashing down around her and all those things that made her so beautiful were ripped away. Gone was the innocence, gone was the loving young girl of barely thirteen years. She was gone, burned away in the pyres of her family. And the creature that came to replace her could not be thought of as remotely human.
Or so she says. His outlook on the matter was very different.
He sighed and shifted, leaning hard on his walking stick as he laboured his way down the hillside. Some of his grandchildren surrounded him but he waved off their attempts to help him down to the tiny row of cottages dotting the landscape. He walked on his own, retracing the old paths of his youth. He moved past all those cottages, making his way to the very outer regions of the village. He clutched the urn in his left arm tightly to his chest, brushing off anyone who tried to take the burden from him.
He led the way down to those last two cottages, practically hidden from the rest of the village. Even from here he could see that they were still abandoned. No one seemed to have the heart to move into these two homes. They were left alone, falling into ruin, a pitiful marker of the bloody history of this land. He sighed in remorse, shaking his head as he made his way past those two homes, remembering a time when they had been lovely homes, bursting with life. Such a long time ago and yet the pain of those days still lingered.
Perhaps that's what she had always been trying to tell him. He never understood why she could not recover from the horror of those days like he had. His loss had been no less than hers and yet while he pushed on with his life, she lingered in the terrible memory of what she had lost. He had always thought that she refused to let herself forget what had happened, but maybe it was not so simple as that. Maybe it was that she simply could not part herself from the memories of that crime because without it, she truly would have had nothing.
Down he went, past those cottages and down yet another old dirt path. He could hear some of the disgruntled mumblings from the people who followed him, heard some of the whispered doubts of his memory. Did he honestly know where he was leading them? Perhaps he had forgotten where it was. It had been over eighty years.
But on he trudged, taking them all closer and closer to their destination. It seemed like they marched for hours and perhaps it was so. He wasn't quite as quick as he had been in the past, age tended to do that to a person. But in the end, he arrived in just the place she had wanted.
He stopped just shy of the shore, looking down at the thin river stretching before him. Funny, it seemed much smaller to him now than it had in the past. Of course, the last time he had seen this place he had been barely more than a child. But it was still very much the same. The only calm stretch of the river for some three miles, the currents mild enough for children to play safely provided they had enough sense not to go too far in.
"Is this it?"
The soft voice came from his right. He looked down, seeing the youngest of her grandchildren looking up at him with wide eyes. He smiled down at her and nodded, turning back to the water and heaving yet another sigh. It was as if his age had finally caught up to him, in this place of his childhood. How many times had they wandered up here, accompanied by his brothers or hers? Too many times for him to remember. It had been their secret place, their little hideout from the rest of the world.
She had always wanted to come back, but her feet never made the trip. But she had asked this of him, so many years ago, and so while she never made the trip back here, he would lay her to rest right where she asked.
"Yes it is."
Her eldest son stepped forth, reaching out for the urn he had carried all this way. He stopped him before he got too far, shaking his head slightly.
"I should do it. She asked it of me."
Her son nodded and stepped back, his eyes respectful and understanding. He turned back to the water, stepping into the shallow parts of it slowly. He spun the top off the urn with shaking hands, cursing the age that had snuck into them over the past years. He fumbled for a second but he recovered, the lid off the urn and the scent of her ashes floating up towards him. Hard to believe that after all she had done in her life, all that was left of her was in this tiny little container.
He startled at the sound of his name, sparing his younger brother a small smile before commencing with his task. He shook the container clean, letting her ashes fall into the water and slowly start to make their way down the river. He shook the urn until the last ash floated out and then he stilled, standing in the water, seeing her face as it had been in their childhood. She had been such a different person back then, and yet she never ceased to be who she was.
He stepped back onto the shore, looking out over the crowds of people standing about to watch as the mighty woman was finally put to rest. So many people were standing there, far too many people for this tiny little area. Many more would come in the next few days, all who wished to pay their respects.
It was hard to imagine that a woman called the Destroyer would bring all these people to tears over her passing. But she had been so much more than what the stories had made her out to be. And at the same time, she had been less than the stories wanted her to be. It would shock many to learn that the things she had accomplished during her time had not been things she had planned to do. She had never desired to be the figure that she would become. She had only ever wanted vengeance.
But in the midst of all her pain and all her rage, she inspired an entire people to rise up for justice. She had been the flag that they all united under though she never understood why. She didn't see how someone as empty, as broken as her could have ever brought all these people together. She made no effort to do it either. All those people flocked to her and before she even realized what was happening, she had an army at her beck and call.
But she never wanted to be a leader. That role she would gladly hand over to others she saw as more deserving, people she thought were better suited to the task of leadership. But even that boy she had picked out of the masses, that boy who had the right to rule, even he followed her with blind faith and fierce loyalty.
"Come Grandfather, it's been a long day."
He smiled at his grandson, allowing the boy to take him by his arm and lead him away from the water. He cast one look back at the water and heaved a great sigh of regret.
"Have I ever told you the story?" he asked his grandson.
"No Grandfather," he replied quickly, his tone eager but hesitant. "But you promised you would one day."
Navir nodded and continued to walk in silence for a few moments.
"Well, today is a good day I think. Come Raoul, help me to the village and then I'll tell you all you ever wanted to know about that great lady you call the Kalika. It is time I think, time for Lalita's story . . ."