Title: The Last Journey
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Fourth Age of the Sun
Genre: AU, Action/Adventure
Rating: M / FRM
Main characters: Aragorn, Celeborn, Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond, Éomer, Erestor, Faramir, Gandalf, Gimli, Glorfindel, Haldir, Legolas, Meriadoc, Nazgûl, Pippin, Thranduil (, OCs).
Pairings: Legolas/OMC (brief Aragorn/Arwen, Éowyn/Faramir)
Summary: After many peaceful years that have followed the war against Sauron, everything changes. Evil returns, striking without warning, and it is stronger than ever before. It is time for the final fight, but who shall achieve victory?
Work in Process.
Warnings: Characters’ death (major, OC), violence, torture, slash, mild sexual content (het and slash), plenty of evil, etc.
Legolas stared at his reflection, feeling the slight tremble of revulsion trailing up and down his spine. His skin was sweaty and clammy, and he had hardly slept since his last talk with the Dark Elf called Daroth. He had been brought food, but he could not eat; the twisting, swirling mass of darkness inside him took care of that.
His dreams were dark images, insane and full of destruction. It was as if the pictures were too complex for him to see, and he could not comprehend half of it. His only comfort was to know that they were not his dreams and thoughts – and it was a cold comfort indeed. He had struggled not to sleep after the first time the visions came, but his body was worn out, and he could feel his strength fading even now.
His blue eyes, pained yet still bright in the darkness, stared back at him from the mirror. His fingers fiddled with his clothes; he had been given new garments, his old clothing taken away, and although he loathed anything given to him by the dark servants, he would either wear these black robes or stand naked.
Within him, Sauron was pleased. There was a dark, sick echo even in that emotion, though, and Legolas had a hard time keeping himself upright. He did not know how Annatar had thought him capable of withstanding a torment such as this. No breath he took seemed to be able to fill his lungs. His chest was tight with pain, and he wondered if this was how being ill felt to his mortal friends.
Worst of all, though, was that he could feel his fëa suffering. It was being torn apart, bit by bit, crumbling beneath the endless push of Sauron’s will and darkness.
A hand was laid on his shoulder, and Legolas took a shuddery gasp, opening his eyes. He had not even noticed closing them, or falling to his knees in front of the mirror. All of a sudden he felt the weight lift itself, though, and gazed at the mirror to find Daroth’s dark eyes looking at him.
“I am dying,” Legolas finally gasped.
“It will hurt less when you stop fighting him. When he takes over… you feel nothing after that,” the Dark one concluded, but his hand still remained on the Sindar’s shoulder, and Legolas did not pretend this was just a passing gap in Sauron’s presence; Daroth was holding the Dark Lord at bay, giving the younger Elf time to draw his breath.
Sounds were coming from the outside, increasing like waves, then quieting down again. Legolas had been listening to it for some time, and he was getting curious. “What is going on outside?”
“Annatar is about to address the army. That has not happened often, so the men are looking forward to it.”
Legolas tried to decide if the other sounded pleased with this – or disdained. It was hard to tell. “Then why would they all serve her so willingly, if she has not shown herself before?”
“For those who used to serve Sauron, it does not take much to gather under the right flag. They know where their allegiances lie. They know who she is – they can feel it.”
“And their obedience is blind,” Legolas decided. It was pitiful – and somewhat admirable as well. How could so many be so alike in mind? If only the people beyond the borders of these dark lands could be as easily swayed… Perhaps it was this that made the difference between the free people and dark servants.
Daroth smiled, and Legolas narrowed his eyes to the other’s mirror image. He did not find any of this amusing, but then, their perspectives were a little different.
“It is time,” the Dark Elf stated after a while, removing his hand, and Legolas felt a cold-hot rush flooding back into his consciousness. It always hurt the worst when Sauron re-established his control, suspiciously guarding his ground as if he was not certain whether or not he lost it. Legolas never tried to fight him back too hard because he was afraid to reveal more to Sauron than he already unconsciously was; he did not think that it would be good for the former Dark Lord to know about Daroth’s effect on him, especially considering that Annatar was still connected to his father, and Legolas’ life depended on her good graces.
Legolas stood up slowly, feeling strange, but by now he had already got used to feeling unsteady and light-headed. It was as if his body was no longer his alone to control. As long as he was doing whatever was agreeable to Sauron, everything went well, but beyond that even breathing was hard sometimes. The delicate chain around his neck seemed to weigh much more at moments like those, burning his skin without actually leaving a mark, seeping through to his very bones. “Where are we going?” Legolas asked, assuming Daroth had come to collect him.
“Outside. Fresh air will do you good,” the Dark Elf explained simply, smoothing Legolas’ robes as if to make sure he was appropriately dressed. Legolas held back a shiver, then stepped around to face him. It was always hard to look at those midnight dark eyes; it seemed that while he was getting used to the darkness around him, the evil in Daroth was still distinct from it. Like a completely different shade.
Daroth led the way to the door, opening it. Legolas was mildly surprised that it was not locked, but then, perhaps they did not expect he would attempt to escape. Hesitantly he followed the other into a stone corridor. The floor was cold and rough beneath his feet – he had not been given shoes to wear, either accidentally or on purpose. While it was unpleasant, it also gave him something to focus his attention on, especially when they walked outside and a sickening wave passed through him as his eyes pierced the looming darkness to see the scurrying creatures spread all around the broken tower of Barad-dûr.
On top of winding, cracked stairs stood a figure clad in black, and while Legolas’ eyes could not recognise the person, he felt a harsh tug inside his chest. Sauron knew his daughter, and Legolas stumbled forward, only Daroth’s hand on his elbow keeping him upright.
Annatar turned to gaze at him when Legolas finally fell to his knees slightly behind her. His eyes may have been playing tricks on him, but he was quite certain she frowned.
“He does not appear as strong to me as you believed he would be,” she noted after a moment, stepping forward and lifting the Elf’s chin with her hand. The delicate pressure of her nails against his throat made Legolas shudder. The darkness was almost overpowering now, Sauron’s weight upon his spirit unbearable.
“He is fighting. That is why he appears so weak. Soon enough, his body and mind shall submit to Sauron, and he will feel better,” Daroth promised, his hand upon Legolas’ head.
Annatar nodded thoughtfully, then turned again to look upon her army. “Raise him. I will not have him appear weak now.”
Legolas was shaking as he rose, his legs aching from the attempt to keep himself standing. Daroth was not helping him to his surprise, although the other kept hovering near. The Prince swallowed, trying to gather the tattered remnants of his free will. He was not going to bow before her, or Sauron… He was going to endure this, or die trying. He would not stop fighting.
Annatar raised her hands, and every living creature on the plateau before them stopped moving. Every sound faded. Even the wind was holding its breath. “Faithful servants,” she began, voice unnaturally booming off the mountainside. It was as if every rock magnified it instead of swallowing the words to the darkness. “Brave warriors of the East,” she went on, her words welcomed by a roar from below. “Long you have waited. Your faith has been strong, and today it shall be rewarded! The West will shake in fear – and they should; long we have waited for our vengeance, to take what they took from us. Their eternal glory will be shattered and ruin shall befall them.” Another roar and a clash of metal met her words.
Legolas wondered if the response would have been the same even if Annatar had proclaimed the time of Darkness was over.
“They tore apart this land, and they rid us from our strength. No more,” the leader of the Dark army went on. When she looked to the side, gazing at her forces, Legolas could see satisfaction on her features. This was no doubt a moment she had been waiting for.
Annatar gestured with her hand, and Legolas felt a hot rush in his mind. He barely even noticed as he stepped beside her, and she laid her hands on his shoulders. He knew she was smiling; he could feel it. His head was spinning, vision narrowing, but his body stood there, rigid, and for the first time in his life it felt as if he had no control over it at all.
The daughter of Sauron slid her hands to his front, then parted his robes enough to expose the piece of the Palantír. “Hail your Master reborn!” Her words were loud, but they seemed miles away to Legolas’ ears. Everything around him was drowning away as the Orcs, Trolls, Men, and other servants of the dark cheered below them. The stone on the chain flared, and Legolas was certain his heart would give out.
Then, sharper than anything in his life, he could hear Daroth snort. He turned his head to look at the other, and saw the brief, private look of disdain on the Dark Elf’s face. The world around him was coiling in shadows, unclear, but the other was as clear as a bright Moon on the summer sky. Legolas blinked, and it was gone; his vision was blurred again, and his head was filled with words and echoes of Sauron’s dark malice. The dark army roared even louder, and Legolas broke out in cold sweat. His body was shaking now, and he felt the world starting to slip away completely.
And then, suddenly, there was a hand on his face. Like a phantom’s touch, he could feel it, cool yet warm, comforting and so strong it made his head reel. He looked up, and saw the brown eyes of his Guardian. In the darkness, he shone like a star, and Legolas basked in his strength.
“Be strong,” Rafél told him, his lips moving out of synch with his voice, which Legolas could clearly hear in his head over the mutterings of the Dark Lord.
Sauron’s attention shifted. Legolas felt as if his head would explode, and when he blinked his eyes, Rafél’s image began to fade before him. “Rafél!” he shouted after him, desperately trying to reach for him, but he was gone, and when Legolas finally opened his eyes for real, he was on his knees on the ground. The army was still making noises, the sound deafening.
Above the roar, though, he could feel a familiar voice of a Man speaking to Annatar who stood few feet from him: “We caught them passing Gorgoroth. Elves and Men with some Dwarves and a couple of banakil.”
“Hobbits?” Annatar mused.
“And a Wizard,” the Man, Tzórag, added.
“Mithrandir,” Annatar seethed, but when she looked down at Legolas, he knew she was not upset by this new turn of events. “Come, Prince. Let us go welcome your friends. My father is most eager to meet the ones who tried to destroy him. But then, you already know that, do you not?”
Legolas closed his eyes against the sudden stab of pain in his head. Yes, Sauron had waited for this for a long time.
to be continued…