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.
“Estel,” Elladan greeted as he approached Aragorn.
“Busy as always, it seems?” his twin chirped as he also pushed in to join Elladan before Aragorn’s desk.
The King looked at them, then at the piles of parchments waiting for his attention. “It seems I cannot run around Middle-earth and just continue where I left off.”
“Imagine that,” Elladan snorted softly.
“Is there a reason for this visit?” Aragorn enquired because he really needed to get some work done, and he had felt less than inspired lately. He was happy to be home, and see that his people were well, but after his first night back – when he slept off his exhaustion from travel and battle weariness – it seemed these halls had gone silent and cold. Since Arwen’s death…
“You are thinking of her?” Elrohir guessed. “She would not wish you such pain. Your people need you, and there is still joy to be found in the world.”
“Is that what you came to tell me?” Aragorn knew it sounded harsher than he intended, but he wished not to speak of her – not even with her brothers. The guilt was gnawing at him, and it always intensified whenever someone from Rivendell was nearby.
“Glorfindel and Erestor are heading back to Rivendell tomorrow,” Elladan told him. “They shall ride with the Men of Rohan. We are thinking of staying a while. The Hobbits expressed a desire to stay as well, then head out to Rohan to stay with Éomer. We said we would accompany them when they felt like going, as it is on our way home.”
Aragorn nodded. He knew everyone would head out sooner or later.
“Lord Celeborn and the Elves of Eryn Lasgalen are preparing to leave. They shall journey north together. They will probably leave after the party for Rohan moves out,” the Peredhil went on.
“They would have come to tell you, but you seem to have holed up here in your study,” Elrohir concluded.
“Gandalf also said he desires to have a word with you before he leaves,” Elladan added suddenly, as if he had almost forgotten. “It seems he found nothing useful in the libraries, and he is trying other sources, whatever that means.”
“He might come to Rivendell with us. Father’s collection is quite impressive,” Elrohir mused.
“Do you think he would have never mentioned Sauron had a daughter had he known?”
“Are we still talking about our father?”
There was a brief silence as the identical faces stared at each other. Then they both shrugged.
“He would have told us,” Elrohir decided.
“Glad that we agree.”
“Are you two done?” Aragorn asked with a sigh.
“If your Highness is done with us,” Elladan said pointedly.
Aragorn waved his hand distractedly as he tried to focus on the appeal in front of him. He could hear the murmured words of each of the two he had called ‘brother’ for years, but decided he needed to get some more work done before he could leave his study. After all, Faramir had been doing too much work lately, and Aragorn felt like while he had been fulfilling one duty, he had been neglecting the one to his people.
The day to see off his friends came too soon.
“Take care of yourself, laddie,” Gimli told him. “Remember, Aglarond is not all that far away, if you need a sturdy shoulder to lean on.”
Aragorn nodded, clasping hands with the Dwarf.
“You should come back south at some point,” Merry spoke up elsewhere. “You could join us on our way to Shire.”
“You would love it there!” Pippin agreed.
“I shall, if possible.” Shannai was grinning, although he seemed sad to see the Hobbits and Dwarves go; his group was heading north today, to take news to their King and kinsmen.
Gimli shook his head. “Trust me, this is not the last we have heard of that one.”
Aragorn chuckled. “I think it is rather… admirable.”
“Admirable?!” Gimli sounded as if he was suffocating on something. “Ridiculous is more like it. One would think Elves would have enough culture to offer him…”
“He has been a great friend to us,” Aragorn reminded his companion.
“Aye,” Gimli finally gave up, then shook his head as young Fundal went to say goodbye. He made a choking sound again when Shannai knelt to hug the Dwarf. Aragorn heard him mutter something about ‘disgrace’ when he walked off to the direction of Adír, who looked just as displeased by Fundal’s behaviour.
“An odd friendship,” Éomer observed as he walked up to Aragorn next. His eyes were dancing, though, as he watched Shannai chatter away with his smaller friends. It seemed his Elven companions were having a much similar reaction to Gimli’s as they watched him go on, but none moved to stop him. Perhaps there was some envy in them, for they were not being able to be so open about their friendship.
“I just cannot find it in my heart to blame him for being the way he is,” the King of Gondor finally decided. “May he be the symbol of the friendships we have formed within this group.”
“Although he is a slightly obnoxious and embarrassing symbol at times,” Éomer added.
“We cannot all be carved of stone!” Shannai shouted their way.
Both Men looked embarrassed, realising that perhaps the Elf had been listening the whole time from the distance, although it seemed quite impossible with the chattering voices all around them.
“Well,” Éomer went on with a slight cough. “I hope we meet again, soon,” he said, sticking out his hand, and Aragorn took it into a firm grip.
“And may it be under better circumstances than this far,” Aragorn hoped.
The King of Rohan nodded then slid on his helmet and walked to the Men that were waiting for him. Glorfindel and Erestor came by him next, each embracing him swiftly before heading out to their own horses waiting for them. The Dwarves pulled themselves up to their ponies, and with the sound of trumpets following, they rode out of the city.
The Elves were going to leave next. Many of them came by to say their farewells to Aragorn, and he wished them all well. “You have a dangerous, long way home,” he said to the group that would travel all the way to the north.
“Fear not,” Dínnor said lightly, “we shall be safe. We have plenty of sharp ears and eyes to scout for any enemy that tries to lurk in the shadows, and if they have any wisdom in their twisted minds, I suggest they stay away from our path.”
Aragorn smiled, and truthfully he did pity any Orc that would cross paths with these Elves. Armed and feeling the loss of one of their own, they would not hesitate to hunt down and attack any creature that even looked at them the wrong way.
“May your journey be safe as well,” Aragorn said, turning to Celeborn.
The Sinda nodded. “The lands are a little safer now, but we have fought long enough to know it may not last forever,” Celeborn replied. “Stay safe. Do not give into the darkness your heart dwells so close to; we have come this far, and it would be mockery to our lost ones to give up now.”
Aragorn bowed his head in acknowledgement. Of course Celeborn sensed the dark thoughts that he could not escape at night.
In silence he watched the Elves mount their horses, then follow the path the Rohan party had just taken. He felt a strong yearning to follow them, but knew better than that.
A hand came to rest on his arm, and Aragorn looked to the side, seeing Gandalf standing there. Although the Wizard has said little of his plans, Aragorn knew he would be leaving soon. There was a restless light in the light eyes. But for now he stood watching their friends disappear into the distance, his presence soothing beside Aragorn’s own.
“We will see them soon, I fear,” Gandalf said at last.
Aragorn glanced at him. “You say it like it is a bad thing, old friend.”
The Wizard sighed. “It might be. Nothing good, for certain, shall reunite this fellowship. But we should not worry about it now,” he then seemed to decide. “I will leave your mighty city soon, to go on pursuit of other leads. Before I go, I want to make sure that you are well.”
“I am alive,” Aragorn said, aware of the bitterness in his voice.
“Neither of their deaths was your fault,” Gandalf said softly yet sternly. “Arwen’s death was unfortunate. One day, perhaps, we shall know the reason behind it. For now we can just guess. Legolas gave his life for us, however, and we must not waste that gift. Honour his memory, and pray for his soul.”
Aragorn glanced at him sharply. “What is that supposed to mean? Is there something wrong that I should know about?”
Gandalf’s face twisted in sorrow, and he leaned onto his staff with both hands, staring into the shadows still spreading over Mordor. “Never mind an old man’s ramblings.”
“Yours have never been such,” the King of Gondor argued.
Gandalf arched an eyebrow, then stared at the accursed land again. “There is no way to know what happened to him. Rafél did not seem to be sure. But for all we know, Legolas is safely within the Halls of Mandos now, waiting for those he loves to reunite with him.”
“And if he is not?” Aragorn felt sick inside.
Gandalf turned to look at him. “Then, indeed, we should pray.” With that he returned inside, and Aragorn followed, knowing there was nothing further the Wizard was going to say, but he did not want to be alone either; too soon Gandalf would leave, and Aragorn would have to fully return to his duties as a King and prepare his people for a battle that was still unseen, yet sure to come.
It was a cold morning when Aragorn and Faramir stood outside the gates of Minas Tirith, watching as the White Rider climbed atop his horse. Wind was whipping around them, tugging onto their clothes. Aragorn clutched his cloak a little closer to his body.
“Stay alert,” Gandalf told them. “I will send a word to you as often as I can, when I discover something that might help us. Until then, we are all on our own.”
“We have defended ourselves against this enemy before, Mithrandir,” Faramir said. “We shall do so yet again.”
Gandalf nodded. “They may come with a roar, or in the darkness of the night, cloaked in deceit and lies. Like I said before: stay alert.”
“You too,” Aragorn nodded.
Gandalf smiled briefly, then urged Shadowfax forward with a soft word that disappeared into the wind. He rode south, but there was no knowing where he was headed; he had refused to tell of his plans to Aragorn, for one reason or other. Aragorn did not ask, knowing it was not his place.
“Now all we can do is wait,” Faramir noted after a moment.
“Then let us not waste that time by standing here,” Aragorn decided, and together they returned to the city, momentarily turning their backs to the waiting gloom of Mordor.
to be continued…
Author’s note: Here is another breathing break for everyone. This story will take a bit of a summer break, and shall return later this year with new adventures.
Is Legolas really dead?
What is Annatar planning?
What is Daroth planning?
Is Shannai going to move to Hobbiton?
Is Gandalf going to find any answers at all?
Some of those questions, and many more, shall be answered in future chapters.