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.
“)…(” = Sindarin
Arwen woke up suddenly from her thoughts, realising that the night had already fallen several hours ago. Once more she could only wonder how her body had changed after that day when she had chosen mortality… Éowyn was humming to herself, appearing to be in her own thoughts as well.
They had been sitting in Arwen’s rooms for hours, speaking of things that held great importance for the both of them, but which their husbands would never understand. Of course they shared their joy of the coming children, but they weren’t the ones bearing them.
Arwen smiled at the memory of that day when Aragorn had finally realised that he was going to be a father. The King had been overjoyed and for the next few days he had tried to make Arwen as comfortable as possible. That had also included the fact that Aragorn had treaded her like she was mortally wounded, pleading her all the time to lie down and to take everything as carefully as possible. At last, when her husband hadn’t listened her rational words, Gwen had come to her Queen’s aid. Always so caring Gwen! She had told the King to stop jumping around like a foolish youth, and find himself something useful to do, because Arwen really didn’t need to be taken care of like that for many months yet. Aragorn had mumbled something like an apology, rather sheepishly, and left the room like a beaten dog, realising just how stupid he had acted, apologising Arwen on many occasions later. Arwen still found herself smiling for the memory, because Aragorn was, after all, a healer himself, and had assisted in childbirth many times during his long years on this earth. But it seemed that being a father himself changed something even in Aragorn, making him be like all those other nervous fathers.
Arwen took a cup of sweet smelling tea from a table beside her and sipped, her mind wandering again. She knew it was already late, but she really wasn’t tired. And Éowyn was still here to keep her company. Arwen shifted on the couch, staring out into the dark night. She and Aragorn had spent many nights like this, laying on the soft couch in each other’s arms, staring outside to the darkness.
Only thing that lit the room now were the few candles, and it was already dark outside. The clouds probably covered the Moon, because its light didn’t light the night very much.
“My Lady?” Éowyn asked quietly from her place. “Are you tired?”
Arwen turned to her, smiling. “Nay, I was merely thinking. Of course if you are tired you may retire.”
“Oh, no, I am not weary yet, though the road was quite long and tiring for me.” Éowyn played with her own cup absently. Suddenly there was a knock form the door and a soft voice called.
“Please, Gwen, come in,” Arwen answered and her personal servant opened the door, bringing with her a tray of fruits.
“Good evening, my Ladies. Or I think it is night already. I brought you something little to eat, in the case you get hungry,” the old woman said, putting the tray on the table between the couches.
“My thanks, Gwen. They look delicious!” Arwen said with a smile, eyeing the tray with appreciation. “You may go to sleep if you like. I don’t think we need anything more from you tonight.”
“Very well, my Lady. But if you need me –”
“No we won’t. Now go to sleep.” Arwen laughed lightly, and so Gwen bowed respectfully and left, closing the door after herself silently.
“They indeed look delicious,” Éowyn said, taking a fruit knife from the tray and slicing a piece from an apple. “And Gwen is very nice as well. How did she come to a household? I think I haven’t asked that before.”
“She was in the household of Denethor, before Aragorn came. We met when I arrived to Gondor for the first time, and soon she was my personal servant. Of course she is closer to a friend than a servant for me, but she seems to enjoy helping me around, and keeping me company when I am lonely.”
“Well, I like her already. You are lucky indeed.” Suddenly Arwen tensed, and Éowyn was silenced immediately. A moment of strained stillness followed. “What is it?” Éowyn asked at length.
Arwen stared at the direction of the doorway, and Éowyn twisted around to see what the Queen was staring at. The door could not be seen from the place where they sat, and once again Arwen cursed that fact. She had heard the door shut, but hadn’t heard it being opened. One more thing that has changed after I became mortal, she thought wryly. “Gwen?” she called out softly. Maybe Gwen had forgotten something. But hadn’t she knocked, as always? And why wasn’t she now answering?
Then Arwen felt something, and felt herself relax. A familiar, soothing feeling that followed the Elves wherever they went invaded her mind, and she sighed. It was no wonder she hadn’t heard the door open, if the visitor was an Elf. Their kin had a skill to enter without a sound, and sometimes startle even their own kinsmen, if one was deep in thought.
Suddenly a cloaked figure came into a view. Arwen opened her mouth to greet the stranger, wondering who it was. She wasn’t aware that any of the Elven kin was in Minas Tirith right now. Maybe Legolas has returned earlier than he planned, she thought. Only Legolas or my brothers would dare to enter my rooms without a warning, and this Elf isn’t definitely one of my brothers: I know their presence all too well.
But then the feeling changed. Where before had been warmth and comfort, was suddenly replaced with something dark and cold, which Arwen couldn’t identify nor grasp. A dark, absurd fear invaded her mind. Something was very wrong! Who ever it was in her room held a great strength – an evil one of that. Even with her diminished senses she could feel the evil’s presence, and that fact filled her mind with terror: she had faced much darkness in her past, but all that seemed to be nothing compared to this. Darkness surrounded the Elf like a second garment, and the air itself seemed to turn colder around it. The hood shadowed the Elf’s face so they could see no features at all.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Éowyn stood up, shivering. She also could feel the evil of the approaching person, whatever it was. For Éowyn it seemed to be human, tall and slender, but of course she couldn’t be sure. And she didn’t get any answers either. At least not in words.
Faster than any mortal eye could see, the Elf moved towards Éowyn, grasping her hair in iron grip and swinging her around, while the other hand brought up a blade to her pale throat, cutting it open with one fluid motion. Arwen watched in terror as the Elf let go of Éowyn’s body, letting it fall to the couch while blood ran like a river down her white skin. Lady of Rohan was dead before she fell.
Arwen rose from her place when she noticed that the attacker came closer to her, seeking desperately for a weapon of some sort. She didn’t have any idea what was going on. The attacker surely was an Elf, the stranger’s every movement as Elvish as one’s could be. But in the name of the Gods, why would any Elf act like this? Arwen thought desperately, her eyes trying to find any kind of weapon as the attacker circled closer to her, movements silent and precise, like a cat following a mouse before attacking.
Suddenly her eyes fell to the tray in front of her, and to the small glittering knife upon it. She grabbed it quickly, backing up slowly, watching every movement of her enemy. She could have sworn that the Elf smiled when she brought up the small blade. But it was all she got, and much better than nothing.
Her attacker made the first move, bringing the near-bloodless blade towards her, but she countered the move easily, and danced away from the other Elf. A tactic that her brothers practised when locked into a small space, and which she had adopted especially from Legolas when he had had time to teach her.
Soon she started to realise that her opponent was merely playing with her, not really trying to get through her defences. Now she grew even more worried. Why is this creature playing such a game? Does it find it amusing… The truth hit her. This creature knew that it would win. That’s why it played along.
Arwen sneered inwardly, mocking herself. I cannot even call this monster by a name of an Elf, it seems. Is it because a mere thought of an Elf attacking me is so absurd, so frightening? If this keeps going, I am going to loose. But I cannot loose! I have too much to live for… By instinct, her free hand mover closer her belly, and she set her jaw in determination. She wasn’t going to give up. She wasn’t going to loose.
Arwen pulled a little more away, ready to give her enemy everything she knew about fighting, and that wasn’t just a little. Her brothers and husband were warriors, just like most of her friends and the people she knew. She had also been taught to fight and protect herself, and now she was going to show this creature of evil just how much she had learned.
But her enemy seemed to read her thoughts, and laughed aloud. Not a nice sound, for it was filled with evil and coldness, and yet it was as soft and melodious as any Elven laugh. Arwen shivered, and so would have any other Elf in her place. There before her stood a very image of something that had once been beautiful and perfect, but was now marred and corrupted by evil.
To her surprise, the creature started to swing the tip of the blade in slow circles before her, tauntingly. Arwen’s eyes reflexively darted to the blade, and she gasped aloud. The blade that was held before her was an Elven one! Or maybe I should have known this was coming. Clearly I am not paying nearly as much attention as I should, because I didn’t notice this before, and if this one is an Elf, why should it not carry an Elven blade…
“)So you are one of my kin, evil one? You bring shame for all the Children of the Stars!(” Arwen shouted, hatred in her voice, but even she could hear a hint of fear colour her sharp remark.
No answer. She truly didn’t know if she should have been surprised or not. And why would this Elf wish to hurt me? she thought fervently. It makes no sense at all… She never got the answer.
Deciding that it had played long enough with its prey, the Elf attacked, faster than Arwen could react. She felt the blade upon her throat, and even when she slashed out with her own small knife, she felt the cold steel slit her throat. She tried to scream, but the sound that came from her throat wasn’t even near to it. She felt the world turn blurry, and she couldn’t stand on her feet anymore, so she fell into a heap to the floor.
Slowly, like savouring the moment, her attacker rolled the dying Half-elf on her back, rising the blade again and embedded it deep into the side of her slightly swollen belly. Slowly the attacker drew the blade across her belly, and when it reached the other side, the Elf pulled the blade out, laying it gently to the floor. Without a sound the evil one left the room, and as he passed by, the candles went down. Then all was silent.
Aragorn suppressed a yawn that tried to overcome him. He hadn’t slept at all, but instead discussed many things during the night with Faramir, most of them concerning the events of past. When they had stopped speaking, they had noticed that night was nearing its end, and there was no point in going to sleep anymore. So just before the sunrise, they had wandered back to the gardens to watch the coming of a new day. The morning dew was heavy and Aragorn could feel his clothes slowly get damp, but it didn’t matter. It hadn’t mattered during those numerous mornings in the wilderness, so why should it now?
Faramir yawned beside him, shaking himself in attempt to wake more fully. The Steward decided he would go to the bed early tonight. Luckily, they had no meetings today; Faramir wasn’t quite sure if he could have been able pay attention to such important things...
Suddenly they heard hurried steps from behind them, and Arwen’s personal servant Gwen rushed into view. The woman looked terrible: her hair was in disarray, face pale and eyes red, tears staining her features. Alarms started to ring in the back of Aragorn’s mind immediately. Something had happened; Gwen was normally very calm and peaceful, not shoving her emotions like this. “Gwen, what –”
“My Lords, you must come, quick. The Queen and Lady Éowyn… They –” she was interrupted by a new set of sobs as new tears ran from her eyes as she wasn’t able to stop them anymore.
“What has happened? Answer to me, woman!” Faramir was now worried as well, and Gwen’s pitiful sobs weren’t helping.
“Come, Faramir. We shall not have any more answers form her. We must go and see ourselves what has happened,” Aragorn said, starting to walk in the direction of the citadel, trusting that Gwen could take care of herself. Right now all his worry was turned to Arwen, as he nearly ran across the garden. He knew Faramir was following close behind him, and soon they reached the main doors.
Guards turned to them quickly, seeing their Lords approach.
“What has happened here?” Aragorn demanded, not even trying to hide his frustration.
“We do not know, my Lord, but something is going on in the Queen’s rooms, we have heard. No news have reached us yet,” one of the guards answered quickly.
Aragorn nodded and went through the doors, taking the swiftest path to his wife’s rooms, his fears rising all the time. At last they reached the rooms and Aragorn pushed himself through the gathering group of people, none too gently. He reached the door and nearly crushed into the guard in the doorway. “My King, it is good you are here. Gwen told me to not to let anyone in before your arrival, but she seemed to be a little out of her mind…”
Aragorn didn’t wait anymore, but pushed himself into the room, Faramir following behind him like a shadow. And then they both stopped in horror.
Slowly Aragorn crossed the room, blood draining from his face. He could now see Éowyn from where he stood – her eyes wide open and glassy, filled with fear – laying on the couch, all over in blood. And Arwen…
Aragorn was on his knees beside his beloved before he even knew it, searching for any signs of life. He found none. Touching her forehead gently, Aragorn tried to control his racing emotions. Right now he needed to be calm and reasonable, but that was the very last thing he was. Arwen was dead. Lying in the pool of drying blood, in her own blood…
Aragorn had seen death before, thousands of times, but this was different. Like loosing Halbarad in the battle of Pelennor Fields had been different from those other deaths, but this hurt him even more deeply. Sorrow and uncontrolled anger rolled over him, making him feel powerless and weak before them. He felt so exhausted he wanted to collapse, and to wake again finding this all had been but a bad dream. But it wasn’t so.
Distantly Aragorn was able to hear Faramir’s voice, full of pain and anguish: the Steward’s pain not a bit lesser than his.
Helpless. That was how he felt. Helpless to change what had happened, too helpless to control his own emotions, too helpless even to stand up…
Gasping, Aragorn cradled his dead wife in his arms, fighting the tears, but it was a losing battle. Why? How? Questions ran through his mind, unheeded and in disarray. He could feel the blood on the floor stuck into his clothes, but that didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that that Arwen was dead, and with her… Child, Aragorn woke up from his thoughts, glancing down to the bloodied body before him, actually for the first time seeing the cut in her belly. Anger flared anew inside of him, consuming all reason. He hadn’t only lost his wife, but his unborn child as well. Whoever had done this, would pay dearly. Death will be a punishment too minor for the monster who did this, he thought.
Aragorn glanced around him and his eyes found something on the floor. A bloodied blade. Aragorn reached for it, but his hand stopped in mid-air, shock filling his mind. At the same time as he stared at the blade in shock, his head was filled with images of Elves, particularly of Legolas, holding his Elven blades, or using them in a dance of death … An elven blade… How can it be? Why would any Elf ever… Because indeed, the blade on the floor was an Elven blade, so similar to Legolas’ white knives it made Aragorn sick.
Why any Elf in this entire world would do such a thing? It doesn’t make sense. There must be something else in this… Aragorn thought desperately.
There must be something I don’t understand, something I can’t see… But the blade –
“King Elessar!” Aragorn woke from his thoughts with a jerk, glancing swiftly at the man who was calling him. Irolas stood few paces away from him, his blue eyes shining with worry and barely controlled horror. Aragorn stared at him for a long time, making the captain shift nervously. “My Lord…” Irolas began again. His glance darted behind him, where Faramir was kneeling beside his wife. The Steward wasn’t in any better condition than Aragorn himself.
“I have given an order to close the gates, my Lord, and let no one out of the city – or in. If the one who did this is still within the city, it will be impossible to escape,” Irolas said quietly, his voice carefully emotionless. When he was given no answer, he bowed quickly and went to the door, giving the soldiers an order that no one was to be let in to the room without the King’s order. With final glance to his Lords, the captain left; ready to search every inch of the city if that would help him to find the murderer.
In the room, silence fell again. Soldiers at the door shifted nervously, glancing at each other, trying to decide what to do. It was obvious that their Lords weren’t well, and yet the men weren’t sure if they were supposed to do something.
On the other side of the room Faramir rose his head, his eyes meeting Aragorn’s briefly. “What in the name of the Gods happened here?” his gaze swept over his King and dead Queen.
Aragorn truly wished he would have known the answer for that question.
to be continued…