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The Last Journey; Chapter 9: Evil Tidings

July 1st, 2006 (11:04 pm)

current mood: peaceful

Story Info

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

Chapter 9: Evil Tidings

South from Lothlórien

The song of the trees had diminished long ago, and the magical light of the Golden Wood was gone. But those who had lived in the light of that wondrous forest still remembered its beauty. The glory of Lothlórien was a thing hard to forget.

With a sigh, Haldir turned away from the forest that was already miles behind them. These kinds of thoughts would lead him nowhere. Golden Wood was now only a shadow of its past glory. Things had changed. Galadriel had sailed over the Sea to the Undying Lands, and Lord Celeborn had led his people to dwell in southern Mirkwood, to a place that was now called as East Lórien.

Beside Haldir stood his younger brother, Rúmil, gazing before him with sudden interest. Haldir, alarmed by this, turned his grey eyes to the same direction with those of his brother, wondering what was going on. A quarter mile before them, the rest of their group had stopped, few of them kneeling in the grass. One of those ahead – Orophin, a brother to Haldir and Rúmil – rose up and turned to look at his brothers, beckoning with his had that they should hurry. Haldir and Rúmil looked at each other, frowning, and hurried towards their companions. Orophin hurried his brothers forward, meeting them half way, giving them a small nod. The brothers returned it, eyeing their third brother with interest: they could easily see in their brother’s appearance that something was wrong. Only a second later, Orophin shifted, looking behind his back, and then turned to his brothers again. “)Come, I think you should see this.(” With that, Orophin turned around, returning to the others, his brothers following swiftly behind.

“)What is it?(” Haldir asked as soon as they reached the small party before them.

Two Elves kneeling on the ground looked up, their fair faces worried and alarmed. With a nod, the other one rose up, giving Haldir a clear view to the ground. With a gasp, the Marchwarden stepped back, eyes widening. Before them in the grass lay a body of an Elf – or what was left of him.

The Elf who was still kneeling on the ground beside the dead one ran his hand lightly across the body, and then oven the bloodstained grass. “)He has been dead for some hours. Some of the injuries are older than the ones causing his death.(” The Elf raised his head, his uncommonly braided hair swaying slightly as he looked at the others standing around him. “)Yrch.(”

Rúmil sighed, and Haldir had a thoughtful expression on his face. “)What else can you make out of this, Dínnor?(”

The dun eyes narrowed slightly as Dínnor gazed around him, trying to find some tracks he hadn’t yet noticed. There most likely weren’t many of those, because Dínnor was an extremely seasoned tracker. Though right now Dínnor hoped that his cousins would have been here, for they maybe could have been able to find something he did not.

“)Khai is scouting ahead, just in case,(” said an Elf – Ithika – who had been kneeling on the ground beside Dínnor when Haldir had arrived. Haldir gave Ithika a swift look, nodding approvingly: he was both surprised and honoured that the others considered him as their leader. Ithika, still watching the corpse of the Elf, shook his head. “)This is not good.(”

The other members of the small company wholly agreed to that statement. They had been escorting their Lord Celeborn to the Misty Mountains, seeing him safely to the borders of Lothlórien, where Imladris’ Elves had been waiting for them. Celeborn had then journeyed to Imladris, and his Galadhrim-escort had taken a small trip through Lothlórien. It seemed that their journey back to East Lórien was turning out to be something far different than they had expected.

“)She is returning,(” Orophin commented beside his brothers, and they all turned to meet Khai, who was making her way swiftly through the high grass. The warrior stopped before them, only swiftly glancing at the dead Elf on the ground. Before anyone said anything, Ithika was already stepping beside his younger sibling, sharing with her a meaningful glance.

“)I found other signs of a battle. Possibly a hunt. There may be others…(” Khai didn’t finished, instead she glanced at the dead Elf near her feet. Then she raised her head again, looking at Dínnor who also had stood up when she arrived. “)He is from Woodland Realm.(”

Dínnor nodded grimly, reflexively gazing at the north. The others could only guess what thoughts were running through his mind at the moment. Most of them didn’t even wish to guess. They all knew how fond of northern Elves this ancient warrior was. Fond enough that he and his two famous Cousins had dwelled among Mirkwood Elves for centuries…

Khai and Ithika also had befriended many of the Elves of the former Mirkwood, and it couldn’t be easy for them either to take lightly the thought that there may be more dead Elves around – especially if those were from Eryn Lasgalen.

Haldir looked at the plains before him, thoughtful. He had not enough warriors to engage into a great battle. But in the case there was a large number of Orcs nearby, they were doing an amazing job in hiding themselves. His cool gaze fell on Khai and Ithika again, and a small smile curved his lips. Those two siblings – a brother and a sister – reminded him somewhat of himself and his brothers. But only slightly. Khai was one of those few skilled warrior Elf-women. After the first few years of doubt and disbelief, the other Marchwardens had learned to appreciate her skills greatly. It hadn’t helped a slightest that Khai’s older brother Ithika was also a respected warrior: she had earned her reputation all herself.

The silent communication that those two were now sharing was very similar to all those connections that were seen between the warriors of the same families or close friends: like Haldir and his own brothers, or the Three Cousins. Some said that Elves have telepathic powers: a way to ‘speak’ to each other and make plans without speaking. This rumour was only partly true: the Elves were able to communicate without words; just like a pack of wolves hunting together. A group of Elves who have fought long together know each other well enough to form a plan without uttering a sound. But of all Elves those who are related share the greatest connection. Blood is thicker than water, as it is said.

“)Shall we search for others?(”

Dínnor’s sudden words broke the silence that had formed, startling the others from their dark thoughts. With a nod, Haldir took a step forward, then stopped again to look at his dead kinsman. He motioned to two of his companions. “)You, take care of him. We shall take him with us to the north when we return. Prepare him.(” The warriors nodded, kneeling down to their task. Haldir glanced at the others. “)The rest of you come with me. Find any signs of the ones who did this, or the others of our kin. We shall return here when we are ready,(” he finally said to those tending the dead one, and then sprang ahead, others spreading around him without further instructions, everyone knowing their task.

Steadily they moved across the plains, sharp eyes scanning the ground for any signs that could help them. Ithika, staying close to his sister, watched how Dínnor ran slightly ahead of the others, his movements making no more sound than a whispery wind swaying a long grass. In the horizon, Fangorn spread out darkly against the blue sky.

Suddenly Dínnor halted, his head slightly cocked to the side. Ithika, stopping his own running, silenced his breathing in attempt to hear what the other was hearing, but with little result.

More cautiously this time, Dínnor started ahead, his movements precise and every sense alert. Ithika, moving more carefully himself, glanced swiftly at his sister, who nodded and then turned to follow Dínnor again. They continued like this for a moment, and then again Dínnor halted.

“What is it?” Khai asked quietly. “Did you hear something?”

Dínnor, glancing at Khai amused, nodded. “I think I heard something, but I can’t be sure.”

Ithika, standing behind the other two, smiled at himself. It seemed that his sister thought that speaking Westron would somehow lessen the tension that hung upon them all. Perhaps it was working…

The heads of them all shot up when a low moan reached their ears. By instinct, they all reached for their weapons, surveying the scene before them. When another moan was heard, Dínnor shot forward, knowing that the one causing the sound wasn’t an enemy, but an Elf. Khai and Ithika followed the elder swiftly, knowing that they had finally found something. It didn’t take much longer before the Elves saw what had caused those moans.

Dínnor, shouting something hoarsely in some older Elven language, dropped to the ground beside the fallen Elf. Only a second later, Khai gasped and Ithika soon followed with a shocked expression.

“Thalión…” Khai whispered, peering over Dínnor’s shoulder, but knowing well enough not to interfere.

The cousins were talking with hushed voices when the rest of the Galadhrim appeared, Dínnor’s hands moving constantly, mapping out his cousins injuries. Others of the Galadhrim told that more dead Elves had been found scattered, some distanced to the north. It seemed that Thalión was the only one alive.

After some time, Dínnor rose, motioning a few of the Galadhrim to check his younger cousin’s injuries. With a face like ice, Dínnor walked a little further away from his cousin, gazing at the forest before them. “)There was a massive attack to Woodland Realm. Orcs, Goblins… Balrog.(” This word drew a shocked gasp from those listening. “)Many are dead, but only a few were taken prisoners. Thalión does not know how the things are in the north now, but this I heard from him: Legolas was among those take prisoners, and he was able to escape. The other captives helped him to get away, to seek shelter from Fangorn.(”

“)You think he made it that far? Thalión’s wounds are not minor, Dínnor, and all the other prisoners are dead…(” Haldir said quietly.

“)We will never know if we stand here, shall we?(” Khai put in, timbre in her voice. All turned to look at her, knowing well how fond the Elf-woman was to the youngest Prince of Eryn Lasgalen.

“)Gimli is dead.(”

Now all turned to look at Dínnor, various expressions swimming over fair faces.

Khai paled visibly, leaning to his brother’s side. She had always liked Gimli, those few times she had met the Dwarf. It would be a great loss for Legolas.

Haldir and his brothers didn’t give out much signs of their own emotions, but that was not surprising, because the Galadhrim-brothers had never been close to Gimli, even if they knew Legolas quite well from the past. Many of the Galadhrim had never really met Gimli – besides those who had encountered with the Fellowship of the Ring years ago – but they all had heard stories of the Elf-friend’s friendship and loyalty to Legolas.

“)What shall we do?(” Rúmil asked, eyeing his oldest brother thoughtfully.

“)We go after the Prince,(” came the answer from Haldir, even more swiftly than some had expected. But no-one disagreed. “)But Thalión –(”

“)Will come with us. Tend his wounds as you can. I will look after him,(” Dínnor said with a voice that left no place for arguments. But Haldir was not so easily swayed.

“)I know that you are worried about your cousin, but he is hurt, badly. It will do him no good to be dragged around in his current condition. Besides, if we face battle, can you protect both him and your Prince.(”

Dínnor didn’t immediately answer, but his cold stare made even Haldir shift uneasily. “)He is coming. It is his wish, not mine.(”

Haldir seemed he was ready to argue, but in the end, who was he to deny the will of the eldest of the Cousins? Dínnor – or Thalión – were not Galadhrim, so Haldir had no authority over them. If he were to argue, he would only waste his breath: the determination of the Cousins was, after all, legendary. “)Very well,(” he finally said, a sound of defeat in his voice. “)Prepare to move on as soon as possible.(”

“)What about the dead ones?(” asked one of the Elves, but before Haldir was able to answer, everyone turned to look at the north, where a swiftly approaching group of riders could be seen.

“)Our people. But what are they doing here?(” Ithika mused, glancing swiftly to Haldir. They got their answer soon enough. A small group of Elven riders came into view. There were five riders, among them the two they had left with the first found dead Elf, and many riderless horses that galloped obediently around the mounted horses. The group halted, and the leader of the group rode forward.

“)We just got news from the north…(”

With an ironic smile on his face, Haldir waved his had, telling the other it was unnecessary to continue.

“)Let me guess. An attack? A great loss of Elven lives?(” Rúmil muttered beside his brother.

When the leader of the group glanced at Haldir in confusion, the Marchwarden only snorted and said: “)We already know.(”

to be continued…

Story Info