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.
“€…€” = Khuzdul
A company of four Dwarves walked along a path near the Forest River. They marched in a line, heads bowed, the hoods of their capes hiding their features.
Second in a line walked a Dwarf that was smaller than the other three, and it could be seen that his step was a lot lighter than the others’. The second Dwarf also kept stepping here and there, watching his surroundings with interest.
“€Fudal, quit that bouncing: it is getting annoying,€” said the Dwarf walking behind the smaller one.
“€Ah, Múran, let the youth explore. We do not travel this far south everyday,€” said the one walking in the head of the line.
“€You should keep the boy in some kind of order, Adír. He is growing to be irresponsible.€”
The Dwarf walking last laughed gruffly, and Múran shot him an angry glare. “€You disagree, Tráron?€”
“€I think there is nothing wrong with the boy: just too much unused energy.€”
Múran muttered something into his brown beard, his eyes shooting an annoyed glare at the young Dwarf who had by now travelled away from the path. Múran had nothing against youngsters, especially Fundal. Even if sunny, this just wasn’t a day for his liking: a strange smoke filled the sky, bringing a smell of burned wood into his nostrils. They also were far from Lonely Mountain, and it worried the Dwarf. As much as some of his kin tried to assure him, he didn’t trust the Elves a slightest. And right now they were too close to Elven lands for his liking. Sooner they got back to their own dwelling place, the better.
Tráron, watching Múran under his bushy dark eyebrows, shook his head. He well knew the other’s dislike towards the Elves, but this was stupidity. There had been not a single Elf in sight during their entire journey, and somehow Tráron guessed there would be none later on, either. The air was too still, the smell of burned wood unnaturally clear. Like after a great forest-fire. And the nature itself was too quiet: no birds singing, or rabbits searching for food from grassy plains.
Tráron shifted his axe in his belt, glancing around with searching eye. No danger could be seen, but it could be felt. Gah, I am starting to act like that Elf of Gimli’s. Seeing and hearing and feeling things that cannot be seen. But being cautious is never a bad thing. Maybe Adír should call the lad back, after all. Tráron turned his brown eyes to the Dwarf leading them, eldest one of this group, though only ten years older than Tráron himself. They were both seasoned warriors, as well as Múran. If there was danger, one of them would spot it in time.
Fundal was gazing in the direction of the river, which could not be seen, only heard from their path. I say that Adír has done a great job with raising Fundal, Tráron thought. When the boy’s mother died, Adír took his place as a ‘father’ well enough. Fundal will be a good lad. Maybe too energetic, still, but time will fix that.
Fundal’s father had died to the wounds he had received during the War of the Rings, and the son, born fatherless, had been raised by his mother’s brother, Adír. Fundal’s mother had died in childbirth, and so would have the baby, if there hadn’t been an Elf. In that time, Gimli had returned back to his home from the War with an unexpected friend: the youngest Prince of Mirkwood. Legolas had been able to save the baby, but not the mother. Even if Dwarves spoke ill words about Legolas, Tráron wasn’t blind, or a fool: Legolas had done what he could – the Elf certainly was no healer – and had saved what there was left to be saved.
Soon after this Adír had left to Glittering Caves with Fundal and many other Dwarves, and established there a new colony where Gimli ruled. Now Adír had returned back to north to meet his kin – with Fundal – and Tráron wondered if the two were going to return back to Aglarond. Possibly someday, but it was good for the youth to see other places of the world, as well.
“€Adír, I think I heard something! From the river,€” came a shout from the youth suddenly, making Múran jump and curse under his breath.
“€Let it be. We must keep going so we will reach the Mountain before nightfall,€” answered Adír.
“€But I heard something!€” Fundal argued, still standing where he was, near the edge of the thick growing trees.
“€Fundal…€” Adír sighed, warningly.
“€It was no forest’s sound. After all the forest has been all quiet today! I heard.. a moan.€”
“€Why don’t we go and see? In the case that the boy really heard something.€” Tráron suggested.
“€Aye, let’s do that,€” Adír gave in, and the Dwarves plunged into the forest, some less happy than the others of the delay.
Gimli moaned softly and raised his numb hand towards his aching forehead. All he was aware of was aching, numbness, or pain. Various states of all those. As he slowly drifted closer to full awareness, memories started to return to him. With another, louder groan, he opened his eyes, and found himself staring at the green canopy of trees. Blinking, he tried to get rid of the blur hindering him from seeing clearly, without much success.
Just my luck. I wonder where I am, and how I got here. Not on my own accord, I guess. I can’t even properly feel my legs. Not a good thing, that. I should get up, not lie here like a toy tossed to a corner by a child. With another groan, Gimli tried to push himself up, but found it beyond his current ability.
With a sigh, Gimli relaxed back to the ground. He had reached full awareness by then, but his vision still refused to work properly. Maybe I got a hit to my head. After all, the pounding inside my skull could be caused by such a thing. Ah well, I guess I just have to try and work up with my memory to find out what happened.
Gimli opened his eyes again, staring at the blurry green vision before him, and soon noticed he was shivering. It wasn’t too cold out here where he lay, he marked, and frowned. On the edge of his hearing he was able to hear a silent sound of a river running, and a flash of memory returned to him. I was in water, clinging onto something wooden, possibly a peace of barrel. But it does not make sense: what on earth I would have been doing in a river? Gimli thought, his brows drawn together as he tried to remember. He was certain he still wore his armour, and Dwarves did not swim – with or without their armour – anyway. Well, I am all soaked, but still alive. I think I should consider myself lucky: Ulmo didn’t wish to claim my life just yet. In my armour and all, I could have easily sank to the depths…
Suddenly there was a sound nearby, a cracking of wood, and thumping of heavy feet. Alarmed, Gimli tried to get up, until he again remembered that he did not posses enough strength to do so. Cursing silently, he waited, trying to identify the arrivals.
“€Look, Adír! Isn’t that a Dwarf?€” shouted someone, the voice sounding young, and yet unnaturally low.
“€For once, it seems you were right Fundal. Now step back and let me take a look,€” came another voice, older and rougher than the previous one.
Then Gimli’s vision was blocked by a bearded face he knew well, and the Dwarf thanked the Valar in his mind. Gimli was about to speak, but the other silenced him with a raised hand. “€Do not try to speak, Lord Gimli. You are badly hurt, it seems. I shall first look for your injuries.€”
“€Is it really Lord Gimli? What is he doing here? Wasn’t he supposed to be travelling with Prince Legolas?€” Fundal asked, trying to find a place to get a better look.
“€Bah, a Prince! I am more Prince than that insidious creature! I say the Elves deceived Gimli, and left him here to die…€” Múran muttered, fingering his axe and glaring at the forest as if waiting for attack. He also was Gimli’s long time friend, but opposite to Gimli, he didn’t feel a slightest hint of affection towards the Elves.
“€Múran, don’t be ridiculous. If you have nothing better to do, come and give me a hand!€” Adír said sternly.
Gimli, on his side, hadn’t been much aware of his surroundings after Fundal’s words. His memory had returned by the words of the youth as a great mass of tangled pictures, but it didn’t matter greatly if some of the pictures made no sense. Ai, Mahal! Legolas… the enemy took him, dragged him away before my very nose… I betrayed the Elves, made Thalión’s death unworthy… But who am I to take care of an Elf!? Isn’t he always boasting around that he can take care of himself just fine… Even as Gimli thought so, he knew he only tried to trick himself. He should have been extremely happy when he had dragged Legolas out of the caves of Woodland Realm alive, especially after what the Elf had been through with Balrog… Legolas had been nowhere near the condition to take care of himself, then. Where he was now…
With a shaky hand, Gimli grabbed Adír’s arm, and tried to push himself into sitting position.
“€Please, Gimli, lay down. There is no need –€” protested Adír, pushing his long time friend back down gently as possible.
“But Legolas…” Gimli fought for words.
“He shall be fine. Now I am concerned about you, and so should you be. After all, the Elf would never forgive you, or me, if I would let you get up in this condition,” Adír said very softly, keeping Gimli flat on the ground, changing purposefully to Westron, knowing it would calm Gimli more.
Exhausted, Gimli sagged back, his hand unconsciously finding the bird necklace around his neck. Fingers closing around the jewel, Gimli closed his eyes, trying to fight back the darkness that was trying to swallow him again, but failed.
Adír shook his head sadly, and then glanced up to his companions. “€We have to get him to the Mountain, and soon. He needs to see a healer.€”
The others nodded, and started to search for pieces of wood so they could build a stretcher. That wasn’t a hard work, however, because the river and its shores were full of pieces of wood and broken tree limbs.
“€What do you think happened to him?€” Tráron asked quietly as he stood beside Adír.
“€I do not know, kinsman, but I guess we will find out soon enough. I have made out that much that he was possibly washed down by the river. Luck seems to be with him because he survived this far. He most like caught a hold of something floating, and was washed ashore here.€”
Tráron nodded, and continued with his work. Soon the Dwarves had found enough wood to build a litter and carry their hurt kinsman to the Mountain. As Múran and Tráron took up the task to carry Gimli, Fundal sprang ahead to seek a path they would be able to travel. Adír, standing near the river for a while, glanced to the forest, and his frown deepened. Something was clearly wrong, and he wish he knew what.
As his foster-son shouted his name, the older Dwarf abandoned his dark musings and walked after the others.
to be continued…