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
The Riders of Rohan had parted with the Elves of East Lórien a few days ago. As Éomer drew closer to the borders of Woodland Realm, he began to feel more and more nervous. His tenseness also affected his men, and for the sake of all of them, Éomer tried to control his own uncertainty.
Éomer was at loss. He had no idea what he was going to face in the north. Maybe full destruction, or organised rebuilding. The Elves of Lórien had advised him shortly how to deal with the Elves of Woodland Realm, and suddenly Éomer had felt like he had never met an Elf before. The way he was supposed to treat with the other Elves didn’t go along with his experience with Legolas.
Maybe it just was that Legolas was more tolerant and forgiving towards the Men than the rest of his kin. After all, Legolas had always accepted the culture differences between their races. That was no wonder – Legolas also befriended a Dwarf, and the culture differences between himself and Gimli were like the Misty Mountains splitting Middle-earth apart.
Éomer sighed, sagging slightly in his saddle. He had two main options: being welcomed as a hero among the Elves, or then his help could be denied because the Elves’ pride couldn’t take help from mere Men. Well, we shall see what awaits us. If nothing else, we may learn new information of our enemies.
Pulled away from his musings, Éomer turned to look at one of his captains. He nodded for the Man to continue.
“I think we are coming closer to the borders of Woodland Realm, my Liege.”
“And you came to such a conclusion, how?” Éomer asked with a good humour. Many of his men had accompanied him for a long time – when he yet was no King – and they knew their Lord well.
The captain smiled thinly. “Our scouts spotted an Elf only a mile north from here.”
“Ah, I see. Well, let’s not keep the Elves waiting,” Éomer said, and they both picked up their pace, the rest of the eored following.
They rode only a short time before Éomer also spotted an Elf waiting on the edge of the forest. The King of Rohan commanded his men to stop, and then he road ahead by himself, dismounting a few yards away from the Elf.
The Elf, in the meanwhile, had stepped more clearly into the open, and was gazing the Men with a look that reminded Éomer more about pure curiosity than disdain.
“Éomer of Rohan. I am… glad, that you have arrived this soon,” the Elf said with pure Westron, though he halted in the middle of the sentence, as if uncertain what words to use.
The Elf was clad in the normal colours of Eryn Lasgalen – green and brown. He was shorter than most of the Elves Éomer had seen, but his light green eyes were intelligent. The weapons on the Elf’s side told the Man that this was a warrior, and therefor should not be taken lightly if he chose to take hostilities against them. But Éomer saw no reason to be afraid of this Elf: his manners were perfectly respectable, not even a trace of mock in his smooth voice.
“Ah yes, we are overjoyed you have arrived. And now you may take your smelling beasts back to your own lands,” came another voice from behind the Elf, and another one of his kin stepped forward. His appearance was as cold as his voice, and his pale grey eyes held no friendship towards the arrivals.
The first Elf glanced at his companion heatedly, hissing something with his own language, gaining a snort from the taller one.
“Please, Shannai, do not be rude to out honoured visitors. Speaking a language they cannot understand is highly impolite,” said the newcomer, plain Elvish accent in his voice. There was a forced smile upon his face that sent shivers down Éomer’s spine.
“Please forgive my companion, my Lord. He had indeed no reason to be impolite himself,” the one called Shannai glanced yet again to his companion. “)You have no reason to speak them like this, Urnsúl, and you know it.(”
Urnsúl raised an eyebrow. “)Oh please, Shannai, spare me! Let your elders handle the Men: knowing you, they would only be invited to take a visit to our lands.(”
Shannai’s eyes grew cold, but he turned back to the King, ignoring Urnsúl completely. “My Lord…”
“No apologies, please. After all, we came quite suddenly ourselves,” Éomer replied.
“Maybe ‘suddenly’ isn’t a proper word, my Liege, because we sent the messengers. How are they? Seemingly they made their way to Rohan.”
“Only two of them, I am afraid. Another of them died to his injuries short after. Asthaldo is currently travelling with his cousins and the Men of Gondor to reach Rivendell in time to save Prince Legolas –”
“Cousins? You said that in plural?” Shannai interrupted. “And what you said about Legolas?”
“Yes, both cousins. Thalión was saved by the Elves of Lórien, and as far as I understood, Dínnor was already with the Galadhrim.”
“And Legolas..?” Shannai even took a step closer to the Man.
“Prince Legolas also escaped the captors, and we found him from Fangorn. They are taking him to Rivendell to see Lord Celeborn and some other more skilful healers.”
Shannai pondered this for a moment, his bronze hair playing in the wind. “’They’?” he asked then. “Who is taking Legolas to Rivendell?”
With a raised eyebrow Éomer noted that Shannai used no title when he referred to his Prince. This astonished the Man, but he had no time to worry about it now. “There are the Cousins, and some Men of Gondor – including King Elessar.”
Shannai nodded, and then smiled somewhat bashfully. “I am sorry, I guess I didn’t pay attention to your words before. We didn’t know what happened to either Legolas or Thalión… it was such a chaos,” Shannai explained, and then muttered: “It still is.”
“If I may ask something,” Éomer began.
“Please, by all means,” Shannai smiled at the Man.
“Where is Gimli? We heard he has… perished.”
Smile disappeared from Shannai’s face. He averted his eyes from those of the Man, and stared at the ground before him. “We haven’t found him. Everyone believes he has indeed… perished.” Shannai swallowed.
Éomer felt compassion wash over him as he saw the hurt and pain in the Elf’s eyes. So Legolas was not the only Elf befriending Gimli.
“If you are quite finished here, I would like to remind you that the Men are not welcome to our land,” came an irritated voice behind Shannai.
They had both forgotten Urnsúl.
Éomer glanced at Shannai, who was by then gazing uneasily at him.
“I am afraid he is right: though I wouldn’t have used the same words.” An angry glance was thrown towards Urnsúl, but the other didn’t bother to react. So Shannai continued, his voice troubled: “You see, our King returned a few days ago, and when he heard we had sent for help… he wasn’t too happy about it. I must inform you that your help isn’t needed,” Shannai grimaced. Seemingly he disagreed with the last one.
Éomer nodded. “I understand.”
“You do?” Shannai glanced at him with surprised eyes.
“Yes.” Éomer thought it for a moment. “Your King was not with you when the attack came?” he asked finally.
“That is no business of yours, Human,” replied Urnsúl, his voice full of arrogance and contempt.
“Of course,” Éomer muttered. He was able to feel his Men’s nervousness. It seemed that they didn’t like the current line of this discussion either. “So you don’t need any help here?”
“Apparently not,” Shannai said, his voice silent, “the enemy has disappeared to the wind, our people have been united again – those who stayed in the woods, that is. The King is back and life shall return back to normal.” There was a smile upon the Elf’s face that promised all but that.
Éomer nodded, memorising every word.
“You came a long way for nothing, it seems,” Shannai continued apologetically.
“Worry not of that,” Éomer tried to sound light. “We found Legolas, after all.”
Shannai smiled carefully. “It will be great news to tell to our people.” Shannai glanced over his shoulder to Urnsúl. Turning back to the Man, he continued: “I wish you good journey home, then, King of Mark. And thank you. I hope we can someday repay your trouble.”
Éomer smiled. “Worry not of that. After all, we are fighting on the same side. I wish you luck – to all your people. May the Valar look after you.”
“And you,” Shannai replied.
Without further words, Éomer mounted again, and rode back to his Men. Wordlessly he commanded his men to move on, knowing that the riders had heard most of the discussion.
None of the Rohirrim dared to speak to their King, and so Éomer rode deep in his thoughts. Just before the forest was lost beyond the sight of Men, Éomer turned to look back. Shannai and Urnsúl stood where he had left them, looking after them. Most likely making sure that we are indeed leaving, Éomer thought in the dark corner of his mind. Ah well, we can do nothing more. It is up to Elves now. “We ride home,” he shouted, receiving only a few answering cries from his men in return.
Shannai watched the Men disappear to the horizon. Behind him, Urnsúl snorted.
“)Our work is done here. They are gone.(”
Shannai sighed inwardly, then turned on his heels, and walked back to the forest, ignoring his companion, knowing that that would annoy Urnsúl more than any words he could use. After all, Urnsúl was extremely arrogant Elf whose self-confidence was almost sickening.
“)Shannai, we must speak,(” came a voice above from the branches.
Shannai glanced up, just making out the form of Thrénandu among the leaves.
“)Better watch what you are going to say to the Captain. He can’t be too happy with your deeds of today,(” Urnsúl winked at Shannai and disappeared to the forest.
Shannai looked after him, and then climbed into the tree where the Captain was waiting. “)Legolas was found alive,(” Shannai stated calmly, avoiding to look straight at Thrénandu.
“)Yes, I heard. And stop avoiding my gaze, for I am not displeased with you. You handled the situation well, especially when taken into consideration that you had to deal with Urnsúl as well. I couldn’t have done any better. Worse, possibly,(” Thrénandu laughed nervously.
Shannai smiled. “)And now what?(”
Thrénandu pondered that for a moment. “)We should make sure the Prince Legolas is safe.(”
“)But we cannot afford any of our own men. And we do not know if any of our folk stayed in Imladris: it is quite possible they all went to Havens…(”
“)We could sent Thaíly.(”
“)You trust too much to that man.(”
“)I do not, but Legolas does. And if Legolas trusts him, then I do. We could at least talk to him.(”
“) You could talk to him. If you can find him.(”
“)He just arrived back to the forest. After the battle.(”
“)How very suitable to him,(” Thrénandu muttered.
“)You know he is no enemy. And even if he is, he is playing Legolas’ game, not that of the dark ones.(”
Thrénandu nodded, slightly annoyed. “)You do your job and talk to him. It is better to have him away from our lands, anyway.(” With that, Thrénandu took a path back to the Woodland Realm.
Shannai stared after him for a while, and then took an opposite direction, praying the Gods this would work out…
to be continued…