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.
Faramir walked along a corridor, his steps hurried and tense. His face mimicked his movements, and the few servants that met him on his path pulled aside immediately: none had any desire to confront their Lord like this. When the Steward of Gondor reached his King’s study, he halted, drawing a long, calming breath. The news he had heard from Irolas and was now bringing to his King were not pleasant: far from it. Faramir rather did not think how his Lord would react, though he had played several painful variations in his head since leaving Irolas on the courtyard.
With a slightly shaking hand Faramir knocked at the door, and as soon as a silent voice bid him welcome, he entered, closing the door swiftly behind him. Taking a last, lingering look at the door, Faramir turned to face King Elessar.
Aragorn straightened in his chair when Faramir entered, trying to flex his sore back. The other man’s nervousness hit him like a damp wall of mist, and he raised an eyebrow at Faramir, motioning him to sit down on the opposite side of the table. “You look worried. Has something happened?” Aragorn asked carefully, trying to calm the man sitting nervously before him. Faramir was a Man with a calm mind and he was not easily shaken, but today it seemed that something had upset the man.
“I have rather… unpleasant tidings from southern parts of Gondor, my Lord,” Faramir began, meeting Aragorn’s eyes only momentarily.
“Yes?” Aragorn pressed, leaning forward. There had been a lot of trouble since he had returned from Rivendell. Someone had spread out news that Elves were somehow involved into the Queen’s death, and this has awoken a myriad of new gossips. Aragorn had done his best to calm his people, but by far, he hadn’t been successful. The situation was sensitive in many ways, and some of the Men said that their King didn’t dare to go against the Elves in the fear of their anger and retribution.
“There has been an accident in southern Ithilien,” Faramir swallowed, and Aragorn noted that the Steward was far too pale when compared to his usual complexion.
“Pray tell me the news, Faramir, and be done with it,” Aragorn stated, dread rising inside of him.
Faramir nodded, daring even to look at Aragorn’s eyes before continuing. “Two days ago some of the villagers near Southern Ithilien’s Elven colony attacked an Elven family near Anduin. Two adults and one child died. A family that was on their way back to the colony after visiting a farther Elven settlement...” Faramir stopped his hasty account, facing Aragorn to see his reaction. He didn’t stay disappointed.
Aragorn’s face was drained of blood long before Faramir was finished. His fists were clutched tight, knuckles turning white. “Dead,” he gasped, his eyes moving from Faramir to his fists. His thoughts ran wild, rage building inside of him. Two adults and one child. By the Valar, has this world gone mad? But he knew the answer. He should have seen this coming. But instead of taking direct actions to make his people believed that the Elves had nothing to do with Arwen’s death – a fact he couldn’t be himself certain about, but what he didn’t believe for a moment. He had waited for the situation to calm down, and now innocent blood had been shed. Above all else, one of those rare and precious Elflings was dead.
Shifting nervously, Faramir partly expected his King to raise his sword and drive it to the nearest object at hand, but to his relief, Aragorn sat quietly on his place. After a moment of tense silence, Aragorn bowed his head, his shoulders slumping in defeat, his hands fisting into his hair as a display of frustration.
“My Lord, what do you command?” Faramir asked finally, trusting that Aragorn had mastered his emotions by then.
Aragorn raised his head, his eyes meeting Faramir’s. “We must send a word to Elves, to make sure they understand this is a mere… misunderstanding,” Aragorn spat out, disgust in his voice. “I will ride to south myself.”
Faramir nodded, not sure if this was a best possible plan, but at the moment he was ready to listen his Lord’s advice. Aragorn had been raised by the Elves, and he probably knew how to negotiate with them, even in a situation like this.
Faramir rose to his feet, bowing to his Lord and exiting the room. He would make the preparations ready for Aragorn, leaving to his King the task to find the proper words for both to his own people and to the Firstborns.
In his room, Aragorn leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes. ”I believe that this shall not be the last time I wish you would have come back with me, Legolas. May your people hold the same wisdom and knowledge of Men as you do, or we shall all be doomed.”
Imrahil stood on the courtyard of Minas Tirith, watching as one of his messengers prepared for the journey back to Dol Amroth. He himself would linger in Minas Tirith for a little longer, and with the messenger would go the orders to his own regents, as well as other messages he needed to deliver. “May your way be an easy one,” he finally said, shaking the soldier’s shoulder.
“Thank you, my Lord,” the soldier answered, mounting his horse and turning it to the direction of the gate. At that moment another messenger galloped to the courtyard, his horse frothing and snorting as it came to a sudden halt. Both the rider and the horse seemed to be on a verge of collapse, and Imrahil ran to them, helping the worn man to dismount. Giving nod to his own messenger, Imrahil turned back to the man beside him.
“I have hasty news to the King and the Steward,” the man panted, fumbling for his tunic to find the message. One of the stablemen ran to the courtyard, calming the sweating horse tenderly, walking the horse away to cool it down. The messenger finally found his bearings, handing a crumbled message to Imrahil. “Please deliver this at once, my Lord. It holds great importance.”
Imrahil nodded, beckoning for one of the guards to take care of the worn man, then hurrying to the palace himself. He nearly collided with Faramir who was hurrying towards the doors, and they changed a quick, apologising look. “This message just came to you and to the King, my Lord,” Imrahil said, giving the paper to the Steward who looked at him, confused.
Quickly breaking the makeshift seal, Faramir read through the first few lines, gasped, and nearly collapsed to the floor, dropping the message from his hands. Imrahil hurried to catch the other man, pressing him against the marble wall while he picked up the message, reading through it quickly. His eyes widened in shock, and he raised his eyes to meet Faramir’s nearly panicked gaze. “We had better to find King Elessar at once,” Imrahil murmured between gritted teeth, and after he received a shaky nod from Faramir, they both headed back to find the King of Gondor.
“They what!?” Aragorn shouted, making all the people in the Hall of Kings jump back in fright. The fury and rage in his voice was nothing compared to the fire in his eyes as he read again through the lines of the message. “What madness had befallen upon my people? What curse…” he halted, beginning to pace back and forth, changing his cursing into another language.
Dwarvish, if anyone asked Faramir. Of course he couldn’t be sure, but by the harshness of the pronunciation it was either Dwarvish or Black speech, and he greatly doubted the latter. Though at this occasion, using Orcish curses might have been most appropriate.
“This all is growing to be more than a simple misunderstanding,” Imrahil mumbled.
“Indeed,” Aragorn hissed, making one of his aides cower back. “Whoever is responsible of this will pay.”
“Maybe there is an outer exciter in this,” Faramir suggested carefully. “Someone who is working against you, my Lord.”
Aragorn nodded wearily, halting his steps and letting the message fall to the table at his side. He wished to do nothing else but draw Anduríl from its scabbard and smash the table into pieces, the cursed message with it. “I think it will do little good at this point if I shall ride south or not,” he muttered darkly, caressing the scabbard of his blade. “Whatever I say does not hold a single effect to my own kinsmen.”
The death of one Elven family has been a catastrophe. He had no name for a complete destruction of smaller Elven settlements and attacks towards their main colony. Once again, the King of Gondor wished to be somewhere else, and someone else. He could have never guessed that any of his people would get such an absurd idea as to attack the Elves, even if they were thought responsible of the Queen’s death. Seemingly, he had underestimated the loyalty of the Men of Gondor.
“My Lord…” Faramir began, but one dark look from Aragorn halted him.
“No other word. Here, we speak of fair deeds and sit sheltered in our towers when on the outside all the deeds are done,” the King muttered, leaning over the table, his entire body shaking with anger. “I will ride south, and this madness will come to an end,” he vowed, and then strode off of the room, leaving his Men look after him both in terror and awe.
Aragorn sat upon Roheryn, calming the nervous horse with a low voice and long strokes along his neck. The people milling around him and the King’s escort created a loud cacophony of voices, and even more folk was rushing to the clearing in the centre of a small town in southern Gondor near the woods of Ithilien. From where he sat upon his horse Aragorn was able to see the green forest spread out at his left.
“I see many old warriors here,” Faramir said beside Aragorn, leaning near so the older man could hear him. “It is no wonder that tension and mistrust have created violent result here: these men hold great love and respect for you, my Lord, and surely if they feel someone is threatening you…”
Aragorn nodded grimly, not greatly comforted by this fact. He still feared the coming speech he was going to give to his kinsmen – or rather the ending of it. His rage was still burning bright, and even if two days had passed since he had been informed of the attacks against the Elves, he still felt a bitter anger knock on the edges of his consciousness.
Finally Faramir raised his hand, silencing the large group in a matter of moments. The men around them tried to push nearer, eager faces directed to their King.
“Men of Gondor,” Aragorn began, his voice as calm as he could put it. “During the past few days I have heard of terrible deeds that have been done at this area. Attacks against Elven settlements –”
The crowd roared, arms raising to the air. Weapons were swung on the edge of the group, and Roheryn danced to the side, his ears flattened against his head. The horse felt his rider’s anger even if the men around them didn’t.
“Enough!” Aragorn shouted, earning a moment of silence. “Those of you who have thought that you may take the law into your own hands –”
“Death to the murderers!” came a shout from the crowd, echoed by many similar yells.
Aragorn gritted his teeth together, trying to remember that this bitter hate among his men was probably caused by some enemy force. Even if he tried to remember that, he felt his self-control slipping. “Since the beginning of this ordeal I have said no word against the Elves, and none shall I say now! You have attacked their homes and people needlessly, and against your King’s favour!”
“Cowardly assassins! They killed our Queen and now tell lies to our King so he would leave them alone!” one of the men shouted, others soon joining into him.
Faramir saw easily that Aragorn’s patience had come to an end. Before his Lord was able to do anything irrevocable, he guided his horse forward, raising his voice. “Those who from now on take any actions against the Elves are violating the peace of Gondor and shall be punished for their actions!” he shouted over the noise.
Behind the King and the Steward of Gondor, Imrahil shook his head, his eyes filled with dread and sorrow. Things weren’t going well at all.
The trees were silent, the entire forest unmoving like some huge, dead thing. Aragorn was able to tell it as soon as he entered the forest of Ithilien. This near an Elven colony the trees should be singing with joy and happiness. But even I can tell that today everything is silent. And I do not wonder that a moment. After all that has happened, I wouldn’t be surprised if even the last of the Elves would sail over to the Blessed Lands.
Roheryn snorted, clearly sensing the uneasiness of the nature around them. The men were quiet as they rode on, and for a moment Aragorn regretted that he had taken his escort with him to meet the Elves. But Faramir had insisted this, and for once, Aragorn had yielded without too great of a fight. There was no way of telling how the Elves would react even if he went alone among them.
“We are near,” Aragorn murmured, patting Roheryn’s neck gently. Roheryn snorted in return, his eyes moving from side to another.
Any words Aragorn may have prepared were thrown to the wind when the company reached a great clearing in the middle of the forest. In the trees around them they could see Elves’ homes and other buildings. But to all of them one thing was clear as soon as they reached the colony: it was deserted.
to be continued…