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.
Aragorn raised his hand, motioning the group of riders to halt. He turned Roheryn around to see the commander of his escort, Gimli mumbling something about unpractical horses behind him. “You may wait here. I would wish to walk with Master Dwarf in private.”
The Men looked uncertain, but the grim commander nodded, knowing that if aught would happen, they would be near enough to protect their King. And of course Elessar had the Dwarf with him, who was not an easy defender to fight over. “Yes, my Lord.”
Aragorn nodded and then dismounted Roheryn, helping Gimli down after him. Roheryn by his side Aragorn walked deeper into the forest, Gimli following him silently.
After some time Gimli looked back, no longer hearing the men behind them. “Well, I think we are out of earshot.”
Aragorn nodded, letting go of Roheryn’s bridle to let the horse go drink from a river running nearby. Standing in silence and staring into the woods before them, Aragorn was in his thoughts for a long moment. Gimli stood beside him, knowing that the reason why they had come here wasn’t that they wished to speak in private: Aragorn merely wanted some time in peace in a wilderness that had always a calming effect at him.
The current situation of Gondor was getting quite tense. Or at least Aragorn’s own position. The King was currently driven by two forces: he was a King of Men, but he had been raised by the Elves and he respected the elder race greatly. Seeing his people attack the Elves drove Aragorn to a verge of madness: the people of Gondor expected certain behaviour from him, and yet Aragorn himself wished only to speak on the behalf of the Elves. Not that none of that mattered anymore: the Elves were gone.
Gimli leaned on the shaft of his axe, shaking his head. He had tried to stand beside Aragorn, to give the Man his support, but what was he able to do? Gimli himself was shocked by the Elves’ departure, and worry for his own Elven companion was great. Again fingering the jewel around his neck, Gimli closed his eyes, imaging the last days he had shared with Legolas. So many things are now left unsaid. It is quite possible that I will never see him again. The call of the Sea has got its hold of him, and if all his people leave, why should he stay? And he also thinks me dead. Maybe I should have sent him a message, or something. But the decision is his to make, not mine…
Beside the river, Roheryn neighed, and to the surprise of his riders, another neigh answered. Raising his head, Aragorn watched as a great black horse emerged from the forest, wading into the shallow water. Roheryn walked forward to meet the other animal and their muzzles touched as they inspected each other.
From their place some hundred yards away Aragorn and Gimli watched the strange scene play before them. “I didn’t know that you have wild horses in Gondor,” Gimli muttered quietly as they kneeled down into the nearby bushed to hide themselves.
“Maybe it has escaped,” Aragorn said, his voice telling that he didn’t really care about the matter. The horses stood together in the middle of the slowly running river, softly exploring each other, as if sharing news.
Then suddenly another figure appeared and Aragorn sucked in his breath when he recognised an Elf. They weren’t near enough to see the creature clearly, but Aragorn easily sensed that it was indeed an Elf. The green-grey hood covered the Elf’s face and bore no marking that would have indicated his or hers identity. The Elf approached Roheryn and the brown horse welcomed the stranger with a happy neigh.
The Elf ran a hand over the packages that hung from Roheryn’s saddle, clearly exploring. Maybe the Elf was trying to find out to whom the horse belonged and where his rider was, Aragorn reasoned. A hand that had been rummaging through a saddle pack suddenly halted and Gimli shifted nervously. “Legolas’ knives are in that pack,” the Dwarf said under his breath.
Aragorn turned to look at Gimli, puzzled. “You have Legolas’ knives, why?”
“I took them with me when I left Legolas’ rooms to join the battle. I suppose I never had a chance to give them to him, and I have carried them with me since.”
In the meanwhile the Elf had indeed drawn out the white knives, drawing one from its sheath. The hooded head rose to look at the direction where Aragorn and Gimli were hiding, and one graceful hand slid the hood down as the Elf stepped out of the river.
Aragorn gasped out in disbelief and Gimli let out something like a roar, surprise on his face. “I might have known…” the Dwarf muttered, but Aragorn didn’t even smile as he sprang up from the bushes, presenting himself to the Elf.
“By the Valar what are you doing here?” Aragorn questioned while he walked down the slope. “Though I have never been happier to se you, my friend.”
“I am glad to see you are also well, Aragorn,” a smooth voice replied and the blue eyes shifted to the direction of bushes where Aragorn had appeared from, and suddenly the Elf froze, disbelief in his face.
“Ah, I assume you haven’t heard of the good news, then,” Aragorn said quietly as he stopped beside the stricken looking Legolas.
Gimli had also emerged from their shelter, looking somewhat uncertain as how to proceed. Legolas stared at him as if he was seeing a ghost, and Aragorn did nothing to help with the situation.
“Gimli?” Legolas finally asked, his voice tentative. He took a careful step forward, eyeing Gimli as if he thought he would vanish into the thin air at any moment.
“Yes, it is me, you silly Elf. Stop gaping at me like that and explain yourself. I heard you were healing in Rivendell, but if I am not mistaken, you are quite far away from there.”
Legolas face got defiant, but even that was not enough to hide the relief and joy in his eyes. “If you do not remember, we Elves heal rather quickly. I do not know how much healing you Dwarves need after a battle, but as for myself –”
A high whistle broke the air and Legolas looked up in alarm, the black horse also lifting its head. Faster than an eye could see, Legolas dodged, just avoiding the arrow that shot out from the hill behind Gimli. Aragorn spun around in alarm just when the men of his escort came into view, a new set of arrows already notched.
Legolas cursed under his breath, falling back and mounting Morchaint as the horse sprang at his side. A new wave of arrows flew through the air but none of them reached the Elf that was already disappearing to the woods on the other side of the water. One arrow flew from the trees beyond the river, making the Men of Gondor crouch down for cover.
“Hold your fire!” Aragorn shouted, wishing that Gimli would somehow keep himself from mashing his axe into the nearest man. “What is this foolishness?!”
“It was an Elf, my Lord,” the commander said, his face serious as he walked to his King, watching the opposite bank distrustfully. No more arrows came, however, and the men dared to stand up again.
“And what has that to do with anything? You attacked him!” Aragorn growled, fighting an inner battle not to strangle the man before him.
“We were merely protecting you, my Lord. The Elves are threat to all our people,” the commander explained.
“That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!” Gimli exclaimed, his face a dangerous shade of red.
“I never gave an order to attack the Elves,” Aragorn hissed. “Quite the opposite. You violated both my trust and authority when you attacked him – or the others of his kin.”
“Well, he is gone,” Gimli said quietly, reaching Aragorn’s side. “Let us go back to the city. He will come there when things have calmed.”
Aragorn nodded reluctantly, and then summoned Roheryn. He didn’t think that Legolas would be foolish enough to try to enter Minas Tirith. At least he hoped so. But he would find a way to meet his friend, soon. There were things they had to talk about.
The ride back to the city was quiet, the men trying to look as invisible as possible in their King’s eyes. Even if they did not share Aragorn’s opinion, they had got a good picture of what their King thought about their actions.
On a hilltop, covered by the trees, Legolas sat upon Morchaint, watching the silent company disappear from the view. A soft rustle of leaves told him that Rafél had approached him, and he nodded at his guardian as Rafél guided Lumén to stand beside the black horse.
“Things will change,” Rafél said, glancing at Legolas.
“What have we ever done…” Legolas whispered, his eyes closing in silent despair.
“Not we, but someone else,” Rafél replied, his eyes hardening. “Who ever killed Queen Arwen and Lady Éowyn wanted to put the blame upon the Elves, and is playing with Men’s anger like a master harpist.”
“What can we do? It may take forever to the Men to forget,” Legolas sighed, shaking his head.
“When the truth is discovered, there is no longer hate towards the Elves,” Rafél reasoned.
“But there is no Elves, either,” Legolas finished, turning Morchaint around and riding into the shades of the forest. At the moment, he understood only too well why his people had fled from Ithilien.
to be continued…