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.
Legolas rode through the dark night, trying to soothe his raging thoughts. His meeting with Aragorn and Gimli had left much to desire, and Legolas felt unsure as how to continue. He would not dare to try entering Minas Tirith, but he wished to speak with Aragorn urgently. And now that he had found out that Gimli was alive…
Legolas felt dizzy with joy. Maybe in the midst of this nightmare the Valar were still smiling at him. But Gimli owed him dearly for making him worry so. Maybe the Dwarf still hadn’t understood that Elves didn’t play with death: for them, it was a thing far more serious than to the mortals. But Gimli looked just as surprised like I did. But surely Aragorn told him I am alive. But however the things are, I am glad. And much I would now desire to hear Gimli’s story: I am sure it would prove interesting.
Morchaint snorted, bowing his head as they passed under a low branch, Legolas mimicking the horse’s actions unconsciously. His mind still on their own paths, Legolas rode on, a small wind playing around him in the trees.
The situation of Gondor was alarming. It seemed that Aragorn’s absence had created a far more dangerous circumstances that any of them had ever expected. Though it seemed that even now when Aragorn was back, his words had not much worth. What kind of evil is against us? The Men of Gondor are like possessed, their anger spurring them into more brutal actions. Perhaps it was wise that my people left Ithilien before something far worse happened. But yet I wonder who is behind all this: Arwen’s death, framing Elves guilty of it, possibly organising the attack to Eryn Lasgalen, and now rising Men against Elves – as well as their King. But soon their anger will fade and they will see their mistake. I just wish that Aragorn has patience to wait that long.
Morchaint snorted again, this time halting completely. The black head rose up, nostrils flaring and ears moving constantly. Legolas also forced his focus upon this world, looking around, seeing nothing but the dark forest.
He could have continued his way in peace if he had been a normal traveller – but he was an Elf.
His mind sensed it before he even put thought into it. The wind seemed to turn chill, the silent song of threes ceasing completely. The scars in Legolas’ back tingled, the feeling swiftly turning unpleasant, almost painful.
The archer shifted, running a calming hand along Morchaint’s strong neck. The horse threw his head to the side, neighing softly. Legolas frowned, trying to identify the feel of darkness that seemed to descend upon the forest. Dark clouds veiled the moon and the stars, covering the world in shadows.
Morchaint shifted nervously, and Legolas thought he heard a sound of hooves. Many hooves. Cocking his head, Legolas listened, his hand drawing nearer to his white knives. There was no mistake that something evil was present, but was it approaching or hunting the ones approaching? Waiting with a patience that Rafél had honed into him during their years together, Legolas waited, readying himself. At the moment he hoped he would have allowed Rafél to come with him, but there was little he could do about it now. His only ally was several miles away from him, and he would be forced to meet this possible threat alone.
The wind moaned, as if in pain, and Legolas looked around, no longer hearing the sound of hooves. Morchaint held still, obeying his rider’s silent command. They both listened, moments dragging by. Time seemed to stand still when a snort of another horse made Legolas turn his head and his eyes finally saw the arrival. But nothing he could have done prepared him for the shock when he recognised the rider. Or at least he thought he did.
Blinking in disbelief, Legolas shifted, Morchaint backing off from the other horse slowly. The other was still many yards away, but it seemed that Morchaint felt both the fear of his rider and the feel of darkness that flowed from the enemy before them. Legolas moved his other hand to hold Morchaint’s mane, his other hand sliding one of the white knives free.
Another low, ragged neigh told Legolas that more enemies had approached, but he didn’t turn his head, guessing what he would see. His eyes remained in the one who had approached first. The leader. Legolas recognised him even after all these years, the sight of him impossible to forget.
An ear-piercing, scream-like noise filled the air, making Legolas bite his teeth together in pain. Morchaint bowed his head, flicking his ears, but yet the horse didn’t move. Eight other screams answered the one, and Legolas lifted his eyes to meet the burning gaze of the Witch-king of Angmar.
It seemed absurd. It was impossible. But if the world hadn’t just turned mad – and Legolas fairly doubted it had – he was now facing an enemy that was supposed to be dead. Destroyed when the One Ring was thrown to the depths of the Mount Doom. But Legolas knew that he was now surrounded by the Nine Riders. He had met them before, and if nothing else, their presence was even stronger.
Sounds told Legolas that the enemy was advancing, even if the leader stayed still. The urge to stay still and submit was strong, and Legolas nearly obeyed it, but he had fought against the shadow too many years in Mirkwood to fall into such a simple trap. Waiting a moment longer, Legolas spurred Morchaint forward, turning the horse aside to avoid being trapped by his enemies. Furious sounds rose from the Black Riders, and Legolas felt a touch of black garment when he galloped by one of the riders.
Finally away from the enemies’ ring, Legolas encouraged Morchaint into a greater speed, not daring to look back. It took only a moment before the archer realised that the enemy was indeed pursuing him. Whispering at Morchaint’s ear, Legolas glanced swiftly back, seeing all the Nine following him through the dark forest.
This cannot be true. We all knew that the Ringwraiths were destroyed with Sauron. If this is a doing of the enemy, we have something truly powerful against us. Bowing down from the way of a low branch, Legolas narrowed his eyes, trying to find a way of escape. He knew that even if Morchaint was fast, running with full speed in a dark forest would not be the wisest thing to do. And some said that horses of the Nine Riders did not tire. Legolas had no real desire to try that, even if it was possible that his pursuers weren’t the real Ringwraiths. That thought had crossed Legolas’ mind: nine capable riders upon horses, clothed in black, and a some kind of enchantment of evil around them. However it was, Legolas knew that he could not afford of being caught.
Bret and Josh ran across a field of corn, both finally sinking among the long plants, panting. Their parents would be furious if they knew they were awake at this hour, but neither of them felt tired. It was much more fun to run on the field, damp of night’s dew, stars being the only light this far from the houses of the small village. Their older brothers had taught them this habit, running out into the night to play on the dark fields or on the forest’s edge, but now as they were adults, only the youths continued the habit.
Bret tugged one stem free, twisting it in his hands absently. Josh did the same, sitting up to look around. Josh’s father had once caught them, and they had been grounded for a week. “It is dark tonight,” Josh said, shuddering as a cold wind shook the corn. “It was much more brighter some time ago.”
“You are imaging,” Bret said, still playing with the stem of corn. “You always imagine things. My mother says that those who imagine too much will never be good workmen.”
Josh laughed, and then fell silent, sure he had heard something. He looked around, seeing little in the darkness. Then he saw movement on the edge of the forest, about a mile away from them. “Look, Bret, riders!” he gasped.
“Do not be silly. Who would be riding at this hour?” Bret doubted, even if he rose up to look at the pointed direction. Then his mouth fell open, his eyes widening.
Indeed, there were riders, one drawing out of the shelter of the forest while they looked, nine other following behind, as if hunting the one before them. All the horses were dark, the nine on the back wearing black cloaks, but the one riding ahead was entirely different: a golden hair reflected the vain light of the veiled stars, his clothing also different, far more elegant as the rider himself.
While the boys watched, the horses hunting the first drew nearer their hunted, spreading out a little. Then suddenly another rider appeared, also wearing a black cloak but different from those of the nine, spurring his horse ahead of the nine. The new one seemed to be much faster, soon catching up with the pale-haired one. The nine spread even further, surrounding the pale one who was forced to turn aside because of the new one who drew closer all the time.
After a small while all the twelve riders were mingled together, and Josh moved slightly, wishing to see what was happening. It seemed that the one that had arrived last had managed to get right next to the pale one, and there was a flash of something among the riders, a sharp sound of metal against another breaking the silence of the night.
Then suddenly all went still, only the pale riders horse’s neighs telling the boys that they indeed weren’t watching statues. Then suddenly the pale one’s horse ran away, without the rider. The boys turned to look back to the group of the black-cloaked riders, knowing that something strange was going on.
When some of the horses shifted a little the boys were able to see that one of the riders was kneeling in the ground – it looked like to be the new one but they couldn’t be sure. Then the kneeling form rose up, picking up something with himself.
“The pale rider,” Josh gasped. “They got him,” he finally reasoned, his voice shaking with fear and excitement.
“What are they doing?” Bret whispered back.
“I don’t know, it is too dark,” Josh whispered back, not wishing to be noticed. The ones in black cloaks were very frightening, even from this distance.
“The new one mounted again,” Bret stated, pointing out. “I think they are taking the pale one with them.”
As soon as this was said, the nine riders turned back to the forest, the tenth riding behind them, holding an unmoving form against his chest. As fast as they had appeared, they vanished, the cold wind lingering on the field.
After a long while the boys got up, finally daring to move, running as fast as they could back to their homes.
to be continued…