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 blinked, noticing yet again that he was awake. With a deep, tired sigh he rose to sit up, drawing a hand over his forehead. He had struggled to gain sleep all night, but it seemed that whatever uneasiness was taking over him was on a side of victory.
Looking at the far side of the room, Legolas listened Gimli’s steady snoring in the room next to his. At least someone was able to sleep. Maybe the sea-longing has finally returned in me, he thought, seeing the thing as a positive one for the first time. But he knew it wasn’t the sea that troubled him tonight. Something else kept him away from his dreams.
Getting up from the bed, Legolas drew a light cloak around himself, stepping out to the balcony of his room. The wind barely moved the air, the stillness of the world around him almost bothering. Or maybe it is just me. Or the feel of darkness that hunted me few days ago: they say that a feel of Nazgûl is difficult to get rid of, and well I also know that myself.
Letting out another agonised breath, Legolas bowed his head, closing his eyes. He had not been forced to tell of his capture in details, but the moment would come soon: both Aragorn and Rafél were running out of patience, not to mention Gimli. Yet they seemed to respect Legolas’ silent request to not to speak of the matter. How long that would last, Legolas didn’t know.
Shuddering, Legolas opened his eyes again, drawing the cloak closer to his body. Something was wrong with him. He knew it. And he was getting more depressed by that fact as the time passed. Maybe it was the Balrog’s wounds. Maybe it was the lingering presence of the enemy that had captured him. Or maybe it was something else.
Shaking his head in irritation, Legolas headed out, keeping a careful eye at his surroundings. He did not wish Rafél to catch him like this. At the moment, he wished to be alone with his thoughts.
Wandering through the silent streets, Legolas walked without destination. His mind circled the question in his head time after time, never getting nearer the answer. It bothered him, but he willed himself into patience: if he would rush, he would make a mistake.
Halting on a small yard, Legolas raised his head to look at the stars above. They shone down at him, but even their light seemed dim in his eyes. A sound of soldiers’ boots against the stones rang clearly in the night, and Legolas hid himself into shadows of the tall buildings, waiting the Men to pass by him. When all was silent again Legolas stepped forward, looking after the warriors. How had the things come to this point? The alliance between Elves and Men was crumbling down quicker than the Firstborns were leaving these shores. It saddened Legolas, and admitting that he hadn’t done much to hold his people back... it hurt. Yet it was not his place to stop the others from leaving if they wished to do so. He himself knew better than many what the call of the Sea felt like.
Lifting his eyes to the sky again, Legolas gazed to west, wondering if the stars would be different in Valinor. Or were there stars at all? Was there night?
A flash of light in the corner of his eye caught Legolas’ attention, and the archer turned his head to the direction of the distraction. He saw nothing for a moment, and then again a light flared in the night. It was possibly too dim for mortal eyes to see, but Legolas’ keen Elven eyes spotted the unnatural glow immediately. It went out again, only to light up a moment later.
Legolas frowned, cocking his head. It seemed as if a silent call filled his mind every time he saw the light, yet it did not fade immediately after the light went out. It was not words, more like feelings, beckoning him to follow it to its source. Legolas narrowed his eyes, trying to focus his mind into the strange call which grew stronger every time he saw the light. The light itself seemed to be coming from the tower of Ecthelion, highest tower of Minas Tirith, hidden somewhere to a room beyond the window.
Legolas looked around, seeing no-one nearby, and then looked up to the light again. He should not, probably, but this riddle needed to be solved, and his interest had been awoken. He would go and see through this mystery, and if it would prove out to be a threat, he would handle it before anybody else got hurt.
Crossing the yard, Legolas made a swift way to the bottom of the tower he was about to enter. Another quick look ensured that he was truly alone, and then he entered the door on the side of the tower. Long stairs led up before him, many corridors leading to the other parts of the citadel. Few torches lit the darkness, making the shadows dance upon the stonewalls.
Legolas listened for a while, and when he heard nothing alarming, he sprang up the stairs. His feet made no sound as he went forward, his every motion full of caution. Even if he couldn’t see the light of the tower anymore, he still heard its call. This made him even more careful, the memories of his latest adventures still fresh in his mind.
After a few more turns Legolas was able to see the soft glow coming from some levels above and he slowed a little, his senses straining on their edges. The soft whispering on the back of his mind got more persistent, urging him on, and Legolas reluctantly obeyed, walking the last remaining steps.
On the top of the stairs a door stood ajar, the glow shining through the gap. Legolas halted again, doubt entering his mind. Ignoring the almost commanding whisper in his mind, Legolas stood on his place, waiting for a trap of some kind. Certainly this was one... But as nothing happened, and no sound could be heard, Legolas shrugged, stepping to the door. He pushed the door open and entered the room; his movement alerted as a cat’s that is approaching a prey.
The glow was strong in the room, slowly fading in and out. The whispers got more powerful, yet there still were no words, only meaning. On the centre of the room stood a pillar of stone, some four feet high. On the top of it glowed a round object, and the sight of it made Legolas blink both in realisation and understanding.
Circling around the pillar almost suspiciously, Legolas cocked his head, staring at the perfectly round stone. Or actually, it was not a stone. Shadows seemed to be swirling beneath the surface; the light coming out of it lessening as the Elf drew near, almost beckoning. The whispers also got more alluring, caressing Legolas’ mind and soothing his doubts.
Palantír, Legolas thought, his eyes never leaving the stone. As much as I know about it, it should not be acting like this. I must speak of this with Aragorn tomorrow. Valar knows what might have happened if any other would have entered... Glancing to the side, Legolas spotted a sheet of silk on the floor. What had dropped it from its place covering the seeing-stone, he knew not, but Legolas was certain that he should cover the stone again before anything else would happen.
Kneeling down, Legolas retrieved the sheet, rising quickly back to his feet. The previous whispers were sounding annoyed now, realising that the Elf was not going to do what they wanted. Shaking his head softly to get rid of the voices haunting him, Legolas unfolded the garment, stepping reluctantly closer to the palantír. The shadows within the stone were whirling faster now, the whispers filling Legolas’ mind. The voices that before had been wan and distant grew more powerful, like a roar of a waterfall.
Legolas took a step back, realising that something was wrong. Palantír wasn’t supposed to act like this. Maybe he should go and wake Aragorn at once...
“The Dark Lord is getting impatient. You should not make him wait any longer.”
Legolas was so surprised by the voice coming from behind him that he had no time to react when firm hands caught a hold of his arms, pushing him bodily towards the pillar. Legolas tried to twist to the side, only then remembering that he had no weapon with him. Just his luck. It seemed that the fortune wasn’t favouring him at the moment – nor had it done so in a near past.
To Legolas’ surprise, his struggles were met with equal force, making the Prince soon realise that he wasn’t going to pry himself free this way. With a cry of anguish, Legolas pushed back and down, trying to make his attacker lose balance. It seemed to work at first, the other’s hold around Legolas’ arms loosening. But then the attacker’s left hand shot up, catching Legolas effectively around the throat, forcing the Elf stand up again.
Legolas gasped, his hands automatically rising up to divest himself from the hold that was swiftly making his head spin from a lack of air. The attacker’s other hand secured itself around Legolas’ weakly struggling form, and for a moment Legolas wondered how the other had been able to sneak on him. And who was he against? He hadn’t recognised the voice, even if he was certain that he had heard it somewhere before.
The attacker’s hold around Legolas’ neck lessened slightly when the Elf stopped struggling, letting the Prince breathe. The fingers remained on their place, reminding Legolas what would happen if he began to fight again.
Taking a deep breath, Legolas blinked, trying to get his vision to work. He tried to draw away slightly, but his movement was met with immediate response from another. As the strong fingers pressed a little tighter against Legolas’ neck, the Elf ceased all movement, his mind racing wildly. He would not overtake this opponent with mere strength, it seemed. The other’s speed was also amazing, and again Legolas wondered whom he was fighting. Shifting his head to the side, Legolas tried to catch a sight of his attacker, and for once he wasn’t hindered.
As soon as Legolas’ eyes met the form of the one standing behind him, a rush of cold fear ran through his entire body. It felt as if the other’s evil aura woke up into life all the sudden, making Legolas realise whom he was facing. The tenth rider. Again hidden in black cloak, but yet one could not forget the feeling of him.
Legolas struggled again, frantic to get loose. His movements were met with iron determination, and when the captive Elf felt a cold stone pressing against his front, he realised that his options were getting short. He had to get free. What his enemy had in mind, he did not know. How he had got this deep into Minas Tirith, Legolas couldn’t guess either.
Turning his head forward again, Legolas gazed at the palantír, his eyes widening slightly as he stared at the stone. He thought he saw something in the middle of swirling mist, but he didn’t dare to look more carefully. The whispers in his mind were getting overpowering, trying to drown his own thoughts. When Legolas’ eyes darted back to the stone, wondering if it was indeed the voice of palantír itself he was hearing, he felt as if he was watched more intently than he had ever been. A stare he could not see stripped him bare of all boundaries, exposing him entirely. The stone was watching. Or something in the stone...
Legolas closed his eyes, throwing his head aside. He tried to collect his thoughts that had begun to wander dangerously. He remembered the day when Pippin had watched to the seeing-stone of Orthanc, and he did not wish to do the same mistake. But Sauron has fallen, so there should not be anything controlling the palantír. But didn’t my attacker just tell me something about a Dark Lord? What is that supposed to mean? And what has that to do with me?
The hand around Legolas’ neck released its hold, wrapping itself around Legolas’ continuously struggling form. Then the right hand shot out, seizing Legolas’ right wrist with strength that could break bones. Legolas tried to jerk back, tried to free himself with desperate fear, but the hands holding him in place didn’t give in, and finally Legolas cried out when his hand was settled upon the smooth surface of palantír.
“See what your Lord wishes to show you,” the enemy whispered to Legolas’ ear, strange undertone in his comment. Legolas had no time to ponder that, however, when his entire world changed.
Everything turned dark. The room itself seemed to be overran by cold, unnatural darkness, the light of palantír turning slightly red, darker. Legolas’ mind was invaded by shadows, even if he tried to close his eyes and mind to block away the images that the stone might show.
And then he saw.
Fire raged everywhere, desperate shouts calling for help. Green grass turned to ashes, a clash of metal adding its own essence to the sound of cracking fire. There were people running around. The misty image got clearer, coloured slightly red as if stained by blood. A child cried somewhere. A faint voice called others to fight. An unmistakable sound of weapon sinking into flesh filled Legolas’ ears, pained cries praying for help. Bodies lay on the ground, staining it dark with fresh blood. A doll lay abandoned on the side of the road, staring up with eyes that seemed to be afraid. A small, mound-like house collapsed, fire rising up to meet the dark sky. There was still people running, fear and confusion on their faces. “For Shire!” someone called, the voice sinking into the distance.
The image was consumed by fire, and suddenly all Legolas could see was the Eye of fire, staring at him with malice that burned the Elf’s soul. A voice boomed, becoming all that existed beside the image of the Eye. Legolas tried to look aside, to see anything but the Eye staring at him. His eyes met the shadows beyond the Eye, and for a moment he was sure he saw another shape. Something much more darker than the darkness itself... The darkness shifted, and the fire surrounded Legolas, burning him into the bone and exposing his soul for the darkness that waited. And then the flames were gone, only cold dark remaining, and when it reached him, Legolas almost welcomed its cooling touch.
When Legolas collapsed limply against the form behind him, the one holding him up smiled in the shadows of his cloak. With an almost gentle move he arranged Legolas’ unconscious form to lean against him. Reaching down, he retrieved the sheet that had fallen to the floor and covered the stone that was again silent and dark.
With a final glance at the stone, the cloaked figure raised Legolas into his arms, carrying the Prince out of the room, closing the door after they had exited. Walking down the stairs and through the yard, the figure didn’t glance to the side at once. It seemed as if the world had stopped around him, no living creature witnessing his passing. With sure steps, the enemy reached the balcony of Legolas’ room. Without hesitation he entered, resting Legolas gently to the bed. Looking down at the prone form, another smile crossed the enemy’s face.
Turning around, the stranger drew his cloak aside slightly, drawing something from underneath. Placing the items carefully to the table next to the bed, the figure turned to look at Legolas once again. One hand reached down, caressing Legolas’ cheek gently, tucking a strand of blond hair back behind a pointed ear. “It has began, dear Legolas. Soon.”
Then he slipped out of the room, silently disappearing to the darkness of the night.
to be continued…