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.
Author’s Notes: I do not have to tell none of you that it has been far too long since my last update! But here it is, finally, the next chapter! I hope everyone enjoys it, as much have I enjoyed working on this story again! :)
As promised, this piece is dedicated to Thaíly – more or less… In addition, I would like to present a warning of torture that is going to take place in this chapter. (Not what you think, probably, but it is only fair to give you a forewarning! ;)
Now then: read and enjoy!
Thaíly could have never been considered as a cheery individual. It was part of his nature to remain gloomy and grumpy, sarcastically humoured at best. Yet today, he was in a worse mood than usual. The reason – if one knew it – was an explanation enough.
He disliked failure; loathed it to the very end of his existence. It made him boil with dark fire that no fury of a Balrog could ever rival. And today… today he had failed most remarkably. Thaíly did not bother himself with excuses when he knew none of them would actually be useful. Only way to restore the things even to some kind of a healthy order was to act. Bantering with himself would take him nowhere.
“Useless Firstborns… I will gut that Guardian on own two his feet, when I meet him the next time…” Thaíly had kept muttering to himself for a long while now. Even when he had hunted down a lonesome Orc, he had not held back his irritation and malcontent. The dark creature had no idea if the half-vampire’s anger was placed on it or not, but it did not risk its life by speaking out.
Thaíly kept circling the crouching Orc, his eyes gleaming in the late light of the evening. The mere sight of him kept the vile creature on its place on the ground, and he could feel the ugly eyes on him, following his every movement. They both knew the Orc was going to meet its life’s end soon, and Thaíly would be more than happy to arrange the meeting with death.
Fingering his long, curved knife, Thaíly went over the latest events – something he had kept doing time after time during the day, and which always made him end up even more irritated in the end. He had been following the trail of the Black Riders – as he has promised to Legolas. When the Nine – constantly accompanied by the mysterious One – had entered Dol Guldur, Thaíly had thought better to take some distance to the evil party. His attention had been caught first by the dark army, then by a small Elven group. Shannai and his companions had offered him some momentary sport, and he far-tracked them until they met another company.
He had been tempted to approach Legolas, but knowing it was not yet the time, he had taken some time to himself. That had been a big mistake.
Legolas’ company had turned to follow the army, and they had been attacked. By the time Thaíly heard of this – he had his sources, plus his senses rarely went amiss – he was too far to help his Prince. Of what he knew, Legolas was safe and on his way to Helm’s Deep. Rafél, on the other hand…
Thaíly muttered in disgust, shaking his head. He knew Legolas would be looked after, even in the absence of his Guardian. Yet the company travelling to Rohan was clueless for the fact that another army waited them there. One more reason I should have went off to speak with Legolas, Thaíly scolded himself, but it was too late. The mistake was done. Now all he could do was to fix his err.
Turning to the shaking Orc – yes, shaking: he always found a way to make those pitiful excuses of a life tremble before his feet – he allowed himself to halt his furious mind for a moment. Calculating expression crossed his face, and he took a step closer to the Orc. The creature had broken its other leg – the reason why it had been left behind – and it made a wholly miserable picture before him. “Tell me where your group was heading at,” he spoke up, making the creation of Morgoth flinch back.
The Orc eyes narrowed, and it made no answer. Bold, stupid creature, Thaíly thought to himself, an ugly smile appearing to his face. He stepped forward, making the remaining space between them disappear, and cut off the Orc’s left ear. The creature shrieked, covering the injured spot, black blood running down between the clawed fingers. “Maybe you did not hear me well enough,” Thaíly pressed on, moving closer every time the Orc tried to create more distance between them. “Where is that army heading at? The one that came along the mountains from the North?” His tone was even, almost smooth – as far as it was possible with his naturally raspy voice – but it was underlined with such darkness and malice that the Orc knew better than to refuse answering for another time.
“Two armies,” it spat, nervous eyes glaring at its tormentor. Thaíly’s expression told he wanted to hear more, and with a lot of spitting and cursing, the Orc went on. “One came from the north, with her. Meeting was held, they say. The other, army of Men, came from East. The ones on the Mountains who did not join her were supposed to join the Men.”
The Orc clearly meant the Orcs and other dark beings dwelling in the hidden caves on the Misty Mountains. Yet what the pitiful creature meant with “her”, Thaíly was more than willing to find out. He had heard rumours: of Eastern Men gathering, the shadows deepening in Mordor, and that some “Dark One” was lifting its power after years of peace. This all had been a blurred entity made of small pieces of information. Moreover, Thaíly personally knew how difficult it was to get information from the dark ones – the kind of information that one could count on.
“Who is ‘her’? What is ‘her’?” Thaíly questioned, throwing the second part as an afterthought. One could use such knowledge as of “what” they were facing.
The Orc looked at him with a most peculiar – and unhealthy – way, then snorted. “If you do not know, you are not meant to.”
“I am not going to ask again.”
“Then don’t,” the Orc said triumphantly, its ugly fangs revealed as it grinned up to the half-vampire before it.
Thaíly didn’t bother to use the knife the second time. The Orc’s cry of pain was a sweet sound to him, and he watched with a wry smile as the creature clutched onto its still partly attached right ear. “Maybe we’ll backtrack a little,” he murmured, fingering his blade impatiently. “Who is ‘her’?”
The Orcs eyes seemed to turn in shade, a look of malice and self-content appearing to its disgusting features. “If you do not already know, you are not meant to, either. But don’t worry,” the Orc almost cooed, “everyone will know, soon. Everyone! Not a single life in this world shall ask ‘who?’ when she is done with them!”
Somehow, Thaíly knew the Orc’s statement was final. The vile creature would tell him no more. Yet that kind of a minor obstacle had never stopped him from trying – or at least seeking entertainment for himself. He crept closer to the Orc, balancing the blade in his fingers. The creature’s smile faltered, its eyes narrowing in suspicion as he drew closer; for there was only one predator here, and for once it was not the Orc.
With a move quicker than the eye, Thaíly was crouching before the Orc, the blade embedded to the earth through the creature’s already broken leg. The sound of the steel running through bone and muscle was sickening, yet Thaíly merely smiled. The Orc was almost whimpering by then, hissing with pain, seeing its own death mirrored in the dark eyes.
Orcs are not afraid of death, nor pain – they are born from it, after all – but there are certain ways to make them suffer of the fear of death. Thaíly had made an art of that, though he had no idea how he managed that in the beginning. Maybe it was a skill he had been born with. “Are you certain you do not wish to share more information with me?” he asked again, almost kindly. His tone was still a cold chill compared to the one used with Legolas, yet the Orc did not know that – nor did Thaíly care to ponder about that himself; the way he spoke was highly competitive with the way he acted.
The Orc made a weak attempt to drive its torturer back, but soon found itself stricken back to the ground. The blade was pulled free, this time plunged to the heaving chest, the remnants of armour only a hindrance. A gurgled sound escaped the Orc’s throat, its eyes widening somewhat. Blood rushed from the wretched body, making Thaíly draw back in annoyance.
Wiping his blade clean, distantly listening to the now coughing Orc, Thaíly tried to decide what to do. One thing was sure: Legolas and his bloody excuse of an escort were heading straight to a disaster, and he was too far to help his Prince. Way or another, that group will be in danger. Which means Legolas is in danger. He couldn’t have cared less if whole Rohan was burned to dust and Elves banished to Valinor as spirits. All he cared for was Greenleaf, his strange fascination and loyalty still at work after so many years. Some things just won’t change, even if they made no sense in the beginning, either. He smiled at the thought of their first meeting, then suddenly pursed his lips as an idea entered his mind. “In the beginning…” he murmured.
His eyes narrowed as he calculated his chances, the Orc keeping up its suffering beside him. He paid the creature no heed, knowing it would die on its own accord; he was not going to release it to an early death. Let the thing suffer for few hours, and keep its information as a vain consolation.
Might it actually work? Thaíly pondered. He went through his options yet again, to make sure his actions would be the right ones. Well, of the two evil, why not to pick the lesser one? Against an army, I have little chances… Plus, I have no interest to see Legolas in either the hands of Men, or ‘her’. Yet he was not completely sure if the third option was that good. But his intuition had sparsely failed him, and he was counting on it now. Either way, Legolas was in danger. How big the challenge to save him would be was what counted most; some things just were less impossible than the others were.
“Morisûl!” Thaíly shouted for his horse, the animal soon appearing from the darkness. Giving the Orc a one, final glance – and deciding it was barely going to survive to see the sunrise – Thaíly mounted and steered his steed towards the north. He had a hard ride in front of him, and in the other end laid a wall of uncertainty. However, if this ended the worse possible way, he decided, he was going to get rid of one problem forever: he would be free from his ties to Legolas, and could go on, as he wanted.
Yet for some reason, he doubted that he would easily swallow it if events came down to that. He was rather going to fight to keep his Prince safe before giving him up for death.
Dol Guldur. The place sent shivers down anyone’s spine, no matter how destroyed the fortress was. The evil lingering here was too great to vanish, even by time. As of late, it had only been increasing.
Gritting his jaws together, Thaíly spurred Morisûl ahead. The horse was reluctant to go any closer to the ruins, but knew it had little choice when its master wished to go on. Not that Thaíly was happy about it, either, but he had no other option. His mind was set.
They entered the Valley of Shadow, but did not manage to reach Dol Guldur before the wind changed in the trees. Something akin to distant screams echoed in the air, a wail of some tormented soul lingering long after the echoes faded. The place reeked of malice, death, and pure evil. A part of Thaíly was thrilled by this, loving this place already, but the greater part of his consciousness kept it in check: not a single living spirit wished to stay here any longer than they had to, and neither did he.
Sound of hooves appeared in the darkness, drawing closer. In the rest of the world, it was already a new day, but in the Valley the shadows were too thick to be penetrated. Yet Thaíly had never minded darkness, the lack of light giving him shelter, hiding most of his activities. But this gloom … it was not natural.
The sound of approaching horses drew nearer, and soon they appeared to Thaíly’s sight. Morisûl moved restlessly as the Nine Riders surrounded them, but Thaíly merely snorted. He had expected this to happen miles before he reached the Valley. Oh, well, might as well do it this way. As long as I get my task done properly. “I demand to see your leader,” he said aloud, not bothering to try and seek Angmar from among his companions. They would get the message.
“Why should we allow you to meet our leader?” one of the Nine asked, its voice straight from the world of death.
What puzzled Thaíly more than receiving an actual answer was that the Nazgûl did not deny they had a leader, in the first place. This showed a new setting of a power play, and for the first time, Thaíly was uncertain what he had gotten himself into. Well, only one way to find out. “I have information to him that might be useful.” This wasn’t actually true, not knowing how well aware these Nine – or actually Ten – were of the events of the past few days. Bigger question was; would they care? Thaíly had an impression they would, but then again, it was only an intuition playing on the back of his mind…
“And what information we might be interested of? I have my doubts that you can offer me nothing I would have interest in,” a new voice entered the discussion. It was smooth, almost fair if there had not been the edge of uttermost darkness. The Tenth rode forth, halting before Thaíly as the Nazgûl drew silently aside to let him pass.
Thaíly allowed himself a moment of inspection, tying to figure what exactly he was facing. This one differed from any evil creature he had ever faced, and it unnerved him greatly. Perhaps Legolas will make more out of it, he decided, a dark smile tugging his lips. Yes, it had been the Elf who had first told him there was Ten instead of Nine, which meant Legolas knew something he did not… “A party of Elves and Dwarves was attacked over a day ago by a group of Orcs coming from the Mountains. Most of them survived, and are now making their way to Rohan.” The other cocked his head, as if trying to figure what all this had to do with him. Nazgûl moved restlessly, as if waiting for an order to rip Thaíly apart. Yet he went on, his voice even: “In Rohan, an army of Men has arrived from the East. Which puts this small party into great danger.”
Thaíly knew it was the moment to get to the point. Better have Legolas safe than dead, he reminded himself again. “Legolas of Woodland Realm travels with that group. They might make it to some Rohan fortress, but I see no hope beyond that. The Prince is in grave danger.”
The Tenth shifted on his horse, eyes flashing in the shadows. “You are daring the ice, Thaíly,” he stated slowly, “but for your luck, it is the right ice.”
Thaíly blinked, that being his only visible reaction he gave. What the other meant… he had no clue. But it was definitely better than most of the other options he had listed in his mind.
The Tenth seemed to be having a debate with himself, his tone thoughtful. “Tzórag is untrustworthy at best… He shall not value Legolas’ life if he gets his hands on him…” The Nazgûl lifted their heads, like attentive dogs. The shadows around them seemed to stop from spinning, as if waiting the Tenth’s decision. It was swiftly made. “You probably don’t understand what this all is leading to – and you are not meant to. But know that your Prince’s life is valuable to some.”
And no doubt you are one of them, Thaíly replied in his mind, nodding slightly.
Without another word, the Tenth rode forth, shadows parting before him, and Thaíly did not doubt for a moment that Legolas was in any lesser trouble than he was already in. Only this trouble would keep him alive… The Nine circled around him, alarming the half-vampire anew. Instead of attacking, however, one of the Dark Riders halted beside him. Angmar, Thaíly decided swiftly, trying to keep Morisûl from bolting away.
“A word of advice to you, in return,” Angmar stated, its voice a menacing hiss in the dark. “Beware the royal blood of Mirkwood. The King has already fallen.”
One of the Nine released an ear-chattering shriek, and the Riders rode to the darkness, vanishing like mist in the sunrise. Though there was no sun here, darkness seemed to suit them just fine.
Allowing his breath out as a long sigh, Thaíly collected himself. It was done, and only thing he could do was to hope for the best. Now he had to decide his next move… Following the Ten back south was a temptation, yet there was something else… “Perhaps a little amount of additional information won’t hurt anyone,” he said, patting Morisûl’s neck. The horse snorted, shaking its great head.
With a dark look, Thaíly turned Morisûl to the direction of north. Angmar’s words had an ugly ring on the back of his mind, repeating themselves time after time. There was something evil at work in here…
to be continued…
Author’s Note: Here we are, again, in the end :) (Those who did not know, Thaíly thought back at the events of “Loyalty to Blood”, and his first meeting with Legolas.) I know (or hope) that many are already planning on their reviews, and I thank you people in advance!
In the next chapter (giving you a teaser has become a habit, and I rather like it ;), we shall return to Helm’s Deep – where some unexpected events shall take place! Prepare for a long chapter, blood and pain, tears and gut-wrenching events (at least that I am planning to cause you… we’ll see how I manage in the task). Take care, everyone!