|Web of Darkness
Author: Soledad PM
An experiment of the Witchking backfires, and the Elves of Mirkwood find an unexpected ally. Crossover with Forgotten Realms. Birthday fic for JastaElf. Rating raised.Rated: Fiction M - English - Mystery - Thranduil & Legolas - Chapters: 30 - Words: 182,626 - Reviews: 134 - Favs: 117 - Follows: 77 - Updated: 07-24-10 - Published: 09-29-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3809467
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Fandom: Forgotten Realms/LOTR crossover.
Rating: Teens, probably will get higher later, for disturbing stuff happening in war.
Disclaimer: Middle-earth and its inhabitants belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. Drizzt Do'Urden belongs to R. Salvatore. I am just borrowing everyone and everything for some fun. No copyright infringement intended, no money made.
Dedication: to JastaElf, for her birthday. Many happy returnings, Jasta!
Beta read by Larner, thanks.
The Nazgûl Lord withdrew from the mind of the wounded spider and killed Shelob casually, with a simple mental order. She was of no use for him anymore, and he did not want any other sorcerers to find his trail in case the creature survived her severe injury.
For a moment, he felt something akin to regret. His relationship with the creature – indeed, with Shelob's entire kind – had gone on for an Age and a half. He would miss the excitement of walking the dark corridors of their minds... the chance to learn their deepest secrets.
Granted, the Giant Spiders of Mirkwood were barely more than animals; only their ability to speak set them apart from the other foul beasts that had slowly filled the forest through the past thousands of years. But even they still possessed shards of racial memory that reached back, way back, through the endless tunnel of time, to the birth of Ungolianth the Gloomweaver herself. And through them, the Nazgûl Lord found Shelob, whose memories, while dulled, were vast and detailed. All the Nazgûl Lord needed was to get into her mind and look for what he needed – or simply wanted – to know. Shelob was the last true descendant of Ungolianth; she might not remember all that once had been, yet the memories were still slumbering in the shadowy recesses of her mind, waiting for a skilled sorcerer to dig them out and study them.
For an entire Age had the Nazgûl Lord searched and studied those memories. He had always been fascinated by the tales of Ungolianth, the Great Spider, the mysterious entity who had been born from impenetrable darkness, had an insatiable hunger for light, murdered the Two Trees of Valinor and dared to deny Melkor himself, the first, the true Dark Lord, to whom Sauron had been a mere servant.
It was generally believed that the Nazgûl had accepted the Nine Rings because they wanted to serve Sauron – out of fear, out of respect... or out of greed. Well, that might have been the reason for the other eight, but most certainly not for their leader, the one who once had been Murazor, a bastard prince from the royal house of Númenor, the second son of King Tar-Ciryatan, he who called himself Ar-Balkumagân in Adûnaic(1).
Murazor had been a young man of barely sixty – young for a long-lived Númenórean, that is – when he first sailed to Middle-earth, discontented with his status as an unacceptable bastard and hungry for power and adventure. It had taken but three more years for him to follow the call of Sauron to Mordor. Thus he had known the One Ring nearly all his life – had seen it all the time upon Sauron's hand. Understood its power... and desired it.
He had become a student of Sauron's, with the single goal to outdo his master, both in power and knowledge. He had studied the noble traditions of his own people as well as the dark arts and become a figure almost as feared, admired and hated as his master. Almost. But almost was not enough for him. He wanted more. And when he finally received his Ring, becoming the very first of the Nazgûl, for a moment he actually believed that he had reached his ultimate goal.
Only to realize that he had been trapped in servitude for eternity. Indeed, the had received the gift of eternal life. But it was a life in slavery, without any hope to escape.
That moment of recognition had been the birth of his immortal, unwavering hatred towards his master, fuelled by the knowledge that his existence was now forever dependant on Sauron. He could not destroy his master without destroying himself... unless he got his hands on the One Ring.
'Twas a bitter hatred, not unlike that of the first generations of Orcs towards their Dark Lord, whom they served with clenched teeth and curses. But the Nazgûl Lord had once been a Man of Westernesse, and Men of that realm were a resilient lot. And cunning.
He had gotten at least some satisfaction out of his status. Unrecognised by all – after all, near fifteen hundred years had gone by since his birth – he had watched Sauron standing in the cavernous council room of Armenelos, behind King ÛÛAr-Pharazôn's high throne. Had watched Sauron growing in power and influence in the court. Had watch the human sacrifices burned to ashes in Melkor's temple. Had listened to Sauron's whispers about the Undying Land and how the Men of Westernesse had the right to that... and to immortal life.
The irony of the whole situation had not been lost to him, who had actually received immortal life... and wished he had not. Not this way at least. But he did watch the drowning of Númenor, his home of old that had never accepted him, just because he had been born in the wrong bed, with grim satisfaction. The fall of the Realm of Westernesse had, in a certain sense, set him free for the new tasks that were waiting for him in Middle-earth.
He could not free himself from servitude, that much was true. But he could – and did – use his master to reach is own goals. And while Sauron was hiding or sleeping between defeat and rebirth, the Nazgûl Lord was learning and seeking tirelessly.
Oh, no, not for the Ring. As long as the One was lost and slept undetected, the Ringwraiths were more or less on their own, and he enjoyed his temporary independence. He knew it would end eventually, so he tried to make the best of it. He spent century after century with honing his skills as a sorcerer... and learning as much about Ungolianth as he could from the slumbering memories of her progeny. He knew that the true power of sorcery came from the same ageless darkness that had once given birth to the Great Spider: from Móru, the primeval night. Could he manage to find a way to tap into that darkness, no-one would be able to best him anymore. Sauron would be his servant, and he would be wearing the One Ring.
Deeper and deeper had he forayed into Shelob's unconscious memories, seeking his way to that unbelievable void – and found something else. Something he would never have expected.
He discovered that there was a different kind of existence; a whole new world, similar to and yet utterly different from the one he was living in – if his existence still could be called life. A world in which Ungolianth, or at least an entity like her, was worshipped as a dark deity by a folk that called themselves the Drow. Dark Elves; creatures that made him understand what Melkor might have intended when he began to turn captured Elves into Orcs.
The Nazgûl Lord loathed and despised Orcs. They were mindless beasts, driven to uncontrolled massacres, just for the sake of destruction, killing and maiming to fill their bottomless bellies and to continue their hideous race for another miserable generation. Melkor had obviously done a less than perfect job on them and Sauron, in two whole Ages, had been unable to improve them a bit.
The Nazgûl Lord felt the same disgust for his own master. Someone as obsessed with power as Sauron had been all the time should have put some effort into making better servants. At least Saruman, lying weasel though he was, had made impressive headway with his Uruk-hai breeding program. The Uruk-hai were stunning warriors, and the Nazgûl Lord fervently hoped to get his hands on them, once Saruman had been dealt with.
But they still could not even come close to the Drow, with their artful cruelty, dark beauty and incredible abilities. All these were traits the Nazgûl Lord found worth studying. And so he decided to run an experiment – to summon a single Drow away from that other plane of existence and plant him into Middle-earth, so see what kind of havoc he would wreak with the peoples of Rhovanion.
It had to be a male Drow, and a warrior, not a mage. The Nazgûl Lord did not want any competition. A sorcerer or a priestess would prove too much even for him to handle. Besides, male warriors were easier to catch outside the heavily warded boundaries of their underground cities. They were sent to the surface from time to time.
And it had to be Rhovanion. In the vastness of the Wilderland, a stranger like that could run free undetected for quite some time. And testing a Drow's abilities against Orcs, Wargs, Giant Spiders and, of course, Wood-Elves, promised to be interesting. He would put his subject through increasingly dangerous tests, and if the Drow proved himself, he would bring over more of them to this plane and build his own army in Dol Guldur.
He had to act quickly, though. In a short time, he would have to empty Minas Morgul, in order to go to war against Gondor. Once the last realm of Westernesse was destroyed, its cities levelled and its remaining people enslaved, Sauron would calm down again and send him back to Dol Guldur, to keep an eye on the northern realm. By then, he would have to know whether a Drow army could be the basis of his personal power. Khamûl would keep an eye on the experience for him. But he needed to start it without delay.
He decided to travel in his true form, as a shapeless wraith. He hated doing so, for it reminded him how he had lost everything but his knowledge and willpower during the long millennia of his existence, but it was the fastest and most secret way. If he was quick enough, he could be gone and back within the day. And no-one, not even Sauron who was obsessedly looking for that Ring of his, would learn about his short absence.
"Take my belongings back to Minas Morgul," he ordered is personal servant, a mute, white-eyed slave from Far-Harad, who could get in and out without even the other Nazgûl spotting him. "And keep my chamber locked 'til I return."
Not even waiting for the man's nod, he jumped off the highest tower of Cirith Ungol and flew with the speed of thought to the North, where his true fortress, the dark tower of Dol Guldur stood, in the dense forest of Southern Mirkwood.
He no longer knew how long he had led this solitary existence of hunting and being hunted; of killing in order to avoid being killed. He no longer knew that he was still young for a Drow Elf and could go on this way, like some mindless beast, for another four hundred years, if not more. He had forgotten having ever been anything – or anyone – else: a person of conscience of strong principles, which in itself had been quite the contradiction for a Drow Elf.
Drow Elves were born of chaos, lived in chaos and served the chaos that manifested in the malevolent figure of Lloth(2), the Spider Queen – an evil deity to whom especially the females of their race were completely devoted. In any case, females held the power in Drow society. As priestesses of Lloth, they ruled over life and death... especially over death. Males only existed to serve their purposes in the eternal struggle for more power and influence... and to beget their children, preferably female ones. Chaos, power struggle and fear were the three major characteristics of Drow society, indoctrinated deeply into the very soul of each Dark Elf – assuming that they had a soul to begin with; a possibility that many other races adamantly denied. A Drow with conscience and moral principles, like the one Drizzt had once been, was an anomaly; an extreme rare case.
He had been born in Menzoberranzan, one of the major Drow cities in the Underdark, as the third son of the Matron of House Do'Urden, a moderately important family of that city. As no noble family had need for a third living son, it had been decided that he would be sacrificed to Lloth, right after birth, to gain the Spider Queen's favour in his family's private little war against House Hu'nett; a struggle that had just reached it temporary peak and needed to be decided to their advantage quickly.
Fortunately for him, his brother Dinin decided in their very moment of triumph that the time had come for him to become the elderboy of House Do'Urden and killed their eldest brother in order to make room for himself. Lloth apparently accepted the sacrifice, and thus Drizzt escaped an early death, rising to secondboy status – not that it would have meant much.
In the first ten years of his life, he had been raised – and indoctrinated to accept his inferior position as a male child – by his sister Vierna, who hated being his wean-mother for it delayed her studies with the ambitious goal to become a High Priestess one day. After six more years as a page prince, he was finally officially acknowledged as the secondboy of House Do'Urden and entrusted to Zaknafein, his House's weapons master – who also happened to be his father. Zaknafein not only taught him unparalleled weapons skills, he also showed him the wrongness of the Drow way. He taught Drizzt to listen to his conscience and to cling to his morals and principles; and he had taught his son so well that not even the corrupt doctrines of Melee-Magthere, the training school of Drow warriors, could break the lingering goodness of him. And Zaknafein had even died for him, willingly – twice – to make his escape from the Underdark possible.
His wanderings in the surface world brought him to Icewind Dale, where he found what he had always longed for: a true home and faithful friends. But those friends were short-lived compared with him, and he was still a young Drow of barely a hundred and some years (he never found out exactly how many years he had spent alone in the Underdark after fleeing the city of his birth) when the last of them died: Catti-brie, the human girl adopted by a Dwarf king. The first one to approach him, to trust him, to befriend him. The last one to leave him.
But leave him she did, inevitably, and he returned to the mountain slopes above Ten-Towns, to the rocky cave that had been his hide-out upon his arrival, with only Guenwhyvar as his company. There he spent lonely years, guarding humans and Dwarves below, fighting Orcs, trolls, tundra yetis and any other monster that came his way. Until that fateful day when he accidentally dropped the onyx figurine – it just slipped through his half-frozen fingers, right under the heavy foot of a mountain troll. The faint crack as it was shattered to thousand pieces under the troll's enormous weight severed his last tie to the rest of the world(3).
In that moment, the hunter took over again, and this time completely. He killed the troll in a blur of slashing scimitars and gathered every onyx shard of what once had been a magical item but was only useless rubbish now, in a futile attempt to try and put them together again.
But there was no help. The magic was broken forever. He would never be able to call his oldest, truest friend – his only friend now – from the Astral Plane. He was truly, utterly alone. Drizzt Do'Urden embraced the hunter and welcomed the darkness of his existence. Giving in to the hunter meant no dreams, no memories, and he did not want to remember the short happier years of his life. Remembering what he had lost would have been too painful.
Khamûl, the lieutenant of Dol Guldur and his only confidant in this matter, did not like the timing at all.
"Even if your spell works, who knows where the Drow will surface?" he argued. "I am to lead the armies of the North against the Wood-Elves, the Dwarves and the Lake-men, soon, as you know. I shall have no time to look for one Dark Elf, lost in the forest."
"You shall not have to look for him," his captain replied. "He will come to you. My summoning will call him directly to Dol Guldur, with an irresistible pull. He cannot do aught but follow it, whether he wants or not."
"And what am I supposed to do with him, once he arrived?" asked Khamûl sarcastically. He had once been a great chieftain of the Easterlings; he wanted to lead armies, not to nursemaid lost Elves – not even if they were evil.
"Use him," the Nazgûl Lord replied simply. "Dow Elves are excellent warriors, and they hate their surface cousins deeply. Send him into battle against them and test his skills. Ere I bring over more of them, I wish to see if they are truly worth the effort and whether they are as good and efficient in a world where their mere reputation does not make everyone flee in terror as is true in their own."
"I hope they are," said Khamûl sourly. "We shall need our own army of useful, reliable warriors to hold the North securely.
"In Sauron's name," added the Nazgûl Lord in a manner that lacked every shard of sincerity.
"But for our own advantage," finished Khamûl.
The two Ringwraiths were content with their intrigue. It was a good plan, and with any other Drow, it would most likely have worked out beautifully. What they did not know was the fact that they had selected the only Dark Elf who would doom their plan to fail utterly.
'Twas not their fault, though. They could not know that Drizzt Do'Urden was not like your average Drow.
"Leave me now," said the Nazgûl Lord with understandable (albeit misplaced) confidence. "I need to cast the spell without delay."
Khamûl was all too glad to leave. He might have been a Ringwraith for uncounted centuries, but deep within, he still was a simple monster. He revelled in armies and weapons and war and killing – and generally causing as much pain and wreaking as much havoc as possible – and did not care for sorcery at all. Spells could easily backfire, and the results often got out of hand. He preferred the old-fashioned ways.
Solidifying his body by sheer willpower, the Nazgûl Lord retrieved the heavy tome of his most secret and dangerous spells. He laid it open on the table and leaned over it, focusing in the dark powers living within him. The spell had to be cast perfectly – bridging two different planes of existence was one of the hardest things a sorcerer could try.
At first he thought it was the hunter getting stronger, and he offered no resistance. What for? He was the hunter now, and the stronger the hunter was getting, the better were the chances of his survival. But after a while, he began to suspect that this... this force came from the outside. It was a lot more subtle than the intrusion of the illithid... as if the intruder wanted to conceal its actions. But Drow Elves were all trained to recognize – and repel – mind attacks. And he began to resist.
That was the hardest thing he had ever done. He did not want the intruder to realize that he had discovered the intrusion. So he played a slow, patient cat-and-mouse game with his unknown enemy. He never knew whether his adversary knew it or not – until it returned with a brutal force that wiped away his resistance.
This time, he could do nothing against the violent pull of all-encompassing darkness.
The royal huntsman was devastated, of course, but Thranduil just laughed and sent Alagos after the noble beast. Who would have a better chance to find Half-tooth in the woods than Alagos, his chief tracker? Alagos, who had roamed Mirkwood for three Ages... and some more.
Alagos, whose name meant "Storm of Wind", was one of the Faithful -- the Elves who had refused to follow the call of the Valar and never left the forests of their birth. The other Elves called them Avari, the Unwilling or the Refuser; it was meant as an insult, but the Faithful were proud of it. Of their unique bond with the forests and the trees. Some of them had mingled with other Elven kindred during the past Ages – thus bringing forth their somewhat less secretive cousins, the Wood-Elves – but some of their clans still kept the old customs, while accepting Thranduil as their King.
Alagos was not one of those who had awakened at the waters of Cuiviénen, but his parents had been. Right now, he was the most ancient Elf in Mirkwood, save from Old Galion, the King's seneschal, who modestly called himself a butler but was more, much more. He had come to Thranduil's court with the following of the late Queen Lálisin – and never for a moment regretted doing so. King Thranduil – and before him his father, King Oropher – might have been Sindarin princes, but they had fully embraced the simple life of the woodland folk and had successfully protected their realm for two Ages. Even if said realm had to be moved repeatedly northwards and was now but a shard of its former greatness.
Alagos had moved with the realm twice. He had seen Lasgalen, King Oropher's beautiful tree city, being built – and abandoned again when the threat from the South grew too strong. He had seen King Thranduil's caves being carved out of living rock by the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains, back in the times where there still had been Dwarven cities in the Ered Mithrin. He had been the tutor and weapons master of Thranduil's sons, all four of them, and he had fought in the Battle Upon Dagorlad, where the three older ones were slain, in the vain effort to protect their royal grandfather.
Yes, King Thranduil had suffered terrible losses, not all of them due to battle. His only living son was away in the South, on some dangerous quest right now, and Alagos had watched his King grow pale and worn with concern for moons. All the more he was determined to retrieve the adventurous Half-tooth to bring his Lord at least some small joy in these dark times.
Finding the lynx in the woods was no great difficulty for an experienced tracker who had honed his sills in woodcraft for at the very least seven millennia. Half-tooth generously marked territory on his way, and the scent was easy to follow. Alagos moved forward in the trees, noiselessly like a ghost; the branches willingly parted before him, giving him a clear path, and closed again protectively behind him. He was one of the Faithful. He and the forest were one.
He had hunted Half-tooth for days, and the scent grew gradually stronger. He knew he would succeed, soon. But in this morning, he picked up another scent, one that he had never sensed before. He could not even guess to what kind of creature it could belong. But he knew what unknown dangers meant and decided to investigate. The new scent went parallel with that of Half-tooth, so the tracker could follow both his goals at the same time.
Half-tooth was the first that he found. Later in the afternoon, the scent led Alagos into a small grassy glade surrounded by knotted and gnarled old oak trees. There the great lynx was lazing on his belly, next to the pliant shape of a Man or Elf, licking that person's face.
Alagos narrowed his eyes, understanding that he had also found the source of the new, previously unknown scent. He inched forward on the huge bench to get a better view... and froze.
The creature lying upon the grass was shaped like a Wood-Elf: tall and slender, but less so than the Eldar, long-limbed and most likely very agile... if conscious. He even had the sharp, angular face and the elegant, pointed ears of an Elf. But his skin was black like the starless night – like that of an Orc, in fact – and he had a thick mat of white hair. Truly white, like that of Old Galion's, not silver like that of the Sindarin nobles of the court.
Alagos chewed his lower lip in concern. No, he had never seen any such creature in his seven-thousand-and-some years of existence. He had not even heard of such beings. What kind of creature could it be? The unholy fruit of a forced union between an Elf and an Orc? No, that could not be. Elves died if violated, and this creature was beautiful in its dark way. Orcs had no beauty.
Unable to decide what he was dealing with, the tracked chose to wait and watch the creature for a while.
"Guenwhyvar?" he murmured hopefully.
But no, it could not be. Guenwhyvar was gone, lost to him, trapped forever on the Astral Plane. He would never see the panther again. Never.
Yet it was a cat. A large one, with tufted ears, and a stump instead of a tail. The stump did not look like the result of an injury, though. Perhaps this was what the cat was supposed to look like: a stump tail and tufted ears. A predator, definitely. A friendly one, apparently. And it – he, Drizzt decided after a closer look – seemed to crave company. Elven company, perhaps, but a Drow would serve as a substitute, according to his behaviour, for he rolled onto his back expectantly and purred in delight when Drizzt scratched his belly. The Drow felt a strange pang of homesickness, but also a little comfort. No, this was not Guenwhyvar; the panther was gone and would never return. But it was a cat, a hunting cat, and the touch of his thick, soft fur gave Drizzt the illusion that he was not completely alone -- for a moment, at least.
"What are you doing here, my light-footed friend?" he murmured in the Drow tongue. "Are you on the hunt? For food or for a mate? Or are you on your way home?"
The feline eyes narrowed in pleasure as he scratched and rubbed the beautiful beast's belly. But after a while, the cat rolled onto his feet again and laid a large front paw upon Drizzt's knee as if trying to catch his attention.
"What do you want me to do, friend cat?" asked Drizzt, for it was clear that the animal wanted something.
The cat tilted his head to the side, his tufted ears and long, white whiskers trembling. Then he withdrew his paw, turned around and trotted away with deliberate slowness.
Drizzt sighed. He would have loved to follow the cat, to have some company again, even though this noble beast could not be compared with his treasured magical friend. But the cat's path led to the East, and the strong pull Drizzt had felt from the moment on he had come by came from the South. He knew not what would await him there. All he knew was that he had to follow that summoning. He had no other choice. Or so he thought.
And thus he gathered his meagre belongings: a cloak and a water flask that had somehow found the way with him there, wherever he might be, and looked around for a path to the South. He found one after some searching. It was narrow and almost completely buried in the undergrowth. But it would have to do.
Barely had he gone a few tentative steps, though, when an unexpected whirlwind of fur and muscle hit him squarely in the chest. He lost his balance and fell, landing on his back -- and that not very softly. The cat stood above him, two large paws pressing against his chest, growling angrily.
That a mere beast – for the cat was not a magical one, he could feel that clearly – had been able to catch him unaware was a surprise. An unpleasant one. After all that he had learned from Montolio, the ancient, blind ranger, he should have heard the cat's approach. He should have felt it. Yet he had not... and that was alarming and strange. If not the ranger's well-honed skills, then at least the primeval hunter's infallible instincts should have warned him.
Why had that not happened? And where was he anyway? This forest, thick and dark and ancient, could be no-where near his hide-out of old. How had he come here in the first place? Could it be that in a longer period of stupor, when the hunter had been in control, he had walked off this far? No; he knew the landscape around Icewind Dale too well to believe that. This was no-where near Icewind Dale... or any other place he'd previously known. But what was this place then? And, more importantly, where was it?
He felt the strong pull again, and the urge to follow it grew stronger. He had to go. Gently, carefully, he pushed the great cat aside and clambered to his feet, turning to the southern path again. He could do nothing else.
But he hadn't counted on the cat's stubbornness. To his surprise, a strong maw caught his ankle and began to pull him backwards. The cat's hold was strong but careful; the sharp teeth did not break his skin but held him securely. The cat's eyes narrowed to angry slits, the long whiskers bristled. It was very obvious that the good beast was against the idea of going South; he wanted Drizzt to follow him to the East instead.
Drizzt considered his options. The cat seemed determined to bring him off the southern path; the Drow could fight him, of course, and most likely defeat him. But he was without doubt a good beast, and Drizzt did not want to harm him. Besides, he was apparently at home in this strange forest, while Drizzt was a stranger -- and lost. Perhaps there was something dark and dangerous in the South, and the pull Drizzt felt was but an evil spell to lure him to his death.
Not that he feared death. In his current state of mind, he would even welcome it. But the cat wanted him to avoid that path, and he had a weak spot for cats. He wanted to learn more about this one. What would he lose if he followed the cat? He could always turn back to the South later.
"Very well, friend cat," he murmured. "Let us try your way first. Go on; I shall follow."
For Half-tooth to all but adopt a complete stranger, and one belonging to a previously unknown race, was more than unusual. What could have triggered his protective act? For Alagos knew all too well where that southern path would ultimately lead after crossing uncounted miles of dark, unfriendly forest and even the Mountains of Mirkwood: to Amon Lanc, the Naked Hill, here the most northern fortress of the Enemy stood. Dol Guldur this fortress was called, the Necromancer's Tower – or Dol Dúgol, in the ancient dialect of the Faithful, the Tower of Evil Magic.
At first Alagos had been concerned that the stranger seemed so determined to tread the southern path. Was he one of the Enemy's creatures, after all? 'Twas not entirely impossible; ever since that wretched little creature had escaped the Wood-Elves' care, the Enemy's power had been growing steadily. The shadow of Dol Dúgol had been stretching northwards all the time. Never before had Orcs, Wargs, Giant Spiders and only Kémi knew what other fell beasts bothered the woodland realm so much. Not since the Last Alliance.
And yet the stranger seemed not to act on his own volition. It looked more as if he had tried to follow a summon too strong to resist. Perhaps he stood under the spell of the Úlairi; few would be able to resist the enchantment of their leader who once had been the Witch-king of Angmar, the most powerful sorcerer that had ever walked Middle-earth. Alagos was one of these few, for he was older than the Sun and the Moon, and his roots in the earth were deep, his connection to the trees and good beasts was strong. But the stranger, whoever he was – whatever he was – could clearly not be from here, thus the strength of earth and forest could not support him against the Úlairi's foul witchcraft.
And yet he had turned away from the southern path and followed Half-tooth to the East – that showed strength as well as wisdom, and that he had reason (or so he thought) to trust the lynx. Mayhap he had learned to trust cats for some reason. In any case, he was walking with Half-tooth for the time being, and that could lead to further complications.
For the eastern path, too, was well-known to Alagos. It was roughly the same route he had followed during his search for Half-tooth... just from the other direction. It was the path that led to the Enchanted River where it joined the Forest River, and, eventually, to the King's underground fortress. Half-tooth was taking his new friend home.
Alagos' own choices were woefully limited in the matter. He could send alarms with the help of trees and friendly birds and rouse the patrols – that way he could intercept the stranger ere he came too close to the King's home. Or he could follow him and watch him and confront him on his own when the time was right.
He chose the second opinion. He could feel that the stranger was an able and dangerous fighter – a hostile confrontation could cause losses the Would-Elves could not afford, not when they were on the brink of an all-out war with the Enemy. Besides, he wanted to learn more about the stranger first. Thus he sent word to the King that he had found Half-tooth and would return the good beast shortly, and followed the unlikely friends through the treetops, noiselessly and invisibly like a ghost.
(1) Part of the Witch-king's past (particularly his origins) was invented by a firm called Iron Crown Enterprises who specialize in role-playing games, so it is not genuine Tolkien. However, if Stephen Geard found it good enough to include into his "Complete Chronology of Númenor", I thought I can accept it as well. The rest if my invention.
(2) The official name of the Spider Queen is Lolth. However, according to Wikipedia (and R. Salvatore's books) she is called Lloth in the Drow tongue.
(3) Yes, I know that the figurine of Guenwhyvar is supposed to be unbreakable, unless by some very strong magic. But I could not use the panther in Middle-earth, so I decided to bend canon a little.