|The Song in the Darkness
Author: Mirach PM
AU. After the battle on Pelennor fields, Aragorn is captured by the Nazgûl and brought to the Dark Tower. His will is the only thing that stands between Sauron and the One Ring. Torture! *MEFA '09 nominee* CompleteRated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Drama - Aragorn & Sauron - Chapters: 14 - Words: 33,277 - Reviews: 195 - Favs: 98 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 06-09-09 - Published: 02-10-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4854160
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All characters and places belong to Tolkien. The quotes in Italic belong to Tolkien. My reverence belongs to Tolkien…
Rating: T… as Torture
Author's Note: This is a story that has a long development after it. Its origins are in the time when I red The Lord of the Rings for the first time and since that it had many versions and variants. I never thought about writing it down, I used to replay it in my head over and over. It was only in 2008 that I found this wonderful site and learned that I'm not alone and people like to write and read such stories. This story is dedicated to all those wonderful authors that showed me in their stories, that I can write it. For you, lindahoyland, Neoinean, Imaginigma, StarLight9, Sternenlicht, Celebdil Galad and Tinlaure, Firefly-Maj, Maethril Aranel, QueenofFlarmphgal, Firefly-Maj, Cairistiona, Inzilbeth and many others…
With great thanks to my beta openmeadow, who has patience with my "Slanglish" (Slovak + English), and to Cairistiona for the second beta: gama? =)
This story will be dark… but there is always a flicker of light in the darkness. Let me know what you think about it, I appreciate your opinion!
1. To the tombs of kings doom approaches
At the doors of the Houses many were already gathered to see Aragorn, and they followed after him; and when at last he had supped, men came and prayed that he would heal their kinsmen or their friends whose lives were in peril through hurt or wound, or who lay under the Black Shadow. And Aragorn arose and went out, and he sent for the sons of Elrond, and together they labored far into the night. And word went through the City: 'The King is come again indeed.' And they named him Elfstone, because of the green stone that he wore, and so the name which it was foretold at his birth that he should bear was chosen for him by his own people.
And when he could labor no more, he cast his cloak about him, and slipped out of the City…
It was quiet on the Pelennor fields. Where a battle raged only a few hours before – the clang of swords, the cries of wounded and dying, mad whining of horses and roaring fires – now silence veiled the blood-soaked field: the stillness of death. A lone figure in dark cloak slowly made its way through the battlefield. He stumbled several times, and nearly fell, but always he found his balance in the last moment, and continued forwards with unfocused gaze – as if he wouldn't truly see the smoking remnants of battle under his feet.
Aragorn's gaze was turned inwards. In the silence of night the cries of battle still sounded in his ears, blending with the sounds of all the battles that he fought in the last days, with the roaring flames of the lidless Eye in the Orthanc stone, and dull echoes of hooves and whispers of the Dead beneath a haunted mountain. There were sounds, and pictures of a long shadow reaching westwards from a black tower in Mordor like the wings of darkness. In this dark hour before the dawn, the picture seemed to be overwhelming, fueled by blood – both crimson and black, and blood rained from the shadow all over the land, soaking the soil beneath his feet.
He remembered walking through this place before. It was in a dream… Or was this a dream, and before it was real? He sought someone, back then… He called his name, and no answer came for a long time. There was black mist, and swirling shadows, and the fear – for a moment the fear returned, and it was as real as if the dream had never ended. The fear that he would not find the one that he sought, and he would have no strength to return himself. For a moment he felt like walking the sinister landscape of Black Breath again, before he realized that this place was real, and he was not seeking someone lost, but walking from Minas Tirith to the camp of Dúnedain.
The distance was not far, but to Aragorn it seemed as the longest road in this dark hour, longer than the leagues through the vast plains of Rohan, because every league and every battle was here, now. It was a road through his own memories, and again Helm's Deep was besieged and the White City was burning while he led the hosts of the Dead, hoping that it was not too late yet.
Suddenly he stopped, and closed his eyes, drawing a shuddering intake of breath. This place… Even in the darkness, he recognized it. This was the place where Halbarad fell. He stood still for a moment, and although he didn't look at the place, the scene was playing over and over behind his closed eyelids. "Halbarad! No!!!" But his warning came too late. And the words could not stop the arrow… Aragorn sighed, and finally opened his eyes. There was the same silence over this place as over the whole Pelennor fields. The silence that comes after the last breath… But I am still alive, and there is so much to do yet, so much to accomplish for the last glimpse of hope… His thoughts turned to the east, into the land of darkness and despair, where two hobbits were trying to accomplish what an army could not.
His road was hard, but in his heart he knew that their road was even more exhausting and difficult then his. And the Eye was still searching; the only hope for them and for Middle-earth was to divert its gaze. And he knew what must be done and shivered, as if in a cold breeze. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I must be strong. Or was it today, already? The eastern sky was brighter, but he couldn't tell if it was the rising sun or the fires of Mordor.
At last the tent that his kinsman erected for him was in sight. The banner with the White Tree had been furled and there were no signs that the tent belonged to a king, more than just the Captain of Dúnedain, but it was the most comfortable shelter he had slept in for a long time. The camp was quiet, the rangers sleeping after many exhausting days, and only two of them held watch over their comrades. For a short moment Aragorn thought about relieving them, for they apparently had difficulties to hold their eyelids open, but he immediately realized that he wasn't thinking coherently anymore – his own hands trembled from weariness and he felt near to falling under the Black Breath himself, after healing so many from it.
The feeling increased with every second, and Aragorn realized that this couldn't be the aftermath of healing. Alarmed, he turned around, his hand on the hilt of Andúril. The feeling of dread overwhelmed him and he knew: a Nazgûl! Andúril flew from its scabbard, reflecting the dim lights on the east. The two sentries looked up to see a cloaked figure with a sword in hands, and alarmed they hurried to the place.
Aragorn tried to pierce the unnatural darkness that engulfed him. He felt the Ringwraith was near, but couldn't see it. He heard cries… chopped off by the stillness of death. The blood froze in his veins. He rushed to where the cries came from and stumbled over a body. It was one of the sentries, his features twisted in horror; Lenareth. A kinsman. One of the only ones he had. Aragorn felt a light touch on his cheek that sent shivers through his body, like the wing of a nightmare.
He turned quickly, but darkness was the only thing he saw, darkness and the unseeing eyes of Lenareth that lingered like a picture imprinted in his mind no matter where he looked. Faint whispers echoed in his mind, whispers that chilled his body and crept to his heart, and he knew that he had given too much of himself in the healing of the others. Too long had he walked in the shadows, seeking the lost and returning them to the light. Now he had no strength left for himself to avert the shadows engulfing him.
He fell to his knees, shivering and panting hard, and felt the steps of the approaching Nazgûl like the blows of a ram on the gate. The gate was cracking beneath the force, and he knew that the next blow would be the last. No! It can't fall! He was sinking into deep water, down, down into the dark. Above was the surface, too far away. No! Not yet. I won't give up yet! Desperately, he struggled to swim to the surface…
He broke though! Once again he was aware of his own body. The Nazgûl was leaning over him, his eyes like pits of whirling shadows, and his sword aiming at Aragorn's head. Aragorn didn't have time to avoid the blow, but he managed to jump to his feet and catch the blow with his left shoulder. Burning pain exploded in it and light flickered before his eyes. But he felt his hand again, and his fingers clenched around the hilt of Andúril. The Flame of the West against the darkness of the East… With one mighty blow Aragorn plunged the sword into the shadows before him.
A harrowing scream echoed through the night, and Aragorn felt as if the scream entered his own body through his sword-arm. Unable to hold on to the hilt any longer, the ancient sword slipped from his hand. The scream was like a dark wave circulating through his body, carrying him to the realm of despair. His hand felt numb and cold and the cold entered his blood.
Swaying on his feet and panting heavily, Aragorn fought the dizziness. The world he saw had no colors, there were only creeping shadows. There was a dark shadow looming over him, with the face of a mighty lord of men, yet withered by age, with empty eyes. Wounded, but not dead… Aragorn's heart froze. He had no strength to fight anymore. The shadows reached for him and he did not resist. He felt as though he was falling, falling deep into a pit of darkness. The darkness embraced him and he knew no more.
At the doors of the Houses …: J.R.: The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter 8: The Houses of Healing
Rewritten July 28, 2009 thanks to Ragnelle