Disclaimer: The world and characters (for the most part) are Tolkien's or Tolkien inspired. Hopefully, the character in this tale who does not bear any resemblance to any Tolkien character ever invented is blatantly obvious.
The morning after the Millennium Ball saw the Halls of Mandos returning to their usual quiet. The vast hangings regained their places of honor, and the halls seemed wrapped in sorrow and reflection. Vairë and her handmaidens worked at their weavings, creating tapestries as rich and magnificent as life itself. Spirits resumed their calls to Nienna, and she lamented and walked amongst them. And while certain spirits seemed rather out of sorts – the Fëanorians seemed particularly upset – it was only to be expected. After all, as Mandos had noted, it was a wonder that any event that involved the Fëanorians, the houses of Finarfin and Fingolfin, lords of the Teleri, Sindar, Vanyar, and other kindreds, elves who had resided in locations ranging from Gondolin to Eryn Lasgalen, and a large, bright, shiny jewel had not ended in a complete riot.
Yes, the residents of the Halls of Mandos were returning to their usual routines. However, as Mandos well knew, the events of the night before could not be undone…
The mansions of Ilmaren, situated high on the peaks of Taniquentil, home of Manwë and Varda, had housed many strange things over the centuries. Though few had ever entered those hallowed halls, the tales of the wonderful objects, visitors, and happenings in the dwelling of the Lord and Lady of the Valar were numerous indeed. However, Manwë thought, as he gazed at the bright gem hovering in the center of his pristine white hall, nothing quite like this particular creation of Fëanor's had ever existed within his home.
"What brings you here, Námo?" he asked as he sat down, blue robes rustling. He knew that Námo agreed to host the Millennium Ball only to comply with the wishes of Ilúvatar, Varda and himself. Still, Manwë thought, by all accounts, this year's Ball had gone off rather well. He had been most pleased that none of the Elves had destroyed their temporary physical bodies. Naturally, he had known of the Quest, though its' outcome had not been revealed to him until it was completed. While he was glad the Eight Companions - Manwë shook his head; it was obvious the Sons of Elrond had inherited their father's particular skill for naming groups of travelers – while he was happy they had succeeded, he could not help but view the outcome with a certain amount of weariness. The Sons of Fëanor were proud, true, but no fools… He blinked, realizing Námo had just spoken. "I am sorry, Námo, could you repeat your request? I fear I was distracted."
"Of course," Námo replied, bowing low. "Manwë Sulimo, I beg you accept this gem as a token."
"A token of what, precisely?" Manwë asked, all thoughts of Fëanorians and the Quest pushed aside. The gem twirled, casting bright patterns across the floor.
"A token of my faith in your abilities," Námo replied. Manwë fixed his gaze on the Doomsman of the Valar. Námo held his hands out helplessly. "For the love of Ilúvatar, Manwë, you know what must be done."
Manwë sighed, watching the multicolored patterns swirl on the floor. Yes, he knew what had to be done. He shook his head sadly. The ways of Ilúvatar were mysterious indeed. For a moment he stood, hair drifting in the winds that constantly swirled around him. An instant later, the gem disappeared…
The tapestries of Vairë shimmered in the ghostly light that pervaded the Halls, the vivid colors a stark contrast to the white floors and high ceilings. Gelmir held his hand near the tapestry, marveling at the kaleidoscope of images and auras trapped within the silken threads. Joy and sorrow, honor and treachery, hope and despair were the stuff of which such tapestries were made; a testament to history and life itself. Once more he marveled at the skill of Vairë and her handmaidens, who had crafted the delicate weavings for many Ages of the world. While he had often gazed at the tapestries in his own centuries of reflection in the Halls, he found that he never tired of looking at them. They constantly shifted, subtly changing as time sped by. Even now, the great looms hummed as the weavings documented the past. Or, in some cases, Gelmir thought, edited it. He tore his eyes away from the tapestries and returned his attention to the discussion at hand.
Vairë held the packet of parchment in her hand, scanning the signatures on the documents before her. The Eight Companions stood around her, waiting for her judgment. They had returned with Legolas to the Halls to offer him moral support and guidance as he prepared to create his First Age identity. However, the creation of that identity still required the Valië's approval.
"Everything seems to be in order. I would enquire as to how exactly you convinced Fëanor," she paused as the Companions shifted uneasily. "However, judging from your own demeanor and the rather undignified conduct of several members of Fëanor's kin last night, I daresay it is better for all concerned that I know as little as necessary."
Gelmir caught Legolas's gaze. He knew that the Sindarin elf still felt slightly guilty over the rather unorthodox methods they had used to obtain Fëanor's permission. Still, what was done was done, and as the twins had pointed out, the entire experience had been highly amusing,
"If that is your wish, my Lady," Legolas said, bowing. "Yet now I beg your leave to spend time in the Realm of Gondolin, in the years that it still endured."
"You have the proper documentation," Vairë replied. "And you have sought and received the permission of Fëanor, and all others whom this decision will directly affect. Now all that remains is the minute details of your First Age existence."
Legolas nodded. "Aye, my Lady. The Lords Gelmir, Gwindor, and the Lady Finduilas have been telling me of the customs and mannerism of the folk of that age, and Glorfindel and Tuor have been speaking to me of Gondolin."
"Indeed," Glorfindel said. "My lady, we believe we have come up with an appropriate life for Legolas. We had thought he could be in the service of Galdor of the Tree..."
"A fitting house for an elf of the woods," Vairë replied gravely. She gestured to her attendants, who helped unroll part of a great tapestry. Gelmir watched, fascinated, as she probed at the threads, searching and locating the strands necessary to edit the life of Legolas and allow him admittance into Gondolin. "Now, I need someone to give me the exact details of Legolas's role in Gondolin," she said, fingers dancing amidst the strands.
Immediately, Glorfindel began to speak, carefully detailing life in Gondolin before its betrayal, Tuor chiming in with a comment when needed. Vairë grilled the two for details, making cryptic markings on a piece of parchment nearby so as to keep the details fresh.
Gelmir felt his eyes stray once more to the tapestries. Vairë held the threads of Legolas's life and Gondolin static, murmuring to herself as Glorfindel spoke. Gelmir glanced at Legolas. Legolas listened to the group, though his attention seemed focused elsewhere. Gelmir narrowed his eyes. Something was not quite right. Legolas seemed different, somehow. Of course, subtle differences were to be expected – he was about to gain a new identity. However, he expected the elf to look happier about it…
Suddenly, the air around Legolas shimmered. Instantly, Vairë released the threads. Dimly, Gelmir could hear her saying something about not starting the weaving now, lest the changes prevented Legolas from returning. Gelmir reached out and gripped Legolas's shoulder, more as an act of desperation than anything else. It wasn't right, Gelmir thought, trying desperately to keep his grip. Vairë had agreed! He was going to be an elf of Gondolin... An instant later, Gelmir fell forward, clutching only air. Legolas was gone.
The remaining Companions stared. Vairë gave a sigh. "Continue your tale Glorfindel. When he returns, I will begin the weaving."
Gelmir listened, silently wishing his friend luck, and idly wondering who, if anyone, had gone with Legolas this time...
Meanwhile, in another world, Calienedhel (known simply as Calien or the Lightbringer to the Rangers of Lothlórien) stood in a clearing, basking in the sunlight. She threw back her long raven hair and laughed, clear amethyst eyes shining with the Light for which she had been named. She drew her crystal sword, lightly tracing the elvish runes that wound about the hilt. Her mind turned to the previous bearer of the sword - her father, who had been slain by Sauron. She had worked long and hard to perfect her skills as a warrior (not that she needed to, as swordsmanship, along with archery, jujitsu, healing, dance, and impeccable dress sense had come as naturally as breathing), in the hopes that someday, she would be able to avenge the family she had never known…
She shook her head. Now was not the time to think about that sort of thing. She fingered the small leather message pouch she carried. She had been charged by the Lady Galadriel to deliver an urgent message to Elrond – she had wasted far too much time already. She strode up to the secret chambers of Elrond, completely impervious to the admiring stares of various attractive elf lords, rugged mortal rangers, Captains of Towers, adorable halflings, and the other beings that had naturally arrived at the same time…
She opened her eyes. Middle-earth faded, to be replaced with her computer screen. Calien smiled. Everything was happening just as she wanted it to Of course, Calien wasn't her real name – her 'real' name was far too ordinary. Besides, she reasoned, if she was going to write a story, she may as well give herself a cool she-elf name.
She rubbed her palms together. Now, it was time for the best part, her meeting with Elrond. And Leggy – no, not Leggy, she corrected, remembering the instructions she had been given. Legolas, son of Thranduil son of Oropher, prince of Mirkwood. She had it all planned out. Of course Legolas would look down on her at first. She sniffed. Male elves were always so sexist! She'd read the Lord of the Rings (the parts with Leggy anyway) and there were no female characters! So, naturally, she had to invent one. She grinned. Besides, it wasn't her fault that she would have to work with Legolas…..it was going to be Lord Elrond's. Grinning, she began to type once more….
"Greetings, Elrond," the maid with the unnatural amethyst eyes said, as she stepped into a room Elrond assumed was his chamber. "I did not expect that you would be so pleased to see me."
Elrond stared at her, trying to gain control of his emotions. Elrond Peredhil, Lord of Imladris, Bearer of Vilya, son of Eärendil and Elwing, brother of Elros Tar-Minyatur, father of Arwen, Elladan, and Elrohir, foster father of Aragorn son of Arathorn (better known as King Elessar Telcontar, high King of Gondor and Arnor), husband of Celebrian of Lórien, and owner of a host of other titles that he would not speak of in this strange place, was not pleased to note the maiden's arrival. In fact, "not pleased" was defined as a massive understatement. He was upset, irritated, and quietly furious about the fact that he had been once more ripped from his library and his companions to fulfill the twisted commands of yet another human female under Morgoth's power.
"Lord Elrond….this is the ranger Galadriel has sent?" Legolas delivered the line in a mocking voice, his eyes glittering with silent anger. Elrond raised an eyebrow. True, he had not paid much attention to Legolas the night before, but he could have sworn he had heard that Legolas was to be an elf of Gondolin, or something to that effect. A brilliant solution, Elrond felt, and a relief not only to the prince, but to those who were generally summoned with him. Like himself, for instance. Elrond frowned. But if Legolas was an Elf of Gondolin as well as the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen and Lord of Ithilien, how was it this maid had summoned him?
"Come, speak with me for a moment, Legolas," Elrond said sharply. He softened his tone, noting the maiden's eyes light up at his tone. No doubt the silly girl thought he was going to chastise Legolas for his contempt of her. Elrond smiled grimly. By the Valar, she was going to regret this. Legolas walked over.
"Legolas, what is the meaning of this?" Elrond asked, keeping his voice as low as he was able. The girl strained to listen. "Did the Lady Vairë not agree to interweave your life with that of the kingdom of Gondolin?"
"Aye, Lord Elrond, she did. However…" Legolas's voice trailed off. He cast one glance at the maiden, who gave him a winning smile. "However, we were interrupted before the Lady could begin her weavings."
"Ah," Elrond said. The maiden was now singing softly to herself (off key, Elrond noted) He caught Legolas's eye. "Well, I take it is time we returned, is it not?"
Legolas shook his head. "I fear she will not be easily shaken," he confided. "I seem to recall meeting her once before, under a different name. I had to tell her I was enamored of Sauron to escape."
"In that case," Elrond said grimly, "We must take drastic measures. Follow my lead." Legolas nodded, his eyes glinting. Elrond noticed the girl, who was now looking at Legolas in much the same way a snake views a particularly tasty looking mouse. Elrond smiled. She was going to regret this. "Ready?" Elrond asked. Legolas gave a barely perceptable nod.
"Legolas, surely you know such comments are false," Elrond said, raising his voice once more. "I fear I cannot let that slide…." The maiden began to speak, but Elrond held his hand up for silence. He ran his hand down the Prince's hair. The silver – at least for the moment (the prince's hair had an uncanny ability to change colors) – the silver strands wrapped around his fingers. Elrond closed his eyes "Leave us," he muttered hoarsely at the maiden, knowing very well she would not. The maiden remained standing. Elrond drew his knife and pushed Legolas backward. Legolas complied, his lips twitching.
"Lord Elrond…" Legolas stammered, biting his lip. "My Lord, please, I cannot do this…"
Elrond cast a quick glance over his shoulder. The maiden watched, her mouth open. Perfect. "Kneel, Legolas, or you shall be knelt." Elrond said, his tone menacing. Legolas immediately fell to the floor, his shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter.
"What are you doing to him?" The maiden shouted, aghast. "Leave Leggy alone, you dirty old man! He's not like that! You're not like that!"
"I am not a man," Elrond replied. "And what would a mere maiden know of this matter? Long have I waited for this moment. Here I am, in the wild, a host of Elves at my call, and Legolas before me, ready to satisfy my whims…" His words had their calculated effect. The room shimmered as the maiden struggled to remain in control of her alternate reality. Elrond felt the bonds that held him in this strange place loosen. Legolas reached up and began toying with Elrond's robes. The maiden shrieked. The room began to spin. Instantly, Legolas was up on his feet. A well placed arrow shattered the maiden's sword, sending crystal shards flying. "This is what happens when you seek to create a realm without knowledge, " Elrond said coldly to the maiden. "Do not ever try such a thing again." Before she could respond, the alternate reality faded away.
""That took longer than expected, dear one," Celebrian admonished, as Elrond resumed his seat beside her.
"I am sorry, my queen." Elrond said. He covered her hand with his. "Let us speak no more of it…" Celebrian smiled. Elrond returned the smile. If his knowledge of the Valar was correct, Legolas would not have to worry about such a situation again for a long while…
"And so he returns," Maedhros said softly, watching as Legolas reappeared at the far end of the Halls and once more disappeared into the portions of the Halls that belonged to Vairë. "He returns, and will now be counted among the Elves of the First Age." He paced (or, more accurately, would have paced, had he a physical form. As it was, he merely drifted a few feet above the floor). It was not that he begrudged Legolas an escape from those….females; however, he was appalled that the Elf had been allowed to join the First Age. He turned to face his brothers. "How was it that none of you could stop him? He is but a mere wood-elf. At best, he can claim kinship with Elwë Singollo through his father's line. So how could we fail to perceive his intent?"
"I was occupied with the musicians," Maglor said. "And I daresay Legolas Thranduilion had help with his endeavors, if the behavior of his present companions is a sign of anything." Maglor turned to Celegorm. "Brother, were you not entertaining yourself with the daughter of Orodreth? If I am not mistaken, she is with Legolas and the others now..."
"Stop the insinuations, Maglor. She is married, and our kinswoman besides. I merely was speaking with her for a time."
"And drinking her wine," Amras muttered. "Of course, you were not the only one." He turned to Maedhros. "Pray tell, brother dear, how it was that our father was allowed to become incapacitated, and sign those documents in the first place."
"Well, Lord Fingon..." Caranthir started. Maedhros turned to him, eyes flashing. "Why Maedhros, such anger! I was merely going to say that Fingon and you seemed to be getting along rather well last evening. Perhaps you were preoccupied with your relationship?"
Maedhros pushed ethereal red hair off of his face. "That 'relationship' is not encouraged by Fingon or myself, and you know it well, Dark Elf," Maedhros watched, satisfied, as the remark hit its' target. "Furthermore, I was summoned by those Silmficcers." The unfamiliar term twisted his tongue. A foul word indeed. " The experience was not at all one I desired. And I would ask how you, Caranthir, and Curufin, Amrod, and Amras did not try to intervene."
"We were defending our family honor," Curufin protested. "Surely, we could not let our father's craftsmanship be the victim of Sindarin humor, even if such comments may have been justified."
"I concede that you have a point," Maedhros said, sighing. "Poor Father – he poured so much effort into its' creation. It almost pains me to see it destroyed."
"I do not think it is being destroyed," Maglor said. "I saw Mandos with it earlier, and there is talk of him taking the gem to Manwë himself."
"I'm sure we will learn of its' fate soon enough," Curufin said. "However, the problem of Legolas still remains. Surely, there must be a way to stop this. Father was not in his right mind when he gained permission..."
"Do you fancy telling him that?" Amrod asked. "I surely don't..." His voice trailed off as Legolas, now with the badge of Galdor of the Tree added to the numerous other sigils on his tunic walked past, his companions following. Maedhros glared at Glorfindel. The golden haired warrior merely raised his eyebrow, grinning wickedly. Then he turned and continued his exit from the Halls.
"And so it is done," Maglor said. Maedhros nodded, too upset to say anything else. Legolas had gained entrance into the greatest age of Arda, and at the same time, managed to find a way to escape those females. Maedhros admitted that he was jealous of the prince's new freedom, though he would be loath to say such a thing before his brothers. It was really a pity that he could not take on an identity from another Age. Or could he? After all, his life, and those of his father and brothers, were not spoken of in all the Ages of the world. Perhaps Legolas had the right idea after all...
"Maedhros!" Fëanor's voice brought Maedhros back to the present. He blinked. When had his father joined the group?
"My apologies, Father," Maedhros said. "My mind was elsewhere."
"By the Silmarils, do not state the obvious," Fëanor said. "Is it true that Legolas Thranduilion is now an Elf of Gondolin?"
"Aye, Father," Maedhros said.
"I should not have granted my permission." Fëanor said. "I fear I was tired out by the festivities, and so unable to think clearly. Still, what is done is done. We have no recourse but to accept it." Fëanor smiled stiffly. "At least one Elf is freed from Morgoth's power. Now, if only we all could be granted a similar respite..."
Maedhros let his gaze travel across the features of each of his brothers. He gestured for them to step back into a secluded corner. "Perhaps such a respite is within our grasp. For if Legolas Thranduilion of the Third Age could exist in Gondolin, surely we could exist in another Age as well..."
"Perhaps we can even seek to retrieve my beautiful whirling gem, or the Silmarils," Fëanor said thoughtfully. "Of course, fetching a Silmaril out of the flaming depths of the Earth could present a problem. However, searching Valinor for my gem, or the oceans for the other Silmaril..."
"Of course, Father," Maedhros said. "What say the rest of you?"
"It is indeed a clever plan. We shall be the Eight Seekers, and we shall not rest until we have gained multi-age personas!" Celegorm said. Fëanor looked at him. "Or, barring that retrieved the Silmarils and Father's gem."
"Well said," Maglor agreed. "It shall be a Quest the likes of which has never been seen; the inspiration for countless heroic songs or tragic ballads, whichever the case may be."
"Indeed," Maedhros agreed. "Now, to specifics...."
And so they set to planning, never knowing that a quiet being, concealed from the Fëanorians by a power beyond their own, had known of every last word.
The Ring of Doom stood as it had for eons, the stone thrones of the Valar gleaming in the light. There was an air of sobriety that clung to this place, which seemed to permeate the very stones beneath Aulë's feet. The Vala stood still for a moment, reveling in the comforting feel of good, solid stone. However, his concentration was shattered by the dancing lights thrown forth by the multifaceted gem that twirled silently. Aulë sighed. It was rare indeed that he regretted the knowledge he had imparted to the Firstborn; however this particular gem, while crafted beautifully, went against all the rules of aesthetics he had embraced over the years. Still, Aulë consoled himself, he gem was not entirely his fault – Varda had allowed Fëanor to capture the light of the heavens for the creation. Aulë felt a comforting arm touch his shoulder. He turned. Manwë and Varda stood behind him. Varda held her hands out in a gesture of regret and helplessness.
"My lord Manwë, are you certain the gem goes here?" Aulë asked, his tone slightly desperate. " Surely Ilúvatar did not mean for this to remain here!"
Manwë nodded. "The will of the One is beyond our perception, and even I cannot claim to understand all he wills."
"'Tis not as bad as it seems, Aulë," Varda said comfortingly. "I shall reclaim the light of Luinil and Arien. I daresay a twirling gem set with silvery light will not be as bad."
"It will be an improvement, at any rate," Aulë said. "However, I deem it would be prudent to not mention such a thing before Fëanor, lest he protest and create a disturbance."
"The House of Fëanor is preoccupied with other things," a new voice said. Námo joined the group. "Manwë, it has begun."
"What has begun?' Varda asked curiously.
"The Quest of the Eight Seekers," Námo and Manwë said simultaneously.
"What precisely does this quest entail?" Aulë asked curiously.
"You know of Legolas Greenleaf's new identity, do you not?" Námo asked. Aulë nodded. Somehow, he already knew where this tale was headed.
"I suppose the Fëanorians want it revoked," Aulë said.
And as Arien continued her journey across the sky, as Aulë worked on cementing the Gem of Fëanor to the Ring of Doom (where it could forever more strike terror into the hearts of wrongdoers) as Legolas, Elf of Gondolin and of Mirkwood related the tale of his and Elrond's escape from alternate reality, as the Eight Seekers plotted strategy,, as Manwë sighed and prepared himself for a deluge of paperwork and the particular brand of Fëanorian stubbornness he had come to expect, as Vairë admired her new weavings, as fangirls in a different time and place set aside their stories temporarily to watch the Two Towers (their desire to write checked by hormones and the stunning possibilities of Eómer, Haldir, and Faramir romances) as Mandos returned to his halls and attempted to reason with the Fëanorians, the tales of the Eight Companions spread far beyond the dominion of the Valar.
The tales traveled beyond the undying lands, into realms and places believed to be separate. And so, in a twist of fate that only Ilúvatar truly understands, the tale slipped into the Void and came to the ears of Melkor. The once proud Vala smiled and rubbed his hands. For, as he well knew, the real power of human beings lies not in their strength, nor their power, but their inventiveness. And he doubted not that someday, they would find a way around this obstacle.
"Enjoy your victory, Legolas Greenleaf," Melkor whispered, the words but an echo in the chill winter wind. "For this is but the beginning..."
Thanks to all who read and reviewed the first two parts of this fic. Once more, special thanks to the Silmfics list (especially Adrian, the self-described fanboy in slime), for firmly planting this tale in my head. I feel I would be amiss without also acknowledging the Mary-Sue writers whose literary efforts provided inspiration for the rest of this tale. Any resemblance of parts of this story to other tales is purely coincidental – Calien is my own creation, and her "alternate reality" is but a testament to the hundreds of Mary-Sue tales I've read here over the past year.
I'd also like to once again thank Dwimordene and Wild Iris for their grammar comments. *bows low before the wonderful grammar nitpickers*
Before I am asked, no, I will not be telling the story of the Fëanorians and their Quest – though if anyone would like to take that tale upon themselves, they are welcome to ^_^
Reviews/constructive criticism welcomed.