Beta-Reader:eLLe (Thank-you so much!)
Summary:Dark AU. What if, when Gandalf had fell in Moria, the fellowship had done something to aid their friend? What if, in helping, they had doomed the free lands into darkness unknowingly?
Disclaimer:*sigh* Alas, I own nothing.
Chapter #1 ~ Into Darkness
The fellowship stood spell bound upon the rocky ridge on the far side of the bridge of Khaza-Dûm, watching in growing horror as Gandalf turned to face the shadow and fire of the Balrog which pursued them.
"You cannot pass!"
Legolas felt a growing apprehension in his mind and he shouted silently, begging almost, for his body to do something. He could feel the foreboding sense of approaching death in the very air from which he breathed and knew that he should go to Gandalf, and offer his aid. Of all present here he was an elf, and one of the few who might be able to assist in this battle, yet his feet felt leaden and his mind was overwhelmed by the darkness before him; he could not move. He briefly heard Frodo shout out to the wizard but the entirety of his being remained focused on the bridge, and he did not spare the ring-bearer a glance.
"I am a servant of the sacred fire. Wielder of the flame of Anor. Dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the shadow."
Such courage. The Istari stood his ground showing a gallantry that Legolas had never before witnessed in all his long years, and he felt his soul scream out to Gandalf, this being of light and strength, to run. The elf's intuition foretold nothing but disaster would result from this confrontation and he wanted desperately to warn his friend, but he remained voiceless.
Everything within the elf's soul wanted nothing more than to disappear from this pit; to find himself spirited back into the safe embrace of the forests which he so dearly loved, and to never again lay his eyes upon the darkness which currently compressed in upon his being. But it was not to be.
"YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"
The bridge held fast for but a moment, before it crumbled from beneath the foe. The Balrog's eternal flame seemed to flare anew as it dropped, almost in painfully slow motion, into the depths of blackness. The wizard stood precariously on the edge and Legolas felt his voice start to cry out in warning, but too late.
Gandalf was pulled from his feet and hung suspended.
The elf of the company was running before the others even had time to fully understand what was happening. He felt someone make a grab at him, but he darted quickly, with the nimble and graceful skill of his people, beyond the reaching hands and tore back out onto the bridge. He again heard Frodo call out, and he sincerely hoped that someone had prevented the ring-bearer from following him, but could not waste the time to spare a glance backwards to see his companions. So Legolas tore forward recklessly, concentrating all his being upon his life-long friend. He had to save him.
"Fly you fools," Gandalf croaked out, as he slipped from the edge of the bridge. Legolas had the distinct impression that with these final words the wizard was addressing himself, but seeing the Istari's grip failing he flung himself forward. He felt his skin rip as he hit the stone, but as his hand reached out into the darkness and grabbed the wizard's Legolas felt a wave of, however short lived, relief flood through his body.
The added weight yanked hard at the elf, and he felt himself being pulled over the edge with the wizard. Skidding along and trying to frantically find something to grip onto, Legolas found himself half on and half off the stone ledge. He held onto safety with one hand, that was bloodied and raw from the rough rock, and also half a leg still upon safety. His stomach was balanced perilously along the sharp edge where the bridge was broken and he could feel the cold stone pressing into him painfully. His other leg flailed uselessly in the black air.
Legolas realized with a sharp clarity that he was stuck. He neither possessed the strength to pull both himself and the wizard back onto solid ground while his grip was so tenuous, but his stubborn nature forbade him from releasing his burden and pulling himself to safety. Even as he hung here, in a sort of surreal limbo, he could feel his grip on the older man below him slipping.
"Mithrandir! I cannot hold on. Bring up your other hand and hang onto me," he managed to speak through gritted teeth and rugged pants of exhaustion.
"This was not how it was suppose to be. Legolas, you must..." but whatever the Istari's final order's were to be suddenly faded into silence. The unmistakable sound of an arrow flying through the air could be heard with perfect clarity by Legolas's pointed ears, but he found himself unable to prevent the inevitable tragedy. He could only watch, with eyes wide, as the arrow embedded itself into the back of Gandalf's frail head, the resulting spray of blood spitting out warm to streak Legolas' own face, and to drip in silent testimony down his cheekbones.
The wizard's eyes grew wide momentarily, and his entire body seemed to spasm in shock and denial at what had just happened, but it did nothing to prevent the light of Gandalf the Grey's eyes from fading into lifelessness. Legolas felt a cry wrench itself from his throat, but still he clung to the wizard's still form, his blue eyes locked with those of his deceased friend; lifeless eyes drilling into the elf's soul. Legolas could almost see the reproachfulness in them. He had never, in his entire life, felt a failure more acutely than he did in those agonizingly slow seconds.
So consumed was he by the passing of the Istari that he hung on heedless of the other arrows that rained down upon him from the far side of the bridge. He remained fixated, until a stab of pain tore another cry from his throat. He twisted his gaze from Gandalf to look down at his side. The black feathered tip of the arrow, with a small bit of the shaft, were the only things visible.
His grip upon the wizard slipped, and the figure fell into the shadows below.
"NOOOOOO!" Frodo's agonized scream ripped Legolas from his daze. Reaching up, with his now free hand, he extracted the arrow from his body with a firm yank, and managed to bite back the scream that threatened to emerge through sheer will alone. He held it momentarily before he let it slip from his nerveless fingers. It followed the same path Gandalf had taken only moments ago.
Rolling over, he pulled himself back up to safety, and somehow managed to climb to his feet. He began to run, both of his slender hands clutching at the arrow wound, while he raced back along the narrow path, trying to ignore the hail of arrows that followed him. He could feel the warm ooze of blood seep from his body and down his side, hip and leg, its sticky presence clinging to his hands and making his mind reel, and his breaths come in short rasps, which were lanced with pain.
Ahead of him he could see Boromir carrying a struggling hobbit, Frodo, as he ran half-backwards towards the exit of these forsaken caves. He was shouting something, and Legolas could see his pale lips parting and closing as he spoke, but he could not detect what it was the man of Gondor yelled. Dirty blond hair flying, Boromir turned fully and ran towards safety. Frodo's small face could be seen over his left shoulder, one arm reaching backwards, as if even from this distance he could rescue the wizard from his fall into darkness. Large blue eyes were wide with shock and sorrow and his mouth still hung open in a silent scream of denial.
Gimli seemed to snap out of his trance at this moment and, without another thought, he turned. Grabbing Pippin's arm he shouted in a voice that was not to be disobeyed for the remaining three hobbits to run.
None of them looked back.
Aragorn had come out a little ways onto the bridge. He was beckoning wildly with one hand for Legolas to hurry and the elf strode to obey, despite the weariness and pain that threatened to overcome and undo him. The ranger's other hand rested on the hilt of his sword as he stared into the darkness after Gandalf's fallen form. Disbelief was etched onto the lines of the ranger's face in such sharp clarity that Legolas almost collapsed there and then with sorrow, such was the raw power of his friend's visible pain.
Legolas felt himself pass Aragorn a moment later, and he glanced back briefly over his shoulder to make sure the ranger followed in his footsteps, but the king of men remained frozen in horror and shock. Legolas immediately slowed his own steps and yelled out,
The sound had the desired effect and Aragorn stumbled back a few steps, before swinging quickly and catching up with the elf. Together the two fled after their companions in silence. They broke from the tunnels of Moria into the afternoon sunlight. The sudden golden brightness seemed almost unnatural, and even elven eyes blinked and squinted under the abrupt bombardment.
They were free.
The realization hit Legolas slowly, and it was only the small breeze that tugged affectionately at his hair that made him truly accept that he had made it. Yet only eight of them had come through the underground passageways to once again breath in the light, and smell the fresh air. For one, such things would never be embraced again.
Pippin wept openly and his sobs stabbed Legolas, making his own soul cringe in guilt. Merry too had large tears dripping down his dirt streaked face, leaving glistening trailed of moisture as proof of their passing. He embraced his younger cousin and although he moved his lips in silent cooing motions of comfort, no sound came forth. His eyes were focused, unseeing, in front of him as he stroked Pippin's cheek in stunned grief. Their pain was tangible.
Sam had collapsed upon the flat rocks, and he held his head in his hands. His shoulders shook, either from shock, or he too cried. Probably the latter, Legolas thought somewhat disconnectedly as he watched the buoyant blond curls of the halfling flutter, his body heaving in sorrow.
Boromir was staring at the sky, his body shaking somewhat. He seemed unsteady. Exhaustion was taking its toll upon the human and he seemed powerless at hiding his weakness. So consumed was he by his thoughts that he remained completely unaware of his own body's betrayal.
Gimli started marching past him with his axe swung over his shoulder, his gait purposeful, as he headed back towards the mine. Only Boromir's interference stopping him from proceeding further. The block-headed being seemed determined in returning once more into the depths of Moria, to search for Gandalf, Legolas thought he heard him say, though everything seemed to be very far away from the elf at present, and he could not be sure. It was as if he were watching everything that was happening around him from far above.
Frodo stood away from the group, his back to them. He was unnaturally still, and only the gentle swaying of his cloak in the breeze betrayed the fact that he was not some statue which was carved from the very rocks upon which they stood.
Aragorn was the first to pull himself together. "Legolas, get them up," he commanded, yet his voice sounded hollow to the practised ears of the elf, making his normal calm tone sound almost harsh.
"Give them a moment for pity's sake!" Boromir cried. His voice was strained, matching his body's fatigue in tone.
"By nightfall these hills will be swarming with Orcs. We must reach the woods of Lothlórien," Aragorn replied passionately. He sounded so in control of himself, and Legolas envied the ranger that facade. If only he could get his own torrent of emotions under such restraint.
It was Pippin's wail that snapped his attention fully back to the present however. The hobbit's voice was soft and filled, not with accusation or cruel intent, no matter what effect they had upon the elf, but rather despair and incomprehension. "Why did you drop him?"
The silence that followed the question was profound and even Frodo, his cheeks pale with lines of dampness shining silver upon them, turned to face the company once more as they all awaited an answer.
Legolas realized none of them had seen the arrow hit. Their position from behind had not afforded them the full horror of Gandalf's passing. They had not seen Mithrandir's eyes glaze over, or been witness to the way his body had lurched when the arrow had penetrated his skull, nor would they ever have such images haunt their dreams.
"Legolas?" Aragorn's voice was flat, but underneath that exterior lay a deep concern.
Legolas opened his mouth to respond. They deserved an answer. They deserved *something*, but he found himself not capable of forming words. He blinked, trying to clear his eyesight from the haze that had settled upon him, but the mist stubbornly refused to extinguish.
"Legolas!?" Aragorn's voice held a slight note of panic to it this time. He seemed to finally become aware that something more than grief ate away at his elven companion. Legolas turned his blue eyes to meet the grey stormy ones of the ranger, and he offered as much of a silent apology as he could through mere eye contact alone.
Slowly the elf pulled his hands from the gapping wound at his side, and brought them forward. They dripped red with blood, and it surprised Legolas to see that he had lost so much. It coated his fingers, in seeming accusation at the elf. He looked up again and saw the surprised looks of the company as they stared back at him in wordless horror, shock at the sudden revelation keeping them immobile.
Legolas felt his legs tremble beneath him and, although elven pride tried to demand he remain on his feet, he knew he was close to collapsing. Not in front of the dwarf, he screamed in irritation at himself, but even as he thought it he tumbled forward into an inner darkness of his own...
*Sniff* That scene in the theater was so moving (it brought tears to my eyes). I hope my little added differences were approved of by all.
I have the next few chapters done and, if enough people are interested, I will keep posting. I love Tolkien, but I am by no means an expert on his works. If I have used a wrong spelling or title for a character or place, please let me know, and I will correct it!
Feel free to offer constructive criticism and if you see a mistake that either I, or my beta, missed then please point it out to me so I can fix it! Thanks so much for your help and feedback! ^_^