July 2010: This story has gone untouched for six years. At the present, I have every intention of continuing this story. For now, I have redone the layout, which suffered from the changes to the site settings over the years.
I used to run an e-mail list of updates. Please note that I can no longer do this! An update to Hotmail erased the group. Please use story alerts instead or, if not a site member, get in touch with me by e-mail. Thank you for your reviews and inquiries on this story over the years! Your comments have been challenging, fun, and supportive, and they have meant the world.
Title has changed from Bloodlust to Broken.
Disclaimer: The characters herein belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. This is nonprofit fan fiction. No copyright infringement intended.
Warnings: This is a dark AU. The story is M-rated, though it is T for the most part, and perhaps altogether a borderline case. In a sense, this is a clean fic: there will be neither torture or mutilation, nor any kind of sexual assault. Language is not a problem, either. Still, the rating stands. Also note that this is not a typical story of Salysha's.
Aragorn held Andúril in his hand. His eyes were fixed on the bloodstained steel as he waved the sword in the air. Around him, masses of orc-corpses lay in sickening piles. He did not pay attention to them, nor did he even seem to recognize the lifeless Boromir at his feet. Moments passed, and still he could not take his eyes off the sword of Isildur. He was staring at the steel with glazed eyes even as Legolas and Gimli rushed to his side and took in the abominable sight before them.
The air of death lay heavily upon them, but Aragorn did not even seem to notice it. The other two, even being seasoned warriors, had difficulty standing the sight. Legolas stepped forward and placed a hand on Aragorn's shoulder. The man did not shake it off; in fact, he did nothing.
"Aragorn?" Legolas said after a while. He had trouble keeping his voice under control. The stench of death made breathing hard.
The man remained silent for what seemed like eternity. Then, he finally turned his gaze to the hand on his shoulder. Legolas withdrew the hand hastily and backed away. Aragorn remained silent, and Gimli, who was observing them from a distance, was starting to believe they were talking to a ghost of the man.
"Legolas?" came a silent whisper. The apparition had spoken, and yet hearing him did not ease the minds of Legolas and Gimli. Aragorn sounded... lifeless...
"Yes. It is I, Legolas," the elf confirmed, and tried to catch the man's eye. When their glances met, Legolas stepped back a step further. Aragorn's stare was wild and disoriented. Even facing the Balrog had not put such a fear in the heart of Legolas. He glanced at Gimli, who still had not spoken. The dwarf seemed taken aback, but it was clear that he did not understand this any more than he did.
Suddenly, a bright flash caught Legolas' attention. It was the steel of Andúril that had flashed against the sunlight that barely penetrated the thick canopy. Aragorn waved the sword high up in the air, and it landed on his palm. The sharp edge of the weapon sliced a thin wound on his hand, and blood escaped. The pain awoke Aragorn. With horror, he watched as the bloodstain on his hand grew larger. He gasped and cast the sword aside.
Legolas acted, too. The bizarre events awoke him from the trance in which he had fallen, and he jumped to Aragorn and took him by the arm. Gimli neared them, and soon they were huddled close to each other.
"Speak to us, Aragorn," Gimli pleaded.
The man was startled: he noticed the dwarf for the first time. With a tentative hand, Aragorn reached for Gimli's shoulder and grasped it. Blood pooled on the armor, and Aragorn grimaced. He withdrew the hand and gulped. "I am sorry, my friends," he spoke hoarsely, "I have failed."
Neither of the companions took heed of his words; they were too pleased to hear the husky voice.
"Are you injured?" inquired Legolas. A quick inspection of Aragorn did not reveal open wounds, but the man was covered in dark blood, and there was no telling if it was his or only his enemies'. Gimli, too, was eyeing the man, and when his eyes met with Legolas', he shook his head. Legolas nodded. "Are you injured, Aragorn?"
This time, Aragorn shook his head and sighed. "No, I am unharmed," he said. The statement was absurd, but neither of his companions was in the mood to dispute the matter. There were more pressing things at hand. While Legolas remained standing to support Aragorn, Gimli knelt down to inspect Boromir's body.
The little hope he had nursed left him on a closer look: it was clear that the blood on Boromir was from the man himself, and Gimli was able to detect some orcish arrows, surrounded by the pooling blood. The arrows had sunk deep, which he noted with a grimace. There were other wounds that were covered with blood that was almost black. Gimli could only deduce that they were the result of hand-to-hand combat—from a sword-fight, perhaps. Judging by the dark color of the blood, the kind that only injured internal organs produced, it was clear that these blows had been fatal.
The man never had a chance against them, and we can only pray that his death was quick, Gimli mused. The internal organs could not have functioned long after such a blood loss. The death of Boromir may have been speedy, but it had also been painful; the man's face was still distorted in an expression of immense pain, and his eyes were open. Gimli looked away, nauseated.
Meanwhile, Legolas tended to Aragorn to the best of his abilities. They spoke little, but Legolas had seated Aragorn on a rock and was now giving him small sips from a wooden flask he had pulled from his belt. Andúril lay nearby, but Aragorn, who normally treasured the heirloom, would not have noticed if someone had stolen the sword. Legolas knelt in front of him and resting his arms on Aragorn's. He spoke soft verses in his own language, which sounded soothing and pleasant even in Gimli's ears. For once, he did not mind hearing the elvish tongue.
Where were the hobbits? Gimli did not detect signs of them, nor was Legolas of any assistance. The halflings had disappeared into thin air. All they could find out about the massacre was inside Aragorn's head, and, at the moment, that knowledge was unattainable. Eternities seemed to pass, but it was only the time playing tricks on them. Finally, the haze in Aragorn's mind cleared and he began to talk.
"They slew Boromir. The orcs, they wanted to slaughter man flesh," he whispered in terror. Legolas and Gimli said nothing. Had they not witnessed this with their own eyes, they would never have believed that it was Aragorn speaking. Was this really the same man with whom they had traveled for countless leagues and months, the leader in whose hands they had willingly trusted their lives?
"Tell us," Legolas urged. "Tell us what happened." Gimli gave a supporting growl.
"I came here too late. They had already gotten Boromir," he said.
Gimli could not hold silence any longer. "What about the hobbits? Aragorn, what has become of the little folk?"
Aragorn looked at him with wide eyes. "They are gone, Gimli. They are all gone," he murmured.
"Last for a moment longer, Aragorn," commanded Gimli. "Where are the hobbits?"
Aragorn acted as if he did not understand the question. Legolas decided to try another approach.
"Aragorn, where is Frodo? Do you remember where Frodo is?"
Understanding returned to Aragorn's eyes, and he spoke almost confidently, "They didn't get the Ring-bearer. They never will. He is gone, and so is his friend."
"Sam?" asked Legolas. Aragorn nodded, and Legolas spoke again, "So Frodo has gone with Samwise, and we needn't worry about them?" Again, Aragorn nodded in confirmation.
Gimli was still not satisfied with the answers. "What about Merry and Pippin?" he asked. He soon regretted having asked the question. Aragorn started shaking and he tore Legolas' arms off himself violently. In his companions' eyes, he was a wreck, and Legolas and Gimli watched with horror as Aragorn broke into tears. The weeping was even more terrifying than the curious appearances and actions. They did not dare touch him, but waited helplessly for the sobs to cease.
"The orcs have them," stumbled Aragorn. "I couldn't stop them. I could do nothing to help them, and now the orcs have taken them." Legolas and Gimli were struck speechless: how could this have happened? For the first time, Aragorn seemed to come to his senses. He gazed at his friends' faces and whispered to no one in particular:
"... have failed you all..."
Aragorn broke into sobs again, while his companions tried to accept what they had heard, but with little success. At length, Legolas reached out and gathered Aragorn in his arms. The man went limp, and Legolas grimaced at the dead weight.
"We must attend to Aragorn, Gimli. There is no telling what has become of the others."
As he spoke, Legolas' gaze fell on Boromir, and he quickly averted his eyes. Gimli nodded his agreement, and together they searched for a sheltered spot nearby. There, Legolas put down Aragorn's limp body. They spent a few precious drops of water to clean Aragorn's face and his wounded hand. Together, they checked him for any injuries, but they did not find any, given their limited knowledge of human physiology. Gimli was restless and, finally, he confided in Legolas.
"Do you think he has a concussion?" he questioned. It was clear that the question of Aragorn's inexplicable behavior hung in the air even more heavily than the mystery of the missing halflings.
"It is possible, though I cannot find any contusions on his skull," replied Legolas with a frown. He was at loss of what to do: he was simply ignorant about human ailments, and the ignorance of Aragorn's fellow mortal troubled him. He settled Aragorn as comfortably as possible on the ground, and bid advice from Gimli with his eyes. The dwarf would have been happy to provide answers, but this time, he had none. To fill the void, they spoke a few words and considered what alternatives they had, should Aragorn's condition not improve. They avoided speaking of Boromir, but pondered the fate of Merry and Pippin instead.
"It angers me that those youngsters should be in such ruthless company," Gimli spoke with passion and eagerness.
"We cannot help that. We must see what happens to Aragorn," Legolas said sadly. Gimli could not deny the reason in this argument, but it did not stop him from muttering angry curses to himself. Curiously, Legolas could understand the Gimli's anger much better than his own calm. "Be patient," he continued, "We shall come to their aid in no time… friend."
Gimli had expected the slight reproach and had been prepared to reply in bitter tones. Legolas' words surprised him, and for a moment, a pleased smile graced his features. Then he remembered the present situation, and sank into his own grim thoughts. The two did not speak more, keeping to themselves instead.
Neither of them noticed how Aragorn was awake, listening to their exchange attentively. Nor did they notice the smile that played on the man's lips.
To Be Continued…
You have made it this far, dear reader. If this was worth your time, please review. The story will be continued but in fact, the key elements are already there. Play a detective and you may figure out what has happened. With good imagination and a touch of luck, you might guess what is will happen. Consider yourself challenged.
Thanks for eck for pointing out the confusing references. My plea for proofreaders has been answered, and both Sarah (Sarya, formerly La Princesse D'or) and Gypsie (username Gypsie Rose) have taken up to beta'ing this story. Huge thanks to both of them!
Published April 26, 2003. Revised 2010.