Author's note: well. This was done a week ago. And then ff.net started flipping out and I forgot all about it until yesterday when I was watching Pearl Harbor and I remembered. So now I'm posting this. lol. Enjoy.
See Chapter 1 for any additional disclaimers and warnings.
Maruhir stood still among the other leaders of the small tribe of outcasts and watched as Feralon moved slowly up and down the line of elves that he had pulled from the multitude moments before.
They were the best of the young males, all elves between 100 and 500. They were all trim, muscular and handsome; and at the moment, they all looked very afraid and unsure of what was to come next.
Feralon had not told them—or anyone else for that matter—what he had planned to do with them when he had sent his followers to choose them and then line them up in front of all the other elves. His cold eyes were closed off from emotion and tought and his jaw was clenched, high and resolute.
Swallowing hard as the tension among the elves grew by the moment, Maruhir remembered the terse conversation he had very briefly held with Feralon a few hours before.
"I need a young elf that is past his majority but not over 500 years old," Feralon had said as he sat in the small tent that was his quarters.
A chill had crept through Maruhir. "For what purpose?"
Feralon had shrugged. "To complete the spell I need a scrap of hair from a fit young elf."
Maruhir had looked skeptical. He had been called, no, ordered, here by Feralon like a small child; and now he was being give half-truths, if they were that. Yet, what could he do about it? Feralon clearly held the power now; all Maruhir could do was hope that everything turned out alright.
With a loud, coarse laugh unbefitting the serene elven race, Feralon had clapped the slight leader roughly on his back. "Do not worry, mellonamin. You doubt me too much. No harm will come to the lad. Your conscience will not be marred. I can promise you that."
But now as Maruhir saw the fear in the eyes of the young elves and the calculated coldness in the eyes of Feralon, he began to doubt that promise.
The sky was just beginning to show the pale stars as the sun began to set into the Western horizon. Foggy sun rays had all but disappeared behind the far off hills and the skies were beginning to turn a light blue as the grayish clouds flicked across them, driven by the wind.
Seconds turned into minutes that stretched by like long hours as Feralon moved down the trembling line. Finally, he paused and withdrew a young elf probably just past his 300th year mark from between two of his friends.
The elf was decidedly one of the better looking elves with eyes the color of newly frozen ice that still has the water rushing beneath it, his hair was in thick blonde strands that fell down his muscular back to end in his slim hips. A sloping jaw line formed a small smooth chin and a delicate mouth that gave way to a slender nose with softly rising cheekbones that framed his eyes. Sinewy muscles proved that this one was no stranger to the bow and arrow.
Yes, Maruhir decided to himself, this was a handsome young elf. Pity…
There was a cry from the audience and a young elf ran forward, her eyes desperate.
"Dimsulë!" she cried. "Please no! Not Dimsulë!"
Her lover, Maruhir thought absently. A dim memory surfaced as wells as a picture of them lying intertwined together many nights under the clear moon. Were not they a little young? He shrugged. Times were changing faster than he could keep up.
The girl threw herself at the feet of Feralon, who eyed her dispassionately. "Please do not take him. I beg you, please…"
The young elf, who was held in Feralon's grip, shook his head fervently. "No, Tenasa! You can do nothing. Go!"
Feralon flicked his wrist and ordered that his compatriots take her away from him.
They moved and picked up the still sobbing elf maiden and carried her through the crowd despite her and Dimsulë's protests.
Maruhir thought he could hear the sound of flesh hitting flesh before the three elves returned with smug looks on their faces. He winced inwardly. Was this what he had given his tribe over to? He glanced over at the other leaders but found their faces impassive and stony.
Dimsulë look decidedly sick as he hung limply in Feralon's grip. His mouth moved but no sound escaped. His eyes were wide with fright as he scanned the crowd for Tenasa.
Feralon turned to face the other elves, seemingly unfazed by the scene that had occurred only moments before. "Good elves," he cried, "I have made my selection!"
If he had been expecting loud cheers, he got none, however he did not let it faze him in the slightest.
"This elf will help me usher in a new era of this tribe, where we can function without the constant pull of the sea, where we do not have to live in fear of being slaughtered by the self-righteous elves that banished our fore-fathers from their lands, where we will be the greatest elven tribe that ever was or will be. We shall make our own settlement where we can defend ourselves against our enemies. And we shall call it, Osta en'Rhun. Defender of the East. For no longer shall we sit back and let larger elven settlements bully us, we shall be strong and firm, we shall prevail and conquer. We shall be victorious over our enemies!"
This time the elves did cheer and Feralon looked decidedly pleased with their cries
As he turned to walk off, dragging the young elf behind him, he murmured to his counselors. "We begin tomorrow when the stars appear in the sky. Be ready and watchful."
Maruhir just watched, keeping a stony unreadable face, not letting any emotion seep through.
As his eyes refocused from their dream world, Maruhir found himself blinking fiercely in the noon sun that spilled through the window near him. Turning his face away from the window, he took a deep, shuddering breath to steady himself. Every time he fell asleep, those images from the last few days poured through his brain with terrifying vividness.
"Awake, I see."
Despite his best intentions, Maruhir jumped at the voice and then berated himself for not noticing the figure sitting in the corner a few feet away. "Who are you?" he asked hoarsely, and then squinted slightly to make out the features that seemed vaguely familiar to him.
Lord Elrond stood and walked over to where he was laying. "I am Lord Elrond of Rivendell, I believe we met the second day that you arrived here. Can you tell me your name?"
Maruhir vaguely recalled that meeting, only blurry memories from those first terrifying moments filtered through his brain. "Yes, I remember. I am called Maruhir." He hesitated. "What do you want with me now?"
"Well, why you were running through the forest outside my gates a few nights ago would be a good place to start. And why there were over 200 dead elves only a little over a mile and a half behind you." When Maruhir made no response, Elrond prompted, "when you first woke up you said something about Feralon."
Maruhir's face visibly paled. "I did?"
Elrond nodded the affirmative. "You said he was coming to Rivendell."
Slowly, Maruhir shook his head. "Feralon is dead. He was probably among the first to perish seeing how near he was standing to the…" his voice trailed off and he shook his head again. "He is dead, Feralon would not be coming here."
"Why were you running through the woods?"
A long silence. "I was trying to get to your gates," Maruhir said softly. "I had hoped to seek refuge in Imladris."
"Refuge from what?"
Maruhir hesitated again.
Elrond sighed. "Maruhir, you must tell me, 200 elves are dead not two miles from the gates of my city. I need to know what I am facing. Whether it is a demon, an army of men, or a sickness. I need to know. And the only one who can tell me right now is you."
Slowly, Maruhir turned to face the Elven lord and in a small voice he said, "It is a demon."
Elrond started slightly but that was all the emotion that broke through. "You know this for sure?"
"Feralon said that he was summoning a spirit that would help us defeat all of our enemies."
"And then the spirit killed everybody," Elrond finished. "Who is this Feralon and how did he know how to do this?"
"Feralon was the son of our previous leader, he left when he was quite young to study wizardry in Orthanc, he had always showed an aptitude towards things like that." Maruhir turned his face towards the wall. "I am tired now."
Sighing brusquely, Elrond rose to leave. 'I know this is hard for you, Maruhir, but I need to know everything I can about this spirit. I shall be back later after a servant brings you your dinner."
Nodding, Maruhir did not move until he heard the door close and Elrond's light footsteps recede down the hallway.
The elf curled up in the crook of the tree, trying to find solace in the familiar branches. His fists were clenched tightly to press up against the tears seeping down his eyes.
Maybe he would die of a broken heart. Maybe his all–consuming grief would be allowed to take over his body, and he would be allowed to pass into the Halls of Mandos and see all his friends and family again….maybe…But he knew in his heart he would not be allowed to. Even now, the shadow that had taken over his mind that few nights ago and inspired him to kill all his kin, was returning to slowly invade all of his thoughts and desires.
He shut his eyes tightly as he remembered the blackness that had taken over his mind and soul that night. He had fought against it, he really had. But in the end he had not been strong enough. In the end, it had conquered and done what it liked with his body, with his soul.
The tree knew of it and it offered no comfort to the mourning elf. It felt the evil that radiated, albeit unwillingly, off of him, and it almost seemed to retract from the shivering elf, bending its leaves and branches as far away as possible.
The elf could feel the fear and discomfort of the tree he lay in; so at last, he reluctantly crawled from the branches.
The tree whispered a soft apology. It could sense the goodness deep with in the elf, but the blackness radiating from the lithe elf frightened it severely and it could not help its natural reaction to the evil.
"It's alright, old friend," he murmured, refraining from the urge to stroke the rough bark and instead wrapped his arms around his cold frame. "I abhor what I have become as well."
Closing his eyes, he listened to the call of the shadow. It had been growing in his mind and he knew what he needed to do. Slowly, he began to walk from the forest that he loved, towards the mountain passes that could only provide bitter cold.
He did not know how long he walked but he did so without food or drink or rest, only the continued gnawing emptiness in his soul and the growing evilness blackening in his mind.
His feet led him up to the mountain caves, where orcs and goblins were known to roam. Despite how confident the shadow seemed of where they were going, he found himself shrinking back, trying to slow his feet.
The shadow was strong. He could feel strength and endurance in his limbs that even exceeded the normal fortitude of the elves. It was an unnatural strength and it frightened him.
The seasons had not turned into winter, so the mountains were covered with greens and flowers, the snow long since melted away to give way to the joyful presence of summer's flowers.
He had known that his natural senses had been dimmed by the shadow, but it surprised him when an entire pack of orcs, intermingled with a few goblins, appeared in front of him that he had not had previous warning of. Moving to grab a knife he no longer possessed, he realized that really his only recourse was to run from this place. But the shadow in his mind soothed him and told him he was in the right place. He swallowed a lump in his throat. He would die here, he decided. The shadow would not let him flee.
The lead orc moved forward and the elf tried to cringe back from the ghastly beast before him. The shadow, however, made his body to be still as the orc drew nearer.
Stopping a few feet away from the trembling elf, the orc dropped to one knee om in the hard dirt. "Welcome to our home, Master," it said, "we have waited your arrival for many months now. Already we have sent a band of our finest warriors to capture those that your kinsman ordered." He smirked up at the man.
The shadow cheered in its victory and swept to take over the last of the elf's thoughts and self control. With a silent cry for help that he knew no one would ever answer, the young elf fell into the covering blackness.
Legolas, Aragorn and the twins rode side by side through the green forest outside Rivendell along the slender road that led from the city gates to the nearby colony of Men who lived along the river. The trees were mostly silent and very little wildlife flitted among them.
Aragorn shifted slightly in the light saddle he was riding in and glanced at the sun. "Should they not have arrived by now?" he asked impatiently. "I'm hungry and thirsty."
The twins ignored him.
"You eat more than two hobbits combined. Take a drink from your canteen," Legolas flipped back
Aragorn glared at him but he followed the elf's advice just the same. "Remind me again, why did Father want us to ride out and meet Lady Galadriel's party right now?"
"Because, Lady Galadriel is widely respected among all the elves, not to mention our grandmother and Father's mother-in-law. It would be rude to do anything less than ride out and meet her." Elladan didn't look back at his younger brother. "Stop asking so many questions."
"I'm still hungry."
Legolas turned in his saddle to face the young human, saying with a slight smile on his face, "I swear by the Valar and all the stars in the heavens, you are always hungry."
"I'm still growing. Unlike you who stopped growing centuries ago." He eyed the remaining half an inch that Legolas held over him.
Making a face, Legolas stretched up straighter. "You shall never be taller than me, pesky human."
Aragorn cocked an eyebrow. "I wouldn't count on that my friend." He smirked. "What say you, Elladan?"
Rolling his eyes, Elladan twisted around on his horse and eyed the two for a moment. "I hate to say it, my old friend, but I think Aragorn shall pass you up with in the year."
Legolas made a face. "Do not sound so smug, Elladan, you are only an inch taller than me. If Aragorn passes me, he shall not be far away from pass you as well. You too, Elrohir," he said as an after though to the chuckling elf.
Elrohir shot him a grin. "Ah, but I shall always be taller than you, Prince of Mirkwood."
"Perhaps, but I always shall be more mature," Legolas declared primly.
"Do not flatter yourself; I am the more mature one here." Elrohir twisted to fully face the blonde elf and stuck his tongue out. "So there." He turned back; unaware of the oxymoron he had just performed.
Aragorn's giggle turned into a full fledge laugh as Legolas responded by also sticking his tongue out.
Elladan turned in his seat. "Hush, something approaches."
Immediately, they all straightened and checked their weapons.
"Is it the Lady?" Aragorn asked softly, whose ears were not as sharp as his elven brothers.
There was a pause.
"Nay," Elrohir murmured, "they are too numerous and they move to noisily through the trees. There are at least 50 of them…" his voice trailed off and he closed his eyes to listen more intensely.
Legolas sat up straight as the smell washed towards them. "Yrchs!" he spat. "Why are they so close to Imladris?"
Glancing over his shoulder, Elladan noted, "We are too far from the gates to flee. We must fight them here."
Elrohir nodded as he readied his bow. "They are just beyond that clump of trees there. Stand ready." He flung his dark hair over one shoulder as he pointed his arrow towards the darkness of the trees. "They will be here in a matter of seconds."
Aragorn felt the familiar rush of danger course through his blood as he drew his own bow and arrow.
Legolas glanced at him and smiled. "Be careful, mellonamin."
And then the battle was upon them.
The orcs sprung from the trees a few yards away, yelling their war cries and waving their crude scimitars in the air.
Four arrows sprang forth and four of the orcs fell back, but more came up to take their place.
Elrohir felt his horse quiver beneath him and he spared a breath to murmur soothingly to it as he aimed another arrow.
A shriek came from behind them as a group of orcs came from the path behind then. They charged through the grasses towards the four warriors as they spat out commands in their vicious tongue.
Legolas felt a shiver of fear go through them when he realized they were more numerous then they had previously thought. Only a second later, a hail of arrows poured from some of the branches. He ducked quickly to avoid one speeding by his head, but he could do nothing about the one that slammed into the chest of his horse.
With a shrill whinny of fear, the horse fell to the ground, despite its efforts to keep his rider balanced on its back. Legs floundering wildly, it tried not to trap its rider beneath his body.
Within a split second, Legolas knew his horse was going down hard and fast. He tried to shove himself off and clear the falling beast, but one foot caught on the underside of the horse and he flailed forwards along with the horse. He landed with a crash on the dirt ground and only an instant later he felt a searing, crushing pain as the horse landed on hard on top of both of his legs. Gritting his teeth tight, he closed his eyes against the waves of agony and tried to get the now dead horse off of him, but the particular angle at which he had fallen made it impossible for him to get any real leverage. In his peripheral vision, he could see the battle continuing.
Aragorn had seen Legolas fall but he was so busy trying to fight off the orcs with his long knife that he could not go to him. "Legolas!" he shouted over the din. "Are you alright?"
Legolas heard his friend but he was too busy trying to free himself and controlling the pain to answer.
Elrohir and Elladan had also abandoned their bows in favor of their knives and they shared worried glances over the fate of Legolas.
"Legolas!" yelled Aragorn again. "Answer me!" Worry was creeping into the human's voice. He gave a quick upper jab to the chest of the orc in front of him and then feinted to the left, bringing the knife down in a circular motion the creature's exposed back.
Legolas glanced up at again at his friend's call, not able to find the breath to answer. Then he saw, right above the mountainous body of the horse, an orc creeping up with a hatchet in one hand.
Glancing up from his own battle, Aragorn felt his heart cringe at the sight of Legolas desperately trying to free himself with the orc bearing down on him. He finished the orc he was fighting in one smooth motion and then rushed over to the orc bearing the hatchet with a loud cry.
The orc turned at the sound and threw that hatchet at him with a feral grin on his disfigured face.
Aragorn managed to dodge it and heard it thunk unto the tree behind him. He charged up on the orc, sweeping the knife at the orc's midsection.
Reaching to his belt, the orc pulled out a slim knife and blocked the blow with enough force to make Aragorn's arm jolt backwards.
"Aragorn! Behind you!"
The young human heard the cry but he was too occupied with the orc to do anything about it. The next instant he felt something hard smash into his head and all went dark around him.
Elladan was the first to notice the orcs pulling back into the trees and he allowed himself a sigh of relief. His twin was right behind him, watching his back just like always.
Where's Estel and Legolas?
He scanned the almost deserted clearing as he dispatched of the last orc and watched the others flee from the scene. A cold hand of fear clenched his heart; Elladan and he were all alone in the clearing.
Legolas and Aragorn were no where to be seen.
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