Title: Tempus Edax Rerum ("Time, the Devourer of All Things")
Summary: The Fellowship of the Ring runs across a time-traveling Legolas of the future whose mission is, strangely, to keep them from succeeding…
PART TEN: An Epilogue
The Latecomer, Reprise
The stranger was wearing clothes that were unknown in Rivendell, or in most places of Middle Earth. They thought perhaps he was one of those reclusive elves from Greenwood by the looks of him, though he looked wildly familiar and it stirred their blood, all the more when he lowered his fur-lined hood and appeared to be a fair-haired elf with a disconcertingly beautiful face that they had only known from legend, except he was slightly different.
His hair was golden and long, worn in the usual, braided fashion, and nothing should have been unusual about it, except it seemed to sit differently upon this face that they had long-known as having a shock of short, jaggedly-trimmed hair. He would have looked exactly like a portrait in one of the paintings of the House library depicting the fall of the Dark Lord Sauron and the destruction of the Ring, except they knew that elf was long-dead and no one ever knew him in the first place.
The elf guards blocked the mysterious stranger's path, and sternly asked him what his business was in Rivendell.
~Last I heard,~ the stranger told them wryly, his irrepressibly humorous eyes the color of slate blue, as it was in the portrait, ~The hospitality of Lord Elrond is open to all those with a kind will.~
The guards looked at each other, then back at him with suspicion.
~And such is yours?~ one of them asked.
~Yes,~ he replied easily.
~Who are you?~ another guard asked.
~Legolas,~ he replied, ~Prince of Greenwood, son of Thranduil.~
~Sire,~ said a guard, apologetic, ~Lord Elrond is presently closeted in a meeting of grave importance. You might have to wait awhile.~
~If it is of the Council that you speak,~ said Legolas, ~I am invited. It only happens that I am late.~
~We will lead you there at once,~ said one of the guards, ushering Legolas forward and sending a runner ahead of them to announce that the heir to Greenwood had just arrived.
~By the way,~ said Legolas, ~I just moved ahead of my escorts. Please see to it that they are properly tended to.~
~Of course, sire,~ said the guard.
~Everyone is here?~ asked Legolas.
~Yes,~ replied Lord Elrond, who had met them at the door to a hall. He was looking at Legolas with these curious, penetrating eyes. He gave a subtle nod to the guard who left hastily, after tossing one last perturbed glance at the Prince. Legolas watched him retreat with a look of confusion on his face, before he turned his attention towards the Lord of Imladris.
~I am sorry to be late, my lord,~ said Legolas, ~I meant no disrespect. We were waylaid upon the road by some harsh rains.~
~Do not worry about it,~ Elrond said, and he tilted his head at the Prince and seemed to be watching him keenly. Legolas bore the scrutiny good-naturedly, a slightly bewildered smile upon his face.
~This is my first time in Rivendell,~ said Legolas humorously, ~I was told that yours is a very hospitable house. And I am starting to believe this is truly, truly true."
Lord Elrond's lips quirked to a hesitant smile. ~Forgive me, ah… we are not always this way. My runner caused a ruckus in the other room and told me he thought he had seen a ghost.~
~I'm sorry, Lord Elrond, I brought none with me that I know of.~
~Would you mind being just a little bit more late?~ Elrond asked earnestly, ~I wish to show you something. Perhaps you can end one of the greatest mysteries of my life.~
~Of course,~ Legolas said, following as Lord Elrond led the way down some corridors, and into a room that appeared to be a vast library. The older elf walked towards a wall, and motioned towards a painting that was predominantly in shades of blacks, grays and purples. There were streaks of lightning overhead, and turbulent skies. On the ashen, uneven grounds were bodies of the dead and living, elf and men alike.
~I know of this tale,~ Legolas said quietly, appreciating the artist's fine hand, ~What elf or human does not?~
~Look closer,~ Lord Elrond invited.
Legolas did as he was told, patient and curious. His eyes trailed towards a figure that could not have been anyone but Isildur, wielding a broken sword. He even spotted a younger Lord Elrond, and he smiled at the hero beside him, before turning towards other details of the piece. It is at this time that he noticed one figure clad in strange black clothes that were unlike anyone else's. He narrowed his eyes and frowned as he looked upon the being's face.
~He looks like you,~ Lord Elrond said, ~I still recall, how he had come seemingly from nowhere. He took the Ring for awhile, defeated an ominously hovering evil that also seemed to have come out of nowhere, returned and then asked me to cast the ring away into the fires from which it was created. He died soon after.~
~Who is he?~ Legolas asked.
~I was hoping you would know,~ Lord Elrond said.
~I do not,~ Legolas told him with an apologetic, affable smile, ~I am sorry. It could not have been I. I had not even been born at this time.~
~I know,~ Lord Elrond said, feeling slightly foolish, ~I suppose I could not help but wonder. Perhaps a distant kin of yours.~
~I'll make sure to ask my ada,~ Legolas promised, ~Everyone is in the meeting?~
~Yes,~ Lord Elrond replied as he began to lead the way out of the library, casting just one last lingering look at the mysterious figure depicted in the portrait, ~I had left my own sons to conduct it for awhile. I suppose it is best, since it is you young folk who would eventually be dealing with each other.~
~I am very interested in this venture indeed,~ said Legolas, ~Long have we been closeted in Greenwood, and while I cherish our woods greatly, I would not mind having the chance to learn about other countries and cultures. This new trade route is a means towards this, and it is the most ambitious, expansive one of its kind, from far west to far east. We are very interested indeed. I go to this Council in my father's place, and all actions and promises I will make are therefore in his voice, and have the same authority.~
~Of course,~ said Elrond, ~Our other guests are similarly situated. You might have heard of some of them. The Heir to Gondor and Arnor is there, Aragorn with his friend and watcher, Boromir. The Heir to Rohan, Theodred is there as well, with his cousin Eomer. The son of one of the mightiest and wealthiest of dwarf lords is also in attendance, and his name is Gimli. The Shire-folk have also come in force.~
~I understand their territory is quartered or some such thing?~ Legolas asked politely.
~Yes,~ replied Elrond, ~It is a strange ordering indeed, if I have ever heard of one. But there is Peregrin Took, representing the Thain. There is the next Master of Buckland, Meriadoc, and Frodo Baggins of Bag End, and the next Mayor, Samwise Gamgee.~
~It will be a most interesting route, I think,~ smiled Legolas, ~I am very pleased to be a part of this undertaking. To whom is this brilliance to be attributed?~
~An old wizard who says he has nothing else to do,~ smiled Elrond as they stopped by the door to the meeting room. He pressed his hands towards the knob and pushed the door forward.
November 14, 2003
SOME IMPORTANT NOTES:
On the plot. It is one I could not stay away from when I had thought about it, though I did try because it is a complicated tale, and one that gave me a kind-of heavy feeling every time I tried to sit with it and work on it. It eventually came into fruition because it was a persistent story in my mind and besides, first of all, it had two Legolases in one fic, which gives it twice the fun, haha. Second, I wanted to have a big, wide-scale adventure that entails the same risks as Tolkien's LOTR—it's a lonely quest for Legolas, akin to Frodo's solitude as the Ringbearer-- and lastly, I wanted to give the characters this massive conflict regarding the fate of the One Ring, challenging their trust and regard for one another. If the fic evokes a feeling of sadness and discomfort, it's probably because its theme and conflict is the same. It's really centrally about a lonely fate, and a hunger for companionship. It really is meant to be a kind-of tragedy.
On the characters.
On Greenleaf. What Aragorn had said about his alienation in part 2 pretty much summarizes the loneliness that I imagine Legolas would ultimately have, it being that he found a lot of mortal attachments that he is destined to lose. This loneliness is further emphasized by little instances along the story, such as his excitement in the prologue to show his companions what the future is like, and his disappointment in parts 1 and 4 when they all distrust him. His tragic end is also made to be sad particularly because ultimately, if you think about it, it wasn't only he who died but also the entire fellowship with him, because they would never truly know each other.
On Legolas. My all-time favorite character seems to have sunken into a 'second-billing' in this fic to his future self which I have made as similar but also undoubtedly distinct from him. Legolas detests the fate that he sees he will have in Greenleaf, which causes him to be somewhat antagonistic and even towards the end, just hesitantly receptive of his future self. He abhors the idea of his future loneliness and takes it out upon Greenleaf, for he could not really focus it elsewhere.
On Aragorn. I have an attachment to how he relates with Legolas. The camaraderie is admirable, and there is a depth to it that no one can resist delving into. Now he has two Legolases to deal with, and knowing how different the two are, I wanted to play with how he could relate to the both of them. I also wanted him to have a look of the future of his immortal friend, of how the world will be after he dies, and I wanted him to truly see the solitude in it. I also wanted to play with how his relationship to Legolas could be changed by this knowledge.
On the ending. I wanted to throw Greenleaf a curveball or two when it suddenly dawned unto him that he cannot take the ring into the future. The second curveball was when he finally found a way to resolve the situation, it would cost him his treasured fellowship. This is where I am absolutely certain things got complicated and difficult, and I'm not sure if I got the idea across, but I most definitely tried my hardest. If I'm met with great complaints, however, it is always an option to revise :)
Moving on… I was tempted to cut the story at part 9. In a sense, its tragic ending was supposed to be a redeeming factor. HOW? With Greenleaf gone, and the fellowship never to be formed, it was the only way I could think to prevent Legolas' ultimate loneliness, if he was without the attachments that the fellowship provided him with. So I was thinking, what would be better, to have loved something and lost it, or to never have had it? It's a pretty classic question, one which is akin to that faced by Arwen and Aragorn: should she sail to the undying lands where their love would be evergreen but never more than a memory? Or should she suffer the doom of men? I went kind-of midway. Greenleaf, who was so unhappy with having had something he loved and lost it, dies with his memories. But Legolas lives on, and wouldn't ever be the solitary and unhappy Greenleaf because he didn't have his burdens. But I also wanted him to come across the fellowship in some way, hence, kind-of a very modern take on Tolkien's 'international relations': a trade route spanning from east to west. I figured trade was always present in the tales of middle-earth somewhere, like between elves and dwarves (Moria once was a hub, if I recall correctly), the Teleri bearing gifts to the Numenoreans, trade in busy old Bree, there are even trade routes in Tolkien's maps unless I'm thinking about something else… so I thought, why not bring them together that way? Besides, all their lineage guaranteed them a place of power in the future (save for Sam), so this is how I 'gave Legolas back' the fellowship, but without the painful attachments, though I left the new future to your imaginations :) The bit with the future Legolas being in the painting is also just a little fanciful idea that I had fun with. I also didn't want him to just vanish forever with all his deeds, so he's there, even if he is just a little mystery.
The old wizard Elrond was referring to at the end is, of course, Gandalf, by the way. As an Istari, he was sent to Middle-Earth by greater powers to mobilize action against evil. So I thought it was kind of a humorous twist of fate that he 'had nothing else to do,' but bestow a kind of like a blessing for Legolas, when the gods bring them all together again, even if he did not know how much he treasured his old friends. I did hint at Part 8 that Eru did not really leave them all alone to suffer.
On the style. It is very straightforward, I think. I had a hard time conceptualizing and putting together my own work, since the idea of time travel is complicated to say the least, with its multiplicity of consequences that are difficult to predict. So I tried to keep the style simple. It is hard enough for me to understand it, much more for readers who would not see the entirety of the story until the very end. If I put some kind of spin, though, it was only in the sense that I wanted the story to feel 'big.' Like a massive adventure, tearing through time and different places, with world-changing events, and larger-than-life villains and triumphant, sacrificing heroes. If you have read my fic "Estel," you will see the contrast between 'big' and 'small' or better yet, 'intimate.' "Estel" is set in a distant, woody cabin which I always imagined as warm and perpetually glowing by firelight. The story moved very slowly, and the attention is to the most minute of details; this glance, this pot, the rain, these hands… "Tempus edax rerum" in contrast, speaks of black clouds, and evil, and great fires and harsh winds and wide, open spaces.
On 'movie-scripting'. Undoubtedly, if I wanted to write a tine-machine story containing events from LOTR, I had to actually go back to the past, which brings me into the conflict of whether or not to follow the book, or the movie it being that they have some pretty unmistakable differences. Since I wanted to reach as many people as I could, I generally went with the events from the movie if there was any conflict between the two because I figured anyone who has ever read the book must have seen it anyway. Plus, I added some paraphrased book bits too, that were not in the films :) Also, you may have noticed that I used not much verbatim movie scripting and instead either summed up entire statements or dialogues in a few paragraphs, or shortened statements or slightly changed them. I found this the better alternative because first, not only was it less laborious, it is also a style that contributes to the theme of the story: things are the same, but not quite. These are exchanges that we have heard, but they are slightly altered by virtue of the new presence within the group. What verbatim movie-bits you find here I got from a website crediting Imladris Forums for transcribing "The Fellowship of the Ring." An example of my quasi-movie-scripting is the scene of Boromir and Frodo at Parth Galen in Part 6. My earliest fic for LOTR is called "Battles" and I was advised against using the movie script word by word because the tendency is to gloss over it as one reads, assuming that we already know what would happen and just eager to see what would be newly introduced. This is why I put in bits of the script, while skipping some parts and summarizing them by what the watcher—Legolas, in the Parth Galen scene, sees.
On the title. It's a quote from Ovid, and it means "Time the devourer of all things." I was tempted to use Tempus fugit which is actually catchier, but does not properly encase the sentiments that I wanted to convey (it means "Time flies"). I am awed by Latin because it captures whole ideals in these few-worded phrases. This is the first time I've used Latin titling in my LOTR fics, although I have used a few Latin titles in my works for other pieces. In this fic, time is indeed the devourer of all things because as it passes, it renders some pasts practically dispensable, as Greenleaf argues at the beginning. In the end too is this seen, because time did devour the fellowship, when it never came into fruition because of the changes made. Time also ends all things.
On the chapter titles. Most of them are pretty straightforward, but this changed with parts 7 to 10. Part 7 is called "Truer Betrayals" because Part 6, "Deceptions" ended with what seemed a betrayal cliffhanger, with Greenleaf threatening Sam. The truer betrayal is Greenleaf's betrayal of himself, giving up that which he loves. You can also look at this truer betrayal as the betrayal of fate, when it was so cruel not to let him return to the future just when he had finally acquired the ring. Part 8, "Tol Eressea" is my take on using Middle-Earth geography top contribute to my story. Ever heard of the saying 'no man is an island?' well in Part 8, we get to see Legolas all alone against a great evil, making his last stand in the Lonely Isle. Part 9 is called "Ghost" which is kind of a hint of what will happen in Part 10; this Greenleaf will haunt us again. It also means he is there but not quite, stuck in a different time, a mystery, fleeting, etc. Part 10 is called Reprise because if you notice the first paragraphs of Part 1 is pirated off and slightly modified to fit Part 10. The date is already the same with the date of the Council of Elrond ;) Reprise is used in music as a kind of repetition or restatement, but often slightly varied. I wanted to have fun with the idea that in Part 1, Greenleaf was strange because the folks of Rivendell were more familiar with Legolas. And then the reverse happens in Part 10, with the folks of Rivendell finding Legolas strange because they were more familiar with Greenleaf :)
On the Chosen Settings. Notice I picked particular settings in this piece for instance, not really focusing on Caradhras or Hollin, which have been stops along the way. In the FOTR, I have a weakness for Moria, because I think it absolutely stirs the imagination, and it does for the first movie what Helm's Deep does for "The Two Towers." I wonder which big scene they would be showing in ROTK, because there are a lot of places that absolutely demand for attention there :) I can't wait :)
On My Reviewers. You guys are so kind and patient. A MASSIVE THANKS to everyone who lent my story even just a little of their time, and I hope you did not regret it because, haha, unlike in my fic, we can't really go back to the past and undo having read Tempus Edax Rerum.
I especially want to thank YBR, who despite what fate seems to want to happen, still stubbornly tries to post reviews :) I am sorry for the inconvenience, I truly appreciate the effort, and I hope I did not disappoint. To Platy. Thanks so much for always always taking the time. I hope I did well by your reminders. I am also struggling from posting everything all at once to take your advice :) To Gwyn. I hope I don't jeopardize your grades!!! :) Thank you for taking the time to read my works and for reviewing. I try very very hard not to disappoint :)
As always, c&c's always welcome. There are some parts of my fic that I'm not as happy as I could be with, so who knows, maybe I'll revise it soon, change the ending, etc., that depends, if a new story hits and demands me to work on that instead.
BTW, notice in part two, Greenleaf says to Legolas before he is cut off, "We will not get married until--?" I think my temptation to write a legomance is starting to manifest itself :) Although this quip is actually meant to be more of a joke, Greenleaf trying to get a rise out of Legolas :) As for my aspirations, I'll see if I eventually find the inspiration :) 'til then! :)