Well, I did finally get around to editing it like I said I would. I decided that I'll only repost the first seven chapters or so. Most of that is just cleaning it up grammatically anyway, and, after a while, there wasn't as much of that to do. My main purpose in doing this was to make the tone and characterizations of the beginning a bit more compatible with the latter part of the story.
I did, however, rework this first passage completely and I have added a scene to chapter 37, although I don't suppose it's the most humorous thing in the world. Still, it had been something I meant to include the first time around. So, there you go, if anybody is interested!
Sauron was quite comfortably situated in Barad-dur, looking out to where the Army of the West was gathered in its pathetic attempt to draw him forth. Naturally, he had no intention of going out to battle when he had thousands of minions whom were perfectly capable of handling the task on their own.
Although for a moment he paused and considered the fact that he was not entirely convinced of the capabilities of his minions, Sauron reassured himself in that there were thousands of them, and what they lacked in wit was made up for in numbers.
He amused himself with the rather comical -- to him, at least -- scene that was playing out, but quickly bored of it. After all, it had been a rather lengthy game that he had played with those in the west, and he was ready to put his floundering opponents out of their misery.
The signal was given for the gates to be opened and the forces that had been waiting flooded out upon the plain.
Allowing a dark smile to creep upon his lips at the carnage, Sauron wondered to himself about what he would do first once the opposition was completely obliterated. There were many options, all of which were practically begging for his attention. But there would be time, all the time in the world, in a world that would be his.
At that moment, however, he became keenly aware that a feeling of overwhelming anxiety seemed to have washed away whatever fancies of horrific glory he had been perusing. It was a rather disconcerting sensation to have settle over his thoughts right as he believed his victory to be complete.
Whatever could it mean? It seemed that his very existence was at stake, although there was no justification for that reaction. After all, the only way that anything could happen to him would be if the Ring were to reach the Cracks of Doom--
Suddenly, everything became clear. Practically leaping from his seat and nearly tripping over his robes, Sauron rushed to a west-facing window to look towards Orodruin, instantly recognizing his peril. His every thought turned towards the recovery of his Ring, the battle completely forgotten.
The Nazgul were quickly nearing the volcano when Sauron realized that something very very very bad had just occurred, or would in mere moments. He had been aware of one presence controlling the Ring, but this had suddenly changed to another. That had been fine; he didn't particularly care who had it, as it would make little difference once the Ringwraiths caught up with the person. This, however, had changed as well, and there was nothing else he could tell except that it had turned out badly.
He leaned against the wall, aware of what would happen imminently, and swore as he always had when faced with the realization that he was going to be disembodied. Again.
Haldir was sitting with a very dull expression on his face as he looked across the circle of chairs at the elf who was having a complete conniption fit. This elf was crying hysterically in a very undignified manner, white tears falling down his ghostly face. Haldir didn't do anything to help him. Neither did the other twelve people seated in the circle.
Finally, he decided that everybody had been exposed to quite enough of this torture for the time being. "For the love of Eru, shut up Feanor!" he cried.
The elf stopped abruptly, paused, sniffed a little while looking at Haldir with vague surprise. Everybody held their breath for a moment, as this was going better than it usually did. Haldir sighed.
Then Feanor completely lost it again. "B-b-but I'm the most gifted of the Eldar!" he sobbed indignantly. "And he stole my silmarils!"
"For the 174 thousand and 498th time, we know!" Haldir bellowed.
Feanor continued to ball, words floating out of the incomprehensible babble every once and a while. Haldir rolled his eyes and rubbed his temple with one hand. "Well, this is definitely not what I thought would happen if I died," he said quietly to himself.
With a shake of his head to rid himself of such thoughts, he stood up. What a waste of time, even if time was in inexhaustible supply for them. "Well, I think that is enough of that for today!" he said softly, and very quickly all of the elves got up, leaving with a few discernable mumbles of "finally." Even Feanor stopped carrying on long enough to get out of the room.
Sitting down again, Haldir contemplated how he had gotten into the whole mess that he found himself in. Of course, getting killed probably had a lot to do with it, but he couldn't remember exactly what circumstances had led to him being stuck listening to all the other elf souls talk about the problems that had led to their demise. He had always thought that in Mandos the people received counseling, not that those who were there had to give it.
Apparently, however, things were run differently from what he had assumed. Somehow he had been picked out of the masses of elves to be one of the few who had to sit around all the time and listen to incessant complaining.
For a while he had been more than happy to listen, ready to try to help the people as best he could, but there was only so much a person could take. He had been listening to sob stories for a couple of millennia now, and they did not have much affect on him anymore. His empathy rating had plummeted until now he could hear the most heart wrenching stories and just shrug at the end. His emotions had been pretty much sucked dry over the years, however many they had been.
Haldir didn't really care that he was getting relatively heartless. He didn't care about much, as a matter of fact. The only thing that sparked some reaction of a positive nature was the thought of finally getting his body back and being able to leave the halls.
As he thought this, he didn't realize that a person had entered the room and sat down upon one of the now empty chairs.
The person cleared his throat, and Haldir leaned forward with surprise. His surprise instantly deepened when he realized that it was no elf soul sitting there. It was the Lord of Mandos himself.
Haldir promptly jumped up and bowed. "My Lord Namo," he said, still quite shocked, although trying desperately not to show it. He had seen the vala on only two other occasions in the 12,982 years he had been there (not that he was counting). It was especially rare for him to be seen down in the Halls, as when he had business with somebody, they were normally summoned.
Namo got up himself and motioned for Haldir to follow with a flick of his hand. Promptly falling into step with him, Haldir remained what he hoped to be a respectful distance behind.
They walked on for miles, or so Haldir assumed, as he no longer could really tell such things without his body. Really, he wouldn't be surprised to find that the Halls went on indefinitely, as they were changing and expanding every day.
After they had walked for a while, Namo spoke. "You are one of the counselors, are you not?"
"I am," Haldir replied shortly, unsure about how much vibrato the situation required.
"And what do you think of the stories you hear?"
After a momentary pause, Haldir answered. "Not much," he said truthfully. He figured that he did not have to worry about Namo getting put off by his lack of emotion; the vala had only been moved to pity once in the history of time.
"Then you would be willing to accept a special case, seeing as you would probably be little touched by what you might hear?"
Haldir did not answer instantly. He really had no wish to have another person in his groups, but he wasn't about to say that to the man who decided whether or not he would ever get re-embodied.
"You do not want another person, I see."
For a moment Haldir stopped, but quickly caught up. Stupid mind reading Valar cra- he began to think, but when Namo glanced his way, he speedily put in but they are entitled to it, so wise and great and wondrous and... wise.
"Perhaps I did not properly express what I wanted to convey," Namo said as he began walking again. "If you accept this one case, you will no longer have to continue counseling your groups. I can assure you that it would require your undivided attention. And," he said, stopping in front of a stone door, "you would receive what you, as with everybody here, have been waiting for."
Haldir almost felt himself smile. The thought was more than tempting. No more Feanor, no more crying ringing in his head at all hours. Most importantly, however, was that he'd be free. He'd finally be released; he'd be alive again!
"Will you do it?" Namo asked him.
"Are you kidding?" Haldir asked, his eyebrows raised, before he recalled whom it was he was standing before. When Namo looked back at him, Haldir quickly spoke again. "I mean yes, my lord."
After looking at him seriously for a moment, Namo nodded. "Very well," he said quietly to himself, and then went about opening the door.
While Namo fuddled around with the oddly rusted-looking lock, a question that Haldir realized he should have asked before agreeing popped into his head. "What is so special about this case?"
The stone door finally opened and Namo ushered him in before replying. Haldir looked at his new surroundings as he waited for Namo's response, realizing that he could never remember going down that tunnel before. It was darker than the majority of the Halls, if that was possible, and had a rather closed air about it.
Finally, after the door had been closed again, Namo answered. "You realize that Sauron was overthrown lately."
"Yes…" Haldir said slowly.
"In his ruin, his body was destroyed."
Haldir nodded, unsure of what sort of response he could give to that.
"Many people were under the belief that so much of his power would be lost from the destruction of the Ring that he would never be able to come to power again. Unfortunately for us, this is not entirely true, as he could just gather it back up until he could take another form. On account of this, it was decided that he could not be left to roam Middle-Earth freely."
"Eh, that's nice," Haldir said, not entirely sure about where this conversation was headed.
"Consequently, it seemed the best thing to do was to bring his spirit here," Namo apparently concluded.
Haldir frowned, giving a small shudder and looking around himself as though every shadow was suddenly hiding the malevolent spirit. "That's rather… creepy," he muttered to himself.
Namo nodded. "It's not an entirely pleasant thought, I don't suppose. Then again, there are many things imprisoned here that most are not aware of."
Haldir looked back at the vala, his discomfort climbing after this new revelation. Namo cleared his throat quickly as though he assumed the effects of his words.
The awkward situation was suddenly overcome as Namo stopped in front of a cell to his left, then turned to look at Haldir. He jerked his head towards the cell wordlessly, and Haldir hesitantly looked inside. Having just been told that many things were "imprisoned" there did not make the prospect of looking into a cell very appealing.
There was very little he could see as his eyes tried to adjust to the new level of darkness in the room. Presently, however, he was able to see a form huddled on the floor in the middle of the cell. After squinting and turning his head to the side, Haldir was able to slowly make out the form of a person.
He had -- or would have had, as he was quite obviously only a spirit -- a seriously screwed up mess of hair that looked more like an animal that had crawled onto his head and died. The man was thin to the point that it clearly couldn't be healthy, his clothes hanging awkwardly on his bony frame. That was all odd enough to give Haldir some unease, but there was something else, some aura that hung on the air, that caused Haldir to feel as though he really shouldn't be there.
Haldir stepped back and blinked a few times, trying to keep his vision working in the dimness, and then turned to look at Namo to find out the significance of this person. "He needs to be counseled," Namo said.
"He needs a hair cut," Haldir replied, attempting to ease his discomfort by making light of the situation.
Namo just stared at him, obviously not partaking in Haldir's efforts at being amusing.
"Uh," Haldir began, clearing his throat nervously, "Anyway, this is my special case then?"
That seemed to be an answer that was lacking. "Okay, and what exactly did all of this have to do with Sauron?"
Namo continued to stare at him blankly for a very long time, a 'you are joking, right?' look on his face. "… That is Sauron."
It was now Haldir's turn to stare blankly. His already pearly appearance blanched even more. He opened his mouth and then promptly closed it. Finally, after successfully opening it again, he screamed. "That's SAURON! You've got to be kidding me!"