Title: Overcoming Darkness

Category: Action/Adventure, Angst, H/C

Summary: Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli return home after a hard journey, but find Gondor not how they left it. An evil cult now resides in Minas Tirith and people are dying. It is up to our heroes to stop these men before they complete their final sacrifice and plunge all of Middle-Earth into darkness.

I own nothing. Wait, I have some lint in my pocket. Enjoy.

A/N – This story is a sequel to my last LotR fic, The Stone of Malinya, but it can be read as a standalone as well. The only information you need to know is that Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli are returning to Gondor after a two month trip to a border country of Brelan. While there, Legolas was nearly killed by a group of rebels, and to save his life Aragorn and Gimli used The Stone of Malinya, a magic elf stone, to bring him back to life. The stone used their energy to revive Legolas and this caused a connection (mental, emotional) to form between the three of them. They can't read each other's mind or anything, they just can feel one another's intense emotions and know when one of them is in danger. I suggest reading that fic first, but if you don't understand something just ask, I'll explain.

I didn't think I had another LotR epic in me, but I had this idea and it is just blossoming in my head. I hope you all like it. I think you will because I'm really excited about writing it, I think it's original and of course it's going to have a lot of angst, but I really like some of the ideas I have for it. For that reason I think chapters will be coming out quickly as I am very eager to write it. Anyway, here's the first chapter so sit back and enjoy. Hope to hear from you, but if I don't, thanks for reading.

Middle Earth is a land full of fantasy, magic, and assortments of different folk ranging from Elves, to Dwarves, to Men and Hobbits. Countless adventures have been had in this land, only the smallest fraction of which are ever known or told. This is one of those stories, told in its entirety. Take it as you will.

Overcoming Darkness

By Robinyj

In the forests of Gondor, just beyond the borders of Minas Tirith, the trees were tall and thick. Over the years they had grown so large that their immense branches splayed across one another, blocking out all but the tiniest slivers of light. It was in this forest that a small group of riders made their way home, weary from battle and hardships, but light with thoughts of home, beds and ale. A bird flying overhead would see five men in uniform, distinguishing them as royal guards, a weather worn man with dark hair and noble eyes, and a final horse with two riders, one a great warrior of royal blood and Elvish descent, and the other sitting behind him, smaller in stature, but also a great fighter, and currently tormenting the first with another tale of his great battles.

 "They were all around me you see, not a place to hide. Coming in from all sides as they were and I knew they were not so honorable as to fight me one on one. My only choice was to battle my way through and reach the gap, which I did not mind, but the poor child behind me was so terribly frightened, I knew I had to protect him …"

 "Child?" Legolas enquired, confused.

 "Well, practically a child. Estevan or something like that. He was almost shaking from fear," Gimli continued without pause.

 "Estevar? One of Theodan's most trusted men?" Legolas prodded, smirking.

 "Yes, that may be the one," Gimli replied, chagrined, but still continued his story. "Anyway, I was saving his life when suddenly the lad cried out in alarm."

 "That 'lad' has been a soldier for twenty years, and has five children," Legolas interjected, but Gimli ignored him and his useless facts.

 The story continued with the dwarf now adding hand motions and growls, "I turned and there stood the largest Uruk I had ever seen. Nine feet tall with arms the size of tree trunks! He snarled at me and I snarled back, frightening off most of my other opponents of course. So I stepped up …"

 "Gimli, are you so blinded by your heroics you forget even the smallest of details? I was at Helm's Deep if you recall, and I cannot place a time when you fought anywhere near Estevar. And I certainly do not believe there were any Uruks that stood above the treetops." Legolas said confidently, knowing his memory of the battle was far superior to Gimli's. And unmarred by heroic tellings of the deed, unlike the dwarf.

 "You were busy at the time. Trapped in a corner I believe."

 Legolas reared his horse Jarinel to a stop so he could turn and give Gimli his full attention, "Trapped in a corner?"

 "I seem to recall something to that event happening," Gimli continued, now goading his friend for no such event had happened.

 "If you do not watch your tongue my friend you will be walking the rest of the way to Minas Tirith," Legolas warned him with an exasperated tone. Jarinel began to trot once more, catching up with the group.

 "Do your worst. It's only a few more hours on horseback, I'm sure I could find my way," Gimli said smugly.

 "Then I shall ride deeper into the woods and leave you in a grove with no path or weapons and see how you fare," Legolas replied, not backing down.

 "You go too far elf," Gimli said, but was quiet for the time being.

 Legolas smiled in victory. They had been riding for a little over two weeks now so their bickering was nothing new to the company. In fact many of the men found it a source of great entertainment; this did not mean though that they were not eager to arrive in Minas Tirith. Knowing that home was so close at hand had put the entire company in high spirits. The guards wished to see their wives and children, Gimli wished to have a decent glass of ale and pipeweed and Aragorn wished to look over his country and wife. After nearly two months away, they all craved the return of their normal lives.

 The group continued their peaceful gait through the forest, rarely breaking the silence with speech. Legolas was in particularly good spirits; he enjoyed his bickering with Gimli, and the thoughts of returning home brought great joy. Closer to home at least, for Minas Tirith was much better known to him than the foreign land of Brelan had been.

Brelan. He was as yet unsure whether to smile or cringe when he thought of the name. So much good had been done there, but so much had been lost as well. It was hard to weigh one against the other, but at least Legolas could say he left with new and stronger friendships than when he arrived. In some ways he supposed it did not matter how they came to be.

For now though he was thinking only of getting to Minas Tirith and finally being able to remove Gimli from his position at his back. His constant tales were truly becoming irritating, especially since he was so close that he could not be ignored. But for now Gimli was silent and the elf was so content that he began to sing and smiled when the trees and animals perked up with his song, as they always did.

 At the front of the group Aragorn was lost in thought about the return home, but was unconsciously singing along with Legolas under his breath, for the elf could be heard clearly throughout the forest. For his part Aragorn wanted only one thing, to see his wife and his city and put the darkness of Brelan behind him.

 Though things had worked out in the end, many foul deeds had taken place in Brelan, not least of all the betrayal of his captain, the loss of Malinya's Stone, and the near death of Legolas at the hands of Risorine.

 Or had he actually died? Aragorn pondered, not knowing what powers the Stone of Malinya had possessed for certain. He quickly banished these thoughts though, not wishing to dwell on such unhappy times. But I will need a new captain of my guards. Perhaps Harsol is trained enough for the position. He seems eager and I know he is loyal, for his father has been an advisor to Gondor for many years.

Again Aragorn decided not to dwell on such things for the time being. He wanted only to think of returning home in peace, so to soothe his mind he pushed away his worries and concentrated on Legolas's soft song behind him. A look of confusion soon took over his features for it was then he realized that Legolas had ceased to sing even though the song was far from over. Aragorn pulled his horse from the line and looked behind him. Legolas and Gimli still rode at a fast trot at the end of the line, but Legolas's face was molded with concern and the mirth his song had provided had vanished.

 Gimli also noticed the sudden halt of the song and looked at his friend, "Forget the words?"

 Legolas did not chuckle or sling back any kind of insult. Instead he lifted a finger to silence the dwarf as he listened to the sounds of the forest. Jarinel's gait also slowed and eventually stopped completely. It seemed whatever the elf had sensed was affecting the horse as well.

 "What's wrong? Trouble?" Gimli asked, reaching for his axe and waiting for the elf's always reliable report. The last time Legolas had silenced him like this was before they had been attacked by rebels in the forest of Brelan.

 Legolas shook his head, "No, we are not in danger. Something is wrong with the forest."

 Gimli gruffed in confusion, the forest seemed fine to him, then looked up to see Aragorn trotting back to them atop Hasufel. He seemed concerned as well and watched with interest as Legolas dismounted Jarinel and walked slowly towards a nearby tree.

 "Legolas?" Aragorn said softly, wanting answers but knowing the elf was deep in thought and quickly becoming worried.

 "Something is wrong with the forest," Legolas repeated, now focussed completely on the tree in front of him. He placed a hand on the rough bark and cringed. The tree was in pain. He went to another and felt the same thing. Looking at the forest floor he noticed for the first time that the ground was covered in far too many leaves for the summer season. He picked one from the ground, it was wilted and dry despite the dampness of the ground and air.

 Aragorn and Gimli watched in fascination but were not encouraged when their friend turned to them and reported, "Something has happened while we were away. The forest is ill." He knelt on the ground and placed a hand on the bare earth and winced once more. "It is almost as though all of nature is in pain."

 Aragorn himself sensed nothing, which was no surprise for he was not connected to the earth as Legolas was, but trusted his judgment and now that he looked he could see the signs as well. The branches of the trees were low and brittle, the leaves on the ground were dead and numerous, and no animals sang or chirped.

 "Let us make haste to Minas Tirith," he suggested, now feeling strongly that something was wrong. "Perhaps there we will find answers."

 Legolas nodded and slowly rose to his feet. A moment later he broke from his sympathetic trance and leapt back onto Jarinel's back. The two horses rode to the front of the line and Aragorn called out to his men to speed up. They did so without question though they knew not the reason why.

 Aragorn and Legolas galloped side by side. They were completely focussed on their path, for the forest was thick and manoeuvring through the trees was difficult. Gimli had no such task before him, and though he was not sure he believed that 'nature' could feel pain, he did chance to look up through a small break in the canopy of branches and see something odd.

What has happened to the sky? He wondered. They passed the sight quickly and Gimli could not be sure of what he had seen so made no comment to his companions. Besides, if he was right they would find out soon anyway.

 They rode hard and in an hour reached the edges of the forest. The trees did not thin out slowly but stopped suddenly at a point just ahead of them, where the terrain stretched out to flat plains. The clearing they would emerge into was well known for it was placed high above the fields and one could see a spectacular view of the country for many miles from there.

 The small company rode for the clearing and as they passed the final trees Gimli lifted a hand to his eyes, expecting to be blinded by the sudden light of the sun. Such was not the case. The group halted as they left the forest and looked in shock upon the fields, valleys, and trees. All wilted, yellow or dead. Open fields that were once alive with green grass and flowers were barren, or littered with dry, wilting, grass and plants. Trees hung low with yellowed needles or leaves in large piles beneath them. There was no sign of any life that was flourishing; most plants seemed to be hanging onto life by a thinning thread.

 Above them the sun could be seen but its rays seemed weak as if shrouded, though there was not a cloud in sight to block them. Even the sky was different – its color was not a healthy blue but a light gray, pasty and sick.

 Aragorn did not know what could have caused such a thing to happen. He knew only one thing for certain – Gondor was dying.

TBC

Ahh, it's good to be back. Nothing like a good cliffhanger to start off a new story. I really am quite excited about this fic, I have sooo many ideas. Not just for H/C but for twists and cliffhangers, it should be quite a ride. Hope you'll all be there. Catch ya around, Robinyj