Title: Wherever the Surge May Sweep
Rating: PG-13 – for violence, adult themes, darkness, blood, and overall angstiness.
Warnings: very AU and fairly dark. And, for those who don't know, I make no promises for a happy ending. While I am not a slash writer, there are some unrequited slash issues if you really, really, really squint.
Summary: In a much darker Middle-earth than the one we know, Legolas is forced to take drastic measures in order to save Estel. Stretching from the destruction of Greenwood to the death of Aragorn, this sweeping AU examines what could have happened if the elves had made a terrible mistake.
Disclaimer: I own none of the recognizable characters in this story—they all belong to JRR Tolkien and New Line.
Special thanks: evil spapple pie for the idea, ThePastIsPrologue for encouragement and other help, and Black Hawk for sending me lovely emails.
NOTE all the names in this chapter are canon – taken directly from the appendices.
Prologue: Wherever the Surge May Sweep
Once more upon the
waters! yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
That knows his rider. Welcome to their roar!
Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'er it lead!
Though the strained mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvas fluttering strew the gale,
Still must I on; for I am as a weed,
Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam, to sail
Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail.
– Lord Byron
A dark shadow hung over the moon and the blinding snow ripped through the freezing air and blotted out the starlight. Icy water churned roughly against the hull of the ship as the mariners of Círdan scampered to and fro across the slippery deck trying to keep the weary ship afloat for just a few moments longer in the furious storm that was lashing across the bay of Forochel.
The High King of Arnor, Arvedui, stood at the bow of the great ship. His hands were clasped behind his back and his gray eyes probed into the darkness of the snowstorm. It was over. He could feel it in the biting chill that reached all the way to his bones and the icy dread that tore through his lungs.
And he felt nothing. No fear. No pain. There was just an echoing sadness that the Northern kingdom of Gondor would fall this night and he could do nothing to stop it. This trial had begun when the Witch-king had attacked so many weeks ago, forcing them to flee into the Mountains. With a shudder, he remembered the bitter cold as they hid in desolate caves with no food – no warmth – for days. He remembered the pity on the faces of the Lossoth when they saw the gaunt condition of him and his men – and their fear as they fed them and gave them shelter.
How he wished now that he had heeded their warnings about the treacherous bay – but that could not be undone now. This was fate – the inevitable – and no one could fight against it. This had been his fate since his birth – since the seer had come to Arnor and named him.
"Arvedui you shall call him, for he will be the last in Arthedain," Malbeth the Seer had proclaimed to Araphant – Arvedui's father. His gnarled hands had held the babe against his chest. "Much sorrow and many lives of men shall pass, until the Dúnedain arise and are united again."
And so destiny had been decided. The fates had been sealed. Arvedui was a dandelion on the summer breezes of inevitability.
At least the line would continue. A deep sigh passed Arvedui's lips. His only son, Aranarth, would survive. Aranarth was safe on the land with instructions to flee to Rivendell should… should the worst happen. They would ransom the Ring of Barahir he had left with the Lossoth – the line would continue. He must keep the hope.
The ship gave another huge lurch and he could dimly hear the cries of the elven mariners as he made his way to the small cabin. Snow lashed against his back and he pulled his cloak firmly against his shoulders.
He staggered into the relative warmth of his cabin and plopped down on the narrow bunk. His hands fumbled for several moments with box that sat at the foot of the bed until it opened with a sharp snap. Tremors that were not from cold wracked his body as he withdrew the dark orb wrapped with soft cloth. He held the heavy stone for several moments, running his hand over the cloth.
This night – at the end of all things – he would use the palantir one last time to discover the fate of Middle-earth. With trembling fingers, he removed the cloth covering and stared into the dark marble surface of the seeing-stone. His hands grasped the sides of the palantir firmly as he stared into the black depths.
What would the gods show him? What legacy would he leave behind on this earth? Would the High Kings ever rule again?
His eyes slipped shut as images imprinted themselves across his psyche. Some seemed to be past events – Sauron storming across a battle-field – Isildur riding through a forest with the ring around his neck.
But others… Elrond standing on a balcony with a grave look on his face – a smile crossed the High King's lips; yes, the elf lord would protect Aranarth for as long as the need remained.
And then he saw the future – darkness spreading across the land like a black plague, sucking the light and life out of all that was good and noble in the world. Men and elves fell into an abyss of suffering. A great eye rose up on a tower and Arvedui knew instinctively that it was Sauron.
Then a young man appeared – a young man with silver eyes, a noble brow, and a firm mouth. He stood in a desolate plain of ash, a beautiful sword clutched in one hand while his eyes were directed towards a dark mountain, teeming with fire. His clothes were that of a common ranger – an ordinary man, any man in Middle-earth. But, his gray eyes, the set of his jaw, the width of his brow, made Arvedui gasp.
This was his heir – the one who would either save Middle-earth or destroy it for all of time. He would either sit on the throne of Minas Tirith or reign beside Sauron in the black land of Mordor.
Then the image faded to be replaced by a slender, blond elf that Arvedui thought seemed vaguely familiar – perhaps it was the Prince of Greenwood? But the elf had been young when Arvedui had met him so it was hard to tell. The elf stood before nine dark shape that the High King recognized as the Nazgúl. His back was straight and his chin was high but his face and side were bloody.
One of the dark, menacing figures started towards him with his crooked blade held high. The sword rose and the elf cast a glance towards the heavens and then a quick look behind him. A small smile parted his bloodied, white lips. Arvedui turned and followed his gaze and saw a group of worn men, running from the devastating scene below.
He was ripped from the trance-like state he had fallen into as the ship gave an almighty lurch that ended with a sickening crunch. The candle fell from the table and rolled across the floor to set fire to the thick rug. Above the sound of screeching ice, the last High King of Arnor could hear the frantic call of the mariners as they wrestled with broken lines and crushed timber.
With a deep sigh, he put the palantir in its box and tucked it underneath his arm as he moved out of the cabin. If this was to be his end, he would have it be an end of a brave man – not a coward. He would see his death.
A huge iceberg had crushed one side of the ship and as Arvedui leaned over the railing, he could see the black water rushing to fill the hull. Snow clung to his hair and his shoulders and a sad smile crossed his face. No fear.
For one inexorable moment, as the boat began to sink with a fury – as the waves crashed up over the deck and the icy water soaked the weary king – the clouds cleared and bright start light flickered across the waters.
Arvedui kept his eyes fixed on those shining pinpoints as he was tossed into the freezing water. He ignored the cries of the elves and his soldiers, focusing on the stars and the hope for the future.
He was a weed – tossed from the cliff and left to the mercy of the ocean. He was a seed – floating across the breeze. And the water surged beneath him and a strange current seemed to carry him towards the silvery ocean. A smile crossed his lips. Yes, truly, he would go wherever the tide would carry him now.
After a few moments of treading the icy water, the palantir slipped from his grasp and the king wondered numbly if it would ever be found before the end of the Valar's song came.
Dreadful calm seemed to come over the bay and the white moonlight reflected off the slivers of ice and the blue lips of the King.
A song touched the High King's ears and he smiled as the elves sang in mourning of the lives lost this night. Let the Fates do as the Fates willed. Arvedui would not fight; this was his destiny, to go down in time as the last High King of Arnor.
And as the Valar rose up in joyful song to welcome the brave king, the stars seemed to twinkle a little bit brighter as if they knew some wonderful secret that would not grace mortal ears for ages to come.
For, indeed, there was hope. And hope is the savior of men.to be continued.
Author's Notes: I am quite proud of this story. It's going to be a long, bumpy ride – over 100,000 words but it is already over half done on my hard drive which means we should hopefully have no delays between updates. This is the story that stole my muse on "Flowers" and is only just beginning to give it back.
Anyways, I know the names are quite confusing but this is the only chapter that deals heavily with unknown names.
Let me know what you think.