Wherever the Surge May Sweep
By Jame K.
The Author's Notes:
A couple people have asked what specifically made Middle-Earth so much darker in this story. The simple answer is that Greenwood fell completely. There was no last bastion against the darkness. And, its destruction caused a heightened paranoia among the other elves. The devastation of Greenwood meant that no one was safe – and meant that there was (1) more concern about the future (2) an increased fear of the "darkness" and (3) a strong pessimistic tendency in regards to relations with other species.
I had a rough outline of what I wanted to happen when I started this story and I stuck closely to it - until I got about a third away through and realized I had written 120,000+ words. That's when I decided to do three books. The first book is all about Estel growing and the metaphorical chess board of Middle-Earth being set up.
I made the decision early on to gloss over much of his childhood, touching on the important parts. There was so much I could've said about his growth (so many little scenes that were cut long ago), but I realized that much of that was unimportant - that what made Estel could be summed up with fewer stories and I could spend more time on what mattered.
Much of the plot involving the other Men of Middle-Earth was cut in the end as well. In the original, Theodred and Denethor have more scenes - developing stories of their own. Unfortunately, it was just getting too mammoth and I was struggling to make their stories intersect meaningfully with those of the other characters. I hope to address them in more depth in the following books.
The most important theme in this story is destiny. Is it real? Can anyone change their own destiny? Or is every action predetermined by some greater power? Is destiny given to some and not others? How does the belief in destiny affect short and long run decisions that people make?
Throughout the writing of this, I constantly had to remind myself of the individual character's ideas about destiny, and then put their actions in perspective with that. For Legolas especially, everything he did was in line with this greater purpose he felt he had - nothing he did was wasted on his own pursuits.
Legolas: This story is about Legolas, first and foremost, it's about him and this decision and this calling he believes he has. And, while I obviously love him, there were several moments when writing this that I very much disliked him. He is so obsessed with this destiny that he believes he has, to the exclusion of everything else. Which is why I love the relationship between him and Elladan. Elladan loves Legolas (has for awhile) but Legolas is so consumed by this mission he's set out for himself, that he can't even notice. Book II, in a way, will be Legolas's redemption in that regard. He will be forced to confront himself outside of his "destiny" - a world where he's not needed and, in a way, powerless. Book III will be the completion of his arc, where his "call" to destiny collides with this new Legolas that has hopes and dreams outside of just being an instrument of the Valar.
Estel: Estel is an interesting character – and he's grown for me tremendously while writing this story. Originally, the plan was to have the elves simply be wrong, have him become the good man that Legolas hoped for – but I realized the issues were becoming much deeper than that. He grew up with a very narrow view point – and a distrust of the elves in general. When confronted with power, he had this weight hanging over him that everyone expected him to fail. That expectation of failure, I think, affected him deeply. Book II will really be about his exploration of his dark side – what he will do to not only save Legolas, but how his actions will affect him - and if he will be able to stop what becomes an avalanche of events. Book III (without giving too much away) is about him coming to grips with himself, good or bad, and finding his place in Middle-Earth.
The Elves: Elrond and Galadriel believed they were doing the right thing. I think that was one of the most important elements in this story. They weren't evil and they didn't want to hurt Legolas. But they were also pragmatic. One life for the lives of many? That was a price they were willing to pay.
Elladan: So believe it or not, Elladan wasn't supposed to fall in love with Legolas when I began this story. But he was always worrying about him so finally, I just let him. Elladan is a foil for Legolas throughout this story – obeying his father, enjoying life, being calm, not seeing the appeal of destiny (but understanding it is there). His unwillingness to commit to any "mission" (except that he will follow Legolas's lead) is what makes him so interesting in Book I. In Book II, he manages to find his purpose, his part in the grand scheme. And he falls into the role so naturally, it's surprising. And it definitely explores his relationship with Legolas to a much greater extent. Book III is all about him realizing that love can't change the world, letting things go and using taking a stand for what he knows is right.
Arwen: Arwen, I believe, has changed very little from her role in the original books. She is strong and determined – and she is a firm believer in destiny. In the books, she knew she would never cross the Sea because of her dreams. In this story, she knows she will for the same reason. Does she love Estel? Yes – but she also understands that it will never last – that they weren't meant to be together this time. Book II is about her struggle to fulfill this part she knows she was meant to play - and then having to let go of Middle-Earth and leave it in someone else's hands.
What is to Come:
Book II: As I've touched on briefly, Book II is definitely the darkest one of the three. It's when the characters reach their lows – and some become stronger because of that, and others fall apart. It's about being powerless – and having the strength to not fall apart while the world does. And, it's about hope. Hope that there is going to be a better tomorrow. The book opens about three months after the conclusion of Book I.
A quick snippet:
It was Elladan who built the home. Snow was coming, the heat of summer quickly turning icy with winds and rain. Legolas came with Arwen the day after it was done. He was pale and the heartsickness was written over his face. He leaned on Elladan like he had done at the funeral - trembling like a thin tree in the storm. When Elladan held his hand, led him into the home, his fingers were icy and the bones pushed sharply against the skin.
He went to bed willingly enough and Elladan sat beside him, hands tucked behind his knees and knives just paces away.
Arwen smiled at him, like she understood, hands over her growing belly and eyes drifting toward the West.
None of them spoke until night fell and the door was bolted. The air was strangely quiet, even as the winds came up between the mountain canyons. All of Middle-Earth was waiting.
Legolas had not yet spoken of Estel - anything really. He had been silent since the day they found before the Rivendell gates. Eyes focused on the world but unable to speak to it, his thoughts on Estel without ceasing. Elladan did not know which hurt more - the thought of the young man dead - or the nightmare of him alive.
Book III: This one is about renewals, losses, and farewells. I can't say much without giving things away – but this one is definitely a story about forgiveness and closure. The characters will be able to look back and see how far they've come – and make decisions based off of that.
Well, that was way too long. But, if you stuck with me, let me know your thoughts. It would be amazing!