Hello Everyone! (or anyone? crickets) Bit of a change from A Musing, (which is not done as of now, but it will be! I just had to remove this plot bunny from my brain first,) this is a bit more serious, but I can't stay serious for too long, so ye be warned!

Movie canon. Starts at the beginning of Two Towers, turns slightly AU from there, fudges a few scenes, then returns to it's original tasty self.

Also, as much as I would like to use Elvish in this story, I can barely conjugate English, so any Elvish will be simple words and phrases. Sorry language lovers.

Random explosions of 0000's are time breaks, as I can't figure out how to get the document manager to acknowledge the little stars above the 8, astericks? asteriks? Whatever. I'm computer illiterate.

As per usual, I own no one and nothing, save for a deadbeat hamster. Lord of the Rings and all it's delectable men-folk belong to J.R.R. Tolkien and damn him for thinking up the story before I had a chance to.

Only joking.

Read and Review, please. It spurs me out of laziness, and forces me to write the next chapter, if I know people actually read the story. Enjoy!


Chapter One


The wind had changed somehow, Legolas was sure of it. Something was wrong, he was also painfully sure of that. He had a strange rock of wrongness sitting in the pit of his stomach, and no matter how he tried to explain it away, it didn't lessen the growing panic he felt.

They had been running after the hobbits for three days so far, and he shouldn't have been tiring. Elves were known for their inhuman endurance and strength; so then why had a burning started in his calves and ankles? Why was a stitch growing in his side? Why was his head feeling split down the center, while his blood rushed viciously loud in his ears?

Ever since that morning he had heard a strange noise on the wind. It sounded like the same voice he had heard on Caradhras, but there were no words, just nonsense noises and murmurs. The lack of intelligible words did nothing to ease his mind, however, for despite his long years, there were still tongues in Middle Earth he was not fluent in. Most of said unknown languages were as black as the heart of Sauron, and it felt as if ice water had been poured down his back to hear them. He had mentioned it to Aragorn almost immediately, fearing that the dark language may be from Saruman, directing the Uruk-hai to some foul task. Aragorn had advised him to continue listening as they ran, and try to understand it's intent.

He had been doing so, but it seemed as though the harder he tried to understand the words, the more the voice eluded him. He was also beginning to become overwhelmed by the pain in his head, and he slowed his run a little and fell into step with Aragorn, whose gait was slightly slower than his own. He needed to talk to the man, and it was also a convenient way to cover his sudden exhaustion.

"The voice grows bolder, I fear that it is indeed the voice of Saruman," he said to Aragorn, trying desperately to keep from sounding winded.

Aragorn cast him a strange look before replying, "Have you been able to decipher any of it?"

"Nay, the wind continues to change directions, but I am certain that it is a derivative of Black Speech," he said as black spots began to swim into his vision.

"You are certain?" he asked, but before Legolas could reply he narrowed his eyes at his elven companion, "Are you well, mellon-nin?"

Aragorn had slowed down their run considerably in order to take in the elf's appearance. His skin had gone an ashen color, save for blushes of high color on both cheeks. He looked feverish, and a sheen of perspiration glistened on his brow. What frightened him most was the strange way Legolas seemed to be struggling to breathe. Each breath he took sounded the same as some of the old men Aragorn used to drink with in Bree, and most of them had been smoking for well over 40 years. He was about to ask again when he saw a puff of dust rising in the distance, and he pointed to it. His questions would have to wait.

Legolas descended the minor incline and perched himself on a small shelf of rock.

"Legolas! What do your elf eyes see?" he heard from behind him. He struggled to focus on the figures in the distance, but his vision swam and threatened to pitch him forward. He blinked several times and made an effort to slow his heart rate. The winds shifted again, and suddenly he could hear the voice on it more clearly. He tried to ignore it and looked into the distance again, but his vision wasn't as sharp as it normally was. He could barely make out the figures, much less determine what direction they had taken.

He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath in order to call back to Aragorn and attempt to explain, but when he opened his eyes he was inexplicably I behind /i Aragorn. He recognized the unmistakable over tunic the ranger wore, along with the elven cloak from Lorien. Looking past the man, he could see the back of a blond haired elf slightly in the distance. A ludicrous suspicion began to gnaw at him as he looked at the plaits of Mirkwood that graced the elf's hair. His rational side began to desperately spout possible scenarios, each one sounding less probable than the one that preceded it.

He then watched in horror as the elf turned his head slowly, and met his eyes with a look of calculated irritation. He recognized those pale eyes; he was looking at himself.

Panic gripped his heart and he cried out softly, closing his eyes tight. He was certain that the voice on the air had somehow driven him to madness, and that thought terrified him. His concern was not only for his own safety, but for that of his companions. Would he harm them in this altered state? The part of his mind that refused to be anything other than rational couldn't help but question him. Had Saruman taken over his body? Would he use it to go after Frodo and the ring? His panic deepened, and for the first time in centuries, his exhausted mind and body felt like crying.

He cautiously opened his eyes, prepared to find a weapon and go after the imposter in his body. However, this time when he opened them, he was again on the ledge, looking into the distance. A feeling of vertigo washed over him, and he could feel a threat of fainting hiding behind an inky curtain in his mind. After a few moments it passed and he warily turned and looked behind him, expecting to see Saruman perched on the rocks behind him like one of his foul crows. Instead he saw nothing unusual at all. Aragorn was standing exactly where he was before, looking at him expectantly; Gimli was slightly behind him, doubled over in what he assumed was an attempt to catch his breath. Legolas looked back over the plains and allowed his eyes to focus in the distance, now he could see the Uruk-hai clearly, as if they were but a few feet away.

"The Uruk's turn Northeast! They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" he called back to Aragorn, even though the effort caused the pain in his head to flare for a moment.

He heard Aragorn mutter, "Saruman," behind him, and indeed, his mind was occupied with the same word. The winds had shifted again, and thankfully the tainted voice had gone with it, but he had no doubts in it's return.

He climbed back up with his companions, carefully avoiding Aragorn's gaze. His keen eyes sought out the safest route for the three of them to get down to the plains. After a moment, he found it and ran towards it, listening closely to be sure the others were following.

His brush with insanity had shaken him, but he was relived to be feeling more like himself. The exhaustion faded out of his body like rain rolls of the surface of a leaf. He ran like his kin, feeling nothing but the breeze and a wonderful calmness radiating through him. Now that it was over, he was slightly embarrassed to tell the others. His elven pride rebelled at the idea of showing such weakness in front of his companions. They had enough cares, worrying about the hobbits. Besides, the back of his mind whispered, it was over now, and telling the others might prompt them to ask him to stay behind. He could not in good conscience abandon the hobbits to the Uruk-hai merely because he had a dizzy spell! No, he would carry on, and if the incident repeated itself, then he would bring it up to Aragorn. Maybe.

The sun was climbing the sky in the East, and it warmed their backs as they ran across the plains.