Legolas Greenleaf, Agent of MESS, in
The City of the King
Disclaimer: Legolas, Aragorn and all recognisable characters belong to the estate of Tolkien (the lucky, lucky bastards). James Bond was created and written by the very suave Ian Fleming.
Author's Notes: Welcome back! Finally (after over a year), the next fic in my Agent of MESS series is complete. For those who haven't read the earlier ones, this is based in an elseworlds setting, where Legolas Greenleaf is a James Bond-style secret agent, working for the Middle Earth Secret Service (MESS), an organisation headed by G, or Galadriel as she's known. It should be fairly easy to work out what's going on without reading the previous (unless you want to, please), though it may be worth taking a glance at the two chapter "Kill Me Tomorrow" to meet some of the new characters.
A brief acknowledgement is due to Artenis Ancalime, who emailed me to ask where this was. It reminded me that it was all sitting ready to post except the last chapter, which is very nearly done. I have a peculiar horror of leaving fics unfinished (I know I have a couple up, but not recent ones) and I feel it would have been unfair to start it and leave you hanging. My apologies for the wait. I blame starting at uni (yes, two years ago) and all the resultant hard work.
But here it is. Feedback works, people!
Thank you for even reading this far, and I hope you want to keep reading. Feedback is always welcomed. Enjoy!
G's office, high up in the mallorn trees of Lothlórien, was simple yet functional. There were high arched openings, windows without glass, but that could be curtained for privacy. Its height among the trees gave it isolation from the dwellings of Lórien, the only room near being the attached secretary's office, which was currently empty.
G herself was seated at her desk. On the wooden desktop between her hands was a silver bowl filled with water. She gazed at it calmly, watching the patterns that flashed across its surface. Stars and places, creatures and faces, all flickered past as she scanned the MIRROR bands, looking for a certain destination. Her eyes, blue and detached enough to be called cold, saw each one. Outside, birds sang and flew among the trees. Inside, there was silence, until G spoke.
"Lórien calling Imladris." Her voice was as beautiful as she was, though it carried the weight of age and wisdom. "Lórien calling Imladris."
The water cleared to show the interior of a room. A face appeared, framed by dark hair that dangled towards the MIRROR.. The figure gave an impatient sound and tucked it back behind his ears.
"Imladris here," he said. "Hearing you loud and clear, G. I trust you are well."
"Of course. And yourself, E."
The technology of the MIRROR (Message Intercom Receiver, Regardless Of Range) was still developing. It could be used in conjunction with the palantíri, the seeing stones, to keep agents in contact all over Middle-earth. Unfortunately, methods had been devised by enemies of tapping into the conversations. U, the old wizard, and his team worked on combating this problem, but so far the system was not foolproof. As a result, any conversation had to be careful. Even speaking in Elvish was no disguise when the enemy knew the language.
"How is my agent?" asked G.
"Fully recovered," replied E (better known as Lord Elrond), "though we had some worrying times. It was a fast-acting poison and it got a long way into his system before we could counter it. He was unconscious for a week and was very weak when he awoke. But you know him, he's been determined to get back to full strength."
"I should hope so," said G, "it was his mistake to let her get him like that."
Elrond said nothing to that. G's opinion did not quite match his, but he wasn't about to contradict her. He was too sensible for that at least. G was very strong-minded when it came to her agents, particularly this one.
"He's fit to travel back anytime you want," he said.
"Actually, I don't think that is necessary. I have another job for him."
Elrond waited for her to continue. He knew she would, and she didn't disappoint.
"There are problems in the South. The White City grows steadily darker. It would seem that a king would be a solution."
"Would it?" questioned Elrond. "Kings can't quite do everything that people think they can."
"They can try. Besides, don't people always think that it would be better with a King? That's half of it. If they think they are better led then they will behave like it. A King is tradition, it had permanence. A Steward sounds like a stopgap, a temporary leader. The city has been too long without a King."
"Who are we to interfere?" asked Elrond. "These are the affairs of men, not Elves."
"They need a King," said G, "you know of whom I speak."
"But would he?"
"If he knows what is right for his people. It is his birthright, his destiny if you will. He must."
"And your agent?"
"He will go along too. Estel will need help."
"I'm afraid the Dwarf has returned to Erebor on some business."
"He will not be required. Two is all that is necessary. They will, I am sure, find help within the city. My agent has been there before."
"Surely the situation has improved since the enemy's defeat."
"The Steward, it seems, does not believe that the enemy was defeated. He has become paranoid. Such can be the weakness of men, though not all." G steepled her hands before her. "That is why we must involve ourselves. The City is hurting."
"What would be the overall plan?"
"For Estel to retake the throne. The essential details we shall have to leave to them. It is impossible to plan exactly without being on the spot. I'm sure we can trust them."
"Very well. I shall brief them forthwith on the subject."
"Good. Tell Legolas...well," G smiled, "tell him to be careful."
"I will. Imladris out." Elrond's face vanished from the water.
G sighed and sat back. The bowl before her now contained only water, clear and unremarkable. Golden sunlight flickered through the trees, patterning the room with an effect no wallpaper could have achieved. It was a room that had seen the beginning of many things, and often the ends as well. Reports came here about almost everything. Decisions were made on almost everything. A decision had just been made, on events occurring far away. It was the nature of the place.
G's eyes fell on a paperweight that sat atop some papers on her desk. Inside the glass was a single green leaf, sealed away from all harm forever. G ran a finger over the smooth surface.
I wish I could keep you like this, Legolas, she thought. Sealed away and safe. I have had bad premonitions of this mission.
If he had been there he would have been laughing at her, scoffing at her worries. But he wasn't, so she allowed herself this brief fear.
Two riders clothed in grey followed a path down the Western side on the Misty Mountains. One rode a dark horse while the other rode a light horse bareback, and they both kept pace easily with each other. The rider in the lead, an Elf, turned back to the man who was his companion. He was grinning a daredevil grin.
"Race you to that tree," he challenged, eyes gleaming.
The man answered with a nudge to his horse's flank, urging him on. The Elf laughed and raced away, waving a hand cheerily as he did. The man grinned too, racing after him. Finally, with much laughter, they reached the tree and tore past it, the Elf just in the lead.
"Legolas!" called the man. "You cheated, I'm sure. You were ahead of me when you started!"
Greenleaf patted his horse's neck. "No," he protested, "Arod is just a good horse."
Aragorn mock-scowled as they slowed their horses. "Hasufel is just as fine a horse."
"Oh, then it must be the rider," teased Greenleaf. "Never mind. You will improve someday, my friend."
"Patronising Elf," Aragorn shot across.
"Substandard man," Greenleaf shot back.
It was friendly banter, a common feature of their friendship. Greenleaf stretched his arms out to the sides, delighting in the sunlight.
"I'm so glad to be out again," he sighed, "it's a lot better than being cooped up in Rivendell, I can tell you."
"You have been very ill," put in Aragorn, "what with being poisoned and all that."
"I've been well enough to be out for ages, but Lord Elrond just wouldn't let me."
"Of course, Legolas, of course. If that's what you say."
"You're asking for a slap," warned Greenleaf. "Anyway, I'm glad to be out on a job again."
"Hmm." Aragorn's reply was non-committal.
Greenleaf looked across at him sharply. "You're not happy about it, are you?"
Aragorn looked suddenly tense. "Not so much," he said, "I mean, no one actually asked me if I wanted to do this or anything. Everyone's just assumed I want to."
"You just don't want to be King," stated Greenleaf. It wasn't quite a question.
Aragorn shrugged. "No, not really."
"Or is it just that you're annoyed at not being asked?"
That point hit home. Aragorn stiffened and glared across at Greenleaf.
"So that's it," said Greenleaf. "Would you feel better about it if you'd been given the choice, even if you'd chosen this in the end?"
"I suppose so." Aragorn sighed. "It's just that...oh, everything's been planned out for me. I couldn't choose what I wanted to do when I grew up, not really. There's always been a future for me, no matter what I do in the meantime. It's not going to make any difference if I become fat and corpulent, because I'm going to be King."
Greenleaf stayed quiet, listening. Aragorn's words were practically spilling out. It was obviously a feeling he had had for some time, and events now had brought it to a head.
"I sometimes get the feeling that Lord Elrond only had me at Rivendell because of that, because he wanted to keep an eye on me. If I'd only been an ordinary person then what would have happened to me?"
"You would still be you," said Greenleaf, reaching across to touch his friend's shoulder, "nothing can change that. And do you really think that Lord Elrond would have refused you sanctuary? Not when you were such a cute itty-bitty little man-child, or so the twins assure me."
"But you've always been able to choose what you do," argued Aragorn, "you don't have a legacy to follow, a destiny you can't escape."
"Provided my father has no unfortunate accidents, that is," said Greenleaf, raising an eyebrow, "or had you forgotten that? Should he die or decide to sail West then I would be duty bound to return to Mirkwood."
"You've chosen to be an agent though," said Aragorn, a little petulant.
Greenleaf grinned slowly. "Against my father's rather forcibly expressed wishes. He hates it completely. He'd much rather I was home in Mirkwood, playing the dutiful son under his very watchful paternal eye. He'd rather have me married off to some suitable maiden, obedient to all his whims. Anyway, you're an agent too."
"It'd be a bit hard to be an agent and a king."
"Stop being such a misery," ordered Greenleaf.
"I'm allowed to be. I don't get chance to sulk that often."
Greenleaf laughed. "You can spend time sulking when it's all said and done. You're not on the throne yet. We have much work to do first."
"Lord Elrond told me I should do it "for my people"." Aragorn pulled a face. "I don't see why. I don't know any of them. It has been some time since I was in Minas Tirith."
"Wait until you meet some of them," said Greenleaf, "you'll see. You might even like some of them." He smiled wickedly. "Miracles may happen."
"Are you making fun of me?" asked Aragorn.
"Only a little," replied Greenleaf, "besides, you need it every now and then. Keeps you humble."
"Huh. Snooty Elf."
They passed the remains of Isengard on their way. The tall rock-like tower still stood in its encircling wall, surrounded by a shallow lake, part of the River Isen. Empty now, it had none of the menace it had carried earlier, when it had been inhabited by Saruman and his army of Uruk-hai. Greenleaf smirked as he looked across.
"It looks quite charming now, doesn't it?" he said.
"Much more cheerful than it used to," agreed Aragorn, "rather scenic even."
They rode on through the Fords of Isen, the water splashing up round their horse's legs. The sun had gone behind clouds, though it stayed quite warm. They followed their path through the Westfold, riding over the great grassy plains of Rohan. Suddenly, Greenleaf's sharp eyes caught sight of something before them.
"There are riders approaching."
"Friendly ones?" asked Aragorn. He squinted ahead and fancied that he could just see dust rising.
"Maybe." Greenleaf continued to watch as they drew closer. Suddenly he smiled. "It's Éomer and his riders!"
It did not take long for the company of riders to reach them. With a thunder of galloping hooves they came to a halt before the pair of travellers. Éomer, the very tall young man who rode in front, removed his high-plumed helmet as he recognised the riders.
"Legolas!" he greeted the Elf. "I have not seen you since you visited with that Dwarf friend of yours."
"Nor I you, surprisingly," responded Greenleaf, with a hint of sarcasm, "and Gimli is quite well, thank you for asking." Gimli and Éomer had not got on too well when they met, to Greenleaf's amusement.
"And Aragorn," Éomer went on unabashed, "it is good to see you again."
"And you, Éomer," said Aragorn, nodding at the man.
"Where are you heading?" asked Éomer. "It is already Autumn, the leaves are beginning to fall."
"On a brief holiday," answered Greenleaf.
"Really," said Éomer, looking sceptical. "Where is there to the East?"
"I'm told Minas Tirith is quite charming," said Greenleaf. It wouldn't hurt to tell him that, he decided.
"I won't ask," said Éomer, "I know you too well. At least, well enough. I hear there's a bit of a situation over that way. You'd better be careful."
"With him around?" said Aragorn, indicating Greenleaf with a wave of his hand. "I'll be lucky if we get by with being merely a bit reckless."
"Thank you so much," said Greenleaf, "though you have to admit, I get results."
"Blind luck," said Aragorn, though he muttered it very quietly. Greenleaf ignored him.
Éomer turned to his riders. "Carry on," he ordered them, "I shall catch you up directly."
Obediently, the riders spurred their horses and rode on, many acknowledging Greenleaf and Aragorn with a nod, recognising them from their previous sojourn in Rohan. Soon, the group of riders was some distance away.
"If you need any help," said Éomer, "I'll be happy to be of assistance. I expect you'll be in touch with Gandalf, and he can get in touch with me."
"Thank you," said Greenleaf, a little surprised. "I hope we don't have to take you up on it."
"So do I, but don't be afraid to." Éomer replaced his helmet over his long yellow hair. "And now I must take my leave. Farewell!" He rode off after his riders, his horse's hooves pounding the ground. He was quickly lost to distance.
Aragorn turned to Greenleaf as they rode on. "I didn't know that U was in contact with the Rohirrim."
"He's got people everywhere, it seems," answered Greenleaf, "but this contact must have been made since we were here. How else do you think he always knows what's going on?"
"I never really thought about it," admitted Aragorn. "Does he have anyone in Minas Tirith?"
"Not anymore apparently. He muttered something about a mysterious disappearance."
"That's a good premonition then," said Aragorn, irony heavy in his voice. "What are the chances of that happening to us?"
"Quite high, I expect," said Greenleaf unworriedly.
In the end it took them some days to reach Minas Tirith from their start in Rivendell. Arod and Hasufel were both fine horses, of Rohan stock, but they were tired when they reached journey's end. As they reached the top of a rise Greenleaf and Aragorn finally saw the great city of Minas Tirith before them. Stopping, they took in the sight. The city, designed of seven concentric circles, was a great white structure, a testament to the architecture of men.
"We'll have to wait until nightfall," said Greenleaf.
"What, here?" asked Aragorn.
Greenleaf looked around. "Over by those trees there looks like a good spot," he said.
"I should have guessed," grumbled Aragorn, "predictable Wood-Elves."
"There's nothing wrong with trees," sniffed Greenleaf as they headed over.
They dismounted and let the horses graze while they sat at the base of one tree. Greenleaf pulled some lembasbread out of his pack and passed some to Aragorn. They ate in silence for a while, watching the cloud-obscured sun crawl slowly across the sky, ever so slowly.
"What's our first move when we get in?" asked Aragorn eventually.
"Our best bet would be to find the guard captain I met with last time I was here," replied Greenleaf, "Captain Welch. He seemed to be quite up with what was going on."
"Contacting a member of the authorities? Sounds like a sure-fire way to get caught to me."
"Welch is a little different. Rather independent, I'd say."
"Well, I hope you're right."
"Aren't I always?" asked Greenleaf. He grinned, leaning back against the tree. "Don't bother to answer that."
Aragorn didn't, and they sat fairly comfortably, waiting for dark. It wouldn't be long, and then they could properly begin their mission.