A/N: I know this story is a bit different from my other stories. It seems it may be a little too different, becuase not many people have read or reviewed it. To those who have, I give my deepest gratitude. So for you, I am posting this last chapter early. Enjoy.
There was a deep pride reflected in Glendonna's voice, as she said, "Perhaps now Middle-earth will learn that there was once an elven realm called Deädralon that stood for justice and freedom."
Legolas reached out and pulled the sword from the flame. It was surprisingly light considering its size, and it was the most perfectly balanced sword he had ever held. The elf stared at the finely crafted sword in wonder, as he traced with his long, slender fingers the intricate designs etched along the blade.
Glendonna watched the elf. "You are the first being to touch that sword in countless centuries."
Legolas felt privileged, as he studied the gold and silver hilt with its inlaid pearl grip. It was every bit as exquisite as he had imagined it would be.
With a small smile, he handed the sword to Aragorn. Being a swordsman, the ranger was definitely one who could appreciate the craftsmanship of such a weapon.
The cavern was quiet and all seemed serene, when without warning, it began to shake. The vibrations were so sudden and so violent they almost threw Legolas and Aragorn both off of their feet.
A large hole was blasted in the stone wall right below where the two companions had entered the cavern. The explosion assaulted their ears and stone dust billowed into the room.
Shocked, they each whirled around and stared into the gaping hole to see what had caused such a disturbance. What they saw in the next moment all but froze the blood in their veins.
"The Witch King!" Aragorn said in total disbelief.
The faceless, black-clad creature entered the cavern and stopped several yards in front of the hole he had just created. "My master feared someone would one day find the sword. I am surprised to see it is no one of any great importance."
Neither elf nor ranger, though frightened, were not so much so that they were not offended by the insult. However, they were both prudent enough not to react. They would both need to keep their wits about them.
Gathering his courage, Aragorn asked, "Why would Sauron waste his time on a sword that has no magic and is no threat to him?"
"Let us just say that he is not willing to let a symbol of insurrection resurrect the memory of a long-forgotten realm of dead elves."
"That curse was Morgoth's. How can it be a harm to Sauron?" the elf asked.
"Nothing can harm my master," the Black Captain spat. "I am here to destroy the sword once and for all, and I will do what I must to see that its existence remains a secret from the world."
Legolas supposed that Sauron didn't want the sword to become a symbol of hope to anyone that might think of opposing him the way that Morgoth had been..
The elf made a decision. It was time to fight! He suddenly leapt forward and swung the Sword of Deädralon, that he had just taken back from Aragorn, at the Witch King.
"Legolas!" Aragorn shouted with pure horror at the impetuous action of the elven warrior.
So surprised was the Nazgûl leader and so swift the elf, that he only had time to raise his arm in front of him. When the sword came down, it sliced into, but not through, the armor there. Even that affront enraged the King of Minas Morgul.
There was no face to register shock, but that emotion was clearly evident, as the Witch King took a step back and cried out. Whether is was from pain, if he could even experience that feeling, or from anger, no one knew.
It was clearly fury now that drove the imposing creature forward. His black sword swung down and almost took Legolas's head off, but the elf had managed to lean out of the way just in time. He felt the breeze caused by the blade, as it missed his left ear by no more than an inch.
Aragorn had drawn his own sword and had advanced to stand beside his elven friend. The two brought their swords to bear in unison, but both blades were easily blocked by the Nazgûl.
"You cannot defeat me," he roared, swinging his sword upward and moving the other two blades aside.
He reached out and swept his arm around, catching Legolas on the chest and pushing him down. As his arm continued to move, the Witch King opened his hand and grabbed Aragorn around the neck. "Drop the sword, elf, or this one dies here and now."
The ranger struggled, twisting his body and pulling at the spiked gloves of the Nazgûl to try and get free, but the iron grip was just too strong for the man to break. His own sword fell from fingers that were quickly losing their feeling.
It took only a second for Legolas to drop the Sword of Deädralon, as he came to his feet, fear for his friend written clearly on his face.
Despite his desperate struggle, Aragorn was dismayed to see Legolas disarm himself.
The Witch King laughed and threw Aragorn aside like he was no more than a rag doll. He never even looked to see where the ranger landed or whether or not he was attempting to continue the fight.
The Nazgûl's attention had turned to the elf. "I believe I will have a little fun before you die."
He grabbed both sides of Legolas's head and jerked him around to stare into the emptiness of his spiked helmet. Uttering several words the elf did not recognize, the Witch King then released Legolas and turned him to face the ranger, who was dazed but slowly getting to his feet.
Legolas retrieved the Sword of Deädralon from where he had discarded it and walked to within a few feet of Aragorn. The dark haired young man started to pick up his own sword, when he stopped short, frozen by what he saw.
Legolas's head was slightly lowered, but his eyes bore into Aragorn with an intensity that made the man flinch. They were cold, the brilliant blue rimmed with red. The look of murderous loathing coming from the elf sent a searing pain into Aragorn's heart. "Legolas?"
"Now you die, human." The words came out of Legolas's mouth, but it was not his voice. It was as demonic as the Witch King's and sent a cold chill down Aragorn's spine.
"Legolas, no. You can't let him control you. Fight him. His curse is not stronger than your heart. You know this, Legolas. Do not let him make you give in to his will. Please, mellon nin," the man pleaded, you must fight him."
But it was no use. No words, even from the brother of his heart, were going to break the spell the Witch King had placed inside the elf's very soul.
It broke Aragorn's own heart to realize that this being was no longer the friend he loved. This figure in front of him had become the Witch King's slave. The wood-elf's free will had been completely stripped away.
Aragorn never dreamed that Legolas could become a weapon against him. But, in truth, no one had more knowledge of the ranger's fighting skills. They had fought side by side and back to back for years. What better way to make sure the man died than by using a being who knew him so well and who the man would be reluctant to kill?
Aragorn told himself over and over that the person standing in front of him was not Legolas. It was a creature now belonging to the Witch King, and it was bent on his destruction. Yet the hope remained strong that the elf could be saved, and Aragorn was determined to do it.
Legolas raised the Sword of Deädralon with both hands and waved it menacingly back and forth, seeming to taunt the human.
Without warning, Legolas lunged forward and swung his sword at Aragorn. Instinctively, Aragorn raised his blade in defense. The sound of metal on metal rang out, echoing off of the stone all around them.
Legolas swung back across the other way, and Aragorn once more met the blow. Again and again, Legolas swung the ancient sword, faster and faster, keeping Aragorn moving backwards and barely able to keep his balance.
It became apparent to Aragorn just how much danger he was in. His sword had already taken several severe hits, and he feared it would eventually break. If that happened, he would be reduced to fighting with daggers, and that would spell certain doom.
The Witch King had stood back, not interfering, because he wanted the elf to kill the human. It was proving to be a most entertaining battle.
Legolas swung again, and Aragorn moved to meet the elf's blade. A full ten inches of the man's sword went flying away, clanging as it skidded across the stone floor.
Aragorn would now have to fight with a shortened blade. How much longer the battle would last, he had no idea, but he didn't think it would be long now. Had he ever really had a chance? He doubted it. He knew that in a matter of minutes, Legolas would surely disarm and then kill him. And if Legolas didn't, the Black Captain would.
Aragorn had no doubts that the Witch King would turn on Legolas and kill him, once the elf had fulfilled his current purpose.
The Witch King was thinking along the same lines. Once the human was dead, he would kill the elf. Then he would destroy Glendonna and the Sword of Deädralon, which he believed Morgoth should have done long ago. He would end forever all possibility of the secret knowledge of the ancient elven realm ever coming to light.
The wood-elf moved a couple of feet to the left, as he swung his sword back and forth the way he had before the fight began. His intent was to let the man know he was being toyed with.
Out of the corner of his eye, Aragorn saw the Witch King standing in front of the hole in the wall. His arms were folded across his chest. Aragorn could imagine a sneer on the Nazgûl's face, if he even had one.
Aragorn then saw something else. The powerful creature held a silver chain, the length dropping to the floor and coming up behind Legolas. Aragorn looked closer and saw the other end of the chain around Legolas's neck. He hadn't noticed that before. 'Why would Legolas also need to be on a chain, if the Witch King had him under a controlling spell?' Aragorn asked himself. Perhaps he didn't control Legolas with his mind as well as he wanted to, so he was using a little something extra.
Without an instant's hesitation, Aragorn dove to the floor and rolled past Legolas. He came to his knees behind the elf and raised what remained of his sword above his head. The young man brought the blade down with every ounce of strength he possessed.
Seeing what was about to happen, the Witch King screamed in rage and started forward but not before Aragorn's sword hit the chain in a shower of sparks and ringing metal.
Legolas had turned and was about to bring the Sword of Deädralon down on Aragorn's head, when the ranger's sword hit the stone floor, completely severing the chain. Legolas froze. His scream almost matched that of the Black Rider.
Another scream was heard in the cavern. This one belonged to a woman. It was accompanied by a blue ball of fire that shot out across the cavern and hit the Witch King squarely in the chest, sending him flying back through the hole he had entered a few moments earlier. As the large body hit the stone wall beyond the entrance, rocks that had been loosened earlier crashed down, burying the Witch King beneath them.
Not understanding what had happened but not taking the time to sort it out, Aragorn dropped his sword and grabbed Legolas just before the elf could hit the floor. The chain was still securely around his neck, and it was that, even though it was severed, that the man believed was causing the elf's body to convulse.
Aragorn pulled one of his daggers out of his belt. Since the elf's trembling body was leaning against Aragorn's chest, it left the man's hands free. Thus he was able to use one hand to place the tip of the knife into one of the chain's silver links. He used the other hand to hold the chain securely, allowing him to put enough pressure on the link to break it without allowing it to dig into Legolas's skin.
It took a great deal of pressure to break the link. For a moment, the ranger thought that the metal was not going to give way, but it finally did.
Aragorn dropped the knife and turned his full attention to his friend. He spoke soothing words of encouragement to try and bring the elf back to consciousness. However, it soon became apparent that Legolas would need time before he could recover enough to be roused.
Aragorn held the archer close and looked around him. All he saw was Glendonna's blue flame and the hole where the Witch King had stood. "What happened?" he asked, like someone who had just woken up to find his world turned upside down. That idea wasn't far off the mark. "Where's that Morgul monster?"
"He has been rendered helpless," Glendonna explained. "Temporarily."
"I didn't know you had that kind of power."
"Nor did I," Glendonna admitted. "My rage at what that creature was doing allowed me the to do what was needed to stop him. I believe that spending so much time in the magic of the flame has given me some of its power. As for the Witch King, he will recover."
Aragorn turned back to look down on Legolas, who was pale and whose breathing had become shallow and slightly labored. It was then that the ranger realized that time alone would not help Legolas now. With a pleading look in his eyes, Aragorn asked Glendonna, "I fear he may not survive without intervention. Can you help him?" The man was a healer, but what had happened to Legolas just now was totally beyond anything he had ever experienced.
Not sure what the exact extent of her power was, Glendonna said,, "I will try. Lay him down and back away." She could read Aragorn's emotions. The combination of happiness that Legolas was free and the desperation to save his friend was emanating from the man in waves.
Aragorn didn't want to let go of Legolas, He knew, however, that holding on to him would probably hinder whatever Glendonna had in mind to do, so he gently lay the elf down and moved back several feet.
Glendonna's flame deepened to a hue close to that of a midnight sky, and then a beam of a soft golden color slowly approached Legolas. It covered him head to foot, as sparkles floated all through the beam.
Aragorn barely allowed himself to breathe, as he stared in wonder and concern. Time seemed to advance at an agonizingly slow pace to the ranger. However, it was only five minutes later when the beam withdrew, and Aragorn let out his breath.
The man bent down beside Legolas, as the elf opened his eyes and looked up. "Estel."
A broad smile spread across Aragorn's face. "Don't ask," he told his friend, knowing full well the first question the elf would ask. "I'll explain it all later. Do you hurt anywhere?"
"No. I am not in any pain." Legolas sat up, took a deep breath and then struggled to stand.
There was no use trying to keep the elf down. Aragorn knew that full well. Besides, Legolas seemed to be all right, so Aragorn helped him to his feet.
No sooner had Legolas said, "In fact, I feet pretty good", than his whole body shuddered.
Alarmed, Aragorn declared, "You're not all right."
"Yes, Estel, I am. I was just remembering the Witch King looking at me. I couldn't see a face, but I still felt his hateful stare. I cannot begin to tell you the terror he struck in the very center of my being. He spoke strange words, and that is the last thing I can recall." Legolas looked around. "Where is he?"
"That's part of what I'll explain later. Right now I think we'd better get the Sword of Deädralon and leave here before that monster wakes up and comes after us again."
More than a little confused, Legolas nonetheless nodded and then turned to the blue flame. "Thank you, Glendonna," he said with a smile. "I have a feeling that whatever happened to the Witch King, you had something to do with it."
"I am pleased to have been of service," the soft voice said. "You do not know what it means to me that others will soon know of the existence of my home. So I thank the both of you."
"We hate to leave you here all alone again," Aragorn told Glendonna. "It isn't fair that you should still be punished this way."
"Do not worry for me. My guardianship of the sword was meant by Morgoth to secure my confinement here forever. But now that the sword has been released from its secret prison, I have been released to find the peace I was due millennia ago."
"Go with our deepest gratitude," Aragorn told the woman.
Glendonna's flame began to deepen in color, and the golden beam that had healed Legolas moved up toward the ceiling. The flame began to swirl faster and faster until it shown a brilliant white. It became a small column and flew up through the hole where the sword had been hidden. Just before the light vanished from sight, the words, "Farewell, my friends," echoed through the cavern. Then all was silent again.
Only the hole that had held the blue flame and a faint glow remained to show that this had been more than an ordinary cavern set inside a nondescript hill.
Legolas and Aragorn stood staring up at the spot where Glendonna had disappeared. They were both very happy she was finally free.
x x x x x
Once the two friends had reached their horses, Legolas said, "I noticed your sword is quite a bit shorter than when I last saw it. That, I am sure, is part of the story you will tell me. Is it not?
"Well, yes." What else could the man say?
Legolas handed the Sword of Deädralon to the ranger. "Then you should carry this, at least until we figure out what to do with it."
"My father will know," Aragorn said with a smile. He had grown up believing that Lord Elrond knew everything.
"I do not doubt it."
"I think this has been the best adventure we've had so far," the young ranger said, as he and Legolas mounted their horses.
"So far?" the elf questioned. "I do not believe I want to experience one that could outdo the one we just survived."
"Of course, you do," Aragorn replied. He gave his friend a wide grin. "At least, we did survive it," he pointed out. To himself, he gave thanks to the Valar that Legolas had been brought back to him. Seeing the elf hale and hardy and riding next to him was the only reason he was able to be somewhat cavalier about what had just happened.
x x x x x
The two friends rode west toward Rivendell to deliver the Sword of Deädralon to Lord Elrond and receive his sage advice on its future.
For his part, Legolas couldn't help but think that now he and Aragorn would be targets of both the Witch King and the Dark Lord Sauron himself. He feared they would be hearing from those two, most likely sooner than later.
Even so, the existence of Deädralon was a secret that needed to be exposed, and he was glad that he and the ranger were the ones that would do it.
As the two increased their pace, Legolas said, "Do not forget, Estel, you owe me an explanation of just what exactly it was we survived."