Authors Note: This story is a Spin-off of my Mael-Gûl universe. It is set before the background of that universe, and it explores one single idea: What if Legolas indeed were to take the ring? Like a lot of the things I write lately, this one has been inspired by a discussion with my reviewer Randy, who has also volunteered to beta for this one. See Prologue for background information.
Warning Implied slash (m/m), implied BDSM and torture, non-con and debatable consent. Also, for this story: Gore, horror, and character death!
Rated M (16 ).
Pairings: Aragorn/Legolas (mainly), Boromir/Legolas (implied).
Beta: Randy. Thank you! All remaining errors are my own.
Disclaimer The universe I play in is not mine, nor are the characters; I just borrow without permission. I make no money out of this. Lord of the Rings and the world of Middle Earth was created by J.R.R. Tolkien and is owned by the Tolkien Estate, and the movies were made by Peter Jackson. My story universe of Mael-Gûl was inspired by Bluegold's story "Bound" (see Prologue for directions). I use similar plot ideas with her permission. The idea of the Mael-Gûl, or Rhach e-Maelangwedh (Lust-Spell, Curse of Lustchain) however is entirely mine. However, this particular story is a grim AU to my main story universe. You have been warned!
Summary: What if Legolas indeed took the Ring?
Occasionally I work with flashback scenes. Here is a Guide:
/flashback/; Time change within a flashback ; "speech"; 'thoughts'
Dark Mael-Gûl-AU: Murder The Dawn
by Aislynn Crowdaughter
Pain inside is rising
I am the fallen one
A figure in an old game
No jokers on my side
I plunged into misery
I'll turn off the light
And murder the dawn
Blind Guardian: Mordred's Song
He is dead before he knows it.
I give him no time to react. He just asks sleepily: "What is it, Little Leaf?" as I move carefully against him and bring my rolled-up blanket up to his throat. He does not really wake – then his eyes open wide as I cut his throat and muffle any sound he could make with my hand. He buckles once - in the next instant, my knife finds his heart.
I know his body far too well to miss, even from behind. One stab, clean. I would have done it before I made that mess with his neck, but I had to make sure he could not scream, even had I missed. And I know how fast he could be under attack.
If you wish to kill a ranger, you had better do it before he gets the chance to fight or warn the others.
Just one short moment, and it is over. He shudders, then he slumps against me. Boromir has not seen it. He has just turned away to glare jealously out into the night again.
The sudden scent of blood nearly makes me gag. I can only hope it will not alert the pony, hobbled as it is some ten paces away close to the Hobbits. At least I hope it will not alert the beast until it is too late. It would not do if the horses reaction were to alert the man of Gondor.
Luckily, for now, the horse stays calm. Good thing the rolled-up blanket stopped most of the blood gushing out.
Good thing, too, that Estel purged last evening, before we went away from the camp together, or the scent would be worse. It is bad enough already without that peculiar element of bodily control giving way in death.
But I cannot linger on that, now. The less I think about last night, the better. The thoughts will come, no doubt, and with them the regret. But now is not the time.
I have another Adan yet to kill, tonight.
I make a show of getting up, tucking the one I have just killed carefully under the blanket he and I snuggled under most of the night. Boromir looks at me. He does not see the dark stain on the blanket, and he does not wonder at the fact that we used only one blanket for coverage. Nor does he see the blood still flowing out the dead one's throat; luckily, Aragorn slept with his back to the other man. Boromir watches me rise and scowls as I cover the ranger's body lovingly under the cloth again. He does not know how strange it is that Aragorn does not seem to wake as I disentangle myself from his body, that he does not even move.
Boromir does not know.
He is astonished, though, when I come over to him. Astonished and delighted. The stupid man has no idea what I intend, his mind too clouded by desire to think clearly. When I settle beside him, he willingly makes room for me.
He still thinks I am nothing but a bed-toy, something to use at whim. He is about to learn better, although he does not knows it yet. Of course, it is the last thing he will ever learn.
We chat a bit. I tell him I could not forget the other night, when I was in his arms. That there was no comparing of his gentle touch and skill in the arts of love to Aragorn's much less desirable demands. That I was glad I could soon be with him again.
For a moment, I fear I said too much, that I had raised his distrust. But his frown only lasts a moment, then he quickly shakes off whatever doubts he might have nursed, and reaches out to me. He seems far too willing to believe that I cannot resist him and that he is by far the better lover. He accepts my kiss, blinded by his desire.
I taste the blood in his mouth when he falls, see his look of alarm and betrayal. Yet it is too late, he dies, his strangled scream caught within my mouth. My knife has found his heart in an instant.
He slumps against me, and I arrange for him to sit as if he dozed off on his watch. There is little blood; heart wounds do not cause much bleeding. A sharp scent betrays the fact that his body functions have ceased to work forever.
I move away and get my other weapons.
Two down; six to go.
The Dwarf has been of some concern to me. Luckily, while Aulë made his people strong and sturdy, he did not give them light sleep, or sharp ears. I know the stunted one is clad in armor that he does not even put off to sleep, and I do not even think of trying to shoot him or find his heart with my knife. A quick cut through the throat, though, deep enough to nearly separate his head from his torso, works even though I have to tug his beard out of the way. He gurgles, once. It is not loud enough to wake the Hobbits.
Or the wizard.
I take no chances with the wizard. Two arrows, one to his heart, one to his head, shot too fast for him to react, take care of him. And still, he moves! I add a third arrow for good measure, and only then do I dare to step near, kicking the staff away out of his hand.
If you have to kill a wizard, you had better do it from a distance.
A gasp behind me, and a shriek, alerts me to the fact that my deeds have been discovered. I turn and stare into the horrified eyes of Frodo. He screams again, waking the others.
I do not hesitate.
I regret deeply what I must do; Frodo and all the other Hobbits have been nothing but kind to me, and done their best to improve my situation, defending me against the Dwarf and both the men. I thank them poorly.
But I cannot stop now, and I cannot spare them. I cannot allow them to live; they would alert Lothlorien too soon, or would go back to Rivendell, with the same effect. Besides, that thing which Frodo carries is the thing I need to get.
There is no going back now, and if I want to go through with my plan I have no choice. I cannot let them get away, and I do not have the time for a long hunt. Not after Estel's death.
My days are numbered.
I do not give them time to flee, or even beg. Four arrows, in quick succession. Frodo falls, but the arrow does not pierce him; instead it glances off without doing him harm. I do not even stop to think about this; I cannot allow him to don the ring and disappear, I have to make sure that he is dead. The next arrow is on its way already, and it hits him right in the forehead. He lies prone, hands stretched out, undoubtedly fallen. A scream alerts me to his companions. Sam rushes to his master and is stopped by an arrow in his heart. Merry goes down with one embedded in his throat. Pippin starts to run, and gets a few feet away; he nearly reaches the bushes before my arrow finds his back and sends him down. He whimpers; the arrow has not killed him yet.
Three strides and I am there. I turn him around.
Pippin is dying already, choking on his own blood. Yet his eyes are clear, and they meet mine. They are full of hurt and betrayal.
His mouth forms a single word, without uttering a sound. I read it from his lips, anyway.
I do not bother to answer. I just whisper a short "I am sorry!" before I cut his throat.
He would not understand the answer, anyway. He and the other three were caught up in a war that is not theirs and that is far too old and too cruel for them to understand. I feel regret that I could not spare them. But the freedom of my people is at stake, and the lives of four Hobbits do not count as much compared to that.
Nor does mine.
I look at him again. My stomach churns. It is all I can do to scramble a few steps away, before my body betrays me. The cramps are few, but violent; I leave what meager meal I had there on the grass.
It lasts only a moment, then I can force myself under control again. I rise, disgusted.
I have no time for that, now! Besides, this was hardly the first time I ever had to kill.
Of course, I never before killed a friend, or an innocent.
But I cannot linger on that, now. With Pippin dead, I turn back to Frodo and search him for the Ring, the prize for which he and his cousins had to die tonight.
The Ring is already in his hand. He was not fast enough to put it on, or all of this would have turned out quite differently. I take it and place it carefully back onto its chain, which I fasten around my neck.
The Ring feels cool to the touch, and yet its song is full of dark satisfaction, maleficent pleasure; it is nearly humming. Triumphant. It makes me sick to have it close.
However, that thing might be the only chance for my people. Their freedom is a prize worth even the murder of my comrades, or the salvation of my own féa. And of course, my life.
There is no going back, now. I have to succeed .
Then I search Frodo, quickly, curious what might have caused my arrow to deflect. I frown.
Under his shirt the Hobbit wears another. A mithril shirt.
I know that shirt. Know it only too well. Bilbo must have given it to him. I knew the older Hobbit had it, and he showed it to me once when I was in Rivendell. But a long time before that, centuries ago, it belonged to a certain Elven prince who wore it on an ill-fated secret journey intended to send him off to Valinor, to safety. A scheme that failed. Horribly.
Just as Frodo's mission has failed, now...
I leave the shirt where it is now, and rise. A noise behind me alarms me, and I turn.
It is the pony. Sweating, trembling, rolling his eyes, frightened by the scent of blood. There is no way that I will calm the beast, covered in blood as I am now.
For a moment I contemplate killing the poor animal, too, then I decide against it. The pony cannot talk. At least, not in a way the Rivendell Noldor will understand.
It has been long since I have learned that they do not understand birds and beasts and cannot hear the Tree-Song anymore. Their arrogance has made them deaf both to the Trees and to most of the beasts of nature. For a long time, I wondered about that.
Now, though, it will work to my advantage.
I hear a groan behind me and whip around.
I stare in disbelief, but only for a heartbeat. Then I am there, and my knives are out again before the Istar has a chance to rise.
They are hard to kill, Istari. But I am quick. And this time, I am also very thorough.
He reaches for the staff. I kick it out of reach once more and my knives descent, cutting cleanly. Gandalf's head hits the ground with a thud. I kick it away, just to make sure there is some distance between it and his corpse.
If you are going to kill a wizard, you had best make sure he stays dead.
I quickly look around, then I go and free the pony. It runs away, too frightened to be calmed, and I let it go. Then I search the bodies.
Gandalf's corpse reveals an interesting thing. There is a chain under his clothes, formerly worn around the neck, on which I find a ring, apparently worn much like the One was worn by Frodo, and is now worn by me. There is a sense of power about it; in fact the ring resting on my chest now is answering its call and growing warm. There is a sense of recognition, and of satisfaction. It takes me but a moment to understand.
So this must be one of the Three, and Gandalf was its keeper. But why did he not wear it on his finger? Why did he wear it only like Frodo wore the One?
Yet I have not the time to ponder this. I take the chain and clean it at the wizard's clothes, then I place it next to the One around my neck. I am not foolish enough to put the wizard's Ring on; I do not know what it will cost me to bend it to my will, and I have not the time now to find out.
I have an errand to fulfill.
There is a small bottle of Miruvor I find in Gandalf's pack, no doubt intended to enhance our strength, should it be needed. That one I take with me. I do not find anything of interest among the other bodies. Only one more thing do I take with me; another ring, that one off Estel's corpse. The ring of Barahir joins the one Gandalf wore, since it is the wrong size for me to wear it in another way.
It has no power whatsoever, but it is the last thing of Estel that now remains with me and I cannot bear to leave it for the enemy to find.
Or for the scouts of Rivendell, should they find him here.
When I search Estel, and get my supplies and everything else what still may be of use to me from our gear, I am hit by the expression on his face. The eyes are glassy now, unseeing, staring, but the face still wears that expression of complete disbelief, and of pain and betrayal. I killed him nearly too fast for the lack of air by the cut throat to take great effect, but the panic is there, too.
It is hard for me to bear his stare and I reach to close his eyes. I can almost hear his thoughts inside my head.
'Why, Little Leaf? Why now? Why after what we shared last night?'
As if it were important how we spent last night. It would not have made any difference had he tortured me again, or if I had been forced to spend the night with Boromir, or even with the Dwarf. The only thing that matters is that we are now far enough away from Rivendell, but close enough to Caradhras, and every day we walk from now will take us farther away from that pass. I would have done it earlier, in fact, but shortly after we left Rivendell I was in no shape to succeed or make the journey.
It was you who had made sure of that, remember?
Yet he is dead, his féa gone, and it is too soon for his ghost to berate me. The berating will come, no doubt, and soon, when withdrawal kicks in and I grow mad with need and visions.
Maybe, if the féar of men should be allowed to linger for a time within the Halls of Mandos before they pass on, we can meet again there for one last time and I can truly speak with him once more before we are parted forever. There are quite a few things I wished to say to him which I never got the chance to say to him in life.
But that time is not now.
Since Estel fed the spell last night I have three weeks that will remain to me until the need will drive me insane and the poison will affect my body too much to go on. Maybe even more; I never before tried running in that state. Or maybe less. Since Estel has just extended the spell again, I do not know how much the bond was tightened.
I suppose I will find out.
I take his waterskin in addition to mine and all our combined supplies. I regret that he has nothing of the Lembas left, or of the Miruvor. There is not much beside that I can use; his cloak is caked with blood, and so is his blanket. For that matter, so is mine. But I take the blanket used by Boromir, which will do nicely. Besides, I do not plan on sleeping much, or to take rest any more than I have to.
On my journey I will hardly have any time for that. Besides, I have no need to spare my body with rest, for once I have reached my destination, I do not need to be alive much longer.
I do not leave the bodies where they are. To bury them I have not time nor strength, but I do roll them in their blankets and drag them from the glade into the undergrowth. It is not much, and I doubt it will keep away the carrion birds for long, but there is hardly any sense in revealing what I have done to the creatures of the enemy at once.
I doubt it will stay a secret for a long time, anyway. There is not much I can do about the Mirror of Galadriel, and all my hope now rests in being faster than the hunters they will send for me. There is nothing I can do for the hostages we still have in Lothlorien, or any other Elven realm, as well.
What I have done has sealed their fate, and also brought the doom down on my father's halls.
My deed means war.
But this time, given I succeed, we will have a weapon fitting to receive them.
For a moment, my thoughts turn to my father. It is a barbed gift I bring to him, and it may seal his doom as well.
But it means hope for our people, and I cannot turn back, now.
For better or for worse, the deed is done. Now my only goal this side of Mandos is to reach my father's halls.
Three weeks, five hundred leagues to go.
I start to run.
o o O o o
-- TBC --