Here's a chunk from the last chapter for you guys:
"But we know nothing of Palin. We never met him," Pippin argued, looking from Aragorn to Arwen. "The day in the Prancing Pony, when the Ringwraiths came for her, he was already with her and he died that very day. We know nothing else."
"But it is strange that after everything, he would die," Arwen murmured, her fingers tapping the table thoughtfully. "After twenty years in which he did not age a day, why die that day? And at the hands of a Ringwraith. He was not an elf, was he?"
Merry and Pippin glanced at each other but it was Gimli who spoke. "He was a human child, small and frail. And so was she, human in appearance. But she was dark at times. Darker than the night…"
"Gimli…" Pippin whispered and he sounded defeated.
"Of course she would be…" Arwen whispered and she stared out, toward the wall but far beyond, they knew. "Of course she would be dark. And of course he would still be a child, even after two decades."
Aragorn looked at her warily, his jaw clenched. "You are not thinking what I think you are thinking…" he said cautiously.
She nodded slowly, absentmindedly. "The Istari do not age…" she said in the faintest of whispers.
Pippin's eyes widened, Gimli straightening in disbelief. "Are you saying…the boy was a Wizard?" he asked, looking paler than the palest ghost.
The Queen shook her head, turning finally to look at him. "I am saying they both were," she replied.
So now there's a bit to remind you all of where I left off…years and years ago… *nervous laugh*
The Dragon and the Istar:
"Given they are both human and ageless, of course," Arwen murmured.
"Ageless?" Pippin glanced at Merry as if to have the other hobbit back him up. "She was human, sure. But ageless? She was…"
"Two decades ago Palin found her wandering around and he took her in, gave her a name and educated her. That's what she said!" Merry said for him.
"Educated her..?" Arwen frowned gently and turned away to pace a bit.
"She isn't evil!" Pippin cried. "She fought by our side, she was our ally." He hesitated sadly, looking at them all as if he needed to convince them all. "She was our friend. And none of you have a right to smear her name!"
"We are not smearing her name, Pippin," Aragorn said patiently and he took the hobbit by the shoulders, looking into his eyes. "But there is much coincidence, and even the swords, together…" he glanced at Arwen, "again…"
"There is record of the Istari, " Arwen said, turning to face them as a group. "The elves know of them but perhaps Man does not. It was indeed a long time ago. But when the Istari came, the Wizards, there were five. There was Saruman the White. Gandalf the Gray. Radagast the Brown. And Alatar and Pallando, the Blue Wizards. Gandalf left for the Undying Lands and in the end Saruman was defeated. The fate of the other three is unknown. But there was another…" and she paused, shaking her head. "It was a song, a story. I did not believe it to be true, any of it. But now…now there is so much that it can not be coincidence…"
"Another…" Merry prompted.
She nodded. "Moriel, of course, to the elves. A female Istari. Just as Mithrandir translated into the Grey Wanderer, Moriel translated into The Black Garland. But they also called her Jeinen the Black."
Pippin looked at her in disbelief.
"There was always the rumor that the Black Riders were powerful because they had Sauron as their guide. Their Lord. But Sauron had Jeinen the Black at his command as well, for she had been born to one of his Ringwraiths. The Witch Child, they called her," she said softly.
And at the door suddenly came a desperate knocking. Aragorn whirled, a frown upon his face and Pippin went to open it, nearly falling over as a messenger entered. "Forgive me, Master Hobbit," said the messenger quickly, frantically almost. And he looked at Aragorn. "My King," he called and he rushed forth, pausing to bow to Arwen and then Aragorn himself.
"What news do you bring?" Aragorn asked him.
The messenger swallowed to catch his breath and looking at the King he said, "The flames of Mordor burn once more, my King."
Aragorn's face darkened as Arwen's eyes widened. "What?"
"In the sun, my Lord, they are quite visible," the messenger rushed on, his face just as confused. "Orodruin is alive and black smoke rises from the mouth of the mountain. Something is amiss."
"But…Mordor?" Pippin asked as he joined them once more.
Aragorn hesitated for a long moment, turning away to pace. Arwen looked toward him and then back to the rest of the group, the expression on her pale face one of sadness.
The messenger waited, his face averted.
"Are we to take up arms once more, then?" Aragorn asked faintly, facing the back of the room. And he turned to the messenger, his eyes on Arwen. "Send riders," he commanded firmly. "I will not see Mordor awaken once more. If this has to do with Legolas and the Istar we will end it here."
Gimli looked toward the hobbits. And then he stepped forward. "I will ride out!" he stated gruffly and behind him the hobbits quickly approached, nodding vigorously.
"As will we!"
Aragorn smiled faintly at them. "As will I," he murmured. "We will see to what this black wizard wishes and if Legolas is there to be claimed then we shall not waste anymore time."
When Legolas awoke, he thought himself alone. He quickly sat up, looking warily about and he found himself still in his small prison. His jaw ached and he lifted a hand to his lips, to the corner where he felt the sharp soreness of Jeinen's furious strike. It would be an ugly bruise, he knew.
However, waiting close by was Jeinen herself, leaning against the wall in the shadows. He caught sight of her as she shifted and immediately backed away a bit, staring at her cautiously.
The woman came off the wall, her arms crossed over her chest, the blades strapped to her back still. "Had I known such a soft blow would render you unconscious…I would have put all my strength behind it," she murmured delicately. And her gray lips turned upward in a small smile.
Legolas pulled his hand away from his mouth slowly. "I am most flattered you would even spare me a thought," he said to her quietly.
Her smile widened a bit and she floated closer, seeming as light of foot as an elf. "Oh, my dear Prince," she whispered with a shake of her head, "the body and mind of she who I inhabit thinks of you every moment," she said, gazing down at him as she paused directly before him. "Every moment of every hour of every day. It is a task to focus half the time…"
Legolas returned the gaze firmly, leaning back against the wall. "Then it is she who flatters me, and to whom I wish to speak," he stated. And he waited, sending her a patient look.
Jeinen erupted into musical laughter, her shoulders shaking merrily. "Ssh…" she shushed him gently, shaking her finger at him. "She can not come out to play. She was not a very nice girl, killing my orcs, fending off my Black Riders. Overthrowing me whenever she thought fit. Using my power when she wanted. Had it not been for me she would never have hoisted that pathetic dwarf up that cliff…" and she looked bitter, jaw clenched.
Legolas frowned slowly, staring at her.
"She would not let me out at all. The little prison she kept me in. Only once did I manage to sneak out and I took her by surprise. It makes me laugh even now, the fear I felt in her when she regained control of her own body." Her smile was darkly wicked. "That first night my Ringwraiths found you in the woods. I was in control. I was spoiling for it, that scuffle. So many years of being dead, or being locked away. I was dying for it. And I enjoyed it, fighting the hobbits. Fighting you. I will say this, Legolas Greenleaf, your aim and your strike are very well polished. It is to be expected of an elf, of course, but you certainly gave me a run…" she nodded.
And Legolas blanched slowly, understanding. "You were the third Ringwraith that night. The one holding Ebony and Ivory…"
She shushed him once more, as if his words were blasphemous. "But you knew of our predicament almost from the beginning, did you not, dear elf?"
Legolas did not reply.
She came closer and bent down to him, gazing at him with large black irises. "Did you not?" she asked again.
With an exhalation to show his patience wore thin, Legolas replied, "I had a feeling. It always seemed…off that they would want you alive. The Black Riders never cared one way or another about anything except for their Lord Sauron. But the Witch King most especially. Wishing to carry you away on his winged steed, guarding your fall from the balcony, that night in Rivendell." He shook his head at her. "But questions still remain unanswered."
She nodded that she understood. And she came closer to him, lifting her hand to brush it over his blond hair. "You may ask your questions. I will not refuse you."
He hesitated, wanting to fling her hand away from him but he checked the impulse. "Tell me about Palin," he asked of her. "And tell me who you really are."
She cocked her head to look down at him, at his face as she ran her fingers through his silken locks. "Do you not know who I am? I have told you-"
"Jeinen," he nodded. "A familiar name but I did not know why. But seeing you here, dressed like this, with the Black Riders. You are Jeinen the Black, are you not?"
She hesitated, her fingers slowing in his hair. And then, very softly, she whispered, "I am."
Legolas inhaled deeply. Indeed. And now that he knew, he realized just how much of a problem this caused. "So, as Jeinen the Black, you left Sauron for Isildur. I am sure this did not bode well for you."
"No, it did not," she sighed, already sounding quite bored.
"And who is Palin, then?" he asked.
Her eyes narrowed a bit as she mulled over the question. "Palin was one of the Order of Wizards. Only he had left over two decades ago for the Undying Lands. I believe you knew him as Gandalf the White." And she smiled widely.
Legolas' breath caught in his throat.
"Yes, Gandalf the White. I remember him from so long ago. Before I was viciously murdered. He and I were friends once. With all of them, I was friends. The Brown. He was rather simple but still. And Pallando and Alatar. Never knew what they thought but they were the best of friends. And Saruman…" she tsk-tsked. "I knew what he would become before anyone. He had the same darkness inside that I did, no matter what color his robes shone. I, at least, was honest with the color of my robes…"
Legolas looked away, his lips parted as he fought to understand everything she said.
"And then Isildur finally turned on me, took my staff from me, tied me up and left me to perish in the tar of Mount Doom. That darkness…so reminiscent of Khazad-dum…"
His felt weak, his body no longer supporting him. And he felt so cold. From the beginning, this could all have been dealt with if he had only remembered then the little song. He could have known it all if he had given any thought to the elvenlore. But now…
He raised his head slowly to look at Jeinen. Now he was at the feet of an Istar gone wicked and he was wounded. He would not survive anything she did to him, not in the state he was in. And especially not with the Black Riders at hand. Even if Jei awoke inside of her she had no power over the strength of an Istar.
And Gandalf had already gone again.
"I think…Gandalf brought her there that day for a purpose," Jeinen said to him softly. "I think he thought you could lead her, accompany her to Mordor, to do away with me once and for all." She shrugged. "But look at you now, wounded and alone. Who can you help now? Not even yourself." And she turned away from him, her hand trailing out of his blond locks.
"I can help you," he said quietly, to her back. And as she paused, "I can help Jei come back. This can stop here. You can give up this anger, this misery you live in. I accept you for who you are. But it is no longer necessary, this wrath." He gazed at her, wishing she would turn around to face him. "Please."
For a long while she did not speak, her head bowed. He feared she ignored his words, all of them. Or that she thought of a way to do away with him. But then, slowly, she turned to face him, her long gown flowing, and as he met her eyes they were a clear blue, the small scars about her lips prominent. He stared at her and she crouched before him, tears rising in her eyes.
"Legolas," she exhaled mournfully and she embraced him, her arms tight around his shoulders and neck. "It is a dark place where I am. And I can not see your light from there…"
He did not respond, his chest tight, his breath held.
"I am afraid," she whispered, her breath warm against his skin.
It was her. It had to be. His gaze shifted, seeing through the space between the two crossed blades strapped to her back blindly. He understood when Jei came forth so too did her scars. Jeinen's face was perfectly flawless. He lifted a hand slowly to press against her back and she buried her face against his shoulder, her frame heaving.
"Jei," he said quietly.
"She is strong," she said against his shoulder slowly, her frame weary. "I can not see in that darkness and I have no light to shed in that place. The prison swallows it whole…"
This was the elf he spoke to, he realized. The woman in his arms, the trembling figure, was the long dead elf that Isildur had fallen in love with. The elf that he had mercilessly murdered in anger. Two women in one form. Two sides of one whole.
"It burns," she whispered almost eerily. "It has burned for so long. And only fire will consume the burns."
Legolas frowned faintly at her words, feeling as if she spoke in riddles and yet those words were somehow…he hesitated, not understanding.
"It burns," she said again, her tone nearly inaudible.
And he focused on the swords on her back, stared into the hilt of Ebony as if the blade could stare back. He saw himself, reflected there, surrounded by darkness and he could not even see her with her dark hair. Gently he lifted his hand, sliding it along her side, his other hand pressed to her back still and she was still limp in his embrace, breathing shallowly. His other hand lifted away from her back, also traveling upward and along the sheath of a blade and his wound pulled as he moved. He grimaced faintly at the muffled throb. "Has it always burned?" he asked her quietly, his gaze blank as he stared blindly.
She nodded against his shoulder, her eyes closed.
He paused, his hand upon the nape of her neck, the other having lifted to clutch at her arm, one of the arms she had wrapped around his shoulders still. "I know what it is she wants," he murmured to her, "why she does this now."
"She wants me to hurt," Jei whispered and he felt her tears as they fell and seeped into the clothes covering his shoulder. Burning tears. "She loathed me then and her hate has not abated in the years she has been gone."
"No," Legolas said to her and he lifted his hand away from her neck. "She wants…what we have all wanted once in our lives." And with a sharp breath he took hold of Ivory's hilt, yanking the sword free. Jei made a small sound in surprise and he shoved her away with the other hand, his fingers taking hold of the chain.
Her eyes swarmed black immediately but even as she opened her mouth to scream he already had it in his palm, the chain snapping as he pulled. She fell to the ground as he rose, pointing Ivory at her, the silver dragon clutched in his fist.
And she suddenly shrieked as her hands lifted to her head, her eyes falling shut as she scrambled backward frantically. Legolas watched her, a frown slowly falling upon his face and she lifted her head, tearing at her hair and her eyes shifted, from a malicious black to a clear blue and back again. "You foolish elf. I gave her to you, I allowed her to come forth! I have known for so long that the elves were not to be trusted and you only proved me right. What is it that I want then, elf?" she demanded of him as her pale eyes became black and she grimaced, straining. "Would you say it to my face? You know it will only anger me and you don't want to anger me-"
"You are not strong enough without your staff," he said to her in a firm tone. "Nor your chain." And he lifted the chain, the silver dragon dangling from his clenched fist. "Was this not the item that held your power? Your very soul?"
Her eyes narrowed at his words, and before him they shifted once more, paling. "And what is it that I desire, then?" she demanded, the color wavering, her cheeks reddening from her obvious strain. "Love? Is that what you would answer?"
"No," he said to her, his gaze saddening. "You long to be free."
And from all around came the sudden roar of sound, almost of anger. Legolas recoiled, his eyes flying about the cold room and before him Jeinen scrambled back even more, heaving. The elf looked at her once more, his eyes widening angrily and he took a step, pointing the sword once more to her throat.
"What have you done?" he asked her quietly.
"It was no fault of mine," she said to him huskily, her chest rising and falling tensely. "Your elf called on him. It was for naught, she can not control-"
And the wall suddenly exploded, pure rock and stone flying and striking them both, bringing Legolas to his knees. He shook away from it, squinting through the dust that fell and floated and before him Jeinen was looking toward the hole that had been created, her eyes paling and then widening as they understood what stood there, what hovered there.
The silver dragon perched upon the unsteady floor, beating its wings powerfully and it raised its large head to shriek once more, shimmering in the moonlight, in the night. Legolas stared in disbelief, his grip on Ivory weakening and very nearly dropping the sword. The dragon tilted its head at him, black eyes deep and dark as it returned Legolas' stare and then it turned to Jeinen, a low growl rumbling from its massive body.
"By the Moon…" Jei uttered faintly, her eyes trained on the creature.
Legolas turned his gaze passed the dragon, and he could see clear down to the rotten earth far below, the moonlight upon the charred remains of the land. And far off his eyes focused on Orodruin, on the heat and fiery light that was emitted from the mouth of the black mountain. And he understood then that the fires of Mordor burned once more.
Jei shifted, bringing him back to the matter at hand and he turned to her once more, the sword lifted.
"Legolas," she whispered, still staring at the silent dragon as the creature flexed its powerful wings once more. And she looked at the elf from the corner of her eye, trembling. "Legolas, the charm…"
Legolas dropped his eyes to it and as he did so the dragon turned on him once more.
"It senses the magic, the power of the charm," Jei said very quietly. "The dragon is hers, her steed…"
Wordlessly, Legolas lifted the chain to the dragon. And the dragon rumbled once more, his silver scales gleaming. It lowered itself onto all four legs, its head curling to fit inside the small room and Jei made a small sound as its head came close to her. She grimaced, recoiling, and Legolas took a step toward the dragon, holding the chain.
He understood then, even as Jei rose to her feet. She looked at him, swallowing, her face marred with dust. And she looked pointedly toward the fires of Mordor, her face firm.
"I can not control her and she will resurface when I least expect it, Legolas," she said softly, her jaw clenched. "It only further convinces me that it is time to free the world of Jeinen the Black." And her gaze lifted to the dragon.
Ooooh-hoho…anyone miss me? I know, it took me a nice long while because Aeslinn and I both started working on anime fiction. Usually she gets into things and then she drags me along for the ride so if you like this story, thank her for getting me into Lord of the Rings and curse her out for then getting me into anime again. =) Our newest obsession is Cowboy Bebop (for those who care) and I just finished up an Inuyasha fic. But anyways, um, here's the next chapter. This fic really is like a chapter or two away from the end, I just haven't written it yet. I'm trying to get Aeslinn to beta for me since she's not in the mood to write anything on her own. But she has the Elven Love Snare which was getting reviews and I keep telling her to finish that. I need some people to help me threaten her, anyone care to give it a try??
Anyways, here you go and thanks go to Silvia because she wrote me and said such kind words. Thank you very much, Silvia!
Hope you guys like the chapter. I know it's been forever. =(