--:THE PRICE OF FREEDOM:--

~ by Calenlass Greenleaf

In a different time, a different life, a different world, what changes and what stays the same?

People change. Circumstances change.

Yet, friendships do not change.

Neither does the want for freedom change.

What would you pay for them?

Friendship? Nothing. Money cannot buy it.

And freedom? Everything. Possibly your life.

And what if you could buy a friendship with everything, yet freedom cost you nothing? Would you do it in a heartbeat?

Just how far would you go—for friendship or freedom?

As long as the price paid, that is all up to you.

Rated PG-13 for violence, tense situations and battle sequences. There is no slash.

"THE PRICE OF FREEDOM" is an independent, non-profit, Lord of the Rings inspired fan fiction that was written for the Teitho Contest. All characters and settings appearing in this work are fictitious.

In this fan fiction, characters from 'The Lord of the Rings' are set in an Alternate Universe. This means that nothing is canon, save for the characters themselves, the use of Elvish languages such as Sindarin and Quenya, some cultures (pertaining the Elves, Men, and Dwarves), certain places, and a few other miscellaneous issues that will not be changed. Think of it as a darker version of Middle-earth, or rather, if 'The Lord of Rings' took place in a Silmariilion 'setting,' where Evil is at the doorstep.

This story heavily borrows elements from other works of fiction. Credits will be given in the last chapter.

This was originally for Teitho until it went beyond the limit of 20 pages.


PROLOGUE: Introduction – A Taste of What Is to Come

How did things come to this?

'Hn. It seems that the price of freedom is quite steep.'

'…steep?'

'One would think they would have better things to do than run after a pair of renegades.'

'But we're supposedly dead to the world.'

'Yet we're not forgotten.'

'I wish it were so.'

'Sidh…A, min mellyn, thenin?'

Never mind…Ah, we're friends, right?

'Eh…'

Um…

'Thenin?'

Right?

'Ta thenin.'

That's right.

It must be right.

'Estel, noro!'

Estel, run!

'Dan—'

But—

I don't want to leave you alone.

'Nin estelio.'

Trust me.

'I—'

'Please. Go on, because he is waiting.'

Him. His enemy.

'Han…han cerithon, mellon nín.'

I...I will, my friend.

Yet why do I feel as if…we are saying goodbye?

PART I: Exposition – Setting the Scene

He sat in a dark corner of the inn, inclining his ears to the people's talk. So silent was he that they did not notice him. As well, for he was gathering information.

Rumours. The people about him feast on them like vultures picking over a stinking carcass. A cliché way of putting it, but he was not the sort of person to wax eloquent. They whisper that Sauron, the king of the Númenóreans, was not as imminent as he had once appeared. His blood was not right; he was not nobility. They said that he had lived too long, and that such long life was not natural.

Others argue that he was a blessing from the gods—which he himself did not believe in—and sent to guide them for perhaps eternity. They claim he is the rightful king, and that all dissenters should be executed.

But what are the facts?

The rich are rich. (As it is expected.) The poor are poor. (Again, expected.) The Orcs serve Sauron. (Orcs? Those almost-human creatures that are ruthless beings? Since when did they become allies?) Sauron is a necromancer. (Are not such things called making a deal with Morgoth?) The Easterlings and Southrons are allied with the Númenóreans. (Were they not supposed to be called enemies?) Slavery existed. One race scorned all other races. (Slavery didn't exist before Sauron came into power.) The number of deaths in royal grounds. Someone was killing, and no one was confessing. (Officially, this was claimed to be false, but everyone knew it was true) People said that Sauron was a peacemaker. He brought peace. Then why do innocents die? Why are the news censored? Why are things carried out in the night?

Because, people say, a certain person was born.

This person was a demon, the rumours claimed, killing by night and blending in by the day. He was a shadow that flitted about, and Sauron would one day catch him and bring him down. He was allied with the Elves—those freakish long-haired, sharp-eyes beings with smooth tongues—and Dwarves—monsters that wielded great axes, and was a fearful thing. Sceptics said he was just a rogue. What sort of heir would disappear? Born among Elves? Elves loved to weave tales; Elros' line was long broken. And if he were the rightful one, why has he not challenged Sauron yet?

Still, others said he was a saviour, someone who was the true king with the blood of the royal Númenórean Elros Tar Minyatar in his veins. He was a powerful, fearless warrior who did not flinch at death, and he would strike Sauron down someday. The heir, their promised one. Believers insisted he was biding his time, planning to strike when Sauron least expected it. He would come riding in with the sunrise, give battle, and come out victorious.

All right, then. Who was this man, really?

Born among and raised by an Elven lord. His father died from an arrow wound, his mother of natural causes. He disappeared from knowledge when he turned twenty. Who knew if he were died or alive?

He shifted in his seat as people got up and left, shaking his head a little.

That man, the one who would either be a destroyer or a saviour, was he. Yes, he. By appearances he looked unassuming; like any other Númenórean he had dark blackish hair and plain grey eyes. His weapons were not particularly elaborate or shiny. His personality bordered on stoniness. He went by the names Strider, "that man," or "Longshanks." Not the picture of a king, is it?

His childhood name had been Estel—Hope. Hope of what? Men? He was not feeling very hopeful at the moment. His real name was Aragorn—Kingly Valour. Valour of the kings. He might have valour, but he had no crown. Just a small group of true Númenóreans whom he trusted his life with. He led a second life. By day, he was a travelling mercenary who criss-crossed Middle-earth. By night, he spent time with the Elves and Dwarves, and even the Hobbits.

You may ask why what was he waiting for. Why Sauron is still on the throne, if said leader is evil. Why does he not take action?

Because he feels the time is not yet right. Or, so he says.

And the man known as Strider got up from his seat, paid for his meal, and slipped out the door.

TBC…


A/N: Anyone know where I'm drawing inspiration for the plot and the prologue? :D No, well, it'll be given in the epilogue.

And this story…is not complete. But it's much more complete than some of my other WIPs. I'm posting this to let everyone know that I'm still alive, though kicking it more in other fandoms. I've simply been feeling uninspired these past months in the LOTR fandom and I have no idea why.

Review replies will be answered very late. I'm still in Taiwan right now.