Gandalf looked solemnly at the beacon Pippin had just lit. He knew that calling to Rohan for help was one of the first steps that needed to be taken to make sure that Gondor did not fall to Sauron. But whether the old wizard liked it or not, he needed more help. Not the kind of help that came from men or folk from Middle Earth. He needed help from a domain far beyond his sight. As much as it pained him to do something so wrong and slightly cruel, Gandalf had to do it. "Come with me, Peregrin Took." He said to Pippin, as he came to a stop in front of him, clearly pleased to the fact that he had set off the beacon. Without a word, Gandalf turned and strode away, leaving Pippin to follow hurriedly in his wake. Up and up they climbed, until they were passing through the courtyard where the white sapling grew. Gandalf turned and walked out the long spearpoint of Gondor until he was about halfway out. Pippin followed curiously. Gandalf stopped for a moment and sighed. He was being incredibly selfish calling for the help he was about to request, but it had to be done. He swiftly raised his staff and then brought it down sharply. The butt end hit the ground with a high pitched ringing-like a bell, and yet not. The sound echoed sharply out over the plateau, then seemed to cut off.
"What are you doing?" Pippin asked after a minute of silence.
"Calling to the spirit world for help. I cannot protect Gondor alone." Gandalf said gravely. Pippin opened his mouth to ask another question, but broke off when from out of the sky, walking towards them, was a shining white silhouette. It didn't sink or fall the long distance down to the ground. Instead it walked on air, coming closer until it stepped onto the giant marble spearpoint and stopped.
"Who calls?" the voice that came from nowhere seemed to have many layers to it. It sounded like old wheezing men, bright little girls and young people. It spoke in English, but also in languages that Pippin didn't know.
"Gandalf the White. I require assistance in a war against Sauron. He will destroy Gondor without other-worldly help." Gandalf intoned, and for a moment, there was silence, until a sweet high note broke the air and the silhouette broke open like a doorway. Out stepped a young woman who couldn't be any older than twenty. She was obviously an elf; she had the pointed ears and the graceful presence that came with all elves. She was dressed in an ethereal white dress that seemed to swirl around her of its own accord to winds unseen. Her face was lean yet full of laughter, with a strange set of sparkling grey eyes. Her dark brown hair tumbled down her back in long curls. For a moment, she just stood there, looking at Gandalf, then a wide smile broke over her face to reveal teeth as white as her dress. Then, unexpectedly, she closed the distance between them and went to hug Gandalf. Pippin blinked as she walked right through him. Gandalf shivered and she lurched for a second before turning back around, closing her eyes a moment, then hugging Gandalf again. This time, she didn't pass through.
"Gandalf," she greeted him in a voice that sounded like flowing water. "I apologize for walking through you, I had not yet solidified."
"Do not apologize, I am in your debt. It was a high price to ask for any spirit to come. I never expected that you would hear the call."
"I didn't actually hear it," she admitted, "but no other spirits wanted to, nor could come to a fight. But when they mentioned you I knew that I had to come. I've missed you," she added quietly, and Gandalf sighed.
"If you had not been betrayed, my Lady, things would be quite different here." She looked at him, surprised.
"Did Saruman confess?" She asked, sounding confused.
"No. He has turned to the dark forces from Mordor. He tried to get me to join him. In his mad state, he raved about you, among other things I learned that he had done."
"Alright, what is going on?" Pippin spoke up finally, awed. The woman looked down, then up at Gandalf, then knelt to his level.
"That," she said, "is a very good question. You mentioned a fight in your call, Gandalf. What is going on here?" Gandalf's face clouded as she rose to her full height once more.
"So much wrong, so much deceit. The One ring, the ring to rule them all surfaced with a hobbit friend of mine. Sauron has been looking far and wide for the ring, and has started to take over Middle Earth in his attempt to find it. He is attacking Gondor to take control of the river. He will use the Nine, and any means at his disposal." When he said ring, she shuddered as if she had been stabbed. "Now you understand the price. I do not blame you if you wish to turn back, Alexa." Gandalf said quietly. Alexa thought about it, turning to look at Mordor, wincing as she saw things Gandalf and Pippin couldn't.
"I cannot go back, it would not be right. His reach has started to extend to the spirit world. Already spirits have become corrupted. They walk more in Middle Earth killing innocents than they did in life. That must be stopped. I will help, Gandalf." She looked down at Pippin again, who was getting rather annoyed at being ignored. "But first," Alexa continued, "you must introduce me to this hobbit friend of yours. Does he carry the ring? Does he need a guide into Mordor?" She looked at Pippin closely and Gandalf barely choked back a laugh as Pippin's eyes widened.
"No, no, this is not the ring-bearer, but another hobbit friend of mine. Alexa, this is Peregin Took, who goes by Pippin." Gandalf explained, and Alexa laughed. The sound was enchanting and seemed to lift Pippin's spirits.
"How silly of me. In life, I did not meet many hobbits. My apologies and salutations, Pippin Took." She knelt back down to Pippin's level and warmly shook his hand.
"Who are you?" He managed to ask, and she laughed again.
"I am Alexa DeGuîre. When I was alive, I was an elf in Gandalf's services. I was betrayed by Saruman, Gandalf's teacher, and was ambushed on a ride from Erebor to Rivendell. I am now a spirit." She said kindly.
"What 'price' does Gandalf mean about the ring? You've never touched it—why would it bother you?" Pippin asked, and Alexa frowned, as did Gandalf, but more deeply.
"Because I am a spirit of the Light," she answered. "Spirits of the Light cannot bear to be near anything that is too dark, including spirits of the Dark. The ring is evil. Mordor is leaking darkness and hatred even here to Gondor. Plus, I am supposed to be at peace. No movement here in Middle Earth is not without effort until I can return again to where I belong." She finished simply. She smiled and lightly patted Pippin's shoulder at the look on his face, then rose again. "What needs to be done?" She asked Gandalf.
Gandalf pondered her question a moment. "That depends," he started. "How much magic did you carry with you?" Alexa frowned again.
"That also depends. The longer I stay, the less magic I can use. How long am I needed?" Gandalf sighed.
"I'm afraid I do not know. It could vary from a fortnight to a year, especially if Sauron's assault continues."
"I could return for awhile, if necessary. Don't worry about me, Gandalf. There isn't much that can hurt me anymore." Alexa said earnestly.
"Then I need you to try to heal the mind of the Lord of Minas Tirith. I'm afraid to say that he has grown mad with power and with the death of one of his sons." Gandalf said, and Alexa absentmindedly tugged at the sleeve of her gown, thinking hard.
"I may try," she responded finally, "but do not count on my success."
"Good," Gandalf quickly took her arm and spoke to her in a low voice as they walked hastily towards the Lord's hall. Pippin, after taking a moment to make sure that he wasn't dreaming or drunk, followed them. The two had stopped at the doors. Alexa was nodding. "Now, don't forget, he'll expect you to swear yourself to him. You mustn't do that, do you understand?" Gandalf asked, and she nodded again. "Ah, Peregrin Took. Excellent." Gandalf continued as he noticed Pippin. "Since you have already sworn yourself to Denethor, you will convince him that Alexa should be allowed to touch his temples. I don't know how, but you must succeed." Gandalf said, then opened the doors and pushed the two inside.
"Do you have some sort of plan?" Alexa asked Pippin as he walked along. He blinked when he noticed that she was floating.
"Not yet, but you'll have to stop floating if this is going to work," He tried to say it as nonchalantly as possible. Surprisingly, Alexa swore in Elf-tongue and came back down to the floor. Then she quickly rearranged her expression to one that could only be described as dreamy when Lord Denethor came into view.
"Take the lead," she whispered, and Pippin did. When they stopped in front of Denethor, Pippin bowed and Alexa curtsied.
"What brings you here?" Denethor asked in a bored tone of voice, reaching over and grabbing a vine of grapes, eating them greedily.
"I have come to soothe you into relaxation." Pippin said without thinking, and Denethor stopped chewing.
"Yes. We know how hard you work, my Lord," Alexa said quickly, curtsying once more. "I am Georgette. Georgette Juir."
"She will cleanse your mind, my Lord, and leave it free and clear." Pippin added, a plan in mind. "I will sing to calm you, and Georgette will ease you strain. She studied this art with the elves and has most nimble hands." Denethor eyed Alexa for a moment, the greedy smile back on his face.
"Proceed," he said haughtily.
"A song then, Peregrin." Alexa reminded him as she climbed up the few flat steps to Denethor. Pippin thought about it, then quietly started to sing. "Close your eyes, my Lord." Alexa intoned, her voice suddenly gaining density and strength. It was hypnotizing, and Denethor's eyes closed almost immediately. Alexa gently took his head in her hands and closed her eyes, her lips moving to words unspoken. Pippin started another song, glancing inconspicuously at the guards and was surprised to find that they were sleeping. The minutes ticked by until finally, Alexa stepped down, looking somewhat satisfied. "My Lord, you have been in the most relaxing and calming sleep. When I count to three, you will awaken, remembering only what I have showed you." Her voice was still full of dimension. "One, two, three," she counted, and Denethor opened his eyes slowly. Alexa curtsied and Pippin quickly bowed.
"Are you satisfied, my Lord?" Pippin asked, and Denethor blinked, his face starting to cloud over.
"If you are not satisfied, my Lord, we will continue this process." Alexa sighed distantly, back to her act of dreamy content.
"Begone," was all Denethor said, and Alexa curtsied again, then beckoned Pippin away. She kept up her act until they had rounded the corner from the hall, out of sight.
"Did it work?" Gandalf's voice asked before Pippin's could.
"Alas, I do not know. I can only hope that it helped. His mind was very distorted." Alexa said sadly. Gandalf was silent for a moment, then spoke.
"I have decided where I am going to send you." He started, and Alexa looked up at him. "Once Gondor has either been saved or fallen, I want you to find the hobbits carrying the ring, and make sure they make it safely to Mordor." Gandalf lowered his voice as he spoke.
"I will do as you ask." Alexa responded.
"Excellent. Now, we must prepare, there is no time to lose. The Nine and Sauron's armies will attack the river first. Once they take it, they will move here to Minas Tirith to take all of Gondor. This cannot happen. They are sending out a regiment of men to defend the river. I want to send you, but I do not see how you will blend in." Gandalf mused, tugging lightly on his beard. Alexa suddenly smiled a wicked grin. Then she bowed her head, eyes closing. Her arms stiffened, her palms parallel to the ground. "Alexa?" Gandalf asked, clearly worried when she started to slightly tremble. With a sudden pop Alexa was suddenly dressed in the armor of Gondor. All of her hair was coiled into a bun and there was a helmet under her arm. However, there were no weapons in her belt.
"Will this do?" Alexa asked, sliding the helmet on. Gandalf threw his head back and laughed.
"Do? It is extraordinary! I have underestimated you, Alexa. All you need is a weapon. You cannot openly fight with magic yet, it will distract the men and alert Sauron to your presence. If the river falls, I will want you to fight openly with magic to defend Minas Tirith." Gandalf said as Alexa repeated her posture, only to re-appear with a long-sword in each hand. Both blades were wickedly sharp and slightly curved at the ends. They were also made of a white-colored metal unknown to both Pippin and Gandalf.
"And if I am discovered by the enemy?" Alexa asked calmly, sticking the swords into her belt and taking off the helmet. Her face no longer held any traces of laughter; she looked unusually serious and determined.
"Return here as fast as you can. I cannot lose you to Sauron." Gandalf said firmly, putting an arm on her shoulder. "Now go, the regiment is already being assembled. Good luck to you," He kissed her brow before she put on the helmet and walked swiftly away. Pippin and Gandalf watched her blend with the crowd and disappear.
"She does know how to fight?" Pippin asked worriedly, trying to find her head among the men but found that she blended in too well. Gandalf chuckled, but only for a second. His face was grim.
"Oh yes, Alexa can fight." The old wizard said, but would not speak his mind any more than that. Silently the two watched the men march out across the Empty Lands to the river. Night fell swiftly after, and very few lights were shining at the river. All of a sudden, lights blazed and even from so far away, the roar of war could be heard. "And so it begins," Gandalf said quietly, his hands tight on the railing, watching the river with keen eyes.
Pippin knew that he fell asleep sometime during the night, because when he awoke, he was curled up by the banister, and the sun was up. Gandalf was nowhere to be seen. Pippin quickly hurried around, looking and asking for the white wizard. After a few tries, he learned that Gandalf was down by the Great Gate, waiting for soldiers to return from the river. In the daylight, it was clear to see that the river was lost. The ruins still were smoking and looked dark in the sun. After lots of walking later, Pippin strode up next to Gandalf, whose eyebrows were knitted together as he stared at the ground, his hands tight on his staff. "No one's returned yet?" Pippin asked when the silence was too much to bear. Gandalf slowly looked at him.
"No one has returned," he said flatly, then went back to staring at his spot on the ground, apparently thinking hard. "If I called her back here just to fall to Sauron!" The wizard muttered to himself darkly. He sighed and looked up, his eyes shining with regret. "Then we must prepare Minas Tirith for an attack. Sauron's men will launch their attack from the river. There is nothing more I can do." He turned to go, when a scout squinted at the horizon then called down:
"One rider approaches from the river!" He called, and Gandalf, in almost a blink of an eye, ascended the ladder to the scouts post and looked out over the land, cursed, then climbed back down.
"Open the gate!" he shouted. "Open the gate I say!" His eyes were burning in his face as the gate slowly creaked open just in time for the horse to dart its way through. Gandalf was instantly at the horse, holding the reins. Pippin was relieved to see that Alexa was on it, but she was leaning on the horses neck limply. Another man was behind her, and he quickly jumped off the horse and staggered. Gandalf caught his arm to steady him.
"All lost," the man croaked. His legs trembled. "All lost except us two."
"Get this man medicine!" Gandalf cried to the surrounding crowd, and two women broke from it and guided the man away. Gandalf eased Alexa off the horse and held her in his arms, immediately walking away, as if after the two women. Pippin quickly ducked through the crowd and followed. No sooner than Gandalf was out of sight that he ducked into a doorway and set Alexa on her feet. She instantly took the helmet off. Her face was streaked with dirt and blood, but there wasn't a scratch on her.
"There was no way, Gandalf, that the river wouldn't have fallen. Sauron has pushed his best warriors and armies into this battle. It will be a bitter fight for Minas Tirith, even with your magic and mine. Have you called for other help?" She asked, and Pippin noticed that she was floating again, and seemed more see-through than usual.
"To other men here on Middle Earth. Hopefully they will bring an army in time, from Rohan." Gandalf replied.
"You best hope so," Alexa said seriously. "I don't think an army of Elves could keep this frightful force at bay for long. I'm glad you called me, Gandalf. It would be terrible to hear of Middle Earth falling under Sauron's rule like this. His men slaughtered every soldier sent to the river except for the one man who came back, Faramir, I believe his name is, and only then by sheer luck."
"Faramir is Denethor's son." Pippin spoke up, and Gandalf whirled, then sighed when he saw that it was only Pippin.
"Fool of a Took!" he growled at him, but Pippin was unfazed.
"So you really aren't hurt then?" He asked Alexa, who laughed, but it wasn't as free as the last time he had heard her laugh.
"Of course not. I am a spirit, remember? In battle, I become transparent like this, so all blades and arrows pass right through. Not very comfortable, but it makes me invincible to almost all combat."
"And combat there will be. I fear that tomorrow the battle will begin, without the help from Rohan. You and I will have to fight openly and alert Sauron to our location, and to the fact that you are even here." Gandalf fingered his staff as he spoke, deep in thought again.
"I hope that the fight is swift, no matter who wins, so that I can help along your Ring-bearer and hobbit friend." Alexa said after a moment.
"Frodo is the bearer. Sam is his companion." Pippin supplied quietly, and Alexa laughed, the sound back to normal once more.
"I say! You tell me more than even Gandalf will!" She cried, and Gandalf scowled.
"Come," he said. "Let us find a more private place to discuss such matters." Alexa reassumed her stiff pose and suddenly became what looked like a hobbit. But Pippin could tell that it wasn't quite right, especially for a woman. Her feet weren't as big, nor as hairy, and she wasn't as stout as a hobbit, although she was dressed quite like Pippin.
"On your lead then, Gandalf." She said, and winked at Pippin, who was staring at her in amazement again. Gandalf started off at his brisk pace, leaving the hobbits, as usual, to follow him.
"Out of all the disguises!" Pippin exclaimed quietly. "Out of all you could become you choose a hobbit!" He continued excitedly, and Alexa smiled.
"I like to see things from a different perspective, although I cannot become a hobbit, nor a man. I have to either get very close or hide the characteristics that would prove me otherwise." She replied just as quietly, as people on the street were outright pointing at the hobbits. Anyone could be listening. Finally, the three of them made it once again to the top of Minas Tirith. Alexa and Pippin had struck up merry conversation along the way about just about anything, and had to be impatiently interrupted by Gandalf.
"If the battle here rages for many days, I want you to leave the fight and go help Frodo and Sam. I want you to help them for as long as possible." He said quietly, after scanning the courtyard carefully for any unwanted ears.
"Do you have an estimate as to where they are?" Alexa asked quietly, her face turning serious.
"I'm assuming that they are nearing Mordor, if they aren't already heading up the Secret Staircase to get there. I'm afraid I haven't contacted Frodo or Sam in a long time." Gandalf said. "You'll have to follow the darkness of the ring. Can you manage?" He asked, a bit of worry entering his features.
"I'll do what I must. If I wasn't betrayed, this hopefully wouldn't be happening. I never fulfilled my promise to you, Gandalf." Gandalf's eyes widened in surprise, and he knelt down to her hobbit height and took her hand. Her eyes were raging with grief.
"You fulfilled your promise, you owe me nothing. You died trying to end this, Alexa. If anything, I owe you." He insisted. Alexa looked at him a moment, then looked down. Pippin watched them open mouthed. "Now, Alexa are you sure that you can get so close to that Ring?" Alexa looked back up directly at Gandalf.
"It won't be any trouble." She said easily, all traces of sadness gone. "Now, since I don't need to rest, do you want me to go and meet up with your riders from Rohan?" Gandalf hesitated, brows furrowing.
"No, I want you to stay out of sight until the battle begins. Already I've seen people looking at us curiously." As he spoke, Gandalf stood back up and gazed about the courtyard. "In fact, stay with Pippin. Keep an eye on him. I won't be gone long." Gandalf walked away, leaving the two alone.
"So, tell me about the Shire." Alexa said, jumping to get on a bench. Pippin leaped up next to her. He immediately launched into an explanation about the Brandywine river and the rolling hills of the Shire. "And what of your friends back home?" Alexa asked.
"I left with them. Merry, Sam and Frodo. But Sam went with Frodo, because he's devoted to him. Frodo's the ring-bearer and didn't want anyone else to have to suffer in Mordor with him, but Sam came along anyway. Then Merry went to Helm's Deep with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, you'll like all of them. They should be bringing the riders from Rohan."
"Then hopefully I'll see them soon enough," Alexa said, the seriousness coming back to her face as she stood on their bench to see over the railing and out over the horizon. She shivered as her gaze passed over the Mountains of Shadow and into Mordor. "And with luck, I'll be off to help Frodo and Sam."
"What were you doing for Gandalf the night you, well, died?" Pippin asked bravely after a few seconds of silence. At first, Alexa didn't look at him until, with a sigh, she plopped back down next to him, looking at her hands.
"I was a decoy. He made it known that I might have the ring, and arranged for me to travel, to see who would be looking for this ring if we found it. But because Saruman," she said the name bitterly, "was a stronger wizard then Gandalf, he was fooled into thinking that someone else attacked the convoy. "
"And how did you become a spirit?" Pippin looked at her, full of curiosity. When she met his gaze, she laughed a little under her breath, but it was sad.
"You have a choice, Pippin, before you die. Not many choose this path, for you are never truly at rest, even in the spirit world, whereas those who simply pass on get peace for eternity. But, alas! I've told you too much already. But remember, Pippin, nothing is done without some sort of sacrifice." She sighed cheerfully and stretched her arms. "Well," she exclaimed lightly. "That was far too deep of a conversation for my taste. Now what shall we talk about?" Pippin thought about it, while studying Alexa's silhouette as she leaned back comfortably to scan the courtyard.
"Are you an Elf?" He blurted out, and she looked at him, raising an eyebrow. "Well," Pippin spluttered, "I thought you were, but now I'm not so sure." He looked at her anxiously a moment, scared that she would take it the wrong way. But then she started laughing, slapping one of her knees.
"Peregrin," she gasped finally, breathless from laughing; "you are a very observant hobbit!" When she stopped laughing, she leaned a little closer. "But to be honest, I'm not completely and elf. Sure, I have the pointed ears and well, fluidness of an elf, and I speak the language, but my mother was actually a human."
"I thought so!" Pippin exclaimed, starting a whole new round of her laughter. "You are much more open and not as stiff! I was beginning to wonder if all spirits were so joyful as you."
"Oh, no," Alexa said in mock seriousness, still chuckling, "you should meet some more spirits, some of them are so haughty, it will curl the hair on your toes!"
"And you don't have an Elvin name," Pippin said, and Alexa waved a hand, calming down.
"No, I have an Elvin name. It's just very long, so I use the translation. My real name is Beriadanwen. Funny enough, it means 'defender of men'." Alexa explained. "Now, as for the battle, no matter when it happens, you keep yourself safe, alright? I'll be off 'defending men' and whatever Gandalf wishes. I'll find you periodically, but stay safe." She stressed, putting an arm around his shoulders, and giving him a little shake to enunciate her words. Pippin nodded.
"Well, same to you, even though…you can't get hurt, or die, but still." Pippin said firmly, and Alexa laughed again, sliding down off the bench.
"I promise." She declared. They sat in comfortable silence for a moment, until her fingers started drumming on the bench. "I could use a smoke," she murmured, and Pippin looked at her in amazement.
"You smoke?" He asked, and she looked up quickly. She had obviously been daydreaming.
"Curses! Did I really say that out loud? Oh, well. Yes, I used to smoke. I can't now, but still. I wasn't a very polite person. I drank, I smoked, and you just saw me curse, so there's another outrageous behavior to add to my list," She chuckled to herself as Pippin still watched her in awe.
"Well, no! I think you are very polite." He said, and she laughed.
"That's because I'm on my best behavior," she whispered conspiratorially with a wink. "After all, women aren't supposed to have magic, or fight, or curse, smoke and drink. So I'm breaking all the rules." She said with relish, obviously pleased with herself. Alexa stretched, looking around the courtyard fondly. Suddenly she leapt up and dashed to the railing. "Curses!" She swore again when she was two short, and floated up to sit on top of it, staring hard at Mordor and the river. "Sauron is sending more troops by river." She said, not waiting for Pippin to ask. "And the Nazgûl," she said with a shudder. "They are headed this way. The battle starts this afternoon, not tomorrow. We must find Gandalf, and we must find him now," She assumed her position when she was using magic and with a pop, she was herself again. But now she was wearing skin tight hard white leather armor with pointed sleeves to go over her hands. Her long hair was in one ponytail that was heavily braided with rocks in it. Her swords were back in her belt. "Come on!" She said, and scooped Pippin up and ran. The thigh-high white leather boots she was wearing pounded the pavement as she streaked through the courtyard and down through the city, tireless, and faster than any human. She skidded to a halt then ran down a narrower street, once or twice leaping over full carts and wagons. Pippin held onto her for dear life as she finally screeched to a halt in next to Gandalf, who was in a conversation with someone from the army. "He sends troops by the river." She said breathlessly as he looked at her in surprise.
"How many?" Gandalf asked urgently, she shook her head, setting down Pippin.
"At least six large boats. I couldn't count the number of souls, there were far too many." She reported.
"Ready your men then," He said to the man in front of him, and he ran away. Gandalf turned back to Alexa, looking grim. "We must tell Lord Denethor. Do you think his mind is stable?"
"I couldn't tell you," Alexa said, snatching up Pippin again as she and Gandalf increased their pace, heading back up through the city. "But you best hope that it is, or he could ruin everything. But there is good news," Alexa said, glancing at the horizon as they reached the courtyard again. "I can see the riders from Rohan. They are still a day away, however. They will probably arrive tomorrow morning."
"Then we must hold the city until then!" Gandalf said brusquely, striding into Lord Denethor's hall unannounced. "Lord Denethor!" he called, his voice ringing with power and authority. The Lord sat up. He had been sitting at a table, still feasting.
"Gandalf," He said coldly, then ate a tomato. "I thought I made it clear that you are not welcome in this hall!"
"There is no time to waste on this foolish wizard, my lord," Alexa suddenly said in her dreamy fashion, stepping around Gandalf and hiding him from view. He spluttered behind her back, but Denethor was silent, watching her. "An army, one more greater and terrible than ever before will attack Minas Tirith this afternoon. I know that you are a hard worker and are easily stressed, my Lord. Let us take care of it for you." She said, stepping closer to him, her voice gaining the dimension. "Stay in your quarters and relax, for that is your duty."
"Georgette, I put you and your friends in charge. I will be resting in my quarters, for it is my duty as Lord of Minas Tirith." He said in his same haughty manner, but his eyes were slightly unfocused.
"Thank you for the honor, my Lord. Go now and rest," She said, curtsying low. Pippin and Gandalf quickly followed her example as Lord Denethor rose and walked away. As soon as he was gone, she rose back up and turned to Gandalf. "I apologize, but I had to appeal to him somehow. His mind disgusts me," she said, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
"An army approaches from the river!" A voice shouted from outside, and a scout dashed into the hall. "Orders, sir?" He asked, then saw that the hall was empty and ran over to Gandalf, Alexa and Pippin. "Where is Lord Denethor? It's urgent, an army is approaching!" he cried, panicked.
"Lord Denethor put Gandalf in charge for the moment," Alexa said, her voice gaining the dimension again, and the boy started to relax. She looked at Gandalf for instruction.
"Everyone to arms. Seal the gate, and ready the catapults." Gandalf ordered.
"Yes, sir." The boy said, then sprinted away.
"Now, where do you want us?" Alexa asked as she scooped up Pippin again as Gandalf strode hurriedly away again, going to the railing to look out. From the river a huge army was marching, with what looked like elephants and large towers, catapults and a flaming iron log to break in the gate. Of course, only Alexa could see those things as clearly as she did, for Gandalf and Pippin had mortal eyes.
"I want Pippin to stay out of trouble, and I want you on the spearpoint. You can attack greater sections of the army from there." Gandalf said, turning away and picking up his pace. Alexa caught up and stood in his way.
"Pippin can't stay out of trouble, Gandalf. Sauron's army will attack all parts of Minas Tirith. Let him stay with me." She argued for Pippin, who was quite indignant after being insulted and carried everywhere.
"I thought you de-solidified for battles," Gandalf said suspiciously, and Alexa swore heavily under her breath.
"I'm sorry, Pippin. I wouldn't be able to carry you, and I certainly wouldn't let you around on your own. Half of the creatures in that army would eat you before they'd kill you." She said humorlessly. "Why don't you stay in Denethor's hall? You'll have a great view and if the city does fall, that would be the last place to go."
"I'd rather fight," Pippin said stubbornly. Gandalf's eyes turned stormy, but Alexa shot him a look then knelt down to Pippin's height.
"Why don't you be our scout? We need one we can trust. With your great view, you can come and find us when something is happening that we need to know about. So you'd still get a piece of the action. What say you to that, hmm?" She asked, and Pippin thought about it.
"Alright," He sighed in defeat, and Gandalf strode away, muttering his usual, 'Fool of a Took.' Alexa escorted him to the hall and Pippin barred the door, then climbed as high as he could into the belfry. He could see Alexa stalking out onto the spearpoint, but Gandalf had vanished. "Just my luck! I'm stuck in a belfry watching the fight! I'll bet Merry will be fighting along side the riders from Rohan." Pippin grumbled to himself.
Meanwhile, Alexa was standing out on the spearpoint, becoming almost translucent except for her feet, hands and hair. All of them were potential weapons. She could feel Sauron's eye already lightly scouring the fields that contained his soldiers. She would wait until the enemy attacked first before she used any type of magic. As soon as she released magic, Sauron would see it and know that a spirit was working for his enemy. But her palms were itching to perform magic as she had to watch Orcs dig trenches and swarm about, preparing for their assault. All at once, their attack was sprung. The catapults cranked to life, and the Orcs fired their arrows. They started it slow, preferring to crumble the city before they even stepped foot into it. None of the arrows were even aimed upwards, for most of the men were defending the gate, leaving Alexa, for the moment, mostly out of the fight. She hesitated. Should she cast magic so early in the fight, alerting Sauron to send even more fearsome of beasts? Itching with anxiety, Alexa waited, and waited, until the fight started to show signs of slowing. Night was starting to steal across the land, and the men would start to loose hope facing such dark enemies. Alexa raised her hand in front of her and 'tapped' each catapult with her finger, and in her mind, they glowed. Then she closed her eyes and snapped her fingers. Instantly, they were consumed in a white inferno. She shuddered as she felt Sauron wheel wildly, scanning the burning catapults. Focusing her mind, she blocked it heavily, and then turned herself translucent as his eye raked over the city. And she was lucky. Sauron, in his extreme self-confidence, only checked the lower part of the city, and only found Gandalf, which frustrated him, as Gandalf wasn't a spirit.
A huge jolt sent Alexa shooting into awarness. The huge towers of the enemy had moved up to the walls and trapdoors were opening, even at her level. Orcs leapt from them. Cursing, Alexa drew her swords and dashed down the spearpoint, slaying Orcs once she got to the courtyard. For the first time, Pippin got to see what Gandalf meant when he said that she could fight. She was untouchable, and not just because she was translucent. Her skill, speed and fury were no match for any Orc. When she slaughtered the ones in the courtyard and blasted the towers to smithereens, she raced away, after the Orcs that had escaped her. As night fell, she seemed to glow, so Pippin could clearly see her from the belfry. She soon had fought her way down to the lower levels of the city, where even her skill was almost useless; they were simply too many Orcs. For a moment she stood in one place, but then she was streaking upward once more, faster than he had ever seen her go, until she was back out on the spearpoint.
Fighting tirelessly, Alexa had found Gandalf in the fray after twirling sharply and hitting an Orc in the face with the heavy stones in her hair. He had ordered her to go back up to the spearpoint and start using stronger forms of magic. She had gone up there as fast as she could, and now faced the flaming field, full of more Orcs that were bearing down upon Minas Tirith. Slowly, concentrating her mind, Alexa made a circle above her head with her arms, and inside it, a white ball of light began to grow, gaining strength, she broke the circle and it floated above her, where it started to grow exponentially, until it was a blinding, yet beautiful ball of ethereal white light. Closing her eyes, Alexa forced it up, until it was shining high above the city like a magnificent star. She threw her arms open and the ball grew suddenly much brighter, until the whole city was bathed in the light. Under its rays, the men grew stronger, and the Orcs shied away and grew weaker from such goodness. For a moment, she dropped her arms, trembling from the use of magic, until her body replenished itself. Then she raised her arms in front of her, palms facing Mordor, and slowly started to push in that direction. The ball got larger and brighter, until its light started to touch the field. Squeezing her eyes shut tighter, Alexa kept pushing, her arms trembling with effort as if there was a wall in front of her.
Merry and all the riders of Rohan looked up in awe as they rode, for as if the city itself called to them, a huge shining star of brilliant white light was shining in the sky, glimmering and obliterating other stars with its light. "What is that?" Merry wondered out loud.
"I don't know," Éowyn answered. "But the sooner we get there, the sooner we'll know! But it can't be from Mordor, it is too..." she trailed off, unsure how to describe it.
"Beautiful," Merry supplied, watching it carefully, and wondering deep inside if somehow, Pippin had something to do with it.
Alexa pushed harder at her star, pushing more energy into it to put more into the men of Gondor. The star was now bathing the battlefield, making Orcs cringe and shriek away from it, ducking under things for cover. But its light seemed to penetrate everything, dead or alive. But so focused Alexa was that she did not notice how she had become solid once more, nor did she notice that Orcs were stealing out along the spearpoint, determined to plunge the battlefield back into darkness, where they could thrive. Pippin, seeing this from his belfry, panicked. "ALEXA!" He bellowed as an Orc blade passed through her midsection, and instead of floating among it, was stuck fast in her 'flesh'. The Orcs were suddenly consumed in white light, and the star dimmed, but kept burning as Alexa started to stumble off of the spearpoint. Pippin dashed down from the belfry and burst out of the hall and over to her as she collapsed by the sapling. "Alexa, Alexa, you're hurt!" he cried, and her quiet laugh surprised him, even though it was weak.
"I'm such a fool," She breathed, then groaned as she reached down and pulled out the Orc blade. To Pippin's shock, there was no blood, only a hole through her, and the 'flesh' around it was misty at the edges. She threw the sword away and sat up, pressing her hand to the leather armor, and it sealed again, hiding the fact that she had a hole through her. "I'm alright, Pippin." She insisted, standing up and drawing her swords. "The star is lit, the men of Gondor have the advantage. Until I grow stronger again, I'll have to fight in combat, where I can be transparent. Then I'll use more magic. Stay safe, Pippin." She said seriously, her hand resting on his brow, and a strange shiver went through Pippin, making him close his eyes. When he opened them, she was gone.
Alexa was dashing down through the city, slaying Orcs with new ferocity. She was extremely angry with herself for letting down her guard like that. She was almost down from the top level when she felt the ringwraiths fly towards the city. The Lord of the Nine went down to the gate, while the rest of them started to flock above the city, trying to destroy her star. Fury sprung in her veins, and Alexa flew back up the city on flying feet. Crouching low, she sprung upwards in a huge jump, turning a quick flip to ride on the back of one of the Nine, and with a vicious stab, plunged her sword into the back of the Riders head. With a far off screech and a dark tremor, the thing vanished, leaving Alexa to quickly kill his beast. As it fell, she jumped high again, landing on the back of another one. The Rider made his beast roll, and roll and roll until Alexa slipped around him and stabbed him right in the chest, and then in the face with her other sword. As that Rider perished, the others turned and started attacking his beast and essentially, Alexa. They fought fiercely in a large black ball, occasionally blocking her star. Alexa was slashing and kicking, the power of the spirit world behind her, giving her in-human strength. While on the back of one beast, she grabbed the tail of another and flung it at a Rider, knocking him from his beast. Then, she stabbed him in midair as the sun slowly began to rise. She pulled her sword free as the ringwraith crumbled into nothingness and with another flip, landed on the spearpoint, scanning the horizon. For the first time all night, a smile stretched across her face as she saw the Riders of Rohan lining up for their charge.
The Lord of the Nazgûl pulled away from where he had been sitting at the gate and took to the sky. His eyes found the leader, and he knew that he would not leave this field alive. So confident was he that he didn't see the white figure sprint across the spearpoint and fling themselves into the empty space between them, catching on his beasts' tail and whirling around it. His beast roared as she dropped in front of him. The two immediately let their swords clash, sparks falling down to the fight below. With a cry of fury, Alexa slashed down hard with her sword, and the stronger material from the spirit world cleaved his sword in half, the splinters consumed by white light. The Lord roared in fury, his beast shrieking eerily as the Riders of Rohan charged down towards the field. He pulled his mace, and swung hard at Alexa, the spiked weapon going right through her, not hurting her, but upsetting her enough so that she lost her balance. Her white form fell from the beast, but landed on its feet on the ground, creating a crater as she landed in a kneeling position. She threw her arm up and a column of white light appeared, catching the Lord in it, overcoming his beast and forming what looked almost like a lasso. Alexa brought her arm down strongly, and the beam pulled the Lord and his dead beast down onto his own troops, creating a crater of his own from the force of it, making the ground tremble. In the heat of battle, Alexa rose up, floating, and unsheathed her swords once more, flying like a white streak across the troops towards the Lord as he rose up from his dead steed. He flew out to meet her, and their epic battle continued.
Alexa's swords were cold with an icy light, it's brightness angering the Lord with every swipe and parry. Many times Alexa got close enough for a kill shot, but again the Lord evaded her. The steeds of Rohan stampeded by as Alexa's swords and the Lord's mace clashed again and again. Alexa could feel the coldness of his evil taking a toll upon her, just like the sheer light coming from her was weakening the ringwraith. This was not a test of skill, but of strength. Finally, in one move, as the Lord raised his mace high to swing it, he brought it down upon Alexa, who caught it with one sword, her arm trembling, and then stabbed her other sword into where the face of the ringwraith would be. Her arm started to vibrate as a dark scream of fury erupted from somewhere far off. The Lord disintegrated, leaving the tip of her sword covered in black. For a moment, Alexa stood there panting, until a rumbling made her look up. Huge elephant like creatures were stampeding down the plain, armed with men aboard them, shooting mercilessly. Alexa hesitated, then seemed to disappear. When she reappeared, she was far away from the battle, but instead, in the courtyard again, which was only full of refugees from the city, seeking shelter. Ignoring their gasps and cries, she staggered into the hall and sunk down to the floor, sheathing her sword and taking her face into her hands, still shuddering. The pure evil from the ringwraiths had taken a toll on her, it physically hurt her to have done what she did. She didn't look up when hobbit feet padded hurriedly down the hall to her, nor when Pippin's tiny hand passed through her shoulder and he gasped in surprise. "Alexa?" He asked worriedly, afraid that she was hurt again.
"There was so much evil," she gasped. "So much darkness." She hesitated, then pulled up the top of her armor. The hole in her had gotten bigger. Pippin gasped again.
"You're going back, aren't you? But Gondor is still under siege! You can't leave Frodo and Sam either!" He cried, and Alexa shuddered for a moment, before starting to laugh quietly until it was ringing through the hall. She looked up, smiling, new strength flowing through her now that she was in the presence of something so good.
"I wouldn't dream of it. But how would you like to come with me?" She offered, solidifying and standing. Pippin's face was an answer enough, and she picked him up and put him on her shoulders. "Now, hold on tight!" She ordered, then she was literally flying out of the hall again, over all of the refugees and off of the spearpoint, down to the fight. "Don't let go!" She shouted as they rose up again, heading for an elephant so fast that to Pippin it was only a blur. Suddenly there were atop one, and Alexa was cutting through the structure atop it and its inhabitants like butter when Legolas appeared, and stopped up short upon seeing Pippin.
"Pippin?" He shouted in surprise, not seeing Alexa yet, (as she was behind rubble and slaying an Orc rather viciously) and was assuming that somehow Pippin was now almost six feet tall. Pippin came fully into view on Alexa as she crouched low again, then flipped upwards to the top of the structure and over it. In awe, Legolas followed. It was something he had never seen before, a female elf warrior, whose killing power (although he hated to admit it) surpassed his. With a whistling noise and another flip, Alexa was suddenly in front of him, swords raised.
"No!" Pippin shouted in her ear, making her sway and her face fill with pain, for Pippin had bellowed in her ear. "That's Legolas!" he shouted above the din as their elephant started to go down. She paused, her head cocked slightly, taking in Legolas. "This is Alexa, Legolas." He introduced her when she didn't, and as the elephant ground into the earth, dead, she came to life.
"A pleasure-" She bent backwards to avoid an arrow, then stood up swiftly, catching one in her free hand, and with a swirling motion in front of her like a fan, she blocked the others raining towards her with her sword. She froze as ghosts started to come across the land, her eyes narrowing. She cursed loudly and crouched, then jumped again, gaining extreme height and hovering as the ghosts stampeded through.
"Why did you do that?" Pippin cried over the wind as they descended back to earth.
"Because earth-bound spirits and spirits that have passed on do not get along. It is a deep hate for each other that has been around for ages that possessed me to stay clear of them. I don't care if they are here to help Gondor." Alexa said in a surprisingly bitter voice. "Now, let's end this fight, shall we?" She asked, and floated higher, then started outlining areas of the battlefield in front of her, and in her mind they glowed. Pippin peeked over her shoulder in interest yet confusion, because her actions made no sense to him. "Ready?" She asked, and Pippin nodded. Her face lifted up into a grin as she snapped her fingers. To Pippin, it appeared as if the large groupings of Orcs waiting to enter the battle suddenly burst into white hot flame and vanished.
"How—what-how did you do that?" He stammered, and she laughed, her bitter moment gone.
"Magic," She said lightly, then dove back downward, unsheathing her swords and leaping back into the fray. "Let's find Gandalf." She said after a fierce minute of twirling and slashing, leaving Orcs dead around her feet. Pippin agreed, somewhat faintly, so Alexa went slower once she got up above the fight. They landed gently on a higher street, and she turned her head to look at him. "Are you alright?" she asked him, and Pippin nodded. He was a little pale, but Alexa could tell that he wasn't hurt, just a little sick from the quick movements and spinning. "Ok then, hold on tight," She said, and started to lightly sprint down through the city, unknowingly turning heads as she killed Orcs in seconds as she wound back down towards the gate. At the gate there was still a throng of Men and Orcs fighting fiercely. But closer to the gate itself Alexa could see Gandalf. With a sigh, she plunged into the fight, casually slaying Orcs in a bored and definitely annoyed fashion. She actually made a path through the throng to Gandalf. "Gandalf," she called over the fray around them and he turned, sword raised, but lowered quickly upon seeing that it was just her.
"The battle is over. These are the last of the Orcs." He said, then frowned when he saw Pippin hanging on her back.
"It wasn't for the whole fight, just for the last hour or so," she said calmly as his brows knitted together. Gandalf's eyes widened and he raised his sword, but too late as an Orc stabbed Alexa right in the stomach. Pippin jumped off of her and ran behind Gandalf's leg as her face turned angry. She turned and looked over her shoulder at the Orc, whose blade wasn't releasing from her. "You missed," she hissed, lifting her armor. He had stabbed her right through the hole in her. She slashed her sword with a snarl and beheaded the Orc, then reached around and pulled out his sword, her face going from angry to in pain. The edges of the hole wavered and got bigger.
"You didn't tell me you were hurt!" Gandalf hissed, striding over and yanking up her armor again, smacking an Orc down with his staff without looking at it as he did so.
"There's nothing you can do anyway," she muttered, trying to push the armor down again, but Gandalf swatted her hand away to examine the hole.
"Gandalf?" A voice asked strangely, and Gandalf turned, still holding up Alexa's armor in the front. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas were standing there, all of them looking shocked. Alexa flushed and slapped Gandalf's hand away, hastily pushing her armor down, and pressing a hand over the new hole poked in it by the Orc's sword. Then her face hardened as behind them, the ghostly army was standing, their faces twisted with hate as they stared at each other.
"Does the poor little spirit have a puncture?" One of the ghosts jeered, and Alexa's hand flew to her sword handle.
"Spirit?" Aragorn and Gimli asked together. Legolas was still pondering her with wonder.
"Your lucky to have never seen one before, the horrid creatures that they are," another ghost sneered, and Alexa drew her sword in a flash. She was stalking forward, pushing the man, dwarf and elf aside.
"Alexa," Gandalf warned as she raised her weapon. She jerked to a halt, jaw clenched, eyes burning with hate as the ghosts glared back at her.
"What's the matter, spirit?" The ghost spat. "Too weak to-" His words were cut short as she slashed at him, and one touch from her sword made him vanish in the usual flash of light.
"Alexa!" Gandalf shouted, and she pulled back her sword before slashing another ghost. His sword clashed down on hers and he withdrew quickly. She closed her eyes and took an obviously forced deep breath before stepping back to Gandalf, sheathing her sword.
Baffled, Aragorn released the ghosts from their service and turned back to Gandalf. Pippin had moved to stand next to her and put a light hand on her knee. "Gandalf, who…?"
"This is Alexa DeGuîre. She is a spirit that I called to help save Gondor."
"You cast the star. You're the person behind the…combustions." Gimli said in wonder.
"Yes," she said softly, a stark contrast to how she had acted to the ghosts.
"So you're dead," Aragorn said slowly, and she nodded, a flicker of sadness passing through her face for only a moment. "Then why do you kill the dead?" He asked, and her face hardened.
"Earth bound spirits…ghosts…are no friend of spirits. They hate us and we hate them. Our rivalry has gone on forever." She said flatly.
"She is my friend and therefore a friend to all against Sauron. Without her, Minas Tirith would have fallen." Gandalf said firmly. Pippin tugged on her boot and she looked down.
"Is there any way to heal you?" He asked her, and she shook her head.
"No medicine can heal the dead, Pippin." She said quietly, becoming transparent, making Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli stare at her in shock. "But conserving energy will help. I'm afraid I can't carry you anymore."
"But doesn't it hurt?" Pippin asked worriedly, and she laughed.
"Yes and no. It gets bigger when I am around dark forces, but those hurt me anyway. I'll be alright." She reassured him.
"No you won't! You'll be going after Frodo and Sam! You said yourself the ring was evil! And you'll be going into Mordor!" Pippin cried, and she knelt down to his level.
"Peregrin Took, you must stop worrying about me. Once the ring is destroyed, or even before that, you'll never see me again. Why don't we go look for that friend of yours? I'm sure that Merry is looking for you."
"He's with Éowyn." Aragorn said. Pippin dashed off then. Alexa slowly rose back up.
"Now what shall I do for you, Gandalf?" she asked. He pondered her for a moment.
"How much did you lie to Pippin?" He asked back, and she frowned.
"Killing the ringwraiths widened the hole. As long as I am near evil it will slowly get larger until I am forced to go back." She said quietly.
"You killed the ringwraiths? All of them?" Legolas asked, beyond words. She sighed.
"Yes. I shouldn't have done it, but then no one else would have been able to. Only spirits are immune to their cry."
"The Black Riders are gone," Legolas marveled.
"How soon can you set out for Frodo and Sam?" Gandalf asked her, and she shrugged.
"Now, if you like. Waiting won't close the hole or make me any stronger."
"Then go. And Alexa," he said, stopping her from turning away. "Thank you. You've done more than fulfill the vow. And if you are caught, de-materialize. Don't let yourself fall to Sauron. Good luck." The old wizard said, and her hand solidified for a moment to take his and give it a good squeeze.
"I'll miss you, Gandalf." She said, and just as she knelt down to jump away, pattering hobbit footsteps stopped her.
"WAIT!" Pippin cried, running up with Merry. "Alexa, this is Merry." He said, panting. She took his hand and gave it a firm shake with a smile. "But, Alexa, will I ever see you again?" Pippin asked, and Alexa paused.
"I'm afraid not, Pippin. Not for a very long time, if ever. But you'll be just fine without me." She said, and Pippin unconsciously touched his brow, remembering the feeling there when she had touched him. "Here," she said, solidifying, then laughing as Pippin almost bowled her over with his hug. Finally, Pippin stepped back, tears in his eyes. She gave him one last smile before bowing her head to her knee and tensing. Then with the same whistling noise, she shot upwards. In a burst of white fire, she shot off towards Mordor.
"Incredible," Aragorn said softly. As Gandalf started to retell them all that had happened in Minas Tirith, The white streak in the sky that was Alexa descended after only a minute or two of being in the sky. She never actually landed on the earth, rather floated above it, watching the strange trio she had found. Her body was on edge inside, trembling. She could feel the incredible evil around the smaller hobbits neck, and she could almost see the thin sticky black tendrils of its evil web spinning around the three of them. The hobbits she regarded with respect, as she knew the strain upon them. However, she regarded Gollum with the utmost contempt. Already she could tell the complex plan he had created in the sicker part of his brain was at work. Perhaps her presence, one of such light in all the darkness of his mind, awoke Gollum with a hiss.
"What's this, my nice hobbitses? Danger, danger to Gollum and the precious, oh yess." He yelped, and in seconds, both of the hobbits were awake. Both had drawn their swords, but none of them were trying to attack. To Alexa's surprise, Gollum had crouched before them, hissing at her.
"Who are you? What are you?" The stouter hobbit asked, his voice full of slight awe, but he never lowered his sword.
"A servant to Gandalf, here to aid you and guide you safely through Mordor." She said calmly, even though her insides stirred as Gollum hissed, glaring at her in hate.
"They already have a guide, don't they, Master?" His tongue snaked through his sharp teeth. "You are a ssneak, here to hurt Master and the Precious. She lies!"
"Quite the opposite, Smeágol. I am here to help Frodo and Sam, and you know that I cannot take 'the Precious'," she shivered, "away from them."
"What do you mean?" Frodo spoke for the first time, watching her carefully, as if he couldn't make up his mind about her.
"Master Frodo, I am a spirit of the Light. They cannot stand to be near evil for too long, and they certainly cannot touch it or wear it. Touching that ring would kill me again, if I could touch it. I am transparent, and I float." Alexa explained gently.
"She lies, she liess!" Gollum hissed, his eyes glowing.
"I will prove it to you. Try to smote me, Master Samwise. I will not try to evade you." She said calmly, stepping forward. Gollum skidded back with a hiss. Sam strode forward, unsure, raising his sword. He seemed to wince, then he quickly swung out with the sword onto the arm that Alexa offered. The blade passed through as if she wasn't there.
"And Gandalf sent you?" Frodo asked as if he couldn't believe it. She nodded.
"He called me for help in defending Minas Tirith. I believe I met some friends of yours while I was there. I spent a great deal of time with Pippin," she said, and both hobbits' eyes lit up, "and I met Merry, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas."
"And everyone is well?" Sam asked, new hope shining in his eyes. She nodded.
"Everyone has earned a place of valiance in the pages of history." She assured them.
"No! You come to hurt the Precious and to lead Master astray!" Gollum hissed, then launched at her. He passed right through her, and she shuddered, but turned on the spot and seemed to glow.
"Gollum!" She said sternly, her voice gaining dimension. "How dare you try to commit such harm to these hobbits! How dare you have killed your best friend for such a tortured and cursed ring! Release from the hate within you, or I swear by the Light I shall slay you down myself." Her voice seemed to echo mightily, and he cringed downward under the force of it and her glare. "I know what you were going to do, Gollum. I can sense your plan even now." She continued, her voice lowering but sounding more dangerous by the minute.
"Plan? What plan?" Frodo asked, but she ignored him, and Gollum was too busy cringing to reply.
"Poor Sméagol has no plan, he is nice to the hobbitses, yess." He said pathetically. "Why evil spirit be so mean to poor Sméagol?"
"Pity won't help you now, Gollum." She said coldly, and turned back to the hobbits.
"The path you are taking will lead you up a hidden flight of stairs, which will, it's true, get you into Mordor. But along the way there is a trap, a hidden dwelling of an old and evil thing in the form of a gigantic spider. Gollum was going to lead you two into it, saying that was the way, then find the ring off of your corpse later." She turned to glare at Gollum again, who went from staring at her evilly to pining again on the ground.
"Sméagol! Is this true?" Frodo asked, raising his voice. The creature burst into tears.
"The Precious made us do it! Sméagol would never hurt Master, never hurt the hobbitses!"
"I don't believe it," Frodo said faintly. Alexa could tell by the look on Sam's face that he had been suspecting Gollum for awhile. With a sigh, Alexa knelt down and put her hand over Gollum's head. A white beam of light came down and passed through him, making both of them shudder, Alexa more so than Gollum.
"Go now, Smeagol. Return to your village and accept responsibility for what you have done." She intoned. To the hobbit's surprise, Gollum got up, stood on two legs, and dreamily walked away.
"So you will guide us into Mordor? I thought you said that evil hurts you." Frodo said finally as the hobbits watched Gollum's retreat. New suspicion clouded his eyes, and Alexa felt a pang of hate for the ring. She had learned about what Frodo was like before he was named the ring-bearer. It was startling, the effect it was now having on him.
"It does. Would you like me to show you?" Alexa said, and Frodo hesitated, then nodded. With a sigh, Alexa pulled up her armor in front, and both hobbits yelled, scrambling away. The hole had grown wider, and vanished down under her pants and above where her shirt still covered her. "Evil stretches this hole wider and wider. If I am exposed too much to it, I will completely disappear, and be sent back to the spirit world. I cannot even get to close to you, Master Frodo, for the ring you carry burns against my soul."
"Then why are you here, if it hurts you so?" Sam asked, looking horrified as she pulled the armor back into place.
"Because Gandalf has been worrying about you two for awhile now, and needed someone who could get to you in time, and had the strength to protect you. I can tell that just my presence, one of something so good, that you do not feel so bad anymore." The hobbits watched her in awe for a moment more. "Now!" Alexa said, suddenly business like. "When was the last time you two really ate?"
"It seems like forever, friend of Gandalf." Sam said honestly, and Alexa laughed. The sound had an interesting effect on the hobbits, who felt their spirits soar at the sound of it.
"I forgot, silly me. My name is Alexa." She said, upon standing up once more. Then she moved her hand in a steady line another beam of light coming from it. Wherever it touched, food sprung from nowhere: beer and mead, bread, potatoes, meat and herbs. The hobbits couldn't help it, they cried out in amazement. "Now, this food, since it is magical, will fill you up quicker than food from Middle Earth. You don't need much to feel…renewed." The hobbits sat down to feast, and Frodo couldn't help but notice that she sat as far away from him as would be polite, which made him feel that she had told the truth about how the ring hurt her. He was also still mulling over the hole in her, and then how she had died in the first place. Something told him that both would go unanswered for a long time.
"You were right about the food, Alexa." Sam said, examining it closely, but looking better than Frodo had seen him in weeks. "It really does make you feel better." Frodo nodded, absentmindedly nibbling on a piece of bread. The texture and flavor were wonderful, and already his aching body felt better.
"I hoped it would," Alexa said, standing up and looking around them. "We'll start climbing the staircase tomorrow, and we'll have to go a long way. So why don't you sleep the rest of the night, so we can start out early tomorrow?" Agreeing, the hobbits stretched back out, suddenly full of peace and instantly fell into a dreamless, relaxing sleep that would leave them fresh and re-charged for the long hike the next day. As they slept, Alexa got as far away from them as she dared. She wanted to still keep an eye on them, but the ring was like slow torture to be around. It was worse than she could have ever imagined. She couldn't return to the spirit world now, the hobbits couldn't call her back, and she couldn't leave them now without a guide.
And she didn't. The next day she led them to the staircase then after a quick break, started them up it. She brought up the rear, feeling faint with so much evil around, but she pushed on anyway. They climbed far thanks to the magical food that kept the hobbits strong. When they stopped for the night, everyone was tired, but pleased at how far they had gone. "Alexa, are you alright? You look so pale," Frodo asked. He had been so content with Sam that when he looked up and saw her, he was instantly worried. She seemed fainter now, barely floating with her eyes closed. They snapped open as he spoke and she smiled at him, even though the pain he finally recognized in her eyes remained.
"Of course I'm alright. I was thinking of Gandalf actually." She lied, and the hobbits bought it.
"How did he know to call you from the spirit world?" Frodo asked, and a strange look passed over her face before it vanished.
"I knew Gandalf when I was still alive. I served under him, and he knew that he could count on me. Not many spirits will willingly leave the spirit world to come back. In comparison, Middle Earth is harsh and cruel."
"You served under Gandalf? But he's so old!" Sam said, and she laughed.
"Yes, he's old. But I died awhile ago now, I think." Alexa said, dropping eye contact with the two hobbits, who glanced at each other.
"If you don't mind…how were you killed?" Frodo asked quietly. At first the hobbits thought that she wasn't going to answer, but then she spoke up.
"Long ago, when the ring was either still Gollum's or Bilbo had only had it for awhile, in secret, Gandalf proposed a plan. None of us knew where it was, but we wanted to identify enemies early, ones that would try to stop us from destroying it. They started a rumor saying that I might have it, and I neither accepted nor denied it to anyone who asked. One night we had a set up—I would be traveling with only two other companions on a journey through Middle Earth. It didn't take dark forces long to track us down. They killed everyone in the caravan so early in the expedition that scouts at our first checkpoint didn't know about our deaths for awhile." She said this all very softly, staring at one spot on the ground. "They knew that everyone on the trip were excellent fighters, and it took too long for them to get over their preset expectations."
"What attacked you?" Sam asked in a hushed voice.
"The Nine." She replied instantly, as if she was waiting for him to ask. Both hobbits shuddered. "But don't worry." She said, her head rising and a strange light shining in her eyes. "When they came to Minas Tirith I personally made sure that each one of them would never torture another soul again."
"You killed all the ring-wraiths?" Sam blurted out on awe. She only nodded, her eyes far away.
The next day she urged them on again, conjuring food as they climbed to maximize their speed. When they reached the spider's den that she had described, she quickly ushered them through, glowing a blinding white to keep all dark things away. When they stopped to rest, the hobbits could see over the rocks around them into Mordor. Alexa was actually wavering now, her face drawn, but she insisted that the hobbits stopped to rest. She argued that Sauron would find them quickly if nothing drew his sight away anyway, and that she had a feeling that Gandalf was working on that. And she was right. The next 'morning' (for it was always dark now) the hobbits could clearly see Sauron's eye constantly scouring his land, which was full of Orcs and terrible beasts. About midday, something changed. The armies started rapidly moving off, towards the gate. As soon as they were gone, Alexa bent down to the hobbits. "Listen," she said quietly. "I'm going to solidify and get us in the volcano in less time than it takes you to blink your eye. I don't want to run the chance of Sauron seeing us. By the time we get there, I'll be transparent again. Ready?" She asked, steeling herself as the hobbits looked at each other, then nodded. Alexa solidified, scooped them up and put on a burst of speed, using most of the energy she had been saving. From far away, Gandalf only saw it briefly—a white streak against the black sky before it was gone. Disoriented, the hobbits found themselves inside a steaming churning volcano—Mount Doom. Alexa was doubled up, floating in midair beside them.
"Alexa!" Frodo cried, starting forward, but when she groaned he stopped, then quickly backed up, putting a hand over his shirt where the ring was.
"Drop it in," she whispered. "Quickly!" She suddenly shouted, and Frodo turned and walked out to the edge of the stone pier. The drop off into lava scorched his eyelids, drying his throat. He took the chain off of his neck and held it up. The ring was suddenly all he could see, dangling in front of him, over certain death. Drop it. His mind said, but his fist wouldn't un-clench. Frodo suddenly felt very sleepy, a kind of hypnosis coming over him. He stumbled away from the edge.
"Frodo, no! Drop it in!" Sam shouted to him, but it sounded dull and far away in Frodo's ears.
"The ring is mine," he felt his mouth say, and Alexa shuddered, then suddenly solidified, standing up and quickly coming over. With one hand she grabbed the front of his shirt. With the other she snatched the chain with the ring on it. Her eyes flashed with pain, but she spoke to Frodo.
"You'll understand soon, Master Frodo. Forgive me." Then she dropped him. When he blinked, she was standing on the edge, the chain slipping through her fingers. He lunged toward her, but suddenly jolted to a halt. The strange feeling had vanished abruptly, the whole volcano starting to shake. Alexa stumbled back to them, her body starting to mist at the edges. "You dropped it in, Frodo. You destroyed the ring." She said, her voice gaining the dimension again, but her voice was cracking. Then she scooped them up. To the hobbits, it was as if they were suddenly at the entrance to the volcano again. Alexa had dropped them, doubled over again, shaking now.
"Alexa, you're dying!" Frodo shouted, but she didn't reply. Her teeth were gritted shut as she tried to hold on to this world. Any second now. She thought. Any second now Sauron will be destroyed. The evil will pass. Just hold on. Then a new thought entered her brain. The volcano will erupt. Get the hobbits somewhere safe. She solidified for a moment more, grasping the hobbits and shooting out to a large rock on the edge as lava started to pour out. She set them down, then slowly keeled over. In front of the black gate, the armies of Middle Earth stood in awe, the Dark Tower was crumbling, the Orc armies were falling. Everyone who knew Frodo was shouting his name in triumph. But his name slowly died on their lips as the volcano burst, lava flying high into the sky. For a moment, they only watched with a strange mix of happiness and grief until Gandalf had a thought.
"The eagles." He muttered. He raised his staff and the beacon lit instantly. Within a few minutes, three eagles descended from the sky to land in front of him.
"What are you doing?" Aragorn asked as Gandalf mounted one.
"Going after Frodo and Sam. I doubt Alexa is still with us." He said gravely, feeling a pang of loss inside as the eagle rose and they started to fly across Mordor, their wings beating powerfully through the almost non-existent air. As they grew closer to the volcano, Gandalf couldn't believe his eyes. Sitting on a huge rock, taller than the hobbits would have been able to get onto were Frodo and Sam by a white spot. The eagles dived without having to be told, and swooped down to the rock, grabbing onto it with their great claws.
"Gandalf!" Frodo shouted in happiness, but with a hint of urgency. Gandalf slipped off of his eagle and Frodo and Sam hugged his legs hard.
"Can you ride?" Gandalf shouted, and they both nodded. They looked far too well for having been on such a long trip, Gandalf's sign that Alexa had somehow done her duty, even as close to the ring and Mordor as she had been. "Get on then!" He shouted over the noise of the volcano, helping each hobbit onto an eagle. They flew away then, and Gandalf knelt by Alexa. She was misty all over now, yet still hovering above the rock.
"Gandalf," the wind seemed to whisper, but he knew it was her. "I finally fulfilled my vow."
"You did much more than that, Alexa." Gandalf said, too emotional to say anything more. It had been foolish to call her because he knew that it would hurt even more than the last time to let her go. And Wizards were never supposed to fall in love.
"I've missed you so much," she breathed, then bent over her midsection where the hole was trying to devour her. "I shouldn't have come back. It's re-opened old wounds."
"You still love me," Gandalf said quietly, and she nodded.
"You and I were so young, weren't we? Young and foolish."
"But we loved each other." Gandalf said strongly, and she looked up. "And if we did, then couldn't we again? Solidify, Alexa. Solidify, and I'll bring you away from Mordor. You'll have time to rest and to heal. Solidify because you love me." With a low groan that was saturated with pain, Alexa slowly became solid. As soon as Gandalf could touch her, he swooped her up onto the eagle. It flew as fast as it could across Mordor and landed next to its fellows. Frodo and Sam were already with the others, celebrating and catching up on old times. Gandalf slipped off and set her down. "Do you feel better now that you are out of Mordor?" He asked her quietly, and she smiled faintly.
"I feel better because I'm with you. That's all that matters." She said very softly.
"ALEXA!" Pippin shouted, and some scrambling hobbit feet later, Pippin skidded to a halt next to Gandalf and quickly knelt. Alexa was laughing weakly, the beautiful smile Gandalf loved stretched over her face. "Alexa, you're still here!" Pippin cried, and the ground vibrated with more footsteps, small and large as the heroes Frodo, Sam, Merry, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and others approached.
"For now, yes," Alexa said, "but not much longer."
"Alexa," Gandalf started, but stopped as she continued to speak, painfully breathing.
"I can't hold it," Alexa breathed, then gasped, pressing a hand to her stomach and gritting her teeth.
"How large is the hole? How large?" Gandalf barked at Sam and Frodo.
"Last we saw it covered her whole stomach and beyond," Frodo said worriedly. "And that was before we even entered Mordor."
"Alexa, don't go!" Pippin pleaded as she closed her eyes, her body starting to turn to mist. Then in a rush, a flash of white light shot upward and exploded where she had lain. Twinkling remains faded away into the sky. Alexa was gone.