A/N: Welcome friends. This is an attempt to extend Tolkien's legendarium into the realms Eastward by first going Westward. Of Rhun, the West knows little. Except there, Sauron rebuilt his power and waited. This pieces together the story of Rhun via the journey of an Elf who served the Dark Lord. It is a story of war and terror, of redemption, but ultimately of love.
Rated M for some language, acts of violence, and adult themes.
I was lucky enough to have a wonderful reader, TMI143 create some art for this story. Please check out her art on Deviant Art (username TMI143) and on my Tumblr, vezely . tumblr . com, where I roleplay Vezely and hope to interact with readers a bit more.
Disclaimer: I of course do not own Tolkien's creation(s), only my OCs and some creative extension into the realms Tolkien left blank (i.e. Rhun). I do try to remain true to canon as best I can in terms of the known customs and culture of Toklien's races.
Chapter 1 - The Past Remembered
Under the layer of dirt and dust accumulated from riding, the tall, svelte woman appeared distinctively Easterling in fashion due to her draped short trousers, the cut of her tunic, and head covering. The fabric of her pants was a dark burgundy colored silk, so matching that of the Easterling militia that it apparently came from their supplies. On top of it she wore a fitted, navy blue, knee-length jacket that bore light blue stitching on the lapels and the ends of the bell-cuff sleeves, forming an intricate arabesque design. On her head, a black silk headscarf was wrapped. It had previously shielded her face, but was pulled down under her chin, allowing her to breathe in the cool air. Golden threads were sewn into small geometric shapes bordering the bottom edges of the scarf - old runes of the Easterling writing system containing phrases of courage and honor. On her feet she wore knee-high black leather boots whose soles were sullied with dirt, having walked many roads prior. They were adorned with a pair of sai, one clasped to each of their outsides; while attached to her side was a sheathed scimitar - a long thin blade that was slightly curved. Its bronze handle could accommodate two hands comfortably.
Behind her an elegant black horse stood calmly as they waited on the edge of the ancient forest. She could sense their presence before they emerged though she was unsure at first, for Fangorn exuded an unsettling, haunted essence unlike anything she had felt before. Mithrandir's instructions were to wait there three days hence, where she would join him and his fellow travelers to Edoras, the king's seat of Rohan - old enemies from a past she knew this land would not have yet forgotten. Stationed nearby were two horses of the Rohirrim, one white and the other brown, waiting patiently for their masters to return from the forest's dark inner reaches.
A southern breeze suddenly blew below her, filtering through the dead grasses and billowing the fabric of her garb ever so slightly. She breathed the air that journeyed from afar, smelling the land that traveled with it. It had been near 500 years since she was west of Rhovanion, having been banished by King Thranduil on her unexpected encounter in Northern Mirkwood - the place she was born, but not raised.
In the middle of her second long breath of air, four forms emerged close to her right. Her left hand was already on her sword's hilt, for caution of the company's unknown intent. Gandalf's bright aura glared against the forest's darkness until it neutralized in the sun. She glanced at him, tilting her head down ever so slightly, respectively acknowledging his presence, only to realize one of his companions had drawn his bow and arrow, pointing it in her direction- a tall Elf of blond hair and fair complexion. She had encountered him before, the son of Thranduil, though his name eluded her at that time. He, on the other hand, had recognized her by name immediately. She stared back at him, the traditional black eyeliner of the Easterling militia unintentionally emphasizing her eyes' intensity. She was amused slightly at the feeling of being targeted as her hand relished the grip of her sword's handle, but she also felt unnerved by being reminded of their previous relations.
Gandalf quickly broke the tension, "Good, you're early," he said briskly as he walked towards her nonchalantly. "Then the task I set you to did not tarry." He had requested she seek the origin of any interference she discovered on the Westfold, not hinting to what that may be. It ended up being troops of Wildmen pillaging and raping villages, pledged to Sarumon the White.
Legolas's eyes showed mild confusion, "She is an enemy of men and elves, banished from these lands centuries past."
"Yes, but the terms of her banishment will have to be settled at a later date. For now, she has risked her life to bear invaluable news from Rhun and if we are to defeat Sauron, we will want all skilled warriors on our side," Gandalf said hastily as he moved next to her. "Vezely of Rhun," he turned to face the three, "Meet Aragorn, son of Arathron, Gimli, son of Gloin, and Legolas of the Woodland realm."
Vezely responded by placing her fist on her chest and bowing her head; an Easterling greeting.
Legolas slowly eased his bowstring, but not his eyes.
"You are an Easterling?" Aragorn asked calmly, trying to assess the situation which had unsettled his Elf companion.
"Yes and no," Vezely replied stoically, relaxing her other hand's grip from her hilt and turning her eyes to the ranger. She pulled her headscarf slightly farther down from her face. Was this Isildur's heir? She thought as she inspected him; having heard the rumors circulating. He had a kind demeanor, and soft eyes that betrayed an ever thoughtful mind.
"Vezely was raised in the East, but she is of Elvish decent," Gandalf intervened, leaning ever so slightly on his staff, deciding it best to not let the woman play games in the midst of noble hearts. "She is partially responsible for the first alliance between Gondor and Rohan, once a puppet of Sauron when he was posted at Dol Guldur. It was she who helped persuade the armies of the East to wage war on Gondor. But, and this I am certain," he directed his words at Legolas, "She has freed herself from Shadow and will pay her debt in time."
"The dark Elf witch of Balchoth," Gimli thought out loud, connecting the dots of history.
Vezely glared at the dwarf, not knowing her own legend in these lands, having spent the former century far past the Sea of Rhun where news from the West was slow and untrustworthy.
"Yes, the same," Gandalf responded.
"She cannot be trusted," Legolas spoke in Elvish, directing his words at Gandalf and Aragorn, for upon their prior meeting, Vezely did not understand the Elvish tongue. Unbeknownst to him, in the preceding century, she had studied their words from books she acquired.
"Nor should I be in these dark times," she responded abruptly, not in Elvish for fear of mispronunciation. "But know, we all share a common goal." Though fluent in Westron, she had a subtle accent that matched her foreign appearance.
"Indeed," Gandalf interjected with a smile, "Vezely has every reason to desire the fall of Sauron, and her sword will be most useful." The wizard walked further out into the grasslands, his grey cloak caught the low wind and he whistled melodically into the breeze, pitching the sound far into the surrounding area.
A great white horse descended from afar, floating gracefully as if clouds buffered its feet.
"That is one of the Maeras, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell," Legolas spoke amid the stunned silence; all were entranced by the sight of the mythical beast and it had momentarily eased the tension around him.
"Shadowfax," Gandalf greeted the steed who stood in front of him, patting him ever so gently on the nose. "He is the lord of all horses, and has been my friend through many dangers." Desiring to move on from the previous conversation, Gandalf quickly mounted the horse, "We ride to Edoras," prompting the others to follow.
Legolas glanced sternly at Vezely, as if to let her know she would be watched. She understood his suspicion, for she represented an abomination among his people - an Elf corrupted, tainted by the dark forces of this world, an occurrence all but unheard of. For exactly this reason, she was once a prize of Sauron, part of his revenge for the Elves' betrayal of his offer of an alliance. She would have to gain his trust and that of the king of Rohan if she was to regain any shed of honor in these lands.
As they rode across the great expanse of plains, Legolas's mind further considered the situation. Centuries passed since he last encountered her, after a horse transported her, injured and barely conscious, to the entrance of his father's city...
Vezely had entered the forests of Mirkwood with a small company of Easterlings, returning from defeat in the battle in the Wold where she had slain Eorl the Young, Rohan's first king. They were undoubtedly taking a more direct route to the fortress of Dol Guldur, on the hill of Amon Lanc, where Sauron as Necromancer had taken up his residence a millennium into the Third Age. Many of King Thranduil's forces were off on campaigns against invading orcs, but their group would encounter a small band of Woodland Guard stationed on the southern borders. The following skirmish left only her standing, though in need of aid - a knife had pierced her left lung and an arrow had punctured her thigh.
Gathering her spent body on a horse, the animal instinctively transported her closer to the Elvish residence; a large stone entrance that led to caverns underground. There she would fall from its back and lay still on the grasses below, bleeding her life away. A few Elves were in the area and approached her apprehensively, waiting to see if any others would follow. Instead, another band of Woodland Guard arrived, one of which was Legolas. They had followed the horse's tracks from the site of conflict; the dead bodies of their kinsmen fresh on their minds. They quickly had their arrows drawn on her.
Sensing something wrong, a young healer instinctively ran to the fallen body, pushing her gently on her back. "It is a woman," she called out, "And she is Elf kind." Horrified, she looked at those around her, all unsure how this could be; for in the long history of the Eldar, the only slayings of Elf by Elf had occurred in the most infamous and tragic moments of the First Age.
But caring not for her race, Legolas demanded the young healer to move, his fingers pulling back on his bowstring as the woman was falling in and out of consciousness; her hand trying but failing to grasp the blood stained sword that lay beside her. Legolas's companions took her weapon, and knowing it was stained with the blood of their fellow guardsmen, they wanted to let her die.
But King Thranduil had calmly ascended on the scene, as if sensing the commotion from inside his halls. "Treat her wounds," his strong voice spoke assuredly, gesturing with his hand the command to lower their bows. A moment later, two elves lifted her body and took her to be tended to. Thranduil was all too aware of what had transpired; he could see it painted on the face of his son and fellow guardsmen.
"Father," Legolas came to his side, his voice dripping in concern, "Are you sure that is wise?"
Thranduil gazed into Mirkwood's dark depths, his thoughts enveloped, as if assessing a message being passed through the surrounding trees. "There is reason behind her arrival here, a necessary path she must take…"
So easily the past could be recalled, perhaps for having been one of the few moments in Legolas's long life that he doubted his father's judgment. He did not know what to make of her reappearance, though he would watch her carefully for she undoubtedly remained unpredictable.
A/N: Please take a moment to review now or later as you hopefully keep reading. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!