*Hannah (Siri) pokes head out from behind Sarah* Oh…you're all still here?? Oh…umn…sorry I haven't posted yet, but I've been really really busy and--uh, anyway I have a post for you!! =D (so could you maybe not kill me??) Oh thanks! :D

Oh thank you so much for all the wonderful feedback!!!

HaloGatomon: Oh! I'm glad you liked that! *hands Halo whole box of tissue* Here you can just have this : )

Chloe: Hey! Chloe you can't have Kelegalen!! No no no! Give me Nethtalt back!! I NEEEEED them!!! *yanks characters back, breaths heavily* Thank you!

Hey, I resent the implications that *I* am a pyro-maniac! I'll have you know that that whole deal with the hair and the candle was NOT my fault! ;)

Princess_Leia (and Plushie): Oh, I'm glad you've liked it! We certainly liked having you!!

Lina Skye: Oh dear. Umn Lina, couldn't we just have him for this chapter?? Just one more chapter!! Come on, please?? Come on!! Drop him Lina! Drop him!! Ow…never mind, fine, you can *walk* with him, but he needs to head back home now!! :D

Conn Js: I'm glad you've enjoyed our mad 'little' fic :D Not much left to tell, but Sarah really wanted to have this last chapter so I hope you enjoy it! :D

sabercrazy: *laughs* Are we getting THAT predictable?? =D Don't worry! They'll probably make it through one more chapter!! …this time ;)

Pheonixqueen: *smiles* Oh! I'm glad you liked our story! And my sister Chloe's story too!! Yes, I'd give Cassia and Sio first place EVERY TIME!! I don't blame you at all : ) Oh yes, I really like to do covers for stories, I've got a very low quality photo editing program, but it serves me well!! =D I'm glad you enjoyed them : )

None (Julia): We have ONE more post!! : )

San: Woah!! You just read the whole thing?? Amazing!! I'm glad you liked it!! Actually the Corsairs were not our creation but Tolkien's we just used them : ) Though we are actually fans of Brian Jacques work I'm not sure that it influences our stories much, however it is an interesting observation! =D

Tom Starry: Well of COURSE it took a long time! If it was EASY where would be the fun in that? ;)

LittleFish: *smiles innocently* MAYBE there WILL be another one :D …sometime ;) I'm glad you liked their friendship! We very much enjoyed writing it : ) Yes, we were far too attached to our original characters to not resolve their story : )

Thank you SO much for all the encouraging feedback throughout our story! You really make us feel like we succeeded!

Stay tuned after the 'show' for 'production notes' and a suspicious looking preview for…something ;)

THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!

Once again!

And now for the LAST CHAPTER!!! =D

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Death or Despair

By Sarah and Hannah

(disclaimers, explanations, and summaries

available at the top of chapter 1)

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Chapter 22

Entulesse: The Return

Breaking camp, the two friends stood for a minute looking at each other. They were largely healed of their injuries, though both were thinner and paler looking, their clothing was in sorry condition, and one or two bandages still remained to cover their more serious hurts. Aragorn cast a glance both eastward and westward, then finally spoke, "We will go to Mirkwood first. Your father will be worried for you and it is closest to us from here."

Legolas sighed; they had been arguing over this ever since leaving Kelegalen and Nethtalt. "No, Aragorn, you told your father you would return over two months ago. We will continue our original journey to Rivendell, and I will return home from there."

Aragorn hefted his pack with a little more force than necessary, "Do you believe I will allow your father and friends to loose sleep from worrying over your absence?"

"Do you believe I will allow the same fate for your father and brothers?" The elf countered evenly, gracefully lifting his own pack and arching his eyebrows.

There was a silence, and finally the ranger let out a low breath, "Maybe we should simply split up, thereby both arriving home within a few weeks at the very most."

Legolas glanced around at the wide, grass and shrub covered hills, remembering the last time they had both stood here. Mere months ago it may have been, many years ago it might now seem, but nonetheless vivid were the memories. He shook his head, "I cannot simply leave you. What if something further occurs on your road home?"

"Don't you think me capable of looking after myself?" Aragorn asked dryly.

"No."

Aragorn glared at the elf, but there was no real anger there. He understood the elf's worries: they were his own, only reversed. "Very well, then, you shall accompany me."

The elf nodded in relief.

"And as I am going first to Mirkwood before returning home, I suppose you will have to come along." Without pausing to see his friend's reaction, Aragorn started off through the grass.

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By the evening of the next day, Aragorn could actually see the very place where he had waited for Legolas to track him. The large rock had not changed, though the ranger who now returned to it had.

"Aragorn, there is a horse standing by the stone," Legolas said suddenly, his keen eyes seeing what Aragorn had only perceived to be a faint discoloration in the rock.

Instantly on the alert, Aragorn stooped into the grass at the same time as his friend, disappearing from the view of all but a bird flying overhead. "Shall we skirt around them entirely, or go closer and try to discover where they are from?"

"Let us go closer. If we keep low, we will not be noticed."

Sliding silently through the waving grasses, the crept towards the rock, the wind covering their smell from the horse. Easing their way around the far side of the stone, they remained hidden in the shadows as they surveyed the small camp in front of them. There was quiet for a long time, the two occupants of the camp and the second horse sensing nothing, until suddenly Aragorn spoke:

"And how long did it take before you became worried enough to follow after me?"

With a cry that was equal parts joy and startlement, Elladan and Elrohir rose to meet them, embracing the ranger and the elf with wonder, and for a time forgetting to ask where they had disappeared to.

As Aragorn had known, it couldn't last.

"Where have you been, Estel? You were expected at Rivendell seventy-eight days ago!"

"Father said you were probably exercising your independence and had remained in Mirkwood, but Elladan felt you would not be so careless with your actions and would have at least sent word."

"We set out to look for you nigh on seven weeks ago, but were told by Kind Thranduil that you and Legolas had long since left for home, and indeed, Legolas had not returned yet himself, though he had only planned to travel with you as far as the High Pass."

"Your trail took us farther south than we had expected and we counted over forty stripped wolf corpses around what appeared to be your camp, but though we found two dead men also, and many broken Silvan arrows, we could find no trace of you. We were just following a second trail of yours, Estel, when it became too dark to see anymore and we were forced to camp."

Legolas, as usual, was thoroughly enjoying Aragorn's near lecture at the hands of his overly protective brothers, and couldn't help but ask, "Why did you not assume that either of the dead men were Aragorn?"

Elladan stooped to retrieve something from his pack, "One was too short, and the other had been killed by this." He produced one of Legolas' elven daggers.

Elrohir, even fresh from his worry, couldn't resist adding, "We considered the possibility that he had at last troubled you beyond endurance, but decided that if he had, you would not have bothered to leave the knife behind."

Aragorn tried out a glare on his brothers, as equally unsuccessful as his one to Legolas, but he was too pleased to be in their company once more to protest over anything that they said. In the end, he settled for a chuckle.

"What *did* happen?" Elladan pressed, his eyes concerned, "You look even more dreadful than usual, and do not tell me it took you all this time to travel only this far." He was clearly determined to get an answer.

Aragorn glanced at Legolas, who returned the look. The dark memories still hung heavily over the both of them, and would likely remain with them for the rest of their days. It was not something they wanted to relive just now. Finally, "It is a tale that should probably wait for daylight before it is told. Until then, it should suffice to say…" He looked at Legolas again, hunting for a quick answer. The elf supplied one.

"We took a detour to study iron work and visit the dwarves."

End

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A few last things: Sarah here! In keeping with the Tolkien tradition of including at the end of a story far more information concerning it than you really wanted to know, we thought you might be interested in seeing a little behind-the-scenes stuff on everyone's names. Most of them are Sindarin, and so have meanings that often give away some of their character. ;)

Kelegalen (swift green) | This is one of the few we used where you can actually imagine a mother in Rohan naming her son that way. It may be a bit of a mouthful, but it's got their nationality written all over it.

Nethtalt (young insecure) | Let's just hope Nethtalt never grows up, or anything, cause if he does, he'll be in big trouble…

Diinen (silent) | Yup.

Stavhold and Bronadui | Two of the few exceptions (where the humans were concerned) in the whole 'the names have to *mean* something' rule. When Hannah suggested them, they were just too good to leave out because of a technicality.

Helkhmorn (bitter dark) | We would have just called him 'Helkh' (bitter), but it sounded like someone choking.

Seregoer (blood sea) | As a corsair captain, it seemed fitting, if a little gross.

Lhimlug (sea serpent) | Ditto for a corsair ship.

Oeruil (seaweed) | This one was, admittedly, more of a joke, though it *did* end up sounding good.

Lord Furnmorth (hidden darkness) | More than one idea was suggested and discarded for him, and even the one we picked took a little getting used to.

Captain Naraka (harsh/violent) | Just so long as we didn't think 'maraca', this was an easy one.

Balkhfiren (cruel human) | This was originally one of our ideas for Furnmorth, but we decided it was too harsh for the sort of suave, intelligent villain that Furnmorth was supposed to be.

Orkhalla (superior) | Another joke: Orkhalla was created solely to give Legolas someone to accidentally kill in one scene. This 'superior' guy lasted a grand total of one and a half pages.

Agarwaen (blood stained) | The rest of the villains didn't get a whole lot of thought, but were merely tagged with the first macabre label we could think of.

Mekhor (bloodiness) | See above

Guruthos (death horror) | See above

Dorm, son of Damrod, son of Dren | We're pretty sure that Damrod means 'Hammerer of Copper', but we aren't positive, and Dorm and Dren came straight out of our heads (see below)

Moín, Bonfur, Nowin, Glor, Frói, Óen, Thúril, Frerin, Orin, Roden, Nori, Bern, Funmar, Rundin, Gruri, Dorin | The dwarf names don't actually have any meanings. Some, like Nori, were reused from the books (since Tolkien himself wasn't above having two 'Oin's in the course of his tales), some, like Bonfur, were constructed from pieces of original names (Bombur, Bifur), and others were the result of us needing a new dwarf and saying, "How about Roden! Roden sounds like a good dwarvish name."

Thilwum (evil sickness) | The name of the illness that took Kelegalen's family: aren't we brilliant?

Gilthad (metal, white) | Actually, it's 'giltha', but we fudged it a bit because 'giltha' sounded a little too elvish for a mountain inhabited by dwarves.

Fladweth (green area of land) | It sounded like a nice place to farm in, and we needed a name for Diinen and Nethtalt's home, so...

Ered Ladin (level mountain) | An outright contradiction. Hey, sometimes realism gets tiring! And actually, the translation can also mean 'equable mountain', but since Bronadui isn't exactly a main character, what his fictional home-town is really called doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

Gundabad | I include this one merely to state that Gundabad is, in fact, *not ours*! It is a real place on Tolkien's map, between the Grey Mountains and the Misty Mountains, and was really inhabited by orcs once, as the Grey Mountains themselves were once inhabited by dwarves (though Gilthad does not exist in Tolkien's world). By the time we had Furnmorth move in, the original occupants had already been driven out by the dwarves in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, so it was standing empty; a perfect spot to insert our villain. Besides that, I also wanted to make sure you understood that we did not pick the title 'Gundabad' because we liked it. ;)

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Also: we thought we'd give you a little trailer for the next story we'll be writing!

VO = Voice Over, [sound]

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[soft flute music]

VO (male): An ambitious king and queen…

fade up of two dark haired, scarlet clad Southrons standing close together in a stone chamber: a man (Harnwe) and a woman (Mavranor). Both are gazing at a map on a table between them.

VO: A royal elven messenger…

Fade up of two elves (Legolas and Meldir) walking through the grass; Legolas is laughing

VO: A Rohirrim and his family…

Fade up of Kelegalen, older now, standing on the edge of a wide plain, eyes narrowed against the wind as he watches something off-camera

VO: And a mysterious soldier from Gondor…

Fade up of two guards on a high wall top in Minas Tirith. One is Duurben, but the camera passes him to focus on the second man, whose back is turned

VO: From the far corners of Middle Earth they will come…

Wide pan of a long train of Southron migrants, Harwe at their head on a huge beast

VO: And unexpectedly…

[flute music ends]

Legolas running swiftly, his bow drawn [silence except for his breathing and his footsteps]

Kelegalen dropping the saddle on his horse [clink of tackle, horse grunts]

Close up on horse's hoof rising and striking the ground impatiently [the thud echoes]

Black

VO: They will meet.

[full music begins with a crash]

Flash of the Southron army dressed in scarlet and gold, charging in a phalanx of spears

Cut to Duurben fighting at night, his sword catching the moonlight

Cut to a horse rearing, eyes wide in terror

Cut to a Legolas and Meldir running

Cut to a close-up of a Rohirrim soldier's white face, staring off screen

Cut to Kelegalen turning swiftly, blood on his face

VO: Now, when the safety of an entire people is hanging in the balance…

Flash of a mother huddling down with her son, covering his ears with her hands

VO: There are only a few people able to halt the destruction…

Flash of a small group of Rohirrim, including the man, now in a dark cloak, and Legolas, hiding in the bushes, their weapons drawn

Flash of King Thengel standing in front of Edoras

VO: And one of them…

The man, still hooded, raises his bow as he adjusts his aim, and fires his arrow directly into the screen

Black

VO: Is not who he seems.

[end music]

Flash back to the first shot of the man on the wall top, looking over the battlements

Voice (off camera): Captain Thorongil?

The man (turning calmly around): Yes?

It is Aragorn

Black [flute music returns]

White text on a black background: Thorongil

Text fades out.

[music goes low]

VO (Legolas, laughingly): I believe you have quite enough extra names.

Fade up of Aragorn and Legolas sitting next to each other

Legolas: 'Aragorn', 'Estel', 'Strider' and now yet another one. When will it end?

Aragorn (dryly): This from someone whose species delights in naming and renaming everything they lay their eyes on.

Close-up on Legolas' look of disbelief

Black

White text on black background: Coming soon to FanFiction.net.

Pretty soon that is. Like, maybe December if the authors write fast, but more likely early next year. Maybe as late as June, if they accidentally kill off Legolas and have to rewrite the whole story without him. (Hannah(Siri) interrupts: And since a certain Siri we all know got her lap top stepped on she's going to be handicapped for a while, so please be patient with us! :D )

'Soon' is kind of in the eye of the advertiser, isn't it…? Oh wait, this is still part of the trailer--

[music fades out]

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And to clarify the title: we named it that because we originally intended to have the story be only about Aragorn… only to discover that we just aren't capable of leaving out his best friend. So we decided we'd add Legolas for a few scenes… only to discover that we just weren't capable of limiting him that way either. So we admitted defeat and included him for the whole fic, along with (as you've briefly seen) several other familiar characters. But we didn't want to bother changing the title, so 'Thorongil' it remains, in spite of it's more inclusive nature.

Thorongil is now in it's fifth chapter and the total chapter count according to our outline will be 21 (just so you know: Death or Despair had 17 chapters in the original outline). As we said: we're not sure when this will hit the boards, but will try to make it ASAOBSWP (As Soon As Our Busy Schedules Will Permit), and hope to see at least some of you there!

You've all been the best readers we could have asked for and we give you our heartiest thanks!!!

Namárië! For now… *cue ominous music*

- Sarah and Hannah (Siri)