Change One Thing, See What Happens

Paradox of the Fourth Age

12. Chapter 11~ Hollow and Bewildered

Author's Notes - Thanks to Elliska, my wonderful beta. Thanks to Vlad for letting me bounce it off her first too.

22nd day of February
Fourth Age, Year 79
Imladris, Middle Earth


The dark lord seethed in silence as he stood in the library of Imladris. His moment of triumph over the elves had once again been thwarted.

The Witch King, along with two of the Nazgul, approached him hesitantly. "My Lord, the village is empty of all elves. It appears they left some weeks ago," The Witch King said, his disgust for the elves apparent.

"I know," Sauron replied, his deep voice calm despite his rage.

The silence in the room was heavy as all waited to hear his next command. The orcs raiding the halls of the elven home were the only sounds that could be heard and the anticipation weighed heavily on the Nazgul. A man or elf would cower before Sauron, his presence alone enough to strike fear in the bravest of hearts. The whole room filled with his darkness and, if the Nazgul were not malovent, black hearted beings, they would find it difficult to spend much time in Sauron's company. All living things withdrew from the evil that permeated every molecule of air, causing anything with goodness in their hearts to cower under the weight of it.

"Send two of your company to Saruman. Tell him to begin the full force attack on Mithlond. The elves are at the harbor, preparing to sail for Aman. He must prevent that but make clear to him, do not destroy any of their ships. We will leave here and travel to the Gray Havens as well," Sauron told the Witch King.

After two Nazgul were dispatched on Fell Beasts to go to the former Shire, where Saruman had a smaller army, the Witch King and one of his men return to find Sauron had moved towards Lord Elrond's desk and was now holding a bottle of Miruvor that had been left behind in the elves departure. Sauron could still remember the fragrant liquid well from his days living amongst the elves of Eregion. He also knew how it had burned when he drank it last, like a fire in his stomach. The potent drink had the power to renew strength in the elves, but to someone as dark as he, that power burned and weakened him. Slowly he turned the bottle over to pour its contents onto the paper that remained on the desk. After a few moments, the liquid began to sizzle and he felt almost amused by the fact that it appeared to move away from him. The power to destroy anything he touched with his own darkness always was a source of great pride to him, even something as small as an Elven cordial was no exception. Calmly he turned to the Witch King.

"Burn everything to the ground. I can barely stand the stench of those self-righteous First Born. Set a blaze so high that the free people left in Middle Earth know that the Elves have departed. Elrond and Galadriel have abandoned Middle Earth, like cowards, rather than fight me," Sauron said dropping the bottle to the ground where it shattered into a million pieces. "Elves have grown weak over the ages. What I would not give for a battle like the ones of the First Age again. These hollow victories have grown tiring."

Nodding, the Nazgul moved to tell the orcs to begin the burning of Rivendell. Sauron stayed a moment longer before he gave his last command to the Witch King and stormed from the room.

"We leave for the Havens after the fires have been set. They cannot face the forces of our armies along with Saruman's. There are too few of them left. I will crush Galadriel's heart in my hand before I will see her escape me again."

~~~~~

Cirdan watched Elrond's face with concern. He had become quiet and his face had grown paler in the last few moments. The glass he was holding appeared about to snap in two under the force of his grip.

"Elrond, what is it?" he asked.

The other elf appeared not to even hear him and the silence was maddening. Before he could ask again, he heard Galadriel drop the book she was holding, causing everyone to jump at the loud clatter it made when it hit the stone floor of Cirdan's study. The Teleri lord jumped from his seat to rush to her side when he saw the look of sheer horror cross her face. Her beautiful eyes were full of terror and pain that cut him to the quick.

"What is wrong?" Cirdan asked again, more forcefully as he held Galadriel's arm and guided her to his chair.

"Rivendell is gone," Elrond said quietly. "Sauron is coming here. Now."

Feeling both anger and sorrow so overwhelming it almost took away his breath, Cirdan shook his head in disbelief. The elves of Rivendell had arrived a couple of weeks prior to depart for Valinor after scouts had seen movement from Sauron's forces in their direction. The trip had been hard on everyone. The elves had too few left to properly guard the whole party so they had suffered two orc attacks and lost a few good warriors during the journey. Elrond had sent most of the remaining elves with Erestor a few years before, only keeping the best warriors in Middle Earth as they continued to try to determine the location of Gandalf. Once they knew he was in Minas Morgul, they wanted to rescue him but soon realized it was not possible. Eventually it was clear they could not delay any longer and when Sauron's armies were obviously planning a large-scale attack, Elrond and Galadriel began preparations to leave Rivendell for good before Saruman and Sauron surrounded them completely. The plan was for them to depart from the Havens in two weeks time.

"We need to prepare to depart from here before they get here from Rivendell," Cirdan said simply.

"Saruman's forces can, and mostly likely, will be here too sooner," Galadriel pointed out.

"Then we will have to move quickly. The ships for the Rivendell elves have already begun loading supplies. Tomorrow we will begin loading the supplies for the rest of us. We will have to burn the remaining ships and all of the building materials, to prevent them from falling into Sauron's hands," Cirdan replied.

Galadriel closed her eyes and lowered her head. A flood of memories, ages old, overwhelmed her. Fleeing to Valinor now felt much like it had when she left there ages before.

"We will assist you in that, my friend," Elrond reassured him.

"No, you and Galadriel have enough to burden your minds with. There are more of my people than your own, we can move quickly and be prepared to leave two to three days after your departure, long before Sauron would have time to arrive from Rivendell."

"And the Nazgul?" Galadriel asked quietly.

"Sauron will keep his fiercest warriors with him. He will assume that we will be caught off guard," Elrond reassured her. "He no longer sees us as a threat to him so he will not rush to prevent us from leaving. In his mind, we are all together here at the Havens, waiting for him to slaughter us all."

"If we do not depart in time, he will," Galadriel said, rising slowly and walking to the window to watch the boats in the harbor.

Elrond sensed her unease and wished he could say something to comfort her. Even as his thoughts were in turmoil, his two sons entered the room in a rush.

"Scouts from the Shire are reporting the skies are beginning to darken even more," Elrohir said.

Everyone in the room knew that orcs could not travel in direct sunlight, so Saruman and Sauron both darkened the skies before a large-scale attack to allow them to move faster. Elrond looked at Galadriel and she nodded quietly. Once again, his eyes wandered to the face of one of his oldest and dearest friends. Cirdan gave him a slight smile.

Turning back to his sons, Elrond said, "Have everyone prepare to leave. Work in shifts throughout the night and day. We need to depart soon. Do not take anything that is not required."

Elrohir opened his mouth to ask a question but seeing his father's eyes, he quickly snapped it shut. More was going on that Elrond was saying but he knew that Atar would tell him when the time was right, and not before. Elladan sensed the unspoken words as well, but both merely nodded and left the room. Two of Cirdan's warriors were coming in as they left and both overheard their orders.

"Begin loading supplies on the boats. Do not take anything that can be spared."

~~~~

Galadriel stood on the balcony of her room in silence watching the boats burning on the water. She had seen this before, a sight she hoped to never see again. The past days had blurred one into another and she no longer knew how many days ago their plans had been made. The boats they needed were ready to depart in the morning. Cirdan's ships were close to being fully loaded with supplies as well. There were only two boats that were empty and were not being burned, spares being partially stocked with supplies in the event something happened to one of the others.

"Are you well?" Elrohir said from the doorway.

"Elrohir, come. I want you to see this." Galadriel said as she turned to look at him.

Standing beside her, Elrohir watched in disgust the flames raging through the beautiful Teleri ships. "Why would you want me to see this? I would rather not have this memory to add to the bad memories I already have of this place."

"This is not the first time elves have set fire to these beautiful boats," Galadriel said softly. "But this time is as powerful as the last to me. Do you know why?"

Shaking his head, Elrohir turned to look at her. Even in the darkness, she was radiant and he always felt her reaching out to his fëa to sooth the constant turmoil inside him.

"When Fëanor burned the ships, it was a sign of the division of the First Born. Now, we burn these ships because we are united in our cause. Sindarin, Noldo, Teleri, all the races of Elves are now one. We fight as one," she said.

"But we are not fighting. We are fleeing," Elrohir argued.

"Is that how you see it Elrohir?" Galadriel asked intently. "Fëanor saw our fight with Morgoth as the only way to regain the Silmarils. In his mind, the blood spilled during the kinslayings was justified. His actions were not in the best interest of the elves, but in his own. Can you, knowing our history, not see that the lives of elves are not worth the fight over this land? We have Valinor, the Undying Lands…"

"But what of the other races of Middle Earth? What of men and the dwarves? There are so few left, they need our help to protect them from being destroyed," Elrohir said angrily. "We are abandoning them."

Galadriel felt his sorrow even stronger than his anger, but knew that until he left Middle Earth behind, he could not begin to heal. "Elrohir, I know how hard this is for you, for Elladan. We all feel guilt for what we have to do, but we have to prevent Sauron from destroying the remaining elves of Middle Earth. The men and dwarves must work together to defend their lands or they will…" Her voice trailed off, leaving her words hanging in the air. Both knew the outcome if the remaining free people of Middle Earth did not find some way to defeat Sauron.

Elrohir shook his head as he watched another boat being set on fire. Flames leapt into the air as he silently left the balcony. Galadriel did not try to stop him because she knew there was nothing more she could say to ease his pain.

Tears filled her eyes as she thought of Aman. Could she heal her tattered fëa when she returned to the blessed land? She was leaving behind so many memories, some good, some horrifying. She could still remember the first time she set foot on Middle Earth and now, after spending most of her life here, she was leaving, without her husband and her daughter, without Arwen. But at least she still had Elrohir and Elladan and she knew that soon, she would see Celebrían again. She would make sure that her grandsons would be with her when she first saw her daughter again. Galadriel knew she could not ease Celebrían's pain from the loss of Arwen or her beloved father, but Galadriel would bring her sons and her husband back to her, Eru willing.

~~~~

Cirdan paced the dock as he waited for the final reports of Saruman's troops. He knew their time was quickly running out. Already they had been delayed a few days, due to a storm damaging one of his boats, forcing them to unpack it and reload the supplies on one of the remaining ships. Elrond and Galadriel were safely away on their way to Aman and his boats would join them on the sea soon.

"My lord," he heard an astonished voice to his side and he looked up.

"Eru, no," Cirdan whispered to himself as he saw the Corsair ships on the horizon.

As the dawning horror set upon the Elf lord, he heard the shrieks of the Nazgul's fell beasts flying overhead. Sauron's attack had begun and the elves had not anticipated the dreaded pirates being part of it.

Ossë carried the news to Ulmo reluctantly: the Grey Havens was overrun with orcs and there was no sign of Cirdan or the elves. Elrond and Galadriel's ships were being closely watched by the Maia now to assure safe passage for the final crossing, as Ulmo brought the news to Manwë. With a heavy heart, Manwë called together all of the Ainur in the Ring of Doom.

~~~~

Glorfindel opened the door to see Thranduil and Erestor. The look in both their eyes told him that this was not a social call. Their faces showed they had brought tragic news.

"We have just left Eönwë. He had news from the Valar," Thranduil said solemnly. "Perhaps you should call Indil in here as well."

Glorfindel held Indil as the tears overwhelmed her after the other elves' departure. The news that the remaining elves of Middle Earth were sailing to Aman was a relief, but knowing that the Grey Havens was lost, including Cirdan and his people, was devastating to them all, especially Indil. Glorfindel tried his best to comfort her, but he knew that no words could ease this pain. He was relieved to know that Elrond, Galadriel, and the twins had survived and would soon arrive in Aman, but he too mourned Cirdan. He prayed that Ulmo and Ossë would carry the remaining elves safely home to their families. For hours, he held his wife tightly until she finally ran out of tears.

~~~~

He watched her through the windows as she stood amongst the colorful blooms of her mother's gardens. The sun was glistening in her hair, making her look as if she wore a halo of light. Many said she looked like him with her long golden hair, but he saw so much of her beautiful mother in her as well. She was elegant and graceful, with a sweet, innocent face. Her eyes, like his, were deep blue yet hers had not seen the horrors his had.

He smiled as he watched her try to lure the geese from a nearby pond away from the flowers rather than using his approach of chasing them off. As if sensing him watching her, she looked back at him and laughed, knowing he thought she was too compassionate with the creatures that had destroyed a lot of the garden.

Her heart was warm and overflowing with love. She was witty and had a wicked sense of humor to go with her beautiful and infectious laugh. To him, she was perfect, a vision of love and beauty: full of joy and laughter unknown to him before her. He had never known he could possibly love someone so much.

"Melethen, we must tell her soon." Indil came from behind him, placing her hand on his arm. He continued to stand wordlessly before the window.

"Melethrilen, I will tell her. Just allow me one more moment of peace before I delve back into the horror of it all. I cannot even stand the thought of it, much less to speak of it." Shaking his head, he sighed, "I wish my daughter could stay untouched by the evil of Middle Earth forever."

"Glorfindel that cannot be. She has been very blessed in her life to not have had to suffer as we have, but she needs to know what happened. The sadness is now felt in the wind. She knows something is horribly wrong but she believes you would tell her if she should know." Indil kissed him gently. "She trusts you to tell her. Do not think you can protect her from all that has happened. It is not possible."

Glorfindel watched his daughter for a moment longer. He knew his wife was correct. If he closed his eyes, he could almost see Rivendell again. Soon, the visions would become horrific and he could bear it no more. Looking at his child, he could almost forget that it had happened. For her, it was as if it never had.

"Would you prefer if I spoke of this with Laurëanna?" Indil offered.

Glorfindel smiled slightly and shook his head. Pulling Indil to him, he rested his forehead on hers. She wrapped her arms around his waist. They both just stood silently for a moment comforted with each other's presence. Sighing, he pulled away and she looked at him sympathetically.

He turned and walked to the patio doorway. He had put this off far too long. It was time.

Middle Earth is no more. All that once had been was now destroyed and blackness covered the land.

Hollow and Bewildered

9th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Tarlang's Neck, Middle Earth

Elrohir watched Laurëanna's conversation with Legolas from his horse. He could see she was getting very upset and wondered what had happened in the short time she was away from his side.

"What is it brother?" Elladan spoke softly watching the other two elves as well. "She seems very distraught. Should I ask what you have done?"

"Me?" Elrohir exclaimed and then realized his brother was teasing him. "She is very…emotional, is she not? I am not used to such frequent mood swings from ellith."

"Perhaps it is the fact that she is in the middle of a haunted road being followed by a dead army," Gimli said as he came up behind them.

Elladan smirked at his brother since it was clear that the dwarf felt that he was defending Laurëanna from insult.

"Gimli, you are most likely correct. Females are never known for being calm in the face of danger," Elladan said with a wink.

"I am certain grandmother would love to hear you say that," Elrohir pointed out. "Forgive us Gimli, we are used to more rational elleth such as our grandmother, Lady Galadriel."

Seeing the look in the dwarf's eyes, Elrohir had to choke back a laugh. "Aye, Lady Galadriel is no mere elf maiden though. She is a rare gem, a powerful queen," Gimli spoke in reverant tones.

"I think we are ready," Legolas said as he rode up.

Laurëanna was quiet and Elrohir held his hand out to help her on his horse, ignoring the looks from the others. She was so distracted, she did not even think about how surprised everyone else was and Elrohir frankly did not care what they thought. Turning his horse, he began to follow the other riders as they began their journey down to Tarlang's Neck. The morning was still cold enough to see their breath and everyone had once again lapsed into quiet during the hard journey. At least the Paths of the Dead were behind them now, but also behind them rode the ghosts of damned men, and that was an uneasy feeling for all.

After riding in silence for hours, Elrohir attempted to find out what had upset Laurëanna earlier, but she evaded all questions until he finally gave up for now. He could see she was still very concerned about something, her eyes showed that she was a million leagues away from here and he was concerned that she would not be able to survive this journey.

"Where is everyone?" she asked suddenly. Barely aware of their surroundings until the afternoon, she was surprised that the areas they were traveling through were mostly deserted.

"I am certain the men have gone to war, perhaps to Minas Tirith even. The rest of the people have most likely fled to the hills. Word will have traveled quickly that the men of the mountain are traveling with us," Elrohir explained.

"What a horrible place this is," she said, mainly to herself.

Laurëanna could not help but miss the beauty of her home more and more each day in Middle Earth. Everything was so dreadful and empty here;there was so much destruction. She closed to her eyes and tried to think back to Tirion to pass the time.

They stopped for the night at Calembel, a town that was above the fords of the River Ciril. The town was deserted, like the rest of Lamedon appeared to be so far. Aragorn set out watches and they made camp for the night. Needing a walk after such a long ride, Laurëanna offered to take the horses to get fresh water.

"I will come with you," Elrohir said, taking the reins from Elladan and Legolas as well.

When they reached a small tributary of the river, Laurëanna smiled at him and said, "Would you mind too horribly if I cleaned myself up as well?"

"Of course not, but I cannot leave you alone," Elrohir said, uncomfortably.

"I know," she nodded. Realizing how awkward this was for him, she said, "Perhaps you could just turn your back?"

"Well…I supposed, but there could be something dangerous…"

"I will be careful and fast, I assure you," she said.

Perhaps it was her exhaustion and the strain of the journey was making her somewhat emotional, but she had to try hard not to giggle at her husband being worried about seeing her undressed. She managed to not tell him that it was not something he had not seen thousands of times before. Using the horses to shield her from the eyes of the other men, she began to remove her boots and leggings.

"I believe I have a clean shirt in my saddle bag," Elrohir offered. He walked to the horse and still not turning around he pulled the shirt from it, and handed it over his shoulder.

"Thank you," she said taking it gratefully and resisting the overwhelming urge to kiss him.

Laurëanna sang softly as she did the best she could to bathe in the cold water of the creek. Deciding she might not get another chance again, she washed her hair as well, wishing she still had the fancy soaps that Eowyn had given her. But just rinsing away with grime and dust made her feel better. Putting on his shirt that was much too large, she felt very nostalgic for the many times she had worn his clothing in their house or on the beach. When she was finished, she came up behind him and smiled at his obvious attempts to give her privacy.

"I am finished," she said and he turned to her.

Both of them were quiet as they looked at one another. After a moment, Laurëanna reached up and gently touched his cheek. Her hand was cold from the water and he covered it with his own, still staring intently in her eyes.

"We should return to the camp," he whispered, but made no move to leave. Instead he put his other hand on her neck, pulling her closer to him.

'Oh Valar, this is not the time for this,' Elrohir thought before he lowered his lips to hers.

His kiss was tender and Laurëanna wrapped her arms around his neck to keep him close to her. Lightly caressing her lips with his own, Elrohir heard her moan softly and it sent desire shooting through his body. Unable to resist, his kiss deepened, his tongue tasting her sweet mouth. His hands moved to her back and he held her tightly, her tongue teasing his as her fingers tangled in his hair. Despite the fact that he knew it was completely impossible and irrational, he felt the sense that all of this was so familiar to him. He felt like he had done this many times.

Laurëanna's heart soared when he kissed her and everything else faded from her mind. Her husband was falling in love with her again and she knew that their love was stronger than anything else; that it would survive all. As she immersed herself in his kiss, she was struck by the blinding realization that she could lose him in a few days and she unintentionally pulled away from him.

Thinking she regretted him kissing her, Elrohir said, "Forgive me, Laurëanna. I did not…"

"No. I did not mean…I mean, I did want you to kiss me. I…heard something," Laurëanna said, desperately trying to think of a plausible excuse that wouldn't sound like a rejection.

"Where?" Elrohir said instantly alert. "We should go back to camp now." Taking her hand and the reins of the horses, he led her back to the camp, onguard for whatever it was she heard. Laurëanna followed him, regretting that she had destroyed the magical moment with her fear of what might happen to him.

~~~~

The next couple of days bled one into another for Laurëanna. They traveled non-stop it seemed and she grew more and more frustrated that they would not arrive in Minas Tirith in time to change the outcome. What if she had given up everything in her life to do this and failed? What if she faltered in her path enough to have changed things for the worse? Each day she grew more despondent and withdrawn, even to Legolas and Elrohir.

Everyone was lost in their own thoughts and concerns as they traveled through Gondor towards the port side town of Pelargir. Aragorn had learned that Lord Angbor was fighting a battle with the men of Umbar and Harad in Linhir and pushed his company to rush to his aid. Everyone fled before them, the word spreading that the Army of the Dead traveled with them. Being surrounded by the dead army was affecting most of those in the Gray Company as well. The day was dark and gray with no sun showing through the mist. The mood was somber and most of the riders did not speak for hours on end, even the usually talkative Gimli. Each dealt with their fears in their own ways. Legolas did not fear them, but he was concerned about their effects on the others and the fate of his former companions in the Fellowship so he was silent as the well. Despite his concern that they would not arrive in time to Gondor, Aragorn grew sterner each passing hour. Those observing him felt reassured by his brave and regal demeanor.

Laurëanna felt a quiet satisfaction as she watched Aragorn developing into the king she knew him to be in the tales. She knew in her heart that Elrond would be most proud of his foster son at this moment. Even if things did not change to save Middle Earth, she knew that Estel would lead Gondor heroically.

~~~~

Dosing off at one point, Laurëanna was startled awake to the noises of a battle. They had reached the fords of the River Gilrain near Linhir where Lord Angbor and his men were engaged in a fierce battle. Chaos began to spread through the battle at their arrival with the Army of the Dead. Both the forces of good and evil began to flee before them. Laurëanna could sense as well as see the ghost soldiers around them, sometimes following them, others passing before them, their banners barely seen in the gloom.

Turning to glance at Elrohir, Laurëanna was taken aback by his fierce demeanor. She had never seen him this way, even along the Paths of the Dead. This was Elrohir, the Elven warrior, not her husband in Aman who had left all his battles behind in Middle Earth. Swallowing hard, she finally spoke to him.

"Elrohir, what will happen now?"

"If we join the fight, I want you to stay with one of the riders who will keep you safe. I do not want to risk your…" Elrohir began as he tried to decide the best course of action for her safety.

"Elrohir, I can fight. I know how to defend myself and am quite skilled with a sword," Laurëanna argued weakly.

Even though she knew how to fight, in her heart, she was afraid that her skills would not be enough in the face of the deadly Haradrim and Umbar warriors. Her training had been given to her by those who loved her not ones who wished their death above all else.

"No. I cannot worry that you have not overestimated your skills and will end up on the end of one of their blades," Elrohir said sternly in a voice that warned her against any arguments.

In the end, there was no need for further discussion. Their foes, along with most of the men of Lamedon, fled in terror and dismay of the King of the Dead. Only one remained: Lord Angbor.

Then Aragorn said to Angbor their captain who alone stayed to meet him, "Behold! I am not the King of the Dead, but the Heir of Isildur, and I live yet for a while. Follow me, if you wish to see the end of this darkness and the downfall of Mordor."

And Angbor answered, "I will gather all men that I may, and follow after you swiftly."

After Aragorn and Lord Angbor met and discussed their plans, Angbor rode off to gather his men while the Gray Company took a much-needed rest. Riding away from the battle carnage, they made camp for the night a little way up the river. Laurëanna dismounted with Elrohir's help and felt the fatigue of the days of riding so hard in her whole body. She and Legolas walked to gather firewood and he asked her how she was.

"Afraid. Worried. Relieved. I feel many conflicting emotions I suppose but I am so tired now I cannot form a complete thought," Laurëanna said with a grin. "I think that is best so that I do not fall to my knees and cry like a baby when I remember how close I came to having to test my sword arm."

Legolas chuckled. "I think if you were to cry now a few of the riders might throttle you."

"Yes, I know. Most likely my own husband," Laurëanna laughed. "It is best if I do not focus on the whole story and perform simple functions such as remaining on my feet and awake long enough to finally eat real food. If I have another piece of Lembas, I fear I might go mad. What I would not give for a glass of Miruvor right now."

"Not a glass but perhaps a swallow or two would suffice?" Elladan said walking towards them with a canteen in his hand.

"Is that what I hope it is?" Laurëanna asked with excitement.

"As you wished," he smiled as he handed her the canteen.

Drinking a few swallows of the precious liquid, Laurëanna felt tingling in her blood as it coursed through her body. She passed it to Legolas with a grin.

"Elladan, I cannot believe you had that with you all along and did not mention it," she admonished him playfully.

"I knew this would be a hard journey and wanted to save it until it was most needed. I think Estel appreciated it as much as you did. He said he felt like a new man," Elladan replied.

"This means he will drive us that much harder tomorrow morning," Laurëanna frowned. "I need to enjoy the respite while we have it I suppose."

The three elves rejoined the others and, after a meal of venison, everyone began to drift off to sleep. Still somewhat restless, Elrohir took Laurëanna's hand and led her away from the fire.

They walked in silence, the darkness swallowing them as they drifted further away from the camp. Absentmindedly, Elrohir lightly stroked her hand with his thumb, which soothed her more than the cherished Miruvor had. Stopping, he turned to her and drew her closer, her presence filling him with a sense of comfortable familiarity. The past few days they had been within inches apart most of the time. He stroked her back while resting his forehead against her listening to her soft breathing.

"Laurëanna...you make me feel very comforted. I do not understand this affect you have on me. Is this some sort of spell you have cast?" he whispered huskily.

Shaking her head slightly, she replied, "No. I know no spell that could make us feel this way. Only one thing has this affect. Our fëar have found each other."

Elrohir's fingers trailed along her face as he thought of what all this meant. Was this love? This need to have her nearby, this reassurance by her mere closeness. He wished they were in Rivendell or Lothlorien, any place where he could sort through his emotions. Facing the upcoming battles and dangers that lay ahead, he could not trust his heart, his fëa, to not cling to her out of loneliness. Not willing to risk hurting her, he said nothing as he pulled away and began leading her back to the camp.

Laurëanna almost groaned in frustration that once again he was fighting his own feelings. Too tired to argue, she was silent and just enjoyed their few moments of privacy. Back in the camp, they both soon fell asleep, as they lay side by side yet still apart.

~~~~

The first thing she noticed when she opened her eyes was the salty smell of the sea in the breeze. Laurëanna covered her ears against the shrieks that screamed above and tried to ascertain where she was, and when. Noticing the harbor nearby, she glanced into the sky and saw through the darkness, the outline of large beasts flying above, their piercing cries shooting fear straight into her heart. Fell beasts? Was she in Aman or Middle Earth she wondered as she stumbled through the passing elves who seemed completely unaware of her presence.

No. She had never seen this place before in her life. These elves were not the Teleri of Alqualondë. Seeing the foul beasts that ran through the crowd slaughtering everyone in their path, Laurëanna lost all ability to move and stood in shocked horror, watching the scene before her. Swarthy men fought with the elves as well. Through the clamor she heard an authoritative voice calling out commands. Finally turning towards the voice, Laurëanna saw a silver haired bearded elf and knew at once she was in the Havens.

This was her mother's home for centuries. Indil had told her so many tales of her years here that Laurëanna felt sickened by what remained of the elven stronghold. Flames tore through most of the buildings and there were so many elves lying scattered on the ground. The smell, sounds of the dying, and sight before her almost brought Laurëanna to her knees.

"This is a dream. You need to wake up," she repeated over and over wanting to close her eyes and make it all disappear.

Suddenly she was knocked to the ground by something and she sat on the ground staring at the stream of blood that flowed from her hand. Transfixed by the crimson trail it made, her thoughts drifted away for a moment.

"Take him alive!"

Laurëanna heard an unearthly voice from behind her. She turned to see something that turned her blood cold; a Nazgul, one of the nine most feared of Sauron's army. This one was obviously the one with the authority so she knew that she faced the Witch King. Her face paling, she watched him walk towards the orcs and men that held Lord Cirdan struggling with all his might.

Seeing the Witch King further intensified his fight and Cirdan began to yell at those holding him. "Cowards! Weak servants of Sauron! You surrendered your own wills to the Dark Lord rather than stand up to him, rather than fight him honorably."

Spitting in his face, one of the Corsair pirates said, "Be quiet elf. We cannot kill you, but that does not mean we will not make you wish for death. We serve Sauron because he is more powerful than all of the elves and men of this world. Even your precious Valar could not defeat him now."

The Witch King moved towards them and all grew silent except Cirdan who continued to curse the Corsairs and orcs as he fought to escape their grasp. Laurëanna wanted to help but she knew that she was only watching the past and there was nothing she could do. Suddenly the Witch King stopped and turned towards her. Staring right at her, he let out a shriek that was more terrifying than the Fell Beast's and she struggled to rise to her feet. Feeling hands grasping at her, she looked down and saw the elves surrounding her grabbing at her ankles and legs. Even though she recognized them as elves, she saw horrendously twisted faces and hallow eyes glaring back at her. Evil and blackness filled their fea as they continued to prevent her from standing. Screaming, Laurëanna kicked at them and struggled until she felt the darkness swallow her.

Standing before her, the Witch King seemed to swallow all the light surrounding them and she felt a huge weight forcing her to fight for every breath.

"Little one, do not fight what you cannot change. Did you honestly believe you could change what was meant to be? The Corsairs will slaughter your friends as they did these elves. Within days the forces of Mordor will defeat all the pitiful attempts to fight the darkness. Lord Sauron will have the Ring and the elves and men will taste the bitterness of defeat. Turn back and spare your life." From the direction of the Witch King came the evil spectral voice. Laurëanna covered her ears against the sound and his words. Two men reached for her and she screamed.

"The Corsairs!" Elrohir grabbed Laurëanna as she sat straight up trembling. Shocked at the terror in her eyes, he shook her awake. She recognized him and collapsed into his arms gasping for breath.

Aragorn had heard her screams and rushed over in time to hear her call out.

"The Corsairs? Did you have another vision Laurëanna?" he asked crouching beside Legolas who was now also by her side.

After catching her breath and realizing what her dream must mean, Laurëanna turned towards Aragorn, grabbing his arm, and pleading to him. "Yes I had a vision. Lord Aragorn, we must not ride to meet the Corsairs. We must reach Minas Tirith by another route."

~~~~~~~~

Taken from History of Middle earth, Part 8, War of the Ring, XII The Last Debate

'Then Aragorn said to Angbor their captain who alone stayed to meet him, "Behold! I am not the King of the Dead, but the Heir of Isildur, and I live yet for a while. Follow me, if you wish to see the end of this darkness and the downfall of Mordor."

And Angbor answered, "I will gather all men that I may, and follow after you swiftly."

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Alassante

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 02/16/10

Original Post: 03/13/07

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