4. I Breithan
Elrond Peredhil lived in New York City, most of the time; during the summer he usually lived on the outskirts of Albany's suburbs in a large home almost disturbingly like Rivendell, albeit smaller and with a more human touch to the architecture than there had once been. It was, on the whole, not a displeasing effect last Legolas had seen it; indeed, Lord Elrond's summer home was as beautiful as the land he had once kept in Middle-Earth, if in a different way than the airy, open halls of Imladris. However, it was not to Elrond's summer home that Legolas and Elrond's sons now traveled; rather, they rode with a chauffeur sent by Lord Elrond to his penthouse.
"Father retained his good stocks from the 1880's, of course," Elrohir was explaining; he had more of a mind for finances and Wall Street matters than his brother. "They have split several times since then, with President Theodore Roosevelt's trust-busting and various company mergers; he lost a good deal of money when the Great Depression started, but he kept his funds so well diversified it did not matter much in the end."
"It is only sensible to do so," Legolas agreed, recalling his own predicament in that dark time in American history. He had not been much effected, preferring to keep his money mostly in overseas banking accounts; although the depression had been worldwide, Legolas had not been hit as hard as many Americans.
"In any case," Elrohir continued, nodding to Legolas, "Father owns and runs Faensad , Inc. – at least the American branch of it."
"I suspected as much," Legolas smiled. "An interesting name he chooses, not only for his company, but for himself. I do believe it was only two nights ago that I last read about Errol Payton, president of Faensad …"
"As if you have the right to speak," Elladan cracked an eye open as he spoke from where he rested, laying against the car door. "Who in their right mind would call themselves 'Lawrence'?"
Legolas opened his mouth to reply – and was chagrined to find himself without a suitable comeback. He crossed his arms and looked haughty to make up for the shortcoming, prompting a chuckle from Elrohir and a smile from Elladan. "Touché," Legolas sighed with a smile of his own.
New York City traffic was as horrendous as it was fabled to be, and it took an inordinately long time to finally arrive at the building that Elrond's penthouse was situated above. Once they did arrive, Legolas fell into step behind the twin brothers, taking in everything with sharp Elven eyes.
Of course, the immediately drawn conclusion was 'expensive'; the lobby of the building was composed mostly of white and black marble, and beautifully woven tapestries covered the walls. Plants were placed tastefully here and there among the Romanesque columns. A doorman in a red uniform greeted them, and before Legolas could offer to carry his own baggage a bellboy was hurrying to load his two suitcases (he packed light, after all) onto a bellhop and took them to the service elevator.
Even though the floor was marble, Legolas, Elladan, and Elrohir hardly made a noise as they crossed the lobby; it was impossible to be completely soundless in dress shoes on a marble floor, after all. The receptionist looked up at the three of them, but she did not speak; she merely smiled and raised her hand in greeting, and both Elrohir and Elladan half-saluted in response with roguish grins before making a beeline to the elevator.
Once in the elevator Legolas could not help but ask, "Do you live here with Lord Elrond?"
"Goodness, no!" Elladan pretended to be horribly offended by the question, but his eyes were full of mirth. "We are big 18,000-year-old peredhil, Legolas! We can fend for ourselves."
"The receptionist knows us because we visit Father frequently," Elrohir explained patiently. "We work for his company, after all, and he must be kept informed about its progress."
"Among other things," Legolas inferred, his mood growing somber again.
"Yes … among other things," Elrohir agreed, and he spoke no more.
The penthouse was separated from the elevator lobby by a beautifully crafted mahogany door with leaves and stems carved in lovely patterns all about it. Legolas could not help but touch the work of art, tracing the circular edges. "Celebrimbor?" he asked softly.
"Aye," Elladan nodded, ringing the doorbell. "You might see his symbol etched in the lower right hand corner, but it is tiny. He wished to work mother of pearl into the leaves, but Father suggested he save such intricate work for his jewelry."
"It is exquisite," Legolas said in awe, but before he could continue to admire the master craftsman's work, the door was opened and the three of them were ushered inside.
Legolas was not surprised to find the greeter was an Elf; throughout the Ages, both in Middle-Earth and in this newer Earth, Elrond had employed only Elves in his house. In Middle-Earth it was more a matter of whom he was living with than a matter of preference, for Elrond always lived among Elves; in this Earth, he employed Elves because they knew the tragic history of the world and knew what to speak of and what not to. "Lord Elrohir, Lord Elladan – and Master Legolas, it is wonderful to see you again," smiled the Elf, placing his hand over his heart before bowing his head and lifting his open palm to all three of them in traditional greeting.
"Well met, Encirith," Elladan and Elrohir spoke in near unison as they returned the greeting; Legolas replied in the same fashion a heartbeat after them. "Please tell Father that we have come," Elrohir added urgently.
"Of course, Lord Elrohir," Encirith nodded again and quickly but gracefully made his exit.
Legolas again took the opportunity to take in his surroundings, and if he had liked the open, well-crafted, and tasteful lobby of the building, he was enthralled by Elrond's home. There was almost no room for walls for all the windows, letting the natural light of the Sun stream in as long as she was in the sky; there were even skylights in the ceilings. Even the antechamber was light and airy, and the arches between the rooms were large. The floor and walls were paneled with the same rich mahogany as the door, and some tasteful leafy borders had been carved into the wood, although by a different hand than Celebrimbor's.
"Do you like Father's architecture?" Elladan asked, obviously amused in part by Legolas' unabashed fascination.
"I do," Legolas acknowledged, not taking Elladan's bait to draw him into wordplay for the moment. "But I should not have expected any differently of Lord Elrond; this home is in keeping with all his homes since Imladris."
"And yet you still gape," Elrohir observed, "as you have at every home Father has ever owned. Are you certain there is no Noldorin blood in you?"
Legolas shot Elrohir a dirty look. "Thankfully yes, I am certain," he replied, but before he could expound upon the reasons why both the Sindarin and the Silvan races of Elves were superior to that of the Noldorin, he was called away from the conversation by a melodic voice he had not heard for nearly ninety years. "Legolas! How I have missed you!"
Legolas turned around not a moment too soon, for in an instant he found himself being embraced tightly by none other than Celebrían. "My Lady!" he gasped, embracing her no less tightly. "I have missed you as well, although I do not think I had realized how much so until this moment."
"Mother, you should be ashamed!" Elladan said from somewhere over Legolas' left shoulder, laughter in his voice.
"Why do you not hug all the young Elves that come to your home like that? Is there something you have not told us?" added Elrohir.
Celebrían laughed her light, lilting laugh and drew away from Legolas, holding him by his shoulders and gazing up at him with her mother's starlight-studded blue eyes. Legolas gazed back; Elrond's wife was still the same lovely lady that he had first met in Valinor almost 14,000 years ago, with waves of golden hair only a few shades darker than her mother Galadriel's hair and a pale face and a delicate frame. One might have mistaken her for frail if they did not see her eyes; they burned with an intense life that belied her figure. "I reserve my right to so embrace him," she finally declared, bringing her sharp gaze to her two sons for an instant before she again looked to Legolas. "It has been too long, Legolas Greenleaf, and I will not hear of you doing this again while a war of Men comes and goes! When we had no news of you after 1946, I was worried!"
"Forgive me, Lady," was all Legolas could think to say. "I did not mean to cause you pain."
"All is well, and it is forgiven," Celebrían replied, "but I do not speak idly. Never again! Do you understand?"
"Aye," Legolas smiled. "Im caro, Naneth! "
"Shameless," Celebrían said decisively, but her eyes were at once both joyful and sad when Legolas uttered those words. "My sons." She turned to Elladan and Elrohir and embraced them both and kissed them on their cheeks, and they returned the greeting before she stepped back, folding her hands in front of herself and looking at them all. "It is my turn to ask forgiveness, Legolas, for I make a poor hostess this day. Come in, all of you, and sit down if you will; I will have tea made. You still enjoy tea, I trust, Legolas?"
"I do," Legolas smiled, glancing at the twins. "Indeed, I much prefer it to coffee."
"As do I," agreed Celebrian, looking pleasantly surprised.
"Folly!" Elladan exclaimed. Legolas gave him his best infuriatingly pleasant and smug smile before following the Lady of the house. Elrohir looked as if he would suddenly burst into laughter at any moment.
Celebrían had just led the three of them into the dining room (painted a refreshing shade of green between the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows), however, when Lord Elrond stepped into the room, and immediately any levity that the occupants of the room may have still felt seemed to melt away. The former Lord of Imladris still wore his hair long, and at the moment in the formal loops and braids of a Lord among Elves. He wore a black business suit and tie with a white dress shirt, and his appearance was utterly immaculate. He smiled, but it was a tight smile; it seemed he meant it to be kinder, but it also seemed he could not bring himself to a more pleasant expression. "Legolas Thranduilion. It has been a long time," he said after a moment. "Mae govannen."
"Mae govannen, Hîr Elrond, " Legolas returned just as formally, half-bending at the waist as he performed the traditional motions. "You sent for me?"
"I did," Elrond nodded, and as he did so, some of the stiff formality in the room seemed to relax. "I am sorry, Legolas, to have had to seek you out; I did not wish to do so, but I had no other choice. Please come with me to my study so we may talk in private."
Private? Legolas felt a tenseness in his spine and he forced himself to relax. In the sixteen thousand years he had known Lord Elrond, he had only spoken in private with him once: the day that Elrond had assented to and instructed Legolas in the matter of joining the Company of Nine. The shadow! Has the threat reached such a level? Do I read too much into this? He felt Elrohir's hand on his shoulder and was comforted in part.
For a moment Legolas felt the sharp eyes of Celebrían upon him before she crossed the room to Elrond, and Elrond took her hands in his and they shared a gentle kiss. "Meleth, shall I have anything sent to the study? Legolas has just arrived from Norfolk; perhaps it would be restful to him to drink or eat."
"Would some tea suit you, Legolas?" Elrond asked, lifting his gaze almost reluctantly from his wife.
Legolas silently thanked Celebrían with a glance, and she smiled slightly. "It would. Thank you, Lady Celebrían."
"Think nothing of it," she replied. She slowly released her husband's hands and left the room.
"Elladan, Elrohir, I would speak with you later," Elrond continued as she departed.
"Of course," the twins answered in identical tones. "We shall return before eight tonight," Elrohir promised, and with that the twins seemed to vanish, showing their acquaintance with the layout of the home was put to good use.
"Ai, my sons," Elrond sighed softly when they had gone. "In some ways they still seem children."
"They would not be Elladan and Elrohir were they any other way," Legolas said confidently, although apprehension of the subject at hand gnawed at him. "They are my dearest friends in this world."
"Aye, and I am not surprised. You are as bad as they at times," Elrond smiled again at Legolas, but again, his smile was not as joyful as it should have been. "Please, come with me."
Elrond's study seemed to be the only place in the entire house that had doors, and these were just as beautifully hand-carved as the door at the elevator. Again it was the windows that kept the room seeming larger than it was; where there were no windows, bookshelves lined the walls. Elrond's desk was in the center of the relatively small room, and Legolas was amazed to see the papers scattered about, covering the desk and stacked upon the computer. Manuscripts and tax forms alike lay open, as if the half-Elven lord had been switching suddenly from lore-reading to filling out IRS sheets. Perhaps it was because of this mess that Elrond beckoned him to the windows where two chairs faced the outside world and the setting Sun blazed forth.
"Please forgive the clutter," he said as Legolas took a seat. "I am not usually this messy, but you caught me in the middle of working out some numbers for the accounting firm that keeps our books in order. However, that matter can wait; I can see that you are anxious to speak to me about why I sent for you.
"Legolas, it is quite simple, although I dare not speak of it anywhere but in my home. The Dark Lord Sauron has somehow risen again."
Legolas, who had been gazing intently at Lord Elrond, did not try to suppress the soft cry of lament that issued from his lips or take shame in closing his eyes for a moment. "I had feared as much, but I did not dare to think it."
"It is worse than that, though," Elrond continued, and he turned from the view from the windows to look upon the distressed wood-Elf. "There is something more at work here, I am afraid. Sauron should never have been able to return; he was utterly decimated when the Ring was destroyed by Frodo Baggins, reduced to mere shadows that whisper in the dark caves. Yet he has revisited this plane with a form, however shadowy."
"The Breaking?" Legolas asked intently. "Has it to do with that? I do not see how he could have used it to return, but then, I did not see how the Valar could possibly …" he trailed off, unable to complete the sentence for the tightening of his throat.
"Peace, Legolas," Elrond said gently, and he waited for the Silvan Elf to recover himself before he continued. "It is the only explanation I have found to be likely, but my evidence is shaky at best. I ask you to hear me out as I explain what little information my sons, Glorfindel, and I have been able to amass over the last millennia.
"We have always called that tragic time in our history that you speak of i Breithan, the Breaking, but I now suspect that there is another, more ancient name for it: i Dagor Dagorath."
The Battle of All Battles. The words were like a chill in the air, somehow, and Legolas suppressed a shiver.
"Very little was ever written about it, and then only by the greatest lore-masters of the Vanyar, those trusted by Vaire herself; no mention of the End of Days (as it is sometimes called by the writers) was made in texts on Middle-Earth that I or my sons or Glorfindel ever read," Elrond continued. "Of course, almost none of their manuscripts survived, and so few of the Vanyar would leave Valinor even when it was in ruins …" he let his voice die, and Legolas waited patiently while Elrond's eyes unfocused, seeing into a distant past, and then refocused again; Legolas too bore the pain of the Breaking and the related losses in his heart and could not criticize. "Ai, it should not have been as it was!" Elrond lamented. "But it was so, and most of the texts and their writers burned and perished." He bowed his head and drew a breath before he could continue.
"So it is that we have very little to go on. What parts of the manuscripts we – Glorfindel, Elladan, Elrohir, and myself – have found tell a very sketchy tale. They state that at in the End of Days, Melkor will again escape his imprisonment within the Void, and the Valar shall go to war with him. This war shall be the Dagor Dagorath." He paused. "A few texts make mention of the supposed outcome of the battle – that Melkor will fall and be utterly destroyed, and the Valar, victorious, shall depart from Aman and Arda both and give it unto Arda's inhabitants – the Second-born of Illúvatar, Men. One text states that the Valar shall remain in Valinor, but Valinor shall depart the plane of the world; Melkor will be thrown in the void for 'forever an a half', although I do not know what that phrase means. And one text disagrees with all the others and states that the Valar shall leave, and it will be the end of Middle-Earth altogether; the Dagor Dagorath shall be the very end of Illúvatar's Song.
"It is not like Vaire to be vague, and I think that she merely told each lore-master what the weaves of the Song sang at the moment the question was asked. However, that is where fact ends and conjecture begins.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the Breaking was the Dagor Dagorath; I believe it was meant to be the End of Days. However … I believe that the battle did not go entirely in favor of the Valar. I believe that Melkor was stronger than they anticipated, and so it was that the battle was not contained, but raged all over Valinor and Middle-Earth, reshaping the very world. I believe that, in the end, the Valar were victorious and sealed Melkor away again, but with their tasks now complete, they were no longer able to touch either Aman or Arda, and so seemed to desert us in our hour of need." Elrond's voice had begun to tremble slightly, and Legolas could not bid him rest a moment for the lump in his own throat. "And I believe, Legolas, that during Melkor's short time free again in this world, he was able to somehow lend Sauron the strength to begin again to gather himself together."
Legolas could only nod for the moment, made mute by surprise and grief and a horrible, fleeting suspicion that as horrible a thought as it was that Sauron had risen again, there was something yet darker at work than either he or Elrond guessed.
And then Celebrían appeared with the tea and remained with them, a silent support for the two quietly crying Elves reliving pains long buried.
* * *
Author's Notes: The only word not translated in the text or in the endnotes is 'meleth', which means 'love'.
Celebrimbor was the greatest Noldorin crafter of the Second Age. He crafted the Rings of Power with the 'aid' of Annatar (Sauron in disguise) until he saw Annatar for what he was and hid the three greatest Rings – the Three that went to Galadriel, Elrond, and eventually Gandalf. He was subsequently captured by Sauron, tortured, and killed, and his body was hung in place of a standard at the forefront of Sauron's forces. So how did his handiwork appear here? Well, I figure that after a heroic death like that, despite his unintentional work for the Forces of Evil™, Celebrimbor's stay in the Halls of Mandos can't have been too long … so when Valinor was destroyed, he escaped along with Legolas, Elrond, etc.
Okay! On to the big hunk of this chapter, and the meat of the past that I've given Middle-Earth and Earth. It has a lot of obscure references … to start with, the big one: Dagor Dagorath, lit. The Battle of Battles (or The Battle of All Battles). This is a concept that was probably only in the very back of Tolkien's mind when he wrote his M-e works; it's barely mentioned, and then only in passing. I first read about it in Unfinished Tales, in one of the footnotes, and encased all around by Christopher Tolkien's explanations for his father's works, but it sparked my imagination, I suppose. I mean, he gives almost no details (just that Melkor will escape the Void). There's so much to work with ... so you could say, I suppose, that the Breaking of this fic is my version of Dagor Dagorath.
 Lit. 'Radiant Place'. :) I would call it 'Radiant Company', but I can't find the word for 'company'.
 "I do, Mother!" :) For my own ease I assumed a Latin verb formation pattern, and thus to form 'I do' from 'car-', 'to do', I tacked an 'o' onto the root word. Correct me, please!
 "Well met, Lord Elrond."
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