1. The Betrayal
Authors Note: This story replaces the end of FotR and proposes an alternate conclusion to the remainder of LotR. It is strictly AU. Elements from both the movie and the novel have been combined with my own creations.
The forest had become eerily still. He knew it in his bones. There was something horribly amiss. The woods here at Amon Hen had always been quiet, without the soft chatter of animals or the whisper of the breeze caressing the leaves. But a foul tranquility had settled over it, as if it was holding its breath to conceal a darker purpose. The winds had changed, bringing air that stank of ominous ruin. It almost hurt to breathe it.
Gimli stood after a moment of watching the Elf peer distantly into the woods, obviously wondering aimlessly what the fair creature sensed from the nature he so strangely understood. Despite the general distrust between the two races, he had grown to respect Legolas intuition. More than once during their journey it had proved useful. What is it, Master Elf?
The other narrowed deep blue eyes. A soft breeze picked up the golden strands of thick, straight blond hair that fell down his shoulders. I know not, he answered after a moment. Slowly he placed a slender hand against the rough, wide trunk of a nearby tree. He stood erect a moment, bowing his head. Gimli regarded him doubtfully. But something is amiss.
The Dwarf grunted and sank rather unceremoniously to his rear on the log behind him. Strider and Boromir have not been gone long, Legolas. Your senses are too easily excited, he grunted, idly gripping the hard staff of his axe.
Nay, Legolas said slowly, stepping down from his perch with nimble grace. He closed his eyes. It is in the air. Do you not feel it? He released a slow breath. Merry and Pippin abandoned their devouring of their meal, and Sam halted in his nervous twiddling. Legolas opened his eyes and met Gimlis stony gaze. There is a foul menace afoot. We are in danger here.
Gimli sighed, although his worry betrayed his irritation. Anxiety was plain on his ruddy face and in his stout form. The woods did seem subdued, and Elvish premonitions of this sort were rarely wrong. This was little they could do, though, until their companions returned. Rash actions would only serve to separate the Fellowship further. As it was, this close to Mordor, the thought was quite unpleasant.
They were silent a moment. Do you suppose Mister Frodo is okay, Legolas? Sam asked hesitantly. His worry was evident on his face. Tousled and damp hair clung to sweaty skin.
Before the Elf prince could answer, there was the sound of snapping branches behind them. Someone was running towards them. The warriors actions were instantaneous; Legolas was quick to draw his bow and nock an arrow, Gimli rising beside him and bearing his axe, the blade shining wickedly in the bright afternoon sun.
Legolas! Gimli! Ahead the trees parted and an extremely winded Boromir exploded through them, his sword drawn. The others lowered their weapons at the sight of their friend. Orcs have come! Aragorn and Frodo are under attack!
Those words were enough to spur them into motion. Come, small ones! the Dwarf demanded, and the Hobbits scrambled to their feet. They tore up the hill through the trees, following the bouncing form of Boromir ahead. Legolas hesitated only a moment, warnings blaring inside his heart, but he too ran on light feet. Confusion sang inside him. The sense of danger had only become more acute, more focused, and infinitely more frightening. Still, he could make no more of it, for his friends needed him.
Boromir lead the group up a hill, tearing through the trees. In the distance, battle drums, the stampede of feet, and vicious growls grew louder. The Hobbits were struggling to keep pace, but Legolas tarried behind to assure that they were not left unprotected. Finally they reached what appeared to be ruins of an old watch tower. To the left was a steep drop-off, the river rushing loudly below. The sky was bright and warm overhead.
Merry and Pippin collapsed in a fit of heavy breathing at the pinnacle. Sam stood hunched, gasping, his hands on his knees. Gimli glanced around, his face taut with preparedness to fight. Legolas stepped upon the ruins, looking around with quick eyes. Seeing no one, his narrowed gaze fell to Boromir. The son of Gondor had his back to his companions. Legolas winced. Waves of something impure radiated from the man. The evil ran chills up and down his spine. This was not the same warrior before he had respected. Now his foreboding had taken form and revealed its hideous nature. Boromir
The man laughed. The terrible sound cut through the air and through their hearts. I never dreamed The insane chuckle of man too far gone in greed and lust to be reached by logic and loyalty spilled from his lips. I never dreamed it to be like this!
He turned suddenly. Merry and Pippin recoiled, surprise on their open faces. Boromirs countenance was twisted savagely. The light of his eyes had been replaced by darkness.
Where are Frodo and Aragorn?! Gimli demanded angrily, lifting his axe.
Boromir smiled, a cold, vicious grin that, in Legolas mind, sealed their fate. There was a thunder beyond. Fear welled up inside him. The stench of dirt and blood and sweat invaded his nostrils. There were black bodies moving around them, emerging from the concealment of bushes and branches. Orcs, hefting vicious clubs, bows, spears, and swords. These were hulking, tall beasts with strange white hands painted upon their armor and faces. Legolas ripped around, glancing frantically, counting quickly. Too many. And they were surrounded.
Run, Merry, Pippin, Legolas said quietly, backing up slowly, forcing them to as well.
The Hobbits looked terrified, betrayed. Boromir, whats wrong with you? Merry asked, his voice wavering.
Boromir only grinned like a fool having finally found a long sought after treasure, and the Orcs attacked.
Run! Gimli ordered, shoving the terrified Sam back down the hill from whence they came before whirling to face an oncoming snarling Orc. Legolas drew back on his bow with lightning grace and quickly shot an approaching monster. The arrow sunk deep into its forehead and the beast gave a vicious howl before falling. He watched only to see his shot land, though, before firing at the next advancing demon. Legolas! Gimli cried, his axe black with blood. The Elf darted a glance at the Dwarf and realized quickly the only option was a retreat. The fight would be futile, and their first objective had to be finding Aragorn and Frodo.
Casting one last accusatory glance at Boromir, the Elf turned and sprinted after the others. The screaming behind him grew louder and closer. He tore through the woods, his acute awareness of the forest guiding his flying feet precariously over rocks, branches, ruts, and holes. His heart thundered as his quick eyes analyzed the blurry surroundings. He tracked the gray cloaks of Merry and Pippin. They halted, Gimli not far behind, in front of a stone wall. Beyond the wall was a sharp decline, and then the forest spread on. There was a gap in the middle of it, where weather had corroded the rocks. The Elf leapt down beside them and then skidded to a stop. He peered over the stone structure.
There ahead was a wall of Orcs, an army of demons and monsters. They stood, shouting to each other in vile snorts, scattering throughout the forest like insects. They were looking, scouting. Searching. Searching for the Fellowship with a blood lust. He felt cold chills crawl down his back. His breath caught in his throat as he beheld Sarumans force. Deep inside, for the first time since the journey had commenced, he felt his hope waver. How could a threat of this size sneak up on them, on him? Had his senses been dulled by his sorrow? Were Aragorn and Frodos lives already the forfeit for his mistakes?
He banished guilt. He would need a clear head now. Grabbing each of the Hobbits, he pulled them flush to the cold wall, hiding them behind the concealing old rock. Gimli did the same, lowering his axe. The sound of rushed breathing was so loud, but it could not drown out the shouting of the vicious Orcs. Go, he said quietly, looking to his comrades, feeling the ground quake with the approaching stampede of the army. Shouts of Dark Speech ran down the hill, chasing them. They were completely surrounded. The river was not far, though. The only choice afforded them was to reach the boats and escape into Anduin. The forest now held only a promise of death.
Merry and Pippin glanced at him with frightened, desperate eyes. The latter looked around, his face pale with terror. Wheres Sam? he asked quickly, drawing the Elfs attention. Legolas turned and scanned the group quickly. The loyal Hobbit was not among them. During the frantic flight, they had been separated.
The Elf cringed inside and drew a long breath. He loathed the idea of leaving their friends behind, abandoning them to face this massive evil force alone. But they had no choice. We cannot stay here, he stated simply, clenching his bow tightly. We must reach the river.
What of Strider, Legolas? Merry reminded, concerned. And Frodo? We cant just leave them!
The words hurt him anew, even though the horrible thoughts were already storming through his mind. But he pushed his fear and worry aside and willed his body into motion. He drew arrows from his quiver and jammed the points into the soft soil of the forest floor. Gimli growled. The Elfs right. If we tarry here, we will only fall into darkness. No help to our friends will we be then.
Legolas nocked an arrow and inched closer to the gap. Go now, he ordered quickly, glancing back at the group. Before we lose this chance! The Hobbits hesitated a moment more before breaking into a run back towards the river, following Gimli as he tore through the thick woods. Legolas let the shot fly true into the advancing enemies and it caught an Orc full in the chest, sending him reeling back into his companions. Like lightning, he drew another from the dirt and fired. Over and over again, like a machine, until that which he had thrust into the leaves was depleted. When his concentration broke, he saw that that his friends were lost in the maze of wood. He hoped he had been able to provide adequate cover for their escape. The advancing army was nearly upon him. Now he turned and ran in their tracks.
Inside, his heart burned at the darkness he had felt from Boromir. He had understood immediately what had happened. The man had fallen into shadow, overrun by greed and ambition. The Fellowship had fractured. He worried for Frodo and Aragorn. He knew not the lengths to which Boromir may have gone to win his treasure.
Ahead he saw the shore. The Hobbits had scrambled into one of the boats. Gimli was waist deep, pushing the other away from the bank. Legolas! he shouted, seeing the Elf gracefully sprint through the woods. Hurry! Then he hefted himself into the canoe, the vessel precariously tipping with the weight.
The young Elf pushed all the speed he could into himself, legs pumping, body flying. Arrows were whizzing past him to sink violently into trees or the ground. He could feel the enemy behind him, their wretched breaths upon his neck. Faster, his mind urged as he bounded to the shore. Faster!
He was not twenty steps from the bank when he felt a blinding pain at his shoulder. The force toppled him and he fell hard, rolling into the dirt and leaves. He gave a loud cry as he struck a tree, the solid surface unforgiving to his body. His bow fell from limp fingers as he slumped to the ground.
Pippin watched thunderstruck as the arrow struck the Elf from behind, sending him reeling. The Orcs howled in glee. Merry looked to Gimli, desperately searching the Dwarfs face for an answer, a course of action. There was none.
Legolas daze lasted only but a moment, but it was time enough for the pursuers to reach him. Ignoring his pain, he reached behind and ripped the arrow from his shoulder with a splurt of hot blood. Then he clambered to his feet, his usual elegance splintered with his hurt. Helplessly, he looked out the boats. He would not make it, and they could not wait for him. The realization stabbed him with fear. Go! he shouted. Find Frodo!
Merry shook his head violently. We cant leave him! He grabbed an oar. We have to go back!
The Dwarf stared at Legolas, and they shared a sad, brief look. Gimli opened his mouth to protest vehemently that the Elf not sacrifice himself like this, but the resolution in Legolas blue eyes silenced his words. He released a long breath, and the endless moment ended. Gimli growled in anger and frustration, looking away, and began to row quickly. There is no choice now! he shouted. Row, little ones, or his sacrifice will be naught! His oar chopped through the water with violence and furious power.
The Hobbits were arguing, shouting denials and demanding that they not abandon their comrade. But then they too began to row, as if realizing the Dwarfs assertion to be true.
Their cries grew more distant as they pushed their boats further into the lake, separating salvation from the lone Elf. Legolas closed his eyes for a moment to steady himself, at once terrified and relieved that his friends were escaping.
But the respite was brief, for the Orcs were upon him.
The Elf turned then, drawing his long knife from his back with speed unparalleled. He thrust forward, stabbing an Orc quickly, and then dodged the sloppy attack of another. But there were simply too many, and his injury retarded him.
Finally his strength failed him, and he stumbled. He did not know how many he might have killed or how long the battle lasted. His shoulder was flaring in hot agony as he shoved the wretched, stinking Orcs away from him, staggering. But it was not enough. A staff struck his legs hard, knocking them from beneath him. He hit the ground with a bone-jarring thud, the sky spinning madly over him. In his moment of dizzy nausea, his long knife was kicked from his hand. A sharp tip of a sword came to rest over his heaving chest.
The Orc sickly smiled, if the monster could do such a thing. Elf It hissed gleefully.
Cold terror washed over Legolas. Panic gnawed inside at his resolve. He had willingly accepted this fate to save what remained of the Fellowship. Still, the thought of what they might do to him curdled his blood. The suffering of Elves at the hands of hateful Orcs was the substance of nightmares. His fear spurred energy into his beaten body.
Aragorn! he cried in desperation, raising his voice to the trees. Aragorn! Only the Orcs laughing answered his plea. He did not have the time to think further, though, or to mount an offense, for as he struggled up a crushing force slammed into the side of his head. Intense pain flowered through his body, and he tumbled into shadow.
Isildurs heir raised his head at the sound. He had heard the battle drums and smelled the wretched stench of Orcs. From behind a wall of trees, the stealthy ranger had watched the army scatter and charge. But his path back to the camp was blocked by the troops, and he had delayed his return, believing Frodo to be in mortal danger. He had seen the strange glint invading Boromirs gaze and sensed the danger it suggested. His search had yielded nothing and he had grown frustrated. Upon hearing the army, he knew it would be folly to try and return to his friends. Rather, he decided it was more important to locate Frodo and defend him.
That sound plagued him. Then, only a breath later, again it called to him, echoing through the forest as though the trees of Amon Hen were sorrowfully relaying a grotesque message. The voice was filled with panic, desperation, and fear. This second time he recognized it.
Legolas, he whispered. His heart clenched in cold terror and he immediately cursed himself for leaving the camp. Legolas and Gimli were capable warriors, of that he was sure. Still, against an army of Orcs, they would have benefited from his sword. Without Boromirs skills or his aid, it was only the Elf and Dwarf left to protect the Hobbits.
Slow terror crawled in the pit of his stomach. An Elf and a Dwarf. Orcs cared not for Dwarves. The rank memory of the carnage they had only recently witnessed within the mining Dwarven city of Dwarrowdelf once again assaulted his senses. Gimli would be overwhelmed by them. Worse, though, he knew was the hatred of the Orcs for their beautiful and fair Elf cousins. He knew what they would do to Legolas if he should fall into their clutches.
Fear for his good friends spurred him into action. Drawing his sword, he charged back towards their camp, caring not for the danger that undoubtedly stood between him and his destination, anger twisted his features taut, his voice raised in a battle cry.
Aragorn ran quickly, cutting through the trees, ignoring the stiff aches of his abused body. As he charged forward, his mind raced despite his efforts to keep concentrated. What had happened? How could such a vile chaos have erupted under his watchful eye? He ground his teeth together in fury. Legolas had warned him, but he had ignored it. A shadow and a threat have been growing in my mind. Something draws near. I can feel it. He had cast the Elfs concerns aside and ignored his advice. His heart ached to find a way to remedy what his own ignorance had caused!
Somehow, though, he knew he was already too late. The woods had grown still again, silent with a false serenity that prickled his gooseflesh. Aside from his rushed breath and thundering heart, there was only the rustle of the leaves. Legolas cries had ceased. He clenched his hand tighter around the hilt until his palm ached and whispered a harsh, Elvish curse. His heart burned with boiling rage. Think, his mind quickly chastised against the fire of his fury. You know his tracks. It was true. Legolas was a stealthy fighter with light feet and quick reflexes borne from both centuries of practice and innate talent. Many a hot afternoon in Rivendell years ago they had practiced tracking on the other in silly games. He had learned then the marks of his friends swift feet.
Finding them now, in this maze of heavy Orc plodding, would be a difficult task. But no other choice was availed to him.
A twig snapped behind him. In the silence, it was deafening. He ripped around, bringing Anduril to bear in a howl. The figure behind him screamed, stumbled back, and raised his hands to block the blow.
Strider, no! came a quivering voice, muffled by sleeves.
Aragorn cursed himself for his stupidity and immediately sheathed the offending blade. Forgive me, Frodo! The terrified creature before him did not look up, bowing his head, tousled, damp hair littered with dirt. Worried, the man dropped to his knees before the small Hobbits shivering body. Grasping the others arms, he gently pulled them from his face. Are you hurt?
Frodo sniffled, his pale cheeks wet with tears and sweat. A bleeding wound painted his temple, matting the locks of his hair. Leaves clung to his form. Wide blue eyes spoke of unfathomable terror and unspeakable guilt. The ultimate betrayal. He took it! he gasped weakly, his hoarse voice laced with panic. Small hands balled desperately into Aragorns tunic, twisting the fabric wildly. I I tried to stop him! I swear I did, Aragorn! But I wasnt strong enough!
Something inside Aragorn broke in anguish. Whatever confusion as to the source of the disaster that had befallen them that had clouded his mind disappeared with the painful light of understanding. Still, his shocked soul shook in denial and he squinted at the decimated form before him. Who, Frodo? Who did this to you?!
Frodo could not answer, sobbing woefully as he was so taken with despair, but it was not needed at any rate. Aragorn pulled the distraught Hobbit into his arms. He knew what had happened. He knew he had not been strong enough to stop it. He knew who had betrayed them.
Boromir, he said softly.
He was torn between cursing his brethren for his weakness and mourning for his loss. The allure of the One Ring had been too much for him after all. Galadriel had warned them all one of them would falter. Even though he had tried to ignore it, he had known inside that his friend would be the one to fall under its curse.
The punishment for his folly was great.
He held the sobbing Frodo tightly, finding no words to appease their consuming anguish. Gandalf was in shadow. Boromir had betrayed them. Frodo had been decimated. Legolas was in the hands of the enemy. Gimli and the other Hobbits undoubtedly were helplessly fleeing or dead. And he himself he was lost.
The Fellowship had fallen.
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.