Mael-Gûl: 27. Repercussions

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27. Repercussions

Authors note:
Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegolds story "Bound", which can be found here: http://daemel.freespaces.com/authors.html#blue
I use similar plot ideas here with her permission.
Betareader: Many thanks to Surreysmum, who polished this and made it so much better! All still remaining errors are my own.
Warnings: Slash. M/m, BDSM, d/s, torture, toys, non-con and debatable consent. Very graphic descriptions. Special warnings for this chapter: none. Please heed the warnings!

Disclaimer: Universe and characters are not mine, but Tolkien's. The idea of the spell, however, belongs to me.

Guide: Occasionally I work with flashback scenes. Here is a Guide:
// /flashback/ //; ************Time change within a flashback***********; "speech"; 'thoughts'

For all other warnings, other disclaimers and author's notes see Story Intro.


_____________________________________



XXV. Repercussions


The following day, Legolas stayed away from both Aragorn and Boromir, as well as from the Dwarf. He did not undertake any scouting either. Instead, he carefully kept all to himself, staying close to Bill the pony and Sam, whom he obviously regarded as the least possible threatening member of the Fellowship right now, since his other option, Mithrandir, walked at the head of the Fellowship and seemed deep in thought. Besides, while Sam was free and not a slave, at least he was a servant, and therefore perhaps a bit more sympathetic to Legolas' situation, or so Legolas hoped. He did not listen to the chatter of the other Hobbits. He did not wish to hear their gossip about him, although his keen hearing would have easily allowed him to eavesdrop. All he could see was their occasional looks at him. He did not know what they were talking about, and he did not care.

It was easy enough to guess, after all. Obviously, they were discussing last night, and he did not wish to learn what they were thinking of him now. And what could they think, after all? He was the whore of the Fellowship now, everyone's lay to take and savour at a whim. Aragorn had made sure of that.

Estel. His mind refused to linger on the thought.

Occasionally he saw one of the other warriors – Boromir, the Dwarf – giving him an assessing look, and shuddered. He refused to look behind him to the rear of the Fellowship at his master.

He was so caught up in his own thoughts, that he missed Frodo watching him closely and with a frown. Then the Ring Bearer gestured his two cousins close to him and held a short conversation. So Legolas missed the forming of a conspiracy directly under his nose.

He was soon confronted with its contents, however, when suddenly he found himself surrounded by all four Hobbits.

"Legolas," Frodo said, "you are from Mirkwood, are you not? Uncle Bilbo told us a lot of his adventures there. Would you mind telling us about your home?"

Legolas looked at him, amazed at his friendly tone. He searched for some disdain or a trap, but he found none.

"Oh, yes, please," Peregrin Took chimed in. "Tell us of the wood! Is it true that there are spiders as big as ponies?" He shuddered visibly at the thought, but seemed eager with curiosity.

"And what about the enchanted River?" Merry asked. "Bilbo told us that anybody who falls into it sleeps a whole day. Is that true? And how did it come to be enchanted?"

"And tell us of your father's palace," Sam Gamgee begged. "'Tis true that it's all underground, like a Hobbit-Smial?"

Legolas looked down at them and gave a surprised laugh. "You wish me to tell you about my home?" he asked.

Four eager faces looked up at him and nodded.

Legolas contemplated them for a moment. He had not been forbidden to speak to other members of the Fellowship by Aragorn, and the questions of the Hobbits seemed sincere enough. Indeed they seemed intent on cheering him up... He paused a moment at this thought, then he felt himself overwhelmed with relief and gratitude. He decided to take them up on their offer of distraction. He laughed again - a joyful laugh this time, delighted and pleased.

"Very well!" he said. "The first thing you should learn is that the name of my wood is not 'Mirkwood'. It was Greenwood, once, Eryn Galen in my tongue, and there are places in my father's realm where it still deserve that name. My father's realm lies in the north of our wood. It is mainly the south of the wood which is encumbered with shadow, and the darkness grows ever worse the closer you come to Dol-Guldur, where the Necromancer took hold – the one we now call Sauron – and spread his malice and his dark creatures. We have fought him ever since he came to our wood, but could scarce hold him back, and his influence on our forest has grown sadly wide. Where he takes hold, the wood is dark and twisted. It is from these parts that our once beautiful wood has gotten the ill name people now know it by."

He looked sad as he told of the darkening of his home. He was tempted to tell them of their long, costly fight, about the loss of warriors and children, about the sorrow of those taken hostage and enslaved, and of the grief of their families and loved ones who they left behind, but he did not wish to spoil their obvious attempt to cheer him up. Also he did not want their inevitable attempts at sympathy, which would only reopen old wounds for him and bring more pain and awkwardness. So he left those sad and painful tidbits out.

Instead he smiled again and said: "But in our realm, the wood is still a place of beauty! There are trees so old that even I feel young against them, since they are twice my age. And clearings full of flowers, and deer and squirrels, birds and other animals aplenty. We live a merry life most of the time!"

"Tell us of your father's halls!" demanded Pippin, and Merry insisted: "What about the river? The one that makes one sleep? Is that tale true? How did it come to be enchanted?"

Legolas grinned. "'Tis true," he answered. "Indeed I had to rescue my sister from it once, and I am told my nephew..."

"You have siblings?" Frodo asked merrily. "Tell us of them!"

Legolas laughed and told them of his last visit at his home in the company of his master, of Aragorn's predicament and unsuccessful attempts to escape the curiosity of a swarm of elflings eager to touch his beard, and of his own father's displeasure and stern look at his grandchildren's odd fascination with a human ranger. In his tale he forgot for a moment the hurt and anger burning in his soul and the humiliation and betrayal he had felt last night. He even cast a mischievous look back at Estel and found him watching them bemused. He looked away and concentrated back on his chat with the Hobbits.

"Estel?" Frodo asked at that moment, "I thought you... usually travel with Strider?"

Legolas discovered only then that, speaking of his home and their visit there, he had naturally fallen into calling Aragorn by the beloved familiar name he still used for the Dunadan who had once won his love and who still owned his heart, although at the moment the thought hurt and brought rather grief and bitterness. He cocked his brow at the Hobbit's delicate wording of his status as Aragorn's slave.

There was hardly any sense in beating around the bushes anymore.

"Aragorn is my master," he said mildly, "I was given to him when he came of age, and have belonged to him ever since. In his youth, he was called Estel; that name was given to him to hide his true identity, since the enemy searched for him, to kill him, and with him his line. In your tongue, the name means 'hope'. He was Estel to me long before I and he himself learned of his true name, and sometimes I call him still by the name I learned first to know him by."

"You knew Estel – I mean, Strider – before you came to him?" Frodo asked.

Legolas nodded. His eyes were awash for a moment with longing and grief, then he shoved these feelings away. 'Twas no use to linger on the past! He tried to smooth his face and return his attention to the conversation.

But he was not fast enough to hide his sentiments from his companions.

Frodo looked at him with wise, searching eyes.

"Estel is dear to you, is he not?" he asked quietly.

Legolas looked down to his feet. He said nothing. The other Hobbits kept carefully quiet.

Frodo continued very hesitantly: "I know he has hurt you yesterday, he and... the others. But Estel... Aragorn told me that he did it to keep you safe. He is concerned for you, you know. I think."

The face of the Elf closed up and went blank.

"I am afraid it is not my part to judge the decisions of my master, Master Hobbit," he said carefully and with obvious strain. "Now, if you will excuse me..." he began, looking for a way to end the conversation.

Frodo looked unhappy and uncomfortable. So did Merry and Pippin.

It was Sam who rescued the situation by a most surprising outburst.

"Bollocks! It was evil and selfish what he did, if you get my meaning! Concern, my feet! He gave in to that Gondorian brute like a flap of cloth!" the normally sweet-tempered Hobbit ranted. "He could easily have shown a little more resistance! That--"

"--Sam!" Frodo stopped his tirade, and Merry and Pippin, alarmed and concerned at Legolas' sad expression, looked around to see whether the two Men and the Dwarf had heard the conversation.

Sam blushed furiously and looked down.

"Sorry, master Frodo!" he said, chastised, "It just makes me so angry, is all!"

Legolas decided to come to his aid.

"I thank you for your concern, Master Hobbit," he said carefully, "It is true that I have belonged to my master... Aragorn... for a long time. And he has my loyalty. Even... even if I may not always like... his decisions, and they are not always ...easy.. on me."

He looked bleak.

Frodo shook his head. He decided to get to the point.

"I just want you to know, Master Elf, that we do not regard you differently after what happened last night. To us you are our comrade, one of the Fellowship and a trusted companion, and we are glad to have your company. It does not matter to us if you are free or not, and if you are Aragorn's servant. Sam here is my servant and is nothing less to me because of it, nor would we ever treat him less than as an equal. So we will treat you. I am glad you offered your bow to us, and my cousins and I will be glad for your company, your keen senses, and your songs, and would not like to lose you!"

The other Hobbits nodded.

"Nor I," Merry said, and "-- nor I," added Pippin.

"--And me neither," Sam concluded. "Just tell me if you need a break from those stupid big people groping you! I will be glad to give them a piece of my mind, using a club!"

The image of Aragorn, or Boromir, helplessly trying to escape the attacks of the angry Hobbit while trying to avoid hurting him held such an amount of sheer absurdity and humor that Legolas could not help himself. He gave another pearly laugh.

"You have my thanks, oh my most valiant defender and gallant Hobbit," he said merrily. "I doubt that it will have to come to that, for I hope Estel will keep all this to a point where I can cope, but if in need I shall remember your gallant offer and ask for your defense. I am glad to find such generous companions in you!" he concluded, addressing them all.

Sam was still a bit red around the ears. The other Hobbits smiled.

"It is not just him, you know," Merry said, "you can count on us, too. But if you were willing to indulge, we'd like to learn some more about your home."

"And your other travels with Aragorn. Have you seen much of the world?" Pippin piped up.

Frodo gave him a censuring glare, but Legolas shrugged. "Much," he answered. "I accompanied him nearly everywhere save when he went to Harad and Mordor alone, once. What do you wish to be told about first? Of my fair woods or about our travels?"

There was a short conference. The Hobbits decided to indulge in stories of the Wood for starters, and tales of Legolas' and Strider's travels later, and so the Elf patiently obliged and favored them with explanations of some details from Bilbo's tales and with his own stories of the forest. So deeply were they all involved in their merry chatter that they did not see at first that they had drawn some company of a less welcome kind.


____________ o _____________


Gimli had slowly ventured closer to the chattering group and had listened to Legolas' retelling of Bilbo's tale of his time in the Wood with growing anger. It rankled him how merrily that Elf told the tale of the slight done to Gimli's own father Gloin and Thorin's company! More and more his mind was engulfed by dark, boiling anger.
That Elf needed a lesson! After all he was merely a slave, was he not? – It was time, perhaps, to remind him of that fact, then!

Finally, the Dwarf decided to make his presence known and put that insolent Elven slave back into his place!
He harrumphed.

The Hobbits and the Elf all turned to him, visibly startled. Obviously they had not heard him come. The Dwarf smirked derisively.

"So much for your so-called keen senses," he challenged the Elf, "'The eyes and ears of the Fellowship', as you were praised! What a mockery! But then, we learned yesterday that you have mainly other talents, did we not? I suppose that is all right, then!"

Legolas paled. The Hobbits glared at the Dwarf.

Gimli didn't relent. "Cease your idle chatter for a moment, slave," he snarled. "I wish for a refreshment, and our main water supply rests on the back of our pony. Get it and hand me a drink, if you will!"

Legolas swallowed. So it began.

Merry was the first to lose his temper.

"Why don't you go and get it for yourself?" he retorted angrily, "Or did you suddenly shrink in your sleep so you need help to reach it?!"

Legolas uttered a startled "Merry!", but the Halfling did not seem inclined to back down.

The Dwarf glared at the challenging Hobbit. "Be glad that I don't make a habit of fighting those who are no warriors, Master Hobbit, except if they be vermin of the enemy," he drawled, "or you would feel my axe. That Elf is a slave, is he not? Then let him fulfill his duties, as of now, to serve his betters!"

Merry made to round on him, but Legolas placed a calming hand on his shoulder. "It is all right," he said quietly, "do not provoke him further."

Then he reached over to the pony, took the water skin and a leather cup and filled a drink. Closing the skin and replacing it on the beast, he handed the cup to the Dwarf.

"Here you go, Master Dwarf," he said, "since you demand it. Yet until now I thought the rationing of our supplies in Master Gamgee's hands, and not at the whim of anyone who wanted a share of his own between meal times."

The Dwarf drank. Then he dropped the cup and slapped at the Elf. Legolas danced out of the way. The Dwarf fumed.

"You have no call to contradict your betters, slave!" he snarled. "I believe you lost some of our equipment! Pick it up!" He hefted his axe, planning to hit the Elf with the dull side once he bowed down to fetch the cup.

Pippin prevented him by snatching the cup from the ground and handing it to Sam. The face of the normally patient gardener was bright red and dark with anger.

"It is all right, Master Legolas," Samwise said, "we have enough water yet for the Master Dwarf to get an extra helping or two if he can't wait until the next rest like all the others."

Gimli glared at him. Thwarted for the moment in his attempt to humiliate and hurt the slave, he looked for another road to reach his goal.

"You know," he said to Legolas, ignoring Sam and the other Hobbits for the moment, "you have some talent as a servant. Not much to be sure, but I suppose you could be trained. Now, after last night you are not solely bound to Aragorn any longer. When we have finished this Quest, maybe I'll go back to Rivendell and ask Lord Elrond to give you to me. He has always been a good friend of my people. Maybe he will be inclined to bestow you on me in payment for the slight your father did to mine!"

He saw the Elf pale even more and smiled. Malice and dark satisfaction clouded his thoughts, and he wished to hurt.

"Or maybe," he mused, "if your master is unwilling to part with you, the Lord Elrond will give us some of your siblings. Perhaps that sister you talked about or some of these exciting nieces and nephews. I deem with proper training they could be put to good use in our mines."

He had no warning. All he had seen was Legolas' eyes widening in alarm. The very next moment he found himself flat on his back, straddled by the Elf, an Elven blade at his throat.

The Hobbits shrieked in alarm. Gimli froze, not daring to breathe. From somewhere in the back of the Fellowship he heard a thundering voice shout "Daro! Legolas, stop! Stop it, Little Leaf!!!"


_________________ o _________________


Aragorn was about ten paces away when he saw his Elf and the Dwarf tense in an angry exchange. He watched with dismay as the Elf served the Dwarf some water, obviously ordered, judging by Legolas' visible discomfort and the Dwarfs pompous demeanor. He started to get closer to defend Legolas at need, but was not fast enough; he had hardly caught up with Boromir, who had fallen behind the chatting cluster of Elf and Hobbits some time ago to watch them, when it happened.

Aragorn shouted his command and started to run. He would never have been in time to stop Legolas from killing Gimli, but at least his order had the desired effect; sheer instinct and training of more than sixty years stayed Legolas' hand long enough for Aragorn to pass Boromir and get near them. Frantically, he began to talk pleadingly in Sindarin.

"Legolas! Stop! Don't do it, Little Leaf! Please, whatever he said to you, do not do that! I promise we will deal with it, I promise I will not punish you, but don't take his life!"

He suppressed his first instinct to jump the Elf and seize the knife from him, because he knew that he would never be in time. The only way to keep Legolas from killing his opponent now was to keep up the flow of words and try to talk him out of it. He knew the Elf must have been provoked beyond his limits to go that far, and he must have had very good reasons to give in to the lure.

"Please, Legolas! Whatever it is he said to you, do not take his life. Think of your people! There would be dire consequences. I could not protect them!" he pleaded.

The furious Elf didn't budge. Without removing the knife or even flinching, he uttered an angry stream of Sindarin. Boromir was close, hand at his sword, and Aragorn gave him a warning glare and shook his head no. He moved carefully closer, answering his slave in the same language.

Legolas was deadly calm, albeit he was seething with anger. "Aragorn, he threatened to ask Lord Elrond to give him my sister. Or her children, as slaves for him and his people. Elrond would do it, too!" he said. "I cannot let him live to do that!"

Aragorn paled. Inwardly he cursed himself. This was what he had brought down on them, then, with his stupidity! Calmly and determinedly he said: "I swear to you, he won't! I will kill him myself before I'll let that that happen! I swear!! But please, leave him to me! Do not kill him yourself! Please, melethron! Elrond would avenge his death on all your people! He would torture you to death, and let them pay, and I could not protect you. Please, Legolas, I beg of you, do not do this!"

He was close. He knelt beside his Elf, placed a hand on his shoulder. "Please! Let go of him. Leave off!"

Legolas hesitated, but did not yet remove the knife. "You swear, Estel?" he asked. "You swear you will stop him? You swear you will not let that happen?"

There was no submission in his voice at this moment, just deadly calm.

Aragorn swallowed.

"I do!" he said solemnly. "I swear on my name, my line, and on my life. I will not let him hurt your sister and your people. If necessary, I will kill him myself before he can. Now relent. Let go of him. Give me the knife!"

Beside them, he could hear Frodo gasp, but he had hardly a mind to pay attention to the Hobbit.

Another moment of hesitation, then the Elf relented. Disgusted, he lifted the knife and allowed Aragorn to pry his hand away and pull him up.

The Dwarf scrambled to his feet and drew his axe. Aragorn shoved the Elf behind himself and drew his sword.

"Leave off!" he snarled. "You have done quite enough already, Master Dwarf!"

Gimli glared at him and held his axe higher. "Out of the way!" he growled. "Let me teach this Elf a lesson!"

Behind Aragorn, Legolas spat: "Let me fight him, Estel!"

Aragorn shook his head. "Daro!" he commanded sharply. "Be silent! Let me handle this!"

He made no move to stand aside, but stood firmly between the two, facing the Dwarf. Behind Gimli's back, he could see Boromir slowly coming closer, circling a little to the side to give him room to interfere at need. From behind he could hear the fast tread of Gandalf, who was hurrying back from the head of the Fellowship.

He paid them no heed. He fixed his whole concentration on the Dwarf before him.

Gimli snarled: "Your slave needs a lesson, Master Ranger! He attacks his betters without provocation!"

Legolas uttered a stream of Sindarin, most of it expletives and curses. But it was Merry who yelled back at the Dwarf in outrage.

"Without provocation?! You threatened his sister and his family! You said you'd ask Elrond to give them to you as your slaves, or slaves to your people! You call that >i>'without provocation'?!" he cried.

Boromir's eyes widened a moment, then he looked irritated and disgusted at the Dwarf. He stopped his circling and leaned on his drawn sword. Behind him and to his side Aragorn heard Mithrandir uttering a sharp question and receiving a brief retelling of the situation by the Hobbits, along with an angry stream of Sindarin by Legolas.

Aragorn didn't listen to their words; he did not break his concentration on the Dwarf.

"Merry is right, Master Dwarf," he said coldly, "I would not call that 'without provocation'! Under the circumstances the attack does not surprise me much. And Legolas has my permission to fight back and to defend himself; he received it early in the Quest. Besides, I don't recall I ever gave you leave to command him or harass him! He is bound to obey my orders, but not your's!"

The Dwarf glowered at him. "He is a slave, is he not?" he challenged, "And I was under the impression yesterday that you agreed to share!"

Aragorn didn't even blink. "Then you misunderstood," he snarled. "I agreed to let you and Boromir help to feed the spell, but nothing more! You have no call to command, torment of harass him. Nor is he bound to obey you, or to be your servant or to do your chores! If you try to abuse our agreement in this way, you will answer to me!"

The Dwarf snorted derisively. Boromir cocked a brow, but didn't comment. Aragorn paid him no heed.

Yet the Dwarf did not chose to pursue this specific argument. Instead, he grasped his axe more tightly and growled with malice in his eyes:

"He has your permission to fight back? Then let him do so! Step aside so I can kill that insolent Elf myself!"

After a moment he added with narrowed eyes: "Or does he need to hide himself behind you in a battle?"

Behind him, Aragorn heard Legolas give an angry retort in Sindarin and a renewed plea to let him fight, but merely shook his head and bellowed sharply: "Nay! Daro!"

Pippin piped up from his other side – the one where he and Merry had placed themselves with Sam and Bill the pony: "You did not seem so much to have the advantage just a few moments ago, Master Dwarf! Seemed to me the Ranger rescued you from Legolas, not Legolas from you!"

Frodo hissed: "Pippin!" Sam and Merry looked alarmed. But Aragorn smiled grimly.

"Pippin is right, Master Dwarf," he said. "You would be dead right now had I allowed Legolas to kill you. And should I let him fight this battle, I do not doubt that you would lose. But I cannot do that."

He narrowed his eyes, and his voice sharpened. "Legolas cannot be allowed to kill you, because the consequences would be dire not only for himself, but also for his people. Should he kill a member of the Fellowship, except to protect the Ring Bearer or me, and the tale made it back to Rivendell, Elrond would not only have him executed, but avenge his deed on the whole of Mirkwood, to the last innocent child. I cannot allow that."

His eyes never left those of the Dwarf. "Does it please you, Master Dwarf, to threaten one who cannot fight back, because in doing so he would risk ruin not only for himself but all his people?"

Gimli just snorted. Aragorn did not relent. He raised his sword higher.

"However, if you are insisting on a fight, and would care for a foe who is not hampered like that, you are welcome to take your complaints up with me! I am a free warrior, and I do not have to answer to Elrond for killing you. And I will gladly do so, if you do not stop your harassment and abandon your threat!"

Gimli adjusted his fighting stance. "Then it appears that you are a threat to this Fellowship, as well as that Elf!" he growled. "Boromir, to my side! You heard that Ranger's threats! It its time we protected the Fellowship from him!"

Boromir raised his brows and shook his head. His face showed an odd mixture of annoyance and disgust.

"I am afraid I cannot do that, Master Dwarf," he said. "You brought this on yourself. If I were in Legolas' position and you voiced such a threat against my family, I would be out for your blood, too. Besides, we do not have slavery in Gondor, and I do not wish to establish it there. If you wish to stand for your claim, you will have to do it alone."

Glaring at him, then at the Hobbits and at Aragorn, still poised for a fight, Gimli finally gave a huff and straightened up. He rested the shaft of his axe on the ground before him. "Very well," he sneered heatedly, "Then it seems I have no business in this 'Fellowship' any longer, since no-one is on my side in my complaint against this Elf's attack!" He glowered at them and shrugged. "I will leave this Quest and go back to Rivendell. Maybe Lord Elrond will be more understanding to my case!"

Legolas gave an angry shout. Aragorn bellowed a short command in Sindarin, silencing him.

He took a step closer to Gimli.

"I am afraid I can not allow that, Master Dwarf," he said with a cold voice. "For I gave Legolas my oath that I would rather kill you, than let you pursue your threat to his people, and I intend to keep it!"

He dropped back into a fighting stance and said with deadly calm:
"So either you will swear here and now on your honor, your family and your line, and on everything you hold dear, that you give up your threat and will never ask Elrond, or any other Elf of Rivendell or of Lothlorien, to give you or your people any of Legolas siblings, or indeed any Mirkwood Elf as slave, nor have your people do such; or you face me here in combat so I can kill you and stop you thus myself!"

His face was deadly grim and stern, and there was no doubt that he meant it.

Gimli dropped back into a fighting stance, raising his axe, and Aragorn raised his sword to meet him. The Hobbits looked with horror at the scene, shuddering at the impending bloodshed.

Then Gandalf chose to interfere. He stepped close, effectively forcing Aragorn to take a step back so he would not harm the wizard if he swung at the Dwarf.

"Gimli son of Gloin," the wizard said, "do you really wish to turn yourself and your people into Elrond's pawn in this matter? Do you really wish to let him use you and your people to hurt an old enemy of his whom he hates and despises for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with you and whatever slight you perceive done to your line?"

He took another step closer.

"Do you wish to turn yourself into an instrument in Elrond's war to harass and torment the Elves of Mirkwood and to spread the corruption of this evil even more?"

He stopped, leaning on his staff. "For this is what would happen if you insisted on this plan of yours," he concluded.

Gimli hesitated. He glared at Legolas.

That Elf was the son of a hated foe, was he not? A foe that had imprisoned and insulted Gimli's father, and his comrades, Thorin's whole company, and never ever paid for that slight! And afterwards he had come after them with his whole army, just to claim their jewels! He deserved – his whole people deserved – what was coming to them, did they not? Besides, Elrond had ever been a friend to Gimli's line and the Dwarves of Erebor. There was nothing wrong in supporting him in his pursuits, was there?

And what was Tharkun doing anyway, siding with that Ranger and the Elf against him?!

Hot tendrils of rage enclosed Gimli's mind, pushing him, urging him to attack --

-- then he frowned.

Just yesterday he had been horrified at the extent of this spell, at the corruption it involved, at its cruelty against the slave; he had been ashamed at himself that he took part in the ignoble deed of raping another being, even a hated foe, all the while they did it. And now he suddenly thought of taking Elven slaves himself? Or forcing them on his people?

What was happening to him?

He shook his head as if to clear it and creased his brows, trying to fight against the dark rage that still fogged his thoughts.

Gandalf took another step closer.

"Do you recall what you were told about the Battle of the Five Armies, Gimli? Do you recall that Thranduil's Elves fought side by side with your people and the men of Dale and Laketown against the Orcs?" he asked.
"The Orcs came down on the North in great force after the death of Smaug, and they were defeated only by all three races standing together against them. The Elves never hesitated to join the fray; in fact they were the first to attack the enemy. And they lost many of their warriors in that battle, too!"

Gimli gritted his teeth. A voice in the back of his mind cried in rage, trying to drown out the wizard's voice.
The Elves had only gotten what was coming to them if they lost warriors, too. After all, they came to Erebor as enemies, to steal the treasures, and they never paid for that or for the slight against Thorin and Gloin and their company. They deserved everything that was coming to them, as well as their fate of slavery... Didn't they?

And Tharkun betrayed his friendship with the Dwarves of Erebor by siding with the Elves and against Gimli like this... did he not?


Somehow, the voice did not feel as if it was his own, anymore.

Gandalf continued solemnly: "Do you recall what lies on Thorin's tomb in the depth of Erebor?"

Gimli didn't answer. He just nodded tersely.

Gandalf nodded, too. "Orcrist, the Elven blade Thorin found on his journey, twin of my blade Glamdring. It burns in blue light whenever enemies come close to the mountain," he answered his own question. "Do you recall that it was Thranduil who placed the sword on Thorin's tomb, honoring him for his bravery in the Battle against the Orcs? He was noble enough to honor his fallen foe and bury all discord with the victory they had achieved together. Will you be less noble now, by pursuing your plan to avenge a slight long in the past in such a manner?"

Gimli hesitated again. Still, the voice in his head screamed in rage, trying to drown out the words of the wizard, but now it became ever weaker. Slowly, the hot tendrils of rage receded, and finally he managed to separate himself from them. He realized it then. Even with all the anger still burning within himself, these tendrils and that voice were something alien, something possessive. A malevolent influence.

And nobody possessed a Dwarf!

Angrily, he shook himself free and then he deliberately lowered his axe again, placed its shaft back on the ground and glared at the Ranger.

"Step aside, Ranger!" he growled. "There are words I have to say to that Elf, and they belong to him and not to you! I promise I will not attack him!"

Aragorn shook his head. "I am afraid I cannot do that," he said flatly. "Swear to me first as I demanded, or face me in battle! I will not stand aside without your oath!"

Gimli glowered at him. But he was not about to let himself be pushed back into something he now knew as being alien by the Mans presumption. Grimly, he said:

"Well, then. I swear the oath you demand. I swear it on my honor, on my line and on my secret name. I will not ask Lord Elrond for your Elf, or any of that Elf's siblings, nor any of his people. Nor will I tell this tale to him or anyone, or tell my people of Mirkwood's true state, or of this whole ignoble business of slavery and of that spell. I will take that secret to my grave. I will have no part of this business of keeping Elves as slaves, nor will my people if I can prevent it. Not out of fear of you, but out of respect for Gandalf and because I do not wish myself and my people to become pawns in Elven politics. I owe them better than that!"

He pursed his lips. Aragorn searched his eyes for any hint of deception and found nothing. "You swear?" he asked, still hesitant to step aside.

Gimli nodded solemnly, if angrily. He was nearly of a mind to kill the Ranger just for spite and for his insolence, but he was determined not to let himself be goaded again. "I swear," he repeated. "Now step aside!"

Aragorn looked at him another moment, then he took a deep breath and stepped aside. He knew Legolas could hold his own against any attack, if it came to that; and if the Dwarf broke his word he could still interfere.

But the Dwarf surprised him, since he made no move to attack and just glared at the Elf for another moment. Then, Gimli bowed after the fashion of his people, deeply and without apparent derision.

"My apologies to you, Master Elf," he said. "I reassure you that I will not pursue this idea, or tell your secret to any of my people. I do not know what came over me when I first made my threat. I think I have not been entirely myself."

Legolas looked at him, astonished and searchingly. Then he nodded and bowed with equally solemnity.

"Your apology is accepted, Master Dwarf," he said in his melodic voice. "You are not the only one the thing Frodo bears is trying to prey on."

The Dwarf harrumphed noncommittally, then just nodded. Legolas returned the nod. Then, as if nothing had ever happened, Gimli hefted his axe over his shoulder again and began to march on. After a moment, Gandalf took a deep, relieved breath and followed, smiling to himself. Soon he had regained the head of the Fellowship again.

The Hobbits, however, hesitated to follow. So did Legolas. He stood with apprehension, looking at his master.

Aragorn just gave him a nod. "It is all right, Little Leaf. We'll talk about this later," he said. Then he added:

"Well, I suggest we all start to move again. We still have to cover several leagues before dark."

Legolas swallowed, then bowed. "Yes, my Lord. Thank you," he said. Then, following his master's command, he turned and trudged on. The Hobbits glared at the Ranger for another moment, then they turned too, placing themselves protectively around the Elf.

Aragorn looked after them. Then he turned around to Boromir.

The Man of Gondor looked at him with a puzzled, but somewhat amused expression.

"So your little pleasure-toy has a sting," he said, "and you are not hesitant to defend him." He shrugged. Not giving the Ranger time for a reply, he added:

"Very well. But I still expect you to keep our bargain!"

And with that he trudged on.

Aragorn looked after him, boiling with anger. Then he looked down, the anger turning into bleak despair. Wordlessly, he resumed his place at the rear of the Fellowship and started to move.


So this was what he had brought down upon them.


________________ o ______________



-- End of Part V --



-- TBC --


Notes:

Tharkun—Kuzdhul (Probably): Dwarven name for Gandalf.

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.

Story Information

Author: Crowdaughter

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 05/11/11

Original Post: 12/23/06

Go to Mael-Gûl overview

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