Mael-Gûl: 44. Of Wargs and Wizards, Part II

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44. Of Wargs and Wizards, Part II

Authors note:
Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegolds story "Bound", which can be found here:
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.

Warning: Slash, m/m, BDSM, torture, toys, d/s, *very* graphic descriptions; abuse both physical and sexual. Non-con and debatable consent. special warning for this chapter: Abuse of Wildlife? Otherwise: None. Please heed the warnings!

Disclaimer: Universe and characters are not mine, but Tolkien's. The idea of the spell, however, belongs to me. In this chapter, I lift entire passages and quote extensively from Tolkien's book, again, and stay very close to Tolkien's lines. Proper references to the quoted passages are given in the footnotes. Please bear with 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.


XXXXII. Of Wargs and Wizards, Part II

At the same time, on the other side of the camp, another conversation was taking place. Boromir had tried to sleep, and had indeed managed to doze a while, haunted by strange dreams and images: howling wargs, wet, restraining snow, and always the Elf, just a few paces out of reach. He did not know what had roused him when he finally woke up, breathing hard and sweating, but he decided that it would be futile to try to find sleep again and turned around towards the fire. He saw the Elf, sitting at the side, deeply in conversation with the wizard, while the Hobbits were dozing; a quick look around showed him the Dwarf, quietly walking the perimeter, staring out into the night, but from time to time grazing the other two members of the Fellowship supposedly on watch with a dark look. Boromir did not know enough about Dwarven ears or the range of Dwarven hearing, but the Dwarf looked close enough to hear at least some of the conversation between Elf and wizard. Alas, he himself was too far away for that.

He stared at the pair for a few more moments, then he turned around again – only to find that he was not the only one who was not sleeping. Aragorn was lying close, rolled into his blanket, watching the wizard and the Elf intently and with some concentration.

Boromir cleared his throat.

Aragorn started and looked at him.

"I take it you cannot sleep, either?" Boromir asked dryly.

Aragorn just stared at him for a moment, but then he gave in and nodded. "I fear so," he replied.

Boromir nodded, too. "Good," he said, "For I suppose I have some more questions."

Aragorn sighed. Slowly, he sat up. Boromir followed his example.

Fumbling for his pipe, Aragorn quietly asked: "What is it you wish to know, then?"

Boromir sighed. Carefully, he nodded in the direction of Gandalf and Legolas. "Your Elf," he said, and Aragorn made a face. Boromir shook his head. "I would like to know the circumstances why he was enslaved. He has told me that he gave himself up to ensure safety for his people, but..."

Aragorn looked up at him sharply. Suddenly, he had a very good idea what had Legolas so upset the night before, when he came to relieve his master from the watch. But he restrained himself and replied merely: "He did."

Boromir stared at him incredulously.

"But – to agree to such terms..." he began, hesitantly.

Aragorn took his fire-kit and produced a spark to light his pipe. Flatly and grimly, he said:

"The way I heard it, Elrond left them no other choice. He threatened to burn their woods and put their entire population to the sword. They were severely outnumbered. They would not have stood a chance. And so Legolas offered himself. It was the only thing he could do."

He had succeeded in lighting his pipe and took a few puffs.

Boromir still stared at him. "But -- to slavery? And to a life like that?! Such degradation?" he asked. "How...?"

Aragorn nodded grimly. "I have often asked myself," he said quietly, "if, in the same situation, I would have had such courage." He took a pull at his pipe. "Or if I would have had the strength to survive and stay sane for so long."

Boromir stared at him. "But..." he said, and trailed off. Courage?! For that?!

He looked back in the direction of the fire and studied the Elf, who seemed right now taken aback by some question from Mithrandir. He seemed indignant in some way. Boromir could not hear his words, or read his gestures.

He turned to Aragorn again. "And he has lived like – like that - ever since?" he merely asked.

Aragorn looked away. "The longer he lasts, the less reason Elrond has to ask for another of his siblings," he said evasively, carefully neglecting to mention that Elrond probably was looking for an excuse to do just that as soon as possible, anyway. This was hardly a matter he could explain to the man of Gondor, and if he, Aragorn, had his way, there would soon be an end to that, in any case. Assuming they survived this mad quest and succeeded with their mission, of course.

Boromir was silent for some time. Finally, he asked, visibly shaken: "The Mirkwood Realm must have committed some horrifying crime if the other Elven realms have laid such a punishment on them. I cannot think of anything that would warrant such treatment, though, save maybe treachery and conspiring with the enemy, and even then..."

Aragorn grimaced. He shook his head. Finally, he shrugged and said grimly: "I do not know. I have heard many different stories about that, and of course Legolas' people tell a very different tale than their enemies. I do not know which, if any, of the tales are true. I believe the feud between these Realms is very old and it would be near impossible for any mortal to find out the truth of why and how it started. If I were to muse, I think the Mirkwood Elves had the bad fortune once to lose a war, and their enemies were blinded by their hatred. But I do not know why and how that came to pass."

He sighed. "Mostly, my rangers and I have tried to stay out of it as much as possible, and we hold ties to both sides in our fight against the Enemy and his creatures. As far as we can, at least."

His gaze wandered briefly to his Elf and for long moments it rested on him with concern, sorrow and regret.

Boromir just stared at him incredulously. "You and your people try to stay out of this?!" he repeated as if he could not trust hie ear, "He is your slave!"

Aragorn shot him a wry look. "How shrewd of you to notice," he mocked harshly. "Yes, that does complicate things a bit, I deem, does it not?"

But then he relented. Looking down at his pipe, he said tiredly and bitterly: "As I said, I was raised as Elrond's foster son. But when I asked for Legolas to be given to me, all I had in mind at the time was to protect him. I... I thought being with me would be a better fate than..."

He trailed off and fell silent. Finally, he took a deep breath and looked back at Boromir again.

"But that is neither here nor there. What matters now is only that he is bound to me. And frankly, for me, it is of no concern how this ancient feud started and how the subjugation of Legolas' people came about. The only thing that matters to me, now, is Legolas' safety and that he survives. I do not care if any of the tales are true or why the Elven realms once fought against each other. I only care about him. That is the reason why I extended that spell to you."

Boromir looked at him for a moment, irritated, and opened his mouth for a reply, but then he noticed the sudden expression of alarm on Aragorn's face. Following his gaze, he saw the eyes in the dark, staring back at him. He jumped up and reached for the grip of his sword, just as the sudden howling filled the night around the camp and Gimli's cry raised the alarm.

_______________________ o ______________________

Quite suddenly, the howl rose all around them. The yellow eyes briefly vanished and were replaced by many others. Legolas was on his feet, and so was Gandalf. The Hobbits scrambled up groggily and reached for for their little daggers.

But at first, there was no attack.

In the gap between the two great rocks Gandalf and Legolas had guarded, a great big wolf appeared, majestic in his form and demeanor, the yellow eyes holding far too much intelligence. He came forward into the circle of light, watching them evilly; and then he howled, a short, challenging sound, as if he was summoning his troops.

His howl was answered by many voices, all around them. Yet still, the pack held back, hesitating.

Gandalf strode forward. Holding his staff aloft, he shouted: "Listen to me, Hound of Sauron! Gandalf is here! Fly, if you value your foul skin! Flee, or I will shrivel you from tail to snout!1"

The wolf stared at him defiantly and snarled. Then he leaped. Gandalf raised his staff even higher, but before he could even cast a spell, there was a sharp twang, and the wolf thudded to the ground. An arrow protruded from his throat.

Legolas had loosed his arrow.

Fast as thought, the Elf had set another arrow to his bow, ready to shoot again. But the eyes around the camp were suddenly extinguished, and the howls were silent. Gandalf still held his staff aloft. After a moment, he and Aragorn strode forward, to the ring of boulders and close to the edge of the circle of light from their campfire.

But the watching eyes and shadowy shapes were gone. The wargs had fled them.

Irritated, they turned back and gathered around the fire again. The Hobbits huddled close to the flames, looking miserable. They were wide awake now, but badly shaken, and they cast horrified glances at the corpse of the big, grey wolf Legolas had killed. Gimli looked grim; so did Gandalf and Aragorn. Legolas was silent. He seemed highly strung and alert, intently listening to the wind.

It was Boromir who finally voiced their irritation. "What was that?" he asked. "Why didn't they attack?"

Aragorn looked grim. "Maybe they were only the scouts," he said. "They will be back."

Legolas nodded. "I counted only seven pairs of eyes," he said, "and just as many voices in the howl. I believe they did not attack because they were too few. They likely will return in greater numbers."

His voice was strained, and he was very pale.

Aragorn looked at him, drawing his brows together. But the Elf avoided his eyes, and this was hardly the moment for further questions. So, he let it go.

Gandalf nodded grimly.

"Then there is no sense for all of us in staying awake until they come," he said. "Whoever is not on guard should try to catch some sleep. I believe the second watch belongs to Boromir and Aragorn."

He did not mention Merry, though, and as he had expected, both Legolas and Gimli shook their heads.

"I will find no rest now," the Elf said softly. "I leave the opportunity to rest for Merry; my people do not need as much sleep as mortals do." He looked away, though, and hoped very hard he would not be called out on this by his master.

But Aragorn said nothing, obviously realizing how futile any command to his slave to seek rest would be right now.

Gimli looked grim. "I will not idly sleep when there is danger," the Dwarf said. "May the Hobbits seek what rest they can, but Gimli, Gloin's son will not skirt his duty."

And he cast a meaningful look at the wizard and the Elf, who both refused to answer.

Gandalf shrugged. "Very well," he said, "Just the Hobbits, then. But remember that we all have a hard walk ahead tomorrow."

And with that he settled back at his old place, prepared his pipe again and would say no more.

There was no further protest. Merry settled back close to Pippin, Sam and Frodo at the fire. Soon, all of them fell into an uneasy doze. Gimli sat close to them, quietly smoking his pipe.

Boromir and Aragorn walked the perimeter, and from time to time they quietly exchanged words.

Legolas stood on one of the great boulders, staring silently out into the night. The wizard's words still resonated in his head, but he stood straight and alert.

The second attack came only when the night was already old and the moon was setting, and it was upon them in seconds. All of a sudden, a crescendo of howls rose all around them, and in nearly the same moment, the beasts were there, coming at them from all sides. And this time, there were many more of them, jumping at them from the ring of stones, or crouching there to prepare for attack.

Boromir had his sword out and was fighting before he could even think. He placed himself close to one of the gaps between the boulders, between the attack and the Hobbits. To his right was Aragorn, doing the same; Legolas was to his left, the farthest away of the others, his bow already singing, firing arrows nearly too fast for mortal eyes to follow. At his back, on the other side of the fire, Gimli and Gandalf completed the circle, forming a line of defense around the Hobbits who stood closest to the fire.

Behind him, Boromir could hear Gandalf raising his voice, commanding the Hobbits to fling fuel onto the fire and draw their blades. The rising light showed that his words were heeded; but Boromir had no time to look around, because he was hard pressed, already. He hewed the head of one attacking warg and buried his sword in a second one; out of the corner of his eye he could see Aragorn doing the same with his hunting knife, while the Ranger brought his sword down on another warg at the same time. Behind him, a great cry rose:

"Baruk Khazad! Khazad ai-menu!2"

A howl followed, and a yelp. Then, Boromir was occupied with fending off a particularly nasty warg which eluded his sword several times but came close to sinking his teeth into his sword arm.

Finally, he managed to thrust his sword right down the throat of the beast, when he heard a warning shout. In the next instant, he felt an arrow pass just inches from his face, and then something big and heavy crushed into him from the other side and nearly swept him off his feet. A great weight pressed against him. Startled, he turned and raised his hand to shove the weight away. He stared. It was a huge warg, killed by an arrow in its throat, his sharp, deadly teeth and mighty jaws just inches away from Boromir's own throat.

Alarmed, Boromir shoved the dead beast away and looked around. He could see the Elf some yards to his left, fighting three wargs coming at him at once. It was an amazing sight.

Apparently, the moment of distraction when Legolas had killed the warg attacking Boromir had dearly cost the Elf, for it had left an opening for a few of the beasts to get too close for arrows' range. One warg was coming from the right, the other from the left; and there was a third one crouching in front of the Elf and preparing to leap.

Boromir shouted a warning, but he was too far away himself to come to the Elf's aid. Yet Legolas did not seem in trouble. While he watched, the Elf had one of his knives out in an instant and with a graceful sweep he cut the first warg's throat, while at the same time he landed a forceful kick right at the nose of the second. The beast yelped and froze, stunned for a moment. There was a shadowy movement, and Boromir cried a warning as the third warg leaped; hastily, he reached for his knife, although he knew that even throwing it he would probably be too slow to stop the attack in time. But his help was not needed. The Elf had already regained his balance and dodged, burying his knife in the breast of the attacking beast. Then the second warg had recovered from his shock and leaped at him, but Legolas had freed his knife already and shoved it through the throat of the animal. The whole sequence had only taken a few heartbeats. And just as soon, the Elf was standing free again, sheathing his blade and raising his bow, firing arrows almost faster than Boromir's eyes could follow.

The man of Gondor stared in awe. But in the next moment, he saw a movement to his right and turned just in time to fend off another warg that leaped at him. There was no time to think about what he had seen. He had to fight, mindlessly and routinely as he would on any battlefield in Gondor.

As soon as the attack had begun, it was over. When more and more shapes leaped at them, regardless of Legolas' deadly arrows, suddenly Gandalf raised his staff high over his head, and he seemed to grow.

With a loud voice he cried: "Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth!"

There was a roar and a crackle, and the tree above him burst into a leaf and bloom of blinding flame. The fire leapt from tree-top to tree-top. The whole hill was crowned with dazzling light. The swords and knives of the defenders shone and flickered. The last arrow of Legolas kindled in the air as it flew, and plunged burning into the heart of a great wolf-chieftain. All the others fled3.

In the blazing light, the company stood dazzled. Legolas had slumped and stood disoriented and alarmed; so did the others. The fire had blinded them. Slowly, Boromir tried to regain his eyesight through the sudden brightness of the blazing night.

But the moment of helplessness was not exploited, for there was no further attack. The hill lay silent, the fire slowly dying down and giving way to the dim light of the coming dawn. Their attackers were gone.

After a few moments, when he had recovered from seeing just sparks and stars before his eyes, Boromir looked around. To his side, where Legolas had fought, he could see the Elf, kneeling on the ground, held and quietly soothed by his master. Aragorn was conversing with his slave in Elvish. On the other side, around the dying campfire, the Hobbits huddled. Gimli stood there, shaking his head, obviously still fighting to regain his sight. Gandalf had lowered his staff again and stared distrustfully out into the night. Of them all, he alone seemed untroubled.

After a moment, though, he turned and looked around; then he came over to Aragorn and Legolas.

"What is it?" he asked, irritated.

Aragorn didn't look up, nor did the Elf. "He cannot see," the Ranger said.

Gandalf shrugged. "That will cease in a moment. Just stay with him until it gets better. But hurry! We must eat, and then we must break camp. It is still quite a way to Moria, and we cannot be sure that the packs will not return. The sooner we reach the mines, the better!"

The gnarled trees could not sustain the fire for long, and slowly it gave way to bitter smoke and ashes. Slowly, the eyes of the company adapted and after a while even Legolas could see normally again. But when the fire finally died down and the light of the approaching day grew stronger, they all looked around in bewilderment.

There were no bodies. The remains of the trees around them stood smoldering and charred, and they all felt the exhaustion of the recent battle; Boromir's side hurt from the bruise where the huge, dead warg had crashed into him. He clearly remembered the beasts he had killed, the blows he had delivered. But there were no dead wolves lying about; not even traces of the blood were left. Legolas' arrows lay all over the hill, and all were unspoiled and intact, safe for one which was charred and burned, missing its point.

If not for the charred hillside and the trembling pony the whole battle could as well have been a dream.

They looked at each other in alarm and fear.

Gandalf's face was grim. "It is as I thought," he said, "These were no ordinary wolves. They were the creatures of the enemy. We do well to hasten on our road. Let's break our fast and then move on as soon as possible!"

There was no opposition. Nobody dared to challenge his counsel again.

_______________ o ______________

It was a very subdued company that started on their way to Moria a short time later. They had broken their fast with all haste and then started on their way, eager to be gone; none of them wished to linger at the eerie hillside with the charred remains of the burned trees.

All of them were weary; with the exception of the Hobbits, hardly any of them had found any rest, and for most of them that had been true also the night before. None of them spoke.

Gandalf's grim, intent face forbade any further questions or discussion. As always, he led the way. Next to him walked the Dwarf; but even he marched on grimly and without the apparent excitement about the prospect of entering Moria he had shown the day before. The Hobbits, next in line and flanking the pony, were too shaken by the recent fight to engage in their usual chatter; even had they been less exhausted, they would not have felt very talkative; and the men were grim and brooding. Both were still wound up from the night's battle; and while Aragorn, who took the rear, seemed watchful and alert, Boromir trudged on deep in thought. From time to time he shot a thoughtful look at the Elf, who walked in front of him, seemingly oblivious to his attention, or indeed to anything around him.

Legolas walked alone, without any of his usual scouting, and his step showed none of his usual grace. He seemed distracted and edgy, but truth be told, he was barely aware of his surroundings. It was the fifth night in a row in which he had not found any peaceful rest, and he had to fight to stay awake. Occasionally he slipped off into a dizzy state of half-sleep, and it was all he could do not to stumble over any obstacles or lose his step at one of the craggy holes and ridges on their way. And yet, whenever he drifted off, he could not find rest, either. Glimpses of the attacking wargs haunted his mind, of falling rocks and snow, and in between he recalled fragments of his visions.

The images haunted him. Had he really thought he could outrun the creatures of the Enemy, including the hunting packs they had barely held at bay last night, just by himself and bearing the Ring after he had gone so far as to kill off his comrades to get that treacherous trinket?

What a fool he had been! He was all too aware of his own exhaustion, he could feel his weariness in every fiber of his body; and he was well aware that the sheer numbers of the pack last night would have overwhelmed them, despite his arrows and Estel's, Boromir's and even the Dwarf's best efforts, if not for the wizard and his intervention. Had he indeed allowed himself to be seduced into killing his comrades and trying to bring the Ring home to his father, he would never had made it.

And to think that at the same time as he contemplated treachery, Estel had asked Gandalf to find a way to break the spell -- it didn't bear thinking about.

In the back of his mind, a treacherous, little voice whispered: 'You have been with him for over sixty years. He could have asked the wizard to do that much sooner!' -- but he angrily banished it and shut the hateful voice off from his mind. He had listened to the Ring and its lies long enough! He would not make the same mistake again!

Nay. Estel deserved his loyalty and his trust. There was no other way; he would not dishonor himself, or doom his father and his people, nor destroy the one he had once desperately loved and who still owned a great part of his soul, just for the lies of a piece of jewelry!

So deeply was Legolas caught up in his thoughts, that he started and nearly lost his step, as suddenly a hand settled on his shoulder.

Startled and flinching guiltily, he turned. But instead of the stern face of his master, he stared into the concerned face of Boromir.

"Steady, master Elf," the man of Gondor said, "You nearly fell there!"

Legolas looked to the ground and saw the nasty crack across their path where he had mis-stepped and nearly lost his balance. That he had not noticed it sooner marked his tiredness.

A little startled, he looked up again and nodded his thanks to the man of Gondor.

Hesitantly, Boromir let go of his shoulder. But he did not immediately start to walk again. Instead, he stood there a little awkwardly, apparently searching for words.

Legolas waited a moment, but when the Adan didn't speak, he gave him a bow and started to turn to resume his path.

Boromir stopped him with a gesture.

"Wait a moment," he asked, and when Legolas turned back to him again, he swallowed.

"Grant me a moment of your time, please, Legolas," he said, "I would have words with you."

Legolas looked at the Gondorian in astonishment. Since that fateful day when Boromir had learned of Legolas' status as a slave, it had been rare that he had addressed him with his name.

But there was no derision or mockery in the Gondorian's face or voice. He seemed serious.

So, after a moment, Legolas nodded and bowed a second time. "What can I do for you?" he asked politely.

Boromir swallowed again.

"You saved my life last night," he began. "I want to thank you." He took a deep breath, and ploughed on: "Without your arrow, that warg would have got me!"

Legolas looked at him surprised. He drew his brows together.

"I just did my duty, My Lord," he said neutrally.

Boromir actually flinched. He made a face.

"Don't call me that," he said. "I am not your Lord."

He looked down.

Bluntly and awkwardly, he went on:

"I owe you an apology," - he paused, and then went on determinedly: "for my behavior these last few days. I... I had a conversation with your master last night." He flinched again, and hurried to correct himself: "With Aragorn."

Legolas just looked at him. He waited.

Hesitantly, the Gondorian went on: "He told me more about the circumstances why you... how it came to pass that you gave yourself up ."

Legolas flinched, but the Adan seemed not to notice. Determinedly, Boromir went on:

"He told me that there was no other choice, and that you had to do it to save your people. And I saw you fight last night. There is no question of your prowess as a warrior."

He took a deep breath and finally looked up, meeting Legolas' eyes.

"I owe you an apology. I have been a fool, and I have judged harshly, in a matter I did not understand. I would ask your forgiveness."

And with that, he formally bowed to the Elf standing before him.

Legolas looked at him in complete astonishment. For a moment he was at a loss what to reply.

Then, after a moment, he nodded.

"Thank you, Boromir of Gondor," he said seriously, "You apology is accepted and appreciated." After a moment, he went on: "But still, my Lord, you do not owe me thanks for my actions last night. I did only my duty to the Fellowship, after all."

Boromir shook his head.

"Do not call me your lord anymore, please, Legolas," he said. "I would have you address me as a fellow warrior. And I wanted to tell you that as far as it concerns me, the bargain I struck with your... with Aragorn is off. If there is need for you to have ... another feed the spell, because your... master might be hindered or wounded, I will be glad to provide help in any way I can. And if... if you were to decide to seek me out of your own, free will, I would be honored and glad to welcome you. But never again will I demand it as my due!"

He nearly choked on the words and he was bright red as he finished, but still he managed to conclude his speech.

Legolas looked at the Gondorian in utter astonishment.

After a moment, he bowed again and answered, very seriously:

"I thank you again, Boromir of Gondor, and I am honored by your generous offer." He hesitated a moment, then he swallowed. Looking down, he added with studied neutrality: "But it is the decision of my master whether I shall seek you out again. If he wishes to keep the bargain, I shall obey him."

Boromir's face clouded.

"He would order you into another man's arms even now?!" he asked incredulously. "How can he do that?! And how can you be so calm about it?"

Legolas looked up again, astonished by the Gondorian's sudden concern. He shrugged.

"I am his slave," he reminded Boromir calmly. "But even more, he has made this bargain with you to protect me."

He looked down again. "My master foresaw that we would be under harsh pursuit, soon. He told me so several days ago, and that therefore he'd deem it best if the spell was fed often."

Boromir's face clouded even more. "If he foresaw it, he gave little warning to the rest of us," he said harshly.

Legolas shrugged again.

"He has foresight," he said, "I do not have it. But I am told that it is never accurate, or clear. He saw that there would be pursuit, and we would be under attack. He did not see where or by whom, or even how many." He looked up again and met the other man's eyes. "You came to Rivendell asking for counsel to explain a vision, did you not?"

Boromir stared at him for another moment, then he pursed his lips. "Fair enough," he said. "Still..."

But Legolas did not look at him anymore. With careful remoteness, he went on: "In any case, last night's attack has proved him right. As for his reasoning, if the spell is fed more often, it means once we are under harsh pursuit and there is no time to see to it anymore, I will have more time until I fall into need or even illness."

He swallowed hard, and looked up again. "I cannot deny my master's reasoning in this, although his decision is not easy on me."

Boromir's face was grim.

"Your kind did great woe to you, to entrap you in so cruel a bond," he said, "and it is hard to see you bound so tightly. And as faithful as you are to your master, I am not sure he deserves your loyalty. I think that you deserve much better than the way he treats you." He sighed.

"I wish there was a way to see you free," he muttered.

Legolas looked up at him, completely startled. But Boromir ignored it.

He took a deep breath and continued honestly: "In any case, my offer stands. I will be honored to serve you at need in any way I can and any way you wish."

Taking another breath, he concluded: "But I would much prefer it if you came to me, and would regard me, as a friend."

Legolas stared at him, for moments at a complete loss for words. He felt torn between incredulity and gratitude, and not the least, confusion.

He did not know what had caused the Gondorian's sudden change of heart, but the face of Boromir was serious, and while the man seemed more than a little embarrassed, he obviously meant it.

Very earnestly, Legolas bowed to him a third time.

"I will be honored to regard you as a friend, Boromir," he merely said.

Boromir looked at him and nodded. A little awkwardly, he returned the bow.

"And I will be glad and honored to be allowed to regard you as my friend, Legolas of Mirkwood," he replied. "Again, it pains me that I ever treated you otherwise."

Legolas nodded in acceptance. He could only guess what this apology might have cost the other man.

Then he looked around and noticed that they were alone. The others of their company were far ahead and had gained quite a distance while they were conversing with each other.

He straightened and nodded at the rest of the Fellowship.

"We should move on," he said, "this is dangerous land, and we cannot afford to leave the others of our company undefended."

Boromir nodded, grateful for the offered way out of the awkward and uncomfortable conversation.

"Then let us follow them," he replied and started to walk again.

Legolas followed. They did not speak anymore and hurried to catch up to the others. When they caught up with the Fellowship, nobody commented on their absence; but Legolas caught the questioning glance of his master, followed by a satisfied nod. Obviously, Aragorn had guessed the contents of their conversation. But he did not seek the company of his slave, or demanded to talk to him, and so Legolas merely resumed his former position in the line.

However, he felt nothing of his earlier bleak thoughts, and his tiredness had lifted. Even his feet felt much lighter now, and his heart felt much less troubled, again.

_____________ o ____________

It was evening when they finally reached the walls of Moria. The light was waning fast, and the moon was clouded; but at least there was enough light to guard their feet and find their path. All of them were weary; Legolas, however, was nearly dead on his feet. He did his best to stay awake and listen to the wind, to estimate the distance of the still audible warg-voices; but it was hard, for his exhaustion and the lack of rest of the earlier few nights were catching up with him. Even more, there was a growing sense of danger and foreboding that pressed on his spirit and sapped his strength. He could not point his finger to the source; all circumstances of their situation were desperate enough that it was hard even to estimate if the growing shadow had its origins in the approaching warg-packs on their trail, or in the mines before them, or if there might be even another source. He had caught a few glances of his master and knew that Aragorn must feel the same. The Dunadan was edgy, and he did not seem content with their progress and was uneasy with their surroundings as well.

Legolas had never been to the walls of Moria; the one time when Aragorn had traveled here, it had been on one of the rare occasions when he had left Legolas behind with his Dunedain. So Legolas could contribute nothing to the quiet counsel between Aragorn and Gandalf about the changed lay of the land and the missing stream. He merely followed them up the stairs that were supposed to lead to the entryway, and then around the lake that lay across the valley there; a lake which, he gathered from Aragorn's comments, was not supposed to be there. He caught an exchange between Gandalf and Gimli about the invisibility of Dwarven doors, and even let himself be tempted to comment on it flippantly; but he was not entirely attentive. His mind was filled with the sad, sleepy song of the few, scarce trees that grew along the mountainside. Between two of them which were especially well grown, Gandalf halted and stroked the wall. The moon came out, and they beheld the inscription on the wall; clearly, they had found the doors of Moria.

Legolas did not pay attention when Gandalf wracked his brain in vain to find the spell that would open the doors. He could be of little help here.

Instead, he was drawn to the trees. Hoping for a little comfort, he climbed the one right of the doors and opened his mind to its sleepy song. Soon, he felt the slow strength and the calm of the Mallorn fill his mind and took respite in it.

He had to wait a while, though, before the tree woke up enough to respond to his thoughts, and when it did, his mind was filled by its sad song. The Mallorn spoke to him of sadness, of the water that had grown into a lake and nearly choked his roots, and that had drowned so many of his sapling-brothers, leaving only himself and one of his siblings where once had been a whole grove around the valley where they stood.

Legolas conveyed his sympathy and his regret. The tree woke up a little more, and finding one who shared and understood its song, it was delighted. It told of loneliness; it had been a long time, the tree told him, since one of his kind had walked within this land, and even other walking ones were coming near this place but rarely these days.

'Many cold times ago, when the water was not as heavy on my roots, many of the moving creatures would visit here: squirrels and deer and wolves and other furry folk, and even two-legged ones. But now, they fear the lake and do not come here anymore. Only the winged ones are still coming here, bringing new tidings.'

Legolas started. 'Why do they fear the lake?' he asked, concerned.

The tree was slow to reply. 'Many things are living in the water,' it replied, 'but one of them is hunting for the walking creatures, if they are dim enough to wake him. But he leaves us alone, and he has scared away the foul ones who make the earth groan under their feet.' There was deep satisfaction mixed into the thought.

Legolas drew his brows together. 'Orcs, you mean?' he asked, and was met with a shudder.

'Foul creatures, destroyers of our kind' the tree replied. 'They do not come here anymore. Even they fear the one living in the water.'

Legolas was startled. But before he could ask a question, the tree continued: 'And others who are more akin to stone. Metal they wear to cut down our brothers, merciless.' Legolas could feel its displeasure, and nearly missed the satisfied next thought: 'The one in the lake scared them away.'

Then the tree added: 'The winged ones tell me your kind sings to them sometimes. Will you sing to me?'

But Legolas was already separating his mind from the tree-song.'Another time,' he answered, while he transmitted his regret and his gratitude for the respite he had been given, 'I have to warn the others.'

And in the next moment, he was on the ground and on his feet, quickly looking around. He saw that Aragorn and Sam had unpacked and freed the pony, and Sam was now distributing the added loads to all their packs; Gimli smoked his pipe. The two Edain stared out on the lake; obviously, something had alerted them. Legolas followed their gaze and saw that the smooth surface of the lake was moving.

But before he could say anything, Gandalf said a word, and with a low, growling sound, the doors swung open.

All of them slowly followed the wizard into the great cave that was the entrance of the mines of Moria.

Legolas had grown up in a cave, if one could call the halls of his father such a thing. He should not fear to go underground, he chided himself, although he had lived these last eight decades mostly under light roofs or under the open sky. And yet. Seeing the deep, dark chasm that opened before them, only dimly lit by the moonlight shining through the entrance, he could not help a bone-deep shudder. There was something oppressive there, a lasting darkness, lying in wait to swallow them. The feeling of danger in his head mounted and screamed at him, and at the same time, there was no way to avoid moving on. Forcefully calming himself, he fought his unease down. He felt Aragorn beside him and looked around. Seeing the Ranger's tight expression, he knew that his master felt the warning and the aversion from going deeper inside, too.

The others of the Fellowship seemed little more excited at the idea. The Dwarf was the only one who truly seemed to welcome the thought.

From beside him, Legolas heard Gimli's delighted voice:

"Soon, Master Elf, you will experience the fabled hospitality of the Dwarves! Roaring fires, malt beer, and ripe meat of the bone!4"

Legolas had no idea why Gimli addressed him of all the Fellowship directly, but he did not ask. He was too occupied with taking in the wide, gaping hall, the darkness around them, the dry, slightly foul stench. But the Dwarf seemed not to register any of this. He was excited. He continued obliviously: "This, my friends, is the home of my cousin Balin! And they call it a mine! A mine!"

Legolas looked around him, and for the first time, he noticed the bodies on the floor. Small bodies, wearing the remains of heavy armor and axes; they were dead a while, for the stench had lessened and the corpses had mostly dried out. And looked undisturbed. But there had apparently been no survivors to care for the dead; and there was no question what had killed them, either. Arrows still pierced the mortal remains of the former door guard of Balin's Dwarven colony.

It was Boromir who spoke aloud what they all had only thought.

"This is no mine," the man of Gondor said, "it's a tomb!"

At his words, Gimli looked around him and his scream of denial echoed through the depth of the cavern.

Legolas paid him no heed. He bowed down and pulled an arrow out of one of the dried-out corpses. A short examination of the tip told him all he needed to know.

"Goblins!" he exclaimed and in the next instant, he was on his feet, bow drawn and readying an arrow. He could more feel than see that the two men beside him had drawn their weapons, too.

Boromir's determined voice cut through the silence. "We make for the gap of Rohan," he decided, "We should never have come here! Now, get out of here, get out!"

Aragorn began to protest: "We cannot take that way! The wargs-" -- but he never got to finish his sentence, for in that moment, all hell broke loose.

From behind them, they heard a shriek and then Sam's desperate call: "Strider!"

It was joined by Merry and Pippin calling out for help. They turned.

The lake was boiling. Many tentacles groped through the night, and they had unerringly found and caught the Ring-Bearer. Frodo was in the air and screaming desperately at the top of his lungs. On the shore, the other Hobbits hacked ineffectively at the slimy arms with their small weapons.

The thing that lived in the lake obviously had woken.

Legolas fired his arrow before he could even think. He hit his target, but the missile did the beast no harm. It rose out of the water, preparing to swallow Frodo alive. Legolas aimed again, this time for the creature's eye; but before he could fire, Boromir had heaved one of the big arms off with a great sweep of his sword. He creature screamed and swept Frodo back into the air again. Then Aragorn heaved off another tentacle, and the Hobbit fell, finally free. He was caught by Boromir. The creature came at them. Boromir turned, following Gandalf's bellowed command:

"Into the Mines!"

Behind him, Aragorn turned to do the same. But they were followed by the angry creature, and it was fast. It was Boromir, not Aragorn, who screamed at the archer among them. "Legolas!"

Legolas did not need the prompt. He fired, and his arrow passed only inches from Boromir's head straight into the eyes of the creature. It was thrown back and recoiled with a groan. Its hesitation lasted just a moment, but that was all the company needed. Legolas took just the time to help one of the Hobbits up and grab his pack, and then they all were in the cave and running for their lives. Behind them, the creature followed, groping for them in vain, and when it could not reach them, it ripped the doors out of their hinges and brought the foundations of the ceiling down. The roof of the cave gave in, and rocks fell and buried what had been the entrance. Legolas could hear the scream of the two Mallorn trees as they were ripped out by the angry creature and thrown before the place where they had stood.

But for the moment, he could spare them no thought. All his being was concentrated on just one thing: Estel! He had to make sure Estel was safe!

He was relieved when he found the familiar form of his master beside him and drew him back from the falling rocks, into safety. His ragged breath was answered by Aragorn's, and they instinctively crouched down in their niche, both reassured by the nearness and safety of the other.

Finally, the cave-in settled. Darkness fell, impenetrably and completely. Legolas could hear the ragged breath of all the Fellowship, and a quick count of the sounds brought him relief; at least they had not lost anyone.

Then there was light again, and at first, it was nearly painful to the eyes. It shone from Gandalf's staff, and it illuminated the grim, harsh face of the wizard.

"We now have but one choice!" Gandalf said. "We must face the long dark of Moria!"

He turned around. "Be on your guard! There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world. It is a four-day journey to the other side. Let's hope we may pass unnoticed."

Legolas looked around at the threatening darkness of the cave and could not help to feeling that there was hardly a great chance of that.

___________ o ______________

-- End of Part VII --

-- TBC --


(1) This sentence is again adapted closely from the book LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, Page 290. The original reads: (Quote) "Gandalf stood up and strode forward, holding his staff aloft. 'Listen to me, Hound of Sauron!' he cried. 'Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring!'" (End quote). I changed it for my purposes.
For the whole first half of the following part, I need to stay very close to Tolkien's original lines, again although of course I adapted them to fit my purposes. Please bear with me!
An extended version of the warg fight scene has been done before – and, of course, much better than by me! - by Thundera Tiger in her great story During a Journey in The Dark. Go, look it up! She also uses the idea that the first attack of the wargs was only a scouting endeavor, an interpretation I use here, too. Hopefully, though, otherwise my version of the warg-fight is different enough from hers to avoid the dangers of plagiarism.

(2) 'Baruk Khazad, Khazad ai-menu' – Khuzdul (Dwarwish). This is the Dwarven battle cry, feared by Orcs and other creatures of the Enemy, which means "Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!" The cry is given at LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, Page 522 (The battle of Helm's Deep), the meaning in the Appendix F, Page 1106. I thought Gimli would also use it here.

(3) "Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth!" - Sindarin: "Fire to our help! Fire against the wolf-host!" This sentence and the following paragraph are again directly lifted from the book, LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, Page 291. The idea of Legolas and the others being blinded by the sudden light for a few moments was first brought up by Thundera Tiger in her story "During A Journey In The Dark", and is lifted here without permission. But I think this is too good an observation to pass it up!

(4) From this point forward to the end of the chapter, the following dialogue, with the sole exception of Aragorn's protest, is directly lifted from Peter Jackson's movie, "The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring", Extended DVD-Edition.. I changed the context, of course!

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

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