A Chronicle of Middle-earth - A Forgotten Tale

Chapter 1: The Assault on Rivendell

It was almost noon, when the small company passed through the now safe pass of Caradhras and Aragorn thought he could see far away the valley of Rivendell, the only place where he could truly be safe. He looked behind him, where Gimli struggled along, chatting with Legolas, who led their horse and baggage.

"It seems like ages ago, when we tried to cross this pass with Frodo," Gimli was saying. "This place was all stalled up with snow. Now it's as green as ever."

"But now Sauron's power is dead," said Legolas. "His hand cannot reach anywhere to cause the destruction of good people. Nothing of evil is left in the land now."

"Come along now, we must hurry," Aragorn urged them forwards. "Evil is not dead yet. There is still Saruman and his brood left and they may yet cause trouble. We must hasten. I smell fell happenings in the air."

The elf and the dwarf looked at each other anxiously. Ever since Galadriel had given him a hooded warning of some unknown danger awaiting him at Rivendell, he had been eager to get back and had been making curious remarks like this one ever since they had entered the pass. "What sort of happenings?" asked Gimli.

But Aragorn did not answer. Indeed he said nothing more until they set up camp that night about 3 miles from Rivendell and even then to order them to build up a fire, but to keep it low. The two companions slept well that night, but Aragorn tossed and turned on his blanket all night.

When they awoke, they saw great clouds of crows flying in the same direction they were going. Legolas noticed an eagle amongst them and he shouted out to it. The eagle heard him and lit on the ground before him. "Noble elf," he said. "What did you want?"

"Where are all these carrion birds going?" asked Legolas.

"Did you not know?" said the eagle, sounding surprised. "I thought you would since you were also going to Rivendell. The crows have heard a rumor of the Uruk-Hai planning an assault on that place soon and they want to be there for the kill. Farewell!" Suddenly he flew off as quickly as he had landed.

"Make haste! Fly to Rivendell at all speeds!" shouted Aragorn, drawing his sword and dashing off, with the elf and the dwarf following close behind. They slid down the rocky cliffs and into the valley. There, they came upon a great smoke. Rivendell was burning! Every tree in sight was sizzling like a torch and the Last Homely House was almost in cinders

Elves were fighting the hideous half-orcs of Saruman, the Uruk-hai. There were many of them, terrible monsters slaying and being slain. Many elves lay dead too. Aragorn wasted no time. He charged into the melee, shouting and slashing anyone orcish in his path. Legolas' arrows were flying and Gimli's axe was swinging.

Suddenly Aragorn found Elrond amidst the battle. There he stood, giving orders. He saw Aragorn and embraced him. "Sorry for you to find such a rude welcome," said he. "There is much to explain. For now, I can tell you that many of the elves fighting here are fighting us. Many have joined Saruman. You won't be glad to hear about some of them..."

Suddenly a hideous orc with great squinting eyes leapt out of the bushes and drove his scimitar into Elrond. The half-elf gave a great cry and lurched to the ground. Aragorn shrieked in anger and in his fury, slashed the orc into a million pieces.

Even as tears blinded his eyes and streamed down his face, he charged into the battle with more fierceness than ever until the goblins thought that they were fighting a devil. Not a single orc within his sight lived. Suddenly he saw a familiar face. "Gilgamesh, is that you?" he shouted and flung his arms around an elf's neck.

"Get your hands off me, you filthy traitor!" hissed Gilgamesh, literally throwing Aragorn off of him.

"What do you mean?" asked a puzzled and hurt Aragorn. "We're best friends, remember? We met before the council of Elrond many years ago. You're his son."

Gilgamesh pointed his sword at Aragorn's throat. "I should kill you and get a reward from Saruman," he said. "He's my best friend now and you're my worst enemy and so is my so-called wise father, who will soon be no more. But, because of our past, I'll spare your miserable life."

Aragorn drew back from him. "So you're one of them, now," he managed. Suddenly his shock turned to anger. "You'd betray your own father. You're the traitor!" Suddenly, his hand lunged at the elf's throat and held there. "Gimli!" he shouted. The dwarf came running. "Slash this traitor's head off for me."

"But he's an..." started Gimli.

"Just do it!" shouted Aragorn, while Gilgamesh tried to hew off his arm and release himself. Just as Gimli raised his axe, Legolas came crashing through the trees. "No!" he shouted as the axe came crashing down and the dead elf collapsed at his feet. "What have you done, Aragorn?" he gasped. "He was your best friend."

"Was!" panted Aragorn and he turned back into the battle. As he ran back into it, he felt a sudden piercing fear. He looked and saw a hideous shape emerge from the smoke. He face was so terrible, Aragorn had to turn away. It was huge and its claws on a gigantic hand shone red. It bore a great club and with a stroke, he knocked Aragorn down. Then, with his other hand, he picked up the unconscious man and carried him out of Rivendell.

Nobody saw him leave. Everybody scattered at the sight of him. Suddenly all the remaining, living orcs called a retreat and within no time suddenly Rivendell was void of enemies. All of them had suddenly left. But nobody was rejoicing. Everybody had gathered around the fallen Elrond.

"Legolas," said the elf, suddenly. "What of my son, Gilgamesh, who turned to Saruman's side. I know he was a traitor, but he was my son and I loved him nonetheless. I would die better if I knew he was alive and well, even in the hands of Saruman."

"Alas, Elrond," said Legolas, sadly. "He fell at the hands of Gimli, but at the orders of Aragorn, who was carried away by some monster that we have never seen before. I'm sure that we'll see neither him nor your son again."

"He was always a noncompetitive fool!" said Elrond, weakly.

"Nevertheless, he was our friend," said Legolas. "I wish to ask your permission to take a small army of elves and rescue him."

"I give you permission to do neither. You shall not rescue him. Let Saruman kill him, for all I care," gasped Elrond, clutching his side painfully. He pointed at his other son, Haldred. "You shall be next leader of Rivendell," he managed, then he suddenly coughed, choked, and fell back, dead.

All the elves were very sad and preparations were made for a grand and glorious funeral. But Legolas and Gimli were furious. They asked Haldred if he would let them go and rescue Aragorn, but he was in the same mind as his father. This only made then angrier. They resolved to rescue him themselves.

So, on the eve of the funeral, they packed a few belongings in a couple of packs, took their pony and set out north towards Mordor and Saruman.

Chapter 2: Saruman's Sorcery and Strategies

When Aragorn awoke, the first thing he noticed was that his head was spinning with pain. He lifted his hand and was surprised to find that he wasn't tied up. He felt a bump the size of an egg on the back of his head. He groaned and tried to sit up, but dizziness overwhelmed him and he slumped back onto the hard mat he was lying on.

He took the time to look about his surroundings. He was apparently in a large room with a domed ceiling, which was covered with strange writings in the Black Tongue. He shuddered and looked out the window beside him. He saw that he must be at the top of a tower, for all below him he saw black, charred lands and evil-looking mountains. He saw Uruks and bad elves running about, doing business.

Suddenly, he saw for the first time a tall, old man with a beard down to his toes, who had been standing there and watching him, a queer almost triumphant smile on his face. "Welcome to the land of the living," he said, in a soft, melodious but evil voice. "Allow me to introduce myself: I am known as Saruman."

"I know who you are!" Aragorn managed to say, between gasps of pain, as he tried to sit up again. Finally, with great difficulty, he managed to scoot himself up on one elbow and to look into Saruman's eyes.

"Do you, now?" asked Saruman, curiously. "And do you happen to know where you are? I didn't think so. You are in Mordor, previously owned by the foolish Sauron, who was so foolish; he was vanquished by the simplest of people. The tower you are at the top of is Barad-dûr, but it has been repainted white. Black is not my color and it reminded me too much of Sauron."

"But you, on the other hand, have not been vanquished," said Aragorn.

"I have no intention to be," Saruman assured him. "I have thrived quite well in these past few years. My Uruk-hai and Balrogs and Shilgars I have continued to make live quite happily in the plains just west of Mordor, the place they call the Plains of the Uruk."

"And the Shilgars mentioned are those hideous beasts who carried me off?" asked Aragorn. Saruman gave a great, wicked grin, which Aragorn took as an affirmative. Just then a human dressed in armor like an Uruk walked in, carrying something wrapped in leaves. He did not see Aragorn, but looked only at Saruman.

"Milord," he said. "I have found and captured Aragorn."

"Have you?" said Saruman. "Good work, Captain Willaby. Unwrap him from those leaves and show him to me."

"Very well, sir," said Willaby, and he unwrapped the object. Just outside, some orcs heard a great cry and saw an unfortunate human go flying out of the window at the top of the tower, followed closely by a green, slimy creature covered with leaves, who lit on the ground neatly and ran off squealing into the darkness of Mordor. The orcs shook their heads and said to themselves, "That Willaby never was an intelligent one."

"Pardon the interruption," Saruman said to Aragorn. "Now, you may well ask what I am going to do to you. That will be seen tomorrow. For now, you will be given time to recover from your blow. I have prepared a concoction to help you, if you wish. It is in that glass, on the table. You needn't look at as if it was poison. I am not ready to kill you yet." And he gave cruel laugh. Suddenly in a poof of smoke, he disappeared.

Aragorn lay there for a while, thinking. He had a strange idea that Elrond had not survived that sword-thrust. He hoped the new lord of Rivendell would send a rescue team to save him. If only he had a Palantir to see what was happening there. As if in answer to his wish, one suddenly appeared beside him. He looked into it and this is what he saw.

He saw Gimli and Legolas, all alone setting out towards Caradhras, obviously coming to rescue him, but he was worried, for they were all alone. He had hoped Elrond would send a contingent of elves with them, if he had, by some miracle, survived. Suddenly the picture faded and Saruman's face appeared, laughing at him.

"Your friends might be obliged to take the paths through Moria again," he said. "I have sent a contingent of orcs to build a new outpost in the pass of Caradhras. That place shall be more dangerous soon then it was. Your friends will meet them there and never survive, or if they do, they won't survive in Moria!" He laughed again, a hideous sound, and then the Palantir went blank and suddenly vanished.

Aragorn was furious, but at the same time he was slightly amused. Maybe if he wished for Saruman's death, it would work as well. But alas, he knew such foolish dreams would never happen. He sat there in silence to await the dawn and his fate, mourning ahead of time the certain deaths of his friends.

He looked out the window and saw that it was nighttime. He decided he must sleep, so he settled down and soon fell into a troubled slumber. Suddenly he was awakened when the door was roughly thrown open and several Uruks came in, bearing a giant chest. They laughed and leered at him, a mighty warrior who had once slain many of them was now languishing in chains. Then they left him to stare at the chest in dismay.

Suddenly he was aware of another presence. He looked up and saw that Saruman had come into the room unawares. He stood there now, smiling at him. "You may well wonder what this chest is for," he said. "Don't worry, it isn't destined to be your casket. I use this chest for a much more interesting use."

After he said that, blots of lightning suddenly shot from his staff, knocking Aragorn into the chest. Before he could think about getting up, the huge iron lid was slammed onto him and he was plunged into darkness. He became aware of a growing heat in the chest. He tried hitting the lid with his fists, but it was locked.

Then he felt a sudden searing pain, as if a dagger had been driven into his heart. He cried out in agony as he felt an unseen fire consume his body. He felt as if his flesh was being torn from his body. Then, just as sudden as it had arrived, the pain and heat disappeared and all he felt was numbness.

As he lay there wondering what had happened, the lid was suddenly opened and Saruman said, "Get out!" He climbed out and suddenly ran into an Uruk-hai. His first thought to kill it, so he tore out his sword, not noticing that it was a curved scimitar, he ran the orc through. The moment the blade hit it, though, it shattered as if made of glass.

He stared in surprise at the sword in his hand and noticed that his hand was clawed. The wizard chuckled. "Who is your master now?" he asked.

The words "I am a ranger and serve no one," were forming on his tongue, but instead the word "Saruman" came out.

"Good, very good," said the wizard. "And who is your enemy?"

"All who do not serve you, elves the worst of all," was the answer.

Saruman grinned in satisfaction. He gestured to the door that he may go out. "Oh, and one more thing," he said suddenly. "Your name is Arghazh." And he disappeared. Arghazh stepped out of the door and onto firm ground. He must have been moved to the ground floor when he had been in...the what? He, for some reason, had a hard time remembering that or much else. It was as if he had been an orc all his life.

He looked around him at the many orcs going about their nasty businesses: sharpening scimitars, making shields and spears, carving bows and arrows, or just staring wickedly at each other for no apparent reason. His friends. Together they would vanquish the enemy and conquer Middle-earth. He grinned and went down to meet his new coworkers.

Chapter 3: The Destruction of Moria

Meanwhile, Legolas and Gimli had set out with a grim determination towards Saruman's realm, which was on the other side of Fangorn Forest. They had decided to take the pass of Caradhras, it was easier and quicker. So on they trudged.

After about four days of travel, Legolas said, "We should be there. In fact, it should be right over that hill." Gimli looked at the hill doubtfully. "Why don't I go over and have a look, then if you're wrong, it'll save some time," he suggested.

So off he went and peeked over the hill. He ducked under quickly again as an arrow sped over his head. "Let's get out of here!" he shrieked and the two of them, dodging arrows, fled the hill as quickly as possible, not stopping for breath until they were miles away. Even then they rested warily, keeping an eye out for pursuit.

Finally Legolas' curiosity got the better of him and he asked, "What was there?"

"What was there?" answered Gimli. "A whole army of orcs, that's what. Saruman's set up an outpost there to keep strangers out. He never was one for entertaining. I suppose we'll be obliged to take Moria again."

"Don't be foolish," retorted Legolas. "That time we had Gandalf with us. He alone knew the way."

"Oh, I know the way well enough," Gimli assured him. "The question is whether or not I can persuade you to come along with me. After all, where else would you go? Back to Rivendell, possibly eh, do come home to your mother because you were afraid of the dark?"

"I won't swallow your insults nicely, dwarf!" growled Legolas, beginning to get irritated and angry. "If you say one more nasty thing about elves, I believe I'll be forced to jam one of my arrows down your ungrateful throat."

"Threatening to kill your own friends, now are we?" said Gimli. "I say, we're beginning to sound like a pair of squabbling orcs. Why don't we come to some sort of agreement or decision?"

Legolas suddenly whipped out an arrow and aimed it at Gimli. Then he lowered his weapon and finally threw it on the ground. "I suppose you're right, my good friend. We can't abandon Aragorn. Let us take the paths through Moria. But let us start in the morning and rest tonight."

And so they ate and slept and at dawn they started out again, until they came to the well-remembered doors of Moria. It took them no time to say the password "Mellon" and to get in and start going. They brought plenty of torches with them, which they lit. The Watcher in the Water did not disturb them and they left well enough alone.

As they walked on in the darkness, they noticed something different. They were having a hard time putting their feet on it, so they kept on walking, until suddenly they heard the pattering of feet. Legolas drew his arrow and Gimli kept his axe ready. They stood, waiting for attack, but none came.

Suddenly Legolas said, "That's what it is! The goblins have built a second floor into Moria. They are walking above us. Hopefully they are unaware of our entering."

"The fools!" snorted Gimli. "Moria was not built to have a second floor. It's big enough into the mountain as it is. A second floor will weaken the mountain greatly. I fear for our safety here."

"Then we must hasten," agreed Legolas and they continued, all the while conscious of dozens of feet walking just above them. As they walked on, they saw occasional places where bricks had fallen from the roof and they could see clawed feet marching. It seemed that the second floor had been built years ago and was starting to crumble. They could see places where the ceiling was very thin.

Just them they entered the great halls, where stood many great stone pillars and columns. There seemed to be a great feast going on above them. They could hear the goblins shrieking and merrymaking in their own, coarse way. But the pillars weren't taking it nicely. They were shaking and trembling from the added weight. All the companions could do was stare in horror.

Suddenly, the entirely ceiling gave way. Stones and bricks and goblins came crashing down towards them. They fell around them like rain, but Gimli put his great shield above them and protected them from the debris. They saw that Moria was crumbling. "Run for it!" shouted Legolas. They ran past stunned and angry orcs and out of the hall.

It wasn't long before they heard the hordes of goblins chasing after them. Occasionally Legolas would turn and fire an arrow and they would hear some orc cry out in pain. Suddenly they came to the place where the Bridge of Khazad-dum had been. There was no other way out and the goblins were coming closer every minute.

"What do we do?" shouted Gimli, in a panic.

"How should I now? Do I look like the brains of the bunch?" shouted Legolas, in the same panic. He pulled off his pack and pulled out a long bunch of rope. He hurriedly tied one end into a lasso and swirled it, catching the other side. "I'll swing across and throw it back to you and you can come after me, ok?"

"Oh, no I won't! You won't see me swinging like some ape," protested Gimli, but Legolas hard already gone across and thrown the rope back to the dwarf. Behind him, the shouts of the goblins were frighteningly close. He was beginning to sweat. "If I must, I must," he said finally and swung across with his eyes closed tight.

They began to run on again, as the roof above them fell about their ears. Suddenly Legolas said, "My pack! I left it back there."

"No time for that now," said Gimli and they continued running. They ran outside just in time and Gimli stopped to catch his breath. But Legolas' good ears could hear the protesting of the earth as the entire mountain shook from top to toe. "We must run for the woods!" he said suddenly and took off at a great pace, with the dwarf close behind.

They stopped to rest a few miles away and watched the entire mountain go down in a cloud of dust so high, Saruman saw it far away in Mordor. It took all the orcs with it and the once glorious realm of Moria. "So passes the dwelling place of my ancestors," said Gimli, and bowed his head in sorrow.

They rested there for a few days, gathering their strength. Luckily, most of the food had been in Gimli's pack. Unfortunately, the blankets had been in Legolas' and so they were rather cold. They went on their way, passing through Lothlorien once again, and told Galadriel of the attack on Rivendell.

She gave them some sound advice, "Be forewarned. I sense that Saruman has done something terrible to Aragorn, though I cannot know what for sure. I know only this: do not look for him as you know him. Look for him as somebody else." This was all she told them. She gave them boats to help them on their way and off they went, to what they hoped to be the final part of their journey.

Chapter 4: Gollum and the Ents

Now, the slimy green creature that Willaby has mistaken for Aragorn was actually Gollum. He knew the Ring had been destroyed, and it had been thought that he had been taken with it. But Gollum had fallen on a crevasse inside the volcano, though in his fright, he had dropped the Ring. When the mountain exploded, he had somehow survived. Now, he was just wandering nowhere in general, just causing mischief.

After had has fled out of Mordor for his very life, he crawled and slithered his way across Emyn Wuil, towards Fangorn Forest, though he knew this not. Instead, he muttered his way along, saying things like, "Nasty little hobbits! They destroyed my precious, now Gollum is all alone. Yes! Very much alone in the world."

As crawled and dabbled he way until he came to the Ent-draught River that surrounded the forest. He crossed in carefully, after taking a drink. He cared not where he went. And anyway, the forest looked cool and a safe place to hide for him. Unfortunately for him, fortunately for others, it was not to be.

For deep inside Fangorn was Saruman's old stronghold, Isengard where dwelt the treelike Ents. Treebeard was their leader at that time. He was growing old and had not seen visitors for quite some time, since the destruction of Sauron. Normally, he would have been happy to have some visitors, but when he almost trod on Gollum, he was surprised and needless to say annoyed.

"Crush us and stomp us, my precious!" gasped Gollum, when a giant rooty toe almost squashed him and a great hand picked him up. "You needn't hurt us, we only wants to talk a little with someone. Yes, that's what we wants."

"Is it, now?" asked Treebeard. "Well, hoom hum! It's been a long time since anyone wanted to talk to an Ent. But you're perhaps not the sort I'd like to talk to. Perhaps you talk a bit too much to yourself, eh? But let's see now, let's not be too hasty. Come inside."

Treebeard led the bedraggled and bewildered creature into Orthanc, the tower in the middle of Isengard, which was roomy enough on the inside to house both Ent and Gollum comfortably. Treebeard pulled out a flagon and said, "have a bit of ent-draught!" But Gollum sniffed in gingerly and licked it and fell to coughing and sputtering on the floor.

"Very well, I guess it isn't very good for you," said Treebeard. "But hoo hum, you do need a bit of growing, you do!" And with a sigh, he downed the flagon himself. "Now then, if I may be so kind as to inquire to whom I am speaking?"

"Who knows?" shrieked Gollum. "No one knows who I am any more. Not me, not you, not anybody! No. Gollum!"

"So, you're the creature that my friends the hobbits spoke of often," said Treebeard thoughtfully. "But they did not speak of you as someone they thought well of. What was it you wanted to talk to me about then?"

Now Gollum had been thinking. He had had nothing to do lately, except for his brief meeting with the goblins. This incident had raised his ire a bit and he could think of nothing but what he should do to get back at them. Treebeard's question had given him an idea, a dark and evil idea, one that would surely work with the help of the strong Ents.

"My precious wants to ask, yes he does!" said Gollum excitedly. "The nasty orcses and goblinses gave us troubles, yes they did. Nasty wizard leads them all now, far away in dark cold lands, where nothing nice is, no! In Mordor, where the great Eye once dwelled. Since nasty orcs have mistreated us, I wishes to take revenge on them."

"So, Saruman is still alive, is he, and up to no good, I'll warrant," muttered Treebeard. "I knew it was a mistake to have let him go when I did. I thought perhaps Gandalf would find him somewhere and finish him for good, but I guess not. I would like to destroy him once and for all. It would be nice to know he would never do any harm again."

"So, you'll help the precious, will you? You'll make us very happy, indeed!" said Gollum, hopping up and down in his excitement.

"Naturally, we can't do it ourselves, that would be a task," Treebeard told him. "But my fellow Ents are still awake and still cleaning up after our battle. I think I can convince them to have another one after the atrocities Saruman laid on us. Come let us call them out."

"Yes, yes, let us proceed," said Gollum and followed the Ent out, all the while grinning triumphantly to himself. Treebeard stood just in front of the door and cupped his hands to his mouth like a big horn. Then he gave a great "Hoom, hum!" and all of the sudden many things that looked like trees came to life and rallied around Treebeard.

There was a great variety of Ents. Birches, spruces bearing a great, needled clubs, aspens, maples, and even a couple of willows. They were all talking to Treebeard in the hoom and humming sort of voices. They seemed to be talking very fast, as Treebeard explained to them who Gollum was and what he wanted. They were getting positively hasty.

Suddenly Treebeard shouted, "Come here, Gollum, my friends want to have a look at you." So the creature came and stood amongst them and they all looked at them with their big and curious eyes. Treebeard said, "They have decided that you are not dangerous and that we will all try to help you. But first we must all get some rest and then we can start out."

So, all the Ents went off to different places and just stood there, waiting for the sun to go down. With surprise Gollum realized that it was already almost nighttime. He curled up in a ball and went to sleep in no time.

When he awoke, it was already morning. The Ents still slept, so Gollum crept off to find something to eat. He found some beetles and grubs in a rotting log and ate them. He then drank and washed his face in the stream and went back to Orthanc. There, he found all the Ents awake and lining up for a long march.

Treebeard was at the head. He picked up Gollum and said, "Come little slimy one! I shall carry you, or you won't be able to keep up. We go to attack Saruman, but this time he's holed up in Mordor. We've decided to go the long way around Mordor and attack him from behind. On we go, with a hoom and a hum!" And off they went, humming as they walked out of the forest and off towards Mordor.

Chapter 5: Two Attacks on Saruman's Stronghold

Meanwhile, Legolas and Gimli were slowly and surely approaching what had once been Shelob's Lair, the place where Frodo and Sam had passed into Mordor and had been attacked by the great spider called Shelob. But now the spider had been vanquished when Mt. Doom had exploded and poisonous fumes had filled her cave, killing her.

However, her stench was still there and more powerful than ever, because of her decaying body. Her webs still hung about the place and in the paths too, so that Gimli had to use his axe to clear the way for them. Finally they passed out of the caves and into the dreaded lands.

Neither of them could suppress a shudder as they walked by the ruins of what had once been the tower of Cirith Ungol. There once had orcs lived and Black Riders, now it had crumbled and fallen. But a smell of evil still hung around it. They didn't stay there long. They knew Barad-dur was somewhere straight ahead and they knew they would meet trouble soon.

Sure enough, they came upon a contingent of elves walking along the road. Legolas put an arrow to the string, but did not shoot. Instead, he went out to meet them. All of the elves immediately drew arrows, but not the light, well-made ones of Rivendell. They had the great and black shafts of Isengard. All of them were pointing at Legolas and Gimli.

"Who are you that walks in the black lands and what is your business with Saruman, now the ruler of Mordor and keeper of Barad-dur?" asked a tall elf, obviously the leader of the contingent.

"I am known as Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood and this is my companion, Gimli son of Gloin from the Lonely Mountain. An elf on your side, Gilgamesh, knows us. Our business is our own and we do not want to fight. Let us on our way peacefully."

The elf lowered his bow, and the other elves did as well, though still glowering suspiciously. "So, you're Legolas, of whom Gilgamesh often speaks, but not nicely," said the elf. "I also have no need to fight you. I have decided to arrest you and take you to Saruman myself. Then we'll see how nicely he receives you. Will you hand over your weapons peacefully?"

"We will," said Legolas, grimly, and he handed the nearest elf his bow and a quiver full of arrows. Gimli also grudgingly gave up his axe. But Legolas said nothing of the long, white knife that was strapped under his jacket. Then the elves bound them and turned around back the way they came. But a plan was forming in Legolas' mind. He whispered it to Gimli as they walked along.

Soon they entered Saruman's realm. The place was crawling with orcs and elves, all watching with curiosity the arrival of the prisoners. Legolas nodded to Gimli. Suddenly the elf drew his dagger and plunged it to the hilt into the back of the nearest elf. Gimli grabbed his axe out of the elf's hand and began swinging it at goblins.

The whole place was suddenly in havoc. Everybody's attention was on the two companions. Arrows flew, scimitars swung, and people fell everywhere. Suddenly there was a loud "hoom, hum!" and suddenly the Ents joined the fray from behind, tossing goblins and elves everywhere. One punch from an Ent-fist kills you.

Because you see Sauron had happened to have a back door. He used it to smuggle in prisoners he didn't want the public (orcs in general) to know about. Saruman had not known of it, so his attention was focused on the battle in front. That's why he was surprised when suddenly all these Ents joined the battle.

The fight was turning bloody now. Orcs' heads were flying everywhere and the battlefield was strewn with their bodies and the bodies of elves. The Ents themselves did not easily die, unless there was a direct hit from an elf bow into their eyes. This was a problem, since many of the elves were keen archers and soon several Ents were dying or blinded.

Treebeard saw that there was only one thing left to do, or all the Ents would soon be wiped out. He pulled Gollum aside and asked him if they could retreat and if they had taken enough revenge for him. The creature sniveled and said, "No, no, mustn't retreat yet! Must kill nasty wizard first."

"Saruman is too strong for us to kill him," said Treebeard. "Barad-dur was not built by him, it was built by Sauron, who knew how to build things. We cannot attack him unless he comes down from the tower. I'm sorry, Gollum."

"Sorry not enough!" hissed Gollum. "Take him down from the tower. Squash him out here."

"We can't fit in the tower to go up and get him," was Treebeard's argument and in the end, the wise Ent called a retreat. Meanwhile, Legolas was fighting for all his worth, shooting arrows like a madman. Suddenly, a hideous orc with a humanlike complexion leaped out of nowhere, and swung his scimitar wildly, hacking off Legolas' hand.

The elf screamed in pain and was knocked to the ground. The orc raised his weapon to finish him, when Gimli came up behind him and crashed him on the head with his axe. The goblin fell to the ground, unconscious. "Quickly, bind him!" said Legolas painfully. "We'll take him prisoners and maybe he can tell us where Aragorn is."

The dwarf bound the orc hand and foot and mouth and together, they dragged him out of the melee. They managed to carry him out of the realm of Saruman and at least out of sight. There, they sat and rested and Gimli bound Legolas' severed hand to stop the bleeding. "Take the gag off him," said the elf, finally and Gimli set about doing so.

The goblin suddenly came to and gave a great roar. He tried to thrash wildly, but of course he was still bound. He glared at them and fell silent. "Tell us, master orc, what we need to know and perhaps we might spare you," said Legolas sternly. "If you don't, we may be forced to kill you."

"Foolish elf!" growled the orc, in his foul tongue. "I am Arghazh. I will die before I tell you anything that will put my master in danger."

Gimli suddenly pulled out his axe and made as if to behead Arghazh. "Speak like that to my friend and you will soon have no head to speak with," said Gimli. "Now, let us at least ask our questions without further argument."

Legolas asked him if he knew of a human called Aragorn, who had probably been taken in just several days ago. The orc frowned at him, glanced cautiously at the axe and said meekly, "I have not heard of such a person, only that he is our enemy. I know not if he is at Barad-dur at this time."

"Then I believe that you are wrong, for your master attacked Rivendell not long ago and took our friend with him. If he is not here, than where is he?" asked Legolas. Now Arghazh thought to himself that perhaps he shouldn't say anything more, or my may give away something important without meaning to. So he shut his mouth and said nothing more.

"Very well, we will take you to Lothlorien where perhaps the elves can extract information from you in their own away," said Legolas. "Let us be on our away again."

Arghazh's eyes bugged out at the mention of Lothlorien, but Gimli took his axe and clobbered him unconscious again. Then they carried him up out of Mordor and off to the Great River again, where their boats still waited, to take him to Galadriel.

Meanwhile, Saruman was fussing and fuming at his orc chieftains. He was furious that they had gotten away with Aragorn. He was also furious that they hadn't been able to execute more Ents. "Sir," ventured one of the chieftains. "If you had allowed us to release the Balrogs and Shilgars from their cages, we would have won."

"I'm not so foolish," hissed Saruman. "They may be strong, but they can still be killed. An Ent would be quite a match for one of them, even a Shilgar. And anyway, they are reserved for my final onslaught."

"With your permission, my lord, might I say something," said an orc called Slurush and when he got the go ahead, he continued. "Why not have the final onslaught now? I mean, we have more than enough Uruks and elves and Balrogs and Shilgars. We only lost 100 of our men in the battle. And then you could finally be the lord of Middle-earth."

An orc came in and reported, "Our scouts have just returned and said that the elf and the dwarf took Arghazh to the Great River. Their guess is that they are taking him to Lothlorien."

"To the elves?" said Saruman, aghast. "This could be bad. Galadriel may be wise enough to see through my spells and perhaps fix him for me. We must attack immediately. After we have vanquished and destroyed the elven wood, we will move on to conquer all the free people of Middle-earth. Prepare for battle!"

The rest of the day was devoted to just that. Scimitars were made, bows repaired, arrows cut, shields made, and orcs armored in armor with the symbol of the white hand on it. The elves themselves did not armor themselves, but instead filled their quivers with plenty of arrows.

Saruman himself prepared the Balrogs for battle. He had created 100 of the terrifying, fiery beasts. The largest one he named Grong and he rode him to battle himself, dressed in special clothes to protect him from the flames. The Shilgars' teeth and claws were sharpened to razor-sharpness and outfitted in great plates of armor. Soon the vast army was leaving Mordor to victory and war.

Chapter 6: Galadriel's Discovery

Meanwhile, Legolas and Gimli had arrived safely at the shores of Lothlorien, where they were greeted warmly by the Lady Galadriel. Her husband, Lord Celeborn, had gone to Rivendell to see what he could do to help in reconstruction. The goblin Arghazh was far from happy. He hated elves (at least the ones not on his side) with a vengeance.

Galadriel regarded him coldly and perhaps a little sadly, for she knew very well that once, along time ago, the orcs had been elves, before the first dark Lord Morgoth took them and twisted them with his evil ways, transforming them. Therefore, it came as a surprise to Legolas when a flicker of surprise crossed the lady's face when she looked at Arghazh.

Nevertheless, she bid her guards to place him in custody, in the dungeons, where he wasn't treated unkindly and given some food. But she treated her two guests very nicely, with a fine dinner. Than she said to them, "Upon your arrival here last time, a great sense of foreboding fell upon me after I had given you that warning and you had departed. I took it upon myself to continue looking into my mirror to find out what happened to Aragorn."

"We searched as well as we could, but the battle was long and bloody. We barely managed to get away with this orc," said Legolas. "He said that he had heard nothing of Aragorn at Mordor."

"That is what I feared," said Galadriel gravely. "Now, listen carefully to what I have to say. This orc is no more an Uruk than you or I. Arghazh is really Aragorn, but somehow Saruman has turned him into his servant, remembering nothing of his friends."

Legolas looked shocked and Gimli's face turned pale. "If this is true, is there nothing we can do to save our friend? Is he to wander forever, slaying his own friends until he in turn is slain?"

"There is but one thing you can do," she told them. "And even then, I am not sure it will work, but you may try. I have among my books one that tells how to undo what has been changed. It says to take the changed thing to the Pools of Elbereth and bathe him there. After a brief period of pain, whoever it is shall become what he was."

"But the Pool of Elbereth is high at the top of Mount Gundabad at the northern part of the range of Misty Mountains!" said Legolas. "Such a journey is by far out of our hands, unless we untie the prisoners and make him carry his own weight, which would be dangerous to our lives."

"Not if I place a spell of command on him," said Galadriel. "We elves are not wizards, but we do have some magic. I will give him a drink that will make him obey your every command. Even if you untie him, he will not slay you unless ordered. But you must leave at dawn and quickly."

So she gave the potion to Arghazh, who fell into a sort of stupor, but he could still walk and fight and everything, but only if ordered to. They then untied him and told him to follow them, which he did. They bade farewell to Galadriel and set out on their way towards Gundabad

As she stood waving farewell to them, a scout suddenly ran up to Galadriel and said, "My lady, I do not mean to intrude, but there is a great army headed by Saruman coming upon us along the Great River. They are many."

"Quickly gather together as many of the elven warriors we have and gather a great army. We must ready for battle!" shouted Galadriel. "I must send for the eagles. They along can get here in time to help us." She sent a messenger pigeon to the eagles and hurried to the battlefield. All along the eastern borders of the wood were lined up hundreds of elven archers and warriors.

Suddenly the first line of goblins was upon them and a terrible war followed. The goblins fought with a newfound ferocity, unknown to the elven warriors. Many of them were slain in the first onslaught. But the archers shot true and many goblins fell with an arrow to their forehead. The second line of warriors ran out and fought the orcs scimitar to sword.

Then a great fire rose in the forest as the giant Balrogs appeared, spreading fire and devastation everywhere. The second line of archers focused their attention on the Balrogs, who began destroyed the forest. It took a hundred elvish arrows to kill one Balrog and even then many of the elves died in the attempt. So destruction and killing reigned everywhere.

And still to come were the terrible Shilgars, whose powerful teeth and claws were the doom on many. But with their arrival came the eagles, great and powerful lords of the skies. They flew at the eyes of the Shilgars, confusing and blinding them until many of them fell with a huge crash. Once they fell down, usually their own weight crushed them to death or their backs were broken at once.

Suddenly Saruman himself came, riding Grong with a look of fierce triumph in his eyes. He them called a parley and all his remained soldiers backed off and stopped fighting. The good elves stopped shooting. The eagles settled down to rest their wings a bit. And Galadriel went across the body-strewn battlefield to talk to Saruman.

"Well, my lady, how good to see you personally," said Saruman, cheerfully. "I was afraid you would send an emissary and them I'd have to explain it all slowly and carefully and..."

"You wished to parley," interrupted Galadriel coldly. "Then parley."

"Very well," said Saruman, his voice suddenly equally cold. "It seems that you have saying with you now a certain dwarf and elf who have captured a very important servant of mine. I wish him back. If you give him to me, I will call a retreat and we will go back where we came from. If not, I will be forced to destroy your precious forest to cinders. What do you say?"

"I tell you this," answered Galadriel. "I know of this elf and dwarf and orc of whom you speak so kindly. They were here not long ago, but I tell you that they have just left. And I'll tell you where they have gone. They've gone to the Pool of Elbereth on Gundabad, to undo the spell you put on a perfectly good man called Aragorn!"

Saruman stared at her, his beard quivering with rage. Then suddenly, he jumped on his steed and his Balrog took off into the sky in a blast of flames and smoke and set off towards the Misty Mountains. Meanwhile, the elven archers began firing again and the battle again raged, ending in with the annihilation of Saruman's army.

Chapter 7: At the Pool of Elbereth

Meanwhile, the three companions (well, relatively speaking, as one of them wasn't really a companion) were just coming to the foot of the great Mt. Gundabad. It was cold and a chill rain was falling. Legolas looked unhappily at the height and rocky mountain. As a rule, elves avoid mountains, but Gimli looked quite at home. "This will be a climb for a dwarf to remember!" he said.

"Quite easy for you to say," said Legolas grumpily. "I do not like the looks of it. It looks too steep and rocky for the tastes of an elf."

"Too steep!" laughed Gimli. "That's exactly the fun of it. I'll bet at the top it is flat enough to hold a pool anyway. If you like, I'll go up first and carved some climbing steps with my axe as I go. You can follow after me after 30 minutes."

So it was decided and up the dwarf went, carving steps and whistling as he went. Soon he was out of sight. Legolas and Arghazh sat there, shivering for the cold. When 30 minutes had gone by, the elf stood and said, "Come, let's go." And up they went. The steps made it easier, but it was still slow going. The orc found it easy with his claws, but Legolas was expecting to go plummeting to his death in any minute.

As he didn't, he kept on going wearily. After a few hours, the two of them stopped to rest. Doubtless Gimli had reached the top already and was preparing dinner for them. At least Legolas hoped he was. The rain had chilled him to the bone and a fire would be welcome. So on they went, until it seemed that they would never get up.

Then suddenly Gimli was giving Legolas a hand up and over and there they were, at the top of the mountain. To his surprise, there was a small forest with a pool in the middle of it. Under a tree, Gimli had set up a fire and fried some fish. "I don't supposed Elbereth will mind if I grabbed a few fish out of her pool," Gimli said happily.

Legolas went and looked in. "This is a sacred place. I can feel the holiness of it. We shouldn't remain here long. After we eat, we should go about our business quickly." They ate and then they took Arghazh to the pool. The orc look at it sullenly. Then suddenly he found himself pushed in. "Help, I can't swim!" he roared, but they made no move to help him.

After struggling for a while, he suddenly disappeared under it. Then he climbed out onto the shore, shaking uncontrollably and crying out in pain. It hurt the two of them to watch him helplessly as he writhed and cursed in his orcish voice. He went on like that for 20 minutes.

Suddenly a bright light engulfed him and Gimli shut his eyes against it. When he opened them, Legolas was embracing his old friend Aragorn. "We thought you would be an orc forever!" shouted Gimli gleefully. Happily, Aragorn's memory was back and he remembered them. He practically wept for joy.

Suddenly, a dark voice behind them made them all turn around. "How pleasant! And how good to see you back in proper shape again, Aragorn!" said Saruman. There he stood, grinning evilly.

"Get you out of here!" said Legolas. "This is a holy place, without the need to be defiled by evil people such as your self. Leave this place!"

"All in good time," said Saruman. "But first I believe you have something that belongs to me. If you remember, I captured him fair and square in battle and he is mine. Give him to me or meet your death at the hands of my Balrog."

"Saruman!" said Aragorn, standing up and taking up his sword Anduril. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn and I belong to nobody, least of all yourself. I will not by taken by you to live that kind of life again. You will never take me alive, but you have sealed your own doom."

And with that he took his sword and rushed at the wizard. Suddenly, blocking his way was the monstrous Balrog, smoke and flames rising from him. With a terrifying roar, he smashed the sword from Aragorn's hand and knocked him to the ground. He reached out with a gigantic claw and picked him up. The ranger barely had enough time to grab his sword before he was lifted.

He found himself staring into the fiery eyes and terrifying maw of the Balrog. The hot breath seared his face. The flames on the monster's hand burned his clothes and scorched his skin. But Aragorn did not lose face for a moment. He raised his sword and swung with all his might. The Balrog gave a great shriek as his head was severed from his body. He collapsed in a great fiery heap.

Aragorn lay on the ground in exhaustion. Saruman was furious. He reached out, grabbed Aragorn around the throat and dragged him to the edge of the mountaintop. "Your friend meets his fate here!" he shouted and prepared to hurl Aragorn over the edge.

But suddenly his mouth opened in surprise and pain as Legolas sent an arrow in between his shoulder blades. He gave a cry as he himself went toppling over the side and to his death. Aragorn fell to and clung with all his might to the side as Legolas and Gimli heaved him over. "Thank you, my friends," he said. "For saving my life twice now."

"Speak nothing of it," said Gimli. "After all, what are friends for?" So they went down from the mountain and went off together as friends again.

The End.

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