DISCLAIMER: I do not propose to own any of J. R. R. Tolkiens characters, nor any places or names that before appeared in his books. Other characters and places, however, are mine, and are copyright © of Me-Elf.
So, here you are, a faster-appearing chapter than most others, hope you like!
Yardan was worried. He sat up in his throne room, and would not suffer anyone to enter. A storm had fallen over the king’s mind, filling him with fear at what might happen to his daughter, or to him. The same evil that she and that prince were journeying to find had taken his son years ago, and had only grown stronger with the years. Yardan was more than worried, he was afraid. A knock came on the door.
“No,” he said, as he had said so many times.
“But, Sir,” the voice said from the other side of the wooden frame. Yardan recognized the voice of his captain.
“Come in, Elgil,” he said wearliy. The door opened and a tall, bold-looking elf strode through.
“What is it now?” Yardan asked, plainly uninterested in anything his chief warrior had to say.
“Surely Your Majesty has noticed the darkness of the sky?” Elgil said, a look of amazement on his face. In truth, Yardan hadn’t. And now it only contributed to his anxiety, for indeed the sky was dark, though it was day. The shadow came from the North, drifting over everything, covering the palace of Alqualondë and everything beyond. Yardan shuddered.
“What is that?” he asked.
“We know not. The people are afraid, King, they want an explanation. What should I tell them?” Elgil asked. The king sighed.
“Tell them anything, I care not.” He stared out the window. Lightning flashed over the Sea; Yardan was surprised to see, in that brief flicker, the image of an enourmous hand rising out of the water to meet the light. He was even more amazed when he saw the hand was webbed. The lightning dispersed, and the thunder rolled as the king rose from his throne. He strode quickly to the pane of glass and looked out.
“Did you see that Elgil?” he asked his captain.
“No, Sir,” Elgil answered dutifully.
“Elgil.” Yardan said.
“Tell the people to prepare for war.”
* * *
Balved ran up to Legolas and Rayn as they aproached the fleet.
“Master!” he called out as he ran. “Look!”
Balved pointed to the sky over the ocean. Legolas was surprised to see a dark cloud gathering over the sea.
“What is that?” Rayn asked. Legolas was silent, his keen eyes probing the sky for any sign of what it might be. Of one thing he was certain. He was running out of time.
“Come, Balved, we must begin our journey. Have Erindor get supplies packed. If he won’t cooperate, tell him we are in Middle-earth and the order is from me,” Legolas said as he began to jog to the boat, Rayn close on his heels. As Balved ran the other way, Rayn spoke.
“You’re thinking about what Ulmo said about the evil behind and before us, aren’t you?” she asked. Legolas nodded.
“We must leave, tonight if possible, I sense fear and death here as I have never sensed it before.”
“Maybe it is nothing,” Rayn said, though her tone belied her optimisim.
“No, there is something about that darkness…”
Balved ran up, puffing.
“It is being done, sir. Erindor gave me a grudging look when I told him what you said, but he did it.”
“Good, we may be on our way tonight after all, and the better.” Legolas jogged faster toward the boat. He boarded the ship and went to the cabin. Gathering his knives up by their sheaths he handed them to Balved, who began with deft fingers to buckle and strap them onto his master. Rayn occupied herself with her own weapons and soon they were ready. With a word to wait on the beach for him Legolas ran to find Erindor.
He found the sea-elf tying lines among the other boats. All around him other elves were taking down sails and packing rope away. Erindor looked up at Legolas.
“Where are the provisions I sent word for you to pack?” Legolas asked. Erindor pointed without a word to three packs on the ground next to a ship.
“Those will get you as far as Minas Tirith,” he said sullenly. Legolas nodded.
“Rayn, Balved, and I will return here with an army in about three months, be ready for us by that time,” he said. Erindor nodded and went back to his tie. Legolas hoisted the packs onto his back and returned to the ship. Rayn and Balved stood waiting for him, watching the shadow cover the western sky. Aer was nestled in Balved’s arms, and he, too was watching the shadow. Legolas approached them and handed them each a pack. The wind had begun to blow with a cold, chilling feel.
“Come,” Legolas said, “We must travel quickly.”
The sky darkened as the day waned. The three elves began to lope toward the crags that loomed behind them at a good pace. Keen eyes aware of everything, delicate pointed ears probing the silence around them, they headed over hill and dale. As they went on the terrain became rocky and the going harder. They came to the top of a cliff that overlooked the Sea. Stopping to rest the three elves watched as lightning flickered far away over the ocean. Aer took off and flew out, searching the waters. Legolas held his breath, wondering if Aeraew had again spotted his master. But the gull flew back without so much as a stirring in the water.
The three sat on large stones for a few minutes, each with their own private thoughts. Finally Rayn spoke.
“What could that shadow be?” she asked of no one in particular. Legolas and Balved were surprised, they hadn’t taken it for anything but a large storm, and the thought had never crossed their minds that it could be something else.
“I really don’t know,” Balved said.
The shadow had ceased to move southward and it sat low in the sky, looming over the ocean. The sound of “Doom” seemed to float over the water, and meeting with their ears. Rayn gasped.
“Look, Legolas!” she cried, pointing over the water. They perceived a black shape taking form in the cloud. It grew and changed, twisting in the blackness of the stormy sky until it appeared almost elvish, but a dark and terrible elf. It dissapated into the cloud and they could see nothing more but black covering the western sky.
Rayn wondered about the thing, and slowly, like a soft voice carried across the Sea, a name, a brush of fear returned to her from her deepest memory.
“No,” she thought. “It can’t be.” She dismissed the thought from her mind.
Legolas stood up and spoke.
“Come,” he said. “We must move with greater haste now.” Balved nodded and Rayn stood, directing a last look at the cloud. A deep rumbling seemed to come from within it and she shuddered. They took off again and spoke no more of it that night.