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.
“But when King Elasser gave up his life Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea…More cannot be said of this matter.”
The ominous cloud drew closer to Middle-earth as the elves flew over grass and field. They ran for six days, the darkness drawing closer with every stride. Stopping only at night for food, they traveled on over grass and field, resting on the run. Aeraew flew behind them, his energy never dwindling, much to Balved’s surprise. He wondered about the unceasing ablity of the young gull to do anything a grown gull would do, but he never asked Legolas about it. Instead he simply followed, worrying little, and accepting most. But on the eve of the sixth day his curiosity got the best of him.
“Why doesn’t Aer tire?” he asked of Legolas, holding the little gull in his arms, trying unsuccessfully to stroke the bird’s head.
Legolas and Rayn looked at each other, wondering what they could say.
“He is a wonder, do you not remember?” Rayn said nonchalantly.
Balved was not convinced.
“You are hiding something,” he said. “What are you keeping from me, Highness?”
Rayn sighed and shook her head, signifying her end to the conversation.
“We have seen a greater power than the cloud, Balved,” Legolas said. “The gull is a messenger of Ulmo.”
“Ulmo?” Balved said. He paused, his mouth open with disbelief. “But…”
“He lies not, Balved, he rose up out of the ocean and spoke to us, he gave us a warning,” Rayn explained.
“A warning?” The young elf’s eyes widened with fear.
“He said that the evil is both behind and before us, we have found the evil behind,” Legolas said, gesturing at the cloud, “but the evil in front remains a mystery.”
“What will we do?” Balved asked.
“We must keep moving, we will go through Gondor and Rohan, then we will circle back to the Glittering Caves and finally to Mirkwood, my home.”
“And where are these places? We have never been here, Legolas, and your names leave a complete blank in my mind,” Rayn said. Balved nodded in agreement.
“Well,” Legolas said, picking up a stick and making marks in the ground with it. “This is Gondor, and we are heading to Minas Tirith, here.” He pointed to a rock in the earth. “Rohan is Northwest of here and Mirkwood is here,” he said, pointing to various places on his makeshift map. “The Caves are here, near Helm’s Deep, a fortress of old. A great battle was fought there…” He sat back, remembering. A memory of that night.
“It’s been knife-work up here…”
“Legolas?” Rayn said, startling him out of his stupor. “What is it?”
“Nothing, come, we must not linger here.” The elves stood to leave and Legolas scuffed the toe of his boot in his map. Giving another fearing look at the cloud, he quickly followed Rayn and Balved, who had already continued east.
* * * *
As they neared Minas Tirith, the elves passed through small towns, asleep and unheeding of the lithe shadows that flitted through their streets. Shadows of beings not seen for years in Gondor. But throughout these towns, all their inhabitants would wake to a new morn, for the Great Shadow flew behind those of the elves.
Dawn had begun to stretch it’s way across the eastern sky when Legolas stopped atop a hill. Rayn came up behind him, and as she looked out over the land her breath left her for an instant. Before her she made out a white city, seven tiered, it’s banners stretching up to the grey-lit sky. But something was terribly wrong.
“We must get there by morning,” Legolas said.
“Morning?” Balved asked suddenly, having come up silently behind the two elves. “If morning there be.” He pointed up. The Shadow, barely distinguishable in the dark of the wee hours, had overtaken them and was proceeding eastward at a rapid rate.
“Come, Balved, Rayn, we must hurry, where is Aer?”
As if he had heard his own name, Aeraew flew up and landed on Legolas’s head. Rayn giggled, and they started off on the last stretch of thier long journey. Thunder rumbled overhead. “Or maybe it isn’t thunder,” Balved thought.
Legolas ran with more haste than he ever had before. They reached the city as a thin line of red began to show between the growing shadow out of the West and the horizon. Legolas walked up to the Gate of Minas Tirith. He gasped as he saw that it was marred and nicked, its intricate carvings gashed through, bloodstained and ruined.
“What has happened?” he asked of himself. He knocked on the door.
“No! Leave me, you needn’t come in here to torture me, for life with these wounds is torture enough!” a harsh, agonized voice wailed from inside the city. Legolas felt a small twinge of familiarity come with the voice. He called to it.
“What is this? We are not here to hurt you, please, let us in!”
Sobs came from within the walls.
“Who are you?” the voice cried weakly.
“I am Legolas, son of King Thranduil, of Mirkwood,” Legolas said.
“Legolas…” the voice said softly. “The gate will give, come thee within these walls.”
Legolas pushed on the gate, and found that it gave. He walked in cautiously, Rayn and Balved followed closely, while Aer flew over the gate. Legolas was apalled at the carnage that appeared before his eyes. Rayn gasped behind him. Balved was silent. They stood there for a moment, mortified by the sight of dead bodies strewn about, of blood and ash collected in pools on the hard, trampled ground. Legolas’s eyes traveled across the terrible scene in horror.
“Awful, isn’t it?” the voice said. Legolas looked to his right. A human-like being covered in blood and dirt sat against the wall, his eyes closed.
“Don’t you recognize me, Legolas?” He asked. His eyes opened, glinting with a twinge of old mischief. Legolas saw that the creature was a hobbit, he started, for there before him was Peregrin, Thain of the Shire.
“Pippin?” he whispered. He shook his head. “Pippin died before I left.” Realization crept over his features and tears welled up in his eyes as he recognized the hobbit as Faramir, Peregrin’s son.
“Faramir,” Legolas said. The hobbit smiled a small smile.
“You left, why did you come back?”
“I came to gather an army, whoever I could find. The Valar have left Valinor, and at least one has come here. There is war coming. What of you?”
“It was a feast, we were here to celebrate the birthday of Boromir, Aragorn’s son. But we were disrupted. War has been and gone here. There was an awful battle, Legolas, of which I am the last one standing. There were dragons, dragons that appeared as though Glaurung had come back. Orcs, Fire-Demons, and Magic, Magic, Legolas! A horrible massacre, of which I am the last to die!” He covered his face and wept.
“Fire-Demons?” Legolas asked himself. “Balrogs,” his mind answered.
“The Great Evil has come, Legolas. It will all end this age, for we can no longer stand against this evil. War has come again to Middle-earth, which cannot protect itself any longer.” His voice was raspy and weak. “An evil more terrible than Sauron has come back.”
“Come back?” Rayn asked. “It was here before?”
“In all the old stories he was, they called him the Black Enemy.” He gasped for breath.
“Morgoth?” Rayn murmured. “how can that be? He was cast off the face of the earth, nevermore to be a terror to the Free Peoples of Eä.”
Faramir shrugged. The cloud rumbled, and it seemed to the elves that it laughed at them, mocking the helplesness that overcame the three at their discovery. Aer warbled threateningly. The cloud groaned louder in answer to the bird’s challenge.
“Legolas, you…you shine like the sun.” Legolas turned to Farmir. The hobbit stared with wondering eyes at the elves. The Prince knelt down next to the young Thain. Faramir gazed into his eyes.
“Find your army; save the Shire, Legolas,” he said. A shadow passed over his face. Legolas stroked the hobbit’s cheek, a mournful mask of grief covered his face. He closed Faramir’s eyes and stood.
“Come,” he said suddenly. He ran to the gate of the next tier, Rayn and Balved behind him. Aer flew above their heads. Legolas sprinted through the streets littered with bodies of elves, men, dwarves, and hobbits. Everywhere tabled were overturned, banners lay in strips, ground into the mud. He rounded a wall and stopped in front of a round gazebo. He stepped cautiously into the stone tomb. His eyes filled with tears when he saw that the rooms contents had not been passed over. The bodies of Aragorn, Arwen, Pippin and Merry bore dry wounds. Pippin’s eyes had been forced open, the hollow sockets glared at Legolas. Aragorn had been pinned to his stone bed with a sword. The hobbits had been pierced with many arrows. A vision visited Legolas’s mind, one of Boromir lying dead, pierced with many arrows. Arwen lay face down on the floor. Legolas walked slowly toward her, an expression of horror and hate spread across his features. He gently rolled the Queen over and sat her against the stone that her husband lay on.
“Who was she?” Rayn asked.
“She was my friend,” Legolas replied. “When my father traveled to Imladris I went with him so I could play with her. We climbed trees and swam in the rivers. I took her hunting, and together we envied her brothers, Elladen and Elrohir. They got to go on quests to slay orcs, for they were of age, and we were always left behind. Indeed I think our fathers wished for us to wed, but we did not see each other often enough. After one visit I was not able to return for a thousand years. We came of age apart from each other, and near the end of my absence Elrond had taken in a human child and was raising him. When I returned, Arwen did not care for me, she cared only for the young man of thirty that Aragorn had grown to be.” He gestured toward the body of the King. “I was grieved, for my purpose in coming to Imladris was to ask for her hand; I wanted only her happiness, so I left, knowing that even if she did marry her love would die, and she would go on living. My hope was that she would turn to me when he left the earth. I knew she was out of the line of Luthien; never did I expect she would forsake her immortality to follow Aragorn.” Legolas sighed.
“You loved her?” Rayn asked. He nodded. “I’m sorry.”
A change came over Legolas. He was no longer afraid of the impending war. He would fight to his final breath to overcome the evil that had mutilated the bodies of his friends. He would do it for Arwen.
“Why do you suppose they mauled the dead?” Balved asked. “What was the reason?”
“I know not,” Legolas said, lifting the fragile body in his arms and laying it back on its stone bed.
Aer sqwalked and cried from his perch on the stone rail of the gazebo. The elves looked up, and the gull hopped and danced, calling as he went.
“He’s gone mad!” Balved cried.
“Nay, let the bird alone,” Rayn said. “I feel a presence of a great power.” Aeraew continued to frenzy, and the dark became closer, pressing Legolas until he felt he could not breathe. He looked toward the opening that served as a door, and readied his hands to draw his knives. Aer had grown quiet. Suddenly Rayn gasped.
“This is no mere dark,” she whispered to her companions. “This is Unlight.”
The darkness pressed closer, Legolas noticed that the torches around the room were sputtering and flickering in their sconces. The darkness became even more heavy and the light, unable to penetrate the darkness, went out.
“Unlight?” Balved echoed. There question went unanswered as a shape, blacker than the black around them appeared at the door.
“Yea, behold thee the Unlight of Ungoliant!” The black shape hissed.