Mink: Purists beware! we go into the storyline, we go out, we dive back in. If you have a candle burning on your Tolkein shrine (and are still on a yaoi list) do not go any further.
Jink: Legolas was asking for it. Tolkein made him way too pristine, lofty, fearless, perfect, English. Please excuse any slips in prose. It is very hard to keep up Tolkein's ridiculously archaic style. And of course, being the non Tolkein fanboys we are, expect a complete irreverence to elvish and all other cannon elements. Dedicated to Evan whom I know could not care less. ^^
Walking in Darkness
By Kink (Mink and Jink)
The darkness of Moria was a consuming strain. No hue above ground could match its depth. Blacker than the bottom of the endless Deep. Blacker than the center eye of the great Lord Eagle. It could swallow a man whole and leave him only half of himself. It could conceal one thousand years in its cloak and entomb a civilization.
The Fellowship had spent three sunless days wandering the halls of the Dwarves' enigmatic realm. Gandalf at the helm cleaved their path with the elvish light of his staff, the hobbits flanked by Aragorn and Boromir. Gimli, the dwarf, shaken by all the death and gloom around him, was silent. He watched the shadows with mistrust, remembering with sorrow the golden halls of its glory days. The men, Aragorn son of Arathorn and Boromir of Gondor were alert and watchful, swords at the ready. Not even Gandalf the wise knew all that was to be encountered in this forgotten realm. In such unearthly darkness senses became sharp as a dragon's talons, and fear made bright as a line of fresh drawn blood.
Legolas, whose elvish senses were already that of a hawk in daylight, began to go silently mad.
Aragorn had seen it on the first day when the elf stood watch alone, staring into the abyss with wide eyes.
"What do you hear?" Aragorn did not meet his gaze.
"Nothing." The elf replied but his soft voice was as hollow and bleak as the mine below.
On the second day, dread hung over the fellowship. It was as if eyes peered from every direction, the walls themselves like living, breathing beings observing their movements. The light step of Legolas was slow and cautious, his bright eyes ever watchful searched the dark.
So it was on the third day, a cry pierced the darkness of Moria.
Legolas had covered his pointed ears with his hands and was crying out, his golden voice striking every heart that heard it.
"Silence him!" Gandalf hissed.
"Peace Legolas! Peace!" Aragorn whispered harshly. Swiftly, he was upon him, his hand muffling the elf's desperate cries. Legolas did not fight him but sank to his knees and would not move.
"All the foul murk of this accursed place, and he'll be the one to finish us," grumbled Boromir.
"Hold your tongue, son of Gondor!" Aragorn spoke sharply. "Know to tremble when an elf cries out!"
"Mad elf," spat Gimli caustically. "Just like them."
Angered, Aragorn met his gaze and would have spoken had not the wizard intervened.
"Silence, both of you!" Gandalf waved his hand and was obeyed.
"We must stop," said Aragorn. Legolas had quieted against him and was moaning softly.
"We can ill afford this." Gandalf's eyes were dark and solemn, long fingers stroking his beard in agitation.
"A moment is all we require." Aragorn said again and his gray eyes sought Frodo's. Frodo, drawn and pale, nodded. He was too weary for words, the weight of the ring heavy against his heart. Gandalf acquiesced to his will and there the party halted, leaving Aragorn alone to minister Legolas.
"What ails you, son of Thranduil?" asked Aragorn gently, kneeling beside the stricken elf. Legolas hid his face in his hands, trembling fearfully.
"Elves cannot walk in shadow." He whispered over and over in his soft, musical speech. "Aragorn..." his hands clutched at the breast of his jerkin. "...this dark, I feel like a knife in my heart!"
Legolas wept bitterly and his very tears were made of soft light, shimmering down his pale cheeks in phosphorescent streaks.
Aragorn pressed his hand to the elf's damp face. "Go on." He whispered, meeting the fair gaze of Legolas. "Go on and do not fear. The golden eaves of Lothlorien wait beyond this realm. Let that comfort you."
"Dunedan." Legolas breathed his name slowly in the elvish tongue Aragorn knew well. Aragorn's lips were warm, a soft kiss to take the gauzy tears, pressing the tender flesh below his eyes and his mouth. Legolas closed his eyes, his sigh like the breath of spring. Aragorn ran roughened fingers through the pale floss of his hair and held him close until his tremors ceased.
"I will... go on." The elf murmured. He leaned over, adding an ancient word meant for his ear alone. It was old elvish, and it meant simply "beloved".
"It is not much further." Aragorn said in earnest but Legolas hid his face and would say no more.
A voice behind them startled them both.
"We must hasten." It was Gandalf. His steady gaze settled on Legolas.
The elf drew a breath and stood, seeming to regain himself once more. He trotted to catch up with the others the wizard had sent on.
Aragorn made to follow them when the old wizard's gaze stopped him. The look on his wizened face unsettled his blood.
"I feared this", his eyes went to the elf who was now far away.
"It is the darkness." Aragorn said, knowing Gandalf would understand this susceptibility of the elves.
"Pray that is all," he said quietly.
Aragorn nodded not understanding, but before he could ask the questions lingering on his tongue the old wizard had turned and walked away.
Eyes opened in the deep dark. The cry sang through its blaze of dreams.
Above sounds moved fast and fearful through the great stone halls. Lost travelers? Easy prey, then. Treasure hunters, perhaps? But the brightmetal had been lost all, melted within the mountain's fiery heart when the dwarves fell. There was nothing to steal within these walls but death.
Fools had blundered into this nether realm, unwary of the stories or too dullard to heed them. New meat was precious and warm blood had not been tasted in centuries.
Foooooood... Came the long unspoken word as it felt its body rise from the black, sharp claws clicking on the rock as it staggered to a stand after so long.
Not newborn this evil.
Old--ancient as the earth from which it was formed, fortified by countless years and nature's toil. An elf it was once, now twisted by evil magic, a newborn mind ablaze with the joy of slaughter. The High Kindred had their own name for such blunders--Yrch. The common called them orc. But this was a new breed made from the old, holding memories of what it once was. Where a simple orc lived and breathed, the Uruk-hai had been formed to think and lead.
The body of the Uruk-hai was as hard and mighty as the petrified stronghold in which it slept. Its master so much further below, smoldering but not awake.
The beast rose with the heat, up through chasm and crevice, red eyes open and ready, the ancient blade in its heavy grip raised and glistening. Below, the legion dreamt on, the master remained undisturbed. The Uruk-hai crept up each dark ledge, the powerful haunches shivering as it crouched. Long braids of matted black hair hung down in its face, the bones of prey woven into them clicking together as it stared down in its patient search.
The Uruk-hai narrowed its eyes, senses straining in the darkness of its prison.
"Courage elf!" The dwarf laid a stocky hand on the slight shoulder. "You shall see the sun once more, by Thorin's beard."
Legolas walked on in silence, but Aragorn shuddered in fear, for he had felt part of the shadow shrouding the elvish heart. His gaze met briefly with Boromir's. The man of Gondor was full of mistrust and accusation. Aragorn let him look away first and then sighed. They had greater troubles awaiting them than Boromir's strife. He suspected the wizard knew but would not speak of it. Gandalf's urgent haste, however, was clear.
Aragorn's elvish senses were weak, stunted by the natural colors of his mortal blood. He could not feel as acutely the shadows in each ancient crevice nor hear the hissing breath of the watchers cloaking the dome of the mountain. But human instincts were adequate to quicken his footsteps in Moria.
The scent was so strong it seemed to pulse in the air. It followed the meandering path the intruders took through the labyrinth the ruined mine had become. It sank down to its hands and knees to sniff at the ground.
Humans. The stink of their fear addled sweat was unmistakable and almost overpowered the others that walked with them.
A dwarf. It had not been long enough since it had scented those meddlesome dirt diggers.
The Uruk-hai snorted and sneezed. Hobbits.
And one other....
The Uruk-hai froze, a deep growl from within its chest rising in the silence.
It stood, its powerful body flexing and unflexing, the deep red skin, thick as a hide twitched over the massive muscle of its chest, its arms, its legs.
Elf. Its maw heaved open to spit the word, its clawed hands twisting on the hilt of its weapon.
A brilliant spark flowed through the creature's being akin to pleasure. It had been many years since it had ventured to the lands outside of this holding, trapped here with the mindless hordes of orc and goblin. How many thousands of years since it had beheld the fair faces of its cousins. Kin of orcs, the race that had been blessed, while it had been banished to hide away in darkness.
It drew a long rumbling breath, and now that it knew what it sought, breathed in with its snout. Its hungered mind could almost see the vaporous image of the elvish footsteps.
Its gaze went up to the vaulted arches that rose above and disappeared into the gloom. Somewhere far above was the mountain. So deep that in its fitful slumber it could hear the heartbeat of Middle Earth itself.
Why would an elf dare venture here? Where the only darkness that could instill fear in its eternal heart existed? And now, there was one within these devastated mountain halls. Not hidden safe away in Rivendell, behind elven magic or even a gilded army.
It was alone.
They shared a twisted kinship, a bond of the high blood. Grinning, it extended its mind in foul greeting, seeking out the other with its call.
Tormented thoughts roiled forth, undulating, swift as a beast hungry for prey. Soon, they would meet. The Uruk-hai snorted in pleasure and took up the trail.
Legolas walked behind the others, fighting within him more fierce a battle than he had ever faced with arrow or blade. The darkness here was as a living thing. He was no stranger to dark. Many starless nights had he spent comfortably in the shadow of his beloved wood. But this was an evil affliction. It picked at his mind, stayed upon him like a sickness until he could no longer distinguish what he saw from what he felt. He looked swiftly to Aragorn who walked at his side but he was silent as the unseen moon. Yet the thready whisper grew stronger still, strangled sounds forming words in a tongue long forgotten.
will. reach. you.
The elf drew a short gasp, feeling something like a breath in his ear. But when he turned, he saw nothing but the gaping mouth of the tunnel trailing behind them.
"What is it Legolas?" Aragorn had stopped and was studying his face with concern.
"Nay, tis nothing." Legolas tried to stem the senses he so relied upon, breathing faster. None but him could hear it, he was certain. Was this the madness that had made the walls close in and made him cry out like a child? Was this what it meant to lose one's senses? His hands had begun to tremble.
His eyes burned on the shadows and he sought desperately for some respite. Only the light of Gandalf pierced the gloom, guiding them forward as a star to a wandering bark. His heart ached suddenly with a terrible longing for an open sky. The words, vile and black, thrummed in his ears and he shuddered against them, ignoring Boromir's cold glare. The mortal's contempt brought him momentarily back to reason. Above all, he must not lose himself. He was the eyes and ears of the Fellowship and he would not fail his comrades.
Legolas paused, his hand outstretched on the hewn rock wall to steady himself, sensing the power that had found him begin to shift.
The whisper was suddenly pitched to a deafening roar and he staggered to one knee covering his eyes when his sight wavered. Then he saw through eyes not his own, rushing through the dark behind them in a steady relentless lope.
Searching and breathing.
Hunting and eager.
When he next opened his eyes he blinked up uncertain of what he might see. He had returned to himself. The party had halted once more and were gazing on him in confusion and trepidation. Legolas felt a wet warmth on his lip and reached up to touch it with a quaking hand. He had bit his lip to keep from betraying them all again with his screams.
"What have you done elf?" Gimli asked warily, noting the blood. "Cannot you even command yourself?"
Legolas felt the anger rise hot within him at the dwarf's words but the foul voice in his mind had left him ill and confused. Still, he spoke haughtily in his defense.
"I fear your dwarf skull too thick to comprehend my answer."
"Enough!" Aragorn came swiftly between them before a quarrel would ensue.
Burning with humiliation, Legolas stood and tried to stay his shaking hands. The eyes of Gandalf were terrible upon him, as though seeing clear through to the core of his madness. Ashamed, he looked away and was silent. He could not explain what he had seen or heard. The Hobbits stared at him with undisguised horror.
Then the firm hands of Aragorn were on his shoulders.
"Walk." The voice of the ranger was low, warm breath beside his ear blotting out the madness. "We will soon be done with this place.
Ah Dunedan, his strength when all was lost. Shining brighter than any light, the sweet whisper of his elvish blood comforted him. Legolas could feel it in his very touch, hear it sing in his veins. No even the boldest mortal champion of Gondor could match his fleet mind and agile strength. Such were the gifts of the elves. He could find his way through a forest by the light of the stars, command his thoughts as naturally and calmly as the flowing river.
And Legolas leaned on him, unable to voice his thanks. But he turned as they made their way, looking back into the darkness that seemed so empty. He knew now, it was not and for the first time in 3,000 years, the heart of Legolas beat in fear.
The Fellowship continued until at last they reached the ancient city of the dwarf king. All gazed in wonder at the splendor of the great stone hall, high arches curving into a graceful dome, rigid stone shaped as if by magic by the dwarf artisans of old. Even Legolas was taken by this wonder of the dwarves kingdom. But for all its beauty, the space was wide and perilous, almost certain to conceal enemies. Gandalf pressed on swiftly through the silence, holding aloft his staff.
The drums that had been Balin's downfall were heard rising once more from the blackness of the great Hall.
Legolas's arrow was drawn and at the mark before even one sword had the chance to be raised. They were approaching in the distance. Legolas trained his eyes to the far end of the passage. They were advancing by the thousands, the sound of their gruesome feet slapping hard against the rock.
The bow of Legolas sang.
The battle was begun.
With foes as powerful and tireless as Boromir and quick and deadly as Aragorn, the battle was evenly matched. Elvish arrows were sharp and deadly, felling their enemies one by one. But not for long.
"This way!" Gandalf roared, his staff held high with its steady light. "Quickly!"
The scene it illuminated was enough to make the stout-hearted dwarf turn pale.
Beyond the broken bodies of their foes, through the towering pillars of rock they came. Across the expanse of shattered road and plaza of the once great dark city, came a snarling wave of goblins and orcs. Up through the cracked ground and pouring down through the vaulted keep above, the legions swarmed about the Nine. They banged their jagged blades on their shields and armor, their eyes glowing and reflecting like countless smoldering flames closing in on them in the dark.
Boromir, still breathless from battle, swore and turned to follow the wizard.
Aragorn held his sword aloft briefly, still dripping dark and foul with the blood of orcs, and then sheathed it. His anxious eyes met with Legolas's as the Hobbits answered Gandalf's command and turned to flee down the corridor.
Then both turned and ran towards the white gleaming light of the staff.
It watched them linger behind. The human and elf. The scent of the human's fear was metallic and sharp as it watched its death approaching.
It would die with all its companions, of that the orc was certain and unconcerned.
But the elf. Its pale skin glowed even in this mountain sepulchre.
It's weapon was drawn, the metal tip of an arrow glinting, finding too many targets. The Uruk-hai stood very still, knowing that amongst the throng of its army, its might and towering size was undetected by the human. The elf could not see the orc chieftain either. However, it knew its cousin had means other than eyes to sense its presence.
The Uruk-hai watched them both turn and flee, far behind the others in their doomed party. It focused on the black turmoil within that was its tainted soul and sent its malice outward, touching and then enshrouding the bright light that believed it could escape.
They could only run so far for so long. This was its world. Its domain.
And they were far away from the sunlight.
The light elvish blades were invisible in Legolas's hands, slashing through the bone and sinew of an unwary foe. He moved with the quickness of a tiger, his enemies seeming to fall at his slightest touch. Yet even as the number of elvish arrows diminished, so advanced the endless ranks in a neverending assault. Aragorn ran swiftly, sword hacking through the fleet of orcs that had rushed in before him. Aragorn reached the passage where the others had fled, hope hot and bright in his chest as he heard goblins squeal and fall beneath arrows behind them as Legolas covered their retreat.
He had passed the passage to find a crumbling stone bridge leading to the other side. The others lingered fearfully at the further edge, relief pure on their faces when they saw him.
The legions poured through the narrow passage and from above. Aragorn was forced to battle on the narrow bridge of stone. There was no end to them. Blinded by sweat or blood, his sword cut into the beasts again and again.
He could hear Gandalf's voice and the ancient language thrummed through the air over the orcish cries. Knowing what would follow, Aragorn looked desperately to the elf who still battled on the other side.
A tremor like the voice of the earth itself shook the stone bridge under his feet. A jagged stream of light erupted through the air above his head, striking the far cavern wall with a mighty thunder clap sending stone and jagged rock crashing down upon them. Their foes tried to flee but were crushed beneath their fury. The elf was in motion, running for the bridge.
Deep cracks snapped and cut through the rock, exploding into the base which suspended the frail passage above the gaping chasm. Aragorn was thrown to his back hard. The voices of his companions urged him to his feet as he saw the closest side sway, as the bridge began to shift, the age old decay giving way at last. He scrambled to his feet and leapt expecting to feel only empty air and wind under him when he felt strong hands clasp his arms. Boromir and Gimli dragged him up over the precipice, heaving his body away from the edge of the chasm.
Aragorn spent only a moment in relief before he struggled to his feet.
The bridge was gone. So were the horde of orc. But he knew not for long.
Legolas stood alone on the other side.
Legolas looked at his companions on the other side of the chasm. They could ill afford to sit there determining what he already knew. They had to move on without him.
He raised hand and voice.
"Do not fear! I will find another way!" His keen eyes had already found a path that lead from the ledge on which he stood. He would follow it until he found another bridge. Or perhaps retrace his steps to one of the many passages he had seen behind on the way. The enemy were many but he moved so much faster alone-
the. fang. the. blood
Legolas swung around swiftly notching and aiming an arrow ready to send it into flesh. The words flowed and slithered through the air like vipers of smoke.
But there was nothing but the fallen orc dead and the vast bleak unlit chamber beyond. He blinked uncertainly, adjusting his grip on the bow. A gentle rush of wind where he knew there should be none blew softly against his face and played with his long hair like a vile caress.
His breathing grew erratic as he frantically searched for a target. Aragorn was somewhere behind him, calling to him.
"GO!" He yelled, not taking his sharp gaze from the empty hall. Something was advancing slowly towards him in the gloom.
you. will. know. me.
Legolas watched as it emerged, the steady tread of its footsteps sounding with each beat of his heart.
It made him ill to hear it but Aragorn knew better than to deny Legolas. Each moment they lingered the foul armies of Sauron drew closer. The elf was far from helpless. He, of any of the Fellowship, could survive. Legolas himself, his bow drawn, had told them to flee.
The hobbits were already being hurried up the waiting stone steps by a withdrawn Bormir.
Heart heavy, Aragorn was turning to follow the rest when he heard Legolas cry out suddenly. He swung around expecting to see a wicked orc blade impaled in his flesh. But the elf seemed unhurt.
He was on the far ledge on one knee, clutching his head. His bow lay on the ground where he had dropped it.
"Legolas?" Aragorn stepped forward towards the edge, his mind racing.
Was it the affliction? The elf who had looked upon death many times over, of his comrades and kin, bold warrior who feared no earthly wonder. What in all this realm had felled him? Alone on the far ledge he was crouched so strangely in the foreboding silence that came after the splintering of rock, and the hissing orc armies. Strong and able, Aragorn could leave him, confident of his survival. But the remaining hordes were at hand and they would devour him in this state. Aragorn's heart was torn in agony.
The voice of Gandalf was grave in his ear.
"Do not think I am ignorant of what it means for an elf to utter your given name."
Dunedan. Aragorn stared at him a moment, amazed. Then he returned to himself. "Take them, now. Frodo must stay alive."
"I will see you again." The wizard said and smiled. His long robes flared as he turned and followed the rest.
Gimli stood uncertain and grim, looking from the passage steps and back to Aragorn.
"Go." Aragorn said to him.
The dwarf hesitated, anguish plain on his rough features.
"The ring!" Aragorn said gripping the hand that was fastened on his own. "I will follow!"
Gimli looked across the chasm grimly and nodded once. He took off following Gandalf's wavering light as it flickered up the winding way.
The warrior looked back to the far side.
"You must get up!" Aragorn screamed in the Elvish tongue, his eyes searching the ledge for a means to reach him.
"Legolas, HEAR ME!"
There was a shadow amongst the many shadows, forming slowly. Aragorn's hand went to his sword as useless as it was. He waited for the shadows to flow and multiply into the countless hideous shapes that pursued them.
But they did not. The dark shape made its advance alone towards Legolas. Its great hulking body moved with an ease that seemed purposeful and intelligent.
This was not some gibbering mindless servant of Sauron.
"Uruk-hai." Aragorn clenched his teeth. He should have known one would dwell in such a place as this. It was a giant, standing a full head taller than the elf. Its bared flesh was hard as though carved from the very rock itself.
It paused and regarded the elf, and suddenly the small part of Aragorn that shared Legolas's blood, felt a ripple and almost saw it move through the air like heat. It touched the elf first and from his lips there came less a cry and more a moan so saddened and sickened it wrought the warrior's heart to ice.
The ripple traveled and brushed against him and it felt the effect so foul and polluted, it made his teeth clench and his stomach churn. Was this what had ailed Legolas all of these cursed days?
The beast was drawing its massive sword.
Aragorn waited, his jaw trembling in frustration, for the blade to descend.
But to his breathless relief, Legolas suddenly became alive with the sound of steel hissing from its sheath.
With a guttural cry, the black blade was blocked by the dual drawn daggers, a pained confused look on the fine features of the elf Aragorn had never witnessed before.
Back, Legolas was driven, forced toward the gaping jaws of the crevice. An instant he shone there on the edge and then the Uruk-hai's massive body descended like a shadow upon him and together they fell down into the abyss.
"LEGOLAS!" Aragorn cried, outstretched hand reaching into the wide jaws of the crevice, the rock glowing red with the fires burning slow and terrible far below.
Aragorn felt his heart harden with resolve.
Ranger that he was, he moved like one born amongst the rocks. Grasping at ledges, fingers trembling on spurs of stone, he descended swiftly into the abyss. All the while the cry of Legolas echoed in his ears.
He would not abandon him.
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