Authors Note: This story is a Spin-off of my Mael-Gûl universe. It is set before the background of that universe, and it explores one single idea: What if Legolas indeed were to take the ring? Like a lot of the things I write lately, this one has been inspired by a discussion with my reviewer Randy, who has also volunteered to beta for this one. This starts out in the night after 'Respite'.
Warning: Implied slash, m/m, BDSM, torture, non-con and debatable consent. Also, for this story: Gore, horror, and character death. I mean it!
Rated: NC (M) –strictly adults only.
Pairings: Aragorn/Legolas (mainly), Boromir/Legolas (implied).
Beta: Randy. Thank you! All remaining errors are my own.
Disclaimer: The universe I play in is not mine, nor are the characters; I just borrow without permission. I make no money out of this. Lord of the Rings and the world of Middle Earth was created by J.R.R. Tolkien and is owned by the Tolkien Estate, and the movies were made by Peter Jackson. My story universe of Mael-Gûl was inspired by Bluegold's story “Bound”, which can be found here: http://daemel.freespaces.com/authors.html#blue
I use similar plot ideas with her permission. The idea of the Mael-Gûl, or Rhach e-Maelangwedh (Lust-Spell, Curse of Lustchain) however is entirely mine.
However, this particular story is a - very grim - AU to my main story universe. You have been warned!
Summary: What if Legolas indeed took the Ring?
Occasionally I work with flashback scenes. Here is a Guide:
// /flashback/ //; ************Time change within a flashback***********; “speech”; 'thoughts'
Dark Mael-Gûl-AU: Murder The Dawn
by Aislynn Crowdaughter
Before it starts
My first breath wasn't done
My spirit's sunken deep
Into the ground
Why am I alone?
I can hear my heartbeat
Silence all around...
Blind Guardian, Mordred's Song
I see the Crebain from afar, long before they have any chance to notice me.
If they are spies or not, I do not know; but they fly fast and purposefully, not as if they were simply on the search for food. I dive for cover just in time. They pass me fast, without delay. A single Elf, alone, is easily hidden from their prying eyes. Under their cries and wings the land is silent. There is an eerie watchfulness surrounding me, as if the very land is holding breath, and I can spy no other creature beside me and them alive for miles. I deem it better to be careful.
If they are scouts, then my deed will soon be known to whoever sent them out. I have little hope that they will not discover what I have done; they are carrion birds after all. They will detect the meal that I laid for them only too soon. The thought of those birds feasting on my comrades makes my stomach churn again and fills my heart with grief; I can hardly bear the thought of Estel's face, of the body of the Hobbits, ending up under their sharp beaks. But there is nothing I can do about that now, and so I steel myself.
The deed is done and I cannot afford to linger on regret.
Undoubtedly, on my journey, regret will find me later. But not now.
I wait until the crebain are gone before I start to run again, and when I do, I move on even faster.
Two more times I have to dive for cover on this day; there is little doubt now that the birds are spies, and I do not know if I have managed to elude them. But if I did or not, I have no choice. I do not stop for rest or even to eat; what food I take I eat while running. Only once do I wet my throat with water. The skins I carry will have to last a while.
The afternoon finds me already high up in the mountain. I will not stop even for the night, at least as long as there is light enough to find my way.
When I have reached the pass, it starts to snow. It is already close to nightfall, and what seems to be a mere streak of bad weather at first soon grows into a storm. There is a fell voice in the air; I do not know if it is the power of the enemy, or one of the wizards, or maybe even just the malice of the mountain. Caradhras has had an evil name even at the best of times.
Of course, if the storm was caused by my enemies, they erred if they thought that it would hinder me; in fact the snow serves to smoothen my way. I can run lightly on its surface, and it will hold me as long as it is dense enough. On the white path, I proceed even faster. My greatest concern now is not to lose my way. I have traveled the pass two or three times with Estel, but that had been in summer. We always needed some three days to cross the pass; but while we did not tarry, we did not hasten either, and certainly we did not travel on at night. If I could travel on, I might make the journey in half that time. Now, though, with the clouds, I will soon be forced to seek some shelter, since I doubt the moon or stars will be visible to give me light.
Still, I proceed as long as I can go on without having to feel my way. So fierce is my will bent on moving on, that it takes me some time to hear there are more voices on the wind than I first noticed.
My head comes up. There is more than just one kind of howling on the storm. Wargs! They have come over the pass, and their voices carry in the wind. If they are behind me or ahead of me, I have no way of knowing; nor do I know if they have caught my scent or are yet out for other prey. It does not matter. I can do nothing to evade them; I can just move on and hope that when I finally will meet them, I will be at a place where I can easily defend myself.
But for the next hour or so, I do not meet the pack, and now it quickly grows too dark even for me to move on. Finally, I find shelter in a crack within the mountain. It is hardly more than a hole, and it leaves very little room for me to move, albeit enough to use my knives or bend my bow should I need to defend my skin; but it provides me shelter from the storm, although I can do nothing about the cold. All I have to keep me warm is just one blanket and a sip of Miruvor. I do not know if it will be enough to last the night; but then, I have no choice.
The Ring lies cold against my skin. It is heavy on the chain that holds it, and I can feel it reach out for my thoughts. It tries to lure me into putting it on. 'You will not feel the cold,' it tells me, and 'I would enhance your strength. And you could travel on. I can grant you sight beyond what your eyes can provide you!'
Yet I ignore it. It costs some strength to do so, especially since I am eager on moving on; but I do not fully believe the sweet promises, and I recall only too well what Estel told me about Frodo's mishap at Weathertop. Drawing the hunting packs to me, or other creatures of the enemy, is hardly anything I can afford; nor would it help me to bring myself to the Dark One's notice. It takes some discipline, but finally I succeed in shutting out the lying voice and in closing my mind to it; at least for now. I am quite sure that I will have to fight that battle again, later.
I do not dare to sleep, though, nor do I think that my dreams would be restful. So I just take what food I can and wait. I stare out of the crack into the storm and watch the flying snow.
Despite my will to stay awake, my thoughts begin to wander.
Estel... I cannot clear my head of the images of that last night I shared with Estel; of his rare and welcome tenderness, and even more of that rarest of all his offers, for me to take him instead of him playing his usual, cruel games. The memory is vivid in my thoughts, and while I would normally treasure it, now it merely fills me with grief.
Why did he have to choose that special night of all the times to offer this?
-- I cut that thought; I might fall prey to thoughts like these later, but I can hardly afford them now. I tell myself it did not matter. There was no way for me to postpone what I had to do; and it would have not grieved me less had I done it sooner. I knew what I would need to do when I left Rivendell.
Briefly, my thoughts wander off to Glorfindel. I have betrayed him, too; he never has been anything but good to me. He was so sure I told the truth when he made me swear that I would protect the Ring Bearer with my life and would not betray the free people. Poor honorable Lord! He could never have imagined that to be a slave will teach you how to lie convincingly. And I have greater duties to another people; my kin, who should have been free, too, but were denied that freedom for too long. And yet, it grieves me deeply that I had to betray his trust.
I shove this train of thoughts away from me, as well, and steel myself. There are hardly any memories that will provide me with comfort tonight(1).
And yet, despite my will, my thoughts turn back to other nights when Estel and I found ourselves out in the wilds and had to make do with little shelter or no fire to ward away the cold. I could use Estel beside me right now. He always accused me of using him as a furnace, since naturally my skin is much cooler than his own; it was a joke, of course, because he knew quite well that I could not help it, and that my kind is hardier to the cold than his. He counted on that very fact often enough. And yet, right now his presence, close to me, would provide me with warmth... as would the Hobbits.
I banish this thought as well and force myself awake again. How much time has passed I do not know. But it seems to be more than just a mere few minutes, because curiously enough, outside the storm has died down. There is a wall of snow blocking the entrance of my little cave; for a moment, I nearly panic, but then I force myself to stay calm. I can still see some speck of sky above the snow; and oddly enough, it seems less dark again. I must have drifted off into dreams for longer than I thought.
I get up again and dig through the snow to leave my shelter. It takes me just a little time to scramble out; the wall was not thick. Outside, I am greeted by a world turned white. The storm is gone, and the mountains lie quiet. More, even the snow has ceased to fall. The shroud of clouds finally has broken, at least enough to allow the light of the moon to penetrate. There is light again enough for me to find my way; reflected by the snow as it is now, I can see nearly as well as if by day.
Of the Wargs I can find no trace. If I am lucky, they have passed me unaware.
Nevertheless, I bend my bow and string it, just in case; if I will need to fight, I need it ready. Then I move on. I am almost ready to thank both the Powers and my luck – then quite suddenly, there is a chorus of howls all around me. Apparently, the Wargs were not as far away as I thought. And now they have also caught my scent and are on my track.
The hunt is on!
And soon I realize that they have laid a trap.
There is a wide field of white snow where I run, about twenty yards between the wall of the mountain and the gap that leads to a steep fall. There is an even wider open field behind me, and just a small tongue of exposed, naked rock ahead of me. There are two Wargs waiting for me on that rock; and a great number of the pack is on my heels. I cannot fight them at this place, this wide, smooth field where they can attack from all sides.
There is only one way to go, and that is forward.
I kill the two waiting for me on the rock with two quick, well-placed arrows, then I run toward them. I am running for my life; the pack is hard now on my heels, and they are closing in. Only if I can reach the rock up ahead, I will have a chance, provided there are not more of them hiding round the bend --
but apparently, there are none, and I finally reach my goal without being attacked. I whip around. Ten Wargs are running towards me, and there are more yet hanging back.
I do not hesitate.
My arrows fell them like a rain of death. Many I kill, but I cannot stop them all. Finally, three of them get close, too close for shooting range.
My knives are out, ready to meet them.
I do not know if the small ledge of rock I stand on will provide me with secure footing, or if I will withstand the impact when they reach me; I only know that I will not go down without a fight. If these beasts are to be my death, I will at least take the one who kills me with me down the mountainside.
The first of them is close. I see the huge beast crouching down, then jump at me again. There are two more behind it. Everything seems to happen very slow. I stand ready to meet the attacking beast; and for a moment, forgetting that I can no longer hope for grace of the Valar, I send a quick prayer to Elbereth to protect me. Then the beast is there. I see it jump at me --
-- it never reaches me. For in that very moment, the snow under the three beasts crumbles away. And with a roar that is deafening my ears, the whole path that I went slides down, taking rocks and animals alike with it. The air is full of snow; the rock I stand on trembles. I am on hands and knees, and then I hug the ground. For a long time, I fear the snow will reach me and sweep me down from my small sanctuary, too; and I am sure that I will never be able to hear again.
But the rock holds, and finally, after what seems an eternity, I find myself hugging the ground, breathless but still alive, covered in snow yet still capable of drawing breath, and the stone beneath me is calm again. The roar is gone; the snow is settled. I do not hear anything, and I do not dare to move. Due to a wonder I did not lose my weapons; instead, they are buried under my body, still in my grasp. The silence around me is overwhelming. Still, it takes quite some time before I dare to move. Carefully, I scramble up into a crouch, grabbing my weapons; after long moments when I hear nothing but my racing heartbeat and see no other movement around me, I finally dare to stand.
I stand frozen, stunned by what I see. The Wargs are gone. So is the path I took. Where shortly before I crossed a field of snow, now there remains just a gaping fall, leading down into depths I cannot fathom. The ledge of rock I recall from earlier times when Estel and I traveled this pass is gone also. Only the sheer wall of the mountainside remains, with some protruding rock where once the path had been. If any of the animals who hunted me survived the avalanche, they will have to find another way to get back on my tracks. And whoever wishes to use this pass in the future will also have to find another way. I turn and look around, trying to figure out if my way is cut off, but it still lies before me.
I send another prayer to the queen of stars. It seems that Elbereth has grace to grant yet even for those who are forsaken.
After a moment's rest, and another sip of the cordial I took from Mithrandir, I start to run again.
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I meet the Orcs close to the Dimrill Stair that leads down from the pass. I do not know if they waited for me, or are out looking for the Wargs; or maybe they are out to hunt for other prey and this our meeting comes to pass by ill chance alone.
I any case, while they are many and some of them have bows, they are as hampered by the deep snow as I am aided by it.
I dodge their arrows easily on the white surface. They are not so lucky. I have lost half of my arrows in the battle with the Wargs. I do not have many arrows left, but they are enough to take them out. They fall to my shots, one by one. Those with the bows die first. The ones I cannot shoot I take out with my knives, and while I can dance out of range of their blows, they try in vain to avoid mine. In my heart I thank Elbereth again for the snow; had this battle taken place on the plain ground, the odds would have been harsh against me. Finally, the few survivors flee my deadly blows, retreating back into the cave they came from. No doubt they will be back in greater numbers; but when they come I plan to be long gone from here.
I take the time, though, to retrieve my arrows and also gain what I can use from those they used against me. The shafts fit but ill to my bow, and using them will be awkward, but I cannot help that now; they will fly, and I am sure that I can compensate. And on my journey I will hardly have time to stop and make more arrows.
I shoot a few to make sure I can hit my target with them; it takes me just a few shots to find out how to compensate their shorter length and greater weight. They will not fly as well as mine, but they will do. I cannot afford to be squeamish.
And in the end, they may help me to solve another problem.
When I am done, I hasten to start on my descent. It is near morning, and I cannot afford to be caught on the stairs; nor can I risk another battle. I have quite a way to go before I am down, and these Orcs are the least of my troubles. The snow will soon be gone. And I have yet to get pass the Dimrill Dale, and skirt Lothlorien.
So far, I have been lucky. Now, I will see how long that luck will last.
I hurry on.
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-- TBC --
(1) The thoughts that to survive as a slave, one has to bend or twist, and so Legolas learned to lie and to deceive, as well as Legolas seeking comfort in his thoughts, belong to Randy and were first provided in his great story The Night That Covers Me, which is the story that inspired this dark AU. Both elements are used here with permission, and in the sense of honoring the source. Randy also provided the thought of Legolas' greater duty lying with his own people.
Previous chapters of this story can be found here: Part I;
The following chapters can be found here: Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI.