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
See hate will rise,
So don't come closer,
Fear your child,
Born with a kings heart,
But hate fooled me
And changed my cards.
No one asked if I want it,
If I liked it...
Blind Guardian, Mordred's Song.
I reach the bottom of the stairs in the late afternoon. The sun is low over the horizon already, and the dale is clad in shadow. Yet it is day; for two more hours I will not have to fear Orcs on my trail.
However, this side of the mountains, there are other dangers.
The vale around the waterfall is clad in mist, as always when I have been here. This suits my purposes; I do not wish to be seen or to run in a patrol from Lothlorien, and the later they discover me, the better. If I am lucky I can skirt them completely; but I do not dare to trust that I will have such luck.
I follow the course of the valley down to the old Dwarven road that leads from the doors of Moria down to Lothlorien; I proceed with haste, but also with due care. Finally I reach the well of the Silverlode and refresh my water skins. The water is icy cold, but it will keep a while, and it is clear. I have drunk my fill earlier this day; one of the skins was nearly empty.
Shortly afterwards, though, I leave the road and stay close to the eastern edges of the mountain. Estel and I always followed the Silverlode southwards into Lothlorien; but my path leads me northwest of the wood along the mountain range, and if I can, I will avoid setting a foot on the land of the Lady of the Wood entirely. I fear that she has ways of knowing who treads on her ground that stealth alone cannot defy.
I skirt the shores of the Mirrormere and keep as close to the mountainside as possible, while still taking cover. It troubles me that I cannot proceed with greater speed, but now my hope lies in my stealth. If I am discovered by scouts, I will have to slay them if I can; but better not to reveal my presence to them at all. If I am taken prisoner, or killed, then all has been for nothing.
I meet them at the northern edge of the valley, where the edges of the wood come closest to the mountainside. They are Galadhrim warriors, scouts from Lothlorien, and I am lucky that I see them first before they notice me. There are three that I can see at once; if I recall what I learned from their tactics on my former visits to their woods, they may have two or three more Elves with them.
Unfortunately, they have posted themselves in such a way that I can hardly pass them without their notice.
I wonder what they do here, so far north. Probably, they are investigating the tracks of the Warg pack that recently passed through to the high pass; they cannot know that those Wargs lie buried under an avalanche of snow and will not bother anyone anymore in the future.
At least I hope they are here for the Wargs. If the Lady has been alerted to my deed by now, the valley would be swarming with her scouts. But then, maybe these are the only ones I've met so far.
I banish these bleak thoughts and try to find my way around them.
Meanwhile, the sun has vanished down behind the mountain range, and dusk arrives. Night is falling fast now. Soon, I will have Orcs following my trail.
I try my best to sneak around the Galadhrim, keeping myself well covered. My bow is bent, an arrow to the string, just in case. It is one of the Orcish ones; if I have to kill, better to let those who find the bodies think it were their old enemies who did the deed. It is poor subterfuge at best, but it may buy me a few days at need.
When I finally meet their lookout, I see him a scant few seconds before he notices me.
He is close, only some ten feet. I see his eyes widen when he becomes aware of me. I cannot let him warn the others. My arrow leaves my bow as fast as thought; a second one follows within a heartbeat. Both find their mark. He falls without a sound, the first arrow piercing his throat, the second one his heart.
I curse under my breath. Of course, I managed to kill him silently. But now I have to kill the others, too, or I will have them on my trail; and if they find out who they hunt, half of Lothlorien will be hounding me down.
I cannot afford that. They must die. All of them.
Suddenly, the voice is in my mind again.
'You could use the Ring,' it tells me, 'put it on, render yourself invisible, as did Bilbo. You could pass them unseen. Or better, kill them, one by one, undetectable to their eyes. Why risk discovery and death? You have a mission to fulfill. Kill them without any of them being the wiser!'
I shudder under the icy voice, the sweet temptation. The mere thought of killing like this disgusts me. And yet, that is what I have done, must do – as I have already killed my comrades.
'Think!' the lying voice adds in my head, 'you could continue wearing it! You need not fear more pursuit by the Orcs – they could not find you! You could make your journey, unseen, undisturbed...'
As if on its own will, my hand is on my chest, already fumbling with the chain, searching for the Ring... I stop the movement and shake myself.
Listening to that trinket will not help me. For once, I do not know if the Ring would even work for Elves the way it did for humans. And more, even if it did, chances are that putting it on will alert the Lady to my presence. She is strong, and I am far too close here to her wood. Using a power of that strength so close to her domain can hardly go unnoticed.
And I am close to Dol Guldur. The Ring will not protect me from the Nazgûl. How helpful would it be for me if I was safe from discovery by the Orcs, but hunted by the Ringwraiths?
No. I get my hand under control and carefully start to move on again.
The Ring is cold and hard against my chest, and it is heavy. I can nearly feel its displeasure. Yet I ignore it. Instead I set another arrow to my string.
I find another of the Galadhrim before he has a chance to notice me. He is another lookout; I cannot see his comrades, and do not know if he is in their line of sight, but I have no choice but to shoot him quickly. My arrow meet its mark. He falls without a sound.
These two were warriors I did not see when I first came upon the scouting troup. So there are at least three more of them around; how many other warriors beside those three are there, I do not know.
The third one I meet by mere chance; I nearly stumble over him, and when I see him I am already too close to shoot. Luckily, he has not yet noticed me. My knives are out and I am upon him before he ever becomes aware of me; I cut his throat and he falls soundlessly, except for a small gurgle.
This one was one of the three Elves I saw when I first found the patrol. So there are at least two more whom I have to kill; if I am lucky, these are all of them.
When I finally find the other two, they are out in the open, and in close sight of each other.
They are good, and they are both Marchwardens of Lothlorien, but I have been a warden of my country too, for centuries, before I ever was enslaved, and I have lived together with a ranger in the wilds for over forty years. I manage to get close enough to take them out; but there is no way to kill one of them without alerting the other.
I kill the first one with a well-placed shot; he falls with a cry, and I have already let the arrow fly that is meant for his comrade. I see the last one turn and cry out. He is fast; his arrow is already on its way, and I am able to dodge it, barely. I feel a glancing blow to my bow, but it does not seem directly hit; I have been lucky. My arrow finds its mark, though it does not wound him; it merely pierces his bow, rendering it useless. He drops it with a curse and hits the ground, seeking cover. I hear him whistle for his comrades. I have another arrow on my string already; but suddenly, the string snaps and I feel a sharp pain in my face. I am lucky that it did not take my eye.
A standoff, then. Of course, if there are more of them around, then I am finished.
My knives are out and I am on my way to kill my enemy. He is up and awaiting me, his own knives out and ready to meet mine. We engage, and only now do I see his face clearly.
I know that Elf.
I recall little of the first few weeks after I was enslaved. I know there were many Elves, warriors both from Rivendell and from Lothlorien, who used me then, on invitation of Elrond, but thankfully, I do not recall many of their faces or their names. Only the numerous times when I was forced to serve Elrond himself do I recall clearly, and the times when Glorfindel gave me his support. It is Glorfindel to whom I owe it that my sanity survived those weeks.
No, I do not recall the faces and the names of my abusers. But I know Haldir.
For Haldir had the arrogance to brag about that time. When Estel first took me to Lothlorien, that son of an Orc bragged that he had already tasted me twice before and wished to renew this acquaintance. Estel stopped his boasting then with a hard blow. But I remembered.
It will be a pleasant thing to kill that bastard.
Then we both are engaged in a deadly dance. For several moments I expect to feel an arrow pierce my back, and die at the hand of another one of Haldir's comrades; but it seems I am lucky, for we fight alone. I see his eyes widen in sudden pain when he realizes that despite his whistle of alert, no support comes; then his face hardens and his fighting gains in fury. And I understand.
Two of the Elves I killed seemed vaguely familiar to me. I recall now that Haldir used to share his guarding duty with his brothers. So he has lost two close to him, already, by my hand.
Good. So now you, too, feel the pain of losing blood-kin, as my people have been forced to suffer for so long!
Yet I do not allow myself to gloat. He is good and his fighting skills are deadly; a fierce opponent, very hard to overcome. He is a worthy match for me. But his pain makes him reckless, and so I finally get through his guard. His eyes widen when one of my knives buries itself in his side; then I follow through with the other knife and pierce his heart.
He falls, already dead.
I do not mourn him. Yet I take the time to search his body, making sure that he is dead, and I do the same with the others. Then I set my spare string to my bow. If I have to use the weapon again, I need it ready.
I do not try to hide what I have done; instead I leave the arrows to make it appear as if the small scouting party was attacked and slain by Orcs. I am not sure if that will serve to fool my enemies for very long, but every moment of confusion that I gain will bring me closer to my home without harsh pursuit.
I would love to take their arrows, or their bows, but it would spoil my little subterfuge about the Orcs. So I leave their weapons alone. More welcome is the pack of Lembas I find with each of them. I take only a few, one of each pack. That might be as much as they could have consumed themselves. The way-bread will last me the few weeks I have left, and it will sustain me well on my remaining journey.
I wonder, though. Why did the party have Lembas with them in the first place? The way-bread is given out only for longer journeys. Were they bound to go over the mountains to look out for our ill-fated company?
Whatever their errand might have been, it failed. And I will never know.
I do not linger longer than I must. There might be other Galadhrim around; and if the Orcs followed me down the mountain, those will be on my trail soon enough, too.
I start to run again.
_______________ o ______________
I find the little settlement shortly after the rising of the moon, about three hours past nightfall. It is a small one, at the shores of the Anduin; this close to Dol Guldur, there are only a few Woodmen who dare to settle here. But that just fits my purpose. I approach them secretly, in stealth. I do not care to be detected, and I avoid their guards at best I can. The boat I find is small; nothing more than a little vessel to set out and tend their nets, or maybe fish traps. There are no oars; apparently whoever owns the boat has taken them with him to keep it safe. But I don't need them. For my purpose, the little vessel alone is enough. All I need is a way to get my weapons and the way-bread across the river dry and unspoiled. I cannot risk staying on this bank, or crossing Anduin days from now at the Old Ford, for as soon as my enemies find out what I have done, the ford could easily be blocked against me.
I wait until a cloud covers the moon, then I place my clothes, weapons and my pack into the boat and pry it loose. I gasp when I step into the water; it is cold. But right now, it refreshes me. I steer the little boat onto the stream.
It is hard work, and it takes all my strength. The water is swift, and the current strong, but I have learned to swim quite well, and this is nothing that I could not manage. It takes me but the quarter of an hour to reach the other side. When finally I reach the shore, I take the time to rest a while and regather my strength. Boromir's blanket gives me warmth, the way-bread direly needed fuel. It takes a while; I have not had any rest since the short time on the mountain in that cave.
Yet finally, it is enough. I leave my effects on the shore and steer the little boat back on the stream; if I am lucky, they will think it got loose on its own. Then I go back to dry myself and don my weapons and my clothes.
I take a moment to regain my bearings. Quickly I plan my way up north along the riverside and to my father's halls. I cannot afford to stay on the trading path for long; in case there is pursuit, I will be safer avoiding the road. But I am still far too close to Dol Guldur for my comfort, and thus, I deem it better to be quick than to be careful.
For a few moments, I contemplate what will happen when – or rather if - I reach my goal.
It is a cruel gift that I bring home. I have no doubt that my father can claim the Ring and bend it to his will, but once he succeeds in doing so, he cannot remain the one he was. The Ring may be the best hope for my people to win this war, but using it will cost him a terrible price. Once he claims it, it will destroy him, too.
I know what he will choose, though. He raised me well. My needs, or his, are not important. For both of us, serving our people is the one goal remaining in our lives.
And suddenly, the Ring is in my mind again.
'Why subject your father to this fate?' it asks, and adds, 'And why condemn yourself? You are but miles from Dol Guldur. The Dark Lord is grateful to those who did him a great service. With the power of the One, he could easily break the spell. And you would be high in his favour. You could go home to your father's halls not as a dying thrall who ran off from his masters, but as a honored envoy, bringing the offer for a mighty alliance. What loyalty do your people owe Imladris? What loyalty do you owe Lorien? With Sauron as an ally, your people would be strong. You could cast down your enemies, and win this war, and you could live in peace in this your woods forever afterwards; and it would not need cost your life, or your father's very soul.'
I stand, for moments rooted to the ground and frozen. The images are vivid and very compelling. I see myself, coming home, not dying but healthy, wearing the ring I took from Mithrandir. I see myself riding at my father's side, attacking Rivendell... And he riding besides me, strong-willed and well and as I have known him before.
It is such an enticing image, and so strong – it seems nearly impossible to reject it. When I finally start to breath again, the air is nearly burning in my lungs. I want to scream, and yet I remain silent. It takes me all my strength to keep my wits.
What a sweet web of lies. And it does not help that I am nearly willing to believe them.
Of course, I know the images for lies. Allying himself with Sauron is the very last thing my father would ever do. We could have done that centuries before, had we only believed it would avail us. But for all our suffering, we have not yet sunken so far. The ever growing darkness encroaching our woods is a fitting reminder of what outcome such an alliance would bring. Besides, how grateful Sauron is to his own servants is seen best in the fate of the Ringwraiths!
And even given he could really break the spell -- as soon as he had gained the One, why should he bother?
Summoning all my strength, I finally banish the voice from my thoughts. It is harder to close my mind against it now; the closeness of the enemies' stronghold must adding to its strength. Or maybe it gains power every time I killed for its purpose.
That thought makes me shudder.
Shaking my mind free of the lying voice, I start to run again. For a few moments, I keep close attention to my route; yet I have found the trading path now, and after a time I keep on running and allow my thoughts to drift. The mindless movement is soothing, as is the thought that each step brings me closer to my home.
Suddenly, a root catches my foot and makes me stumble. I am thrown out my mindless drift and catch myself; and then, I freeze again.
Because during the moments it takes me to get my bearings, I realize that the river is on my right side and behind me; and I am far closer to the eaves of the wood than I have been before.
I have been running straight in the direction of Dol Guldur.
Shaken, unsettled to my very core, I turn and make my way back to Anduin in haste until I know myself back on the trading path; and now, I hurry north, taking close care that at all times I have the river at my left side and the current is running against me.
I steel myself. There will be no more chances for respite by allowing my thoughts to drift while I move on; nor can I afford to drift into dreams.
Because if I do so, I might find myself standing before the very doors of Dol Guldur once I wake up.
It matters not. My journey has just become even harder; but I can hardly afford time for resting, anyway. The way is long, and I have many leagues yet to cover.
And undoubtedly, rest will find me once I have arrived.
I keep on running.
____________________ o __________________
-- End of Part III --
-- TBC --
Thanks go to Randy for the suggestion of the offer to break the spell the Ring gives Legolas when he has crossed the Anduin in this chapter. I think it very likely that the Ring would try that tune, at least once.
Previous chapters can be found here: Part I; Part II;
The following chapters can be found here: Part IV; Part V; Part VI.