An hour later found Allen, Legolas, Elladan, and Elrohir on a plane to New York City. As promised, Legolas purchased Allen's plane ticket, a book for him to read (not that Allen had any interest in reading by that point), a shaving kit and a toothbrush; he explained that he would buy the man a wardrobe in New York. Huan was on the plane wherever pets were kept on such flights; Legolas had taken great care to assure Huan's welfare.
Allen, already exhausted from his day and the ordeal he had come home to, fell asleep promptly in the first-class seat. Privately, Legolas was a bit relieved; he needed to speak with Elrohir and Elladan.
"What is that?" Elladan inquired as Legolas held out the slip of paper with the scrawled symbols.
"It appeared when I killed one of those strange Orc-men," Legolas explained patiently. "The body dissolved and left only this slip of paper."
Elrohir took the slip from Legolas' fingers and examined it. "The writing is in kanji," he murmured, tracing the symbols. "This one means 'life' … the others are 'blood', 'death', and 'obedience'."
"That means nothing," Legolas frowned, shaking his head slightly.
"On the contrary …" Elrohir thumbed the paper again. "I have not studied it as thoroughly as I ought, perhaps, but I wonder if there isn't a certain power in the writing. In Eastern countries such as China it is believed that blessed papers such as these, with protective writing on them, can act as a spiritual barrier against evil. However, if one altered the words from a protection to a life-giving 'spell', they would be considered to give life." He frowned. "I never believed in the power of such things, but if someone such as the Dark Lord were to somehow obtain hold of them … with the power he possesses, would he be capable of producing pseudo-life, perhaps?"
Legolas grimaced slightly. "It is well you have not studied this art too carefully, for it seems far too often that those who study the dark arts fall headlong into them. It is the sorcery of the Dark Lord, to be certain."
Elladan took the paper from his brother, then. "We should give this to Father so he can study it as well," he observed, slipping the paper into his pocket. "I'll take it off your hands, Legolas – you have enough on your plate as it is." He glanced at the slumbering Allen and smiled slightly.
Legolas smiled as well. "Yes … I suppose I do."
* * *
This world was strange beyond Maglor's wildest imaginings!
He gazed in abject amazement at the gigantic contraptions, built entirely out of 'metal', that were actually flying through thin air and landing gracefully (if noisily) upon the black 'pavement' of the 'runways'. "How do they do it?" he asked softly of Celeborn. "Something that large could not possibly fly without flapping its wings, and this 'metal' it is made of is so heavy … it makes no sense!"
Celeborn shrugged, a barely perceptible movement of his shoulders. "That is something you should ask the mechanics of this age. I know not how they manage it … but I assure you, airplanes are trustworthy as a flight method."
Maglor made no reply, still impressed and somewhat doubtful. "There must be sorcery involved," he said instead.
"Nay, Maglor." Celeborn actually laughed softly. "The Men of this age have lost all knowledge of Power, and few seek out the arts of Morgoth or his servant the Dark Lord Sauron. No; these machines fly entirely by the understanding of the laws of the universe as Ilúvatar set them."
It was still difficult to believe. After all, if something like this could fly by rules that Ilúvatar himself had set in place, why had the Elves not developed this ability? They were much greater scholars than the Secondborn had ever been. How could Men have possibly surpassed Elves in this realm …?
"Truly the Secondborn are remarkable creatures, are they not?"
Maglor glanced to his left to see Artanis standing there, dressed impeccably in a dark gray business suit, half her beautiful golden hair that Maglor's father had so worshipped flowing over her shoulders to the middle of her back. Her chin was held high, her gaze even and directed to the window, beyond which where the airplanes landed and took off. Every inch of her was flawless as ever.
"Galadriel." Celeborn moved past Maglor to take Artanis' hand. "All is prepared?"
Inwardly, Maglor felt a subtle distaste. That Artanis had chosen a name given to her by one of the Sindarin – by one related to the stubborn King Elwë, no less! – left a foul taste in his mouth. It was like a sign that she had truly left behind her Noldorin origins, and it burned him slightly. You and I, Artanis, we are nearly the last of our breed of Elves, and yet you choose the name of a Twilight Elf … but he held his peace. The twinge of anger that name caused within him paled in comparison to the crushing sadness of the loss of Valinor and the chance to ever again see his family alive and well; it paled in comparison to the yearning for the Silmaril, and the confusion this altered world caused within him. Everything was changed … absolutely everything … and Maglor found himself mourning how things had once been, bloodstained as they were.
"We will be able to board the plane in a quarter hour," Artanis replied to her husband, bringing Maglor back to the present. Her gaze shifted to Maglor, and her burning eyes held his for a long moment. "How fares you, cousin?" she asked finally.
Maglor determined not to fail to meet her gaze. "I am well," he said softly.
"You burn with jealousy," she observed shrewdly, "and distaste. Am I to be led to understand that you are displeased with the arrangements?"
Artanis had always played a mean game of chess; her strategy was always subtle, but cunning, and so it was now. But Maglor, although always more blunt than his half-cousin, was hardly an easy opponent. "You put so much trust in these contraptions of Men, Artanis."
"And well I should. Not all Men are traitors, Maglor." She smiled slightly, a compassionate smile. "Today, no Man would even know what to betray, and whom to betray to. They have left that knowledge behind them, and so embraced life." Now her smile seemed to be at a private joke. "They do not seek to kill us, and their mechanics are not evil." But this is not about the plane, is it, Maglor? Her eyes asked.
Celeborn knew what was happening, too; his gaze was shrewd as his wife's. Maglor caved; it does not matter what she calls herself, and if she says the 'plane' is safe, then it is! "I understand," he murmured.
Artanis shook her head slightly and sadly. "We are going to Lord Elrond's home," she pointed out. "Are you ready for that?"
Celeborn had told Maglor this several hours before, so he had taken some time to process that. The last time he had seen young Elrond – nay, not so young! – the half-Elf had been approaching Elven adulthood, a sapling of a mere 60 years. Maglor bit his lip to think of it; he remembered coaxing stubborn mouths open, enticing twins to eating with the smell of freshly roasted venison; he remembered frustration and guilt and sickness. I drove their parents away from them! Forgive me, Elrond, Elros … forgive me, twin sons of Elwing! "I cannot say I am ready," Maglor finally answered unsteadily. "I do not know what to expect, nor what Elrond thinks of me now, with the weight of time between us …" It is as if only yesterday you were a child in my arms. Ai, Elrond, Elros, the wrongs I have done you … He cleared his throat. "Tell me, whatever became of the other halfling, Elros? You have not mentioned him in all this time."
Artanis' gaze saddened again, and before she spoke Maglor knew the answer. "He is long dead, Maglor Feanorian. He chose, in the end, the path of mortality, by his right as a son of Eärendil the Mariner."
"Ah …" Maglor closed his eyes against the pain of knowledge. Elrond must have been consumed with grief. He was always the more compassionate of the two. He remembered, briefly, a very young Elrond crying in sympathy when his brother fell and skinned his knee; Elros would never have cried had their positions been reversed. Nay, he would have comforted with dry eyes. "Why would he choose the fate of the Secondborn?" he murmured.
Artanis narrowed her gaze, and Maglor burned with shame. "Why this contempt for Men, Maglor? What have they done to cause your distaste?"
"Look about you and tell me they are not distasteful," Maglor retorted in the midst of his shame. "Look what they have done to the natural beauty of the world! Look upon their past – their own history books that chronicle their battles amongst themselves over such petty matters as land!"
"Land?" Celeborn's voice rose, and Maglor looked upon the Sindarin Lord to see boiling anger well contained by the Elf Lord's naturally calm demeanor. "Look upon your own past, Maglor Fëanorian, and do not speak so vainly! How many times must you speak thus before you remember your own slaughters over something even more petty than land? What has your precious Silmaril gained you, you foolish Elf?"
Maglor blinked, taken aback, and cursed himself. Ai, you fool, you fool! Again you curse yourself with silly words! No sin of the Unfaithful Houses of Men can match your own folly. Never speak thus again! "I am a fool," he acknowledged aloud. "Forgive me; forgive me my damned tongue!"
Celeborn's anger subsided somewhat. "You are forgiven," he murmured. But Artanis looked upon him with pity, and Maglor chafed under her gaze.
"Maglor, we cannot pretend to understand the minds of Men; nay, not even the minds of the half-Elves, a realm apart from any other! But when Elros chose his fate, he laid the path for the greatest of Men to rise in the time of greatest need. Ilúvatar's purpose, Maglor! You must not forget that there is a plan greater than ours."
"Lord Celeborn? Lady Galadriel?" An aide with bright eyes and a Nandorin accent spoke up. "Your plane is ready."
"Thank you," Artanis replied gracefully as Celeborn dismissed the aide.
Maglor closed his eyes, processing his cousin's words.
Ilúvatar's plan … ai, I cannot see even a glimpse of it! But I know this: my own plans fall only into ruin.
* * *
Someone was shaking his shoulder.
Allen groaned and blinked sleepily, trying to get his bearings. "Where …"
"Allen?" A serene, intent face framed by golden hair and set with bright green eyes was near his own. "Please wake up. I must speak with you before the flight is over."
Plane. First-class seat … Lawrence. Men in Black … Allen sat up, beginning to remember that he was in the middle of a strange adventure resembling The Matrix. "Agent Smith here or something?" he mumbled, rubbing his eyes and the bridge of his nose. He'd had dreams less strange than the reality he'd walked into.
He hadn't really meant for the question to be heard, but Lawrence laughed anyway. "No … and I am not 'Morpheus'. Did you need a drink of water? Is there anything I can get you?"
"No, I'm okay." Allen was just about all the way awake now. "You don't look like Morpheus, anyway. So … what's up?"
Lawrence settled back into his own seat opposite Allen; his gaze was concerned and considering. "There is quite a bit we need to discuss with you. There is much more to what is happening to you then just those men in your apartment."
Allen was pretty sure he could take just about anything at this point. Men disappearing into slips of paper, attacking him out of the blue and for no immediately apparent reason? And that was just the beginning? "Bring it on," he said simply, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. "Nothing could surprise me now."
Lawrence raised one eyebrow delicately. "Oh no?" he smiled wryly. "You think this resembles The Matrix." He paused; his gaze was inscrutable. "What would you think, then, if I told you that you have walked into a fantasy?"
Allen frowned. "What?"
Lawrence shook his head, his eyes never leaving Allen. "I do not know how best to say this. Here …" he rose gracefully out of his plush seat and bowed. "Allen Evanston, my name is Legolas Thranduilion, an Elf of the land once known as Greenwood the Great. And you are the descendant of Elessar Telcontar, the Elfstone, the King of Gondor, and one of my dearest friends – a Man who walked this world some 14,000 years ago. It is for this reason that those strange Men seek your death – you are a potential threat to the mission of their master, the Dark Lord Sauron. To protect you from this, I and my companions wish to take you to one of the greatest Lords still walking this Earth – Lord Elrond Peredhil, the half-Elf." He rose from his bow. "Those are the bones of the matter."
Allen blinked. Twice. And when he found his voice, all he could say was, "Forget The Matrix. I've walked into The Lord of the Rings!"
* * *
Author's Notes: Oh, fine, it's a cheesy ending. My apologies. With any luck I'll have more details about how The Lord of the Rings is viewed by the Elves.
And the Orc-Men? I'm stealing some ideas from Eastern mysticism and the Japanese comic book X/1999: Their Destiny was Foreordained, which makes use of enemies much the same as these.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.