"Foul, a thousand times foul!" Sabaoth snarled, his face contorted with rage. "Olórin! How did he—" he clenched his fist and fell silent, seething at his ornate desk.
It made a twisted sense. If anyone saw through his disguise, it would be … him. But it was too soon, ah, far too soon!
No. All will be well. There is a limit to his power. But the untwisted strength of the Maia was something unmeasured; never had Olórin walked the world, openly displaying his Power. And Power he did indeed have! But I too have Power. There is still hope. If it is of a measure!
I should crush him now, pluck his wings as Curunír did ere the War of the Ring. But I must do it more thoroughly, that they may not grow back! Was it possible? Could he truly match the strength of an Istar blessed by the Valar – curse them, curse them! – and overcome—?
Was there even a choice, in the end? Sabaoth rubbed his brow in thought. When had Olórin seen through his guise? How much had he spoken of with the Elves? If the Elves knew, then what? Did it change anything? Did it change everything? Ah, I do not see! He felt blind and his words felt aimless now, thrown out to no purpose.
The phone on his desk beeped and with a silent snarl Sabaoth snatched it up. "What?"
"Sabaoth, this is Colin," said the voice on the other end. "We need to discuss PR."
Instantly Sabaoth melted into his usual self-confident guise. "Whatever for? We seem to have done all right thus far."
"Turn your television to channel four, Sab," suggested the Secretary, and with a frown Sabaoth obeyed – and was confronted with his own stormy face, snapping at an innocent member of the press named Mr. J. Greyhem. "That's been playing all day."
"Ah." There was nothing more to say on the matter, at least not on the phone. Curse you, Olórin! "Shall I come up?" It was much easier to assuage people in person, when one's tongue could smooth out the problems and one's eyes could draw the listener into the curtains. But damage had been done that could not be undone; his tongue had been curbed; he would not be in the public eye again, at least for some time.
"Please do." Click.
Sabaoth laid the phone back in the cradle with deceptive calm, then cursed again in the Black Tongue. Ah, Olórin, you have taken my rook, you have put my king in check, and all with but a simple question! But this game is not over, and it is now my turn. And you, my friend, have lost the advantage of surprise!
* * *
~~Two days later~~
"I cannot believe this!" Glorfindel lifted his outstretched palm towards the television and looked appropriately affronted. "Molan. He leaves me behind to issue a challenge to Sabaoth Molan."
"Nay, there is more to it," Elrond reasoned from the doorway. "You see how Molan has fueled the fire of fear between Iraq and America. The media played nothing but this footage for a day, Glorfindel – and thus Molan has since been appropriately silenced, his motives put in question."
Glorfindel shook his head, ejecting the tape of the day-old newscast and sighing. He had arrived at Elrond's home late the night before, and promptly been ushered off to bed. Now it was morning and breakfast approached quickly, and the house was coming to life, but before they sat to eat Elrond had bid Glorfindel see the bit of footage in which Olórin's voice could be heard.
"So they have," agreed the golden-haired Elf after a short silence, "but … surely he had a grander plan. A greater reason." He paused, thoughtful. "It is not hard to sway the media to an anti-war stance. Therefore, is it not strange that as long as Molan has spoken, the newsmen have stood by him? They ask him no challenging questions, for they are a business, in the end, of entertainment, and fear is entertaining to the masses! But even more so is controversy, and yet they stir up none …" he lifted his bright gaze to Elrond. "See you what I strike at? What is it that makes Molan somehow special?"
Elrond had drawn his long brown hair back into a low ponytail, and he now ran his fingers through the loose hairs. "There is no telling, but you make a good point." He looked up. "Ah, Legolas."
Glorfindel followed Lord Elrond's gaze to the Elf now coming down the stairs, whose flaxen hair was also pulled into a low ponytail. If the Wood-Elf had just woken up, there was no sign – he was already dressed and alert, fully awake upon the moment of awakening just as Elves always were. His gaze alighted on Elrond and he bowed with a manner that suggested casual ease, no longer stiff and formal as he had been but two days before. "Good morning, Lord Elrond –" he began to straighten, his head coming up, then suddenly bent again. "Lord Glorfindel."
"Good morning," Glorfindel rose to his feet gracefully as he greeted the younger Elf. "It has been some years since we last met! How fares you?"
Legolas had straightened and a smile flickered across his features. "As well as may be expected in these times, Lord Glorfindel. And you?"
Legolas did not smile easily, for he was a naturally reserved Elf save in the presence of Elladan and Elrohir – perhaps the only immortals in all the world who were nearly of an age with Legolas. Something was up. Glorfindel shot a suspicious look at Elrond, but if the former Lord of Imladris noticed, he gave no sign. "I am well," he said cautiously.
"That is good," Legolas then said, his mouth twitching again. "I had feared your anger with Olórin would drive you to homicide."
Glorfindel blanched. "Has Lord Elrond been telling tales again?" he inquired, drawing a chuckle from Elrond as the Lord made an inconspicuous, elegant exit.
Legolas bowed slightly again, his eyes still dancing with amusement. "Nay, I do not believe they were merely tales! But well enough; I should not make fun at your expense, my Lord."
Glorfindel sniffed. "No, you should not, young Elfling!" he said, but his voice gave away his mirth. "But I shall forgive you."
"You are too kind." Legolas' Silvan heritage was beginning to show; nothing could stop the laughter in his eyes.
"Indeed I am. But exceptions must be made for Elves that see Balrogs and do not run in fear," the Elf said.
Glorfindel meant it as a jest, but Legolas' face fell slightly. "Even if they drop their bows in fear?" he asked, his inner laughter subdued if still present.
"Even then." Glorfindel stepped forward and clapped Legolas on the shoulder. "We cannot all be Balrog slayers, and as I said, there is something to an Elf that does not simply desert his post and run at the very sight! But this is long past history, and he who was subject to the Balrog in your time is alive and well and frustrating this old Balrog slayer no end!" He laughed and was pleased to see Legolas chuckle as well.
"I should have spoken of this with you some fourteen thousand years ago," Legolas grinned, "for it was a part of me never fully healed! I oft wondered what you might have done had our places been traded."
Glorfindel frowned slightly at the mention of it. "I do not know, Legolas, and it is not well for us to live second-guessing life. But suppose I had indeed come with the Fellowship, and suppose I had slain the Balrog; what then? Suppose you had slain the Balrog! Would Gandalf the Grey have become Gandalf the White? Everything happens for a purpose, Legolas, for we live, in the end, by Ilúvatar's Song."
Legolas smiled. "That is a comforting thought, Lord Glorfindel."
"It should be," Glorfindel said firmly. "Now come! I have not tasted good Celebrían's cooking in a year, and I will not have my breakfast delayed by you!"
The younger Elf nodded and laughed. "Alas, let it not be so!"
* * *
Over the course of the past several days Legolas had become very good … at lying. Not that he hadn't been rather expert at it before; hiding one's identity as a sixteen thousand year old Elf in a world of Men required such abilities. Nevertheless, Legolas could truly say that he had never lied so often over the phone since the contraption had been invented.
"Hello, Mrs. Evanston? My name is Lawrence Green and I'm with the alumni department of the University of Virginia. We were wondering if Professor Evanston would like to make a contribution to his alma ma—oh. I'm very sorry, ma'am. My condolences. Goodbye."
Legolas dropped the phone into the cradle and bowed his head, rubbing the bridge of his nose less out of any sort of real tiredness and more out of mental exhaustion. There were exactly 113 Professor Evanston's teaching medical science at various universities scattered across the United States and Great Britain. Of those 113 professors, 57 were men. Legolas had called 51, usually pretending to be a solicitor from their alma maters, and he was halfway relieved to find he could cross the great majority of them off his list of possible descendants of Aragorn. Seven had retired; ten had started in new professions, and another seventeen were teaching a new subject. One had become a state senator. One had actually been an Elf (Noldorin, living in Salt Lake City); he had wished Legolas good luck and the aid of Eru. Legolas smiled slightly at the memory. And in addition, Legolas had managed to solicit about 800 dollars for various universities.
Eleven Evanston's, however, had died. It was a horribly awkward thing to call the listed number and have the line picked up by the family left behind. Those calls were the ones that exhausted Legolas and broke his heart.
The remaining four that he had already reached he had listed as 'possibles' – Evanston's that fit the profile Galadriel had given. He still had six calls to make, however, before it would be time to drive/fly/otherwise meet in person the Evanston's that still fit the profile. He still wasn't entirely sure how he could be absolutely certain which Evanston was the right one, but he was sure he'd have a better chance at guessing if he was able to meet with them face-to-face. Elrond had promised to pay the plane fares to reach their locations despite protest from Legolas; after all, paying for plane tickets and hotel rooms would hardly put a dent in several sizable bank accounts. (Admittedly, it would put an even smaller one in Elrond's accounts.)
Legolas took a few minutes to recover from discovering Jeremy Evanston had died of heart problems a month ago before he again picked up the phone in his room in Elrond's home. He dialed the next number on the list and listened to the phone ring at the other end – a rather shrill, annoying sound – before someone picked it up.
Legolas felt his mouth go dry.
Like all Elves, Legolas was both gifted and cursed with a perfect memory. Old memories did not fade, and new memories merely added another layer to the endless cycle that was immortal life. To Men it might have been strange to remember everything from the moment the memory portion of the mind began to operate to the present day with perfect clarity, but Elves were designed to handle such a large portion of memories. It was the sadness of memory that weighed heavily on their shoulders, and the land that should have lifted such sadness – Valinor – was lost to them.
Legolas was absolutely certain that this man had Aragorn Telcontar's voice.
"Ah, yes sir, my name is Lawrence Green and I work for the alumni association of the University of Colorado. Is this—" Legolas checked the list again – "Professor Allen Evanston?"
"It is," said the man at the other end, his tone wary. "No, I don't want to go to the 15th anniversary '88 class reunion."
Legolas drew a deep breath and bit off his relieved, exhilarated laughter. This was Aragorn's descendant! The language was different, the accent distinctly American, but as the Elf compared in his mind the sound of Aragorn's suspicious tone to Allen's, he felt no doubt that something had carried on. Even Eldarion, after all, had been able to match that tone. He almost failed to deliver the rest of his sales pitch as he hurriedly dug through the sheets of information, looking for the young man's address. "That is quite a shame, Professor. The celebrations will certainly be the worse for your absence."
"I'm sure you'll get along fine without me," Allen said in a wearily amused voice, terrifyingly similar to a wearily amused Aragorn when the twins took a joke too far. "Is that all?"
Found it! Legolas triumphantly held up the address of Allen Evanston. "Yes, Professor Evanston. Sorry to bother you."
"It's all right. Have a nice day, Mr. Green." Click.
Legolas hung up the phone and leapt to his feet, giving a shout of joy that echoed throughout the penthouse before coming out of his room and vaulting the entire set of switchback stairs, leaping over the railing and landing with characteristic silence in sock-clad feet.
He landed, however, directly in front of Glorfindel, who blinked serenely at him. "Legolas?"
"Lord Glorfindel!" Legolas clutched the paper in his hand as if it were life itself – which to him, it was. "I have found him!"
"Aragorn's heir! In Chicago," he waved the paper, barely noticing how Glorfindel's eyes widened and a relieved smile flickered across his face. "Where is Lord Elrond? I must go to Chicago immediately!"
"What's this? Legolas Thranduilion going to Chicago without any navigators?" Legolas looked over his shoulder to see the sons of Elrond striding towards him, feet moving in perfect unison. "You can't get around Chicago without a native's help," Elrohir said, slinging an arm over Legolas' shoulder.
"And two natives are even better," Elladan added, also slinging his arm over Legolas' shoulder, but from the other side.
"Neither of you are natives of Chicago," Legolas pointed out amiably. "How can you be natives of a city that isn't even a tenth of your age?"
"Ah, but at least we've lived there within the last fifty years," Elladan replied.
"Actually, we've lived there all of the last fifty years," Elrohir said. "At least, in between business trips."
Glorfindel watched this whole exchange with an amused glint in his eyes before he finally interjected, "Lord Elrond has not returned from his office yet. Perhaps you would like to call him?"
Legolas considered this with bent posture, weighed down by a half-Elf on either shoulder. "If he shall return soon, I suppose I can wait," he said finally. "I need to pack and say farewell to Celebrían …"
"Whatever are you going to Chicago for, then, Legolas?" Elrohir asked innocently, prompting Glorfindel to laugh and Legolas to attempt to throw off the greater weight of the twins combined.
"Did you not hear a word I said besides 'Chicago'? I have found Aragorn's descendant!" Legolas said with somewhat falsified indignity. He was gratified to feel the slight stiffening of the twins' bodies and see the large grins that broke out on their faces.
"Father said you would be able to find him," Elrohir confided as the joking mood was replaced with something equally happy, but more subdued; he hugged the Silvan Elf firmly and smiled again. "Good work, Legolas!"
"It was mostly your father's efforts that allowed me to find him," Legolas said modestly, but Elladan shook his head.
"You may not realize it, Legolas, but although Aragorn was as a brother to us, you were his one of his greatest friends. In the last years of his life there was nothing he would keep from you – of that I am certain," the half-Elf said firmly. "And if Aragorn's descendant is anything like Aragorn himself, he will be grateful to know you." He paused. "Nay; it is Eru's will that he know you as his friend."
Legolas smiled slightly. "Thank you, Elladan."
"Well said, Elladan, son of Elrond," said a strong, deep voice behind the little cluster of Elves. The Elves turned as one to face the speaker.
"My lords, Lord Olórin," presented Encirith, bowing formally and slipping away.
"Good day, all," said the Maia, smiling into his silver beard.
* * *
Author's Notes: In all honesty, the Legolas/Glorfindel conversation was inspired by a challenge here on HA, where I discovered that originally Tolkien had planned to send Glorfindel along with the Fellowship instead of Legolas. It is, in a way, my response to the challenge. What would have happened had Glorfindel tagged along? Who knows, but I'm sure Ilúvatar knew what he was doing when he gave Elrond favor for Legolas instead.
And after much debate, I've gone with the 'Glorfindel is a reincarnated Elf' bit. It worked better for the conversation, after all!
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.