6. Chapter V
Warning: Very grim AU. Legolas slave fic. Implied slash, m/m, BDSM, torture, non-con and debatable consent. Also, for this story: Gore, horror, and character death. I mean it!
Rated: Mature –strictly adults only.
Pairings: Aragorn/Legolas (mainly), Boromir/Legolas (implied).
Beta: Randy. Thank you! All remaining errors are my own.
For author's notes, disclaimer and for the background, see Prologue.
Summary: Mirkwood is a subjected realm and must give hostages to the other Elven realms as slaves. Legolas is the slave of Aragorn, who is a sadist. But what if Legolas indeed were to take the Ring?
Occasionally I work with flashback scenes. Here is a Guide:
// /flashback/ //; ************Time change within a flashback***********; “speech”; 'thoughts'
Pain inside is rising
I am the fallen one
A figure in an old game
No jokers on my side
I plunged into misery
I'll turn off the light
And murder the dawn.
Blind Guardian, Mordred's Song.
My child is dying.
I sit at his bedside, holding his hand. I am not sure he even knows that I am there.
He is raving in fever now, deep in delirium, his body ravaged and slowly killed by the poison that is eating at his insides. His skin is grey, his eyes dim. He no longer recognizes me, or anyone else who is near.
My healers have tried their best to ease his pain with herbs and draughts, but nothing will stop the deterioration of his body. Nothing will ease the cramps that seize his dying form. And nothing they can do can stop the workings of the spell. The foul curse that kills him defies their skill.
We never had a cure against it.
He is writhing in pain beside me, long driven past his ability to endure. He is crying for Estel, asking, begging to be taken. That ranger who has been his master, who has stolen his heart and then abused his trust, is haunting his dreams even now. I know that he has killed him – I saw the Ring of Barahir, that cursed heirloom of the Dúnedain, on the chain around my son's neck. I know what he has done, for he told me, in that few precious moments when he was awake and still somewhat lucid, hours ago. I know he thought he had no other choice. And yet he still cries out for that Adan, and for the release his master can give.
For a moment, I wonder. When my time comes, as it surely must happen, now, and the spell runs its course unfed towards the end, will I then, too, scream out for my abuser to come and renew that foul curse he once has laid on me? Will I, too, be as mad in need and rambling in my pain as to call out for that bastard Elrond?
I shudder at the thought. It is revolting. If it should truly come to that, I hope one of my warriors or healers will show me mercy enough to end my misery before I reach that point.
And yet I cannot do that to my son. All I can do is sit beside his bed and see him suffer.
It is excruciating to watch.
I cannot help him.
Even if I took on the Ring, I am not sure that it will give me the power to stay that foul spell. And yet I need to try.
But still I hesitate.
My advisors have urged me to make use of it; all but two, one of them my oldest general, and the other my closest friend among them. They fear what the thing will do to me. But we are running out of time.
Legolas' decision has left us no choice. There will be war. And only with the gift he brought we have a chance to win it.
And yet, so far, I have been loath to put it on. I do not fear the fight of wills that surely awaits me.
I have long left the planes of hope or fear, as far as my own person is concerned.
But I know that once I should succeed to claim the Ring, and bend its power to my will, the Ring will also claim me. And then I might not wish to sit here anymore, and keep watch on him who has been my youngest son. I do not know if I will even continue to care.
The foul lure of that thing and the palpable evil it emanates has been in my thoughts ever since Legolas placed it in my hand and I first touched it.
I do not know what it will do to me.
And yet I have no other choice. There is no choice. Wasting the sacrifice my son has made is not an option. He has broken his own oath and risked damnation, condemned himself to death, and with him all the other hostages – all to bring us the means to break the yoke and regain freedom.
Our people's freedom, not his own; for himself, he knew there was no hope. He willingly chose his own damnation.
How can I do less?
A few hours ago, when he had that last moment of clarity, I offered to him to give him his release, if there should be no cure. Quick. Painless. Merciful.
I knew that I would rather tear out my own heart, and yet it seemed the only thing that I could offer.
My son denied me. He begged me not to darken my hands with the blood of my own child.
"Do not give Elrond that last triumph, Adar," were his words to me, faint, choked in pain, but still clear as an unstained light, a testament to his unbroken strength.
"I knew what waited for me when I took the Ring to bring it here – I am ready to face it. Do not let yourself be forced to murder..." - he ceased to speak then, and I knew he doubted that he had still the right to claim he was my son.
I could do nothing than give him my blessing, assure him that he had not lost my love.
Since then, he has lost all lucidity, and he has not woken up again.
For a moment the images of that last exchange of words are vivid in my mind. The pain they evoke is overwhelming.
Then I shake them off.
I cannot wait much longer.
I give the slack hand of my son a last, strong squeeze, stroke over the sweat-drenched features, the matted, golden hair, for one last time.
Then I ease off my grip and rise.
There is no further time to lose. My warriors are gathering. Soon our troops will be ready to depart.
I must not waste the gift Legolas has brought.
Besides, this might be the last hope for my son.
I take the Ring and put it on my finger.
_______________ o _______________
The power that surrounds me all at once is staggering. A thousand voices seem to scream at me, but none louder than three – the shriek and howl of the Ring's master, attacking me, trying to overtake my mind; and, not unlike that first howl, but much, much sweeter, the echoing shriek of fear and hiss of disbelief of the two bearers of the lesser Rings: the Noldo bitch of the Golden Wood, and – Elrond.
For one, treacherous moment I am tempted to bathe in his shock and fear, in his denial; but then I brace myself instead and open my mind to the power of the Ring.
It is like mastering a storm. I feel them all gather their strength to strike, to assault me. But none of them is stronger than the Dark One, he whom I have battled for so long: Sauron, Gothaur, the Abhorrent, the Necromancer. I take him on headlong, will to will. For the moment I ignore the others.
The battle is joined.
I know I cannot win this and survive as I have been. I cannot overcome his power; I can only claim it, take it within myself, together with whatever malice may be bound to it. His evil sears me. The power is like a tempest, like a scorching flame; it threatens to burn me, to consume me, like a wall of fire. I feel it eating through my mind like molten lava.
Yet I do not give in. There is no going back. My mind is like steel against his assault.
Fury empowers me to prevail, fury gives me the strength to conquer him. I have lost two sons to Elrond's foul schemes, and a third lies dying, having sacrificed himself and all hope for his own salvation. I have seen the suffering and agony of too many of my people under the thralldom of this evil. I have lost over two hundred of my people to the foul slavery Elrond and Galadriel have wrought, under the influence of Sauron's malevolence; for it is clear to me now that it must have been the malignity of their Rings that wrought all this. Yet I do not forgive them. I do not forget.
And I will not allow myself to be distracted. I concentrate on Sauron. I have lost my father and countless warriors in the war against this very foe.
I will not allow myself to be conquered.
I hear the scream of the Dark One, and my fury burns him. His hate is endless, and his power great, yet he is hollow, nothing but will, and malice, and a lust for power.
But I have a heart yet, and a goal, and I prevail.
His impotent scream as the power is sucked out of him and finds new home in me is dreadful, but it does not faze me. His power threatens to overwhelm me, and it takes much from me to take it in – but fury steels my will, and so I manage.
I will not give in now.
Finally it is over; he collapses, and I can feel him weaken, lose his grip on my mind and dissolve. I have done it! I have conquered his power, and the Ring, for good.
But now I am assaulted by the minds of those who hold the lesser Rings. Galadriel, the pale queen of the Golden Wood, terrible in her icy power; and Elrond, the dark master of Imladris, he whom I hate and have desired to bring down for far too long. I hear their screams of fear and impotence, and their assault is hard to withstand, especially now, so soon after that other battle.
But they have nothing to set against my power, now, and in the confrontation of our minds, my hate sears them, burn their defenses away. Their fear and shock are clouding their minds, and I can strike them down. They have nothing to prevail against my cold determination.
The cruel, icy Noldor-queen finally escapes my grasp, collapsing for a moment under my assault; then she is gone, her white presence vanished from this otherworldly plane; perhaps she managed to shut me out, or maybe she just took off her Ring. I know not.
I concentrate on Elrond. He writhes under the assault; I can feel his fear and hatred. For all his cruelty, the Peredhel was not expecting his former victims to fight back on him. I feel him cringe under the knowledge that his foster-son is dead, yet his pain does not move me. His shock and fear is sweet, yet I do not let it sway me to revel in triumph; as of yet, the beast is still unconquered. His threats leave me cold, his rage is impotent. My wrath sears him, burns his shields away; his strength falters under my determination. His thoughts are no longer a secret to me. He threatens to kill the hostages, but to no avail. I have known that they were dead from the very hour Legolas arrived. I have known for centuries that they would die when we finally rebelled. And they knew this, too; that one day they would have to pay the price for their people's freedom.
As I am dead, have been dead, for all that counts, from the day the Peredhel put that foul curse on me.
But before I leave for the final darkness that awaits me now, I have an errand to fulfill. I have to free my people. And I will succeed in that task, whatever be the price.
Our struggle lasts but briefly, then Elrond's mind is gone. If he managed to shut me out for now, or if he managed to take off that Ring of his, I do not know.
It does not matter. I have prevailed, and I have conquered the One and claimed its power. The power of the enemy is mine, and I am the new master of the Ring. Sauron is no more.
All of the Dark One's secrets are at my disposal, all his plans before he lost his strength are known to me. I know the Nine are on their way to me, but they will fight me not; they are bound to the power to the One, and they will obey me. I will send them and the troops at their disposal against Lothlorien, and so make sure that the Golden Wood cannot help its long-time ally Elrond Peredhel when my army comes to call for him. I have no mind yet what to do about the other realms, about the wars of Gondor. I do not know yet what the former allies of Sauron, or his lieutenants and warlords, are about to do; if they decide to continue the wars of their former master on their own, or if they finally decide to pay homage to me. It feels natural that they should, for a part of my mind, but for the moment, what they do concerns me not.
I have another war to fight, and that war has been long in coming.
And there is one last thing I have to do.
I cast a look at the one lying prostrate and unconscious on the bed in this small chamber. My son.
There must be a way to stay the workings of the spell, to save his life. There has to be a way to give him strength, to overcome the poison.
A part of me tells me I need not care. That this one is of no purpose any longer; he has fulfilled his usefulness, and all that remains now is not to waste the power of the gift he brought, but use it wisely.
The inner voice insists that I cannot afford to waste my strength on feelings, or on the weakness of compassion, on caring for those who fall victim by the wayside, or to distract myself with useless mourning. That I should cast aside such weakness and shed all emotion, save that which alone can heighten my strength and power: hatred and the cold determination to avenge. That I should concentrate from now only on the power I need to gain to reach my goals...
The prospect is tempting. Cold, unfeeling power, no more pain, no agonizing helplessness, no crippling heed for the suffering of others...
For moments, I feel myself contemplating the idea, and I recoil in horror at the thought. No! I shall not follow that path. That way lies corruption, and madness.
Ignoring the treacherous voice that tells me not to care, I reach into the power of the Ring, then for my son's distorted mind. I try to grasp the working of the spell, try to send some of my power into him. It is no use. The blue light of the spell refuses me. The One Ring has the power to bend others to my will, to force them to obey me; yet it has not the power to give strength, or heal. I cannot even transfer some of its raw power into the one who needs it most.
Rage. Rage and pain engulf me. I reach out again, for the treacherous mind of Elrond – but I can find him not. He must have taken off his Ring, or maybe I am too exhausted yet and have not yet mastered the One as completely as I thought. But he eludes my grip. I regret now that I could not hold him long enough to wrestle the answers I need about the workings of that curse from his treacherous mind. But I recall his hateful spite, his claim that nothing, nothing could break the spell, that I have condemned myself to death, as well as my last remaining son.
My last remaining son. The other two are dead then.
The realization hits me like a cold, freezing blade. Somehow, I have already known. But still, a part of me is in denial.
Then, rage runs out and is replaced by cold determination.
I may not have the power to save my son. But I have still a duty to my people. I will not waste the sacrifice that Legolas has made.
And now, I also have nothing more to lose.
Elrond will pay for this. My sons will be avenged.
There is one final thing that I must attempt. I step close to the bed again and take the chain off from my last son's neck. The wizard's ring, the one he took from Mithrandir, responded to my power; the power of the One Ring I wear now. It has a red stone: from what I learned of the tales of the Three, it must be Narya, the Ring of Fire. I take it and place it carefully on Legolas' hand.
I do not know if it has any strength to stay the poison, or if it even can give him some strength to stay alive a little longer. But it is the only thing I can do, and I have to try.
Legolas stirs and moans, and fumbles for the chain. He does not wake; he does not recognize me. He just whimpers a little and seems to search for something. Again, he murmurs something of Estel.
I press the Ring of Barahir into his searching hand and he calms down again.
I straighten up again and turn. There is nothing more I can do for him. But I must think now of our people.
And I am running out of time.
It does not matter. Legolas knew what fate awaited him. Yet he did not shrink from fulfilling his duty. He made his choice and so sealed his own fate.
As I have now sealed mine.
Casting a last look at my dying child, I turn to the door.
My generals are awaiting my command. My troops are ready.
This time, we fight.
______________ o ______________
-- TBC --
My thanks go to Randy, who suggested both Thranduil's brief wondering about his own awaiting fate, as well as an expansion of the temptation theme regarding the shedding of all feelings of caring and compassion in this chapter. Thank you! Your great edition work on this story has greatly improved its intensity!
About the effects of Thranduil claiming the Ring:
The question what would happen if one of the Wise and powerful indeed took the Ring and became its new master was never brought up in the final work of LOTR. There is a draft though in the eight tome of HoME, "The War of the Ring" ( London 1990, HarperCollinsPublishers Paperback edition, 2002, P. 401), in an unused draft of the chapter "The Last Debate":
"‘But if we should find the Ring and wield it, how would it give us victory?’, asked Imrahil.
‘It would not do so all in a day’, answered Gandalf. ‘But were it to come to the hand of some one of power or royalty, as say the Lord Aragorn, or the Steward of this City, or Elrond of Imladrist, or even to me, then he being the Ringlord would wax ever in power and the desire of power; and all minds he would cow or dominate so that they would blindly do his will. And he could not be slain. More: the deepest secrets of the mind and heart of Sauron would become plain to him, so that the Dark Lord could do nothing unforeseen. The Ringlord would suck the very power and thought from him, so that all would forsake his allegiance and follow the Ringlord, and they would serve him and worship him as a God. And so Sauron would be overthrown utterly and fade into oblivion; but behold, there would be Sauron still....but upon the other side, a tyrant brooking no freedom, shrinking from no deed of evil to hold his sway and to widen it.
‘And worse’, said Aragorn. ‘For all that is left of the ancient power and wisdom of the West he would also have broken and corrupted’."
So, while Tolkien supposed that Sauron would lose his power to the new master of the Ring and 'being sucked dry', he obviously envisioned that process gradually; on the other hand, he stated that the new Ring-Lord 'could not be slain', (conveniently forgetting that Sauron himself had been slain while wearing the Ring by Gil-galad and Elendil in the Last Alliance), so the new Ring-Lord, beside being able to read the thoughts of Sauron and of the holders of the bother Rings, must also have gained some kind of supernatural power.
However, to meet my purposes, I have decided to follow this quote only in part here, and decided on a somewhat different effect of the claiming of the Ring by someone powerful enough to master it and become the new Ring-Lord: the 'sucking-dry' process is taken literally, here, and and happens fast, so Sauron is indeed reduced to a powerless specter.
But make no mistake: the one who takes over the former Dark Lord's power (and with it his malice) does so at a terrible price...