2. Four Rings 2
The stars had never been so bright in Imladris. Even in the darkest hours of night, long after the sun had gone and long before she would rise again, the tiny stars gave only a pale sheen in the far distance, a gentle presence eclipsed by the whiteness of the moon. But here in the vast empty plains of some unknown land, they blazed down in warm silver beams strong enough to allow the trees and rocks to cast sharp shadows upon the grass. The sky was bright as early dawn. This is how it was, Elrohir realised, in the beginning, at the first coming of Elves before Anor and Ithil graced the skies. This was the beginning.
The land was unrecognisable to him. The trees of Imladris had ever been tall and thick together, but here they grew in short, thin bluffs. In the distance, a dark line indicated the possibility of a forest, but Elrohir guessed it to be miles away. No lake could be seen, nor any water. Only hilly land and wooded groves stretched as far as the horizon. Uncertain of where else to go, Elrohir started toward the forest. Ahead of him, a group of deer bounded into the nearest bluff and skittish rabbits disappeared behind tall grass.
He saw no sign of Elves at all. As he slowly crossed the wide land, only a collection of animals showed themselves: the deer, the rabbits, a family of grouse, the tracks of a fox through soft dirt, a network of hidden marmot holes. Everything lay silent save the wind and the occasional voice of birds. Elrohir paused more than once to stand and scrutinise his surroundings, frowning at his complete lack of a sense of which way to go and where to look. It made him uneasy, even in the seemingly unbreakable calm. But still he continued on, step after endless step.
The passage of time was irrelevant here, and with neither sun nor moon to mark the flow of hours Elrohir could only hazard a guess as to how long he had been walking: half a day, he estimated. From his starting point to where he had now stopped, he supposed he had come halfway to the forest. The sky was no brighter, and no darker, than it had been. The forest still lay in the distance, and the land surrounding him remained the same. But the air had settled into a terrible, unnerving calm. A thin sense of danger, a small warning, had begun to twist in the back of his mind. Something here was wrong. Not the absence of Elves, but something entirely different. Something was about to happen. He could feel it, and he dreaded it.
As he looked up to the sky, the horizon to his right darkened. A cluster of stars became momentarily obscurred by a black cloud coming quickly down from the north. The cloud dropped lower and then slowed before settling to the ground. In an instant, it grew smaller and firmer until it was no longer a mere cloud, but a body clothed in dark fabric. It resembled an Elf, with long dark hair, pale skin, and bright eyes. Elrohir crouched down into the tall grass. He clenched his jaw uneasily. The strange cloud-Elf looked around, sniffing the air, before fixing his gaze to the south and starting to walk. Elrohir waited until he was a safe distance away before standing to follow.
"Elbereth," he whispered, but the word fell dull as a stone to absent ears and brought no comfort. The Lady could not hear him, so far lost in this distant time and place.
Elrond had told him once, in a grave and defeated voice, that in the beginning, Elves had been lured by the servants of the Dark. They were taken into the north and robbed of their pure lives, becoming in turn as evil as the evil that had taken them. In time, they were twisted into the orcs that would forever plague Middle-earth. But now, in this altered history, the darkness had not yet come and the orcs did not yet live. A second chance had been provided in which the world could be cured.
As the stranger moved quickly east, faster than any Elf could walk, Elrohir stayed carefully behind him. After a short distance he paused and cocked his head, as if sensing for something nearby, before continuing. After another short distance, he did the same thing. His senses steered toward the great forest, and once he drew close, he slowed to a more natural Elvish pace. Elrohir slowed behind him, keeping crouched in the shadows of a bluff of trees. Carefully, Elrohir pulled his bow from the holster on his back, and drew an arrow.
Sauron himself stood within clear view. The sight of him was alone enough to instil fear that made Elrohir's body shake and his stomach clench. His mouth felt dry as sand. But still he fitted the arrow to his bow and, with a measured slowness, pulled the string taut as his weakened fingers would allow. Before him, Sauron cocked his head and sniffed the air again. He peered to the south. Elrohir sighted along the arrow, breath shivering, stomach turning, heart speeding. Sauron took a step, and loudly sniffed. Then even as Elrohir shakily inhaled in a final preparation to take his shot, voices at his right made his concentration hitch. He slackened his bow as Sauron's gaze turned toward the sound.
The words were strange, but their sound and cadences familiar. These were Elvish voices. And they grew louder, chattering happily as they emerged from the forest not far from where Sauron stood. Then they stopped in their steps. There were five of them, Elrohir saw, hunters dressed in skins and grass and carrying long spears. The largest had the carcass of a small deer draped across his shoulders, while others carried rabbits and fowl. The only female among them balanced a large basket on her head.
Sauron grinned a wicked grin and raised his hands in welcome. Then he spoke, and though spoke in the primitive tongue of these Elven hunters, his invitation was clear enough to gather from only the sweet sound of his honeyed voice and the beckoning gestures of his arms. Come with me, he sang in words that transformed themselves plain as day for Elrohir's ears. He sang in all languages at once, straight to the minds of his audience. Come with me and I will show you a grand new world that you have not imagined!
The curious Elves leaned forward to better look at him.
Come now, and I promise you a new life in a land of joy, where you need never be hungry or weary or sad...
As Sauron spoke, Elrohir felt the urgency of his mission wane. The dark thoughts that had been troubling him faded and blurred. The icy chill in his heart became a hazily remembered shadow, and with it went all desire for revenge. He found could only stand, listening greedily to that perfect voice. Something flickered in the back of his memory, a small thought that he could not fully recall, but it seemed to be of little importance. All he cared for now was the singing voice.
Sauron's words lilted on. I will show you beauty, and power, and the secrets of this world. I will give you freedom from troubles and fear. You need only come with me, and I will share with you my knowledge.
But when Sauron stepped forward, holding out his hand to the leader of the hunters, his fiery bright eyes flashed in the starlight and gleamed a cruel orange. It was only for a second that the true form showed, but Elrohir gasped, and the trance on him was broken. There was no more glittering speech to stifle senses, only a fiend sent from the darkness for a foul purpose. With all his speed, Elrohir raised again his bow and let the arrow fly.
It struck Sauron squarely below his shoulder, pinning his arm to his side. He screamed in pain or shock or anger, his voice no longer fair but evil and terrible, a sound unlike any the Elves had ever heard. They shrank back in fear, voicing confused shrieks of their own and falling to the grass as they stumbled toward the safety of the forest. Two held their spears pointed at Sauron, who now writhed and twisted as he worked to remove the arrow and identify his attacker. It took him less than seconds to notice a figure half-hidden in the light foliage.
His eyes locked on Elrohir, whose skin had already begun to crawl again with sickening fear. A hideous glimpse of the fiend's true spirit rippled across Sauron's face before the features settled back into a close but somehow unnerving reproduction of Elvish beauty. He hissed in hatred, but also confusion, as he stared at Elrohir.
Who are you, Elf? his silent mind asked Elrohir's.
I am not an Elf, Elrohir replied.
Sauron's gaze grew angrier as it scoured Elrohir's form and noted the truth. Here was one who seemed an Elf, but also carried the spark of the Maiar, and then held a third part of something entirely different and unknown. Men, Elrohir knew, were part of a still-distant future. So far in the past, Sauron would have never before encountered such a mixture. He took a defensive step backward and hissed again. Who sent you? he asked.
I sent myself, said Elrohir, to protect these whom you would harm. I know your purpose here.
Sauron stepped further backward, hissing loudly to himself. He glanced quickly between the Elves and Elrohir, and back to the Elves. As a warning, Elrohir strung another arrow and held it trained on Sauron's chest. Sauron bared his teeth and narrowed his eyes, slithering and hissing still as he looked from Elves to Elrohir. Then he turned suddenly toward the sky, letting out another hateful scream that filled Elrohir's head with a crashing voice and nearly caused him to fall to his knees. You cannot protect them all!
I will! answered Elrohir. He called upon all his courage, all his potency, and all the urgency of his mission. Elladan: this was for Elladan. For all the Elves of Arda. He had this one chance to shift the flow of history, and he would not fail. Whether it was that thought that warmed him, or some latent power of his Maiarin blood, Elrohir felt his body begin to fill with a glowing strength. His fear was gone, replaced by calm confidence. I will, he repeated, and he heard that his voice had grown to match Sauron's in every measure of goodness for evil. The arrow in his drawn bow gleamed with pale silver light. I will protect these people, to whatever end, by any power that lives in me! You will not harm them!
Sauron's wild scream rose again, but it had weakened, and it faded quickly. His plan had been broken: interrupted by an unexpected force. What strength Elrohir had, Sauron could not know. And he seemed unwilling to risk confrontation without knowing for certain that he could win. Who sent you? he demanded again.
I sent myself, Elrohir repeated, though I answer to the Lords of the West and fulfil the bidding of...
Elrohir allowed himself a faint smile. In the back of his memory, he recalled a childhood lesson on a rainy day, when he and Elladan were both too restless to sit through their instruction in Quenya. Glorfindel, seeing their disinterest, proposed a new lesson. If they would sit still, he would teach them words in a new language. They were secret words, in a language that few Elves outside of the followers of Ingwë on Taniquitil ever learned. The language was that of the Valar. Glorfindel himself only knew a handful of words. On that rainy day, Glorfindel shared his knowledge, and Elrohir never forgot.
He raised his head, pulling all of his power around him like a shield, and spoke aloud a name that no Elf of Cuiviénen could ever know.
Elrohir's words sped up to the stars like a prayer, beautiful and pure. Sauron, raising his hands to his ears, flinched at the sound. Fear crossed his features now. Fear coupled with disbelief formed cracks in his fair guise to show the ugliness that pulsed beneath. As he stood, rooted to the ground by the name of Manwë and the tongue of the Valar, Elrohir pulled back his bowstring and let a second arrow fly. It struck Sauron squarely in the chest.
He did not fight. He made no sound, other than a surprised gasp, and made no motion toward Elrohir. Instead, just as he had come, Sauron's body grew ghostly thin and swirled into a black cloud that fled into the north on a sudden howling wind. The arrows that had pierced him, now twisted and charred, dropped to the ground. The Elven hunters cried aloud in fear and buried their faces in the grass.
After a moment, Elrohir shakily stepped out from the trees. His power and light had left him; he felt small and fearful once more. He looked at the Elves, who cowered where they lay and stared up at him with frightened eyes. Slowly, he knelt down beside them and held up his hands.
"Do not be afraid," he said softly; "I will not harm you. My name is Elrohir." He placed a hand flat against his chest, gesturing to himself, and repeated, "Elrohir."
The most decorated of the hunters raised his head enough to look at Elrohir suspiciously.
Elrohir repeated the gesture and his name, more slowly. "El-ro-hir."
The hunter, still wary and uncertain, touched his own chest. "Kûan," he said.
Elrohir nodded. "Kûan."
Kûan sat up on his heels, his eyes never leaving Elrohir as he motioned to the other members of his group. The one at his side was Gatta, and next to Gatta was Eleya. The tallest of the group, who still held his spear, was Lâdan. The woman's name was Tâcha.
Looking them over with a small smile, Elrohir stood again. Kûan stood as well, and then the rest. Lâdan lowered his spear but kept it ready in his hand. Tâcha gathered together the eggs that had fallen from her basket. Some of them had broken, and she made a disapproving noise. As she worked, and as Gatta and Eleya picked up the things they had dropped, Elrohir spoke to Kûan's mind as he had spoken to Sauron.
You are not safe here, he said. The dark one could return. Where is your village?
Kûan stepped back suddenly, eyes wide at the new sensation of hearing words with his mind and not his ears. But after a moment he gestured to the forest, waving his hand as if to signify far away.
We must go there, said Elrohir. If you lead, I will follow you. We must go quickly.
Kûan slowly nodded. Then he spoke aloud to the others, telling them what Elrohir had said. Elrohir listened to the strange words that held vague hints of his own language, and found that while he could not understand the exact speech, the meaning of Kûan's words was plain enough to him. Kûan told his companions that he did not know who Elrohir was, but still he trusted him. They would take Elrohir back to the village.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was a long walk through the forest back to the settlement, with Elrohir following close behind Kûan until they emerged from the trees near a lakeside village. The others quickly departed, hurrying back to their homes to tell the strange tale of what had just happened, leaving Kûan to lead Elrohir alone. The two passed between rows of small wood and skin huts, work sites, and cooking fires as they made their way to what Elrohir assumed would be Kûan's own home.
All the way, Elrohir was uncomfortably aware of the shock his presence caused. As he passed, villagers stopped what they were doing to openly stare. Some dropped their work of weaving or spear-making to follow curiously behind. Others seemed to ask Kûan who this strange guest was. But Kûan said nothing, only smiling in reply. He continued to walk ahead until he reached one of the larger huts on the edge of the settlement. By the time they arrived, Elrohir guessed that fifty or more Elves followed behind them in wonder.
Kûan stepped inside, motioning for Elrohir to follow. Elrohir had to duck to enter, and then stoop slightly once inside to avoid hitting his head on the thin beams that supported the skin roof. The hut was short and small but, as Elrohir had noticed, so were these Elves. He was easily taller than any in the village. Lâdan, who had noticeably been the tallest of the hunters, stood barely higher than Elrohir's chin. The top of Kûan's head was roughly level with Elrohir's shoulder.
He sat on the floor of the hut, covered in grass mats and skins. Kûan sat to face him, smiling expectantly. Elrohir's mind raced. What would he say to these Elves? How could he keep them from harm? It was simple enough to tell them to fear Sauron, but such warnings would do little good that when Elrohir himself had been caught in the spell of the Maia's enchanting words. And they could not live strictly within the confines of the village; they had to hunt somewhere. As far as he could reason, the only way to ensure safety would be to confront Sauron and discourage his return. They would have to fight.
You have seen a new danger today, Elrohir began slowly, speaking again into Kûan's mind. And it will return. Just as you hunt beasts in the forest, so it will hunt you. And should it catch you, your end will be worse tenfold than that of the poor stag.
Kûan's smile slowly faded into a look of concern. Elrohir continued, We must warn the others, all of them, of this danger. And then we must prepare to face it. Unless we fight, and let it see that we will not stand idle and accept its evil, it will return again and again as a constant plague on the Elves of Cuiviénen.
"What must we do?" Kûan asked, or seemed to ask.
I will teach you, said Elrohir. You have spears for hunting, and those will serve well, but more must be done still. More weapons can be made, and your villages need defences. You must learn how to fight to defend yourselves. I will teach you.
As he finished, the hut's skin door was pulled back and a woman entered. She was small and fragile-looking to Elrohir's eyes, smaller than Kûan, and heavily pregnant. A long silver plait fell down her back. Kûan smiled, inviting her to sit beside him. "Nenlê," he said proudly to Elrohir, and Elrohir guessed that to be her name. She was Kûan's wife.
For her, Elrohir said. For her, and your child, you must fight. And you must help me rally the others. It is the only hope.
Slowly, Kûan nodded in acceptance.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The days passed, if they could be called days. Kûan and the Elves went to sleep when they were tired, and woke when they were rested. They had an established pattern that seemed to correspond closely enough to the days in Elrohir's world, though there was no changing light to guide them. Over these days, Elrohir helped them to make spears and stone knives, and bows and arrows. He counted days into months, and over the months he taught them how to better use their primitive weapons. The months added into years, and he planned sturdy fences around the villages, built of tree-boles stuck down into the earth at the bottom and burned into hard, sharp points at the top. Still Sauron did not come. The Elves saw no sign of him, and none went missing. And with every passing day, Elrohir's hope of ever returning to his own time faded.
The Ring was gone. When he travelled back into this time, he saw that it had disappeared from his finger. The same thing had happened, he realised, when he had gone back to the day Elladan was killed. He had no way of controlling a return to the future. Whether he would be forced to live out the entire history of Elves or if he would return to his own time once that history had been changed, he did not know. But for now, all he could do was wait and make the best of his situation by teaching the Elves of Cuiviénen all he knew about the art of war.
In the time he had been there, the huts had been consolidated into three villages around the lake, divided mainly by tribe with each village taking the tribe's name: Banjâ, Ngoldô, and Lindâ. Lindâ, where Kûan lived and where the majority of Elrohir's instruction took place, was the largest. It had been built near a rocky hillside, close to where a series of small waterfalls fell down over short cliffs and fed the lake. The fence that surrounded it stood tall, three times the height of any Elf, with several landings around the perimeter, connected by catwalks. The side of the fence that reached the lake was open to allow for the docking of fishing boats and rafts. Ngoldô, the second largest, sat further inland near the borders of the forest, while Banjâ was situated along the banks of a stream that flowed into the lake. All were within shouting distance of each other.
Each village's fence had several gates, which remained open at all times, save for when Elrohir called a drill. Then the drum of Lindâ would sound, and the drums of Ngoldô and Banjâ would answer, and any Elves outside the village fences knew to hurry to safety. But these drills were few- one per month, or two months- and only came when Elrohir suspected the vigilance was slipping. Otherwise, the Elves were free to come and go as they wished, though none dared go too far.
Twenty years passed, or so Elrohir counted, from the time he arrived until the threat of Sauron returned. In those twenty years, Kûan's son, Nôwê, had grown from baby to toddler to child. He was taller than most children his age, despite the relative smallness of his parents, and he followed after Elrohir with all the seriousness and dedication of a trained soldier. At age twenty he had already proven himself to be one of the best carvers in the village, turning out a perfectly straight arrow in half the time it took his uncle Ajanwê, an accomplished craftsman, to do the same task. Nôwê was making arrows on the night Sauron returned. Night, Elrohir thought, because as the child dropped a newly-finished arrow into his birch quiver, he yawned sleepily and slumped against Elrohir's shoulder.
The two of them sat up on a landing together, Nôwê crafting arrows while Elrohir used a sharp flint-edge to work a piece of wood into a knife handle. They had been there some time, and Nôwê was ready for sleep. He leaned into Elrohir's body as he looking down at his collection of arrows, a smile of satisfaction crossing his face. It made Elrohir smile too, just to look at this child, his student, as dear to him as his own family back in his own time. He scarcely thought of them any more. Nôwê, Kûan and Nenlê were his family now. Gently, he reached down to brush the few stray silver hairs back from Nôwê's forehead. As if in response, Nôwê's head rolled sleepily to the side and he yawned again. Elrohir grinned. He held Nôwê tighter as he leaned back against the fence, staring up at the dim sky and its thousands of bright stars.
There was a cool wind, blowing colder, and a bit of dark cloud passed overhead. A strange cloud, Elrohir thought, small and alone, and low in the air. It moved quickly, but it moved with the wind. Elrohir watched it, squinting to follow its movement in the far-off darkness. It seemed of little concern until it stopped, hanging for a moment in the sky before reversing direction and heading back toward the village.
In that dread moment, as Elrohir froze at the realisation of what was about to happen, the alarm sounded in Banjâ. Within moments the three villages blazed with the light of torches as frightened and confused Elves crushed to see what was happening. Nôwê, now wide awake, stood at Elrohir's side. Neither spoke as they stared up at the sky. Around them, warning beacons flared and the drums pounded a relentless rhythm.
The story spread quickly. A strange figure, similar to an Elf but somehow alien, had been spotted by two sisters as they went down to the stream to fetch water. Whether this was the threat of which Elrohir had warned, they did not know, but before he could speak they had turned and run back to the safety of the village fence to raise the alarm. Now all three villages stood alert, waiting to see what would happen. Some muttered about a false alarm, but as Elrohir watched the cloud crawl slowly across the sky, he knew for certain that this threat was very real. After twenty years of planning and plotting and biding his time, Sauron had returned.
A long time passed before he landed, and in that time, Elves grew impatient. All along the catwalks, Elrohir could see hunters fingering their spears and arrows, restlessly watching the sky as they waited for a real target to present itself. Kûan, who had come to stand beside his son, gripped Nôwê's shoulders nervously. But it seemed that the more battle-eager they grew, the more cautious Sauron's cloud became. A small thrill shot through Elrohir's mind at this; Sauron was hesitant. He hadn't expected such vigilance from the Elves, and now his new plan was ruined just as the first had been. The Elves had that advantage over him.
When he landed at last, it was before the gate of Lindâ. He stood plainly before them, as he had appeared to Kûan and the hunters years before, and held up his hands in a gesture of peace. Those on the catwalk leaned over the edge to better look at him, while those left below peered eagerly through chinks in the fence. Sauron bowed low before all who watched. I come before you with friendship and love, he spoke in his voice of all languages. Why do you face me with such hostility?
You come before us with lies and terror, Elrohir answered, and we will not have you. Your evil is known in these lands. 'Sauron' we have named you, 'the foul one'! We will not suffer you to poison our lives!
Sauron's sweet smile did not waver. Poison? he said. No my friends, you misjudge me. I am here to help and teach you. Will you not even listen to what I offer? Here, invite me in, for a moment only. And then, if my words are not to your liking, you may refuse me, and I will leave. Will you not at least grant me the courtesy of your ears?
We will grant you no courtesy, Elrohir answered again.
And who are you to think for all, servant of the Mâchanumâz? Sauron asked. Do your fellows have no say? He turned to look left to right, over the row of stern faces staring down at him from the high fence. Can you not speak for yourselves, or must this one answer for many?
A questioning murmur spread through the gathered throng. They looked to each other uncertainly, and to Elrohir. Some frowned as they considered Sauron's argument while others began to nod in agreement. As Elrohir watched their resolve crack under Sauron's enchantment, anger welled in his chest. The deceit, the same treachery used anew, filled him with a smouldering defiance and he looked down to Sauron with flashing eyes. He felt the confident power that had risen in him at their first meeting slowly awaken once again. With all his effort, he concentrated on helping it grow.
I speak for all because I alone have seen the future, he said. He put forth all his strength into his words, sparing no measure to raise his voice to the level of Sauron's as he spoke into the minds of all. You come from the black pits of Utumno in the North as a servant of dark Melkor. You purpose to take these Elves back to your master, to corrupt them to his foul designs. You would destroy what is good and pure, just as Melkor destroyed the Lamps of the Valar and marred this world. Am I not right?
Sauron's smile faded. It was clear he was taken aback by Elrohir's words, and his look shifted from one of false humility to uncertainty.
Your cruel plot is known to us! Elrohir continued. You must leave this land and not return, else war will be waged on you and your master! Go, Sauron Moriondur! You are not welcome here!
A dead silence followed. Sauron, faltering, looked up at the faces of the Elves, now stricken with awe and staring at Elrohir. None heeded him, and none looked at him. It was unexpected. He took a step back.
Elrohir could feel the power leaving, draining away far more quickly than it had come. He felt suddenly exhausted. Whatever he had done, and however he had done it, had taken too much of his strength, and now only an aching, empty void remained. He leaned heavily against the fence, his legs suddenly too weak to support his weight. His arms, too, could do little more than slow his descent, and though he clung how he could to the posts, he soon fell into a slump on the catwalk.
"Tor!" cried Nôwê, and he crouched down beside Elrohir with a look of panic on his face. Elrohir tried to speak, to reassure him, but he could form no words. He managed a small smile, then allowed his head to roll to the side. From the corner of his eye, through a gap between the fence-posts, he could see that Sauron still stood before the gate. And to his horror, he saw a small flicker of fire grow in Sauron's hand.
You may carry the wisdom of the West, Sauron said. It seemed this time that he spoke directly and only to Elrohir. I carry the power to destroy, with the ceaseless hunger of fire. He smiled, a terrible, cruel grin, as the flicker grew into a ball of flame. He held it out before him as a twisted offering. It rolled from hand to hand, spinning as it went and growing ever larger as he toyed with it.
Elrohir was powerless. He wanted to stand, or fight, or shout a command to shoot, or even scream like a child, but his body had become too weak. Kûan looked down at him, silently pleading for any guidance or leadership, but he could give nothing. His eyes began to fog and lose focus even as Nôwê shook him in desperation. Sleep... something told him, I must sleep... Sauron's fire still danced. It was only a hazy blur at the edge of his vision, but he could hear its muted roar as it grew. Kûan... he must do something...
Kûan could have heard the silent wish, or he could have acted out of chance alone. But above the hissing flame his clear voice rose, striking and bold, calling out to all who stood bravely against the enemy.
"Kwendî Kuiwênenhô! Â-jotjulâ as â-maktâ ndan-Thaurân! Â-barjâ i ndôro!"
The battle-cry rang out over the host of hunters, and behind it came a loud cheer. In that moment, all arrows were loosed into the fire. If some from unpractised hands missed their mark, then there were others in greater numbers to strike true, and a second volley followed. As arrows flew the fire dwindled, slowly at first but then as rapidly as if it had been doused. It flickered, sputtered, and died into nothing.
Kûan held up his hand to signal a halt. Sauron stood, though he wavered, scarcely balanced. Countless arrows pierced his body. His face was frozen in a mask of shock. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but could make no sound; his throat had been shot through. He fell to his knees. The Elves watched in grim silence as he took one final look at his ruined body, the body which now failed him, and collapsed onto the singed earth. A black wisp rose like a ghost from the dead husk. It fled into the darkness of the north, toward some terrible safety perhaps, but in the least it was gone. The Elves had won. Cautiously, they turned to one another, and to Elrohir.
Elrohir had seen it through a haze, but he was sure of what had happened. Sauron had been driven off. For how long, only time would tell. He might return with a host of dark things to wage another battle, or he might abandon all hope of ever corrupting the Elves. They would have to prepare for either eventuality now. But not before a long rest. Elrohir turned to look at Kûan, who had knelt down beside him, and whose face offered a look that shared pride with concern. He smiled and closed his eyes. He felt dizzy now, and so weary. He needed rest. A long rest.
Nôwê shook him again, but the feeling was far away, as if Elrohir's mind were trying to leave his body. His thoughts were awake, though barely and spinning dizzily, while his body felt almost invisible and made of mist. He struggled even to open his eyes. Kûan, Nôwê and the others had slipped away to little more than thin shadows dissolving into grey. The world is disappearing! he cried, though silently and to himself only, and he felt the rise of panic until an absurd thought came to him. The world was disappearing. Was it being replaced? Had history been changed, and was he returning to his own time?
That thought was the last thing that crossed his mind before he lost consciousness.
Kûan's war cry is: Elves of Cuiviénen! Stand together, raise weapons against Sauron! Protect the land!
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.