Very special thanks to Gandalf's Apprentice for the nomination at MEFA 2010.
Chapter 14: Rávëyon (The Son of Thunder)
Legolas could not sleep. It was always like this after battle, he was twitchy and highly strung. It was after the battle at Linhir that he and Elrohir had fought. Staring up at the canvas roof of the tent he and Gimli shared, Legolas listened to Gimli's breathing and soft snores. But it was not comforting or soothing.
He rubbed his eyes again, wanting to rest, to follow the dream-paths that would not settle and let him follow. Instead, his thoughts drifted to the Sea, and he did not wish to go there, or rather- he did want to go there… but it was too attractive, too easy to drift into a sleep from which he feared he would not awaken…He shook his head and breathed out. It would not do to let himself slide into the soft blue depths, with seabirds crying above and the whisper and sough of waves around him.
Instead his thoughts drifted to Elrohir. He felt he had missed something but he cringed at the humiliation he had suffered at the hands of the brothers, at his own stupidity. He shook his head to free himself of the heat that crept up his neck and face and sighed heavily, turning in the narrow cot that was his bed. It was too short and his feet dangled uncomfortably over the edge, and it was not wide enough to curl up.
It was the battle, he told himself. That was what made him restless. It still sang in his blood. Battle-hard muscles rehearsed the leaps and slashing blows, his hands twitched to replay the constant draw and release of his great bow, and although the Dwarf slept soundly, it seemed that he could not, nerves jangling, strung out until he felt stretched, thin. He was reminded for a moment of Frodo, for that was how the Hobbit had once described to Legolas the effect of carrying the Ring.
He sighed and offered up a prayer to the Star-Kindler to light their way, hoping against all good sense that Sam and Frodo were still alive, still safe. He pushed his feet over the edge of the cot and wriggled his toes a little, thinking about the glad news that at least two of the Hobbits were safe with Gandalf. And Eomer was here.
He smiled to himself, remembering the Man's delight at seeing him, the promise in his eyes. Letting his hand trail down his own body, he recalled with perfect Elven clarity the warm caresses, the heavy, exotic flesh, the difference that was a Man. But although his hand moved on his own body, tracing the touches of his Rohirrim lover, his thoughts drifted treacherously from the copper-gold hair and lingered on the memory of lamplight on long, raven-black hair. And he was drawn back over and over to a memory, not of the yearning adoration in Eomer's brown eyes but by the intensity of a grey gaze that pierced him through with furious lust.
He shied away from this and pulled himself back to the sweet memory of Eomer; a grey cloak hurriedly spread over a pile of sacks, hands sweeping over the Man's strong shoulders, his back, his muscular flanks, a passionate kiss, hard, unyielding coupling. With Eomer, gentleness and quiet had followed and he treasured; the intimate quiet sharing.
After a few useless moments where his mind would not settle and he achieved nothing but frustration, he let his hand fall back to his side and pushed his head against the pillow. It was no good.
He wanted to think about Elrohir. Elrohir! Who hated him! And, he grimaced and put his hands over his face, whom he had tried to seduce, and been rebuffed. Firmly. It happened rarely. Again, heat flooded his face, his neck. They had deliberately conspired to mock him, Elladan, he knew now, had been the one who had left the cramped cabin, furious and barely glancing at Legolas, and Legolas had seen only disdain…
He thought on that for a moment and paused… Had it really been disdain? What had made him think that? Just the fury in the other Elf's eyes, the way his steel grey gaze had simply brushed over him. And yet, Elladan had been willing to succumb to him only an hour before… Perhaps he had simply found his good Noldo sense and recovered? Perhaps his brother had reminded him of their great and weighty heritage and that had stopped him from dallying with a nobody from Mirkwood…
He grinned wryly and scolded himself for his arrogance. Surely he was old enough to know that the world did not revolve around him, that everyone was not thinking about him all the time.
Fool! Why did Elladan's fury have to be about you? It could have been anything- they are brothers, he thought with a sudden pang, they could be arguing over anything! Of course Elladan did not seek to mock you. … And Elrohir… well, Elrohir was an enigma.
Legolas clasped his hands behind his head and listened to the sounds of the night; the soft voices of the Dúnedain in the next tent, the hurrumph of a horse tethered nearby… the trundle and creak of carts moving the dead, clearing the detritus of battle. Gimli turned and snuffled into his pillow.
Elrohir had not laughed at Legolas. If anything … Legolas frowned. If anything….he had been… passionate…How could that be? There had been no mistaking his own intention to seduce the other Elf. And that Elf who had had a knife at his throat only days before, had rebuffed him gently, firmly… even regretfully…
'It is not me you want…' Elrohir had said gently pushing Legolas away and Legolas finding the resistance exciting, thinking still of the lingering, smouldering, yearning kiss he had from Elladan before, had pushed himself against the other Elf… Elrohir…
'Let me show you how much I don't want you,' Legolas had pressed Elrohir back against the thin timber wall and licked lazily down his mouth to his throat, traced the rounded tip of his ear. Wanting him, wanting him to respond, and still listening for the long notes of Elladan's song, like moonlight, like petals floating on still pools. Instead he found a hot red glow and fiery power, still vibrating from the fight to win Nestor back for the living… a fierce, pounding rhythm of fire and red leaping flames, an angry burning and longing…it was the song of the sword and of war. It had struck Legolas at the time, the difference, but he had thought it was because….because… Elladan as he had thought, had been deep in the healing of Nestor. But now, as Legolas gazed upwards, he wondered now if he were being truthful with himself…
He sighed heavily and Gimli rolled over, muttering and chewing his beard a little. Legolas reached over to the sleeping Dwarf, moving his hand away from his beard and gently pressing the clever blunt fingers that could smooth steel like it was linen. Gimli drew a breath, sighed and settled. And Legolas went back to his thoughts which circled inwards and inwards and he knew he was coming to the heart of it…the canvas roof fluttered slightly in the wind and he smelt the salt, ah, it called him and his heart felt a tug, like he was going home…But he thrust it away, forced himself back to Elrohir, his long black hair, so black it was blue, the candlelight lingering on it like a caress…
Where had that come from?
It was there then. Legolas sighed. He had known deep down in his blood and bones… when he smoothed his long fingers against Elrohir's heart, tracing a circle over his breast and said, 'You called my name.' And a memory, submerged and lost beneath the dizzy softness of sere-vanda struggled to emerge… when he himself was injured….of hands tracing the runes of his name, it had called to him…No, summoned, commanded him. And he had simply obeyed.
With a start, he blinked. And stared up at the canvas roof. It had been Elrohir who had healed him….the passion and fire that had called him back too… why had he not noticed it?
Now he knew. Unblinking, Legolas went over again what had happened, he wanted to be sure, to straighten it out in his own mind…He had believed it was Elladan had called him from cuivëar… but it was not. Instead it was Elrohir who had called him, with his fire and passion and rage. But when Legolas had led Elrohir from Nestor's sick bed, and believing it was Elladan, pressed against him in that small cramped space smelling of sea salt and tar, Elrohir had said 'It is not me you want.'
Ah, but Legolas had. He had felt a thrum along his nerves and veins full of fire, like felt when he was in battle. He had stepped closer to Elrohir, believing it was Elladan who had called him, Elladan who had healed him… believing it was Elladan he wanted… expecting Elladan's song. Instead he had found an answer to his own wild desire. Not moonlight on pools, but that fierce, red battle-song. Then the other Elf…Elrohir, had grabbed Legolas' head and pushed back with his tongue, desire throbbed and overwhelmed him so it was Legolas now pressed back against the wall. He felt Elrohir's tongue hot and wanting to fill him, Elrohir's fists clasped Legolas' tunic and pushed down on him, forcing him to open, to submit… And Legolas, wide-eyed now and staring unseeing at canvas that fluttered in the wind, remembered his own excitement at the strength and power of this Elf…Not Elladan. Not the gentler blue energy, the moonlight touched with petals, but the fire and energy and power of Elrohir. He felt his mouth dry and licked his lips nervously.
When he had cried 'Ai, Elladan…' that was the moment that Elrohir had stopped. 'It is not me you want!' he had said. And in the same moment Legolas himself had recognised the dark gem that flashed in the dim light, and his own long fingers drifted to the faint bruise still on his cheek. In the dreadful fight with Elrohir, that hard battle, that bitter fist-fight, undignified, full of fire and hatred and … and… Legolas paused. What else was that fight been about? he asked himself, remembering the dark gem flashing as Elrohir brought his fist down again and again.
Legolas himself had hardly been blameless though, if truth be told. He had drawn first. He had let the other Elf's contempt rile him… and why? He was not unused to it; in his long life there were those he had not liked and who had not liked him. But it was this; few had hated him with such little cause. It was … too personal. And Legolas had gone from admiration to hurt to contempt and shame. And now?
He sighed again and threw his arm over his eyes. He was a fool. But he was his own fool at least and nobody else's. Elladan had not sought to mock him, nor Elrohir. In any of these cases, he told himself sternly, there had been no conspiracy except one of his own foolishness conspiring with his own stupidity.
He realised he was tracing the runes over his heart, stroking the flesh where the Dragon snaked over his torso and entwined, writhed about his thigh. He cast a gaze down to where its iridescent eyes gleamed and with a quirk of his eyebrow said 'What have you seen that I did not, wise one? Have you been laughing at me all this time?'
Quietly shook out his tunic in disgust, deciding to discard it for the moment. He owed the Sons of Elrond an apology at least, for his discourtesy. And he could not rest. He was certain they must be asleep somewhere, but he would find them and make this right. He tightened the laces on his breeches and pulled on his still damp, stained boots.
And Eomer was in the city… He paused. Eomer. It was getting complicated and he suddenly wished he had not thought quite so hard tonight.
He snagged the rather grubby linen shirt he had been wearing and grimaced, but pulled it on nonetheless. It had bloodstains but it was his own blood not Orc blood and would have to do. He rubbed his hand briefly over the soiled bandage across his chest and resisted the urge to look at the wound.
He would not rest now and his nerves were still strung. He rubbed his fingers together, barely registering the familiar pricking in his thumbs. He scooped up his empty quiver, intending to glean arrows, and wondered about taking his bow but then decided not and left it propped against the too short cot. He held the quiver loosely in his hand.
Shoving aside the tent flap, Legolas looked out. Immediately around him were the silent tents of the sleeping Dúnedain. Horses tethered nearby nickered softly at him as he emerged and stood in the quiet darkness under the moon, and there was no sound from the immediate circle of tents. If any were awake they did not disturb their fellows and Legolas wondered if Baelderon wept in silence on his own or if others comforted him.
He stroked the nose of one restless horse, grimacing at the sickening stench of burning meat and cracking skin; beyond the camp, great pits were being dug to bury the dead Orcs and the huge carcasses of Mumakil were dowsed with oil and set light. Flames flared up in the wind that still blew up from the Sea and smoke lay in drifts across the battlefield.
At the city walls he was challenged briefly, unconvincingly by two sentries but they gave him news that the Sons of Elrond were with Aragorn in the Houses of Healing, and then let him pass and take his fill of the arrows that were stored in the gatehouse. He forced himself to pause and stare at the debris, at the huge boulders that had smashed the towers and houses of the lowest level. He climbed the lower levels quickly, determined to give his apology and then make his escape.
In the middle levels of the city, deserted and empty of all, he climbed over rubble to stand upon the ruined city wall and stilled himself to listen. The sky was lit with a red glow from the grisly fires beyond the city walls. The great gate hung on one hinge, smashed and splintered by a huge battering ram that lay discarded beside it now. Beneath the clear night sky, a spring frost dusted the cobblestones and empty houses, the roofs glittered in the moonlight.
Head tilted slightly on one side, he listened. Frost crackled on the stones and high above, star-song chimed metallic and distant. And beneath it all, he heard the pomp that was Gondor. Heard the echo of the ages, of the glory that was Numenor. They had built high and strong, but now so much of the city lay shattered. But in this White City, Aragorn's city, Boromir's city, he almost felt the stones tremble in anticipation of he who walked their streets once more… the Elf leaned forwards slightly, to listen but there … far away, was the rushing sigh of the Sea. The Sea. And he wanted to listen to it, wanted it to wash over him, to take him away from the battle and the blood and the horror of it…He leaned into the wind as he had in Lebennin, letting the soft west wind stroke his skin and trail its fingers through his hair… But this time he knew what it was, and though its siren voice beckoned him towards its soft embrace, he shook his head clear of the dreams… It was a dangerous lover. He could lose himself in its arms forever, never waking; cuivëar. Galadriel's warning echoed…and he knew he had lost his heart forever.
He felt a warmth on his chest and then it chilled. He looked down to see blood had soaked through his linen shirt. That wound had opened again. He touched it lightly with his fingers, puzzled that it seemed not to heal, wondering that the Orc blade wound he had got at Pelargir had healed, and Grima's henchman's sword wound had healed – both quickly and yet this lingered.
Something nibbled away at the edge of his consciousness, something high up and slowly searching… Cold fear crawled down his spine and he rubbed his fingers together to rid them of the prickling, the crawling beneath his skin, nerves on edge. Recognising the sensation this time, he looked up quickly. The Nazgul were abroad still.
As if his thoughts had conjured it, far away in the distance across the empty battlefield, huge leathery wings flapped, and at the edge of his consciousness he felt the malevolence of its searching mind. He turned to stare upwards and eastwards, straining his senses as far as he could … But it was only one Nazgul, spying, he thought, maybe searching, and he thought again of the two small Hobbits making their way alone under the ashen sky, across the dead wastes of Mordor. He pushed the thought away quickly. Don't think. Don't speak of It. Don't think don't speak. But too late. As if the pure simple gold circle that had flickered briefly in his mind were a beacon, it fled towards him.
High above and moving fast, he heard the whoosh of the great wings coming closer. He felt the blunt mind of the beast first, and the hunger of it for flesh. He could see it now, the thin wings stretched out, too high for an arrow shot. It wheeled and swooped over the city, and then back again, lower…He reached back for his bow and remembered with a numbing clarity, he had left it propped uselessly against the narrow cot. He cursed himself and drew his knife in a stupidly futile gesture of resistance. Crouching behind huge fallen block of masonry, he watched as it hunted…for a thought of the Ring, for a lingering thought…he felt its questing search, casting a net wide over the city to see what it snagged on, thoughts of the Ring…
This time the creature seemed to slow. It passed over again, swooping lower this time, almost in bow-range…. He was suddenly very afraid. His fingers fumbled at the knife and it clattered onto the frost-dusted ground and weaponless, he stared upwards, lips parted, eyes wide.
He waited, waited with his heart pounding, because to flee would mean capture and death, waited until the instinct to flee almost undid him and he almost cracked from the fear that threaded its way into his heart, set his nerves on edge. And now he felt his throat stick. He steeled himself, hiding his thoughts, blanking out everything.
Above him, the great winged beast swooped and wheeled slowly, slowly. And then the Nazgul touched the edge of his mind; it had found him.
He felt the Nazgul bend all its malevolence upon him, finding that one thought, that lingering image of the Ring… and relentlessly he was drawn upright, against his will…until he stood defenceless before it. Slowly, defiantly he raised his eyes to the creature that towered over him and his heart quailed at the sight of the ugly blunt head that nosed forwards, its jaws snapping. But he could not move.
The black-shrouded Nazgul that clung to its withers lifted a gauntlet hand. Pain flooded him. It raked one claw through his thoughts, scattering everything, searching for that one stray thought, that one memory that would give it what it needed, one moment of the Ring. Tearing aside everything else, it paused at the thought of Aragorn... but thrust it aside to seize upon his memory of the Ring, the Ring. So simple, such gold, so precious… he leaned towards It and almost thought, almost tasted the ash of Mordor.
Legolas heard a triumphant shriek and hid his face in his hands as if he could prevent the Nazgul from seeing the images that flooded his mind. Then, as if he had no control, .. the Ring appeared before him, his treacherous perfect Elven memory showed the small hand it rested in and the Nazgul tore into him like carrion, like a spear of ice plunging into his chest, tore into that memory, forcing it open, plundering his thoughts …the Hobbits, Gandalf, Gimli, Aragorn, Moria, the Ring…the Sea… the Sea… he felt its confusion for the Sea called to him as the Ring did his Master…
Suddenly, through the desperate scramble to hide from the rampaging Nazgul, Legolas saw his choice. Starkly. He knew he would be lost, perhaps forever, certainly vulnerable, open for the Nazgul to take him. But the other way was the Fellowship's failure, and he could not allow that. He asked no more of himself than … he stopped. No more thinking. Even now the Nazgul ripped into the hesitation, grasping at his elusive thoughts. He had run out of time…
And gratefully, even knowing he would might never awaken this time, he took a breath and let the Sea flood his mind…the grey water, waves rushed over him, wet black rocks gleaming and the restless Sea, sinking and rising, the rush of the waves... white birds crying on the West wind, tall grey ships and the white towers, the Sea, the Sea
…He did not feel his arms dragged back, held captive, pulling him down, nor felt the tear of stone against his cheek unless it was the pebble beach, the wailing shriek of the Nazgul he only heard as the wailing of the sea birds, white upon the grey shores, the crush of heaviness against him was the waves and a great wind blasted him … but he saw only the white birds, and the Sea restless, sinking and rising, the sighing waves….
The King is dead, he heard himself say in his confusion. He did not know which king he meant and to his shame, there were tears on his cheeks for he had been dreaming of the Sea when the King had died, been slaughtered. He had been listening for the sound of wild horses galloping and the whisper of long grass under the high blue sky… and now there was the Sea when…there should not be…
A stinging blow to his cheek snapped his head round and he blinked.
…. the bell tolled for midnight. Stars wheeled hugely above him in the cold, frost-laden air that came down from the Mountains. Legolas breathed and tried to shake his head, to move, to rid himself of the wisps of dream that clung to him. He lifted his hands to his face and covered his eyes. It was the cuivëar. And he wanted to stay there…sleep… rest where there was no rest..it was easier this way…
… Something had happened when the cuivëar had wrapped him in its soft blue embrace. He had been looking for something…something he had lost and he should not have… He had been listening when the Nazgul came... Yes. It had spoken to him; in his mind he had heard the hissing, twisted voice... it had wanted … offered … his limbs felt heavy and slow. His thoughts were muddled and he wanted to keep on listening to the Sea and forget all else… if he could just stand here and listen to the song…. But there was a stinging blow to his face, and then another, and grey eyes pierced him and a hand was raised again and another stinging blow… but he could not remember why it mattered …
It had been a hard time in the healing quarter of the city. Elrohir pushed his hair out of his eyes with his wrist and plunged his hands into the scalding water, welcoming its purifying burn. He felt soiled. And angry that he had lost so many souls this night to Sauron. He had not battled hard enough, not fought for them with enough vigour and command. Too many souls had sought instead the ease of Death. And he rebelled against it.
One concerned look from Elladan had been enough and he knew he was becoming inefficient, his distracted energy overflowed and his hands tingled, trembled as he set the bone in a Rohirrim warrior's arm. He had moved to these lesser injuries, lesser burns, wounds that would not kill. But here his desperate fury had worsened and he knew he was no longer helping. The Man was watching Elrohir warily as he splinted his arm.
'Go. Rest. You need to be in control of it,' said a voice nearby and he looked up to see Aragorn's grey eyes watching him with compassion, concern. He shook his head.
'You need me here. I can see it.'
Aragorn pressed his hand down on Elrohir's shoulder, gentle and insistent. 'I need you to fight for them.' He jerked his head towards the other rooms, where Elladan laboured amongst the dying. 'I need you back in there, with Elladan and me. There are others who can do this. Rest.' A woman orderly pushed past, a steel basin full of metal instruments, and linen bandages unrolling in her arms. She glanced briefly at the two and dipped her eyes.
Elrohir looked back at the Rohirrim warrior whose arm he now bandaged. The Man was not afraid, or in pain he could not bear. Anyone could do this, he admitted.
He finished tying the linen and patted the Man's arm comfortingly, 'There. It will mend quickly. The bone is set but you should not use it for a while. ' He smiled, trying for a hint of mischief that he did not feel. 'No riding for a while.'
The rider's face looked bleak for a moment and he said, 'I have no horse now. She was slain beneath me.' He looked up at Elrohir. 'Saruman's Orcs took my children, and killed my wife. I wish I had been killed and they spared my poor horse.'
Elrohir's hand shook with the sudden surge of anger and violent rage. He gripped the Man's shoulder and stared into his eyes. 'They will be avenged. All of them. Every one of them.'
He could not look at Aragorn but turned swiftly and pushed his way between the women healers and the orderlies who helped them, and found his way to the great oaken doors that led from the quarter into the upper levels of the city. He slipped out into the empty street.
He leaned against the cold stones, heart hammering in his chest, veins full of fire, and breathed.
The air was clear, a frost had drifted on the air from the mountains, dusted over the cobblestones and glass panes of the empty houses. It was a strange contrast that within this one small quarter of the city, there were so many dying, straining to hold onto life, fighting against the pain, blood and pus and excrement, while outside, the stars were hard and bright in a silent, empty city. The people had been sent out of the city to take refuge in the mountains, and none still within the city had yet thought to send word of their victory. If indeed, it was victory, thought Elrohir morosely. He looked up at the star-filled sky, seeing the towers of the city against the night, knowing that this was but a lull in the fight against the dark.
There were places where he could sleep, beds put aside in the Houses of Healing, but he knew he would not rest. He nursed the furious pain that lanced him through and through. He needed to control it, not dull its bright edge, not lose it.
He strode down the silent, moonlit streets, wove his way through the empty city, spiralling downwards, between the ruined houses and towers, past the great stone masonry that had been hurled by Sauron's winged creatures. Breathing in the cold air so it burned through his throat and lungs, he made his way to the middle levels where the great gate lay on one hinge, near the discarded battering ram.
And suddenly there was no moon. The night surged forwards and everything was in darkness. A prickling on his skin, a horror that froze the hair on his scalp made him hesitate and look about him. No ordinary assassin, no Man could make him feel this. The malevolence of a mind sheared against his briefly but it did not seek him.
He looked about warily. The streets were empty and deserted, utterly silent. No shadow moved, no slide of steel. Wind lifted his hair. The gaping darkness of the gate lay ahead of him, the broken-toothed ramparts of the city above him. Silence. Stillness. And yet, he felt an oppressive malevolence, so close it stole his breath.
He glanced up and a dense cloud edged with moonlight obscured the stars…and then it fluttered and everything made sense. No cloud was ever shaped like that. Great leathery bat-like wings of Sauron's creature filled the sky – how could it be so quiet, so stealthy? It was rearing up, its ugly blunt head reaching silently forwards to the crumbling ramparts, and the black-shrouded figure that clung to its scaly withers, lifted its heavy iron gauntlet and pointed to the walls.
Elrohir gasped, fear froze his feet and set his heart hammering in his chest. Nazgul!
The creature nosed forwards silently, its huge wings merely fluttering, merely stirring the air. It reached towards the ruined city walls, jaws wide and fangs gleaming.
And then he saw what it reached for.
Standing on the high wall, lost and staring upwards at the Nazgul's steed that hovered silently just within reach of him. The fell beast towered above the Elf, and it reared back its head like a snake about to strike.
Elrohir ripped his gaze away and leaped forwards, his sword ringing as he tore it from its sheath. Sudden moonlight burst through and caught on the blade so the mithril runes poured and gleamed molten, his own energy crackled and sparked. He leaped up the stone steps and even as the beast's huge jaws snapped, Elrohir's hand closed on Legolas' tunic and he wrenched him out of the beast's path and shoved him behind the battlements. Legolas did not make a sound, unresisting and in a dream complied.
'Hecal!' Elrohir cried and he held his glittering sword before him. The Nazgul's steed drew back momentarily and then hissed, but did not strike again.
Elrohir stepped out from behind the battlements and stood on the broken-toothed ramparts of the wall. ' Epënyë nacidë minna undumë. Aicanáro!' he cried, defying the Evil One to reach out and take him. The wind from the great beast's wings whipped his hair around his face. Streams of gold mingled with his.
The Nazgul drew back, and Elrohir believed for a moment it shrank before the High Speech. But instead it leaned forwards over the creature's neck and in a low malevolent voice, full of hate, the years and years of hollow, needless cruelty seemed to drip, it sneered.
'You think I will quail before your forgotten tongue! And who are you that you hold that sword?'
Elrohir stood tall and proud and his long raven hair tugged in the wind. 'Nányë Rávëyon!' he declared, the name he was given by the Orcs of the Mountains, for he was their terror and their doom. 'And you know this,' he whirled his sword, two handed, around his head. It flashed like lightning. 'Aicanáro. You have reason to fear it!'
Indeed the Nazgul paused and Elrohir felt its gaze, like thin needles driven into his fingertips, scraping down his nerves, it searched his thoughts and he gasped; he had never felt it before, never known the piercing, icy touch in his thoughts, scattering them, searching…searching. It stripped him and laid him naked before its yellow eyes, raking over his thoughts, his memories, his desires. It saw him, knew him.
Then it laughed. A low hideous grinding of bone and sinew. 'You are too transparent, Rávëyon.'
Elrohir stared , transfixed. Its voice seemed to come from inside himself now, inside his head, insinuating itself into his desires, coiling about his dark secret, knowing him…and was amused.
'You, Rávëyon, are corrupted. Corruptible. My lord would have you in his service if you wished and you could have…' It waved an iron black gauntlet towards Legolas, who still stood with Elrohir, utterly still, silent, transfixed. 'You could have everything you wanted… anything.' Its voice dripped with meaning and the Voice in his own head seemed to unravel images from the dark, it showed him one by one, those things he desired in secret…things he was ashamed of…
…Legolas. Stripped naked and bound in chains. Warm firelight, torchlight washed his skin, the painted swirling runes on his skin; he struggled against his bonds, muscles bunched and straining, long gold hair sweeping down his back, his strong beautiful face, eyes closed against some unseen pain. And Elrohir then, approaching him, hand drifting over the muscular lean chest, drifting down to the lean hips and fondling his sex. Legolas writhing in agony and lust, in his power, absolutely in his power to do with as he pleased. He saw himself, fist wrapped by Legolas' long hair and he pulled Legolas' head back, felt the dark lust fill him. Its hunger knew no bounds…
'You can have him.' The Voice whispered, coiling itself pleasurably around his darkness, incubating it, nurturing the darkness. It showed him Legolas sprawled before him in disgraceful abandon, his own hands drifting over his body and pleading with Elrohir to be taken violently. 'You can have him serve you…please you. He could be your slave…' And Elrohir… Elrohir shuddered and gasped.
He suddenly realised he had gripped Legolas by his arms, was staring at him, and the hunger of his lust had filled him. He pushed his hard sex against the Elf… Cold air beat against his skin and he remembered the Nazgul. His scalp tingled in horror that it had so easily beguiled him.
'Why do you fight me?' the Voice whispered. It was no longer the Nazgul but its Master he could hear. 'Why do you resist your desire? Join me…join me and we will build such an empire…Aicanáro.' It hissed the name, long sibilant and full of hatred and desire. 'Long it is since I have tasted you...'
'No…' Elrohir could not move. He could only gaze with fierce sorrow into the green eyes of the Woodelf who stood spellbound and helpless before him…
'He can be yours…' It was so close now he could smell the horrible stink of the beast's foul breath, feel it hot on his skin. 'You are weak and half starved. Do you think any but I understand you? Do you think your father will understand how you stood and watched? Do you think your brother will understand your darkness?'
Elrohir gasped. It had read him only too well, understood him only too well…He could have lived had it only known of his lust.
' You will think on this again and when you are ready… you will succumb.'
Suddenly there was a whoosh of mighty wings, and the air was beaten around him into a storm, his hair tangled with gold. Elrohir felt the slide of steel trace his scalp - a reminder of how close he had come… that he had been spared.
He did not turn to watch the Nazgul retreat. Instead he looked into the Woodelf's green eyes and they did not blink, but there was a faint whisper of warmth on his cheek and he realised they were tears. His own.
He tasted salt on his lips. The Nazgul was right. He was weak. He would succumb.
I am not Maeglin, thought Elrohir desperately. I will not let my dark lust take me over. I will fight it... I will fight and that will release me… He clenched his fists and dug his nails into the palms of his own hands. Elbereth help me! He thought desperately, his own sex was full and hard and throbbed dangerously. He shook Legolas sharply, needing him back, needing him to defend himself.
'Legolas! Awake!' Then he slapped Legolas hard across his cheek. It left a bright red mark. But the green gaze seemed to have absorbed all the colour of the sea and although he flinched, the sea flooded back. He raised his hand again and hit harder, grasping the Woodelf's arm and feeling the bunched muscle, the power. He felt the sting of his open palm as he hit him again.
Although the Elf's head whipped round and for a moment, there was a glimmer of recognition, his eyes glazed over and he murmured something…
'The King is dead.' Slowly, his hands, as if immensely heavy, covered his face for a brief moment and then dropped back like heavy weights.
In his mind, Elrohir saw the torchlight flickering over painted skin, muscles straining. He shook his head and squeezed his eyes closed as if he could shut it out.
'Legolas! It may return! Awaken, curse you!' And this time he backhanded Legolas hard across his cheek so his head snapped round and he staggered. It seemed to him suddenly that the Elf was deliberately tempting him, but he knew those were not his own thoughts… but it was so hard to resist. He hit him again 'Wake!'
He heard a gasp and at the sound, Elrohir felt a surge of power… lingered on the image; Legolas stripped naked and bound, straining at his bonds. Warm firelight, muscles bunched beneath painted swirling runes on his skin, long gold hair sweeping down his back. He saw himself, fist wrapped by Legolas' long hair and he pulled Legolas' head back, felt the dark lust fill him, its hunger knew no bounds…
Suddenly he felt his arm twisted painfully behind his back and he was rammed up against the crumbling wall, his cheek pressed into the stone. There was silence as his assailant pressed him harder against the cold granite and forced his arm further up his back. He felt his sinews stretch. Still his assailant did not speak but Elrohir saw the long gold threads that caught in his.
'Legolas…'he hissed, for his throat was being pressed so he could not breathe. 'Release me!'
There was silence and then, as if he were wakening from a long dream and his tongue was thick in his mouth, the Woodelf spoke. 'You…struck me.'
Elrohir felt Legolas' grip relax momentarily and seized his chance. He snapped his head back hard, hitting Legolas in the face with the back of his skull. He knew that, had Legolas not been emerging from cuivëar, he would never have been caught so easily, but he did not wait to push his advantage. He heard the Elf give a muffled cry and immediately jabbed him in the ribs. Legolas now furious and strong, punched him in the belly and as he doubled up, they tumbled, struggling to the ground where they rolled and wrestled each one for mastery until…until Elrohir looked up into the furious green eyes again. It felt strangely familiar and he was taken back to the last time they had grappled, been this close…
Full, sensuous lips hovered above his and he felt a breath against his face. He stared into the Woodelf's eyes, green, flecked with brown, or gold, or were they slate-grey… the colour shifted but he felt his breathing match Legolas'. Strange how easy it felt, and Elrohir was reminded of the deep shade in woods, ferns and moss, clear forest streams over worn stones…cool against his own fire.
Legolas stared down at him, almost unseeing and Elrohir wondered if he was still deep in cuivëar, unable really to comprehend what was happening, perhaps simply reacting instinctively to a threat… Long gold strands drifted over Legolas' shoulder, mingled with black. Elrohir closed his eyes briefly and saw an image of his own fist tight about the long flaxen hair, Legolas' head pulled back and his own lips pressing…and then he felt warmth on his mouth and opened his eyes in astonishment.
Legolas had leaned in and kissed him. His tongue swiped Elrohir's lips and he gasped in surprise. He felt Legolas' hands tighten on his tunic and pull him closer. Elrohir struggled, wanting nothing more than to push his tongue into the other Elf's mouth, to fill his mouth, to wrestle him so he could bear down on him, slide that loose white shirt from his shoulders and …and… He breathed hard and pushed Legolas away slightly.
As he did so, the Woodelf's eyes seemed to clear a little and he blinked.
'Legolas!' Elrohir said sharply. "Awake, return to yourself!'
This time Legolas' eyes were clear and he stared down at Elrohir, green eyes wide and startled.
'It was the Nazgul,' he said quickly before Legolas could hit him again, or worse, draw the knife he felt against his thigh. And then he realised. It was not a knife, too blunt and thick.
Elrohir swallowed. 'I apologise for striking you,' he said. 'It was the Nazgul…I did not know how to raise you from cuivëar.'
And then the other Elf was pushing himself off Elrohir, avoiding his eyes, teeth set, brushing the dust from his breeches and blood-stained linen shirt. Elrohir stared. Legolas wore no tunic and could hide nothing through those breeches. The Woodelf's sex strained hard against the fabric. He felt an answering surge and glanced up to find Legolas staring at him defiantly, challenging.
'Cuivëar - going into it was the only way I could escape it searching…' Legolas said defensively, seemingly oblivious to the bulging arousal.
Elrohir felt suddenly envious that Mirkwood's children were so free, so unashamed, unlike the Noldor for whom sex was about wedlock and binding and for whom desire was supposed to fade. It had never been so for him and he wondered if he might have been happier had he been born in Mirkwood.
Legolas held out his hand grudgingly and Elrohir grasped it, pulling on the archer's strength to help him up. He found himself standing uncomfortably close, uncomfortably aware of their previous antagonism. He hoped the Woodelf could not see that he too strained against his own breeches beneath his black tunic.
Legolas looked at him wryly. 'It is ironic, Elrondion, for I had intended to apologise to you and your brother. I have treated you discourteously. I especially owe you an apology.' Legolas paused and this time, he did look away. 'For my… attentions… were unwanted and mistaken.' He squared his broad shoulders, and faced Elrohir. 'I beg your pardon, my lord. It will never happen again.'
Elrohir was astounded. And dismayed, for he wanted nothing so much as for it to happen again, for this Elf warrior to press himself against him and say again, 'Let me show you how much I want you.' He wanted to grab Legolas and cry 'How can you say never again when you stand here like this!' But he knew he would not speak. It had been Elladan that Legolas had wanted. And Elrohir thought Legolas must have believed that Elladan wanted it too. Elrohir loved his brother, would not deny him.
And his own promise to Elladan made him strong enough to say then, 'There is nothing that I should forgive, but much that I need to atone.'
Suddenly, Legolas smiled and Elrohir's breath caught. He barely heard the Elf say, 'Then let us forgive each other and speak of it no more.' But he nodded dumbly and clasped his arm in the way of warriors and he did truly wish to be forgiven, he did truly wish to do no further trespass on this bright warrior from the Woodland Realm, who had stolen his heart as surely as Legolas himself had given his to the Sea.
Note: I have given the Nazgul extended powers over their enemies than just fear - I think that they must have more power than is shown in LOTR, partly because their own rings must give them some powers that I have not been able to uncover in any research. I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who knows more.
'Helca! Epënyë nacidë minna undumë. Aicanáro!'
'Begone or I will hew your bones into the abyss. This is Aicanáro!'
Aicanáro ("k") masc. name "Sharp Flame, Fell Fire. Made by the same smiths who wrought the blade Merry took from the barrow-wights and which struck the Lord of the Nazgul. It was made with magic to defeat the Nazgul - How Elrohir got it is another story, suffice to say the Nazgul would know and fear it, and so would Sauron.
Nányë Rávëyon — Son of Thunder
Courtesy of folk. uib website.