The Sons of Thunder: 27. Fireflies

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27. Fireflies

Chapter 27: Fireflies

Beta: Fab Anarithilien- you have no idea how much input Anarithilien has in this, and as I have said before, it is pretty much co-written in many places. You would have been bored rigid by now if it were not for her.

Warnings: none for this chapter. 

Chapter 27 Fireflies.

Elrohir staggered to his feet and over to Gimli, only dimly aware of Elladan and Gandalf, the Wizard hastening towards the Dwarf. Elrohir held his hand out hesitantly, urgently to the fading ghost where it had sunk exhausted to its knees over the unconscious Dwarf, its head resting on Gimli's breast. 

'Stay,' he said desperately. At his words, it raised its head weakly. 

He fumbled at his breast. The ring. The ring would heal the ghost, make him whole. His fingers scrambled furiously but found nothing...he dug his hands deep, searching. Nothing. Panicked he pushed his hands between the folds of his tunic, beneath his belt, beneath his shirt, into his boots, heart pounding he glanced at the ghost. Its light was almost gone, shrunk to only the narrow space of its heart, and light seemed to bleed from it, leaking over Gimli's still body so the Dwarf seemed to glow softly. 

'No!' Elrohir tried to catch the light, sweeping up the wisps and sparks, tried to staunch the bleeding of light from the ghost's weakening form. He had been about to put on the ring in spite of the ghost's mute and desparate pleading not to, and... and it had been that moment Elldan rode into view... He stoped, looked up, remembering... It had fallen then from his fingers. And he had not realised...It would be back there somewhere, on the cold mountainside....

'Get out of the way!' He was rudely shoved aside and Gandalf was there. 'You, stand guard against those fiends. They will be back,' the wizard said grimly. He pushed Elrohir to his feet. 'Stand up man! Give me some room. Elladan. Here. Hold his body for me. That's right, lay him down here. Carefully!' 

Elrohir staggered to his feet and stared out. The mist had gone but it was dark now. The moon had risen, he had no idea when, but its silver light glowed in the sky and cast strong shadows; it was so bright. The sound of hoofbeats heralded the three horses and Shadowfax appeared, followed by his own and his brother's black steeds. They stood silently like statues, waiting, but the Rohan horse would not leave the Elf's still body, or the Dwarf's. Gandalf pushed back the sleeves of his white robes and knelt beside the body, coaxing the ghost to him.

Elrohir felt a sudden prick of tears, unfamiliar and unwelcome. 'Where were you?' he demanded angrily. 'You let Gimli fall and it was we who found him, defended him! If it had not been for us, Khamul would have devoured Legolas!'

'Really.' Gandalf turned sharp blue eyes on Elrohir but he did not back down. 'And there was only one Nazgul was there? Or have you fogotten there were three other Nazgul and three other beasts to go with them?'

Elrohir stared at him for a moment. Then he said, 'They were distracting you to leave Khamul free to pursue Legolas.'

'Distracting is not a word I would use. Attacking maybe. Fighting. Diving and wheeling and coming at me from three sides perhaps.' Gandalf's sarcasm was hard edged and irritated. 'I thought you and your brother could deal with one on your own.' He rose to his feet then, leaning on his staff as if a great weariness had come over him.

Elrohir saw then the dirty smears on Gandalf's white robes, the blood on his face and a thin scar on his cheek. Shadowfax too had a long gash on his flank where a winged beast had ripped at him. 'The flashes of light were you,' he surmised and Gandalf glanced at him.

'What did you think I was doing? Did you think I would leave you? I will next time though if you ask any more foolish questions. Now watch the sky,' the Wizard snapped. 'They will come back. They will not leave that.' He nodded towards something small and shining in the moonlight. A ring. Elrohir's heart leapt and he reached towards it. 'Stop! What are you doing, you fool?!'

'The ring. It will heal him. The Nazgul said what the blade unmakes the ring can make anew,' he said desperately, hopefully.

'Oh I am sure it told you that,' Gandalf told him disapprovingly, and he placed his staff firmly in front of the ring; Elrohir would have had to fight his way to it. 'It would indeed put his spirit back, but he would be a thrall to whomsoever used the ring. A slave, with no will of his own, no thoughts but those of his master. And if it were you who used it to heal him, he would be thrall to you. And in time, you would join them and know no longer the life you know now, but become a wraith. A formidable weapon indeed...' 

He paused briefly and then said more gently, 'Now come. Elladan, I need your help. And you, Elrohir? Well done. I will want to have a look at that sword of yours later. But you are exhausted now and I need strength with this. I need you to watch for them. They will not leave this here, but I think they will have lost the appetite for battle. Legolas has not much time... he is almost at his last gasp.'

Elladan had paused at the Wizard's words but Elrohir had not the heart to speak to his brother, for so much had passed between them and he no longer knew if he had his brother's love; how could he blame him? He had attacked Legolas in front of Elladan, said unforgiveable things to him, confessed...he swallowed...confessed the horror of his lust to Elladan, who had exploded in fury, would have killed him had it not been for the ghost enveloping them in its own dimming light.

Elrohir turned before either of his companions saw the despair in his eyes. But he wrenched his thoughts away from his own misery and focused on the sky, on listening and feeling for the return of the Ringwraiths.

Above him the stars were hard and bright in spite of the moon and he hoped the clear starsong would help Legolas. A cold breeze drifted through the trees from the mountain. He listened to the muted voices behind him and then, unexpectedly, Elladan joined him.

A wave of power surged softly round them.

'Gandalf is putting a warding spell around us,' Elladan said softly, looking up at the stars. He did not look at Elrohir and Elrohir expected nothing. They stood in silence, shoulder to shoulder but Elrohir felt there was an insurmountable wall between them now and his shoulders slumped in utter misery.

He heard Gandalf's murmured enchantments and there was a softer white light that bathed him then. Elrohir could not help but glance over his shoulder and see. Gandalf had sunk to his knees once more  and was  holding Legolas' body gently. The ghost was almost gone, its thin light faded and dissipated in the cold unkind wind that blew dry leaves around them and the thin wisps of light scattered. Elrohir dropped his head for a moment in despair and looked again at the Nazgul's ring. It was so close.

Far away he heard something, the rustle of dry leathery wings, and his fingertips prickled. Elladan too stirred and his hand brushed the pocket of his tunic although Elrohir did not know why. He glanced over his shoulder to see Gandalf still knelt over the body but he had bowed his head now as if exhausted. 

'Mithrandir,' he turned and knew he stank of defeat and dishonour. The Wizard glanced at him and nodded. 

'Yes. I feel them too. I need more time, just a little.' And he bent his head, silvered by the moon. 

Elrohir followed the threads of light that drifted and seemed to cling for a moment to the stirring dwarf. He reached down and briefly held his hand against Gimli's head, let his own energy and light pour into the dwarf until he felt Gimli's awareness return  'He's awake,' he mumured to Gandalf.

'Ah.Good. That makes me feel better,' Gandalf said quietly, 'Keep watch now, both of you, I need to concentrate. Do not think they will not return. They will.' 

Elrohir looked away again and focused on the sky, watching through a blur of tears he fought for the moment when the stars and then the moon were blotted out one by one... Nothing. Yet. 

XXXX

Gimli swam in a mist, and it softly rolled him like the sea of Rhun, where he had once played as a child... No, he had been there with a merchant caravan... No... Ah, he could not remember. Dimly though, he knew there was a mist... It clung like a nightmare, had descended upon them... And Tharkun had been there... They had been riding and... He grasped for meaning in the confusion of images that rocked and swirled in his head. His head...hurt! They had been trying to get away from something...Tharkun had been urging him to keep up, to think on Legolas, to keep going and not look back. The mist had descended suddenly, making the already dark forest even darker. The pine trees had stood out starkly black, looming out of the mist and the broken road veered off suddenly. Gimli had not recognised any of this.

Great shadows had swept overhead - great beat of wings - pounding against the air and creating such a wind. It reminded him of when he was young and listened to tales of Smaug. The wind had torn at his hair, and his beard swept back over his shoulder. 

Fear... fear such as he had felt but once... no... twice before... Perhaps more, but before, a tall, strong figure was at his back and long pale hair .... 

Gimli struggled now, it was almost there and his fingers twitched. There had been the horse of Rohan beneath him, he could see its long grey neck before him, head high and ears twitching nervously. It had trembled and snorted in fear, shied at the great shadows that swept over it. Gimli's fingers twitched again, remembering how he had clung to the mane tightly, and he felt himself slipping sideways with no one to hold onto. Suddenly the Nazgul... ah, yes, of course...the Nazgul had dived over them and the thin wail approached him like some great tidal wave and Arod had shifted and swerved violently out of its way. 

Gimli felt a throb of pain as he remembered the talons scrape the top of his head and he had slid, slipped sideways and felt himself falling, his legs still around the horse, but it was suddenly too much and Arod had baulked and veered sideways. Gimli remembered that the ground had hit him hard. For a moment he had thought he would die and all the air had rushed out of his lungs and the stony dirt scraped his cheek as he had slid along the hard earth. There seemed to be a thousand felakgundu tapping away in his head.

He lay still. Remembering. And he had seen a pale ghostly face peering down at him with anxious, frightened eyes and thought of Legolas alone in the great darkness that wheeled and swooped over him. Gimli groaned softly and tried to move his fingers. Instantly there was a wash of warmth over him and a soft green light seemed to enfold him. He felt such comfort that he thought he was in his own bed in the mountain. But his fingertips felt rough scratchy earth and stones beneath, and his mind reeled, trying to make sense of it. 

The felakgundu took up their hammers again and he groaned, but this time the comfort was more tangible; a warm hand pressed lightly on his forehead. He cracked open one eye. Someone leaned over him, but with only half his attention on Gimli, for whoever it was looked over his shoulder into the darkness, and there was a sense of anxiety and fear. Gimli shifted, realising a stone was digging into his hip and he was sore. His ribs hurt and his back, his arm felt useless but he could move his fingers so he thought he was bruised but not broken, and was absurdly pleased with himself for surviving such a fall from a horse.

He moved his head minutely, fighting back nausea and the hammering in his head, to see a dim outline of three figures. He peered from slitted eyes.

'He is awake,' a hushed voice said.

'Ah.Good. That makes me feel better,' a familiar voice spoke next. Gimli frowned, struggling to remember. He had a sense of dread and fear but he did not think it came from these voices. The familiar voice continued quietly, 'Keep watch now, both of you, I need to concentrate. Do not think they will not return. They will.' 

Gimli recognised that kindly gruffness. Gandalf. It began to come back to him. He was one of the Fellowship. They were on the quest. Frodo had the Ring... Frodo...he would have shaken his head were it not so uncomfortable. Aragorn was... Aragorn as not here, he thought. He was here with Gandalf...and ...

The image of the strange pale green light drifted into his mind once more. It had leaned over him with concern, seeking to press its insubstantial hands onto his chest, trying to warm him... Legolas...? Legolas? 

He turned his head slightly in sudden fear. He struggled to sit up and the three figures nearby turned suddenly and looked at him. 

Gandalf smiled, and Elrohir, yes, he remembered now... Elrohir gently pushed him back down. 'Rest a moment more, Master Gimli. You will recover more quickly when we have to move if you take it slowly now.' Elrohir. yes. Son of Elrond. A crimson warmth suffused Gimli at Elrohir's touch and he felt comforted. He grunted agreement and lay back, watching as Elrohir rose to his feet. He stood and stars crowned his head. Stars. The sky was clear. Unaccountably he felt a surge of relief with that knowledge.

Elrohir suddenly leaned over him and Gimli felt a tremendous warmth. Elrohir pulled Gimli's cloak around the dwarf and it was soft, light. He thought of Galadriel and smiled.

'... there is so little here,' another voice drifted in and out of Gimli's consciousness. Elladan he thought, recognizing the lighter cadences of the other brother. 'The Nazgul did indeed devour him... Is there yet a chance...?' A hesitance and then, 'Did not my brother say the ring...'

'I have told you. No.' Gimli heard the Wizard's robes swish and his voice was brittle with anger. 'Would you heal him only to become that which we have struggled to save him from?'

Gimli turned his head slightly, gently, to watch. Elladan was crouching near a slumped figure and Gandalf stood, leaning on his staff, looking down. An unearthly light shone dimly on their faces, casting shadows on the Wizard's face but he leaned heavily on his staff as if he were almost in despair. Gimli frowned but it hurt his head to do that so he stopped. He had never seen Gandalf despair. 

'So much has been lost.. drifted off. There will be sparks and wisps...' Gandalf sighed again and it seemed to Gimli that it would be like the deep breath of the sea. 

It was then Gimli noticed the first firefly. It hovered above him as if it was concerned and he smiled, feeling a great wave of emotion in his heart, though he knew not why. Another joined it and he marveled that these tiny wisps of light could survive, so oblivious to the chill, the evil, the danger of the world. He reached out with his good hand and the tiny wisps flocked to him. He laughed softly, feeling a green smell, a joy bubble in his heart. They clung to him as if happy to see him and he smiled for one was bright and intense, like the young leaves of a beech tree.

'Gandalf!' a soft exclamation from Elladan. 'Look.'

Gimli looked towards to wizard and smiled. 

Gandalf spoke quietly, 'Gimli, trust me. Do what I say and do not question. Softly now. Legolas is here, but he needs you to be tender and gentle. ' Gimli lifted an eyebrow and looked thoughtfully at him. Perhaps he too had fallen from his horse. Gimli decided that he would humour the Wizard - always a good plan.

'Elrohir will help you to sit up and I need you to shuffle over here, bring those sparks with you. Think about Legolas and your friendship. Think how you are going to explore those caves, think how you will see Aragorn crowned, how you will ride together into battle and guard each other's backs.'

He saw Gimli's question forming and held up a hand. 'Do not doubt, just remember. Think. Your friendship.'

The Dwarf felt Elrohir gently lift him upright and although there was a surge of nausea, the little fireflies gathered round him solicitously and he felt soothed. He held out his hand again and they clustered around him, as if they would cloak him in their warmth. He remembered he was supposed to think of Legolas and to his surprise the fireflies fluttered delightedly and seemed to glow more brightly.

'Come over here,' said Gandalf and Gimli glanced down. 

He felt a surge of despair when he saw the cold, pale slumped figure that was his dear friend. Legolas lay very still. His eyes were closed and his lips were pale.  A dim light seemed to pool around him but Gimli knew that was the moon perhaps, or Gandalf. The little fireflies fluttered around him and he thought he heard a song of deep woods and clear streams, and he felt tears prick his eyes again for it made him think of what he had lost in Legolas. He had been prepared to lose him in battle, been prepared for that…  But this, this cold, lifeless body that was not dead... It was unbearable and he reached out to stroke the still face.

The little fireflies fluttered and shimmered and seemed to cluster around Gimli's hand at first and then they fell onto the still body. Gimli cried out, for it seemed like they too were dying at first. But then he realised they fluttered over the elf's body and then gently rested on him. And though their light seemed to dim a little, it seemed there was already a thin skin of light shimmering over the still body. 

An unearthly light, pale green, shone on Legolas' still face. It seemed like a glimmering mist made his features fade and become indistinct for moment. And then slowly, the fireflies' tiny wisps of light seemed to soak into him. The Dwarf felt a gentle hand draw him back and he sat back on his heels, suddenly aware of the thundering in his own head. He touched a hand to his forehead and found a firefly clinging still to his square hands, as if reluctant to leave him. He raised his finger to it like he might a robin. It rested briefly on his finger and he was filled with delight, and then Gandalf prodded him with his finger impatiently and Gimli lowered the little firefly to Legolas' breast.

He thought he heard something far off, a music, indescribable and lovely... like the sea and wind and stars...like bluebells, that elusive scent that catches on a warm breeze as you pass but when he tried to catch it, to remember, there was nothing but the faint sense of loss. 

He looked up at Gandalf, standing silently, with his staff in his hand and a bright, unearthly light shone upwards from the fireflies so that Gandalf was bathed in a radiance, as if he beheld a great wonder. The fireflies were rising and swirling around him and the Wizard held his staff over Legolas. And with an expression of great tenderness he gently released a soft white light from the staff so that it glowed and seemed to bring the fireflies close; they flocked, swirled, clumped almost until they seemed one cloud of luminous light...like the lights in the sky in the cold North sometimes. They flickered and a wave of green ran through with white, like the sea, though he had never seen it. The little cloud seemed to form into a distinct shape for a moment and Gimli almost thought it became a being, a ghostly shape that hovered over Legolas. If he did not know better he would have said it tilted its head and looked straight at him before it dissolved. The light seemed to seep into the body of the Elf.

'Ah,' Gandalf moved and stumbled. Elladan reached out and caught him and suddenly Elrohir too was there and settling the old man down. Elrohir reached into the Wizard's robes and brought out that familiar flask, holding it to Gandalf's lips, he drank. Gandalf nodded and pushed the half elf away. 'Give some to Gimli and take a sip each for yourselves. Elladan, see if you can get a sip into Legolas.' He pushed himself to his feet and gave a quiet whistle.

Instantly Shadowfax appeared, and behind him the familiar black horses of the sons of Elrond. Trotting warily behind, Gimli saw Arod. He smiled wryly at himself for feeling absurdly pleased to see that horse safe and sound. It immediately came to him and snuffled at his hair. He swatted a hand at it, but slowly so he did not startle it. And then it swung its head towards the Elf's still body. It stepped forwards gently and trailed its muzzle over the Elf's form. Strangely unconcerned, it pulled at the grass beside him. 

The Miruvor was passed to him and he drank. The taste took him straight back to the time on Caradhras. The sense of dislocation made him fall back  but everyone else was too busy to notice and he handed back the flask to Elrohir, who quickly stoppered it and looked upwards anxiously, like a hunting hound scenting the air.

Gimli felt the wind stir in the treetops and it lifted his hair slightly. Elrohir looked around and then striding forwards, he leaned a hand on the Wizard's shoulder.

'Mithrandir, they come,' he said urgently.

Gandalf was already hauling himself onto Shadowfax's back and the sons of Elrond were busy with their own horses. Gimli rose unsteadily to his feet and looked back at where Legolas's body was swathed now in one of the brother's cloaks. He wobbled slowly over to his friend and knelt carefully beside him, reaching out to stroke back the tendrils of hair that had escaped those tight braids. His face was cut in several places and his skin was pale, bruises beneath his eyes, his lips still pale and bloodless... But... Gimli looked closer. He was fooling himself perhaps, but he thought there was a slight movement beneath the closed eyelids, perhaps a slight shiver... And then Elladan... or maybe Elrohir... was pushing him gently aside and lifting the dwarf to his feet and leaning him against a tree for support.

'Gimli, I think you will have to ride with Elladan,' Gandalf was saying as he hitched his white robes up and sat astride Shadowfax.. 'Quickly now. Elladan - give him to me.' It was Legolas that Gandalf wanted, Gimli realised. 

The other son of Elrond knelt and pushed his arm beneath Legolas' still form but slowly. Tenderly he pulled the sable cloak more closely about the cold body. He had a graze down one cheek and his arms trembled as he tried to raise Legolas.

'Give him to me, Elrohir, you fool. Look at yourself,' the other brother scolded, taking Legolas into his own arms. Elladan, Gimli realised. 'Get Baragûr for me. Go on.' He gave his brother a shove. 

The strong one is Elladan, Gimli told himself, leaning gratefully against the tree. And the tired one is Elrohir. But he thought them both strained with each other and neither looked the other in the eye. So much has gone on here, the dwarf thought sadly, and so much has been lost.

Elladan cradled Legolas in his arms. The sable cloak fell open and Gimli saw the terrible wound in Legolas' pale chest. It did not bleed, though it should. His long, pale gold hair streamed back and brushed the ground as Elladan lifted him, pulling the cloak around his burden. He handed Legolas up to Gandalf, who grunted and pulled him, less gracefully, up and in front of him on Shadowfax. 

Hoofbeats made the dwarf turn and he saw the other half elf, Elrohir, leading the two black horses towards him. Arod raised his head from the grass and gazed at them idly in the way that horses do sometimes and Gimli felt reassured by the horse's lack of concern, sure that if there was danger nearby, the Rohan horse would be more skittish. Elrohir swung himself astride his own horse and then reached down to Gimli.

The Dwarf frowned, determined he would walk on his own two feet far more safely. 'You'll have to...' he began his bluster but he gave a sudden oof as he found himself hauled up by one hand and shoved from behind by a pair of strong arms. Suddenly he was sitting behind one and looking down on the other, too dizzy and weak to glare as much as he ought. But he caught the eyes of the one on the ground, Elladan, and thought he looked angry and ashamed, though he could not think of anything of which Elladan had to be ashamed.

'Come,' Gandalf said urgently as Elladan swung himself astride his own black horse. 'They will be here, and sooner than I hoped. Stay together and ride as fast as you dare.' He cast a quick look around then and then rested his gaze upon Elladan. Elladan looked down to the ground, eyes searching, and he turned his horse in a tight circle but Gimli did not know why.

'Do you not think we should take it, Mithrandir?' Elladan asked, and to Gimli his voice sounded distant, strange.

Gandalf looked annoyed and urged Shadowfax to where the black horse circled nervously. 'And what would you do with it, son of Elrond?'

'Perhaps we can use it to fight the Nazgul,' Elladan replied slowly, and he did not look up. Gimli frowned and tightened his grip on Elrohir. But the half elf seemed entirely focused on the exchange between his brother and Gandalf. He tensed. His body was stiff and intent.

Then Gandalf reached out and touched Elladan lightly on the shoulder and the elder brother blinked and shook his head as if coming out of a miasma. Gandalf looked at him keenly. 

'It belongs to the Shadows. Let them take it. If you were to touch it, it would call to you and your blood. You would be corrupted.' 

Gimli became very still... So... the Nazgul's ring of power had fallen there. He had not realised that it would not be destroyed. But of course, the fate of the Rings was tied up with the One Ring and that ... he quickly squashed all thought. They were too close. 

'You would fade,' Gandalf was still speaking, but quieter now and he held Elladan's attention. 'Even as Khamul did. You would become a wraith like him. That is the fate of all bearers of the Rings of Shadow.' He paused for a moment and then glanced up into the sky. Clouds had drifted across the stars and one by one they blinked and went out.  'Come. We have run out of time. Ride fast and do not stop!'

Shadowfax surged forwards and Gimli felt his own mount leap after him. He clung to the rider in front of him and glanced behind quickly to see Arod cantering riderless yet close enough to bump against him every now and again. He did not see Elladan at first but then he emerged from the trees, galloping fast.

They were swift this time, horses flying over the earth, Gandalf holding his staff aloft. It shone a faint light, enough to see the road ahead as it led down towards the city. Behind him, he heard the sough of great leathery wings but there was no shriek. If they were hunting, this time the Nazgul hunted them in silence. He clung to the black tunic and shamelessly, wrapped his arms around Elrohir and was comforted when a hand caught hold of him tightly. 

'Hold on!' Elrohir called and the horse gave a leap and sailed over a fallen tree. The landing forced Gimli forwards and into his rider's back. 'Steady,' Elrohir called back over his shoulder. 

Long black hair whipped into his face and he thought the texture different from Legolas. He felt a slow, deep sorrow in his chest so it felt like he might burst and he needed a forge and an anvil and the hot, hot fire so he could begin his Mazarbul-aglâb. As he clung to the half elf before him, tears streamed down his face and he thought that if only it had been Legolas he clung to he would have buried his face in the Elf's back.

*****

Elladan hung back as Elrohir and Gandalf urged their steeds forwards. Baragur circled, waiting and restless but Elladan had to pause, to think for a moment. He still felt the heat from the Wizard's touch on his shoulder, like a soft burning. It crept into him and warmed him so he shook himself. He rubbed his hand across his eyes and recalled with absolute clarity the dreadful events leading him here. He had almost killed his brother. He had stood astride him with one hand clutching Elrohir's throat and the other poised with his silk-sharp sword, ready to plunge it into his brother's heart. And only moments before, had he not told Elrohir that he was his brother and that whatever he had done, he could forgive? And he had believed that when he said it. But faced with the horror of what he had done, Elladan could not forgive. He thought he could, but he could not. 

The cold iron ring pressed against his chest and pulsed lightly. He could take it. He could have more power than he dreamed... He could...

Elladan breathed. The air was clean here, smelled of pine and moss. Free at last from the suffocating, clammy air, the fear that made his hair freeze on his scalp, he let the air fill his lungs and clear his head. He listened to the hoofbeats fading, aware that the Nazgul were drawing close. But he knew too that they feared Aicanáro and that Khamul had been careless, arrogant, complacent that he had Elrohir beguiled. 

He took the ring from the pocket of his tunic and looked at it. Old gold, worn thin with wear. He shuddered. It had been on Angmar's hand for an Age. The red jewel glowed and the liquid depths were like an eye...

When Gandalf told Elrohir about the ring enthralling Legolas should it be used to heal him, Elladan had recognised what it was that he carried. 'A slave, with no will of his own, no thoughts but those of his master. And if it were you who used it to heal him, he would be  thrall to you. And in time, you would join them and know no longer the life you know now, but become a wraith.' 

He had recognised its power. He knew he had been infected by the Nazgul, for had his brother not asked him as much? And when he had knelt with Gandalf, and cradled Legolas' dying body in his arms, he had felt the tug of the Ring. Recognising the threat, he had spoken quietly to Gandalf and said he needed to stand watch with Elrohir instead. Gandalf had merely raised his piercing blue eyes from Legolas and looked at him shrewdly. Then he nodded as if he knew, as if he saw through the folds of fabric and saw the cold ring burning at his breast... seeking the light that was Legolas' ghost.

Elladan bowed his head in shame; he had let himself be used by the Enemy. He had been betrayed by his own anger at Elrohir whom he had claimed to love, told he would forgive...and now he was confused by his own disgust with himself and with his brother.

But his disgust was his own. And his anger his own. He would not be used by Sauron.

Elladan Elrondion was of the line of Luthien, who had beguiled Morgoth. And of Galadriel, who wielded Nenya. No Nazgul Ring of Power would own him and he looked once more on the old gold worn thin. The red jewel seemed to glow with a lustre he had not noticed before... And then Elladan flipped it in the air so it spun slowly, once, twice, thrice and landed with barely a thud near another ring on the cold bare earth. 

Elladan did not linger then, for the sough of great wings was close now, so he turned Baragur towards the broken road where he could just see the light that streamed from Gandalf's staff. A lightness returned to his spirit that he had not realised he had lost, and Baragur seemed to feel it too, for he tossed his head and galloped after the others. Elladan leaned low over the horse's neck and the black mane streamed in the wind. He felt his own Song resurface and he felt himself once more in harmony with Arda and all things- and he felt once more his own blue calm, like moonlight on pools of water, stilled and cleared. 

tbc

Translations

felakgundu -  Khuzdul for cave hewer. This idea for a craftsman like Gimli is that cave hewers, such as the Woodelves are inferior craftsmen to the miners of the dwarves. It implies the idea of sheer force against rock and stone, as opposed to the delicate way he describes revealing the beauty of Aglarond for example, with the noise. A common Dwarvish insult in other words, although once it was used affectionately and with reverence towards the Noldor.

Mazarbul-aglâb - (literally telling of the records) The telling of tales of the deceased, to record their lives and deeds.


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.

Story Information

Author: ziggy

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 06/12/12

Original Post: 04/04/10

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The Sons of Thunder

Erulisse - 04 Mar 11 - 7:17 PM

Ch. 27: Fireflies

I've always loved fireflies, and now I know why.  Each chapter is better than the one before, and each one keeps me wishing for the next one. 

- Erulisse (one L)

The Sons of Thunder

Azalais - 05 Mar 11 - 12:15 AM

Ch. 27: Fireflies

Yesssss!  (Sighs with relief.)

Gandalf is so wonderfully IC here - filled with power, yet irascible and short-tempered. I love his terse explanations to the Twins as to why they shouldn't even contemplate using the Ring; and I also like the fact that (as in Moria) Gandalf is tired after deploying serious enchantment.

The description of Gimli's confused thoughts and experience of pain as he's waking up is very effective too.

I'm wondering one or two things about the Ring of Power though - such as whether, having carried it, Elrohir wouldn't have realised sooner that he'd dropped it, or that Elladan had picked it up. And whether Gandalf wouldn't have sensed that each of them had had it. And I'm just slightly confused - at the end of the chapter, has Elladan picked it up again or is the lineThe cold iron ring pressed against his chest and pulsed lightly. He could take it. He could have more power than he dreamed... He could... a flashback to the previous chapter? I'm hoping the latter!

And the fireflies - lovely device. Could have been corny but I think the fact you put them in from Gimli's POV, and his natural scepticism - the wizard's cracked, but let's humour him, it's often a good idea - saves us from that.

Fab fab fab! More please!

The Sons of Thunder

Imber - 10 Mar 11 - 3:44 AM

Ch. 27: Fireflies

This is lovely - the fireflies, Gandalf's exasperation, the twins' conflict and Gimli. And it's getting more hopeful.

The Sons of Thunder

Aiwendiel - 21 Mar 11 - 4:26 PM

Ch. 27: Fireflies

Okay -- just found this confoundededly lovely, hot, thrilling, terrifying and addicting story, and read it pretty much straight through, and damn, I am hooked -- just what I needed, when my own AU tale is not done either!! What powerful imagery, story, characterizations! Add my clamor to the rest: more! MORE!

The Sons of Thunder

AndreaH - 11 Sep 11 - 1:54 PM

Ch. 27: Fireflies

I was very relieved to read Elladan decided to leave the ring behind; hopefully the Nazgul will be content with recovering them both and Gandalf and co can get away?

"A lightness returned to his spirit that he had not realised he had lost" reminds me a little of Frodo on Mt Doom, before and after the ring has been destroyed. Obviously these rings corrupt very strongly. How will the brothers' relationship play out?

And there were 4 Nazgul in all? Missed that.

Thanks very much


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