The Shadows That Remain Rating: PG-13
A Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion fic - CHAPTER22
Shadow Chaser

SHADOW

Haldir was tired and exhausted from the night-long battle. Technically it was the wee early morning hours and though Elves did not sleep, he felt very human at the moment. His bones and muscles ached with the strain of so much magic and non-magic fighting he had to do, especially after destroying a Nazgul. He could tell that the other Elves in the Situation Room also felt the same, except those that had not participated in the battle. The humans who had fought with them had been given accommodations to sleep in and now only the blue glowing eyes of Elves proceeded in the room.

Former General Ruthersfield wasn’t too happy that he wasn’t to be part of the post-battle briefing, but Elrond insisted that the humans get rest, as all of them had noticed when the dark creatures were retreating that a white column of light appeared in the distance, signaling that Sauron had been defeated by the Fellowship. At least that was the good news ... Haldir hoped.

He hoped that all members of the Fellowship were still alive and not that it was a suicide attack that had killed Sauron. Most of all, he hoped that his best friend was all right. After all, if anything happened to Legolas, it was his fault, and his alone. He had assigned Legolas the mission of destroying and absorbing Sauron’s powers. In no way, whatsoever, would he let the blame fall on his Lord and Lady.

“We’ve counted up the number of dead and wounded and sufficient to say, most of the dead were non-mages. Many of them tried to take on mages and suffered the consequences,” Glorfindel reported from a small clear tablet that he was holding and Haldir glanced over to see Elrond nod his head a bit sadly. The holographic projections of Galadriel, Celeborn, Thranduil, and Cirdan also looked a bit disturbed.

“Humans were always impulsive,” Cirdan commented, his usual melodic voice now soft and worried. “How many Elf mages were lost?”

“At least 150 from the Silver City Army,” Glorfindel replied, “and 528 from the Golden City. Human casualties were higher. General Ruthersfield’s army suffered heavy losses. Even their mage forces were limited.”

“They never encountered Nazgul before ...” Firfenion commented a bit acidly and Haldir opened his mouth to reprimand him before Thranduil beat him to it.

“None of us have ever encountered the Nazgul in this form before. You would want to shut your mouth before anything else happens,” Thranduil’s eyes blazed with anger, even in his holographic form.

A slight shudder crept down Haldir’s spine. Even though he and the Elven Lord were about the same age, give or take a few hundred years, he knew what bloodline Thranduil came from and also recognized the piercing gaze that once belonged to the great Elven Lord, Thingol. Thranduil certainly did inherit his kin’s mannerisms and looks.

Apparently, Firfenion was chastened by his father’s words and fell silent, staring sullenly at the ground, unable to meet his father’s gaze. Haldir wondered if Thranduil’s anger was from the loss of troops or from the fact that he had a huge fight with his other son. He would put money on the latter than the former.

“The scattering of Sauron’s forces indicate that most of them are fleeing to Barad-dur. This gives us time to regroup and send our assault team to the White City. Galadriel, Celeborn, this will have to be in your domain. With the first of the two towers gone, Morgoth does not have anyone to rely on except himself,” Elrond said quietly as he brought up the projection of the map and Haldir noticed that many of the red dots were fleeing from the bright white and green that was the Elves and humans, all shining brightly along the Eastern Coast of the United States of America.

“We will help you in defeating Morgoth,” a soft voice suddenly spoke from behind the group and they turned to see Lorien, standing in his human form, his hands spread out in a gesture of peace and tranquility.

Haldir nearly bowed in the presence of the Vala, but remembered the words his Lady and Lord told him about the Valar. They were not to be trusted as they were very manipulative and deceitful at times. They were the ones to indirectly cause the great migration of Noldor and other Elves from Valinor to Middle Earth back before his time.

Apparently, most of the other Elves had heard Lady Galadriel’s words and also stood a bit stiffly, while some of the younger Elves scoffed at the presence of the Vala. “Lorien,” Elrond greeted sagely, “you have come to offer your help?”

“Not in the sense that you mean, Lord Elrond,” Lorien replied, his crystal green eyes taking everything in. “The Valar and Lord Manwe have been debating whether or not to help you in your quest to rid the Earth of this evil. Since you have proven yourself in destroying Sauron in this Age, we will aid you in defeating Morgoth.”

Galadriel’s holographic projection, along with Cirdan’s, both balked at the statement and looked mildly surprised. It was a bit unnerving to see the two oldest Elves look surprised, if rarely, at anything.

“The Valar have rarely helped us at all, why might you be so keen at the moment to do so?” Galadriel asked serenely.

“Ah ... Altarial, daughter of Finarfin ...” Lorien faced the projection, “you, like your kin who left Valinor, have distrusted us for so long. Yet at the end of the Third Age of the Sun, we allowed you and your exiled kin to return to Valinor. Why do you scoff us now, Altarial?”

“I returned and found that evil still resided in Valinor. Wherever there is good, evil will always be there. Temptation still resided in Valinor. You did nothing to change what Morgoth had originally spoiled. You’ve only left it to fester and grow among my kin and the Vanyar,” Galadriel said gravely, “you are willing to help us rid Morgoth, but will you leave his evil doings on the Earth once more?”

“He will leave at least some evil, Galadriel,” Cirdan suddenly spoke up, his eyes narrowed and focused on Lorien, “as you had said, where there is good, evil still resides. It might not be as powerful or as concentrated as Morgoth, but there will always be a form of evil. That was what Iluvatar declared so long ago ... before he created us.”

“Perceptive Cirdan of the Teleri, the Great Ship-Wright,” Lorien, “but will you now dismiss our offer of help?”

“We will not, but we will consider your terms after this war is over,” Cirdan replied and was about to say more when a buzzing came from one of the comm. systems in the Situation Room.

Glorfindel, who was closest to the comm. system, rerouted the call to a main projection screen. Haldir blinked in surprise as he saw the haggard, bloodied face of Alec Richard, who, at the moment, looked strikingly like Aragorn son of Arathorn after he had ran through the Mines of Moria with the rest of the Fellowship.

“Mission accomplished,” Alec said, his voice cracking from exhaustion, “Sauron was destroyed ...”

There was hesitation in his voice, and ice began to form in the pit of Haldir’s stomach. There was something about Alec’s tone he didn’t like and was dreading it. Had something happened to Legolas? Was Sauron’s power and spirit not absorbed, enabling Morgoth to take control and create and Undead Sauron?

But how could it be? They all saw a bright white column of light extend from the New York City area in the aftermath of the battle to defend the Golden City.

“But we have a problem,” Alec continued, his voice grim, “Legolas did absorb Sauron’s powers as Gandalf could not ... but ...

“Gandalf said that he has fallen to shadow.”

Complete silence reigned in the Situation Room.

* * * * *

The Fellowship, after making their way down the mostly destroyed Empire State Building, had hijacked a lone police hover copter and had been flying towards the Golden City when they were met half way by General Ruthersfield’s hover copters and escorted into the city.

When they landed, they were surrounded by Elven healers who immediately began to cast healing spells on them. Gimli was jostled around so much that he began to push the Elven healers away, snarling at anyone who touched him. He tried to look back for Legolas’ prone, lifeless body, but it was surrounded by a group of healers.

“Hey!” he cried and tried to make his way towards his best friend’s body so he could be near him, but somehow the Healers held him back and he watched as the group suddenly rose and caught a glimpse of them putting Legolas on a stretcher. “Hey!!!”

The Healers’ apparently didn’t hear him or didn’t acknowledge his calls, but instead rushed away, into the building, passing by all of the other Elves who had come out to welcome the Fellowship back. Gimli saw Haldir and a few other Elves he didn’t recognize step out of the way as the Healers barreled through. He could see worry in their eyes ... Even Elrond stepped out of the way of the Healers, and fell in step behind them.

Perhaps the great healing powers of the Elven Lord would be enough to help his best friend rise from the shadow, Gimli wondered. Suddenly, a tingle ran through him and he turned and glared at the Elf who was trying to cast a healing spell on him. “Would you quit it?!” he snarled at the Elf who raised an eyebrow and gave him a pointed look, but then went back to casting the spell, all but oblivious to his protestations.

He pushed away and threaded his way through the crowd that was surrounding them. Catching a glimpse of Anna pushing past the crowd of Healers, he watched as she launched herself into Alec’s arms, both embracing each other fiercely. He ducked underneath an elbow, a hard thing for him to do as he was as tall as the Elves surrounding them, and finally made his way out of the crowd of Elven Healers.

Catching his breath for a second, Gimli looked up and saw the tail end of the group that was spiriting Legolas’ prone body away. “Hey! Wait!” he called after them and jogged after them, feeling the shortness of his breath return. Certainly he was a human now, but even after the horrific and exhausting battle against Sauron, he was still in no condition to be running around, especially since he had a long history of asthma related problems.

He gasped in a deep breath and made his seemingly wooden legs move and lurched forward. He couldn’t see the Elves now, but he guessed that they were taking Legolas to the Healing Hall/Medical Bay; where it was, he didn’t really have a clue. Maybe one of the security or another Elf would be able to direct him to the Healing Hall.

Stopping once more by the security guards’ area, Gimli leaned against a column, feeling sharp pain in his chest each time he moved. His asthma was getting bad ... real bad ... Please God, please keep him safe ... keep Legolas alive and healthy, he thought a quick prayer to the Lord. Keep me healthy, he added as an afterthought. Though not overtly religious, he was a born Protestant, converted to Methodist, and then dropped to a non-denomination when he found their practices too confining.

He didn’t really believe all the Valar nonsense, though he did acknowledge the fact that he was reincarnated, it was just that he was human and humans had their own minds. He didn’t like anyone manipulating him or ordering him around (which was why he chose the field of geology and archaeology), and had a suspicious feeling that the Valar were way too manipulative.

“You shouldn’t be pushing yourself like this George Griston,” a voice behind him made him jump slightly and he winced in pain as his wounds, minor as they were, but still hurt like hell, twisted and pulled. He turned around and saw Haldir, dressed in what looked like a variation of the ancient elvish armor, hold out a hand to him.

Though he didn’t really know the Elf that well, and disliked him when he first met Haldir in Lothlorien, he respected the bond the Elf had with Legolas. But even so, during Legolas’ reign of Ithilien and the frequent visits by Haldir and his group of Lothlorien Elves, he didn’t really get to know the Elf.

“Hnn,” Gimli grunted a reply as he was still trying to steady his breathing. “You’re so calm,” he coughed slightly, “in light of Legolas’ condition. I figure you would be more concerned ...”

He glanced up to see something akin to anger flash in Haldir’s eyes. But then, a curious expression lit his face and Gimli frowned. Why wasn’t Haldir going after the Elves that spirited their friend away? Why was he coming to him ... was it for support? Or was it something else?

Suddenly it dawned on Gimli the reasoning. Haldir knew! He knew that something like this was going to happen to Legolas! That’s why they were talking to each other before the mission! That’s why Haldir has such a resigned look to his face. He knew!

“You knew,” he stated flatly and watched a small almost imperceptible nod appear. “You knew that something like this was going to happen to Legolas and yet you did not even think to tell me?!” his voice rose to a thunderous roar by the time he was through. Asthma forgotten, Gimli let the anger that was growing in him consume him and he picked the Elf up by the front of his armor, mildly surprised that he could do it, though anger quickly returned.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?!” he yelled, “You knew that Legolas was going to be consumed by Sauron’s power, didn’t you?! That’s why you talked to him before we left! You knew!” He seethed and watched as Haldir frowned and suddenly his arms felt like lead and before he even knew what was happening the Elf was back on the ground, and his arms felt like jelly.

He realized that Haldir had cast a spell on him and was about to slam him back up the column when Haldir spoke in a freezing calm, but angered voice.

“Yes,” Haldir replied his face stony and his eyes boring into Gimli’s –- Gimli shuddered slightly at molten anger in them. “I knew ... I knew that there would be the possibility that Legolas might fall into shadow.

“I knew and I told him that he must be the one to kill Sauron. I was the one responsible for assigning him that mission. But ...” Haldir released the spell and Gimli could feel his hands and arms once more, “you also have to understand. I wouldn’t needlessly endanger my brother, my comrade, my friend if I didn’t know the consequences. He knew the consequences and he knew the cost of failure.”

But Gimli wasn’t done yet. He gritted his teeth and exploded, “But why him?! Why not some other Elf?! Why Legolas?! If you knew the possibilities, why did it fall to you to assign him this suicide mission? What made him so goddamn special that you have to go and give him this?”

“Because he has the ability to! Because he is the perfect assassin for it!” Haldir yelled back, but Gimli was beyond caring, “Because Lady Galadriel ordered me to do it!” There. There was the truth. The truth that Haldir had been trying so hard to hide. He vowed that he would not mention anything that would be able to place the blame on his Lord and Lady ... but now ...

Gimli stepped back, shocked, and stared at Haldir like he was some foreign being. The Lady Galadriel ... She ... wanted Legolas to kill Sauron? Impossible! No! It just wasn’t true! A brief image of the ethereal beauty that was Galadriel popped into Gimli’s head and he shook his head, clearing the image away. “No ...” he murmured, stepping back further, “that isn’t true,” he looked up and stared at Haldir, “you’re lying ... you’re-“

“It is true,” Haldir’s eyes were not full of molten anger anymore, instead they were full of sadness. The same sadness he had seen in many Elves during his time in Lothlorien. “The Lady of the Light did bid this task to be done by Legolas ...”

But ... “Why?” was the only word Gimli could come up with as numbing shock was still coursing through his battered body. He could feel his anger fading away and his asthma replacing it, though this time it was much more strained and he felt very weak. He met Haldir’s gaze with his own, and wondered what possessed the beautiful and sincere Galadriel to order such a task.

“You’ve never met the militaristic side of Lady Galadriel, have you?” Haldir asked and Gimli blinked. So Tolkien’s books on Galadriel were right ... she did have a militaristic side then ... “She saw something in Legolas that she did not see in others. With the utmost reluctance, she gave that task to him and to him alone. What she saw in him, I do not know and I think I will not know for the longest of time.”

“But ... why not Gandalf? I mean, he said that he was restrained by the rules of Maiar and Valar ... what does that mean?” Gimli asked.

“The Valar’s workings are not for me to know. I just only hope that one day, Gandalf can explain it to us why the Valar are so manipulative ...” with that Haldir left Gimli by the column and headed back to the Situation Room, but the man was too numb by recent revelations to even notice that he was gone.

All he could do was curse at the ineptitude of the Valar and Maiar. If only they would absorb Sauron’s powers! Then Legolas would not have to suffer like this ... Gimli was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t notice a few Healers approaching him and casting their spells on him. But even as he collapsed into blissful unconsciousness by the Healing spells they had cast on him, all he could see was the determination in his dearest friend’s eyes, mixed with the sadness in Haldir’s eyes.

* * * * *

In the Situation Room, the holographic projection of Thranduil was exploding into fits of anger. Even though it was hours after he found out that his estranged son was incapacitated, he was still fuming and pacing around the holographic board.

“Calm yourself Thranduil,” Cirdan was saying to the projection.

“Calm down! How could I?! My son’s ...” Thranduil trailed off and continued pacing. Only the five executive members of Lorien Inc. were present, all others had retired to either their quarters or to the Healing Hall for treatment. The only member of the five that was missing was Elrond, but he had gone with the prone body of Legolas to the Healing Hall.

The door to the Situation Room suddenly slid open and all three holographic projections and Cirdan looked up to see Haldir walk through. Though technically the Noldor-Teleri Elf was not really privy to their plans, right now was an exception.

“Did you tell him?” Galadriel asked, and Cirdan had a feeling that she was talking about the reincarnated form of Gimli son of Gloin.

“Yes ... he understands at the moment, but ... he will begin to doubt the words of the Valar,” Haldir replied and Cirdan raised an eyebrow. No doubt about that, he thought mostly to himself.

“The Valar are allies at the moment, but we’ll have to test their resolve before we destroy Morgoth. If they are not with us, then we will have to rely on ourselves,” Galadriel replied and though Cirdan did not voice his opinion, he silently agreed with her.

After all, he had been born and aware when she led the revolt of the Noldor with Feanor, and subsequent revolts against Morgoth and Sauron through the Ages.

“The Valar are planning something. What, I do not know, but they are planning,” Galadriel said in her crystal voice, the voice of a leader.

* * * * *

Author’s Notes: I apologize if this chapter sounds a bit off-kilter. It’s been at least a month since I wrote anything and I’ve been out of practice. Hopefully the next chapter will be up soon. BTW, college has started so chapters will be slow.

To Chapter Twenty-One | To Chapter Twenty-Three
To the Story Notes | To the Technical Notes

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