The Shadows That Remain Rating: PG-13
A Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion fic - CHAPTER31
LIZ, ED & MATT
The helicopter ride was mostly uneventful, but it could have been a lot smoother, in Elizabeth Ruthersfield’s opinion. Her brother was piloting the helicopter and had wanted to test out the Elves’ technology by doing a few of what he called “test runs” on the helicopter while they were flying towards Paris to meet up with the reincarnation of their Uncle and former King Theoden of Rohan.
That made at least her, Matt, and a few of Ed’s contacts in the White City a bit sick. Liz had not been surprised to find that her brother’s contacts were reincarnated Rohirrim in fact it seemed fitting considering the White City was a haven for everyone to find news and whatnot. While the rest of them endured the bumpy plane ride, Matt, however, became very sick so sick that Liz asked Ed to stop with the antics and just give a smooth flight.
Her brother had been chagrined to find that he made one of the former hobbits sick, and apologized before righting their course. They landed on one of the platforms of the city of Paris, the heart of the once French Empire, now just a kingdom of itself, noting the beauty of the city from thousands of years ago was still preserved. There was a modern feel to the city, yet its old structures, the brownstone like buildings to the cobblestones and 20th Century modern streets.
It was an odd feeling, as if someone had put a time warp on everything and sent them back to the 20th Century and before. But through this antiquated look, the modern technology was subtly hidden. As Liz stepped off of the helicopter, winds whipped her long blonde hair, tied up in a braided ponytail, and she shielded her eyes from the fierce winds. They weren’t high up from the ground level, but Paris had always been a bit windy, at least in her opinion.
She was dressed in the dress uniform for the New York Police Department, somehow procured by the Elves in the White City. A few of the reincarnated Rohirrim were dressed in expensive business suits, representing the White City’s Lorien Incorporated, while Matt was dressed in a stylishly cut suit that the Elves provided for them. Liz was very surprised at how much Galadriel and her people provided for them, but then realized that she was probably very, very, very rich.
Her brother came out a few minutes after her, having quickly changed into his dress uniform of the United States Army, minus his medals because of his rogue status. Liz had to admit that her brother looked very smart in his uniform, even if he wore a perpetual frown. There was always something about men and uniforms. She was still wondering why her brother was still single, with not even a girl attached to his arm. She had tried to hook him up with a few of her friends, but each time he had refused and so she had given up, but now ...
“You should be married by now, or at least have a girlfriend,” she teased him as she hooked an arm around his, making him her escort.
“No thank you,” he replied politely, “none until this thing is over.”
Liz rolled her eyes in exasperation before they walked into the building, Matt following behind them. Their escort took them down an elevator before leading them through a set of double doors.
“The King awaits you,” their escort said and bowed to them as they walked past and into the court of King Theod I, king of Paris and ruling lands.
It was spacious but it seemed very bare and cold. Stone and polished marble lined the walls and floors, giving it a texture of the old days, but the walls were covered with coats of arms, swords, spears, all different weaponry ranging from the ancient periods of time to the most modern. At the far end of the court was the throne of King Theod I, and Liz barely held back a gasp at seeing the Reincarnated form of her Uncle Theoden.
He looked almost exactly like his original form ... the beard, the hair ... the facial expression of the perpetual frown. It took almost all of her self will not to rush and embrace him. They had been warned by Galadriel that Theod did not remember any of his previous Reincarnations and most certainly did not remember that he had been King Theoden of Rohan.
“We bring greetings and good tidings from Lord Charles Teleri and Lady Gabrielle Nenya of the White City,” her brother spoke in a formal tone bowing slightly to King Theod. Liz did the same, taking her hat off and she glanced at Matt before he too bowed, a bit hastily. Their escorts behind them also gave small bows before standing at attention. Charles Teleri and Gabrielle Nenya were Celeborn and Galadriel’s human names ... and Liz had laughed at the irony of them. She was a big fan of Tolkien’s works and knew where each of the last names came from ...
“I bid them greetings too, from one trading partner to another. Please, tell me your names as I have never seen you before. Were you not sent by the Elves?”
Liz blinked and quickly glanced at her brother, noticing the fleeting startled expression before he replaced it with a calm demeanor. If King Theod knew about the Elves ... then?
“Of course Elves exist. This is the future after all. Anything can happen,” Theod’s next words convinced her that while he knew about Elves, that was about the extent of his past memories
“We were sent by them your Highness,” his brother replied in a formal tone, “I am General Edward Ruthersfield of the United States Army. This lady to my right is my sister, Elizabeth and to my left is my lieutenant, Matthew Biggs.”
She noticed that Matt had jumped a bit at being mentioned as Ed’s lieutenant. So her brother had finally accepted that Matt was a warrior of his own and promoted him at the same time to become one of his lieutenants. Liz quirked a small smile on the corner of her lips before she stared back at King Theod who was rubbing his chin, a curious expression on his face.
“General Ruthersfield you say? The rogue General of the United States Army?”
“Yes your highness,” Ed replied in a neutral voice.
“Your reputation precedes you, General,” Theod started in a low voice that made Liz tense a bit. “Generals are not supposed to go against their government, but in your case, I think you did the right thing. The Elves were good enough to take you into their fold and make you their new representative in our trading agreements.”
Liz breathed a sigh of relief that she didn’t know she had been holding.
“Come now, what trade does the Elves of the White City request?” Theod suddenly was all business.
“There is a war brewing, your Highness,” Ed started, “the Elves and Men of the White City are going to war against a darkness that has risen again. We were sent to enlist the aid of Paris’s armies to help us.”
“A growing darkness you say ... does this darkness have a name?”
Ed hesitated before answering, “There is a name, your Highness, but to speak it right now would put disbelief in your mind. This darkness has been waiting for a long time and only now, has it risen to destroy this world.”
“My scouts have been telling me of whispers of a nameless evil that lurks to the north. They say it resides in the City-That-Cannot-Be-Named, what is now called the Shadow Horror City,” Theod pitted them with a calculating stare before sitting up, “you are vague, yet there is something about your demeanor that has otherwise made me think. Please, stay as my guests while I discuss the matter with my councilors.”
He gestured to a few servants who stepped forward, bowing to him, “My servants will take your party to rooms set up for you. Please join me for dinner later today. We will talk more of the war then.”
Liz stood up once more and bowed before following behind her brother as they followed a servant who led them from the court and into the spacious stone hallways of Theod’s keep.
“This way, sirs and ma’am,” the servant murmured as she turned left into another hall. They were about half way down the hall when a shout made them stop and turn around.
“Eomer! Eowyn! Is it truly you?!” a fairly handsome young man still dressed in the robes of the court came rushing up to them and it was only when he got closer that Liz felt her heart seize up and a small gasp escaped her lips.
“Who“ her brother started before she rushed up to the man and was swept up in a giant hug.
“Theodred! Theodred, Theodred, Theodred!” she cried, tears pouring down the sides of her face as she buried her head in his broad shoulders.
“Eowyn! I knew it was you the moment I saw you in the court of my father’s. Oh it’s been so long!” Theodred hugged her tightly before releasing her and stepping back. Liz moved aside to let her brother embrace their Reincarnated cousin a broad smile on her face.
“Too long brother, too long,” Ed embraced Theodred fiercely before stepping back.
“It’s not really Theodred though. This age, it’s Terrance, the next in line to the throne of Paris,” Theodred smiled a bit before he looked beyond them, “Ed, never would have thought that you’d pick a lieutenant so young. He looks almost in the beginnings of his college years!”
“Oh,” Ed turned a bit to gesture for Matt to step up, “this is Matthew Biggs. Apparently since you know about your past, you have read Tolkien’s works, haven’t you?”
“Yes ... wait a minute. You’re telling me that this young man is Meriadoc Brandybuck of the Shire? The one who pledged fealty to my father, Theoden?”
“Yes,” Ed smiled as Matt blushed a bit, embarrassed by the attention.
“Then, thank you, Master Hobbit,” Theodred suddenly bowed down on one knee, “thank you for your courage, valor to help my country.”
“But-but,” Matt started to splutter, “I’m just his Reincarnation ... I don’t even“
“It doesn’t matter,” Theodred cut him off, “I am forever in your debt.”
“O-Okay ... I guess,” Matt trailed off before backing a bit away, sheepish.
Theodred got up and gave them a smile before his expression turned serious. “My father doesn’t have the memories of his previous life, but he has some snatches of it. That’s why he knows of the Elves and of the Shadow Horror City. I’ve had mine since I was young and quite a few of this court also has theirs. They’re former Rohirrim, Ed, and they know of you as Eomer. If my father is convinced or if he isn’t they will follow you.”
“Are they trained as robotic horsemen or as foot soldiers?”
“Of course the Rohirrim are horsemen, Ed, have you forgotten? But we also do have the latest in weaponry, tanks, planes, whatever was left over from the Nano Wars and improved upon. The real thing we lack is ships, but that is because Cirdan’s realm encircles us,” Theodred explained, “however, I must warn you of something.”
“What?” Liz noticed that Theodred was staring at her.
“Grima Wormtongue is in my father’s court. My father absolutely refuses to send him away and while I have urged him to, his mind set is that the man is a good servant. I know of what transpired between you and him, Elizabeth, but it is my need to inform you to protect you. We do not know if he is working for Saruman, but so far he hasn’t twitched or given any indication that he is working with the Enemy.”
“These are your rooms,” Theodred suddenly stopped and Liz hadn’t realized that they had been walking while chatting with each other. “Please, be on your guard. While many here in Paris are loyal to you, there are still dangers lurking about. We’ve heard what happened to the Nazgul ... there are far more dangers than the ones you’ve faced in the Golden City , but many of them are subtle.
“I must take my leave now. Father will need some convincing to aid the White City Elves and their war against Morgoth,” he gave a ghost of a smile, “Yes I know of Galadriel and her Elves and I know of Morgoth and of Sauron.”
With that he left them, the servant that had been sent to escort them following behind him. Liz watched as he turned and corner and disappeared from her sight before looking at both Ed and Matt. “I’ll be fine, Ed,” she soothed her brother, “I can take care of myself.”
“I know, but it’s just that”
“Ed, I killed the Witch King. Grima Wormtongue should be nothing in comparison.”
“Good bye,” she emphasized before shutting the door on their faces to her room. Alone, she heaved a sigh of relief. Though she was touched that her brother was concerned for her, it was still annoying to have him hover over her like an overgrown bat, considering the fact that he only recently found out of Grima’s existence.
She turned around and looked around the room she had been assigned. It was spacious and beautiful. Little torch-like lamps lit the walls while lamps were placed everywhere to give the room light. There were no fluorescent bulbs like those of the great Elvish cities, but it was a subtle touch of the ancient period of the Renaissance.
However, modern amenities were already in the room and Liz spotted a computer kiosk on a desk. She sat down in front of it and checked the nets for any news concerning the Black City. A part of her worried for her fiancé and she hoped he was all right.
As she scrolled through the news items, she briefly wondered was she doing the right thing by going on this quest of sorts. What was she doing? Fulfilling a part of her former self as Eowyn the Shield Maiden? Some part of her that longed to finish what she had started?
It was all confusing, but Liz knew of one thing that was clear, of the evils she had seen in both the Black City and Golden City, there shouldn’t have been this much abundant evil lying around. It was her job, and the job of her friends to help clean it up. After all, they were just pieces in what was probably a much larger game.
* * * * *
Edward Ruthersfield stared at the shut door to his sister’s room. He knew that she was fiercely private but even now he believed that she should take Theodred’s warning seriously. But she seemed indifferent to it and though he didn’t doubt her abilities as on of the NYPD, it was still the brotherly side of him that worried for her safety.
“She took that well,” Matt commented behind him and he glared pointedly at the former Hobbit to which he shut up immediately.
“I’m going to find some guards for her room. You stay in yours. I don’t want you out wandering. We haven’t established a secure perimeter yet,” he said in a hard voice.
“Okay ... but General”
“You can call me Ed or Eomer if it helps, Matt,” he interrupted him.
“Uh ... Eomer,” Matt looked a bit uncomfortable but shrugged it off, “were you serious as taking me on as a lieutenant of yours? I mean, technically don’t I have to volunteer for the Army?”
“Civilian lieutenant, Matthew. There’s a difference. Right now you’re a better asset to me than any of my men except for a few because you’ve got experience and you have your Reincarnated memories. A few of my men and women do have their memories, but they’re not as prominent as I would like them to be.”
“Oh ... so then, I guess ... thank you?” the college kid seemed a bit nervous and Ed sighed, losing what many of his comrades and his sister had dubbed the ‘military face’. He ruffled the boy’s hair, still surprised to see how tall the former Hobbit had grown. It threw him many loops to see Matt almost as tall as him he still pictured him as Hobbit-sized.
“It’s a volunteer position, Matt. I’m not forcing you to join, but I did mention you as my lieutenant because you know as well as I do what the stakes are to get the Parisian Army mobilized. You don’t have to be my lieutenant but for now, you’ll be able to find information that perhaps someone can be holding from me because of my status.”
“Okay ... I accept it, and thank you, but you’ve changed a lot Gen-uh- Eomer. You’re different ...”
“Kid, not all Reincarnations are the same. We change. The only people that don’t seem to change are the Elves.”
“Good point,” Matt looked thoughtful, “but, sir, if people change, doesn’t that mean that Grima Wormtongue’s current incarnation could be different?”
“Hah! That evil little creature? Not a chance,” Ed snorted lightly. He didn’t believe for a minute that Wormtongue had changed. There was no way that evil foul human would have changed. Once a traitor, always a traitor ... that was what he believed.
“If you say so sir,” Matt looked a bit confused.
Ed stared at the former Hobbit for a bit before he clapped the young man on his shoulder. “Don’t think too much about it, all right? I’ll be back later.” He walked down the hall, making sure his pace was even and not hurried. Matt’s words disturbed him a bit ... and some doubt of Wormtongue’s true intentions were lingering in his mind ... Could Matt be right? Could Grima Wormtongue’s current incarnation not be as evil as he was back in the Third Age of the Sun?
“Nah ... can’t be,” he whispered as he shook his head and continued down another hall, determined to find the guards that had accompanied them to post one outside of his sister’s door.
* * * * *
Matthew Biggs had always considered himself a sensible man. Though he was just barely starting his college years, he was already a sophomore and that had to count as something. He was street-smart, but he was also book smart. Eomer’s words concerning Grima Wormtongue just seemed wrong somehow. During the lull time in the White City, he had explored the Elves’ vast library of knowledge and did some digging into the history where he remembered snippets from his own memory.
It was for curiosity at first, but as he ran through the actions of the time periods he was reincarnated, he began to realize that though he possessed what was essentially the core of Meriadoc Brandybuck, he wasn’t really him per se. There was something different, as if all of his past incarnations have each done their own significant thing that made them seem like Merry, but yet retain their own individual status.
He also noticed that in each of his previous incarnations that he could remember, his personality was a bit different from Merry’s. Each time he had been reborn, there was more and more of a personality change. He had gone from the curious Hobbit to a warrior ... to a gentleman, to something that he didn’t know what was for. But it seemed that this time, he retained all of the personalities and it merged with him.
He was Merry, but he was also Matthew Biggs. He was a part of the Fellowship, but this time he brought something different to the new Fellowship. It wasn’t skills per se, but it was something definitely different.
So for Eomer to think that Grima Wormtongue not to have changed, it had to be very narrow-minded. Everything changed with the passage of time, couldn’t Eomer see that? Even the Elves changed, though some more subtly than others. Legolas had changed. Gone was the sprightly Elf who had initially joined the Fellowship, cheerful and always with a lovely tune to sing during the dull days of travel. Though by their journey’s end they had all matured and changed more, Legolas’ demeanor was by far a shocking contrast from the Third Age to now, the Twentieth Age of the Sun.
Even Gandalf had changed. Though Merry could see it was more subtle than anything, the wizard had changed through all of the years. He was more unwilling to bend rules and seemed a bit more restrained in his efforts. During their battle to protect the Golden City from the remnant forces of Sauron, though he was stuck in the Healing Hall, he had seen the restraint Gandalf had on his own being to stop from lashing out against the enemy. He knew that Gandalf was able to defeat so many enemies like he had in all the battles previous, but it seemed now that this Gandalf was willing to let a few die in order for something higher to be achieved.
That wasn’t like the Gandalf he knew ... .
But besides the ones who were immortal, the changes of his fellow reincarnated friends and allies ... everyone had changed. Lady Eowyn had changed. Though she was still feisty and had a temper, she was more cautious and knew what she had to do. She had become cool, calculating, not diving headfirst into things that Matt had seen her do when they were Merry and Eowyn.
“Everybody changes, but the question is, is that change for the better or worst?” he whispered mostly to himself as he noticed the time. It was close to dinner and he began to dig through the dresser and closet that was in his room. He was mildly surprised to find clothing his exact size ...
“Or the better question would be, is Morgoth expecting us to be ourselves or to be something different? Sauron thought we were ourselves, we showed him otherwise,” he muttered as he pulled on a pair of trousers and picked a nice looking dress shirt from the closet. Everything in the closet looked a bit old, but they were stylishly cut.
“The Nazgul thought we would be the same yet we would also be different,” he spoke to his own image in the mirror as he adjusted the buttons. “But then, is everyone regressing? Is it just me who finds that not everything is the same?”
He finished adjusting the last parts of his outfit before deciding that he looked presentable enough and walked to the door. He opened it and suddenly felt his jaw drop a few inches as he stared at who was standing in the hall.
He never knew that she had long blonde hair. He had always seen it either tied up or underneath a cap of sorts. But now, she had let her hair down and it carpeted her back like a wavy sheet. She was dressed in a dark green gown, made of material that looked velvety ... and for those long seconds he stared at her, he saw not Elizabeth Ruthersfield, but Eowyn, the Shield Maiden.
“M-Milady Eowyn,” he hastily bowed low to her, barely noticing that the guard Eomer had posted by her door had also bowed.
“Oh please, get up. I’m not Eowyn, I’m only her current incarnation,” she snapped at them and Matt shook his head trying to clear the image of her as the Shield Maiden and stuffing the image of her as one of the NYPD back into his mind, but it was hard work.
“Now then,” Liz approached him and Matt swallowed, a bit nervous in her presence. Though she was older than he was, she was still very beautiful and the Merry part of Matt felt nervous to be before her, especially in light that she was the one that had taken him into battle when King Theoden had not allowed it. “Will you be a gentleman and escort me?”
“Uh, sure milady,” Matt hastily linked his arm around hers, still kind of surprised that he was taller than she was, but only by a couple of inches.
“It’s not milady, Matt. I’m just still Liz Ruthersfield, okay?” she sighed as they walked towards the court of King Theod I, where the dining hall was adjacent to it.
“Okay ...” Matt still wasn’t sure how to address her, but didn’t say anything anymore as they approached the double doors to the court and a foot soldier opened the door for them.
There were still people in the court, and they murmured and whispered to each other as he and Liz passed through, turning to their left to enter the dining hall. At the doors to the dining hall a guard asked for their names.
“Master Matthew Biggs and Lady Elizabeth Ruthersfield,” the guard called out and Matt felt very awkward. He wasn’t used to such pomp and circumstances; he was just a city kid who grew up on the streets of the Black City. He knew nothing of the sort but somehow, his body knew what to do. He figured it had to be one of his past incarnations who knew what the hell was going on.
Glancing at Liz, he noticed that she was wearing an imperious expression, aloof, piercing gaze and carried herself like royalty. She had the hang of what was going on ... he didn’t and he felt a bit embarrassed. However, his embarrassment was gone when he saw how the people seated at the long table reacted to her. Most of them had shock written on their face and a few of them mouthed ‘Eowyn’. Suppressing the urge to snicker, he knew that they had nearly the same reactions he did when he first saw her in the dress.
They were led by another guard to their place at the table, which was two seats away from the King. Matt sat next to Ed while Liz sat across from them, next to Theodred who whispered something into her ear that made her give him a wicked looking smile.
It was then that his attention was distracted with a bed of salad that was placed in front of him in an exquisite and expensive looking plate. He stared at the artful decoration of the lettuce, a sudden urge gripping him he didn’t want to ruin the pretty looking food.
“If you keep staring at the food, it might insult the King,” Ed whispered to him before taking a bite out of his salad.
“But ... it’s ... pretty ...” Matt trailed off, realizing how foolish he sounded. He hastily stared at the multitude of forks that was on one side of his plate and realized that he didn’t know which one he should choose.
“Outer to inner. Use your fork and knife and don’t finish everything,” Ed leaned over again before returning to his food.
“Thanks,” Matt whispered before picking up the outer most fork and knife and began to cut and eat.
He forced himself to eat in small bites, his eyes occasionally darting around to emulate what the others were doing. He noticed that Liz had begun to engage the King and his son in small talk with Ed occasionally joining in. Finally, he decided that he had finished at least a third of the plate and put his fork and knife on the plate to signal that he was done.
Servants immediately whisked the plate away and put the next course in front of him and Matt took the outer most spoon, one that looked like a circle, and started to sip his soup. He was extra careful not to make slurping sounds as he had tended to do when he was eating with Sam, Fred, and Phil in Columbia’s dining hall. It was a painstaking task, at least in his opinion, and he was beginning to hate how the rich ate. There was so much food wasted that could have fed the hungry in the Black City ...
As he stopped a third of a way through his soup, the meal was taken away and the next course given to him. Matt was so concentrated on eating that he didn’t notice almost anything around him until a sharp jab to the ribs by Ed made him look up and spill some of the gravy that drizzled over his pork slivers.
“Wha? What?” he asked, staring around before Ed indicated that King Theod had asked him a question. “Oh, um, I apologize your Highness, but can you repeat your question?” He flushed a bit in embarrassment as Theod raised an eyebrow but smiled nonetheless.
“I asked, Master Biggs, what in your position of General Ruthersfield’s lieutenant do you do?”
“Oh, um,” Matt racked his brain trying to come up with a good excuse and said the first thing that came out of his mouth, “I am his undercover agent at Columbia University in the Black City. I am currently a student there, but I watch the students and various citizens of the Black City for an indication of trouble. If there are, and the NYPD cannot handle it, I report this to the General. My position is delicate because of the mage gangs and so I must keep quiet.”
If there was one thing that Matt had be proud of through all of his reincarnations was the fact that he was able to spin a feasible story on anything. He saw Ed suppressing a smile while Liz stared at him like he had grown another head and Theodred just blinking at him. However, the expression King Theod’s face was priceless ...
“You have an interesting lieutenant, General,” Theod turned his attention back to Ed.
“His capacity in the Black City helps a lot with the patrol of the Northeastern region of the United States, Milord,” Ed replied as Matt turned back to his dinner.
“I’ll be sure not to pass on word of your Lieutenant’s position,” King Theod said.
“Thank you, Milord,” Ed replied as Matt drowned out the rest of the conversation, but now kept his eyes out for anything unusual.
As the dinner progressed, Matt found himself tasting new and exotic foods all the while getting fuller and fuller by each plate that had been placed in front of him, but even so, he had begun to realize that he was eating a lot more than any of the other guests. Advantages of being a former Hobbit, he guessed as he scooped up a part of a Tiramisu and ate it, feeling the warm liqueur slide down his throat. He also realized that King Theod had been staring at Liz a lot during the dinner, as if he couldn’t place something about her ...
He was about to take another bite of the Tiramisu when Theod’s words made him stare at the King.
“Eowyn ... ” King Theod started and the whole table suddenly felt silent.
Matt stared at Liz who was staring at King Theod. His gaze went from Liz back to Theod like a ping-pong ball.
“I know you ... Eowyn ...” King Theod’s voice had changed to a soft ruddy type that was filled with warmth and Matt could feel a grin spreading across his face. He saw Liz do the same while Ed was already smiling.
“Uncle!” she cried just as the whole table cheered for the return of their long lost king.
Matt started to laugh as he saw Liz fly from her seat and embrace her Reincarnated Uncle, dessert forgotten.
“Eowyn, Eowyn, Eowyn ... it has been too long ...” he whispered, voice barely audible among the rest of the table as the people sitting there burst into murmurs and were chatting with each other, tension broken.
“I know, Uncle, but I am here ...” Liz replied and Matt felt tears prick to the corners of his eyes. He wiped at them as both released their embrace and Liz sat back down in her seat.
“Eomer ...” Theod shook the hand of Ed who was smiling broadly before the King turned his gaze on him and Matt felt a flutter of anticipation. “Meriadoc Brandybuck ... my faithful squire ...”
“An honor to serve again, my liege,” Matt felt like something had taken over his body as he stepped away from his seat and bowed deeply, “I have not forgotten my oath to you and now I will be able to fulfill it again.”
King Theod nodded before turning to look at both Liz and Ed. “The Elves will have the Parisian Army as their allies. We will go to war.”
* * * * * *
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