The Shadows That Remain Rating: PG-13
A Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion fic - CHAPTER32
The next day found Matt standing in front of a more informal court of King Theod I. He was amazed at how relaxed the King was when just twenty-four hours ago, the King had such a rigid show of royalty and whatnot. Gone were most of the court members, some of them rounding up the troops from all over the Parisian land, others loading up equipment to go to war.
Though it was still a court, there was a more relaxed atmosphere to it, and both King Theod, Theodred, and Ed were standing over a table with a 3D projection of Europe over it. Holographic pieces were placed on various parts to represent armies, ships, and cities. Matt found it interesting and walked over, Liz following behind him. She was dressed more casually and opted for slacks instead of a dress. Her hair was tied back up into a tight bun.
“Elrond has sent his second, Glorfindel, to rendezvous with Cirdan to launch an assault on London. That was a few days ago. They should be done by now if they were successful. Faramir and Boromir have gone back to the Black City to convince their father to send the National Guard, an offshoot of the armies of Gondor. From the White City, Aragorn is leading both an Elvish and human army to take over Therin’s Hill,” Ed explained pointing out what he had been told by Celeborn a few days prior to their departure of the White City.
“Therin’s Hill? Is he insane?!” Theodred exploded, “that’s suicide! Therin’s Hill has never had a successful assault on it since the early Twentieth Century. Even the Nano War it was just bloodshed all over!”
“The Elves are backing him up this time,” Ed pitted his Reincarnated cousin with a stare, “the strategy is to hit them all in succession. Galadriel and Celeborn are coordinating everything from the White City.”
“Then what do they want the Parisian Army to do? What are the Rohirrim for?” Theod asked a frown on his face as he stared at the map.
“Sir!” an aide suddenly burst into the court, running up them out of breath.
“What is it?” Matt saw that it was one of Ed’s subordinates who skidded to a stop and paused a bit to catch his breath before speaking in a hurried voice.
“London has been taken over. Cirdan and Glorfindel have been successful in their assault. They’re now awaiting results from Paris. They plan to strike at Amsterdam and Rotterdam next,” the aide said before gulping down a few more breaths.
“We join with Glorfindel and Cirdan to take over the two cities. Apparently they think there seems to be much of Morgoth’s forces there and if we do not hit them there, then our assault on the Shadow Horror City,” Ed pointed to a city farther north than Therin’s Hill and Amsterdam, “will not be successful.”
“It is settled then. I will send what men I have,” Theod decided prodding a few of the major pieces around. “Terrance will be the commander of the forces. I know they are Rohirrim and will follow you Eomer, but they were long under the command of my son before you,” he said in a grave voice and Ed nodded. If Matt could see any hints of anger at being pushed to being a second-in-command, he found none.
“I understand. Troops tend to follow their own leaders before rising to the authority of a foreign one,” Ed replied respectfully, “how long before the men are ready?”
“They are ready to leave in a few hours,” Theodred replied.
“Then it is settled. We march on Rotterdam and Amsterdam,” Theoden had the final word and gestured to a servant who immediately came forward, “send a message to the Elvish fleet and to the White City. We will be coordinating efforts to reach the twin cities at the same time.”
“Milord,” the servant bowed before hurrying off.
“I left a few things in my room before we’re leaving. I’ll be back,” Liz spoke up and Matt suddenly remembered that he had also left a few things in his room.
“Liz, can you grab my things too?” Matt didn’t want to leave the room yet. He found the battle map quite fascinating, more so because it was different from Elvish technology, and just as effective. Plus he wanted a chance to prod the pieces like King Theod did. They looked almost life-like ...
“Sure,” Liz replied as she walked towards the door and disappeared behind it.
“Um, King Theod ... may I ... um ... look at the map?” Matt asked a bit hesitantly.
“Go ahead my boy,” Theod smiled at him as both Theodred and Ed were pouring over a section of the map on the other end of the table. “Here, I’ll teach you how to work the pieces ... ”
* * * * *
Though it was only the second day since they were here, Liz already knew her way around the keep. It was an innate reaction from her police training, know the grounds you walk on. She knew that it took a few floors above to get to the platform where their hovercopter was and a few floors down was the dungeons where the food stores and secret passage ways were.
As she reached her room, she briefly wondered how Frank was doing in the Black City. They had received no word so far on the progress and based on what Liz knew, David Greens was a hard man to convince – especially in light of the fact that he was essentially, Denethor son of Ecthelion Reincarnated. She had never really knew David Greens personally, but she had met him twice. Once when Frank took her to his house to introduce her to his father, the other time when he had brought her to his home to tell his father that they were engaged.
Both times she had been scared of David Greens, and was quite relieved when Frank had suggested they get an apartment of their own to live together before marrying. There still wasn’t a set date, but they had gotten engaged because of the high mortality rate NYPD officers usually faced and many times they needed comfort from each other just to deal with all of the high and dark violent crimes that rampaged across the Black City.
She hoped he was safe ...
Opening the door, she stepped into her room and found what she had left there. She gathered her things up and headed for the door when she suddenly heard a sound behind her and whirled around, gun drawn from the folds of the pile in her hands. The pile of clothes and a few other things dropped to the ground with a thunk as she scanned the room, her eyes narrowed, looking for anything out of the ordinary.
Her senses were on full alert as she slowly backed out of the room. She suddenly turned to her right and pointed the gun straight at a cowering man whose once handsome face now wasted had such a scared expression plastered on it.
“P-Please ... d-don’t shoot,” the man stuttered and Liz tilted her head, staring at the man. He looked so familiar ... then it suddenly hit her who the man was.
“Grima Wormtongue ... ” she whispered as she lowered her gun slightly, the detective part of her still wary, but the Eowyn part of her feeling pity.
“Please ... d-don’t s-shoot. I mean no harm, no harm,” he whispered as he raised his arms up, still cowering. “I ... ” he shuffled a bit closer, “I ... just wanted to see you, milady ... ”
“What are you doing here, you filth,” Liz couldn’t keep the anger out of her voice as she stepped back as the man shuffled forward some more.
“P-Please ... I mean you no harm ... .I ... just wanted to apologize. I’m sorry ... ” Wormtongue’s current incarnation was pathetic. The shadow of a man who was once so manipulative, now reduced to a quivering mess, but Liz felt no pity and quashed that part of Eowyn that did.
“Sorry for what?” she snapped at him, making him quake even further, “Sorry that you tried to seduce me? Sorry that you betrayed my family and turned my Uncle into one of Saruman’s puppets? Sorry that you nearly destroyed the whole world because you believed that Saruman was some kind of god? Well here’s news buddy, Saruman isn’t some freaking god! He’s just human! And we won! What the hell do you have to be sorry for you piece of shit!”
By now her grip on her gun was so tight that it was white knuckled and she inwardly congratulated herself on her restraint on not shooting Grima in the head right then and there.
“I know ... ” the man whispered, broken, “I was wrong ... but I apologize for betraying you, Milady d’Arc-“
The name cut right through Eowyn and her eyes widened in surprise. Memories of her as Jeanne d’Arc, the Maiden of Lorraine suddenly poured into her, ironic because she was in Paris, but also as the memories assaulted her, she realized that when she was the Maiden, she had been betrayed by one of her own men ... and than man was the one standing in front of her at the moment, different incarnation, but the same man nonetheless.
When she spoke, it wasn’t her normal voice, it was more ragged, deeper, a soldier’s voice, the voice of a woman from the small peasant town with no real formal education, only the education of the Church. It was that of one of her former incarnations ... Jeanne d’Arc ...
“You were the filth that betrayed my people and me! You were the one who sold me out to the English! You conspired against me, against your general, your savior ... for a little gold? My men died! We could have won battles, but no, you had to tell them that I was seeing things ... I was talking with the Devil-oh-yes-you-had-to,” Liz wrestled with the memory of d’Arc and finally was able to quash it down. She was surprised that something like this had happened and was worried, but the worry was for naught as she saw that Grima was now crying and an odd sense of forgiveness filled her that pissed off the d’Arc part of her, but Liz mentally told that part to shut up.
“I ... ” she tested out of her own voice and was relieved to find that it was her own voice, not the Jeanne d’Arc voice, “I forgive you ... ” she said, realizing just how long the man had tortured himself through all of his incarnations to tell her that he was sorry and probably longer to hear words of forgiveness. It was a long time since the Maiden of Lorraine had been burned at the stake.
Now that she thought about it, she realized that her brother had been incarnated as La Hire, the general of the French army ... and Faramir had been her companion and servant Jean Aulon ... Even Merry had been a faithful soldier under her command ... Almost all of the Rohirrim were part of her army and they had followed her. It was a scary thought, but Liz put that aside to stew on it later.
“M-Milady?” Grima stared up at her with tear filled eyes before he crumpled into a ball and wailed. Liz barely heard the thank you that was coming from his mouth before he looked up at her and started to stand up.
“Hold it right there,” a new voice made him freeze and Liz who had not been paying attention to her surroundings was surprised to see Frank standing right behind Grima who was half crouched on the floor. He was holding a gun to the quivering man’s head. “Don’t even think about moving,” Frank said in a cold voice.
“Frank,” Liz started before he stared at her and she was surprised to see the cold fury on his face.
“This worm is nothing, Elizabeth,” there was something different about Frank’s voice and it took a moment for her to realize that his personality as Jean Aulon had taken over. He had to have heard their conversation ... but to hear her name spoken ... it was so confusing.
“Frank ...” she said in a more soothing tone, trying to bring back her fiancé.
There was a sudden cry from Grima before the sound of a gun shot going off and Liz shielded her eyes, giving a short scream before silence once again ruled the hall way. When she opened her eyes, she saw Grima, lying on the ground a pool of crimson blood spreading on the floor, getting wider by the minute.
She rushed over to the fallen man and propped his head up on her lap. Tears began to fall on their own accord from her eyes as Grima struggled to say some more things, but his words were lost in the pink spittle that bubbled from his mouth.
“No ... no,” she whispered as she saw his eyes close and his body went limp in her arms. “No ...” she didn’t try to stop the tears but instead stared up at Frank, glaring at him in anger.
“Why?!” she shouted at him, barely hearing the footsteps of others coming into the hall, or the fact that it was her brother, Theodred, Matt, Ben, King Theod and a few guards that came their way. “Why Frank?! What the hell did he do to you?! He was to be forgiven! Not to be murdered!” she screamed at him.
“I-I ...” Frank stuttered, shock spreading across his face as he stumbled back, the gun dropping from his hands. “He ... betrayed”
“I know you were angry!” this time, she felt the personality of Jeanne merging with her own, but the dominant emotion was that of sorrow and anger, both directed at her fiancé and Reincarnated lover, “He was to be forgiven! I know you vowed to kill whoever betrayed me! But I forgave him! I understood his cause!
“You killed him! You. Killed. Him.”
* * * * *
Hours later, the Parisian Army set out for Rotterdam, supplies and equipment all packed up into tanks and trucks. The robotic horsemen of the Rohirrim were already escorting the army, but in the main heart of the forces where the command staff was residing, it was all quiet, with barely a word spoken to each other.
Frank and Ben had joined the Parisian Army, having their orders sent by both Elrond and Galadriel, but things were frosty between Frank and Liz and it made for the command vehicle an uncomfortable place. Many with the exception of Ben, were previously Reincarnated to follow Jeanne d’Arc so they understood what was happening between the two former lovers of that age.
King Theod had wished them a safe journey and victorious battles and said that he would aid Galadriel and Celeborn by cooperating with them on coordinating the Parisian Army’s efforts.
As the army set out, high above them, in the clouds of the Gods, both Eru and Aru sat, staring down at the chess board they were playing on.
The black and white pieces moved of their own accord, but each being had the ability to prod their own pieces to their own devices and Eru smiled wickedly at his evil counterpart. “It seems, I have the upper hand,” he said in a quiet voice.
“For now, Eru. For now,” Aru’s reply was short and to the point. Both beings continued to stare at the pieces.
* * * * * *
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