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Interrupted Journeys: Part Two--Journeys Perforce

Chapter 15: A seed that will bear dark fruit unto the latest days

by ellisk

Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days. The Silmarillion

***********

Aradunnon sat in the trees in the darkness of midday and listened. Colloth sat next to him in the branches, nerves taut as a bowstring. Ten of his warriors were scattered around them, guarding the elf lords and wizards they had escorted to Dol Guldur at Thranduil’s request. The king had made it clear that Aradunnon was his representative in this expedition, but the prince had long since given up hope of accomplishing anything. Before they had even reached the Forest Road, it was completely obvious that the White Wizard would not be convinced that the presence in Dol Guldur was Sauron. Radagast, in contrast, would not be persuaded it was anyone else. Galadriel and Celeborn sided firmly with Radagast while Elrond and Gandalf cautioned everyone to avoid drawing conclusions before seeing Dol Guldur. That only made Radagast, Celeborn and Galadriel remind the company that they had already traveled to Dol Guldur and had formed their opinions based on those journeys. And so they had argued the entire trip south.

Now, they sat amongst the twisted, rotting trees within sight of Dol Guldur and debated. The stench of orc filth, decaying vegetation and the foul smoke that emanated from the dark hill hung in the still air. Aradunnon could barely restrain his natural instinct to simply flee from this fell place.

“Who else could be responsible for this Shadow?” Celeborn was arguing for the hundredth time, his tone completely exasperated.

Saruman shook his head and spoke as if to a slow child. “Sauron learned such evil skills from his master, Morgoth. One of Sauron’s minions practices what he was taught here. Sauron’s presence is much stronger than this. More dark. More oppressive. He is not here.”

“He is here,” Galadriel replied in a cool voice, hard as adamant. Her golden hair was the only bright sight to be seen in the gloom. “I am well familiar with Morgoth’s presence and with his servant’s. The Necromancer of Dol Guldur is the Evil One.”

Saruman frowned. “He is evil. I do not deny that. A threat, certainly. But the threat we have been sent to deal with,” he said looking at Gandalf and Radagast, “this Necromancer is not. Why would Sauron come to this backwater mountain in this remote forest? Barad-dur is in Mordor.”

Aradunnon and Colloth leveled a cold glare on Saruman.

“The Ring was lost near here" Elrond interjected quietly. "And Mordor is under the guard of the Kings of Gondor,”

“We do not know the Ring is here. And is this forest not under the guard of these wood elves?” Saruman retorted.

Aradunnon and Colloth’s eyes narrowed further at Saruman’s tone. It clearly implied that he thought the wood elves’ guard was less than adequate.

“If Sauron rose here,” the wizard continued, “these elves would not still exist. He would crush them like ants.”

“Morgoth himself did not crush me in Beleriand and his petty servant will not crush me here,” Colloth snapped in a harsh voice, unable to restrain himself.

All eyes turned to Aradunnon’s personal guard. He was one of the Sindarin elves that followed Oropher east.

Gandalf nodded. “I do not think these wood elves, led by Thranduil, will be as easy an adversary as you think, Saruman,” he said.

Saruman snorted. “Thranduil is no Fingolfin or Fingon or Gil-galad,” he paused. “Or even Elu Thingol. And they all fell to Morgoth or Sauron. But the power in Dol Guldur does not equal the power that was in Barad-dur. This is one of Sauron's servants at worst.”

“It does not equal it yet, but it is the same,” Celeborn said. “Even Morgoth took time to gather his strength in the north after he fled Valinor. Sauron was sorely diminished after the War of the Last Alliance. His presence here does not feel the same because he is only a shadow of his former strength. We must focus our efforts on making sure he cannot restore himself fully.”

Saruman shook his head. “Do as you wish here. Waste your efforts. But I will not be so foolish. I am returning to the east to look for Sauron where he likely is and learn what I can about him.”

Gandalf’s bushy eyebrows drew together. “I think we should keep a close watch on Dol Guldur. Even if this is simply one of the Enemy’s servants, one of the Nazgûl, it must be contained. And we might learn more about the Evil One from whatever rises here.”

Saruman waved his hand dismissively. “Let the woodland king watch Dol Guldur then. Or you, Radagast. This is a good place for you, with your squirrels and birds. I am going east,” he repeated firmly.

That comment was the last Aradunnon intended to listen to. He jumped down from the tree in which he sat, guarding the others, and turned to Saruman with a cold glare characteristic of the House of Oropher. “Go where you wish. And the King of the Woodland Realm will watch Dol Guldur and contain its evil. But we are leaving now. I will escort you back to the stronghold or to the borders of this realm, but we are done with this foolishness. It is too dangerous to be here and we are accomplishing nothing.”

He looked angrily at Saruman, who returned his gaze coolly. At Aradunnon’s signal, the guards began to move through the trees, scouting their path north. Saruman was the first to follow them. After him went Galadriel and Celeborn with irate expressions. Elrond, Gandalf and Radagast brought up the rear. Elrond put his hand on Aradunnon’s shoulder. The younger elf had not ceased glaring at Saruman.

“If this is the Enemy in Dol Guldur, that will soon be clear enough, Aradunnon. And we will unite to fight him when the time is right,” the elf lord said in a soft voice.

Aradunnon looked at Elrond bitterly. “I fight him and his minions everyday, lord Elrond. Use the library that Lindomiel tells me you have to find what we need to know to destroy him.”

“We will find how to destroy him, lord Aradunnon,” Gandalf said firmly. His deep voice inspired confidence. “But his destruction will not be achieved by a single act by one person. It will take many people, playing many roles, to bring about the downfall of an evil like this one. As Celeborn said, we must ensure that the Enemy does not rise to his full power. That is your task in this long war. With your warriors, you make it difficult for him to grow strong in these woods. You lend us time to learn what must be done. Your sacrifice is not in vain.”

Aradunnon studied Gandalf for a moment and then nodded his acceptance of his words. Silently, he moved off to order their departure from Dol Guldur.

*~*~*

Many miles north, under the light of the stars, elves crowded around an elleth in the courtyard of the village furthest south and east in the realm. All gathered as close as they might to better hear her words. She was a master of words, like all those of her kind and kin, and her voice rang out clear and fierce and fell, kindling dark flames in the hearts of those that listened.

“He cozens us with terrible threats of Sauron rather than sending the army to fight the orcs and spiders,” she said. “Rather than using funds to arm the warriors, he builds himself a grand palace. Rather than accepting the offered aid of Mannish troops, he allies himself with the Naugrim, greedy just as he is. I have heard his own advisors call this stronghold New Menegroth and they laugh as they do. They mock us. Think us fools. But we are not fools.”

Many of the elves gathered around her were nodding as she spoke. Their eyes flared with anger at this last. Shouts of ‘Nay’ and “No we are not’ rose angrily and she smiled coolly.

Another elleth sat silently and alone leaning against a tree a short distance from crowd, not swayed by the inflammatory words. She stared icily at the grey eyes that held her fellows in thrall.

“Will we follow him meekly like dogs on a leash? We have defended this forest since the Time of the Trees and the Great Journey, since the Return, since the War of the Wrath, since the wars against Sauron—will it fall now? Are we no better than dogs? Are we not the Quendi? Shall we not speak against this travesty?”

Voices rose loudly in agreement.

And then the elleth leaning against the tree stood, her voice rising above the clamor. “Is speaking all you call for?” she demanded.

Cold, grey eyes turned towards the voice.

“Perhaps not. Perhaps the time for speaking is past. Perhaps the time for action has come. Look at the forest around us. The skies are darkened by the black webs of the spiders. The waters are defiled by the filth of spiders and orcs. The trees are twisted and the deer and squirrels hide in fear. Will we be like the deer or are we better than that? Are we capable of shaping our own fate?”

“Our own doom, perhaps,” the lone elleth said, facing the other with a withering glare. All eyes turned to her but she took no notice. She was focused wholly on her adversary. “I hold no love for Thranduil. Everyone here knows that. I blame him for the deaths of our people in Mordor. I blame him for not acting more decisively to save this forest before the shadow fell upon it. I do not want to move north and leave my home. But you,” she said looking at the other, “are speaking half truths. Thranduil is a poor leader, but that stronghold is no palace; it is a keep for our protection. Thranduil is a poor diplomat, but alliances with Men would not have prevented this end. You are a cunning speaker, but you are not one of us. I have lived in this forest since elves first walked beneath its eaves. I do not know you or whence you came. Do not deign to speak to us about the forest as if it is yours to love. You do not love the forest; you hate Thranduil. You speak seditious lies. It is you who would lead us like dogs on a leash of deceptive words.”

The crowd of elves looked between the two ellyth in confusion, some glaring at one and some glaring at the other. Amongst the crowd, the elleth that had spoken first remained silent. Her work was accomplished.

The other elleth did not hold her tongue.

“You are guilty of sedition, Manadhien. For that I banish you from my village. Get you gone before your actions cross over to treason and I drag you before the king you hate.” Maethorness’ eyes swept over the others present. “And any of you that have been ensorcelled by her dark words, be gone with your new mistress for you are not welcome here. I do not love Thranduil, but I am the leader of this village. Those who would govern cannot proceed from betrayal and rebellion.”

Manadhien gazed upon Maethorness for a moment but her eyes were not filled with anger or with hate as one might expect. Instead they were satisfied. When she turned and left the courtyard, none followed but many watched her leave intently. As if in reaction to that, Manadhien turned and smiled before disappearing in the shadows of the trees.

*~*~*

Naugrim—an insulting elvish name for dwarves, meaning ‘stunted ones’

AN: This is then end of Journeys Perforce. I hope you have enjoyed it and I truly appreciate those that have taken the time to review. That means a great deal to me.

This story will be continued in Journeys Begin.

Unfortunately, that story will not begin to be posted until after the New Year because I am in the mountains with no Internet access.

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A seed that will bear dark fruit unto the latest days
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17 Dec 2004
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17 Dec 2004
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