Pippin had told them all how it had happened. The Three Hunters and the White Wizard sat with the small hobbit in Fangorn Forest where they’d met and listened to the sad tale. Gandalf would only allow them a precious few moments to listen before they were off again, and so Pippin had told only the important details.
After they had split up at Amon Hen, Merry and Pippin had been left alone to either run into the forest, or fight off the Uruk-Hai that threatened the Fellowship. Pippin’s voice lowered to nearly a whisper as he told haltingly of Boromir saving them from being slain. As he told of each arrow, his voice quivered so much as to be almost intelligible. He fell silent then, and for a long moment would not speak, until Gandalf put a comforting hand on his small shoulder. Pippin, seeming to draw strength from the wizard’s touch, took a deep breath and continued.
He had been knocked unconscious, but when he woke found his hands bound painfully around the thick neck of a running Uruk-Hai. It was a position he would be in for close to a week, save for when he and Merry were flung to the ground while their captors rested. Pippin, fearing for their lives, simply kept quiet on their journey, save for stolen whispers to Merry. Merry however, would have none of it.
Perhaps it was a residue of Boromir’s heroism and courage, but something had gotten into the small Brandybuck to make him challenge every order the Orcs gave them. When he did they would strike him, until Pippin would beg them to stop, and then their leader would finally remind his group that the hobbits were not to be harmed. Merry knew of this well and used it, testing further his limits with the brutal overseers, never giving in to anything. Pippin had pleaded with his cousin repeatedly to stop and accept their fate, but he was too stubborn and never gave up. Finally, it was his end.
On the fifth night since they’d been caught, they reached the outskirts of Fangorn. Merry and Pippin were again flung to the ground while the Uruks built a fire. Not too long after a great commotion began and many riders came out of nowhere, assailing the unsuspecting Orcs.
Joy and hope soon rose within the hobbits at their arrival, but it was quickly subdued as they realized that this was just another danger. Fighting was all around them and the two hobbits, being underfoot, had several near-misses with spears, swords and hooves. Together they began to run for the forest, but as they did Merry was grabbed from behind.
Pippin turned to see Merry fighting with the orc who had grabbed him, kicking and punching for all he was worth. Pippin was about to run to help him but froze in his spot with horror. One of the Rohirrim, spotting the pair on the ground, threw a spear that shot through the orc, and out of Merry.
And then there were five.
Pippin fell silent, unable to continue as his voice and body trembled. Gandalf hugged him and told the others of how he’d found him huddled among the bushes, terrified and alone.
"But now we must move on," said Aragorn. "The Ents sleep here, and we should not disturb that which wishes to be left alone." They all agreed and each mounted their horse, Pippin riding with Gandalf upon Shadowfax. Together the company left the woods, heading south to Edoras.
"Legolas?" He started and blinked, turning to look at the hobbit behind him. Pippin looked up at him with great concern, prompting a weak smile from the elf. "Are we leaving?" Legolas turned back to the horizon, seeing that the sun had been up for several hours. He had been so involved in memories he hadn’t noticed the light he’d been staring at. He turned back.
"Yes, Pippin, we will go." He went with Pippin back to their small camp and gathered their things. Then they shouldered their packs and prepared themselves to make the perilous journey through the Gap of Rohan, the lands now controlled by the renegade wizard Saruman.
“How do we get through that?” Pippin whispered to the elf. The two lay close to the ground, surveying the path ahead from above. The Gap of Rohan had become even more dangerous since the time the Fellowship had deemed it too perilous to cross. However, there was no other way, save for travelling over the frozen mountains. Legolas could make the journey with ease, but he feared for his hobbit companion, and so decided to brave the small straight between the two mountain ranges.
“We shall find a way,” came the answer. His sharp eyes scanned the horizon, much farther than Pippin could ever hope to see. Bands of Uruk-Hai roamed all around the great ring of Isengard, even so far as the old borders of Fangorn. He turned that way, frowning at the dwindling forest and spying many hundreds of Orcs on its eaves cutting down more wood for Saruman’s dark furnaces. Legolas felt anger rise in his throat as he watched, but forced himself to turn away. ‘There will be time for him,’ he thought, ‘oh yes, Saruman will get what is coming to him.’ For now, he must get to Isengard, or no one will ever know what had happened…no one will know…
They had reached Edoras the next day, riding up to the Golden Hall and freeing King Theoden from his enslavement to the dark wizard. The decision was then made that his people should flee, rather than attempt to fight off an attack on his weak and vulnerable city. Gandalf rode away to search for the King’s nephew and leader of the Rohirrim, Eomer.
All of Rohan was at once emptied, and the four companions rode together with them to the refuge of Helm’s deep. While travelling to the stone stronghold, the people had been attacked. Wargs of Isengard had spied the travellers and assaulted them unawares. Eowyn led the villagers away from the battle, and Aragorn had sent Pippin with them, but being a hobbit of strong will he would not be parted from his friends. Gimli chose to watch out for his friend during the battle and the two stayed close together, as Aragorn and Legolas fought back to back, until they were separated.
An injured Warg drove into the two friends, knocking Legolas to the ground and taking Aragorn with it. The elf soon regained his footing and quickly shot the fell beast before it reached the edge of the cliff that was far too close for either friend’s liking. Aragorn was at last able to unhook himself from the Warg’s saddle and stood to thank his friend.
“That would have been a nasty fall,” he commented. Legolas was about to share a laugh with him when he saw his friend’s face pale. He was not looking at him, however, but past him. He turned to see what he was looking at and felt his own face drop. Pippin and Gimli were surrounded on all sides with angry Orcs. Legolas immediately drew an arrow and began firing at them, but there were too many. The two rushed into the fray to help their friends.
All seemed well until the last orc fell. Aragorn was immediately at Pippin’s side checking the hobbit for injuries, who politely protested that he was fine. Legolas, though he searched, could not find Gimli. He then began calling for his friend, looking around where they had been fighting, but noting that there was very little left standing at all. He then began to check bodies.
Aragorn looked up from tending to Pippin in alarm as he saw the elf bend low to the ground, clutching his chest as if he had been wounded. He fell softly to his knees beside what looked like a dead orc, kissing his fingers and laying them on the figure’s forhead.
“Legolas?” The elf did not look up, numbly looking down at his knees. Aragorn walked over to him as he saw the elf’s shoulders begin to shake. Pippin followed, not sure what was going on.
Aragorn drew in a sharp breath when he approached the silently weeping elf. Lying there among the foul corpses of his victims, lay Gimli, son of Gloin, Dwarf Lord of the Lonely Mountain. With a cry of disbelief Pippin rushed forward, kneeling by the thickly braided head on the ground. Legolas at last looked up at Aragorn, as for the first time in many long years the elf’s eyes were red with grief. Aragorn turned away, silently mourning in his heart, just as Theoden approached him from behind.
And then there were four.
“Get the wounded on horses,” he called behind him to his men. He approached Aragorn and saw his grieved expression, looking past him to see the elf and hobbit kneeling over the dwarf. A look of shock passed over his face when he saw what was done. He lay a comforting hand on Aragorn’s shoulder, showing him his own sorrow. In that moment one of the King’s men approached them.
“What of those who have been slain, my lord?” he asked. Theoden looked at him for a long moment, catching the eyes of Aragorn, and then looking down at the pleading eyes of Legolas and Pippin before turning back to his captain.
“Leave the dead.”
The hooves of the fair white horse tore at the ground as he galloped as fast as his legs would carry him. A band of angry Uruk-Hai followed, but none could match the speed and skill of the fair steed, even mounted on their own fell rides. Legolas had one hand wrapped protectively around Pippin who sat in front of him and the other hooked into the flowing mane of Shadowfax, the last of the Meras. He had been a gift of King Eomer after the previous owner had failed in battle. Legolas never forgot who was the rightful owner, and always treated him as a borrowed steed. He has returned to us once, he thought, he may do so again…and he will be wanting his horse.
The Fellowship of three reached Helm’s Deep two days later. Everyone expected the fortress to be assaulted soon, and so immediately preparations were made for the battle. That same evening their fears were confirmed as the Crebain began to circle the keep, spying the weaknesses of the fortress.
As night fell the tension rose. The women and children had been led to the relative safety of the Glittering Caves beneath the stone stronghold. Aragorn and Legolas had both ordered Pippin to join them and would hear no argument from him. Eowyn vowed to keep him safe and disappeared with the hobbit underground.
They knew from the beginning that it was a hopeless battle, but still they fought. Legolas and Aragorn stayed together throughout the battle as much as they could, and when the early morning light crested the hill to the east, there was Gandalf, just as he said he would be, for ‘a wizard is never late, nor is he early’.
Gandalf brought with him the Rohirrim, the army of Rohan that had been banished while Theoden’s mind had been corrupted. The battle ended swiftly once these warriors arrived. After a brief rest at Edoras, Aragorn was able to convince Theoden that the real battle now lay in Minas Tirith, and that they should ride to their aid.
The great host of the Rohirrim as well as the remaining four companions, rode then to their meeting in the Eastfold, near the great mountains that divided Rohan and Gondor. There they were met by Elrond, who bore the sword of Elendil and a message that he must pass through the mountain, if he wished to arrive in time to save Gondor.
Gandalf, Legolas and Pippin, unwilling to let Aragorn face this challenge alone, went with him. After a long and terrifying journey they emerged on the other side and won the allegiance of the dead soldiers at the stone of Erech. But the real battle would be on the field of the Pellanor.
The four companions and their ghostly army arrived while the battle still raged, aided by the ships they had taken from Corsiars. Together they tore through the massive ranks of Orcs, Aragorn and Legolas each on their horses and Gandalf and Pippin upon Shadowfax. They rode hard to the city, letting the dead cut a path for them through the endless enemies, but they did not anticipate the arrival of the Nazgul.
The companions could only watch as one of their fell beasts swooped down on them, plucking Gandalf from Shadowfax, leaving a bewildered Pippin struggling to hold on. The beast flew higher and higher, but mere seconds later it fell. It dropped from the sky like a stone, killing a vast number of Orcs as its body crushed them under it’s unfathomable weight. Aragorn and Legolas halted, and the elf called to Shadowfax to do the same.
Gandalf stood, shaking off the massive claw that had encircled him and waiting for his adversary to rise. The black shape of the Nazgul did indeed rise from the body of it’s steed, and they all saw clearly that he bore the helm of the Witchking of Angmar, the leader of the Nine. He screeched at the wizard and attacked him, first using weapons, magic, and then when these failed, resorting to mere brute strength.
Just as Legolas noticed the staff still in the wizard’s free hand, there was a light. A great flooding light that filled the eyes and senses of all who were around the battling powers, for a great distance away. When the light finally faded and the companions were still blinking their dazzled eyes, they saw that what they dreaded had happened. Gandalf and the Nazgul were gone; consumed by the light that had also slain Orcs for a great ring around where they’d stood.
And then there were three.
Shadowfax continued to bear the elf and hobbit away from the Gap of Rohan, away from Isengard and the several troops of angry Uruk-Hai that pursued them. The fair horse then turned north, towards Rivendell, and would not stop until they arrived.
As Shadowfax approached the gates of Rivendell, Legolas looked up at their fair arches wearily, for on their long road even he had become exhausted from riding. It was all he could do to jump and not collapse from the horse’s back as they entered the courtyard. He gently slid Pippin from the white horse, before caressing the soft muzzle, whispering soft words of gratitude.
By now many elves had gathered to see the ragged and weather-worn companions, and among them were Elrond and Arwen. Legolas turned and saw them before him and almost gasped at the sight of them. He had not seen beauty such as theirs since he had left Lothlorien all those months ago. It was almost pain that he felt, like the eye adjusting to bright light after being in the dark for so terribly long. Try as he might, he could not hide the near permanent look of anguish on his face from these to fair beings, diminishing their own beauty as he saw it immediately reflected in theirs.
Then he bowed. It was not a position he was accustomed to, but in this moment it gave him an unexplainable sense of peace. Reaching up, without lifting his head, he unhooked his weapons from his back and laid them at the feet of Elrond. The lord heard words come from the silvan elf before him, but could not make them out. Arwen bent down in front of him, caressing his face and forcing him to look at her.
"Legolas, what is it?" she asked, oh so innocently. The tears rolled down his cheek and onto her warm hand as the elf began shaking. Finally he was able to choke out two words, so quiet that only Arwen heard them.
The three companions, bereft of their leader, pressed on until the battle was won. The undead army tore through the city, leaving not one fell creature still breathing. After all was done, Aragorn granted freedom to the King of the Dead, allowing them to finally rest and forsake the world utterly.
After so great a battle, there was much to clean up and repair. The leaders, however, knew that the final battle, the war against Sauron, was still at hand. They had bought themselves a mere respite. Three days out from their victory, a great host from Gondor departed, purposing to challenge the Dark One and end the war once and for all. At the head of the company rode Aragorn, not yet made the King of Gondor, but respected by all as such and dressed in the fine black and silver armor that befitted such a man. At his side were his friends Legolas and Pippin, as well as Eomer of Rohan, who led the remnant of his people on the long march into Mordor.
At last after a long ride they reached the Black Gate, finding it closed and unwelcoming. Aragorn rode forth, the representatives of each race, save one, were with him as he openly challenged the Dark One to show himself. After a long and tense silence, the gate opened. The company rode back to the army behind them as they watched the host of Mordor march out of their realm. Every evil and abominable creature imaginable poured out of that ghastly gate, surrounding the host of Gondor and Rohan, two countries of Men united in their common goal. At last, a dark and nightmarish figure came forth – a man, but so corrupted by Sauron as to have ceased to be anything more than a servant, a tool of the dark will with no purpose other than that of his master. The Mouth of Sauron was his name, for he was all mouth, being mutilated and deformed where his other senses would have been.
The Mouth lay down terms for the surrender of the Free Peoples under Sauron’s rule, and they all listened as he did. Many quailed in fear at merely his voice, but those able to withstand it rejected the offer with haste, saying that they would instead fight to the last, rather than give in to evil. Then the hideous servant of the Dark Tower held up two items- a shining mail shirt, and a short sword they all knew well. Legolas thought that Aragorn had been felled by simply the sight of those precious things, for the look on his face was pure anguish. Pippin cried aloud, while Legolas used the hobbit for support, feeling as if he would fall without him. It was as if the world had been pulled out from under him, and there was nothing- no purpose in being anymore. Not if they had failed.
Their grief and dismay passed through the men like a great shockwave, filling every heart with grief. Then at last Aragorn stood, rising to his full height and jutting his chin out to the messenger in challenge. Begone, he said, they would rather fight and die than serve the dark tower. As he said the words, the heart of every man who stood with him felt courage again, and thousands of weapons were drawn.
Thus befell the battle before the Black Gate of Mordor. The host of Men was far outnumbered from the beginning, but then those who fought had never intended or willed to survive the battle, not while their whole world lay in ruin about them. No one ran, not one heart wavered in its desire to exact revenge on the Dark One who had taken everything they’d held dear from them. As the battle went on, the numbers dwindled, until they were less than half their strength. The remaining Nazgul fluttered overhead, striking fear into the hearts of all they passed and occasionally swooping down to attack the men on the ground.
One of the fell beasts was about to strike again, heading for where Pippin, Legolas and Aragorn fought together, opening its claws to grab what it could, when something came out of nowhere barreling into the creature and knocking it to the ground. The hobbit looked up and pointed.
"The Eagles! The Eagles are coming!"
For a moment, hope was rekindled in the company and they fought with renewed strength. Orcs began falling in greater numbers and many believed they could overcome their adversaries. Then out of the black gate came many more enemies – thousands of Orcs, mixed with Wargs and Trolls.
Legolas had been far too busy with his own battles to notice what happened with either of his friends, but when this new barrage assaulted them, his eye caught a troll heading for Aragorn with alarming speed. He saw him even before Aragorn did and began rushing towards him, shouting warnings that were drowned out by the sounds of battle. He tried desperately to reach his friend’s side, shoving aside orc and human alike, but there were just too many. Too many bodies between he and his friend, too many to get through in time.
Aragorn turned his head in time to see the troll knock him to the ground, pinning him flat on his back with one huge foot. He could now finally hear the cries of Legolas, or so the elf thought, for he tried to look behind him, even pinned to the ground. Legolas continued his battle through the crowd, frantically pushing aside anything in his path, finally emerging out of the horde of bodies in time to see the troll bring down his spiked club.
And then there were two.
Legolas closed his eyes as he heard the sickening impact of the troll’s weapon. He wished in his heart that he would never again have to open them, to not have to see the vision he knew was before him. Instead he turned away before blinking, looking behind him at the writhing mass of Orcs all about him. But then, a rumble. A quake. Everyone stopped, even the Orcs. Their eyes were drawn to the south, towards the great tower crowned with the flaming eye. It didn’t take long before they saw the tower crumbling, collapsing from within, tumbling down as the power that held it together was undone.
The once terrible Eye of Sauron burned with a fire not its own. The beacon was now a torch, a flame that was soon quenched by the very power it has ceaselessly sought. Then, an explosion, so loud that the elf would have covered his ears if not for the great shockwave that slammed into him, driving him to the ground.
Now alone and leaderless, the Orcs and other fell creatures controlled by Sauron fled, headless of where they went. The troll standing over the body of the fallen King turned and ran, just seconds after slaying his victim. All creatures ran as the ground beneath them began to drop, the earth swallowing the creatures into the abyss they had come from. Soon the company, standing alone and triumphant before the broken gate raised a cheer, loud and victorious over the screams and shrieks of the fleeing enemy. Legolas spotted Pippin nearby, cheering also, but as he watched, the tiny face fell.
The elf turned to see the great mountain of fire erupt in massive spray of fire and molten rock. The crowd fell silent as slowly the realization of what had happened fell upon them. The ringbearers, their saviors, had fallen. Killed by the very thing they had struggled so long and hard to reach. Instead of triumphant cries, the land was filled with the sounds of mourning. Legolas watched as slowly Pippin sank to the ground, letting his sword fall from his small hand. With unshed tears in his eyes he looked back at the mountain, oozing the fiery rock all over the land about it.
So the land has been saved from evil, a thought rose inside him. But what good is the victory if there are none left to celebrate it? Is what we have gained worth what we have lost?
Looking now into the eyes of Arwen before him, he could not be sure that it was.
Legolas woke, not sure where or when he was. After their arrival he and Pippin had been taken to the healers. Although they bore very few physical wounds, indeed none were life-threatening, there were many more that lay deep beneath the surface. Elrond had put them both into a healing sleep, so that they may, if only for a while, forget all that they had suffered.
Now he sat up, surveying the room groggily and trying to remember how he had gotten there. Then at once it all came back, all of it. The loss of his friends, and their narrow escape through the Gap of Rohan. He suddenly jumped out of the bed as if he had been stung.
“Pippin?” he called, but he was alone in the room. He left in search of his friend, and found him in a similar room across the hall from his. The hobbit still lay in dreams, dreams that no longer tortured him. Legolas sighed happily and sat next to the hobbit, smoothing back his soft red hair as he slept. He looked up as the door opened and watched as Arwen came to sit next to him. Without thinking he lowered his head, but she lifted it again, forcing him to look into her eyes.
“I do not blame you,” she whispered. “There was nothing you could have done.” He bowed his head again, frowning.
“I promised you he would return safe,” he whispered, just as quietly. “I have failed you.”
“But you lived,” she said. “Not only that, but this young halfling also. It is more than we could have hoped for.” She lifted his head again and spoke. “Now you must take the final journey and forget the terrible woes you have suffered.” With difficulty, he wrenched his gaze from her beautiful gaze to look back at the sleeping hobbit.
“Would he come as well?” he asked. There was a silence as he waited, until he finally heard the response, though in a deeper, more wizened voice.
“Yes, he will come,” Legolas looked up in surprise to see Elrond standing beside his daughter. “He has earned his place among us. Middle Earth is now in the hands of Men – it is our time to leave it.” Legolas nodded and sighed.
“I suppose it must be so,” he said, “but somehow, some part of me feels that all would have happened differently…had they lived…”
Thank you all for reading this! This was an idea I just had to write down, and I'm sorry for inflicting it upon you! Already I have an idea for another ficlet, and I'll be working on it this weekend, different story, but no less sad. I'm not sure why my writing is so depressing lately, being a happy person, I guess perhaps it's because I see what happened in the books as the best that could have been, and I feel the need to explore what could have happened had even one thing gone wrong. My intent with this story was to show how each member of the fellowship, no matter how small, was dependant on the others. If one were to die (in this case, Merry) it would be the end of them all, undoing the fellowship from within, all falling together like so many dominoes.
At least, that's what I thought...