Mellon Chronicles


Chapter 1

by Cassia-(T) and Siobhan-(T)

"Traitor" art by Cassia

"Traitor" art by Cassia-(T)

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A man walked slowly to a small tent erected in the middle of the camp.  The fires had long ago died and the soldiers who occupied their bedrolls were sound asleep.  The battlefields were silent, at rest for the moment. 

The warrior’s steps dragged slightly with fatigue, weariness from the long days of battle.  A soft sigh escaped his lips as he dropped onto the stump that had been drug in front of the tent opening – an impromptu chair. 

With thoughtless familiarity he drew his sword and began to run a rough whetstone along the blade, sharpening the razor edge and smoothing out the notches and scratches it had acquired during the long day of battle.  

The stars twinkled quietly in the dark velvet of night, catching his attention, and he turned his eyes towards them, seeking the ever-familiar star that shone so brightly in the northern quadrant of the sky.  His movements slowed and stilled until he was simply sitting, gazing at the heavens.  The slight breezes moved the wayward strands of hair gently away from a battle-scarred face.  A cut ran from his upper lip to just under his right nostril, a wound he had sustained in a skirmish last week.  It was healing well, but it would leave a scar on his face, one that was mirrored in other similar wounds he carried on his body and on his heart. 

The cool winds felt good as they combed through sweat-soaked hair.  The grime of war never quite left the soul even when the body had been washed clean and he closed his eyes against the memories of the day.  The southerners were fierce warriors; it took all the cunning and strength of his troops to keep them at bay.  They were insidious, difficult to track and blood-thirsty; nothing like the peaceful Far Harad tribes that had adopted the ranger years ago when he temporarily lost his memory.  No, the men they fought now sought victory at any cost, throwing away even their own lives if it meant the death or injury of their Gondorian enemies.  Where the fire of their hatred had come from Aragorn would never understand. 

The world of men had grown tiresome. 

As he watched the distant star a word slipped unbidden from his lips and he remembered a more peaceful time, a more peaceful people - the ones he called family. 

“Eärendil.”  The elvish word caused him to smile.  “Milyon dortho a adar a terein nìn.   Ingon ha lù na peltakse aen.  I long for my home and my brothers and father.  Perhaps it is time to return.”  The sound of what he considered his native language, one he had rarely spoken in over fifteen years, rolled easily off his tongue.  He whispered the words quietly to himself, nodding in agreement.  Absently his fingers touched the brooch at his neck, the one his father, Lord Elrond, had named him for among men. 

Aragorn, known to the men of Gondor he was now Commander over as Thorongil, gazed across the quiet camp.  The sentries on the edges of the encampment paced relentlessly back and forth, their gaze every once in a while flickering over to rest on their leader.  Thorongil held their trust and had won their hearts as a good leader and a decent, caring man.  The passage of years and the stench of war had not changed that, although it had worn the sharp, youthful edges off of the human... taking a certain measure of his innocence with it. 

Slowly the ranger turned captain unfastened his bucklers, laying them aside.  The battle today had been fierce and bloody; his gear would need some cleaning.  Was it not bad enough that they must guard against the dark shadow of Mordor and fight the ravages of raiding orc parties that were never fully sated?  Must the human world be intent on slaughtering their own as well?  

Men fighting men.  Fighting, killing... for what?

Aragorn shook his head sadly; almost ready to condemn his own race, but the soft, wise voice of an elf cut through his dark thoughts.  His father had told him of the ancient times, of the struggles of the elves, when immortal fought immortal brother and many were slain. 

Often, my son, freedom and wisdom are found through pain and war.  And as much as it is detested it is at times unavoidable.  You may chose not to have conflict with a people, but they have the free will to choose to have conflict with you.  Never rush into battle in anger, let fighting be your last resort...” 

Aragorn smiled at the memory.  Such a long time ago.  He recalled that certain lesson, how his father had caught him scuffling with one of the town children that often found it fun to taunt and torment the young orphan.  When Elrond had broken up the scuffle, the child had run home to Strayton but not until after Aragorn had taken it upon himself to make sure he learned just how well the elvish-raised youth could fight.  Well-aimed punches had broken the child’s nose and Aragorn had been highly angered that his father had not allowed him to continue teaching the other boy a lesson.  It was at that time that Elrond had sat him down and begun instructing the young man about war, fighting, battle and the nature of the beast – anger. 

“I would wish for you that you may never experience war, but I fear that I would wish in vain.  However, I foresee that that is not in your future for some time, my son.” He had pulled Aragorn into a tight embrace and gently kissed the boy’s head before looking him over for injuries

Aragorn smiled softly as he remembered the way Elrond had touched his cheek, the elderly elf’s eyes so sad at the thought of his son’s future... and he had been right.  Aragorn fought back the memories of the men slain earlier that day, the southerners who had lost their lives so needlessly and his own men who would not return home to families and loved ones.  How would he ever tell them?  Some of them had been his friends.

What road had he traveled that had brought him here?  His thoughts filtered through his time with the Rohirrim, the free-spirited, proud people of the horse lords who roamed and protected the Riddermark.  That was long before he had come to Gondor.  He followed his memories down through to his recent past, lighting on that fateful day when Éomund, no longer such a youth as he had been, had introduced him to the Steward of Gondor, Ecthelion II.

The tired warrior dropped his gaze to his hands; hands that held his sword, now cleaned from the blood that had stained it earlier.  The elvish writing interwoven on the ornate handle, perceptible only to one who knew how to identify it, caught his attention.  Waves of memories washed over him once more and he fled into their sweet release, letting the faces of friends that he had lost be replaced by dear ones from his younger years.  

He thought of Legolas, perhaps the best friend he had ever had or ever would have and wondered how the elf was faring.  The last news from the north he had received was months and months out of date, but it seemed that all was mostly peaceful and he was glad that none of his dear ones in the north were facing anything like he was down here.  He wondered if they ever thought of him as they went about their lives.  He knew his father did, for every now and again he would still receive letters from the elf lord.  He treasured those touches of home, but he wondered if Legolas or his other friends remembered him still.  

It was so easy in the day-to-day stress of battle to forget.  The sheer overwhelming necessity to stay alive replaced all thoughts of family and friends with its obsessive drive to return home that night, to save the man next to you, to simply make it through the day.  Aragorn realized with a touch of sorrow that he hadn’t even thought of Legolas or his brothers or his father in a few days.

“I miss you, mellon-nín,” he whispered again to the dark of night, “but I am glad you are far from this place.  Perhaps I will come to you soon.  To all of you.” 

Yes, the world of men was wearing on him.  If they could secure Gondor’s borders and stop the push of the Haradrim through the southern road by summer’s end, then perhaps that would be enough and he could leave in good conscience.  The thought struck him that this was what his heart had been planning all along.

Aragorn glanced quickly up again as the winds stirred around him; something was coming.  Nothing had changed, the night was still peaceful, the men still slept, yet everything was different and nothing was the same as it had been only a few moments ago.  Whether it was his foresight or just intuition he was not certain, but one thing was as clear as the bright night sky - his future lay with men only a short while longer.  It was time to go home. 

He missed the smell of Rivendell in the mornings when the dew was still on the ground.  He had forgotten how it felt in the valley when the wind would chill slightly before the snows fell.  And most of all he missed the ring of his brother’s laughter and the warmth of his father’s hearth.  The ranger’s heart lay in the woods, in the hills... his spirit ached for the elves, for home.  A smile touched his lips as his desires hardened into resolution. 

Soft footsteps alerted him to the presence of another.  Tarcil, his second-in-command, approached him softly.  The Gondorian warrior was worried over his Captain, for it seemed that Thorongil slept rarely of late and his heart seemed weighed down.  The Commander walked quietly up to his superior’s tent.


Aragorn turned at the soft question.  A small smile that did not reach his eyes greeted the soldier. 

“Yes, Tarcil. What is it?  Shouldn’t you be sleeping with the others?  What keeps you awake?”  He glanced up at the man who stopped in front of him.  The Gondorian bowed his head slightly out of respect.

“Lord Denethor requests your presence.  He wants to discuss the casualties and our plan of attack for tomorrow.  But if you like...”  The man faltered, unsure if his opinion should be voiced aloud.  He had learned that in times like these it was not always wise to speak openly what was on one's mind. 

Aragorn raised an eyebrow, tilting his head to the side and encouraging the warrior to proceed. “What is it, Tarcil?  It is all right, you may speak freely. We are alone.” 

With a small nod the warrior continued, “It’s just that, if you like I will tell Lord Denethor that you are sleeping.  You need not recount the day with him now.  Surely it is more important that you get some rest. You seem... well, my lord, you seem overly tired of late.  A good night’s sleep would do you well; he cannot deny you that.  And...”  Tarcil shifted slightly.  “Well, beg pardon sir, but sometimes he seems to forget that you are the same rank as he and aren’t bound to report to him.  I mean no disrespect, he just seems to request a lot of you, that is all.” 

The man’s worry over his commander touched Aragorn’s heart and he stood slowly to his feet.  Re-sheathing his sword and dropping the sharpening stone down on the wood stump, he clasped the soldier’s shoulder affectionately and turned the warrior toward his own bed.  “Worry not, Tarcil.  Denethor is simply concerned about the outcome of the war.  He wishes to give his father a good report of this day.  I will see to it that he can and then I will retire immediately.”

When the Gondorian turned back on his leader with a questioning look, Aragorn laughed softly. “I promise, now off with you.  I can't have a sleepy second-in-command tomorrow; we have that valley pass to take back before this over.”  He gave the man a gentle shove and watched as the soldier nodded, pleased with his commander’s answer, and walked off to find his own bed. 

For the first time in months Aragorn realized his heart was light, thrilled with the decision to head for home at the end of this warring season.  He walked off to find the other Captain and give him the report he sought. 


Legolas Greenleaf turned his face towards the sun, enjoying the blissful caress of its warmth and the gentle brush of the breeze through his long golden hair.  He loved the trees of his home, but sometimes it was good to leave the shadow of the wood and walk in the green meadows where the shadow that had fallen over his home did not extend.  

He had not left Mirkwood for the better part of ten years.  Not a long time for an elf, but just long enough for the prince to enjoy the prospect of a change.  Considering the fact that for the first two-thousand years of his life he had hardly left the forests of his home at all, it was ironic that he could consider a mere decade of any significance at all.  But, the prince supposed, his close associations with the human world these past few decades must have rubbed off on him a little.  

The rolling countryside of Gondor rose up to meet the elf and his light steps moved swiftly across the green grass as he breathed the sweet springtime air.  It wasn’t just the change of scenery that was inspiring him and he knew that; it was the prospect of being reunited with a very dear friend whom he had not seen in some time. 

The passing seasons had fled away so quickly... it did not seem like fifteen years since he and Aragorn had parted last on the green fields of Rohan.  Again the strange paradox of an elvish - human friendship was apparent, because to an elf, those fifteen years seemed of small consequence.  Legolas was unchanged, the passing years mattered little to those of the immortal race.  And yet... Legolas knew that for Aragorn those years were probably long ones.  That was the way with the human world.  Everything happened so quickly and so much changed almost overnight.  It was almost frightening sometimes.

Legolas had once heard Lord Elrond refer to the human race as a bright flame, and the analogy fit well.  For while they came and went so quickly as it seemed, their passion for life burned hot and bright, warming those near... at least that was certainly true for his and Aragorn’s relationship, the prince knew.  

That was indeed the reason that Legolas had undertaken this journey in the first place.  He knew not how the human wheel of time would spin things, but he wished to see his old friend again before many more seasons passed.  A part of his heart was almost fearful... he really did not know how it was with humans... would the years have changed Aragorn very much?  Would the young man he had come to know and love as such a dear friend still remember him in the same way, or did time change things like that in the world of men?

Still, on a beautiful day like this one Legolas couldn’t let his heart rest on those faint, nagging doubts.  It was going to be good to see his friend again and borrowing trouble from a possible future did no one any good.

Mirkwood and Rivendell kept in much better contact than they had in former years and thus Legolas had remained updated on Aragorn’s whereabouts, for Elrond had his ways of knowing what was going on in the world and often his thoughts strayed to his youngest son, now so many years absent.  So it was that Legolas knew he would find Aragorn in Gondor, in Osgiliath to be precise, or so the last word he had on the subject had said.  Although exactly what nature of business the human had there or other such particulars the elf prince knew not.  

Save for one venture into these lands some years past on his way to Harad, Legolas knew nothing of this area of the world, so he simply followed the Great River, remembering from his previous trip that Osgiliath lay near the Anduin.  

Upon crossing a hill and rounding the steep bend at its base, Legolas saw in the not so very far away distance a small troop of men laboring along the southward road.  They had many wagons and pack animals with them, but by their armor and the devices on their shields, they were soldiers of Gondor, not traders.  

Legolas had known there were others in the general area for some time now, but the presence had not felt evil or threatening, so he made no effort to alter his path.  

Almost just as he came into view of it, he saw disaster strike the little caravan.  

One of the wagons, heavy laden with bulky items swathed in protective burlap, jolted in a deep rut, upsetting its load.  The heavy contents shifted sharply to one side, placing a great deal of stress on the rear axle of the wheel that was still in the rut.  The strained joint snapped suddenly, causing the cart to topple sideways, directly onto the two soldiers walking beside it.  

Reacting quickly, Legolas sprinted towards the site of the accident, reaching it almost before the other soldiers in the party did.  Caught on the good wheel that had skidded sideways and driven deeply into the earth, the heavy wagon teetered precariously over the heads of the two men trapped beneath its weight, threatening to crush them completely at a moment's notice.  

Only one other soldier was already present.  The others, having been strung out over a greater distance, were still arriving on the scene.  The soldier was valiantly leaning his shoulder into the slipping cart, trying to save his friends, but the wagon just dipped further downward.  

Bracing his back against the center of the tipping wagon and planting his feet firmly, Legolas pushed back against the crushing weight.  The groaning load creaked to a halt.  The man who had been pushing started at the fair being’s sudden appearance and just stood for a moment, staring in surprise as the elf supported the weight of the heavy load alone.

“Push!” Legolas told the man somewhat shortly.  Now was not the time for wonder.  Whatever was in the cart was truly heavy and Legolas could feel the strain against his taut muscles.  He was at least as strong as any two men, but he could not support the wagon indefinitely by himself.  The soldier quickly pulled himself together and threw his weight next to Legolas’.

Fortunately the few minutes Legolas had bought them were enough, for the other soldiers arrived on the scene very quickly and through their combined efforts the cart was righted, freeing a pair of severely bruised but unbroken soldiers.  

Legolas stepped back, pulling out of the way and straightening his tunic as the two men were retrieved and the broken cart stabilized.  

Presently a tall man with dark hair turned his attention towards the newcomer.  The white plume on the soldier’s crested helmet set him apart as the ranking officer of the group. 

“Most welcome is the help that comes unlooked for,” the young man managed to find gracious words and not stare at the elf as was his first inclination, which was more than could be said for some of the others who were gawking with unrestrained curiosity.  

The lieutenant shot his men a withering glare and everyone quickly went back to their business, hurriedly unloading the now useless wagon and distributing the extra load onto their other carts.  “For your timely aid we are sincerely grateful.  Forgive my men, but we do not often see any of the Firstborn in these parts anymore, although I hear that that was different once.  Might I know who we are indebted to and to what errand we owe this happy chance?” 

The man was courteous but, Legolas could tell, cautious.  He wanted to know who this stranger was and what he was doing here, but without seeming so rude as to ask outright.  The elf smiled slightly.

“I am Legolas, son of Thranduil of the woodland realm. I journey south towards Osgiliath seeking a friend I have not seen in some time.  I am glad that I could be of assistance, although I think you had better secure the weapons you are transporting more tightly before you continue if you wish to keep such from happening again,” the prince offered helpfully.  He knew they would not know his or his father’s name, but introduced himself properly anyway since he had nothing to hide. 

“We also follow the road to Osgiliath,” a hint of suspicion crept into the man’s voice as he eyed the elf.  “You know your way around here well then?” 

“Not well,” Legolas shook his head, his tone cooling as he understood that the human did not trust him.  “I have been here only once before and I did not stay long for my errand at that time called me down into Harad.” 

“Harad?” The officer’s ears perked up at the name and his body posture stiffened slightly; that was disquieting news given their current political state.  “Tell me, Legolas, how do you know what we carry?”  It was supposed to be more or less of a secret.  “And why do you travel thus from the far lands alone?  Our scouts have given no report of you, although you must have been near us for some time now.  What brings you to seek an elf in the lands of men?” 

“I do not require a bodyguard nor a companion to slow me down,” Legolas said somewhat briskly.  Caution was one thing, suspicious prodding was another.  He had done nothing to earn this man’s distrust, nothing except being different, and the prince was tired of his race always placing him in a suspicious light when he walked among humans.  “And I am not following you, if that’s what you are asking.  If your scouts did not observe me I cannot account for their lapse.  As for the person I seek, I do not count only elves among my friends, but men as well, else I would not trouble you with my presence.”  He would say no more of Aragorn to these or any men because he knew that his friend’s very existence was a carefully guarded secret and his affairs really were no business of theirs anyway.  “As for your cargo, if you wish to hide what it is do not wrap it so tightly that one can see the shapes of breastplates and swords through the burlap.  Now, if everything is under control, I will be on my way and bother you no more.” 

“Wait,” the soldier shook his head.  “Your pardon, Legolas, I did not mean to seem rude or ungrateful, nor was it my wish to offend, as it seems I have done.  My name is Alcarin, lieutenant commander of the Ramanna division.  It is my job to be wary, but I believe you mean us no harm.  You are welcome to travel with us for a time if you will, since our roads lie together and perhaps give me a chance to make amends for my initial greeting.  Much of Gondor’s history lies with the elves or so they tell me, but I have never had the chance to know any of your kindred for myself.  The times we find ourselves in now have given us reason to be cautious and wary of anyone not known to us.”

Legolas smiled somewhat dryly.  “Do you make such an offer out of sincere desire for my companionship or to keep me near so you can maintain a watch on me until you decide if I truly am whom I say?”

The lieutenant met Legolas’ smile without embarrassment at being guessed out.  “Perhaps a little of both.  You are free to do as you will, of course, but the offer stands if you care to take it.”

Legolas chuckled softly.  Humans.  So suspicious.  “I fear that I much prefer to travel alone,” the prince admitted.  “But if you wish it, and to prove that I have no ill intent in your lands, I will go with you as far as the Dalthad.”  Legolas knew the humans would only slow him down, but he also knew that despite the lieutenant’s gracious words the soldiers could detain him if they truly thought he was a threat to their mission. 

The prince was quickly realizing that he had stumbled upon no ordinary column of troops conveying supplies. This party was guarding a rather large arsenal of newly crafted weapons and armor.  Legolas hazarded a guess that they were dwarf-work that the Gondorians had contracted for, which would make them even more valuable.  That understanding made Alcarin’s skittishness about strangers who appeared out of nowhere and were going the same direction as they were even more understandable.  

Legolas did not know that Gondor was currently at war with the Haradrim forces in Near Harad, but if he had he would have understood even better how unsettling his earlier introduction had seemed.  Besides, he knew that the burden of proving his good intentions lay on him since he was the stranger in these lands.  It would be no different should a human have entered his father’s lands. 

“Good, then we may travel as friends,” Alcarin smiled, obviously relieved.  

Legolas took the extended hand and nodded.