Beware of the Dark
All of Middle-Earth belongs to Tolkien and Buffy is the evil genius of Joss Whedon.
Okay! Okay! Your constant emailing and reviewing has paid off. A shiny new chapter for the best readers ever. I know it has been way too long between updates, and I really am sorry. However, when you are reading over 300 pages a week for school (and that is just one class), as well writing an average of ten article and book reviews a week, and working on two 20-25 page papers, the last thing you want to do is write even more when you finally get some down time.
Anyway, the story is getting close to the end only two or three more chapters left, and I will finish it. However, I won’t make any promises as to how long it will take. My work/class schedule is not exactly conducive to having much writing time.
Again, so many, many, many thanks for the emails and reviews. Your interest keeps me interested, and although I don’t have time to respond to individual readers, please understand that I do read and appreciate your comments. Please keep them coming!!! Push the pretty review button!!
And now on with the show . . . Beware of the Dark
Night passed and those of the Company who required rest, slept. The Elves remained ever alert on watch - and there were the Dead of course. The Dead never slept. The darkness grew deeper as time progressed, enveloping every inch of sky and blotting out the light of the stars. Gazing up at the sky, Legolas became increasingly uncomfortable. His thoughts already a chaotic jumble over Buffy, Galadriel’s warning, and the impending battle, the Elf was unable to determine the cause of his unease. Was it merely his current confused state of mind or something more? He looked to Elladan and Elrohir. The twins sat side by side, appearing untroubled by the dark starless night. Legolas sighed; perhaps it was just him after all.
And then he felt it. That cold trickle of warning on the back his neck, which spoke of approaching danger. His body tense and senses alert he scanned the area looking for trouble. He found - nothing. There were no Orcs, Wargs, or other servants of Sauron waiting to attack from the black of the night. On silent feet he moved over to the twins, crouching beside them.
“Do you not feel it?” He asked them.
Elladan and Elrohir responded with equally blank expressions.
“Something stirs . . .” Legolas said softly. “This night . . . is unnatural.”
After a quick scan of their surroundings the twins regarded Legolas skeptically. “There is nothing out there, Legolas.” Elrohir stated.
Legolas remained silent for a moment. The sense of warning had faded somewhat, but it was still there, though faint as if it came from some distance away. “No - there is nothing out there . . . yet.”
“What do you mean?” Asked Elladan.
* * *
Mother was growing impatient.
Ever since Fire-Eye had told her about the Slayer and his plans for her, Mother had been anxious to see them fulfilled. She had been very angry when Burzum had failed to bring back the palantir
as Fire-Eye had commanded. Burzum felt anger rise up to heat his chest. The little sharlob
had been stronger than he expected, but he would be ready next time. His brothers, Grish and Gul, were with him and after they saw the ships off they would hunt for her. Anticipation curled in his stomach and mixed with the anger to create a tense feeling of excitement. They were so close . . .
Mother had promised the Slayer would be his. Her blood was strong; he sensed it when they fought over the palantir
. It would taste so good and . . . clean. Orc blood was foul, but it was rare for a human to stumble into their lair in Mordor. They were forced to live off the bitter, dirty, black blood of the Mordor Orcs. Burzum smiled as he stretched his leathery wings, it would not be so for much longer. Fire-Eye promised Mother they would walk the land free again, as they had in the long ago Age. Of course, Burzum and his brothers had never been free. After Fire-Eye lost his Ring and went away, Mother had grown lonely in the Black Tower. She shared her lifeblood with three Orcs, and Burzum, Grish, and Gul had been with her ever since. Her blood had made them strong and immortal, they were no longer simply Orcs. They were special, unique. Mother told them so all the time. That had been many years ago. He could no longer recall when he was not what he was now . . . Vampire.
Burzum’s thoughts swung back to the treat, which awaited him. Not only would he drink the pure, strong blood of the Slayer, but he would make her his forever. Fire-Eye and Mother had been developing a plan to create an unstoppable army of blood drinkers, but they could not achieve this by converting other Orcs. Orcs and demons, like Mother, could not move in the daylight, which was a weakness when fighting Men. However, Men could move in the daylight - and they were easily corrupted, Burzum thought with relish. Unfortunately, early experiments proved Mother’s demon blood too pure for weaker humans. They died almost instantly after ingesting it. They lasted longer if they took the blood of Burzum, or his brothers, but they still eventually died hours later writhing in pain.
But the Slayer was no ordinary human. She was unnaturally strong and there was already something dark inside of her. Fire-Eye said she could take the blood and create a new, stronger Vampire able to move in the light of the sun. Fire-Eye said she would be the first. Mother’s blood was too pure; it might still kill the Slayer. Burzum was the strongest of his brothers so, Mother said he would turn the Slayer and then she would belong to him. She would turn other humans and together Burzum and the Slayer would rule over Fire-Eye’s Army and bring Middle-Earth to its knees. Yes, Burzum thought, her blood would be sweet. This would be a treat indeed. He would have to watch Grish and Gul, in case they became . . .over excited and tried to take what did not belong to them. No, Burzum was the strongest so the girl would be his.
Mother had promised.
* * *
Buffy blinked away her sleep, wincing as her muscles protested the night spent on the hard ground. Squinting to see in the darkness, she realized it must not be as late as she first thought. The sky was still quite dark, covered by a grey mass of roiling clouds. Just like my mood, she thought sourly, remembering last night’s conversation. Neither sun nor moon shone above her, making it impossible to tell what time it was. A few feet away she could make out the forms of four people and knew without looking one of them was Legolas. She stood and shook out her cloak before making her way over to the group.
“Don’t you guys ever sleep?” she asked when she reached them.
“ ‘Quel amrun
, Buffy,” said Elladan.
“Oh, it is way too early - at least I think it is - for that,” Buffy responded rubbing her eyes. “In English please?”
“What is Inglis?” asked Elrohir.
“Oh, you know! In regular people language, not uppity Elf speech.”
“He simply told you ‘good morning’ Buffy,” Aragorn explained at the same time Elrohir was heard muttering, “Uppity?”
“Oh, well good morn - wait, morning?” Buffy asked confused, turning to look up at the dark sky again. “It’s still awfully -”
“Dark,” finished Aragorn with a grimace.
“Dawn has not arrived, though its time has come and gone,” Legolas said. “Evil draws near.”
“Sauron’s shadow grows ever greater, reaching out to block the sun and leave us in perpetual night,” Elrohir stated grimly.It will be dark soon
Buffy heard her mother’s words in her head and shivered.
“No matter,” said Aragorn moving to rouse the rest of the camp, “We must press on, else Minas Tirith will be lost.”
As the group dispersed Elrohir approached Buffy as she gathered her things.
“You should have known what Elladan was saying,” he said reproachfully. “Do you remember nothing of your Elvish lesson?”
Buffy sighed, that seemed like such a long time ago and it had ended so abruptly when she questioned the meaning of melamin
. At least that mystery had been solved, even if - well, she wasn’t going to think about that now. Reaching down to tie her pack closed she looked up at Elrohir and shrugged, “Sorry, I really don’t have a head for languages.”
“Then we shall have to try harder next time,” Elrohir said before walking away.
“Why does that scare me?” Buffy mumbled to herself, suddenly beset by a vision of the Elf dressed up like her eleventh grade French teacher, Madame Pernay. Somehow, she didn’t think he could fit into the hideous purple dress Madame Pernay had worn every Friday - well, at least the Fridays Buffy had actually been in class. Swinging her pack onto her shoulder Buffy stood and found herself face to face with Legolas. An uncomfortable silence fell over them as conflicting thoughts warred through both their minds, with neither knowing what to say.
They started to speak at one time and then fell silent again. With a deep breath Buffy finally spoke, but it was not to address the problems between them. There would be time for that later.
“I - I am going to ride with Elrohir,” Buffy said quickly, figuring it was better to keep her distance from Legolas before she grew even more attached to him. He was leaving, after all.
If she had not turned to leave so quickly she would have seen the look of pain and confusion, which crossed Legolas’s face as he watched her retreat.
* * *
They rode hard under the darkened sky with little rest for next leg of their journey, and came upon a host of Sauron’s servants in Lamedon. They were swiftly driven away by the Dead. Buffy realized she had not even had time to raise her weapon so quickly did the enemy retreat before the ghosts. Under the misguided belief that Buffy was riding with him because she wanted to learn more Elvish, Elrohir drilled Buffy on her vocabulary and grammar every chance he got. His enthusiasm for this little project blinded the Elf to the fact Buffy was a very reluctant student and spent the majority of her ‘lessons’ staring off into space. On the fifth day they reached Pelargir at last, and Buffy felt her blood rise at the battle that loomed near.
“The fleet of Umbar is just over the rise,” reported Legolas after scouting ahead. His sense of unease had grown steadily each day, and he was certain the evil was close now.
“It is time,” Aragorn said turning to the Dead and speaking to them in a tongue Buffy did not understand. She would have asked what was being said, but the look Legolas gave her stopped her question.
It is time, the Elf thought morosely. What if today was the day Galadriel had spoken of? After all, he had been sensing an approaching evil for days. The worries Aragorn had expressed over his feelings for Buffy would be for naught if Galadriel’s vision came to pass. He was prepared to die for her, and did not regret his choice. Looking at Buffy, perhaps for the last time, made despair well in his heart.
“What is it?” Buffy asked quietly, finding herself a little frightened at the intensity of the Elf’s regard.
“Amin mela Ile
,” Legolas said before pulling her to him and kissing her quickly.
Buffy tried to say the words back, but could not bring herself to it. Her inner self refused to admit its vulnerability, having been hurt too often in the past. She wanted to ask him about the Elves leaving Middle-Earth, but remained silent instead, waiting for Aragorn’s signal.
This was not the time for questions, there were more important things at stake.
* * *
High above Pelargir, Burzum flew under the cover of the black clouds. It felt strange to be out during the day, but he and his brothers were protected by the ever growing shadow of Fire-Eye, which proved a useful barrier between the deadly fire of the Sun and the Vampires. He heard a grunt and looked behind him to see Grish pointing ahead. Following his brother’s finger, Burzum hissed angrily. The fleet was under attack. Fire-Eye would be very angry if the ships and their mercenary warriors did not reach Minas Tirith. He signaled to Grish and Gul, and the three Vampires sped up their flight.
Foolish mortals, Burzum thought with disgust. If they believed they could defeat Fire-Eye . . . well, Burzum and his brothers would show them how wrong they were. Burzum would have fresh blood tonight. . and then he sensed it. A familiar presence of fire and strength, and Burzum smiled even wider. She was down there; he would not even have to hunt for her. The Slayer was his for the taking.
Mother would be so pleased.
* * *
“Aww, c’mon you guys! Save some for the rest of us!” Buffy whined while brandishing her daggers. The Dead had swarmed over the ships like ants on a picnic. The pirates were meeting an unhappy fate rather quickly, and Buffy worried she wouldn’t get to help. Emotional distress always made her feel like hitting something.
“Quit your complaining,” grumbled Gimli. “I for one don’t mind sitting this one out at all. We’ve done more than enough fighting in the past months. Besides, it is amusing to watch the pirates run back and forth in fear.”
“It’s not fair,” Buffy mumbled. “I really want to beat something up.”
“Ha!” Gimli chortled. “Look at that one! He fell over his own feet!”
“The War is far from over Buffy,” remarked Aragorn dryly. “I am sure there will be many opportunities to . . . ‘beat something up’ in the coming days.”
Aragorn nodded and Buffy felt a little reassured. She had some serious issues to work off, after all. The Company continued to watch the fighting, some making occasional comments after a pirate met a particularly cruel end.
“Oh,” Elrohir remarked after a pirate threw himself into the water, trying to escape. “That was not well done.”
“Bit cowardly,” Elladan responded.
And a few moments later Halbarad exclaimed, “That must have hurt!”
“Being hit in the face usually does,” Aragorn replied.
This went on for several minutes before Buffy noticed Legolas was not participating. He sat apart from the group, staring at the dark sky every bone in his body rigid. She began to move towards him.
Buffy felt it before she saw it. Her senses screaming inside of her of approaching danger and then chaos erupted among the Company. She was knocked off her feet and heard Legolas shouting for her as she fell. She lay stunned for a moment before rising to see not one, but three Vampires attacking their group. The Dead continued fighting the pirates, unaware of the new danger assaulting the Company.
“Aim for the heart!” Buffy cried, pulling her stake from her boot. Her mouth curled into a fierce smile, she had wanted a fight and she was about to get one.
One of the Vamps, the biggest one, reached out and snatched up Elladan faster than Buffy could follow. The monster bit into the stunned Elf’s neck and Buffy heard herself cry out in dismay. At her cry the Vampire threw Elladan aside, turned to face Buffy, and spat.
“You are going to apologize for that!” Buffy said before launching herself at the Vampire. She landed a brutal kick to her enemy’s mid-section and blocked a punch meant for her head. The two traded a series of kicks and blows in fast succession. It was strange, Buffy thought as she easily ducked a punch, it was almost as if the Vampire wasn’t trying to kill her. She knew the monster could hit much harder than it was, and found it interesting the creature stuck to attacking non-vital areas. Spinning to avoid blow, she landed a stunning punch to the Vampire’s head before burying her stake in his heart.
Wow, that had been easy.
Burzum looked down in shock at the wooden stick protruding from his chest. This was not going as well as he thought it would. He could hear Grish and Gul struggling behind him as he fell to he knees. He watched the Slayer turn away and move to help the others trying to fight his brothers. It hurt so badly. Why would being stabbed with a stick hurt so much? His chest radiated a mind numbing pain and for a moment Burzum wondered if he was dying. When several agonizing moments had passed and he watched as his brothers fought for their lives, Burzum managed to rise and jerk the stake from his chest. As soon as the offending weapon was gone the pain lessened, though it was still nearly crippling. He heard Gul cry out in shock and turned see an arrow lodged in his brother’s chest.
Burzum felt his blood boil and roared in anger.
Buffy blinked. The Vampires were still alive. She had definitely staked one and Legolas had shot another, but they were still alive. And judging by the feral noise the one she had staked just made, he was pretty angry.
“Buffy, I thought -” Legolas began confused.
“I know,” she interrupted and then shrugged. “On to plan B, then.”
But Buffy was already gone; attacking the Vampire Legolas had just shot with renewed vigor. The Elf grumbled in frustration. How was he supposed to protect her when she behaved so recklessly? He watched as she easily countered the injured Vampire’s attack. With a well placed swing, she severed the monster’s head from his body and the two fell to the ground with a sick thud. The remains began to sink in upon themselves, as if the body was slowly drying out from the inside. Ignoring the fighting still occurring around him, Legolas gingerly tapped the dried out figure with his foot and watched as some of it crumbled into dust.
“One down, two to -” Buffy stopped. The other Vamps were gone.
“There!” Legolas cried drawing his bow.
Buffy looked up and was able to barely make out the figure of two winged shapes moving away from them. It looked like one was carrying the other. She heard the sound of Legolas’s arrow being released and followed its progress avidly. It found its mark and the figures plummeted to the earth some distance away.
“Nice shot,” she said.
“Should we search them out to make sure they are -” Elrohir began.
“They aren’t dead,” Buffy said.
“How can you be sure?” Halbarad asked skeptically. “The fall alone would have killed them.”
“They’re Vampires and they aren’t that easy to kill,” Buffy explained. “Apparently wooden stakes aren’t enough to kill Middle-Earth Vamps, but beheading certainly did the trick.” She nodded towards the dusty remains on the ground.
“So, the only way to kill them is by cutting off their head?” Gimli asked.
“That would be my guess. Fire and sunlight might work as well, but since we don’t have any flame throwers,” Buffy looked up to the black clouds covering the sky, “or any sun . . . I’d say stick to chopping off their heads.”
“We should go after them if they still live,” Legolas said.
“No,” Aragorn answered. “We will have to take our chances. Minis-Tirith needs us.”
Legolas wanted to argue. He was almost positive Galadriel’s warning and his feeling of approaching danger had something to do with Buffy and those Vampires. “Maybe it is not just our chances you are risking Aragorn.”
“What do you mean?” Aragorn looked surprised at Legolas’s outburst.
The Elf struggled with how to voice his concerns without revealing Galadriel’s warning. He sighed, “I only refer to the risk they may attack others if we allow them to live.”
“If that is all worrying you, I do not believe they will be fighting anything for a while. They did not escape without great injury.” Aragorn replied before narrowing his eyes, “Is there something else, Legolas?”
He hesitated before shaking his head.
“Then come,” Aragorn looked toward the ships, “the Dead have rid us of the pirates and we have no time to waste arguing.”
“Uh, we’re going on the boats?” Buffy asked.
“Ships, Buffy, they are ships not boats.” Aragorn said tiredly. “And yes we will take the ships, we can reach Minis Tirith much faster by water.”
Buffy eyed the ships rocking in the rough water warily as she remembered the last time she had been on a boat. A family vacation when she was twelve, and it hadn’t been pretty.
“I don’t suppose any of you have some Dramamine?”
Receiving nothing but blank looks in response, Buffy sighed. Just perfect.