Same disclaimer applies, Joss Whedon owns Buffy and Tolkien owns Tolkien.
Year 5 of the Third Age
Buffy looked around the woods, and frowned. “Where are the elves?”
“They are a mile or two east, but I can’t drop you in the middle of the city. They will need to find you.”
“Find me? But they know I’m coming right?”
“The family that will adopt you knows you are coming. Don’t fret Buffy, you’ll be fine.”
“Wait Tara, what should I do?”
“Walk toward the city, and they will find you.” She began to fade, and Buffy panicked. “No wait!”
“Don’t worry Buffy. Let them take you to their leader.” She smiled knowingly and disappeared.
“Wait!” Buffy yelled, but Tara was gone. She looked around the forest taking in the curve of the trees, the flutter of wings and the warm breeze of morning. In some ways it was like any forest, bright spring greens and the smell of dark rich loamy soil and decaying leaves. Birds chirped and the breeze rustling leaves. She let her slayer senses hone in on anything unusual or dangerous, and what finally got her attention was the trees. Great and small, old and young, they whispered and spoke, though she did not know the language, she could feel their welcome. It was then that she realized the most important part of this mission; she had no idea what was going to happen. Everything in this world, even the trees were different, and for the first time in a very long time Buffy was excited about the future, and with a healthy dose of panic, she picked up her pack, and started walking purposefully to the east.
It didn’t take long for the elves to discover her. The Great Hall of the elven king was surrounded by several groups of families and store houses, but the elves lived throughout Greenwood, and often sent patrols to maintain the safety of the entire forest. They were protective of the great forest not only for their own sake, but for the sake of the forest itself. Greenwood as a whole; trees, plants and all the other beings of the forest were thought of as one big cooperative entity and it could not protect itself from evil and outside influence. The elves took the responsibility for its safety very seriously. Outsiders were carefully monitored and expelled or killed as the situation warranted. With the war recently over, security was especially tight. Orc numbers might be lowered, but they multiplied fast, and with the failure of Isildur to destroy the one ring Sauron might someday return. In the meantime, Thranduil was not going to let his forest become overrun by orcs or any other lesser being that thought to make a claim on his territory.
Under normal circumstances anyone walking through the forest remained on the old forest road. To deviate was suicide. The elves of the Woodland Realm were not known for being particularly friendly, although they were probably a lucky encounter in Greenwood if you were lost. Thousands of acres of woods, trees, wild animals, and various other beings ensured trouble for anyone stepping off the main road. Even attempting to follow the road could be perilous. One must be a fairly good hunter, and bring enough water and supplies to walk or ride the several hundred miles until the next small village east of the forest, so it was very unusual for the elves to find a human woman walking east, alone, off the road, with minimal supplies, and almost at the king’s halls.
Buffy could hear them surrounding her. Their whispers were barely audible even with slayer hearing but there was no mistaking the tightening of bow strings. The trees were even becoming agitated, and Buffy was beginning to like it. They were like another alarm system, and she could even sense the elves themselves. It was unusual to feel something with her slayer senses that was normal and good. Usually she sensed something because it was evil, but her senses worked both ways, and she knew when there were good beings close too. Trusting her senses, she waited for them to make the first move and continued on her path until a warning arrow was shot, and she stopped.
A dark haired, pointy eared, and to Buffy’s amazement tall glowing elf jumped from the tree above her. Two more came down flanking the first with arrows at the ready. She looked at them curiously noting the novelty of their weapons and general appearance. Again, Buffy was used to ugly demons and ugly weapons to go with the creepy vibes they sent Buffy, but the elves were just the opposite; good vibes, pretty weapons, and definitely beautiful creatures.
Tara hadn’t mentioned anything beyond the word elf, so Buffy was thinking of Santa’s elves, much shorter and cuter, but these beings were tall and regal. They were lithe and light and moved with grace and strength. More dropped from the trees around her, and she noticed that while some had white blonde hair, most were darker. She counted ten bows aimed her way, and could sense more near enough to come if there was trouble.
The elf that first jumped from the tree began to question her. Buffy couldn’t be sure if it was the same language as the trees, but it sounded similar. Whatever the language, she couldn’t speak it, and she tried to indicate with her eyes that she had no idea what he was saying, but it only seemed to anger the elf. He tried another language, but it was as foreign as the first. After years of working for the council, Buffy necessarily picked up a lot of Latin, Spanish, German, French and even some Russian, but never would she claim to have mastered another language, and this language didn’t resemble any that she could speak. She shrugged her shoulders at the elf. To further bring home the message she began to speak in English. She rambled about Tara, and her mission from the Valar, but they only stared at her like she was saying something distasteful.
Buffy sighed, “Take me to your leader,” she said. It was the last thing Tara told her to do, and she pointed east hoping they would understand that she wanted to see the king. This particular patrol was composed of very young warriors. A lot of the older guard was killed in the war, and one of the elves thought perhaps she was speaking a language one of the older more traveled elves might recognize. Another, was clearly more than hesitant to take her back to the king, and looked to Buffy like he might shoot her. Some were intrigued by her odd clothes and pack, and at least two could sense Buffy’s powers and were trying to explain to the leader that she was not a normal human. All this was going on and Buffy couldn’t understand a word of it, but she knew the tone, the body language, and even the tension. She tried to be as non-threatening as possible without looking weak. It would do no good to pretend with these people, er elves, that she was anything less than what she was, and Tara had promised her she wouldn’t need to hide, so she wouldn’t.
The elves began to argue with each other, and the very tense elf finally reached his limit. He released and arrow, and Buffy shot her hand out and knocked the arrow from its path. If she had simply stepped out of the way, it might have hit another elf, since she was surrounded, and obviously the elf didn’t think he would miss. The argument stopped, and they all looked back and forth from Buffy to the angry elf. She smiled at him and bent down to pick up his arrow. They all backed away and prepared to shoot, but to their amazement she handed the arrow back to the elf and smiled at him. What Buffy hoped was an act of good faith turned out to be a mistake, at least in regard to that elf. He snatched the arrow from her, and began yelling. He tried to shoot her several more times, and again, she tried to deflect as many as she could, but eventually another elf was hit, and that was the end of that.
The leader and two others advanced on the elf that was still pointing a shaky arrow at Buffy, three others were attempting to secure the prisoner, although Buffy was politely shaking her head and putting her palm out in the universal signal to keep their distance, and the last two were attending to the wounded elf now lying on the ground. He was only hit in the fleshy part of the leg, but it was painful enough to keep him on the ground.
There was a time that the aggressions of one demon or unknown being would condemn the others and Buffy would have attacked them all, even if only to injure them, but she did not want her first encounter with the people that were supposed to look after her to be one of violence, at least on her part. She was sent to protect, and it would probably be a lot harder to convince them of that after beating them up, so she stayed calm, and waited for them to sort themselves out.
After a hasty discussion, two elves helped the injured one presumably back to the village, two walked the violent one in the same direction, and the remaining four surrounded Buffy and indicated that she should walk with them. They gave her a couple of feet on each side, enough so that if she made a move there would be room to shoot her, though they all seemed to be aware that she could probably disarm or evade them if they tried anything.
To the irritation of Angon, the leader of the patrol group, Buffy was unafraid of the elves, and was looking around in wonder. His father had always insisted that the best way to deal with humans, dwarves, and anything else was to keep them afraid of you. Respect was important, but a healthy dose of fear was what kept them from destroying the forest. The girl inspired more fear in the elves than the ten patrol men could even begin to make her feel. He was aggravated when they neared the king’s halls, and when she suddenly stopped, all the men were surprised and they immediately pointed their bows at her, but she was completely engrossed in her surroundings. She was staring at the flets and houses in the trees and structures on the ground and talking to herself in her own language. This part of the forest was much older, and the trees were very large and very beautiful. The trees were twisted and gnarled and connected. Some formed a great canopy above the rest shading much of the forest from direct sunlight, and others grew short and thick and all were older than many of the elves.
She cocked her head when the elves began to sing, and smiled at him. Angon bristled and she rolled her eyes at him and nodded toward the great hall. The other elves on patrol diverged then to the healers, and Buffy was led across the Enchanted Stream and into the hall. The Great Hall was large and surprisingly airy and light. There were columns and carvings throughout and in the back were two very large intricately carved wooden thrones. It was built just before the war as a gift from Oropher to his son, a sort of retreat from his fathers kingdom farther south, but after the war, Thranduil and Ernil chose it for their home. A guard disappeared through a door. There were many doors and halls leading away from the hall, and returned with the king and queen.
The king was very tall, grey eyed, with long white blond hair, and appeared to be very strong and confident. He had a look of absolute distaste fixed on his face as if these matters were beneath him. The queen was very beautiful with long silver hair, silver grey eyes, and she too looked strong and confident, but lacked the haughty airs of the king. They sat on their thrones ignoring Buffy until Angon finished his tale, and when the queen finally looked at Buffy she almost jumped out of her chair, and by the reactions of the other elves, this was not normal. Buffy smiled at her, but kept quiet. She was pretty sure the leader elf told the king all about her inability to communicate with them, so she waited.
The queen was whispering in the king’s ear attempting to have a private conversation and he was arguing with her, looking back and forth between the queen and Buffy and shaking his head. The queen stopped arguing with him, looked Buffy in the eye and said, “Gilrin?” It was the only word Buffy would know in their language, and the queen didn’t miss the recognition that sparked in Buffy’s eyes. The others didn’t miss it either and some seemed to understand the meaning but most did not. The old prophecies and legends were not reserved for the wealthy or powerful, but that did not mean that everyone knew or paid attention to them.
The queen told the guards to put their weapons away, and ordered all but Angon, and her personal attendants away. She smiled at Buffy and although Angon had already told her the girl could not speak or would not respond to any language he knew, she tried anyway. Buffy responded the same way she did with the other elves, rambled in English hoping to get her point across. Thranduil was looking at her with only slightly less disdain but it seemed to Buffy that he was interested, despite his attitude. The queen gestured to herself and said “Ernil,” and pointed to the king and said “Thranduil.”
Buffy nodded in understanding and pointed to herself and introduced herself as Buffy. She pointed at Angon and cocked her head. The queen pointed at him and said his name. Buffy repeated all the names aloud, and this introduction began one of the hardest years of Buffy’s life.
When dealing with humans, the elves of the Woodland realm were civil at the best of times, and outright hostile at the worst. The War of the Last Alliance took more than two thirds of Greenwoods soldiers including King Oropher, Thranduils father, and Gil-Galad and Elendil who were close friends of Thranduil and Ernil’s and the leaders of their people. Dying in a war against Sauron was terrible, but for that human Isildur to fail after years of war was more than a disgrace. Buffy arrived in the forest during a period of great mourning and disgust for the human race and treating her fairly was difficult for all but the queen. Buffy didn't have the same issue with them, but being around so much sorrow and pain was hard. They sang a lot and it was beautiful but terribly sad.
Despite the hatred of men and mourning, Buffy was accepted happily by the queen and begrudgingly by the king. She was given rooms off the great hall she would later find out were guest quarters for visiting royalty and were meant for long term stays. Long term to the elves could mean fifty or more years, short visits could be thirty years. A concept that Buffy would later learn to appreciate, but would always be difficult for her to understand.
After an uneasy settling in, language was the first priority and the queen took the task seriously. She drew up lesson plans, and spent several hours a day going over lists of words, and trying to teach Buffy their written equivalent. It was easy to learn simple words like birch tree, brethil, or river, celon, but how do you explain hope without a translator? Amdir is hope based on reason, but how do you explain the difference between amdir and estel?
The other elves were wary of Buffy, cautious as they always were with humans, but the few that understood what the Gilrin was, always tried to welcome her. They helped to teach her words, and correct her grammar when they could. After she found out that Angon was the leader of the patrol guard, Buffy tried to befriend him, but he would have none of it. He treated her with the formal respect of a visitor to the king and queen, barely. The other elves unfamiliar with the prophecy and some that did not believe Buffy was the one that the prophecy spoke of either ignored her, or gave her a wide berth.
The queen was the only person that Buffy became close in the first few months. Not since her first days at Sunnydale high had Buffy been without a friend or acquaintance and even then she had her mother. Even those that feared her at the council respected who she was and what she represented. In Greenwood the king tolerated her because she made his wife happy, but should that change, he would not hesitate to expel her from Greenwood, and the rest of the realm would follow his lead.
All this changed after six months. Her language lessons often included excursions in the forest to animate and explain the words to Buffy. When Ernil wanted to teach Buffy the word for elm, lalf, she took Buffy into the forest to introduce her to her favorite elm. When she wanted to show her what an alfirin looked like she took her out in the moonlight to show it at its best. It was on one such nighttime excursion that Buffy began to feel her slayer senses tingling like she hadn’t since entering Middle Earth. Something evil was nearby and she tried to indicate this to the queen, but without the right words, or understanding she settled for tugging her back to the Great Hall and trying to warn the guards without success.
Frustrated, Buffy grabbed her scythe, yanked on the arm of the guard that was assigned to her, Dulinnor, and pointed to his bow and quiver. He was friendly with her, and used to her whims he followed her back in the direction her senses were pulling her. Dulinnor did not have much skill as a fighter, but somehow survived the War of the Last Alliance and was given to Buffy because he preferred to wander the forest at night, and although they couldn’t speak to each other they were beginning to form an understanding. His post was meant to be a respite from his duties in the guard and he took it gladly.
Dulinnor had seen too many of his brethren die and although he hadn’t faded like some others, or sailed west to the undying lands, he was not fit for normal guard duties. Buffy could see this in him, and he could see a little bit of it in her, but they were not proper mates. She could hardly speak the language, and Buffy didn’t try to push him. If they were going to be friends it would happen naturally and when she could talk to him in more complete sentences than “it is a nice day, how are you?”
He followed her into the forest, and she stopped when she began to get the tingles. She knew Dulinnor would give away their position with his glow in the dark thing, but she made him stay with her until he could hear the approach. His eyes went very wide, and Buffy nodded at him. He tried to pull her back, but she pushed him away, and started trying to tell him to get the warriors. He did not want to leave her, but fear won out and he left to warn the other elves. To encourage him, Buffy expertly twirled the scythe around and the slayer smiled at him. He shivered, but nodded at her and took off back to the elven city.
Buffy climbed a rather large old tree and watched them approach. They were organized as well as demons marching through a thick forest carrying weapons could be. They didn’t notice her until they were very close, and even then, only a very tall one stopped and sniffed around before he found her. She jumped from the tree and landed in the middle of the yrch. They looked at her hungrily and began to circle. Whatever fear they might have had, finding a girl in the middle of Greenwood, unafraid of them, and wielding a large weapon was lost on these creatures.
Buffy took on a lot of demons in her day and sometimes more than ten or fifteen at once, but never quite this many. It was perhaps fortunate that they didn’t know who she was. In the future, when her reputation was firmly established it was much more difficult to get the jump on them. This time she still had the element of surprise.
They began to fight amongst themselves for her, and the quick ones started to close in. Unfamiliar with this particular kind of demon, she waited for them to make the first move. Many had cross bows strapped to their backs, but apparently she didn’t warrant such caution. A particularly large one came in first and Buffy let him lunge and chase her a few steps before she cut his leg off at the knee. Every single demon stopped and looked down at their leader crying out in pain. She chopped off his head, looked up and said, “who’s next?” and the fight began.
They were smart enough to try and crowd her, and a lucky few even got a few shots in, but Buffy always managed to get away. She hacked, kicked, punched for a long while before she started to hear the zoom of arrows hitting the last twenty or so orc still fighting. Buffy decapitated the last orc and looked up to see twenty warrior elves with Angon staring at her like she had grown a second head. Black gore dripped from her arms, golden hair glistened slick black blood in the moonlight, her tunic was shredded and dark spots where she was punctured dripping, mixing with orc blood, indistinguishable in the darkness. She pushed her hair away from her face and smiled at them, wiped her blade off on a dead orcs shirt and began making her way slowly through the piles of orcs checking for survivors and examining their possessions.
The elves stared in revulsion and disgust, until Buffy found an orc trying to escape and then understanding her purpose, they began circling around the border of the dead orcs dispatching survivors. She picked up a crossbow and tried it out. It was damaged, but repairable so she slung it on her shoulder and grabbed as many bolts as she could carry. The elves would never lower themselves to carry or wield a weapon of the enemy, but Buffy had no such qualms. The troll hammer had been especially useful with Glory, and since the elves had thus far refused to give her any weapons, she collected as many weapons as she could and began to pile them on the edge of the battlefield. Most were worthless, practically rusted through, but she found a few cool looking short swords, and even a few bags of obviously stolen jewels and coins.
Angon finally approached her, and she smiled at him while picking up an interesting looking helmet. It was small, almost child size and very strong. There were little delicate golden leaves attached to the side and it reminded Buffy of some old gladiator film she watched in the theatre as a child. She set it on her head and it was hard, but light. She took it off and tossed it into the keep pile. Angon looked at the growing pile and back to Buffy in disbelief. He was about to argue with her, but just before he was going to scold her, she froze and looked to the east.
She turned to the elves and started pointing to the trees, yelling at them first in English, trying to find the words in their language she started saying “trees!” and pointing up. Angon seemed to understand her, so she pointed to the trees, and made the motions of firing an arrow. He understood, and for reasons known only to him, he did what he was told.
He ordered the other elves into the trees and they prepared their bows. Buffy stood amid the carnage listening for the approach of the second group. The wind picked up and the trees began to swish and groan. The moon began to flicker as the clouds moved in and small icy drops fell from the sky urgent and cold. Buffy shivered, suddenly feeling the wind biting at her bloody clothes, but her body was heating up, vibrating in opposition to the cold storm and evil.
She could hear their feet marching through the forest, feel the rumble, expectation, and excitement. They were only meant to be the cleanup crew, and in the event that the battle still raged on, they would help finish the job. Never did they think they would encounter the bloodbath that awaited them. Their leader stopped at the edge of the battlefield scanning his dead soldiers and Buffy stood atop a pile of limbs. She knew this made her a target, but she also knew that fear was a weapon and whoever controlled it, controlled the fight.
The rain sped up as the slayer glared at the leader. Growling and snarling he reached his weapon in the air and roared. Dropping his arm down and pointing in Buffy’s direction he yelled in the black language, and they charged forward. Angon and his company released the first volley of arrows, and Buffy charged at the leader swinging her scythe at anything that came near. One two three down, and another, and they circled her again, closing in, it seemed to be their move, and was definitely more effective than most vampires trying to take her on one at a time. Waiting for the right moment Buffy twisted in the air, swinging her scythe in a circle cutting off arms reaching out to her. She landed on her feet and cut off as many heads, legs and arms as she could, tearing through the orcs like a tornado until she came to the leader.
Arrows zipped by and Buffy stopped in front of the leader. He was almost twice as big as the rest. The rain made his already slimy face look more drippy and gross but she ignored it as she did the scars and battle wounds that littered his body often serving to intimidate his opponents. This orc had fought and won many battles, even surviving the war. They circled and his arm shot out slicing her arm. Buffy shot back before he could return it, and cut into his hand. He howled and raged, but did not charge her, knowing somehow that it would be a mistake. The orc had a rather large sword, and Buffy didn’t want to fight it with her scythe, so she slung it on her back, picked up a sword from the ground and charged him.
He wasn’t exactly fast, but he was strong, and knew how to use his strength. He put it all into his swings assuming that because she was small, she would be weak; that her previous successes were due to her skill and speed. He was wrong of course, and they were more closely matched in strength than he thought possible. The battle went on for some minutes, moving around the dead orcs, and Buffy prolonged it for a specific reason. She knew the other orcs were dead and the elves were watching her. She wanted to show them what she could do. They did not realize this, and when an arrow was shot at the orc, without hesitation she reached out and plucked it from the air just before it hit him in the head.
The orc stopped mid swing. Buffy tossed the arrow on the ground carelessly. The elves were frozen behind her, and she turned around and shook her head clearly indicating that she didn’t want interference. The orc took this chance to lunge at her and Buffy dove out of the way. Angon watched the display, watched as she pretended to get hurt, watched as she fell onto the ground littered with bodies, beaten, and watched as the orc stabbed down toward her tiny body. This was the turning point. She gripped the sword with one hand, rolled out of the way, and kicked his arm hard enough to break it. He dropped the sword, and Buffy used him to show off her skills. She hated it when Xander said her fights like dance, they were brutal and painful, but in this instance Buffy used the big demon to show off and Angon knew it. He watched her beat this creature with the practiced ease of a warrior in her prime. It was amazing to watch, and he could not turn away. After several minutes she swung around butterfly kicking the demon and when he went down, she gripped his head in her hands and twisted it around pulling it off.
Black blood spurted and leaked down its body before she kicked it over and tossed the head as carelessly as she had the arrow. She looked at Angon and the other elves. Some were clearly horrified, and others simply confused, but Angon looked at her with fear and wonder. Clearly she was the weapon of the Valar, the Gilrin that the prophecy spoke of. She had a power more great and terrible than any fighter he had ever seen and he was suddenly very glad she was on their side.
Unbelievably she pulled off her ruined outer tunic, and went back to her search through the piles of dead orc. He blinked and told the other elves to go back to the village and make sure it was safe. They were glad to be away from her and scurried home. He watched her stab a few struggling orcs, and dig through their pouches, and it struck him then. She wasn’t out of place with Thranduil and Ernil. The king might not lower himself to dig through the dead on a battlefield, but he didn’t hesitate to raid their empty encampments, and order his elves to loot and sack the enemy fortress for gold and anything of particular value.
She lifted up a particularly nice looking sword, probably taken off a dead elf in the last war, and swung it around. “Beautiful,” she said in English, and Angon understood the sentiment, despite the language. She was a warrior examining a very nice weapon. He was no swordsman, but he could appreciate a good weapon when he saw it. Buffy collected twenty or so of the best swords and a handful of crossbows and arrows stacking them all in a pile and she turned to him pointed to the crossbows, bent down putting on the helmet and grabbing the handful of swords in her arms.
They walked back, weapons clinking, rain washing away the filth of battle, Angon’s tall lean form glowing next to Buffy’s. It was no more than a mile from the edge of the city, and Buffy directed him to the armory. She placed all the weapons on the floor except her helmet and the elf sword, and pointed to the place she wanted him to set the crossbows down. She looked up at him then and nodded. “Good war Angon. You are good, tomorrow I will teach you more.” She smiled at him and walked back to the Great Hall. He stood there for several minutes listening to the queen fret and scold and the rain fall on the wooden huts.
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