Chapter one: The Party:
The meadow under the Party Tree was filled to the brim with Hobbits. Tents and lanterns dotted the countryside so that the participants may enjoy the great feast well into the evening. It wasn’t so rare for two hobbits to share a birthdate. After all, Hobbits were some of the most fertile creatures. It was rare for them to share parties though. However, Bilbo wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would young Frodo.
Percia smiled as she watched her friend enthrall the young Hobbits with tales of their adventures through the years. His wandering ways may have started with the Dwarves, but it sure hadn’t stopped there. Percia was probably the main reason for that, always too restless to stay in one place. Bilbo came along more often than not to make sure she stayed out of trouble. Apparently he just couldn’t trust Strider to do the job, a point that brought great amusement to many. Granted it brought the ire of the Sackville-Baggins’ down on her for encouraging such ‘un-hobbitish’ behavior, but she couldn’t care less. After the whole issue with Bag End, Percia loved to push Lobelia’s buttons.
Still it was a grand event that had taken months to plan. Not that it was a particularly special birthday for either, but the past months had been very trying. Poor Frodo almost lost both of his parents this past spring when they took a boat ride on the river. Thankfully for them Percia had been around to pull them out. Still, they had had a lengthy recovery due to the water they swallowed and catching colds. Frodo had stayed with them the majority of it, everyone too afraid the faunt would catch the same sickness or worse, his parents wouldn’t make it. Thankfully it seemed Drogo was made of the same stuff as Bilbo, and Primula, well she was a Brandybuck, enough said.
So really the party was to celebrate not only the birthdays of the two Baggins, but also the recovery of his parents and life in general. A good reason to throw a party in anyone’s book. In fact, she noticed Hobbits didn’t really need a reason…
Gandalf had even showed up, with a twinkle in his eye and a wide grin on his face. It certainly was an improvement from his last visit when he had learned about Bilbo losing his ancestral home. He had promised not to go tear the mountain down around Thorin’s ears, but Percia wondered if he hadn’t found some sort of revenge for his dear Hobbit. As of yet he wouldn’t tell her, and Legolas would just smirk whenever they ran in to each other, like he knew a very amusing secret and he wanted to hold it over her head. The fact she was dying of curiosity only made it worse!
Speaking of secrets, Bilbo had been sequestering himself in his study more often of late. Every time she tried to sneak a peek he’d toss her out or find better locks. He claimed it was nothing special, but she thought he might finally be writing about their first adventure together. Usually he’d write down what occurred on their trips immediately upon them returning home. Yet, the pain he felt in his heart had stayed his pen from documenting the quest for Erebor. Hopefully this newfound need to finally put the blasted quest on paper meant he was healing from his heartache.
She had a feeling this was a result of the letters he received by way of Lady Dis, via Gimli. The young Dwarf had visited them on several occasions. Given his age, he had more free time to travel, and he used it as an excuse to help with his training. He would be a lord one day, and traveling all over Arda helped with his knowledge in trade and current events. The young redhead had become a very good friend to both Bilbo and her. The others, however, were only able to send letters. Even Nori, who she had anticipated to be one of the first to visit, couldn’t seem to break free of his duties as spymaster. It seemed many were trying to find a way to replace Thorin and his nephews, with no luck.
She had also received some letters from the group, even an apology from Kili, likely done under duress, but an apology nonetheless. She, of course, had sent back a reply indicating she forgave him and he was an idiot. Short and sweet. He hadn’t responded since, but she did not expect him to. Surprisingly though she did have a steady correspondence with Fili and his wife.
She paused in her thoughts as she watched Fredwick and Georgian Took leading young Merry and Pippin through the tents towards the cart Gandalf had brought with him. That won’t end well…
Not her problem. She’d just enjoy the show. Grinning mischievously she took another draw of her ale.
“Oh goodness,” Bilbo huffed as he plopped down next to her. “I think you are right. There must be rabbits somewhere in our past to explain all the children running about.”
“Told ya,” she shot back sassily. “Did they enjoy your story?”
“Of course,” he boasted, puffing his chest up a little. “After all, who can resist a tale from the Mad Baggins?”
The two shared a look before breaking down in giggles.
Had Percia not stayed with him Bilbo would likely have detested such a title. However, over the years he had come to enjoy if not embrace the title fully. Much like Gandalf wore his title of ‘Disturber of the Peace’ with great pride.
“So why are you not out dancing,” her friend asked honestly.
“Because I am taking a break. Your Took relatives can wear a person out,” she teased happily. “And I want to wait for whatever shenanigans the fearsome four come up with. Need to know which way to duck.”
“Good gracious,” he sighed rubbing his nose. “Worse than a horde of goblins that lot. Oh well, best leave them to Molly.”
Again the two shared a laugh knowing full well just how Molly would handle the small group. At least Frodo was smart enough to slip away before getting caught, usually taking his friend Samwise with him. Merry and Pippin hadn’t quite figured that part out. Fred and George just didn’t care.
Sure enough they heard a loud explosion off to one side. One of Gandalf’s larger rockets launched into the air, taking a tent with it. Percia snickered heartily while Bilbo just sighed again. Still neither moved, even when the firecracker turned into a very good depiction of Smaug and started chasing most of the Hobbits in the valley before exploding in a blast of light over the lake. The startled cries had turned to cheers as the light show ended rather spectacularly. It reminded Percia a bit of the Fourth of July show that Macy’s put on back home in New York. The thought made her a bit nostalgic.
“And there she goes,” Bilbo muttered, his eyes tracking the form of one enraged Molly Took. Yup, the boys were in for it now, she was on the warpath.
“I bet if we threw her at the Orcs they would run just from her glare,” Percia murmured thoughtfully, causing the pair to dissolve into laughter once more.
It took some time but both calmed down, though they almost lost it at seeing Gandalf and Molly dragging the perpetrators to the wash tent. All four of them were covered in soot and their hair was a mess. Percia doubted they could be any more obvious.
“I’m glad we did this,” she said suddenly, her eyes drifting to the dance area where Frodo and Primula were twirling around. Bilbo’s gaze followed hers a soft smile growing on his lips.
Like most Hobbit parties it lasted well into the night, even when Bilbo made a point to do the speeches somewhat early. Once this group got going, they wouldn’t stop. She’d dare say they could give Dwarves a run for their money in celebrating. In any case it wasn’t until the early hours of dawn that the troop made their way home. Percia and Bilbo had insisted on helping clean up, and Gandalf just sat around smoking his pipe. Apparently the ‘young ones’ had worn the old man out.
Primula and Drogo had also offered to help, but Bilbo just shooed them away with the rest of the parents to put their young one to bed. Frodo was already fast asleep against his father’s shoulder, one hand curled possessively around the other’s suspender. Fortunately Molly had kindly ‘volunteered’ Fred and George’s services in the meantime. With more than one stern eye on them the boys knew not to make any more of a fuss.
Finally their little smial came into view. Percia was the first to enter yawning widely as she did so.
“I could sleep for a week,” she announced happily.
“I’m sure you could, you lazy brat,” Bilbo shot back playfully, closing the door behind Gandalf.
The wizard chuckled a bit even as his eyes narrowed at the interior. He was still put out by Bilbo losing his home the way he had. However, seeing him so happy with Percia he could almost forgive himself for not being there to help the Hobbit when he returned to the Shire. In fact, dare he think it, Bilbo was doing much better away from Bag End then he had living there. Belladonna at least would have been happy with her son’s current views on life and adventure.
“Would you like some tea Gandalf,” said Hobbit asked, breaking the wizard from his thoughts? “Or are you off to bed?”
“I think a spot of tea would be lovely,” he agreed, not really needing much sleep despite his aged appearance. As Bilbo headed into the small kitchen to get a pot going Gandalf sat at the table, having to scrunch his frame in a bit more to fully fit. It wasn’t long before Bilbo was back pouring a cuppa for each of them. “To another successful gathering of Hobbits.”
“Indeed,” Bilbo chuckled as they clinked their glasses together.
“Great Zeus Bilbo! What happened to your study,” Percia’s question echoed from down the hall where she had disappeared to earlier.
The Hobbit tutted slightly but answered all the same. “The boys were playing in there before the party. I didn’t have the time to straighten it up before we had to head out. Just leave it be,” he added after a sip of tea. “I’ll handle it later.”
Percia blinked in surprise at his answer. Bilbo hated to have his study in disarray. And there was no other way to describe the current state of the room. It looked like a hurricane had swung through for a moment. Then again, four faunts playing inside had a very similar effect. Rolling her eyes she turned to leave when something glinted out of the side of her eye. Curious she leant down to inspect it further.
Moving some of the papers that had fallen to the floor she found a small box that had been knocked over, the top askew. Half inside the box and half out sat a rather plan looking gold ring. Percia frowned in confusion. Bilbo wasn’t one for jewelry of any kind. In fact, the most a Hobbit might wear was a wedding ring or a necklace, if one was female. Unlike other races the small folk didn’t seem inclined to pretty baubles of the like.
Now she knew Bilbo had never been married, or even thought of it. She also knew he kept his parents wedding rings in a special box on the mantel. This ring she had never seen before. Wait… she had a vague memory of something gold in his hand after the goblin cave, but it had been too quick for her to really see anything. She definitely knew he never wore or carried any such trinket in the years they’d been in the Shire since the quest. Curiosity getting the better of her, as it usually tended to do; she went to grab the ring to show to Bilbo in hopes for an answer.
The second her fingers brushed the cool metal pain exploded behind her eyes. Flame and shadow danced across her vision. Armies of orcs and goblins paraded past, burning everything in sight and destroying all that was good in the world. People she knew and loved flashed past in more gruesome depictions of death. All of this and more continued to bombard her mind until finally she stood before a single giant glowing eye permeated with evil staring balefully at her.
Instinctively she pulled on her powers to protect her from the evil being in front of her. The backlash from the two meeting sent her flying and knocking her unconscious.
Chapter two: Discoveries and Explanations:
Someone was talking. No wait, someone was yelling, which explained the growing intensity of her headache. Why did she have a headache? She didn’t remember drinking that much. In fact she had been adamant about keeping out of any contests involving drinking. She had learned her lesson at the Harvest Festival, thank you very much.
So that begged the question again. Why did she have a headache? And why was she on the ground?
That’s right. She’d been in Bilbo’s study about to pick something up… What was it?
She let out a small groan when her head only throbbed more for the effort of thinking.
“Percia? Percia are you all right?”
Why did people try to shake you when you were down? Really, it couldn’t be healthy.
“Percia!” This time she could make out Bilbo’s worried tone.
“Calm down Bilbo,” Gandalf scolded his friend gently. “Let me try something.”
Percia felt fingers over her eyes, which she had yet to open. A pulse of power flowed over her, soothing the pain behind her eyes. Suddenly she didn’t quite feel like a dying animal anymore. Always a plus in her book. Slowly the wizard removed his hand and Percia tried to open her eyes. It took a few tries but she managed.
“Ugh.” Yes, that was as eloquent as she could be at the moment.
A few moments later she felt able to attempt to sit up. Of course the room just had to spin to be contrary, but whatever.
“Nice and slow my dear,” Gandalf advised as he helped her, Bilbo fluttering just behind him wringing his hands.
“I feel like a giant fell on me,” she muttered, still working on getting her bearings. “What happened?”
“We were hoping you could tell us,” Gandalf stated wryly. “However, from the looks of it, you were thrown into the wall.”
Percia squinted her eyes, trying to remember again what had occurred. Looking around she could see she was in Bilbo’s study. Why was she in his study? Oh right, she’d been inspecting the damages the boys had wrought. Then she was leaving… no wait, she saw something. That’s right she saw a ring and went to pick it up.
“The ring,” she slurred slightly, still woozy from the knock to her head. “I went to pick up the ring…”
Both Gandalf and Bilbo looked confused so she continued.
“It was in a box that had been knocked over.” At least her words were sounding clearer. “I thought it was strange, ‘cause Bilbo doesn’t wear jewelry and I was curious so I went to pick it up to show him and bug him for information.” This caused the wizard to look amused while Bilbo rolled his eyes. Both knew how inquisitive she could get. “When I tried to grab it I felt pain. Then I saw… flame and shadow…”
Gandalf looked especially worried after this, while Bilbo continued to be confused. But the more she said the more she remembered.
“Armies. Armies of orcs,” she spat, horror growing as she remembered how vivid the image was in her mind. “And an… eye.”
“Are you sure,” Gandalf demanded, eyes wide with fear.
“Yes.” Percia held his gaze to show just how ‘sure’ she was.
“Where is the ring now…”
“It’s here,” Bilbo announced, plucking the small band up easily and holding it for the wizard to see. “But I don’t see why it affected Percia, I’ve never had any trouble with it.”
Gandalf stared at the ring as if it would bite him. “Where did you get that?”
Bilbo fidgeted for a moment as if he didn’t want to tell them, but then he shook his head. “In the goblin caves. When I was lost from the others. I ran into the strangest creature…” He proceeded to tell them the tale of his game against the strange creature Gollum and his eventual escape. He also went on to explain the ring was how he was able to free the Company from the Mirkwood prisons and sneak away from Smaug.
By the time he had finished Gandalf was pacing back and forth, growing more and more agitated. Turning to the Hobbit he demanded, “Why did you never tell me this before?”
“To be honest I’m not quite sure. On the journey I thought about it but… something held me back,” he admitted sheepishly. “And then once we got back to the Shire, I put it away in the box and quite forgot about it. With Percia always running off and me joining her I was afraid I’d lose it.” He paused suddenly a strange look over-coming his face. “That’s odd. Why would I worry about losing a silly ring?”
“Because it is not just a silly ring,” the wizard informed him seriously. “If it is what I think it is, this ring is one of the foulest creations ever made.”
Bilbo and Percia shared a disturbed look before turning back to Gandalf for further explanation.
The old wizard sighed heavily, knowing he needed to divulge information to them. “When I left the Company upon your entering Mirkwood I traveled north. There in the mountains lies a series of tombs. Nine to be exact. These are the tombs of the nine kings of men, who fell to the rings of power, corrupted by Sauron.” Bilbo gasped in fright, dropping the ring immediately as he started to puzzle through just where the other was going with this story. Percia just looked on blankly having no clue what he was speaking of. “Those tombs were empty. My next step was to travel to Dol Guldur, the ancient fortress to the south of Mirkwood. It was there the truth was discovered. Sauron still lives. He is but a wrath, and we of the White Council were able to force him from that stronghold back to the lands of Mordor.”
“Question,” Percia interrupted without a trace of remorse. “Sauron? Nine kings? What are you talking about?”
Gandalf just blinked at her for a very long moment before he huffed in realization. “Of course. I forget that you were not originally from our world so would not know our history. Though I had thought Bilbo was remedying that?”
“You try keeping her in one spot long enough,” the Hobbit huffed irritably.
Finally a smile slipped on the old face. “Fair enough. Perhaps we should take this to the kitchen and have that tea. I could use I bit of fortification to go over this tale.”
“Yes, yes,” Bilbo agreed immediately. “That does sound like a good plan.”
“In the meantime, perhaps you should place the ring back in its box,” the wizard cautioned. Bilbo glanced at him unsure if he should touch the ring if it was what Gandalf was alluding to. “You should be fine. It has not harmed you as of yet. Just do not keep it on you for now.”
As Bilbo did as asked, carefully placing the now secured box on the mantel, Gandalf helped Percia into the kitchen. Once the girl was settled and Bilbo had finished pouring the tea Gandalf began the tale.
“At one time there were rings of power created for the three main races. Nine went to the Kings of Men. Seven to the Dwarf Lords. And Three to the Elves. However, Sauron, an evil force in our land created another in secret. In the fires of Mount Doom he forged the Ring of Power. This ring allowed him to control the others, to a point,” he explained solemnly. “The Kings of Men fell easily to his machinations. The Dwarf Lords were stouter of heart, but many of their rings were lost over time or they too grew corrupt. The line of Durin did not; however, Sauron put a curse on that line, which I believe helped lead to the gold sickness that runs in their family.” Here Bilbo looked away, pain flashing across his face, no doubt from memories of the Mountain and Thorin’s own stint in the throes of gold sickness. “The Elves did not fall, but instead hid their rings of power. Finally at the end of the Second Age it had all come to head. The last alliance of Men and Elves stood against the armies of Mordor to end the reign of Sauron once and for all. Many lives were lost, but the heir of Gondor, Isildur, finally defeated Sauron by cutting off his hand, which held the Ring of Power. With Sauron gone, the forces of evil were vanquished and the orcs fled.” Gandalf sighed heavily, like a weight held him down. “Elrond was there that day, and he took Isildur into the mountain to destroy the ring. However, Isildur fell to the persuasive power of the ring and refused. Years later the ring was lost when Isildur was killed. Many believed it was lost in such a way to never be found. And as long as it survived, Sauron would survive, though far weaker. Many of us even believed he would never be able to gain power without it. Sadly we were proved wrong, as he was the driving force behind Azog and his attack on the Mountain. If this is the One Ring, Sauron would have the ability to come back, more powerful than ever.”
“Well how do we find out if this is the actual ring,” Percia asked warily.
“I think the visions you experienced give us a very good idea,” Gandalf stated dryly. “However, to be sure I will go speak to the head of my order, Saruman. He will be able to give us guidance. In the meantime I suggest you two head to Rivendell. I will meet you there and we can determine our next step. But it is important to keep the ring hidden. For now no one should know where it is, but we cannot underestimate the enemy. We did that once before and barely persevered. In Rivendell, Lord Elrond will be able to keep the ring hidden until a better plan can be devised.”
Both Bilbo and Percia shared another look. This was very serious if it had Gandalf this worked up. Poor Bilbo looked so guilty for having found and kept the ring a secret for so long. Not that Percia blamed him. There was no way he could have known.
“Well, looks like we’re going on another adventure,” Percia stated wryly. “Though perhaps this time, you’ll be better prepared.”
“Oh hush you,” Bilbo chided clucking his tongue at the girl. Though he did look a bit relieved at her easy attitude.
“Indeed,” Gandalf added, a twinkle of humor in his eyes. “You two should prepare for the journey, but do not tarry longer than a week. I, however, shall depart tomorrow. Remember, this must remain between us only.”
Chapter 3: chapter 3
Chapter Three: On the Road Again:
“So much for secrecy,” Percia muttered as she stared at Fredwick and Georgian Took, both grinning from ear to ear.
The pair had shown up on the road just outside of the Shire, each carrying a pack and a walking stick. Clearly it was a calculated move to keep Percia and Bilbo from refusing them the right to join them. It actually wouldn’t have stopped them, except the two dropped a tiny little bomb. They knew about the ring.
Bilbo was not happy in the least. The two were nearly preening from their ‘cleverness’. Percia was just exasperated with the whole thing and really didn’t care if the two came.
“There will be rules you will have to follow,” she stated plainly. Before they could object she cut them off. “Nope, you don’t get to argue this. Bilbo and I have traveled multiple times out of the Shire, you have not. This is also a very important trip, which means no shenanigans.”
The twins perked up, faces growing serious.
“All the more reason,” Fred stated.
“For us to join you two,” George continued.
“More eyes to watch your back.”
“And keep Bilbo safe.”
“I can look after myself you know,” said Hobbit huffed indignantly.
“Of course you can cousin,” George chirped, swinging an arm around his shoulder.
“We have total faith in you,” Fred added, his arm going around the other shoulder to trap Bilbo between the twins.
“But seeing as this is such an important mission.”
“And unknown dangers ahead.”
“We couldn’t live with ourselves.”
“If we let you two head out on your lonesome.”
Bilbo rolled his eyes and huffed some more. “Rascals.”
Percia just snorted and pulled her pack higher. “Whatever, daylights wasting. Gods know I don’t want to be here when Molly realizes you two imps are missing.”
The two sheepish grins and Bilbo’s own surprised look only confirmed her guess.
“You didn’t tell her?” Yup, now Bilbo was catching on. Two thwaps and mutters complaints followed his question up. Nothing like family.
Percia was impressed, she thought for sure by the time they made it to Bree the twins would have called it quits, but they were in it for the long haul. In all honesty she didn’t mind, the two could be serious when called for. Plus the pure mischief they were bound to get into in Rivendell was bound to be entertaining.
Getting past the gatekeeper to let them in took a little bit of time given the weather, but one good glare from Percia had him reconsidering. Once in they headed to the Prancing Pony. Considering the foul weather it was busier than normal, everyone preferring to drink than work in the rain. Bilbo set about procuring them a room, making sure to use a false name. The twins glanced at him sideways, but made no fuss about it.
After dropping most of their supplies in their rooms they headed down for dinner, making sure to take one of the tables in the back. Bilbo tried to keep the twins in check, but gave up the moment they discovered the wonders of a pint. Percia just enjoyed it, keeping an eye on any possible threats and letting the Hobbits continue with their antics.
So far no one looked out of place, just the usual towns people, some travelers and the tavern workers. Surprisingly she didn’t see any Rangers. Usually there was at least one around town.
As the night drew on the twins got exceedingly hammered, much to Percia’s amusement. Bilbo didn’t quite feel the same.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered tiredly as he watched Fred and George challenging some men to a drinking contest. “Will you please contain them?”
“They’re your cousins,” Percia countered wickedly. “Besides, I’d probably end up joining them. The ale here is nowhere as potent as what you Hobbits actually drink. Could win some money.”
“Yavanna give me strength,” he hissed under his breath. “We are supposed to keep a low profile!”
“And they are,” she assured him calmly. “ Honestly Bilbo, it’s more suspicious to be hunkered down in a dark corner than to be in the midst of the activity. It’s called hiding in plain sight.”
They both looked over at a particularly loud round of raucous laughter, finding the twins dancing on the table.
“Then again, I don’t want to deal with two hung-over fools either. Stay here.” She moved to go grab the two hooligans so they could head up to rest, ignoring Bilbo’s affronted huff and mumbled curses.
Pushing through the crowd of drunks she found her quarry. “Alright you two,” she called out gaining their attention. “Time to turn in. We have a long day of traveling and I’m not carrying either of you.”
“Aw…….” The pouts she received from the two Hobbits were expected, those from the other patrons were just downright sad.
“Yeah, yeah.” She waves them off pulling her two friends down. “I’m sure you’ll have more chances to play once we return on our way home. Let’s go.”
As she directed the two towards the table where she left Bilbo she noted said Hobbit was missing. She froze for a split second knowing her friend would never up and leave like that. Searching the room she caught the movement of a black cloak heading up the stairs. Following her gut instinct she gave chase, the twins close behind. Thank the gods the two could catch on quickly when something was serious. Just as she made it to the bottom of the steps she caught a glimpse of a Hobbit foot and a man’s leg disappearing around the corner.
Dashing up the stairs she slipped Riptide out prepared for a fight. No one messed with her friends! The click of a door shutting to her left alerted her to where she needed to go next. Vaguely she heard the twins scrambling after her. Leaning against the door she listed hearing two voices but not the exact words being used. She did, however, recognize Bilbo’s worried tenor.
It was enough for her. Stepping back she braced herself before slamming a foot into the door forcing it open, sword raised to handle the threat. The twins were right behind her, ready to defend their kin, no matter how sloshed they were. Any demands she would have made died on her lips the moment she got a good look at the Hobbit-napper.
“Hades Strider! What do you think you’re doing taking off with my Hobbit,” she growled angrily, shifting to put Riptide away and wave the twins down. She wouldn’t put it past them to attack anyway. Not that he wouldn’t deserve it.
The Ranger just smirked as he gestured them all in before securing the door behind them. “I am making sure your Hobbit survives to reach Rivendell. He cannot be left alone no matter how short a time,” he advised calmly.
“And I was telling Strider that as an adult I most certainly can be left alone,” Bilbo growled out in frustration.
Percia ignored the Hobbit and stared at Strider. He was worried; the way he held himself practically screamed that, if one knew how to look.
“Don’t deflect. What’s really going on,” she shot back, eyes narrowed.
Strider just stared at her for a long silent moment before his eyes slid to the twins.
“They’re coming with us regardless so just spit it out,” she ordered.
He shrugged in that way of his that almost always irritated her. It reminded her so much of Triton and his ‘well I guess I can deign to tell you’ moods. Made her want to slap him.
“The road is no longer safe for you to travel alone,” he explained. “Gandalf told me what it is Bilbo carries. But we are no longer the only ones that know. They are coming.”
An uneasy silence filled the room and Percia exchanged looks with Bilbo.
“Who are they,” Fred asked, voice more serious than Percia had heard in some time. But it was certainly a very good question.
Chapter 4: chapter 4
Chapter Four: Nazgul in Pursuit:
Percia sat in the chair across from Strider, the other watching out their window and chewing on his pipe. Bilbo, Fred and George had all finally succumbed to sleep not even an hour before.
Strider had barely told them anything about their so-called hunters insisting they needed to prepare the room they had rented as a diversion to keep them off the Hobbit’s trail. Percia huffed in annoyance but had gone to help him in any case, making sure the twins and Bilbo stayed back in Strider’s room. Even when alone Strider remained tight-lipped, no doubt worried about listening ears. Whatever, she’d get the information out of him eventually.
It hadn’t taken long to gather their things and set the scene of four ‘sleeping’ bodies. The two humans had made it back to their new room with no one seeing them. Still Strider remained quiet, but she could sense his unease about the whole situation.
Just when she was about to get completely fed up the sounds of horses breaking the main gate reached her ears. Frowning she moved to glance out the window, noting the large black steeds and the dark figures moving into the portion of the hotel they would have been staying in. Percia grimaced as she took in the horses; they were not natural.
A few tense moments passed, neither human wanting to speak, only the breathing of the sleeping Hobbits breaking the silence.
She may or may not deny it later, but Percia jumped when the shrieks of rage echoed through the night. Nothing that made that sound could be remotely good. Shifting sea-green eyes met steel grey, a shared sense of worry passing between them. Whatever these hunters were, they could not let them get Bilbo.
“What was that,” Georgian asked, having woken to the strange screams. His twin and Bilbo were also throwing wary looks at the window.
“They were men once,” Strider stated softly, his deep voice adding a sense of macabre to the words. Regardless he now had all of their attention. “Great Kings of Men. Then Sauron the Deceiver gave to them Nine Rings of Power.” Bilbo and Percia shared a knowing look, the pieces coming together. “Blinded by their greed they took them without question, one by one falling into darkness and now they are slaves to his will.”
The sound of horses galloping off alerts them to the creatures’ departure.
“They are the Nazgul,” Strider continued. “Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead. At all times they feel the presence of the ring… drawn to the power of the one.” His eyes locked on Bilbo, who had lost all color in his features. “They will never stop hunting you.”
“Is there a way to kill them,” Percia asked cautiously.
“None that is known,” Strider responded tiredly. “The White Council itself went against them and only managed to banish them with Sauron to Mordor.”
“Of course,” Percia muttered, fingers wrapping around Riptide to try and ward off the sudden chill.
“Try and get some rest Master Hobbits,” Strider addressed the others. “We have a long journey ahead of us to Rivendell.”
Indeed the group started out early in the morning, the light of the sun just barely cresting the sky. Bilbo followed closely after Strider, while Percia herded the twins after them. The poor boys had been shocked to learn they would only eat three meals a day, though Percia did allow them snacks they could eat while walking.
They had procured a few extra supplies in Bree, as well as a pony to hold it all. Percia had a hard time not relaying just what Bill thought of her name. Instead she whispered to the poor thing to just humor the younger Hobbits, as this was their first journey. She was begrudging, but finally gave in. Granted it could have been the apples the twins kept slipping her that finally softened the nag up a bit, but Percia wouldn’t comment.
It took them about a week to reach Weathertop, an old outpost used by Rangers as a stopping point and hidden supply cash. They had reached the old fort closer to dusk, so it was a short time to set up camp. Strider had slinked off to procure some swords for the younger Hobbits, as Percia and Bilbo already had weapons. They swore to never tell Molly of their involvement in arming her twins. However, they agreed Strider was on his own with the Hobbit matron.
It was decided they would not have a fire, the chance of their discovery by the enemy too great. The twins were not thrilled about it, given the slightly colder nights, but they endured surprisingly well. In fact Percia was impressed with the way they were handling the new level of danger that had been added to this journey. None of them had expected the wraiths to be hunting them. Yet, they continued to soldier on. If this were her world, she’d swear the two were demi-gods.
Pretty soon it was only Percia and Strider on watch as the other three were tired from the long day of travel. Bilbo had more experience than the younger Hobbits, but he still got tired from traveling. Strider was too used to traveling to get tired easily, and Percia had far too much energy in general.
“So how did you know to meet up with us,” Percia inquired quietly from where they kept watch on the top edge of Weathertop, the hobbits camped out below them.
“Gandalf sent a message on his way to Isengard,” the ranger explained. “I was already in the area so it seemed best for me to join up with you for extra protection. I was not aware you would be bringing stragglers.” Here he sent her a dry look.
“You try telling Hobbits no,” she snorted. “They are far more stubborn than you think. Besides, better they’re with us than following from a distance. Gods know what they’d get up to.”
“No doubt nothing you yourself have not done,” her friend murmured teasingly.
“Whatever,” she huffed rolling her eyes. “So do you think these wraith will be a big issue?”
“Yes. They are good hunters and any advantage we can get will be welcome,” he told her plainly.
“Well that’s comforting.” She sighed heavily leaning back against the old wall. “I’d feel better if I knew of a way to actually kill them, or at least wound them.”
“I am told fire is a good deterrent,” Strider murmured around his pipe.
“Which we opted not to have to keep us from being noticed. Great,” Percia grumbled irritably.
“Not scared are you,” her friend challenged.
“I can hurt you.”
The ranger was about to respond when a loud screech echoed through the night. Both jumped to their feet swords ready. The sound came again, this time closer.
“They’re coming from the West,” Strider noted.
“Meaning they were following us,” Percia remarked. “We’ll split up, make for the Hobbits.”
Strider bent quickly gathering up wood and some cloth. He went to work making torches, using ale from his flask as an accelerant. Once he had them burning he handed one to Percia. “Be safe sister.”
“You too, brother.” They split up heading towards the small area the Hobbits had claimed earlier.
It didn’t take long for Percia to traverse the ruins and come upon her charges. Unfortunately she was not the only one there. Five wraiths had the trio cornered. Well that wouldn’t do. Thankfully Bilbo had remembered not to use the ring; no doubt it would cause the wraiths to hone in on him.
Percia didn’t even think about it, instead she jumped right into the fray, landing between the scared Hobbits and the looming wraiths, brandishing her torch. The wraiths screeched in anger and a little bit of fear.
“Stay behind me,” she commanded as she continued to fend the wraiths off.
One tried to push forward from her side to get around her. A quick spin and swipe of Riptide had the creature howling in pain and pulling back. It’s arm smoked where her blade had pierced it. Good to know celestial bronze did affect some creatures here as well. Pressing her advantage she swung her torch letting it catch the wraith on fire.
Another screech from her right alerted her to Strider joining the fun, lighting another of the wraith on fire. Together the two chased the creatures off, their burning forms disappearing into the night.
“Everyone okay,” Percia asked as she turned to the Hobbits.
“Yes, thank you,” Fred breathed out, somewhat shocked by events.
“They just came out of no where,” George added, eyes still wide.
“It’s a good thing you came when you did,” Fred continued.
“We need to leave,” Strider advised as he came back from checking where the wraith fled. “There’s no telling if they will come back and we need to get as far from here as possible.”
“Right,” Bilbo spoke up, voice steady if wary. “Boys, gather your things, we need to go.”
The group had their things together in short order and fled into the night. With the wraith now hot on their trail it was a race to safety.
Chapter 5: chapter 5
Chapter Five: A Brief Respite:
Percia sighed heavily as she slipped into the small hot springs that hid within Rivendell’s boundaries. She and Bilbo had discovered them about the third time they had stopped in Rivendell on one of their ventures. Lord Elrond had been very kind in allowing them access. The springs certainly helped her aching muscles.
After the encounter at Weathertop with the wraith, the group moved through the night trying to stay ahead of their enemy. Strider had taken them into the Trollshawls allowing the twins to see the troll statues they had heard about from Bilbo’s stories. The impressed looks they leveled on their cousin had the older Hobbit blushing a bit. Clearly they had thought he’d exaggerated the size of the trolls.
Instead of making their way across the open plains, Strider kept them within the safety of the forest, hoping the trees would slow any pursuit. Percia agreed with the strategy making sure to take up the rear as the ranger led the small group. They had had to pick up the pace upon hearing the telltale screeches in the night. Poor Fredwick and Georgian were nearing exhaustion, having never had to maintain such vigorous travel for long periods of time.
At one point they had thought the enemy had caught them, however it was only Glorfindel. The ancient Elf had come looking for them when word got out about wraith in the area. Sadly his news was not promising. The enemy had them surrounded and they still had a good journey to make it to Rivendell’s borders. Making the executive decision, Percia handed a rather affronted Bilbo to the Elf and told him to get the Hobbit to Rivendell. Her argument being that the wraith were after what he carried, not the rest of them. They would be able to follow at a slower pace once the wraith realized their quarry was safe within the Elvin realm. No one could argue with that logic.
The twins had been apprehensive though once the ancient Elf had taken off with their cousin. However, the reprieve in such harsh travel was greatly welcomed. It took the tired group another day and a half to reach the great city, greeted by Elrond and a very safe Bilbo. Surprisingly the Elf Lord had not heard from Gandalf in some time; a worrying prospect in itself.
Percia was worried about that. She knew it was a long journey to Isengard from the Shire, but he should have sent some kind of word to Elrond. He had time to send word to Strider after all. The Elf lord had just waved away their worries, stating it was not unusual for Gandalf to not contact him before showing up unexpectedly. In fact it had become expected of the wizard. Percia couldn’t really argue with him there, but with the importance of this quest it did set her on guard.
She wasn’t the only one. The Elves seemed very wary to have the ring in their home. Elrond had indicated he wanted to wait for Gandalf before coming up with a plan for dealing with the relic, but who knew when he’d show up.
Bilbo had been sure to secure it in a special box, one gifted to him from Thorin with one of the letters he’d sent. She knew the two had been writing back and forth for a few years now, yet the gift had been a surprise. It was a mixture of metals but still light and durable, etched with images of acorns and oak trees. Percia had no idea why he chose such a façade but Bilbo looked down right ‘twitter patted’ at the gift.
Granted Percia still thought the Dwarf should come and speak to Bilbo in person, position be damned. Yes, it seemed they had made up from their last encounter, and even more worrisome they appeared to be rekindling the feelings the two fools refused to acknowledge they had for one another. However, Percia vowed that such a relationship would only be allowed if the King prat had the guts to come in person.
Then again, with the Olympian level denial the two idiots functioned at she likely needn’t worry about it. How did she know Thorin was just as oblivious as Bilbo? Dis, pure and simple. Speaking of she should probably write to her friend and let her know she and Bilbo would be out of the Shire for the foreseeable future.
While she had no doubt Elrond and Gandalf would come up with a plan to deal with the ring, and this dark lord, she doubted it would be easy. Either way she’d stand by Bilbo in this next ‘quest’. Hopefully they’d survive it.
Chapter 6: chapter 6
I am playing around with the time line and ages.
Chapter Six: The Council:
Percia sat in a rather uncomfortable chair while waiting for this ‘secret meeting’ to start. Honestly, if Lord Elrond wanted it to be a secret, the council chambers should not be outside. Already she had spotted Fred and George hiding on the fringes preparing to eavesdrop. Not that she blamed them. Had she not been included in the meeting, she would have done the same. Thankfully Lord Elrond knew better than to refuse her simply because of her gender.
Sadly there were a few who thought otherwise. Mainly the men from Gondor, led by a young man named Boromir. According to Strider he was the son of the steward there and a descent warrior, for all that he was barely in his twenties. He and his entourage had given her several disapproving looks when they entered the council chambers. Percia just ignored them. She’d come to find that most men in this world still held to the ridiculous patriarchal ideals.
The few Elves sitting with Elrond seemed puzzled by her presence, though they dared not say anything to Elrond or even Gandalf. They merely glanced at her curiously. The other Elves, from Mirkwood, led by the current bane of her existence, seemed to think her presence was completely normal. Granted, most of them had been at the Battle and known of her exploits there. Legolas just sent her haughty looks, which she returned whole heartedly. Screw acting her age; it’s not like he was either.
Beside their group sat the Dwarves, led by one of her favorites, Gimli son of Gloin. Surprisingly none from the Company had come, though Gimli had informed them that there were enemies near the Mountain that they were trying to route out. Bilbo had been disappointed but accepting, going so far as to ask after them, as if he didn’t get letters all the time. In fact he’d received several from Thorin during their three month stay in Rivendell. The sappy look on his face when he read them had Percia rolling her eyes more often than not. But, they made him happy so she’d keep her peace about it.
Amusingly enough Gimli and Legolas seemed to have a rather mercurial relationship as the Elf glowered at the Dwarf and vice versa, when said Elf was not trying to rile her up. The blond ponce should be worried now that Percia had an ally against him. Strider always remained out of their little tiffs, but she knew Gimli would assist her in her pranks.
Biting back a smirk her eyes found the form of Gandalf, where he sat next to Bilbo. The Gray wizard looked tired to those that knew him. She could see the stress lines around his eyes as they swept over the room, likely calculating the reactions of those present to the news he would be giving.
He had arrived at Rivendell a good two weeks after their little group. To say he was worse for wear would be a gross understatement. His appearance reminded her of when he found her in Dale, bruised, dirty and haggard. Once again, the enemy had imprisoned him except no one had known this enemy was in fact an enemy. Saruman the White had betrayed them all and joined Sauron. It was a hard blow for their friend, one Percia understood quite well.
Still the wizard had pulled himself together well and a council had been convened, consisting of those that would be affected by Sauron’s rise and Saruman’s treachery. Or at least, the ones who managed to show up. Percia knew Elrond had sent out more missives, only a few had answered. It reminded Percia a lot of the last war she fought back home, where there always seemed to be more enemies than allies. Hopefully the side of good would prevail again.
Elrond stood indicating the council would begin. Everyone quieted down and focused on the Elf Lord.
“Strangers from distant lands… friends of old,” he spoke clearly if a bit dramatically. Honestly, Percia wondered if there was at least one elf that didn’t employ dramatics. “You have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle-earth stands now upon the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite…or you will fall.” See, dramatics. “Each race is bound to this fate… this one doom…”
He let his gaze drift over each person there, locking with some longer than others. It was a very effective ploy in emphasizing how important this topic was.
“Bring forth the ring, Bilbo.”
Bilbo huffed a slight sigh and pushed up walking to the small stone Plinth pulling out the box he had carried the blasted thing in. Carefully he opened it and tipped it forward allowing the ring to fall out onto the center of the Plinth. Once done he quickly made it back to his seat, still uncomfortable with the whole process. Percia patted him on the shoulder in support.
“So it is true,” Boromir exclaimed in shock, his eyes locked on the small ring.
“Sauron’s ring,” Legolas muttered with no small amount of horror. “The ring of power!”
“The doom of man,” Gimli informed him grimly. Well, he wasn’t wrong according to what Percia had learned. Bilbo had spent days in the library researching the ring he had so innocently picked up and used, subjecting Percia to his findings each night.
“It is a gift,” Boromir stated suddenly breaking her from her thoughts. She watched as he stood, passionately defending his stance. “A gift to the foes of Mordor! Why not use this Ring? Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, held the forces of Mordor at bay,” he declared haughtily. “By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe. Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy… let us use it against him!”
A nice thought but it never ended well for one to use an enemy’s weapon.
“You cannot wield it.” Apparently Strider agreed. “None of us can. The one ring answers to Sauron alone… it has no other master.”
“And what would a ranger know of this matter,” Boromir asked coldly.
Rawr. Percia sensed some tension there. Strider just gazed at the other calmly not bothering to respond to the bard. But when Boromir turned away from him dismissively Legolas just had to jump in. She gave the Elf points for defending his friend, but he could have thought it through better.
“This is no mere ranger,” he snapped. “He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance!”
Bilbo glanced at her to see if she was just as surprised as him. However, she really wasn’t. She’d learned about Strider’s true identity ages ago, though a promise had kept it between them. Unlike the pointy-eared ponce she could keep a secret.
“Aragorn,” Boromir whispered, eyes a bit wider than before. “This is Isildur’s heir?”
“And heir to the throne of Gondor!” Really, he just had to go there.
“Havo dad, Legolas,” Strider, now ousted as Aragorn instructed his friend.
Boromir eyed him for a moment before glancing at the Elf. “Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king.” The last was said to Aragorn as the other man took his seat once more.
Thankfully before the tension could grow any worse Gandalf spoke up.
“Aragorn is right… we cannot use it.”
“You have only one choice,” Elrond jumped in. “The ring must be destroyed.”
Percia so wanted to make a snide comment about stating the obvious but the strange ringing in her ear stopped her. Out of the side of her eye she saw Bilbo rubbing at his temples as if to stave off a headache. Was it the ring? Was it affecting Bilbo now?
“Then what are we waiting for,” Gimli asked jumping to his feet and pulling out his axe. The Dwarf rushed forward before anyone could stop him or pull him back. With a great swing his axe came crashing down right onto the ring. Only for his axe to break on contact and send the Dwarf flying back.
Percia only vaguely saw this as a giant red eye flashed through her mind and the pain in her head increased. She could swear she heard whispers as well. Once it settled back down she glanced up meeting Gandalf’s worried gaze, only to wave him off.
“The ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Gloin, by any craft we here possess.” He couldn’t have mentioned that BEFORE? “The ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom… only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor, and cast into the fiery chasm from whence it came.” Once more he paused dramatically. “One of you must do this.”
Well, no pressure then.
“One does not simply walk into Mordor,” Boromir spoke quietly, tone full of dread. “Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep and the Great Eye is ever watchful.” Great eye? Sounds familiar. “It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust… the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly.”
Okay, so she wouldn’t want to vacation there, but does he have to be so pessimistic?
“Have you heard nothing Lord Elrond has said,” Legolas asked imperiously. Because that attitude was going to help so much. “The ring must be destroyed.”
“And I suppose you think you’re the one to do it,” Gimli demanded glaring at the Elf prince.
“And if we fail,” Boromir continued as if he had not heard the Dwarf. “What then? What happens when Sauron takes back what is his?”
A valid question in her book.
“I will be dead before I see the ring in the hands of an Elf,” Gimli bellowed. This caused the arguments to break out. The Elves of Mirkwood jumped up to defend their prince while the Dwarves stood behind Gimli. Boromir and the men were arguing again for their stance in using the ring and the Elves behind Elrond put in their thoughts. Said Lord merely watched, clearly unhappy with the turn of events, yet not surprised. Gandalf had held back for a moment but soon even he was in the fray.
Percia might have joined in, but the cries and whispers coming from the ring were much louder than before. Her head pounded, and from the looks of it Bilbo had the same issues. They shared a look knowing very well what needed to be done. Together they stood tall. Bilbo raised a brow at her and she allowed a small smirk to take over. Placing her fingers to her lips she let loose a loud piercing whistle that had several of the Elves wincing, and even a few of the men. She gave a slight apologetic look to Lord Elrond but could care less about the others.
“If you all could pretend to be sensible adults for one moment and shut up,” she asked dryly, privately enjoying the stunned looks she was getting.
“Yes, um.” Bilbo cleared his throat before addressing the crowd with his most confidant voice. “I will be taking the ring to Mordor. I found it and it is my responsibility to do this.”
“I will be going with him,” Percia added. Catching the incredulous looks on the faces of the men she continued. “And don’t try any of that crap about me being female. I have been in more wars than some of you have ever seen so I suggest you keep your mouths shut. Now you can either help or stay out of our way. No we do not have an army of ten thousand.” She shot a look at Boromir. “But for this type of mission a smaller group is more advisable anyway. Best to slip past the enemy while they are unaware than notify them of our intentions.”
“Indeed,” Gandalf agreed with a proud smile. “I will help you bear this burden, Bilbo Baggins, as long as it is your burden to bear.”
Aragorn strode over to them. “If by my life or death I can protect you I will,” he stated seriously, kneeling before Bilbo. “You have my sword.”
“And you have my bow,” Legolas pledged, his eyes mostly on Bilbo but Percia saw they flickered to her for just a moment. By the gods, they would be traveling together for who knows how long.
“And my axe,” Gimli added, earning a look from Legolas and a smile from Percia. This trip just got far more interesting.
Boromir studied them both, but his eyes lingered on Bilbo. “You carry the fate of us all, little one.” He didn’t notice the way Bilbo balked at the moniker as he was looking towards Elrond and Gandalf. “If this is indeed the will of the Council, then Gondor will see it done.”
“You’re not leaving without us,” George announced as he and his twin popped up from behind the bushes they were hiding in.
“Bilbo’s not going anywhere without us,” Fred added, the two sidling up to their cousin rather protectively.
“No indeed,” Elrond drawled, a slight smirk showing his humor. “It is hardly possible to separate you… even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.”
“Tooks stick together,” both stated at the same time causing Percia to bite her lip to keep from laughing. Bilbo looked exasperated at their antics, yet she could also see he was touched they would follow him on this quest.
“Nine companions…” Elrond eyed them thoughtfully before pulling himself up clearly coming to a decision. “So be it. You shall be the ‘Fellowship of the Ring’.”
Chapter 7: chapter 7
Chapter Seven: Preparing for the Quest:
They waited about a month before leaving, giving them all time to prepare and stock for the journey to come. During the days Percia forced George and Fred into weapons lessons, refusing to let them continue on this journey with no real training. Thankfully despite their mischievous natures they took this seriously and put their all into learning. It might have helped that she made Bilbo join them more than once.
Gimli often joined them as well, trying to give the boys pointers. Sadly neither were quite skilled with an axe so more often than not Gimli just told them stories about his own battles.
Strider and Boromir joined them occasionally, though the latter seemed leery of Percia, still unconvinced she should be allowed to join. It was when she finally goaded him into a spar and kicked his ass that he finally relented. She had warned him that thinking of ones opponent based on their gender would get him killed. Women could fight just as well as men if they wanted, and often times were far sneakier about it. The young man didn’t look happy at the advice, but he took it all the same. It rose her opinion of him at the very least.
Legolas, of course, had to continue being his annoying self. Often he would criticize her teaching technique or just make snappy comments while she trained to goad her into a fight. Many were the times that Bilbo had to drag his cousins away as Percia and Legolas engaged in battles of wit.
“Are they… ya know,” Fred asked his cousin quietly after the latest bought.
“Are they what,” Bilbo queried.
“Ya know… together,” George emphasized.
“Well, I mean they are clearly standing next to one another,” Bilbo trailed off at the exasperated looks the two sent him.
“No, we mean do they like each other,” Fred explained.
“Like, LIKE like each other,” George added.
Bilbo stared at them blankly for a moment before his eyes grew wide as realization set in. “Goodness me, I don’t think so. I mean, they fight more often than not, so certainly… I can’t imagine… Well that is…”
“Aye, they fight, but so didn’t Prim and Drogo,” Fred pointed out.
“And that was just a bit of hair pulling, since neither were brave enough to be saying what they really wanted,” George continued on, as if it was obvious.
“Course it took ol’ Madame Wollowby to point it out to them,” Fred mused wryly.
“Both of ‘em looked like they’d been struck over the head they did,” George chuckled merrily. “But once they stopped denying their feelings, they got together right quick.”
Bilbo just gapped at the two before his eyes went back to where Percia and Legolas were still arguing. In fact, now that he looked at it with a new perspective…
“Yes, uh well,” Bilbo fumbled over his words trying to think of what to say. Finally he pulled himself together. “Look, whatever is or isn’t going on between the two, do not meddle.” He gave his two cousins a stern eye. “They need to figure it out on their own.”
The twins shared a glance before shrugging.
“No skin off our nose,” Fred murmured.
“Besides, it’s right entertaining,” George agreed.
Bilbo rolled his eyes and pushed the two to continue on their way. As he followed he let his gaze drift back to the two in question. Perhaps it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities, but after the first time she’d given her heart to a male of this world, Bilbo doubted she would be eager to do so again.
Thankfully the twins didn’t bring the subject up again. Unfortunately it was because they had met Lord Elrond’s twins, and the four decided getting into mischief was far more important. Poor Erestor was practically a wreck by the end of the first week the four miscreants had met. Glorfindel was no help as he found it hilarious. It was a good thing they would not be staying much longer. It said a lot for Lord Elrond that he had not tossed the lot of them out on their rear.
The rest of the Fellowship had been far more productive in their preparations, gathering the needed supplies and insuring all of their gear was well. They also went over the maps and the routes that they would take. Sadly they would have to avoid the main roads, as Saruman would be watching those with his spies. Percia really hated having to go off the beaten path, but it was what it was.
The night before they were to leave she had slipped away to the gardens, hoping for some peace and quiet. Legolas was distracted by Gimli, which made it easier to avoid the annoying elf. Really, for someone over a thousand years old he was so childish! Okay, considering some of her relatives she really couldn’t hold that against him. Still! He was so irritating, with his perfect hair, and mischievous blue eyes, and…
Wait? Hold the phone? Why was she thinking about his hair and eyes?
“Lady Percia?” Boromir’s voice broke her from her thoughts much to her relief. Best to forget that particular nugget.
“Yes Lord Boromir,” she responded politely, well as much as she could. The poor boy clung to his male chauvinist upbringing a little too much for her to fully like him.
He seemed reluctant at first, but gathered himself all the same. Great, he was going for a noble lecture. Her favorite…
“My lady, I feel I must advise you against this venture,” he started earnestly. “I know you can fight well, and you claim experience, but surely this is not a task for a lady as young as you are…”
“Young,” Percia scoffed. “Boromir, I have been fighting for my life since I was twelve, age is relative. But if we are speaking actual years, then there is nothing for you to worry about for I have far more than you have seen. I have at least a decade on you.”
He sputtered in disbelief. “Surely not! You cannot be older then twenty, if that.”
“I am thirty four to be exact,” Percia informed him wryly. “I just happen to age well. A side effect from my father’s side of the family I believe.”
“Father… are you one of the Dunedine,” he asked, honestly curious. “I hear tell they age far slower than normal men, some living to two hundred or more.”
“No,” she assured him. “Though I am friends with the Dunedine, I come from a completely different world.” To make her point she called water from the nearby fountain to her, allowing it to lazily dance around her hand much to his amazement. “I have a few extra perks to help defend us on this journey. So while I appreciate the sentiment behind your asking me to stay, it is in vain. But worry not, I shall be quite fine on this venture.”
“Truly…” He stared at the water in her hand mesmerized before a thought seemed to strike him. “You are the Water Goddess, that fought in the Battle of the Five Armies!”
“Goddess I definitely am not,” she chuckled at the absurd idea. “Though I did fight in the battle. Bilbo was there as well. And Legolas,” she added grudgingly.
Boromir frowned in thought. “If you fought together at the battle, why do you two constantly bicker? Surely as allies you would be on friendlier terms?”
“Because he is an immature, annoying so and so,” she growled petulantly. “Always going on about how perfect elves are, and how great his skill is! Bah! How does he use those skills? He sneaks mud in my boots and honey in my hair! That’s how! Then Mr. I’m so great because I’m an elf gets prissy when I retaliate. As if I would let such actions slide!”
As the rant continued Boromir backed up slightly, suddenly aware that he’d kicked the metaphysical bee hive. Luckily in seemed Percia had not realized his retreat. He got the distinct feeling that there was more to their relationship than either party would admit, or mayhap even realized. However, if there was one thing he had agreed upon with his little brother, it was to stay out of matters involving the hearts of others. Such interaction never ended well.
Though it would definitely make for an interesting journey…
Chapter 8: chapter 8
Chapter Eight: Mountain One, Fellowship Zero:
Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold. Okay, so Percia knew she shouldn’t focus on that, but it was COLD!!! Stupid Saruman and his stupid crow spies had them blocked off from taking the Gap of Rohan, so of course Gandalf was taking them through the Pass of Caradhras. The one place in the mountains that always had snow no matter what time of the year! Stupid wizard!
Of course his royal annoyance could walk on snow, which only irritated her more. In fact she felt the snowball lodged in his direction was completely deserved. Smug, pointy-eared brat! By the gods she was turning into Dr. McCoy. Ugh! With Legolas being Spock and Strider being Kirk. Well, sort of, the man had way better control of his libido.
How did she get on Star Trek?
“Do you need assistance, nin kuruni (water witch)?”
Oh right, the pointy-eared annoyance. Oh how she hated the knick name he had created for her over the years, even if technically it did fit.
“No, moros pais (stupid boy),” she shot back through an obviously fake smile. She loved that he had no idea what she was saying, though she was sure he knew it was an insult. His narrowed eyes confirmed it.
Before either could say more there was a small commotion behind them. Strider was helping Bilbo regain his footing from where he had slipped. Boromir looked to be picking something up from the snow… Not good!
She had told Elrond and Gandalf they needed to find some better way to carry the blasted ring. Yet both were so sure that if it was on a chain around Bilbo’s neck then it couldn’t get lost as easily. Clearly they misjudged.
“Give the ring back to Bilbo, Boromir,” Strider demanded, his voice colder than the ice forming on their packs.
For a moment she thought the man wouldn’t. She really hoped he was not being taken in by the ring, he wasn’t such a bad guy once you got to know him. True he was a little overly proper, but he was pretty funny once he loosened up and the twins loved sparring with him.
“As you wish,” the man stated lightly easily handing it over. “I care not.”
When he turned around to continue the hike Percia thought she noticed a tightness to his eyes that had not been there before. They definitely needed to watch that.
Granted the way the weather turned, deciding they needed a blizzard on top of the cold, there was little need to watch anything but where your foot went. It got so bad that the twins ended up tied to Boromir and Bilbo to Strider as they followed Gandalf through the now, waist deep snow. She and Gimli were between them, trying hard to push through the ever-growing snow banks. By the gods she wanted to be back in Florida right about now. Even through the heavy snow she saw Legolas moving back and forth making sure no one was lost. Half of her was tempted to trip him, but she managed to refrain. It was far too dangerous for their usual bickering fights. And really, did he HAVE to get that close to the edge? They were on a frickin mountain! Last she heard, Elves couldn’t fly.
“There is a fell voice on the wind,” Legolas yelled suddenly, though with how hard said wind was blowing it was a miracle any of them heard him.
“It’s Saruman,” Gandalf cried in warning, just as the large rocks above them shook loose and tried to bury them.
Percia managed to pull Gimli closer to the side of the mountain away from the edge. Strider and Boromir did the same with their charges. She barely made out Legolas moving towards Gandalf.
‘He better not fall off the mountain, or I’ll kill him,’ she thought balefully as she ducked to keep the rocks from striking her.
When the shaking finally stopped they were practically covered in snow. Thankfully the majority of the rocks went over the edge and no one seemed hurt. However they were all cold and wet and stuck in a rather large pile of snow. They managed to dig out, but only just. The weather was also taking a turn for the worse, the winds picking up and the snow falling heavier.
“We must get off the mountain,” Boromir called out over the howling wind. Fred and George huddled close to the man, both sporting red cheeks and slightly blue lips. “Make for the Gap of Rohan and take the West road to my city.”
“The Gap of Rohan takes us too close to Isengard,” Strider argued, “Saruman will be watching for us.”
“Well we can’t stay here,” Percia pointed out. “This weather is turning to a full blown blizzard. We won’t survive much longer. We need to go back and regroup.”
“She’s right,” Boromir backed her up. “Any longer and the Hobbits will not last.”
She could see the others agreed, though Gandalf looked disgruntled at the idea. Sure it sucked having to retreat, but better live than turn into a Popsicle. So slowly, and with help from their snow-defying elf, they managed to get back to the main section of the mountain, where the snow was less and the temperatures far more agreeable. The more experienced travelers made quick work of starting a fire and placing the Hobbits by it to warm up. Even Bilbo, with his travel experience looked a tad blue. Percia would have joined them but it was a rather small fire and the others needed it more.
She looked down at her shivering hands, the fingers a rather unhealthy shade. She’d given her gloves to George and her spare to Fred when theirs proved insufficient. Looking at the others she doubted they had spares, so really body heat would be the way to go. Only the rest of her was just as cold…
Well, the needs must outweigh her pride.
“Don’t think anything into this,” she snapped when she turned to Legolas, the only one clearly unaffected. Without any more warning she maneuvered so she was snuggled into him, her hands right under his armpits stealing the warmth from him. “Gods you’re like a hot water bottle!”
“So happy to serve, nin kuruni,” he muttered dryly, though he didn’t move her away so she took it as a win.
“So has anyone thought of a way to defeat this blasted mountain,” Gimli barked out, grouchy from being wet and cold. You’d think he’d be warmer considering how hairy he was.
“All normal trails are too obvious and open,” Strider sighed in resignation, still working on lighting his pipe. “And any path over the mountain is going to be treacherous in this weather.”
“Don’t suppose the eagles would be amiable to giving us a lift,” Bilbo asked Gandalf.
“Not this time my boy,” the wizard informed him sadly. “They would also be too obvious, as Strider says.”
“Well what about secret passages or some caverns we can traverse,” Percia suggested, voice muffled by Legolas’ doublet where she was shielding her nose from the elements. “Like with the goblin caves, only you know, less goblins more caves.”
“There is one such way near here,” Gimli spoke up contemplatively.
“Those mines are in the hands of Orcs, Master Dwarf,” Gandalf reminded him sternly. “It would not be an easy or friendly passing.”
“Many of which perished in the battle fifteen years past,” Legolas added, his voice rumbling through his chest into Percia’s ear. It was a strangely pleasant sensation. Did she mention how unfair it was that he still smelled good even after hours of hiking? “With a small group, if we are quick, we might be able to slip past…”
“It’s a big risk,” Strider warned. “Especially with what we carry.”
“But it would also be a move no one would expect,” Boromir pointed out. “While I agree it is not a method I would choose otherwise, it might be the only option we have. But does anyone know the way through those halls?”
“I do have some knowledge of the place,” Gandalf grudgingly admitted. “Though it has been some time. There is also no telling what is down there, and it might not just be Orcs.”
“What else would there be,” Fred inquired, voice muffled by the scarf he had wrapped around his lower face, so only the tip of his nose and eyes showed.
“And what mines are you even speaking of,” George added, equally bundled as his brother.
“We speak of the Mines of Moria, Master Took,” the wizard responded gravely. “These mines have been in the hands of Orcs for some time. It was once a great city of Dwarrows, and even Elves came there when their friendship was still true. As for what else lingers here… Well it is said to be the resting place of Durin’s Bane.”
“Pah,” Gimli huffed. “That is an old story told to frighten the barnes. There has been no proof that such even existed.”
“Stories no matter how outrageous often hold a kernel of truth, Gimli,” Gandalf warned sternly. “That being said, he does make a point. There has been no proof that Durin’s Bane still resides in this mountain. If this is our course then we should hope it does not.”
“Well, there’s no point in worrying too much,” Percia told them calmly. “We’ll already be on guard for the Orcs. How long will it take to travel this way?”
“A matter of days, but first we must find the door,” Gandalf advised them tiredly. “I know the general location, just not the exact location.”
“Right, so after we thaw a bit we should push on? Or stay here the night,” She asked, looking to Strider and Boromir.
“It might be best to take our rest while we can,” Strider mused, before sending her a wicked grin. “Besides, I’d hate to disturb you when you seem so comfortable.”
Percia frowned before remembering she was latched onto their resident elf. She quickly disentangled herself, arms nearly weeping at the loss of heat. “I was simply utilizing his unnatural ability to emit heat. Nothing more.”
“Then why are you blushing,” Legolas teased smugly.
“This is not blushing, this is remnant of the extreme cold from the earlier hike!”
“And there they go,” Fred murmured to George as the group watched the two exchange more words back and forth.
“You’d think they’d figure it out by now,” his brother commented.
Strider chuckled heartily. “On the contrary Master Hobbits. They are both far too stubborn.”
The others watched quietly for a bit longer before Gimli spoke up. “Five to one the Elf brakes first.”
Chapter 9: Moria is Not a Good Vacation Spot
Oh this was a bad idea. This was SUCH a BAD idea.
Percia couldn’t help that thought reoccurring over and over as she moved behind Strider in their little procession. It had taken a day to find the doorway to Moria, and she’d admit that she found the glowing door trick to be pretty nifty. The whole baby kraken in the slimy pond next to the doorway hadn’t been the greatest, but it was manageable.
No, the bad part was walking through this damp, cramped, dark space they were traversing through. Occasionally she could see hints of how big the mines were, but for the most part they were stuck feeling their way through, with only Gandalf’s staff lighting the way.
It brought back WAY too many memories of Tartarus.
She just prayed this journey would not take too long. Gandalf said he thought it would take three days, but she could tell he was having some memory problems with their path. Not something she really wanted to have happen. She did not want to be down here any longer than necessary.
Thankfully they hadn’t run into any goblins or orcs. Though Gandalf opined they were further in the mountain. As long as they didn’t get caught off guard it should be fine. (She made sure to knock on Legolas’ head to ward off any jinx she might have caused. He’s a Wood Elf so it counted as knocking on wood.)
Not that anyone could really find any rest or be relaxed in this atmosphere. Even the Hobbits spent more time searching the shadows for any danger than they normally would. Gimli seemed to be angrier than usual, but she could understand, as this was a home for his ancestors. To have it taken by the enemy and to see how run down it had become must be difficult.
Strider and Boromir kept their hands constantly on their swords ready to draw at a moments notice. The latter made sure to stay close to the twins, helping them whenever possible and keeping them out of trouble. Bilbo kept close to Gandalf, also very unhappy with their location. She had a feeling the atmosphere was really adding to the pressure the ring was putting on him.
Legolas seemed to be fairing as well as she was, which was not much. Strider mentioned that Elves did not like being underground and cut off from the sun like this. She thought it was strange since Mirkwood palace was pretty much under the ground, yet she did remember some sunlight coming through, and it was much airier than where they were now.
It was halfway on the second day that Gandalf called them to a stop, his memory of the caverns finally failing him. So they plopped down into place waiting for the wizard to show them the way.
“I find it odd that you seem so tense in this place when you are so friendly with Dwarrow,” the prince murmured quietly, for once his tone not insulting, merely curious. “I would have thought such places would not have bothered you.”
“I’ve had too many bad experiences in places such as this back in my world,” she replied quietly, so their conversation would stay between them. “I prefer being above ground where I can breathe properly.”
“Yet you fell in love with a dwarf,” he countered even more confused. “Surely you knew they live in such places.”
“At the time I thought it was love, and in a way it was,” she admitted with a shrug. “But we were not really meant for each other. Even if we had been… I do not know if I could have stood being underground for long. More likely I would have tried to have a home outside of the mountain. Though I have it on good authority that Erebor is nothing like this place.”
“True,” the prince grudgingly confessed. “The upper levels where the majority of the people stay is more open and not quite as confining. Though I understand the mines are very much like this.”
“I’m surprised you are so uneasy about being underground. Your kingdom is in a cavern as well, even if there are trees growing in it,” she pointed out playfully.
“Aye, but we allow more sunlight to come through. I do not like places such as these where the sun cannot even reach us,” he stated longingly. “It seems unnatural to be separated from the sun and the trees.”
“We’ll get out,” she murmured, more to herself than the elf, though the longer they were down here the harder it was to believe it. “Gandalf said it should only take three days, we’ve been here two, I think. He’ll remember the way soon and we’ll be out and in the sun again.”
“Mayhap then you will actually sleep,” he murmured watching for her reaction.
“Maybe, but this place brings a lot of memories and sometimes it takes a while for them to fade again,” she whispered wearily. No she would not truly rest until she was well away from this place and all the horrible thoughts it dragged up. It was worse than the Goblin kingdom they had fallen into on her last quest, as they were able to get out fairly quickly. This place just kept going on and on and she wondered if they really would get out of here. It surprised her when a hand gently covered her own, his long fingers curling around hers.
“We will get out of here,” he told her confidently, repeating her earlier statement. “And you will be back to your usual annoying self in no time.”
Percia huffed a small laugh. “I’m sorry, have I not been irritating you sufficiently these past days?”
“No, it’s quite unnatural,” he concluded with mock seriousness, his eyes twinkling with mischief. Percia just laughed at his silly statement. Before she could retort Gandalf interrupted them.
“Ah! It’s this way,” he announced happily.
“You remembered,” Fred asked hopefully.
“No,” the wizard denied. “But the air doesn’t smell so foul down here.” Percia rolled her eyes. Really, of all the ways to find the right path… “Remember master Took, when in trouble to follow your nose.”
Oh yes, telling a Hobbit to follow their nose! It’d lead them right to the kitchens!
“Seems we are getting closer to the end, nin kuruni,” Legolas advised, helping her to stand.
“That it does, moros pais, that it does,” she replied with a smirk.
They traveled slowly down a long tunneled stairway that seemed to go one for ages. Honestly it was like a never ending stair stepper. Thank the gods she kept in such good shape, or she’d never have made it. Fred and George were not fairing that well, and she’d hate to think of how they’d be if they had been ascending the staircase instead of descending. Still they powered through, so she gave them props for that. After several hours the stairs started to open a bit wider until the tunnel gave way to a larger room. They could not see much given the low light, but the stairs were much wider now.
“Let me risk a little more light,” Gandalf murmured, tapping his staff. It flashes brightly before leveling out to give them a much better view of the room.
Percia stared in awe at the towering ceilings and intricate pillars.
“Behold,” Gandalf exclaimed as dramatically as he could while trying to be quiet. Given his pension for flare, he didn’t do too shabby. “The great realm and Dwarf city of Dwarrowdelf.”
“For a race so short they really like to build things big,” Percia muttered under her breath. The snort from her side told her Legolas had heard her; his sly smirk indicated he agreed.
“We cannot tarry,” Gandalf warned, urging them forward. “We have some ways to go, and we do not want to be caught by the enemy.”
Percia’s senses seemed to tingle when he said this, an uneasy feeling growing in her stomach. Usually her demigod senses warned her of any danger, but the whole time they’d been in the mine they’d been going haywire, making it difficult to discern much. Now they were ten times worse. She pulled out Riptide, preparing for whatever waited in the dark. Seeing this had the others of their group pausing. It proved to be a boon as Fred had stopped short, thus missed being impaled by the arrow. The young Hobbit yelled in fear jumping back into his startled twin. Boromir jumped in front of them, bringing up his shield to stop the rest of the arrows from hitting.
Percia grabbed her water skin and pulled the water from it, forcing it to the front to create a shield. It managed to stop the next barrage of arrows. With a flick of her hand she forced the water towards the orcs pushing the first wave back. She even managed to return a few of their arrows to their owners in a very uncomfortable fashion.
“We need to get out of here,” Strider yelled towards Gandalf, blocking the attacks of a few orcs that had dared to get close enough. “We are too exposed!”
No really? Sometimes her adopted brother was WAY to obvious.
Gandalf raised his staff the top part glowing brightly before he slammed it down on the ground pushing the magic out and throwing their enemies back. For one moment Percia could see the enemy, showing they are indeed outnumbered, but not as badly as she expected.
“Run! This way!” Gandalf led the group towards a side doorway.
The brief respite helped but not enough. The orcs picked up their pursuit. Thankfully their aim was not that great. However, just before they reached the door a group of them jumped down from the walls (really were these things part spider?) and halted their escape. Percia couldn’t help the curses slipping from her mouth.
Soon enough they were again surrounded, only this time it looked like they had run out of luck. Percia pulled Rip Tide closer preparing to take as many orcs with her as she could.
Like in most epic movies the battle was interrupted before it could begin to get serious. Sometimes Percia wondered if the gods, fates or whatever were just bored so had to make the lives of others into the most ridiculous situations for their entertainment.
In any case a loud grumbling growl echoed through the giant hall, like a shockwave of power. The orcs immediately tensed up, looking around in fear. Not a good sign, when the dangerous enemy was scared of something, especially when that something sounded BIG.
Another growl rolled through and the orcs screeched in terror choosing to flee instead of continuing the fight. This was REALLY not good.
“What manner of devilry is this,” Boromir asked, his voice tight with worry.
The group scanned the dark noting a strange flickering light growing closer. It reminded Percia of fire. She really, really hoped it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
“A Belrog,” Gandalf informed them, his voice low to inflect the seriousness of the situation. Damn it! “A servant of Morgorth, a demon of the ancient world.”
Wait, wasn’t that one of the Valar dudes he mentioned that went all Darth Vader? She glanced at the wizard noting how pale he looked. Yeah, this had just become Gaea level bad.
“This foe is beyond any of you,” he told them plainly. “Run! Quickly!”
Percia didn’t need to be told twice. The group darted towards the doorway they had originally been heading. The creature honed in on them, giving chase. Percia wondered if it had felt Gandalf’s magic and that was what drew it, or if there was another reason. Her eyes darted to Bilbo for half a second before pushing such thoughts from her mind. Instead she concentrated on keeping pace and making sure no one fell behind as they wound their way up and down staircases through the maze of tunnels.
Once they passed through a small doorway she found a rather precarious stairway waiting for them. Honestly! Hadn’t Dwarves heard of railings? Or even keeping the stairs against one wall? No, they had to show off their skills and make floating, freaking staircases!
Oh look. A section had fallen out, even better! (Was it strange that the voice in her head sounded just like Nico? Gods she missed her cousin…)
An object whizzed past her face, just barely missing her. Turning she found Orcs hiding along the other edges, firing at them rapidly. Of course they had to join in the fun. Seriously, some god or deity was enjoying this WAY too much.
Snagging Legolas’ water skin she worked on shielding the group from the stray arrows. Legolas swept past her, grabbing Bilbo up in his arms and leaping across the gap in the stairs. Once he was safely over the ranger turned to Boromir accepting Fred and then George as the Gondorian tossed them across. The man had just turned to Gimli when the Dwarf held his hand up stiffly.
“Nobody tosses a Dwarf,” he informed the other succinctly before making the leap. (If that wasn’t foreshadowing for some kind of joke she didn’t know what was…)
It almost ended badly, the rocking giving way under the Dwarf’s weight, but thankfully Legolas’ quick reflexes managed to keep Gimli level, even if it resulted in beard pulling. She’d have to remember to draw this little scene later.
Boromir joined them next, after a quick look to her, but as she was still working to maintain their shielding he knew she would go last. Strider came up next to her forcing Gandalf to join the others. That was her adopted brother, he’d always stand by her to the last.
Both of them were about to take the leap of faith, seeing as the gap had only gotten larger when something very big and very strong crashed into the mountain wall from wince they had come. The rock face shuttered at the force of it, tremors racing through the rock. Sadly this also compromised their already precarious perch even further. Percia barely managed to hold her footing, only managing when Strider wrapped an arm around her waist. Her stomach dropped as the whole section of their stairs started to shift downward.
“Lean forward,” Strider ordered, moving them so their weight was towards the edge. Percia really hoped this worked. Another crash into the mountain wall was all it took for the rock to finally break on the stairs, their weight adding momentum and throwing them forward into the others, before their section plummeted into the depths. Her heart hammered in her chest. These close calls were not good for her health.
“Up, we must hurry,” Gandalf yelled at them. “We are almost to the bridge!”
Just as they reached the bottom of the stairs, still dodging arrows, thanks very much orcs, the mountain wall exploded outward, allowing the Belrog to emerge. Percia instinctively redirected the water she had been using as a shield towards the blazing beast, striking it hard and fast. The water steamed on impact, yet still pushed the creature back, it’s hollering cry sending shivers up her spine. Something told her that had not been her best move, but it had bought them some time.
The group burst through another sub-chamber to find a narrow bridge leading to another set of stairs and a doorway. The telltale sunlight streaming through said exit was like a beacon. They were almost there.
Gandalf stopped at the bridge, directing the others over it hastily. Legolas went first, taking up position to return fire towards the few orcs that had continued to pursue them. Bilbo went next, with Fred and George following quickly, Boromir shadowing their steps protectively. Strider was slightly in front of her, slowing to pull up next to Gandalf. Just as Percia was feet away she saw Strider glance her way, his gray eyes widening in shocked fear.
Percia didn’t even have the chance to check over her shoulder before pain burst through her every nerve ending. It started across her back, burning through her like Greek Fire. It was chased quickly by the familiar pain that she had always incurred when in contact with the dark objects of this world. This pain was all consuming, but the dark magic threatened to consume her alive from the inside. It was only her momentum that had her falling into Strider’s arms, barely feeling as they wrapped her up protectively. The only thing she could feel was pain, as unconsciousness descended upon her.
Chapter 10: Reaching Lorien
Bilbo remembered feeling this strange floating sensation once in his life. It was when he came upon Thorin, dying from his battle with Azog. He distinctly recalled the total disbelief filtering through his entire being, just as it did now. For a long moment his brain almost could not process why he had gone into such a state.
Then it came back with a force akin to being hit by a boulder.
Gandalf had fallen.
Percia was severely injured and possibly dying.
How had it all gone so wrong? They were nearly to the doorway. They only had a little more to go. Yet two of their strongest had been felled by that foul beast.
Absently he felt the wetness of tears on his face. It was only Aragorn’s frantic voice that pulled him back to the present.
“It’s not working,” the ranger snapped at his friend, Legolas. “We need to get her to the Elves.”
He turned to see Aragorn holding Percia up, her cloak discarded and her tunic wet with the blood from her wounds and the water Legolas was trying to pour on them.
“Why is it not working,” George asked weakly from his side, one hand gripping his brother’s.
“It must be because the wound was caused by a Belrog’s weapon,” Legolas muttered angrily as he tried to bandage it the best he could. “The foul taint is too strong for her usual power.”
“Is she going to make it,” Fred whispered, blue eyes wide with grief and fear.
The ranger and Elf shared a quick look, which was not promising. Instead, Aragorn stood cradling Percia carefully in his arms.
“We need to make for the woods of Lothlorien. There we will be able to find help,” he informed them authoritatively.
“Come little ones,” Boromir directed gently as he maneuvered George and Fred to their dropped packs. “Do not lose hope. We must stay strong for our friend.”
Yes, yes they needed to stay strong. Bilbo needed to keep going or all of this would be for nothing. There was only forward now. Gandalf may be gone, but Percia was still with them. She was far too stubborn to give up, so he wouldn’t either.
The group hurried on, with Legolas taking point, since Aragorn had Percia. Bilbo and the twins were right behind the ranger with Boromir and Gimli guarding their backs. They ate up as much distance as they could to reach their destination. Bilbo had never been this way before, despite traveling so much with Percia. In fact, if he remembered correctly she usually avoided this area, saying something always set her ‘spidey sense’ off, whatever that was. He figured it just bothered her instincts so he was inclined to follow her lead on the matter.
He wasn’t too sure how long they walked, but he certainly felt the difference when they reached the woods. One moment everything seemed normal, then, similar to Mirkwood, the forest around them gave off a sense of ‘different’. Unlike its darker cousin, this set of woods was teaming with life and goodness, settling over the Hobbit like a warm blanket. His eyes gazed around in wonder as the very trees seemed to give off an ethereal glow.
“Stay close young Hobbits.” He paused when he heard Gimli warning his cousins. “They say a sorceress lives in these woods.”
“An elf-witch of terrible power…”
Oh for Yavanna’s sake! Really Gimli? Bilbo barely refrained from rolling his eyes, though he did allow a small sad smile. Percia would have been teasing the dwarf like no tomorrow had she been well.
“All who look upon her fall under her spell and are never seen again,” Gimli announced dramatically.
Maybe a good whack to the head would work?
The Hobbit’s steps faltered as the strange female voice seemed to echo in his mind. No… it couldn’t be. Could it?
‘…Your coming to us is as the footsteps of doom.’
Bilbo gulped a bit self-consciously.
‘You bring great evil here, Ringbearer!’ A flash of bright blue eyes burst through his mind’s eye shocking him for a moment.
“You alright Bilbo,” Fred queried from right behind him only to have the elder wave him off.
He’d be fine as long as the magical busy bodies stopped with their over dramatic shows of power! Honestly, they are like toddlers sometimes.
“Well, this is one Dwarf she won’t ensnare so easily.” He frowned when he realized Gimli was still going on about the sorceress. “I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox,” he bragged only to pull up short as an elf pointed an arrow right in his face.
‘Apparently not,’ Bilbo thought uncharitably, hands up to show he meant no harm to the two elves watching him and his kin.
“A dwarf breathes so loud we could have shot him in the dark,” a new, somewhat arrogant, voice drawled lazily. The smirk he shot the now scowling dwarf certainly didn’t help.
Bilbo couldn’t help the look her threw the Mirkwood prince, remembering his own first meeting with another group of dwarves. Why did both races just have to pick at each other and make the relations worse? No Hobbit ever got this bad with needling others. Well… maybe Lobelia.
*Haldir of Lorien,* Aragorn moved forward to the leader of the elves, Percia still limp in his arms. *We come here for your help. Our friend needs medicine we do not have.*
Bilbo watched as Haldir looked to the girl in Aragorn’s arms, praying silently they could indeed help. A hard thump drew his attention to see Gimli gripping his shin while George scolded him quietly not to say anything since they were getting help for Percia. The elves around them weren’t trying too hard to hide their smirks at the by play.
*What caused this,* the elf asked drawing Bilbo back to the main issue. He was intently studying the wounds peeking through the hasty bandages.
*The whip of a Belrog,* Legolas answered this time, his face strained in worry. All around them the elves shifted restlessly, a sense of dread hanging in the air.
For just a moment it looked like the elf would refuse them, when he cocked his head to the side as if listening to something, or perhaps someone. Bilbo could guess who.
“She is waiting,” he announced then, moving to beckon them along. “Come.”
The remaining fellowship followed quickly, hoping these elves would be able to save their companion.
Chapter 11: Demons in the Mind
Pain and heat lanced through every vein in her body. She felt like she was being ripped apart and melted together all at once. Darkness surrounded her in an all-encompassing press that made it even hard to gather breath.
‘Give in to me.’
The voice was velvety reminding her greatly of Kronos and his sweet promises.
This one was far rougher, much like Tartarus had been. The Titan having no need for sugary promises as his power far exceeded anything Percia had, and he knew it. It felt like she had once again slipped into his cruel grasp, the taunt of endless torment roaring in her ears and crushing against her soul.
She struggled against it, just as she had before.
But the pain was far greater than anything she had experienced before. The darkness caused more harm than any wound her enemies of her old world had inflicted. Why could she not heal properly? Why was this darkness so difficult for her power to defend against?
A scream tried to push past her throat only to be choked back down by pooling blood. Something crept up her legs, tugging and pulling at her. Looking down she found a lake of dark ominous liquid, too think to be water of any sort. It resembled blood more than not, but it burned each part of her skin that it touched. The tentacles of liquid wrapped around her forcing her deeper into the depths. She tried to struggle, knowing in her heart if she did not she would be swallowed by the dark with no escape.
The evil gripped her harder, refusing to relinquish its prize. She could sense the hunger it possessed, a hunger that would not be sated until it gulped her up.
‘You are mine!’
The shout was new, clear and strong. She barely managed to turn her head enough to see who had called out. A tall glowing form shone against the darkness, the tendrils of dark ooze shying away from this being. She knew them, her savior. He felt familiar and warm and she wanted him to pull her from her captor.
The figure pulled back slightly then released a shard of light sending it flying into the mass at her feet. An unholy screech shattered the air as the light dissipated the dark liquid. Percia nearly cried in relief, moving to kick away the few pieces still trying to cling to her. Another shard of light flew past her, striking the rising tide that threatened to consume her. Percia focused on reaching her savior, his warm light pulsing out to reach her.
Forcing her legs to obey she ran towards the light, vaguely scoffing at how cliché that sounded. Still she would take clichés if it saved her from this enemy.
The closer she got to her destination the clearer his image became. She recognized the blond hair, the assured posture, and the clear blue eyes glaring defiantly at the enemy. Her heart gave a lurch, a sense of joy sweeping through her. He barely managed to turn in time to catch her as she crashed into him, arms wrapping around him happily.
A warm blast of light flashed around them before flaring out, pushing the last of the darkness away. She barely heard the scream of rage from the enemy as he was shoved away and out of her. Instead Percia let herself bask in the warmth wrapped around her, her prison slowly shifting to the soft blues and greens she often associated with the ocean.
Legolas held her close, his chin resting on the crown of her head. Neither moved for a long moment, to content to remain as they were. Soon though he shifted just enough that his lips brushed the top of her ear, sending a slight shiver down her spine.
“Wake up a’maelamin,” he whispered. “Wake up.”
Percia gasped, eyes popping open in shock. It took a moment to realize that though she was still in Legolas’ arms, he was holding her in a river area, her body floating in the cool clear water. All around them a strange light glowed and ethereal voices filled the air around them. Glancing around, she could see forms scattered about on the shoreline and large trees with staircases twisting around them. Next to them, also standing waist deep in the water was a gorgeous elven woman, one that could easily rival Aphrodite. She smiled kindly down at Percia, but said nothing to alleviate her confusion.
“Welcome back nin kuruni,” Legolas murmured to her, his voice tender.
Percia turned to him, taking in his relieved features, his slight grin causing her to form one of her own. “Moros pais,” she returned just as gently her tone clearly indicating it was meant to be endearing, as she leaned into him happily.
His arms tightened around her pulling her close. She took strength in his presence and the water rushing around them. It was then that her mind registered a rather important fact. Pushing back enough to stare up at Legolas she asked what she felt was a perfectly legitimate question.
“Where are my clothes?”