The Otherworlders 2: Dagor Dagorath
The Otherworlders have spent 6 years in Middle Earth, and something has gone wrong. According to yet another prophecy, this is basically the end of the world.
Darkness can no longer be kept at bay...
The pieces are in place and moving...
Fate is not going to be as generous as last time...
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, however, The Otherworlders are mine.
Six years. Six years had gone by since I had first stepped foot on Middle Earth.
It is truly amazing how fast time flies when you are no longer off to save Middle Earth, or trudging to class every single day. I suddenly found myself busy with children, Sam, and my loyal friends; well, whomever remained of them, that is. Frodo and Aura were off in the Undying Lands together. I knew Sam eventually joined them, and secretly, I was planning on doing so as well. I mean, sure, Iâ€™d miss Amelia, Kat, and Myna, but I couldnâ€™t bear to be alone with so many kids, and my spider wound really was killing me (no, I donâ€™t mean that literally).
I often wondered how Aura was doing. Was she suffering because of her Morgul blade wound? Was she missing us dearly? What was it like in the Undying Lands? Did she have children?
I wondered everyday about her. She had called me her most loyal friend, and I called her my best friend. She knew the most about me, and although her best friend was Kat, I still would bet that I was right underneath that mark. So close, yet so far.
Sam was elected mayor after a year without Frodo and Aura, and I gave birth to twins, which no one expected, even my remaining friends, because we had never heard of Sam and Rosie Cotton having twins. Then again, I certainly wasnâ€™t Rosie Cotton. I named the boy Frodo and the girl Rose after much consideration. I knew Rose was the name of Sam's second daughter, and despite the fact that she was named after Rosie Cotton in the real story, I really liked that name.
Babies seemed to be popping up out of the ground like daisies. Violet gave birth to a baby boy named Eldarion in November after we had last seen Frodo and Aura. Kat became a mother to an energetic boy named Aiden (named at her request, obviously) and two years later, she gave birth to a girl named Rowan. Amelia remained stubbornly a virgin, which we occasionally joked about. Pippin kept on saying that any day now, a baby would appear in her arms, and she would just roll her eyes before replying with some sarcastic comment.
Lately, I hadnâ€™t been feeling like myself, unfortunately. I kept waking up in a cold sweat, and would have to remain silent so Sam didnâ€™t wake beside me. Something familiar in my gut kept screaming Danger! Run! But, it made no sense. The danger was gone. It had been gone for five years. Sauron and the One Ring were obliterated. I had dropped the golden trinket into Mount Doom (on accident, thanks to Gollum) myself.
So, why did I get the uneasy feeling that I was going die every day?
It was September twenty-ninth. The third anniversary of the final time I had seen my best friend, and my former crush.
For Sam and I, this was a huge deal. We were practically silent the whole day, which confused Elanor, Frodo, and Rose. Well, Elanor sort of knew why her parents were sad every September; she had been about a year old when our friends had left. At age four, Elanor was intelligent and curious, but knew better than to ask Sam and me about why this day was so significant to us both, which I was secretly grateful about. Trying to explain something to a four year old wasnâ€™t easy, especially something like this.
Sam had some work at the mayorâ€™s hobbit-hole to do until just after lunch, and I was weary, so I decided to lie down and take a brief nap.
I havenâ€™t dreamed in color for about five years, so the drastic change was startling. I was standing alone in a dimly lit chamber, sweat pouring down my face and back in rivulets. My auburn wavy hair was scraggly and sticking to my face like it had been taped there. My hairy feet had multiple bruises and scrapes on them, and my missing fingerâ€™s stump was bleeding profusely, which it had not done in five years, since the day it was bitten viciously off. I could feel the red liquid dripping ominously, and I shuddered trying to wipe it away.
I gasped quietly when I saw the state of my clothes. My trousers were slashed ferociously, as if some animal had used it as a scratching post. My blouse was slightly drooping because of the fact that part of one shoulder was ripping. Its color was usually red, but it was so faded that it looked more like a mixture between light brown and white. I wore Harma, my gift from Galadriel, which I hadnâ€™t done in three years, since Aura left.
Cold harsh laughter echoed unexpectedly through the room. The dimly lit chamber seemed darker suddenly and I hugged myself, wondering what sort of demented nightmare this was.
â€œSo, this is Ardhoniel.â€ I whirled about, my mind reeling as the smooth male voice rang out. How did they know my name? Well, my name in Elvish, that is.
â€œWho are you?â€ I called out, my voice sounding so small compared to this unknown creature.
More laughter. â€œWhy, you donâ€™t know?â€ A freezing cold breeze swept by me, and I turned around, feeling uneasy. The torches flickered wildly, and I found myself praying that they wouldnâ€™t go out. I seemed rooted to the spot.
â€œEven with all your omnipotent knowledge of the future, Ardhoniel, you know nothing at all about me?â€ The voice was taunting me now, cooing, almost, and it irked me. â€œSuch an intelligent Otherworlder like yourself must know something.â€
I froze, unsure what to do. This man, creature, whatever it was, seemed to know a whole lot about me, and I had only said three words. Wind wrapped around me like a suffocating blanket, and the harsh cackling echoed in my head, intimidating to such a small hobbit like myself. â€œI am the Dark Lord, the Master of the Fates of Arda, Ardhoniel. I am regaining my former strength day by day, watching you, waiting for you, because I know you will find me, yes. You were the one who destroyed Sauron, were you not? There is no ring this time, Halfling. I am not so weak, nor shall I be as benevolent as Lord Sauron. I can always see you, and I will find you. I will crush your soul, devour it, and spill your lifeless bodyâ€™s blood over this worldâ€™s grass as it withers away, the red staining all lands and worlds.â€
I gazed in horror as a shadowy fist appeared, black as ebony, and unclenched itself one by one, reaching outward for me. I could feel it listening, somehow, to my heartbeat, which was rapidly quickening in fright as the hand drew ever closer. I recalled the flaming lidless Eye of Sauron, and realized that even then, Sauron had never truly scared me as much as I was right now, with this strange unknown demon.
My hand lunged instinctively for Harma, and once I gripped it, the torches flickered once before extinguishing, leaving me all alone in total darkness, with no hope for escape.
Crying out in terror as I sensed the hand nearly upon me, I squeezed Harma tightly, and then hit stone floor.
My eyelids shot open and I scrambled to my feet in fright, before realizing that I was back in my hobbit-hole, beside my bed where I had fallen asleep. Rose stood in the doorway, her dark brown eyes wide with shock, her auburn wavy hair twisted up into a ponytail. Even at age two, she understood what nightmares were. She must have woken me up, and saved me from that horrible monster. I thought to myself, smiling half-heartedly at my daughter.
â€œMama? Fro hit me. You â€˜ave bad dweam?â€
Her voice was so adorable, like one every mother dreamed of hearing: high and sweet, rather like bells. I said gently, â€œTell Frodo Mama is coming, and she isnâ€™t happy with him, okay? Yes, I did have a bad dream, but now itâ€™s all over, and Iâ€™m okay, see? By the way, where is your sister?â€
â€œIn her woom.â€ It took me a second to decipher this baby talk to realize she meant Elanor was in her bedroom, as usual. Even at age four, she was rather mature, and preferred drawing quietly by herself to babysitting her siblings.
â€œThank you, honey.â€ I told Rose, and she raced off giggling, most likely eager to go tell her brother he was in trouble.
I walked to Elanorâ€™s room and knocked carefully, knowing that if I let my guard down for even a split-second, she might release her temper. For such a beautiful little girl, she was quite intimidating when angry.
I heard a small voice (a bit like mine: soft and shy) whisper, â€œCome in,â€ so I entered slowly.
Elanorâ€™s walls were covered with drawings of all sorts of things; flowers, hobbits, landscapes, imaginary worlds. She wasnâ€™t very good, honestly, because of her age, but Sam always remarked saying that she had the makings of being a brilliant artist. I had to agree; she once drew me a rose for my eighteenth birthday, and while it wasnâ€™t the best, you could still tell what flower it was, and it looked very similar to a real rose.
Elanor was laying on her cotton bed, her blonde curls hanging around her pale face like a curtain, shutting out the world as she sketched a scene I couldnâ€™t see from the angle I stood at. She wore her midnight blue dress that Kat had sewn for her last year, and her slender fingers, when not drawing, fiddled with the seam of the left shoulder, a habit that she had inherited from yours truly. Her eyes, which were obscured by her long hair, were fixed upon the parchment. I still couldnâ€™t believe that this four year old girl was mine; this world still seemed like a dream to me after six years.
I sat on the edge of her bed, my fingers itching to stroke her hair, but I restrained myself. As much as I knew she loved me, she was a moody child and mature for her age.
â€œEllie?â€ I said softly, using my nickname for her. Her head slowly lifted after a few seconds, her blonde curls still covering her eyes. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw that what Elanor had been sketching was a solitary mountain in the center of a barren wasteland. It reminded me far too much of Mount Doom, so I focused instead on my daughter. â€œWhy arenâ€™t you watching your siblings? Rose came and got me because she said Frodo hit her, and you were supposed to be supervising.â€
Elanor sighed and brushed some of her curls out of her eyes, revealing a bright blue color in the irises. She said, her voice naturally soft, â€œThey were playing just fine when I was out there, Mum, so I took a small break to draw. I didnâ€™t realize they would be fighting when I left.â€
I told her, trying to sound stern, but also gentle, â€œEllie, no matter how good they act, you know you have to still watch them. Weâ€™ve been over this, honey.â€
â€œI know.â€ Elanor looked down, biting her lip, another habit we both shared. Her eyes darted to her sketch and she asked quietly, â€œDoes it look like it?â€
â€œDoes it look like what?â€ I inquired, confused, looking properly at the drawing. I observed that the mountain was slightly lopsided and the ground around it was constantly rising and falling because of my daughterâ€™s uneven lines.
â€œDoes it lookâ€¦ Does it look like the mountain you and Sam-dad went to?â€ She glanced at me, as if unsure what my reaction would be. She always called Sam â€œSam-dadâ€ for reasons unknown, and I knew Sam thought it was cute.
I was startled that she knew of Mount Doom, despite how vague my husband and I usually were when telling our three children the story of our adventure, and said, â€œIt does, a bit.â€
My oldest daughter smiled, pleased with her work, and grabbed the quill she had used, adding some realistic-looking fireballs erupting from the mountain. It wasnâ€™t the best drawing (she was only four after all) but it still gave me chills to see the all-too-familiar peak in the middle of the bleak wasteland.
I said to Elanor, â€œNow, how about you and I go out to your brother and sister to play a little game?â€
She gave me a perplexed look. â€œGame? What kind of game?â€
â€œA special game.â€ I replied mysteriously, and Elanor smiled wider. â€œOkay.â€
She set down her quill and we both raced each other out of her room to where the other two hobbits waited. I completely forgot about the terrifying demon in my nightmares for the next few hours as the four of us chased each other around, tickling and laughing happily, not at all worried about danger or the future.
â€œGuess whoâ€™s home?â€ called a hobbit from the doorway of our hobbit-hole as soon as they opened up the round door. Frodo, Rose, and Elanor exchanged delighted looks before shouting and racing each other to the door, with me trailing behind, laughing at how excited they were. Frodo leapt onto Sam as he set down his things and shut the door, making the latter chuckle before embracing the little auburn-haired hobbit. Rose cried, â€œMe! Me!â€ so Sam gathered her up too, making the girl squeal.
After a minute, he set the twins down and scooped up Elanor, who smiled brightly and laughed. â€œI take it you all missed me?â€ Sam joked, giving his daughter a hug before releasing her.
â€œYes, they did. Although, they were far too busy playing to notice until now.â€ I answered, smiling when he kissed me. Even now, I still got shivers being kissed by him.
â€œThanks to their lovely mother, I see.â€ Sam said in a low voice. I rolled my eyes and gave him a peck on the cheek affectionately. This reminded me of when my five friends came over to my house for my twelfth birthday party sleepover, and when my parents had given each other a kiss (I canâ€™t recall why), Amelia had gagged and shouted, â€œPDA! Ah, my eyes!â€
I found that funny now, because whenever Pippin gave her a kiss, she would just smile and blush, like my mother had used to.
My mother would have loved Elanor, Rose, and Frodo. I thought, suddenly melancholy. She would have teased me about Sam, and called him my â€œPrince Charmingâ€.
Sam noticed my saddened expression and told the kids, â€œHow about you go wait in the kitchen while your mother and I talk? Weâ€™ll make lunch soon.â€
Rose and Frodo nodded and eagerly ran off, with Elanor hesitating, seeming to know that something was wrong. She hurried off anyways, though, and Samâ€™s expression turned serious as he turned to me.
â€œEm, what is it? Did I do something?â€
I shook my head, smiling thinly. â€œNo, it-itâ€™s just that when we kissed each other like that, it reminded me of my parents, and then Iâ€¦ I wondered about her, wondering what she would say if she saw who Iâ€™ve become, what our children look like, what sheâ€™d say about you. Sheâ€™s never going to see our family, Sam.â€
I didnâ€™t realize a tear was tracing its way down my cheek until my husband put his thumb on my face, wiping that drop away, cupping my face in his hands. â€œEmma, I know you miss them, and I understand if you want to go back-â€œ
â€œNo, no; I donâ€™t mean that.â€ I said hurriedly, meaning it. â€œItâ€™s just that I miss them. Itâ€™s normal.â€
â€œIf you need anything, please, tell me.â€ Sam said softly, rubbing my cheek with his thumb. â€œI love you, you know that.â€
â€œI know.â€ I whispered, kissing him. â€œI love you too. More than you know.â€
Knowing the twins would become impatient if we lingered too long, we headed into the kitchen, smiling at once when we saw Rose and Frodo squirming in their chairs at the mahogany table, an old gift from Frodo Baggins. Elanor looked slightly bored before she noticed us both, and straightened in her seat. â€œHow about some taters for lunch?â€ I asked, laughing when I was met with cheers.
Nothing eventful happened for the rest of the afternoon, and into the evening, I found that I was enjoying myself, despite the fact that it was the anniversary of the departure of old friends. Time flew by, and soon, it was bedtime for all three hobbits. Sam put Elanor and Rose to bed, leaving me with the task of putting a sleepy boy into his bed.
Unlike his oldest sisterâ€™s room, his walls had nothing on them, and his floor was littered with toys we had given him, not that there were many. He wasnâ€™t a spoiled child, and neither were his sisters, because we didnâ€™t want the hobbits to be. Despite the fact that Frodo had also given Sam the remainder of Bag Endâ€™s wealth, Sam rarely used it, only when he was in very desperate need for money.
I laid the young hobbit on his bed, tucking his small body underneath the cotton white covers after a second. He gripped a small toy Pippin had given him for his second birthday, a stuffed black horse that Frodo had named Tippy, for reasons unknown. His little brown eyes stared up at me, exhaustion clearly showing in them.
â€œYes, Frodo-lad?â€ I asked softly.
â€œI sorry for hitting Rosie.â€ His high-pitched voice was a bit saddened, as if he expected me to yell at him. I smiled and replied, â€œI know you are. You know we donâ€™t hit, and I trust you are going to use your words next time?â€
He nodded, seeming a bit happier. â€œGoodnight, Frodo.â€ I said, stroking his auburn curls off of his forehead as he shut his eyes.
â€œNight.â€ Frodo mumbled. I kissed his pale forehead and exited the room, leaving the door open a crack, how he usually liked it.
As I began to walk silently away, there was an urgent knock at the door. I frowned in confusion. Who could possibly be knocking at eight thirty at night?
I headed to the door, since Sam obviously wasnâ€™t done putting the girls to bed, and opened it carefully, the hairs on the back of my neck prickling.
To my immense astonishment, Amelia stood there, paler than she normally was, the burn marks from five years ago faintly showing in the moonlight, wearing her Elvish cloak. She appeared to be out of breath.
â€œMeles?â€ I exclaimed, not daring to speak above a whisper. â€œWhat the heck are you-?â€
â€œNo time for questions, Emma.â€ Something about her tone scared me. Amelia was only serious when situations were grave, and even then, she might be slightly sarcastic, but right now, she was solely serious. Some sort of fear flickered in her eyes that made my uneasiness grew to an alarming amount. â€œWe need someplace to talk, and I donâ€™t think this should wait until morning.â€
â€œWe just put the kids to bed, and if weâ€™re going to Bag End, I am not leaving them here alone.â€ I told her.
Amelia bit her lip, her red messy hair glowing like flames. â€œRight. How about we do it here then? The children are deep sleepers, arenâ€™t they?â€
I nodded, wondering why she would come here so late, uninvited, and deadly serious. Sam appeared over my shoulder, shocked to see our friend. â€œAmelia? What-?â€
â€œNo time, Sam.â€ Amelia cut my husband off, and it was then that I noticed five shapes in the dark behind her. I squinted as they came closer, and recognized Kat, Merry, Pippin, Aiden, and Rowan, the latter two being carried in the arms of Merry. â€œDid you invite a whole party?â€ I hissed to my red-haired friend, startled at so many guests.
â€œNo, I didnâ€™t invite them. They came with us, because we all have something important to discuss. I wish Violet and Myna were here as well, but, our letters wonâ€™t reach them in time, and we need to talk right away.â€
â€œWhat could possibly be so darn important that you have knocked upon our door at eight thirty in the evening?â€ I asked her, now worried. If she had written letters to Myna and Violet about this secret matter, then the situation must be dire.
Amelia leaned in closer, and I leaned toward her to hear, my heart hammering against my chest in fright. She said one word: â€œDarkness.â€
Well? How was the first chapter? I worked very hard on it, and I tried very hard to get it out soon for you all.
Just a fair warning: This story is very dark and if you don't like bloodshed, you may wanna sit this one out. I seem unable to stop myself from writing stories like that, sorry. (For instance, I killed two of my characters in The Otherworlders, and one of them was a main character. Who eventually came back, because I hated myself for doing it, and because it was part of the plot)
By the way, yes, there are questions at the end of the chapters. I can't help myself.
Question of the Chapter: Which of the Gamgee children do you like the most?