A/N: And here we are again! Third installment of my favorite story... EVEN IF I HATE HOW STUMPED IT LEAVES ME. Tolkien is a master-class genius orator if you didn't know, and I'm just a poor sod trying to mimic his prose. It ain't easy and I'm sure I did him some pretty poor justice but... ah well, I did my best. Now, let's get into review-response!
- TheWritersMind says, "Beautifully crafted Story. There is something special about Destiny intermingling with another fantasy types, such as PJO or LOTR. Particularly their use of magic and weapons.
Have you ever wondered how a sword in Destiny can be just as effective, if not more so, then conventional firearms? Toland gives a pretty good explanation. Long story short, Darkness and Light are infused in the gear/armaments of the Hive and Guardians, respectively."
Oh, I am THOROUGHLY aware of the Sword Logic, Toland, and such. The Taken King was my favorite expansion for lore reasons and I'm a big fan of keeping things true to their source material. And I absolutely agree that Destiny is a wonderful universe too often poorly represented in the world of fan fiction. If I do anything by writing this story, I hope it inspires others to drum up the gumption to write their own stories!
- Priceless22 says, "Nope I cant read this. I agree with sime others you nerfed the warlock waaay to much. He can simply digitize his weapons out of the elfs hands. And the elves of middle earth aren't THAT powerful. You have the power scale backwards. Well written, but I hate the power scale you have done."
First of all, thanks for reviewing! A common misconception in a lot of Destiny fanfics I read is that if a Guardian loses their weapon they can, as you say, transmat it back into their hands. Problem is, nowhere in any of the lore do we see a Guardian pull this stunt, so I assume there's a limitation to it. As for Eldar power-scaling, a typical Elf might not be much stronger than a typical man. But we're dealing with Elrond here, who is a First Age Elf. Like, early First Age. Eärendil, who was a First Age Half-Elf single-handedly slew Ancalagon the Black, who was so big that when he died, he destroyed Thangorodrim, which was a group of three gigantic active volcanoes within the Iron Mountains in the north of Middle-earth, each of which was 35,000~ feet high and five miles across. Yeah, Eldar ain't no joke. Check out a YouTube channel "Hello Future Me" who does some neat explanations about Elves and how powerful they are. Highly recommend!
- Guest #1 says, "Guardians are more lie physical gods, Ikora was able to use the power of the arc to vaporize everything around her for as far as the eye can see, efreedit was able to throw saladin several miles away to destroy a fallen walker, hunters are known for stealth and speed not strength, Wei Ning was able to shake a mountain with a single punch and warlock literately warp and tear reality, what I'm saying is gameplay is not a representation of guardians power.
The Traveler is only aloof and ambiguous because after sacrificing itself to save humanity it was put into a coma, it could not tell anyone anything and pretty much let us chose our own fate. The dregden follow dregden yor who was corrupted by a piece of hive bone, they foolishly think that messing with the darkness won't screw them over like it has everyone else, they're messing with a sapient power that actively wants everyone to kill each other and they are stupidly doing exactly that, killing others following some warped logic even they don't understand."
I absolutely agree. In-game mechanical limitations do not capture the majesty or capability of Guardians of legend, like, as you say, Efrideet. Even non-Guardians like Sjur Eido was strong enough to draw and fire Wish-Ender, which hit so hard Shaxx first thought it was a balista. Believe me I'm not of a mind to short-change either universe here; power-bashing stories are lazy and forgettable. As for your comments about Yor and the Darkness, I realize this was written before Season of the Drifter and Season of Opulence came out, so we didn't know a whole lot about the Shadows of Yor and such, but now we do... Care to revise your statement? *Wink wink, nudge nudge!*
And to the many of you wondering where I've gone and asking me to come back... Well, here I am! :D
Now, onto the story! As always, lore-buffs (especially you Tolkien enthusiasts!) feel free to correct me where I'm wrong and drop me lines to reference in the future! Remember, I'm depending on you guys!
When one deals with the Vex as much as we Guardians do, it behooves the Vanguard to encourage temporal displacement contingency seminars led by knowledgeable Warlocks and experienced Hunters.
My expression is empty as I hear those words that I dreaded, for it was the truth. I had read enough psuedo-fiction literature from authors (both ancient and modern) regarding time travel... or in this case, the culture shock of modern society intersecting with a primitive one.
Generally, the displaced individual had one of two choices. They could either, one: hide their origin and cocoon themselves in lies and half-truths which would inevitably come back to bite them in the backside later on, or two: provide full disclosure at the risk of confusing and distorting the world around them with undue knowledge and information.
From a narrative standpoint, neither of these options appealed to me then, and neither appeal to me now. Thus, I choose option three...
That route was thus; wrap myself in secrets. Be honest where necessary but be evasive where not. Maintain a strict level of ambiguity and mystery. One might argue such a stance is arbitrary for my own amusement, and from a certain perspective I don't disagree. But the truth is, it's entirely practical; no good would come from overwhelming primitive minds with events they will never understand. They would be confounded beyond recovery.
I was not expecting the old man to just… blurt it out like that though.
Elrond, for his part, seemed surprised to hear this. He rips his gaze from Gandalf and trains it on me, but I do not shy away. When he speaks again, it is with an astonished, yet surprisingly measured tone. "You mean to suggest he is from the West? From the shores of Valinor?"
Valinor... I have heard that word before. It is the name of the land, far west from here, over the sea. It is a land inaccessible save to those who possess the ships capable of crossing the waters betwixt them; boats only the Elves can create. In common mythology it would be akin to "Heaven." Yet unlike Heaven, which I suspect is a real place, but located somewhere in the spiritual plane, Valinor was a physical location. It is simply... locked away in a metaphysical way. The texts I've read weren't explicitly clear on the subject.
"Nay, not so," Gandalf counters. "For those who walk those distant shores forever more are imbued in the light of the Valar and of the Trees. Those precious few who from thence return emit such light from their bodies, as is the case with Glorfindel."
I blink in surprise. Are they implying that Glorfindel had touched Heaven and returned? Honestly, that made sense considering...
I hold up my hand to stall their speculations. "I'm under no authority to deny any suspicions you may have of me, so I will only speak to what I know. A foreword though: whatever I say, however strange or unbelievable it may seem to thee is the truth as near as I can account."
Both creatures return their eyes to me and wait expectantly. Gandalf folds his hands into a bridge in front of him while Elrond leans on his knuckles against the surface of the table.
"I am from elsewhere; a land far away than cannot be reached by ordinary means. In that land, I am a Guardian. A soldier tasked with pushing back the encroaching forces of the Darkness that threaten the Last City and Mankind. How I have come to be in this Middle-Earth I know not, though I endeavor to decipher this mystery first and foremost."
I add no more as I allow my words to hang in the air. When Elrond speaks it was with a surprisingly even tone. He leans back in his seat and rests his chin in the crux of the first three fingers of his hand.
"…If what you say is true, then there is much we must discuss. Let us start simply: tell us of your homeland. You speak of a 'Last City of Mankind.'"
I tentatively nod my head. "Mankind, both much like and very much unlike Men, has been pushed to the brink of destruction, with what is left of us is huddled beneath the carcass of the Traveler."
Elrond inclines his head in such a way as to prompt me to elaborate, so I do. "Long ago the Traveler arrived and bestowed on us many gifts: sciences, medicine, longevity... Blessings that propelled our people into a golden age of discovery and exploration. But soon after, like a hound at its heels, the Darkness followed in force and drove Mankind into a dark age. The Traveler made a final stand to resist the Darkness… and perished in its victory."
As the next words flow into my mind, I feel a pulse of nostalgia of as I quote what I'd heard so very long ago.
"In its dying breath, the Traveler dispatched... emissaries who would seek out its chosen soldiers," I gesture to my person. "Guardians to protect humanity. And to do what the Traveler itself no longer can. And we have done exactly that since that fateful day, staving off those who followed in the Darkness' wake; those who seek to serve it, those who seek to exploit it, those who seek to flee it…"
And yet so little progress had been made, hadn't it? For a nigh a thousand years the most the Guardians could offer humanity was a safe prison to live in; a narrow grave to die in. The fight was less with blade and bullet than it was with tooth and nail, humanity's indomitable spirit passing as a torch from one generation to the next, and the Guardians, raised from the dead as blank slates willing to fuel that same burning hope. It must surely be vexing to those who served the Darkness how an upstart species on a single world who had enjoyed only the briefest exposure of the Traveler's touch had managed to stave off certain doom amidst conquerors, scavengers, exploiters and nihilists, all while caged under the looming shadow of a dead god.
I bring myself back from my thoughts as I note that I have lapsed into silence. My hosts are exceedingly generous in their patience, and their attention returns anew as I stir.
"In the past several years, we have made… remarkable progress in knocking over key pillars of the Darkness in our former territories. Its stranglehold has finally loosened. As to how I came to be lost in these lands, I can only guess. There are those amongst my adversaries," I say with an insuppressible sigh, "who have the capability to move that which will not be moved wherever they wish it to be. I hypothesize my current predicament is their doing."
Elrond asks after a moment, "Should I take that to mean that those who brought you to these shores are not here also?"
I nod thoughtfully. "That is my suspicion, yes. Though... it is suspicion only."
A deliberately audible shuffle of shoes draws our attention to the doorway where an elf stood. "Refreshments are prepared, lord Elrond."
Elrond nodded and beckoned to the attendant. "Excellent, we are in need of just such."
The Elf bows and gestures aside to one outside the door, bringing in an assortment of foods and drinks. Truth be told, it all looks quite delicious, and judging by the level of technology, this is probably prepared by hand - start to finish - without a single microwave piercing the steaming succulent flesh of the cooked meats set before us. Additionally, there is a collection of silver leaves garnishing baked bread that looked good enough to eat on their own. And between the platters were placed ornate pitchers of what I can only assume is wine, if the familiar faint whiffs are anything to go by, and three ornate silver goblets are placed apiece.
As the attendants leave, Elrond and Gandalf both go about picking food for themselves from the table. I do the same.
We eat and talk, and eat, and talk some more. Most of the questions from Elrond who seems more interested in the events that culminated in Mankind's relegation to a single city. Gandalf, being a wizard, does not surprise me when he queries me about who the Traveler is, or was, which I answer honestly as best I can. I describe it as a white moon that hangs over the city, though I doubt they picture it the same way I know it to be. Perhaps they think me a fool, or a liar, or a madman. It's the truth regardless.
The subject turns to culture, and to specific events I do not explain and explicitly evade. I find myself answering briefly and vapidly more often than I care to admit. While honesty is a virtue, I rationalize that if I am as ignorant of this world's state of affairs and the laws it turns by, they must conversely be much more so. So I avoid details.
There is a music in the air that rises from the city beyond, the now setting sun filtering through golden leaves that rustle out of sight. The still warm October air drifted refreshingly through the window arches of the veranda, and I felt for a moment almost like I was home, back in the Tower at the close of day, the bright artificial lights that lit up the southern pole of the Traveler from the City below replaced with warm lantern light upon the hillside villa.
We return to eating for a time, and at length I raise a question of my own. "Before we became woefully sidetracked on myself and homeland, you were speaking of an 'enemy' of sorts. I have spoken of the Darkness of my home. Tell me of the darkness here."
Instead if is Gandalf that speaks. "Nay, it is ill to speak of evil things so late in the day, and especially, as a Hobbit might tell you, after so delicious a meal. I think, lord Elrond," he addresses our host, "we should retire for the evening. Much has been said. And much eaten! And we should digest both in evening's peace."
I sense the wizard's words are as much a signal as they are a suggestion. "I confess I only feel at peace in the pursuit of knowledge," I say, though I do not push the subject too far. "But if I must suffer a restless night of unknowing for the promise of a fruitful day tomorrow, then I will abide." I and Elrond stand. The day's talk done.
"Oh, one other matter," Elrond said suddenly, plucking my gun from the table's mess and presenting it to me. "I return your weapon to you. I expect I would learn nothing from its study without your instruction."
I glance between him and the offered item. Smiling, I nod in thanks and accept it, returning it to it's holster at my back. "You are too humble, lord Elrond. I think it not too presumptuous of me to say that I expect if you tried, you would learn everything you wished to know."
This response seems to please Elrond who smiles. "Then, in the spirit of presumption, may I request to retain your bow for the time being? It is a fascinating work of craftsmanship and I wish to appreciate it further."
I think for a moment and nod in agreement, myself curious whether the Elf might in fact divine some of the weapon's secrets; not even I know the bow's origin, nor even its composition. Only that it could never be drawn by a normal person. I suppose that belied the strength of this elegant and graceful Elf before me who could fire and re-draw the weapon faster than any Guardian I've ever seen. Were all Elves like him? If so, then the fairy tales of the old City were in dire need of correction. "Of course, my lord. If it pleases you." Even for the briefest moment that he held the haft, I saw... or rather detected... a kinship with the weapon I've not seen in any of my peers.
I suppose bows are to Elves as guns are to Guardians. In a manner of speaking anyway.
When the Elf smiles, it seems strange that I find it so beautiful. Not in a manner of attraction, but of… something that speaks on a deeper level… Spiritual perhaps? I do not dwell on it, for such sensations seem commonplace in the house of Elrond.
"Let it be a favor then, master Lazarus. I promise I shall return it to you at your earliest insistence. For tonight, as Gandalf suggests, may we rest ourselves 'till morrow comes."
"Until tomorrow then."
We tip our heads low to each other and I walk out, led by an attendant back to my room.
Truthfully, I am thankful for it, for as we walked the winding halls of Rivendell, I feel a weight of history and wonder tug at my legs and stay feet; to stop and appreciate the sights, smells, and sounds… even the texture of the city. The way even stray leaves that scraped across the stone floor did nothing to mire the beauty of the Elvish city. Had I not someone to guide me… to usher me onward, I would lose myself amidst this wonderful labyrinth.
And yet, to a point it all seemed to very familiar.
I smile. A certain queen would probably like this place.
Gandalf waited until the sounds of footsteps faded away before turning to the aged Elf. "As queer a exchange as ever one could have. But be those words truth or lies? The question remains. Many questions…"
"A strange creature to match such strange talk too," Elrond agreed. "Though regarding truth or falsehoods, I will withhold my judgement until I hear more from him in the morrow."
"If my lord Elrond indeed wishes to speak again with our peculiar guest, then surely there must be a sliver of truth that has caught your ear."
"A cin, Mithrandir," The Elf stated with knowing eyes. "You listened as intently as I. What are your thoughts on the matter?"
Gandalf breathed heavily and withdrew from his grey robes a curved wooden pipe. Elrond had a lit match in hand before the old pilgrim could even ask. Gandalf grunted his thanks and took a deep draw, the packed pipeweed burning a golden orange. Short clouds of smoke puffed from the corner of ancient spirit's mouth idly.
"It's a quite puzzling tale, isn't it? Too fantastic to be either believable or a deception. And the Enemy is above all else a deceiver, cunning and experienced in that way. Should we dismiss our concerns and accept his words as truth? Or is that the snare for us to bite at?"
Elrond nodded sagely. "And as for deception, I sense a vast fortress of knowledge in his mind, hinted both in the words he speaks and those he does not. I do not think him evil, nor employed in the Enemy's service."
Gandalf puffed quietly and settled in his chair. "Let us then assume he is forthright. What truths does that imply? If sorcerous powers be his by gift of this... Traveler, then is he guided by one from the farthest West? He professes no knowledge of the Valar, the Ainur, or of anything else in Arda. What then do we make of him?"
Elrond breathed deep the sweet smell wafting from his companion's pipe and closed his eyes thoughtfully. He spun the wine in his cup idly.
"There are many forces that exist both in this world and without," he spoke after a time. "And we know not the course set for this world. Is this a stroke of the author's pen, or a jealous alteration made by him who would subvert all good things?"
"And we can know neither save by the providence of the Valar and he whom they serve," Gandalf resignedly agreed. "Our own council we must keep."
Elrond heard the serious tone in Gandalf's voice and knew what he meant. That this event should come looked for so near to Saruman's betrayal could be doubtful coincidence.
The appearance of this stranger must serve a larger purpose, but for good or ill? That was ever the question. They spoke more into the night, until all reason left them and naught but sleep could they think of. Thus, did they part ways 'till the morning come.
She drifted in her sleep, dreams cloudy and black.
Sun sets and shadows lengthen.
She was carried northward over the murky skies and mountain peaks.
The power of the enemy grows. He seeks the One with tireless strength.
She saw a vast city, bathed in light and ringed in great walls. Above it hung a sphere of pure white.
She saw the fear of those inside and the cause of that fear; the shadows that lingered just beyond. Ships that sailed, not on water, but air postured in the sky as multitudes assembled beyond the walls, full of gnashing teeth and stomping feet.
And she saw those who marched against them, standing stalwart in defense of those who huddled frightfully within its walls. At once the battle was joined, and she saw in understanding she knew she shouldn't have, and much that she knew she would never see again.
Peels of thunder and pillars of light, fire and torment lashed out like fury and madness from one side to the other. She saw the world around her fall away to dust and destruction. But ever did the city stand, ever did its defenders repel evils at its gates.
Time moved on and she saw one who stood silent amidst his fellows, one among many in whom dwelt a piercing light like the sun. And she saw shadows of many hues seek the destruction of the city, and each one was felled by the one. And with every victory the light grew stronger in him.
And then the city was gone, and in its place was a familiar land of ice and mountains.
Evil is ever leashed to a master. Mordor stands renewed in strength.
This she already knew, for the movements of the Enemy had grown continually bold. Yet Sauron had not yet regained his full strength, not without the One.
And she saw shadows seep from the north, consuming all in its path to meet the darkness of Mordor. Yet the darkness did not mix, and instead shadow faced shadow in unwinnable war. Conflict spilled out and away and consumed all life on Middle Earth, stretching even into the west. She cried as she saw the shadows move across the Sundering Sea consume even the land uninhabited by Edain, Eldar or any other… and Arda was plunged into the void.
And then the shadows crept away to find hidden paths unknown to the minds of the living and Valinor was besieged.
She cried as she saw the beauty of the trees consumed and the powers of the Valar fail. The whole of Eä suffered, and she felt a sorrow no living creature could know.
Shadows must always flee before the Sun.
But as she watched, the shadows receded, or rather, time ran backwards, and she saw instead of opaque shadows passing down from the north unhindered, they were checked by a powerful light… light that burned and singed, consumed and erased. Light unlike any she'd seen before.
And the earth grew larger beneath her and her feet touched the ground. Around her were monsters, familiar and not, suffering under the powers of the one who stood amidst them, the nick of time plucked and held in incredible clarity.
She saw his face. She saw the light that burned in his eyes. From one hand he cast out light, and from the other, darkness, yet in his mind and heart she saw the will to preserve life. She saw purity of belief.
She saw a hope in the dark. She saw a guardian of light.
And Galadriel awoke.
A/N: And that's three! I'll admit this chapter was difficult to write because I had to basically work out how to do a non-cliche "Guardian meets world" without making everything read... cringy. And ya'll know exactly what I'm talking about too.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and as always leave comments, criticisms, and corrections below! Chapter four's already almost done! 'Till next time, O readers mine!