Disclaimer: Don't own Smallville/Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Sequel to - The Metahuman, The Ranger, and the One Ring
Fandom: Smallville/LOTR: The Two Towers
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: The broken up Fellowship are still trying to complete their respective missions, the League are still trying to find Zatanna, Chloe and Aragorn still have a couple of roadblocks to pass before they can actually have a relationship, and Lois is *still* trying to get into the book. Cue battles, jealousy, and some sexiness.
Even if Zatanna wasn't a magician and magic hadn't always been a part of her life, she knew that this situation she now found herself in wouldn't come as such of a surprise. There was much that she'd learnt since becoming an ally of the Justice League, but one of the most important things was that if something was possible, no matter how remotely, it was going to happen to Chloe Sullivan…and…to some extent…Clark Kent. Lois and Oliver most of the time got dragged along solely because they were usually inseparable from the aforementioned.
Being a rapid reader (thanks to magic being on her side) the magician had caught up with everything that was going on in book one, and was ready for whatever book two could throw at her. Considering that the book had declared that "finally, the last member of this tale joined the others" right before Lois' disappearance Zatanna figured that she herself was safe from being book-nabbed, and it was with great ease that she lay in bed and ate the chips and other junk food Lois had apparently stock-piled inside of Chloe's apartment.
The book was now talking about Sam, Frodo and Gollum, who'd travelled through an icky swamp in which Frodo got wet. Which was a bad thing considering that that water was full of dead things, all rotten. They'd all wanted Frodo to join them permanently but Gollum had pulled him out. And even afterwards when they got out of the swamp and camped for the night things weren't that good considering that the Ringwraiths flew over them and nearly caught them.
All in all, the hobbits and…thing…were having a very bad time.
Good thing the Black Gate was supposed to be close by, right?
Fangorn Forest looked like every dark forest in every horror movie Chloe had ever watched. Sure, it had a more 'fantasy' vibe than her horror movie forests did, but it still gave you the feeling that the trees were gonna spear you with their branches and that you would never ever see the light of day again. She kept her arrow on her bow, ready should anything decide it was hungry and wanted to eat one of them. Clark seemed just as wary as he kept his hand on the hilt of the sword at his hips. Not reassuringly, the other men in the group did the same thing.
"Orc blood!" Gimli gasped as he rubbed his fingers against a smudge on some leaves.
"These are strange tracks." Aragorn frowned, eyes on the ground.
"Does anyone else have the feeling they're being watched?" Clark wanted to know, blue eyes staring around them uneasily.
"I do." Chloe mumbled as she walked passed the men and hesitantly placed her hand against the bark of a magnificent tree. "This whole place seems alive."
"I don't like it." Gimli raised his axe, staring at the trees suspiciously.
"This forest is old. Very old." Legolas announced, closing his eyes and tilting his head upwards, as if listening to something they couldn't hear. "Full of memories…and anger." He made a face. "The trees are speaking to each other."
Aragorn turned to the Dwarf. "Gimli!"
"Huh?" Gimli frowned.
"Lower your axe." The Ranger motioned downwards slowly with his hand.
Eyes widening, Gimli hurried to do as told.
"We need to find Merry and Pippin." Chloe whispered as she felt the tree pulsating with life beneath her hand, not liking the idea of the two hobbits being on their own in this place.
"Hey…Chloe?" Clark looked around him, eyes narrowed.
"Yeah Clark?" She didn't look back at him, wondering if anyone else realized that the trees seemed to almost have a heartbeat.
"Remember that time when you had to taser me out of a tree?"
How could she forget? "It rings a bell, yeah."
"Well, I'm getting that feeling again."
She snorted. "Well, that's never good."
Legolas stared ahead of him intently, ignoring the conversation going on by his side.
Aragorn sent them a look, eyes narrowed in confusion, probably wondering what a taser was and how it could be used to get someone out of a tree.
Suddenly Clark frowned as he tilted his head to the side. "Does anyone else hear that?"
Legolas turned towards Aragorn. "Aragorn, nad no ennas!"
Chloe loved hearing Elvin, she did, it was beautiful and flowed like a song, and yet sometimes she hated the language because she really wasn't picking up on it easily and didn't understand what they were saying.
"Man cenich?" Aragorn frowned, pulling out his sword from its sheath.
"The White Wizard approaches." Legolas whispered urgently.
A hiss escaped Chloe's lips as the tentacles of black, purple and silver that marred half of her body stung before beginning to throb viciously. The blonde pressed a hand to her side, feeling the skin rise and fall angrily under her touch, green eyes narrowing as her gaze began to mist over. Like during many of her other attacks the world around her seemed to shift, to change, to melt into a realm of fog and bright light where hardly anything was distinguishable. She gazed around her, trying to find her companions, and other than Legolas (who appeared differently than he usually did) she only barely made out their darker figures in the world of light and mist, but quickly her attention was drawn to another direction.
To bright light.
To a figure within the light.
Turning fully towards the approaching light, Chloe narrowed her eyes more, the intense light starting to slowly fade, the figure becoming more prominent. It was of a man in a robe, holding a staff.
Was this Saruman?
Didn't Erkenbrand say that Saruman roamed these places?
And yet…Chloe couldn't bring herself to believe that Saruman, a creature of such evil, could emanate such pure light.
"Do not let him speak." Aragorn's voice was like a whisper from far away despite the fact that he was right before her, the sound strained, barely making it through to her in this state. "He will put a spell on us! We must be quick."
A chorus of male voices raised in a war cry as they advanced towards the bright one…when suddenly a burst of the purest white light erupted from the figure, blinding them, causing them to turn away, Gimli and Legolas' weapons deflected while Clark and Aragorn's burned with such heat that they were forced to drop them.
"You were tracking the footsteps of two hobbits." A voice announced, obviously not asking but stating.
Chloe's eyes widened, filling with surprised tears, her lips parting as a single tear made its way down her cheek.
"Where are they?" Aragorn demanded, obviously not hearing what she did.
"They passed this way the day before yesterday." The figure became more and more apparent until she could see him as she had Galadriel…and he was just as glorious. "They met someone they did not expect. Does that comfort you?"
Chloe brought her hand to her mouth, silencing the cry that tried to escape as more tears fell down her cheeks.
"Who are you?" Aragorn ground. "Show yourself!"
As soon as the shining one's eyes turned on her Chloe dropped her bow and raced towards him, ignoring the mens' cries for her to remain with them, instead throwing herself into the open arms of the man she thought she'd never seen again. The seconds his arms wrapped around her while chuckling tenderly the fog disappeared, the world was back, and her tentacles stopped throbbing.
Silence thick as a knife fell upon what remained of the Fellowship as they gazed upon the one whom they'd seen die to save their lives.
"It cannot be." Aragorn's voice was soft, tinged with hope and yet… "You fell."
"Through fire and water." Gandalf agreed, standing tall, the same Gandalf they'd known and loved and yet different at the same time. There was something more regal about him, less human, and now instead of his gray hair and robes, they were the purest of white. "From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought him, the Balrog of Morgoth…until at last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside." He leaned down and brushed away Chloe's tears with a tender smile before returning his gaze to the men. "Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead and each day was as long as a life age of the earth. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again." As Chloe finally pulled away he lay his hand on her shoulder like a master pleased with his pupil. "I've been sent back until my task is done."
Aragorn's face was torn yet he obviously wanted to believe this, so he did, taking a step towards his old friend. "Gandalf."
Chloe pulled away, giving them time alone as she went to retrieve her discarded bow.
"Gandalf?" The White Wizard frowned slightly, almost as if not recognizing his own name before his eyes widened in remembrance. "Oh yes. That's what they used to call me." His lips twitched in fond amusement. "Gandalf the Grey. That was my name."
"Gandalf." Aragorn smiled fully, finally truly accepting that this was his dear friend.
Gimli gave a little cry of happiness. "Gandalf!"
Legolas and Clark shared smiles before turning them on the missed and sourly mourned friend.
"I am Gandalf the White now." The Wizard announced with a tilt of his white-maned head before his expression went serious. "And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide."
"Pippin and Merry?" Clark finally spoke up, asking.
Gandalf nodded. "I sent them with a friend. They are safe."
Relief visibly speared through everyone's expressions at this happy news.
Gandalf turned to Chloe, his gaze promising they would speak once alone.
He then motioned for them to follow him as he began to lead the group out of Fangorn. "One stage of the journey is over and another begins. War has come to Rohan. We must ride to Edoras with all speed."
"We passed some Riders before and they say that Saruman has control over these lands." Clark offered up. "Says that the king is poisoned against those true to Rohan, that his son is dying, and his niece and nephew are basically prisoners."
Gandalf shook his head, disgust obvious in his face as he trudged on. "It was still hard for me to accept how low Saruman has made himself."
Once they emerged from Fangorn to where the horses had been tied up and were waiting on them, they realized belatedly that they were a horse short-unless Gandalf wanted to ride with Clark or Aragorn-though Chloe very much doubted that was his style.
The White Wizard gazed at the flowing terrain in front of them and began a series of whistles that didn't sound like anything a human should be able to make. It was enchanting, haunting, and magical.
Suddenly an answering neigh could be heard and a white horse appeared from the plain, answering the call enthusiastically as it neared.
Legolas let out a breath of amazement. "That is one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell."
"Magnificent." Gimli whispered in awe.
"What's a Meara?" Clark asked the Elf.
Legolas tore his gaze from the approaching creature and turned his blue orbs on the farm boy, ever patient with him and his questions. "The Mearas are a breed of wild horses whose mortality is equal to Men and their intelligence and strength are extraordinary." His gaze returned to the horse as it reached Gandalf's side and neighed in what seemed like a greeting. "They're descended from Felarof, who was tamed by the first King of Rohan, Eorl. Ever since then they have been the mounts of the King and Princes of Rohan alone."
And yet Gandalf and this Meara seemed to be hitting it off quite wonderfully.
"This is Shadowfax, lord of all horses." The Wizard ran his hand lovingly over the steed's nose. "He's been my friend through many dangers." With a couple of steps and a graceful jump the wizard sat astride Shadowfax, both purest white and magnificent. "Come, we ride!"
The others hurried to their horses, Gimli only mildly complaining as Legolas helped him on before jumping up behind him.
Aragorn reached his horse.
Chloe had to stop herself from going to his side, visibly flinching as she instead went to Clark. "Gimme a ride?"
Clark gave her a little look before nodding and smiling. "Come on, I know how scared you are of horses."
"You are never going to let me live that down, are you?" Chloe grumbled as he grabbed her by her hips and lifted her onto the horse.
"Course not!" Clark chuckled, jumping up behind her and grabbing the reigns. "You coming, Aragorn?"
Only then did she realize that Aragorn was still standing by his steed, his face pinched, his gaze darkened and narrowed on them. There was something emanating from him that she didn't recognize, couldn't put a name to, but it felt almost threatening.
It shocked her to the core.
But she didn't have time to contemplate on it more before with a swift movement he was on his horse and galloping away.
Clark hesitated behind her. "Do you know what you're doing?"
"You heard him." She whispered, running her fingers through their horse's mane. "Maybe if I was a virgin…it's better off this way."
"You did this to me, you know." Clark surprised her by whispering. "Whenever I felt that we might be-that maybe-you'd back away and put up this wall between us."
"No I didn't!" She cried out in defense.
"Yeah, you did." He sighed. "You need to give him a chance, you need to tell him the truth and let him decide if he can accept you as you are or not. You can't just make this decision on your own."
"There's more to this, Clark." She thought about the fact that she was Aragorn's very distant ancestor.
"What else could there be?" The alien wanted to know.
"I'll tell you later." She promised. "But for right now…we probably shouldn't lose the others."
Realizing now as she did that they were losing ground, Clark nodded. "Hold on tight."
"I'm telling you, Canary, it's great stuff!" Zatanna announced as she sat on the sofa, chewing on some popcorn, phone between her head and shoulder, gaze on the book. "Sure, it's got adventure and magic-but with all this love-drama it's like a soap opera! It's like Pride and Prejudice…except completely different. He's prejudiced of experienced girls and she's too prideful to even give them a chance." She chewed on a kernel, listening to the response. "Of course there's illustrations! He's hot!" She raised an eyebrow. "Will you stop whining already? I didn't know you guys were looking for me for so long! And when I did find out I came to see Chloe immediately."
Her bright blue gaze lowered to the book, which had already assured her that Pippin and Merry were in the presence of an Ent (or Treeherder-how cool was that by the way?) named Treebeard, and he was taking them far away from the danger. He'd also informed the Hobbits that the trees had gone wild because of the anger in their hearts and would hurt the Hobbits if they could since there were too few Ents left to manage the trees. And that was kinda scary.
"Hold on a second, the book's updating me on Frodo." Zatanna read the words being burnt on the pages before making a face. "No! Frodo's the Hobbit with the cursed bling! Aragorn is Chloe's hot descendant!"
She ignored whatever Canary was saying, reading about how Frodo, Sam and Gollum arrived at the Black Gate of Mordor, which of course was guarded by Sauron's army, who'd gut them for pleasure. Poor little Sam managed to someone fall almost in front of the guards, Frodo hurried to his side (their bromance was incredibly cute) and since they couldn't get away on time he used his elvish cloak over the both of them which ended up camouflaging them with the rocks around them and the Easterling soldiers moved on. It was only when Frodo and Sam were about to dash to their dooms did Gollum suddenly decide to share his knowledge of a backdoor entrance to Mordor.
Sam was soooo right to distrust him!
Pity Frodo didn't feel the same way.
Oliver had been stuck in the cell with this Eomer dude for far too long. The guy was way too serious, didn't have a sense of humor, and kept giving him little glares every now and again. He also smelt of horse…not that Oliver believed he smelt any better given the fact that he'd been in here a couple of days himself. Also, the guy had yet to say why he'd been thrown into jail, so he could be a despoiler of mules for all Oliver knew. And that thought made him feel less inclined to go to sleep in Eomer's company.
"Broke something you shouldn't have?" Oliver had begun playing the guessing game the day after Eomer was thrown into his cell, trying to figure out why the guy was there, but so far the long haired blonde only scoffed or glared at his suggestions. "Had a little too much fun with someone's wife?"
Eomer scoffed in derision.
"Had a little too much fun with someone's husband?"
Eomer glared at him with heated annoyance.
"The king's son…" someone was whispering to themselves.
Suddenly Eomer went pale, eyes wide as he went closer to the bars, straining to hear.
"…he's died of his wounds!"
Eomer backed away from the bars against the wall, sliding down in horror. "No."
...had Eomer injured the king's son?
"And the king?" One of the soldiers asked.
"Remains in the throne room." The one who'd brought the news sighed. "Lady Eowyn was on her knees begging him to go and see his dead son, but he did not respond to her pleas." There was another sigh. "He responds to nothing but Grima Wormtongue now."
"Where the hell am I?" Lois asked as she looked around her, tightening her grip on the strap of her huge Arc'teryx Tango Military Backpack which was loaded with all she'd need, and some other things as well. She'd prepared for this moment, the guns hanging from the belt at her hips giving her somewhat of an advantage, but she knew that bullets would run out and there were no place to get ammo here. She'd gotten the samurai sword for when that happened, but other than make some wicked sweeps in the air with it she really wasn't versed in its use and would need an instructor.
It was why it was imperative she found Chloe and the others as soon as possible.
But, uh, she was in the middle of some mountains or something with nothing around her.
"Uhm, HELLO?" She yelled, cupping her hands to her mouth. "CHLOE? CLARK?" On the off-chance she yelled out: "OLLIE?"
Hands to her hips, the brunette frowned as she looked in both directions, wondering which to go.
"Okay, I'm going left."
Suddenly a strong wind broke a large branch off a tree which fell right in her way, nearly missing her head on its descent.
Lois cleared her throat, turning around.
"Like I said, I'm going right."
Taking in a deep breath, the brunette started marching.
As they crested the hill on horseback a kingdom could be visible, Chloe tightening her hold on the horse's mane, leaning harder into Clark as the multicolored tentacles marring almost half of her body throbbed for the first time since Gandalf had returned to her. For a second the smoke and fog, the bright light, they were all back...but where the kingdom was situated was covered in thick, all encompassing darkness that seemed to be strangling it.
"Something very evil is down there." She whispered, and the sound of her own voice broke her out of the trance, the shadows and fog disappearing, returning her to normal vision.
Gandalf drew up beside her on Shadowfax, nodding his grim agreement. "Edoras and the Golden Hall of Meduseld, King of Rohan, whose mind is overthrown and Saruman's hold over King Theoden is now very strong." He urged his horse forwards, the others following suit. "Be careful what you say and do not look for a welcome here."
Chloe cast a glance in the wizard's direction, watching him conjure a grey robe with which to cover his white robes, pulling the hood over his head. Obviously he could sense what she did about this place, and felt it best not to let Sarumen's men discover his newly ascended position until the time was right. Gandalf's actions proved he had a plan, and while she didn't know it Chloe knew to be alert to the wise man and follow whatever script he should offer.
They rode the vast plains till they finally reached the gates of the city, which were nothing but rubble.
A flag, worn and faded, tumbled passed them, almost as an omen of what awaited within.
Gandalf was the first to ride through the gates, the others closely following them, the people of Edoras watching them with distrust and distaste. Their eyes were narrowed as they whispered to each other, obviously unhappy to see them here.
"You'll find more cheer in a graveyard." Gimli muttered as they finally reached the large building which was clearly what Gandalf had called the "Golden Hall of Meduseld"...but it was far from golden.
Clark dismounted, tying the horse's reigns to the post, reaching up and helping Chloe down before she even had a chance to slip down by herself.
She rolled her eyes at him and slapped his chest. "I can manage that much on my own."
Aragorn tied his horse next to theirs.
Clark seemed to think something over before giving Chloe the weirdest smile ever as he rested both of his arms on her shoulders, leaning far too close into her face.
Chloe narrowed her eyes at him before pushing the large mountain away to a more breathable distance. "What are you playing at?"
Aragorn shouldered passed them, shoulder slamming into Clark's as he did, muttering something that was probably an apology as he stalked towards where the others were waiting.
Legolas had the most devilishly amused look in his eyes.
Chloe eyed the Elf in intrigue before walking passed Clark, heading to where the others were closing in on the steps leading to the building where the king could be found.
Clark was at her side, his long strides helping him to catch up quickly.
Guards hurried out of the building and detained them the second they stepped off of the steps.
"Ah." Gandalf leaned heavily on his staff, his grey robes firmly in place, hood covering any little hint of his gloriously white locks. "Hama."
"I cannot allow you before Theoden-king so armed, Gandalf Grayhame." Hama declared, obviously unhappy to do so. "By order of Grima Wormtongue."
Okay. That had to be a bad-guy.
There was no way in hell that someone with a name that made her think of grime and wormy tongues could be a likable character.
Gandalf nodded, gesturing to the others to surrender their weapons to the soldiers standing at the ready to reinforce Hama's commands should they be contested.
Chloe did not want to give up her weapons! The darkness that she'd seen, that she knew that Gandalf could sense as well, it was oppressive and powerful.
Aragorn was the first to obey Gandalf's command, his actions without hesitance as he handed over his sword to the Edoran Guard while pulling out a knife from its hidden sheath and passing it to the man as well.
Legolas quickly followed Aragorn's example, handing over his multitude of knifes and bow with his arrow sheathe.
Clark handed over his sword with a small smile to the soldier, who didn't return it but nodded his head in acknowledgement.
Gimli grumbled and mumbled, obviously just as happy with this development as Chloe, but in the end he passed over his axe with a grumpy mumble.
The only one left was Chloe, and she could feel the eyes on her expectantly. For some reason the men seemed uneasy with her, and also very curious, very confused. She'd seen the judging glances they'd sent the men the second they'd realized she was carrying weapons as well, and she wondered what policy the men of Rohan had about female warriors.
Weren't the exiled Rohan riders' reaction to her something curious as well? They'd been shocked that a woman would travel with the men.
It was probably indecent.
The blonde sighed as she handed over her bow and arrows and the sword which still seemed a little too heavy.
The soldier murmured something under his breath, sending the men another disapproving look.
Hama turned to Gandalf. "Your staff?"
The innocence on Gandalf's face was blinding. "Hmmm?" He glance at his staff before returning a curious look to the head guard. "Oh. No, you would not part an old man from his walking stick?"
Hama seemed to consider it for a moment before nodding and gesturing for them to follow him as he gave them his back and started into the building, walking down a long corridor before finally reaching a grand door guarded by two guards. The guards parted and opened the doors to the throne room, Hama stepped in first, followed by Gandalf, and then the others.
The first thing Chloe noticed about the Golden Hall of Meduseld was how dark it was. Every window was closed, the scent and humidity climbing up the walls hinting at the fact that many months had passed since they'd been opened. The people were somber, quiet, had their gazes to the ground.
Another thing that caught her interest were the two different set of uniforms the guards wore.
But what she truly noticed was the decrepit old man seated upon the throne. He seemed as old as Father Time, so tired he couldn't even sit up properly on his throne. He was sickly pale, his hair dried and frizzy, horribly thin, his beard a mess of tangles. His eyes seemed glazed over, his breathing labored, his fingers bony with long nails.
Next to him, kneeling on the ground, was the living embodiment of a "Grima Wormtongue". He wore all black, was horribly pallid as well, and seemed all sorts of disgusting.
He spoke in whispers to the king, the words brought to them in the echo of the hall. "My Lord, Gandalf the Grey is coming. A herald of woe."
Gandalf moved forwards, chin rising. "The courtesy of your hall is somewhat lessened of late, Theoden-King."
Grima kept his back to the newcomers, whispering to the king, who had yet to react. "He is not welcome."
Finally, Theoden turned his head towards the newcomers. "Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow?"
Grima leaned closer to the king. "A just question, my liege."
Oh, someone kick him already!
Grima finally stood and turned around, his voice raised. "Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear. Lathspell I name you, ill news; and ill news is an ill guest."
Now that Chloe saw him she couldn't help but feel that with his paleness, black robes, and greasy chin-length black hair that Grima Wormtongue was Severus Snape gone horribly wrong.
He was no Alan Rickman, either.
"Silence!" Gandalf shed the appearance of a feeble old man as he stormed closer, slamming his staff down in the ground in his fury. "Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!"
Dear god, why couldn't people talk like this in her world?
Grima's superior assurance melted quickly into horror as his eyes rested on Gandalf's staff. "Your staff..." he turned to the guards. "I told you to take the wizard's staff!"
The men in the darker uniforms rushed the wizard, and yet the Fellowship was quicker. Even weaponless they took down the guards rushing towards Gandalf.
Chloe noticed a soldier in the lighter uniforms reach for his sword but Hama, in similar uniform, stopped him.
Aragorn sidestepped a guard coming at him with a sword and grabbed the back of the man's uniform as he sailed forwards, yanking him back and causing him to fall backwards, hitting his head hard on the floor before the Ranger knocked him unconscious with a kick to the face.
Gandalf walked towards the king, who stared nearly unseeingly upon them all. "Theoden, son of Thengel. Too long have you sat in shadows."
Gimli sideswiped at Grima's feet, sending the man falling on his back, before resting his foot on the man's chest as he smirked down at him. "I would stay still if I were you."
The soldiers in the lighter uniform, headed by Hama, stepped closer, hope in their every feature.
"I will release you from the spell." Gandalf promised the king, holding out his hand towards him.
There was a pause before Theoden laughed loudly, evilly, the sound chilling to the bone. "You have no powers here Gandalf the Grey."
Gandalf's eyes narrowed, shrugging off his cloak, revealing the impossibly pure white of his hair and robes. The room seemed to light up brighter with his countenance. "I shall draw you, Saruman, as poison is drawn from a wound!"
Those clouded eyes widened in horror as the king grasped at his throne, seeming to fight convulsions as horrible sounds escaped his chapped lips.
A beautiful blonde in a flowing dress appeared in the doorway, eyes widening in horror at the sight of the king suffering so horribly on the throne. She rushed in, worry and protectiveness in her every stride as she raced towards him, but Aragorn stopped her, grabbing her arm to halt her progress.
She turned to look at him in confusion before turning back to look at the king.
Theoden spoke through his convulsions, fighting Gandalf's magic, and yet his voice wasn't his own. "IF I GO, THEODEN DIES!"
The female's eyes widened in terror at those words, said eyes filling with tears.
"You did not kill me and you will not kill him!" Gandalf assured the man possessing the king.
"ROHAN IS MINE!" Theoden yelled as he lunged from the throne at Gandalf.
"Be gone!" Gandalf slammed the sculpted head of his staff against the king's forehead, sending him flying back onto his throne.
Theoden groaned, seeming about to topple over onto the floor.
The beautiful woman broke free of Aragorn, who released her gladly, and raced to the king, going to her knees and steadying him on his seat. She gazed into his face, worriedly, hopefully.
Chloe's hand rose to her mouth, eyes widened as the king transformed from frighteningly old and haggard to look like a man in his early fifties and still very much in his prime.
He stared into the woman's face, almost in awe, before finally speaking. "I know your face. Eowyn...Eowyn."
Eowyn gave a half sob, tears filling her eyes as she smiled, nodding as she reached up to cup his cheek.
King Theoden seemed to then notice them, his eyes widening in surprise at the wizard in their midst. "Gandalf?"
Gandalf smiled, leaning on his staff contentedly. "Breathe the free air again, my friend."
"Dark my dreams have been of late." Theoden stood proud and tall.
Gandalf nodded his acknowledgement. "Your fingers would remember their old strength better...if they grasped your sword."
Hama rushed up with the king's sword, obviously overwhelmed and ecstatic to have Theoden back.
Theoden stared at his sword silently for a moment before drawing it out of its sheath, feeling the weight in his hands. A small smile touched his lips before turning to a dark sneer as his gaze rested on Grima. "Throw this cockroach out of my hall!"
"M-my k-king!" Grima pleaded as Gimli removed his foot from his chest so that Theoden's men could grab him, dragging him towards the outside, Theoden and all those in his hall following quickly after with vengeance in their hearts.
Chloe moved to follow when suddenly her side vibrated with pain and she griped it, the tentacles pulsating with life as once again the world became a place of fog and lights. The intense evil darkness she'd sensed before was gone, but while she was relieved for the kingdom she felt a tinge of fear for herself as she tried to find her way out of the fog. This was thrice in half an hour that she'd been drawn into the world of mist against her will, much too often for her peace of mind.
She turned, trying to find her way in the blinding world, managing to not bump into things due by avoiding the darker, vague objects around her. Still, she ran into something, grunting and grabbing hold of whatever it was to keep from toppling to the ground.
Slowly straightening, flinching, Chloe shook off the pain and tried once more, making it two steps ahead of her before bumping into something else.
Griping at the necklace that had once belonged to her mother, Chloe asked for strength, closing her eyes tightly and willing the world to be made right once more by the time she opened them, but when she did it was a tide of fog and light still. Panic tried to take root in her soul but she didn't let it, forced it down and concentrated on breathing. Her head lowered and she griped whatever it was she held tightly.
Suddenly something came down on her shoulder.
Chloe screamed in shock, the panic breaking loose as she twirled around and stared at the vague dark shape in front of her. She griped whatever was behind her tightly, breathing in and out rapidly, trying to make out who was in front of her but unable to determine anything other than the fact that it must be a man for the height.
Relief escaped from her lips in a little cry as she recognized that voice. The blonde reached out with her hand, misjudging the distance between them and ending up knocking her knuckles into his chest, pulling away with a hiss at the pain that jolted in her knuckles as one or two cracked from the force.
His hand caught her wrist, keeping her from yanking it completely back, his form still. "You cannot see me."
"I—I can—." Her voice gave a little croak, horrifying her. "I-I'm fine. I—I just need to—I need—I'm fine." She tried pulling her wrist back but he tightened his grip. "Aragorn...!"
This wasn't like him at all, and that was when the thought hit her that maybe this wasn't Aragorn. Maybe this was something in the fog world passing itself off as the Ranger. And that thought filled her with fear as she fought to have her hand freed.
His grip found her other wrist, wrestling it from the grip on whatever was behind her and pulled her closer to him, causing the blonde to cry out in fear until suddenly he brought her hands to his face.
Chloe froze, not having expected this move, not understanding it for a couple of terrorized silence until she did.
The young woman took in a deep breath, telling herself to calm down, the feel of his skin under hers warm and surprisingly soft. She realized she was trembling, but when his hands fell from her wrists she didn't pull away, instead slowly running her fingers softly over his face. A picture didn't form in her mind as she'd read happened when blind people did this, but instead the arch of his eyebrows was familiar, as was the incline of his nose.
Gulping, Chloe found herself closing her eyes, concentrating as her fingers explored his face, careful not to hurt him as her fingertips trailed down the hollow of his cheeks, the curve of his jaw...the swell of his lips.
Gasping, she pulled her hands away, eyes flying open as she gazed to the right, at the fog dancing on the ground. She could feel the blush rising up her neck and hated it because she knew that she wasn't hidden to him as he was to her. It was so unfair! If one of them needed to disappear from sight at this moment it was her!
A rough, calloused hand cupped her cheek tenderly and shifted her face towards him. "Just say the word, tell me what I can do to ease what ails you, and I will do so without hesitance Lirimaer."
Something hard lodged in her throat, and Chloe lowered her gaze. "We just have to wait it out." Slowly, carefully, she reached out towards him, capturing his hand when he placed it in hers. The blonde brought his hand to her side, resting it above the stabmark from which the tentacles of black, purple, blue and scarlet bled out and throbbed with life. They reached down the curve of her hip to the swell of her breast, and pulsated like ripples.
Aragorn hissed. "The Nazgul poison still lives strong in you."
"It's never lasted this long." She whispered.
His grip on her tightened. "This has occurred prior to today? Why have you not mentioned this to me?"
"There's a couple of things I haven't mentioned to you that I probably should." She mumbled, thinking about the fact that she had yet to reveal their distant relations. "We really need to talk...when you're not a vague shadow surrounded by light and fog."
There was a hesitation, and then: "It can wait. Gandalf should see you. Now that he is Gandalf the White perchance he could do something-."
She fumbled clumsily, blindly, before cupping his cheek much like he was hers. "Lady Galadriel told me that this is now a part of me and won't be able to be healed."
"When did she-?"
"The same night I found out some other things that..." she cleared her throat and removed her hand from his face, letting it fall to her side. "I can't believe I'm saying this when I can't even see you! I—Aragorn—you really need to know that-."
"Strider!" Gimli gasped in scandal.
"Yallume!" Legolas declared, confusing Chloe since she finally recognized an Elvish word and was confused as to why he was saying 'at last!' What was the 'at last' about? The fact that someone had interrupted or that something "inappropriate" was happening?
"This is not what it looks like!" Chloe tried explaining in the direction she could see Legolas in…although he looked unlike he did usually. Like Galadriel, his visage had changed.
"Miss Chloe?" Gimli's voice was grave, gruff, worried.
"That cannot be good." Dinah declared, dressed in civvies and she lay on the bed next to Zatanna, observing the picture of the worry on everyone's faces, and the stark protectivess on Aragorn's, burn onto the page. "The hell is going on? Why is it keeping her in "the other side" mode?"
The Black Canary had made it to the apartment and after making Zatanna explain what'd happened in the first book (she was not reading that huge ass thing!) was now up to date and just as entranced as the magician.
"I feel that this is somehow due to the poison. It could be overpowering her healing ability." Zatanna declared, worried as well. "I must consult my father's book. Maybe he has information that could be of help."
"But these are fictitious creatures!" Dinah blinked as the magician hurried off of the bed.
The magician didn't listen to her, disappearing out of the room.
Dinah opened her mouth to call Zatanna back but the words started burning on the page again, and she was too enthralled to remember why exactly she was calling the brunette again as she began reading out loud so that Zatanna could hear as well. "Gandalf the White wondered if Strider staying Theoden's hand to save Grima's life was wise, if the exiling of that creature was prudent, he would no doubt run to his master. But as he stood by his old friend's side as he visited the grave of the son that he hadn't realized was dead until his mind was freed, the wizard put those thoughts out of his mind and just concentrated on being there for the king.
"Simbelyne." Theoden picked at a flower growing over a tomb. "Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forefathers. Now it shall cover the grave of my son." His voice shook with emotion as he turned to the wizard. "Alas, that these evil days shall be mine. The young perish and the old linger." He closed his eyes in pain as he crushed the flower in his hand. "That I should live to see the last days of my house."
"Gandalf's heart went out to the grieving man. "Theodred's death was not of your making."
"No parent should have to bury their child." The king whispered in heart ache.
"He was strong in life." Gandalf reminded the man. "His spirit will find its way to the hall of your fathers."
"Theoden nodded, accepting this comfort.
"Gandalf opened his mouth when movement on the hill caught his shrewd eye and he turned towards it, seeing a steed appearing, backlit by the sunlight. Upon it two children far too young and fragile to handle the steed properly, sat. One was a little girl and the other a young boy a few years older, the resemblance between the two betraying their shared blood.
"The boy, surely of one of the many outlying villages in Rohan, gazed down at Edoras, an expression of relief and bone-deep exhaustion taking over him before he fell off of the horse in a dead faint.
"Little did the Wizard and King know that the children were the first of a tide of Rohan, broken."