Just like the Pied Piper
Led rats through the streets
We dance like marionettes
Swaying to the Symphony ...
Megadeth - Symphony Of Destruction
Maedhros looked up at his cell door was opened, ”The Doomsman wants to see you.” The guard said. Maedhros just put down his pen and held out his arms so the guard could slap on some heavy special made cuffs. He waited patiently for the guard to finish his ankle cuffs too and then followed the guard down the corridor. He could hear soft crying and someone moaning that echoed through the halls, but apart from that, all that was heard here was his chains rattling the guards steps.
The guard opened the iron safety door to the elevator which would take them out of the rows of solitary cells and up to the Doomsman's residence. Maedhros knew that only the bottom floor of this realm was a prison, he had heard rumour that the upstairs was like a fucking hotel or something, where all the elves who met an untimely end, and didn't piss off the Valar would stay. Kingsize beds and all.
The elevator arrived and Maedhros stepped in, waiting for the guard to follow him. The door closed and they started their journey up. The guard suddenly pulled down Maedhros' collar and studied the tattoo on his neck. ”Is that new?”
”Yeah.” Maedhros said, ”Personally i think it lacks a little pink.” He winked at the guard, who just shook his head and stepped back. ”What? Purple would maybe be better?”
”No, no, Black is fine.” The guard sighed. The Elevator chimed announcing they were there, ”Now behave, Mad-Dog.” He grumbled and pushed Maedhros in front of him towards the offices of Mandos. Other elves from the halls were sitting waiting for an audience, or maybe had come to complaint about something, but they all looked up at Maedhros walked through the room, ”Maybe someday we could get some silent shackles?” He mumbled sourly. The guard ignored him and just pushed him forward till they reached the chair put out for him. Maedhros sat down and smiled at the pretty elf that tried her hardest to ignore him on the other side of the room. The first times he had done this he had been nothing short of mortified, thinking the shame from being put on public display like this, knowing he was the object of hate for most those who sat here. Hells he had put a lot of them here. But now he was just so used to this parade that he didn't really care anymore. If nothing he found it kind of amusing, but then again it wasn't like he got out much, he knew that.
The guard pulled Maedhros up on his feet just as he was about to make a very lewd gesture at the blushing elf on the other side. ”Come on.” the guard hissed, pushing Maedhros into Mandos' office and closed the door.
Mandos sat behind a huge desk and just looked outside at the Valinor skyline, while blowing light grey rings of smoke out into the room. ”Hey Maddy, long time no see, what have you been up to?”
Maedhros grinned, and walked over to the huge windows, looking out at Valinor. ”Do you know if my Nana still lives at Formenos?” He asked.
”She does.” Mandos said, ”And i don't think she's sending you a birthday card this year either, kiddo.”
Maedhros laughed soundless, ”I'm not surprised.” He lifted his hands to scratch his short fire-red hair. ”So what did you want to talk about, Sir?”
Mandos offered Maedhros a cigaret, that he took with a grateful smile. ”Yeah, I have work for you.” Mandos said, reaching up, lighting Maedhros' cigaret.
”Oh really?” Maedhros said, clumsily smoking.
”Some decades ago the remaining elves had an argument with the mortals, which ended in a huge war.” Mandos sighed, ”We told them to get the hell out of that rat infested compost heap, and come home to Valinor, but would they listen?” He looked up at Maedhros that was still staring at the outside city. ”Anway, one of their clergy found the grave of an old elven warlord, and unearthed him, they intended to use his knowledge of elven warfare to turn the war in the mortals favour.”
”I sense a 'but'.” Maedhros said softly, inhaling.
”A huge fucking 'but'.” Mandos admitted. ”They messed it up and instead of awakening a warlord of old, they brought a mindless monster back, with the urge to eat the flesh of the living.”
”A fucking cannibal elf? That is crazy shit..” Maedhros laughed, but since Mandos didn't look amused his laughter stifled. ”Okay, okay.. cannibal elf it is. So excuse me for asking, but what the fuck does that have to do with me?” Maedhros leaned in and put out the cigaret in an ashtray on the desk.
Mandos pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed deeply. ”The epedemic spread fast, and there are hundreds of those flesh-eating fucks. There are some survivors around, and while i think it's their own problem for staying when we told them to go. Then the other Valar think that it's our duty to help and bring as many home as we can. And this is where you come into the story.” Mandos stretched and lit himself another cigaret, offering another to Maedhros, who took it and stuck it behind his ear. ”The Grey Havens are going to be reopened for a short while, and guess who is on the first ship there.”
”Let me take a wild guess.” Maedhros shook his head.
”What we want you to do is to rally up any survivors and bring them to the grey havens if they can't go there by themselves. And that is all.” Mandos smiled, pleased with himself.
”Dude. There has to be more to it than that! Whats the catch?” Maedhros snorted.
”What do you mean? Apart from sending you somewhere where 80% of the population will try to devour you, and not in the good way.” Mandos said.
”Because I said you were right for that mission.” Mandos said, looking away from Maedhros.
”Good enough for me,” Maedhros shrugged, he could tell that Mandos was lying, but he didn't care to pursue it, all he saw was freedom, even if it came with some kinks. ”What's in it for me?”
”I will provide you with anything you need for the trip.” Mandos said, putting out his cigaret.
”A good horse and weapons, lots of weapons.” Maedhros actually smiled at that prospect. ”And i get to choose, i don't want to end up with someone assigning me with some girly ass crap.”
”Done.” Mandos agreed.
Maedhros blinked, that was just too easy. ”And the big price when I come back?”
Mandos sighed, ”You see, I wanted to hand you over Formenos, but apparently your dear mother doesn't really agree with me there, and i can't really just evict her, even the Valar has to follow the rules.” When Maedhros just blinked, Mandos continued. ”I can offer you to pardon some of your brothers. Or maybe a nice house by the shore?”
Maedhros' jaw clenched. ”How many of my brothers are we talking about?”
”Why only five?” Maedhros asked.
”Because that is all that I have.” Mandos admitted.
”Would I lie to you?” Mandos argued.
”Did Morgoth wear a funny hat?” Maedhros growled.
”Point taken. But I AM telling you the truth.” Mandos said, getting up from his chair. ”Now, if you do this, I will personally see to it that every single of your family in my care, is pardoned.” He turned to Maedhros, ”Do we have a deal?”
”Even your father.” Mandos sighed, he would agree to whatever within his limits to get Maedhros on that damn ship to Middle earth in the morning.
”Deal.” Maedhros said with a smile.
”There is a catch though.” Mandos finally admitted. ”Lorien wanted to keep a leash on you, so.. Uhm..” Mandos fiddled the hem of his shirt. ”You won't be travelling alone, there will be some treehugging fella waiting for you at the Grey Havens quarantine zone.”
”You have got to be shitting me.” Maedhros groaned.
”Sadly, no I'm not.” Mandos said softly. ”Lorien said that it was of great importance for a successful mission that you were accompanied by someone who is used to Middle Earth.” Mandos shook his head softly so his long black braid swung back and forth. ”I think he just want to make sure you behave.”
”Fuck.” Maedhros whined, reaching for his cigaret behind his ear, accepting Mandos' help to light it.
”Look on the bright side.” Mandos tried, ”Maybe he's your type.”
Maedhros laughed hallow ”Funny, very funny.. Sir.” And walked towards the door to the offices outside. ”When do I leave?” He asked with his back to Mandos.
”At dawn.” Mandos said, ”So kiss your girlfriends goodbye.”
”You are a regular comedian, Sir.” Maedhros sighed, turning his head a little, ”Thanks for the sticks though.”
As the door closed and Maedhros was taken back to his cell through the crowd of elves outside. Mandos picked up his phone, dialled a number and waited for a little while. ”He's in.” He just said and hung up. Feeling like a giant asshole for not telling Maedhros what was really going on, but on the other hand he didn't owe that deviant shit.
Maedhros took a deep breath of air, it was the first he had in so long, he had forgotten when was the last. Two guards escorted him to the ship, and while Maedhros didn't think it would have any effect on him this long time after the whole boat burning fest, Then seeing the swan ship made him uneasy, a little surge in his chest of guilt. He knew it had not been his decision to burn the ships, but he could have argued more, and not just walked away when faced with his fathers madness. He walked over to the majestic ship and touched the wood gingerly, those poor elves he had left there on the beach. Life had been so much easier back then, back before his grandfather had died, he had just been a spoiled princeling, admitted he had had issues, hells their entire family had had issues, but who hasn't?
Maedhros frowned, he knew that voice. Turning around he braced himself for his mother's sharp tongue. ”Mother.” He said with a weak smile, ”How have you been?”
”I'm good darling, thanks for asking.” Nerdanel said, sauteing down the boardwalk. ”Funny, I thought that you'd at least pay me a visit before you whisked off again.” She said with badly hidden offense. Lowering her sunglasses she studied her eldest son, ”You cut your hair.”
”Fancy that.” Maedhros sighed.
”Prison fashion?” She asked.
Maedhros resisted the urge to roll his eyes, ”Yes mother, that is what it is.” He nodded. ”Now. Was there something you wanted?”
”Excuse me!” Nerdanel huffed, ”I wasn't aware I needed any reason to see my son.”
”Suppose not.” Maedhros said softly, leaning in, kissing his mother on her cheeks. ”It's good to see you mother.”
”Likewise darling. Though i do wish you'd cover those crude tattoos with some decent clothes, and darling, do let your hair grow out again. For me?” She ran her fingers through Maedhros' shortened hair. ”And maybe we should get someone to look at that, that problem of yours.” She eyed Maedhros' arm stump.
”Why? Being a cripple makes it so much easier to get pussy.” Maedhros said, knowing his mother would find him vulgar, but really he just wanted her to shut the fuck up and leave him alone. He couldn't deal with her fake attention after millenia of ignoring him.
Nerdanel's mouth became a fine line of disapproval, ”Darling, you never did go for the girls, now did you?” she shot back.
”Fine. Man-pussy then.” Maedhros sighed.
”Maddy darling, honestly!” Nerdanel complained, squirming. ”It doesn't suit you to be so vulgar, son.”
Maedhros could have laughed, maybe he should have laughed, because it was the funniest he had heard in a VERY long time, ”Mother.” He smiled amused. ”I really have to get on this ship, i promised the Valar, and i don't really feel like pissing them off a second time.”
”Alright.” She sing-song, ”Be careful sweetie darling.” She leaned in and kissed him on both his cheeks, and gave him the most awkward hug known in history, before she pulled her sunglasses back in place. ”Come see us when you're back.” She said watching Maedhros as he walked up the plank to the ship.
”Me and my live in friend.” She giggled, ”Did you really think I'd be waiting around for your father for all eternity? You must be mad.”
”Suppose not.” Maedhros smiled and pitied the poor bugger that his mother managed to sink her claws into. ”Bye then.” He said, and just walked down into the hulk of the boat, surprised to find a huge horse there. He had thought he would just get one when he arrived, but apparently Mandos had felt one from Valinor would be better, ”Hey there buddy.” He sighed flopping down on a bed, ”You don't get seasick do you?” He laughed at his own joke. He looked at the little post-it on the wall next to the horse it just read 'His name is Badger'. Maedhros put down the note, thinking that it had to be one of the more idiotic names for a horse, but then again, it's not like he had been more successful naming his own horse as a kid, whom if he remembered correctly had been named Bloodlord, or Bloodlust or something like that.
It would be a lie to say he was sad to see Valinor disappear in the horizon, and for the first time in ages he felt alive again, not just breathing, but truly alive.
A crying infant squalled behind the flap of a tent, and the reek of unwashed bodies assaulted his nose as he pushed through the masses of refugees. Haldir was exhausted, he had only gotten back to the Havens at dawn with the newest batch of survivors and was not in the mood for more of the Valar’s games.
This last group had been a near thing. They were currently being examined by healers to determine that they too were clear of infection and possible bites. He would not be surprised if a couple did have bites, the shambling swarm had moved much faster than any of the others he had come across before. He hadn’t lost anyone, but it had been too close.
The Valar had promised him some help, but he knew enough to be leery. The sense of humor of one of the Valar was not something he would ever hope to understand.
A filthy tent city had sprung up here at the Grey Havens. Once a peaceful place it now rang with cries and babbling voices. An old human woman with a sack of clothing on her back bumped into Haldir as he tried to make his way to the harbor. She looked so tired and defeated that he wondered if it had been worth it to save her.
The borders were heavily guarded to keep out anyone not cleared by the healers, but still there wer thousands and thousands of bodies here. Men, elves, and even a few dwarves all crowded together hoping the sheer numbers alone would keep the rotting demons that had once been their friends and loved ones from tearing them limb from limb.
Morbid thoughts were jarred out his mind when another human ran into him, causing him to stumble into the rickety support of the makeshift bizarre stall. Angry shouts and a few choice words followed him as he continued on his way.
Meet at the docks. His new helper was supposed to be on the next ship. The smell of dead fish and salt water washed over him as he headed toward the wooden pier jutting into the water. A ship had come in less than an hour ago and he hoped whoever the Valar were sending to him, they could pass the physical exam by the healers.
He was not the only one waiting for the ship. Hopefuls crowed around, wishing for supplies, or word of loved ones, or even a chance to leave the crowded shanty town that had sprung up in the epidemic’s wake.
Haldir saw the strangest thing as he got closer. There was a horse on the boat, at the top of the ramp leading to the deck. Not many people rode horses anymore and it surprised him that anyone would bring one here. There was not enough room for people, much less large animals, and forget the food problems it would cause. Surely no one would allow a horse off the boat.
They did. There was someone leading it down the ramp now. A strikingly tall elf with shockingly read hair had his arm wrapped in the reins of the horse trying to coax it onto the marginally more stable ground of the pier.
The horse was not cooperating, it dug in its hooves half way down the ramp and was now being forcefully dragged against its will. It would have been funny if it had been any other time.
The red head angrily tugged at the reins and finally managed to get the reluctant beast to the pier. Haldir could not see that he was heavily tattooed, as if his appearance wasn’t odd enough. People instinctively shied back from the now sweating and pissed off elf as he dropped the rein and rubbed at his temples with his left hand. He was quite clearly missing his right hand.
“Oh shit!” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. Exceedingly tall red-haired elf missing his right hand. Sure as shit, the Valar had sent him a Feanorian. “Is this their idea of a sick joke,” Haldir snapped as he approached the red-haired ellon. “They send a son of Feanor to stop the zombie son of Feanor?”
An explosion of expletives stopped the blond elf in his tracks. Maedhros was almost incoherent with shock. ”The fuck!” He managed to spit out. ”What the fuck did you just say?” The intact left hand shot out and buried itself in fine blond hair and yanked the now startled Haldir to him.
”Did you just say that one of my brothers is a mother fucking ZOMBIE?” Spittle showered Haldir’s face. ”You better take that back, you tree hugging cocksucker!”
Haldir struggled impotently to get himself free, but Maedhros was not going to let go. ”They didn’t tell you?” One of these days, he was going to find a way to slap the shit out of the Valar. ”Maglor was THE start of all this! He was the first undead. Hell, you would say they are all his children!!”
Maedhros abruptly let go and sent the slighter elf reeling.
”I think you have a little explaining to do, blondie,” and stalked off toward the nearest tent displaying a beer sign. The recalcitrant horse nickered and snorted. Haldir noticed a piece of paper tucked under the bridle. ”His name is Badger” ”I just bet it is,” Haldir mumbled ill humored as he turned to follow his violent protegé into the make shift bar.