Story by The Nimrodellian Tale-Spinner
There are many tales in Middle Earth of heroes and heroines and the great deeds that they performed. Tales of love and conflict that are told time and time again around the hearth-fire to eager listeners in order to give them hope in troubled and uncertain times. These stories uplift us, even the bitter parts, and we sit enraptured as the teller of tales takes us once more into those ages long gone and the heroes that defined them.
But there are other tales to be told as well, and when the last burning embers die down and darkness once more encroaches upon the world, we tell these as well. Not willingly, for these are not stories that one wishes to hear and great care is taken to make sure that the children and the faint of heart are fast asleep. No, these stories we tell to give some shape and form to the dark rumours and nameless fears that haunt us so that we might once again take those shapes and push them to the back of our minds where they will not trouble us, but they are not forgotten. Tales of the evil spirits that inhabit the shadow-world, tales of the unsavory underbelly of society and tales of darkest revenge fill every recess of this place that we never speak of except in whispers.
There is a town that sits on the southern spur of the forest of Mirkwood looking out into the desolation of the Brownlands. Because of the hardness of the land and it’s unfortunate proximity to the ancient fortress of Dol Guldur, the people that it bred were as hard and rough hewn as the land that they lived in.
And as the evil that emanated from Dol Guldur increased, it’s dark influence spread to the town, corrupting it’s heart and poisoning the will of it’s people until the town gained almost as evil a reputation as the tower itself. Tales of the most troubling sort began to seep out into the surrounding countryside until all who considered themselves even a little wise steered clear of the now accursed town.
In the year 2941, the White Council, comprised of the greatest, wisest and most powerful of the free-people in Middle-Earth, descended on Dol Guldur and drove the foul Necromancer who lived there from his long occupied seat of power. After the walls had been thrown down and every pit and dungeon unearthed the council turned it’s eyes towards the town that had fallen so far under the influence of the evil sorcerer.
It’s name was Ravenwood, a town on the edge of Wilderness that now lay in ruins. As the smoking remains reached high into the heavens, forms could be seen below, moving through the wreckage, the soot from the fires staining their clothes and armor an unwholesome black.
They did not seem to mind though, the destruction of the town had been their mission and it was now complete, Ravenwood was dead. One of them stops and looks around, surveying the scene before him, his midnight blue cloak fluttering in the wind, his sword Hadhafang hanging by his side, it’s job was finished.
Elrond Half-Elven looked all around at the destruction that he had been party too and shook his head with a sigh. It was a grievance to him that the power that plagued the world, a power that had ultimately escaped them, could take a place like Ravenwood and turn it into something as twisted and corrupt as it was. But that was it’s greatest strength, to take what was good and wholesome in the world and pollute it until it was a mirror of itself and it would not rest until it could stand on the highest mountaintop , look around and see it’s face reflected in every direction.
The White Council had attacked at dawn, coming out of the forest with a fury that surprised the evil spirits and men that inhabited the town and in the space of an hour the town was no more. The evil that had taken root in Ravenwood was strong and deep but the skill of Elrond Half-elven, the lore of Saruman, Gandalf and Radagast and the power of Galadriel was stronger still and with that strength they uprooted every tentacle where that evil had taken hold and cast it down into oblivion.
Elrond watched the Elf-queen now, standing both radiant and terrible by what had once been a large manor-house where the creature that orchestrated the evil in Ravenwood had taken up his abode. The air crackled around her, the power that she had uncloaked causing visible ripples that could be seen by the naked eye.
Even the learned Elrond often forgot that while Galadriel was every bit the graceful, beautiful and wise Queen that she often portrayed, she was also the most powerful and deadly person in Middle-Earth save for only the Dark Lord himself, and when she unleashed that power the results could be shocking. She had personally fought with the spirit of malevolence that ruled Ravenwood in it’s master’s stead and without sword or blade had utterly defeated it and forever banished it from the world.
“It will be long years before this place will be clean of the filth that infests it, but in time all wounds heal”, the wizard known as Gandalf spoke up finally as he dusted off his grey robes.
“Long will it be before that comes to pass”, replied Radagast. “The evil that lived here spread it’s influence far, the very ground is soaked in it’s corruption, can you not feel it?”
Galadriel looked at them now and a fire still danced in her eyes, “Yes, the evil of this place runs deep, deeper than even we first suspected. It is whispered in the air and the very rocks hold record of it. The darkness that oozed from Dol Guldur may have enhanced and given it clarity but the town was here before the Necromancer and it’s evil was here as well.”
“Then let us depart from this place and take council for the future of these lands we hold dear”, Elrond replied. “For there is much work to be done and many more Ravenwoods that will have to be cleansed before we can truly find rest.”
“I for one will stay and do what I can” said Radagast and Elrond nodded. Ravenwood and Dol Guldur were both close by the lands overlooked by the Brown Wizard’s residence at Rhosgobel so were of particular interest to him. But Rivendell called and Elrond was eager to get back and make what preparations he could for the coming doom.
Saruman the head of the council scoffed. “Waste the time if you wish, but one town on the edge of Wilderness is nothing, The power of Dol Guldur has been driven out by our arts and the surrounding lands can be free of it’s dark influence forever. I for one shall return to Isengard and continue my studies into the greater threat that plagues this world.”
Radagast bit back a retort then turned to Gandalf, “And you old friend, will you stay and help me heal what wounds we can?”
“I am sorry good Radagast”, replied the Grey-Pilgrim. “But I have pressing business up north that cannot wait, I have heard troubling news and fear that my presence is needed most urgently. But I promise that I will return when I can and help you in this endeavor.”
The Brown Wizard frowned but nodded his understanding, the rest of the council made their way out of what was left of Ravenwood as Radagast set about the difficult task he had set for himself. Digging through the many layers of rubble, perhaps he could find the source of the town’s corruption, for very few things in the beginning are evil and even the sickest lands have good solid earth if you just go deep enough.
But one would have to dig quite deep before one found anything that was noble or good….in Ravenwood.