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This fan fiction is dedicated to three people: My friend who passed away from bone cancer two years ago, Harry Potter, and John Lennon. All but the second shall rest in peace.

==Prologue==

Hall of Equality, Dalrod

A staff end hit the wooden floor of the Hall of Equality as the ancient Council of Alvar began an urgent meeting. The hall was bare save for the small gilded thrones where each of the wielders of the Flame of Alvar sat, robed in white. All the members of the Council were either Vannar, immortal wielders of magic, or Elves, fair and proud. The end of the hall had a tall, white throne where the Lord of the Council sat. A Vannar who had taken the shape of an elderly Man, his pale hair falling over his shoulders and his beard tucked in a silver girdle. He was clad in a white robe, but when he moved, grey shadows fell around it with his movement. He looked old in age, but the grey eyes of Rumilaran, Lord of the Council, were sharp and young. Rumilaran himself had called the meeting, for arising in the ancient Shadow Forest was a fortress, ancient and built a thousands years ago. It's name was Malagor, and it had once been the realm of Galveginos the Dark Lord and his wretched army. Rumilaran hit his staff, which was a simple silver rod with the shape of a white leaf on the top, once more on the floor of the hall, and the Council fell silent.

"Today," said Rumilaran, "In the year 2542 on Midsummer's Eve, we have joined for a most serious and immediate decision. The Dark Lord Galveginos was defeated and his iron crown of power taken in the Battle of Islawn in the year 1453, nine-hundred ninety-nine years ago to the day, but his power was never forgotten. His iron crown was taken by the one who cut it from his helm, Sulimo, son of the High King Eiarmen of Westerland, realm of Men. His father perished in the war by the Dark Lord's hand, as did my old friend and Lord of the Council long ago, the King Altran of the Sea-elves. But in doing such a deed, the Dark Lord was taken from behind by Sulimo, who cast him to the ground, and sliced the iron crown from his helm.

"After the war, Sulimo gathered what was left of the Men of Westerland and planned to build ships to sail back to his home, but at the camp on northern shores of the River Estor, Rondarians, servants of the fallen Galveginos, attacked the ships and burned them in revenge, seeking out Sulimo to make him pay for the fall of their master. However, Sulimo emerged from the wreckage, the Iron Crown on his head, but when he drew sword to fight the Rondarians, his flesh rotted away and his bones were all that remained. Undead, Sulimo cried in pain, and as he did such, the full moon showed itself from the cloak of clouds, and the High King of Westerland stared at the moonlight before his bones fell away into pieces, and the Iron Crown rolled into the river and was never seen again."

"In the past three decades, we have been trying to forget the horrible memories of those days, but in the light of a possible second glory of Earth, the fortress built by Galveginos to protect his eastern boundaries, Malagor or the Shadow Forest, has litten it's Black Beacon once more."

A shudder went through the hall. Though the beacon had been lit thirty years ago, the memory of the torch, which was only lit to signify war, remained in the minds of the Flame's wielders.

Rumilaran spoke again. "Aye, Malagor was lit thirty years ago, and since the Rondarions have poured from it's gates. With the strength of the Flame of Alvar, we have defended the northern realms against such a menace, but our power will not hold out all that evil sends. But we sit here today, in peace and safety, but we must act soon. Galveginos was defeated and his power taken a milennium ago, but his spirit remained, albeit a bodyless spirit with hardly a manifestation at all. His spirit may have returned to Malagor, or it may be one of his greatest servants, the Blackrobes of old."

Then, one spoke out. The Elf-lord Grodnel, of the city of Brineven. "My Lord, I might add that we are thankful the Iron Crown has not been found by the Dark Lord, for we would have been overtaken long ago. But where is the Iron Crown? Our good Lord Rumilaran has learned much of the devices of the enemy. Surely he may have learned where the Crown is?"

Several others began speaking, then Rumilaran raised his hand. "Yes, I have learned much of what Galveginos had power of, yet I only learned it so we could understand the power of our enemies. The Iron Crown fell into the waters of the Ester River when Sulimo died, and it rolled into the sea, and there, as far as my research has gone, it shall remain until the world ends, if so it does."

These words quenched the worries of many Council members, but Allond, the Master of Brineven, stood up. He was an Elf who fought against Galveginos so long ago, one of the Deep-elves. "These words of yours, Lord Rumilaran, are helpful, but the power of Malagor remains."

"And the enemy's strength grows even as we speak." said the wisest of the Council, Gandor the Vanna, who took the shape of an old man with a beard that was as grey as Rumilaran's was white, along with his brown robe and cloak. He was a traveller. "We need to act soon. I have travelled far and wide, and I know that an old friend of mine, the Dwarf-lord Dorain of the White Mountains, travelled to Malagor with a large army and never returned. That was five years ago. If an army of as stalwart and shrewd warriors as the Dwarves cannot attack Malagor, we should call upon the skills in the Flame of Alvar."

"Yet our ways are to keep peace!" said Millond, twin brother of Allond and Shipwright of Brineven.

"And in some times we must fight!" said Grodnel. "Now is one of those times!"

"I have built ships for centuries as peaceful devices. We might as well take off the fishing nets and put repeating crossbows on them if you want to fight!"

"No offense, Millond, but your ships are not suitable for an assault on Malagor! They'd be destroyed!"

"Would you see my beloved ships burn, Grodnel?"

"No!"

"Then I will not fight!"

Rumilaran raised his staff and yelled, "SILENCE! We shall have silence!" That did the trick, and both Millond and Grodnel sat down."

"Yes, our ways are to keep peace, initially," said Rumilaran. "But indeed, Grodnel, we will have to fight at times when it is the only choice. And judging by what we have learned of the power of Malagor, we do only have one choice. Master Allond, King Oryon of the Wood-elves, Prince Tirion of the High-elves, you all have great armies. Elves will fight for freedom. If we can let it be so, Dwarves will fight for freedom. And if we speak with Westerand, the Men will also fight for freedom. And what is more, the Vanna shall fight at the head of this host, this attack to protect our lands once again from evil, and this final fortress of Galveginos shall fall by our powers!"

King Oryon of the Wood-elves, a rather tall Elf clad in a green robe and wood crown, stood up. "Aye, I agree we will have to fight, but we cannot just charge into the Shadow Forest. Half of our host will be destroyed before we even reach the outer wall of Malagor!"

"And our strategy, Lord Rumilaran?" asked Grodnel.

Rumilaran sat in thought, then sat up on his throne again. "I have decided once and for all: Our strategy to put down the fortress of Malagor at last. But Gandor, my old friend, come with me. Come to the antechamber."

Gandor, slightly puzzled, sat up, took his ash staff with a crystal set in the middle of twisting branches, and followed Rumilaran out of the Hall of Equality to the antechamber near the gate of the great Council castle of Dalrod. Inside, Rumilaran stared intensely at Gandor.

"Now listen, Malenwe," he called Gandor by his Vannari name. "Forces will attack Malagor, but we need to draw away the attention of Galveginos, for I indeed perceive he has returned, if not in a physical shape yet. You said you had a friend, Lord Dorain, who dissappeared. We can presume he was taken prisoner along with those of his army that did not die."

"We cannot presume anything at this stage." said Gandor.

"But," replied Rumilaran, "We can create a distraction for the Dark Lord. You shall go hidden into the prisons of Malagor and look for Dorain, and create a distraction while I take the Council Army of Allied Forces and break down the gate, then storm the fortress."

"It's too dangerous." said Gandor.

"It's the only way. Your power is great, Malenwe, almost as powerful as my own. If I fall, I would make you heir to the Council. You need to take up the challenge, my friend. Defeat Malagor once and for all, and Galveginos will forsake the Black Mountains forever."

Gandor closed his eyes and thought. He thought hard. Then, "I know what I must do, Rumilaran."

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