The basic premise of “The New Shadow” goes like this. Roughly 100-200 years after Sauron’s defeat and Aragorn’s coronation as King of Gondor, Aragorn’s son Eldarion (whom viewers glimpsed in Arwen’s vision/premonition from Jackson’s “The Return of the King”) reigns during the period of peace known as the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. But this prosperous moment in history is starting to reveal cracks hidden just beneath the surface, noticeable only to a select few.

As collected, edited, and annotated by Tolkien’s son Christopher in the book “The Peoples of Middle-earth,” the one and only chapter of “The New Shadow” that Tolkien ever wrote follows a deeply philosophical discussion (what else!) between two Gondorians living in the countryside nearby the capital city. One is the aged Borlas (the son of a soldier named Beregond who, in Tolkien’s “The Return of the King,” befriended the lonely Hobbit Pippin in Minas Tirith while Gandalf was busy with war preparations) and the other is a young man named Saelon. Despite the seemingly decisive triumph of good over evil during the now-distant War of the Ring, Borlas is troubled by moody thoughts of encroaching darkness (referred to as a “dark tree”) stirring in the hearts of men.

In response, the mischievous Saelon reveals his generation’s increasingly disaffected nature and subsequently confirms Borlas’ suspicions. Evils that were once taboo no longer hold much power anymore. Saelon recalls how he and his friends would pretend to play as sinister Orcs in childhood, almost spitefully inspired by a stern Borlas once catching him stealing fruit from his orchard and hyperbolically (to Saelon, at least) referring to such behavior as “Orcs’ work.” Having held this grudge for years, Saelon then gleefully admits his knowledge of a mysterious shadowy figure — one whose name alone terrifies Borlas.