A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter 34 ~ King Elessar
When the destruction of the One Ring occurred, there were but three in all Middle Earth who, not having witnessed it, perceived its destruction: Elrond, Galadriel, and Mithryn. With the fall of the Dark Lord, Galadriel saw an opportunity that had never before shown itself. Dol Guildor, the evil
fortress in which Sauron himself had once resided, now proved vulnerable. Lórien, itself, had been besieged twice, its borders ravaged and scarred by Sauron's merciless forces. Galadriel had come down from her beloved realm, wrathful and merciless on the now failing Dol Guildor.
She and Celeborn came with hosts of Elven archers clad in shining armour and mail, but these were not needed. Upon seeing the tower, black and mighty, the Lady Galadriel unleashed the last remaining strength of her powerful, fading ring, Nenya, releasing a ferocious energy so potent, none of the stronghold's inhabitants could run or hide from its inescapable force. Everywhere one looked orcs could be seen twisted grotesquely by the Ring's unyielding power, and orcs, mad with fear, plunging to their deaths while attempting to evade Nenya's searching grasp.
Nenya's power did not cease with the last death of the Orcs. The earth began to quake sending Dol Guildor's immense slabs of stone cascading down upon the earth, and the ground split wide, swallowing the falling tower piece by piece. Naught was left but a few giant stone bricks crudely protruding from the surface. The land became peaceful once again and all was still. What was once dark and evil, now appeared light and free as though a terrible veil had been wrested from the forest. The air cleared and had not the thick, foul odour as before. Mirkwood had been cleansed.
Needless to say, Galadriel's strength suffered from the day's events, and the Elven soldiers quickly made camp. Galadriel lay on silken blankets as Celeborn entered their grand tent,
kneeling beside her. "I have sent word to Thranduil, my Love. I must go to him and speak of what we know."
Galadriel stretched a weary hand to her beloved's pale face, cupping it gently. "Be wary what you speak," she replied, wisely. Celeborn nodded and kissed his love on her smooth forehead, leaving her in the caring hands of their chief healer. His magnificent Elven mare had been prepared, and he rode triumphantly with an escort of archers to the meeting place.
* * *
The ground had shaken in Dol Guildor and it travelled onwards to Mirkwood. Thranduil had been sitting in his study at the time, and watched spellbound as his wine flute hopped along the table before it finally sailed to the floor and shattered. Taking this as a sign of imminent danger,
every elf swiftly set to work, making certain all in the kingdom were safe. Mithryn had been Thranduil's first concern, but she was not unhinged with the shaking of the earth, merely startled.
Thranduil was unsure what to think. Could this be a new weapon of Sauron that caused the ground to tremble? Were his armies to be upon them at any moment? Or, perhaps it was an omen sent by Eärendil to warn them of something. Nevertheless, Thranduil was uneasy and posted double guards at his borders. But lo! Naught but a single pony came forth bearing an Elven rider from the south! If that was not odd enough, he wore a doublet not seen in Mirkwood
for many long centuries. It bore the symbol of Lothlórien!
Haldof and Tarnil jumped from the tree and the strange elf dismounted. "I was wondering when you were going to come down," he said.
Haldof and Tarnil exchanged glances, and though an elf, they both maintained a vigilant eye on this stranger. "You come from a long distance, friend," Tarnil said, choosing to ignore the rude remark.
"And farther still do I need to journey. My Lord commands that I deliver this," he said, clutching a roll of parchment, "to your Lord. Pray lead the way."
Haldof could do little but glower at this elf's mpudence. "That shall be for us to decide, friend, not you."
"Pray tell him Celeborn, Lord of Lothlórien, has sent me, Haldir, with a most urgent and humble request," Haldir said pleasantly.
Glaring, Haldof replied, "Follow me."
* * *
Thranduil sat with Mithryn in his study. His eyes perused a sheet of parchment and Mithryn waited apprehensively for his verdict.
"Your speech is coming along nicely," Thranduil began, raising his eyes. "Your pronunciation is improving, but where you really require study is in your writing."
"I know," Mithryn agreed, humbly. "My elvish letters are sadly lacking the delicate scrolling of your people."
"Elves have centuries to master the fine craft of our script. I hope you will not let it affect your desire to learn. Legolas would be so proud of all you have learnt already."
Mithryn smiled and cast her eyes down in an attempt to hide her blushing face. A knock sounded at the door, and Haldof entered. "A messenger has come, Father, from Lothlórien. He awaits admittance."
"From Lothlórien?" Thranduil repeated, obviously puzzled. "How odd. Did he give his reason for coming?"
Haldof shook his head, "Merely to deliver a letter, but he seemed secretive."
"Pray send him in," said Thranduil.
Haldof left, and Mithryn said, "My Lord, perhaps I should leave you to your business?"
"Nonsense, Mithryn. If you and Legolas are to rule one day, it is best that you see how it is done."
Mithryn nodded, and watched with inquisitiveness as Haldof returned followed by a tall, handsome elf. His long blonde hair was the colour of sunshine, but his face seemed wary of his surroundings. "Your Majesty," the stranger said, bowing, "my name is Haldir. I am sent here by Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel to deliver this to you," he said, holding out his charge.
As Thranduil read the letter, Haldir's eyes turned toward a striking lady seated beside the hearth. Their eyes met for a moment before Thranduil interrupted the silence by rising and exclaiming, "I shall go at once! Haldof, send a servant for my horse!"
Haldof, though confused, obeyed his father's command and, stepping out, delivered the order. He returned quickly in hopes of discovering the contents of the mysterious letter.
"Shall you ride with me or return south?" Thranduil asked Haldir.
"Nay, your Majesty. My Lord bade me guide you," Haldir said.
"Very well. We shall depart within ten minutes," Thranduil said, exiting.
All bowed as he departed, and Haldof turned to Haldir, more bewildered than ever.
Haldir smiled roguishly at him and said, "Haldof is it?"
"Aye," Haldof confirmed, distrustfully.
"King Thranduil is your father, is he not?" Haldir inquired.
"He is," Haldof replied, uncertain of this stranger's questions.
"I thought as much. I had the pleasure of meeting your brother when he and his company rested in Lórien for a time," Haldir mentioned as casually as he could.
Mithryn gasped. "You met Legolas?"
"Aye, Lady," Haldir said, turning. "Pray excuse me. In all the commotion, we were not introduced," he said, charmingly taking her hand.
"She is the Lady Mithryn," Haldof replied, stepping closer to Mithryn as though he were a guard.
"I see," Haldir said, smiling, though not relinquishing her tiny hand. "Is she your wife, Haldof?"
"No!" Mithryn and Haldof exclaimed at once, both equally surprised. "She is Legolas' wife," Haldof quickly corrected.
"Oh, pray excuse me," Haldir said, silkily. "I cannot think how I could have made such an error. Legolas described you precisely."
Haldof's eyes narrowed, and Mithryn rose from her seat. "Pray, how did Legolas look when you saw him last?"
Haldir's eyes were at once opened. He glanced at the full belly of Mithryn, obviously with child, and his lighthearted impishness vanished. Not wishing to trifle with her any longer, he released her hand. "It has been many months, Lady, since I saw him, but he appeared well. I see he has
been dearly missed. I am certain he will return soon."
"Hmph," was Haldof's only reply as he folded his arms and appeared as though he had a unpleasant taste in his mouth.
* * *
Thranduil mounted his horse, preparing to leave, as Haldof rushed up to his father in dismay. Haldir sat on his mare nearby, an amused smile upon his face.
"Father," Haldof beseeched, "pray, you cannot go without guards! The forest is too dangerous beyond our borders!"
Thranduil turned to Haldir who said, "My Lord wishes to assure you that it is safe, your Majesty."
"Do not listen to him, Father!" Haldof said angrily. "He knows not of Mirkwood! He has not had to deal with Dol Guildor time and time again!"
Thranduil nodded. "Your bow and quiver, Haldof," he said, pointing to the weapons swung across his shoulder.
Even as Haldof handed them to him, Haldir said, "Take them if you will, King Thranduil, but they are not needed."
Nevertheless, Thranduil agreed with his son, and swung the quiver over his shoulder, just as his son had worn it. "You are in command in my absence, Haldof," he said before turning and riding off through the thicket of trees.
Galamed walked up to his brother, and they both stared at their disappearing father. "Where does Father ride with that Lothlórien elf?" Galamed asked.
"I know not, nor do I like it." Haldof turned, staring at Galamed. "You must follow him!"
Galamed quickly shook his head. "Nay, Haldof. Father does not like being crossed."
"It is for his own safety," Haldof insisted. "We know naught of this Haldir! Father takes with him no guards! No protection! I merely wish to know that he is safe."
"Then why can you not go, pray?"
"You heard father! He asked me to command over our realm until his return. I could not abandon my duty!"
"You have not let that stop you before," Galamed pointed out. Haldof grimaced, and Galamed relented. "Oh, very well!" he said, turning toward the newly built stables.
"Now, do not be so foolish as to let yourself be seen," Haldof instructed.
"Thank you for your counsel, Haldof, but I am not such a bungler as that!"
Thranduil and Haldir had been riding for quite some time, and as they crossed the Mirkwood Mountains, the sun began to dip in the sky and turn the auspicious clouds into a vibrant purple. Haldir glanced back once or twice along the journey and as they reached the foot of the mountain said, "Your Majesty, I do believe someone is following us."
"Aye, fear not. It is just my son, Galamed," Thranduil replied nonchalantly. "Not long after we first set off did I notice him. He tries so hard to be subtle, I have not the heart to send him away. I suspect my son, Haldof, sent him to watch over me."
"More likely to watch over me, King Thranduil. Haldof did not appear to hold me in high esteem."
"That is just his way. Pay him no mind," Thranduil said lightly, and they rode onward through dusk, then nightfall, and until the stars and moon rose high in the sky. Haldir led Thranduil to a clearing where Celeborn waited by a table elegantly set with a feast fit for two kings. Thranduil
dismounted, and Haldir backed away, giving the two lords their space.
"Celeborn," Thranduil said, grasping his friend's arm, "it has been too long."
"Aye," Celeborn agreed, "too long, indeed, for friends of old. Come! Will you not sit? Much do we have to speak."
The war had ended, and Aragorn returned to Minas Tirith as King Elessar, ruler of the West. The city exploded with celebration, the dark times had passed, and the long awaited king brought light and merriment to their woeful lives.
Legolas thought more and more of home, but knew that the time with his friends was drawing to a close. He would have many happy centuries with Mithryn, and only a few weeks, perhaps, with the Grey Company all together. He would wait. Aragorn perceived his friend's heart, and joined him on the topmost lookout one night after a mighty feast.
"The stars shine with brilliance tonight," Aragorn said, gazing upward.
"They shine for your coronation," Legolas said softly, "and for Mithryn," he thought.
"Legolas, you have not been yourself tonight. Tell me what troubles you and be at peace."
"My mind travels to my home. I feel called to it, and my heart is troubled. I long to stay, for I do not think we shall all be together again."
"There is truth in what you say, but remember that the future is still unknown. I would ask that you wait for a while, if it does not go against your will."
"Why do you wish me to stay, if I might ask?"
"Your friendship is dear to me, and I, too, feel that the Fellowship will never be together again after these last days. It saddens me so. And there is another reason, more close to my heart that I ask you to stay."
"What is it?" Legolas inquired.
"We have done what we set out to do. Sauron is defeated, peace is restored, and my throne is reclaimed.. I am expecting a host from Rivendell any day now."
"A host from Rivendell? Why?"
"Unlike you, my love has been denied since my first sight of Arwen. One wish have we shared, and that was for our marriage."
Legolas nodded, understandingly, "Arwen has told me of your plight. Do you believe her to be coming, then?"
Aragorn stared as far as his eyes could see into the west, but no sight did he see of the Elves of Rivendell. "They are coming; I'm certain of it. Our heart's desire will be fulfilled at long last."
Legolas did not speak it, but sadly thought, "Nay, not your heart's desire, my friend. `T'would be your heart's desire to spend every moment of eternity in blissful love with the one who holds your heart. But, nay. That cannot be. Alas, that it cannot be."
* * *
For weeks Legolas waited, his gaze transfixed westward, anxious for news of his home, anxious to see old friends, and anxious for his dear friend's heart. At long last, off to the horizon was the unmistakable flag of Elrond! Rising excitedly, he nudged Gimli with his foot who was snoozing in
the evening sun. "Gimli, awake! They are coming!"
Gimli awoke with a jerk, and squinting, followed the elf's hand which pointed far off into the distance. "I see naught!" Gimli declared. "And you have disturbed my sleep!"
"Nevertheless, they come. I must tell Aragorn," Legolas said before rushing off to find the king.
Legolas caught Aragorn upon the stairs and excitedly told him the glad tidings. Strangely, Legolas thought, Aragorn did not appear amazed. "How is it you already know?" Legolas asked.
"I have just seen my messengers, and they have told me the news. I am surprised! For once, men better elves!"Aragorn said with a twinkle in his eye.
"Pray," Legolas beseeched, "do not tell the dwarf. I would never hear the end of it."
"I shall not breathe a word!"
* * *
At last, on the Eve of Midsummer, the party had arrived. All in the kingdom struggled for a glance of so rich and wondrous fair a gathering that had not been seen in Minas Tirith in an age. Legolas stood by his friends, Gimli on one side, Gandalf and the Hobbits on the other.
Arwen approached Legolas and embraced him. Pippin stared up at her with wide, unblinking eyes.
"Mae govannen, Legolas," Arwen said, smiling as her radiance emanated from within her.
"Mae govannen, Arwen," Legolas replied. "How happy I am to see you again, especially here. How do I express my happiness for you and Aragorn?"
Arwen smiled, her heart blushing with warmth and love. "You already have, my dear friend." She turned, and spoke some tender words to Gandalf. Celeborn approached Legolas. "Young Legolas," he began, "you will be pleased to know that your father awaits your swift return."
"You have seen my father?" Legolas asked, astonished.
"Nigh on three months ago. You will find your home much altered," Celeborn said, vaguely.
"How so?" Legolas said, suddenly frightened.
"You shall see upon your return," Celeborn said as he walked away.
Legolas tried repeatedly to gain more information from Celeborn, but without success, and even his old friend Arwen appeared elusive. Legolas and Gimli stepped away from the party as a very jolly Merry and Pippin were singing quaint Hobbit songs much to their listeners' delight.
Stepping out into the night, Legolas told Gimli of his fears, and Gimli dismissed his worries by saying casually, "Think naught of it, Legolas. You elves delight in engaging in cryptic games with one another. Mark my words, they are merely having a little jest on your behalf."
"I do not think so," Legolas said, his mind turning and turning in confused thought.
"Do not heed them!" Gimli assured. "All will be right as rain when you return. Furthermore, if you were to leave for home this very night, you would not be there so much earlier if you were to wait for me! Naturally, I will follow you if you ask it of me, but I would regret missing such a party as Aragorn's wedding can afford."
Legolas smiled down at his friend. Such a wise and dear friend did he have in Gimli. Legolas felt he could not have wished for a better. Who would have thought that an elf and a dwarf would become such devoted friends. "Very well, Gimli. You put me at ease. I shall wait."
"Very good!" Gimli said, clapping his hands together. "You shall not regret it! Our departure is in the near future, and we shall not tarry long in Fangorn Forest, I assure you!" Together they turned, and rejoined the party.
End of Chapter Thirty-four