A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter 45 - Aragorn Takes His Leave


CHAPTER XLV ~ ARAGORN TAKES HIS LEAVE

Legolas had felt the passing of time as never before in those years he spent in Ithilien after
returning from Eryn Lasgalen, now so many years ago: seeing young mortals wither into old age,
children grow into adulthood, and life beginning anew in the glow of new babes eyes.
After the deaths of their wives, Merry and Pippin had come to Minas Tirith and spent their
remaining years until, finally, their passing: Merry in the year 1489, and Pippin in 1493. Gimli
sighed and grew sad each time he thought of them.

"Remember how Merry slew that winged beast carrying that Nazgûl?" he would say fondly, and
then wipe away a tear. "And Pippin, how he used to laugh? Ah, how I miss them!"
Gimli, Legolas noticed, had aged also. His beard was now snow-white, holding no colour as it
once had, and he walked more slowly, complaining of sore muscles and joints. Legolas aided him as best as Gimli's pride would allow. "Now I'll have none of that, Master Elf!" Gimli bellowed as Legolas attempted to carry him up a very steep flight of stairs. "I am no maid for you to be carrying, I'll thank ye! My legs have carried me well these years, and shall do until I drop down dead!"

Aragorn, too, had been unable to hide from time. His beard and hair were steel-grey, and his face bore all the wrinkles of a man who had lived a happy life.

In March of 1541, however, King Aragorn's health deteriorated, and all of his closest family and
friends were summed close to him. He had asked to see each one individually, and Gimli had
gone first. He had entered the dimly lit room strong and brave, and exited it crying like an old
woman. "He asked for thee next," Gimli sobbed to Legolas, who rose and entered the room.

The curtains were drawn, and there was little light, save from one flickering candle at Aragorn's
bedside. A stool had been placed in-front of it which Legolas sat upon, and placed a gentle hand on his dying friend's arm. "Aragorn, you called for me?"

"Aye," Aragorn replied, his breath slow and hoarse, his head too heavy to lift off his pillow. "My
life is ending, dear friend. My time has passed. It is Eldarion's time now."

"Nay, Aragorn, you must stay. Think of Arwen! Do you not wish to stay with her?"

"I do think of Arwen," he said, sadly. "I know not if there is hope for us in the hereafter. One
knows not what lies beyond this life. Nay, it is time, and I have called you here to say farewell.

You have been such a good friend to me. I am not blind to what it has cost you to stay."

"Mithryn said, long ago, that I would not regret the time that I would spend here, and I have not,

Aragorn. You have been a true friend to me as well. It has been a joy sharing these years with
you and Gimli."

"It has, but that time is at an end, I fear. When I am dead, consider your promise fulfilled. You
have done much for my people and I thank you from one king to another." Aragorn grasped
Legolas with what seemed to be the last strength in his hand and said, "No more waiting, Legolas! Go to her! She and you have both been patient long enough." His hand fell back onto the bed, and he said, "I have not much time left. Could you please send in my daughters to me?"

"Aye, certainly, old friend," Legolas said, rising quickly to fulfill the dying King's last request of
him.

The elf stepped out onto the balcony and into the cool air of a dwindling fall. Down below,
thousands of people waited, faces fixed on the terrace above; and with burning candles held fast in their hands, they waited anxiously for word of their king.

Gimli stepped out, his eyes red with lack of sleep and worry. "What did he say to you?"

"He told me to sail to Mithryn after he has passed," Legolas replied, looking up into the starry sky above, "and I mean to take his advice."

"You are going to leave too, then?" Gimli asked, his eyes saddening even more.

"Mithryn has waited long for me, and Culúril as well. Long have I wondered what he looks like.

Has he red hair still? Has he my skill with a bow? What sort of elf has he grown into? These are
things I have long wondered, Gimli. I am anxious to discover the answers. It is now time."

Gimli hung his head, saddened. Legolas stared at him. He had not meant to cause his dear friend
so much grief. "Will you not go with me, Gimli? It is a long journey, and one not to be travelled
alone."

"Nay, I thank ye. Valinor is a place not meant for dwarves, and you could not coax me back onto one of those death-contraption boats again for all the gold in Moria!" They laughed half laughs considering the circumstances, but then Gimli added tentatively, "You will not be leaving in a hurry, I hope?"

Legolas had no opportunity to answer, however, as suddenly Eldarion stepped out onto the
terrace, the winged crown of kings upon his head, his eyes filled with tears. He carried a large
lantern in his hand, and standing at the balcony, he held it up high for all those below to see. The
people waited with pain in their hearts, as did Legolas and Gimli, and then Eldarion, upon
extinguishing the flame, announced, sadly, the death of his father. The crowd below let out a
gasp, and cries of lament filled the air and travelled far, heralding their grief and loss. Gimli, without shame, grabbed hold of Legolas and wept openly. Only two remain, Legolas thought, as he, too, mourned openly the loss of a dear friend. Two of nine. How very sad.

***

The funeral of King Elessar, The Great, was unlike anything ever before seen in Gondor, with
masses of people from near and far, showers of flowers, and a kingdom weeping at the loss of
their beloved king. The following week brought the coronation of King Eldarion, and the
people's spirits were renewed slightly, as King Elessar lived on in the eyes of his son. All knew he would be a fair and just King like his father.

Eldarion had specifically sought out Legolas after his coronation and, at long last, found him at
water's edge humming a melancholy tune to himself. As the man strode near, it struck Legolas
how Eldarion had grown through the years. He looked so much like Aragorn but had the eyes of
his mother. What a man he had become, and he wondered if Culúril, being but a few years older
than Eldarion, was at all alike.

"Legolas, at last. You are a difficult elf to find."

"I am sorry, King Eldarion," Legolas said, rising. "I had not known I was sought."

"Pray, do not address me as King. You are like an uncle to me."

Legolas smiled, "As you wish."

"The reason for my seeking you out is that before my father's death, he told me of your situation.
He had few words left at that time and Mother filled in the rest to me later. I would like very
much to aid you if I can."

"Aid me? How?"

"By building you a ship that will carry you across the sea to your wife and son."

"I know not what to say," Legolas said, deeply touched.

"If you wish it, I shall have it built, and can also arrange for you to learn how to sail such a ship."

"Aye, I wish it! Thank you gladly, Eldarion," Legolas said.

"No thanks are needed, Legolas. In truth, I shall be sorry to say farewell to you, as will Mother.

I know what this means for her, your sailing. She will be the last remaining elf in all of Middle
Earth. She talks of returning to Lórien now that Father is gone, but I greatly wish she would stay.

Will you speak to her for me?"

"Aye," Legolas said. "Of course."

The Lady Arwen, unlike Legolas, was not difficult to be found. Night and day she stayed beside
her husband's grave, unwilling to be separated from him even though she knew his soul had
passed on.

All had unfolded just as her father predicted. Her last moments with her father were difficult, and
even though many years had now passed, she recalled his prescient words with a great pain. She had asked him of her future, and he unwillingly told her. He spoke of a happy time, though short in the eyes of an elf. After Aragorn's death, there could be no more happiness, for her heart would break and become an empty chasm that could never be filled. He spoke of a mourning pain and of a solace sought in Lórien, only to discover no comfort there. Arwen wept.

"Arwen," Legolas said as he stepped near," I am sorry to interrupt you in your sorrow, but it is
not good to be alone at this time. Why are not your daughters with you or a handmaiden?"

"I sent them all away," she said, woefully. "I wished to be alone with my husband."

Legolas stared at her, and he was overcome with pity. A piteous thing, a person who could not
be consoled, Legolas thought, but in Arwen, he saw himself as he once was. He recalled how he
had wished for Arwen's fate, to become mortal, and now, seeing her grief, was glad that Mithryn had been the wiser. Perhaps his time to mourn was still to come if Mithryn was dead in Valinor, but that was something he could not think of. She was alive. She had to be alive! The very thought inflamed his desire to sail to her. Why, if he had a boat at that moment, there would have been no consideration. He would have sailed away in a heartbeat.

"My son has told me of his plans to have a ship made for you," Arwen said, smiling sadly. "I am
happy for you, Legolas. I know how difficult it has been for you being away from your wife and
son."

"Eldarion has also told me of your desire to return to Lórien. Why do you wish to go there?"

"It was the birthplace of my mother, and I have many happy memories there."

"None are left there; you will be quite alone. Would you not rather stay with your children and
allow them to comfort you?"

Arwen turned to Legolas, the black shroud over her head falling to her shoulders. Her eyes
welled and burst. How beautiful she is, Legolas thought. Though turning mortal, she had not
aged a day. No mark of age blemished her face, but in her eyes she kept the secret of her long
life.

"You cannot understand, Legolas. There is no comfort to be had. Not in the starry sky, nor the
embrace from my children. My heart calls me to Lothlórien, though I know it empty, and barren. I know no consolation shall be found there, but that is where I must go until the last of my years
have been spent."

Legolas knew not what to do. He simply embraced her, and said, "You know what is best.
Would you like me to deliver any messages for you? Perhaps to your father?"

Arwen had not sent any messages to him in the past, but this was her last and final chance. She
could not say no.

The following day, Arwen left with no goodbyes said. Her children were grieved, for to them
they had now lost both parents. A short note had been left on her bureau for Legolas, instructing
him to kindly diliver a letter to Elrond for her. It was unsealed. He knew he should not, but
temptation gave way, and he carefully opened the crisp page.

Dearest Father,

All is as you have predicted, and Estel is now gone. I am sorry that our farewell had
caused you grief, and that my decision had hurt you, but even now, I have no regrets save that I shall never see you again, dearest father. Know that you have three grandchildren, and that they honour and respect you. Your lineage lives on in Gondor, and shall do so forever.
Again, dear father, I am sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to one day forgive me.

Arwen

End of Chapter Forty-five

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