A Tale of the Fourth Age - Chapter Eleven
"Do you want these flowers here, my lady?"
Morgiel looked up from her reverie to see Calendal standing on her tip-toes, holding a garland up to a pillar that was a part of an ornately carved archway not far from the entrance to Thranduil's caverns. She stood up and went over to help her friend.
"That would be lovely, Calendal. I think these flowers are the perfect decoration for this archway," she wrapped the garland around the pillar, fastened it in place, and stood back to observe her design. "Yes, this will be perfect."
It was three days until the wedding of Prince Legolas Greenleaf and the Lady Morgiel Carnimírië. The whole of the king's halls were busy with the preparations, for nothing this grand had happened since the birth of the prince himself. This was to be a celebration like none had seen in Eryn Lasgalen, and most all of Middle-earth had been invited. This meant that hobbits would be coming back to Lasgalen after almost seventy-five years earlier when Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain (Gimli's father included) were taken there by Thranduil's elves. No other elves would be coming from the western parts of Middle-earth, for there were none left. They had all passed over the Great Sea, and the King of Lasgalen was preparing to do the same after his son was wed. Many of his court would go with him, and Morgiel was thinking of the silence that would fill the Caverns when they were gone. She half wished she and Legolas were going as well, but then she thought of all that had happened to her in the past year, and she did not mind waiting a few more years. She laughed out loud, and Calendal looked up at her quizzically from where she was threading flowers together to make the red and silver garlands. The flowers were the rare isilótë of the earlier days in Beleriand. They grew in one of the underground gardens that Thranduil had specially made for his wife long ago. It was still well-tended, but there was a sense of sad forgetfulness about the place; Morgiel knew this, for she had visited it many times in the month that she and Legolas had been in Lasgalen.
It was now almost spring-time again, and the day she had set out from the Chetwood one year ago had passed, yet was not forgotten. Morgiel had felt the weight of everything that had happened come upon her in one day, and she spent the whole of it in that garden. She felt as if the Shadow had fallen over her again, and she would not even let Legolas be with her. The next day, everything was fine. Legolas was very glad to have Morgiel back to herself, and so was she.
Now it was very close to the day that the two of them had been longing for many months now, and Morgiel was ready. She had never been more ready for anything in her life, and she could feel the excitement mounting about her whole being every time someone mentioned something having to do with the day. The wedding date itself was March 5th, the day that she left the Chetwood. It was symbolic of her freedom, and she wanted to share that with the one she loved above all else.
As she thought of this her love came into view across the courtyard. He was with Gimli and Arkáno, and they were apparently discussing something having to do with the wedding, for Legolas was evidently excited yet trying to hold it in and appeared the dignified Crown Prince he was. It was not working. Morgiel laughed again and Legolas saw her. She stood to her feet as Legolas came to her. He took her into his arms and swung her round. He set her down again and they looked at Calendal's handiwork.
"This looks beautiful, Calendal," Legolas said. He took her hand and kissed it gently. "Thank you for being such a good friend to us. It is an honour to have you as a part of our wedding."
Calendal bowed and blushed deeply amidst her bright smile. "Thank you, my lord. I am honoured to be called your friend."
Gimli called to Legolas and he left the women. They hugged and shared a knowing smile and went back to their decorations. The Prince and his two friends went to find Thranduil, for Legolas had some important matters to discuss with him about the land of Lasgalen and the lands about it. He wanted to hear from his father how ruling the last Elven realm would be like, but really he wished for his father's final approval, for he was not even sure of himself. He knew this was not like him, but the feeling was there just the same.
When Legolas and his friends entered the Council Room, his father rose to greet them. He embraced Legolas warmly, and treated Gimli with the utmost respect.
"As it should be," Gimli noted a bit gruffly under his breath, but there was no hostility in his manner.
They all sat down and immediately began to pore over maps of Lasgalen and the surrounding areas. Arkáno gave his report and plan for the Guard of Lasgalen, and Thranduil approved. The king also discussed the cultures of the surrounding lands with Legolas, though he was well-accustomed with them already, and he discussed the treaties and alliances Lasgalen had with these lands. After what seemed like hours to Legolas, Thranduil stood up and turned toward his son.
"As you know," he said, "You will be the lord and king of all Eryn Lasgalen; not just this northern part where we elves dwell. You will be expected to visit the people and the land to make sure it is safe and everything is in order; you do not have to do this until after the wedding and coronation, as it may take you about a month to complete this task. You have already examined the maps of Lasgalen and the surrounding lands, and I am confident that you will rule this land well and maintain the alliances we already claim..." Thranduil paused and laid a hand on his son's shoulder. "My son, I know that you will be the greatest king we have had in Lasgalen. Do not doubt yourself, Legolas. You have great ability and you have many friends that love you and would come to your aid quickly if you needed it. And the Lady Morgiel is strong; she will be your greatest councillor, I think. It is always wise to listen to your Queen."
At this, Legolas smiled. He knew that everything his father said was true, and he felt that he would have the strength to endure the time he had left on Middle-earth and use it to rule his people with love and grace. The years would seem like days, for his beloved would stand with him to the very end, and her love alone, if anything, would be what gave him the strength to endure the days.
Now Thranduil dismissed his son and the others, for there were still many preparations to be made for the wedding, which was in two days. Many of the guests had arrived during the meeting with the King, and Legolas had many people to greet. Gimli would go with him, and Arkáno was to go take stock of the Royal Guard and the elven soldiers, as he was now Captain of the Guard of Eryn Lasgalen. Legolas and Gimli now went in search of Morgiel so she could greet the guests with them and let them know what more needed to be done in order to have a smooth wedding day and ceremony.
They found Morgiel and Calendal finishing the wedding arch and the surrounding decorations. The wedding was to take place under the stars in a large grassy clearing in the wood. The whole area was decorated with flowers, the beautiful isilótë being the main flower. The wedding arch had a garland of these flowers intertwined with mithril threads, rubies, and emeralds. Marking off the area were twelve marble pillars; six on each side; also with the garlands wound about them. There was also a silver carpet that was laid up the middle of the area, and it was intricately woven into a beautiful pattern of mithril and ruby and emerald threads along the sides. Isilótë flowers would be strewn along the path on the day of the wedding as a part of the ceremony, and it was to be done by an elf-child; one of many that Morgiel became fast friends with during the months past. Gimli was to walk her down the aisle, and he was most delighted with this. Calendal would go before Morgiel and Gimli with a bouquet of flowers, and two more ladies-in-waiting would carry the train of Morgiel's gown. Thranduil and Aragorn were to preside over the wedding ceremony and the coronation as well. The next day, Thranduil and three of his courtiers would prepare to take the journey across Middle-earth and to the Grey Havens to pass over the Sea. Everyone tried not to think of this, for it would be a somewhat sad occasion, especially for Legolas, and no one wanted damp spirits on the wedding day.
The elves and Gimli now headed to the entrance of the Caverns to meet their guests, talking merrily of the days to come. Morgiel and Calendal were discussing the gown that Morgiel would be wearing for her wedding and coronation. It was an ivory coloured gown of light, shimmering fabric, with mithril woven into the neckline of the bodice and the edge of the sleeves, which were split and hung from the shoulders with ties at the elbows, leaving the arms mostly bare. The gown flowed from the shoulders and was held by two clasps of a single ruby set in mithril. A belt of mithril and rubies encircled the gown at the hips, and the train also had mithril threads and rubies flowing down it to the ground. There would be no veil, but Morgiel was to have isilótë in her hair, which would be plaited in two woven braids from the top part of her hair, leaving the rest flowing down her back. She would wear Arien's necklace, of course, as she only took it off to sleep. Her coronation crown was a woven circlet of mithril, with a single small ruby set in the centre of the circlet on her forehead, and very small interlocked chains of mithril and diamonds that would drape over her hair and be woven into her plaits. For the wedding, Morgiel would be barefoot, as she was wont to do back in the days when she lived in the Chetwood, but she had ivory coloured slippers for the coronation. Their coronation rings were also made of mithril, with a ruby in the centre of Morgiel's and an emerald in the centre of Legolas'. They were very beautiful, and handcrafted by the dwarves of Gimli's land as a gift to them.
The small group had now arrived at the gates and were greeting the guests that were arriving in small groups. There were mostly elves and dwarves, but presently a small group of hobbits approached the gates. Legolas and Gimli gave a cry of joy and ran to meet the hobbits. Morgiel followed a little more slowly, smiling, for she knew what these hobbits meant to the two friends. They were indeed the four hobbits of the Fellowship of the Ring, and they were overjoyed to see their friends once more. As Morgiel approached the group, she noticed that two of the hobbits wore the livery of Gondor and of Rohan, and she understood that they were Pippin and Merry, for Legolas had told her all about their adventures of the year before. She smiled shyly at the hobbits as she came to stand at Legolas' side, and he introduced her to them.
"My friends," he said warmly, "this is the Lady Morgiel Carnímírië, to whom I am to be wed in two days. Morgiel, these are Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Peregrin Took."
"But you can just call us `Merry' and `Pippin,' m'lady," piped in Pippin as he bowed gracefully.
Morgiel smiled and took the hands of each hobbit, and they in turn bowed to her. Sam declared that she was the most beautiful elf he had ever seen and that he was most glad that Legolas was to marry her. Morgiel surprised him by thanking him with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. Frodo remembered having seen her at the Prancing Pony that fateful day one year ago when she met Gandalf, and she also remembered this with a fleeting sadness.
The hobbits and Legolas and Gimli now went to find the hobbits' quarters and to catch up on their doings of the past year, and to spend some time together in general. Morgiel graciously took leave of them and retreated to her quarters, for she still needed to write out her vows, and she wanted them to be very special. She began thinking about this as she walked to her quarters, and when anyone passed her they noted that she had a smile on her face.
* * * * *
The day of the wedding had now arrived. It was now midday; everyone was ready and waiting, and all the arrangements had been made. All there was left to do now was wait until evening. The inhabitants of Thranduil's Halls and those who lived in the surrounding wood were most overjoyed for their Prince and his soon-to-be Bride, and it was these two that could hardly wait. They had both written their vows and were now preparing in their own way for the hours that lay ahead. Legolas was pacing back and forth in his quarters, trying to memorise his vows, but the thought of his father's passing was hindering the back of his mind. He stopped in his tracks and stared up at the ceiling. A large tapestry depicting Lasgalen during the golden years of Middle-earth hung there, the gold woven into it seemed to glow as it caught the light of the candles that were placed around the room. His father and mother's likenesses were also woven into the tapestry, regally standing as the stewards of those left in Middle-earth that had yet never seen the Light of Aman.
He thought of his mother, so beautiful with clear blue eyes and long golden hair, so long that it touched her feet, and a grace about her that he had only seen in three others, and they were the Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien, Queen Arwen of Gondor, and his own beloved Morgiel Carnímírië. His mother's likeness seemed to be looking straight at him, and he remembered that day long, long ago that she had taken a small group and left Lasgalen to seek the grey ships. Thranduil had asked this of her, for it was war against Sauron, and he did not want her to be killed or captured should Sauron's forces break their defenses in the north of Lasgalen. He had wanted Legolas to go with her, but that request had been met with great defiance and incredulity from both Legolas and his mother, for Legolas expected to be in battle. And so it was that only his mother passed over the Sea, and Legolas was glad of it, for he could not bear the thought of her in Sauron's clutches, but he was grieved at her parting, for he loved her very much. She had been very strong, yet demure in all she did, and she counselled her husband well in all matters. Thranduil was never the same after she had left, Legolas noted with a tinge of sorrow.
"Eryn Lasgalen became Mirkwood when you left, mother," he thought. "I wish you could be here to see this glorious day. I know that you would have loved Morgiel. She is strong, like you, thought perhaps not as reserved..." he smiled at this thought, and then thought of his beloved. She was strong, and all traces of the hardships of the past year were gone. They had taken a moonlit walk in the wood the night before, talking little, just enjoying each other's company. She had snuggled up to him as they walked, a breeze lifting her hair to catch the starlight and it seemed as if living diamonds had been strewn through her hair. They had walked in silence as only elves do, and so much more love was in them for each other than if they had spoken a thousand words.
When they returned to the Caverns, Morgiel had charged him solemnly, yet with a sparkle in her eye, to refrain from seeing her the next day until she walked down the aisle to become forever his bride. He protested a little, but she coaxed him into promising that he would wait, and now he was waiting and wanting the Sun to go down in all her splendid glory and let the Moon sail into the sky with the stars following close behind. He looked at his own reflection in the looking glass, and wondered at all that had befallen him during the past years. He could scarcely believe that only one year had passed since the War of the Ring, and that in that time he had helped save Middle-earth once more and fallen in love and was now to be king of his land.
"King of my land..." he thought. He smiled as he thought of Morgiel preparing for the wedding. He could catch a glimpse of her thoughts, and they were filled with joy and excitement. She was just as impatient as he, and perhaps even more, because of her dwarf blood, but considering the occasion this was not necessarily a fault of hers. He looked at his reflection again, and then looked at his wedding attire. He had an understated tunic of the palest green with short sleeves and a mithril belt at the waist. The undershirt was a soft, light, ivory coloured material and had long sleeves that tied at the wrist. His breeches were of a rich brown material, and his boots were also dark brown leather. His crown was very understated as well. No jewels adorned it. It was also made of mithril and was intricately woven to encircle his head and come to a small downward point in the middle of his forehead. His hair would be worn as he usually wore it with two small plaited pieces held back from his face.
He turned back to the vows that were on a small piece of parchment and picked it up. He read over them again and again, and he knew that Morgiel was doing the same thing in her room. He did not stop repeating the words to himself until, a few hours later, there came a knock at his door. It was Gimli, come to tell him that the sun had set and it was time to get ready. Gimli himself was preparing to do the same thing, but not before he had eaten some supper. He recommended Legolas do the same thing, so the two of them went over to the dining hall and ate a small supper. Then they went back to their respective rooms and began to prepare for the wedding.
Meanwhile, Morgiel and Calendal were doing the same thing in Morgiel's quarters. Calendal was doing Morgiel's hair while Morgiel was memorising her vows, and when she was done she helped Morgiel into her gown. Then Morgiel helped Calendal get ready herself. Calendal's gown was pale green with a mithril belt that sat just below the waist, and she had pale green slippers that matched the gown. She was to hold a small bouquet of isilótë, and she would walk just before Morgiel and Gimli. Her long golden hair was left down, with two small braids done just behind her ears. Morgiel had given her a necklace made of mithril with a small emerald pendant, and she would wear this as well.
Now all the guests were arriving at the clearing in the wood, and it was five minutes before the wedding was to start. There was a low hum as everyone was talking quietly among themselves. Aragorn and Thranduil, along with Legolas and the four hobbits, were standing just right of the main arch, and the guests were standing in two groups on either side of the main aisle. The two kings were adorned most royally in rich robes suited for such as they. Aragorn was dressed in deep red and brown, and Thranduil was dressed in deep green and brown and white, and they both looked very happy. At a glance from the King, the minstrel began to play very soft, sweet music upon a stringed instrument to usher in the bride.
Calendal came slowly up the aisle, holding her flowers and smiling with joy for her lady. She came to the front and moved a little to the left of the arch. As the music sweetened all the guests turned to follow Legolas' gaze as Morgiel came down the aisle on Gimli's arm (as best she could, considering his height), and he was also very richly dressed and had braided his beard just for the occasion. He himself was beaming as only Gimli could, and Morgiel was positively glowing. Behind them were two ladies-in-waiting who carried the train of Morgiel's gown, and behind them was a small elf-child who was gently throwing isilótë petals behind her as the small procession came closer to the arch. Now they were at the arch, and Aragorn, Thranduil, and Legolas came to stand just underneath the garlanded arch. Gimli led Morgiel to stand next to Legolas as the ladies-in-waiting bowed and took their places next to Calendal. Gimli also bowed deeply and went to stand to the right of the group with the four hobbits.
Aragorn now lifted his arms as the music came to an end, and raised his voice to the people.
"My people and dear friends. We have all gathered here on this blessed night under the most revered stars to celebrate a most joyous union between your beloved Prince Legolas and the Lady Morgiel Carnímírië, and to witness their coronation as your new King and Queen."
At this the people cheered. Aragorn motioned for quiet and turned to Legolas and Morgiel.
"My dearest friends," he said, "I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful occasion. You have both been blessings to me and to each other, and I cannot think of anyone else that I would see joined together in marriage and love. May your love grow and prosper as the years pass by, and may they seem as days in your time here in Middle-earth. May the Valar look down upon you and remember their love for the Eldar.
"Now we shall hear the vows exchanged between you. Legolas?"
Legolas took Morgiel's hands into his own and gazed into her eyes.
"My Estelwen, I never dreamed that such thing as our love would have happened had I thought of it even just one year ago. Since the first day I looked upon your sadness and beauty I have been able to think of nothing else but you, and now I shall be together with you forever, and that is the most wonderful thing of all. Your strength and grace and loveliness are more than I could dream in a woman, and I am thankful that Illúvatar has blessed me with you. Truly, the years will seem as days now that we are together, and I know that I can endure the passing of time till the world's end, if need be. Morgiel, I love you, and I pledge myself to you and you alone until the last passing over the Great Sea, when I shall answer its call."
With that Morgiel looked up into his eyes, her emerald ones bright with tears, and she took a deep breath before she began to speak.
"My love, Legolas. I...I cannot begin to speak of this love that I feel for you, and the gratefulness I feel for the deliverance you brought to me when I was in Shadow. Indeed, upon meeting you for the first time I wondered at the fact that you did not even know me, yet you stood by me through everything that has taken place this last year. I tried, oh yes; I tried to keep distant from you in that time, for I thought I was strong enough on my own. But you complete me, melnya, and I do not know what I would do without you. I pledge myself to you forever, my beloved. I love you."
As she finished speaking, Legolas took her into his arms and Aragorn pronounced them to the people.
"I give you Legolas and Morgiel, now joined together in marriage forever! May Illúvatar bless and keep you always!"
Now Legolas kissed Morgiel full on the lips, and then they turned to the people hand in hand. They then turned back to face Thranduil, who stepped forward with the coronation rings on a small pillow. He smiled at them, and it was very obvious that he was overjoyed. He raised his hand to the people in greeting, and then began to speak.
"People of Eryn Lasgalen; tonight is indeed a night of joy and blessing. My son has now come to us at last and will forthwith take upon himself my kingly duties of before, as I am taking the journey to the Grey Haven and will soon pass into the Light of Aman. He has with him the Lady Morgiel, my new daughter, to stand by him and with him in all that may come to pass in this new life of theirs, and I know and am confident that their rule will be greater than any of Lasgalen;"
He now turned to Gimli, who stepped up to Thranduil's side and took the ring pillow from him. When that was done, Thranduil took the rings and held them aloft for all to see. The ruby and emerald glinted in the moonlight, and it struck Morgiel that she was to become a Queen of the last Elven realm in Middle-earth, and she was daunted for naught but a few seconds as she then looked at Legolas, who indeed appeared to have the kingly visage he himself was still searching for.
Thranduil continued to speak.
"These rings are to be the symbol of your titles, the symbol that your ruling of the last Elven realm is to be done with all solemnity and grace; mercy and justice; and most importantly of all, love. It seems good to me to bestow upon you, Legolas Greenleaf, and Morgiel Carnímírië, the task of ruling the Elves of Eryn Lasgalen, and to do so until your days are ended."
With those words, he placed the rings upon Legolas and Morgiel, and then, removing his own crown, he had them turn and face the people as he placed the crow upon Legolas' head, and then placed Morgiel's crown upon her head. He then placed a kiss upon both of their foreheads, and presented them to the people.
"The King and Queen of Eryn Lasgalen! They are yours, and you are theirs! May the blessing of Illúvatar be upon you!"
* * * * *
And that is the Tale of the Fourth Age, of how the girl Daewen became the Lady Morgiel Carnímírië, defeated the lord Túrthalion, who was also her captor of old, and married the love of her life, Legolas Greeanleaf. Their passing into the West does not come into this tale, but is mentioned in another, though Morgiel herself is not spoken of. Be it known that they did live almost happily ever after, as Morgiel did still have some dwarf blood and was stubborn at times, but they ruled with grace and mercy and peace, and they were truly the greatest King and Queen of Lasgalen.