A Tale of the Fourth Age - Chapter Nine
The small company of travellers was now just past the southernmost tip of Eryn Lasgalen and was travelling along the eaves of the Greenwood. For the past two days Legolas and sometimes Aragorn thought he caught a glimpse of a figure slipping in and out of the trees nearby. Now Legolas was sure he had seen it again. The whole party stopped and Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Arkáno dismounted and silently entered the forest to investigate. They were not gone long, and when they emerged from the trees they said nothing.
So it was for two more days that the two Elves, the Dwarf, and the King would espy the same figure and stop to search for it only to discover nothing. Aragorn was especially frustrated, for he could find no tracks or evidence of any being anywhere.
All the while this ordeal was taking place Morgiel felt a dull sense of dread come over her as before on the Downs. She knew that someone was there, for she could feel a definite presence. She did not say anything, though, for she was not completely sure what to make of her perceptions and feelings.
On the fifth day of their crossing the Anduin and the fourteenth day of their whole journey, just after sunset, the travellers stopped to rest for the night. They made their camp just under the eaves of the Greenwood; near enough to be sheltered by the massive trees yet far enough not to attract attention to themselves, for Aragorn and Legolas were determined to catch whatever was evidently following them.
Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, and Arkáno all spent the night keeping watch over the camp in turn. Even though Legolas was supposed to take his turn like the other two he would stay awake and go often into the forest itself, peering with his far-seeing eyes into the blackness of the wood.
At the midnight hour, in Aragorn's watch, Legolas caught sight of their quarry. Silently, so as not the wake or startle anyone, the two crept into the forest. Aragorn loosened his sword in its scabbard and Legolas readied his long bow. They continued into the forest until they came upon a dim crouching figure. It did not notice the silent Elf and the Dúnedain until too late.
Suddenly there was a great commotion as Legolas and Aragorn attempted to pin the figure to the ground. It struggled with them until Gimli and Arkáno came running through the trees to help. They were able to pin the figure's arms behind its back, and Aragorn held it at bay with the point of Andúril. All was now silent and time was frozen. Then the figure spoke.
"Do not harm me!" he said, and he spoke the Elven tongue.
At this Aragorn lowered his sword and the other two allowed the elf to stand to his feet, though they still held his arms behind him. Aragorn sheathed Andúril and stepped close to the elf.
"Who are you?" he asked sternly.
The elf held Aragorn's gaze. "I am Núranor son of Núranil. Who might you be?"
"That is of no importance for the moment," Aragorn replied. "You are of this wood?"
"Why have you been following us for the past five days?"
Núranor began to struggle, but Gimli and Arkáno held him fast. He looked past Aragorn towards the camp, then back at Aragorn.
"I have been following you because there is one in your group that is of great importance to me."
At this Legolas became very attentive, for he somehow felt that this strange elf he had certainly never seen before in his father's kingdom was speaking of Morgiel.
Núranor must have known what Legolas was thinking, for he looked at him intently.
"Yes," he said. "It is the Lady Morgiel Carnimírië that I speak of." He smiled.
Now Legolas released him and stepped in front of Aragorn to face the new Elf.
"What do you want with her? Why is she so important to you?"
Núranor took one step forward. "She is my sister," he said quietly.
All was silent. It seemed hours before anyone spoke, and it was Morgiel, who had walked up behind them silently when she heard their struggle.
"Your...sister?" she said haltingly. "How can that be? My parents were killed by orcs when Ossiriand was destroyed."
Núranor stepped out of Gimli's hold and stood in front of Morgiel.
"They did not die in that raid," he almost whispered. "It was in that time that I was born. You were already one year old when Túrthalion stole you away. Our parents lived for one more year after that. They died from the grief of losing you. You were much loved by them."
Morgiel felt hot tears streaming down her cheeks. She looked fully upon the Elf who claimed to be of the same blood as she. He was tall; taller than her, and he was very fair. He had the same piercing green eyes, but he had jet hair. There was something different, though, in his manner; a curtain seemed to be before Núranor's eyes, for Morgiel could not perceive his thoughts. She reached out and touched his cheek.
"But you," she said. "Where did you go? Have you always lived here in this wood?"
"No," Núranor replied with pain in his voice. "I have travelled upon a dark road. After the raid, we left Ossiriand and headed East. When father and mother died I continued East. There was very little welcome for me..." he trailed off and would speak no more.
Morgiel led Núranor over to the fire and sat down with him. While she was doing this Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, and Arkáno held a quiet yet spirited debate on what to do with the new Elf.
Legolas was very apprehensive as he watched the two Elves by the fire. "Is he really her brother? It seems rather odd that he would appear to us so abruptly, and just when we were close to Lasgalen, too. I do not trust him, Aragorn."
Aragorn was concerned as well, but he was not as edgy as Legolas. He put his hand on Legolas' shoulder. "My friend, you must not be so quick to judge. Yes, his revealing himself to us as the lady's brother was unforeseen, but we have known he was following us for some time now."
"But why would he appear so late in our journey if he has been following us for some time?" Legolas persisted. "And why did we have to catch him? I do believe he would not have revealed himself if we had not caught him."
"That may be true," Aragorn replied thoughtfully. "Perhaps he wanted us to find him in that fashion."
"Yes," Arkáno agreed. "I sense that something is amiss with him, but I do feel that his claims are legitimate, if you understand me, lord."
Legolas sighed. "I understand, my friend. I just worry for Morgiel. She has fought so hard to defeat the Shadow, as I sense its return is inevitable if Núranor continues with us. Do not ask me why my heart feels this way, for even I know not why these feelings have entered my heart."
"Perhaps you are jealous of him;" said Gimli, "I know I would be."
Legolas looked at Gimli with half a smile, but shook his head. "No, my dear friend, I am not jealous, just especially troubled."
"None of us know why these things have happened, Legolas," Aragorn said. "But we cannot think like we have before. We are kings now, Legolas. We must think of our own keep."
At that Legolas stood up quickly and looked down at Aragorn. "You may be king yet, Aragorn, but I am not. I know whom I must think of."
Aragorn stood up as well and faced Legolas. All was silent for a moment and Arkáno could almost see the tension between the Elf and the Man. Gimli stood to separate them, but then Arwen appeared and their attention was diverted.
"Mana, Arwen?" Aragorn asked as he went to her.
"Núranor wishes to speak to the both of you," she answered, motioning to her husband and to Legolas. "He would speak of his reason for following us all these days past." She turned to go and the others followed.
"But we know why he followed us," Legolas interjected, but Aragorn quieted him with a slight shake of the head, and he followed after them in brooding silence.
* * * * *
Núranor paced back and forth in front of the fire. Morgiel sat by the fire and watched him intently. His fists were clenched at his sides and his green eyes glinted in the fire like newly created emeralds. Morgiel could sense that something was troubling him, but it was preventing her from perceiving his thoughts. She opened her mouth to say something to him, but at that moment the others arrived. Núranor stopped where he was and looked at Morgiel. Then he turned to everyone else.
"I would speak to you all, if you will let me," he began.
Aragorn nodded an approval, and they sat down in front of the Elf. He stood tall and grim by the fire, and Morgiel could see a part of him in herself, yet there was something else there that was ominously familiar.
He began to speak. "When I was still an infant, after we left Imladris; which we entered after the raid of Eregion and the taking of you, Morgiel; we were captured by Sauron's forces when he invaded Eriador and were held captive until he was overthrown by the alliances of Elves and Men. During our captivity, when I was about twenty years old and still but a child, our parents told me about you and the prophecy. They died soon thereafter, and I vowed to find you, if you were not destroyed. I wandered west throughout Middle-earth for many years after the fall of Barad-dúr. I did not accomplish much, for I was so intent upon finding you, nor was I among many people, for I was shunned almost everywhere I would go.
"This is what I did for almost three thousand years searching for you, Morgiel. I was near Lasgalen when I heard of your joyous return from Mordor, and I then set out to finally meet you. I made my way to southern Lasgalen and waited for you, for I knew that you would soon journey this way. When your company of travellers approached the southern eaves of Lasgalen, I began to follow you. You know the rest of this tale, I think," he finished abruptly.
All was silent for a while. No one even moved. All that was to be heard was the rustle of the wind blowing through the trees. Then Morgiel spoke.
"Is this your full tale, brother?"
Núranor looked quickly at her, surprised for but a moment. "Yes," he replied, "that is all.
"I do not wish to cause any trouble," he continued, "for I only wanted to be reunited with my kin and partake in the joy she is about to have."
Legolas looked hard at Núranor, but no one noticed. Everyone was still rather quiet, and Núranor now sat down by the fire and stared into it. Arkáno quietly rose to his feet and bowed slightly.
"If you do not mind, lord, I would take my leave to rest now, for we still have a long way to travel yet."
"And I as well," Gimli added, also standing up. "My lady," he said to Morgiel and Arwen, then he turned and left with Arkáno.
Now only the Elves and Aragorn were left by the fire. Núranor and Legolas had not moved, and Morgiel was whispering something to Aragorn and Arwen. They stood up and Aragorn called to Legolas. "Legolas, come. I must speak with you."
Legolas looked up questioningly. "Can we not speak of it here?"
"No," Aragorn replied slowly and a little forcefully.
Legolas stood, looking a little perplexed. He followed Aragorn and Arwen out of sight of the fire and the motionless brother and sister.
When the King, Queen, and Legolas were gone deeper into the forest, Morgiel looked over at her brother. She was still unsure of his thoughts and feelings, but she was forming an idea of what might be behind, or rather, in front of them. She took a deep breath and spoke.
"Torinya, I do not think you have recounted your tale truthfully to me."
Núranor bristled in defense. "Are you calling me a liar, sellinya?"
"Nay, brother. Not a liar, but perhaps you are afraid of being shunned yet again by those who would be your kin?"
The Elf looked down at the ground. "No, for I am too accustomed that sort of thing now. It would not move me again."
"Then what is hindering you?"
Still Núranor did not look at Morgiel. It seemed to her that he was struggling with himself to allow the truth to be spoken. She kept silent, waiting for his reply.
"You will not take my word as your brother, Morgiel?" he asked hopefully.
Morgiel sighed. "Three thousand years is a long time for nothing to happen to you as you searched for me, I think."
"Do you also think I do not know that?" Núranor asked. "I will tell you what I did, though the consequences will be hard to bear."
Morgiel looked at him. "Consequences?"
"Yes. Here now is my full tale, in truth.
"It is true that I was held captive by Sauron in Mordor until the end of the Second Age when the tower of Barad-dúr fell for the first time. In that war I was freed along with the others held in thralldom, but I slipped away unnoticed by all. And I did travel west searching for you, sister. I went slowly from one end of Middle-earth to the other, from village to village of Elves, Men, and whoever would have me, until I began to head east again.
"It was in this time that Sauron's power began to grow yet again, but this time it was in the southern of Lasgalen in the tower of Dol Guldur. As his power flourished all things bound to him of before began to heed his call, whether they would or no. I made back to back to him and, unfortunately, made my services as a spy useful to him;" here Núranor paused, for Morgiel could not hide the horror on her face. She said nothing, so Núranor continued slowly.
"I do not gladly recall the deeds I did in those days, for many of our kind were betrayed by me. Yet, if you can, take hope in the fact that nothing could stop Dol Guldur from being overthrown, and Sauron's power yet again diminished. When this happened I again took up more wholeheartedly than ever the quest to find you, sister, though it was hard for me to stay among those who remained in Lasgalen, and I blame them not."
"You had better not!" Morgiel thought to herself.
"Now came the deepest sorrows of all for me. I was utterly alone in all of Middle-earth, and my spirit was tired of this place early for my years. I went to and fro, keeping company with whomever would have me, and those who would were few and hard of manner.
"I began to despair of all things living, and I took no heart in the final defeat of the master I reluctantly served. I dwelt in the uninhabited places of this forest, and only when Dol Guldur was finally thrown down and the darkness vanished from this place did I venture out again to search for you. When word came to me of your victory, I waited, as you know, and now I have finally found you. Though, I dare say I am nothing but pain in your joy even now, for I know that the dreaded Shadow hangs over me yet, and there is nothing to be done but destroy me."
Morgiel stood up quickly, scattering the leaves that lay on the ground beneath her. "No!" she cried, then lowered her voice. "I will not see you destroyed, not after we have just found each other. You can overcome this...I did," she reminded him quietly.
"You were not under any spells, though," Núranor retorted.
"Yes I was," Morgiel replied defiantly. "How would you expect me to remain hidden for so long if I was the one to destroy what kept me? He had me under the pretense that I was an eighteen-year-old child of Men for over four-thousand years! It was a very powerful spell, yet I was able to overcome it!" Morgiel almost shouted her last sentence, and remained standing, glaring at Núranor. He took a step closer to her and touched her cheek gently.
"You were no traitor, my sister. There is no redemption for that. I am sorry...." He would not look at her now. They stood there for a moment, and the only sound was the fire crackling behind them. Then Morgiel turned and swiftly walked away in the direction Legolas had taken earlier.
Núranor stood where he was, and no one was there to see his emerald eyes brighten with tears as he watched his sister leave.
"Yet again, I am alone," he whispered to the fire. He slowly sat down in front of it and remained there until dawn.
* * * * *
From his place at the foot of a tall, thick-trunked tree Legolas could see the moon and stars clearly. He was staring into the blue-black midnight when his thoughts were interrupted by the voice of his love.
"He is more stubborn than even a dwarf!"
A grunt from somewhere to Legolas' left indicated that Gimli heard Morgiel as well. She knelt down next to Legolas.
"I am sorry, Gimli," she said to the now-snoring lump. She turned to Legolas. He was smiling slightly.
"Even more stubborn than you?" he said slyly. "For he is of the same blood."
"Yes, well...we are still different in many other ways, melinya. I would have him rid of the same Shadow as was upon me, but he sees no way to accomplish that."
Legolas looked concerned. "How has this come to be? Perhaps when he was captive in Mordor--"
"It is something like that," Morgiel interrupted. "He would not have me recount his full tale, I think, and I would honour that. But know this, Legolas, he means no harm to anyone. He would rather be destroyed than bring sorrow to us, but I do not want to lose my brother. I do not know how to convince him otherwise."
Legolas drew Morgiel into his arms and held her close. Nothing was said for a while, then Legolas turned to Morgiel. "He will not be convinced?" he asked. She shook her head. "Perhaps if I spoke with him and assured him that his deeds are forgiven he would consider beginning his life anew as Lord Núranor, brother to the Lady Morgiel Carnimírië."
Morgiel stared at Legolas in surprise. He had perceived her thoughts and concerns for her brother, yet he did not react in the way she had expected. He smiled when he saw her reaction.
"Did you think I would not care for your brother as you do, Estelwen? It is true that I was suspicious of him at first, but you have shown me that he was not willfully evil.
"I will grant him clemency when I become king, if he will let me; for now, we shall speak of this to no one so as not to cause him any more sorrow."
Morgiel was now even more surprised at Legolas' behaviour. She was overjoyed to hear him speak of the matter in such a way, and hope for his well-being began to rise again. She leaned forward and kissed him. Then she rose to find Núranor and tell him the joyful news.
"I will return in a few moments, melinya," she said softly.
She made her way back to the fire and found Núranor hunched over in front of it. She walked up to him, knelt down, and carefully placed her hands on his shoulders.
"Núranor," she began, but as she touched him he started, causing Morgiel to jump back in defense. Núranor leaped up, brandishing a long dagger. When he saw his sister he breathed a sigh of relief and lowered his weapon.
"Morgiel, what are you doing? I could have killed you!"
"Perhaps you should not be so quick to act with that knife, Núranor," Morgiel said tersely. "Do you still think all are against you?"
Núranor sheathed the dagger and stepped closer to the red-haired Elf before him. Her bright green eyes were flashing and her fists were clenched. She had as much the air of a warrior as that of a lady.
"I am sorry, sister. Some things are hard to let go. Yet I think you would have acted just as quickly had I advanced with no thought whatsoever," he added, catching a glimpse of the sword peeking out from underneath Morgiel's cloak.
Morgiel softened and held out her hand.
"Come, brother. Legolas wishes to speak with you."
Now Núranor tensed. "He does not trust me. And rightly so..." he added partially to himself. He looked at Morgiel. "Is it bad?"
"No, Núranor, it is not. He wants to help, just as I do. Please," she pleaded, still holding out her hand.
Núranor took it. "Very well, I will speak with him."
Morgiel led Núranor to where Legolas was waiting for them. He came over to Núranor and clasped his hand in greeting. Morgiel could tell that Núranor was a little taken aback by this, but as she crept away to leave the two Elves alone in their discussion Núranor seemed more at ease than he had before. She made her way back to the fire, which was beginning to die down, and settled down in front of it, waiting hopefully for the return of her brother and Legolas.
It was not very long before Morgiel heard footsteps coming towards her. She looked up and saw Legolas and Núranor coming toward her, and Legolas looked very pleased. Núranor seemed ever so slightly apprehensive, and although Morgiel took careful note of this, she did not say anything. She stood up, and when the Elves were near she put her arms around Legolas and drew him close. Then she turned to Núranor, who had again silently seated himself in front of the fire.
"So, my brother, will you not come with us to Lasgalen?" She withdrew herself from Legolas' arms and went over to Núranor.
"Yes, I will," he replied quietly as he continued to gaze into the fire.
Morgiel put her arms around her brother. "I am very glad, torinya. We are together at last." She held him for a moment, then stood to her feet. She looked up at the slowly lightening sky."
"We should set out soon," she said quietly. "For it is six more days yet to Thranduil's halls."
"Yes," Legolas agreed. "I will wake the others." He left quickly, and now Morgiel and Núranor were yet again alone with each other.
Morgiel went over to where her horse, Sindamírë, was tethered and began to rub her down. She gathered her things together and set them down near Sindamírë. Then she stepped out from under the eaves of Lasgalen (for the encampment was close to them) and looked out upon the land.
It was still purple in the western sky, but the faint silhouette of the Misty Mountains could be seen. The rustle of the trees in the wind could be heard in the distinct stillness that always comes before dawn. The campfire was now nothing more than a mass of glowing embers that gave little warmth and no reflection upon the disquiet face of Núranor. He looked up to see Morgiel leading Sindamírë toward him. She smiled when their eyes met and beckoned him to come to her.
"You can ride Sindamírë, brother, and I will ride upon Arod with Legolas; for we do not have an extra horse for you to ride, unfortunately."
Núranor stood and took Sindamírë's reins. He reached out and touched Morgiel's cheek.
"My dear, sweet sister..." he said quietly, "Thank you." He drew close to the horse so she could become accustomed to him, and she nuzzled him softly to show her approval. As Núranor and Morgiel prepared the small campsite for departure, the rest of the company arrived from their tent locations, very much ready to leave. Everyone mounted their horses, and as they turned north the sound of many songbirds filled the air with joyful music. Morgiel wrapped her arms around Legolas and laid her head against his back, taking in the music of the birds and the warm sunshine, and she felt that all was good in the world again.
* * * * *
At midday the company stopped to rest the horses and take a little food. They had been travelling rather steadily since sunrise and had had no trouble. They were very close now to the Forest Path that would lead to Thranduil's Halls, and everyone was caught up in the feeling of anticipation. Most of the company was somewhat silent, except for Gimli and Legolas, who were still catching up on their adventures of the past year. Morgiel mostly listened to the two best friends, but she was always aware of the subtle silence of her brother. He was making no attempt to converse with anyone else in the company; Aragorn spoke with him briefly, but as Núranor did not encourage the conversation further he soon fell silent or turned to speak with Arwen.
Now Núranor was tending to Sindamírë, and he would not even look at Morgiel or Legolas; when he was finished he sat down near the horse away form the others. Morgiel set the water skin she was filling down on a rock and walked over to Legolas, who was rubbing down Arod.
"Legolas, may I speak with you?"
Legolas turned and held out his hand. "What is it, melinya?" He led her to a large boulder where they sat down.
"Núranor is not happy," Morgiel said quietly. "He seemed so after you spoke with him, but now that has apparently faded. Tell me, my love, what exactly did you say to him?"
Legolas sighed and looked to the West as if searching for an answer. He turned back to Morgiel with an aggrieved look on his face.
"I told him just what I told you, Morgiel. He would not be saved by anyone, and only agreed to come to Lasgalen for you. He said he would seek help, yet there was no hope in his voice nor in his heart. I was glad to hear of his apparent resolve, but ever in my heart is the lingering feeling of the doom he has brought with him and upon himself."
Morgiel reached out and brushed back Legolas' golden hair from his face and caressed his cheek, for he had suddenly lowered his head in sadness. He looked up again. "Morgiel, we simply cannot escape our fate. It is obvious that Núranor's fate is tied to ours as well, no matter how hard he tries to deny our help. I know he is important to you, but you are more important to me than all the peoples in Middle-earth and the lands beyond the Great Sea. If Núranor's true intent in any way comes to your harm, I will stop at nothing to see him destroyed. You must remember that he said this himself. I know this is harsh, but I will not allow the Shadow to creep in once again between us; I will not lose you again...." He finished this last sentence in almost less than a whisper. He looked intently into Morgiel's deep green eyes and waited for an answer.
Morgiel gazed deeply into Legolas' eyes as well as he poured out his feelings to her, but as he finished her gaze turned from deep love to deep hurt. What was he thinking, speaking of her only kin in such a way! Her eyes suddenly seemed to glow unnaturally and she stood up quickly, her hands balled into fists at her sides and her whole slender body tensed with anger.
"How dare you speak in such a manner of my brother, Legolas," she said in an ominously quiet voice. "He is the only kin I have and will ever have, unless perhaps another brother or sister suddenly appeared out of nowhere! I thought you cared more than this, Legolas, I truly did." With that, Morgiel briskly walked away without another look at her stunned love, who stayed where he was, for he did not know how to respond to such an outburst.
The company soon set out again, and the tension was now so evident between Morgiel and Legolas that Núranor withdrew even more so, and the others grew quite concerned. Aragorn and Gimli attempted to speak with Legolas, and Arwen and Calendal with Morgiel, but their efforts were futile. The two headstrong Elves would not be swayed in their mind-set, so for the rest of the day there was complete silence.
Two more days and nights passed in their journey and still the tension was thick. The conversation was limited to whispers or very low voices among those who would speak with each other--excepting Gimli, for he thought it very silly of the two Elves to act in such a manner towards each other.
"You are part dwarf, Morgiel," he said to the still-seething Elf, "so I understand that you will want to hold on to this for a very long time. But you must consider Legolas, my lady. He loves you dearly and cares for you like no other thing in all of Middle-earth. That you must understand and accept. And I cannot take this confounded silence any more!" he added to himself. "It is driving us all crazy!"
To this Morgiel said nothing, but continued to glare straight ahead. But Calendal, who glanced nervously over at her friend, noticed that her eyes were bright with tears. She said nothing, but silently prayed that everything would be resolved before they reached Thranduil's Halls, for she wanted the arrival home to be one of joy for the whole company. "I know that the lady will not be angry too long; she is too much of an Elf, no matter what Gimli says," Calendal thought. "But I do not know about her brother. He is not like her, and yet, he is. Still, there is something amiss about him."
The eaves of Eryn Lasgalen now loomed closer to the company. At first, no one could see where the entrance to the Forest Path was, but soon Aragorn spotted it and they urged their horses on towards it. Within fifteen minutes they were deep within the forest and well on their way to Thranduil's Halls. There were only three more days until they would reach the Halls, and all agreed that no time would be wasted in reaching them.
The first night in the forest was spent in silence yet again. Now Gimli was becoming rather frustrated with the Elves, and this furthered the tension. Aragorn attempted to speak with Legolas and Morgiel, but Morgiel was to hard-headed to consider resolving the situation. She left her place by the small fire and sat next to her brother, who was sitting apart from the group. She spoke with him briefly, but no one could hear what they were saying. Legolas, who was more than ready to make up, watched them intently to attempt to make out what they were saying but could only tell that Morgiel was apparently now angry at Núranor as well. Legolas sighed and continued to sit by the fire alone, for the others had turned in for the night. He did not sleep at all that night, but contemplated what he could do to calm Morgiel and how he would handle seeing his father again.
The next morning, the travellers started on their journey again with haste, for now it seemed that a dark presence was creeping in among their company. Morgiel was now speaking with everyone but her love; though it tore her heart in two, and she would not admit it. Legolas and Aragorn were working out the arrangements for when they would reach Legolas' home. Legolas was not unsure of how he would greet his father, but he did not know how long Thranduil intended to stay before making the journey to the Grey Havens.
"Did he not say that he wanted to see you and Morgiel wed before he left?" Aragorn asked Legolas.
"Yes, but I am now not sure of when that will be. Morgiel is still silent toward me, as I am sure everyone can see. It is not like her to continue on in such a manner as this. We have had disagreements before, but with no such outcome. I do want her to be happy again, but I do not think I was in the wrong. I do care for her deeply, and she must know this."
Aragorn comforted his friend. "I know that she still loves you, Legolas. And she does know that you care, but she cares for her brother as well. I feel that she is perhaps slightly blinded to his wayward traits by that very fact. He is kin, and the only kin she has, and that is all she sees. I do feel as you do in that he is potentially dangerous, for I sense that he is more than what he told us. But for now we must watch him with care for Morgiel, and not act just yet. I think he may reveal his true self to us in a way that we could not. All we can hope is that Morgiel will see it as well and understand what must be done."
Legolas nodded in agreement and they continued in conversation about other things. The day wore on with no incidences and night fell upon exhausted travellers. They were close to their destination, and now even the Elves' bodies could feel it. they prepared a small camp and soon all were asleep. As always, Núranor was sleeping apart from the rest of the company, but now Morgiel was as well. She laid herself down underneath a large tree and a little ways away from the path they were travelling on, and Legolas noted that she could not be seen very well from where the others had set up camp. He did nothing about this, however, for he was still perturbed by her manner.
In the middle of the night, at the darkest hour, no one was awake to see a shadowy figure steal away into the forest. All was quiet except for the loud breathing of Gimli and the occasional footstep or call of a forest animal. Not even the trees were as loud as they had been the nights before, and an ominous mood descended upon the campsite and remained there until dawn.
At sunrise Legolas awoke with the thought of attempting once more to speak with Morgiel. He was weary of battling with his love, and wanted to be done with it. He had a feeling in his heart as well that deep inside Morgiel was truly of the same mind as he. He carefully crept over to where he had seen her sleeping the night before, taking care not to wake any of the other sleeping forms. There was no need to wake everyone at this hour, for they were very close to their destination. He spotted the tree under which his love had been sleeping and made his way toward it. When he arrived at the tree, his searching eyes suddenly filled with horror, for his greatest fear had come to pass. Morgiel was not there. He quickly scanned the area with his far-seeing eyes. She was nowhere to be seen. He ran back to the camp.
"Ai! Ai! She has disappeared! Morgiel is vanished!" He could not speak anymore, for the realisation of what he had said hit him, and he broke down.
Aragorn was the first to awake. Gimli and Arkáno soon followed and they all rushed to Legolas' side.
"What has happened, Legolas?" Aragorn asked. He too gazed across the forest in search of the lady and any clues as to what might have happened.
Legolas stood up straight, for he had knelt on the ground in his horror. His eyes were filled with tears, but his voice did not break, nor was it one of fear.
"She is gone," he said quietly. "I awoke early this morning, for I was intending to make peace with her. When I arrived at the place I had seen her sleeping last night, she was not there. She is nowhere to be seen in this forest, and I do not know where she has gone. You must help me find her, please." At this last sentence his voice began to break and it was filled with pleading.
Aragorn put his hand on Legolas' shoulder and Gimli put his hand on Legolas' arm. "We will help you find her, lad," he said quietly. The others nodded in solemn agreement. Then Aragorn looked around again, but this time with a concerned look on his face.
"Where is Núranor?" he asked.
No one could answer him. They went to the place where he had been sleeping, and he was not there. Arwen and Calendal, when waked by the men could not answer Aragorn's question, either. Calendal was distraught at her lady's disappearance, and furious at the fact that Núranor had vanished as well.
"I knew he was no good," she said heatedly. "We should not have trusted him at all."
Aragorn tried to calm the young Elf. "My lady, we do not know if Núranor was responsible for Morgiel's disappearance. For now, we must search for clues as to what exactly happened, and then we will decide whether or not he is a kidnapper or not."
With that resolve, the company now turned their thoughts to finding the errant brother and his strong-willed sister. Legolas was most eager to start the search, for he was not willing that anything else should happen to his beloved. The travellers quickly dismantled the camp and set out following Aragorn, who had caught sight of some tracks leading into the forest. Soon the sun was rising over the trees of Lasgalen, and all appeared as it had since the beginning of the world, but inside there were six anxious travellers seeking what they had lost.
* * * * *
*Mana= "What is it?"
*Estelwen= Maiden of Hope
*Melinya= "my love"