A Tale of the Fourth Age - Chapter Six
A low laugh issued from the shadowy depths of the room Morgiel had just entered. The laugh stopped her in her tracks and her sword suddenly felt as heavy as lead. Her mind wavered for a moment, but that same fire as before rose up inside her. She gripped her sword and took a step forward.
"You will not take me again, Túrthalion," she said in a raised voice. "I have come for one purpose: to destroy you and regain what is mine, but I am sure you already knew of this."
Morgiel took another step forward. Cirúnya now blazed in her hand, but Túrthalion was still hidden in shadow. "Victory will be mine," she said lowly. She stood where she was, waiting for a response.
Suddenly a grey figure emerged from the shadows. Morgiel gasped as she came to realise that it was Túrthalion. He was aged almost beyond recognition. His once black hair and beard were now shockingly white, and his skin was almost translucent. He wore a dirty grey robe and hooded cloak, but he also brandished a long, gleaming sword. As he came out of the shadows he straightened up to his full height and took a step towards Morgiel. She marked that the only thing that had not changed about him was his eyes. They were still black and hard, now glittering with evil hatred for the one standing before him. He laughed again, and Morgiel braced herself with anticipation.
"Do you really think you will destroy me, child?" Túrthalion sneered at Morgiel. "For that is all you are, and all you ever shall be. Where did you get such grand ideas of being an elf of nobility, and a warrior much less? You are weak, and you shall never rise above the shadows from whence you came, Daewen!"
Morgiel faced her enemy, trembling. She fought to keep her mind clear and focused. Túrthalion's words were meant to cloud her thoughts and enforce the spell he still held over her. In the far reaches of her mind she knew this, and she combated it with her own words and thoughts.
`You have no power over me' she thought. She knew Túrthalion could hear her, for he flinched ever so slightly. She took one more step forward. "You shall never have power over me again!" she said aloud.
At that, Túrthalion suddenly lunged forward with his sword. Morgiel raised Cirúnya and stepped forward to meet his blade. A clash of metal sounded loudly, and a flash of fire came forth from Morgiel's sword. Túrthalion spun around her left side and lunged forward again. Without turning around, Morgiel brought her sword down to her left and blocked Túrthalion's blow. As he recoiled she spun around to the right and brought Cirúnya to meet again with his sword. Again Túrthalion recoiled and they both halted, staring at each other. The silence and stillness continued for what seemed an eternity, then came the call of doom.
* * * * *
Legolas paced back and forth at the foot of the stairway. He knew Morgiel was capable of handling herself, and he knew this was her task. But something else inside him pulled at his heart. He did not know when he began to feel this way. The beautiful lost elf with red hair and dwarvish blood had intrigued him from the start, but he had regarded her as just that and nothing more. He had come to help because Gandalf had asked him and because her story intrigued him; `But now,' he thought. `Now it is different. I care for her too much to let her alone. But does she know how I feel?'
His thoughts were shattered by a cry.
"Morgiel!" Legolas shouted. He dashed up the stairs and burst through the door. He was met with a terrible scene.
Morgiel was kneeling on the floor, clutching her left shoulder; her sword slack in her hand. Túrthalion was standing over her with his sword raised high over his head. The torches on the wall were blazing and tinged everything with red. Túrthalion did not notice Legolas, for he was too intent upon destroying Morgiel. Now he began to bring his sword down, intending to strike her where she was. But suddenly, as the fire raged on and time seemed to stand still, Morgiel leaped up and Cirúnya blazed. Túrthalion's sword shattered in a blinding flash of light as Morgiel met him in battle for the last time. She plunged her sword into his heart, and her enemy of four thousand years fell. As Morgiel stood over his body it seemed to age rapidly, then decay into dust.
The two elves stood where they were, and again time seemed absent. Then suddenly Morgiel moaned, and her sword clattered to the ground as time began again. Her knees buckled and Legolas dashed to catch her. He brought her down slowly. she faintly smiled up at him. "I-it seems--that you are always having--to catch me," she said falteringly. She tried to push herself up, but winced and fell back as she realised that she was wounded. She touched her hand to Legolas' cheek and sighed. "It is over. We have won."
With that, Morgiel closed her eyes and fell limp in Legolas' arms. He stared at her for a moment, and a tear slipped unknowingly down his cheek. Fearing her to be dead he pulled her close to his chest and gently cradled her in his arms.
The world was silent around the two still figures. Legolas sat where Morgiel had fallen, still holding her close. Suddenly footsteps and harsh cries sounded close to the tower room. Legolas looked up. He quickly cleaned Morgiel's sword and returned it to its scabbard. He gently picked up Morgiel, took a deep breath, and burst through the door. To his surprise, there was no one to be seen. Light flickered at the foot of the stairway as the shadows danced now and then. Legolas quickly but carefully hurried down the steps and into the passageway. There were two orcs in the corridor, but when they saw Legolas they turned and ran the other way. He was surprised by this, but took little heed of it. Here he stopped and knelt down. He looked at Morgiel, who was paler than death. Her lips were tinged with blue, as well as the deep wound in her left shoulder. There was little blood, and Legolas bound the wound as best he could, then picked her up again. Now he continued through each hallway, retracing the earlier trek until he reached the Door of Durthang.
All the way back through the tower Legolas did not meet any orcs after the first two, but he could hear their vulgar calls from every direction. Now he was outside, where the sickle moon had risen in reply to the cries of doom in that place. But this time Legolas did not go back the way they had come. Instead he turned toward Ithilien and the West. As he came round the left side of Durthang he found a sort of pass roughly cut through the rock of the Ephel Duath. This route he took, swiftly but cautiously as he still carried the limp form of Morgiel. He did not want to arouse any more attention, so he could not take the time to care for Morgiel properly. There were still no encounters with the orcs he heard but did not see. He looked back one last time at the tower and saw in the furthest window a number of orcs grouping together. They were armed and carried torches. They did not notice the small figure of Legolas escaping down the mountainside, and he was able to safely get away.
Legolas travelled with Morgiel in his arms all throughout the night, for he wanted to reach Ithilien as quickly as possible. As he neared the eaves of the Ephel Duath the air began to clear and was not as foul. He felt his strength renewed as he breathed the fresh air that emanated from Ithilien, and now he travelled with a lighter heart.
* * * * *
Sunrise found Legolas at the Great Harad Road that lead to the entrance of Mordor. Now it was unkempt and decaying, for no one travelled by it anymore, and the elves that lived in Ithilien never came that close to Mordor. Legolas quickly crossed the road and headed towards the eaves of Ithilien.
Soon Legolas was well within the borders of North Ithilien. The sun was shining high and green through the leafy oak and ash-trees, and the ground felt cool under his tireless feet. Now he halted to check on Morgiel again. Her condition had not changed, and when Legolas put his ear close to her lips he could barely hear her breathe. He took her hand into his and found it to be as cold as ice. Her forehead was cold as well, and her skin had a sickly bluish shade to it. Legolas took his cloak off, wrapped Morgiel in it, and picked her up again. He now set off almost due-west towards Anduin, the Great River.
By the time the sun began to set Legolas was about five leagues into Ithilien, but he had yet to see any sign of his people. he stopped near an ancient oak and tenderly laid the unconscious form of Morgiel beneath its great leafy boughs. He lit a small fire, took a little food and water, then sat down close to Morgiel.
All through the night Legolas did not sleep. He kept near Morgiel, who was still unconscious. He checked her wound again, which had stopped bleeding. It was a deep sword wound that Legolas knew had been intended for her heart. He also knew that she had in fact not lost much blood. `So why does my heart sense this shadow about yours, Morgiel?' he thought. He touched her cheek softly, then gently brushed her hair back from her face. She was still very cold, and now he could not tell if she was still breathing. He took her cold, slender hand to feel for her pulse; it was barely there. Legolas drew Morgiel into his arms and held her close, attempting to keep her warm. The spring air of the wood was cool, and a night breeze rustled through the trees. Legolas listened to the wind in the trees, but they did not seem to be awake anymore. Suddenly he heard a low bird-call, which was strange for that time of night. He turned toward the sound and thought he caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure flitting through the trees. He kicked dirt onto the fire and sat still in the darkness. Silence ensued and he did not hear anything more but the wind and trees.
As he sat there in the darkness holding Morgiel and still trying to understand what caused her ailment, she stirred. He expectantly looked down at her, but she did not wake. Suddenly it seemed to him that a mist appeared between them, and with horror he realised that she had been wounded by an enchanted blade. The shadow of Túrthalion was still upon her, and she was dying. Upon realising this he laid Morgiel back down underneath the oak and gathered his things. He covered the small fire then carefully picked up Morgiel. `I must get her to my people,' he thought as he headed deeper into the woods of Ithilien. `It is the only way she can be saved now.'
It was at least two more days until he would reach the outskirts of the elvish dwellings in Ithilien, for they dwelt nearer to the Anduin and the island of Cair Andros. It would be slow going because of Morgiel's illness, but Legolas travelled as fast as he was able, for he did not want to lose her to the shadow that still lingered.
The moon was now setting and the eastern sky was becoming light as Legolas began to ascend from the deep valley that led from the Harad Road. The tress were closer together, and there were flowers everywhere. On any other day Legolas would have taken his time in travel, for he loved the forest and all things growing there. But now he barely noticed the beautiful effects of the late spring as he sped through the wooded glades of Ithilien. Morgiel was still comatose, but now her breathing was becoming ragged and labored. Legolas still did not encounter any of his people, and only stopped once to drink from a stream that flowed nearby.
The sun was setting on the second day of the return journey from Mordor. Legolas knew now that he would reach the dwellings of his people by dawn. He stopped again so he could check on Morgiel and rest a little himself. He found a small grass-covered clearing that was surrounded by oak trees. He laid Morgiel down and made a fire. He knelt down next to Morgiel and took her hands into his.
"You are stronger than this shadow," he whispered. "I know that hope lingers still in you. I have seen the strength you possess, my lady. I have seen the hope in your eyes. I do not know what I would do without you. I love you, my Estelwen."
At that moment, many things happened at once. Legolas was bent over Morgiel, who suddenly opened her eyes and said faintly, "Legolas? I-I thought everything had fallen into darkness. W-what is wrong?"
But he never had the chance to answer her, for just as she spoke the wood was filled with loud, callous cries and flying arrows. Legolas quickly looked up and saw a large group of orcs crashing through the trees from the East. He jumped up and stood in front of Morgiel. He whipped out his long bow and began shooting arrows as fast as he could towards the oncoming orcs. Many of them fell, but there were too many for him alone to handle. Suddenly a shower of arrows began to fly from everywhere. The orcs began to fall swiftly, and for a moment Legolas was perplexed. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around and saw a familiar face.
"Arkáno!" he cried. "What is this? Is this how you welcome your friend?"
Arkáno laughed. "Well met, Lord Legolas. I apologise for not alerting you to our presence sooner, but we were tracking the orcs that were following you. We did not want them to know of us, for they would have returned to Mordor," here he motioned to another elf nearby. "Now leave the fighting to us, my lord. Elendúr will lead you and the lady to safety."
Legolas picked up Morgiel and turned back to Arkáno. "The lady is very ill. Have you anyone who can help? She is very close to death, and I would do anything to see her cured."
Arkáno reassured Legolas when he saw the desperation in his eyes. He put his hand on Legolas' shoulder. "My lord, do not worry. She shall be well-taken care of. The lady will not fall into shadow. Now go, my friend."
He turned and joined the others in battling the orcs. Legolas followed Elendúr towards the elves' village. When they reached the first group of buildings, Elendúr led him to the chief building and showed him inside.
"This is our House of Healing, not unlike that of Minas Tirith, where Master Arkáno is Warden," he said. "We have many skilled in healing all sorts of ailments."
A golden-haired elf-woman walked up to them and bowed slightly. "Mae govannen, my lord. I am Calendal; if you will follow me I shall show you where the lady can rest." She turned and headed down the main hallway. Legolas thanked Elendúr and followed after Calendal.
She led Legolas into a room with two big beds and spacious windows, all of which faced to the West. Legolas laid Morgiel down on one of the beds then excused himself while Calendal washed Morgiel's wound and helped her into clean clothes. When she was done Legolas returned and she left him alone with Morgiel.
"I shall return in the morning," she said. "I have done all I can do for now, but do not give up hope, my lord. The lady is strong in body and spirit."
Legolas drew up a chair close to Morgiel's bed and sat down. She was lying there peacefully, but there was still a slight shadow about her countenance. He took her hand again and stroked it softly. She opened her eyes and looked up at him.
"I thought I was dreaming, Legolas," she said quietly. "I thought you called me by another name in my dream, before the orcs came."
Legolas smiled at her and looked into her eyes. "I did call you by another name. I did not want to give up hope. I gave you the name Estelwen, `maiden of hope'. But there are no orcs now. My people have destroyed what was left of them; the ones whom Túrthalion bred. There is no more evil in Middle-earth, Morgiel. You have fulfilled your quest."
Legolas thought that this would help Morgiel, but instead she looked away with sadness in her eyes. "The shadow of it all is still within me. This spell is not cast from me yet, Legolas." She turned back to him. "There was something else you said; something that called me from the darkness."
Legolas' heart jumped inside him. He knew what he had said, but did Morgiel feel the same way? He was struggling for an answer, which was odd for him, for he was always very eloquent and knew what to say in any situation. But now he felt tongue-tied and helpless. `This is not right,' he thought. `Why am I hindered in expressing my love for this lady? For once, I know not what to do. I do not want to distress her in this crucial time, for what if she does not love me?' He looked down at the slender, pallid Elf who had captivated his heart.
"I...it is very late, my lady. It would do you well to rest." He smoothed back her hair, stood up, and blew out the candle.
"Good night, Legolas." Morgiel was very tired, but bewildered by Legolas' sudden evasiveness. `Why did he ignore my question?' she thought sleepily. `It is not like him to be so indirect.' She tried to perceive his thoughts, but the shadow hindered her from doing so. Frustrated, she turned over and tried to fall asleep.
Legolas was also attempting to sleep. He was lying in the other bed, turning over in his mind what had just happened. He could not believe that he had so deliberately disregarded Morgiel's question, for he wanted to tell her he loved her. He wished he could understand her thoughts, but her illness prevented it for now. He still could not sleep, so he quietly got up and left the room. He walked out of the village and into the open woods. It was peaceful and quiet, and the moon was waxing to the full. Legolas continued to think about Morgiel. For some reason he felt that it would take more than those in the Healing House to cure her, and he knew that he could not reveal his true feelings until she was fully whole in her spirit and mind. He was standing in a clearing, looking up at the clusters of bright stars when he heard footsteps.
"My lord, you are not resting? But then, who can rest on such a beautiful night as this?"
It was Arkáno. He reached Legolas and bowed slightly. Legolas smiled slightly and spread his arms out towards the trees. "This is my resting-place, Arkáno. The forest is my home, and such beautiful stars should be looked upon." He began walking and Arkáno followed.
"But in truth," Legolas continued, "I am finding it hard to rest while Morgiel is ill. I do not discount your people's skill, my friend, but I feel that they will not be able to cure her completely;" he stopped, and his face brightened with a thought. "Aragorn!"
"My lord, the King in Gondor? Will he come?"
"Yes, he will come. Are you able to send a messenger tonight?"
Arkáno laughed, but not jestingly. "I can see that you hold this lady dear to your heart. Yes, I will send my fastest messenger, Túromë." He turned to Legolas. "What shall he say to the King?"
"He shall say: `The Lord Legolas of Ithilien, a friend and comrade of old, is requesting his Highness' help in healing for the Lady Morgiel Carnimírië; of whom the shadow of darkness is upon, and cannot withstand it without his Highness' aid.'"
"He shall give that message, my lord. He should reach Minas Tirith by morning; I will give him my fastest horse."
Legolas was very grateful. "Thank you, my friend. May you and your household be blessed greatly for this."
Arkáno smiled and bowed again. "It is my pleasure, my lord."
They now turned and headed back toward the village; Legolas now with a much lighter step and heart.
* * * * *
When Arkáno and Legolas arrived at the village, Legolas returned to the Healing House, and Arkáno left to summon Túromë. When Legolas reached the room he and Morgiel were staying in, he entered quietly and walked over to Morgiel's bed. She was sleeping peacefully, and again Legolas felt his heart overflow with love for her. He bent over her and softly kissed her still-cold forehead.
"Good night, my Estelwen," he whispered. She did not stir. Legolas then walked over to the bed prepared for him. he sat down upon it and put his head in his hands. `Never have I felt weary like this,' he thought. `Yet never have I loved such as this.'
He stood up and walked over to the window. It faced westward, and Legolas could see the winding Anduin shining like a silver thread; further out he could see the wood under the eaves of the Ered Nimrais, then the sharp outline of the White Mountains themselves.
Now Legolas gazed unseeing to the West, for he found himself in the midst of a dream.
It was a dream of the Sea.
The call of the Sea had haunted him ever since the Lady of the Golden Wood had sent him those words;
"Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more."
The Elf saw a grey ship upon a great, grey Sea. The Sea stretched silver to the West until nothing more could be seen. Suddenly he found himself standing in this ship with Morgiel by his side. Another was with them. Gimli son of Glóin, his dearest friend, stood upon his left. They sailed upon unseen winds until Middle-earth was left behind. Legolas could now see naught but the Sea before him. As he strained his far-seeing eyes he caught a glimpse of green in the far reaches of the West. The green soon became a visible land, and Legolas' heart swelled with joy. Now they were upon the very shore of that blessed land, with many fair folk there to greet them. But then the dream began to fade. Legolas found himself standing by the window in the Healing House of Ithilien. The sun was just rising over the White Mountains. He breathed deeply, his strength fully renewed. Then he looked at the sleeping form of Morgiel.
"That day will come," he said aloud. "But not soon, for my heart lingers still here in this place."
Just then Calendal entered carrying a silver bowl of water and a wash cloth. She set them down and bowed.
"Good morning, my lord," she said. "If it pleases you, Master Arkáno would see you in the Council House. It is the second building from the Healing House."
Legolas turned to Calendal. "Did he tell you what he would see me for?"
"Nay, my lord. He only requested that you come as soon as you were able."
"Then I will go now. I shall return shortly." He turned and left the room.
When Legolas reached the Council House, Arkáno welcomed him warmly.
"Good morning, my lord," he said merrily. "Are you and the lady faring well in this place?"
Legolas smiled slightly. "It is a beautiful, green morning. Indeed, this air does me more good than any other sustenance. And the lady sleeps peacefully in your Healing House, though still the shadow lies heavily upon her."
Arkáno became grave when he saw the aggrieved look on Legolas' face.
"Do not fret, my lord. Túromë and the King should arrive this afternoon; if not sooner."
He walked over to Legolas and put his hand on his shoulder. "Keep hope, my friend. The lady has accomplished something that all of Middle-earth has eagerly awaited since its creation, and the orcs we encountered are destroyed completely. There is no trace of them left. The reward for the lady's many pains shall not be withheld from her. And you shall be rewarded as well for your valiance in this quest."
"I do not care for rewards, Arkáno," Legolas replied. "All my heart longs for now is to see the lady restored." His face brightened as he thought of her. "She is unusually strong, for she has dwarf-blood in her."
"Dwarf-blood, my lord?" Arkáno asked.
"She is descended from the wood-elves of Ossiriand; her grandmother was the daughter of an elf-lord who fell in love with and married a dwarf-lord of Nogrod. Morgiel's mother was half dwarf, but her father was an elf."
Arkáno was astonished. "This is indeed a wondrous thing. That is the reason for the lady's red hair, is it not?"
Now Legolas laughed. "Yes, indeed it is. It is a strange but beautiful thing. There is no other in all of Middle-earth like the Lady Morgiel. Now, with your permission, I must go back to the lady. I do not want to leave her long." He started for the door.
Arkáno followed after him. When they reached the Healing House, he took leave of Legolas and assured him that he would send for him when the King arrived.
"I am very grateful to you for all you have done," Legolas replied. "I shall have you made Lord of all Ithilien; North and South."
Arkáno laughed. "Nay, my lord. I do not wish for such titles and offices. I am content with this Healing House as my ward. But I am honoured to have such a healer as the King grace us with his presence. That is all the merit I desire."
"Then it shall be given you," Legolas said. He then entered the Healing House and came to Morgiel's room. Calendal was just closing the door and now came toward him.
"The lady is awake, my lord, but she is still very weak. I believe the wound is poisoned, but I cannot seem to draw the poison out. Is there any other way to help her?"
Legolas looked at her. "There is one who can heal her. He is coming soon. Do not worry, I know you are doing your best."
Calendal smiled, bowed quickly, and hurried away. Legolas quietly entered the room and went over to Morgiel. She was lying in bed; her left shoulder was wrapped in a cloth bandage. Her eyes were closed, but Legolas knew she was not sleeping. He sat down next to her and touched her hand. She turned to him and looked up into his eyes.
"Legolas," she said quietly. "I have had the strangest dream. It was of the Sea."
Legolas' heart jumped as Morgiel continued.
"I dreamed that we were sailing West in a grey ship. I was overjoyed, though I know not why. I have never seen the Sea or a ship, but they were there nevertheless. I did not dream any more, for suddenly a dark mist seemed to surround me and all was lost. I awoke to find it morning, and an elf was washing my shoulder. She said her name was Calendal, and I was in the keeping of the Warden of the Healing House of Ithilien. After she left I tried to recall all that had happened after Durthang, but it is all in shadow. I do not know how I shall ever conquer this final trial, for it seems that Túrthalion has now accomplished what he set out to do all those ages ago."
Now Legolas was extremely worried. He peered into Morgiel's face, searching for hope, but found nothing.
"My lady!" he exclaimed. "Have you given up hope so soon? Do you not know the strength you have and all that you have endured? This is not the end, Morgiel. You cannot surrender to this shadow, for that is all it is: a shadow. I care too greatly for you to allow this thing to overcome you so."
Now Morgiel turned to him, her green eyes bright with tears. "You care too much for me?" she retorted. "But you did not care enough to tell me yourself that which has kept me alive for all this time, in hope that the words I thought were only a dream would break this darkness that has wrapped itself around my heart. But now I am not so sure. I would like to be alone now, Legolas." She turned her back to him.
Legolas sat there for a moment, then dejectedly left the room. He left the Healing House and headed for the woods, but at that moment Elendúr ran up to him.
"My lord!" he exclaimed. "The King has arrived!"
He turned and headed toward the westward entrance to the village, and Legolas ran after him. He was still thinking about Morgiel when they reached the gate, but he was briefly gladdened in spirit when he saw his old friend.
"Legolas!" Aragorn said as he embraced Legolas. "It is good to be with old friends again."
"Yes," Legolas replied. "I am grateful that you have come in such a time as this. Would you rest now, before seeing the lady? For you must have ridden all through the night to arrive here so quickly."
Aragorn smiled. "It is nothing, Legolas. I have come to honour your request. Come, we must not let the lady fall."
Legolas' heart fell as he recalled his earlier conversation with Morgiel. He turned to Aragorn as they walked toward the Healing House. "My lord, it is worse now. The lady, she is..." Legolas paused. Again he struggled for words. He looked across the lands to the West, then back at Aragorn.
"I would do anything for her, Aragorn. But I feel that this could have been prevented if I had opened my heart to her."
Aragorn placed his hand on his friend's shoulder. "I can see you have deep feelings for her, for your thoughts have been of nothing else."
"I love her, Aragorn," Legolas replied.
"Does she love you?"
"That I know not, for I have not spoken of my feelings to her." Legolas clenched his fists in frustration. "My heart aches every time I look upon her so-pale beauty, and when she looks at me my heart stops and my tongue fails me, and I have not the words to declare my love.
"And now," he continued, "she has fallen deeper into shadow, for she speaks of death, or will not speak at all. She will not permit anyone to be with her now."
"We will go to her now," Aragorn said. "There is no time to be wasted, for she is near passing."
* * * * *
When Legolas and Aragorn reached the Healing House, they were met by a very distraught Calendal. She rushed up to Legolas and took his hand.
"My lord, the lady!" she cried.
"What is it?" he replied. "Is she worse?"
Calendal nodded, and tears began to form in her eyes. "She is cold as ice, and she seems to see strange visions, for she speaks of shadows and other dreadful things about her, but the sun is shining."
Now Legolas was alarmed. He ran to Morgiel's room, and Aragorn followed close behind, telling Calendal to bring hot water. They reached the room and Legolas started towards the door, but Aragorn held him back.
"We must go to her quietly. We do not want to provoke what has begun to set in. she will not die, my friend; I promise you that."
Legolas nodded and they stepped into the room. Morgiel was lying in bed, eyes wide open with fear. She was gasping for air and her skin was a pale blue. Legolas rushed to her side and clasped her cold hand.
"My [I[Estelwen," he cried. "Do not give up, healing has come." She did not respond, but looked at him with unseeing eyes. He continued to hold her hand as Calendal and Aragorn prepared to heal the wound in body and spirit.
Calendal set the bowl of steaming water next to the bed, and then she produced a few fresh leaves of the athelas plant. These Aragorn took and crushed into the water. The room instantly freshened as the fragrant smell of the plant permeated the air. Aragorn dipped a small cloth into the water and began to wash Morgiel's wound with it. She cringed and gripped Legolas' hand when the cloth touched her wound, but Aragorn held it there firmly, for it was the only way to draw out the poison. As he treated her wound he began to speak softly, and with these words Morgiel began to slowly come around.
"Morgiel Carnimírië, tulyë i galad;" he whispered. "Come to the light, come to the light."
With that Morgiel sank back into her pillow and closed her eyes. Her skin began to flush and her breathing became normal. She fell into a peaceful sleep.
Legolas gently laid her hand on the coverlet and stood up. He and Aragorn quietly left the room, and Calendal followed. Arkáno met them when they reached the corridor, and Aragorn gave him explicit instructions for the keeping of Morgiel until she was fully recovered.
"She must stay here in this House until she has regained her strength," he said. "I have been able to draw all the poison from her wound, but now her spirit must mend. When she is stronger, Legolas can walk with her in these woods if she wishes, but she must not leave this place until all is well in her. I will remain here for three days; the lady should be without my need by then."
Arkáno assured the Elf and the King that he would take excellent care of Morgiel, then they took leave of him and departed from the Healing House.
Now Legolas and Aragorn began to walk to the Common House, where travellers and guests in that village would spend the night. Aragorn insisted upon staying there, for though he was King, he was foremost a Ranger, and accustomed to simple travel and housing.
As they walked Aragorn reassured Legolas of Morgiel's recovery. "She will heal as long as her spirit is able to recover," he said. "The worst is over, and a new life has begun for her."
"Yes," Legolas replied. "My heart tells me that she must know of my love for her; and I think she will know of it gladly, for in that moment of healing just before she closed her eyes, she looked at me, and I saw what was in her heart." Legolas smiled and looked up at the trees that surrounded them. "I am very grateful for what you have done, my friend. All is well now. Thank you."
Aragorn turned to Legolas and placed his hand on his shoulder. "All shall be well when the lady is restored. Watch her carefully, Legolas. As I said before; the worst is over; but she must conquer this shadow in her own strength. You must be there to support her, but you cannot free her yourself."
"I understand," Legolas replied. "I will do all I can to help her. She will overcome this shadow."
* * * * *