Meetings and Partings - Another Beginning at Another Time
"Speak not, friend. There are ballads about, that perhaps you can hear."
Gimli was skeptical; the hewn side of cliffs was his face's making. It bent slightly, like the gold strung bow upon Legolas' back, and came out coruscating in an effigy of cheer.
"Very well. Tell me what you hear," the Dwarf said.
The tall Elf turned back with the same doubtful gaze, though there was softness there, begrudged by the harrowing cries of battle and decay, for Legolas, the prince and warrior, knew these by heart and sadly, by soul as well.
"Listen, and choke the breath of your breathing. Follow the motion of the stars, for they move quickly and are seen no more ere the breaking of day." Legolas smiled when the Dwarf frowned and succeeded little, for he shrugged and leaned against his axe, muttering. "Sleep, Gimli. There are harsh sorrows about and joy fast returning from the battles we have won."
"Time, indeed, passes you by yet all you see in the stars are shining rocks upon my eyes." Gimli lay down quickly upon the grass. "Go and watch while I leave and sleep. Good night!" His lids cradled the paramour of precipices and within the veil of a distant death that did all but slay, he was fettered about the confines of a glimmering cave by the eaves of a river and a tree.
"Good night but good is the day to all." Legolas, in feet that fluttered and chanted about his cocksure steps in grass or hill, dale or rock upon the mold, grew faint joys with every lifting of his appendages. Such is the bliss of the earth in movements of tree, water, and Elven soul.
Though his mind remained affixed upon the darts of light from the horizon's embrace, shining as they were on moulds of sun and smiling sky, his hearty soul idled aside the bridges of memory. Here came the sweet melody of the company he graced, nine and rent asunder by fate and unassigned will.
"A sad grace, that," he whispered silently, knowing that when he spoke, all listened, including the faint trickling of a merry stream by the ledge, which fell into the straits of the world's end. "And many more besides."
Remembering was an Elvish trade and learning a craft yet undecided even in the worlds of Men. So memories and their many stems did not sow roots, as they should have. Yet leaves flew past his mind's eye and gave him counsel and very little peace. After all, the soft lines, which fed a leaf's uncut edge, were strewn in an ancient message of life and death.
Elves knew the relentless hollow of life and the tempting apple of that life's end. Many had bitten, yet many more chose to stay by bark and warm peduncle.
"Long has it been that I caught an Elf unguarded and too thoughtful that his eye remains slothful," a new voice said.
Such a deep voice it was, steeped in sorrow and unmarked nobility. Behind its grim chime, was the lithe tread of a hooded man.
Legolas' keen instruments of seeing saw the fell musings of a friend. The man's deep eyes were the terrible chief of any river's fury and any tree's sure constancy upon the ground it took.
"Long has it been that I begged your company, Aragorn King," Legolas answered in turn, wondering at the man's manner and the furrows upon his forehead, which made him old and seemingly gray.
"Troubles beset us all and men's groaning façade does little to hide his worries." The king, though grave and washed upon the shores of disquiet, offered a smile so frail that it broke even in the midst of cheery company. "I apologize, Legolas, if my manner betrays the state of my mind. A walk, I reckoned, would have cured me of this plague."
"A plague? Weariness over men's fault is not a disease to be cured, but a constant reminder of life's true meaning." Putting a slender hand upon the king's back, Legolas broke the wall erected upon the foundations of eternity and gave him strength from the many he had gathered in his numberless years. "I offer little. Undomiel lights more paths than I."
"My thanks," Aragorn whispered. "And the Elven queen is well, if such is your heart's query. True are the words she speaks, and beauty unhindered are her movements even by the spokes of time's wheel." Thereupon the stages of Aragorn's hard cheeks traveled the soft rumple of a true smile, which did not falter despite the gale hurting his brave shoulders.
"You are stout of heart and firmer in soul. Speak not, thou king, and weary me not with Men's tales." Legolas' voice struck harsh chords upon the harp of concern and commanding it was, with the bleary tinge of battle cries he had forgone centuries since the last contest upon the fields.
Aragorn did not submit to Men, nor did he follow severe gratings by Elves. "Gimli slumbers nearby, lest my senses are deceived. What news have you?"
"None that nigh encloses my concerns. I have traveled long with the good Dwarf, and a fine companion he is! Healing is upon the land, remembering but a past and contemplating a bitter future where my kin shall no longer fight for the ends of Men. Little do they contemplate." Legolas bowed, allowing the gentle pillars of moonlight defense for his grief. "And we shall fade to mere recollections yet I rejoice, for these great remembrances shall be that of joy. I would ask not more from Men, or from the world."
"All the while, my friend, you have asked little," Aragorn said. "Little in everyday, yet many in years put aside in bundles."
"True." Indeed, the words rang that sharp elegy to falsehood and branded the shore of truths. "Will you return now? To the kingdom of long ago, which we love well?"
"I shall and the walk has done me well." Aragorn stood, grasping Legolas' outstretched hand. "My thanks, old friend and may you walk in peace."
"I give the same words of parting, Elfstone. Greetings be upon Evenstar, for 'til the dawn exists upon dusk's back, she shall reign supreme in beauty's play."
Soft melodies took form from his lips as they uttered words coiled about in song, bidding the great king farewell, that he be ever strong in hand and heart.
The King of Gondor blessed the land with lighter feet and broke away upon the rocky outcropping where trees lay in harsh array. The living veils of green seemed softer when he passed, giving homage for one who fought even in night for the good of all. His dark cape concealed him from the vale of stars and the gems the moon enlightened and Legolas' song ended where, presence of a song's substance did.
Gimli stirred from his blanket and sat aright. "A tall man I saw, with dark tresses upon his pale face. He left verily with Elven strength."
Laughing, the Elf sat by his friend's side, watching as a cloud crowned the moon with darkness and left at its command.
"The King walks true again."
"You speak in riddles, Legolas!" Gimli complained. "But the night is young still. Tell me what overtook my dreams and parted from reality when it ended."
Legolas told his friend of the many wiles of the night and the business with Men. Gimli smiled faintly at the mention of Gondor's king and said, "What friends have we, that we cure them with mere meetings!"
And the two companions leaped from the fold of the waking world and slept in peace.