The Cry of the Gull (Chapter 14) - When Legolas sailed over Sea...
Questions of Fate
Legolas wandered through Elven dreams the whole night. His pain was eased, but his mind still rang with the disquieting sound of Ungoliant's laugh. It was early morning when he opened his eyes to the dark world. He glanced down at his shoulder. Someone had removed his mail shirt and bound up the wound. Rayn and Balved were nowhere to be seen, but Aer was sitting next to him, cocking his head and listening intently to every sound outside. He sighed and sat up.
"Ah, I see Varda has come," said a voice. Legolas looked up, startled. Ulmo stood in the doorway, gazing at the Elf. Aer squawked and flapped to his Master's shoulder. Ulmo walked over to Legolas and sat down. The prince noticed how every step the Vala took seemed as though he were walking on knives.
"Confound dry land," Ulmo mumbled to himself. Legolas understood then why he looked so.
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"To advise you. You are in grave danger, Legolas. I have been sent by Manwë, to warn you again of the evil that I warned you of that day on the beach. All the evil in this world is bent on you, Legolas, they all want you, because if you succeed, they will fail."
"Fail how?" Legolas asked, confused and alarmed.
"They cling to the hope that you will never return to Valinor," he said. "if you don't they will have already won." He sighed a sad sigh. "Morgoth has returned."
"I don't understand," Legolas said, shaking his head, disbelieving of what Ulmo had just told him. "How could he have returned form the Void? And how do you know this?"
"There is but one Will that only Mandos has a real connection with, the Will of Eru himself, and this is the only Will that might have sent Morgoth back to Eä. We do not know how he returned, only that he has."
"But why would Illuvatar send him back?"
"Only Mandos would know, and it is...unclear to him."
"You confuse me greatly. The Valar care nothing for the troubles of Middle-earth, why come to it's rescue now? And what do I have to do with it?"
"I am not here to protect it, but we must do something, for the fate of Valinor is entwined with the fate of Middle-earth, as it is with you. I am here to see that you complete the task appointed to you. You must not fail, Legolas, " the Vala placed his webbed hand on the prince's shoulder. "or all will come to death and destruction. They must have reason to believe that you have some great power, or they would have sent a lesser being to attack you, and not Ungoliant, which I am surprised is still alive after all of these ages. As it is, she failed, and your next attacker will be even stronger than she. This is all the advice I can give you within my authority: Beware your life, and your path."
"You must not go to Rohan," Ulmo said. "Travel North, to your home. Meet your father there and wait for me. You must stay close to rivers and streams, walk in the rain and do not seek shelter from it. Not that anyone with sense would," he finished to himself. He stood to go. "Where there is water there I am, you must not hide from me." The Vala walked outside of the tomb. Legolas pondered Ulmo's words for a moment before calling after him.
"What about Aer?" He called.
Ulmo smiled to himself and lifted the gull off of his shoulder. He leaned forward and spoke to it slowly and softly.
"With words of wisdom I grant you, speak. Guide them on the path that I have chosen, on the wing that represents both Manwë and I. Go now to your Elven master." Aer took to his wing and glided softly to Legolas's side. Aeraew called back to Ulmo, a hoarse, grating sound that resembled faintly the elvish farewell: "Namarie."
Legolas stared fondly at the young bird, who, to his amazement, seemed not so young. The gull grew and changed before Legolas's eyes, in stature and maturity. Soon Legolas beheld a gull as large as one of the great Eagles of Manwë, so large that Legolas could sit comfortably on his back and fly with him to far places. As if this were not enough, the great bird stared quietly at the Elf, and parted his beak slowly as quiet, troubled words escaped his throat.
"It has been many hundreds of years since I last spoke," he said. "So long that I feared for a moment that I had forgotten how." Legolas stared in absolute wonder at Aer, so changed and yet so much the same.
"Who are you?" he whispered.
"I am Aeraew, a Maia, the Ulaeraew of Ulmo. I am his messenger."
"I, master of a Maia?" Legolas asked aloud.
"Aye, if Ulmo commands it. I am your guide and servant now, as you no doubt heard."
Legolas nodded. He had learned to accept strange things in the many ages that he had seen. He looked around suddenly, puzzled by the absence of the other two Elves.
"They went to see what they could see. Balved saw Mandos with my master, they have gone to examine the spot. They were wise to leave me here with you," said Aer, reading the curiosity in Legolas's face. His voice grew smoother as he spoke. "Rest now, they will return soon."
§ § §
Fear had spread itself across the Undying Lands. Everywhere Elves stood in silent terror of the darkness that coursed across the once brightly lit sky, twisting and writhing in strange changes of it's dark belly. Yardan's warriors had been summoned, but it is difficult for war to ensue when there is no visible enemy to fight. Elgil paced before his army, lost in the ever-present waiting for a sign that the strange war of Darkness had begun. Scouts had been sent out to find the Valar and to seek their help, but none had returned as of yet. Neither had the half-queen, and the people of Alqualondë waited, wrapped in their fear.
Yardan stayed in his palace, but his mind was always busy with his own fear and worry.
He spoke and ate little, and spent much of his time staring out to Sea. He thought of the Vala who had grudgingly brought the Teleri, his people to the shore of Valinor, and perhaps that the reason for this was in a higher hand than his. He did not see the strange webbed hand again, though he tried with every flash of lightning that passed over the Sea. Every new day he struggled to grasp what might explain all of the strange goings-on, but his mind could only return to one answer: Morgoth.
Tears welled up in his eyes and he sank into his throne. A breeze swept through the open room, cold and strange. The king buried his face in his hands, lost and hopeless. Thunder roared and he looked up. Through a haze of tears he looked out over the Sea, seeing nothing, he gritted his teeth and wept.
"Where are you, O Mighty Ones," he said between sobs. "come quickly, for we have met the darkest hour of the Firstborn."