The Cry of the Gull (Chapter 18) - The Army of the Living
Shorter, unfortunately, but I need to have some time to think. Please tell me what you like better, an army of the Dead, or an Army of the Living.
The Army of the Living
By the morning of the third day on the marsh, Legolas could tell that the ground was becoming harder, and the tongues of flame that represented men and orcs, the red ones, had begun to thin out. From these signs Legolas could tell that they were coming to the edge of the marsh, and would soon need to make a decision about the geat labyrinth of Emyn Muil.
On the very edge of the marsh Aer wheeled out in front of the horses and landed soflty on the ground.
"Come, Legolas," he called. Legolas slid down off of Sleep, leaving Rayn atop the great horse. He strode to Aer and spoke.
"We must make a decision about Emyn Muil, the Dead would pass it easily, but I fear for the horses and ourselves. It is faster to go through, if we make for Lorien, but if we skirt it on the East, we might make for the land of my father."
Aer thought for a moment.
"It is unclear," he said. "Perhaps we are to make for Eryn Lasgalen through Lorien."
"That would be my guess," said the Prince. "Then we shall skirt it?"
"Yes, but we must hurry, for we must reach Lorien in three days."
Again they were on the move, galloping swiftly to the northeast, avoiding the mountains of the Emyn Muil that stood in the distance like sentinels, guarding the way to Lothlorien, the forest that lingered behind. The hard ground served a better surface for running than the soft marsh had, and therefore, the army of the Dead moved faster than they had on the marsh.
Even as an Elf Legolas could not sit atop a galloping horse forever, and finally, he called a halt.
"We shall rest here," he called out over the army. A rippling murmur echoed through the army, an eerie whistling sound. Rayn slid down from Sleep's back, and Legolas followed. Balved touched the horses on each of their faces, whispering gently, and they followed quetly to the shelter of a rock overhang, one of the first of the dangerous peaks of the Emyn Muil. The darkness covered all, but Legolas's keen elven eyes noticed that here the darkness was lighter, and continued in its growing light as it went north. They would investigate this mystery tomorrow, he decided. He turned to the army. One of the foremost Elves walked toward Legolas, his milky white eyes moved not in their sockets; he spoke, and the sound of his voice was like the wind whistling among rocks.
"We shall encircle your shelter," he said slowly, indicating the overhang. As Legolas looked back he saw Rayn watching them, in evident fear of the Dead Elf.
"Do you require rest?" Legolas asked of the Elf.
"Nay, we do not. We reqire one thing, and that is revenge."
"Do you have a name?" he questioned.
"Of course I have a name, as I assume you do also. I am Belegaran, Mighty King. How sorrrowful that I came out of that battle dead, I might have done better for this dead world had I not remained for so long in the Halls of Mandos."
"This marsh used to be green, once. Long ago." What appeared to be a look of longing spread across his transparent face. Unthinking, Legolas reached out to touch the shoulder of the being. He was suprised to find that, instead of passing through the Elf, his hand met with a solid arm. Belegaran turned his head slowly in the direction of the Elven Prince, and behind his milky white eyes came a glimmer of color. The shoulder under the hand of Legolas filled with color and material, like a body and a soul becoming united once again.
"The prophecies have spoken, young King. You gain power from the stone. The marble in the hilts of your knives, I think?" he asked, the color beginning to spread from his body to his face and limbs. Legolas could only watch in silence as Belegaran took on the shape and form of an Elf.
"You have shown us the power to reunite Life with Death. I am changed because of it. I was dead before, but at your touch I am whole. The Dead of Men were wholly dead when they marched against Sauron, as we were alive when our chance wiped us out of memory. But now we chance to march against his master, wholly alive, and wholly united with our earthen form. I must..." Belegaran gazed back at the army of the Dead, and walked on his legs to the first and centermost of the Elves. He gripped the Elf's arms, and the Elf whispered something that Legolas could not understand. This one, too, began to fill with color. The Elves around him touched him, and their fingers and hands warmed and grew in life. So the spreading of life went out among the Dead of Elves, and the sight was like a great ripple, slow, filling the once dead with new life to become and to be, at last. The grey of the Dead Marshes filled with colors, vibrant golds and reads, mossy greens, brown, grey. The Darkness above shrank more, as though shuddering and twisting fearfully at the sight of its enemy. At last, as far as the eye could see, the Elves of the Second Age had come to life, and they shone as no Elves had ever before, for in them, they bore the power and the Will to drive out all Evil; none who would chance to look in their eyes could see any way to extinguish their hatred for the destroyer of their lives, and their world.
Belegaran turned back to face Legolas. He drew a sword from its sheath at his side and lifted it above his head.
"Lead us, Legolas son of the Sea, son of Thranduil. Our journey is yours."
Legolas looked out over his army, his eyes filled with tears. Rayn walked silently to his side and she, too, looked out over the massive army. Legolas looked at her, wise and beautiful. He took her hand in his, and his heart beat fast as she clasped it.
"And my journey is also," she said. "We shall destroy Morgoth together."
Together they made their way up the hill to the overhang. Legolas's mind was filled with a mix of feelings, feelings for his new mission, for his Father in Eryn Lasgalen, and, most importantly of all, of Rayn. He had come to Valinor to find love, and to escape war. The thought crossed his mind, what if he could only do one at one time? The answer escaped his Elven mind.
Sensing a change, Legolas looked up suddenly. A smile lit up his face, for through the dark cloud, rain had begun to fall.