The Cry of the Gull (Chapter 27) - Adventures of War
Adventures of War
When Rayn had been riding for four and a half days, she decided that she simply must stop. She slowed Rest and dropped to the ground from his back. He immediately lowered his head and began to munch on what little grass there was in the rocky terrain. Rayn looked about her curiously. She did not recognize this place.
It was barren. She knew she must be in Rohan somewhere, but even her Elven sense could not distinguish the way that the sun shone from, for the great cloud hid it from her sight. She looked about her. She wasn't worried; she knew she faced south. But how far west she had gone, she could not tell. She continued for a little while on foot, and headed into a small forest. All around her it was deathly quiet. No birds chirped in the trees, no grass rustled in the wind. Rayn looked about her warily, feeling that someone was close by.
From out of the bushes sprang twelve short but large bodies.
"Ai!" cried Rayn, drawing her sword. But the creatures were already upon her, knocking the sword from her hand and wrapping ropes and nets around her body with swift, practiced movements. In a moment she was on the ground alongside Rest, who had been captured and brought down as well. A company of Dwarves surrounded her, battle axes brandished furiously. One of them, who seemed to be a leader of some sort came forward and spat in her face.
"So, an Elf?" he said gruffly. "Not an Orc?"
"What business is it of yours?" asked Rayn angrily.
The Dwarf retrieved Rayn's sword from where it had fallen and held it above Rayn's head.
"No matter, there is no use for you anyway," he said. "Farewell."
"No! We must take her to the King!" one of the Dwarves cried out. The others voiced their approval, sending warning looks toward the Dwarf that held the sword.
"Very well," he said sullenly. "We shall take her to the King."
The Dwarves dragged Rayn and Rest behind them for a day and a night, by Rayn's judgement. Towards the south they moved, silent, concentrating on their trail, for their eyes are not as good as an Elf's, and therefore make it more difficult to see in the dark. They would not speak to the Elven Princess, and she soon gave up trying to explain who she was and why they should let her go. Rest was more violent in his protestations. He kicked and thrashed, never quiet, never still.
At dawn the Dwarves stopped in front of a sheer rock wall. From what Rayn could see of the surronding landscape, they were still in Rohan. The Dwarves conferred among themselves for a time, and finally one stepped up to the face and placed his hand in a cleft on the rock. All around his hand appeared thin blue lines until a picture of an arch appeared. Two pillars supported the arch, and two trees were planted in front of them. Their branches curved out in graceful arcs, Rayn could almost see in them the pictures and figures of the Two Trees across the Sea in her home. Between the trees was a star where the Dwarf had placed his hand. Above this was a hammer on an anvil, and above that a crown crested by seven stars. As her eyes streched further upward, she could see on the arch writing, but she could not make out the words, for it was in a language foreign to her. The Dwarf that had touched the door spoke a word in the Elvish tongue.
"Mellon," he said. The doors swung inward, for indeed the doors were two, not one. Rayn looked at them in marvel as she was dragged through and into the deep, glittering realm of a Dwarven Lord.
§ § §
Legolas had reached the wide flatlands between the Mountains of Terror and Angband, which lay to the northeast. Legolas looked often to the great Iron fortress, waves of worry sweeping through him.
For the most part they did not stop, but one night Legolas had decided to call a halt, more for Balved's sake than any other's. He slid off of Sleep and where he landed sat upon the ground, signaling that this was where they were to camp.
Aer circled gently downward and landed next to Legolas. Balved, too dropped to the ground from the horse and perched himself upon a rock. The Army spread themselves over a wide area, keeping lookout over the surrounding lands, should they have to flee oncoming evil.
Then a strange sound met the ears of the Elves and of the gull. The sound of birds calling to the northwest, far, far away.
"What a beautiful sound," said Legolas. "Often taken for granted until it is taken away."
"Aye," said Balved. "It is welcome this night. If it is night." He shivered.
"Legolas?" he asked.
"Yes, Balved?" the Prince answered.
"What do you want to be?"
Legolas thought for a minute before he answered.
"I do not think it is a question of want, but a question of what was ordained. I will do what it was meant for me to do, and be what I was meant to be, whether that is what I want or not, I do not know," he said.
"That isn't what I asked," said Balved.
"Well..." Legolas sighed, turning the question over in his mind before answering. "I want to be a King. I re-built Ithilien, but I was not it's king. Ithilien had no king, it was a common place. But I have always felt inside of me that I was a king of somewhere. Now that I know Thranduil is not my father, perhaps I am, but of where I know not."
"What of you, Balved? What do you want to be?"
"I want to leave," said Balved.
"Leave?" Legolas asked.
"Yes, I want to travel out over Ekkaia and see what I can see. They say that there is nothing out there, but that if you sail too far, you will fall off the edge of the world, but I do not believe that. I think that no matter how far you travel, if you do not find land somewhere, you will sail on forever."
"And that is what you want?" Legolas asked. "To sail on forever?"
Balved thought about that.
"Yes," he said finally. "That is what I want."
Legolas shrugged and took a packet of Lembas offered to him by Balved. Chewing on a piece, Legolas thought of another question.
"Aer, do Maiar have hopes? Dreams? Things they want to become?" he asked.
"Legolas, I have been alive since the dawn of time. I was a part of the Choirs of Eru when he brought us into being. As far as any Elf knows I have always been and always shall be,"
Legolas, feeling foolish, looked at the ground beneath his feet.
"Of course I have dreams," said the gull.
Balved, mouth full of food, looked at the Maia in surprise.
"Like what?" he asked.
Aer sighed and fluffed his feathers, and for a moment neither Legolas nor Balved thought he would answer. Just as they had given up hope that he would speak, he opened his great beak.
"I have always..." Aer stopped as if he could not let the words flee his mouth.
"I have always wanted to be an Eagle," he said slowly. "Not a lowly seabird, flopping around on the beach as I was when you found me. I want to soar, to fly with the Eagles of Manwë, and yet be Ulmo's messenger. For even in the choirs I was always his."
Legolas nodded in understanding. The company continued to eat their meal in silence. The Elven Prince wondered if there was any possibility that he might ever get his wish.
"I shall at least die trying," he thought.