The Light of Elbereth - Chapter 5-In Waking Dreams
The sun began to sink lower in the hills until nothing more could be seen of it. Only yellow streaks in the darkening sky gave hint of the day gone by. Legolas lay resting with his head against a tree. Thanduin had decided it was too late into the night to continue their journey and they must make camp. Yet they could not stay in the open where the orc camp had been, it was too exposed. No, they would return to the little grove of trees at the outer edge of the forest and rest there till morning. He set watches around the camp and in the trees. No one could approach within a mile and the Elves not know about it.
Legolas' watch was not till early morning, so he lay resting in the cool night. He picked up a leaf in his hand, turning it over and over. His mind could not be still. Even though they were not within sight of where he was, he knew that the dead, filthy corpses of the orcs were nearby. The thought sickened him. He had heard of orcs before, and even seen one or two, but this was the first time he had been in a battle with them. This was the first time that he had seen carrion birds shred dead carcasses with their sharp talons and beaks. The first time that he had seen the dark orc blood staining the green grass. His heart was overwrought by the sight.
He decided that he must not let them trouble him. They were evil creatures, and deserved to die, he reasoned. And if they were not destroyed, then they would have tortured and killed the Elves. It was right for them to die. Then something came over him. His heart was hardened towards them. He loathed the evil beasts, and their destruction of all that was good, they even tortured nature itself. His mouth was set into a grim line, and his hands clenched into fists lay at his sides as he thought of the pernicious creatures. His heart beat faster and he could feel the hate stirring up in him. He began to shake as he thought of the wretched evil the horrible beasts had caused. He was glad they were dead, yes. He glared in the direction of the dead corpses.
Suddenly, a wave of evil passed over him, he felt as if something were trying to take hold of him and possess him. He heard an evil whispering in his mind. He realized that the thoughts he had were not his own. He fought deep in his soul, refusing to allow whatever evil it was to take control of him, yet that was not enough. He felt as if he was losing the battle, and that he had no choice but to give up. Icy fingers grasped at his soul, yet something in his heart cried out, not something that was under his command, but something alive in itself and under it's own rule, something greater than that of the darkness, and the evil shadow passed.
He sat up, breathing heavily. He was suddenly weary, and more tired than he had ever been in his life. He looked down at his hands, they were trembling with fear. He took a deep breath. His whole body seemed to shake. He tried to calm his breathing down and shake off what had just happened, but the feeling of the icy fingers he would never forget.
Rest. It was the one thought now in his mind. His body felt so fatigued that to even lay his head down seemed like an impossible task, yet he forced himself to do it. He folded his hands on his chest, and half closed his eyes, searching in his waking dreams for comfort and stillness...
He was by a river at night, yet the dark was not evil, but beautiful in its quiet stillness. The white stars twinkled in the sky and a gentle breeze stirred his soul. He sat down against a mallorn tree, running his hands over the cool smooth bark. He dearly loved those trees. He could feel his body relaxing. He closed his eyes and took deep, slow breaths, breathing in life and peace from the river and forest around him. Music came from the water. It started low and quiet, yet soon, he could almost make out words.
Another voice joined that of the river. He smiled as he opened his eyes. She was kneeling beside him, chanting with the river. She looked up into his eyes and deep into his soul. She smiled as she sang. When her song ended he started to speak. "Eriath-" She interrupted him and put her fingers on his lips. "Be still," she said in her sweet voice, "you are weary from fighting a dark shadow, close your eyes and be refreshed." She lay her hands in her lap and started chanting again along with the water. He had no choice but to do as she said.
As he listened to the sweet music, a great burdened seemed to lift off his shoulders. It had a rejuvenating effect on his heart and mind; a new life was poured into him. For a while, he merely rested his mind and body. His limbs were stretched out and he allowed the ground to bear his full weight. Long he listened to her songs, mingled with those of the water. Soon he felt completely refreshed. He opened his eyes. He tried to understand the words she sang, and though they were in Elvish, he did not know what she was saying. It seemed to be some kind of prayer or song about Elbereth.
Eriathiel finished chanting and opened her eyes. She smiled as she looked upon him. Her song had the desired effect, for he appeared to be rested and full of life. She started to get up to leave, but he called to her. "Please, don't go." She sat again beside him. "Do you..." Legolas said searching deep into his memory, "do you know what happened to me tonight?" A cloud passed over her, her face became grave, and all the forest around them went quiet. Even the water made no sound. He thought he saw a shadow in her eyes, and that somewhere in the depths of her being, she too was weary and tired beyond all knowledge. A quiet understanding came to his mind.
"It was you." The memory of the shadow was as real to him as life. Legolas continued. "You cried out from my heart, you made the evil pass!" His eyes searched her face. There were traces of pain there. "Yes," she whispered, so softly that he wondered if she really spoke, or if he had just imagined it. No, she was looking down at the ground, and her eyes were sad. He knew that it was her. The river began to softly gurgle and bubble, and sounds returned in the forest. The birds once again sang their song, and all was restored. Whatever had bought on the shadow had left.
Her face cleared and she stood up. He rose up with her. She smiled as she looked into his face, and sweet laughter could be heard on the riverbanks. "Go now, it is soon time for your watch." Her musical voice was in his ears. As she turned to leave, he took her hand. Eriathiel looked up at his face. He spoke in a gentle voice. "I do not understand all, but I thank you." For a few moments they stood smiling at each other. Then he released her hand and they both turned to go, walking away from each other. They looked back as they left, neither wanting to go. But like all dreams, each must have its end...