Morgiel awoke to the sound of running water. This perplexed her, for she did not recall the sound when she had fallen asleep under a tall tree the night before. She sat up to investigate where the sound was coming from and was met with a startling sight. All around her was dense forest, and it was unfamiliar. She did not see any clear trails, let alone the forest path the company had been travelling. The sound of water was directly behind her, but she could not see the source. The air was close, too, but Morgiel did not mind. It was still night, but she could tell by the slight stirring of the trees that dawn was approaching soon. She looked about for signs of the others, but the only thing she saw was Núranor. He was fast asleep, although his eyes were wide open. Morgiel noted that he had not started when she did, and she also noted that he was clasping the hilts of a naked sword. Her hand instinctively went to her left side and she found that her sword was not there. She walked carefully over to where Núranor was still sleeping, and as she did, she pulled out the small dagger that Núranor had failed to find. She did not stop walking until she was directly over his stretched-out form, then she nudged his arm with her foot.
“Get up, brother,” she said tersely, and she made sure her dagger was where he could see it clearly.
He started then, and looked up with much surprise, but that look quickly faded into cunning. He stood up slowly, taking care not to break eye contact with Morgiel. He held her sword loosely at his side, but Morgiel saw that he was ready to use it if he must.
“Is something wrong, sister?” he said, smiling slightly. He nodded towards her upraised dagger. “What is the meaning of this?”
“You answer me that question, Núranor,” she replied, brandishing her dagger at him. “Where are we? Where are the others? Why are we here? And why do you have my sword?”
Now Núranor laughed, as though Morgiel was a child, but when he looked at her, his intensely green eyes were dark with malevolence. “Which question shall I answer first?” he said quietly. “We are deeper in the forest, and farther away from your precious Legolas and your other friends; we are here because I brought you here, and I suppose you could say that I kidnapped you, but I thought you would have been clever enough to figure that out yourself. And I have your sword because I know how well you can use it, and I wanted to lessen the risk of you using it against me. Is all of this clear?”
Morgiel nodded, too enraged to speak. Núranor took advantage of this and continued.
“You really should have destroyed me when you had the chance, dear sister. I told you that I could not be trusted or saved, but your dear heart, so full of love and compassion for all things lost, blinded you from seeing what I really was–or am, since I have succeeded in taking you away from your loved ones. Now you shall know what it is to be alone, as I have been all these long years.”
“What are you going to do with me?” Morgiel whispered.
“Actually, I have not figured that out just yet. For the moment, we are going to continue to move deeper into the forest, so we had better start now, since the sun will be rising very shortly, and we do not want the others to catch up to us too quickly.” With that, he grabbed Morgiel’s wrist and started to walk away. However, Morgiel remained firmly where she was, causing Núranor to round upon her in frustration. He kept hold of her wrist, but stood inches away from her face. Keeping his gaze locked on her, he wrenched the dagger from her other hand and held it up to her neck.
“I do not want to have to hurt you, sister,” he said through clenched teeth.
“I hope you have not been careless with your tracks, brother,” Morgiel said dauntlessly, “for Aragorn is one of the Dunedain of old, and there is no greater tracker than he. And Legolas knows this land most exceedingly well, for it is his home. I highly doubt that you will get away with kidnapping me, Núranor.”
Núranor turned to Morgiel and smiled deviously.
“Oh, but I already have, sister;” and he took her by the wrist and began to lead her deeper into the forest, always heading northeast. Morgiel said nothing and followed her brother. She did not try to escape, for her sword, Círunya, was still in Núranor’s clutches, and she did not want to risk anything just yet. So as they walked she did the best she could to leave very noticeable tracks, so as to ease the task of finding her and Núranor, and she purposefully walked so slowly that Núranor had to practically drag her.
The sun was just overhead when Núranor threw Morgiel to the ground and said, “Rest.” She sat up and in one quick thought decided to feign an injury. She suddenly winced and cried out when she tried to stand up. Núranor instantly took notice of this and turned to her.
“What is wrong?” he said harshly.
Morgiel reached for her left ankle and also managed a couple of tears. She lowered her head as if in pain and peered up at Núranor through her fiery hair.
She groaned. “My–my ankle. It was turned when you threw me to the ground. Now I shan’t be able to walk, and I suppose you must carry me.”
“I shall do no such thing!”
Núranor knelt down at Morgiel’s feet and began to take off her left boot. She cried out again when he moved her foot, but he did not look up. Just as he had almost finished, Morgiel reached for the hilt of her sword that stuck out from where Núranor had strapped the scabbard to his back. She inched her hand slowly until her fingers touched the metal tip that was left uncovered when the hilts were bound with leather.
Now she gripped the hilt and in one swift move unsheathed Círunya and held it to Núranor’s heart.
“Get up,” Morgiel said flatly.
Núranor slowly stood to his feet while Morgiel did the same, all the time holding the tip of her sword to his chest. The sword wrent a hole in his tunic as he stood up, but Morgiel did not falter in her grip. She saw his hand creep toward his own sword and she slapped it with the flat of hers.
“Do not move, brother. You have attempted that which shall not be done to me again. If you resist or try to escape I will run you through. Do you understand?”
Núranor eyed warily the Elven warrior that held him at bay. Her face was dark and grim, yet her eyes blazed green with what emotions he could not tell. As he watched her he suddenly heard the sound of someone approaching. He did not turn his head, but a shift of his eyes was noticed by Morgiel, who also turned her gaze thither.
That was the moment he had been waiting for. Swiftly Núranor pulled out his sword and lunged for Morgiel. Not caught unawares too long she swung her sword to meet his. A clash of metal rang out across the forest, accompanied by a shout in the distance. The shouts came closer as brother and sister remained locked in combat, neither one withdrawing.
The shout came from Morgiel’s left as she struggled against Núranor. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn come running towards them, weapons in hand. Legolas had two arrows fitted into his bow and pulled the string taut. He was ready to let go, but a cry from his beloved stopped him.
“No, Legolas!” Morgiel cried. There was still a form of hope that lingered in her heart for her brother, though it was quickly fading. She fought to catch his eyes with her own while keeping his sword at bay. She looked up at him and almost fell back with surprise. There was nothing behind his eyes this time. No love, no hope, no recognition of whom was desperately fighting for him still.
With this realisation, Morgiel made her choice. She whirled around the left side of Núranor to avoid the downsweep of his blade. In the same motion he rounded on her and took another swing. With tears in her eyes Morgiel took a step forward with Círunya. Time seemed to come to a jolting halt as her sword came into contact with her brother and pierced straight through. He took a step back, staggered and dropped his sword. As he fell to the ground his eyes met Morgiel’s. She dropped to the ground on her knees and pulled her brother into her lap. He seemed to be trying to say something, but the breath left his body before he could speak.
A chill seemed to wrap itself around Morgiel and her brother’s body. Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn stood by, not wanting to interfere. A short period of time passed before Morgiel laid Núranor’s body on the ground and stood to her feet. She slowly walked over to Legolas and laid her head on his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and they stood there silently. Aragorn and Gimli walked over to Núranor’s body and covered it with his cloak. Now Morgiel looked up at Legolas.
“I did not want it to end this way, Legolas. And yet, I knew all along that he could not be saved.” She blinked as she tried to keep the tears back. Legolas brushed them from her face.
“He is safe in the halls of Mandos, now, melinya, and now his heart has truly been healed. I saw in his eyes the hope that came at last. This was the only way to end his torment, and you are not to blame.”
“Perhaps,” Morgiel replied softly. She looked away, and then turned her face back to Legolas with a visage that told of her sorrow for the anger she had shown toward him in the days past. “My love–I…I am not–“
Legolas put his fingers to her lips. “I know,” he whispered.
Now Gimli came up to them. “I am sorry to interrupt you two, but we should bury the lad. He was in the wrong, but we should not disgrace the Lady’s own flesh and blood.”
“Very well,” Legolas said. He left Morgiel standing there and he and Gimli helped Aragorn dig a shallow grave for Núranor. When they had covered the body with soil, Morgiel placed a few small flowers that were growing at the foot of a great tree. She stepped back and bowed her head. Legolas stepped over to her and took her hand. Aragorn lifted Núranor’s sword and spoke. “Hereafter, this place shall be known as Haudh-en-Elendur, the Mound of the Dark Star. Do you make it so, Legolas? For you are lord of this wood.”
Legolas nodded his head in acquiescence and Aragorn handed Núranor’s sword to Morgiel. She took it gingerly by the hilt and walked slowly over to Núranor’s grave. She, too, lifted the sword and raised her face to the sky. A bit of sunlight fell through the trees and illuminated her being, and yet again she looked as a Maia of Valinor to Legolas. She opened her mouth to speak.
“Mornië umortulnyë, ar feänya evinyatië; alassë ná sinomë…” then she brought the sword down and thrust it into the earth, ever to remain standing over the Haudh-en-Elendur, as a guard and memorial to her brother.
* * * * *
The sun had just set in the West as the small company arrived at the gates of Thranduil’s Halls. They were all a little tired, and four of them were already weary of the day. They were met by Esgallach, a courier of the king’s, who immediately bowed as Legolas dismounted from Arod.
“My lord, your father wishes to speak with you at once,” the Elf said as he straightened. Legolas nodded and straightway left to see his father. As he walked away he turned to Morgiel.
“I shall come for you soon, melinya,” and he was gone.
Morgiel and Calendal dismounted and the maid led them into the caverns. She was trying to hold back her excitement in respect towards Morgiel, but it was rather hard for her. Morgiel noticed this and smiled. “It is alright, my dear friend. I am not overly grieved for my brother, for he is in a better place. It is not right that your joy should be withheld. Come, show me to our room.”
Calendal smiled back and embraced her friend. They hurried down a corridor and the others followed Esgallach, who would take them to their rooms as well.
When Morgiel and Calendal reached their room the stars had already come out. They could not be seen by Morgiel, or by anyone, for they were deep in the famous caverns of Thranduil. There were numerous candles, though, that hung from the ceiling to emulate the stars and to give light. Morgiel walked over to her bed and lay down on her back, gazing overhead.
“I want to live under the stars, Calendal,” she said. “These caverns, beautiful as they are, do not suit me well. It is true that I do not feel as closed in as most elves, for my dwarvish blood sees to that, but I could not live closed in forever, I think.”
Calendal turned to Morgiel from where she was sitting. “I think something could be arranged, my lady, for I think Legolas feels the same as you. Oohhh!!!” and her face brightened at a sudden thought. “You could be wed under the stars, my lady! That would be most beautiful indeed.”
Morgiel sat up with a smile on her face. “That would be wonderful. I am sure that Legolas would feel the same way. When he comes I will speak with him on the matter.”
Calendal came over to Morgiel from her chair and sat down on the bed. She put her arm around Morgiel and laid her head on Morgiel’s shoulder.
“Thank you, my lady, for being such a wonderful friend. I could not ask for such a friend as you. I am glad to be home, yet I am gladder that you are here to share the joy with.”
Morgiel smiled and returned the hug. “Thank you, my friend, for being here for me. I am sure that I will enjoy living here in Lasgalen, and this place will always be filled with joy, I think.”
“Yes, as you have said; alassë ná sinomë.”
Morgiel smiled at this, but there were tears in her eyes at the thought of all that she had gone through in getting here. “Joy is in this place,” she thought, “But for how long?”
* * * * *