Legolas spun away from the slashing blade of a roaring orc, and sliced his knife into his target, the exposed oily flesh of the creature’s abdomen, and his foe fell with a screech that echoed eerily through the trees of the suddenly still forest. He jerked his blade free, his eyes darting about for more movement, though there was none, and Legolas slowly came to the realization that there were no more orcs to fight. He straightened, his chest heaving as he stared about him at the ground littered now with the foul carcasses of orcs, an affront to the fair forest in which their bodies would rot. But the nightmare was over. Those orcs not slain, had fled, and were gone. And he and Gimli, at least, still stood.
He glanced at the Dwarf who stood by, his ax clenched within his fists as he cursed the corpse of the last orc he had slain, in his own choppy language and kicked at the foul thing with his thick boot, before he turned, and looked up at the Elf with fury in his eyes.
“Where’re the rest of `em?” He growled.
“Gone.” Legolas said breathlessly. “Come. We must find the others. I do not know what has become of Lalaith.”
At the mention of her name, the fury on the Dwarf’s face abated, giving way to a look of concern, and he followed only all too willingly as Legolas darted down the hill in the direction Aragorn had disappeared. Orc bodies lay scattered at irregular intervals down the slope, doubtless, the work of Aragorn’s blade as he had fought his way toward Boromir. But when he reached the bottom of the hill, he found something that gave him both hope and fear in the same instant. An orc lay sprawled on its back, its grotesque mouth still open in a sneer, as if it had been cut down mid-roar. But this was not what caught Legolas’ attention. Rather, his eyes rested upon the long white feather fletchings of the arrow jutting from its throat. Lalaith had been here. She had encountered at least this orc, and had slain it.
Legolas glanced northward, in the direction from which he had heard the call of the Horn of Gondor. If Lalaith had killed this thing, then perhaps she was with Boromir after all. Legolas turned and sprinted in the direction from whence the blast from the horn had come. Gimli followed behind him, but fell back quickly, his stout Dwarf legs unable to match Legolas’ blistering pace.
The alarm Legolas had felt at the first sight of an orc pierced through with one of her arrows only grew all the more as he past slain orcs, more than half of them slain by more of Lalaith’s arrows. A black heaviness settled in the pit of his stomach. What would he find when he arrived at the end of this trail of dead orcs? He dared not imagine.
Legolas’ heart nearly stopped, and he skidded suddenly to a halt, chest heaving, as he leaned down, and snatched up what had once been his bow, the bow he had gifted to Lalaith, from where it had lain abandoned on the trail beside a group of slain orcs. Why had she dropped her bow? Where was she?
“Lalaith!” He cried into the trees about him, despairing as he heard only his own voice echoing back at him. He could hear Gimli’s labored breathing approaching from behind as the sturdy Dwarf fought to catch up with him. But he wholly ignored his friend, and sprinted onward, up and over a slight dip in the forest.
He slowed at last to a stop at the sight that met his eyes within a slight clearing of trees. The floor of the clearing was strewn thickly with the slain bodies of orcs, and one lay at his feet, its right arm and head severed cleanly from its body. Aragorn was kneeling some distance away over Boromir who lay back against the roots of a tree, the shafts of three black arrows piercing his chest which rose and fell with quick, shallow, pain filled breaths. Nearby, Lalaith’s knives lay askance upon the ground near Boromir, as if they had been dropped in the midst of a fight, the blades covered thickly with black orc blood.
Boromir’s eyes were dim, but still they glimmered with recognition when they alighted upon the Elf.
“Legolas.” Boromir choked, his voice thick with misery.
At the name, Aragorn glanced up as well, his own expression weighted and drawn down in a grimace of sorrow.
“Forgive me.” Boromir gasped with a sob as Legolas drew nearer, fighting to hide the panic that welled within him. “Forgive me. I tried.”
His words brought a wave of icy fear crashing down upon Legolas. “Where is Lalaith?” He pleaded, dropping heavily to one knee across from Aragorn. “Where is she?”
At the sound of her name, Boromir closed his eyes, and choked on a sob. “They took her, and the little ones.” He managed to choke.
“Frodo?” Legolas breathed, despair weighing his heart.
“Merry.” Boromir shook his head. His movements were jerky and weak. “And Pippin.”
“I let Frodo go.” Aragorn muttered, almost to himself, the despair in his tone echoing the emotions that roiled now within Legolas’ heart. “And I sent her with him. I told her to stay with him.”
“I tried to take the Ring from Frodo.” Boromir choked in a ragged, heavy voice.
“The Ring is beyond our reach now.” Aragorn answered gently, though Legolas could find no words in himself to speak. He felt suddenly hollow, as if everything warm and good within his heart had been torn out, leaving a throbbing, bleeding void of fear and pain within him.
“Lalaith?” Questioned Legolas again, denying to himself what he had just heard, his face a mask of grieving disbelief. He would not, he could not believe she was gone. Taken by those-, what would they do to her?
A soft sob escaped Boromir’s lips. “I was too weak to keep them from taking her.” He paused, breathing raggedly, before he clumsily grasped at something that lay upon the ground beside him, and slapped it feebly into the Elf’s hand. “But this I can return.”
Aragorn’s face took on a look of mild surprise, at Lalaith’s golden sapphire ring they had long thought lost where it rested upon a handful of bloodied, crumpled leaves in the Elf’s palm. But Legolas’ face expressed no change.
“It was never mine to take.” Boromir continued between ragged breaths that brought up blood.
Legolas’ expression, his eyes focused as if on something in the far distance, did not give any indication that he had heard, until he spoke, his voice even and still. “You love her.”
Boromir did not speak. But choked instead, on a quiet sob, affirming his silent answer. “It matters not.” He muttered at last, fighting for breath, and choking on his emotion. “I am weak, and unworthy. She allowed Frodo to escape me. And for that, I almost struck her before I came to my senses.”
Legolas’ face was filled with a quiet grief, his eyes still focused upon something only he could see within his mind. His expression gave no indication of change.
“In spite of what I had nearly done, she forgave me readily, as is her way.” Though his face did not change, Legolas nodded slightly in agreement with Boromir’s weak, ragged words. “And it was then that I spoke of what I have felt for her from our first meeting. And I-, I-,” Boromir drew in a ragged breath and blurted, “I kissed her, Legolas.”
Though Aragorn’s brow furrowed in sober thought at this confession, Legolas’ countenance changed not at all as Boromir finished, “I beg you, do not fault her, for though she permitted it, she did not return it. She loves no other but you.”
Boromir drew in and released a breath that spotted his lips with bright flecks of blood as he added in a sad whisper, “I would ask your forgiveness, but I know I do not deserve it.”
“But you fought for her, and took three arrows in her place.” Legolas managed. His voice was even and still, though a distant look of fear and grief rested in his eyes. “How can I not forgive you after what you have sacrificed for her?”
Boromir shook his head miserably. “I could not stop one arrow.”
This, at last, elicited a change in Legolas’ countenance, for he flinched, and a soft groan escaped his lips as his head dropped, his eyes clenched shut in agony. “Then she is dead?” He whispered in a pain filled voice, dreading the human’s answer, and seeing the fair face of his love in his mind, laughing merrily beneath the bright sun of happier times. He could still feel the blissful softness of her, safe within the circle of his arms, and taste the sweet, moist dew of her mouth. She was half of his soul. He could not go on, if her heart was not there to answer the pleadings of his own heart. Were she to die, he would fade as well, and pass beyond the boundaries of the living world with her.
Boromir furrowed his brow, fighting to remember the events of the past minutes. He had thought she was dead, but as the orc carried her away, her eyes had opened, and her gaze had met his for a brief moment. “No, she lives.” He breathed raggedly. “But I could do nothing to keep her from falling into their hands. I have failed you all.”
Legolas’ eyes fell to the black arrows punching through the Man’s chest. Doubtless he had fought like ten men in an effort to protect her and the two Hobbits.
“No, Boromir.” Through the fog of his grief Legolas heard Aragorn speaking. “You fought bravely. You have kept your honor.” Aragorn made as if to retract one of the arrows.
“Leave it.” Boromir hissed through his pain, grasping Aragorn’s hand to stop him. “It is over.” Tears shone in his eyes as he spoke. “Lalaith and the little ones are lost. The world of Men will fall, and all will come to darkness. And my city to ruin.”
He grasped the other Man’s shoulder with what could only have been the last of his strength, as if silently begging Aragorn to refute the words he had spoken.
“I do not know what strength is in my blood.” Aragorn murmured, his words broken and near tears. “But I swear to you, I will find what is lost, and I will not let the White City fall.” He finished, his words breaking with emotion, “Nor our people fail.”
“Our people.” Boromir choked, his eyes glistening with a distant glimmer of hopefulness as if Aragorn’s words brought him a measure of relief from the pain and the grief that lashed his body. “Our people.”
Aragorn nodded quietly, affirming his words.
A look of pleading came over Boromir’s face as he turned his head, and reached for the hilt of his sword that had fallen beside him. Aragorn grasped it, and placed it into his reaching palm.
Boromir clutched his weapon close, his chest jerking rapidly as he fought for what little breath was left him. He turned to Legolas, and a sad smile came to his blood speckled lips. “Tell her-, tell her that she is worth dying for.”
Through his misery, a weak smile managed to twitch at the corners of Legolas’ mouth. “I will.” He vowed quietly, and Boromir gulped at this, and smiled weakly in thanks before he turned back to Aragorn, his eyes filled with mist.
“I would have followed you, my brother.” He drew in a ragged breath, “My captain.” His words had grown soft, but with an expression of saddened hope upon his face, he managed to finish, “My king.”
His chest fell as his last breath escaped him, and did not rise again.
Upon heavy limbs, Legolas rose and stepped back, hearing the arrival of Gimli, his breath labored, and his footfalls heavy.
“Be at peace. Son of Gondor.” Aragorn whispered in a choking voice and kissed Boromir’s still brow.
Gimli groaned, and leaned heavily over his ax, his face bent low at the scene before him.
Slowly, Aragorn rose to his feet as well, and spoke softly as a tear escaped his eye, “They will look for his coming from the White Tower. But he will not return.”
“Boromir fell defending Lalaith and the Hobbits.” Legolas murmured in a hollow voice. His eyes fell to the ring in his palm as the leaves beneath it, reddened with blood, Boromir’s, or perhaps Lalaith’s, sifted away, and drifted again to the forest floor.
“Lalaith?” Gimli grunted, and looked up, his eyes grieving. “Where is she then? Where is Frodo?”
“I do not know.” Aragorn answered wearily, cleaning and sheathing his black speckled sword. “Before he died, he told us that the orcs had taken Lalaith, and Merry and Pippin as well. We can only hope that Frodo has crossed the lake, and Sam with him.”
“Then you must go after the Ringbearer.” Said Legolas. “But first we must tend the fallen.” He glanced at Boromir’s still form. “We cannot leave him lying like carrion among these foul orcs.”
“Hmph.” Gimli muttered softly, shifting his weight, his eyes downcast. “But we must be swift. He would not wish us to linger. Not while there is hope for Lalaith and the Hobbits.”
Legolas said nothing for a long moment, but clenched his fist around the ring. With a soft breath, he slipped it back onto his smallest finger, remembering again what it meant to him. What she meant to him. It was such a small piece of her, so inadequate, when he longed so much to have her here, to shelter her within his arms, and to protect her from all that would hurt her.
He would find her, he vowed to himself, if he had to hunt the orcs that had taken her, all the way to Mordor.
Boromir lay restful, peaceful within the funeral boat they had lain him in, his hands across his chest clasping the hilt of his sword, his shield at his head, while several weapons of his vanquished enemies lay at his feet.
Legolas watched silently as the boat rocked softly upon the water, caught upon the current that carried it with increasing swiftness toward the falls. Upon his back, he carried Lalaith’s bow as well as his own, and her knives as well, along with the small daggers of Merry and Pippin, that had been found among the bodies of the orcs that he had hoped against hope, he might give back. The misty cloud rising ever above the Falls of Rauros closed round the boat, and it became a dark spot within the silver shimmer of mist, between the jutting peak of Tol Brandir and the sloping side of Amon Hen, and then suddenly it vanished. Rauros roared on, unchanging.
For a while, the three companions remained silent, gazing after him. Then at last, Legolas turned, and broke the silence as he strode with purpose toward the one remaining boat. Aragorn watched him unmoving from where he stood, tightening the bindings of the bandages that swathed his few wounds.
“May the Valar forgive me that I cannot keep my oath to the Ringbearer.” Legolas grasped the prow of the boat, pushing it toward the water. “For I will follow Lalaith. But you must hurry. Frodo and Sam have reached the eastern shore.”
Glancing back, he paused. Aragorn had not moved, but stood as he had, checking the bindings of his own wounds, a thoughtful look upon his face.
Straightening, Legolas turned back. “You mean not to follow them?”
“Frodo’s fate is no longer in our hands.” Aragorn said quietly.
Legolas paused, letting the import of what Aragorn had said, sink into his mind.
“Perhaps it has been in vain.” Gimli grunted, drawing closer to stand beside Legolas’ shoulder. “Perhaps the Fellowship has failed, but I would go with you, my friend, were it my choice. To find the Hobbits, and that Elf-girl of yours.”
“It is not in vain. Not if we hold true to each other.” Aragorn affirmed, coming and clapping a hand upon the shoulders of his companions. “I would go after Lalaith as well, for Frodo is no longer in need of our help. You need not hunt her captors alone, Legolas. For none of us will abandon her, or Merry and Pippin to torment and death. Not while we have strength left.”
He turned, strode to a nearby rock and caught up his curved knife. “We travel light.” He stated, turning back to Gimli and Legolas. Clapping his knife into its sheath, he said with a terse grin, “Let’s hunt some orc.”
For the first time since he had learned of her capture, Legolas felt a ray of hope light upon his heart, and he managed a slim smile as Gimli chuckled, and crowed, “Yes!”, before he burst in a run, swift for a Dwarf, after Aragorn who had started away through the trees. Legolas’ own feet, suddenly lighter than they had been before, darted swiftly after his friends, into the shadows of the trees.
Phew! I’m done! (With the Fellowship of the Ring, anyway. I won’t be so cruel as to leave you hanging.) I’ll start on The Two Towers shortly. I’m thinking of a different title to separate the books as Tolkien wrote them, so that I don’t end up with 90+ chapters. Tell me what you think of “Lalaith Elerrina–Child of Valinor” (since we found out where she’s from) If you would kindly give me an opinion on that title, I would appreciate it!