Legolas had been unable to tear his eyes away from the transfer of power. The more Durndil grew in might, the more Legolas felt cold foreboding fingers closing around his heart. Then, on the verge of giving up, a thought came unbidden to the Prince of Mirkwood’s mind. He thought of the prophecy. Something bothered him about it. There was some piece he should have connected. He closed his eyes to concentrate. Something about…His eyes snapped open.
“Aldariel, I’ve got it!” He exclaimed.
Aldariel heard Legolas’ voice as though it were afar off. She tried to focus on his voice, on his words.
“Aldariel, it’s a riddle. The prophecy…you have to sing…do it now!”
Then she understood.
Most of all, of this one beware, the maid who sings like the birds of the air. She didn’t hesitate. Aldariel’s melody smoothly drifted upon the air, an Eldarin sea-song of old. So beautiful was her voice that the walls stopped their creaking to hear it.
No song before or since has been so captivating, save Luthien Tinuviel’s refrain, and the music of Iluvatar. All who listened seemed to fall under a spell.
The wyvern, who had been flying in circles in the air above them, now stopped in his routine and hovered, feeling a strange stirring deep inside.
Even Durndil himself paused in his reading to listen. When Aldariel ended her song, the air lay heavy with a profound silence.
Aldariel lifted her eyes to meet the smoldering gaze of the creature above with a wordless exchange. The silence was broken by a shattering cry as the wyvern answered; plummeting toward the one he once called Master. Durndil was waking as from a dream, but he was doing so too slowly. In his eyes burst the fires of realization, and at the last second, the Dark Prince vainly threw his hands up in an effort to protect himself. The sounds of shattering rock and bones crunching echoed in Aldariel’s ears. Durndil and the Cheberacoi were destroyed together. The wyvern viciously tore at the body, spraying the walls with blood.
Looking away, Aldariel smiled tremulously at her shocked companions.
“Well, I guess that’s that.”
They all burst into cheers. Layiwen and Deliphy ran up and hugged her.
“You did it!” Farand exclaimed joyfully.
“No,” Aldariel corrected, “We did it; and there’s much to do before we can celebrate victory.”
She looked at Legolas and grinned, “Perhaps we should start with freeing poor Legolas.”
At the setting of the sun on that same day, the day which would henceforth be known as the “Day of the Maidens,” the company could finally rest.
Farand, Haldir, Deliphy, Layiwen, and Aldariel, carrying Legolas, found their way back to the remainder of the Captain’s men, camped outside the great forest. Under Farand’s command, they cleaned up the remaining orcs and Wildmen. Layiwen had commanded that messengers be sent to Lorien and the Leafer Kingdom, telling them of the armies of orcs camped beyond their borders. Durndil’s armies would have the tables turned on them. Layiwen, Deliphy, and Aldariel each took a piece of the shattered Cheberacoi and placed it in their necklaces as a sort of keepsake. The rest of the stone was buried. The wyvern, it was decided, should go free. At first no one was sure this was a good idea, but Aldariel argued strongly for it. “He’s no longer a danger to anyone. He realizes he has free will.” The wyvern was loath to go, as he had already become attached to Aldariel. She looked straight into his eyes. “Go now, you’re free to live your own life.” As they all watched, the wyvern gave a mighty cry, a cry of freedom; and then he launched into the air and quickly faded from sight. Aldariel sighed deeply as Deliphy put an arm around her shoulders and guided her back to camp.
At the end of the day, a great celebration was held in which the three elf maidens were honored and praised. Legolas, Haldir, and Farand also gained recognition for their acts of great courage.
“You know,” Deliphy said, cheeks flushed, “I’m still not sure what the whole deal was with that’s stone.”
Aldariel laughed, the first time she had done so since her wild ride with Legolas through the forest. “I’ll tell you all about it sometime,” she said.
A lively jig was struck up by some of the soldiers who had brought their instruments from home. Layiwen and Farand were the first to start dancing; their eyes alight with joy at being in each other’s presence.
“Look at those two,” Deliphy sighed.
Then Haldir proffered his arm, and the two of them were off.
“There’s that look again,” Aldariel muttered. As she watched the happy couples dance, Legolas came up and tapped her shoulder.
“What did I tell you?” she jokingly scolded.
Apparently, even with a splint on his leg, Legolas was still stealthily silent. He smiled, but said nothing as he sat down beside her. After a long moment, Legolas spoke, “What happened, Aldariel?”
She knew what he was talking about.
“The Valar sent me back. They said I had much left to do in this life, and that I hadn’t really lived yet,” she said.
Legolas digested this information.
“Wow,” he breathed.
“I know,” Aldariel sighed.
Legolas took her hands, holding them in his own. “When I thought I had lost you, a part of myself died. I was going to do what you asked of me, then join you in the Halls of Mandos.”
Tears began to well in Aldariel’s eyes.
“Legolas…” she started.
Legolas put a finger to her lips, stilling her protest. “But don’t you see?” he said softly, “You came back, and the piece of my heart that had withered has now flowered again. I am nothing without you Aldariel. You complete me, make me whole.”
Aldariel could feel herself trembling, “I love you too Legolas, more than my own life.”
The two embraced. As they slowly pulled apart, their eyes, so close to each other, locked, and their lips met in a gentle kiss. Deliphy, watching the two of them, smiled. Aldariel was healed at last.
The next day dawned bright and clear as the heroes set out for the Leafer Kingdom. The princesses were excited at the prospect of seeing their father again; and enjoying some well earned peace.
“I cannot wait to walk in our fair gardens again,” Deliphy said longingly to her sister. They had ridden for many miles when suddenly the wooded land they were in opened to a great plain overlooking the kingdom of Rohan. Here Legolas halted his conversation with Haldir and rode to the highest point he could find, obviously troubled by something. The others followed.
“What is it?” Aldariel asked.
Legolas pointed to the east, where to their keen eyes was seen a great billowing of smoke far in the distance.
“Mordor,” Layiwen breathed.
“I fear our time of joy will be short,” Legolas said somberly, “A power much greater than the Prince of Shadow has once again awakened to its full might. A time of darkness and trials will come, in which the free races of Middle Earth will join to fight this foe. I cannot foresee whether we will win or lose, only that our darkest hours are yet to come.”
They watched the dark cloud apprehensively. Then Aldariel slipped her hand into her Love’s.
“But hope will remain, far past when it should have died; and it will come unlooked for, to aid those in need,” she said softly. Facing the darkening sky, her face was set in a new determination,
“Whenever evil comes forth to destroy, we will always be there to fight it.”