Legolas had turned to see the seemingly dead orc bring his sword across Aldariel’s side.
“No!” He cried in horror as he watched her fall. Haldir too, had seen the whole incident. Drawing his bow, he shot the orc, killing it instantly, but it was too late. Legolas ran and dropped to the ground beside Aldariel. Her face had turned ashen gray, and her breathing, ragged.
“Legolas,” she said and tried to smile. Legolas gently lifted the edge of her tunic. When he saw the wound, his face turned white and he dropped his head. When his eyes gazed at Aldariel’s face once more, they were filled with tears.
“That bad huh?” Aldariel said softly. “Legolas, I need you to find them for me. Save Deliphy and Layiwen, and destroy Durndil,” she said, her voice more forceful than pleading.
“Aldariel…” he said, voice breaking, “Don’t go. Please, I…” Then his whole heart was revealed to him. His face and tone showed a revelation. “I need you. I love you.” Aldariel caught his tear-filled eyes with tears of her own.
“I love you too. I’ve been trying to wall up my emotions because I was afraid to feel love again,” she reached for Legolas’ hand. “But now I’m glad I have.” Legolas squeezed her hand tightly.
“This is all my fault. I promised to protect you, as I promised to protect Deliphy and Layiwen, but I’ve failed you.”
“No,” Aldariel said emphatically. “This was my choice. I knew the risks, and there was no way you could have kept me back.” Legolas gently brushed her tears away, heedless to his own.
“Please stay,” he said. Aldariel smiled understandingly.
“Save them Legolas, please.” Her breathing became slower. “I love you,” she whispered, and then she was gone, the light quenched from her eyes.
“No, Dear Varda, no!” Legolas cried out, lifting Aldariel and holding her close. He broke into wrenching sobs. “Don’t take her away from me!”
Haldir, standing a short distance away, surveyed the heart-wrenching scene with tears of his own. He walked up and put a comforting hand on Legolas’ shoulder.
“Let her go Legolas,” he said sadly. For a long moment, Legolas didn’t reply. Gathering Aldariel up in his arms, he stood up and walked back toward his tent. Then he paused and looked over his shoulder.
“I won’t fail her again,” Legolas said brokenly. His voice turned deadly with rage. “Durndil will pay dearly for what he has taken.”
Layiwen sat bolt upright, immediately wide-awake. Glancing across the room, she saw Deliphy had done the same.
“Something’s wrong,” Deliphy said tensely, “Something happened to Aldariel.”
Layiwen nodded and replied anxiously, “I felt the same thing. I hope she’s all right.” Deliphy looked outside. The dark, cold night reflected her feelings.
“Well, we can’t do anything for her by worrying,” she said sensibly, though in her heart she knew that wouldn’t stop her deep concern. “We should rest. We need to conserve what little energy we have left.” Layiwen nodded once, hesitantly, then laid back down. Deliphy followed suit. Though the two had seemingly come to an agreement, both laid awake long after, worry etched in their features. Finally, Deliphy heard Layiwen’s breathing turn shallow, and she felt herself shutting down. As her eyes closed and she slipped into welcome darkness, Deliphy thought she heard an angry yell, but it wasn’t enough to keep her from her rest. Her mind slipped into meditation and memories, consequently slowing her breathing, and she slipped the bonds of reality.
Durndil was storming from one end of his chamber to the other, his beautiful features twisted in anger. An orc was hunched, trembling at the door.
“She’s dead?!” Durndil yelled angrily
“Yes milord,” the pathetic, sniveling creature whispered. “She was disguised as a man. I hid myself during the battle, and I saw the whole thing. I knew you’d want this news right away, so I summoned your wyvern, using the scepter you entrusted to me. He got me here within the hour.”
“Why then, did it take you so long to tell me this news?” Durndil asked, voice dangerous.
“I was afraid to bring you such ill news milord,” the orc whispered.
“Rightly so,” Durndil said, then he smote the creature with a wave of his hand. Dragging the body, Durndil went to the window and whistled. A great serpentine creature with long scaled wings flew from a tall tower across the courtyard. The legless being lowered its pale yellow eyes to meet its master’s. Durndil tossed the orc’s lifeless body. With a quick snap of his jaws, the wyvern devoured his meal. “Well my pet, now that you’re here, I might as well put you to use. You and I have somewhere to go.”
“What happened?!” Farand cried in dismay as Legolas slowly walked into the heart of the now silent camp, Haldir trailing behind. “Is she….?” Farand asked falteringly as he got a closer look at Aldariel. Then he glanced at Legolas’ face, filled with anger and profound loss, and he had his answer. Farand’s soldiers gathered in droves as Legolas walked to his tent, faces drawn as they observed the fallen Princess of the Leafers. The Leafers themselves were in shock. Legolas walked into his tent without saying a word, making it clear he wanted to be alone. No one begrudged him his wish, and after a short while, the crowd dissipated. Haldir took the Captain away to explain what had befallen them. When Legolas sensed everyone was gone, he laid Aldariel on his cot, covering her with his cloak. Then, covering his face with his hands, Legolas wept.
A few hours later, after the setting of the sun, Legolas made ready to leave. Quickly and quietly, he packed only what was necessary to survive. When he had finished, he sat down beside Aldariel. Her beauty was not dimmed, though she lay cold and still. To Legolas it looked as though she was only sleeping, but he knew it wasn’t so.
“Soon, sweet daughter of the Eldar, I will fulfill what you asked of me, and then I will join you in the great Halls.” Setting his face with determination, Legolas grabbed his pack and stole out of the tent.
Farand’s camp lay quiet, unmarked by sound. No movement could be detected save a lone figure on horseback, swiftly riding north.