The overhang was cold and dark beneath its stone belly. Rayn had taken blankets out of their packs and laid them on the hard ground for them to rest on. They built a fire, not for warmth, but for making hot the sweet lumps of lissilas. For when the cold winds blow, the Elves may touch the fearsome wind, but the chill cannot touch them. The horses stood quietly in the rain, munching on the few tufts of grass that were tough enough to grow among the rocks and gravel. The sun was going down, and the land became dark beneath the cloud and the rain. The Army of the Living had created an Elven wall around the little camp, and none could come through.
Rayn handed out wafers of lissilas to the Elves, and even Aer took some. He soon went out to keep watch, and Balved followed, taking his meal with him. When they had gone Legolas went to his blanket and sat on it. Pulling a knife out of its sheath, carefully, so as not to touch the hilt, he pretended to sharpen it, while over the blade his bright blue eyes kept flickering upward, stealing glances at Rayn. She captivated him, her fearsome eyes glinting in the firelight. She had let her long hair down off of her head and it fell straight and shimmery down her back. With a small knife she sat, chipping intently at a piece of stone that she had cut from the rock.
“Your eyes wander from your work, Legolas,” she said.
“As they should, if you are present,” Legolas replied swiftly.
“Surely I am not that beautiful?” Rayn said, looking down at her work.
“But you are.” Legolas rose and moved closer to her. Leaning his face close to hers he said, “You are the dancing light of the moon in the sky, you are my star when there are none left above. When I laid eyes on you, my heart lept within me,” he said. His feelings for her surfaced within him, barely leaving him room to breathe.
“Why?” Rayn asked simply.
“Perhaps because our paths were intended to cross,” said Legolas. “Im mel le, Rayn.*”
The Half-Queen laid the stone upon the ground and next to it placed her knife. Drawing her knees close to her, she sat silently, as thought waiting for him to go on.
“Do you not love me?” Legols asked, drawing back. His voice trembled a little. Rayn felt a little pity for him, she wondered if his words could be true.
“I do,” she whispered. “But I have no gift for making a speech such as the one you just bestowed upon me.”
“It is enough, Lissien**, you need not have spoken a word and I would have loved you.”
Legolas’s heart pounded within him as his emotions took hold. They had been so secretive, so patient since that day in the armory, but for it all to come open on a dark, rainy night on the verge of war with the Blackest Enemy of Ened-Arma was all to much to him. He contemplated again why love must come with war. But the moment would be ruined if he dwelt on it for long, so he left his wonderings to the stars and began to utter the phrases of a poem that he had once heard from the storyteller back in his home.
Im mel le, dim er
I telep elenath hil
Im mel Nienna
“Where did you hear that?” asked Rayn, leaning her head on his shoulder.
“It is from an old tale that the Elves of the Elder Days used to tell. It tells almost all I know of Morgoth. He was never talked about overmuch, and whenever the Old Ones talked about him, they stopped when they realized that I was listening. They do not want the young Elves to learn of the First Age and Morgoth, and so I must abide with my limited knowledge.”
“In Valinor we are taught and drilled on the perils of that time, we are wanted to remember, so that we might hate any spawn of his the more,” said Rayn. Legolas nodded.
“The story ended in sadness,” he said. “The Elf who sang the song was mourning for her love.”
“Where was he?” Rayn asked.
“Morgoth slew him,” Legolas answered simply. He felt Rayn’s little shudder against him.
“But surely their paths are not ours?” Rayn whispered, almost to herself. The thought had not crossed Legolas’s mind, and in thinking of it he, too shivered.
“We must hope not,” he said.
The next morning Aer roused the dreaming Elves with a gentle push of his beak. He had not been to roost, but had kept watch throughout the dark night. Before the blackness lessened any they were back on their way through the unceasing drizzle, and the Elves knew they would not stop until they had reached the Golden Wood.
§ § §
Thranduil paced his Halls, waiting in eagerness for his son. No one would know, he decided, of the arrival of the prince. He would slip his son in silently, and the people would never know what had come about.
“Thy son?” His mind shot at him from out of nowhere. “Thou art a selfish liar.”
Thranduil shoved the thought away. He hadn’t lied, even Ulmo had called Legolas “your son”, surely that meant Legolas was the son of the King. The silent voice in his head whispered again.
“By birth?” it asked simply. “Did his mother bear him?”
Thranduil had no answer for himself. He had run from his mind for so long, hiding behind a mask of confidance and false joy. He had been selfish, and it had taken his toll. Deep inside himself he knew that when Legolas returned, his selfish, lying mind, the mind that opposed the faint whispers of truth that rang in his ears, would not allow him to let Legolas continue on his journey of fate. Or, if he did, his twisted concsience would take his body over, and might cast him over the blade of a knife, so great would be his pain at the loss of his son for a second time.
“Again, thy son. Where hath gone your sense? You know better than I…”
Again in tears the King stopped and sat on a bench in a garden that he had wandered into. He did not notice the lush greenery that wavered in the wind, nor the hooded grey figure that walked with grace and ease down the white marble path. The figure stopped before the King, reaching over his head she placed a gentle hand on his left ear.
“Have patience, fair Elf,” she said. “And do not fear. The Powers have not failed you yet.”
She turned quietly and contined on down the path. Peace swept over Thranduil; he collapsed in a heap on the cool ground, and lay in sleep for some time.
*I love you, Rayn, **Sweet Maiden.