He awoke to the sound of a voice close to his ear.
“Come, master elf, awaken thee from thy wounded sleep.” A tiny sliver of light entered Legolas’s head as he struggled to obey, he opened them more, and finally all the way. He beheld an elf-maiden, who spoke to him.
“Who art thou, and why dost thou come here?” she asked.
“I am Legolas Greenleaf, and I travel to the Undying Lands, seeking peace and friendship,” he said.
“Your name holds the word ‘leaf’ twice, you are of a forest, perhaps Lothlorien?”
“Nay,” he said. “Mirkwood. I was a prince there.”
“Ah, then Prince, you may find friendship here, but not peace, not in these times.” She looked across the water to a piece of land jutting out from a great mass not far off.
“Here? Then that is where I am?”
“No, you lie now on the island of Tol Eressëa, in the Bay of Eldamar. We are not far from Avalónnë, the deserted city here.”
“Is not Tol Eressëa part of the Isle of Elves?”
“Well, it is in their territory, but it is not Undying.” the elf explained.
“Who are you?” he asked. “And of what rank are you?”
“It matters little,” she said. “But I am called Rayn, daughter of Yardan, who is king on the Lands. I am know as the pher-bereth, the half-queen. I help my father in his decisions that he must make in these times. For I am a warrior, and one day I will be called Warrior Queen of the house of Yardan, if I am not slain first.” She held her head higher at her own words.
“You are a warrior?” Legolas was surprised. He had not yet met a female warrior who goes to war simply to fight.
“Yes, I was raised on the sword and the bow, our traditional weapons.”
“I was trained in sword out of custom, but my bow was my choice,” he glanced around, realizing that he no longer had his elven longbow, given to him by his father when he first went to Rivendell, nearly a thousand years ago.
“Was that bow yours, then?” Rayn drew a bow, intricately carved with branches and vines, out of her quiver. Legolas took it from her, and indeed it was his.
“Thank you,” he whispered. He looked at it a moment, then, setting it aside, he spoke.
“What war is this that you speak of? Is there war in the Undying Lands?”
“There is,” Rayn’s face became still and cold as she spoke. “A great spirit of evil grows and festers in the lands of Aman, which, though it was said would never harbor any evil, it has succumbed, and is no longer beautiful and peaceful. We call it now, Braguruth, Sudden Death, in your language. The spirit sends his mind out into the lands and contaminates them, and those who live in them, they become hostile, and they do his will. He may continue to grow and become more powerful, and eventually control the whole earth. I have heard he is of Sauron, but I cannot say.”
“How many of you have fallen to him?” Legolas asked.
“The outer reigons of Taniquetil, and the Mansions of Manwe and Varda are completely subdued. The people there murmur of war against those who are still free.” She sighed.
“I come here to get away, to think about things other than war, and that is how I found you here.”
She broke off. Legolas sat up, feeling stronger. She spoke again, almost to herself.
“To fight against my own people would be…more than I could stand. It is a sad thing when an elf dies,” a look of very far away came into her eyes. “But when an elf is killed…” She looked at her lap.
§ § §
The sun sank low in the sky. Rayn got up to gather wood for a fire. She laid a few leaf packets from a bag she carried in the flames. She let them sit for a few minutes, and when one began to crackle, she lifted it off quickly. She tossed the hot packet to Legolas.
“Here, it is called Lissilas, or Sweetleaf. Much loved among my people.”
Legolas peeled the leaf away from his share. A small, sizzling lump sat in his hand. He pulled off a little, and tasted it. It had a sweet taste, and a brownish flavor that reminded him of the forest. He ate some more.
“Dost thou like it?” Rayn said, slipping back into her formal speech.
Legolas nodded, his mouth full. Rayn laughed.
“I see,” she said.
They finished their meal. Legolas lay down in the sand next to the fire, and soon he was in the trance-like state that elves call “sleep”. Rayn looked at him, and wondered what he could be dreaming about. She smiled, but her smile quickly turned to a look of fear. She looked away quickly. She laid down with her back to him, and fell into her own sleep.