Rayn walked into the room where Legolas slept, she gazed at his unseeing form; knowing he was aware of her presence yet unresponding to her. She knelt next to the couch and caressed his golden head, watching him in the only peace she realized he could find. She clasped his hand in hers and thought of what his life must have been like, in the thick of the great war which the queen Galadriel had spoken of when she arrived on Tol Eressëa, when Avallonë was not a ruin. And now she was finally going to war, and to fight a real fight, not the mock battles which had become so easy for her. She would not let her people die, and she would not let Ymir stop Legolas from seeing those lands which his heart plainly desired to see in their full beauty. She sighed. But he would have to wait.
Legolas stirred, his eyes focused, and he saw Rayn next to him, her long hand in his.
“How far have we gone?” he asked.
“There are yet nine days, as far as good weather prevails,” she answered, he sat up, and she moved to sit next to him.
Legolas hesitantly placed his arm around Rayn’s shoulders, pulling her closer to him. He rested his head on hers and teased her ear with whispered song.
“Luthien a Beren, golo le i dénië?”*
“I do,” she said.
“It has been in my mind for a long while…where did you hear it?”
“From an elven queen called Galadriel, who came to our shores a few years past,”
“Galadriel came to Alqualondë?”
“Yes, and departed to the isle of Estë, in Lorien,” Rayn replied, puzzled at his knowledge of the name.
“I did not know she came here, was anyone with her?”
“Yes, a wizard of Middle-earth, and also a little man, called himself a hobbit, I think,”
“Frodo!” Legolas cried.
“Yes, that was his name! How do you know?” Rayn asked, thoroughly perplexed.
“I journeyed long with him in defense of all of Middle-Earth,” he sighed. “And again I must do it, but this time alone.”
“You are not alone! I have told you before that we are your friends, Balved and I. And Aeraew,” she added.
“We are quite a foursome,” Legolas remarked.
“Ah, but we will prevail, I feel it, though something lurks behind the thought; I cannot place it,” she said.
“There are always enigmas, and the presence of mystery will never fail until the end of days, when the Valar sing high again,” Legolas said.
“I look to them, and then I may again see my mother,” Rayn said longingly.
“We shall,” he replied.
§ § §
So the journey across the wide water went. Somehow the time passed more slowly for Legolas, and the trip seemed to take longer. By the eve of the third day they reached the island of Númenor. They were greeted at Andúnië by a single elf, and they were permitted only to dock the night and to be on their way when “dawn stirred softly in the breeze”. Rayn remembered little past that, for she stayed shut away, rarely seeing anyone and then only Legolas or Balved. She sat in silent and awkward grief, unknowing of what she grieved for, and why. Legolas did his best to console her, but for the most part paced the deck of his ship, silent and alone as Rayn.
He reveled in the ocean, and took joy in watching the waves roll and tip around him. Sometimes he sang, lifting his voice in his high elven tongue, and all who heard him stopped to listen, and all who saw him gazed in wondering stupor as though they looked upon one higher than they knew. In his words they saw Aman, but never as they had seen it before, adorned and growing with things not wrought, though it seemed, with elven hands. The realm had grown more beautiful in the voice of Legolas, no longer pitted and ruined with Ymir’s bitter mind. Reluctantly they returned to their tasks, speeding the swan-boats along with swift strokes of their oars, strengthened by the sound, full of life, and with a deep, endless beauty as that of even a Silmaril. He found himself delighting more and more in the Sea, and though the great majesty of the forest and the love that he held for it never completely ceased, he fell in love with the ocean, and wrote verse in his mind about it, and himself, and that which he did not completely understand. Such was one he shared with Rayn on the afternoon of the fifth day. She did not remember it all later, but one stanza stirred within her heart and flew away with her in her mind ever after; that one she remembered.
“He who laughed long will cease,
She who grieved will laugh much more,
And he who laughed long in the forest
Will weep in the tree by the shore,”
She kept those words of Legolas close to her thought, and repeated them to herself every day as she waited for the long shoreline of Middle-Earth, “Ened-Arma”, to come into veiw.
Areaew grew fast. His feathers got longer and he could most often be seen on Balved’s shoulder, though the little bird was deeply attatched to Legolas, who he seemed to know was a kindred spirit in his loss of his home and his love for the ocean. He squeaked and cried and fluttered about everywhere. Balved tried frantically to keep the gull under his control, but Aeraew, or Aer, as he was called by Balved, defied and rebelled and resisted every effort to make him keep quiet, and in the noontime of the seventh day it got him into trouble.
Balved ha been playing with him on the deck of the ship. Legolas was nearby, pacing as usual, every now and then stopping to survey the rest of the fleet behind them. Behind him he heard Balved cry out.
“Aer! Aer, no!”
Legolas spun around to see Aeraew on the deckrail, calling happily to his kindred in the sky. Before Balved could reach him, the bird took off, fluttering precariously over the water. He dropped, but, being the seabird that he knew he was, he stayed afloat, and bobbed in the little lapping waves by the boat. He spread his wings, and, though he still had much practice left, as was clear, he leapt into the air, and soared over their heads. Rayn walked up behind Legolas and watched as the little gull dipped and dived, tipping off balance and nearly falling once.
“He is a wonder,” she whispered, and Legolas nodded his agreement. Aeraew flew back toward the boat, and made a crash landing at Legolas’s feet. The elf scooped the gull up in his hand, and held him up. Aer playfully pecked at Legolas’s nose, and the prince grinned.
“Come with me, young one,” he said, and placed the bird on his shoulder. He walked to his cabin, and closed the door behind him. Setting the bird on the floor, he pointed to the open window.
“You are not to fly out, understood?” he said.
The gull bobbed it’s head, and Legolas laughed; Aeraew fluttered onto the couch in the small room, and tucked his beak under his wing. A knock came on the door.
“Yes?” Legolas called. Erindor stepped into the room, and nodded his head at the prince in a sort of half-bow.
“Where do you want to land?” he asked. “Our best choice would be Dundland, for it is fastest to travel thither, but if you wish to travel farther north-“
“Nay, Erindor, it is south I wish to go,” Legolas inturrupted. To Dol Amroth, for I wish to travel northward, but through Gondor and Rohan, there are men who would be glad to join us there, and in Rohan we may obtain steeds,” he finished. Erindor glowered at Legolas for a moment, but he didn’t argue, he turned around and stalked out the door.
Legolas sat down next to Aeraew and sighed, his discussions never turned out well with Erindor. He touched gently the hilt of one of his knives, and his fingers glowed and became their usual blood red. He felt the power course through his arm and into his body he smiled at the secret, and the world began to tumble, and turn to waves before his eyes as his heart beat faster and faster. He dropped his hand, and was startled by the sound of a gasped breath behind him. He knew who it was before he turned to look. Standing inside the door of the cabin, agape at what she had seen, was Rayn, the half-queen of Yardan.
*Luthien and Beren, you know the tale?
DISCLAIMER: I do not propose to own any of of J. R. R. Tolkiens characters, nor any places or names that before appeared in his books. Other characters and places, however, are mine, and are copyright © of Me.