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Lie Down in the Darkness, Rise up from the Ash: 14. Who Might Have Met Too Late
"I could learn to hate sunset," Gimli declared, glaring at the fiery ball as he leaned against a tree with his arms folded across his chest. "With the westering sun, time feels taut, stretched out as flax upon the spindle! Long shadows it makes… and long faces!" the Dwarf added, casting a significant look at his companion who was squatting at the edge of their camp once more, gazing down at the earth… and past it to the battle grounds. Aragorn looked up, and his somber expression was lightened a moment by a brief flash of mirth for the pointed jibe.
"We may yet learn something from the field, my friend," Gimli chided gently, knowing not why he bothered to continue to insist upon hope when he felt it not. Or only very little! But the Ranger's unsettling mood had remained dark since the dawn, and Gimli knew not whether he could bear to see the other lapse back into that state of despair that he had evinced after Moria. Especially when Legolas, too, suffers and needs me. Needs us! If Aragorn falls too, then I doubt that even a Dwarf could carry them both.
Still, he understood all too well the reason for the other's seeming depression, for all day he and Aragorn had wended their weary way up and down the banks of the Entwash without finding a single trace of anything two-footed, unless it were themselves. The Ranger sighed as he rose into a stretch, then walked slowly to the Dwarf to clap him silently upon the shoulder as he, too, gazed at the sun sinking low indeed in the sky. "You speak rightly, Gimli, and I thank you for the reminder. But let us go then and make our search ere we lose the light entirely," said he.
Together, Man and Dwarf turned east once more and clambered down the short slope to the ash-strewn clearing. Gimli had rather expected the Ranger to begin at once, but instead, the other stalked towards the center of the clearing, bending his course to describe a short spiral in towards that point, and he spoke words that the Dwarf did not understand. What fey mood is upon him today? the Dwarf wondered worriedly, watching as Aragorn came to a halt facing west once more, head bowed. After a few moments of silence, the Dwarf could not bear it any longer. "Aragorn?"
The Ranger looked up with that same slight smile from that morning, and the rays of the sun lit his grey eyes with a golden brilliance, and in that moment, he seemed an unearthly creature, touched by the magic of the Eldar years. In Westron he now spoke, an enchanter working his craft, seeming to recite words long since committed to memory: "In fire ends all hope, but we are born of dearth; scatter wide the ashes then, turn the fields, salt the earth."
"What meaning, these words of yours?" Gimli asked, uncertain whether he liked the sound of them.
"Last rites for a warrior," Aragorn replied with a soft sigh as he let his gaze stray over the field once more. "The Rohirrim burn their enemies, and the ritual is very specific for laying to rest those who have fallen against them. One does not offend such custom lightly, even when need calls strongly."
"And may I now move?" Gimli asked, unsettled by this revelation. Aragorn nodded, and the Dwarf took a hesitant step upon the fields, grimacing as a puff of crushed cinder floated up. "Ominous words my friend. Do you expect, then, to find naught… or too much?"
"I have no expectations," Aragorn replied, beginning to retrace his steps slowly so as not to disturb any other marks upon the ground. Gimli, reminded once more of the need for caution, stepped carefully, trying to avoid anything that seemed like it might be a print. But for all that he searched and strained his eyes, the Dwarf could see nothing in this ruin and disorder that might help them. Apparently, the Ranger had come quickly to the same conclusion, for he uttered something in frustrated Sindarin ere he went quickly to the pile of grim weapons that stood as a stark counterpoint to the mound of the fallen Riders. Gimli joined him as the other began to very carefully pick through that pile.
Helms, shields, cruel swords and daggers, the steel-tipped heads of arrows–Gimli and Aragorn burrowed deeper, their disgust growing as they uncovered the black ground beneath. No ashes lay there, and the earth was damp and muddy with the blood of the Orcs. Soon, the Dwarf's hands were stained with the foul stuff, and it was getting into his beard as well. Still they searched, though Gimli was not precisely certain what the other thought to find among the leavings of the Orcs. Nevertheless, he continued in the grim task, gritting his teeth.
If I must bathe in Orcs' blood, I would at least have the pleasure of killing them! he thought. Mayhap I should ask what our purpose is here… but Aragorn seems to think it self-evident or he would have said something. Unless he truly has fallen under a fey spell! Something glinted, catching the Dwarf's eye just then. Recognition came an instant later and he gave a hoarse cry of dismay as he grabbed for it, nicking himself on a sword's sharp edge in his haste.
Aragorn paused in his efforts and turned to his companion. Gimli stood there, holding in his hands a large dagger, fair-wrought and set with red gems and gold damask upon the scabbard. Dulled was its glory by dirt and grime, but there could be no mistake, and Aragorn felt as though someone had punched a hole in his chest to rip out his heart. Reaching out, he touched the hilt and ran his fingers over the raised patterns that decorated the sheath. Mate to the blade that he had carried since Tol Brandir, there could be no doubt that it was Pippin's.
There is still a chance that perhaps the Isengarders retained naught but the spoils, and that the Mordor Orcs took the hobbits… but only if I ignore all that I know of Orcs. And even were Merry and Pippin bound now for Mordor rather than Isengard, still, they would be lost to us. Carry me now Arwen, if you will! Shaking his head in denial and grief, he grabbed the Dwarf by the shoulders and half-shoved him from that deadly mound. Gimli staggered and went to his knees, overborne by grief, and the Ranger let himself down beside the other, closing his eyes against the sting of tears.
Gandalf… Boromir… Merry and Pippin… we chose the right path, but to no avail! Isildur's Heir had lost many friends over the long years, and sorrow was no stranger to him, but this seemed such a pointless loss! Much though it hurt to consider Gandalf and Boromir, he could accept their deaths more easily, for each had been a warrior and had known well what it meant to live by the sword. In choosing that calling, or at least in taking it up willingly if not gladly, they had in some sense chosen also their deaths, however grievous, however painful, however prolonged. But the hobbits still reeked of innocence, and to one who had long been their protector, this brutal end wounded deeply, waking in him a sense of helpless outrage at the cruelty of fortune. Sobs shook him, quiet but racking nonetheless, and he was scarcely aware of Gimli weeping at his side.
It was some time ere Aragorn roused himself from the bleak stupor of grief, and by then he felt as though he had wept himself out, that come what may he would be unable to shed any further tears. In one way that was perhaps good, for he had had a chance to purge his grief for Boromir again and more thoroughly, and also to ease the heartache over Gandalf's loss as well. No more would he allow their deaths to haunt him, and so he wrapped his mourning for Merry and Pippin in fond memories and lovingly set it all aside in a closed corner of his mind and heart. There the hobbits would remain, silent company to all the other ghosts that marked his life.
Now Aragorn sat quietly, feeling strangely calm–not precisely numb, but certainly not himself yet either and he stilled the anguish that trembled and sang within him. "Come, Gimli," he murmured, gripping the Dwarf's shoulders firmly in a gesture of comfort. "'Twill do no good to remain here." Under his guidance, the other climbed to his feet, and Aragorn steered him back towards the river, for Gimli seemed still dazed or blind. Several times, the Ranger had to support him against a fall as they clambered once more through the twisted, grasping trees.
Once they reached the river, both of them knelt down and began to wash the gore off of their hands and faces. The Ranger wrung out dripping shirtsleeves and rolled them up, scrubbing his forearms with some of the river silt. Then Aragorn ducked his head under the water and came up dripping, letting the shock of the cold help settle him. Beside him, Gimli cursed softly as he tried to get the dried blood out of his beard, and his hands trembled as he picked at the clots. After a good several minutes' effort, the Dwarf swore long and bitterly in his own tongue and pressed a hand over his eyes. His other hand he laid upon his knees, and the Ranger's eyes narrowed as he noticed the scarlet trail along the back of Gimli's left hand. Without asking permission, he reached out and caught the other's wrist firmly, lightly tracing the cut, and the swollen edges of the wound. "Gimli… whence came this?"
"Hmm?" the Dwarf glanced down and frowned. "That? I must have cut myself on something… a dagger or a sword, I think, when I pulled Pippin's blade from that pile."
"Make a fist," Aragorn ordered tautly, and the Dwarf frowned.
"Do it!" With a shrug, Gimli attempted to close his hand and hissed. His joints felt stiff, painfully so, and his hand shook within the circle of Aragorn's grip. Raising his eyes to the Ranger, he saw the grim look on the other's face. "The cut is poisoned," Aragorn announced tersely. Quickly he drew his own dagger from his belt and ere Gimli could say a word, he drew the edge across the back of the Dwarf's hand, below the first cut. "Let it bleed. Better yet, suck the blood and spit it out! I shall return!"
And the Ranger was away once more, darting through the foliage with amazing speed considering the obstacle that it presented to one so tall. With a grimace, the Dwarf obeyed, cursing the Orcs and his own weariness that he had not even thought of the danger such a scratch might present. At least it is my left hand! But that might be small comfort, for some poisons spread more swiftly than others; he had thought grief had made him so unsteady on his feet, but now he had cause to doubt that.
Aragorn returned then, scrambling over the last knot of roots and bushes with blatant disregard for anything approaching his usual graceful passage, and he landed at the Dwarf's side with a soft grunt. The Ranger had his satchel with him, and he immediately withdrew a small vial filled with some sort of powdery substance. "What is that?" Gimli asked, for the sake of having a distraction.
"Ground moss," the other replied. "All Rangers carry it, for it works swiftly against most of the common poisons. Here," Aragorn dumped some of it into the Dwarf's water-skin. "Drink it down."
"This tastes like dirt!" Gimli complained after a gulp.
"Taste is the least of your worries, my friend! Drink!" Aragorn ordered, not pausing in his work. The cut was so shallow that his own stroke had done worse damage, so cleaning it was hardly any trouble. Using the same salve that he had used on Legolas, he then bound the Dwarf's hand tightly and sighed softly. "Let us hope that you need no more, and that Saruman has not 'gifted' his Orcs with anything more potent!"
"One scratch!" Gimli muttered, disgusted. Aragorn squeezed his shoulder firmly and beckoned him to rise.
"That is the way of evil: a drop suffices. I had thought to leave this place and ride some short distance, for after last night, neither of us will wish to remain beneath Fangorn's eaves. But the moment you seem to me to be worse, we shall halt."
"So long as you take me out from under these accursed trees, I doubt not that you shall note an improvement in my temper," Gimli growled.
"I shall hold you to that!" the Ranger responded smoothly, and the Dwarf harrumphed, but allowed the other to walk him back to the clearing to where Hasufel stood. The horse perked his ears up at their return, and Aragorn caught the animal's head in his hands, speaking softly to him as he stroked the velvety nose. Hasufel nickered softly and nuzzled the Ranger's chest, whether out of affection or hope of more carrots, Gimli could not say. After a few moments, the Man released the horse and began to strap their bedrolls and light packs to the animal's harness. It needed but a few minutes for him to finish, and then Gimli was boosted up into the saddle, and Aragorn settled himself before the Dwarf. "Ha! Geh, Hasufel!" Springing forward, the horse of Rohan obeyed the command, nimbly darting among and around the trees.
They burst from the forest's eaves just as the sun sank below the horizon, and the war-horse, tasting free air, let out a neigh and quickened his pace. Fangorn receded behind them, shrouding its mysteries with the night.
True to his word, Aragorn reined in only an hour after they had set out, for even a Ranger's strength is not bottomless, and he felt a need of sleep such as he seldom had before. But Gimli, also, was nodding, and he hissed when they dismounted, for the impact jarred his arm. Aragorn made him drink another medicine-laden draught of water, and insisted that the other sleep. And much though Gimli protested that he was quite well enough, the Dwarf soon fell silent, and his breathing grew deep and slow, leaving Aragorn the watch once again. And so Isildur's Heir paced in the darkness, wondering when his own luck would fail him.
Four dead, two gone into blackest peril, and of the three left behind, two are injured! It was a grim tally, and Aragorn felt his own mortality close that evening, though so far as he knew, naught crept in the hollow of the night that could threaten them. I would Halbarad were here, he thought, gazing north. Not that he lacked faith in all others, but his cousin was his oldest friend, the first one he had made among Men all those long years ago. There was something reassuring in the continuity of that relationship, a solidity that helped to anchor him, even as Arwen did. Shall I ever see either of them again? he wondered. Shall Legolas see Mirkwood, and Gimli Erebor? And what of Frodo and Sam? Where might they be now? The Ranger diverted himself with trying to place the hobbits, based upon his best estimate of their traveling speed in difficult places. They ought by now to have found a way through the Emyn Muil, and have begun the journey through the marshes. From there it would be another several days' hard travel to the Morannon, assuming nothing untoward occurred.
And that is one assumption I can ill afford! Aragorn sighed softly, standing over the Dwarf as he wavered. Though it was hardly late, he had been awake now for the better part of thirty-six hours, and the labor had been both mental and physical. Whatever might lurk in the darkness, he had to rest now or sleep in the saddle, which would hardly do when he had an inexperienced rider to bear with him. With a sigh, and hoping that indeed there was naught afoot tonight to merit concern, he lay down at Gimli's back, making certain to set Andúril down where he could easily reach it. Pillowing his head on his left arm, he closed his eyes and was instantly and dreamlessly asleep.
When he woke again, it was to a grey sky heralding the coming of dawn, and Aragorn ran a hand through the tangles in his hair, grimacing as his fingers caught in a snarl and he had to yank to free them. Pushing himself up on an elbow, the Ranger leaned over his companion who still slept soundly. But sweat drenched the other's brow, and the Dúnadan grimaced as he laid the back of his hand to the other's cheek above the beard. He is feverish! Aragorn sat up, considering the problem. On the one hand, this was not entirely unexpected, for yesterday neither of them had noticed the danger quickly enough to prevent such symptoms as usually accompanied Orcish poisons. On the other, there was still the chance that this might indicate something more exotic than the usual toxins, something that Aragorn was not prepared to combat with the medicines that he had.
Let us not think of that now, he thought to himself, checking the Dwarf's pulse. Still steady. That was a good sign at least, and if when Gimli woke, he was neither badly delirious nor in severe pain, it would be wise to continue on towards Edoras. If we rode hard, we might even reach it by late tonight, Aragorn mused. Privately, though, he was almost certain it would take them two days, simply because there was no point in pushing Gimli to the point of weakening him.
"Well, Legolas," he sighed softly, gazing south once more. "A good morrow to you, but I fear it shall be another day ere we greet you in Edoras!"
Legolas stood where his guide had left him and watched the rest of the guard detail watch him. They tried to be covert in their observation, but an Elf is not easily fooled, and the prince resigned himself to the stares and short, sharp glances tossed in his direction. It was rare that he felt self-conscious, for such feeling arises usually from a sense of self-doubt foreign to the elvish temperament. But he could not deny that today, he felt those piercing gazes as disturbing. How many are under Gríma's sway? he wondered. If the great can fall, so also can the lesser! And what shall they do now with Éomer, who has been named a traitor? He knew not the answers to his questions, but in spite of his pathetic state, he vowed he would discover them. And swiftly, for who knows when time may run out for the Third Marshal?
At that moment, a glitter of white and gold caught his eye, and he cocked his head as the guide returned. But Legolas barely paid him any attention, intent upon the one who followed in his hurried footsteps. She was tall for a woman, and her bright golden hair was loose, save for two braids that held it out of her face. White was her raiment, and a green stone glittered upon her breast. Young she was, but her eyes–blue as her brother's–were wary, as one who has known evil and greets with measuring caution the unknown. "Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, here is the lady Éowyn, the king's sister-daughter. She will see to your needs."
"My lady," Legolas greeted her, bowing ere he looked her full in the face, and was surprised by how long she endured his gaze ere her eyes flicked to the side for relief. "I hope I shall be little imposition."
"You are none, my lord, for if the king commands it, it becomes my duty. And duty is never imposition," she replied simply, and glanced at the guide. "Return to your station, Ferthalf, and tell the king I obey."
"Yes, my lady," and Ferthalf bowed quickly and left.
"Come Master Elf, and I shall show you a place where you may rest, if you will, and acquaint me with your needs." Éowyn did not wait to see if he followed, she simply turned and began walking, and the prince hastened to match her stride, intrigued in spite of himself. He had met few human women, though he had seen them of course in his dealings in Laketown and Dale. But there was about this maiden of Rohan something that rang of steel and flint, and deeper, darker things beside that she yet held at bay. Back down to the guest house they went, and when they entered, this time the keeper came out from behind his counter to bow profoundly before them. Éowyn accepted the homage as her due, though it seemed clear that she needed it not and counted it as of but little importance. "Here is Legolas, a prince among Elves, and guest of our house. I would lodge him in your best chambers."
"Of course, my lady, this way!" The man led them up himself this time, and the Elf was amused to note the difference in the other's manners. Éomer had not inspired such deference, and Legolas wondered at that, uncertain whether to attribute it to Éowyn's sex or to a real difference in power in Edoras. Or some combination of the two, for it seems that Éomer, though well-loved by his men and respected as a warrior, is known to be out of favor with the court. Whatever the case, the innkeeper bowed them into a much larger and more lavishly furnished room, with two large windows set to either side of a door that led onto a small balcony. "Is there aught else that I may do, my lady…?"
"Bring whatever you have by way of medical supplies, and then see to it that we are not disturbed," Éowyn replied, and the man hastened to obey. As the door closed behind them, Rohan's daughter slowly circled round to face the Elf, her eyes darting over him in a careful survey ere she raised her eyes to his face once more. "Rumor spreads quickly in Edoras. Men say that you come out of the Golden Woods, and I can believe that. They say that you come as a hostage for strange friends, and I can believe that. They say," and here she paused, eyes narrowing as she gazed at him, "they say that you come with the Heir of Isildur, and that I would believe if I saw him. Tell me, Legolas of Mirkwood, what is true, and what is but wistful thinking among those who need hope in whatever form it presents itself?"
Legolas was silent for a time, considering anew this lady, and with no small admiration for her forthright manner. At length, he responded, "Rumor is for once not mistaken. I did come with Isidur's Heir, and with Gimli of the Lonely Mountain. We have all of us passed through the realm of Lothlórien, and your brother took me to hostage to give my companions time to complete their duty to our friends."
"'Tis said that the pride of the Elves suffers no bondage," Éowyn replied. "And yet you allowed this?"
"I offered it, my lady," Legolas said, raising a brow. "As would anyone of good will when friendship and loyalty demand a sacrifice." Darkness and light…high born, but bent double…. The prince paused as minute observations coalesced with sudden clarity, and then he asked softly, "Do you not know well whereof I speak, Éowyn of Rohan?" At which, she caught her breath, and wonder and a touch of fear flashed in her eyes briefly.
"How do you know this?" No denial, no retreat from his words–Nay, she would not, for I think she knows not how to retreat!
"An Elf is not easily deceived, my lady, even by one practiced in the art," Legolas said grimly. "Your brother is a good man, and a brave one, but alas! Where Wormtongue rules, such virtues become quite dangerous, and I think one so honest as your brother would not last without a protector. Without someone to guard his interests closer to home," the Elf finished, watching Éowyn carefully. She stared back, and her eyes assumed an almost elvish opacity as she began to nod, but just then a knock sounded and the innkeeper returned. And instantly, her manner changed, becoming once again distant and reserved, a woman beyond the power of any man to reach.
"Thank you, Wulf," she said, calmly accepting the bandages and other supplies as if naught had passed between her and her unusual guest. "You may go now."
"Aye, my lady. Good day to you both." And Wulf left, quietly shutting the door once more.
"Sit down, my lord prince, and let us see what has been done to you," Éowyn said, and her tone was that of one who would not suffer a refusal. Still, Legolas considered it, feeling suddenly unwilling to have her touch him or look upon his wound, but in the end, he sighed softly and obeyed. And if he was slow to undo the ties and draw his shirt off, Éowyn said naught, only waited patiently. He gritted his teeth while she probed the area, careful not to break the tender scabs that were beginning to form at last. "You have been well tended, I see, though this looks as though it has opened many a time before. A hard journey, I take it?"
"Very," Legolas replied laconically.
"Keep your secrets, then," Éowyn said in response to his obvious unwillingness to speak, and the Elf was surprised by the note of amusement in her voice. "But if I may say it, I know well how to guard my tongue and conceal my knowledge from the… impertinent."
"Or the ill-willed?"
"Or the wicked," Éowyn said starkly, mincing no words as she finished replacing the bandages. "I have dealt too long with them, and with one in particular. You know of whom I speak, do you not?"
"Your lord brother warned me of one Wormtongue," the Elf replied, dressing once more ere he turned to look at her.
"Gríma son of Gálmód, whom all now call Wormtongue, is a serpent, and his poison runs through this court. Théodred knew this, and struggled against it, but he was ever called west against the threat of Isengard. The other Marshals were more circumspect, strengthening their holdings, dealing in secret with each other and with our enemies. Yet most men are cowed by him, though they despise him and seek ever ways around him. But some few are weak,"–and the elven prince narrowed his eyes at the bitter disgust and contempt in her voice–"some are gullible or stupid, and they will do his bidding. If an Elf is so perceptive as the tales tell, you shall doubtless soon become aware of these slaves in our midst. Avoid them, my lord prince, for you are a stranger here and do not know our ways. I would not see you called out for a simply contrived misunderstanding."
"You speak wisely, but I fear that I must think of my companions first, who will soon arrive. They know not the danger into which they walk!"
"Short of breaking Wormtongue's hold on the king, their danger cannot be diminished. I fear me that they shall share a room with Éomer," she sighed, and turned away slightly. But not before Legolas discerned her fear and grief–And love!–for her brother.
"This Wormtongue… he is Saruman's creature?" Legolas asked after a moment.
"It seems clear to me that he is, and to Éomer also. He once accused him so, and had Wormtongue had any honor, he would have challenged my brother and died swiftly!" Éowyn grimaced, touching the pendant that hung on its chain about her neck, as if for comfort. "But he would not, and men remember now only that Éomer is brash, a warrior to have at one's side in a battle of swords, but one to avoid in matters of subtlety. It is not untrue in its way, but my brother is not unwise, nor unskilled with words. Wormtongue has some power, though, to distort the memories of men. He speaks so surely… so smoothly… his voice, it–it is… I know not!" Éowyn bit her lip in frustration as she darted a sidelong look at the Elf. "I cannot explain it to one who has not heard it, but his words flow through men's minds like mead! Even I…." She shook her head, catching herself on the edge of a distasteful confession. "Well, you shall see it soon, my lord prince. And then beware, for I would not have a sorcerer ensorcelled!"
"I am no sorcerer, my lady, only an Elf," Legolas replied with a faint smile, and Éowyn snorted at that, which surprised him
"Elf, sorcerer, are not the two synonymous?" she challenged, and her manner was now less forbidding, more like to the that of the young woman she was: mischievous and curious.
"You have much to learn of my people if such are the rumors that Men now spread! We have each our Art, that is all."
"Oh? And what art does the Prince of Mirkwood possess?"
"That I cannot say, for I have not a name for it yet," Legolas confessed. "But let us try it! I would speak to your brother ere the morrow, and perhaps it would bring you some comfort to see him as well. How does one enter the dungeons?"
"Through Meduseld, and only with the good will of the warden, who is, alas! a man bowed low before Wormtongue. I think that latter holds him in thrall to some secret shame, but I have not discovered yet what it is."
"Then let us discover it!" Legolas said, leaning forward to stare at Éowyn. And had Aragorn been there to see it, the Ranger would have sighed in relief at the bright gleam in the Elf's eyes that recalled the prince of old. For his part, Legolas felt that liquid diffusion in his soul harden somewhat, and he blinked, drawing a deep breath. Yes… perhaps it is well that I came here after all! If only for my own sake, that is!
But he had in mind to act for the sake of others as well, and for that he needed to enlist the aid of Rohan's first lady, and Éowyn's eyes were narrowed as she considered him. Shall I trust this stranger so fully? For though she was quick to perceive another's worth, she was yet quite slow to trust another with her own loyalty, having seen how quickly such things could be twisted by Wormtongue's words. Better coldness undeserved than trouble unmerited, yet she felt herself pulled powerfully by the words of this Elf. A moment more she wavered, and then decided.
Sitting back, she gazed long at the other, saying nothing as she ordered her thoughts. Finally, she replied, "They say that Elves are dangerous creatures, and that we ought not to seek them out. And I think they are right, for I know now your art, Legolas!"
"I believe so. And that is why I will show you the way to the dungeons, and see to it that we need not the warden's approval to enter. But you must wait until I come for you, and do nothing untoward in the mean time." She rose, and the Elf did as well. "You are free to come and go, so long as you do not pass beyond the pale of the inner court without escort, and never beyond the walls of Edoras. Rest I would recommend, for even an immortal must grow weary, but if you are unable, then use well the time! I shall return this evening, after supper."
"Until then, my lady," Legolas bowed low, glancing up to watch as she swept out of the room. And as he straightened, a smile tugged at his mouth as he shook his head. There goes one who should have been an Elf! Ah well, that cannot be helped, and at least I have now another ally… and perhaps a friend… in this place! He debated going out again, but in the end, he settled for opening the windows wide ere he lay down upon the bed. Darkness still swam and shimmered in his vision, but he fought it now as he settled himself. It may still overcome me, and doubtless I shall have to struggle against it to pull myself free at times, but I shall not be its plaything any more! So resolved, Legolas slipped quickly into sleep, and this time as he wandered the strange paths of elven dreams, a white-clad lady with gold hair wandered ever before him.
Walk carefully, Éowyn, for it is not safe here! Until this evening!
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