Dwarves and Elves
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Folk of Different Race: 2. Dwarves and Elves
Legolas wandered through the
trees, trailing his fingertips along the bark of each as he passed, taking
comfort in the familiar sensation.
Though headed in the general direction of the pavilion, he had to
confess, at least to himself, that he was talking the long way there.
Celeborn’s words, though they had
helped him, had also brought more sharply into focus what it was he thought to
do: befriend the Dwarves. That is what
Gandalf had asked of him. Be friends
with the Dwarf.
He knew just what Dwarves were like and it was not what he
desired in a friend. They were loud,
greedy, stubborn, ugly – everything Elves were
not. And more importantly, he knew
exactly what they thought of Elves. They
thought Elves to be unfeeling, unfriendly, lacking in skill and power simply
because they chose not to root through the earth searching for riches.
Why dig for beauty when it was so easily found in the trees
and the stars and the water? Legolas wondered. The land above was full of more loveliness
than he could appreciate in his immortal lifetime, so why did the Dwarves need
to cleave into the heart of the earth to find more?
Legolas supposed that it was the
serenity born of immortality that Dwarves misinterpreted as unfeeling and unfriendly,
for he knew well that his kin were neither.
That the Dwarves could not see that was baffling. They must be hard of sight, he decided, for
they could not see beauty or kindness when it simply stood before them. No, they felt they must dig to find treasures
The familiar heat of irritation slicked through Legolas’ limbs like oil.
In every way, the company Dwarf, Gimli, son of
Glóin, had perfectly represented his race. He was stubborn, Legolas
had observed, and in the cursed Mines of Moria, he
had seen beauty.
And yet, Legolas forced himself to
admit, he had also seen beauty in Lady Galadriel and in that the Elf could not
fault him. More amazing still was that
that wondrous lady seemed to have seen beauty in the Dwarf as well. Though it made his mind feel dizzy, full of
clouds, he had to acknowledge the possibility that the Dwarf might not be
entirely without merit, despite being a Dwarf.
But, for all its daunting implications, making peace with Gimli was the easiest task before him. It was evidently only a start.
His mind replayed over and over again Celeborn’s
parting words and each seemed to knock the wind from his lungs. Is that truly what Gandalf had asked of
him? Had he misinterpreted the wizard’s
words? he wondered.
And yet, somehow it was fitting: as long as they remained at
the Ring-bearer’s side, they bore the hope and fate of Middle-earth with every
step. Gandalf had made clear the
necessity of unifying all the free peoples and within that the Elves and
Dwarves were the most divided. It simply
made sense that that is what he would ask.
Legolas quickly decided it was a
far wiser – or more foolish – Elf than he who would question the thoughts and
words of Gandalf, Galadriel and Celeborn all
three. His shoulders squared and his
body strengthened with new resolve, he turned in the direction of the pavilion
where his companions rested.
He had been there only hours ago to have an uncomfortable
and strained visit over a meal. Their
memories thick with thoughts of the wizard, they had spoken of everything but.
He heard voices now, coming from the pavilion, low and sad,
but voices nonetheless. He paused at the
top of the stairs, listening. ‘Do you
remember the first time we saw his fireworks, Pip?’ Merry asked softly.
Legolas peered down to see little
Pippin huddled amongst the other hobbits, his head resting mournfully on Merry’s shoulder. He
could only nod in reply, the tears lining his eyes catching in the silver lamplight. He, too, Legolas
noted, could not yet trust his voice to release his grief.
Silently, the Elf stepped down into the clearing, receiving
a nod of greeting from Aragorn, their weary new leader. His leonine face looked drawn and worn. The burden he bore was no less than the grief
he felt and Legolas worried for him. But he was not why he had come.
Far on the other side of the trickling fountain, Gimli sat hunched over, looking not unlike the hulking
rocks his people worshipped. Though Legolas could not believe it, he appeared to be sleeping.
Gimli listened dimly to the talk
of his companions. Their voices drifted
about in his mind, heard, but unacknowledged as the young hobbits recalled
their fondest memories of Gandalf the Grey.
He closed his eyes, wanting sleep to put distance between himself and
this unhappy day, but he could not.
Another unhappy day awaited him tomorrow and so peace and rest hid far
As Aragorn had wanted, he had shared his own stories and
those his father had told him. Frodo had
helped him tell the story of when his kinsman Bilbo had traveled with Gimli’s father, Glóin, and the
other Dwarves under Thorin’s command on a quest of
their own through, among other places, the spider-infested forest of Mirkwood.
The humor and innocence of Gandalf’s involvement in the tale
seemed somehow darkened by the knowledge that it was that seemingly trifling
journey that had eventually brought all eight of them to this terrible moment.
Gimli felt thick with sadness and
talking had done little good. Grumbling
quietly to himself, he realized that it had actually made it worse because
Aragorn’s grave words had punctuated just how ridiculous his thoughts truly
It was these enchanted woods, he was certain, or the
unexpected kindness of Lady Galadriel that played with his reason. He felt as though a bridge had given way
beneath his feet: Gandalf was gone, the fellowship was losing heart and now
Elves were being nice. It was too much
for a grief-stricken Dwarf to handle, so now his mind entertained unreasonable
ideas like Dwarves befriending Elves.
He understood Elves perfectly; he knew what they were. They were all of them – with the exception of
the magnanimous Lady Galadriel – self-important, stubborn, unfriendly know-it-alls. They thought that their immortality made them
wiser than every being in Middle-earth and therefore they would talk
incessantly, giving advice that no one wanted or could follow. And Gimli knew what
they thought of Dwarves, too. Oh, yes,
he knew that very well. They thought
them unkind, unintelligent, greedy and ugly.
Unkind? Perhaps only when
responding to an aloof and arrogant Elf.
Unintelligent? The assumption made Gimli
bristle all over. Dwarves may not live
forever, but they live for a long time and they do not wander blindly through
life. He knew of many Dwarves with
wisdom and knowledge far surpassing that of any snobbish Elf – except Lady
Galadriel, of course.
Greedy? Naturally – and well they should be! What was so unreasonable about wanting to
keep a beautiful thing once found and wanting more besides?
Ugly? Against that perception only could Gimli not passionately argue; Dwarves were not a fair race,
he knew, and certainly not when compared to the Elves. Even as he likened Galadriel to the
brightest, loveliest star in the heavens, he had to acknowledge that, even for
all their cold and distance, the other stars were pretty, too. It was nature’s way, he supposed: gold and
silver were trapped deep within stone – and physical beauty was squandered on
the Elves. If only the Dwarves could
devise a way to harvest that wasted radiance as they had for the mithril buried
The now familiar bitterness of anger rose in his
throat. In all ways his recent traveling
companion, Legolas, son of Thranduil,
was an Elf. He had that same
stubbornness, that same haughty and dismissive nature as the rest of his race.
Then again, he had traveled days through Moria
and had not once mocked Dwarven architecture or
culture. That did not mean, of course, that
he had properly admired it, but he had held his tongue and though Gimli felt dizzy trying to comprehend it, that meant the
Elf might not be entirely without value, despite being an Elf.
Still, he realized that being able to admit such things was
so small an accomplishment as to be nearly invisible. Reaching a peaceful understanding with Legolas was the smallest task before him.
Aragorn’s words seemed to echo hollowly in the back of his mind
no matter how much he tried to silence them.
Had Gandalf’s request really been so large? Gimli
wondered, but somehow it was painfully reasonable. He represented not only himself on this
quest, but the race of Dwarves, just as Legolas was
the emissary of the Elves. It simply
made sense that such a task would be set before them.
More importantly, the kindness in Lady Galadriel’s eyes had
entirely inundated his soul. She would
think highly, he felt certain, of a peace between Dwarves and Elves. She would want him to try and he knew he
could never deny the wish of a lady so beautiful and so kind.
Breathing in deeply the scented air of the Golden Wood, Gimli made up his mind.
He had just resolved to go find the company Elf when he felt a light tap
upon his shoulder.
I don’t have Legolas refer to
Gandalf by his elvish name of Mithrandir for the sake
of convenience. Plus, since most of us
know him under the name of Gandalf, I feel scenes have more impact when he is
referred to as such.
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