Dwarves and Elves
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Folk of Different Race: 5. Re Eina
‘Master Dwarf,’ Legolas said softly, hoping Gimli could hear
him for he was not sure he could force his reticent voice to grow louder. ‘I spoke too harshly and too hastily. I ask you forgive my earlier comments.’
Gimli nodded, thankfully having heard, and let loose a sound
that was somewhere between a cough and a grumble.
‘I sought to somehow ease my own grief and I fear I have now
compounded yours by taking you into an hostile wood away from the comforting
presence of the others,’ the Elf continued.
‘Do not trouble yourself,’ Gimli said quietly. ‘I found little comfort there. The young hobbits console one another,
Aragorn has greater problems to think on now and Boromir…I do not want to guess
where Boromir’s mind is, but they each have their own sorrow to contend
with. I can manage mine.’
Legolas grimaced slightly at the sorrow in the Dwarf’s
coarse voice. He could still hear his
anguished wails at the tomb of his kinsmen Balin in Moria and he felt certain
that a dwarf’s grief must be a cumbersome burden.
He had once heard, long ago now, that Dwarves sang songs of
farewell for their fallen comrades. He
did not know if it was true, but if it was, he knew how he would feel if he
were unable to hear the soothing voices of his kindred all around him. Even if he could not yet join them, it was a
balm for the soul just to listen.
‘Do you understand Elvish?’ he heard himself ask as the
Sindarin words of the lament caressed his ears.
‘No,’ Gimli answered.
‘I could try to translate for you, if you wish,’ he offered,
surprising even himself. ‘I do not have
the skill to translate it as it should be, but it does my heart good to hear
such words of him. Perhaps it might do
the same for you.’
Gimli only nodded in response.
‘They sing, “O Pilgrim Grey, no more will you wander the
green fields of this earth. Your journey
has ended in darkness. The bonds cut,
the spirit broken. The Flame of Anor has
left this world. A great light has gone
As he heard the words sung so majestically around them,
Gimli slowly lifted his head. He did not
regard the Elf sitting across from him, but instead looked beyond, and
inward. It almost looked to Legolas as
if he were allowing the words to slowly dissolve into him. He closed his eyes to do the same.
‘“Journey ended in darkness,”’ Gimli repeated softly. ‘“A great light has gone out.”’
‘After so long a time and so great a life, it does not seem
a fitting end,’ said Legolas sadly. ‘Nor
a fitting resting place.’
‘Does it not?’ Gimli asked, but there was no offense in his
tone. ‘That same Khazad-dum holds the
tomb of Durin, the ancestor of all the kings of the Longbeards and the eldest
of the Seven Fathers. To me he seems
worthy company of Gandalf, the keeper of the light of Anor, though I would
consider few others as such.’
‘But to lie in such darkness,’ Legolas breathed, wincing at
the horrible thought as it filled his mind.
‘The darkness to me only makes the end easier to accept,’
said Gimli, his voice more gentle than Legolas could have imagined possible,
‘for what besides the greatest darkness could confine the greatest light.’
Legolas opened his eyes to his companion, feeling
unexpectedly eased by his words, more eased than he was even by the singing of
his kin around him. ‘I had not thought
of it in that way,’ he uttered. ‘Thank
you for sharing it with me.’
‘Thank you for telling me what they sing.’
Tears still threatened just behind Legolas’ eyes, but a
smile curled at his mouth. The Dwarf
stared at him, a faint look of surprise accenting the smile that bent his beard
and creased his cheeks. Peering across
at him now, the Elf tried and failed to recall how he had ever thought Gimli to
be lacking in beauty. Indeed, now he was
certain he had never seen kinder eyes.
Though he could scarcely believe it, it was true: he rather liked Gimli,
son of Glóin. He truly liked a Dwarf.
‘I feel I must ask your forgiveness once more, Gimli,’
Legolas said. ‘For I see now that I have
denied myself a kind companion on this unfriendly journey.’
‘I believe I denied myself the same, so no apology is
needed,’ Gimli replied, ‘unless you are prepared to accept mine in turn.’
‘I am, Master Dwarf.
My mind has been occupied much these days with the words of Gandalf,’
the Elf said, ‘as all are I do not doubt, but mine has fixed especially on
those he spoke at the doors – ’
‘The doors of Moria?’ Gimli finished for him, astonishment
lighting his deep voice.
‘The very ones,’ Legolas affirmed, raising his head slightly
in amazement to look upon the Dwarf huddled in the shadows. ‘They were why I requested you walk with me.’
Gimli breathed a light chuckle. ‘They were why I agreed to do so.’
Legolas felt the barest of smiles settle across his
lips. It was true that he and Gimli had
nothing in common, but Gandalf, his power never ceasing, had given them
something in common: love of him, and grief at his passing.
‘Do you think they could be restored,’ Gimli questioned,
‘those happier days of which Gandalf spoke?
‘If we still had Gandalf’s wisdom,’ Legolas began with a
weighty sigh, ‘I would say hope remained, but now, I do not know. Those days were so long ago, and as for
happiness…that seems even more distant.’
Legolas’ eyes settled on the warm light all around them, sensing
the safety and security of this wondrous land – and he could feel it. It was a chill in the earth, a flutter in the
trees, but it grew nearer and nearer with each passing moment. This haven, this warm repose of sacred exile
was under threat.
‘I fear for the future,’ he whispered. ‘A darkness begins to claim the land. I can feel it in the trees; a sadness, a
‘I fear more for the company,’ Gimli replied. ‘As the lady Galadriel said, hope remains if
our company is true. If we eight remain
strong and complete our task then the future can care for itself, but I do not
know when we will recover from this loss.
It has devastated us each.’
‘Gandalf was the heart of our fellowship.’
‘More importantly, he was our guide through more than just
the hills and caverns of Middle-earth,’ said Gimli. ‘He guided us through this quest, our own
fears and dangers, our hopes for success.’
‘I cannot help but feel I have failed him,’ Legolas said
mournfully, feeling his throat constrict with tears. ‘You and I have reached an understanding, but
we have the common goal of the quest and the words of Gandalf to push us to
action. What of our people? The discord is buried so deeply within our
cultures, I do not know if even the skilled miners of the Dwarves could root it
‘You cannot solely take the blame for both Elves and
Dwarves,’ Gimli chided kindly. ‘You must
share the burden with me for Gandalf spoke to us both.’
‘Then half of the burden is yours,’ Legolas said with a
hollow smile. ‘Beneath that weight, tell
me: what hope do you see?’
Gimli was silent for a long moment. ‘I see none,’ he said finally. ‘Our races are alike only in their stubborn
Legolas closed his eyes to the sudden oppressive swell of
air that seemed to descend upon the glade.
‘We have the fates of too many upon our shoulders, Gimli,’ he said.
‘They begin to press upon our hearts.’
‘And our lungs,’ Gimli added, tugging at his collar. ‘I feel as though I cannot breathe.’
‘Yet, with what air we have left, we must find a way. I do
not wish to leave a task to be finished by others, not when I myself will be
there to see it.’
‘I agree,’ said Gimli.
‘If I fall in the pursuit, then so be it, but I will not admit defeat
while I yet stand. I fight to see for
myself the ends we begin, so we will
find a way, Legolas…somehow.’
Legolas detected Gimli’s voice fading as the Dwarf drifted
into his own thoughts. Feeling tears in
his eyes, the Elf surrendered to the mournful wail of the minstrels still
filling the air as if staving off the impending doom or gloomily accepting it.
He believed in the quest.
He believed in the Ring-bearer and in Aragorn who must now lead
them. But the task seemed so much larger
than all of them. He imagined them now
as eight stalwart warriors, their weapons brandished high, fighting to hold
back the tidal wave that loomed over them, ready to wash away everything
beautiful and dear on these shores.
He was the son of the king of the Mirkwood Elves and while
that was of little consequence to the fellowship, surely that standing could
only aide him in this massive endeavor to reunite his people with the
Dwarves. There was – there had to be – a
way to accomplish what Gandalf had asked, but he could not see it. He already felt as though he were gasping for
breath beneath the weight of the quest; the burden of restoring those happier
days of Gandalf’s was drowning him.
‘Perhaps you might help me, Master Elf. Your memory can only be more accurate than
mine,’ Gimli said abruptly, his voice apprehensive. ‘I attempt to recall Gandalf’s exact words to
us, for I cannot myself remember him ever asking us to unite our races.’
Legolas slowly sat up and eagerly delved into his own
‘But I beg you two, Legolas and Gimli, at least to be
friends, and to help me. I need you
‘You are right, Master Dwarf,’ he replied, amazed. ‘My memory yields only an entreaty to the two
of us, so either that is what was said, or we are both losing our wits.’
‘That may very well be anyway,’ Gimli answered, ‘but at
least it seems we are going together.’
‘Another new perspective you have shown me tonight,’ said
Legolas. ‘Gandalf did not ask us to be a
beginning, he did not ask us to bridge the divide that separates our people.’
‘No,’ Gimli agreed, ‘he only asked the two of us to be
‘A cheer for the memory of Dwarves!’ Legolas cried and Gimli
grinned at the outburst. And it was as
if suddenly Gimli had pulled his head above the water and Legolas could breathe
again. He saw his own unexpected relief
reflected in the gentle face of the Dwarf across from him. ‘To speak the truth, that is what I had
thought until I spoke with Lord Celeborn.’
‘I had thought that as well until I spoke with Aragorn,’
Gimli interjected. ‘I had only hinted at
the topic when he began speaking of reuniting Dwarves and Elves.’
‘It was the same with Lord Celeborn,’ Legolas said, feeling
a wide smile on his lips. ‘It seems the
fellowship’s task is so large that no one thought Gandalf would have asked us
to do something so small as simply befriend one another.’
‘I think you are right, Legolas!’ the Dwarf cried with great
amusement, ‘but I no longer doubt the dedication of the company: you and I at
least are ready to take on the whole of Mordor and resolve an ancient feud
while we are at it!’
‘If only we could wield the combined might of our good
intentions,’ Legolas said, ‘Middle-earth would have nothing to fear!’
Laughter bloomed within the Elf’s chest and he let it out in
a great, relieving torrent, hearing the loud guffaws of Gimli accompanying
him. The realization was at once so
sudden and so soothing it was intoxicating.
‘Next,’ Legolas fought to speak through his laughter, ‘we
should turn our attentions to deciding on a temperate climate. Snow, rain, wind, calm – it would be much
simpler if we chose just one.’ His back
left the tree as he slid to his side, encompassed in hysterics and feeling a
wonderful want of breath.
‘Naturally, Legolas, naturally,’ the Dwarf agreed, barely
able to force out the words. ‘And perhaps
we might also look to extending the reign of the sun, for it would be more
convenient for the company if we did not have to fret about nightfall.’
Gimli roared aloud and Legolas felt tears slip from his eyes
as his laughter intensified so greatly his stomach began to ache. He did not know if the words they spoke were
truly funny or if they were simply too light-headed to respond in any other
way. Nor did he care – it felt so
wonderful to laugh.
‘And now that you bring it to mind,’ Legolas said, ‘the Misty
Mountains have always been far too
misty for my liking.’
The Elf heard Gimli’s armor clank as he, too, rolled to his
side, lost in his mirth. The happy sound
of their laughter drowned out the sorrowful echoes of the lament as they both
lay on their backs on the ground, laughing at the sky.
It felt to Legolas as if the weight upon his chest and heart
drifted away on every amused exhalation, leaving him light enough to glide upon
the voices of the singers. His lungs
ached and his stomach hurt, but he could not stop laughing; it felt too
wonderful, it had been too long. And the
guffaws of the Dwarf nearby were lovelier than any song the race of Elves could
‘If befriending one another should have been our sole
ambition tonight,’ Legolas said finally, happily gasping for air, ‘then you at
least have succeeded, Gimli. I would
proudly call myself your friend, if you would allow it.’
‘I could only deny you the title if I were to deny my own
heart,’ Gimli replied, a stray chortle warming his words.
‘Then, we have triumphed, Master Dwarf,’ Legolas said
brightly, putting a hand to his aching stomach.
‘We may once again turn our attentions to the quest, where they should
have been all along, evidently.’ He
grimaced gladly as a laugh broke free, distressing his tired lungs.
‘I am quite relieved,’ said Gimli. ‘I did not care for the idea of asking my
father to journey on a diplomatic mission to Mirkwood. He is terrified of spiders!’ Gimli let out a loud, rolling guffaw that
easily incited Legolas’ own cheer and the two once again lay helpless on the
forest floor, enveloped in an unrelenting bout of laughter.
As they walked back toward the pavilion, Gimli marveled at
the changes that had occurred in a span of just a few hours. The noiseless falls of the Elf’s footsteps
were no longer an irritant; in fact, he felt the strangest sense of admiration
at them. And when Legolas’ light hair
caught an errant ray of moonlight through the trees, he no longer averted his
eyes for the beauty did not seemed squandered.
Indeed, he began to suspect that maybe it was modest for it seemed to
him that, like all the finest treasures, the Elf’s beauty within was even more
dazzling than his beauty without.
In this one night, Gimli had already shared with him
thoughts he had not spoken to another – Elf or otherwise – but he felt no
regret. He sensed that Legolas was one
to be trusted with such secrets, even if he was an Elf. And he had been there when Legolas had denied
the hobbits, refused to interpret the lament due to the weight of his own
sorrow. That the Elf had spoken the
tender lyrics in the Common Tongue to him was an honor he could not take
They paused at the top of the stairs descending into the
pavilion. Legolas glanced quickly about
the clearing where the hobbits slept deeply, their arms about one another, and
Aragorn and Boromir dozed nearby on their bedrolls. ‘I fear I have kept you from sleep,’ he
‘My time was better spent without it – this time anyway,’
Gimli replied with a wink.
A bright smile lit Legolas’ features and the sudden warmth
of the expression made Gimli wonder how he had ever thought his handsomeness
cold. ‘Now that I have your pardon, I
long to claim the remainder of your moonlit hours for myself, but my kinsmen have
requested I stay my nights with them during our time in Lothlórien,’ he
explained, apology plain in his voice.
‘I would like you to join us, but –’
‘They are not ready for a dwarf in their midst, I agree,’
Gimli said. ‘We have made great lengths
tonight, Master Elf, you need not push others on my behalf. Do not forget that we have done all we needed
to do.’ He smiled up at Legolas, hearing
a chuckle resurface within him.
‘Ai, do not remind me,’ the Elf said happily, his long hand
pressed to his stomach. ‘I ache all over
Gimli chortled at his friend’s minor discomfort and was
immediately reminded of his own as his lungs stung dully at the action. He could not remember the last time he had
laughed so long and so heartily, but he could remember the last time his entire
body had been sore. Pain from laughter
was far preferable to pain from battle.
‘Now that we have recovered our senses,’ said Legolas, ‘we
will have to recover from the recovery.
It is good we are safe within the Golden Wood for if Orcs were to
descend upon us at this moment, I do not know that I would be of much use.’
‘Ah, then it is in the company’s favor that Orcs do not
attack with humor,’ Gimli declared.
‘They would learn very quickly to launch a volley of jokes at the Elf
and we would all be greatly diminished!’
Legolas laughed again, a bright cheery sound, and rested a
hand on Gimli’s shoulder for support.
‘Good night, Gimli,’ he said. ‘I
know when I am defeated. Now, I must
regain my strength for the rematch.’
Gimli reached up and clamped his hand on the Elf’s forearm,
unable to keep the smile from his face.
‘Though I am no doubt supporting an Elven misconception of Dwarves,’ he
said, ‘I must say that, if I could have
imagined any satisfaction to be found in this night, I would have thought it to
come from fulfilling one small wish of Gandalf’s. But it seems I am far more selfish than
that. Happy though I am to honor to his
wisdom, I find greater pleasure in knowing your mind better, Legolas.’
‘I believe I am flawed with equal selfishness so I will
never judge you for yours, my friend,’ Legolas replied. ‘May I come for you tomorrow when my kinsmen
make my evening my own?’
‘I hope that you will,’ answered Gimli, loathe to let this
night’s conversation end. ‘There is much
we still do not understand about one another and I find myself wishing to
‘Then, I ask your pardon in advance,’ the Elf said, ‘for I
may claim many of your evenings while we remain within the welcome confines of
‘That is just as well.
I would like to see more of the splendors of Galadriel’s realm, but if I
were to wander about unescorted I would likely be taken for a Dwarven spy,’
‘Then I consider it my duty to our hosts to be your guide,
for I would pity greatly the guard who approached you in violent haste. He would likely lose his legs to your axe
before he realized you carried one.’ The
Elf looked down upon him with tangible affection that Gimli could feel in the
air all around him and he gladly basked in the glow of another smile. ‘Rest well, Gimli.’
Turning, Legolas journeyed back into the forest, his steps
even lighter than they had been when they had set out that evening. The Dwarf strode down the stairs and quickly
claimed a clear spot beneath the protective canopy spread above the sleeping
travelers. The lament continued long
into the night and as Gimli drifted into sleep, he heard a voice, nearer than
the others and deeper, join in with the swelling notes of the lament.
He knew in an instant that it was Legolas.
“Re eina” is Elvish for “Happier Days.” The lyrics “translated” are from the film’s
Lament for Gandalf, written by the splendid Phillipa Boyens and Howard
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