11. Lightless Labyrinths
He speaks the truth and I cannot deny that he does.
*The most deceiving of lies are founded upon a grain of truth. He distorts thy fears and plays upon thy doubts. Listen not to the honey-sweet voice of a base and cringing worm brooding in his tower. The wisdom he once held has left him and he has fallen into madness.*
Fain would I believe, and I know it to be so, and yet his words echo the very lack of faith that lies within the darkest recesses of mine own heart and will not relent. I have been shown what will be and it pierces my soul. All that we do or say shall come to naught in the end. The Enemy grows ever stronger even as we strive to keep him at bay. My people are fading and our might has vanished. We will be laid bare before him; he will conquer and overrun this green earth with foul and festering decay. I see no light! Against the power that arises there can be no victory, and to turn a blind eye and deny that this is so would be folly.... Hope is the greatest deception of all; it is for the ignorant few who have not accepted the futility and ultimate insignificance of all life..... There is no meaning.... There is nothing. I have seen what will be, and it is empty... a black abyss. I quake in horror at what we shall become....
*Thou hast not seen what will be. Thou hast seen what may be, if we allow evil to conquer. He has allowed thee to see what for him has become the truth. He has fallen, and in his pride and ignorance, in his loneliness and desperation he seeks to draw others down with him and break them. Thou shalt not be broken. Rise up, child of the Eldar, and do not grovel before him. Remember thy home; remember joy and the light of the stars that for no darkness dies. There is a strength within thee that his benighted soul envies and can never hope to rival.*
I feel no strength.... I feel nothing at all.
*Thou dost walk in his shadow and are numbed by it. Such apathetic nothingness is what fills a heart given to evil, when the warmth of love and compassion is shunned or disdained as weakness and is replaced by cleverness and ambition. This coldness steals within like a thief and most do not see what it is they have become or what it is they have lost until they are too far gone to care. His voice is chill poison running through thy veins. Thou must resist this or thou shalt perish.*
'Twere little loss, my life to lose.
*Son of Thranduil! Is this the courage I believed did dwell in thy heart? CEASE THIS! Cast his darkness from thy mind and heed not the treacherous lies he pours into thine ears! Thou dost love and are beloved beyond measure.*
...Aye... a love. A love that is fleeting and fragile. A mortal's love is a bright flame that is swiftly kindled and consumes all before it dies, turning to naught but ashes cold. He will grow weary of me, or death will claim him, and in the end he will leave me. To whom then shall I reach out?
*Our fears and hopes, our desires and sorrows... they lift and weigh upon the heart until we find them at times impossible to bear, but to feel is far better than to be empty, than to breathe the air and be dead within. His time here is short, as is that given to all mortals, yes. But one cannot measure love by time, nor judge the value of a life by how quickly it passes from this earth. He would give to thee all the time he has. A most precious gift it is, but thou didst know this when thou didst pledge thyself to him, didst thou not? Free thy mind from the twisted ways Saruman would have thee follow, and remember....*
I... I cannot... Mithrandir, I cannot.....
*Come, Legolas! Thy will is stronger! Wouldst thou leave him? He feels he has failed thee and he despairs. Dost thou now deem him unworthy? Speak!*
Nay! Unworthy! No! By all that I hold dear...no.... I will not abandon him! He means everything to me. I cannot lose him....
*Yet thou shalt lose him, if thou canst not free thyself from this black spell under which thou hast fallen. Shalt thou be torn asunder by even such as this?*
I shall not! I will not lose him... to any craven, baseborn sorcery! I... will... NOT!
*His hold upon thee is failing. Banish it and heed his words no longer! They are but the ravings of a madman and they have no power over thee. Come back, Legolas Greenleaf, and walk no more in shadow.*
It is I who have failed him, and allowed my mind to be o'ertaken by such feeble means. What pain have I caused to him? I will never be parted from him. Aye, it is so that I would give up all... all for him, to share the briefness of his life.
*A blessing it is to hear the life return to thy voice, and yet be wary, child. Such is not thy path. Cherish the love granted to thee for the time it exists, but ask not too much. Few there have been who have renounced their immortal life for love, and that choice is not given to thee, son of Thranduil. Thou canst not forsake thy undying heart for him.*
Then I shall not do as others have done. I shall do what none have done before, and take him with me. I shall break the chains which confine him, and if he wills it, he shall give up his mortality for me. All he is and all that he will ever be shall never die; he shall never be forgotten.
*Alas, even the Valar cannot withhold Death from him, Legolas. What the final doom of the children of Aule may be even the wise have not been given to tell. Thou sharest a bond but not a common fate, I fear.*
Then the Hand which bound us together knows not His strength, as I shall never be severed from him. We have sworn to follow where the other may go.
*Such a thing has not been heard of, Prince of Mirkwood. Thou wouldst challenge Order and alter Destiny.*
So be it. It has been a task to those who have known us to judge which between the two is the most unyielding, and that has yet to be determined. If we are denied, who can tell? The will of Elf and Dwarf combined may prove to be a stubborness to try even the infinite patience of Illuvatar!
Gandalf's sudden laughter startled Gimli and Aragorn from their low conversation by the fire.
"I doubt it not, dear child," he said warmly under his breath, and he touched a fond hand to the brow of the elf who sat before him and hovered still at the edge of dream. The old wizard's eyes were twinkling brightly when he rose from Legolas's side to face the two of them. Seeing the worry in their faces, he smiled reassuringly.
"Be at ease, my friends. He has not been lost. Indeed, I believe I may have awakened in him a spirit brighter than he knew before Saruman sought to poison him."
The wizard's gaze fell upon Gimli. The dwarf had moved not but sat weary and bent in his chair before the glowing embers of the fire.
Compassion filled Gandalf's careworn face and his eyes met Aragorn's. Aragorn looked at his two companions, one with clasped hands staring into the flames, the other resting motionless nearby as his mind wandered still through a vague unreality, and he understood. He nodded gently and quietly rose to follow Gandalf outside, fastening the door behind him.
"Are you certain he is free, Gandalf?" The Ranger and the wizard walked thoughtfully up the path, breathing in the brisk night air.
"He is indeed, Aragorn. The corruption has fled from his mind and shall not return. He has witnessed a palpable darkness and emerged with a heart which is purer, perhaps, for having been tried. I have seen within him a hope which quells my own doubts, and it may be that it shall ease the burden of the trial I must myself face at tomorrow's first light. We shall see."
"They are an odd match." Aragorn raised his eyebrows and lifted his pipe to his mouth, striking a spark which illuminated his face for a moment and revealed the smile playing about his lips.
"Hmm? Ah! Perhaps," Gandalf chuckled. "These are strange days, my friend, and change is nigh; for good or ill, naught shall ever be as it was. But for two such as they to overcome the animosity of their races, and for them to choose love over hate? It gives me faith, Aragorn, that we strive towards better times and that there might be a strength in all of us the Enemy cannot touch.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.