11. Legolas Remembers
Too long, far too long.
He had sworn Legolas to secrecy, saying:
“I must try one more time, and I must go alone. The others are too smitten with their anger, and it will cloud their reason. I must try to bring Saruman back to sanity. Tell no one of this. And send no one after me. Promise me this!”
Legolas had frowned then, and Mithrandir had pleaded with him silently with his soft blue eyes.
And so he had agreed, but with great fear in his heart.
Elves highly prized mercy and kindness, but this seemed to be a situation that was beyond that point now.
A decisive blow, to end the threat, was what was needed.
But Mithrandir, for all his wisdom, was still too tied to Curunír, and he could not see past that.
Legolas turned over on his bed fitfully, and recalled back to his own encounter with the White Istar, just after Mithrandir had told them all of his treachery at the Council:
They had been preparing to set out – the new “Fellowship” – in five days time.
He had ridden like the wind itself to Isengard, but he had gone not to save, but to destroy.
Curunír’s treason – and this was before the slaughter at Helm’s Deep, and the Warg massacres - was not enough for Legolas to judge him worthy of death, but it was the simple fact of the immense threat he posed to them all now.
The Dark Lord was enough to contend with – the odds against them were terrible, as it was -better to go to Isengard, and end Curunír’s deadly power on Middle Earth.
And they were taking the hobbits on the journey! Frodo had volunteered to carry the Ring, but why the others? Did they have no sense of the appalling danger?
No, Curunír would stop at nothing now, in his madness and fury, to destroy them. He would have to be stopped.
He had approached Orthanc with the stealth of a hunter- indeed, he was on the hunt.
He had easily slipped past the Uruks guarding the grounds- and had entered silently, as a thief in the night. The moon had loomed above him like a watching demon, and he stole up the winding staircase.
There, in the half-light of his chamber, Curunír.
Dangerous, aware, desperately wicked.
He had looked as if he were asleep- ah, but was he?
Legolas had approached the huge bed carefully – it was draped in white and silver satin, and Legolas wondered at the scene.
He had looked down at his prey – Curunír lay like a silent dragon, eyes closed, with a deceptive peace about him.
Legolas had drawn his dagger- it was a very long Elven blade, designed to deliver a quick and sure death. He stole to the very edge of the bed, and cautiously reached out a hand- it was trembling, he had been shocked to see -
He placed his hand lightly on Curunír’s chest, slowly rising and falling, and felt for the exact place for the blade – there, just there:
the pounding heartbeat, the powerful ancient heart working like some once-sacred machine, now reduced to sustaining a life gone mad.
One thrust- one sure thrust- and it will be quick - Legolas had shuddered, and felt astonished, it had never bothered him so intensely to kill when there was no choice- what was ailing him now?
I will only have to see him look at me for a moment – his eyes will open in shock, as the blade sinks in, but I am very careful. I am very strong with a blade.
It will be so fast – the severed heart will cease its fevered beating almost immediately, and then – then-
And then he realized it- what was wrong:
Killing an armed opponent in battle was one thing, unpleasant, yes, but simply what had to be done.
But this was not battle- true, Curunír had decided to make an enemy of himself – but he lay asleep before Legolas, unprepared, unarmed.
This would, truly, be murder.
Justifiable, perhaps, to some, but not to an Elf.
Dishonorable, and shameful.
A cowardly act, indeed, to slay a sleeping enemy.
He had sighed, and fingered the blade one last time, and Curunír breathed softly, oblivious to his death standing before him.
Legolas had backed away then, and left as swiftly as he had come, and rode back to Rivendell.
( he never knew that, in the moment he had left the room, Curunír had opened his dark, cunning eyes, and grinned broadly with bitter, amused contempt )
He had gone to Mithrandir then, and approached him with a sense of mingled guilt and dread.
Mithrandir had received him with a strange smile, and Legolas had confessed all, nearly sobbing:
“I could not do it, Mithrandir, I could not. It was - it was not honorable! I hope you may forgive me my weakness- I have disappointed you, I know!”
Mithrandir had shaken his great shaggy head, and gathered Legolas in his arms, and said:
“Weakness? And disappointed me? Nay, my young Elf – I have never been prouder of you!”
Legolas had looked at him then, in stunned wonder, and mumbled:
“But - why – I had feared I had let you all down-?”
Mithrandir had looked at him gravely, and replied:
“How so, my lad? By showing mercy, and compassion? For exhibiting simple decency, and honor? You could never slay someone as they slept before you, helpless!”
He had frowned slightly, and then continued:
“Although I have doubts if he were truly asleep, and even more, that he is ever truly helpless! But no, Legolas, I would not have had you kill him, even if he stood before us now, awake and threatening direly! Remember: killing is a last resort- NOT a first choice!”
As Legolas thought back to all this, he felt hot tears sting his
Kind, forgiving Mithrandir.
He had fallen because of Curunír – died because of him!
And now, he had come back from the Beyond, and still his heart had moved him to go – alone, and in great peril - to Isengard, on a mission of mercy.
He sat up, tears streaming down his face.
He could feel the utter certainty of it, Mithrandir was in great danger. And great pain.
I must break my vow, my mellon, he thought sadly.
You must understand.
We must go to you- you have given your all, for a once loved enemy – but now you must allow us - your friends - to come to you.
To save you, this time.
He rose from his bed, and dressed quickly, and fled out the door.
We must ride for Isengard.
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