8. Road to Minas Tirith
Authors note: Ok. There
is a lot of gloom and depression at the beginning of this chapter, but don't
worry, they get over it!
Legolas felt a strange sadness and longing pass through him as the little company exited the stand of trees that had been their shelter from the storm. The afternoon sun had finally managed to push its way through the clouds, and now its light was dazzling as it was caught and reflected from the thousands of drops of water that hung from the trees and clung to the grass. A stillness and silence that could only come after the fierceness of a storm lay heavy over the land, muting the fall of the horse's hooves. It was as if all of nature lay in tense anticipation, waiting for the new life that would surely spring forth. The wind had died down into a soft breeze that gently brushed the faces of the company and brought a clean and fresh scent that invigorated their senses.
It was the indescribable scent of the rain itself, filled with life and purity, that caused the strange stirrings of sadness within Legolas. It was a scent that reminded him of Mirkwood, his home, and he felt as if he had been gone for years, instead of less than two weeks. He could remember with clarity the afternoon spent in the woods the day he had first gazed upon the dark parchment with its evil words. He remembered the peace and contentment he had felt, with no greater worry than who he would be expected to dine with in the evening. That day now seemed ages ago, and a deep weariness settled upon him.
He was worried.. Not for himself, but more for the companions around him who he had grown to care for so deeply. For the hobbits. Gentle and caring folk, whose innocent and cheerful manner brought joy to all who were around them. 'They should never have to worry about anything more than whether or not the winter snows will ruin their beloved pipe weed,' Legolas thought sadly. 'Instead, they are continually forced down dark paths with uncertain endings. And yet they go with a courage that would put the greatest warriors to shame.'
For the wizard, Gandalf. A man who gave so much and received so little in return. Legolas saw the great love that Gandalf held for all of Middle Earth and its inhabitants. It was for that love that Gandalf had given over his entire life to serve and protect a people who would never know enough to properly thank him.
For Aragorn. Legolas had never known a greater warrior or a man with more honor. From the time of his birth, Aragorn had been serving the people of Gondor. First as a Ranger and now as a king. He had never once thought of himself before his people. Even when given the chance to choose a different road, one less difficult and full of pain, Aragorn had never once strayed from the path set before him, and Legolas loved and respected him for it.
For Gimli, whom Legolas had never expected to like, but instead grew to love and care for more than any other. Gimli, with his gruff manner that hid the great wealth of emotion the dwarf kept just beneath the surface.
Legolas worried for all of them, and he could not help but wonder what would become of the company that had united that fateful day at Rivendell.
Legolas shifted his position on Shandarell's back and tried to push away his dark thoughts. It was unlike him to allow himself to be swallowed by depression when such a bright and beautiful day surrounded him. He glanced behind him for one more view of the stand of trees before they were lost behind a tall hill.
The entire company rode in much the same fashion as earlier that day. Gandalf led them, followed closely by Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and then the hobbits on their shaggy ponies. Once more, the guards brought up the rear, leading the extra animals. They rode in relative silence, except for the hobbits, who had bunched their ponies close together and were now whispering quietly.
Legolas glanced to his right and slightly ahead to where Aragorn rode. The man wore a small, preoccupied frown, and his hand rested lightly on Anduril's hilt. Legolas knew that something was seriously bothering his friend. 'Perhaps he is facing the same feelings of gloom that lay heavy upon me,' Legolas thought sadly.
Legolas was jerked out of his thought by Gimli's soft voice. "Aragorn has not been himself of late." The dwarf was also looking towards Aragorn, and Legolas detected a hint of worry in his voice. "I do not think I have ever seen him so...... aggravated."
Legolas had to agree, for he had known Aragorn longer than any of the others, save Gandalf. Aragorn was always one who managed to keep his emotion under firm control, and seeing his friend so openly disturbed was troubling him greatly.
"Can we truly blame him," he replied, just as softly. "Now should be a time of great joy for him, for all of Gondor, but especially for him. Instead, he is being forced to deal with a new threat and danger when the land has not even recovered from the previous one. It is not right, and my heart grieves for him, as well as for the lady Arwen."
"As does mine," Gimli sighed. "It seems to me that the things of dark and evil shall always hound and hunt the footsteps of those that stand for good and freedom. And in that, Aragorn, and indeed all of us seem to be destined to suffer. But if that is the case, than I say let them come! They will find out what the creatures of Middle Earth are really made of. Let them come and be destroyed! This is one dwarf whom you shall never find with a dull axe!"
"Nor I with unstrung bow," Legolas cried, picking up on the dwarf's fervor. Aragorn turned and gave the two a questioning look, and the hobbits briefly stopped their conversation. The odd display, however, was nothing unusual for the two companions, and Aragorn soon turned back to his own thoughts, and the hobbits resumed their conversation.
Gimli sighed, and all his exuberance seemed to leave, his shoulders sagging once more. "Still," he sighed, "It would be nice to be able to sit down and have a nice glass of ale or some smooth wine, without some orc or other dark creature trying to chop my head off."
Legolas had finally broken free of the despair that surrounded him, and he would not let Gimli's gloomy attitude drag him back.. Clasping his hand on the dwarf's shoulder, Legolas let out a small chuckle. "If it is wine that you desire Master dwarf, then to Mirkwood you must go, for no one knows how to make better wine, or appreciate it more than my people."
Gimli snorted. "First, you drag me all throughout Fanghorn, and now you wish me to go to Mirkwood with you? Last time one of my kin visited that wood, he was locked in the dungeons and barely escaped. Trouble seems able to find me well enough without me going hunting for it!"
Legolas put on a tone of mock injury. "As one of my guests, I am sure that we could find somewhat more suitable lodging for you during your stay."
"Hah," came Gimli's retort. "High up in a tree, most likely. I think I would prefer the dungeons."
"That too, can be arranged," Legolas replied, his serious tone not hiding the twinkling mirth in his eyes. "Let us then make another agreement, as we did once before. If you will visit Mirkwood with me, then I shall go to the Lonely Mountain with you. We shall meet each other's people, and perhaps bring trade and harmony once more between our two races."
Gimli nodded slowly, liking the idea. He knew that before he had met Legolas, he had believed all elves to be proud, elusive, snobs, and he had held no desire to associate with their race. He had since come to realize how wrong he was, and he desired for the rest of his people to come to the truth just as he had. "I think I should like that," he muttered, almost to himself.
"Then it is agreed," Legolas stated. "When this thing is finished, you shall travel with me to Mirkwood, and then I will in turn go with you to your home, where I assume my quarters will be much like the dungeons of Mirkwood. But I will refrain from complaint."
"And when I am at your home, I too shall refrain from complaint, though I shall not sleep in any trees," Gimli retorted.
The two companions rode in silence for a time, but a change had come over them. They both sat taller upon Shandarell's back, and the shadow that had been upon them earlier was no longer evident.
Legolas allowed his thoughts to wander, and his senses to relax, but he soon became aware of Gimli turning and straining to look past him, back down the trail they had just come. This went on for several more minutes until Legolas decided to comment on it. "If you wish, my friend, I can put you behind me and turn you to face the other direction so you will not get a crick in your neck."
Gimli gave Legolas a dark look, then turned to face forward once more. "I wonder what the hobbits are discussing," he said curiously. "They have been huddled together whispering for quite some time."
Legolas laughed. "Is that all that you wished to know? You should have simply asked and saved your neck the exercise. The hobbits were at first discussing what Gandalf could possibly be hiding, but have since changed the topic to whether or not he will allow a fire to cook supper when we stop for the evening. It is this subject that has occupied them for at least the last hour."
Gimli shook his head ruefully. "I should have known," he muttered to himself. "But I think they may be in for a disappointment. I do not believe that Gandalf even intends on stopping for the night. He seems to be in quite a hurry to reach Minas Tirith, and it is my opinion that he will have us ride straight on through the night."
"I agree," Legolas said, "but I do not think we should tell the hobbits this. Sometimes I believe they enjoy talking about their food almost as much as eating it!"
"Well their talk is making me hungry," the dwarf grumbled, ignoring the fact that he could not even hear the hobbit's discussion.
Legolas was opening his mouth to respond to this, when in front of them, Gandalf jerked his mount to a stop. "Legolas," the wizard called, and the urgency in his voice caused the hobbits to end their discussion and the rest of the company to sit up expectantly in their saddles.
Legolas moved Shandarell up beside the wizard, who was staring intently west. Gandalf lifted his arm and pointed toward a high ridge in the distance. "What do you see?" he asked Legolas tensely.
Legolas squinted in the direction the wizard was pointing, trying to see through the late afternoon shadows. Suddenly he jerked more upright, and his left hand went to one of his knives "Orcs.," he spat out disgustedly. "At least two dozen, and they are moving swiftly west."
There was a gasp from behind them, and the ring of steel as blades were drawn from scabbards. Gandalf sighed heavily. "I was afraid of this," he murmured quietly, and Legolas was again struck by how weary the wizard looked.
"Do we go after them?" Aragorn asked. He had ridden up beside them, his hand gripping Anduril's hilt, but his face was surprisingly calm. He looked at the wizard, and something seemed to pass between the two.
"I would advise against it," Gandalf stated plainly. "It would be past nightfall when we reach them, and they have the advantage of number. Both you and Legolas are injured and I am weary. That leaves Gimli, the hobbits, and your guards to take the brunt of the battle. I do not think it would turn out well."
Aragorn seemed surprised at Gandalf's admittance of weakness, and he searched the wizard's face for several seconds.
"The choice is yours," Gandalf said quietly. "I will ride after them if it is your wish, and I will do what I can to help in any battle we may come upon."
Legolas was only slightly surprised at the sudden switch of leadership, and he watched Aragorn closely as the warrior thought out his decision.
"I do not like that they travel so openly, and while it is still daylight," Aragorn said quietly, with a sidelong look towards Gandalf. "However, I agree with your council, and so we will ride on."
A collective sigh seemed to escape from the hobbits who had gathered close behind the little group.
"When we reach Minas Tirith, we will hold council and learn what it is that hunts us and dares bring orcs back into Gondor. Then we shall decide what to do." Aragorn turned, and Legolas saw a new light on the warrior's face. Aragorn smiled at him. "There will be plenty of time to hunt orcs after."
Legolas returned the smile, and a thrill of joy ran through him. The old Aragorn was back.
Watching the exchange, Gandalf allowed a small smile of his own. Whatever danger there was to face, there was no other company the old wizard would have preferred more.
Aragorn turned back to Gandalf. "We shall stop again shortly to light our torches and allow a brief supper." Another collective sigh, this one much different in tone came from behind them. Aragorn smiled and continued, " I do not expect to stop again except for brief rests for the horses. I am most anxious to reach Minas Tirith." Gandalf merely nodded, content to allow Aragorn to take the lead.
"Legolas," Aragorn turned to the elf. "I would ask that you ride by my side tonight, and keep your senses open for any signs of trouble. I have no intention of allowing ourselves to stumble onto another band of orcs, and I will not be taken off guard by a surprise attack."
Legolas simply nodded, already alert for any warning of danger his senses may send him.
"Then let us be on our way."
Faramir stood silent and still upon the great walls of Minas Tirith, letting the wind from the east catch at his cloak and whip it about him. His eyes were intently searching the rolling hills that ran up towards the giant city, looking for any signs of movement. It had been almost four days since Legolas had ridden from the city, and Faramir was anxious for any news or sign of the return of his king.
So intent was Faramir in his search, that he failed to notice that he was no longer alone. When a voice spoke quietly at his side, he nearly jumped out of his skin, his hand flying to his knife before he realized who his visitor was.
"Forgive me, Lady Arwen, but you startled me," Faramir admitted a bit ruefully. He immediately removed his hand from the hilt of his dagger and gave a deep bow.
"No harm was done," Arwen assured him quietly, smiling to put him at ease.
"The morning is very cold, my lady, and I cannot help but wonder what has brought you to this lonely wall."
"It is not so cold," Arwen responded with a far away look, "And I suppose I am on this wall for the very same reason that you are."
Faramir could think of nothing to say in response, and so he turned back to studying the land. A peacefulness lay over the city and the surrounding hills, mocking his own inner turmoil. Faramir had considered taking a group of soldiers and riding out in search of Aragorn himself, but had finally decided against it. Now, however, he was seriously reconsidering. He was a man of action, and the sitting around and waiting was beginning to drive him mad.
Pushing aside his restless feelings, Faramir turned once more to Arwen. "I suppose this is very hard for you, my lady," he said gently. "being parted from the one you love and not knowing whether he is in danger or not; and yet you remain so calm. I do not know how you do it."
Arwen turned to him, and there was a sadness in her eyes that made Faramir's heart lurch. "Being parted is nothing new to Aragorn and I. His duties and my own have often forced us down separate paths. Neither is danger anything new. I am confident that he shall return soon."
Faramir was touched by the sadness in Arwen's voice, and he strove to cheer the beautiful elf. "Soon you will not have to worry about partings, for you and Aragorn will be wed and you will be queen of all Gondor."
Arwen smiled, but her face did not lose its sadness. "Yes," she said softly, "long have I waited and longed for that day, and perhaps now I will be forced to wait a bit longer." Her voice held such longing and sorrow that Faramir felt an overwhelming urge to comfort her somehow, but he did not know how.
" i gaearon uin naer avad u celon," Arwen whispered softly, staring out over the wall. Suddenly she straightened, and leaned forward, her eyes intense. Faramir whirled and looked in the direction she was staring, but he could see nothing. Several minutes of tense silence followed, and then Arwen seemed to relax. A joyful smile filled her face as she turned to Faramir. "They are coming," she said softly, then turned and walked gracefully from the wall.
Faramir turned back and stared over the wall. He thought he discerned movement still far away, but there was no way to be sure. Deciding to trust to the excellent eyesight of elves, he turned and left the wall as well, preparing to go and greet his king.
translation of elvish--The oceans of sadness refuse no river
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.