It had sailed into the Havens as a ghost ship, empty, weathered and with an air of abandonment. The elves who were there felt a sudden sense of unexplained dread watching it drift into view from the thick fog.
The grey fog seemed to stick to it though, the sail taking on a dull grey colour. The waters darkened around it, shrouding it in a veil of fog and darkness. For a moment the elves dared hope it was but a vision, an image from nightmares and not real.
But the ship remained drifting, and when the fog lifted they all saw it.
The dead ship.
And dark whispers began to spread, whispers that spoke of vanished elves and a vengeful sea. Something was wrong, the whispers said. Something dark awaited westwards.
But not even in whispers dared anyone utter the greatest fear of all.
Far and wide the whispers went; to peaceful Shire, to Rohan, to Minas Tirith and Mirkwood, even to Lóthlorien. Was the ship an ill omen, a bringer of doom? For what could possibly threaten the Blessed Realm? To the elves Valinor was their haven, where they would live until the end of days.
To humans the name was bittersweet, a reminder of what they could not have. Theirs was to pass beyond the veil, to die from the world. But the whispers of the dead ship filled even Men with fear. For Valinor was a name out of legends, legends of far greater things than Middle-earth.
And the dead ship brought a fell wind with it, rushing through the trees and grass, an insistent wind. It did not die as winds should, but lurked in Mirkwood and carried the quiet sobs throughout the forest. It lingered over Minas Tirith and caressed the White Tree, which shivered in its wake. All the way to the dwarven homes of Gimli's kind did the wind travel eventually, just as another morning was about to take hold.
The wind swept past Legolas, and the Elf felt a cold grip on his heart. It lasted only a moment, but it had a strange feel of familiarity to it.
Lifting his glance from the sky, Legolas noticed the approaching horses. Dust were kicking up as they galloped, at times almost masking the horses from view. There were two riders, clearly heading their way.
The horses were riding hard, their riders obviously in great haste. Legolas recognised one as Galadhbar, one of his father's trusted friends. The other was unfamiliar, dressed in dark grey. Elves.
“Friends of yours?” Gimli asked.
“They are from Mirkwood,” Legolas said quietly, feeling a stab to his heart. He knew why they had come and he dreaded the words. The longing for the sea grew in his mind, locking out the tiny murmur of unrest.
The two stood silent as the horses approached, just as the sun cleared the horizon and began to climb the morning sky. A few clouds drifted lazily across the sky, white against the dark blue. The stars were fading from view, leaving the sun to rule supreme.
Galadhbar was first to leap of his horse, looking strangely pained.
“Legolas. I bear news of your father,” he began, bowing his head.
“Speak,” Legolas replied, his tone much more commanding than Gimli could ever recall hearing before. It occurred to the Dwarf he never thought much of his friend as the Elven Prince of Mirkwood, just as Legolas.
“Your father set for the Havens, Legolas, and begun the journey over the sea.”
Legolas did not look surprised, Gimli noted. There was merely a tiny look or resignation in the Elf's eyes.
“His ship came back to the Havens. There were no signs of life,” Galadhbar added, his voice hoarse.
For a moment Legolas staggered. “The dream,” he muttered, dazed.
Dead ship in dead water.
The image came to him as clear as a mountain lake, forever etched into his mind. The ship in the water, looking at him so intently. Had it been trying to say something?
“Legolas,” Galadhbar said intently. “Will you return to Mirkwood?”
Legolas felt Gimli's eyes on him as well as the elves's, all wondering what he would do. He could not think, for his mind was filled with images of Thranduil, father and King. In a sense his father had been Mirkwood, and Mirkwood had been him.
“I..” Legolas began, but realised he did not know what to say. His heart was pounding loudly in his mind, it was all he could hear. “I must think.”
And with that he turned and fled, leaving Gimli to deal with the two elves. He fought the tears until he could no longer feel his legs for the pain in his chest and hear nothing but his own heartbeats. He fell to his knees, staring out over the land.
His father was lost.
The sunlight seemed cruel and had no warmth as his tears fell to the ground. Westwards, the sea glimmered treacherously.
The day passed, as all days eventually do, the sky blackening and stars reappearing as brightly as ever. The moon rose, its white face greeting the nightlife.
It did not surprise the Dwarf to find Legolas quietly sitting by a brook in the faint moonlight, leaning his head on his knees. It pained Gimli to see his friend this way, but there was little he could offer but company.
The starry sky was the same as the other night, yet it seemed that the stars were twinkling sadly to Gimli. Perhaps they were mourning, or perhaps he had been spending too much time with his elven friend and was seeing things.
Legolas looked up for a brief second, face as pale as the moon and eyes as dark as the sky. The light in his eyes seemed quenched, dead and dull.
“If you wish to return to Mirkwood, I will come with you,” the Dwarf declared, putting a hand on Legolas's shoulder. The Elf remained silent, staring westwards.
They stood like that for a while, almost like the night before. Middle-earth was the same, but the perspective had changed. Now the silent beauty seemed sinister, foreboding. It was as if all beauty had gathered in Middle-earth because it could no longer gather elsewhere.
“Perhaps the ship reached its destination,” Gimli offered after a while, but even his voice sounded doubtful.
The word was uttered quietly, but the ramifications were anything but. What secrets were the sea guarding? Drowned elves or something far more sinister?
“I must go to the Havens,” Legolas said, his voice still soft and quiet. He looked to his dwarven friend, knowing what the reply would be.
“We must go,” Gimli corrected. “I could use a bit of sea air.”
Something that could have been a chuckle escaped Legolas's lips, only there was a distinct sadness to it. The reply was what he had expected, stubborn and quite dwarfish. Yet he was glad to hear it, for it was a long trip alone with such a heavy heart.
He glanced westwards again, dreading what answers awaited there. For if the dream was an omen, it was not just his father that was lost – Valinor was lost.
And if that were so, the elves were lost forever.
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.