9. Cold Stars of the Future
The sea screamed, the sea roared, the sea crushed. He remembered tasting the bitter salt on his lips as the storm came down upon them. He remembered the first cries as the waves washed over them all, taking life away.
He remembered his own cry but not what he cried for.
And afterwards, it was so silent. He slept – or perhaps he passed out. Consciousness flickered, sometimes strong and sometimes nearly gone; much like a candle in strong wind. He tried to breathe, to only breathe and not feel pain.
He was floating. At first he wondered if he was flying, but he could not feel any wind against his face. He could hardly feel anything at all anymore. Not his hands, not his feet, not his head. It occurred to him he should be cold but he could not remember why.
He could not remember anything, not even if he had forgotten by choice or if the memories had simply died before his body. His eyes stung as he stared upwards at the dark, dark sky. The stars had paled. He had paled. They were all but ghosts, forced to float until the end of days. Forgotten; cold; dead. All things eventually were.
Even the elves.
He was an Elf. Strange. Elves should not die like this yet he knew he was dying. He would freeze to death and the sea would be his grave. His only grave.
Strange grave for a King.
He was a King. He was not sure where the memory came from, nor if it was true. Somehow, it felt real. Others had called him King. There had been a forest; a great forest. Long he had lived and fought there until the sea had called.
And now the sea had claimed him.
He stared and stared as he floated quietly, unable to move, unable to feel. The stars had burned bright, he knew, but they were cold now. Cold as the future.
'I am waiting to die,' he thought idly. There was no panic in the thought; he had not the strength and no one would hear him. They were all dead. Drowned. The ship – something had happened to the ship.
Something had happened to the world. The cold stars stared down at him, almost speaking to him. A whisper of light, mixed with the waves of the sea.
What was it the sea sang of? He could not hear it, but he could feel it. It was… The lullaby of the elves? The lullaby of the world?
And though he felt numb, something cold still filled his body. Perhaps it was dread, his mind felt too heavy to consider it much. The name meant something; names always did. This name…
This name meant death. True death.
Morgoth had reached for the world and Valinor – Valinor was shrouded in darkness. They had… They had…Lost it.
He fought against the mist in his mind, tempting him with rest and clouding his memory. He could not think; it hurt to think. But he knew… He knew he would die. He would truly die. Morgoth had trapped Valinor away and paled the stars. The Ancient Enemy was coming.
Cold, cold stars. But as he looked at them he felt his eyes close and yet he still saw them. A strange starlight. He could not see it, only feel it. It… changed. He changed.
He was afloat but it was not his body. Not his time. These were the cold stars of the future, shining down on the lifeless body of his son, afloat in the sea.
Legolas. So beautiful, hair floating around his face and framing it like a crown. The prince – his prince. His son. Dying too. No. No, he could not see this. Why was he seeing this?
Blindly, he reached with his thoughts and found that the starlight carried them. He felt Legolas now; the fatigue; the grief; the cold.
You must wake up. You cannot die.
I…I am dreaming again. You are dead. Father…
He could see the ship now too – the battered ship Legolas had been washed overboard from. It was coming closer; frantic voices called Legolas's name.
They were sailing the wrong way, away from his son.
Legolas, my son, awaken! You must not die, you will die forever.
I want to follow you. I heard your voice in the sea. I want to…
Gathering all his strength, Thranduil forced his mind to feel the body of his son. He tried to move the arms, move the head, make him speak. He had to.
The word slipped out between pale-blue lips, barely audible, but the sea was calm and quiet and carried the sound.
The ship changed course, coming closer. It was beaten and looking like it was on the verge of sinking, but it was above water and carrying the two onboard. Hands reached for Legolas's body, pulling the Elf up.
“Legolas!” exclaimed the Dwarf, looking so grief-stricken it even pained Thranduil. Perhaps he had not understood dwarves as well as he had once thought. They cared for more than mining and gold and their kindred. This Dwarf cared for his son, reaching for Legolas's cold hand with his own trembling one.
“Is he alive?” the halfling whispered.
“Aye. Foolish Elf!” the Dwarf replied, but there was no anger in his voice. “Get the blankets. He is cold.”
Cold, but alive.
Thranduil felt warmth return to his son's body as the boat changed course once more. Westwards again, through the now calm water. It had survived the storm. Thranduil's ship had not.
Even as he thought it, the vision began to slip. The feeling of Legolas vanished and his own body returned – cold, numb and dying. No ship was here to rescue him. But he smiled up at the stars – always the friends of the elves, even in death.
“Thank you,” he whispered, though he did not know to whom. There was something in the sky; something as bright as Morgoth was dark. Perhaps there was hope. Perhaps he would only sleep until he washed ashore on Valinor's shores. Perhaps nothing was wrong with the world at all and the Halls of Mandos would welcome him.
Somewhere at the back of his mind he knew that would not be, but he clung onto it. Just a nap until he was there. Valinor was still there. Just a nap… He was so tired and his body felt so distant. It would be good to rest.
It was time to sleep now, in the waves, knowing his son lived still. The sea would not have Legolas. Sleep…
He closed his eyes and under the same stars but a different time, Legolas opened his.
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.