1. The Strangest Trees
A forest has a tone, a mesh of trees, branches and roots strung differently in different places. He has always been able to tune into that tone and merge his long memory with that of a forest.
But these are the strangest trees he has ever seen. He tries to catch their thoughts, but they elude him.
He can feel their age, stretching back even further than his own beginning, but not their memory. It doesn't stretch, it just turns around itself – in infinite stasis.
As he walks further in, the trees billow slightly, opening and closing behind him. There is a rustle of whispers, but no wind. There are other sounds underneath; of faint voices being submerged, but he ignores them.
When he stops the trees seem to turn towards him, and he watches them closely in the fading light. Their branches hang, deep-green and heavy, like strong, sinewy arms under the foliage.
Some of the branches are looms where silvery spiders have spun cat's cradles of hair-like strands that glimmer faintly.
Spiders settle on his skin, but he doesn't brush them away. They are light and airy, like elaborate and more substantial manifestations of the gossamers they spin, and he senses no evil in them.
Soon the trees will leave; wrap themselves in darkness and move swiftly across the land to the ancient pockets of Fangorn forest where they have stood for millennia; maybe feeling the circumference of the forest contracting slowly through the myriad years of their existence.
They will burrow their tendril-like roots into the earth and withdraw into themselves, and let good and evil pass them by as they have always done.
Legolas lies down on his back and watches the sky through the lattice of branches and swaying tree trunks, as darkness slowly erases the details. Later there is a rush of dark and a smell of leaves and earth against his face, and he is alone.