8. Chapter 7 : Prayer of a Fading Elf
On the first day of their journey, all was quiet between them. Legolas sat with his head turned towards the direction of his home, which pained Lord Elrond though he decided not to comment on the matter. But when the carriage turned left and Mirkwood lay behind them, Legolas turned back around and rested with his head in his hands. The soft sobs could be heard but vaguely every now and again, but Lord Elrond waited for their first break to speak.
"Please, dear Legolas, you must eat," Lord Elrond said. "You need to relax. No harm will follow you here."
Legolas shook his head, and the small slices of bread and cheese was rejected.
"Not even this small amount? This food only fits the palm of my hand - can you not eat this? That is all I ask from you."
"I desire nothing."
"But you need your strength for the journey."
"I do not want to reach Rivendell. I want to die here."
Lord Elrond settled the pieces down on the plate and he regarded Legolas with somber eyes. "Surely you do not wish this, Legolas. There is much good in this world. Your family and your home, and the love you found in Haldir of Lórien. You have so much to live for. In time the clouds will part and your heart will be lightened again."
"How can you promise this? Did you promise the same to Lady Celebrían?"
Lord Elrond regarded him again, and for a moment Legolas winced in regret of his words. But the prince remained silent, and finding this first conversation a failed attempt, Lord Elrond gather their supplies before commanding the horses to pull the carriage once more. Legolas fell into the silent agony of before, and Lord Elrond, though not angered by Legolas's earlier words, was finding it difficult to reach out to him. There was much that troubled him, and so much of it Legolas kept away from them, Lord Elrond sensed. To get him to reveal all would take a very long time, and even then, not all secrets may be known to him. He needed only to give his utmost support and love to the suffering elf.
When the sun settled and the night grew dark, a madness seemed to settle inside Legolas. He glanced about him in frantic worry, muttering under his breath. Lord Elrond watched quietly, waiting to see what he may gain from this observation. He had heard and watched Legolas a few times already during his panic attacks, but never could he gleam anything beyond the same mad mutterings of previous episodes.
"What ails you, prince?" he whispered, for he could no longer bear the sight of Legolas under so much pain. He placed a hand on Legolas's shoulder and he brought his other hand before Legolas's eyes. "Do you see this? This is Vilya, one of the three great elven rings. It will protect us. There are no demons here to hurt you so long as I wear this."
But the words did nothing to calm Legolas, so lost was he in this terror. And the longer this went, the more grieved and desperate Lord Elrond became. The sight before him was far too familiar. He was moved to embrace Legolas. "Weep not, child," he said, and in his mind he played out again a once painful scene similar to this: "Weep not, Celebrían my love, weep not."
The journey was long and tiresome for Legolas, whose body could not bear travel over so long a distance. In time he accepted Lord Elrond's meals, who urged him to eat if only a little. It was all his body could accept, and strangely he was glad that elven bread could satiate him over a long time.
Yet still Legolas wished for the death of his child, and as they crossed more perilous paths he imagined orcs shooting at his abdomen arrows dipped with poison. Yet the thought of losing the child also grieved him, and in particular whenever he thought of the fair face of Haldir. His confusion in combination of everything else maddened him so deeply he wondered how he managed not to fling himself off the carriage. Something kept him rooted to his seat though his heart screamed to end his life.
There were times when he feared looking out the carriage, especially during the night, for he knew the demons were still following them. And when his body fell into reverie, he often imagined the hands groping for him. And the panic as the memory of the cave would seize him. He awoke a few times to seeing that in his sleep he had attacked Lord Elrond, who very patiently had sought to calm him.
"Please, Legolas. There is nothing to hurt you here," the elf lord reminded him.
"You do not understand," Legolas thought. "They follow me as a shadow, but no light can chase them away."
He would shun out Lord Elrond, but also at times he pulled the elf closer to him, and in his arms he would weep and tremble. He heard Lord Elrond call him mistakingly Lady Celebrían and it grieved him further. He knew of the tale of what happened to Imladris's Lady, and he envied her for she was lucky to be able to sail to Valinor. He would remain here despite his spirit's wish, and with each moment the agony intensified.
"Will there ever be a deliverance for my pain?" he asked Lord Elrond one night, perhaps the first time he initiated the conversation. It pleased Lord Elrond so much that he stopped what he was doing to give his full attention to Legolas.
"Yes, there will be," Lord Elrond said. "That day will come, fear not, and you will be all the more happy for it. Your life will have been any sweeter!"
He smiled, but the look Legolas gave him was cold and emotionless.
"A complete cure to this misery? I do not believe you. This disease will eat me alive! Greatly does my spirit desire shedding this flesh! Why can I not have this relief? Why must I suffer in this body? Away with it! It is damaged! It is useless! It must be done away with! I no longer love it nor the trouble it has given me! My life is nothing but a string of agony! A death in my family sends me ill for decades! Getting fucked by dozens of men and orcs is enough to shatter me! Tell me, Lord! Why do I bother still to live? Nothing am I but a shame to my kingdom!"
Legolas tracked his nails across his arms, but Lord Elrond's hand gently pried him away from further damaging himself. Legolas swat at Elrond and just then another attack seized him. He cried and shrieked, not caring if his voice would attract orcs or any servant of Sauron. And he cursed all of Eä and the Valar, and from Eru he pleaded for death. He ripped out his hair and shrieked till he wore himself out. Then he collapsed unto the floor of the carriage, crumbled in a heap, and the sound that followed was a soft sobbing that rubbed - like salt to a wound - the ringing silence that followed after his shrieks.
During all this Lord Elrond merely watched him, saying nothing for he was stunned into silence by the display of utter helplessness before him. The only thing that moved in Lord Elrond was the tear rolling down his cheek.
Elladan and Elrohir arrived in Imladris about a day before Lord Elrond had come. The others told them of where their father was, and in confusion and worry they sat waiting for him.
And so it was that they, while leaning against the rail of a balcony, he watched as a silver and golden carriage stopped before the Last Homely House, and Lord Elrond led a limping elf inside.
"What have we just witnessed, brother?" Elrohir said.
"I know not," Elladan said. "From far away I cannot tell who this elf may be, but did you sense the agony inside him? Surely the bitterness of death is at hand." His voice trembled lightly, and Elrohir nodded.
"I fear what befell our mother befell this elf as well," Elrohir said. "In soon time the fëa shall depart from the hröa."
"Where is Arwen?"
"Do not worry. I spoke with her just this morning, so it is not her. She is safe." But as to the identity of the elf neither could find an answer, and both growing worried, they set out to find their father.
They followed the sound of their father's voice; though he spoke softly to the damaged elf, the keen hearing of the twins were still able to pick up the whisper, and it was not long before they stood by the doorway of the patient's room. But in that moment they were seized by a sudden shyness, for they were uncertain if they knew the elf nor whether they should probe into the privacy of the victim. And looking into each others eyes they silently agreed to wait for their father to come out.
It was some time before Lord Elrond left the room, the scent of lavender upon him and the air. He caught sight of his sons, whose eyes rested on him with desperate questions. And the elf lord was jolted back to a time hundreds of years past, when a similar scene played out, and the twins and Arwen waited for him to speak of their mother's state.
Finally Elladan spoke. "Who was it this time, father?"
Lord Elrond shook his head and said gently. "I must speak to you both. I fear there is a mission neither of you will enjoy but must partake."
The fire in the hearth could not bring warmth in Elladan or Elrohir. They sat in silence for a long while, digesting all their father had told them. In their hearts were agony at the thought of what their father had asked from them, and Lord Elrond knew how this mission would affect them. He could guess what each of them thought as they sat in stunned silence, remembering the days of their youth running into the arms of a gentle, spirited Glorfindel; and off they would go envying the golden locks, wishing their hair was golden rather than dark as night. Indeed Glorfindel was the light of Rivendell in the olden days, a great elven warrior but an even greater friend. It pained Lord Elrond to know what had befallen a close friend and ally to him. It was doubly painful for the twins; though they were ready to chase after the orcs who tormented their mother, to chase after Glorfindel was an entirely different affair for them.
"If Glorfindel knew of the curse that poisoned him, he would want his life to end, for only that will end the possible suffering of others," Lord Elrond said.
"I cannot bear to think of sending an arrow to his heart," Elrohir said.
"He will kill you if you hesitate! As more people learn of the demon inside him, he will not spare anyone! The demon requires the freedom to gorge on whatever victim he chooses; he was discovered already by many of the Fellowship, and should he seek revenge on them the quest will have been all for naught. All of Lothlórien knows. All of Imladris will know. This is for the safety of others more than anything. Do you want there to be more suffers like Legolas? For surely rape is one of the things this demon enjoys being in the body of Glorfindel.
"It will pain you to hear this, but Lord Glorfindel's spirit is just as much destroyed as Legolas at this point. He will not want to suffer if he knew what his body had done against his own free will. I urge you both to seek him in the wilderness and end his nightmare. He will be thankful for it, I assure you."
Then slowly Elladan and Elrohir stood up in agreement. They took an oath to find Glorfindel, but the words spoken were broken by the agony of having to kill a close friend. Then they left to think more of the manner, and Lord Elrond, feeling the weight of the past several days finally hit him, collapsed back on his chair, and he rubbed his temples with shaking fingers.
No time did Lord Elrond waste once they had settled in Imladris. There were many things of knowledge that the elves, descended from the Noldor, had here, many of which it was said was knowledge brought from the Blessed Realms. And he set to work on the scented reeds, which when placed in Legolas's room gave an aroma that settled his nerves greater than any droughts he had thus far drunk. Many of these were placed near his head on the bedside table, and their effect was so great that Legolas fell into deep sleep that sent a calming spell on him.
His periods of rest were filled with dreams, neither beautiful nor terrible. It was as though the scented reeds wished him to recall all from his past, and he would return to Mirkwood of being in his mother's arms while just a small elfling, to gently pushing Haldir against a tree as his lips sought his.
At first he woke with tears in his eyes, though it was not from any anguish that Glorfindel nor the demon had inflicted on him. And he would lie there, numb and unfeeling, and recall the snippets of his past. So vivid they appeared in his dreams that he awoke to the sound of his sister laughing only to find himself in the empty room. And he wondered how this was to be part of his healing.
One morning he awoke to the presence of others close to him, and he was startled, thinking them the demons of Lothlórien having found him. But his mind cleared and he saw they were Elladan and Elrohir. They spoke with him for a time, and he welcomed their company though also he sensed there was tension between the twins. He prodded them and soon he came to learn that they were stalling to leave Imladris to hunt down Glorfindel. Hearing the misery in their voices as they confessed this set his heart ablaze.
"He has damaged more than any elf or man or any free being can be damaged!" Legolas said. "A merciful death is the least he deserves!"
"You did not know Lord Glorfindel from before he was possessed," Elrohir said. "You would have loved him. He was greater than even what the tales said of him."
Legolas thought of the sneer on the wicked elf's face as he shoved his member deep in Legolas's throat, laughing coldly as Legolas gagged and fought for breath.
Elladan had to pry his brother away as Legolas shrieked at them, thrashing in attempt to strike Elrohir for his defense of Glorfindel.
The twins, sensing no reason to remain, finally left Rivendell after their talk with the prince. Legolas watched them from the balcony of his room, his eyes bloodshot with the recently shed tears. He had no time to apologize for his petty behavior, and the twins seemed to avoid looking at his direction.
Among the ones who bid them farewell was Arwen, and she seemed to have sensed Legolas's gaze upon them, for she turned and met the sad eyes of the elf. And in her eyes Legolas saw deep compassion. All too soon she broke the contact and slipped back into the house. Legolas turned back to the twins, and he worried for them, for he did not think either were still willing to strike Glorfindel when the time came.
The thought of the twins still holding love for the wicked elf grieved him, and as he wept he did not hear Arwen approaching him.
"Do not cry, beloved prince," came her voice, a soothing salve to his wounded spirit.
"Why did you come here? Do I not repulse you as well?" Then looking up he felt her spirit and a dawning came on him. "You are more mortal than the others! What has happened?"
Arwen did not answer him, but she took his hand and gently led him to his bed. "You need rest. I know how terrible your pain is. Do not fault Elladan and Elrohir. They grieved for you, and when they decided to leave it was so no further suffering will befall anyone. They will hunt for Glorfindel."
Legolas settled down. "They did not appear glad to do it."
"Neither would I be glad if I was asked to kill someone I saw as kin," Arwen said. "But they will do this, for you, for they love you as if you are one of their brothers. And I love you and wish for you to rest."
She motioned for him to rest his head, and Legolas reluctantly obeyed. Arwen poured more lavender oil to the small tray, allowing the scent to fill the room. Then she returned to Legolas's side; and settling on a chair beside his bed, she placed her hands upon Legolas's brow. The touch was cool and wet, and Legolas perceived that Arwen had dipped her fingers in the oil.
Gently she rubbed from the center of his brow to his temples, then she slid her hand through his hair, careful not to cause pain for the hair had been tangled from the lack of care Legolas took on it. Legolas winced in embarrassment for neglecting his appearance, but it did not bother Arwen. With a smile, she searched for the hairbrush through the cabinet, and she returned to her task. His scalp was rubbed in slow circular motions that released the tension in his shoulders. Arwen did this with one hand as the other brushed through his hair, and she sang quietly. As soft and gentle as her voice had always been, it was now more soothing with this song. And with the scent of lavender everywhere about him, and the coolness of the oil rubbed against his scalp, Legolas was lulled into reverie.
His memory took him to the forest in which he ran. Very tall the trees were in the eyes of the small elf child who laughed as he sped on, chasing the sunlight that peeked through the gaps in the canopy of green leaves. In his excitement to glimpse more of the sun he did not see where he was going, and he tripped over a protruding branch which had broken from a nearby tree. His cheeks brazed against the sticks and leaves, and feeling the sting on his cheek, he could not stop his lips from quivering. The tears fell.
His name was called out and soon he was pulled to a sitting position. Glancing up he saw his father and mother, both looking very much worried. When they deemed he was not seriously hurt, his mother collected him into her arms and sang softly as she and her husband resumed their walk. Legolas clung to her, and over her shoulder he regarded the trees with fear and hatred. This his mother sensed, for she approached one of the trees.
"They will not hurt you, Little Leaf," she said.
She placed his hands on the tree trunk, and Legolas then felt, rather than heard, the voice of the tree singing lovingly to him. And he felt bad for thinking so lowly of the trees before, and he reached out to kiss it. The elvenqueen laughed at her child's affection, and she carried him over to where the king sat, who watched them with eyes full of love.
Legolas settled in his mother's arms and watched them, admiring how beautiful they looked. His father, proud and mighty with his crown, and his mother with her hair like honey under the sunlight. He was lulled into sleepiness by their gentle voices as they spoke amongst themselves and by his mother stroking his hair, which had already grown past his shoulders.
And the scene changed, and the one who was now stroking his hair, her soft voice humming a tune, was not his mother but Arwen. Legolas lay still and tried to hide the tears.
The tears were not lost to Arwen. She finished her song, deeming her task complete. She spoke to him once more, assuring him that his pains will subside. Then she left him to mull over everything he had seen in his dream.
It troubled her that he slept with his eyes shut. Not even the half-elven slept like mortals, and she wondered if this was a sign of him having lost the grace of the Eldar.
She vowed to remain beside him and help him during this troubling time. And Legolas welcomed her, though she caught him studying her with much sadness. Whether it was because she had chosen the path of Men or because she was neither his mother nor sisters, she was uncertain.
"I know I can not replace them, but I will do all I can to help you," she thought. She helped him to bathe, at least to aid him from getting up from bed and walk to the bath. She helped with washing only if he asked; and as he soaked in the water, she busied herself in his room. The bedsheets she aired out, and she made the bed and laid out fresh clothes for him. Scattered about were also her things, for she spent much time in his room. Seeing this, it both made her father glad and sad, for the memory of Lady Celebrían's suffering was reopened with the fresh wound of this new victim.
Among the things Arwen brought with her were books, which she offered Legolas. Legolas took them gladly yet it seemed he took too long a time to read just one page. This was rather unusual for him, for Arwen remembered him to be a lover of stories.
One of her earliest, and fondest memories, of Legolas was crawling onto her lap, excitedly peeking at the pages she was reading. He was still too young to read, but the pictures pleased him. Yet on this particular page was an illustration of Celebrimbor's body as he was carried during the Battle of Last Alliance; and Arwen placed her hand over the illustration in fear of it frightening the elfling. Instead she pretended to read the tale to him, changing the events to turn Celebrimbor into a great hero who defeated the villain, married a fair maiden, and had many heirs.
She smiled as she recalled that day while the small tears rolled down her cheeks. The memory was broken suddenly at the small cry of pain. Legolas leaned against the doorway. Though his wounds were healed, his strength was minimal. Even on the days when he ate, it seemed his body's strength was failing. He had lost too much weight, and Lord Elrond and she hoped Haldir would return soon, for he alone seemed to push Legolas to feed enough to grow strong.
Seeing Legolas now, she rushed to him and patiently walked him back to his bed.
Arwen's company Legolas much appreciated. She never flinched when she touched him, unlike the maidens who helped him wash in Lothlórien. Though gentle she was, there was a strength inside her that he felt clearly now. In many ways she was human, one who endured and reformed with the waves of stress. How lucky the mortal men were, Legolas thought, to be flexible as to change and reform their lives. The elves were far too rigid that enough pressure could snap them in half.
There was also a sadness in her that he could detect, but it was not caused by him. For hours at a time they would sit quietly in his room, him resting and Arwen sewing nearby, and each were occupied with the thought of the one they loved most. He told her tidings of Aragorn despite the memory of the Fellowship's rejection still paining him.
"Elladan and Elrohir were to meet with him along with some of the Rangers from the North," Arwen said.
"Will they now?"
Arwen tensed. "That I do not now know."
"They had a change of plans, I know." And Legolas did not ask further.
There was some blessing in being in Rivendell, Legolas decided. Lord Elrond and his children were half-elven, and their blood that which came from the line of Men brought them immunity to the anguish that Legolas's soul breathed into the world. And even outside of them, many of the residents were of the old great Noldor, and they had seen so much peril in their time that Legolas's own sorrows did not crush them the way it had with the elves of Lothlórien.
But perhaps what Legolas loved most about them was that in their eyes was none of the pity or disgust from the wood elves, but great respect as though he were their equal even in illness. They spoke to him as though he were still a mighty prince (and is still a mighty prince, they would often remind him), and this brought peace in him in ways he had not felt since his rescue from the cave. He was not a patient here but one of them, one of the elves who went about their days during the final eras of the elves on Middle-earth.
From their love and acceptance, Legolas found enough strength to leave his rooms to roam among them. They aided him only when he asked for it. In time, he found the strength to move on his own despite the fatigue pulling him down. When he did not spend time with Arwen, he ventured out to the library of Rivendell, and there in the stillness of the vast reading rooms he would pull up any book and read.
But reading was not the activity that it once was. Many times he turned down the story if it was too sad, wishing to instead find stories with a happier ending; but seldom did the history of the elves have a happy ending, and no hope could he wish to find in the pages of a book. Yet he kept them close and read them, or studied the illustrations in mesmerization. By chance he came across an illustration of Celebrimbor's body impaled on a pole and his body stricken with arrows. He studied the picture intently, tracing the lines of blood and the staring into the anguished face of the elven smith. Too grievous was this tale, and till now he preferred the story Arwen told him hundreds of years ago. But he read the actual story now, realizing with a strange pang in his gut that he had bore witness to the single ring that Celebrimbor fought against; and even more, had laid his eyes on one of the rings the great elf had forged.
"If a mere ring can protect the realm of elven kings, then is there not a ring capable of ridding evil inside oneself?" Legolas thought. "For then what good is a protected land if one of its inhabitants is suffering?"
Legolas turned to watch the light drizzle of rain prattling against the glass windows. He thought of the Fellowship who had become his friends, united by an evil ring. And also he thought of how, for not this ring, he would have never met Haldir. "Perhaps the terrible ring could bring good into the world," he thought. "But it is cruel, for I found my heart's twin yet I cannot be his, for an evil has stricken me!"
He remembered Haldir holding his hand before they parted, and his heart cried out for the elf. "Oh, where is Haldir? He promised not to be far behind us, but it has been more than a week since we arrived in Rivendell and still he has not come!" And he agonized through the evening whether Haldir was killed while on his journey, or if he chose not to come at all.
Thus went the sessions in the library. Legolas was slipping back into his madness. Though he did not see the shadowed demons, for he was often asleep or focused his conversations with Arwen or Elrond when he was awake, he sensed their presence near him constantly. He did not need fingers reaching out for him to feel cornered. They were still there, beside him. Leering and waiting to get him.
During one afternoon, the fear rose inside that suddenly he may see them, for he was alone and sat isolated far from the others in the library. He covered his face in his hands. Long he wept, for the desperation of his situation and for Haldir's absence and for the constant fear of the demons. He thought he could feel someone approaching him, and he froze, unable to move yet unable to stop his tears.
The voice that spoke was low yet pleasant and very elven. "I was looking for this book that you have here. May I borrow this and trade you for this one instead? I need it for only today."
Legolas mumbled, "yes," and he looked up only when Erestor had his back to him. He watched as the elf walked away and glanced away only when Erestor disappeared from his view.
Legolas had spoke little with Lord Elrond's Chief Counsellor throughout the years, but their relationship was peaceful and their friendship mild and distant. Something about his condition seemed to bring a change in the elf. In effort to get him to gain weight, Legolas was invited to dine with Lord Elrond, and there also sat Arwen and the many elf lords and counsellors, as well as guests to the land. A few times he caught Erestor scrutinizing him. He was not one for showing grand displays of emotion, but neither was he stoic. Before his rape Legolas found Erestor to be rather pleasant in his own way. He was discreet in his speech and dedicated to his work. Mild-mannered he was and also factual, if not at times a little pessimistic. Yet Legolas trusted him, for Erestor was not one to twist tales or boast of his own achievements, which Legolas heard was many though Erestor never spoke of them.
He turned to the book Erestor left on his desk. Here was something he was unfamiliar with regarding Erestor. Was there meaning behind this action? Noticing the bookmark protruding from the pages, Legolas wondered if this was meant for him to see. But what book was this? There was no title visible on the cover, and neither any illustration to indicate what could be in it.
Legolas slipped his index finger into the page with the bookmark, and with his thumb he clasped a corner of the book. His heart raced at the thought of what he may see inside. Was there a message written for him only; or perhaps inside was the story of Glorfindel's deeds meant to change his mind about the rape. Or perhaps Erestor somehow discovered the identity of the demons and wished for Legolas to read the article. After his time spent in darkness and uncertainty Legolas liked not the idea of not knowing. He wondered if Erestor had a darker streak in him and perhaps wished to traumatize him with an illustration of a fell beast.
But Legolas pushed that out of his mind and took a deep breath. He flipped to the page. Before him were stanzas written in Quenya. Though not a language he normally spoke, he understood it for it was taught to him in Mirkwood. His fingers traced through the words that made up the stanzas, and he surveyed the length of this piece, which was surprisingly shorter than the others in the book; then bringing the book closer towards him, he read:
Eru Ilúvatar, hear Thee my cry!
Fill with Thy light the emptiness
Which plagues my heart,
Become my hope for I have none left,
Become my strength for I am weakened,
Become my deliverance for I have grief.
Thou has become my last flicker of light!
Legolas read the prayer again, and he wiped the tears away. The words, though simple, were quite beautiful; they seemed to have bore straight into his heart.
It was a prayer written by a fading elf, one who suffered just as he had. As Legolas held the book close to him, he wondered as to the identity of the elf, of what he or she had experienced, of the agony that breathed such profound words to repeat, over and over, to the One. And here he was, Legolas thought, who had cried out for Eru to take him away from the world, rather than call for His aid in his path back to good health.
He searched for a spare sheet of parchment, and gathering around ink and a quill he copied the words to the parchment before leaving. He did not see Erestor to thank him, but he made a mental note to do so the next time he saw Erestor.
He knew the prayer alone would not cure his illness. The words of one of his teachers long ago reached his mind: "Eru does not correct our wrongs, but He may show you the way, if you ask and ask deep enough in your heart." So Legolas slipped into his room and reread the prayer, then once more, this time by uttering the words out loud, his voice like a humming of a bee in his empty room. He repeated the prayer, speaking slowly and from his heart till the tears would not stop. Then setting the paper aside, he raised his palms up to the heavens and whispered, "Please, Eru, I cannot take this. Please, help me. Let me rest in Your palms and feel no more sorrow. If I am to fade, then let me leave this world soon. But if my fate is not to die, then show me what I must do, for I am lost in the dark."
Then casting aside the parchment, he slipped under the bedcovers. As he waited for sleep to come, he hummed quietly to himself. Before the tranquil darkness overcame him, he wondered again where Haldir was, and how very much he wished he was there to hold his hand.
After bidding farewell to his loved ones, Haldir left Lothlórien without another glance. The thought of Legolas's agony propelled him on, and he stopped only when his horse Faeloth grew tired. The roads he could see, from his many ventures outside of Lady Galadriel's land, had changed much since the war stirred. The roads were darker and occupied by foul orcs and uruk-hai. But he was trained well in the Lothlórien army. He knew where to rest and keep himself invisible to the orcs.
But the number of enemies grew by the day, and Haldir was finding his journey dragged down by the frequent instances of forcing to change his route. One evening he settled Faeloth well hidden away from the path, and after speaking softly to his horse, his hand stroking the grey horses's silvery mane, he left his steed behind. Haldir climbed up the tallest tree of the vicinity, and from a high branch, hidden behind the thick leaves, he located a gathering of orcs. He could not discern if anyone innocent was trapped among them, but it bothered him still. They were gathering in mass amounts. In a few days they would be able to ambush Lothlórien.
He cursed under his breath. Trapped he was between his homeland and Legolas, between an entire village whom he protected and a single elf who needed him. It had been too long since he left, yet Imladris was still too far from him. Legolas depended on him to arrive just days after them, and already he was a week past his promised date. He needed to keep Legolas's trust, for he feared losing it could prove to be detrimental to Legolas's healing.
But he could not leave the lives of many Silvan elves at the mercy of the orcs. And especially not when - and Haldir's heart clenched at the thought - that Orophin and Rúmil were among the first elves that would meet the orcs head-on. He needed to do this if it meant protecting them.
And so he pulled an arrow from his quiver, and he nocked an arrow, pointing it to the leader of the pack. His heart pounding, he knew that there was a chance this battle would lead to his death, which would surely devastate Legolas. "But there is much at stake if I do not do this," he thought.
He loosed the arrow, and it went straight through the skull of the orc leader. Terrible roars erupted, and Haldir loosed a couple more arrows in the group. Moving swiftly he slipped from one tree to the next, showering more arrows. The desired effect came; the orcs cried out and shook their swords and their clubs at the invisible elven army that had dared them. Haldir kept himself hidden, but he sent more arrows, this time moving northward, leading them far from either Imladris or Lothlórien. But his supply of arrows was limited, and the weather worked against him that night for it began to rain during the chase; and his visibility, though better than any of the orcs, was still limited. He could find no place he could have them all gather for their final doom, but in time he realized that nature was working in his favor. For the showers of arrows and the heavy rain caused them to become frantic, and they slew each other and fell into the nearby river, which frothed and overflowed in the great storm. The ones who survived continued on their northbound run.
Seeing that his mission was successful, Haldir ran back to his camp, shivering but slightly in his clothes. The rain had shimmered down to a drizzle by the time he relocated the bushes he left Faeloth. He called out his horse's name, but no reply came, and then a sense of dread crossed him and he ran to the place where he left Faeloth.
Some of the orcs, in the madness of the chase, had slew the steed, and all Haldir could do then was to stare at the remains of one of his loyalest friends. He knelt down and prayed for Faeloth's peace in death, and for the remainder of the night he huddled up the tall tree.
He peeled off the wet clothes and slept in only his leggings. When the morning arrived, he laid out his clothes to gather the warmth of the sun. It was impossible to bury Faeloth, but Haldir covered him in as much dirt as he could, for it pained him to think his steed would soon become the food of vultures.
He uncovered his belongings, and for the remainder of the day he rested against the tree to write his letter. He located a messenger dove to deliver his warning, and he sang softly in his Silvan tongue, which lured the bird to him. Eagerly she took his message and flew off. And as he watched her disappear over the treetops he hoped she would reach his brothers in time. Closing his eyes he sought to reach Orophin or Rúmil's mind to warn them of the coming orcs, but he was uncertain if he was successful. A communication over such a distance was rare among the elves save for the more powerful ones among the Eldar.
His clothes now dried, he slipped them back on. He sifted through his belongings and chose what to discard. Then packed with only the essentials he needed for the journey, he trod on. This time he stopped for no rest, even when his body finally began to wear out from the journey and begged him to sleep. But he would not waste a minute being idle. He nibbled on bread as he walked, and when his mind protested, he allowed himself to fall into reverie yet still walk on, conscious of the world only through a small part of his mind.
Imladris loomed in the near distance, a beautiful valley glowing in the evening when he reached there. His legs nearly gave out underneath him, but he could not succumb to rest. He made his way to the Last Homely House. One of Elrond's councillors, an elven woman who had seen the fall of Gondolin, was the first to set eyes on him, and instantly she took him to Lord Elrond. He was just leaving the Hall of Fire, a book clutched beneath his arm, but upon seeing Haldir and the state of his appearance, he thanked his counsellor and ushered Haldir back into the Hall.
"Forgive me, my lord," Haldir said. "I meant to come sooner, but I was waylaid by an army of orcs."
"I know of this already," Lord Elrond said. "Lady Galadriel has received your warning, and you can rest assure that your people are safe." He smiled at Haldir before motioning for him to take a seat. "Your body is starved. The servants will bring your a meal right away."
Haldir thanked Lord Elrond, yet he found he had little appetite. But not to appear rude he sipped small amounts of soup and tore small portions of the bread. "How is he?"
"He appeared to be recovering for a time, but also he has slowly regressed," Lord Elrond said. "It has been a chain of good and bad days. His panic attacks have subsided for now. The room I placed him in can be locked as not to allow a draft in. From that I filled his room with the scent of lavender. It initially worked, but as your absence continued he appeared to have grown a resistance to it."
Haldir grimaced. "I am sorry. Forgive me."
"Do not apologize," Lord Elrond said. "I was expecting him to, thus I alternate his therapy. I use many other oils for their scent, but also he is subjected to prayers. Arwen helps me with this, as she's grown close to him since he arrived. Elladan and Elrohir were sent to kill Glorfindel. It will be the only option we have, and I am sure Glorfindel would have preferred this to happen than to continue harming others."
Haldir nodded in understanding, yet Elrond's words did not lessen the chill that overcame his heart.
"Has Legolas had any episodes about the demon?" Haldir asked.
"Yes, unfortunately," Lord Elrond said. "And especially in the past few nights. We hear him screaming, but there is nothing inside by the time someone comes to his aid. Neither I nor Arwen are there when he is having a fit. Perhaps the absence of a friend nearby sends his panic into delirium. It is hard to say at this point; I questioned him about it, especially after the first episode. I suspect he had no vision during our travel to Imladris, and neither the first week while he was here."
Haldir thought of the times when he stayed by Legolas's side and watched as Legolas's fear-filled eyes followed the invisible terror crawling the walls. But he did not mention this to Lord Elrond. He needed time to mull over the strange events. He was certain he felt something that day when he searched Legolas's room for the thing that terrorized him.
"And how is he now?"
"A little bit better and a little bit worst," Lord Elrond said. "Every little victory is overshadowed by a new grief. That is expected with this illness. I intend to heal him as well as I can. It is my greatest wish to be more successful than my last attempt."
The last few words were more to himself than to Haldir, but he heard the words nonetheless. He could find no proper words to say, and they carried on in silence for a time before Lord Elrond spoke again.
"Perhaps it will interest you to know that Legolas has been fighting his illness. Though still plagued with the depression, he has turned his pleas of death to prayers of deliverance. Arwen noted that she found a sheet of a prayer Legolas has recorded. It is a little known prayer for its words bring grief to all, but the words resonant with those who are fading. I know not how he came into possession of it, much less preserved in its original Quenya. It had to have been someone here who showed him the book, and to whoever that is, they have my sincere gratitude. It has broken a barrier, although small. I cannot be more thankful. There is still hope for Legolas."
And hearing this, Haldir found himself unable to be away from Legolas any longer. He finished his meal, this time with more enthusiasm, and he followed Lord Elrond to Legolas's room. But before he entered, Lord Elrond kept his hand to the doorknob.
"You appeared glad when I told you of Legolas's prayers, but the truth still remains that we are up against a terrible thing to battle. Something is troubling him greatly - something of which we have not identified yet - and he speaks none of it, I am afraid. And what that is will destroy him. He may pray during his every waking minute, but no blessing will he receive until he learns to unlock the one door that is preventing him from recovery. That door is sealed by this other hidden illness.
"You will understand when you see him. Even with all of his victories he is still slipping from our grasps." Then he unlocked the door and bid Haldir a good night before leaving.
Haldir made his way to the bed. Legolas still slept with his eyes closed tightly shut, but Haldir did not think that would change any time soon. There indeed seemed to be a difference about him, though Haldir was uncertain what exactly it was. The blanket was pulled down to reveal one thin arm draped over his abdomen. Haldir picked up the blanket and brought it to Legolas's chin.
"Well met, my beloved," Haldir whispered. "I returned as I promised. I am sorry I could not come sooner." He glanced about the room. Arwen and Legolas had spent time making crafts together. Lord Elrond had told him Arwen conducted many sessions where they just sat and created art, and the evidence could be seen throughout the room: Pillows were varnished with embroidery with delicate tiny beads in intricate paintings of flowers and birds; parchment scrolls with the elegant brushstrokes of well-known elven songs and proverbs; and there were also candles altered from their original shape, and flowers were woven around them.
But what really interested him were the dolls. Scattered across the bed and floor were small dolls each the side of one's palm. They were simple in design, but each one was unique. Haldir curiously studied them to guess their identity, and he was surprised to find that not just he but also his brothers and parents were made. There was Gimli, Aragorn, and the rest of his friends. Also were Arwen, Elladan, Elrohir, and Lord Elrond; and also all of Legolas's family including the elvenqueen. But one doll was missing, and deciding to surprise Legolas, he gathered the materials.
The dolls were not hard to make, and in no time the Haldir doll now had another doll settled next to him, and about their tiny arms was wrapped a string of yarn. Haldir placed them atop Legolas's bed side, so Legolas would see them upon waking up.
At last, sleep and fatigue caught up with Haldir. He rested on the chair beside the bed, and he held Legolas's hand in his. He studied his beloved for a while before the reverie crept over him. His head rested on the bed as his mind entered other realms.
Legolas woke with the sensation of hands on him. At first he tensed, fearing that in his negligence of watching out for the devil, he was finally grabbed and would be dragged to a world of agony. But moments passed and the confusion faded, and he realized the hand that held his was soft and warm. His heart leapt, but it was fearful to have hope. Slowly he opened his eyes and saw that he held hands with a sleeping Haldir, who still wore his day clothes, spread out exhausted on the edge of his bed.
He held Haldir firmly, not wanting to slacken his grip and also fearing that squeezing it would jolt Haldir awake. As gently as he could to reduce the chance of waking him, he stroked the flesh, telling himself over and over that Haldir was here, that he returned. He was not dreaming.
You arrived," he said so softly his lips barely moved. "You came as you promised." He became conscious that his other hand rested on his abdomen. The memory of the agony returned, but he sought to chase it out, preferring instead to focus on the sensation of love from the elf who held his hand.
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.