"Of Chilly Dwarves and an Angry Elf"

Written by: Flinn

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Chapter 1

The chill air whistled through the highest branches of the trees of Ithilien. Leaves were shaken loose and danced freely through the bows and branches, slowly alighting on the forest floor, or nestling in the crook of some great root. The woods were undisturbed by the coming winter, but something moved below them that sent silent whispers between the ancient trees. A lone rider upon a white horse rode swiftly through their midst. His person was hooded and cloaked, a bow and quiver upon his back, along with a single sheath at his hip. A strand of long blonde hair escaped the hood, and now blew in the wind as the rider galloped on. The trees knew full well who was beneath the cloak, and whispered greetings and questions to him.

Child of Thranduil, where are you going? Why do you leave our shelter? The winter will be a cold one, we can feel it.

The rider now let his hood fall, allowing the breeze to play freely with his golden hair. Piercing blue eyes glanced at the trees about him with a look of affection. Ithilien was returning to its former glory once again, and the sight and sound of the cleansed wood was far more beautiful to him than any Elven song. His fair face turned upward to gaze at the boughs of the trees that rushed by as his steed sped onward.

Fear not my friends, for I expect to return long before the first snow. I am leaving you now, but only for a short while. I travel to the land of Rohan, to visit a dear friend. Namarie! Namarie!

Arod’s pace had been somewhat hindered by the amount of foliage, but suddenly he surged forward as the trees gave way to open plain. Horse and rider left the Land of Ithilien behind them and began the short journey to the ruins of Osgiliath. The sun was wandering elsewhere it seemed today, for she did not send forth her golden rays on the land before or behind them. The skies were overcast and threatened rain. But that prospect did not discourage the Elf. In fact, he rather hoped that the clouds would open up and release their tears upon him. He loved the feel and smell of fresh, clean rain as it watered the earth and fed the rivers and streams. His wish was soon granted, as crystal droplets began falling one by one, and then in droves. Soon, the pair was drenched, and Legolas smiled as the refreshing water hit his face and neck.

It wasn’t long before the decrepit city of Osgiliath was in view. It looked like a tombstone, a sad token of remembrance for a fallen kingdom. Its once grand towers were felled in heaps of stone, sections of the strong wall collapsed into the river...and the silence. Such a cold, still silence...

Arod crossed what was left of the bridge that stretched over the Anduin and slowed at the remains of a gate. Two guards stood on either side of the entrance, the design of the White Tree emblazoned on their chests. They did not hinder the Elf’s passage when he was close enough for his race to be recognized. King Elessar had made it clear that any Elves from Ithilien were free to journey through the lands of Gondor unchecked. Without so much as a nod, the guards stood unmoved as Legolas passed by and entered the city.

The same scene was repeated everywhere one looked: broken pillars, piles of stone rubble, fallen buildings. The overcast sky seemed to increase the darkness of the already shadowed ruins. The unnerving silence was only interrupted by the sound of rain pelting the dead stone, and the quiet gurgling of the river. Legolas urged Arod to move as swiftly as possible through the forsaken place, and the steed responded with a cantering pace until they came to the far side. Another two men guarded the way, but once more, they did not hinder the Elf from passing.

Presently Legolas came upon the fields of Pelennor. From his position he could see the white city of Minas Tirith, still in some disrepair, but slowly being restored to its former glory. A few of the walls had gaping holes; wounds from the great battle that had been fought without and within the city.

Looking upon the white mass of stone, Legolas’ thoughts turned to the King who now sat upon the throne high in the citadel. Aragorn, son of Arathorn, one of his dearest friends, had finally embraced his destiny and took up the kingship of Gondor. The former Ranger was now one of, if not the most powerful man in Middle-earth. And at his side stood Arwen Undomiel, the Evenstar…the brightest jewel in his crown. A small grin played on Legolas’s lips as his mind ran over the moment Aragorn had seen Arwen for the first time since their parting in Rivendell. Since the beginning of the Quest of the Ringbearer. Many months…even years of separation were nothing new to them, but the uncertainty of Aragorn’s return and Arwen’s fateful choice hung heavily upon them both during the War of the Ring. Now the two were joined as one in the bond only undying love can have.

Legolas longed to see them again, to visit these dear friends. But the trees had warned that time was of the essence if he wished to return to Ithilien before the first snow. Never doubting their perception, the Elf knew if he was going to make it to his destination and back in the time allotted, he must move on. So with a nod of farewell towards the great walls of Minas Tirith he set out across Pelennor Fields.

The field had transformed from the scene of horror and death…nay...sheer hell that it had been in the final throws of the War of the Ring. Such utter despair and pain had been witnessed by all those who had been involved. The blood of the warriors that had fallen still cried out, the noise of it ringing in the ears of Legolas. To a mortal the fields would merely seem eerily silent. But to the Elf, it was as the sound of thousands of whispering voices calling up from the ground, surrounding him, penetrating him. Even Arod could sense the disturbance all around him and his pace quickened. Legolas did not fear the dead spirits of Men, but his soul was grieved at the sorrowful call that seemed to swirl around him. So many had given so much…some even their lives. This doleful sound mingled with the rain was indeed an object of despair. The very earth seemed to lament the loss of life that had taken place.

“Hiro hyn hydh ab wanath,” whispered Legolas. Then he began to sing softly…a lament in his own tongue…

The fallen cry out…Their life-blood still stainsThe earth in its crimson…Their voices fill the air; weeping, mournful,Despairing o’re all that is lost.Thousands upon thousands…All struck down by the enemy,The hordes of darkness…Those that followed the will of the Evil One,Destroyed the lives of many.May you rest well…You fallen sons of Rohan and Gondor;Know that your sacrificeHas secured the future of the Race of Men.Farewell… Farewell…

Suddenly lightening split the sky and an angry clap of thunder sounded. Arod stopped suddenly and jumped, snorting loudly. His ears lay flat against his head and every muscle in his body was tense. Legolas’ song abruptly ended. Another bolt of lightening flashed, reflecting in his intense blue eyes as he studied the sky. What began as a light rain had quickly turned into a storm. Too quickly. Worse still, the clouds showed little to no sign of getting lighter on the horizon. If anything, they looked to be darkening. His gaze wandering towards Minas Tirith, Legolas pondered turning back…but only for a moment.

“Avo ‘osto mellon-nin,” Legolas called, attempting to sooth the frightened horse. He stroked Arod’s tense neck, whispering words of comfort to the animal. Arod gradually calmed a little, but the uneasy horse continued to snort and stomp. “We still have a long way before us this day,” said Legolas. “Tolo hi, mellon-nin. We must ride, and ride swiftly if we wish to outrun the bulk of this storm.” Arod began to trot forward tentatively. “There you go,” encouraged the Elf. “There you--” Another booming crack of thunder roared overhead, cutting off Legolas’ words. Arod tensed, but trusting his master, continued with an air of hesitation. Slowly he began cantering across the wide field, gaining speed with each stride. It wasn’t long before both horse and rider were practically flying along the sodden ground.

The rain came down harder and faster and quickly lost its place as a comfort to the Elf. Each pelting drop felt like a large needle striking his skin. Quickly, Legolas threw his hood back over his head and urged his horse onward. The wind had begun to pick up and sent the rain swirling, first one direction, and then another. The icy gusts pulled at the Elf’s cloak and the hood abruptly fell back. Knowing that an attempt to keep the flighty piece of cover on would be futile, Legolas shook the soaked stands of hair out of his face and leaned forward, hoping to gain any extra speed he could.

I hope you will thoroughly enjoy my visit, Gimli, thought the Elf as another lightening bolt streaked the sky. Because so far, I am not…
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