And the sky full of stars: Part I
by: Jen

In the red book of The Shire, Bilbo Baggins wondered if adventures ever had an end. His answer was no. Someone always picked up the story and carried it further. And though ages come and go, all the stories continued. The third age was over.

The ring was destroyed. The elves were leaving Middle Earth. Almost daily, ships sailed from the Havens. Elrond and Galadriel were already among those that had sailed to the Blessed Realm. With them went the ring-bearers Bilbo and Frodo along with Gandalf.

Aragorn had married Arwen and taken his place as king. With Aragorn's leadership peace spread among the kingdoms of middle-earth. Cities grew, ties centuries broken were rebuit. Sauron had been defeated. But evil remained. Despite, soldiers patrolling the roads, traveling was more dangerous than the years Sauron was in power.

Legolas and Gimli were two hard days ride from Gondor. They had been traveling together for nearly 3 years, exploring Middle-Earth as they had promised each other. They had explored the Glittering Caves that Gimli loved and had climbed the highest trees of Fangorn Forest and had many adventures that are too numerous to tell. But all journeys eventually end and they were headed back to Gondor to pledge their allegiance to Aragorn and to serve him in whatever way they could. The road was easy and the day was nice. And both were consumed with thoughts of the future.

Gimli was planning on organizing dwarves to come and help repair the city and to recreate the stone works that had once stood in Gondor's streets. As the sun sunk low on the horizon, Gimli noticed that Legolas was quieter than usual. In fact, he hadn't said a word the entire afternoon.

"You are thinking of the sea." Gimli said, glancing over at Legolas on his white horse.

Legolas looked at Gimli as if seeing him for the first time all day and merely nodded.

"It is not something easily explained to dwarves." Legolas said.

"I am not most dwarves. I have been around you long enough to learn a thing or two elvish." Gimli said. "You have said nothing all day. What troubles you so?"

Legolas sighed.

"Olori. Dreams." Legolas said. "Dreams to elves are not like dwarvish dreams. They are as clear and as real as if I was there."

"So you have been staring at the ocean all afternoon while I have ridden alone in this forest?" Gimli said.

"I can smell the salt water, hear the roar of the waves. See the never ending expanse of blue." Legolas voice trailed off as if he were going back there again in his mind. He shook himself out of it. "I am consumed by a desire to see what lay beyond the waters."

"You will leave soon then?" Gimli asked.

Legolas shook his head. "I do not know. But the day will come when I shall not be able to ignore it." he said.

"You will be reunited with your people." Gimli said, sadly. "I wonder if the Lady Galadriel is still as beautiful as I remember."

Gimli reached for the amulet on his neck that contained the locks of her hair.

Legolas smiled. "Perhaps we shall both find out one day."


A few days later they arrived in Gondor and went to meet with the King.

Legolas and Gimli greeted Aragorn with all the respect a king deserves. Aragorn smiled, amused. Formalities aside he lead them into his private study, much to the dismay of his guards.

He shut the door to his study behind him.

"You both have been busy." Aragorn said, a twinkle in his eyes.

"Busy?" Gimli asked.

"Seems whereever you two travel, legends spring up from the ground behind you. Are you both trying to become myth or is that just a convenient bonus of your friendship?" Aragorn said, smiling.

Gimli and Legolas looked bewildered.

"Songs are already being sung of you near Lake Town." he said. "A local boarding house crumbled to ruins by magic of elves and dwarves."

Gilmi and Legolas exchanged glances, as if it were a sore spot in their friendship. They both began talking at once.

"A misunderstanding." Gimli said.

"Regrettable." Legolas said.

Aragorn laughed loud.

"It is good to see you my friends. It has been far too long." he said.

Food and drink were brought in and they sat together and dined. Exchanging stories. Until the untidy business of running a country was discussed. Restoring peace. Aragorn told them of the problem with orcs. The remaining bands of orcs served no one but themselves. Having no master to follow, they ran wild across middle-earth. Small villages and outlying homes were frequently attacked and raided. And although Aragorn had soldiers patrolling the roads, travelers were often ambushed.

"What have you two come across?" Aragorn said.

"They are moving. Raiding villages." Legolas said. "There are scattered bands throughout the mountains and they roam farther than before Sauron."

Aragorn nodded. "I thought so. That is why I called you here. I need you to track them back to their bases. Get some idea of their number and strength. Report back to me with their locations and we will try to destroy the last remaining strongholds. I want the roads to be safe again."

Legolas and Gimli bowed.

"We will leave at first light." Legolas said.

"We won't let you down." Gimli said.

Aragorn smiled. "There are no two better for hunting orcs."

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