And the sky full of stars: Part X
As a child Legolas could hardly wait to grow-up and defend his
people against enemies. For hours he and his young comrades
would "defend" Mirkwood against imagined enemies. Throughout the day
and many a night, they ran wild through the trees keeping a tally of
the invisible orcs they killed. It was a great game, which always
ended the same: with his father scolding him for wandering farther
beyond the boundaries of the caverns than he should.
Though the consequences were much higher than being scolded by his
father, Legolas still regarded battled as a game to be won. He never
felt more at one with the universe than when his mind was focused on
battle. His bow was an extension of himself, smooth and sleek and
deadly was his aim. Battles he loved.
The first few hours after a battle he hated. The injured. The dead.
Stumbling upon fallen comrades. Disposing of dead orcs. It was the
brutal reality of battle seldom talked about in song. But Legolas
had felt no dread such as the fear that filled him as he walked
towards the splintered fallen gates of Entville.
The gates lay in ruins. Dead orcs littered the ground. The villagers
were slowly dragging the orcs to a burn pile in front of where the
gates once stood. Inside the gates, lay the dead.
Row upon row of bodies. The villagers tended to them, preparing them
for burial. The majority were the young boys that Gimli had tried to
prepare for battle.
Gimli saw them and wept. Row by row, he slowly went, saying the
dwarvish words of the dead over each body.
Legolas walked through the village. His eyes scanned the villagers.
Some were putting out fires while other tended the wounded. His eyes
caught Elesia, but she did not see him. She walked through the
scattered wreckage of the village to the broken gates and looked out
at the wide green valley. The sun was rising.
Legolas followed her. To him, she seemed little wounded, except
perhaps in spirit. He stood beside her and said nothing, knowing
that the simple presence of another was often comfort enough. She
looked up at him, her eyes held tears unshed.
"They look to me for guidance and I have none to give." She said. "I
have failed my people."
"You have not." Legolas insisted. "You did as good as any in your
position could hope. Look at all you achieved while you were here.
You built a community."
"We cannot stay here any longer." She said.
"The orcs are gone. They will not be back." He said.
"It matters not at all. My people are too weak to rebuild. Most are
old. The other half gave up on life long ago. And spend their time
watching the horizon for the return of men who have been dead for a
decade. They have held on for 10 years, they have not the strength
to hold on any longer." She said. "Nor do I."
"Do not say that." Legolas said. "It would be pity indeed for so
strong a people to give up when victory is so near."
"Victory?" she said, looking around at the destruction. "I see
nothing victorious about this day."
"Because for you, the hurt is too new." He said. "But you have much
to be thankful for. Many are still alive. Many have long years ahead
of them. And they need not live it in a prison of their own making."
"But where shall we go?" she asked.
"The King would welcome you into Gondor. He would be honored to have
such strong people within the walls of his city," Legolas said.
She was quiet for a long time, looking out at the valley.
"I thought I came here to think. But I already knew the decision was
made. I came here to look at my future." She said. "I have never
seen the opposite end of this valley."
"You will." He said.
| Part XI |
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