Fading Legends: Part VII
Middle-earth is less.
But the sun still rises, and we are free. A great price was paid for this freedom.
When I saw her, mightiest of the Elven ladies, Lady of Lothlórien, old and wise, something in my heart changed. What right have I to be ungrateful to live in the times I do, when her kind has given up so much to bring it about?
They gave something far more precious than their lives to fight Sauron – they gave their home. Middle-earth was their home.
It is our home now, but because we are not as great as them, our world is less. As it must be.
And still, I grieve for the loss.
They emerged from the caves as daylight reigned over Mordor, and the sun looked stronger and brighter than before. Or perhaps it just seemed that way, in their joy at see it again.
Legolas drank in the sight of it, feeling the last of the shadows let go of him. With the bow in his hands again, strength seemed to return to his limbs.
Gimli looked grim, half covered in mud from digging away earth to get to them. He didn’t stray far from Legolas, sending a few looks at Aneana.
She seemed to accept the hard looks, just closing her eyes whenever the dwarf stared at her.
"She wanted me to go to Minas Tirith. As if one dwarf are not as good as ten men," Gimli remarked when she went ahead by a few feet. The way her head dropped slightly told Legolas she had heard though.
"Foolish girl. She has the sense of a hobbit, that one," the Dwarf continued, but his voice had lost some of its edge.
"She got the ring. That was what you came for," the Elf pointed out, but the dwarf merely grunted.
"The rings belong to the old Middle-earth," Gimli said after a while, surprising Legolas. The dwarf sounded unusually thoughtful.
"I will take it with me over the sea," the Dwarf continued, causing Legolas to stare at him. The dwarf smiled, a great smile that lit up his entire face.
"Lady Galadriel gave me the gift of passage. I am going with you, Legolas, to be forever near her beauty… And you, of course," Gimli added after a few seconds pause.
The elf let out a soft laughter, feeling as if a great burden had been lifted from his heart. Gimli was coming!
"Before she left, she told me we would find timber for a grey ship near the Havens. We will build a ship, Legolas, and cross the sea."
"Yes," Legolas replied but even as he spoke, his eyes sought Aneana.
She had Elven blood, and she had to feel some of the same longing. Would her children and grandchildren be doomed to an unexplainable longing for the sea, a longing they could never fulfil?
Would they look at Middle-earth and know it was less?
They reached the collapsed remains of Barad-dûr as the sun set a second time, weary, but the stars twinkled down at them with a comforting light.
The air seemed thick and hard to breathe, as if evil was a substance that could leak into the air.
The shadows kept their distance, out of fear or merely because they were waiting was hard to say. A few moved towards them, but managed only a few steps before Legolas’s bow sang.
Aneana shook her head. "We’re just destroying their shapes. The darkness feeds them."
Taking a deep breath, she stepped forward.
"Vilmeide of the Istari, show yourself! I, Aneana, daughter of Arwen and King Elessar commands you!"
Her voice gained strength as she spoke, faint echoes of Aragorn’s heritage perhaps.
The earth shook, and Legolas had an arrow ready on his bow as the wind began gathering.
Out of the shadows grew the wraith, looking more human this time. Legolas let his arrow go, but the wind caught hold of it and carried it away.
Gimli tried taking a step forward, but the wind was like a wall, and he pushed at it furiously.
"Aneana… Half-Elf," the wraith whispered, lifting the wind to caress her cheek. She suddenly closed her eyes, her lips moving soundlessly. The wraith had to be touching her mind, because sweat was forming on her forehead and her jaw was set hard.
"I can give you this," the wraith whispered. She stared at him, shaking her head, but Legolas could see her hand trembling.
"You can be an elf," the wraith said again. "Give me the ring, mortal and immortality will be yours. I can give you all you want. Middle-earth will be great again. We will make it great, you and I."
"No," she said and shook her head, but even as she did, she took a step forward.
"Aneana!" Legolas called out desperately, suddenly realising that through her the wraith would get a power that Middle-earth had no match for anymore.
His cry cut through the air and Aneana halted, her face losing the statement of bewilderment.
"Never!" she spat at the wraith, and lifted her arms. Light shone from the amulet she wore, and the ring on her finger began to throb with an insistent yellow light as well.
The wraith shrieked in anger and pain, launching at her in blind rage. She didn’t even blink as darkness engulfed her, standing erect and with an odd smile on her lips.
The wind died.
| Part VIII | Index