I'm preparing myself with a Kevlar vest (a bullet proof kind of vest!), a Sig Sauer gun strapped to my thigh under my skirt (now I sound just like Sydney of the 'Alias'!), several bodyguards surrounding me wherever I go (they all looked exactly like Leggy, Kel, the twins and Aragorn, of course!), and I've appointed Kimi Raikkonen the F1 driver to drive me away because I'm sure you guys are going to KILL ME for this final chapter! Anyway, if all my precautions and escape plan fail, I still have Nick Stokes from the 'CSI' to analyze my remains so the people responsible for my death will be prosecuted!!! He! He!
Read on this final chapter and be nice when you kill me!
Thranduil sighed in deep sadness as he gazed at his dejected elder son. He should've known that this situation would occur the moment Keldarion volunteered himself to cast the stone away. The king had also received several reports about the warriors in Keldarion's fleet who suffered the same malady. They all went through such turmoil of emotions and volatile swing of moods as they resisted the feeling.
Keldarion looked up to the king with teary eyes, disbelief evident on his handsome face. "The calling of the sea? That's what's been bothering me?"
"Yes, my son." Thranduil put a warm hand on his son's shoulder. "The sea is calling you. You've been there in the ocean. It should've been your point of no return. But then you came home, and the calling became greater than ever."
"Why must all this happen?"
"It's our weakness as an elf, as the firstborn. Our curse. Once your eyes set upon the sea, you will always have this longing to sail over…to the Undying Land."
Keldarion shook his head sadly. "The Undying Land. Now it all makes sense. I keep dreaming about it every night, I keep hearing about it every day. But it's too soon for me, father. Yet, my heart is wrenching towards that direction. What should I do? How can I stop this?"
"There's only one way to cure this longing, Kel." Thranduil pulled his son close to his side. "And nothing else can change that."
Legolas walked to and fro in the hallway outside the king's chamber. What took them so long? What are they talking about in there?
He had left his brother inside with their father nearly an hour ago. Thranduil had been very shock to see the brothers' red and puffy eyes, and instantly he knew that both his sons had been crying. Legolas left the explanation to Keldarion for he understood that it was his brother's right to tell his story. The younger prince had walked out to give them privacy…and he'd become more and more impatient by the minute!
When he was about to break through the door, it opened. Thranduil smiled weakly when he saw Legolas's anxious face. "Come inside, my son. Your brother has something to tell you."
Legolas rushed in, immediately headed straight for Keldarion who was still sitting on the edge of their father's bed. "Kel? So, how was it? You'll be fine, right?" But he felt his heart skipped a beat as he saw his brother's anguish face. "Kel? What's wrong now?"
"The sea is calling me, Legolas," Keldarion replied softly.
Legolas looked at his father for further explanation. "What does that mean?"
Thranduil came closer and grasped his youngest child's shoulders, staring at the silver orbs earnestly. "It means…Kel has to sail over…to the Undying Land."
Legolas's eyes widened. "No…" He shook his head in denial. "No!!!" Pulling away from his father, Legolas knelt down beside his brother. He grabbed Keldarion's hand in pure panic. "You can't go!! Why must you go?!! Not now! Your time hasn't come yet!"
"His time has come, Legolas, the moment he saw the sea," Thranduil said, placing a hand on top of Legolas's head. Keldarion had trouble to speak, so he could only stared sorrowfully at his brother and nodded weakly.
"This is unacceptable!! You. Can't. Leave!!!!" Legolas yelled, standing up abruptly.
"Legolas, the decision is already made for me. It is something I cannot control anymore." Keldarion also stood up. His voice was laced with deep pain and despair. "I have to go."
Legolas shook his head vehemently. It was incredibly hard for him to believe it all. "When?" he asked reluctantly, while he was actually wishing not to know.
The younger prince stopped moving instantly. "T…tomorrow…?" Legolas staggered backwards as he fully understood what was really happening to his life. "Tomorrow?!!"
"The sooner he goes, the sooner his sufferings stop, Legolas," Thranduil softly said, on the verge of tears himself.
"I will not let you go, Kel! I can help you stop your suffering!"
"No one can help me, Legolas! Not even you! Please…don't make this hard on me…" Keldarion pleaded.
"Hard?" Legolas glared, his eyes glinting with myriad of emotions. "I'm making this hard on you? Fine! You want to go? Go then!! See if I care!!!!"
"Legolas…" Keldarion reached out but Legolas dodged him, yelling, "I hate you, Kel! I hate you!!!!!!" The door slammed shut with such a deafening sound behind Legolas as he raced out of the room.
Keldarion lowered down his head, tears were streaming down his face. Thranduil came near and placed a comforting arm over his son's shoulders. "He doesn't hate you, Kel. He'll never hate you."
"I know, father," Keldarion replied softly. "He's hurting terribly. But I'll hurt him even more if I stay. I can't do that to him…. I'd rather kill myself."
Legolas spent the whole night on the tallest branch of the highest tree in the realm. Hugging his knees to his chest, he stared unseeingly at the full autumn moon. His heart constricted, his tears never stop flowing. He knew that Keldarion and Thranduil were worried about him. He also knew that the servants were busy preparing the needed supplies for Keldarion's long journey tomorrow morning…his very last journey.
My brother is really leaving. There goes my most faithful and loving protector. And here I am, on his last night with us, hiding away from him in a tree…just because I cannot accept this fate.
And Legolas broke into heart breaking sobs all over again…
It was morning. Keldarion was about to depart with the fellow warriors who also suffered the same longing like him. Every servants and Mirkwood elves were present to bid them farewell. Every one of them was in tears. They were all in shock of this sudden event. Their beloved crown prince was sailing over the sea much, much early than expected…even before the king.
The elves looked on as father and son hugged each other one last time. Both royalties were crying. It was indeed very hard for them both to say their goodbyes. As they pulled away, Keldarion glanced again at the tall tree that he knew Legolas was occupying. "He is not going to come down, is he?"
Thranduil could only rubbed his son's back in sorrow.
Keldarion turned back to the king. "I'll wait for you across the sea, father. Take Legolas with you."
The king bit his lips to stop himself from crying again. "I will, my son. Just wait for us. We'll be there." Losing control finally, Thranduil grabbed his son and kissed his forehead before pushing him away. "Go. Go now, while I still have the strength to stand, and the will to witness your departure. Have a safe journey, and wait for our arrival. We will be there."
Legolas jumped nimbly from branch to branch and landed onto his balcony. Pushing open the door, he walked slowly into his chamber... joy was no longer in his steps. He had avoided looking at the crowd below in the courtyard. He could not witness the scene there; it was too painful…and too real. What I didn't see will not hurt me. I'll get some sleep, and when I wake up this nightmare will be over…then he saw the two objects lying on his pillow.
They were Keldarion's ivory-handled twin blades…and the crown prince's silver royal circlet.
His knees weakened all of a sudden and Legolas stumbled onto his bed. With shaking hands, he reached for the blades and the crown. Reality started to hit him in full force.
He is leaving! He is really leaving!!! What are you doing here, you idiot?! Why aren't you moving? Why aren't you doing anything?!
Legolas forced himself to stand but he was too overwhelmed with grief and despair. As he hugged the blades and the royal crown to his breasts, Legolas could only whimpered, "Kel…oh, Kel…"
Outside, Keldarion and his troop was already leaving on their mounts…
Keldarion glanced up to the trees. The leaves were brushing against one another, whispering a sad song…for him. A song of farewell. "Goodbye to you too, dear woods," Keldarion whispered back. "May Elbereth protect you always."
The troop was now approaching the border of Mirkwood. They rode at slow pace, as every one of them was reluctant to leave their long time home. The dock by the River Anduin was about fifty leagues away, just over the green hill in front of them.
He was deeply thinking about his brother that when Legolas suddenly emerged from a tree above, Keldarion thought he was only imagining him. "L…Legolas?" Keldarion halted his mount.
Legolas had landed right in front of him. He now stood tall, staring back at Keldarion with his brilliant silver eyes. "Kel."
Keldarion told the other warriors to move on. They all obeyed him, giving the two princes some privacy to speak their last words. Still sitting atop his horse, Keldarion never broke eye contact with his brother.
"I do not hate you, Kel," Legolas finally said.
"I know that, Legolas."
"Would that make you stay?"
"I'm afraid not." Keldarion smiled sadly. "Hey, look at it this way. You got to wear the heavier crown, o future king."
"I don't want to be king, damn it!" Legolas glared.
"Unfortunately, you have no choice. You're the crown prince now." Keldarion's smiling face turned to horror when Legolas suddenly grabbed and dragged him off his mount. "What the…!!!"
The two brothers stumbled and rolled to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs, their famous wrestling match in progress for one very last time. Keldarion was chuckling helplessly. "Valar! You can't get enough of this, can you?!!!" He sobered then when he realized that Legolas was silently crying! "Legolas?"
The younger prince's slim frame was shaking in his wild sobs, tears streamed down his face like raindrops over a piece of marble. "I…I don't want you…t…to leave!!"
Keldarion's heart broke. He pulled his sobbing brother into his arms. "I know, my brother. I know."
"What would I do without you?"
"You'll go on, that's what you'll do."
"I can't! I need you!"
"Yes, you can, Legolas! You're strong! A lot stronger than I am! After all those dreadful things that had happened to you, you still prevail. You never give up!"
Legolas pulled away and stared at his brother beseechingly. "That's because you were always there for me! Now that you're leaving, you're taking a big part of my heart with you! I have nothing left! Nothing! Please don't do this to me…" Legolas pleaded shamelessly.
"I can't live like this, Kel. Not without you…"
"That's not true. You are not so easily defeated, Legolas, I know you! You'll go on."
"I can't…" Legolas lowered down his head.
"Yes, you can! Look at me." Keldarion touched his brother's chin and tipped it up. "Yes, you can, Legolas. Your heart is strong. And you are very stubborn! How many times have you cheated death and emerged the winner? Countless!"
"But what about Arwen?"
"Arwen? What about her?" Keldarion was a little perplexed.
"I thought you have feelings for her. What am I going to tell her after you're gone?"
Keldarion smiled softly. "Yes, Legolas. Arwen and I…we do have some chemistry between us but I always know that it won't lead further than close friendship. I can feel that she is waiting for someone else…someone that even I do not know of. We are not destined to be together here...but maybe in the Undying Lands, who knows?" Still smiling, Keldarion brushed his brother's tears away. "Now, I want you to promise me that I'll see you over there in the Grey Havens when your time truly comes."
"I want to come with you now…"
"And leave father all alone here? I don't think so, dear brother. Besides, you have Middle Earth to protect; a task that I love to carry up with you if this longing never has disturbed me."
"It's all my fault. If it's not because of me, you would never have gone to the sea."
"We all would sail over the sea eventually, Legolas. Only my time came earlier than we thought. It's not your fault! Remember that."
Legolas had no more strength to reply. He buried his face deeper into his brother's chest, refusing to let go. Keldarion gently stroked his younger brother's hair. "And I want you to promise me that you'll take care of father for me. Can you do that?" Legolas weakly nodded. "Good. I have to go now." But Legolas would not loosen his hold on him. Instead, his grips on his elder brother tightened even more.
"Legolas…" Keldarion could not contain his tears any longer. He cupped his palms over Legolas's wet cheeks and stared down at him in rapt attention. "Swear to me that you won't get dead and that I will see you there in the Undying Land! Swear to me!"
Legolas looked up and stared directly back into Keldarion's cobalt blue eyes. "I swear."
"I'll hold you to that oath." Keldarion nodded in satisfaction. He leaned forward and kissed the top of Legolas's head, taking a long moment to inhale his brother's wonderful scent, memorizing it.
Legolas gasped in despair when Keldarion finally pushed away, stood up and jumped gracefully onto his mount. The younger prince also got to his feet; his eyes never leave his brother's regal form. "I love you, Kel," Legolas said softly, almost choking with sobs.
Keldarion gazed back at his younger brother tenderly; all his feelings could clearly be seen in his eyes. He smiled as he replied, "I love you too, little one." With that, he kicked his heels and his mount sped away.
Legolas started to chase after his brother, following on foot, running with all the elven stamina he possessed. Keldarion rode faster, aware that his brother was still behind him. Then Legolas started to lag behind, his steps slowing down until he came to a complete stop, stumbling down to his knees.
At the top of the small hill, Keldarion reined in and turned around. He looked back and saw Legolas still kneeling there, staring back at him. Placing his right palm over his left breast, Keldarion swept it slowly upwards in a half circle; it was the sign of farewell in Silvan. From afar, he saw clearly how Legolas also repeated the same gesture.
Then and only then, Keldarion, the crown prince of Mirkwood, the elder brother, turned back around and started to catch up with the other sailing elves…
Legolas found the king in Keldarion's chamber, sitting on the edge of the bed, staring into space. With tears streaking down his pale cheeks, Thranduil clutched a small golden trinket box on his lap. Without even looking, Legolas knew that inside the box there would be a lock of his mother's flaxen hair…and Keldarion's raven one.
The prince sat beside his father, touching the king's hand tenderly. "Father?" Thranduil looked up to his youngest child…the only child he had left with him.
"Looks like it's only you and me now, father." Tears glistened in Legolas's eyes as he saw his father's obvious sorrow. "But we will meet him again. I've promised Kel to look after you and join him when our time comes."
Thranduil was glad to know that Legolas had gone to see Keldarion one last time. He gathered his son into his arms…and they both cried together.
They spend the night there in Keldarion's chamber. With his head pillowed by his father's lap, hugging Keldarion's pillow to his chest and with his brother's blanket thrown over his body, Legolas slept and dreamt about him. Thranduil stayed awake though, leaning against the ornate headboard, stroking Legolas's head now and then.
The time of elves is coming to an end, but I never thought that it would be this early. He sighed. May Elbereth protect you, Keldarion…my son.
"Legolas! It has been too long! How are you, my friend?"
The Rivendell brothers were glad and excited to see Legolas as he met them in the palace foyer. The three brothers had just arrived from whatever part of Middle Earth they had been roaming. They looked dusty and travel weary.
Legolas smiled as he returned their exuberant hugs, oblivious to the dirt and grime that clung to them and smeared onto his own tunic. "I'm fine, Estel. I'm glad to see you too, Elladan, Elrohir."
"How long have we not seen you? A month?"
"Three and a half month actually. I'm keeping time."
"Oh, really? Where's Kel?"
Legolas's smiled faltered a little. "He has gone sailing over the sea…to the Grey Havens," he told them in a low voice.
The three brothers froze. "What?!" Elladan asked, wide eyed.
"You must be joking!" Elrohir exclaimed, and then he laughed. "Yeah, right! Very funny, Legolas! You got us there! Never thought you'll joke about that kind of thing!"
But Aragorn could see the deep sadness in the prince's eyes. "He is not joking," the young man spoke softly. "Is it true, Legolas? Kel has already gone?"
Elrohir had stopped laughing while Elladan's tears started to fall. Legolas nodded, still smiling sadly. "Yes. Three weeks ago."
"How? I mean…what really happened?" Elrohir wanted to know. So Legolas told them the whole story; about the ending power of the manyan stone, about Keldarion going to the sea to cast it away, and how the calling of the sea had afflicted his brother.
"Oh, Legolas…" Aragorn came closer and hugged his friend. Not long after, the twins also joined in. The four friends stood like that for a quite a long moment; lending support to one another, sharing their grief and sorrow of their lost companion, crying and sobbing.
Legolas finally made the first move to pull away. He chuckled. "Look at us! A pathetic case of cry buckets!" The others also laughed weakly. "Keldarion would love to see us like this, that's for sure!!" Elrohir cried out humorously, brushing away his tears.
"Come along, guys. You must be weary. I think there's some refreshments inside." Legolas led them towards the dining hall. As they passed the opened door to the royal gallery, the group paused. Something in there had caught their eyes.
"It's Keldarion!" Elladan exclaimed as they burst inside and stared in awe at the grand painting of the elder Mirkwood prince, hung just beside the wonderful painting of Queen Marwana. Elrohir turned to Legolas. "What a magnificent piece, Legolas! You are so skillful the painting looks very much alive!"
Aragorn was perplexed. "You? You made this masterpiece?" He never knew that Legolas could paint.
Legolas smiled, his arms crossed over his chest. "Why? You want me to make one of you too?"
Aragorn could only nodded weakly. Looks like there's still a lot more to this elf that I do not know about. He joined his brothers to gaze in amazement at the painting. Legolas had depicted his brother at his greatest moment; sitting atop a black stallion as it bucked and stood tall on its hind legs. Keldarion was gazing intently back at them, a corner of his lips tilted up to a start of a smile, his long raven hair flying in the wind. Such a powerful painting it was that their eyes welled again in tears.
"Legolas," Aragorn called softly. Legolas turned to him. "Yes, Estel?"
"I promise you one thing. When I have a son, I'll name him Eldarion, after my brothers…and him," Aragorn vowed.
Legolas was stunned and incredibly grateful. "I am honored, Estel. Eldarion. I believe Kel would love that very much. Thank you."
And Keldarion, their truthful companion, looked down on them with deep love in his eyes. He might have gone over the sea, but his spirit was still with them, and would always be there…forever…
Okay! I've finished this one too!!! You like it, you hate it, it's your choice!! Send your death threats or love letters to me now!
And of course, I would like to thank all of you who spent your precious time reading and reviewing this story. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It has become a tradition, so here are the faithful reviewers in alphabetical order; Aurienia; Cyb; Erhothwen; Elven-Spirit; Enigma Jade; Fairylady; feanen; goblz; Helms_deep2234; Holiday; jambaby1963; Katherine; Katie; Kayo; Kirsten; LegolasLover2003; Legolas Maniac; Lomelinde; LOTRFaith; MoroTheWolfGod; Pixie Stix; Randomramblings; szhismine; tbiris; ThE iNsAnE oNe; x01Legolas10x; yeen; ZeldaDragon; Zoya (anyone left out? Don't be shy to tell me!)
Okay, Keldarion might have sailed away but that doesn't mean it's all over, right guys? Legolas has to carry on with his lives and so does Aragorn and the twins…and Thranduil…and Gimli…and Arwen…and Hawkeye!!! Oh shucks!! I will return with another story. The title might be 'Thicker Than Water'. Hint: Err…no hint yet. Sorry. He! He! (p/s: Do you realize that all the titles of my stories starts with the letter 'T'?)
Keep on breathing and smiling, guys! See ya in another week!!