Legolas sat cross-legged in the shade of the looming wall of the Keep at Helm's Deep, holding an arrow in his slim fingers and turning it around slowly in his hands. But his eyes were closed, his dark brows drawn down in concentration. He brushed his fingertips over the arrow's feathered end, using his Elven senses to judge the quality of the arrow. This one was perfectly weighted and balanced; it would fly straight under his direction.
His light blue eyes opened at the sound of soft footsteps, but he gave no other sign of hearing the approaching person. His gaze remained straight ahead on the broken Deeping wall in front of him. The huge gap in the outside wall of the fortress loomed at him, and the memory of the battle that had raged three nights ago came back to him vividly. He squeezed his eyes shut again, trying to block the flood of images; the wall exploding, men and Elves hurled hundreds of feet into the air and then sent crashing down to the Orcs below. He tried not to see the one Orc running toward the drain with the torch . . . but Aragorn's screaming voice still echoed in his ears: "Ndengina ho! Ndengina ho, Legolas!" Kill him! Kill him, Legolas!
Legolas' aim had been good, his Elven eyes flawless through the night and the rain . . . his arrows hit their mark, and yet the wall had fallen, the Orcs had poured in, and hundreds had perished.
"Mani naa sina?" What's this? a feminine voice asked suddenly, breaking Legolas from his thoughts. He looked up sharply at the Elven words and saw a rather tall human woman standing next to him. He hid his surprise at hearing her speak Elvish so well and simply looked at her, waiting.
"Lle hiraethaya ale'lakileallie?" You would sorrow after your victory? she asked quietly, looking down at him.
Legolas stood at the question, slipping the arrow back into the quiver on his back and picking up his bow from where he'd laid it by his side. He turned to the woman, and his gaze bored into her soul. "Lakilea?" Victory? he scoffed. "N'lakilea! Cormamin nyeera ten'i ba!" Not victory! My heart grieves for the dead! "Do you know the meaning of the words you speak, edainme?" woman he growled, then turned away from her and made his way down to the inner throne room.
On the way there Legolas regretted being so harsh, but it was too late now, by the time he looked back she'd vanished. He shook his head, angry at himself for losing his temper with her. He should be able to control himself after almost three thousand years of practice, but then again, Elves learned over lifetimes.
Another pang of sadness stung him at the thought. Bodies of his Elven comrades still littered the grounds of the Keep and the outside wall. The war wasn't over yet. They had given up their immortal lives to help in the fight for Middle-Earth, and Legolas knew it was still likely he would give his in the end.
The Elf looked up at his name and saw Aragorn striding his direction, followed by the human woman Èowyn. Legolas slowed and then stopped as his friend approached and remembered how he'd almost lost Aragorn in the fight with Sarumon's Wild Riders. These were evil times indeed, when you had friends dying every day.
Aragorn saw the look on Legolas' face and put a hand on the Elf's shoulder. Èowyn hung back, sensing that the two men wanted to talk alone. "Mani naa ta, mellonamin?" What is it, my friend? the Ranger asked.
Legolas looked Aragorn in the face. "I'ram lante. Pilinea'amin pelekte telwa." The wall fell. My arrows struck too late.
Aragorn shook his head. "N'uma, Legolas," No, Legolas, the dark-haired man said emphatically. "Lye coie. Lye sal'suula. Lye elee i'anoron!" We lived. We still breathe. We saw the dawn!
Legolas dropped his eyes, his fist tightening around the grip of his bow. "Yes," he reluctantly agreed. "But so many dead. Such a price to pay for such a small victory. This war is far from over." His eyes rose once again to regard Aragorn, and then Èowyn, who quickly looked away when his eyes met hers. "Sarumon will only send more of his armies. I fear we will suffer many more such losses in the future."
Aragorn managed a half smile and clapped the Elf's shoulder. "As long as there are some of us left to fight, Legolas, we have a chance."
Legolas opened his mouth to reply but a shout interrupted him. Both he and Aragorn turned and then bowed as they saw King Theoden approach them, followed by a few of his weary men. The survivors of the Battle of Helm's Deep had been hard at work the last three days burying their dead and trying to rebuild the outside wall. It was all painfully slow work with so few laborers and so little time to plan.
The dead Orcs had been burned in massive piles, the men and Elves buried half-ceremoniously in mass graves, some of which Legolas had helped dig. The sight of Halidir's body being laid in one had nearly broken him and later that day Legolas had gone and marked all the mass graves with stones. He'd carved an Elvish saying onto the one above Halidir's grave: Lissenen ar' maska'lalaith tenna' lye omentuva, translated as "Sweet water and light laughter till next we meet."
The whole place smelled of death, and the surrounding stone and bleakness of the land made Legolas increasingly restless. The survivors were still burying the dead and struggling to erect even a few stones in the gap that had nearly caused their extinction. Hurriedly constructed wooden scaffoldings allowed some lifting of the stones the others managed to hack out of the cliff's face with axes, but it all looked eventually hopeless to Legolas. Four days now he'd stood on the wall or surrounding hills with his bow and arrows, watching always for the arrival of another black swarm of Urak-hai, ready to run and warn the others.
He'd seen nothing yet, not even crebrain. He'd watched the people struggle from a distance as they began reconstructing the wall, thinking the whole time of his arrows striking the Orc with the torch, and failing to bring him down. At night, after hearing endless hours of Gimli's tales about the Dwarves' ability to build structures of stone, and then hearing everyone else assure the Dwarf that they wished some of his kind were there to help in rebuilding the wall, Legolas would go to bed and dream of evil and darkness. Something terrible was building in Isengard, something worse than the army they had just witnessed. He could feel it growing. It made him anxious. Anxious to make sure the One Ring was destroyed . . .
Now King Theoden told them they had a rider in from Gondor who had news from Faramir about Frodo and Sam. Aragorn and Legolas rushed after the King to meet the rider in the inner throne room, Èowyn trailing after. Legolas felt his heart pounding in his chest as they made their way deep into the interior of the fortress. The Hobbits had made it to Gondor . . . a relief to know they were still alive. They hadn't strayed from their quest. They had made it so far, and past a city of men, he prayed they could finish the journey.
King Theoden led the way into the throne room and Legolas followed. Several of the King's guards and horsemen occupied the tables to the side; some were standing around another person, whom Legolas took to be the rider. They were all talking loudly, but at the sight of the King a hush fell quickly over them all. The riders and guards parted to reveal a woman.
Legolas felt strangely embarrassed and looked away from the woman's face as her brown-eyed gaze swept over him. It was the woman he'd spoken to up on the Keep's wall. He coughed lightly into his hand as Aragorn went forward eagerly and greeted the woman. The King welcomed her next, followed by his niece Èowyn, and then all attention seemed to focus on Legolas.
He swallowed, slung his bow over his shoulder, and stepped forward. "My Lady," he said softly, folding his right arm over his chest and bowing deeply. "I am Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood. I apologize for my harsh words earlier. Please forgive me. This tragedy has made me not myself lately."
A trace of a smile hinted at the woman's lips, but then she was serious again. "This tragedy has us all disturbed, Legolas Greenleaf. I accept your apology."
Legolas nodded to her and straightened from his bow, noticing the look King Theoden tossed to him. But then the King turned to the woman. "Do you two know each other?"
"We met briefly just earlier," the woman answered, her eyes still on Legolas. He held her gaze this time, studying her. He'd heard her name in the introductions; she was called Laimea, and had fair - if not dust-covered - features and long auburn hair she'd braided. The braid ended nearly at her waist. She wore a simple riding tunic and pants and a scabbard at her hip held a sword – an Elven sword, he noted.
But he had no more time to scrutinize her. King Theoden sat on his throne and the others took seats at the nearby tables to hear what she had come to say. Legolas took up a spot near one of the wooden support poles and leaned back against it.
"What has Faramir to say?" the King asked, gesturing her to sit at a bench. "We hear you have news about Frodo and Sam and the journey of the One Ring?"
Laimea did sit at one of the tables, not too far from Legolas. She looked mostly at him, Aragorn, and Gimli as she spoke, although occasionally her gaze drifted to the others. "Faramir, brother of Boromir and son of the Steward of Gondor, bid me send you word that Frodo and Sam have passed safely through Gondor and have moved on toward Mordor."
There was a collective sigh of relief from the three former members of the Fellowship. "How is Frodo faring?" Aragorn asked. "And Sam?"
Laimea took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "They both fared well, but Frodo . . ."
"What?" Legolas asked, stepping forward. "What about him?"
The woman looked at him, hearing the urgency in his tone. "I saw him with my own eyes before they left Gondor," she answered slowly. "He has resisted the Ring so far. It has not yet taken him, but . . ."
Legolas felt frustration welling up in him at her hesitation. Why wouldn't she just come out and say what she wanted to say? "But what?" he prodded, stepping closer again.
"His strength is wearing thin. He won't be able to hold off much longer. The Ring is calling to him, I could see it in his eyes."
"I knew it," Legolas whispered, turning away from her and facing the support pole. Then he turned to face Aragorn. "We should not have let the Hobbit take the Ring. He is not strong enough, he won't make it to Mordor. The Ring grows stronger with every step he takes toward Mount Doom! It'll take him before he gets there."
"And would you do better, Elf?" Aragorn asked evenly, his voice a dull edge in the silence. The look in the man's eyes made Legolas suddenly realize what he had said, and he was abruptly ashamed. Gimli looked nervously back and forth between the man and the Elf.
Legolas shook his head. "No," he finally said into the quiet. "You are right, Aragorn. Frodo has given me no reason to doubt his strength or courage. He is the only one I would trust with the One Ring."
Aragorn looked at Legolas for a second more, and then turned back to the woman, seeming to forget the conversation between him and Legolas had ever happened. "Did they have enough supplies when they left Gondor?"
She nodded. "Oh yes. Faramir gave them fresh food and blankets before they left, along with a small store of water. Although they were getting along well enough on Lembas bread, they were happy to have something different."
Legolas found himself almost smiling, remembering fondly the common complaint of the Hobbits when they'd first started on their journey – not enough meals they'd said, they were always hungry, especially Merry and Pippin. He blinked, coming back to the present just in time to hear Laimea say, "They traveled with an odd creature though."
"What do you mean?" Aragorn asked before Legolas got the chance.
"They said his name was Sméagol, and that he was bound to Frodo."
Legolas frowned. The name sounded vaguely familiar. "Who?"
"Sméagol, Frodo said, but Sam always called him Gollum and other such names."
Legolas felt his back stiffen at the name and he shot a look to Aragorn, only to see the same shocked expression on the Ranger's face. Gimli simply looked from one to the other. Legolas moved swiftly to stand on the other side of the table from Laimea. "Did he seem dangerous? Did Frodo ever say anything about him? Did he ever attack the Hobbits – or any of your people? Did he ask about the Ring?" the questions streamed from his mouth like water, but he had to know.
Laimea blinked at the barrage of questions. "Well, no," she finally stammered in answer, "he didn't seem dangerous at all. Rather pathetic and harmless. Frodo seemed quite fond of him. As far as my people, he never did anything but grumble about us. I'm afraid Faramir wasn't very hospitable toward the poor thing."
"Poor thing?" Legolas repeated, on the verge of disbelief. He snatched an arrow from his quiver and held it up before the woman's face. "I should take this arrow and put it through his heart!"
She stared at him and Legolas felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked over and saw Aragorn once again. The man raised his eyebrows in question.
Legolas withdrew from the woman, stepping back. "My apologies again," he said quietly, but then turned to Aragorn and whispered so no one else could hear. "Amin dele ten'sen. Gollum naa 'ksh." I am worried about them. Gollum is evil.
"Perhaps not," Aragorn answered him. Legolas squinted at his friend, wondering how Aragorn could think that, when Gandalf the White made an entrance.
The wizard entered the room suddenly, his pure white robes seeming to glow with an inner radiance. The old man came forward to greet the woman, and they hugged warmly. "Ah, Laimea," Gandalf said. "It has been far too long, my dear girl."
She smiled back at him. "It's nice to see you again, Gandalf."
"You know each other?" Aragorn asked.
"Oh yes," Gandalf replied. "Her parents were good friends of mine. I have known her since she was a child." He smiled at the woman like a grandfather would.
"You rode all the way from Gondor?" the wizard asked her.
She nodded. "Yes. I came through the mountains, it was faster that way."
Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli exchanged glances. The horsemen around the room looked at each other as well. But Gandalf didn't seem surprised. "I am glad you made it to us safely. There are many evils lurking these days."
"I know," she answered gravely. "I have seen them. That is another reason why I took the mountain way instead of passing around."
"Gandalf," Legolas broke in, "the Lady brings news of the creature Gollum traveling with Frodo . . ."
"Ah yes," the wizard mumbled, turning around to face the Elf. He smiled beneath his long white beard. "I had sensed earlier he had yet some part to play. Now he is acting on that part."
"Is he a danger to Frodo?"
The old man grunted. "It remains yet to be seen what his actions will be, and how Frodo and Sam will respond to them. But Gollum belongs with the Hobbits now. He is vital to their quest."
Legolas did not like the answer, but he trusted Gandalf's wisdom and said nothing more about it. The pleasantries went on, but Legolas' heart remained elsewhere, until Èowyn showed Laimea to her room for the night and things began to quiet down in the throne room.
Once the women had gone Legolas unstrapped his quiver and put it and his bow on the table near him, then sat down across from where Aragorn and Gimli had taken seats. Gandalf stood at the end of the table smoking his pipe.
"What are we to do next, Gandalf?" the Elf asked the wizard, searching for answers to the restlessness of his mind.
The wizard blew out a cloud of smoke in the form of a horse, and thought for several minutes. Legolas did not prod. The others all looked at Gandalf as well, waiting patiently to hear what he would say.
He blew another puff of smoke and then spoke in his slow, thoughtful way. "The people of Rohan must go to Gondor." It was a simple statement, one that took the others in the room by surprise. The wizard turned to look at King Theoden. "All men must unite now, regardless of any past differences. Sarumon will strike soon, and his wrath will be great. Your people will not survive another battle, King of Rohan, no matter their courage."
The King made fists on the arms of his throne, but his face conveyed his understanding of his people's situation. He nodded. "I'm afraid you are right, wizard. This fortress cannot hold back another onslaught of Isengard."
"Yes," Gandalf said, "we must ready your people for yet another long journey. And we must hurry, we haven't much time."
King Theoden stood from his throne. "I will start preparations tonight," the man promised, and then motioned several of his horsemen to accompany him out to the Keep and the caves where they had set up temporary shelter.
Gandalf looked to Legolas. "The Lady Laimea is starting back to Gondor in the morning. You will accompany her as escort and scout. When you arrive in Gondor tell Faramir and his father that we will be coming as refugees and as allies in the coming war with Mordor."
Legolas gave Gandalf a nod, standing from the table. "And if we are not welcome in Gondor?"
Gandalf gave a wry smile, puffing on his pipe again. "Oh, we will be welcome. We will be welcome."
Legolas looked at Gandalf a moment, but it was clear the wizard knew something he wasn't planning on sharing. So Legolas picked up his bow and quiver and gave a small bow to his friends at the table. "Then I will retire for the night and ready myself for the journey tomorrow." Good nights were exchanged and Legolas left the throne room. But instead of going to his room he went out onto the wall of the Keep again, looking out over the moonlit plains and far green canopy of Fangorn Forest miles away, where they'd left Merry and Pippin. He stood there a long while, then closed his eyes, breathing deeply, and fell into a calming Elven meditation. He did not hear the footsteps behind him this time.
Laimea went silently in her soft leather boots up onto the Keep's wall, planning simply on having an undisturbed look out at the surrounding land. It was late; the moon was high and the last thing she expected to see was someone else out on the wall. She was exhausted but unable to sleep. She kept having nightmares about the destruction of all Middle-Earth. She thought maybe if she could just walk around for a while and not have to keep one eye open for Orcs she would be able to settle down.
She had just begun to calm her nerves when she suddenly saw someone standing several feet in front of her. She drew in a sharp breath and crouched, thinking for a second it was an enemy. But then she recognized the profile and straightened again. It was the Elf she knew as Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood, standing tall and absolutely motionless in the moonlight. His skin seemed to glow, his blond hair made of the moonlight itself. He still wore his quiver and arrows, but it was all a part of him now; slender, lithe, as perfect as a guardian statue watching over Helm's Deep.
She took a hesitant step forward and noticed his eyes were closed. He couldn't be sleeping . . . yet he looked so relaxed, so peaceful. She didn't want to disturb him, but she couldn't make herself move away. She was rooted to the spot in which she stood, staring. He was so beautiful. She felt a pang of jealousy that she had not inherited such beauty, but then resolutely shoved the thought away before it brought on more painful memories.
She turned all her attention on the Elf before her, simply looking at him. His head was slightly bowed, making him look even more unearthly. She took another few steps forward, suddenly feeling an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch him.
She realized the foolishness of this sudden want and restrained her hand, blushing at even having the thought. But now that she was closer to him, she could hear his soft and even breathing, see the rise and fall of his chest. He still seemed not to know she was there, but she still couldn't leave. She just wanted to stand there in his presence. It was as if being around him made all her worries go away. She wondered at the feeling, remembering his words to her earlier that day. He hadn't been so serene and peaceful then. Perhaps he had come out on the wall to calm down as well.
On its own will her hand raised and reached out ever so slowly toward the braid that ran over his ear to lie gently on his shoulder. But before her fingers could brush his shining hair she felt her arm knocked away brutally, and then the point of an arrow hovered inches from her right eye. Her mouth dropped open, but she had no time to scream. She blinked, her heart fluttering both with fear and disbelief at the speed of his motions. She stared wide-eyed at Legolas, hardly daring to breathe.
His face was hard-lined in the moonlight now, his eyes gleaming in the reflected light like the metal point of the arrow he held to her. As peaceful and beautiful as he had been just seconds ago, he was now fierce and deadly.
"Mani naa lle umien?" he demanded in Elvish, then realizing whom he spoke to, translated. "What are you doing?"
Laimea swallowed hard. "I – I just came up for – for a walk and fresh air," she stammered.
His eyes narrowed, but then he lowered his bow. Laimea let out a relieved sigh as the arrow fell away from her eye. He replaced the arrow and bow on his back and looked at her, his features softening slightly. "I could have killed you," he said in rebuke. "You should not sneak up on people in the dark."
He turned his back to her, once again facing out toward the stretching lands at the fortress's base. She stepped up beside him, her limbs still hot with adrenaline, but she managed to speak smoothly. "Amin sinta, ar'amin hiraetha," I know, and I'm sorry she said quietly. He looked to her abruptly at the sound of her Elvish and Laimea was pleased at his surprised expression. She went on. "Ta naa quel marthamin tanya mauea'lle tesse." It is my good luck that your fingers held.
He stared at her, and she tried to remain outwardly impassive. Her heart pounded wildly inside her chest. She had narrowly escaped death and had nearly been caught reaching out to touch some strange Elf's hair. She fiercely hoped he couldn't see the flaming red she felt on her cheeks.
"You speak the Elven tongue well," he commented.
Laimea shifted uncomfortably under his gaze, realizing he was reassessing her. She cleared her throat. "Yes . . . well . . ." she trailed off, unwilling to finish the thought.
A brief silence separated them, and then he asked, "Have you traveled with my people before?"
Laimea swallowed again. "No . . . "
"Then how is it you have learned to speak our language so well?"
She sighed, hesitated. "My mother taught me to speak Elvish when I was very young. Though I haven't had much chance to speak it. I haven't met an Elf in . . . years. I am sorry if my pronunciation isn't what it should be."
"No," Legolas insisted quietly, "you speak it well." He watched her, his head tilted slightly to one side. She looked out over the wall into the distance, afraid he would see the truth written in her expression.
"Do you wear your bow and arrows to bed?" she asked suddenly, trying to change the subject. She heard him shift and glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. She saw the trace of a smile on his face in the moon's blue light.
"We are not out of danger yet, my Lady," he answered seriously. "I am always ready to face the enemy. It is not safe for you to be up here without escort or weapons."
Laimea shrugged slightly. "I can take care of myself." But even as she spoke she remembered the arrow that could have killed her, and found herself very grateful Orcs were not nearly as quiet or speedy as Legolas Greenleaf.
"The Steward of Gondor must have great faith in your strength to send a woman alone through the mountains," Legolas said.
Laimea faced him once again. "I am Gondor's fastest rider," she told him proudly. "And I know the mountains as well as you know the forest that bore you."
"That is reassuring," he admitted. "But perhaps you should stay with the people of Rohan and allow me to ride back to Gondor alone."
"Oh no, Master Elf," Laimea protested immediately. "I rode here, and I will ride back at the dawn. The Steward of Gondor will expect me to come with news from King Theoden."
"Then I hope you would not take offense to my accompanying you on your return journey?"
Laimea searched for an answer. She hadn't expected him to say that. He accompany her all the way back to Gondor? Her and him alone for days? "Oh . . ." she started, but then stopped. He was an Elf, not a man, and Elves had impeccable manners, not to mention chivalrous attitudes towards women. "No, Master Elf, I take no offense to your company. It would be nice to have someone besides my horse to talk to for those days of riding."
He smiled. "Good then. Gandalf had asked me to ride with you as escort and scout. They are readying King Theoden's people for travel to Gondor. They will leave shortly after we do."
"They won't be able to go very quickly with so many people."
Legolas looked out to the plains. "No. I pray they have a safe journey. There has been too much death already."
Laimea saw the look on his face. It was one of grief, guilt, like she'd first seen him on the wall when she'd arrived at Helm's Deep. Her heart felt for him, but she didn't know what to do or say to comfort him. Instead she changed the subject again. "It is nearly dawn, and I have yet to sleep. I believe I will retire for the night, Master Elf."
"Allow me to escort you to your room, my Lady?" Legolas offered quickly.
Laimea was surprised by the offer, she had yet to get used to such treatment. In answer she extended her arm. Legolas stepped up and laid his hand gently under hers, allowing her arm to rest lightly on his.
"There are many evils lurking these days, my Lady. You should not walk in the dark alone."
Laimea smiled up at him. Her hand tingled at his touch and she scolded herself for being so giddy. She had no reason to feel this way about Legolas, whom she'd only met earlier that day . . . aside from the fact he was beautiful, courteous, and an Elf, of course. She took an inconspicuous deep breath, inhaling his scent. He smelled wonderful, like a fresh summer breeze. Her head cleared and she felt more relaxed than she had in weeks. She'd nearly forgotten how he'd treated her that afternoon.
They were walking down the torch-lit hallway to her room when he spoke again. "Forgive my asking, but why were you on the wall at such a late hour?"
"I went for walk. I couldn't sleep. And you, Master Elf?"
"The same." His answer was short and Laimea thought he wanted to say more, but he didn't. He looked down at her, half smiling. "Did you think you could sneak up on an Elf?"
Laimea cursed the blush she felt once again blaze across her face. She looked down to the stone floor in front of her. "I – I wasn't sneaking around," she insisted. "I saw you standing there and just wanted to be sure you were all right."
They had reached her door. Legolas turned to her and Laimea found herself wishing the hallway was longer. "Then you should have announced your presence," Legolas told her, but his voice was gentle. "I am sorry if I frightened you."
Laimea shook her head. "Oh no, the fault is mine, Master Elf. If anything I am glad you are always so ready to defend Middle-Earth and its people."
He gave her a genuine smile and stepped back, bowing to her like he had when he'd first introduced himself. "Good night, my Lady. May you sleep well and be untroubled by nightmares."
Laimea tried to ignore the heartbeat in her ears as she returned his bow with a small nod. "And the same to you, Master Elf."
"If we are to be traveling together, my Lady, you must call me Legolas." His smile in the flickering torchlight made her heart ache, and she became even more frustrated with herself as she realized she was falling for him.
"Then you may call me Laimea," she said.
"Manka lle merna," If you wish he whispered. "Good night, Laimea."
"Good night, Legolas," Laimea answered through a dry mouth. "Sleep well."
He bowed again and moved off down the hall in the direction they had come. Laimea watched him go, and he seemed to be part of the hallway, moving in and out of the torches' glow, the shadows sliding over him. He looked back over his shoulder once and she immediately looked away from him, groping for the door handle in her hurry to disappear inside her room. She turned and ran right into the door, banging her forehead on the wooden planks. Her hand finally found the handle and she swung the door open, not daring to look down the hall to see of Legolas had seen. Mortified, she scurried into the darkness of her room and shut the door behind her.
Laimea leaned back against the door, breathing deep and muttering curses at herself. Everything she'd done tonight had made her look foolish, and she kept making it worse. Legolas probably thought her an idiot. She gritted her teeth and hit one fist against the door. 'Oh, stupid!' She scolded herself. 'You're acting like a child! Get a hold of yourself!'
With a heavy sigh Laimea moved carefully into her room, using the moonlight that streamed in from one narrow window on the far wall to see. She saw her bed, moved to it and took off her shoes. Then she climbed in and lied down, willing herself to go to sleep. She found it difficult. She kept thinking of Legolas and all the tales her mother had used to tell her about the Elves. A beautiful people, a peaceful people . . . Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood . . . Laimea finally fell asleep.