A/N: All right, finally the next chapter. Please forgive me for the shortness and the delay. Hopefully it doesn't suck too much. Thank you to all of my reviewers and readers. Please read and review this! I need your cheerful words now. . . .

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Chapter 81

Legolas appeared soundlessly in the shadowed doorway, his bow clutched to his heart as always. He bored his shoulder pauldrons again, and Faramir knew he was going off to battle again. The Steward's son had propped himself up on one elbow when the Elf had first arrived, a smile on his face. Yet it had diminished when he noticed the Elf's garb. Legolas stared at him intensely for a moment, lingering there with the door behind him. He approached Faramir with quick, light steps - his golden hair floating about his shoulders. Legolas knelt before Faramir's cot with a bowed head.

" I ride to the Black Gate," he said. Faramir's eyes glinted at the ill news. He had come to love Legolas in only the past few days as the first real friend he had had in a long while. The Elf had been soothing to the wound of Boromir's loss. He would not recover if the Elf was lost as well.

" You ride to death," Faramir uttered, his voice like a dewdrop letting go of its leaf and falling into a pool below. Legolas suppressed a sigh and looked over the fabric of his leggings as if it were the most entrancing thing in the world. Faramir stared at him with grievous fear in his eyes.

" I go with my Lord Aragorn and our friends to help Frodo. Middle Earth's fate hangs in the balance." The Elf told this to Faramir knowing that the Steward's son understood as a soldier but not as a friend. Legolas lifted his head to look at Faramir, their blue eyes locking.

" I //will// come back," he said, searching Faramir's soul with his eyes.

Faramir nodded without a word, unsure of whether or not the Elf really would. Legolas stood promptly, looking down at Faramir for a moment. He moved in and embraced the man meaningfully, before heading off without any further farewell. Faramir watched him go until the door shut out the light from outside once more.

Legolas was at Aragorn's side as they were delivered from the gates of Minas Tirith, and he still was when they arrived upon the gates of Mordor. His best friend was clad now as a king - the king he was. He led a host of Gondorian soldiers, mingled with the Rohirrim. Eomer was beside them, along with Gandalf. Merry and Pippin were clad as soldiers once more - Aragorn had let them come. Gimli was with Legolas, as always. They were all there - together. And they were all thinking the same thing: //We're with you, Frodo and Sam. Don't give up.//

" I see in your eyes," Aragorn began. " The same fear that would take the heart of me." He was riding back and forth before all the host, the voice of the ranger gone and replaced with that of the king. " There may come a day when then courage of Men fails - when we abandon our friends."

Eomer, Gandalf, Gimli, Merry, Pippin, and Legolas had their eyes fixed upon him knowingly. They shone with unconditional devotion.

" But today is not that day," Aragorn finished. There was silence among the host.

" Today, we fight," Aragorn exclaimed. The men released a simultaneous cheer, as Aragorn turned his back on them for and faced the Black Gate. Mordor stirred behind, and in the next moment, the gate was opened to reveal an unbelievable host of Mordor's warriors. Aragorn and his men were vastly outnumbered - yet none of them quavered. Aragorn peered over his shoulder, tears glistening in his eyes.

" For Frodo."

The rest of the fellowship felt their hearts rise in their chests at these words. They were ready. The Mordor's forces began to march out toward them, and they waited. Unbeknownst to them, their beloved Hobbit friends were inching toward Mount Doom. The Black armies were pouring out of the gate now, encircling Aragorn and his men. But Aragorn didn't pay attention. He kept his focus on what lay beyond the gate, what they had been fighting for all along.

The men grew restless, and fighting soon broke out. Aragorn worked his way forward, with Legolas attempting to follow. Eomer and Gandalf had spread out a bit, with the wizard still keeping an eye on the Hobbits. It was nearly a battle to rival the Pelennor fields. Nazgul swept down on them, screeching. Uruks, Orcs, goblins, Haradrim, and all other servants of the dark lord were upon Aragorn's charge. The ranger moved steadily forward, already in disarray. Yet he came to a staggering halt when a cave troll plodded toward him. The beast grunted and swayed, as Aragorn fought off another Uruk. The beast knocked him down before it was killed, and Aragorn had no time to get up. The cave troll lumbered forward, and Legolas saw what was about to take place past the beasts he fought. The whole world seemed to be shut out as Aragorn stared up at the troll, about to be killed, and Legolas struggled to reach him. He pushed aside Uruks, stabbing them subconsciously. He didn't hear himself scream Aragorn's name as he fought to save the man from being crushed.

Yet just as the troll was about to come down on Aragorn, a great rumbling shook the earth. The troll staggered back, and the battle seemed to pause for a moment. Aragorn looked beyond the gates again, along with the rest of the fellowship. The Great Eye was obliterated, and a shadow swept down upon Mordor's forces. Awe sprung up on their faces as realization hit. The tower of Barad-Dur was shaken, and Mount Doom spewed. It had been done. The Ring had been destroyed. It was finished.

" Frodo," cried Merry and Pippin, joined by Gimli. Gandalf stood with tears on his face to accompany his smile. Aragorn joined in the cheer for the Hobbit, while Legolas stood like Gandalf - in silent awe.

Yet their joy was suddenly shattered, as Mount Doom exploded. Their tears of joy were now that of disbelief and sorrow. Frodo and Sam - dead. They had to be. The Hobbits wailed, and Gandalf's face fell along with Aragorn's. No. It couldn't be. After all they had gone through, the journey they had endured - they couldn't be dead. //They couldn't be dead.//