The end has come…

LOL. Okay now that I have infringed on the copyright laws of the Return of the King trailer I am proud to present the epilogue. This story is now officially done… the first story I have ever completed so I am very proud of it.

To those of you who are interested in a sequel… at the moment we have not come up with one but I have left possibilities open in this story to exploit if we do want to continue with it. I want to finish up my other story (Fading Hope) first and then maybe eLLe and I will plan out another accompanying piece to this one.

THANK-YOU so much to all of you who have reviewed and also to all of you silent readers. Your support has meant a lot. So on behalf of eLLe and I here is the conclusion…

Epilogue: Forging Ahead

Rulif sat perched on the railing of the front porch of his home. The night was almost over and he should really be asleep, but after the events of the previous evening he felt it impossible to do so.

There had been minutes of utter chaos when Addrodoc's slain body had been found. People had been completely confused and lost, denial and terror alive in their eyes. In the midst of this the boy knew he had to act quickly, and so he rapidly begin spreading the initial rumours that were now being circulated as accepted facts.

Addrodoc had been killed for his sins, for manipulating the Gods will into his own, they whispered at street corners and around pints of ale in the inn. The town itself had been spared Legolas' displeasure, but the human priest who had attempted to take blood had not been so lucky.

Things were finally settling. The villagers prayed quietly, trying to discern the moral or lesson behind the most recent acts of their deities but, for the most part, they were content with the knowledge that they themselves had not been the object of the God's fury.

The extreme tension, which had been escalating in the community for days found a release in Addrodoc's death and began to dissipate. No tears were shed.

Rulif had successfully remained unnoticed through it all. For the most part he had stood watching from a distance as conclusions were drawn. Only his mother had looked at him with a hint of suspicion in her blue eyes, but Rulif found that in the end she must have trusted his actions, for she looked away and remained silent.

Breathing deeply, the boy smiled. A certain nagging doubt yet lingered; had he done the right thing or not, but his heart always reassured him on this score - in his heart he knew he had acted rightly. Slipping nimbly from his perch, Rulif landed on the ground and stretched. Turning he walked into his home in search of his bed... he did not trip on his way in.

~*~

Legolas stood facing Arod, running his fingers through the silky main and leaning his nose gently against the velvet nose of his mount. His eyes were closed as he took in the moment of silent contemplation, his mind shifting through the past days events with confusion and regret.

So much had happened, and the elf felt that he had learned much about himself in the process. Having lived for millennium feeling secure with his own identity, these newest revelations were somewhat unsettling. Yet life went on.

The duo had ridden through the previous night, desiring to put as much distance between themselves as the village as possible. Once Legolas began to feel secure, however, he had demanded that they stop to tend Gimli's wounds and seek rest. The dwarf had of course tried to dissuade the elf, assuring him repetitively that it would take more then a mere scratch to phase the strength of a dwarf, but Legolas had merely ignored the remarks, halting Arod and dismounting without comment.

Huffing and puffing, Gimli had eventually given in to th elf's demands realising the futility of remaining mounted given that the elf was no longer on the horse. Legolas had tended Gimli then, caring for every bruise and cut, knowing that he would never fully know what the dwarf had endured of his sake.

Gimli had honoured their blossoming friendship with his own safety. Whatever old-founded doubts that yet lingered within Legolas, ancient prejudices that had been built up over too many years, melted as he cared for the dwarf. For that moment on he knew... he knew he had forged a friendship that would dare to defy their respective culture's hostilities. A friendship that would surpass the reaches of time and race.

Once that task had been completed, despite Gimli's assurances that he was fine, the dwarf was quick to collapse into slumber. Legolas had been tempted to follow the dwarf's example but his own nagging thoughts kept him awake, standing as he was with Arod. Breathing in the approaching afternoon air, Legolas basked in the sunlight. He had been too long without it, caged behind stone. It was soothing to be back in the folds of nature's embrace.

"Are you thinking again, elf?" Gimli's punctuated snores ceased as the question was voiced.

Legolas smiled, though he did not bother to open his eyes. "Yes," he owned.

"Twice in one day? Are you sure that will not cause some sort of permanent damage?" Gimli inquired groggily.

"Some beings, myself included, have no limit to the number of thoughts we are allowed to have, master dwarf, a novelty I am sure to one such as yourself, but I assure you I speak the truth," Legolas responded merrily, his eyes opening as he spoke, bright and sparkling with mischief.

Gimli snorted. His dark eyes opening wearily, his head pitching slightly to one side. "A novelty would involve you actually forgiving yourself, for once, and not dwelling on what has passed as though weighed down with an unmanageable burden," he spoke with a light tone of voice but there was a degree of chastisement present nonetheless.

Legolas cocked an eyebrow. "What makes you think my thoughts were so engaged?"

"By the crease of your brow. It is a telling signal for when you are dwelling on something that bothers you."

Legolas blinked, rather shocked by the observation. He had not realised that his facial mannerisms so betrayed his emotions and even more shocked that Gimli (not very observant in nature) of all people had taken mark of it. "Am I so transparent?"

Gimli sat up stiffy, looking at Legolas as the seriousness of their conversation gripped him. "No. But it would be negligent of me to not concern myself with the well-being of my friend. Do you need to speak of what troubles you?"

Touched by the gesture, Legolas smiled. "I wish I could have found a way to help that man."

Of all the things Gimli had been expecting Legolas to say, that had not been it. His mouth dropped open in shock. "Legolas! He was unstable to put it lightly. Nothing could have been done to help him. He was cruel, uncaring and self-serving. He was beyond help."

"He believed in me, or at least what he would have had me stand for. There was goodness in him, Gimli. He wanted only what was best for his people. Would I have done less had I thought it would have rid my people of the shadow, that until recently, has plagued my homeland? Would you have?"

Gimli considered this dilemma for a long moment, before answering with as much sincerity and passion as he could muster. "The ends do not justify the means, Legolas, for the simple reason that the means contribute to the end that is produced. Addrodoc did not understand that. He could not understand that tainted with the blood of the innocent no such end can be warranted."

Legolas released Arod, patting the horse and giving silent leave for the beast to go and graze. Walking over he sat gracefully near the dwarf. "You are right. I suppose it was beyond the point that I could have assisted, yet I cannot help the lingering doubts, despite dwarven wisdom."

Gimli grumbled an indistinct noise of understanding. "Well for my sanity do try and desist. You are intolerable enough when singing to the sky and whatnot, but having you moody is infinitely worst."

"Well I know a sight that would cheer my soul," Legolas responded, the mischievous glint once again returning to alight his features, but there was a calculating dimension to that gaze now that set Gimli on edge. "I believe I recall you saying that the day you called me master would be the day you shaved your beard clear off and sang to trees..."

"Now stop right there," Gimli interrupted quickly, sensing his imminent danger. "You cannot be serious!"

"Can't I?" Legolas asked sweetly, putting on the most feigned expression of innocence Gimli had ever laid eyes on.

"I... you..." a jumble of incoherent phrases began to emerge past Gimli's lips, only to trail off in utter disbelief. The dwarf's mouth opened and closed like that of a fish out of water. The sight sent Legolas into gales of laughter, the joy behind the noise contagions, making even Gimli laugh as well.

After wiping tears of mirth from their eyes the pair stretched out under the warmth of the sun and dozed, secure in their friendship, and entertained by dreams of beardless dwarves who sang to trees...

Reviewer Responses: (my last ones for this story! If you review this chapter I will just say thank-you here and now in advance!)

Karri ~ Thank-you for sticking with this story from beginning to end. I have really enjoyed your comments and they have meant a lot coming from such a talented writer as yourself. I will read your long story and I eagerly look forward to more of your delightful vignettes!

Nikki1 ~ I am glad I did Legolas' internal struggle well. I wanted to make it a challenge so it was difficult to portray and I am pleased to know we succeeded. Yes, no one seems to be mourning the death of Addrodoc, lol. Thanks so much for your support and I eagerly await the update of your HP/LotR crossover fic, *hint, hint*.

Artemisa ~ LOL. Congrats on getting the internet at home. It is so convenient to have it easily accessible. LOL. I am officially addicted to reviews so I will be posting more things so. Now that this story is done I am playing with the idea for a sequel but I also have an idea for another vignette and or course Fading Hope must be finished. You will see more writing from me soon!

Sparrow Greenleaf ~ LOL. I am glad you were pleased by Addrodoc's death, lol. ELLe and I figured that nothing short of him dying would please you at this point and so we happily delivered. I don't blame you for getting carried away – I mean anyone who threatens Legolas at this point is in the path of rabid fan-girl stampede, lol and I include myself in that category! Thanks for the cookies!

Gwyn ~ LOL. Don't worry about it. If I was really nice I would make up a mailing list for you guys like you were kind enough to do for me and your other reviewers… but I am lazy… very very lazy and so I understand when you don't notice I have updated. LOL. Well Addrodoc deserved sharp pointy things if anyone did! Thanks for your support throughout this story.

Jedi Cosmos ~ LOL. I hope this snippet helped relieve some of your concerns for Rulif. I liked that kid too much to let anything bad happen to him! I am glad you liked Legolas' struggle – I had fun writing that part and I am pleased I pulled it off well!

Rosie ~ Glad you liked the ending. I was hoping it was not too rushed as that chapter was very long and by the end I just wanted it to be over. Fading Hope will be rolling again shortly. Now that this story is done I have no excuses! I am glad to hear your writing is on a roll! I cannot wait for the next chapter since you left me with so many cliff-hangers!

Sirithiliel ~ Ah. Sorry to hear about your computer. Having been without one for a few days I know how painful that can be. When you can email that sample chapter of Fading Hope I would appreciate it but there is no rush. I am glad you are having fun with your school's drama program. Those are great to work on and really help get you involved. LOL. Sorry that someone else killed Addrodoc but you can have the imaginary remains for a few good kicks if you would like, lol.

White Wolf1 ~ Glad you liked my elf angst, lol. I love writing character frustration – as morbid as that thought is. But then I am talking to you who is Queen of Legolas angst and torture, lol so maybe you will understand more then most. Well they did get away from Addrodoc in the end of the last one… Anyway thank-you for your continued support. I love having people coming back repetitively to review my stuff – there is no bigger a compliment!

Bookworm2000 ~ Thank you so much for adding me to your favorites list! I am so flattered. When I saw that I could not stop grinning! LOL. I was going to call it 'Check Mate' or something along those lines but when I saw your review I knew that that HAD to be the chapter's title, lol, so thank-you again for letting me use it. Wow! You are brave. I have to wear clothes that don't make me stand out. I hate being looked at so I admire people who can go out on a limb and be themselves without worry. LOL. Personally of the things I have written I like my vignette 'Namarie' the best. It is perhaps on the best things I have ever written. I still cannot believe you made it all the way through Fading Hope. That story is 158 pages long at size 10 font! I am glad you enjoyed it.

Ryuujin Dragon King ~ Welcome new reviewer! I am so pleased you liked this. I love the thought of people enjoying my writing! Glad you liked my portrayal of both the characters in this fic… it was important to me to portray them as realistically as possible! Hope you liked the epilogue!

bunny-luver ~ Yeah, I am kind of a sucker for happy endings. For me things have to turn out all right in the end… though I have written sad stuff before too. You see I am considering a sequel so I have to keep Gimli and Legolas alive for that purpose, lol. Thanks for your review!

Star-Stallion ~ LOL. I am glad you were happy that Addrodoc kicked the bucket, lol. I have to agree with you… that wacko priest did get everything he deserved, lol. I am sorry to tell you this, but yes, it is over. That does not mean I will not keep writing however, lol. I might even start another Legolas and Gimli friendship fic once I am done my other story. LOL. I was at a poster sale on my campus and there were so many Legolas pictures there… I could not help but think of your shrine and think it must look something like that, lol. Thanks for your wonderful support throughout this story.

mega-gurl-x ~ I am so honored that your first LotR's review was for my story. I am glad my writing made the exception for you because I love getting reviews and encouragement! I hope you liked this chapter as well and that you like future stories by me as well.

Shlee Verde ~ Wow. First off let me just say thank you for putting me on your favorite authors list. Every time I see that number go up in my stats area I get all excited, especially when it is one of my loyal reviews who I know has been enjoying my work for a while. Very satisfying let me tell you! LOL – you are right. Elves don't like weakness and when the weakness is coming from inside them I think they find it even worst. Ah well… Legolas could probably use a bit of having to rely on others. It will do his character good, lol. So glad you continue to enjoy the Legolas and Gimli dialogue. I really have fun writing that and it was the reason I wanted to write a fic involving that in the first place. I have read Ithilien as well and you are right she too is a master of fanfiction! As for the other author you mentioned… no I have not read them but I will have to track them down when I have a spare moment to check out their stuff – thanks for the tip! I love finding new authors that I like reading!

Elvensong ~ So glad you are enjoying it and thanks for leaving me the note telling me so! Hope you liked the conclusion as well.

Sorry if I missed anyone. FF.net was doing some weird things with my reviews for this chapter, so I might not have gotten yours even if you did submit it!