By: Max Pilote
Chapter Five: On Distant Shores
Legolas sighed as he looked out at the sea. Tomorrow afternoon, he and Gimli were to sail to the shores of Valinor. The elf obviously longed to see his family, especially his mother. He was reluctant, however, to leave the place he had grown up in—-to simply abandon its shores as he did his childhood habits once he had grown.
At least he would always have his memories of his many travels and adventures. Most treasured of all would be the special moments he had spent with his father in the halls of Mirkwood.
Legolas crawled up on the bed and smiled at his father as he looked into his open eyes. "You're not asleep, silly!" he said with a small laugh.
Thranduil sat up and laughed, "You've caught me. You're getting better at this. Now, what bothers you? Dreams waking you up again?"
The elfling nodded and crawled into his father's lap. "Tell me a story. Maybe it will help me sleep," he suggested.
"I don't know any stories for little elflings who can't sleep."
"Then I'll tell you one!" said the child happily.
The king chuckled and kissed his forehead. "All right, Legolas. You tell me a story."
"There was once this happy prince who lived in a magical kingdom in a beautiful forest! One day—"
"Who taught you this story?"
"Shush! Wait until I finish! Now, as I was saying: One day, a very pretty lady came to the kingdom, but she was hurt. The nasty monsters from the desert all around the beautiful forest had hurt her very badly. The happy prince, using magic from his magic kingdom, healed the very pretty lady. They fell in love almost very quickly. Then, they had a big wedding and invited the whole kingdom. For many days after that there was a big celebration with lots of songs and feasts!"
"That was a happy ending," remarked Thranduil with a smile.
"I'm not finished yet," said Legolas. "A fairy brought the happy prince and very pretty lady a sweet little boy. For many a whole bunch years, they lived very happily! When they went for a walk once during the summer, though, things turned not-so-happy. The nasty monsters from the desert all around the beautiful forest attacked them."
"Oh no, that isn't good."
"No it's not. They hurt the sweet little boy and took the very pretty lady. Now, the happy prince was not happy anymore. In fact, he was very much angered. So, the not-happy-anymore prince, who was the greatest fighter in the whole kingdom fought his way into the castle until he found the very pretty lady in the deepest and darkest part of the dungeon. He brought her back to the very big castle in the very big kingdom! Only, the very pretty lady was hurt so very much badly by the evil nasty creatures from the desert around the beautiful forest that she was gonna die! The sweet little boy pulled himself out of his bed and stood by the very pretty lady's bed and he said, 'No, Nana! Don't leave me!' And—and—
"I can't tell the rest of the story!" cried the frustrated elfling, tears running down his cheeks.
His father smiled and rocked him gently in his arms, "Then I'll finish it. The sweet little boy cried and cried for the very pretty lady. Finally, an angel appeared one night and she said, 'Because you and the happy prince love the very pretty lady so much, I will heal her.' The very pretty lady suddenly opened her eyes and sat up. Forever and ever after that, the sweet little boy and very pretty lady lived with the happy prince as one big family."
"Were they happy?" asked Legolas, drying his tears.
"Forever and ever."
Eldarion hugged Legolas once more and smiled, "I'll miss you, Uncle Legolas."
The elf nodded, "As I will miss you. You take care of the kingdom and your sisters. I know you'll be as grand a king as your father was. Make us all proud."
Gimli got a hug from the boy as well. "My you've grown so much, lad! I can remember a time when I was taller than you," he said, intending to get a laugh out of the new king of Gondor. Eldarion laughed and smiled at Gimli.
Finally, the dwarf and elf boarded the boat. It was a magnificent piece of work, taking into consideration the fact that the builder had never made a boat in his thousand years of life.
Minutes later, as all of the friends the elf and dwarf had made over the past few years gathered at the shore and waved to them as they sailed away from the shores and into he setting sun. Gimli was sad to watch it all go, but it wasn't so bad with Legolas there. Legolas, however, felt a piece of his heart break off. He had lived far longer than Gimli and seen so many more things. As most dwarves, Gimli held no true appreciation for the trees and the forests.
The elf held all these things dear to his heart. The greatest things he would ever have were the memories of all the places he visited. Even the horrible cities had their good qualities (save for Bree, which deserved to be eaten by the Earth along with its inhabitants). There would always be places that would forever have special places in his heart: Imladris with all the beautiful architecture, Lothlorien with the grandest trees, and Minas Tirith with its white stones stacked so high. These were the places he would never forget. Most precious of all, however, would be his home. Not even the most beautiful forest created by Illuvitar himself could replace the memories of Eryn Lasgalen.
The prince of Mirkwood's return had prompted a grand celebration. Her people were very honored that such a fine young warrior was their prince. He brought pride back to the kingdom and its people. Most of all, he brought pride to his father.
"I noticed you sneak away during the celebration. What is wrong, ion nin?" asked Thranduil, sitting beside his son on a small stone bench in the middle of a thicket of trees surrounded by a small fence in the forest.
"Do you remember, Adar, the first tree I planted here? It was Grandfather's seed...the one he had found clinging to his cloak when he came back from hunting once. Remember how diligently I cared for it? Oh, I was so excited when it first sprouted," said Legolas, his voice distant as if the memories were replaying in his head. "Then, when you returned from the Last Alliance without Grandfather...I cried under that tree for over three hours."
"I remember them clearly," replied the king. "All of the others trees were planted from the seeds you would pick off my cloak when I would come home from hunting. It was your way of coping with the loss of your grandfather."
"I planted one for her, too. For Naneth," replied the prince, leaning his head on his father's shoulder. "I want to see her again, Adar. I want to show her how much I've grown."
"And it has been much. She would be very proud of you. In her absence, though, I shall be proud enough for the both of us. You did very good, Legolas. I think even your grandfather would have been proud. Of course, he'd never show it. You knew how he was."
The two laughed and Thranduil hugged is son. "I love you, ion nin. I always will. Even if you had turned back at the mines and came home, I would have still been proud of you."
"I feel as though all this celebration is undeserved," admitted the prince. "I did nothing but follow and helped when I was needed."
"You represented your kind well. The only elf at Helm's Deep, fighting side-by-side with the King of Gondor. If there is anyone is this kingdom more deserving of it than you, let me see them," said the king with a smile.
"Please, Ada, all this is embarrassing. You know I am a modest person. All this attention focused on me...it's overwhelming."
There was a long silence between the two before Thranduil finally spoke.
"Remember when you were three and you told me that story. You never told me who taught you that," he said softly.
Legolas smiled, "I saw it in a dream. I was sitting on Naneth's lap and she was telling it to me. I used to have that dream all the time, but when it would get to the end, just as the woman was brought home, I would wake up and never know the end."
"Well you do now. They lived as one big family."
"Were they happy?"
"Forever and ever."
Gimli gently shook his elven friend who had been sleeping soundly in the cabin of the ship.
"We approach land, lad! And there seems to be a welcoming party for you," he said with a smile.
"You have to be joking," muttered Legolas as he climbed to the deck of the boat.
It was apparent that the dwarf had spoken the truth as the ship docked. Legolas stepped onto the shore and almost immediately a hoard of people were around him and Gimli, mostly loyal subjects to the crown of Mirkwood.
The elf felt the tight embrace of his father, and welcomed it. It had been many years since he had seen Thranduil. A soft hand on his shoulder caused him to turn and face his mother. She looked as beautiful as he could remember. The she-elf held him gently in her arms, kissing his forehead and looking him over.
"Oh, my little greenleaf, you have grown so much! I think I might miss that little elfling who used to crawl into bed with us on stormy nights," she said in her soft, lyrical voice.
The crowd parted, and Legolas was reminded of the coronation when Arwen was reunited with her love. A beautiful woman with hair the color of autumn leaves ran up and threw her arms around Legolas.
"Iavas?" he asked in disbelief. She had died well over fifty years ago. It couldn't be her, though he could feel the softness of her silky skin.
"Aye, dear, 'tis the love that left you. But now we are reunited again in a land of great happiness. Nothing can part us now," she whispered.
Legolas then turned to Gimli and smiled, "Come, mellon nin! Meet my family! We gladly welcome you into it."
The dwarf smile and walked over to Legolas, "Very well, lad, but I'll be havin' no jokes about me stature among all these taller folk." A hearty laughed escaped Gimli's lips and his friend smiled.
"Do not worry," replied Legolas. "There will be plenty of time for jokes and insults. Now is a time for merriment and laughter. As I said, come and join my family! I would not have it otherwise."
Over the course of the next few days, Legolas was reunited with several more of his friends, including Ryldor and Rymir. As a week passed, and then two, he began to fear that he might never see Estel again. As he laid on his back, staring up at the trees around him, he found himself longing now more than ever for the presence of his friend.
As he sat up, a bright light appeared before him.
"You built a boat and crossed the sea to get to me, Legolas. All your promises have been kept."