March 19th: Welcome to the Morgul-Vale

"The hearts of all the army, from the highest to the lowest, were downcast, and with every mile that they went north foreboding of evil grew heavier on them."

The sun was up but it's pale, ineffectual light hardly broke through the cool mists that shrouded the land, leaving those moving around underneath, distinctly uncomfortable and plagued by a clammy, stifling feeling as though the air was a strange fume. Those who would comment on it in a worried tone would say that it settled strangely in the chest like a cold in early spring except that it carried a sickly sweet smell like rotting meat and made men's heads dizzy.

Aragorn had done his best to shake it off as he made some last minute decisions with Gandalf and Imrahil. They had decided to leave a quite sizable force behind them at the Cross-Roads in case Sauron brought more soldiers from the south, or in the worst case of retreat they had a secondary force to fall back on and try again. But Aragorn knew there could be no retreat, this would be their greatest gamble; it was all or nothing. With that, the discussion was ended.

Once again it would be another rough day through haunted miles of enemy land. The excitement and fervor of the other day, reclaiming the stone king was beginning to wear off and strain was starting show. Aragorn hoped he could get his men to battle before the fear began to tear his army up. He had hope that they had enough pride and courage in themselves and in their ancestry to keep pressing forth; he wouldn't give up on them yet.

Raking a hand through his hair and rubbing his worn face Aragorn was hailed by his friend, Legolas and he did not pause in giving attention.

"Yes my friend," and seeing the elf's troubled face he said, "What has happened?"

"Nothing has happened or rather yes, something has happened," Legolas began.

"Well what then!" Aragorn exclaimed some of his old mirth returning.

The elf sighed heavily and continued, "Aragorn I can no longer do the thing you asked of me earlier."

For a moment Aragorn was confused then it returned, "When I asked you to watch Asano? You can no longer do this."

"Correct," Legolas asserted then looking around at the many men milling about he thought better of explaining it to Aragorn then and there.

Aragorn seeing his look said, "Perhaps later where more privacy can be offered, what say you?"

"Yes, later," then he smiled and to the man he seemed less burdened, gripping his shoulder Legolas said, "thank you my friend."

Perplexed by his comment Aragorn replied, "Always."

Asano had yet to see Legolas that day and she was filled with a nervous excitement. There was not anyway for her to be still so she busily spent the morning cleaning her weapons even though they didn't need it and feeding Tali who did.

When she finally climbed into the saddle that some relief came to her and the march started up again. She realized that some soldiers were being left behind in the forest, most, if not all were archers and soon disappeared into the trees like green and brown ghosts.

In her mind Asano kept replaying the kiss over and over in her mind, distracting her from careful observation that she had spent most of these passing days doing. Now all she could think about was Legolas and his mouth and how easily he had insinuated himself into her life. It hadn't been instant her unnamable emotions for him. Of course, it was hard not to take immediate notice of him, but at the time that had been all. Then there came his interest in her and her life, she should have been suspicious, but he seemed so genuine….the look in his eyes. Asano thought, could I be in love, but that was too terrifying a thought, how could I be in love? What about Karn, she had adored him since she was 16 years old. Was she betraying him? Asano didn't know.

They were heading north and east the sun light was weaker and weaker as the clouds got darker and darker as well as thicker till they marched in a near brown twilight. The sweet smell that churned her stomach grew a little stronger, she took a few deep breathes to calm her stomach so that she wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of throwing up over the side of her horse.

"You're looking a bit green, Asano," said the elf, Elladan, as he trotted up next to her.

"Perhaps you cannot smell this…this vapor in the air," she replied gesturing around and trying to hold her nose.

"Oh no. I can smell it and it is quite horrible indeed, but I am more concerned with the aura of malevolence about this land," the elf explained.

Asano sat still for a moment concentrating on whatever it was that was out there. She didn't feel anything, she doubted she would. Asano suspected that this was something only an elf could feel. What she did feel was instead; watchfulness, unseen eyes studied them constantly.

"That maybe so, we are close to dangerous lands," she replied.

"No, we are in dangerous lands. We may not be fighting enemies, but they are still there and this land it's self is still poisoned by our greatest enemy," Elladan said.

"And you think by destroying Him it will free this land," Asano inquired.

"This is our hope, the only hope we have. That His destruction will free many places, yours not least of all," Elladan responded.

"Yes, well let those who live in such lands worry about that," she said.

Elladan looked her over for a moment and said, "I am sensing that you are not pleased with me some how. I wonder if it has something to do with my sharp tongued brother."

"Perhaps, I am thinking this anger has little to do with me except for the fact that I was there," she said.

Elladan laughed and said, "You are right, it isn't you he's angry with."

Feeling curious she asked, "What is it that has made your brother so anger?"

The question she posed to him brought an end to his charming smile in its place was a kind of resignation; a look of understanding, but the inability to change what already has been.

"Many, many years of seeing the horrors and incalculable cruelties of this world, He has never been able to deal well with these terrible realities, but he is an excellent warrior so he must do his duty." Ella Dan took a pause and then began again, "he has also never forgiven himself for failing to protect our mother. What happened was not his fault and nor was it mine but he has not been able to get over it. Our one failure," Elladan explained.

"What happened to your mother?" Asano asked, wondering what could happen to an elf.

"She was returning from a stay with her kin, my grandparents in the woods of Lothlorien when her escort was attacked by a large group of orcs. It took us a fortnight to locate her and bring her home." He said, stopping again as if his long memory was shifting back to that time many hundreds of years ago when their lives as a family changed.

"What happened?" she asked, breathless.

"She was gravely wounded my poor mother and though my father, who is a powerful healer, was only able to heal her physical wounds not the ones to her spirit. She eventually sailed to the Valinor; the Eldamar, which is the eternal home home of the elves," Elladan said and then turning to the west, "And there she waits for my father…but I do not think I shall see her ever again."

There was a long moment of quiet where the only sound was many horses plodding along. Asano looked back at the dark haired elf-man, "that is a sorrowful story; you have my pity if you like,"

Elladan's smile returned, "I will take your sympathy, but not your pity."

"Good. I don't have much pity to give."

Legolas was in great indecision about what he was to say or do with Asano. He had never really been in love before, he thought he had been when he was much younger and his passion greater, but now in his maturity he knew that it was not the love he was seeking.

So what was he thinking that he was in love with a woman he had known for only four days and a mortal one at that? Legolas would have laughed if it hadn't been so serious and there was also what to tell Asano about what Aragorn had asked him to do. Should he tell her that at first he had only come to spy on her, he had no doubt the sense of betrayal she would feel, but he could not lie to her.

This quite the situation you have gotten yourself into said the smarmy voice of his thoughts.

I never intended it to happen, but there in lies the trouble with matters of the heart, he replied.

But either way she is bound to reject you for what you did or will do. Keep it from her till later and then she will be angry you kept it to yourself for so long, or tell her now and she will still be angered. Either way your in trouble, his thoughts explained.

Legolas grimaced knowing that it was true and not knowing what kind of temper she had he was not too pleased with himself.

"What's troubling you lad?" Gimli asked from behind him.

"It is Asano; I am troubled about how I should tell her the truth. Aragorn had asked me to watch Asano, to make sure her conversion was a sincere one," he answered.

"Hrmm, well, I suppose you'll have to just tell the lass the truth then, wont you. If you can't go around the mountain, go through it as the dwarves say," Gimli offered in way of dwarven advice.

Legolas nodded, figuring that Gimli would say something along those lines. "Thank you Gimli, as always you are indispensable," he stated as they plodded on.

They were now making their way east cutting through north Ithillien and it's thick quiet forests filled with the tense watchfulness of hidden creatures. Legolas knew that at least some of these creatures were not dangerous but rather, afraid. He knew they would be pleased when they were gone.

As the day progressed the sun was still lost behind the clouds and the smell, the sickly sweet smell grew stronger. Legolas thought of Asano, who did not like it; he stepped up his horse's pace to find her knowing she would be some where up ahead. The quickened pace startled Gimli awake he harrumphed, grumbled, and fell silent again.

He spotted Asano by the glint of her golden twine; which she had re-braided into her hair. She seemed much more relaxed then early that day and her smile was a pleasantly strange thing to see amongst so many morose faces. She was riding next to none other than Elladan and yet his twin and shadow Elrohir was no where to be seen.

He was making her laugh, telling her an amusing story that involved Elrohir, a mouse, and an easily spooked Palomino, named Gwirith. In his stomach, at that exact moment, a creature that had not existed came into life; churning and growling in it's pit.

Jealousy was not normal for him and yet there it was. He was upset that Elladan, who didn't really know her not as he felt he did, could make Asano laugh like that. It galled him because she never seemed that free of care around him.

Legolas pulled up along side Asano she immediately turned, still laughing a bit at Elladan's story her face bright from her smile.

"Oh! Legolas there you are, Ra Elladan and I have been discussing Ra Elrohir," Asano said. Legolas's spirits rose when he realized that she had used the honorific when speaking of Elladan, but not him, he couldn't help the smug little smile that fell across his face.

Elladan's laugh that came after her comment came out more like a snort; Asano turned and gave a knowing smile that killed his good mood. The creature that resided in Legolas's gut was ready to burst out and claw at the handsome face of Elladan. How dare he have some secret moment with Asano! He had been there first.

"I am glad to see that you both are getting along so well. We should all be friends on this journey," Legolas proclaimed with false sincerity, if looks were incendiary then Elladan would soon be a little pile of ash in his armor.

Asano squinted at Legolas, she could tell something was bothering him, but she was not sure what exactly it was. Unfortunately, this was not the time; she would let it go for now. It could not be that important, she figured it could always wait till later.

From the front Aragorn stopped and turned in the saddle, "we are leaving the forests it's important now that we all be on guard."

Passing out of the trees and the quietness they created, back into the wide open world that had changed starkly from where they had begun. There was a light gray sky above them; the sun now was completely gone. There was barely a sound to be heard on the wind except the iron shod feet of the horses and men tramping over the brown gravel ground. There seemed to be no vegetation; except for a few patches of gray grass; so brittle that to touch it would reduce it to ash as well as a few hardy, leafless plants covered in thorns.

In the gray distance the dark shapes of the Ephel Duath were shrouded in fog. Before them though was the darkest of places most had ever seen, it was once known as Minas Ithil. Long ago it once shown in the moonlight as a pinnacle of creation among the Numenorians, the last piece of the vision that was Numenor now lost to time and the ocean. It had now been replaced, the moon tower was no longer beautiful; it exuded a foreboding terror that even when inhabited by no living soul; evil or good would not dare to look upon.

As the vanguard stopped before what was now Minas Morgul all could feel the dark enmity coming off in waves.

"Even with the Nazgul gone how horrible it still is!" cried Elladan looking upon the black and twisted structure.

Asano could hardly stand to look at it, her heart deep in her chest began to pound the closer they came, the desire to reign in Tali and run back to the forest was powerful. Legolas reaching out to take Asano's hand in his brought her attention back to him, "this place," he began, gesturing to fortress, "is lifeless now that the witch-king is gone. There is nothing here that can hurt you."

She looked him in the eye as he stared steadily back at her. She nodded her head, thanking him silently for not bringing her fear to other people's attention, thereby at least preserving her respect as a warrior. With Legolas beside her, Asano felt less afraid and less isolated by that fear. She hated admitting to any weakness in herself she never wanted to be found lacking in any area of her life. Doubly worse would be having someone else know of them, but now it was different she didn't mind that Legolas knew. He accepted her fear without spite and thought no less of her for it. He had instead brought her comfort that she did not even have to ask for and with that comfort her fear dissipated.

Asano was again able to look back at the Morgul Vale that lay before them, stretching for miles ahead of them. The land of the valley below was made up of a brackish-green moss, along with the moss grew beautiful eerily glowing white flowers. Asano was to discover that these seemingly innocuous flowers were not only perfect looking, but perfectly poisonous; here was where the sickening vapor originated. They were a contrivance of the fearful essence of the Nazgul; it seemed that nothing could escape the darkness of the evil of Mordor.

"What may I ask are we doing here, if we are going to assault the Black Gates," asked Gimli wrinkling his prominent nose at the sight before him.

"First, we are going to set aflame to these noisome fields and if we can; destroy the bridge that connects to Minas Morgul," Aragorn explained, " that way at least the orcs can no longer return."

"What are we to use Estel? I don't think this forest will allow us to use them as kindling," Elrohir stated sliding gracefully off his stallion.

Aragorn frowning in concentration turned in a full circle. "Anything that has fallen on the ground and dried out we will gather into bonfires and burn this place to ash," he suggested.

Asano was surprised at this plan mostly because it would take at the fastest half a day to pull together.

Speaking up suddenly she said, "Ra we do not have time. Is there no other way to do this? No way that is quick?"

"She is right Estel, we have little time. I hate to say this, but we must be hasty," Elrohir agreed.

Both Legolas and Asano turned to stare at Elrohir in surprise, had he just agreed with her?

"Perhaps I might offer my more hidden talents. I suppose I could stretch my magical legs as they say," Gandalf said as he stepped up beside the group.

"If anyone should have the power to do such a thing then Gandalf the white can," Legolas proclaimed.

Gandalf smiled in a grandfatherly way, "if this keeps up it shall all go to my head."

"Come, someone retrieve for me a large stick or branch. Then I shall set ablaze like none have ever seen," the old man continued.

What Asano saw that murky afternoon would certainly count among the many moments that would remain with her the rest of her life. The old wizard Gandalf took the proffered branch from Pippin and marched in an almost leisurely manner, down the gently sloping cleft into the valley below. Silence utterly abounded, the trees did not sway; the wind, who obeyed no one seemed to bend to the will of Gandalf. The anxious and curious army stood at the edge and watched the white figure press the branch and his staff together.

His voice carried out across the windless valley in a language she did not know, though she recognized that it was old and powerful beyond which any of them could understand. With a great and sudden rush the branch exploded into flame, Asano gasped in surprise. Magic! She had never seen true magic! Asano had thought that Gandalf was a wise man or a lore master for she had known many in her life. She never would have thought that he was an actual wizard.

"How is he doing this," she asked as the white wizard flung the burning branch out into the field.

"He is the white wizard. Given power by the Valar to do amazing things," Legolas said his voice filled with great respect and awe.

The fire then spread in away that water did when spilt on the floor with the precise purpose of destroying everything it touched. With his duty completed Gandalf turned and headed back up the slope.

"I do believe that ought to capture His attention," Gandalf stated, sounding deeply satisfied with himself.

"As only you can Gandalf, I hope that your fire burns this entire valley away," Aragorn replied.

Asano looked at the aged man with a certain amount of wonderment. All her life she believed in things she could see with her own eyes, but here before her was something of both; the insubstantial fabric of magic and the hard evidence of what she could see with her eyes. Here was a force she could have faith in, if only in this one man.

Legolas peered over at Asano; seeing the expression of sheer amazement on her face. He could remember his feelings when Gandalf came back as the white wizard, his joy at the wizard's return from death, the wonder he had not felt since he was an elfling seeing the world for the first time. He could only imagine how it felt for Asano watching an old man dressed in simple white walk into a valley filled with evil miasma and within the snap of someone's fingers, it was gone.

"Surely my eyes are deceiving me! This cannot have actually happened," Asano exclaimed as the flames climbed, beginning to lick at the cool stone bridge before them.

"That is often how it feels to me as well," Legolas replied as they walked away from the burning valley. They still had their great mission to complete, and once again they were on their way.

The vanguard and the army that followed would stop for the night once they were away from the fire. Asano was relieved to know that they were not going back into the forest instead they would be skirting the edge of the trees all the way through North Ithillien. They had not gotten very far from Minas Morgul when suddenly there was a great rushing sound followed by the grinding and crushing of stones.

"There goes the bridge I suppose," Pippin stated looking over at Asano as she turned in the saddle.

"Indeed," she replied as a cloud of black smoke and dust plumed into the air and mixed.

The sun, that they could not see, was setting on their second day out from Minas Tirith when they stopped to make camp for that evening. The men, Legolas noted were looking a little more anxious every day, he hoped that they would be able to make it to the more terrifying destination. Asano on the other hand seemed to lack all fear, but took each day as it came; tireless and unnerved.

"Does something interest you," She whispered coyly once she noticed Legolas staring.

"If it is about you then, yes, I'm interested," he whispered back. It was unspoken, but it was decided that the two of them would be discreet until it was a more stable time.

Asano laughed lightly and looked him in the eyes, "will you come and meet me tonight? Just outside the watch fires."

"I will most certainly be there, if you don't fall asleep waiting," he teased, knowing that Asano in fact slept very little. Taking her roughened hand he kissed it.

Asano smiled and averted her eyes sometimes the little things he did to her made her want to do possibly embarrassing things and give them both away.

"Then do not keep me waiting," she replied.

The night carried on as usual, with the setting sun turning the heavy clouds a dun brown, small and large fires alike sprang up. They no longer worried about being secretive; only watchful, the whole point of their misssion was to be seen and heard.

Asano was once again sitting by the fire with Pippin, who developed a strange new habit of staring at her then quickly looking away when she noticed, giving more attention to the trees then necessary.

She knew that the little hobbit had developed an attachement to her and she tried not to feed into it too much. Asano cared for him enough not to want to hurt his feelings; she quickly realized that hobbits were a lot different from men.

Legolas was finally able to speak with Aragorn alone, away from the all knowing eyes of Gandalf and the inquisitive nature of the prince of Dol Amroth.

Aragorn was standing in his tent, his back facing the entrance as he stared intently at the midnight hued banner that the lady Arwen had crafted in secret; it's gems glowing like specks of sun from the light of a single brazier. Naturally, the man did not hear Legolas enter and the elf found it necessary to make a sound and have his presence known.

Startled from his thoughts, Aragorn turned rapidly and found his friend standing grimly before him.

"I suppose this is about earlier; what you had wanted to tell me in confidence," Aragorn said without preamble.

"Yes, it is," Legolas answered and sat as Aragorn had gestured to him.

The man looked at him patiently, waiting for him to begin the conversation.

With a great rush of air, Legolas began to say what he wanted to say, "Aragorn, you asked me as a long time friend to observe Asano and find any deciet in her. Well, I have found there isn't any in her; she is crafty," he explained with a smile pulling at her lips, "As well as arrogant and proud, and while these things can be failing flaws of personality they are not in her."

Legolas then stopped and wondered if he could actually say outloud that which his insides already knew.

Aragorn then spoke, "But that is not all you have to say by the look on your face."

"I cannot spy on her any more Aragorn! I just cannot!" he replied vehemently his pale elvish face going flush.

Aragorn, being the shrewd man that he was deduced that something else was behind this, "things are now different between you two now, aren't they."

"Yes, things are different now, I cannot undo any of what has happened and nor do I wish to," Legolas sighed looking at his hands and long fingers.

"I think it is best if you just say what is burdening you," Aragorn cajoled leaning toward his friend.

"I have fallen in love, with Asano," Legolas stated finally, feeling a weight being lifted from his shoulders as well as his heart.

Aragorn leaned back in shock; he had not quite expected to hear that answer and didn't really know what to say.

"Ai, Surely now lady Arwen and I will have others now who can commiserate with us in our doom together," he said with finality though not sadness.

Aragorn placed his hand on legolas's forearm and said quietly, "Strange are the wheels of fate in this world."

Now they truly understood each other; for each man and elf was filled with a kind of desperate love; too painful in itself to name, terrible to behold and too wonderful to let go.

Asano had again fallen into a bored sleep after eating a meager dinner and pacing a small path about her camp fire. She was too anxious to have a proper conversation with either Gimli or Pippin who wanted to spend all of his time continuously beside her.

So, fusterated as she was she willed herself into a kind of sleep, though truly it was not restful. Dreams of things that were dark and unpleasant played out in her drowsing mind as they always did, Asano had long forgotten what it was to sleep undisturbed ever since she left home all those many months ago. When she woke she once again couldn't remember what exactly she dreamed, standing and giving a sigh of resigned irritation she went off to find Legolas being around him always brought her comfort.

But to no avail, she could not find him, though she was never really sure where he went he always seemed to find her, now if only she could find him!

Asano did manage to find not just one elf, but two elves; Elladan and Elrohir who were going on watch together. Elrohir was first to greet Asano with a silent wave of his hand, "goog evening," he said.

"If you can call this evening good," Asano replied quickly, "have you seen Ra Legolas."

"I believe he went to speak with Aragorn, he seemed….troubled today," Elladan explained.

Asano frowned, she thought he seemed distracted that day, but troubled where had that come from? Why had he not told her if something was wrong, now she wished to find him and find out what was keeping from her.

"Will you be joining us since you are so active tonight," elrohir asked.

"No," she replied in a more biting tone than she meant, "no, not tonight."

Leaving them behind she went go find Aragorn's tent, it was not too hard a thing to accomplish, Aragorn was king albeit a crownless one, his tent was slightly larger than the few others that had been put up.

The canvas gleamed a yellow butter color from the braziers inside; she could see two figures sitting inside.

Peering into the gap between the slits she could see Legolas's back his long blond hair glinting in the fire light. Aragorn was facing towards her, but he didn't see her as he seemed to be in deep conversation with the elf; the man's face was lined in concern, his eyes filled with incommon sympathy.

Asano stepped away, she shouldn't eavesdrop, she should respect Legolas's privacy, if he wanted to tell me, he would, she thought and walked further away. Still, something nagged at her, that part that always spoke to her when something just didn't seem right. She crept back over to the entrance feeling rather recalcitrant; if she was caught spying other than being humiliated it could go very bad for her.

From inside she could hear Legolas speaking, "Yes, it is," he must have answered a question.

Aragorn looked on with patience, Asano with impatience fidgetting where she stood.

Legolas sighed deeply, he sounded tired and frustrated and unlike the elf-man she knew.

"Aragorn, you asked me as a long time friend to observe Asano and find any deciet in her….." for a moment she was sure she didn't hear right, he couldn't have said what she heard him say…..find any deceit in her……the phrase echoed across her mind. She stepped ack as if that tent was a threatening void sucking in all her wishful hopes and new found feelings.

Turning on her heel she marched back into the darkness, moving like a thoughtless automenton. He had played her, played her as well as any Ud, with a strum of his pale hand, a look from his bluer than blue eyes and she sang beautifully to him. How could this have happened, she thought, how! She could feel the burning in her chest reaching for her eyes. NO! She wasn't going to cry about him he would not have the satisfaction of owning her tears.

Before she even knew it Asano found herself outside the watch fires pacing angrily, the little that was visible blurred to her eyes.

Legolas had lied to her, spied on her, told all her history that was meant to remain in confidence to Aragorn, who she had trusted to believe her. Worst of all was that she knew better, but still she had laid her self bare and this was her rightful punishment, she should have known better!

For a whiled moment she stomped and cursed feeling her hurt and betrayal burn down to her core. She was glad for one thing and that was that none of her companions were here to see her be duped so completely.

Collapsing onto the ground Asano rubbed her eyes till they ached, she stomped down her pain, down deep in her stomach. She would use it later, fodder to fuel the cold merciless energy needed in battle, less she take it out on someone who didn't deserve it or on someone who did.

For awhile she sat clearing her head of every thought, blocking or burying away the trauma, ever since the death of her eldest brother and she was by then too old to cry.

Except this was worse, harder to push away, it did not so easily let go, but Asano was adept at dealing with pain. Closing her eyes looking through the behind her eyelids she could see the icy core of all her anger, resentments, all the unfulfilled hopes. Here was where her pain resided and here she added more, I will put it here, she thought, it's safe. It would never go away, Asano understood that, but if it were some where deep inside that helped instead of hindered then Asano could live with that.

A light touch to her shoulder brought her back to the rest of the world; Legolas looked down at her with a guilty troubled expression wrinkling his smooth forehead.

"I was worried when I could not find you," he said, still staring down at her.

Asano looked up at him with a blank expression, as if she were trying to reconcile all that she had heard, all that had come to pass in the inhuman face before her. There was just no combining the two together and it angered her; this face, this voice, this very figure was a lie, and the concern eched across his face was a lie as well.

Asano's anger broke her from her torpidity; climbing stiffly to her feet she brushed his touches away in a brusque manner.

"Did you think I was up to something maybe?" she inquired in a harsh tone staring him in the face, her deep, green gaze piercing him where he stood.

Legolas's forehead creased deeper in confusion, "No, we are in dangerous lands; it is night and mortal eyes do not see well in the dark."

"Yes, it would be unfortunate if I was not under your gaze day and night!" she snarled at him, her anger all but breaking free of it's icy encasement.

"What is going on, what is the matter? Asano…." he replied trying to grab her arm, this argument was quickly vexing him.

Asano dodged, pulling her arm close to her self, "You know what is going on! You! You of all people have been spying on me!" She growled fiercly at him. The blood was pounding in her head now, dulling all sounds around her.

Legolas's face went even paler; the sky seemed to crash down around him, this was not how he intended for any of this to happen.

"If you would but let me explain," he said stepping closer to her.

"No, it's all a lie! Everything I've been told is a lie! Sauron, Ra Argon, You, your all the same; using and playing me to get what you want," Asano exclaimed, blurting out all her anguish. "And to think I could have…..I might have."

Asano would have said that she could have loved him, that minutes even hours ago she did. Now she choked on the word as if it were something festering; a sweet that had now turned sour. None of it was real she had betrayed her Karn for absolutely nothing; she was not even fit for his love. Asano wished now that the fall from the Mumak had killed her and saved her from her pain and despair. She was going to her death as a turn coat to her people and the only love she had ever truly known.

Legolas caught the pain and sadness inside her, grabbing her shoulders firmly he asked, "You could have what, tell me Asano!"

Asano ducked her head, never had she felt so miserable, so utterly lost and melancholy; it was like Legolas had died or that it was discovered that the she had known was in fact nothing more than an imposter. Her shoulders shook and she held back her tears never would she be seen weeping, never would she again trust love.

Slowly, she lifted her head, "I gave you my heart blindly," she said softly, although her voice was hard and cold.

Legolas blanched and stumbled back as if he had struck hard in the chest. Asano could have punched him, beat him till her anger had run free of her soul and still it would have hurt less. He did love her and his love was permenant, as permenant as the very tattoos across her face. Now it seemed that through his own foolishness he had harmed her spirit irrevocably and doomed himself as well.

In the same cold voice Asano said, "Do not speak to me again, for I cannot hear you."

Legolas watched her turn her back on him, the dark sillohuette of her body moving swiftly to the campfire. Only a few short yards separated them, yet it seemed a great chasm had opened between and there was no brigde with which to reach out to her. Legolas lowered his head heavy with sorrow, he saw lying at his feet a small golden flower. Sinking to his knees he picked it up and saw that it was the very same bloom he had tucked into Asano's curls. He thought back to the moment when he plucked it up and how he imagined what she might look like graced with a crown of those delicate, golden flowers, with her hair loose and glossy he knew she would be heart breakingly beautiful. Now the little flower lay in his hand withered and wilted, much like his heart, but he only had himself to blame for that.

The stars that night dimmed in the heavens as they watched one of the first children's pain. Elbereth, their creator, the Star Queen of old had made them to be watchers, they could not feel his pain, no more than he could feel their gaze, but in his suffering his own light faded alittle. The stars in their sympathy for the elf-child held back their fierce light and wept for the one who could not.

WOW! That took a really long time, I'm sorry about that it's been a heck of a semester, what with changing my major and making career changes and family troubles, Asano and Legolas sorta had to be on the back burner for a while. Still those muses pestered me to death to get it done and here it is! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

- Fael