The Namaarie Legacy
With Eyes to See
By Glimpse of Angels
Aragorn is a young, wandering ranger with the burden of his heritage heavy on his heart. Legolas is a blind young elf, with a thousand painful memories behind him as he lives in self-imposed isolation from his kind. If the two can come to understand each other, it may mean the greatest friendship that Arda has ever seen. Part One in "The Namaarie Legacy"
For the sake of protocol: I don't own Tolkien's work; I do own my own. If you're reading LotR fan-fiction in the first place you probably know the difference. :-)
Glimpse's Precursory Preamble
(More commonly know as the Foreword)
Friends and fans on know me better as Skande, or "The One and Only Skande," and for the benefit of all who might be wondering I have not abandoned (most) stories in that account. I have, however, realized it's a rather random, slapdash collection of junk, where what I've always wanted to do is a Legolas/Aragorn friendship series. Hence, the Namaarie Legacy is born under (in my opinion) the relatively thespian nom de plume, "Glimpse of Angels."
Since I'm not expecting an enthusiastic reception for this series, I'll take time to articulate beforehand that I have written it purely for my own entertainment. Love it, hate it; it's all the same to me. Although I'm hoping for a late-in-life career as an author, I can guarantee I won't spend my life writing Lord of the Rings Fan-fiction, so consequently it won't make much difference. I am a real person with a real life, (including church, family, and a killer accelerated schoolwork course) but I do love writing, as well as Lord of the Rings. I'm also a little leery of plying my hand at FictionPress, therefore my LotR scribbles will see the light of day here and here only.
Concerning my vantage point on the Middle Earth of my stories, I am of the fan-fiction-popular belief that Aragorn was raised as a son to Elrond from a young age, Legolas was an only child of about 2800 during the War of the Ring with little concrete history provided by Tolkien, and the two shared a deep bond of a friendship bordering on brotherhood left sorely underrated in the movies. (As well as in the books, although I hesitate to state this since authors dissing Tolkien are often run out of town on a rail…) To introduce a red herring to the picture, I also believe the Glorfindel of Gondolin and Rivendell were one and the same. :-) Why? Because Glorfindel is also an undervalued hero replaced by an overrated Arwen! '''grumble grumble'''
"Stoked," as is mentioned in my profile, is my brother's Garage Band. They aren't popular and you won't find their songs on Napster, but they sure do tear it up and I have a lot of fun writing their songs. Many of the lyrics will appear in my stories, and I would appreciate your courtesy in letting them remain there. But again, I've never been averse to a polite request. :-)
In conclusion, I have an errant fixation for the frequent usage of unfamiliar words, and although I try my best to avoid this in writing, obsession is often possessive, and if any part— (axiom/adage/aphorism/) ;-) of any of my stories appear confusing, difficult or perplexing in any way shape or form, you need only let me know and I will do my best to repair it! I love hearing from anyone who reads, whether it be by way of review or by e-mail, so don't hesitate to drop me a line—I can guarantee I don't bite! Can't wait to hear from you all, and have fun reading!
Chapter One: Empty Shadows
"It takes not eyes, but sight, to see."
He was in darkness. But that should not have surprised him, for he was constantly in darkness. In his dreary world of twilit haze, it was not so much what was there as what was not there that reminded him every minute of every day what he was and would always be.
In this particular place, however, the darkness did not always remain. Tonight, it mercifully granted him some respite from the driving madness of the shadows, allowing him a long-sought glimpse of woods and leaves, lush and green in the last days of summer. He rejoiced at the sight, so often taken advantage of by the rest of the world. To him, a glimpse of them was as a glimpse of paradise.
But it was the light—oh, the light!—that thrilled his heart, that washed away his soul's tarnished shell, if only for a moment. The light streamed through the trees, reflecting off the air itself, brighter than the stars he could only remember. It was perfect. It was paradise. It was really, truly, there.
And then it was gone.
Back in the death-hold of darkness, Legolas gasped as he surfaced from his dream, breaking into reality like a bubble rushing towards the surface of a lake. He was sitting upright now, and the nothingness that met his eyes sent his heart plummeting back to its perpetually low level. Regardless of how many times he had awoken from that dream, he was never fully able to brace himself for the familiar disappointment of reality. Of knowing, that no matter what, it was only a dream, and in another hour the traces of light and visual memory that remained from it would be gone once more.
Rubbing the weariness from his eyes, he picked up a long wooden staff from the ground beside him, standing in one smooth motion and reaching forward into the darkness with one hand outstretched. His slender fingers touched the air, which became cooler as he stepped forward, coming to the cave entrance in five paces. There the air was considerably more chilled, and from the sounds around him he could easily tell the sun had not yet risen.
Such estimations came now with the fluidity of breath, yet it had not always been so. For although the memories were lost to him save in dreams, there had once been a time when Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, had not been blind...
The ledge of earth far above the sheltered, and for the most part hidden valley where the elf now sat, his eyes staring blankly out into the emptiness that was his world, was one of the woodland elf's favorite haunts. He felt more at ease when he was in familiar territory for one, but that was not the key reason.
Living in a nameless, unmapped, land somewhere between Mirkwood and the section of the Misty Mountains that separated Rivendell from the Gladden fields, he was finally free of the eyes that had burned into his back with disgust and pity wherever he went. Here came the woodland creatures to rest and play, and they afforded him the companionship he so desperately craved. Their primitive minds were not capable of prejudice, nor hate, nor pity, and the bond between himself and them kept him alive.
Everyone needs to feel loved… needed, wanted.
After the ill-fated battle that had left him blind for life so long ago, his skills and talents had been stripped away. No longer able to aid those around him, he became instead useless, a burden. The shame had driven him into the ground.
Reduced to relying on others for his every need, it began when the proud, strong prince of Mirkwood had been unable to prevent himself from being wounded… Or his mother from being killed. In the blow that had crushed him beyond repair, he had been informed bluntly. His mother, the Queen of Mirkwood, was dead. He, the Prince of Mirkwood was blind for life.
The palace, once a place of life, became a haunted, echoing cavern. The servants scurried about as quietly as possible, steering clear of the handicapped prince and his father, the latter alternating between days of quiet seclusion and ranting, furious bouts of grief and anger.
Legolas was never aware of the servants coming in. They brought his food, and likely, straightened the room while he slept, but when he awoke they would be gone. The healers came occasionally to change the bandages over his eyes, but they rarely spoke and never offered the crumbling prince either hope or comfort.
Harshly condemning himself for his own painful inadequacy, Legolas began retraining himself, determined to live with what had happened. Sneaking out in the dead of night became routine, and he taught himself to use his bow again. He was delighted to discover that even before his debilitation, he had really not relied on his eyes all that much in his accuracy. With a little fine-tuning, he quickly regained his former precision.
But not his pride.
The stares. The whispered comments. The pity. The rejection.
He fought to retain sanity in his shapeless world of loneliness, of shapes and shadows and utter hopelessness. It'd been months. His father continued his self-imposed isolation, leaving the wavering kingdom in the hands of advisors, who did their best to fill their king's shoes while he grieved. In what was, perhaps, the cruelest blow, he ignored Legolas entirely.
Legolas, having made for himself a staff out of the forest's strongest oaken wood, avoided contact and communication with anyone around him. Although regaining his former agility in treetop boughs was a bit more difficult than he had hoped, the trees themselves, with whom he had always shared a unique connection, helped him immensely. They grieved to see their beloved prince in such pain, and eagerly gave him what comfort they could in their own way.
And yet, it was not enough.
He eventually managed the courage to go to his father, but in vain. He stood for hours outside the chamber door, pleading for the King to listen. Silence from within. Muffled commands to leave him to his misery. Nothing at all.
Shedding the tears of pain and anger and frustration that he had denied himself for so long, Legolas fled back to his room. And farther.
Packing up only weapons and clothes, it was a simple matter of walking past the guards on either side of the gate. Theirs were the last pitying eyes he would ever endure, he vowed, for he would never return to the place where he no longer belonged.
Since then, he had companionship of no man or elf. The woods and the hills, the mountains and springs were his family, the trees and wolves and eagles his sole comfort. A year of wandering had brought him to this place. A happenstance landslide had carried him into the bowl of the valley long years ago, where he had landed, bruised and shaken, but otherwise unharmed.
He had known instantly that this place would be his home.
The trees sang in joy for the firstborn in their midst. They looked past his outward blemishes. The wolves howled in welcome and the birds cried out for him to stay. The water was peaceful and constant, the foliage rich and abundant. Here a variety of fruit trees grew, as well as edible roots and vegetables. Before, he had hunted for his food, even though meat was not his first choice for a meal. Upon arriving in the valley, he had been reluctant to blemish the harmony of life in his new home by hunting, and had since subsided in contentment upon what plants he could find. He did hunt now, but he tried to do so as infrequently as possible.
He had been stranded without food when winter had struck early and without warning, as he had since learned it was prone to do, but had somehow survived the season on fish, cutting a hole in the ice near the cave and leaving handmade nets out overnight. It was barely worth it, since he would be lucky to catch one or two small fish a day, and the net needed constant repair in the places where the bigger ones had managed to break free, but it kept him. That was all that mattered.
In winters since he had not been caught unprepared, and kept caches of fruit and berries in many of his dozens of refuges across the valley. Of them, only two were in caves, and these only out of necessity. Blind or no, he still could barely abide caves, since these had been an old childhood phobia, and in a way still were. Those he had reluctantly chosen were emergency store-places, such as the one where he had spent the night before, since it was relatively large and open.
His favorite and most constant home was close to the center of the valley, on a high slope from which a stream flowed into the river that cut the valley in two. Here there grew a mighty tree, so tall that its top most branches challenged the surrounding mountaintops for the resting place of the eagles. The tree had been nearly completely hollowed in the ages before Legolas had discovered it, and the lowest level alone was cavernous. A little explorative climbing showed that there were additional hollows higher in the tree, and with time, a little effort, and some the addition of some crude rope ladders for emergencies, thy were connected, cleaned out, and prepared for use.
Since he had not brought a horse with him when he had left Mirkwood as he had been uncertain of his ability to keep one once had reached wherever he was going, he was compelled to conduct all of his exploration of the valley on foot. Despite this, he really had nothing better to do, and within two years he knew the place as well as he had ever known Mirkwood.
As much as he had lamented his loss of sight, and still did, living without it gave him a new perspective on life, and indeed, opened up entire new worlds to his senses. His hearing developed further the more he relied on it, and so he learned to pick up the softest sound, or even a shift of air around an object. His movements gained stealth, since he was now able to realize just how much noise he made himself during movement. He learned to tell plants and animals apart by smell; and feeling them— or even the air itself, told him volumes about both where he was and what was around him.
Even still—even with all he had gained, the longer he tried to convince himself that he was happy now, the more he realized how miserable he really was, and the more acutely he became aware of all he had lost.
And as he struggled to fight his way through a whole new kind of life, he was never able to let himself forget, that inside, he was only empty.
"I feel an emptiness inside
Like part of me already died
When I pretended to go on
Like everything's okay
Then all we built began to fall
As I began to lose it all
I shut my eyes and set me free
Cause I was scared to see
That we weren't what we used to be."
Days flew by, unmarked and unheeded. Summer's lingering tendrils soon dissipated entirely, and fall blew briskly by. Winter's chill nagged at the heels of the wind, stirring the bare branches of the forest and sending the woodland animals scurrying for shelter. One of these woodland creatures took the form of a lone, golden-haired elf, who prepared for the approaching season with the same urgency and caution as did the rest of the valley's inhabitants.
In a high chamber of the Oak, a small wood fire burned atop a large round hearth in the center of the room. The floor, walls and ceiling of this room were all oiled to a fire-proof sheen, and strings of herbs and roots hung from the walls. Skin pouches of fruit, berries, and water lined rough shelves along the walls, made of intermeshed twigs held together with bark twine. The natural knotholes in the trunk that allowed a view of the land below had been covered with interwoven pine branches, thick enough to keep out snow and wind alike. This was the fire room, but minus the hearth, the other two chambers in the tree looked much the same. For the bottom room Legolas had fashioned a sturdy door of logs, and now used only this to enter and exit the tree, where he planned to spend the winter. The bottom chamber itself was the largest, and was fairly brimming with firewood and extra pine boughs for bedding.
Legolas wasn't worried about running out of water, since he could always melt the snow, but he needed to be sure he had enough food to last the winter. As such, he had spent the day fishing, making the trip back to the Oak several times to deposit his catch.
It was now nearly dark, and the wind was picking up. The scent of the air told him that it would freeze that night at the least, and very likely snow. And yet, as he stood at a knothole in the fire room, trying to sense the atmosphere of the valley, he was still uneasy.
Something wasn't right.
The fire was roaring steadily, so he knew it would burn until he got back. He pulled on his cloak and fur-lined tunic—both longtime memories from Mirkwood—and retrieved his staff from where it leaned against the wall by the ladder. On second thought only, he shoved an additional short dagger into his belt, leaving his other weapons where they were in the chamber above him.
Descending the swaying ladder, he hesitated only briefly before heading out into the blistering gale that blew vehemently against him, deterring his progress only slightly, since it's howling disallowed him from counting on hearing to navigate. Unfazed, he hunched his shoulders into the wind and thrust his staff out before him, letting it tell the way as he shoved forward into he knew not what.
Left, right, left right. The soft tap of the wood on the dry ground was lost in the flurry, and as the safety of the Oak faded behind him, the snow began to fall.