Tales From Middle Earth : The Harad Road

6

Melendor circled the ridge many times drifting silently on the strong winds. The area below was devoid of life and the great eagle sensed that that all was not well.

"I fear we are too late," he said to the rider seated on his great back.

"Then we needs make haste to the ground my friend."

Meneldor circled once more and landed in a rush of wind.

"I will be near, call and I will come to thee." said the great bird.

With a slight inclination of his head the silver haired figure slipped off the great eagle and onto the ground.

oo

Elegost pulled himself to his feet, his mouth dry and his head hurting. The cavern was eerily silent and he staggered from the room knowing that he was already too late. Legolas lay as one dead on the ground. There was blood upon his face and on the ground. Aragorn was nowhere to be seen. Dropping to his knees Elegost shook the elf, but Legolas did not respond his head lolled to one side and Elegost saw angry red marks on the side of his face.

"What dark deeds have gone, whilst I lay in safe slumber." he cried.

A sudden voice from behind startled him.

oo

Aragorn slept the sleep of the troubled, while the sun rose in Ithilien. He woke bathed in sweat, the shadows of his dreams slipping away. Lurching to his feet, he realised he was cold and he wrapped his arms about his body. His breasts surprised him, then his hands sought his stomach and memory flooded back. With a cry he stumbled forward feet following no particular path. He walked for hours it seemed in darkness and fear, till dim light appeared far ahead. Like a moth that is drawn to the flame he followed it until he came to a crude window in the wall of the cavern. He climbed through it and walked out onto a broad ledge that looked down onto a meadow of trees and flowers. Dazed by the sudden brightness and colour he stood there lost.

oo

The silver haired figure emanated such wisdom and power that Elegost bowed automatically. But he stepped forward to touch Elegost lightly on the face where a bruise showed.

"I am well Lord, but Legolas..."
The stranger turned to the elf on the ground. Kneeling he felt Legolas' brow then took the elf's hands in his own.

"Wake Thranduilion for I have great need of you." his voice was soft and yet filled the small room. In awe Elegost watched as a soft light seemed to flow from the figure to envelop the elf on the ground…Legolas stirred and his eyes opened. At first the elf's blue eyes were dazed but soon focused on the figure in front of him,

"Lord Celeborn," he cried.

"On your feet Legolas for time grows short for Elessar."

"But he is gone Lord, it will take days to find him in these warren of tunnels and rooms." Elegost interjected as Legolas stood.

Celeborn turned his green eyes upon the despairing ranger. "Then we must begin with all haste." he said with a kind smile.

Then he turned his piercing gaze upon Legolas.

"Look into my eyes and think of him tithen pen."

Celeborn seemed to glow with a white light as Legolas stared deeply into his eyes.

"I see him," Celeborn said abruptly breaking the contact with Legolas. "Quickly now…"

oo

Aragorn swayed as the warm winds from the south caressed his sore body. He longed for peace, a rest from the horrible images and thoughts that plagued his mind. First Elegost then Legolas dead by his hand.

Coward, said his mind, you should have let the orcs have you.

"No!" Aragorn screamed unwilling to listen to that voice.

Yes, said the voice, unworthy deceiver. They trusted you, cared for you, loved you and you betrayed them.

"No," denied Aragorn in a tiny voice but he believed the words.

End your misery, the voice commanded. Do it now!

And Aragorn edged out to the brink of the ledge. He looked down at the sea of flowers below. They undulated gently in the breeze.

Yes, it was best this way.

They reached the window as Aragorn stepped to the edge of the ledge.

"Aragorn," called Celeborn in a loud voice.

Aragorn stopped his head going up in disbelief. He turned slowly, a puzzled look on his face.

He saw within the dim recesses of the cavern a glowing figure clothed in white.

He gaped at it, his tired, defeated mind trying to make sense of what he saw. He took one step forward and stopped.

"Come to me Elessar," Celeborn commanded.

"You are a lie of my mind." Aragorn whispered. The wind blew his long hair back and Celeborn could see the wretchedness in his eyes. His naked body was hunched as though lashed by whips.

"Come to me child," Celeborn said gently and opening his arms let the power that was his wash over the ranger.

Then Aragorn took another step forward and crumbled in a dead faint. Legolas and Elegost rushed from the shadows and caught him before he could fall.

oo

The wind blew, stirring his brown hair across his brow. He opened his eyes and all about him he saw tapestries of white billowing in the breeze. Then Legolas appeared in his line of vision and he blinked.

"You are no more." he said to Legolas in a soft voice.

"I am here Aragorn, surely you see me." Legolas chided him with a smile.

"I can gainsay nothing you say spectre. You are owed your revenge." Aragorn replied in a dull voice.

Legolas looked across briefly at someone Aragorn could not see. Then he stood saying, "I will leave you to rest Aragorn."

But Aragorn reached out and caught at his sleeve. Legolas took his seeking hand and held it.

"Forgive me," said Aragorn, "I did not mean to murder you."

"I have already forgiven you mellon nin." Legolas said, but Aragorn hold on his hand tightened.

Legolas knelt at his side, "Sleep Estel, I will be here when you awaken." He leaned forward and kissed the ranger's brow.

Thus comforted Aragorn did indeed close his eyes and drift to sleep.

Celeborn crossed the room, "It will not be long before he is himself again. His body is already healed."

Legolas nodded, here in Lothlorien all the ills of the world seemed far away. But he knew that as soon as Aragorn was better they would be rejoining that world.

Celeborn was almost at the door when he turned and said to Legolas.

"Elegost bid me tell you that he will await you both on the Harad Road when you are of a mind to travel."

"He has left then?" Legolas asked.

"This morning at first light." Celeborn replied.

Legolas nodded, the restless ranger had been meaning to leave for some days now.

Celeborn closed the door quietly as Legolas stood lost in reverie.

oo

In a fortnight Elegost, ranger of the dúnedain of the southern house found himself once more upon the Harad Road. He travelled south, but he was in no hurry. He intended to give the ranger and the elf enough time to catch up to him, so that they could travel to Minas Tirith together. He knew that Aragorn had much to do to before he was able to face the shadow in the east. He intended to see that the young ranger lived long enough and learnt enough to do so. He flipped his bow into the air and caught it deftly in one hand.

After another mile he passed a turn in the road that was marked by a cairn of lightning struck rock. He paused and ran his fingers lightly over the worn rock face. It was here that he had died some twenty years ago, struck down by orcs in a dreadful battle. And there on the ground near his feet was where Arathorn had lay wounded onto death. "Worry not my friend your son has become a fine man," he said smiling. Then he began to whistle for up ahead a small band of orcs lay in wait. He was game for some adventure. He did not worry too much about the odds against him for no matter how many times he was slain he would always wake up on the Harad Road and he would continue to do so until Aragorn became king. It was a promise he had made with his dying breath to his friend so many years ago.

The End