This is just something that struck me when I was reading the latter part of 'The Lord of the Rings' and I just had to get it out of the way before it drove me mad. I think I ended up making it much longer than I should have…(and something tells me that I should have been studying for my exams instead of doing this…oops…)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. It's all Mr. J.R.R Tolkien's.
Of the Doom of Men:
The Fourth Age
Shire Reckoning, 1541
Astron 1st (March)
The Watchers at the gates stood at attention, peering keenly into the distance as they watched the white horse near them. They could not see much, except for the fact that the horse was moving faster than they had ever thought possible. It was only when the horse and its rider were a hundred yards away from them that they realized who it was.
"Let me pass," gasped the rider, his usually well-kept golden hair flying around his head, "Please." The guards, straightening from their reverential bows, nodded. He had not needed to ask it of them; they had known since the day that their King was crowned that this particular individual was to be welcome in the city at any time.
"Open the gates!" yelled one of the guards, at the top of his voice. He was met with silence. "Now!" The groaning sounds of the large, rebuilt gates being pulled open filled the air. The guard turned back to the rider. "Would you like to take your horse to the stables, my Lord – " He was forced to jump back as the rider urged his horse to move forward, swiftly. "My Lord! The gates are not fully opened yet!" The rider paid no heed to him as he managed to get his horse to squeeze through the narrow gap in the gates, impatient to wait until the whole thing was opened. He did not glance back at the guards, who were staring open-mouthed at him.
The white horse cantered forward, not needing its rider's gentle touches to tell it where to swerve and when to avoid colliding with anyone; he had traveled to the city often, and knew exactly where his rider wanted him to go. It was just as well that the horse seemed to take command, as the fair rider was too caught up in his thoughts to concentrate. The buildings that flashed pass them as they rode on were blurred in his eyes, and he only barely acknowledged the fact that they were reaching the top levels of the city.
"My Lord!" The horse paused as its ears picked up the soft voice tinged with surprise. "Prince Legolas...?" The fair-haired Elf started out of his reverie, and looked to his side, to find that he was already more or less at his destination. He immediately got off his faithful horse, and bowed politely at the dark-haired female who had addressed him.
"Queen Lóthíriel..." he said, once he had straightened. Even as he stood there politely, his eyes strayed to the palace behind her. She must have sensed his impatience, as she stepped aside.
"Forgive me, I do not mean to keep you," she said, making sure that he could not see her sorrowful dark eyes. "I will see to it that your horse is taken care of...please, go on ahead..."
"Hannon le," said Legolas, gratefully, as he bowed once more before striding forward. (Thank you)
"Your Highness, he...is not in the Palace anymore..." said Lóthíriel, as she saw him move for the building behind her. Legolas paused and turned to look at her slowly, his face turning a shade paler as he did so. He opened his mouth, a pit of dread opening up inside him, waiting for him to fall in to it. "He is in the House of the Kings..."
She squirmed as she saw the despair in the Elf's bright blue eyes, and let out a sigh of relief when he turned around and headed in the opposite direction heading towards the Fen Hollen or the Silent Door, quickening his pace as he went – he did have to go down quite a fair distance, to get to the House of the Kings after all. The despair in the Elf Prince's eyes had reminded her of what she had gone through, fifty seven years ago, when her own husband and the King of Rohan had passed away.
There was a small crowd of servants and concerned people standing in the Rath Dínen when the golden-haired Elf reached it, and he was grateful when they stood aside, letting him pass. He had not the strength of heart to ask them if his fears were true; if the King had already passed on. He walked on, for what seemed like an eternity, before finally passing the House of the Stewards and thus reaching his destination. He walked inside, not stopping. The first person he picked out from the small group in front of him, at the very end of the House, was the slim, dark-haired mortal, and his face paled when he saw the items he had with him. The winged crown of Gondor and the scepter of Arnor! Valar, I am too late…he has already gone…
" - hear me?" The heir to throne of Gondor and Arnor - or rather, the new King as the items he held suggested, was shaking him gently, causing him to break away from his thoughts.
"Eldarion..." he said his voice hoarse, "Is he...?" A small wave of relief surged through him when the young-one shook his head, the serious expression on his face reminding him a lot of his father.
"Nay, but 'twill be soon…the time has almost come," he whispered, nodding behind him at the bed that had been specially arranged. "…Go," he said, softly, "He cannot hold on for any longer…" Nodding, and swallowing hard at the same time, the golden-haired Elf moved forward. He recognized the faces of the Lady Éowyn, the Steward Faramir, the Dwarf lord Gimli and covering his view of the figure lying on the bed, the Queen of Gondor. He was allowed to pass as Gimli, Faramir and Éowyn stepped aside to enable him to move closer to the bed.
He drew in a breath as his eyes fell on the King; on his best-friend and brother. The dark-haired man's hair had more traces of white than he had seen the last time he had been in his company, and there was an aura of wariness surrounding him as his chest continued to move with his slow breathing. His eyes were closed as though opening them pained them, and one of his hands was clasped in his wife's.
"Gwador-nîn…" he whispered, his heart heavy. The King's eyes fluttered open, the grey orbs taking a while to focus and to enable him to recognize who it was who had spoken.
"You…are late, Thranduilion…" he said, surprising the Prince with his deathly quiet voice. It was no longer the firm, loud voice that he was used to, although the warmth it had held when they first met was still evident in it. He attempted to smile, and managed a somewhat weak one.
"Forgive me...but I was finishing up the remainder of my work in Ithilien...I was due here in the White City in a fortnight, was I not?" The King nodded, remembering.
"You will...stay here, in the city, will you not?" he asked, his diminishing eyes scanning the fair Elf's face. "Will you not? There is no need to return to Ithilien...perhaps you can...take care of things here...?"
Legolas bowed his head. "Aragorn, you know I cannot do that..." he said his voice as soft as the dying mortal's. "My heart yearns for it stronger now, gwador. I cannot quell my longing for the sea anymore..."
"Aye, I had not forgotten that..." said the King, tiredly, "But I wanted to hope..." Legolas managed a slightly stronger smile as he listened to his friend.
"Why want to 'hope' when you are 'hope'...Estel?" he asked, watching as the King smiled warily, remembering their familiar rounds of teasing concerning his Elven name. Those times seemed to have taken place in an entirely different Age, as the two exchanged smiles; one dying and the other beginning to despair.
"It is time...I can feel it..." said Aragorn, as he turned his head to look at his grave Queen. "Do not despair, Lady Undómiel, fairest in this world...you do not need to dwell here alone. You have a choice; to go to the Havens and sail away into the West…taking with you only memories of our time together...or to accept the Doom of Men."
Her voice was soft and wavered as she tried to control herself. "Nay, dear lord...my choice was already made on the hill of Cerin Amroth. In any case, there is no ship left that will bear me to the West..."
"Our friend here plans on doing some ship-building; I am sure he can arrange for one to be made for you..." said the King. The Queen of Gondor turned to the golden-haired Elf for a brief moment, before shaking her head.
"I chose the Doom of Men, and I will abide by it. My father was right, I now realize, for the gift of Men is bitter indeed..." she said, tightening her grip on her husband's hand. The King shifted his gaze to rest of the people around him.
"My faithful steward...I only have two things to ask you; to aid my son in the same manner you aided me, for I have already spoken to him and handed him the crown and the scepter...and to continue to watch over the fairest of Rohan, your wife..." Faramir bowed his head.
"I assure you that I will do as you ask, my King...fear not..."
"Lady Éowyn...I pray that you continue to look after yourself. I trust that despair will not overwhelm you once more, with your family by your side..."
"I will not let that happen again, my liege-lord and Healer..." said Éowyn, lowering her eyes in sorrow.
"Ah, Gimli son of Gloin...dear, dear friend...how I shall miss our days as members of the fellowship..." said Aragorn, squinting at Gimli with a smile on his face, "I am honoured to have fought by your side."
Gimli, moving over to the other side of the bed placed a hand on the man's shoulder. "It was a great pleasure to watch your valor in battle, Aragorn," he said, his gruff voice unable to conceal one tremor. "Though I still find it unfair that you were almost as swift on foot as the Elf over there..."
"Almost, Gimli, almost..." said Aragorn, nodding at him, before turning to his other side, "Thranduilion...alas, for this is where our journey and decades-old companionship comes to an end..." He paused, breathing slowly, before allowing something akin to a smirk to form on his face. "Am I seeing things, or is your hair...unkempt?"
Legolas' eyes widened slightly, as he automatically raised a hand to smooth his hair down. "I made haste to the city...and was thus riding very fast..." he mumbled.
"So it seems that the Greenleaf is not perfect after all. Ah, how ironic that I am informed of having been correct all this time only during my last few moments alive..." said Aragorn, attempting to shake his head but stopping as he found it was difficult.
"Aragorn..." The note of despair entered the Elf's voice before he could stop it. "...The Númenoreans have always been granted longer life-spans than others, and you are no different. Why not hold on for a while longer?"
Aragorn fixed dimming grey eyes on his friend's blue, reading the desperation in them. "Would you have me live longer without any dignity, and without being able to move on my own accord?" Legolas knew his friend was right, no matter how much he tried to believe otherwise.
The Elf Prince sighed, as he lowered his blue eyes for a moment. "Nay, I would not..." he whispered, looking up with over-bright eyes. "Namárië, gwador-nîn..." His throat constricted as he clasped his friend's free hand. "For we shall...never meet again, perhaps not even when Ea is remade..."
Aragorn stared sadly at his friend. "Farewell, gwador..." he said feeling his sight dim, before turning to the quickly despairing Queen. "In sorrow we must go, fair Lady Evenstar, but not in despair. Behold! We are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!"
"Estel!" cried Arwen, as her husband's grip on her hand weakened. "Estel!" Legolas shifted his grip on his friend's other hand, placing two fingers just below his wrist. He held his breath as he waited for any sign of life...but there was none. He was gone. Forcing his emotion back, and with a heavy heart, he turned to the Queen, who was looking almost pleadingly at him.
"I am sorry..." he said, his voice soft. "He...is gone..." All those present bowed their heads in sorrow as they heard the Elf. Faramir clasped his wife's hand in his own, knowing that she would not openly display whatever grief she felt at the King's passing.
Gimli could only shake his head as he looked up and caught sight of the Queen's face. It was not the sorrowful expression on her face that frightened him; it was the lack of light in her eyes, which were once said to hold the light of life. She was lost without the one she had renounced her kindred and her immortality for. Legolas, standing beside the Queen, was staring at the King's still body, his blue eyes clearly portraying his sorrow. And behind them all stood the new King of Gondor and Arnor, clutching the scepter and the crown to his chest as he saw his father's dead body and observed the grieving people around him.
A number of days later:
"Namárië, ion-nîn..." said the still beautiful Queen of Men and Elves, and a soft smile graced her face for the first time since the death of her husband. She cupped her son's face in her hands. "The Reunited Kingdom will be safe in your hands, just as it was in your father's..."
"Naneth." Eldarion bowed his head, only raising it when he felt his mother drawing away from him. He watched as she turned around and left the room, her footsteps as light as ever and with her simple black dress trailing after her.
A part of him screamed inside his head, telling him to stop her, yet he knew that it would be of no use. She had made up her mind; why else would she not tell him of where she was going? He could not blame her, for he had heard of and seen for himself the great love shared by her and Aragorn, son of Arathorn...and of the sacrifices she had made - that both of them had made - to make their marriage possible. What upset him was that, ever since his father's passing, the light had been quenched from his mother's eyes. The Evenstar of the Reunited Kingdom had lost her light...and it was saddening to see her in this state.
"Be happy, my mother..." he whispered, to no-one in particular.
A short while later, after taking leave of her daughters - and turning a deaf ear to their pleas for her to remain with them - and of her friends Faramir, Éowyn and Lóthíriel, the dark-haired Evenstar made her way to the stables. Evening was upon Middle-Earth as she spotted the familiar building not far from where she was, and to the people she passed on her way, it seemed as though the star-light she had brought to the city with her was gone...forever.
She entered the stables and headed for the horse she had been gifted with after her old steed had passed away. The black horse, Lómëlin as she had named it, neighed upon sensing her presence. Relieved to find the place deserted, she headed towards Lómëlin. The horse nudged her slowly, prompting her to stroke its neck softly. Her mind started to wander as she stood there, stroking her horse. Memories of her time with Aragorn replayed themselves in her head, and she was lost in them.
"You are dressed for a long journey..." The soft voice startled her and she whirled around, surprised to find that she had to blink the tears out of her eyes to actually be able to see who had spoken. She relaxed somewhat as she saw the fair Elf standing before her, dressed not in the dress-robes he had been given, but in his riding clothes.
"And so are you..." she said, softly. Legolas, observing her pale face and the red areas around her eyes, averted his gaze and focused it instead on his own horse, in the stall opposite the one they were standing before.
"I mean to leave," he said after a while. "There is one last matter that I need to tend to before..." his voice trailed off. The dark-haired Evenstar understood.
"There is nothing that keeps you here anymore," she said, slowly. "The bond of friendship that held your longing for the sea at bay is no more, so there is no need for you to remain..." Her voice caught in her throat. "You wish to leave."
Legolas turned back to her, a soft reprimanding expression on his face. "And is that not what you wish to do? Is that not the reason why you are leaving the White City tonight, never to return?" He saw her blink back her tears, and sighed inwardly. "Forgive me, Arwen, I am not in a proper state of mind..."
"Nay, you did nothing to ask for forgiveness, mellon-nîn..." said Arwen, once she had taken control of her voice. "I - I just did not think that you would leave...so soon..."
Legolas turned away from her again, lest she saw the extent to which he was grieving. She did not need to be upset any more than she was. "I intend to visit my father...in Eryn Lasgalen," he said. "I have not seen him since..." he stopped. "...Well, for a long time."
"And neither have I seen my father," whispered Arwen, so softly that she thought Legolas wouldn't hear her...but he did. The two stood where they were, in silence.
"Eldarion will make a wonderful King...his people, from what I was able to gather, greatly respect him," said Legolas, after a while. Arwen nodded.
"Aye and he will do whatever he can for them," she said. Just like Estel...Legolas seemed to have been thinking along the same lines, for when they looked at each other, the grief in their eyes was common. "'Twill be our last meeting, Thranduilion," said Arwen, "I pray that you will be well, cunn..." (Prince)
"Aye...and I wish you a safe and uninterrupted passage to your destination..." said Legolas, touching Arwen's cold cheek with his hand. Arwen returned the greeting, and, as the Prince felt the coldness of her hand on his face he knew in his heart that she would not have to suffer for much longer. The Doom of Men...would claim her within the next year or so. "Valinor shall grieve for the light of the Evenstar it could not obtain."
"And yet, Valinor shall have the light of the morning-star, of the Lady Galadriel," said Arwen, bowing her head and withdrawing her hand from the golden-haired Elf's face. "Farewell, Legolas Greenleaf. Nai tiruvantel ar varyuvantel i Valar." (May the Valar protect you on your path)
"Farewell, Arwen Undomiel..." said Legolas, and he stood aside as she walked into her horse's stall, and mounted Lómëlin after attaching a small traveling bag, probably containing some clothes, onto the saddle. "Ride on..." he saluted, as she kicked the black steed's sides, urging it forward. The Evenstar of Gondor did not spare a backward glance at the White City as she rode away.
Calendar of Imladris
Coirë (Sixth season; Stirring):
The group of Silvan Elves stopped upon their Prince's command, and immediately started calming their steeds down. It seemed as though the Eldar were not the only ones who mourned for the lost beauty of the Golden Woods. The woods around them, once golden as the Elven dwellings in Valinor, were now dark...and seemed to withhold some brooding, melancholy element. It was ironic to note that Eryn Lasgalen, the place they had just left, was brighter than the golden-woods.
"Your Highness?" questioned a brown-haired Elf, wondering at the Prince's change of route and sudden halt. "Is something wrong? Do you see something...?" The golden-haired Prince jumped gracefully off his horse, still not taking his eyes off the path before him. "Prince Legolas?" He turned around, startled.
"Is something wrong? Is that why we...have stopped?" asked the Elf. Legolas stared hard at his companion, before shaking his head.
"Nay, nothing is wrong," he said, softly, turning his eyes back to the path. "Though I fear that we shall have to halt our proceedings for a short while...there is something that I must do..."
The Elves exchanged confused glances. "Halt our proceedings here?" questioned another Elf. "If you do not mind me asking, your highness, what could it be that you must do here, in this dying land?"
Legolas' shoulders sagged somewhat as he stared ahead of him. "I..." he stopped, unsure of what to say. "There is...someone I wish to pay my respects to..."
"I see..." said the first Elf, "And...do we know the dead one of whom you speak?"
"...Yes..." whispered Legolas.
"Mayhap we can come with you, then, to the site of the grave?" Legolas shook his head. "Your highness, do you know where the grave is?"
"Nay, I do not know for sure where it is, or whether it is here in the first place," he said, softly, "But...I have a strong feeling...that I am right in my assumption..." He turned back to his confused men. "Wait for me here," he said, "I will not take long." Before his men could protest, he was walking forward, leaving his horse behind.
"I suppose...we should do as he says..." said one of the Elves, although he did not look too happy about sending his Prince into the mourning woods alone - the Prince was mourning enough, although many months had passed...he did not need the mourning of the remaining trees in the woods to affect him.
The trees whispered to him as he walked past them, telling him of their grieving, and of the slow death of the wood. As much as it affected him, the Elven Prince kept his mind focused on what he had set out to do, and kept moving. He knew his way around the woods well enough to know where it was.
After what seemed like a long time of traversing through gloom, despair and darkness, he finally reached his destination. He was standing in an open space with grass that had lost its previous richness of colour, but which looked much better than what he had walked through on the way.
Turning to his left, he immediately spotted the great grass covered mound. The two circles of trees that once grew on it, one of silver leafless trees and the inner one of the beautiful mallorn; were now sparse, as many of the trees had withered away, even the golden mallorn-trees. Yet, a silvery mist still surrounded the mound. The white flet built into one of the tallest trees in the circle, was still present as the tree had not withered like the rest. The array of colourful flowers that used to grow on the hillside was sparse, compared to the limitless niphredil and elanor that he had been used to seeing, in the previous Age.
"Ai, Cerin Amroth...time has not been kind to you, the heart of Elvendom on earth..." whispered Legolas, genuinely feeling sorrowful. To him, it seemed as though the place did not do justice to the significant events that had taken place on it; events such as when the Heir of Isildur and the Lady Evenstar plighted their troth, many, many years ago.
As he wandered to the grassy slopes of the hill thinking that he was mistaken after all, he was forced to stop in his tracks. For there, right before him, was an area that was unlike the others. The grass was of a somewhat healthy green and - what was most surprising - the yellow elanor and the pale niphredil bloomed freely around a certain area...seeming to form a sort of outline around - Valar! The Prince ran forward swiftly, being careful not to disturb anything around him.
He stopped short when he saw the still figure that the flowers had surrounded, as though for protection. A gust of wind blew across the land, rustling clothes and plants. The dark dress of the still figure together with her dark hair contrasted with the gold and pale flowers that grew around her...creating an effect of sorrowful beauty. The Prince knelt down before the dead body of the Evenstar, his mood somewhat lightening as he saw the expression of peace on her now frozen face. At least she found what she was looking for...
"Undomiel...this is where you chose to lay down and await your doom...in the heart of Elvendom," he said softly, brushing his fingers against one particular golden flower. "Alas, for soon, gloom and despair will completely take over these woods, and none shall be able to pass through...and see your resting place." He bowed his head, his brows furrowed in thought, when his eyes caught sight of something to his right, away from the flowers. As he leaned forward with his arm outstretched to clasp whatever it was, he recognized it, and his blue eyes widened.
For there, attached to a silver chain and glistening as it used to, was the white Evenstar - the symbol of the Elf-maiden. As he held it in his hands, marveling at its light, he understood why Aragorn had never worn the necklace after his marriage and how he was wrong to have thought that the Ranger had probably forgotten or misplaced it; he had given it back to its owner. The light of the Evenstar illuminated his face, and a sudden thought came to the Elf-Prince. He looked towards the dead Elf-maiden, and clutched the pendant tightly in his hands.
"I pray you will hold no grudge against me...for what I plan to do, Undomiel," he said, wondering all the while why he was speaking to her as if...she could hear him. "I know not if I will be allowed to cross the seas and pass to the West, like many of our kindred did...yet, if I am successful, I know of one who will be in need of the light of this Evenstar...one who would wish to have it in his possession..." He paused, remembering that he was speaking to the dead...and that he would get no response, positive or negative.
He stood up, still holding the pendant and necklace in his hand. As he did so, a refreshing gust of wind blew once more around the grassy slopes. He inhaled the scent of flowers and dew, and smiled sadly. "I pray you will find your Estel, Undomiel, 'ere the end of the world..." With a last respectful bow, he turned his back to Cerin Amroth and walked away, knowing in his heart that no-one would come this way again. She was at peace...at last.
The Elves waited patiently for their Prince to return - well, as patiently as they could, for the gloom that surrounded the woods affected them greatly. And it did not help when all that their horses wanted to do was to leave the dismal place.
"I am going after him," said one of the Elves, at last, moving away from his horse. "He has been gone for far too – " He stopped when he saw the familiar figure walk towards them.
"Your...highness?" The Prince looked up at the concerned note in the Elf's voice. "Are...you well?" Legolas nodded, albeit sadly.
"Aye..." he said, before glancing up at the skies. "'Tis getting late...we should be on our way..." He stroked his steed's neck soothingly.
"Did you...find the grave you were looking for?" asked one of his company, as the rest exchanged more confused glances. The Prince nodded.
"I did..." he said looking towards the path he had just come from. "And I shall be the last to do so...for the way will be shut shortly, as despair takes over the woods..." With a last look to the woods, he mounted his steed. As he did so, the Evenstar that he held in his hands was made visible to the Elves nearest to him, and realization dawned on them.
"Alas, then, for the beauty of Luthien Tinúviel has indeed left this world for good..." said a dark-haired Elf. Legolas glanced at the pendant in his hands, before he tucked it into an inside pocket of his tunic.
"And yet, she will be able to rest in peace...and for that, we must be grateful..." With that, he turned his horse around, and they started moving forward. "Come, we must make haste to Ithilien..." My heart cannot defy its longing for the sea anymore...
Phew, that was long, I know...but I hope it was good! I completely depressed myself when I re-read it...and I'm sorry if I did the same for all of you...
Note: I know that, in the books, Arwen gives Frodo the Evenstar to remember her and Aragorn and to ease the pain his wound will cause him in the future, but I just changed that particular fact as you probably noticed. In this, Aragorn gives the Evenstar back to Arwen after they are married, and she takes it with her to Cerin Amroth.
Oh, and can you guess who Legolas plans on giving the Evenstar to? It's to Elrond, who'd be missing his daughter. Plus, if Legolas does make it to the Undying Lands and gives it to Elrond, it would be a sign, telling him that his daughter has indeed passed away.
Concerning the Calendar of Imladris, it had six seasons as opposed to the usual number. They consisted of Tuilë (spring), Lairë (summer), Yávië (autumn), Quellë (Fading), Hrívë (winter) and Coirë (Stirring). This was taken from Appendix D, in 'The Lord of the Rings.'
A list of the Sindarin (which is hopefully correct) used in the fic:
Gwador – Sindarin for brother; as in a dear friend who is more or less a brother.
Gwador-nîn – Sindarin for 'my brother.'
Ion-nîn – Sindarin for 'my son.'
Cunn – Sindarin for 'prince.'
In Minas Tirith:
Fen Hollen (The Silent Door): The only entrance in Minas Tirith, on the sixth circle, to the Rath Dínen (The Silent Street).
Rath Dínen (The Silent Street): Can be accessed by the Fen Hollen. It's where the Dead are kept. I.e. The House of the Kings: where the dead Kings are laid to rest. The House of the Stewards: where the dead Stewards are laid to rest.