Travel as the Sun

by Mirwalker

6. To sails and sunsets (& postscripts)

The morning meal was set fireside, as the day had begun cool and the hearth had burned low but not cold in the night. The table was spread again with sliced goods and whole fruit, bolstered by hot breads and warm broths to counter the dawn's chill.

First came Gimli who, finding none else yet there, took his steaming mug and toured more of the dwarven-carved halls now home, for the time, to the wood-elves. Under crystal torches and growing sunlight he recognized some features portrayed to him in unkind terms by his father, Glóin, and other companions of Thorin Oakenshield. Theirs, the last visit of dwarven-kind to these halls, had been not as guests, but under guard. Their stories had described the space in terms only of its use against them—they whose forebears had made the tunneled palace a gift to the Wood-elf king.

He did not find the scattered cells in which the dragon-hunting party had been held, as they had been placed well separated and hidden throughout the palace. Searching those, he wound his way deep and down to find the storeroom from which that same company had been set adrift by an invisible hobbit so many decades before. Though he knew of no prisoners held this day, he noted that even still, the empty casks sat open until checked, sealed and tipped through the trapdoor—a precaution for which his own father had helped make need.

From there he let his eye lead his feet from sweeping arch to clever cantilever, from intricate doorframe to seamless threshold. Even as he admired the craftsmanship of old, enjoying it through the reclaimed friendship in which it originally had been built, he felt the need to return to his own mountain home, now so close after so long. Knowing how he would answer the king's offer, he wandered twists and turns with a growing joy, and only thought to return to breakfast when his cup ran dry.

On his return to the Great Hall, he found Dunthon seated alone at the table, with a sparse plate and a full but cooling mug of tea before him. Approaching, Gimli was surprised there was no mark of recognition despite the elf's sharp ears, his own heavy step and the telling echoes of the wide hall. "Good day, young elf," he said from a safe distance, not wishing to startle his friend, host and fellow warrior.

"Bright morning, Gimli," answered the elf dryly, not looking up. As Gimli took his seat uncomfortably, Dunthon looked up slightly and made a point of casting a pleasant smile his way. "You needn't fear surprising me, Gimli. I am not a serpent coiled to strike, no warrior primed to spring at the slightest start. Besides, I welcome your company this morning, as it appears we shall dine alone…" He fingered a slice of thick bread spread with sweet fruits, and nodded to the empty seats beside him and at the table's head.

"Legolas is…?"

"Summoned by his father, to hear the morning's guard reports. Galion met us on our arrival at the gates."

"So while the king and heir converse, we humble warriors may dine at leisure," smiled the dwarf, trying to bring some mirth to the morning.

Warming slightly at the generous gesture, Dunthon sipped his cup and played half the role Gimli assigned. "Humble indeed, friend dwarf, and honored to be counted by you among the warrior fold, though I am not. Not in the history of this Hall, nor the company of your line and axe."

Taking the polite disagreement as a good sign, Gimli pressed on. "You are perhaps too modest, Dunthon, for only two nights ago did this space hear told of your courage in defense of your king and crown prince. I have met enough of your fair folk to know that elven kings do not make festival songs in honor of no ones. Eh, Ecthelgedon?"

"Thranduil is generous with his words, and also now with his deeds. But festival songs and newborn legends are rarely full in their facts."

"Pray tell then, arrow-maker, what acts did pass that day? We have perhaps some elven time while the royals share, and I am sure we will find you a finer fighter than you suppose in the telling."

Dunthon stared at Gimli wryly, and quietly laughed defeat at the axeman's artful turns. "You do speak more sweetly than any dwarf of which I have knowledge. Perhaps you spend too long a time among we of songly speech. Yet, very well, I shall share my recall of Ecthelgedon's creation, as it pleases you and as we may have some time this meal."

Gimli served himself a hearty plate of elven fare, and settled in for favored tale of friend and fight. Across from him, Dunthon took a final sip of tea, and recounted, "I traveled with the king in that small party to the south outposts, brought along to deliver fresh arrows to the forward guard and to return with those needing repair. As was his wont, he and Arandrandaur, his elder son and heir, led the way and they spoke quietly to one another of the tides of war. We dozen others held our tongues and gave them some distance, heavy with arrow bushels as we were.

"As we passed the Greater Fallen Oak, the prince noted that the black squirrels had gone still and silent, and we all at once fell ill at ease. The Enemy had learned well in the battles before, and applied both his cunning and his creatures there for he laid them all against us as he had not thought to do before.

"We were set upon quickly by a force of crossbowed orcs, who hit the prince and three others of our company and divided our party in two. Lest we have the arrow stores they carried, the fallen were snatched, dead or nearly, by the detested spiders who also lay in wait around. Legolas' brother was not so wounded as not to defend himself at first, and his father was at his side. The rest for our part defended self and sires as best we could, shooting shadows or soldiers equally in the darkened wood as our companions fell and were fetched.

"Three royal guards and I gathered against a fallen bough, resisting until even our carry-quivers were empty. Our numbers so reduced, the orcs came boldly now, so that we fought them sword to shield. One knife I threw and stuck a shrieking spider to its tree; the other I kept in hand and used my quiver as shield and stick, blocking and smashing while I stabbed and slashed.

"In short time, I realized that only the king and I remained. Across the clearing, he stood over the fallen body of Arandrandaur, and wept as he protected it, calling in Quenya, 'Two sons, a wife –a family all, I have given to this world! For the final offering of my house, Darkness shall pay dearly!' He had prepared himself to finish his days on these shores where he believed his kin and kingdom now were ended.

"I leapt across the back of one advancing spider, leaving my knife buried deep in its squat neck and myself without a blade. Landing near the king, he turned to challenge me, but saw me kin not kill. Yet he knew my face in an instant, and he hated me for proving him wrong even in this, his final stand. Despite his words, family-he-would-not-claim survived still, and came to extend his own life now promised as curse upon the glamhoth.(1)

"I had come to him, and was met not with words of welcome but of wrath. 'You earn not your name, Autumn Bringer,' he spat, as we continued to fight the foes now recovered from my unexpected arrival. 'Let your winter come on me at last, and end the anguish you have brought upon my house.'

"'In keeping with your worth of me,' I called back as corpses piled about and live bodies pressed around. 'I must disobey, my king. I herald not of death, and will not let you welcome it. Instead, we both await the return of our golden spring, and he will return to us if we will but hold for him.'

"We glared at one another between blades and blows, as the attack renewed on legs both two and eight, when arrows in scores reigned down upon them from above like a sudden summer shower. The forward guard had sensed our plight and come looking with every available man and woman, surprising all.

"In that combat and confusion, I never saw the spear or orc that took me; nor know why I stepped before the king as I did. I recall only that his eyes grew wide and his sword swept up as an icy fire danced through me and all went dark." His face fell blank after the battle's passion, as he relived the moment of charge, pain and sleep.

"They say the spear was poisoned to act so swiftly, though no other blade was so charmed that day. The king, in his usual way, believes it therefore meant especially for him. He feels no anger now that I should steal his gift, and calls me, smiling, Ecthelgedon to honor my service."

A blush passed across his face at both the honor and its cost. "We do not know how many orcs we felled that day, as the fleeing spiders carried off even their remains; foe and friend making equal food for them. Little difference it makes really, as no count would equal the lives we lost, no victory ease the grief of father and liege.

"Still, from that and all our losses, some good has come. Darkness did fall soon after; the king sees me now with favor, not fury. And through all these changes, Legolas now may have his chance to make his mark on king and kingdom. If only…," his voice fell off as his gaze drifted toward a beam of sunlight that had jumped now to the table in its steady crawl across the room.

"If only…?" Gimli asked, taken again by Dunthon's rushed return to melancholy.

"If only he would stay," came the soft reply from the Hall's shadows, as the summoned prince stepped into another sunlit spot.

"Oh," started the dwarf, so captivated by the fletcher's story that he had not heard the archer's approach. "Good morning, Legolas. Are you to travel?"

Dunthon's head snapped up to see what decision would be delivered here, his hands on table's edge in anticipation of the decree.

Legolas moved toward the table, shifting his eyes between friend and love. Standing before them, he finally rested his gaze upon the latter though he spoke to the former. "I must sail West, Gimli; my time has come."

The dwarf seemed unsatisfied, as, "All your people are leaving these shores. We have heard so from Elrond, Celeborn and Thranduil alike." He looked to Dunthon for some common clarity, but saw that Dunthon's eyes had dropped forlorn into the feast.

"Indeed," agreed the fourth elf-lord named that day. "But I shall take the gray ships sooner than most, for the sea's song has named me in a summons no elf can refuse."

"An elven 'soon' or mortal 'soon'?" asked Gimli, keen that he did not grasp the certainty of the messages that sat so heavily at the table with them. Looking between the two for some detail, he added, "I had hoped to host you both in my home beyond the lake and perhaps that we might all visit the halflings' holes beyond the Misty Mountains…"

"I cannot say more surely than 'soon,' for my family do not wish it and my friends likely will not. And yet I cannot ignore the call to sail." He and Gimli both looked to Dunthon, who gripped the table's edge now more in anger than anguish.

"Not even under king's instruction of this morning, I presume. He would set out for the Havens today if he could, and he would have me beside if I would."

"The choice is then yours, my love," offered Legolas, stepping ever so slightly nearer him.

"I can no more travel now than can you tarry, Legolas," spoke Dunthon through his teeth—torn between the grace before guests and the honesty of his heart. "Though I wish to remain with you, I need to remain in my home and complete my work for it." Looking up at Legolas, as Gimli watched, "You may see your duty done through rightly valiant battles of these few years past. But much remains for me to do. The king requires his fletcher, for the woods are not entirely cleared of spite and spiders. And the Greenwoods need be made so again."

Legolas slid into the open seat beside Dunthon, who edged away as he listened. "The king has ample arrow stock and indebted neighbors to hold him through to sailing. Son of Thalcuon, you are more than your trade to him now, and ever more to me. Would you leave me for your workshop?"

"Once again, 'tis not I who leave," he responded coldly. Glancing at the dwarf who kept wisely quiet, he softened slightly. "You are the remaining son of the king, heir to the Oak Throne, the Metimon(2) of our people and dear to us all. For that and age's more you are special to me still. You are my prince, my friend and my beloved. And yet, you ask me to abandon the only home I have known, to rush from it to a home I am destined for and not yet desirous of."

He stood abruptly and stepped away from the table, as if to distance himself from the very issues themselves. "If it were in my power, I would be both ship and sea to you, my love. But I am no more than I am—a common wood-elf tradesman, born in and of this forest, which I could no more leave injured than I could you."

Legolas sat back in his chair, wrought with painful resignation. "We are at an impasse then, for I cannot expect you to follow though it pains me you will not. Yet, the farther from the shores I have traveled, the more sharp has become my pain. If I do not follow soon, I know not how long I may hold against it. I must either sail there or sleep here to the end of days—down either path, I will depart."

Dunthon could hear no more, and sank back into his chair with his eyes clamped shut and his hands over his ears.

Legolas looked to Gimli, in expectation of further argument and in hope of some support. Instead, he saw a most peculiar look up on the small, bearded face—a mix of clarity and confusion, overrun by excitement. "Gimli," he asked, unsure of what he saw. "Gimli, are you well?"

With elven ears unable not to hear despite his precautions, Dunthon looked up from his lap to see for himself what troubled his new, small friend.

As they watched, a wide grin spread across the hairy head, as the wide eyes focused on Legolas. "On the fields of Cormallen, you spoke of bringing some number of your folk there, to pass some years of men bringing blessings to those fair woods. And, if being far from ocean's swell brings pain upon you, then beside the Great River's waters might you find some relief? I am not so wise in the way of elven emotions, but could Ithilien be a compromise comfort between your love for the forest and your call to sail, at least for some time?"

Legolas sat upright in his seat, his eyes searching his own thoughts and feelings for their reaction. Dunthon, as if life returned to him, turned to see what hope he might draw the prince's face. And Gimli, unsure himself how hopeful his suggestion was, surveyed both for some sign as to its value.

After breathless moments, Legolas looked to Dunthon, always his ready ear in trying times. "Our people are to sail; 'tis not a question of whether but rather when. If I would attempt this delay, would you come with me this side path until we too can board our gray ship?"

"As you have argued, Lassë, all time on these shores now is borrowed. Your father has ample folk to start the mend here; from your telling, the border forests of Mordor have none." He knelt beside Legolas, taking the trembling hands in his, just as he seized this chance to stretch his stay in and service to Middle Earth. "We all indeed are leaving this familiar home and going into the West, a future I do not fully relish. Yet if we must go, let us not rush from it in haste, but rather show our love for this world in leaving some last and greater good 'ere we depart. We have each made his mark here; let us now make ours there."

"I can feel the sea calling in all my body; I cannot choose to ignore it," confided Legolas as his eyes poured painful evidence upon his cheeks.

Dunthon wiped them, taking the face in his hands. He did not speak, but met the stare with tears of strength in reply. Though they did not speak, Gimli could see the oaths and encouragements offered across their unspoken bond. It was silently but surely clear that Legolas would not face alone whatever challenges lay ahead.

Adding his own support to the cause, Gimli stepped forward and stood beside the two, promising, "And I shall match your will and work by leading some of my kin to Aglarond, and by offering our skill with stone and steel to my friends across the south."

With each word and wish they lay upon him, Legolas grew more calm and sure. The desperate and honest hope in his love and friend stoked his passion for each, his woods and his world. He clasped both, the dwarf upon his shoulder and the elf upon his cheek, and smiled broadly at the devotion he knew he must return in kind. Eyes still wet from joy over grief, he opened his mouth to speak… and turned abruptly to the Hall's back corner.

There, emerging from the shadows, walked a grave Thranduil. The solemn sovereign strode toward them. "Will the Prince of the Woodland Realm take counsel from a common craftsman and a stunted miner, over that of king and father?"

At his appearance and utterance, the building joy among the trio fled like frost before fire. Legolas answered with a question of his own, on the trio's behalf. "You heard this counsel?"

"Not that I needed hear to know that they would urge you to abandon your obligations here." The king halted across the table opposite them, and glared at them each and all. "Well, Legolas? Would you leave your people not only for other shores, but first for fields of kings of men? What of your purpose here?"

Dunthon stood and Gimli stepped to the side, glancing at the archer for some sign of his resolve and intention.

Marshaling all his bred poise, his learned style and his practiced strength, Crown Prince Legolas rose and answered calmly, "'Tis not disdain for our people that drives me from our world, father, but rather my love for it that shall keep me in it longer. Where Lorien and Imladris empty by the season, we Wood-Elves have nearly all remained in these groves, so settled to these shores are we. You may wear your crown of spring renewal, but we all know our forest is garbed in more honest autumn hues. Though our days are few, even by our measure of their passing, if Thranduil's people shall hold to these streams and skies, then I too shall hold a while."

Gimli gaped at the decision. Dunthon beamed with restored relief. Thranduil made no move or sound.

Unfinished, Legolas stepped toward his king with every fiber of his elven grace, royal authority and personal passion. "However, if we linger for love and labor, then I shall make my last stand for Ennor where I can aid it most, and that need is greatest, in my wider experience, in Ithilien. To challenge self in aid of our most beloved home—What stronger show of our- - of my devotion is there than that?"

His arms open in question, his tone rolled into a confident plea from child to parent. "For all our clashes through the centuries, father, I have not, in the end, crossed you on any decision. Yet, in this, our final acts in Middle Earth, I will not have you cite my proper duties for the silvan Elves alone. I too love this world, moreso now that I have seen it. If I must leave, can I not partake more of it, share it with those I love, improve it with them, and gather memories for the going? Lecture me not on this kingdom's trade and territory alone, for I am thinking of my larger responsibilities, of the greatest goods."

Legolas stood calm and steadfast. Gimli's gaze swung between the first lord and the latter born.

Thranduil clasped his hands behind his back, looked at each in turn, and finally smiled with all his gathered years. "Restoring the woods of Ithilien from Mordor's menace. Making a new silvan princedom upon Middle Earth. Leaving a living legacy of elven touch in sight of the man-king. What more royal roles than those? Indeed, what greater good could I ask than that?"

Three pair of eyes opened wide as this sudden shift.

The king mixed authority back into his amusement. "I have already my blessing given for this union, and what's more, decreed a date on which it shall come to pass. I would not be made a liar by any fellow or force, and so will make my first condition for this mission that you shall return here on the first day of the New Year next for your wedding."

Dunthon smiled, stepped up beside and took Legolas' hand quickly in his to confirm he was not dreaming this, and to affirm his desire for it.

Legolas gripped back with the same sentiments, but cocked his head in careful consideration. "Before consenting, father, you said your 'first' condition?"

"Indeed," nodded the king, stepping forward to deliver his further decisions. "I will no more command my people to travel to or toil in a foreign land, than I will my son to remain against his heart and will. Therefore, you may take only willing volunteers on this march."

Legolas nodded in agreement. "And?"

"And. My final provision is that you promise to sail as soon as your work in mortal's land is done." He stood before the princely pair, and placed a hand on the cheek of each. "I shall not have my final sons left behind."

Thranduil sat upon the small stone, high atop the palace mount as he had done daily for more than a thousand thousand days. Though the scene before him was one of serenity and living song, he knew that far beneath his feet and seat, the mountain passages bustled with preparations for the trading party to make for Laketown. Planning also had begun for Ithilien, for the first of many partings among his people as the Greenwoods began to empty of its Kindred people.

Long attuned to the subtle song of his realm and its inhabitants, he could feel the expected mix of joy and fear, of loss and looking forward. The Elves knew that it was their time to travel, and curiosity about the journey and the distant shores was growing. Yet, the mourning also was begun at having to abandon the only home and haunts they had ever known, the only they had forever known. Beyond his subjects, the king sensed the bittersweet anticipation of the trees, creatures, stone and soil beside and below him, out to the far reaches of his keen physical senses and beyond. The living woods pondered what the departure of the gentle step and soothing touch of the fair folk would mean; hesitation mixed with excitement as the inevitable absence loomed quickly on the same scale as the expansive land itself.

For his part, he wondered how he should handle these last tasks before him. The list was long, and his time, for the first time, was remarkably short. To repair the forest damage inflicted by flame and fiend in the Last War. To provide what assistance he could to the dwarves and men who would inherit the woods behind him. To remove all gentle intrusion of elven construction across the forest, restoring what had been in the all but forgotten days before even the ageless Elves. To prepare his own tunneled halls for the likely return of their makers, should Stonehelm or another dwarf lord so choose. To gather not his remaining sons to him, but rather send them forth into a world they should instead be making ready to leave.

Of all his daunting acts ahead, this last loomed largest before him. All others were under his direct command; but these last two had good minds and strong wills of their own. He had known his trees and trails for nearly two hundred generations of normal men; but his remaining family, he had chosen not to know well in that time. The land and lanes of his kingdom would sit still as he dealt with them and said his good-byes; but the youths made ready to fly beyond his reach and realm even as he sat and considered them. For the age wasted behind him, their parting to come would be most painful to his strong and seasoned heart.

Still, he gathered himself, inhaling the rising breeze that rode across the treetops, there are still some years before a final parting until the sea-crossed reunion he prayed would come. In the meanwhile, one of the princes approaches…

Thranduil did not look up or over as the voice called to him quietly up the slope. "Dunthon and I will accompany Gimli to Dale and Erebor as preparations begin here for the southern march. Yet, I go as more than friend to him, but also as royal representative. What tidings would you have me bring to men and dwarves?"

The seated figure smiled before turning to greet the request and its maker. "So you have embraced the role you were born to play, and now made to take?"

Legolas showed no such humor at the change, as he gracefully topped the crest and stood beside his father, sharing the view. As he spoke, he handed his father one of the simple goblets he carried. "I have accepted the challenge as my burden yes, but also as a bond to help hold me here upon this land against a growing strain."

"For that reason also, then, I am happy that you lay some claim to this stone throne," chuckled the king, tasting the fine vintage delivered him.

In a perfect duplication of his father's emotionless delivery, now his own regal tool, Legolas corrected, "I do not lay claim to a stone or throne you shall occupy until all our people have passed over the western mountains, plains and sea. Nor shall there be a crown to claim once we all have left these shores. Though it pains me to stay, I claim only what time I may in which to relish and restore the glens of northern Gondor. Do not give up your seat too quickly on my account, father; I choose it not."

"Then if you choose Ithilien a while over the Gray Havens at once simply to be contrary, you have failed to spite me or to know me. I do not want you to leave at all, my son, and thought I had made that clear." He laughed to himself, uncovering an additional insight, "That I should find myself allied with your Dunthon against your favored choice is quite the turn of states and seasons."

"I choose in my own right, for those important to me and not against any. I have chosen the hardest path before me, father—those dear to me over that destined for me."

"Though I wish you would remain and serve beside me in this, our home, I am proud that you have not chosen the simple path, to succumb and sail. As would your mother and brother be, I am proud of all you have achieved and acquired: a wealth unlike your father's, one not of treasure and trifles, but of experience, love, friendship and goodness. I wish you only more of that happy horde. And I will look for you to recount it fully with me in the Undying Lands."

Legolas blushed at this unexpected and long-awaited praise from his father and king. He was accustomed to such outright affections from Dunthon alone. To what depth indeed have they two spoken in my absence? He smiled nervously, sipped his wine and gazed out into the distance.

His mind turning to length of time, rather than sight, he spoke across their renewed relation. "Father, our folk have never crossed the sea; we have no memory… Your place in the Undying Lands, among the other elven lords, seems clear. But what will he and I, an archer and fletcher, find to do there?"

"I cannot speak for any of us there and then, ion;(3) my sight and scepter extend not that far. Yet, I must believe that life and love are good beginnings at your final journey's end. We shall leave much good behind, but have also much for which to look forward…"

With that thought, the two together—king and prince, father and son, fledgling friends—sat in good company and watched while the Sun sailed overhead, as it had for ages before and as it would for ages after they both had followed it. Each in his own time.

The couple sat side-by-side and hand in hand facing the sunset, perched a full two elves taller than any other tree around them. In their three thousand years together, this was only their second time atop the Greenwoods' tallest tree, though the ancient trunk and canopy welcomed them with easy familiarity. It seemed to sense the coming travel about them, and so rejoiced at the two princes at play among its branches, and especially at Dunthon's healthy and unassisted climb ahead of the fairer Legolas. Its years too fell away in their youthful energy, even as they turned their sights West and to years ahead.

Having finally settled and eaten their light meal in the crown itself, they sat quietly and allowed thought, dream and emotion to flow between them.

After a time, Legolas turned from the backlit moutaintop's grin to look at Dunthon and to nudge his shoulder. "You hold back now… Tell me?"

Dunthon knew he knew, but both needed it to be named. He entwined his arm tighter with the archer, moved closer against him and met the gaze with almost embarrassed eyes. "You know I am deeply glad that you will make the effort to remain a while. But I am a Greenwoods' son, and never have desired for other woods or walks. I must admit some doubt on this decision to make a new home before sailing, rather than remaining with this one until that time comes."

Legolas smiled understandingly, and stroked the troubled cheek. "My love, do not fear the world beyond these trees. I have seen and tamed it, and will be there beside you, steady shot and arm both. Come and see a little more of this world before we must leave it."

Dunthon nodded with this simple reassurance, trusting despite his doubts. Focusing on the task over his trembles, he turned his gaze past Legolas and strained southward as if to see this new forest in such need of them.

Legolas narrated, knowing neither had eyes so sharp as to see such distances even on the clearest and brightest day. "The woods there were sufficient to mask the Ringfellows from the Dark Lord's eye; but to Elves and indeed most others, they appear thin and threadbare, neglected and gnawed in Mordor's shadow. Were we to simply sit there, the mere presence of Elves would bring back some quick health. But I intend that we will take a more active hand in its restoring."

Taking up the hopeful spirit, Dunthon suggested that "Haldhoron will shed no small number of acorns this season; we should gather and carry some so that we may truly make it home."

Looking back to the returning spark in his companion's eyes, he vowed, "As we shall leave these woods to start anew another, I shall call it Dundaur(4)—the First Forest of the Westlands, and forever companion to Lasgalen. They shall stand together into the ages as testament to the devotion of the wood-Elves' love, of these elves' love," he explained, laying his open hand first on his own chest and then on Dunthon's. "Some part of us will never leave these shores. Some part need never do so."

Dunthon tipped his head to rest against Legolas', and they remained contentedly so for moments considering all the many facets of the future. As before, and often after, Dunthon felt the distant crash of a wave or call of a bird echo through their shared thoughts. The challenges ahead rushed back as if of stormy surf, and he had to ask, "Always there on our horizons… How long do you think you can remain?"

"I know not, for I have not yet tried," answered Legolas in an honest whisper.

"I know your heart and mind, my love. Even as you settle in this decision, the days play out ahead of you. You plan your battle against the mementos of Mordor, and our visits among your friends and Fellows." Dunthon drew back slowly, opening his eyes to meet the deep, sad and resolute gaze of his lifelove, already taking him in. In his own confidently ambiguous, royal tone, he observed and asked, "You measure your passing over against their passing away; you intend to wait for the last of them."(5)

Neither needed speak the painful truth. Together they had already accepted and agreed along that, their mutual path.

Dunthon gently kissed his archer prince, and wrapped an arm around his waist, asking "Sing to me once more, my love, of this world to which you will introduce me, and of that beyond where we will settle finally forever."

Legolas nestled against him as the Sun sank below the distant mountain range across the treetop sea, and gave voice to the song within him. As the Sun made its final steps West that day, he sang words that would accompany him, as would his beloved fletcher and devoted dwarf friend, for ten dozen years more, and then beyond the count of days.

"…Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,

Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,

In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,

Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!"(6)

Text Notes

1 Sindarin: "orc horde"

2 Quenya: "the Last" (here the 'last born'; from métima "last")

3 Sindarin: "son"

4 Sindarin: "west wood" (dun "west" lenited taur "wood")

5 See fanfic story "Immortal" by Gabrielle Lawson for an excellent and compatible story to this point.

6 From the song Legolas sang on the Field of Cormallen, at the end of Chapter IV of Book Six, in LOTR.

Name Glossary

Arandrandaur Thranduilion, late Crown Prince of Mirkwood: ar- "without" andrann "age" lenited taur "forest, king, mighty"

Ferien, late bowguard of Queen Mîriel and mother of Iavasulad: fer "beech (tree)" ien "maiden"

Galion, butler to Thranduil (from The Hobbit)

Iavasulad Thalcuonion, royal fletcher to Thranduil, later prince of Eryn Lasgalen

Idhrenard, spearman guard of King Thranduil: compound of idhren "wise, pondering" nardh "knot" (double 'n' elided to one)

Legolas Thranduilion, Crown Prince of Eryn Lasgalen: laeg "green, fresh; keen, sharp" las "leaf"

Mîriel, late Queen of Mirkwood: mîr "jewel" iel "daughter"

Thalcuon Thalolfion, late royal bowmaker to Thranduil, and father of Iavasulad: thala "steady, stalwart, firm" "bow, crescent"; and thala lenited golf "branch"

Thalind Bellerion, Captain of Eryn Lasgalen: thala ind "inner thought, meaning, heart" and bell "strong in body"

Thranduil Oropherion, King of the Woodland Realm (from The Hobbit)

Referenced fan fiction was found originally at The Hidden Archives, now offline. Some are available here on and at such sites as Parma Eruseen and The Trees Remember.