Yes, believe it or not, I still have intentions of writing primarily in the Lord of the Rings category. I guess I just needed to step outside for some fresh air, and this is what my break brought me. I'm proud of it, actually, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

And yes, this does follow my other LOTR stories. I just decided to place it far ahead. However, it can be read without reading any of my others, so don't feel like you need to read everything just to understand this. Enjoy. :)

Suggested Listening: River Flows in You, by Yiruma.

Disclaimer: I no own Lord of the Rings. Rawr.

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Hope Will Guide You
"Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all
Is to see life as it is
And not as it should be."
-Don Quixote

Watching from my perch on the cold, stone wall that was much too rough on my fingers, I couldn't help but crack a smile. That dwarf was making this whole process much harder than it really needed to be. With age came fragile nerves, I suppose, something that I did not envy the mortal ones. They could keep their blindness and illnesses, their deteriorating memory. I would take eternal youth for all of my life. It was just a shame that that life was doomed to go on unto the Ending of Days.

I say doomed not because this life is wrong or that I am unhappy with it, but because all things must come to an end eventually. I saw no justice in forcing everything to depart this world, while we, the Elves, were allowed to see and witness all happiness and death that plagued us. Where was our ending, after all had passed?

A gruff shout from my companion drew my eyes to him and the scene he was causing. Apparently, he was not appreciative of the elves' attention. Shaking my head, I called to him:

"You put up such a fuss, Gimli! Cooperation may allow us to leave sooner," The very thought shot a pang of grief and uncertainty through my heart. The dwarf spat something in return, but I did not pick up on it. Was this what I really wanted? Was I ready to leave Middle Earth? Mirkwood?

Home?

The feeling was like an angry fist clenching my chest, pulling me in the direction of my woodland sanctuary. But now, despite all the years, all the lives I have lived on this earth, that part of me was no longer what called to me. Rather, it was a new sound, a new urge that ruled me now; the sound of waves, of gulls crying high above, and the salty tang of the air that engulfed my senses. That was my new master, and I heeded it like a peasant to his king.

I had prolonged this moment for as long as I could, and now there was nothing here for me. Everything I knew would be left behind, but I tried to convince myself that I would be gaining more than I would lose. My family waited for me on those far shores, having given in to the call sooner than I was ever ready. Every day, the sound of their voices beckoning me haunted my thoughts, but I could not leave yet. There had been business here that needed tending to.

But now, that business had been accomplished. I had no more anchor.

"Oi, Legolas!" The dwarf's voice again disrupted me, and I looked up at him again. He was standing by our ship now, shifting from side to side. Whether that was anxiety or his old age, I was not sure, nor did I think to ask. He waved his awkward hand in the air as though I couldn't see him, "Get yeh pointy ears down 'ere! "

My fingers lingered longer than necessary on the stone that would have been unwelcome in any other situation. But that last touch was what mattered more than anything else. It was only a shame that it was stone, the building blocks of the Age of Men, that I last felt beneath my fingertips and not the comfort of wood and water that had protected me in my youth.

As I approached my old friend, I saw his eyes crinkle up even more than they already were, "Are yeh alright, lad? Yeh aren't rethinkin' this, are yeh?"

I shook my head, "Of course not. I'm just lost in thought."

He was suspicious, I could tell, which he had every right to be. I was never so uncertain in my long life, yet eager at the same time. It would be so easy to return, to turn my back on the sea and take my place again at the head of my people. The people that had slowly diminished to nothing except for a few who could not give up the old ways. The people who would fade into the darkness and become nothing but shadows roaming a world that was once beautiful and alive.

I could not become like that. It wasn't my fate. And it if was, I would do all in my power to change it.

A powerful clap on my back almost sent me flying into the water. I stared in surprise at my friend, wondering where he had found the strength. He offered me a reassuring smile, disregarding my display as melodramatics.

"Don't you be worryin' about this. What help did a bunch of trees ever give yeh, eh? Yeh've got yer real home waitin' for yeh on those shores," Gimli said, "Yer family's more important than rotted logs and sticks."

The dwarf told me nothing that I didn't already know, but it helped to hear him say it. At least I knew I was making the right choice. This would not be a mistake that I couldn't undo. Eru knew I had made enough mistakes to satisfy a lifetime of men.

I smiled at him in return, placing my hand on his shoulder a bit gentler than he had, "Thank you, my friend." He grinned, laughing roughly, and plodded across the plank to the ship as though our brief conversation had never passed. I could not understand how this could be so easy for him. What was it that made him so confident and me so… afraid? I fancied the belief that he was more hopeful for the future than remorseful for the past.

When I touched my feet to that wooden plank, it struck me that I had just stepped from the land I loved for the last time. The realization was worse than I had anticipated so that I had to grasp the flimsy railing to steady myself. It didn't occur to me when I did it, that it was the final time, and I wanted to go back and do it again just so that I could relish the moment. I would have if I weren't afraid I wouldn't return to the ship that would carry me to the far gray shores.

"Yer lookin' a bit pale there," Gimli said softly. Well, as softly as a dwarf could. I am sure he was right, but that was only a minor reflection of what I was feeling inside. For the first time in many years, the whistling of wind weaving through dark trees overpowered the harsh cry of the gulls above the crashing waves. I almost turned back, and I believe it mirrored in my face for but a second, but then the sound of home was gone. This was my true calling, I knew. My destiny lay here among the rough, sand-worn rocks and the powerful grasp of the sea.

"I think your old eyes are playing tricks on you," I jested as I closed the gap between him and me. He lifted his head to watch me pass by, "Come, Gimli, we must be on our way. I am eager to see my family again."

The familiar grin slowly replaced his cautious frown, and I was glad that I had appeared to put him at ease.

Before I knew it, the gray ship was set loose from the docks. The white sail, like a banner, caught wind, pulled taught against the mast. I turned my eyes upwards to watch it flap about, like clean linen sheets put out to dry by the women. I leaned against the railing, laughing as Gimli bustled about with the stubbornness that he possessed in his younger days. The rocking did not sit well with his stomach, he said, even though we had not been at sea for more than twenty minutes. I told him that if felt the need to… relieve his stomach of its contents… that he was to refrain doing so against the wind.

It was when the Grey Havens were but a small outline to dwarven eyes, yet still crystal clear to mine, that I turned back. Just for that moment, I shut my eyes, and I was back in the beautiful forest I called home, running through the trees with my brothers and sisters before so much evil had even been heard of. The good and bad memories were still there, fresh in my mind as if they had happened only yesterday, and I knew I would never forget them. They were what made me who I was, what made me proud to call myself elfkind. There were those that I would leave behind, the friends from distant lands that had added some diversity to my life, and a brother that chose to become a shadow, but I knew in my heart that one day, we would be together again. While they and I lived, there was a never ending love that linked us. Through the plagues and wars of time to come, a beam of light would pierce the darkness and be the beacon that led us.

Despite everything brought upon this forsaken world, and all the trials we must face, there would always be hope.

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There ye have it. Hope you enjoyed reading, and I hope you found the music as beautiful as I did (if you opted to listen to it). Reviews are welcome and encouraged, flames are not. Thanks for reading!

Until Next Time,
Manwathiel