--
And the Night Shall Pass…

by Aranel Laerien
--

All seemed hopeless, nay, all was long hopeless. But Aragorn led them on and so they went. Legolas lay back on the ground, more weary than he had ever been, and enduring till now only for the love of the man.

He let himself drift, recalling how Arod, the horse of Rohan refused to enter the Paths of the Dead, and only stood, shaking and sweating, quaking so badly no one had the heart to bid him budge. Finally, Legolas had covered the stallion's eyes and sang an ancient elven song.

"Fear not, my little one,
though dread may stain the grass,
Hope shall lead us to safe haven,
and soon the storm shall pass.

Cry not, O dearest one,
e'en if darkness masks the stars,
Hope shall lead us to the morn
and soon the night shall pass."

The horse had then calmed enough to be led quietly through, supported by the strength of the elf.

Then everything changed.

There was something stirring in the dark, and Arod panicked beside him. Arrows flew around them. There were screams and neighs everywhere. Aragorn was barely holding out in front; there was an arrow embedded in his knee. Gimli, beside him, had disappeared. Legolas raised his blade to deflect an arrow, only to feel another one strike through his arm. He grit his teeth and plodded on.

Then, Legolas gasped as something struck Arod, and the horse reared and struggled. He turned, horrified as he saw how the arrow had been deadly true. Everything seemed so surreal as Arod stumbled in mid-step and collapsed.

"And thus you lead me to damning death!" the horse cried out with its last breath as Legolas only stared in frozen shock.

Legolas jerked at a soft tap on his shoulder. He blinked. All was quiet. It was as if all life had stopped. The Dead were still around and none felt compelled to speak or even to sigh. Legolas blinked again. Gimli had turned and was looking at him with deep concern. He wondered why, then realised that his brow was dripping with sweat.

Legolas brushed it off, shook his head reassuringly at the dwarf and lay back in thought. He could feel Gimli still shifting uneasily, as were most of the Dúnedain around them. Finally, he abandoned all thoughts of rest, walked a distance and sat atop a small rock.

He could see the horses, all of them uneasy, but nevertheless refreshing themselves in slumber, gathering their strength, determined to follow their masters to the end. Only Arod was awake, softly nibbling at some grass.

Legolas turned away.

The great standard Halbarad had brought floated lightly in the night. There was little breeze, little that could penetrate the dark, dank dread around them. Even with his elven sight, he could only see faint tracings on the standard Halbarad had brought from Arwen, but he knew in his heart what it was. Those very tracing that reminded Aragorn of his destiny, of one who loved him, of why he must fight and gain complete victory and return.

Legolas turned to see the man, frowning deep in sleep, straining to recover what rest he could. He could almost see how the burden weighed on the human. More than ever, he longed to be beside him, to give him the reassuring smile, to show him the light when all seemed dark, to give him every last measure of strength he had. Though he wondered how much he truly could give.

A soft gruff scuff broke the silence, but he paid it no heed, as he sat, mesmerised by how the standard stood tall before the stars. The standard drifted again, flurried by another tepid draft of wind. It was fascinating how it seemed to be waiting impatiently to be unfurled in all its glory.

Legolas exhaled softly. He ought to have his rest too or elven though he was, he would be of little support to the men. He walked resignedly back to where the others slept.

A small yellowed parchment lay under the stone he had lain on. He picked it up gingerly, read it. Then his faced changed. He turned to where the dwarf was pretending to sleep and almost laughed out.

"Hope shall lead us to the morn
and soon the night shall pass," it said in coarse scribbling.

Legolas wondered if Gimli knew the song those lines were from, or even if he knew what the prophercy meant. But what did that matter? For love of Aragorn, Legolas would follow the man to whatever end.

Dawn would come and their company would push on, and after that, into battle. But for now, there was unwavering rest.