WARNINGS: Dark themes, character death implied.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: You may find this much darker than most of my writing. Sometimes you just have to listen to the muse and hope someone else finds the beauty in the shadows.
A Song That Was
By Nieriel Raina
Sometime after 120 Fourth Age
Always there has been a song within me, echoing through my spirit and springing forth to express the deep places of my heart, be it joy or sorrow, fear or discord. But no more.
There is simply nothing now, just an empty echo of a song that was. Will I ever be rid of this heaviness in my soul? Will the pain ever fade to nothingness? I have long given up any hope of replacing it with joy.
Standing high above the ocean, I can feel the sea breeze tugging at my hair, twining the strands in their dance, a dance that once caused me to feel something, but no longer. The music has fled.
Looking out across the wide expanse of blue and purple shadows I feel nothing. For how can one feel when one no longer has a heart? True, my body still lives, the blood still flows within my secret paths, pushed by inner workings that some have called a heart. But this is not truly life. It is simply living death.
It does not surprise me when I sense their presence. My family worries for me. They will keep their distance; they have learned the futility of reaching me in this place between life and death, for I am neither living, nor dead. To live would be to feel, to breathe, to have life. And I cannot abide that. But neither can I allow this body to pass from the world.
'Promise me…how difficult is that?'
Even now I can hear the gruff voice, the growl in the words spoken through aged lips. A pang shoots through me, and I welcome it. Pain keeps me sane, though many would argue that point alone as proof of my insanity. I laugh, a cold, empty sound, neither mirthful, nor joyous.
'More difficult than you can imagine, elvellon; and if you understood, you would not ask this of me. But you do not…CAN NOT fathom what you wish of me, and so in this, I hold you blameless.'
And to this day, I keep to that promise. I place no blame on him. He could not grasp what it meant, this request of his for me to live. He did not understand that I would die the day he took his last breath, even if my body kept breathing where his had ceased, my heart keep pounding though his had stilled to stone.
'I swear to you I will remain until the end.'
'That is well, Legolas. Then I may die in peace.'
And that was all that mattered to me then; all that matters to me now. He passed to where I could not follow. Even had I ceased to exist in this land, our lives were doomed to be sundered. This I knew before I ever befriended him, and yet, I still offered my friendship, my love. I took him as the brother of my heart, and never have I regretted it.
He thought I gave him a promise to remain. Instead, I gave him peace in death. I could not give him the truth; that I would simply remain a cold, lifeless shell with a beating heart; a useless instrument with no song to sing.
I inhale deeply, drawing the pungent, salty air into my lungs. It soothes me and torments me as it once did on other shores, when white birds circled overhead calling my name. It is no longer the sea longing that haunts me, however. It is the memories - the memories of his care, his concern.
My lips turn upwards in a smile I do not feel. It is simply habit, to smile at the memories of my brother-in-arms. But it is the pain those memories bring that offers me comfort, keeps me going, keeps me remembering, keeps my heart beating.
I have never broken an oath to him; nor shall I fail in this, my last promise. So I allow it to consume me, to fill me; and finally, I can feel the wind on my face, hear the cries of the gulls overhead, the sound of the grasses rustling in the breeze.
Wet warmth streams down my face, and I moan. I can feel, oh yes, I am not truly dead. And I revel in the feelings, wrap them around me like a blanket as I sink to the earth and allow them to haunt me – faint strains of a long forgotten song.
My family will come, and I will wake once again in my own bed, surrounded by concerned and anxious kin. But for now, I am no longer here. I am there, on the other side, and next to me walks my friend, my brother.
And from deep within I hear something. Not an elvish song, but something deeper, steadier. And suddenly, I find myself not singing, for song has fled, but chanting something I heard long ago….
'The world is grey, the mountains old,
The forge's fire is ashen cold;
No harp is wrung, no hammer falls:
The darkness dwells in Durin's halls;
The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-dum.
But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep.' (1)
'Just making sure you are still here, elvellon.'
'I told you, Elf. I will always be with you, if you bother to look deep within. You have the heart of a Dwarf, Legolas, for all that you are an Elf.'
I smile. It is enough.
: - :
Elvellon – Elf-friend
(1) Chanted by Gimli in Moria.
JRR Tolkien, A Journey in the Dark, The Fellowship of the Ring.
Thank you for reading. Please review!