The Sword of Deedralon by White Wolf|
Disclaimer: Middle-earth and Tolkienís characters are his creations. All else is mine, mine, mine!
Summary: Legolas and Aragorn solve a puzzle that leads them on a search for an ancient sword. They soon learn, however, that finding it was the easy part.
The body of a man lay face down on the ground at the edge of a swift-flowing river. His arms were stretched out over his head, and his feet were embedded in the soft mud.
Moments after the man had taken his last breath, two riders approached from the west. As soon as the body was spotted, they halted their horses.
Aragorn dismounted and walked toward the body so that he could check for signs of life.
"Be careful, Estel," Legolas warned. "It may be a trap."
Sadly, that was a distinct possibility. Middle-earth had become such a dangerous place that even a man lying on the ground, might prove to be a personís undoing and had to be approached with caution.
Aragornís first glance was to the manís hands. They held no weapon. Reassured that this person was not a threat, the ranger lowered himself to his knees and bent over the body. "Heís dead," Aragorn said after a quick examination, "and he didnít die very long ago."
That last statement put Legolas, who was still mounted, on an even more heightened alert. It was possible that whoever was responsible, if anyone else was, could still be nearby, ready to pounce on them, too.
Aragorn turned the body over on its back. "Thereís no sign of any wounds." The ranger looked out over the swift current he was facing. "This close to the water, my guess is he probably drowned ."
That piece of news managed to relax the elf only slightly, as he continued scanning the area all around them. He didnít see anything out of the ordinary, nor did he sense any danger. Still, his keen eyes never stopped checking their surroundings.
"His clothes are those of a traveler, but they donít reveal us his place of origin."
"Then we may not be able to inform his family of his passing, though they will surely figure it out eventually." Legolas hoped his words didnít sound callous. It was not how they were meant.
Aragorn didnít notice anything wrong with what Legolas had said, concentrating instead on his own thoughts. "Maybe thereís something in his pockets that might give us a clue as to who he was or where he came from."
The stallion Legolas was riding shifted just as the elf looked down once again to scan the muddy bank to see if he had missed anything that might be there. Something metallic flashed in the sunshine and caught his eye.
Legolas dismounted and walked over to a rock that sat a few feet away. When he bent down, he saw a chain of finely-crafted links half buried in the wet soil. When Legolas moved the rock, he was surprised to see a gold pendant resembling a five-pointed star attached to the chain. He picked it up to examine it more closely. In the smooth center was the engraving of a sword. Despite its tiny size, its blade were intricately etched with designs. Turning the star over, Legolas found what, at first, looked like a random pattern of lines, some straight and some curved. He stared hard at the gold piece, trying to decipher the meaning behind the tiny engravings but couldnít make any sense of them. A longer inspection brought no new insight.
Aragorn had become curious, when he saw that Legolas had been the one to find something that might shed light on who the man had been. He quickly joined his friend. "What have you found?"
Legolas handed the chain and pendant to the ranger to investigate for himself.
Aragorn took the offered object and looked at it. "Itís hard to see all the designs on the sword, but you can tell the real thing must be exquisite, if it even exists, of course. Iíve never seen anything like it." The man looked at Legolas. "I wonder if it does exist or if itís just an artistís rendering."
The elf shook his head. "What do you make of those lines on the back?"
Aragorn turned the pendant over and carefully examined the lines Legolas was referring to. They were just as confusing to him as they were to the elf. "I have no idea."
"I cannot say why I feel this way," Legolas said, "but I think it means something. The whole piece is too beautiful and the sword too detailed for the back to be just random lines. They have to mean something."
"I agree." Having said that, Aragorn tried again to make sense of the lines, turning the pendant in all directions in hopes that some recognizable pattern would emerge. However, no solution to the mystery came to him. He handed it back to Legolas, who put it in an inside pocket of his tunic.
"We need to bury this man and then move on," the ranger said.
Their task done, Legolas and Aragorn mounted their horses and rode up toward the ridge above the river. This was one time they wouldnít have to get wet; they were headed the other way.
Legolas and Aragorn reached the top of the ridge a little less than half an hour later.
They stopped momentarily, overlooking the scene below where they had buried the man just outside of the line of trees at the base of the ridge.
Legolas frowned, as he stared downward.
Thinking his friend was sad at the death of the man they had found and the fact that they had no clue as to who he was, Aragorn said, "At least, we were able to give him a decent burial, something he would not have had, had we not come by here when we did."
Legolas didnít seem to hear the ranger. Instead of answering, he reached inside his tunic and pulled out the pendant and began looking from it to the far horizon and back again several times, turning the piece of gold each time.
Aragorn was going to wait until the elf explained himself, but his curiosity got the best of him. "Have you found something?" he asked, excited at the prospect that the archer actually may have made a discovery.
Legolas handed the pendant to Aragorn. "Look at the lines and then look out there." He swept his hand across all that lay before them.
When he did as he was bidden, Aragorn sucked in a breath. "I donít believe it." He looked at Legolas in wonder. "The lines match up with everything we can see from here, the turn of the river, the horizon, the forest to the right and the hills behind."
"It is a map," the elf declared simply.
"I think youíre right. The question is: a map that leads to what?"
Not sure but taking a guess, Legolas told Aragorn to turn the pendant back over. Then he pointed to the sword. "See how it points, not straight up or to the side, but at an angle. It is pointing to the northwest, and that is where the sword, which I believe is probably ancient and may well possess special powers, can be found."
Aragornís fact lit up. He was once again amazed at the elfís ability to make such leaps of logic. Most times such logic proved to be accurate. "Itís a treasure map,
and the sword is the treasure."
"So it would seem," was Legolasís only comment. He knew without asking just what his friend was going to say next.
"Care to do a little sword searching?" The grin on the manís face was unmistakable. Legolas had certainly seen it often enough. "I have nothing else planned, at the moment."
Aragorn held the pendant up in front of him and then looked out at the hills to the northwest. "Letís go."
As Aragorn turned his horse to head in the agreed upon direction, Legolas reached out and gripped the manís arm. "Are you not forgetting something?"
Raising both eyebrows in a look that mirrored Lord Elrondís, he asked, "What?"
"Where do we look? There is no mark on the engraving to indicate the location of the sword."
That was a detail that had totally escaped the rangerís attention, and he had the good grace to look sheepish at his oversight. His shame lasted all of ten seconds before he looked again at the pendant. Frustrated, he said, "I still see nothing to how where it might be."
After a moment of close scrutiny, Legolas sighed. "I think we go that way," He was pointing to the northeast.
"Now that piece of logic youíll have to explain to me."
"The sword has to be the key. Looking at it from the front, it points northwest. Turning the pendant around, the sword points northeast. And," he smiled at the ranger, "the point of the sword itself corresponds with the second hill on the map side. See?" He held the gold piece up so Aragorn could satisfy himself that the elf spoke the truth, at least as much as his logic could tell him.
"You are a very bright elf," Aragorn told his friend.
Legolas just laughed and turned his horse to descent the ridge.
As the two companions approached the second hill that they had pointed out earlier from the ridge, Legolas groaned. It had become more and more apparent, as they got nearer, that the hiding place for the sword could only be in a cave.
That fact was confirmed when they began walking up the hill and discovered a group of boulders behind several stunted scrub trees.
"That looks promising," Aragorn grinned.
No one would have known the entrance to a tunnel existed there had they been more that a few feet from it.
Aragorn gave his friend a sympathetic look and put his hand on the elfĎs shoulder. "Iím sorry, Legolas."
"I am not surprised. Finding a dead man can only lead to something as disturbing as having to search for something we are not even sure exists and do it inside a cave." He stared at the small opening and sighed. "Tell me that the sword will be found right inside this entrance."
Aragorn hooted in laughter. "You donít want me to lie to you, do you?" he inquired. Legolasís wish was just too easy to be true. If he only knew.
Both elf and human crawled into the small opening. Much to Legolasís relief, he found that the tunnel soon enlarged to the point that he and Aragorn could walk upright with no difficulty.
The meager light from entrance had long disappeared by the time a blue glow was seen up ahead.
"Thatís strange," the ranger commented.
After several minutes, they reached the end of the tunnel. The blue light had gotten more intense.
Aragorn moved past the elven warrior and found himself standing in a large opening and looking down into a cavern over a hundred feet across. In the center was a large hole about ten feet wide, and in the center of the hole and rising up ten feet was a column of flame, blue in color. It was this flame that cast the blue glow in the tunnel and the cavern.
The two friends stood on a ledge several dozen feet above the cavern floor, which was relatively smooth and level.
Aragorn surveyed the room carefully. There were no people, no fell beasts, no other animals present, only the flame.
"There," Aragorn said, as he pointed to their left at a narrow stairway roughly cut out of the stone wall and still attached to it on one side.
Legolas and Aragorn carefully worked their way down. When they reached the cavern floor, they stood side by side, facing the blue flame that dominated the room.
Legolas took a few steps toward the flame. "Magic resides there." The prince was certain that he was right. In an effort to reassure his friend, he added, "It is a good magic, not of the Dark Lord."
"That's good to hear, Aragorn remarked.
Suddenly, out of the flame came a feminine voice. "Only he who has the key may approach." The blue color deepened as each word was spoken.
"Key?" Aragorn asked. "What key?"
A few seconds went by before the voice came again. "If you do not have the key, you know not what you seek."
"We seek the sword," Legolas stated, as he boldly walked forward and looked into the depths of the flame before him. He felt no foreboding.
"Legolas," said Aragorn, "we don't know who she is. It could be a trick," the ranger said frankly to his friend. "I don't mean to dispute your idea that the flame is good. It's just that we should proceed with caution."
"I believe she understands who we are," the elf spoke with complete confidence. "Look around, Estel. I do not believe we can find the sword on our own. Someone needs to helps us, and there is no one else here but her."
"Legolas is right." Glendonna used the name she had heard the man call the elf. "I am the only one who can reveal the secret location of the sword you seek." The voice was soft yet powerful.
Trusting in Legolasís trust, Aragorn walked to the edge of the hole. He was within seven feet of the flame towering above him, yet he felt no heat. He stared hard, trying to find some hint of a face or a form in its depths. There was nothing but the swirling blue flame and the bright sparkles twinkling all through it.
"Who are you?" the man asked.
"I am Glendonna of Deedralon," the voice answered.
Aragorn turned and looked at Legolas, who only shrugged. "I do not know it," he told the man, as he, too, studied the flame. "It is no realm that I have ever heard of."
He directed a question to the mysterious woman. "Are you Firstborn?"
"Yes, but you would not have heard of me or my home. Morgoth saw to that. The entire realm of Deedralon was wiped from Middle-earth and from all memory, not long before Morgoth was banished.
"That Dark Lord chose not to destroy my whole family, so he sent my spirit here and imprisoned me in this flame. As an added cruelty, he made sure my father knew that I would be trapped here for all of IlķvatarĎs Song. He also made sure that I would be aware of all the events in the world outside this cavern but would never be able to participate in any of it."
"You've been here for many millennia," Aragorn said. "I can't imagine being trapped in this cavern for that length of time. It is like a tomb."
"Will you tell us of the sword?" Legolas asked.
"It is the Sword of Deedralon, forged by my great-grandsire. It became the symbol of our realm, whose inhabitants fought the Dark Lord - and lost." The sadness in Glendonnaís voice was unmistakable.
The flame continued to swirl and sparkle. It was almost hypnotic to the ranger. He shook himself free of his near trance before saying, "The sword is here in this cavern." He felt sure he was right.
"Yes," Glendonna confirmed. "But I cannot open the vault that contains it. Only the key can do that."
"You mentioned a key before. What key?" Aragorn asked again.
And again Glendonna did not answer the question but asked one of her own. "Without the key, how did you find this place?"
Glendonna was suggesting that it was the key that pointed the way to this location. Then the answer suddenly dawned on Legolas. He smiled and then pulled the pendant from his pocket and held it up toward the flame and the womanís spirit within it.
A light tinkle of laughter burst forth. "So you do have the key. I see it is on a chain. What a clever disguise to make it appear to be a simple necklace."
Still needing answers, Aragorn asked, "Where did the pendant - or rather, the key - come from?"
"My father had it fashioned when the war against Morgoth began going badly. He anticipated what Morgoth might do, and he hoped that someday the sword would be found and Deedralonís existence and its fate would be known in the world. He had no idea, of course, that I would be cursed as its guardian. The realm died fighting evil. People should know that," Glendonna declared emphatically.
"Yes, they should," Legolas and Aragorn said in unison.
The archer and the ranger looked at each other and grinned, both thinking that the dead man must have known what he had in his possession. He may even have been on his way to search for the sword when he encountered the river.
"Since you have the key, you will be able to recover the sword." Glendonnaís heart was gladdened that these people, who she discerned were good, had shown up to claim the ancient blade.
"Come closer," she told Legolas. "Reach out and put the key into my flame."
The elf moved a step nearer to the hole. He held the pendant in front of him and then reached out until the flame surrounded his hand. His skin tingled, but the feeling was not unpleasant. The golden metal began to glow until it became so brilliant it was almost too bright to look at.
The wood-elf felt a tug, and the pendant pulled free of his hand and floated in Glendonna's flame. Slowly, it rose until it cleared the top of the flame, and then it flew straight up toward the ceiling another twenty feet above.
As it neared the top of the cavern, a depression in the rock was revealed. Legolas had no doubt that its size and shape would perfectly match that of the pendant.
He was proven right, when the stare-shaped pendant settled easily into the depression and began to spin, first slowly and then faster and faster. A small stone panel opened, and a golden beam came down to touch the top of the blue flame. All through the beam were the same sparkles that Glendonna's flame contained.
Soon the intense anticipation of elf and man was rewarded when the Sword of Deedralon came floating down the beam. It finally came to rest in the same spot where Legolas had first released the pendant into the flame.
"Take it, Legolas. It is yours," Glendonna said. "Perhaps now Middle-earth will learn that there was once an elven realm called Deedralon that stood for justice and freedom." There was a deep pride reflected in her voice.
Legolas reached out and pulled the sword from the flame. It was surprisingly light considering its size, and it was the most perfectly balanced sword he had ever held. The elf stared at the finely crafted blade in wonder, as he traced the intricate designs etched there with his fingers.
Glendonna watched the elf. "You are the first being to touch that sword in countless centuries."
Legolas felt privileged, as he studied the gold and silver hilt with its inlaid pearl grip. It was every bit as exquisite as he had imagined it would be.
With a small smile, he handed the sword to Aragorn. Being a swordsman, the ranger was definitely one who could appreciate the craftsmanship of such a weapon.
The cavern was quiet and all seemed serene, when without warning, the cavern began to shake. The vibrations were so sudden and so violent they almost threw Legolas and Aragorn both off of their feet.
A large hole was blasted in the stone wall right below where the two companions had entered the cavern. The explosion assaulted their ears and stone dust billowed into the room.
Shocked, they each whirled around and stared into the gaping hole to see what had caused such a disturbance. What they saw in the next moment all but froze their blood in their veins.
"The Witch King," Aragorn said in total disbelief.
The huge, faceless creature entered the cavern and stopped several yards in front of the hole he had just created. "My master feared someone would one day find the sword. I am surprised to see it is no one of any great importance."
Neither elf nor ranger, though frightened, were not so much so that they were not offended by the insult. However, they were both prudent enough not to react. They would both need to keep their wits about them.
Gathering his courage, Aragorn asked, "Why would Sauron waste his time on a sword that has no magic and is no threat to him?"
"Let us just say that he is not willing to let a symbol of insurrection resurrect the memory of a long-forgotten realm of dead elves."
"That curse was Morgothís. How can it be a harm to Sauron?" the elf asked.
"Nothing can harm my master," the Black Captain spat. "I am here to destroy the sword once and for all, and I will do what I must to see that its existence remains a secret from the world."
Legolas supposed that Sauron didnít want the sword to become a symbol of hope to anyone that might oppose him now.
Legolas made a decision. It was time to fight! He suddenly leapt forward and swung the Sword of Deedralon, that he had just taken back from Aragorn, at the Witch King.
"Legolas!" Aragorn shouted with pure horror.
So surprised was the NazgŻl leader and so swift the elf, that he only had time to raise his arm in front of him. When the sword came down, it sliced into, but not through, the armor there. Even that affront enraged the King of Minas Morgul.
There was no face to register shock, but that emotion was clearly evident, as the Witch King took a step back and cried out. Whether is was from pain, if he could even experience that feeling, or from anger, no one knew.
It was clearly fury now that drove the imposing creature forward. His black sword swung down and almost took Legolasís head off, but the elf had managed to lean out of the way just in time. He felt the breeze caused by the blade, as it missed his left ear by no more than an inch.
Aragorn had drawn his own sword and had advanced to stand beside his elven friend. The two brought their swords to bear in unison, but both blades were easily blocked by the NazgŻl.
"You cannot defeat me," he roared, swinging his sword upward and moving the other two blades aside.
He reached out and swept his arm around, catching Legolas on the chest and pushing him down. As his arm continued to move, the Witch King opened his hand and grabbed Aragorn around the neck. "Drop the sword, elf, or this one dies here and now."
The ranger struggled, twisting his body and pulling at the spiked gloves of the NazgŻl to try and get free, but the iron grip was just too strong for the man to break.
It took only a second for Legolas to drop the Sword of Deedralon, as he came to his feet, fear for his friend written clearly on his face.
Despite his desperate struggle, Aragorn was dismayed to see Legolas disarm himself.
The Witch King laughed and threw Aragorn aside like he was no more than a rag doll. He never even looked to see where the ranger landed or whether or not he was attempting to continue the fight.
The NazgŻlís attention had turned to the elf. "I believe I will have a little fun before you die."
He grabbed both sides of Legolasís head and jerked him around to stare into the emptiness of his spiked helmet. Uttering several words the elf did not recognize, the Witch King then released Legolas and turned him to face the ranger, who was dazed but slowly getting to his feet.
Legolas retrieved the Sword of Deedralon from where he had discarded it and walked to within a few feet of Aragorn. The dark haired young man started to pick up his own sword, when he stopped short, frozen by what he saw.
Legolas's head was slightly lowered, but his eyes bore into Aragorn with an intensity that made the man flinch. They were cold, the brilliant blue rimmed with red. The look of murderous loathing coming from the elf sent a searing pain into Aragorn's heart. "Legolas?"
"Now you die, human." The words came out of Legolas's mouth, but it was not his voice. It was as demonic as the Witch Kingís and sent a cold chill down Aragorn's spine.
"Legolas, no. You canít let him control you. Fight him. His curse is not stronger than your heart. You know this, Legolas. Do not let him make you give in to his will. Please, mellon nin," the man pleaded, "you must fight him."
But it was no use. No words, even from the brother of his heart, were going to break the spell the Witch King had placed inside the elfĎs very soul.
It broke Aragornís own heart to realize that this being was no longer the friend he loved. This figure in front of him had become the Witch Kingís slave. The wood-elf's free will was gone.
Aragorn never dreamed that Legolas could become a weapon against him. And no one had more knowledge of the ranger's fighting skills. They had fought side by side and back to back for years. What better way to make sure the man died than by using a being who knew him so well and who he would be reluctant to kill?
Aragorn told himself over and over that the person standing in front of him was not Legolas. It was a creature now belonging to the Witch King, and it was bent on his destruction. Yet the hope remained strong that the elf could be saved, and Aragorn was determined to do it.
Legolas raised the Sword of Deedralon with both hands and waved it menacingly back and forth, seeming to taunt the human.
Without warning, Legolas lunged forward and swung his sword at Aragorn. Instinctively, Aragorn raised his blade in defense. The sound of metal on metal rang out, echoing off of the stone all around them.
Legolas swung back across the other way, and Aragorn once more met the blow. Again and again, Legolas swung the ancient sword, faster and faster, keeping Aragorn moving backwards and barely able to keep his balance.
It became apparent to Aragorn just how much danger he was in. His sword had already taken several severe hits, and he feared it would eventually break. If that happened, he would be reduced to fighting with daggers, and that would spell certain doom.
The Witch King had stood back, not interfering, because he wanted the elf to kill the human. It was proving to be a most entertaining battle.
Legolas swung again, and Aragorn moved to meet the elfís blade. A full ten inches of the manís sword went flying away, clanging as it skidded across the stone floor.
Aragorn would now have to fight with a shortened blade. How much longer the battle would last, he had no idea, but he didnít think it would be long now. Had he ever really had a chance? He doubted it. He knew that in a matter of minutes, Legolas would surely disarm and then kill him. And if Legolas didnít, the Black Captain would.
Aragorn had no doubts that the Witch King would turn on Legolas and kill him, once the elf had fulfilled his current purpose.
The Witch King was thinking along the same lines. Once the human was dead, he would destroy Glendonna and the Sword of Deedralon, which he believed Morgoth should have done long ago. He would end forever all possibility of the knowledge of the ancient elven realm ever coming to light.
The wood-elf moved a couple of feet to the left, as he swung his sword back and forth the way he had before the fight began. His intent was to let the man know he was being toyed with.
Out of the corner of his eye, Aragorn saw the Witch King standing in front of the hole in the wall. His arms were folded across his chest. Aragorn could imagine a sneer on the NazgŻlís face, if he even had one.
Aragorn then saw something else. The powerful creature held a silver chain, the length dropping to the floor and coming up behind Legolas. Aragorn looked closer and saw the other end of the chain around Legolas's neck. He hadnít noticed that before. ĎWhy would Legolas also need to be on a chain, if the Witch King had him under a controlling spell?í Aragorn asked himself.
Without an instant's hesitation, Aragorn dove to the floor and rolled past Legolas. He came to his knees and raised what remained of his sword above his head. The young man brought the blade down with every ounce of strength he possessed.
Seeing what was about to happen, the Witch King screamed in rage and started forward but not before Aragorn's sword hit the chain in a shower of sparks and ringing metal.
Legolas had turned and was about to bring the Sword of Deedralon down on Aragorn's head, when the ranger's sword hit the stone floor, completely severing the chain. Legolas froze. His scream almost matched that of the Black Rider.
Another scream was heard in the cavern. This one belonged to a woman. It was accompanied by a blue ball of fire that shot out across the cavern and hit the Witch King squarely in the chest, sending him flying back through the hole he had entered a few moments earlier. As the large body hit the rock wall beyond the entrance, rocks that had been loosened earlier crashed down, burying the Witch King beneath them.
Not understanding what had happened but not taking the time to sort it out, Aragorn dropped his sword and grabbed Legolas just before the elf could hit the floor. The chain was still securely around his neck, and it was that, even though it was severed, that the man believed was causing the elfĎs body to convulse.
Aragorn pulled one of his daggers out of his belt. Since the elfís trembling body was leaning against Aragornís chest, it left the manís hands free. Thus he was able to use one hand to place the tip of the knife into one of the chainís silver links. He used the other hand to hold the chain securely, allowing him to put enough pressure on the link to break it without it digging into Legolasís skin.
It took a great deal of pressure to break the link. For a moment, the ranger thought that the metal was not going to give way, but it finally did.
Aragorn dropped the knife and turned his full attention to his friend. He spoke soothing words of encouragement to try and bring the elf back to consciousness. However, it soon became apparent that the elf would need time before he could recover enough to be roused.
Aragorn held the archer close and looked around him. All he saw was Glendonnaís blue flame and the hole where the Witch King had stood. "What happened?" he asked, like someone who had just woken up to find his world turned upside down. That idea wasnít far off the mark. "Whereís that Morgul monster?"
"He has been rendered helpless," Glendonna explained.
"I didnít know you had that kind of power."
"Nor did I," Glendonna admitted. "My rage at what that creature was doing allowed me the to do what was needed to stop him. I believe that spending so much time in the magic of the flame has given me some of its power. As for the Witch King, his incapacity is temporary. He will recover."
Aragorn turned back to look down on Legolas, who was pale and whose breathing had become shallow and slightly labored. With a pleading look in his eyes, Aragorn asked Glendonna, "I fear he may not survive without intervention. Can you help him?" The man was a healer, but what had happened to Legolas just now was totally out of his sphere of experience.
"I will try. Lay him down," Glendonna instructed, "and back away." She could read Aragorn's emotions. The combination of happiness that Legolas was free and the desperation to help his friend was emanating from the man in waves.
Aragorn didnít want to let go of Legolas, He knew, however, that holding on to him would probably hinder whatever Glendonna had in mind to do, so he gently lay the elf down and moved back several feet.
Glendonna's flame deepened to a hue close to that of a midnight sky, and then a beam of a soft golden color slowly approached Legolas. It covered him head to foot, as sparkles floated all through the beam.
Aragorn barely allowed himself to breathe, as he stared in wonder and concern. After several minutes, the beam withdrew, and Aragorn let out his breath.
The man bent down beside Legolas, as the elf opened his eyes and looked up. "Estel."
The man smiled. "Donít ask," he told his friend, knowing full well the first question the elf would ask. "Iíll explain it all later. Do you hurt anywhere?"
"No. I am not in any pain." Legolas sat up, took a deep breath and then struggled to stand.
There was no use trying to keep the elf down. Aragorn knew that full well. Besides Legolas seemed to be all right, so Aragorn helped him to his feet.
No sooner had Legolas said, "In fact, I feet pretty good", than his whole body shuddered.
Alarmed, Aragorn declared, "Youíre not all right."
"Yes, Estel, I am. I was just remembering the Witch King looking at me. I couldnít see a face, but I still felt his hateful stare. I cannot begin to tell you the terror he struck in the very center of my being. He spoke strange words, and that is the last thing I can recall." Legolas looked around. "Where is he?"
"Thatís part of what Iíll explain later. Right now I think weíd better get the Sword of Deedralon and leave here before that NazgŻl wakes up and comes after us again."
More than a little confused, Legolas nonetheless nodded and then turned to the blue flame. "Thank you, Glendonna," he said with a smile. "I have a feeling that whatever happened to the Witch King, you had something to do with it."
"I am pleased to have been of service," the soft voice said. "You do not know what it means to me that others will soon know of the existence of my home. So I thank the both of you."
"We hate to leave you here all alone again," Aragorn told Glendonna. "It isnít fair that you should still be punished this way."
"Do not worry for me. My guardianship of the sword was meant by Morgoth to secure my confinement here forever. But now that the sword has been released from its secret prison, I have been released to find the peace I was due millennia ago."
"Go with our deepest gratitude," Aragorn told the woman.
Glendonna's flame began to deepen in color, and the golden beam that had healed Legolas moved up toward the ceiling. The flame began to swirl faster and faster until it shown a brilliant white. It became a small column and flew up through the hole where the sword had been hidden. Just before the light vanished from sight, the words, "Farewell, my friends," echoed through the cavern. Then all was silent again.
Only the hole that had held the blue flame and a faint glow remained to show that this had been more than an ordinary cavern set inside a nondescript hill.
Legolas and Aragorn stood staring up at the spot where Glendonna had disappeared. They were both very happy she was finally free.
Once the two friends had reached their horses, Legolas said, "I noticed your sword is quite a bit shorter than when I last saw it. That, I am sure, is part of the story you will tell me. Is it not?
"Well, yes." What else could the man say?
Legolas handed the Sword of Deedralon to the ranger. "Then you should carry this, at least until we figure out what to do with it."
"My father will know," Aragorn said with a smile. He had grown up believing that Lord Elrond knew everything.
"I do not doubt it."
"I think this has been the best adventure weíve had so far," the young ranger said, as he and Legolas mounted their horses.
"So far?" the elf questioned. "I do not believe I want to experience one that could outdo the one we just survived."
"Of course, you do," Aragorn replied. He gave his friend a wide grin. "At least, we did survive it," he pointed out.
The two friends rode west toward Rivendell to deliver the Sword of Deedralon to Lord Elrond and receive his sage advice on its future.
For his part, Legolas couldnít help but think that now he and Aragorn would be targets of both the Witch King and the Dark Lord Sauron himself. He feared they would be hearing from those two, most likely sooner than later.
Even so, the existence of Deedralon was a secret that needed to be exposed, and he was glad that he and the ranger were the ones that would do it.
As the two increased their pace, Legolas said, "Do not forget, you owe me an explanation of just what it was we survived."