The Final Sense by Nautika|
He'd always believed that of the fives senses, hearing remained with you the longest. Throughout the years, as men died in his arms, he had whispered assurances even after they had ceased to breath. He sought to comfort them with the promise of a pain free existence. He reminded them of friends and loved ones who had preceded them in death and vowed they would be there to greet them. He prided himself that his voice was calm and steady, no matter what his personal loss, because his men would cling to that sound to give them courage. Now, on his own final day of life – for surely he could not last much longer – his world was silent.
He could see the leaves moving on the trees, but could not hear their rustling. He smelled the flowers, their scent carried to him on the same breeze that stirred the leaves. He tasted blood in his mouth, though he longed for a single sip of cool water from the nearby stream. Beneath his battered and broken body, he felt a rock pushing into his leg, and he felt the pain of his shattered bones. By some perverse reality, his hearing was the first sense to go.
It seemed he was doomed to die by the light of day – even the company of the moon and stars denied to him. Always, at the end of the day, he looked to the sky, knowing the moon above him was also visible to those he loved in other lands. The floating orb connected him to them and gave him peace. Now, its absence was an almost physical pain, but he was too weak to cry out and – had he been able to – it would have been a harsh reminder of the silence.
He looked around for a distraction, moving only his eyes. Then he saw it – the largest butterfly he had ever seen. In his fevered state, he thought perhaps it had come to him as a guardian or some sign from the Valar. He snorted at the thought, then was wracked by coughing that left him breathless, lightheaded and terrifyingly aware of his deafness. He lay for a time with his eyes closed, simply too exhausted to do differently. When the darkness grew too great, he opened his eyes and sought the butterfly. When he did not immediately spot it, an irrational terror that he would die truly alone washed over him.
He chastised himself for his fear and scanned the area more carefully. He located the butterfly, but it was not happily perched on a flower as he'd expected. It was on the ground and looking down on it was a small brown bird. The bird nipped at the butterfly's beautiful black wings, but the smaller creature escaped and fanned its wings, but instead of taking flight, it only glided along on the ground for a few precious inches before having to stop. The bird easily caught up and again attempted to capture the delicate wings in its beak.
He felt a kinship with the fragile creature and wished he could rescue it. But, like the butterfly, he was too weak.
He wanted to hate the bird, but he could not. It was a part of the circle of life. The strong survived and the weak died.
He watched in horrid fascination as the scene repeated itself over and over again – capture, freedom, aborted flight, capture – until his pain faded and his vision blurred and darkened. Night came, the moon rose, but it was too late to bring peace to the son of kings. The line of Isildur ended with none to mark it.
Arda was doomed to darkness.