Towards the Setting Sun|
Summary: Legolas, while suffering from
the Sea-longing, receives comfort from an unexpected source. Written
for the Teitho February challenge, “Heartbreak.”
The water was cold, even for an elf.
Legolas stood on the wet sand, the water just brushing his ankles with
every wave that broke upon the shore. He gazed out at the horizon. Arien
was just finishing her daily trek westward. Westward. Across the sea.
Legolas moved away from the tide and
sat down. The sea had been on his mind of late. Indeed, it had not left
his thoughts since the day he heard the seagulls’ cry, just as
the Lady had warned him. The war was over; Sauron had been defeated.
Aragorn had claimed the kingship of all Gondor and Arnor, and already
the reunited kingdom was flourishing under his care. The man had achieved
his dream and married the Evenstar…but that, too, weighed on Legolas’
It was not that he wanted Arwen for himself---he
loved her dearly, but as a friend, not a lover. He was delighted that
she and Aragorn had found joy, for a time. Yet, in sharing his and Arwen’s
joy, Legolas almost felt like a traitor to the Peredhel family. He had
been friends with Elladan and Elrohir long before Aragorn was born.
He had sought to comfort them after their mother sailed. Master Elrond,
too, had always been kind to him, and had treated his wounds on numerous
occasions. How could Legolas be happy for a union that brought these
dear friends such pain? Master Elrond had sailed already, and had reunited
with his wife, but he would never see his daughter again---at least
not as long as Arda remained. Legolas only hoped that the bliss of the
Undying Lands could heal the Peredhil’s heart, and those of his sons,
whenever their time came to sail.
Sail---there it was again. Always on
his thoughts. How long could he resist the urge? Surely for Aragorn’s
lifetime, at least. And Gimli’s, he hoped. He could not leave his
friends now, not after everything they had been through together. Only
the Halls of Mandos, and whatever lay beyond for Mortals, could separate
the Three Hunters for long.
Mandos. Vala. West. Legolas buried his
head between his knees in frustration. Could he not go two minutes without
such thoughts intruding? They were driving him mad. Always there, waking
or sleeping, as constant as the waves he could even now hear breaking.
But if he left these shores he could
never return. Never tease Aragorn about his inferior human hearing.
Never listen to Gimli drone on about the wonders of the Glittering Caves.
Never share a merry meal with hobbits. These were all mortal folk, and
their lives would pass before long. But even then, he would feel torn.
Middle Earth was his home. There was Greenwood, full of darkness no
longer and newly renamed Eryn Lasgalen, and Ithillien, with its hills
and trees. Trees. Legolas knew there were trees in the Undying Lands,
certainly, but were they the same? Did Tol Eressëa ring with the familiar
songs of elm and beech? And they must be so old---perhaps some even
remembered the light of the greatest Two Trees ever made. Would such
stately trees deign to let a Wood Elf climb into their branches?
The salty drops of water on Legolas’
face did not come from the Sea. Yet melancholy soon gave way to terror.
It seemed that a great figure emerged from the water, one with it and
yet separate. It did not feel evil---not at all. But it was overwhelming
in its majesty and power, and Legolas, brave warrior though he was,
“Do not be afraid, Legolas Thranduillion.”
The voice was deep and booming, but carried a note of----tenderness?
Slowly, Legolas looked up. The figure had materialized fully, and was
now walking up onto the shore. It, or rather he, was fairer than the
fairest of elves, and shone with a radiance that made even the likes
of Lady Galadriel and Lord Glorfindel seem like candles in the light
of the noon-day sun.
“My-my lord.” Legolas spoke with
a trembling voice. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t possibly be who he
thought it was---could it?
“Yes, child.” The figure said with
a smile. “I am the one you know as Ulmo.”
Legolas barely had the presence of mind
to stand and bow to the vala. A vala! Here on the shores of Middle Earth!
And none other than Lord Ulmo, who by all accounts stayed mainly unclad,
and rarely left the depths of the waters.
“Be at ease, child. Please be seated.
I wish only to talk, and to listen.”
Legolas slowly sank back down onto the
sand. He did not know what to say, or even whether he should speak at
all. “Thank you, my lord. You-you wish to speak with me?”
Ulmo sat down also, sprawling out on
the sand---much to the surprise of the elf in front of him. “Yes,
child.” His voice was soft now. Soothing. “We Valar have not
taken any direct part in the affairs of Middle Earth of late, only for
fear of causing yet more grief, but do not think we have forgotten you.
We watch over all of our Father’s children. Our messengers have told
us of the Quest and of your part in it. We are so proud of you! I sensed
when you heard the cries of the gulls and began to yearn for the sea,
and for what lies beyond it. My fëa rejoiced to know that you would
soon be coming home, to where you belong. Yet you have been resisting
the call, and it brings you grief. This saddens my heart, for the Sea-longing
should bring only joy to one of the Firstborn, now that Sauron is vanquished
and the lands you so love are in good hands. Tell me, child, what makes
Legolas could not meet the vala’s eyes.
“My lord, I mean no disrespect. I am truly grateful for the gift of
you and your brethren to my people, and I am humbled by your concern
for me. I truly long to sail your waters, but…”
Legolas was truly mortified to realize
that he was suddenly sitting in the lap of the Lord of Waters and sobbing
into the vala’s shoulder.
Said vala, however, merely hugged the
ellon to himself, rubbing soothing circles on his back. “I know, child,
I know. Do not fret so; I am not offended. Truly, though, you will find
peace in the West. The trees there are not so different from the ones
you have known, and I am certain they would love to make your acquaintance.
More importantly, though, you will be at home among the other elves---and
among us. But if you are not yet ready to leave your mortal friends,
we understand. You and young Aragorn have been through many hardships
together---it is only fitting that you share in his and Arwen’s joy.
And do not think the Peredhel family could begrudge you or them any
joy---Elrond loves Aragorn as a son, as well you know.”
Legolas relaxed a little. What the vala
said was true. And yet…"But what about Gimli? The lives of his
people are longer than those of men, and I do not know how long I can
resist the Sea-longing.”
“Then bring him with you.”
Legolas stared open-mouthed at the vala.
Surely he was jesting. Only the Firstborn were permitted to traverse
the Straight Road across the Sundering Sea.
“There are always exceptions, child,
or have you forgotten your hobbit friend and his elderly cousin?”
“No, my lord. But I thought that they
were allowed because they were Ringbearers, and there is no bad blood
between their kind and mine, as there is with Dwarves.”
“Perhaps, but it is for the Lords of
the West, not the elves, to decide who may or may not enter our
realm---although our Father has barred
Men from the West because their hearts are too prone to forsake His
gift and long for what they cannot have. But your Dwarf friend holds
no aspirations to immortality that I can perceive, and surely he should
have some respite after the perilous Quest you both undertook. And to
be sure, my brother Aulë would be delighted to have a Dwarf dwelling
in the West. Indeed, he has hardly stopped talking about his desire
to meet Gloin’s son.”
Legolas dared to meet the vala’s eyes,
and saw only sincerity and compassion. “My lord, you have given me
much to think on, but already my heart is greatly eased. How can I ever
“Simply come West when the time is
right, and bring your Dwarf friend with you.” The vala rose to his
feet. “Namarië, Legolas Thranduillion! May you rest in our Father’s
keeping until we meet again!” He stepped out into the waters and was
gone as suddenly as he had appeared. Legolas looked out across the sea
with a smile, and then slowly walked away.