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The Prisoner of Dol Guldur
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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12
Part 12

Author’s notes:
For disclaimer, rating, etc., see Part 1.
Sorry for the sometimes erratic changes of POV. This story comes to me in sudden bursts and bouts. I have actually very little control over my headstrong characters.
Bregalad’s song is quoted from “The Two Towers”.


~~~

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“’You have drunk of the waters of the Ents, have you?’ said Legolas. ‘Ah, then I think it is likely that Gimli’s eyes do not deceive him. Strange songs have been sung of the draughts of Fangorn!
[…]
‘But I hope that the Ents may have found time to brew some of their draughts from the mountain-springs, and we shall see Gandalf’s beard curling when he returns.’ [Merry]”

The Two Towers, Chapter 9 – Flotsam and Jetsam, pp. 206 & 223


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
PART 12

Sitting next to his long-lost brother’s makeshift resting place under the tall bush, Legolas contemplated the fragile shape thoughtfully. He could not find Enadar’s features in that wasted face, dominated by the enormous, deep-sunken eyes, and the spidery limbs seemed to belong to a wraith rather than to an Elf. He also felt that Enadar did not recognize him, for some reason.

“He does not know who I am, does he?” he asked Cordophel sadly.

“It is not that simple,” she replied. “He does know who you are, in some strange way, but he only remembers you as a very small elfling. His memories are fragmented and foggy – he is very confused. The only ones he can truly recognize are your lord father and myself.”

“Besides,” added Old Galion with a quick sidelong glance at the young prince, “you are not the same Elf who has left the Greenwood less than a year ago. The changes in you make it harder for him to remember you.”

Legolas sighed. “I know, Master Galion. I have become as a stranger to myself as well. Always have I hoped that should the Sea call to me one day – which day, I fervently wished, would never come – it would be in the far, far future, when my father, too, would be ready to leave these shores. That he would come with me.”

“He is not ready,” answered Galion, “and will not be for a long time yet. Not now that he has found a new purpose here.”

“More than one purpose, I deem,” said Legolas. “Now with the Ents coming to help healing the South of the Greenwood, it might become again what it used to be in Grandsire’s times.”

“Mayhap,” replied Galion thoughtfully. “I do not believe, though, that out King would move South again. Not beyond the Emyn Duir, in any case. That which once used to be Dol Guldur will become the concern of the Lord Galdaran, I imagine.”

“Lord Celeborn?” asked Legolas in surprise. “Why would he want to leave the Golden Wood?”

“Lothlórien has existed outside time for too long,” said Galion, “and once the Lady leaves, it will whiter and fall in a long sleep, or so the Faithful say. Save this one place, mayhap, where some of Nimrodel’s blessings still linger. Cerin Amroth has been outside of the Lady’s influence, by the choice of King Amroth, and she respected his wish, even long after he was gone. Still, when the Lady leaves, and with her many of her people, Lórien will become a very lonely place.”

“I wonder why Celeborn would not go with her,” murmured Legolas.

Galion gave him a long, compassionate look.

“Unlike you, he does not hear the Call,” he answered, “and his heart is eager to partaking in the cleansing and healing of the forest. More so now that we are getting help from the tree-shepherds themselves.”

They looked down the mound, towards a small, silver spring, where Bregalad, the Ent was standing over two large vessels, apparently filled with water from the nearby spring. The Ent held his hands over them, and slowly, dimly, they began to glow, one with a golden, the others with a pale green light. The blending of the two lights could be seen from where Legolas and Galion were sitting, and it was such a lovely blend that they drifted off into content silence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He did not know what had awakened him for he was surrounded by silence, peaceful and warm. After his nap, he felts strong enough to open his eyes again, and he opened them to a wonder never seen before. It was as if the sun of summer was shining through a roof of young leaves. Indeed, his favourite bush, and all the trees themselves around, seemed to glow, until every twig and every leaf was edged with soft light that did not hurt his eyes. Some of them were green, some of them gold, others red and copper, and the tree-stems looked like pillars, carved of luminous stone and filled with softly pulsing light.

It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It almost made up for not having seen any lights in all those bleak, endless yéni in his dungeon.

He could feel Amme nearby, and the old one named Galion, and the one who used to be his little brother once. But he could not turn his eyes from that wondrous, soft light, and thus he was not startled when he saw the tall, tree-like figure moving towards his resting place, putting down big, root-like toes first, and than shifting weight with a rolling motion, as tall trees move in a strong wind.

“Ha-humm,” rumbled the Ent, “it needs some more ripening, but I believe the draught would do him good anyway. One of you should lift his head… my hands are way too large for such a fragile skull.”

He could feel Amme lift his head, and the rim of what seemed a stone bowl touched his lips. The ravenous thirst reawakened in the very moment he felt the scent of fresh water – and something more. The drink was like water, only a thousand times better than water, although he could have never imagined that something – anything! – could ever taste and smell better than water.

There was a flavour in it, akin to its scent, which he could not describe, faint but unmistakable. It was like the warmth of summer, the sweetness of wild berries, the freshness of a mountain spring and the smell of a distant wood borne from afar by a cold breeze, all rolled into one savour.

“Slowly, slowly,” warned the Ent. “Even if not fully ripened, this is a powerful draught. Allow yourself to get used to it first.”

He could feel the effect already, like a slight prickling, first in his toes, in which he had barely had any feeling so far. Then it rose steadily through every limb, washing out the leaden weariness as it coursed upwards, replacing it with warmth and vigour. Like a warm flush, it washed over his entire body, right to the tips of his now short and white hair. He felt his scalp prickling, and indeed, the very gums of his damaged teeth, and it seemed to him as if his hair would lose that dead, straw-like feeling and become smooth and shining again.

“That is enough for one day,” said the Ent, taking a bowl away, and he grasped after it in despair, for now he was thirsting after that wondrous draught more than he had even thirsted for water.

“Tomorrow, I shall bring you another bowl,” promised the Ent, “but it would do you more harm than good, should I give you more right now. You are still very weak… healing will take time, even while drinking the waters of the Ents.”

He did not feel weak. In fact, for the first time since his rescue, he almost felt like himself again.

“It will pass, all too soon,” said the Ent regretfully, as if reading his mind. “You will have to drink this one bowl a day for a very long time for the effect to hold.”

“It will… hold?” he whispered, and the Ent gave a long, rumbling chuckle. “In time, it will. You must be as patient as ancient trees and the earth they put their roots in, but it will hold. Now sleep and heal.”

Something leafy touched his forehead gently, and he fell into deep, restful sleep, without dark dreams. Instead, he dreamed about the trees and bushes bathing in that wondrous light.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“I am anxious to leave for the Greenwood again,” said Thranduil, sitting with his sons, Galion and Cordophel under the leafy arms of Bregalad, who seemed more than happy to save as the spender of cooling shadow. “Maelduin is wise and reliable, but he is a scholar, not a warrior. We may have won the war, but the forest is still full of dark places, and my people will have need of their King for quite a while yet.”

“I, too, wish to go home again,” said Legolas quietly, “and Gimli should return to the Lonely Mountain shortly. But what about Enadar? He does not have the strength to make such a long journey, not even in a boat. And our home is far from the Great River, where a boat could travel smoothly.”

“I wish not to bring him to our current home,” said Thranduil. “Putting him into a cave again would frighten him out of his mind. Galion has offered to live with him in a tree house, as he did in his youth.”

Ada, you cannot leave them behind in the Emyn Duir!” Legolas protested. “No-one dwells there anymore – ‘tis too perilous.”

“Of course it is,” Thranduil nodded. “Not even Elves can go backwards in time, even if we sometimes wish we could. But you know as well as I do that some of our people still dwell on the treetops.”

Bregalad stirred above them, his green-grey crown rustling in the light breeze.

“The wilted sapling needs good earth to dig his roots deeply again, and clean, fresh waters to cure his thirst,” he rumbled as quietly as he could, for he did not want to wake Enadar. “This healing is beyond the power of Elves, even ones as old as Galion or the apple-maiden. A broken sapling needs the care of a tree-shepherd to mend.”

“But you wanted to go to the South of the Greenwood,” said Legolas, “to heal the forest from its wounds, did you not?”

“Is the North in no need of healing?” the large eyes of the Ent looked at him unblinkingly. “A few others of my kin are coming upwards, soon. Let them heal the South. I shall go with you to the North, find a decent ent-house and water your sapling, ‘til it becomes green and strong again.”

Legolas laughed. “Now I see why Merry and Pippin said you were a hasty Ent.”

Bregalad chuckled in answer. “I should never have told those two how I came to my name,” he said. “But it is true – I tend to make up my mind a great deal faster than other Ents. And I would like to live near to Elves again. Wood-Elves care for trees, almost as much as we do… and I do like company.”

“I do not wish to give my son away again,” said Thranduil, clearly not liking the idea at all.

“I ask you not to give him away,” replied Bregalad. “I shall find an ent-house near to your dwelling, so that you can come to visit him any time you want and have a good draught with us. Your heart could use it, too.”

That was so painfully true that Thranduil did not even try to protest.

“And besides,” added Bregalad, “I can help you getting your son home.”

“You can?” Thranduil frowned. “How?”

The Ent shrugged, which was a fairly… bizarre sight.

“I shall carry him,” he replied simply. “You can build him a nest in my hair; he would barely feel me moving.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
His sleep was long and undisturbed, his dreams peaceful as never before, full of beautiful images previously unknown to him. He saw a great circle of ancient rowan trees, so old and tall that the shadow of each seemed like a green hall. Their branches bent under the burden of their red berries, rich and ripe, a harvest of beauty and wonder, bent so much that they nearly touched the soil. Birds flocked there, smaller and larger ones alike, and the air was full of their singing.

It was a wondrous dream, one that filled his heart with a quiet joy, but also with strange melancholy, for deep within he knew that his dream-like place did not exist anymore. He knew not where this knowledge came; mayhap from the deep, low voice humming some ancient song high above him.

O Orofarnë, Lassemista, Carminúrië!
O rowan fair, upon your hair how white the blossom lay!
O rowan mine, I saw you shine upon a summer’s day.
Your rind so bright, your leaves so light, your voice so cool and soft;
Upon your head how golden-red the crown you bore aloft!
O rowan dead, upon your head your hair is dry and grey;
Your crown is spilled, your voice is stilled for ever and a day.
O Orofarnë, Lassemista, Carminúrië!


There he lay in half-sleep, listening to the quiet lament for a long time. The sorrow of the trees, borne for many hundred years, touched him deeply, yet at the same time, it seemed to ease his own burden.

“Sleep, sapling,” the low voice rumbled above him, “sleep and heal. Soon, you will leave this place and return to your root.”

“Home, he whispered, only half-awake. “Go… home?”

“We shall, ion-nin,” the voice of Ada answered. “Soon, very soon.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Do you not think it would be too early to move him?” asked Celeborn on their last evening in the Golden Wood. He was sitting with Thranduil and Legolas on the bank of the Nimrodel, listening to the music of the waterfall.

Thranduil shook his head. “Bregalad thinks it is time for him to move on. The ent-draught has done wonders: the wounds on his back have healed, his appetite has grown considerably, and he can even sit for a few moments without help. The journey will be slow and long, so he will have the time and the peace to keep recovering.”

“Are you so eager to leave us, cousin?” asked Celeborn, seemingly in jest, but there was sorrow in his silver-grey eyes.

“You will need your peace, too,” replied Thranduil, “to say farewell to your lady, ere she leaves these shores. But stay not behind alone in the empty shell of what used to be your home for too long, Galdaran. The Greenwood is big enough for us both; and now, that Elrond is leaving, too, we are your only kin. You and all that will follow you, will be welcome in the neighbourhood.”

“Just like in old times, eh?” said Celeborn with a sad little smile. “Do you remember the day when your father moved your people northwards, abandoning his fortress upon Amon Lanc?”

“I do remember,” answered Thranduil,” his smile just as guarded. “You came to see me off. We parted in disagreement.”

“But still in friendship,” said Celeborn, “did we not?”

“We did,” Thranduil agreed, “and in friendship shall we meet under the trees of the Greenwood again. You have lived outside of time for too long, cousin – just like Lothlórien itself. ‘Tis time for you to return to your roots. To our roots.”

“For a while, mayhap,” said Celeborn. “For part of me shall leave with my lady, and one day, I shall follow her.”

Thranduil gave him a thorough look, and their fëar touched briefly, as it sometimes happen with Elves who share the same blood.

“You are not ready,” he judged; “no more than I am. ‘Tis bitter, not to feel the same distance in you, whom I have not met for an Age, which I can feel in my own son.”

“’Tis not Legolas’ fault,” said Celeborn mildly, and Thranduil nodded.

“Of course not. ‘Tis the course of the Sindar that he inherited from my line as well as his beauty.”

“If I could, I would choose to be uglier than an Orc, but never be called away by the Sea,” said Legolas softly.

Thranduil patted his hand affectionately. “Such choices are not given to us, ion-nin– we shall deal with this as we have dealt with everything fate has hurled into our faces. At least, we are together for now. The next day will take care for itself – just as it always has been. Let us go home and celebrate the unexpected gift of your brother’s return.”

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