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The Vault of the Dead
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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9
Now Let Our Souls Soar Together

Some elements of Théoden’s funeral are from the Miercinga Théod website, an excellent source if one is interested in pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon beliefs and their modern practices. Ierfe Húsel is a great feast in general, and Líchtenung is, of course, a funeral.

For Boromir’s illegitime son see “Shadow of the Past” – a very old story of mine that has actually spawned Halabor and all its inhabitants. I played a little with canon timeline to keep Legolas in Middle-earth until after Arwen’s death for Elladan’s sake. All things mentioned between Elladan and Legolas have long been established in my Boromir series.


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Part 09 – Now Let Our Souls Soar Together

In the next morn, the Stone Flower of Ramandur was like an empty shell again. Spanturo came at dawn to the chambers assigned to the visitors in the House of the Hunters, and after given some breakfast, they were escorted out of the city. No Dark Elves showed themselves anywhere. Only Mithrellas had come to speak her farewells.

She had been talking to Faramir half the night, grateful to hear about her descendants but swearing him to secrecy, saying that it would do no good to anyone to know that she was still there, as she would be beyond their reach anyway. However, she did give Legolas messages to deliver to her northern kin, of whom a few old friends were still lingering in Middle-earth, as she knew that her fellow Elves would keep her secret.

Spanturo then led them down on the other side of the Mountain, so that they would be there for Théoden-King’s burial ceremony in time. When they arrived, the wain of Théoden had already come to Edoras, where all its escort was resting. The Golden Hall had been arrayed with fair hangings and it was filled with light, and there was held the highest Ierfe Húsel that it had known since the days of its building.

After three days, the Men of the Mark prepared the Líchtenung of Théoden, which began with a Minni, a counting of the fallen King’s deeds, followed by the placement of grave goods and a dirge, traditionally sung by a female relative, who in this case was the Lady Éowyn. After that, the body of Théoden was laid in a house of stone with his arms and many other fair things that he had possessed, and over him was raised a great mound, covered with green turves of grass and of white evermind. And now there were eight mounds on the east-side of the Barrowfield.

Then twelve Riders of the King’s House upon white horses rode round about the barrow and sang together a song of Théoden Thengel's son that Gléowine his minstrel made, and he made no other song after. This was followed by another Húsel, this time a funeral feast, during which the first and second closest heirs of the late King, interspersed by boasts and bragafulls, and the new King was greeted and the betrothal of Faramir and the Lady Éowyn announced, which proved to be the reson for much more singing and drinking, celebrating Théoden’s life rather than grieving his death.

When the feast was over, those who were to go took leave of King Éomer. Aragorn and his knights, and the people of Lórien and of Rivendell, made ready to ride; but Faramir and Imrahil remained at Edoras for a while. Neither Faramir, nor Gandalf or Legolas did speak of that which they had seen and learned in the hidden city of the Dark Elves again, not even among each other.

In the following year, Faramir married Éowyn of Rohan, and another year later, Gandalf finally sailed to the West, in the company of Elrond and Galadriel and many fair Elves, and with them went Bilbo and Frodo, for all the Ring-bearers were meant to pass into the Blessed Land, where they could find rest and healing from their labours and burdens. In the light of those events, the short visit by the Dark Elves seemed not truly important, and in the end, it was nearly forgotten.

Only on his deathbed did Faramir entrust his secret to the King, telling Aragorn whom he had met in the Vault of the Dead. And the King spoke of it to no-one, for he knew that some secrets better remain forgotten.

When the day finally came for Elessar to lay down his life in ancient Númenórean fashion, Legolas remained the only one who knew the secret still. He, too, kept it hidden in his heart, ‘til the day when word came from Lothlórien that Queen Arwen had passed away. When he heard that, Legolas went to seek out Elladan, for he knew that there was nothing left that would keep Elrond’s eldest on the mortal plane any longer.

They met on Cerin Amroth, at Arwen’s grave, and Legolas told Elladan about Boromir’s last wish: that he should rest in Boromir’s empty place on the Rath Dínen, in the House of Stewards, thus making their bond – that would not have been accepted in Gondor in their life – may last forever in death. Elladan nodded in acceptance; there was no need for words, and they rode down slowly along the Great River to Minas Tirith.

At Sarn Gebir, they held for a night, but Elladan did not want to sleep. He sat with Legolas on the very spot where his beloved had fallen, and they spoke in hushed tones about events long past, well aware of the fact that this would be their last journey together.

In the next morn, they continued their journey south, and thus they finally came to Minas Tirith, several days later. King Eldarion greeted his uncle with great delight – as Elrohir had sailed a few years earlier, he had no other elder kin left – but his joy turned to sorrow quickly, as he guessed the reason for this unexpected visit. But he knew better than to ask his uncle to stay a little longer. His father had taught him that particular lesson well.

“Is it time?” he asked simply, and Elladan nodded.

“I have waited as long as I was needed, Eldarion,” he said. “But now that every-one else has gone and you have grown into your own, I am not needed anymore. At least, I can go and rest.”

Eldarion nodded his understanding. “Do you wish any-one to be with you at your parting?” he asked.

Elladan shook his head. “Only Legolas. He has been my friend and confidant for the most of the Third Age; and when I am gone, he, too, will finally be free to follow the Call of the Sea.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And so it came that only Legolas accompanied Elladan to the Rath Dínen where his final resting place had been prepared. Elladan stretched out on the stone table with a relieved sigh, and Legolas, who had tended to see him as he had been in his prime, still fairly young for an Elf, now realized with a jolt that Elladan the Man had truly aged in the last hundred years. His once raven-black hair, still braided in Elven fashion, was now snow white, and his fair face had taken on an elegance that came more from the perfect shape of bones than from the tightly stretched skin and the shrinking flesh beneath. He seemed older than Aragorn had been on his deathbed; perchance due to the long years of heart-ache and unfulfilled longing where Aragorn’s life had been filled with happiness at the same time. But at least now he seemed at peace.

“Now the shared part of our journey comes to an end, Legolas, my friend,” he said softly, touching the white gem set in his silver collar as was his wont. “I shall go on a new adventure where you cannot follow me.”

“And yet you shall not go alone,” said Legolas.

“I know,” replied Elladan, touching the gem again. “He is here… has always been, by some strange miracle. I cannot thank you enough for rescuing the collar and bringing the Shielding Stone back to me. The echoes of his presence have been my only consolation all these years.”

“Then know this, too,” said Legolas. “His… spirit never left this world. He has been waiting for you in a secret place, where the Dead can dwell among the living, to begin this new journey together with you.”

“You have known this all the time?” asked Elladan, but he seemed not upset.

Legolas nodded. “And so did Faramir. But Boromir did not want you to look after that place, as you could never have found it; or that you would waste your mortal years wondering and worrying about him. You were needed, and he wanted you to have a full life.

Elladan smiled. “I had that… and more, I daresay. Having seen his son and getting the chance to help raising the boy was more than I ever dared to hope for. Even though he, too, is gone now, I would not give that chance for the world. I can rest in peace now… and you can leave for the shores where you might find peace as well.”

“Hush, now,” said Legolas gently. “’Twas no great hardship to wait for you, mortal folk, to come to full circle. I am an Elf – I have time. Is there aught I can do to ease your passing?”

“Nay,” replied Elladan quietly. “Just… stay with me ‘til my time runs out.”

Legolas nodded his consent and stayed at Elladan’s side ‘til the setting of the Sun. Then, at the same moment as Eärendil’s ship sailed up the sable seas of the sky, Elladan’s breathing, that had been slowing down little by little during the last hours, stopped entirely. With a last, breathy sigh, the light in his grey eyes broke, and at the same time the faint glimmer within the Shielding Stone, too, went out, releasing what part of Boromir’s spirit might have been trapped in there to soar freely at last.

And with an equal measure of grief and relief in his heart, Legolas closed Elladan’s eyes, and leaning over his now lifeless body, kissed his brow in farewell. Then he left the Rath Dínen to bring word to the King that the last one of Elrond’s children had parted from this world.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He knew not whether a heartbeat, a yén or an entire Age had passed ere he opened his eyes again, to cast them upon a dark beach where the rocks were black and jaded. At first he thought that he had somehow been brought to the Cape of Andrast, but looking up to the evening sky, he saw that the stars above him were strange; far away and forming shapes different from the ones he had been familiar with all his life.

Before him, a Man was waiting on the sandy shore – he recognized Boromir, clad I royal blue and black leather and burgundy red, like on the day he had walked into the Hall of Fire, and every bit as strong and hale and comely, dark locks shorn above his broad shoulders. Elladan walked down the hillside, feeling as young and powerful as he had been when they had seen each other fort he first time, and as one of his braids slid over his shoulder, he saw that it was raven-black again.

Boromir smiled that wide, white smile of his and came to enfold him into those great arms. Elladan feared at first that their hands would go through each other’s bodies – after all, they were both dead now – yet, to his surprise, they could touch each other; ghost flesh felt solid to ghost flesh.

“Here you are, at last,” murmured Boromir, kissing him lightly on the lips, and it felt the same as he remembered. “Come, beloved, ‘tis time.”

“Time for what?” wondered Elladan, having no mind for aught else but to lose himself in his lover’s presence.

“To begin our long journey together,” answered Boromir, with a hint of a smile in his voice. “See, the ship is coming to take us aboard.”

Following his gesture, Elladan turned back to the coast, and saw, beyond the black stone images of winged dragons that sat upon the terraced rocks like some enchanted guardians, a great ship far off. It had sable sails and seemed to be sailing ashore at a speed greater than the storm, though there was little wind; and when it came closer, Elladan could see that it was built of some sort of black wood, its prow curling back in the masterful image of a great, horned serpent, and it was richly adorned with silver and gems. There were no sailors to steer it and no oars to drive it forth; it seemed to spread its sails of its own accord.

And now he recognized it from the old legends: Mornië it was, the black ship of the Dead, which lay in its dark harbour, Harlovánen in the North, awaiting passengers to ferry them to the silent halls of recollection beside the Outer Sea – and from there to a place known even among the greatest of the Valar to Mandos only.

“Are you ready, beloved?” asked Boromir, taking his hand.

And Elladan looked into the beloved face that he had missed so much, delighting in the touch for that he had yearned for so long, and he smiled and said: “I am ready.”

And hand in hand they went down to the shore and boarded the Ship of the Dead, and they were never seen or heard of again on these mortal shores.

~The End~

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