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27
To Go Home at Last

29. Mordor: battling and overcoming one’s darkest hour
30. the Grey Havens: going home, departures
Oropher, Lord Námo, Elrond, Arwen, Thranduil, Legolas


~~~

To Go Home at Last


From the moment he led his warriors forward, Oropher of Greenwood the Great knew he’d misjudged the time for the assault. No! Too soon—far, far too soon! He could hear the unvoiced No! from all of the other commanders, both those of the Eldar and those of the mortal forces. And his last sight of his son was of Thranduil’s face, white with the foreknowledge of the impending tragedy. It was not the agony of his own mortal wound he felt in his last moments, but Thranduil’s grief at his fall that he endured as he let out his last breath.

And those confused last moments he relived again and again for an Age of the Sun, ever watching the better part of his company fall around him, and himself last of all. Sometimes he could hear a voice calling his name, but from whence the voice called he could not say. He and other Elves, Men, orcs, trolls, Dwarves—their spirits were confused, tangled with one another; the hatred, the fear, the determination not to give over until the sinews and breath failed common to them all even now when they had neither. And so it was that too many fëar were caught within the bounds of the battlefields, none able to break free from the frozen turmoil they’d died amidst.

And the torment of these lost ones pleased Mordor’s Lord as he rose again. At his command their seemings were placed within the pools of the spreading marsh that slowly but inexorably engorged itself with the ground where the dead were buried; and these ghostly folk were given candles to mock the light of the stars Sauron could no longer reach for, small flames to signify the spirits whose own Lights of Being were bound yet to the wastelands where they had died. And how those corpse-candles mocked the Hope that those unfortunates forced to travel through the marshes had ever thought held in the stars above, now veiled in Mordor’s reek.

*******


Elrond looked at the seal and handwriting on the missive pressed into his hands by Halladan of Annúminas, and felt his heart lurch. Why does just looking on her writing hurt so? he wondered. So many losses he’d known in his long life—his parents; Maedhros and Maglor, who had cared so for his brother and himself in spite of the violence of their meeting; his brother Elros; his beloved friend and patron, Ereinion Gil-galad; his wife, gone to Tol Eressëa these past how many years; and now his daughter, who like her uncle had chosen mortality; soon, his sons, whose final choice was not yet made but who were determined to linger by their sister for what remained of her life….

Reluctantly he broke the seal and unfolded the parchment, turning it to catch the light.

It was not as he’d expected yet another farewell. Nay, it was instead a request.

I pray of you, my beloved Adar, that on the anniversary of the defeat of Sauron, you should gather those such as Glorfindel who have their own power, and that you should face toward where the Black Gates once stood, and sing such songs of power as you can find within yourselves for the dispelling of all lingering evil. Many are the fëar caught yet in those lands, spirits of those who have not yet won free of Mordor’s spells. For my beloved Elessar and I shall travel there to see them freed if it can be done, and we will do all within our power to aid them to heed Lord Námo’s call, wielding the power of the Elessar stone he now bears. We would see that land a living land once more, and the Dead Marshes freed of the terror of the seemings of the dead.

Will you do this for me? And know that I have asked this also of our daeradar and daernaneth, as well as Lord Círdan in Mithlond, Lord Thranduil, and all folk of good will who yet linger in the hither lands.


Would he do this for her sake? Aye, that and more! An unexpected smile played on his lips as he summoned Erestor, Lindir, and Glorfindel, asking them to spread the word that on the day of the new year all would gather on the slopes east of the Last Homely House to sing an end to the remaining Morgul spells….

*******


Oropher! Heed my call!

The voice was not distant this time, but instead was compelling beyond what the former King of the Greenwood had ever heard before. He now knew which direction was west, and turned himself to follow that summons, noting that those of his people who’d fallen with him were now gathered about him, ready to follow him once more, and this time to salvation, home at last.

And as King and Queen sang before the gate and waded barefoot in the shallows of the marshes, the spells that kept the dead imprisoned here fell away, and many stepped—at last—beyond the Circles of the World.

Legolas, standing beside his father, lifted his own voice, knowing that when at last he gave way to the Sea Longing, he would find his grandfather awaiting him….

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