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The Lost Jewel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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[Index]

1

"So, where are we going, Gandalf?"

The Fellowship walked slowly through the former Elven realm of Eregion, known to men as Hollin. Although there was an erie silence about the land, it was still quite beautiful.

Gandalf stopped and turned to look at the curly headed Hobbit walking beside him.

"We must go down the Silverlode into the secret woods, and so to the Great River, and then..." He paused.

"And then," Merry prompted.

"To the end of the journey — in the end," said Gandalf. "We cannot look to far ahead. Let us be glad that the first stage is safely over. I think we will rest here, not only today, but tonight also. There is a wholesome air about Hollin. Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves, if they once dwelt there."

"That is true," said Legolas. "But the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the Silvan folk; and the trees and grass do not now remember them. Only *I* hear the stones lament them: 'Deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they built us, but they are gone.' They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago." Legolas dropped lightly to the ground, curling himself into a ball. "We will stay here? Good." He said no more, but pulling his knees up to his chest, covered his face with his arms.

Merry looked up questioningly at Gandalf, but the wizard merely shrugged his shoulders at Legolas's strange behavior.

Gandalf left Merry's side to go speak with Aragorn and after another moment of watching Legolas, Merry went to help Gimli and Pippin start the fire.

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While the others made camp, Legolas sat motionless at the edge of the dell. Other than his golden hair, shifting occasionally in a breeze, he might have been a holly bush, or a small boulder.

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Aragorn rummaged in his pack. Where was his plate? He soon found it and began to walk back to the fire to claim his share of the supper-breakfast. As the man drew near to the fire, he unconsciously counted his companions; when his mind told him that not everyone was accounted for, Aragorn grew worried.

Where was Legolas?

Spinning away from the fire, the ranger swept the countryside with his eyes, seeking any sign of his friend. When he caught a flash of gold, near to the edge of the dell where they had made camp, Aragorn breathed a sigh of relief. Legolas had been acting strangely for the past few days and Aragorn had no desire to go searching for him, even in the relative safety of Hollin.

Moving swiftly through the faint light of early dawn, Aragorn was soon within a few feet of Legolas. The ranger had been moving quietly, but Aragorn knew Legolas should have heard him coming. It surprised the man when the Elf did not respond.

Reaching out his arm, Aragorn cautiously laid a hand on Legolas's shoulder.

Legolas leapt to his feet, drawing his white knife and bringing it in front of him, ready to defend himself!

Aragorn hastily took a step back. Perhaps it had not been such a good idea to come up behind Legolas like that!

Aragorn looked closely at his friend. Although Legolas held a battle ready stance, his eyes were withdrawn and showed no sign of recognition.

"Legolas!" Aragorn quietly called the Elf's name. Legolas tensed, his eyes staring straight ahead without seeing anything. "Legolas! Tolo dan, mellon nξn!" (Legolas! Come back, my friend!)

Slowly, Legolas relaxed and lowered his knife. He blinked. The look of withdrawn confusion left his eyes, but a light of wary fearfulness remained in their still, blue, depths.

"Estel," he murmured, sinking once more to the ground.

Aragorn dropped to his knees next to his friend, wrapping an arm about his shoulders.

They sat thus for a moment, then Legolas stirred and looked up.

"I'm sorry, Aragorn," he said. "Did you need something?"

The ranger smiled wryly. "I came over to tell you supper is ready. I had no idea I would be attacked for my trouble!"

Legolas blushed and looked away. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I guess you startled me."

Aragorn could not help the wide grin which spread over his face at this comment. "I, STARTLED you?" he stammered, grinning widely.

Legolas raised his head, looking at the man out of the corner of his eye. The Elf narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Yes, you did," he said slowly.

"I seem to remember one golden haired Elf saying something to the effect that a simple mortal could never sneak up on and startle an Elf," Aragorn said smugly.

Legolas tried to smile, but the curvature of his lips did not match the sadness in his eyes. "Perhaps this Elf was simply patronizing this simple mortal," he said.

Aragorn forced Legolas to look him in the eye. "Or perhaps not," he said quietly, all trace of mirth gone. "What troubles you, mellon nξn," he asked. "You are not yourself!" He gently smoothed the golden hair back from his friend's forehead. "What memories haunt your eyes? Why do you sit here alone? What do you remember?"

Legolas bowed his head. Aragorn continued to slowly stroke the Elf's hair as he waited for a reply.

"Deep they delved us. Fair they wrought us. High they built us. But they are gone. Only the stones remember them. Did I say they were strange? And so they were; many of my kindred thought them strange. But I did not." Legolas's voice was strange: distant. Aragorn did not completely understand what his friend spoke of, but he did not interrupt the flow of words.

"I thought them great, and good, and beautiful; very beautiful." He raised his head. "But they are gone. They sought the Havens long, long ago. I was not here when they were attacked. Attacked. Slaughtered! Murdered by the Lord of Gifts! Gifts indeed! He gave a gift to my home; a new name! Greenwood it was and Greenwood it should still be, but it is not. Mirkwood it is called now. That was his gift to us! Annatar! Would that I could have beheld the destruction of Eregion. If I had been able to meet Sauron on the plains, he would not now be taking his ease in Barad-dur!" Legolas's eyes flashed with a fell light as he spoke. Aragorn's hand fell limp at his side in shock. He had never seen Legolas act like this. Indeed, Aragorn had not truly known that Legolas was of an age to remember things to make him act like this.

Legolas fell silent and sat quietly, trembling slightly.

Aragorn regained use of his limbs. Sliding onto the ground next to Legolas, he wrapped his arms around the Elf, pulling the slight frame onto his broad chest and supporting him.

"I should not have left them. I should not have left her!"

"Who?" Aragorn was unsure of whether Legolas would answer him, but was pleased when he did.

"Tauriel," was the only answer.

For a moment, Aragorn sat still, waiting to see if Legolas would say more, but when he did not, he pressed the matter.

"Who is Tauriel?" He murmured.

"Was," came the bitter reply.

Aragorn sat for a moment, trying to decide how to continue the conversation. In the end he chose the most direct course. "Who was she?" he asked, gently rubbing his hand in circles on Legolas's back in a soothing pattern.

"My love, my heart, my life, my own. She was my wife." Legolas's voice had become flat, emotionless, as impassive as a slab of granite. "Shall I tell you of us? Let me tell you a tale of how a Silvan prince came to love a Sindarin princess."

In a voice which was as cold, and devoid of feeling as a tomb, Legolas began his tale.

"I was born some little time before Sauron attempted to treat with the Elves of Eregion. (1) For some three hundred years, Greenwood lay quiet and safe. I went often as an ambassador between my father's realm and Eregion. I was sent because I was one of the few of my people who did not despise the Noldor. It was not long before my father found out why I delighted in them so. Living with the people of Elrond was a maiden who was no Noldor. Her name was Tauriel. She was a daughter of Thingol and Melian, sister to Luthien, fairest Elf maid ever to grace the plain of Arda. Luthien was like unto her father, but Tauriel was a true daughter of Melian. After the death of Thingol by the hands of the Dwarves, when Melian had departed Middle Earth to return to the home of the Valar and Maiar, of whom she was one, Tauriel chose to remain in Doriath, in the forests of her birth. Well was she named, Tauriel, Forest Daughter. She was a true daughter of the forest. After a time, she joined her kinsman Elrond in Eregion. (2) She had the wisdom of her mother and was a great help to Elrond in dealing with the Dwarves of Moria. She held no bitterness against them for what their ancestors had done to her father. She grieved for her father, but she thought, as her mother had, that he had been in the wrong. We met, quite by chance, in a small glade of beeches where I was accustomed to spend my nights. It seemed that it was a favorite place of hers also. We had often seen each other, at banquets and such, but we had never really met. That night, as we talked under the stars, with the silken leaves of the beeches caressing our heads, I fell in love."

As Legolas spoke, the rest of the Fellowship slowly began to leave their places around the fire and edge closer, straining to hear the soft words. The Elf seemed unaware of their presence. He still leaned on Aragorn, but his body was tense, like a bowstring which has been held at full draw for too long.

"My father did not take well the news that I wished to marry. He was not opposed to my choice of maiden, in that he was well pleased; he simply thought I was yet too young. In time we convinced him that it was not foolishness for us to be wed; he finally gave us his blessing."

The Fellowship had arranged themselves into a semi-circle about the prince. They sat listening raptly, even Pippin was silent. No one present, not even wise old Gandalf, knew the whole tale which Legolas told. (3) It was a time not often mentioned by those who had lived in it.

"We built a house in the branches of the beech trees where we had first met. Tauriel would stay there and I would live with her whenever I was not in Mirkwood. We were content. She continued to assist Lord Elrond and I was often called away to help my father."

Legolas paused, slipping his hand inside the neck of his tunic and grasping something which hung there.

"I called her my jewel. She wore a green stone on a silver chain about her neck. The Lintaur it was called; Song of the Forest. When she was glad, green fire seemed to spring from it, lighting her face and making her even more beautiful, if such a thing were possible. When she was grieved, the stone grew dark, instead of green, it appeared black as the darkest night. One day, a message came from Mirkwood; my father needed my counsel urgently. As I prepared to go, Tauriel came to me and said that she had a surprise for me. She would not say what it was, but ordered me to go, saying that I must hasten back if I wished to learn her secret. I was already packed and seated on my horse when she came running after me. She pressed her necklace into my hand..."

Flashback————

"Take this with you!"

"But, nξn meleth!" (My beloved!)

"No! Do not argue! Take it and go!"

Legolas bent down from his horse and wrapped his arms about his beautiful wife.

"I will return to you as soon as I may, my most precious jewel!"

"I know, meleth (beloved). I know. Now go!"

Clasping the necklace about his neck, Legolas murmured a word to his horse and leapt away. The Elven steed galloped up the edge of the foothills surrounding their home, a blur of white with a dot of green and gold seated atop it, soon too far away for even Elven eyes to see.

End flashback————

"That was the last time I saw her."

Legolas's eyes had filled with tears, now they overflowed and ran slowly down his pale cheeks. Aragorn gently pulled the Elf's head onto his shoulder and murmured soft words of comfort in his ear.

"I should not have left her!"

Legolas could no longer continue. Gandalf cleared his throat noisily, everyone save Legolas turned towards the wizard.

"I was not present at the time, but I have heard the story from others who were. Once Sauron had forged the One Ring, he took all strength of Mordor that he could gather together and attacked the Elves in Eregion, trying to gain the rest of the Rings. Although he failed in this, he did succeed in destroying Eregion and massacring most of the inhabitants, Elves, Dwarves, and men. The few survivors either shut themselves inside Moria, or traveled with Elrond to where they founded Imladris. By the time the other realms discovered what had happened, it was too late. Galadriel and Thranduil decided not to send forces against Sauron, they knew he was to strong to defeat at that time."

Legolas started up. "We should have sent aid! He was strong, but we could have defeated him! We should have risen up, attacked him as he attacked us. We should not have left them to die!" His voice was harsh, angry beyond reason.

Gandalf rose to his feet, his grey mantle billowing around him, making him seem great and majestic.

"You do not know of what you speak, Prince! If the Elves of Mirkwood had taken up arms that day, many more lives would have been lost. Many others you love would have died!" His harsh words seemed to shake Legolas, the prince sank back to the ground next to Aragorn.

"But, so many. So many died anyways! Do you know what they did? They could not be content to simply kill, they had to completely destroy! Everything was gone! There was nothing left!"

The Fellowship stared at Legolas in bewilderment. His eyes darted among them madly, his voice rising to a hysterical pitch.

"They burned it! They burned our house, they probably burned her inside! A charred ring, a blot on the fair plains of Eregion! But fair no longer! The green plains were scorched and trampled, the trees desecrated and hacked to pieces, the homes burnt to the ground! The few who survived, most were so traumatized they had to seek the Havens and leave these lands! Do you understand how much one of my people must go through to have no alternative but to leave forever? To much for any person to go through! But they did! And now, they are gone! She is gone! I should not have left her!"

His tirade spent, Legolas crumpled to the ground. Aragorn caught him and held the lithe body tenderly in his arms.

The others sat for a time, thinking on all they had heard.

Pippin rose slowly to his feet. Merry noticed and cocked his head to one side, but Pippin paid him no mind. Walking forward, he knelt on the ground in front of Legolas. Reaching out a hesitant hand, the little Hobbit gently uncurled Legolas's hand from where it lay at his breast, tightly clenched. All gasped as Pippin's searching revealed that Legolas grasped a beautiful green jewel. It was such a dark green, it appeared to be almost black, but in the depths of the darkness, a flash of green fire could be seen; faint, almost to be thought of as merely a figment of imagination, but present nonetheless.

"The Lintaur," Frodo breathed. No one could take their eyes from the beautiful gem. "He still wears it," Frodo said quietly.

"Yes," said a quiet voice. "And I always will." Legolas had not opened his eyes, but he clasped his hand once more about the necklace. "I always will."


(1)This would put Legolas's birth sometime around 1150, SA.

(2) This is slightly AU, because Elrond did not go to Eregion until Gil-Galad, worried by the actions of Sauron, sent him there in 1695 SA.

"So, where are we going, Gandalf?"

The Fellowship walked slowly through the former Elven realm of Eregion, known to men as Hollin. Although there was an erie silence about the land, it was still quite beautiful.

Gandalf stopped and turned to look at the curly headed Hobbit walking beside him.

"We must go down the Silverlode into the secret woods, and so to the Great River, and then..." He paused.

"And then," Merry prompted.

"To the end of the journey — in the end," said Gandalf. "We cannot look to far ahead. Let us be glad that the first stage is safely over. I think we will rest here, not only today, but tonight also. There is a wholesome air about Hollin. Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves, if they once dwelt there."

"That is true," said Legolas. "But the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the Silvan folk; and the trees and grass do not now remember them. Only *I* hear the stones lament them: 'Deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they built us, but they are gone.' They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago." Legolas dropped lightly to the ground, curling himself into a ball. "We will stay here? Good." He said no more, but pulling his knees up to his chest, covered his face with his arms.

Merry looked up questioningly at Gandalf, but the wizard merely shrugged his shoulders at Legolas's strange behavior.

Gandalf left Merry's side to go speak with Aragorn and after another moment of watching Legolas, Merry went to help Gimli and Pippin start the fire.

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While the others made camp, Legolas sat motionless at the edge of the dell. Other than his golden hair, shifting occasionally in a breeze, he might have been a holly bush, or a small boulder.

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Aragorn rummaged in his pack. Where was his plate? He soon found it and began to walk back to the fire to claim his share of the supper-breakfast. As the man drew near to the fire, he unconsciously counted his companions; when his mind told him that not everyone was accounted for, Aragorn grew worried.

Where was Legolas?

Spinning away from the fire, the ranger swept the countryside with his eyes, seeking any sign of his friend. When he caught a flash of gold, near to the edge of the dell where they had made camp, Aragorn breathed a sigh of relief. Legolas had been acting strangely for the past few days and Aragorn had no desire to go searching for him, even in the relative safety of Hollin.

Moving swiftly through the faint light of early dawn, Aragorn was soon within a few feet of Legolas. The ranger had been moving quietly, but Aragorn knew Legolas should have heard him coming. It surprised the man when the Elf did not respond.

Reaching out his arm, Aragorn cautiously laid a hand on Legolas's shoulder.

Legolas leapt to his feet, drawing his white knife and bringing it in front of him, ready to defend himself!

Aragorn hastily took a step back. Perhaps it had not been such a good idea to come up behind Legolas like that!

Aragorn looked closely at his friend. Although Legolas held a battle ready stance, his eyes were withdrawn and showed no sign of recognition.

"Legolas!" Aragorn quietly called the Elf's name. Legolas tensed, his eyes staring straight ahead without seeing anything. "Legolas! Tolo dan, mellon nξn!" (Legolas! Come back, my friend!)

Slowly, Legolas relaxed and lowered his knife. He blinked. The look of withdrawn confusion left his eyes, but a light of wary fearfulness remained in their still, blue, depths.

"Estel," he murmured, sinking once more to the ground.

Aragorn dropped to his knees next to his friend, wrapping an arm about his shoulders.

They sat thus for a moment, then Legolas stirred and looked up.

"I'm sorry, Aragorn," he said. "Did you need something?"

The ranger smiled wryly. "I came over to tell you supper is ready. I had no idea I would be attacked for my trouble!"

Legolas blushed and looked away. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I guess you startled me."

Aragorn could not help the wide grin which spread over his face at this comment. "I, STARTLED you?" he stammered, grinning widely.

Legolas raised his head, looking at the man out of the corner of his eye. The Elf narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Yes, you did," he said slowly.

"I seem to remember one golden haired Elf saying something to the effect that a simple mortal could never sneak up on and startle an Elf," Aragorn said smugly.

Legolas tried to smile, but the curvature of his lips did not match the sadness in his eyes. "Perhaps this Elf was simply patronizing this simple mortal," he said.

Aragorn forced Legolas to look him in the eye. "Or perhaps not," he said quietly, all trace of mirth gone. "What troubles you, mellon nξn," he asked. "You are not yourself!" He gently smoothed the golden hair back from his friend's forehead. "What memories haunt your eyes? Why do you sit here alone? What do you remember?"

Legolas bowed his head. Aragorn continued to slowly stroke the Elf's hair as he waited for a reply.

"Deep they delved us. Fair they wrought us. High they built us. But they are gone. Only the stones remember them. Did I say they were strange? And so they were; many of my kindred thought them strange. But I did not." Legolas's voice was strange: distant. Aragorn did not completely understand what his friend spoke of, but he did not interrupt the flow of words.

"I thought them great, and good, and beautiful; very beautiful." He raised his head. "But they are gone. They sought the Havens long, long ago. I was not here when they were attacked. Attacked. Slaughtered! Murdered by the Lord of Gifts! Gifts indeed! He gave a gift to my home; a new name! Greenwood it was and Greenwood it should still be, but it is not. Mirkwood it is called now. That was his gift to us! Annatar! Would that I could have beheld the destruction of Eregion. If I had been able to meet Sauron on the plains, he would not now be taking his ease in Barad-dur!" Legolas's eyes flashed with a fell light as he spoke. Aragorn's hand fell limp at his side in shock. He had never seen Legolas act like this. Indeed, Aragorn had not truly known that Legolas was of an age to remember things to make him act like this.

Legolas fell silent and sat quietly, trembling slightly.

Aragorn regained use of his limbs. Sliding onto the ground next to Legolas, he wrapped his arms around the Elf, pulling the slight frame onto his broad chest and supporting him.

"I should not have left them. I should not have left her!"

"Who?" Aragorn was unsure of whether Legolas would answer him, but was pleased when he did.

"Tauriel," was the only answer.

For a moment, Aragorn sat still, waiting to see if Legolas would say more, but when he did not, he pressed the matter.

"Who is Tauriel?" He murmured.

"Was," came the bitter reply.

Aragorn sat for a moment, trying to decide how to continue the conversation. In the end he chose the most direct course. "Who was she?" he asked, gently rubbing his hand in circles on Legolas's back in a soothing pattern.

"My love, my heart, my life, my own. She was my wife." Legolas's voice had become flat, emotionless, as impassive as a slab of granite. "Shall I tell you of us? Let me tell you a tale of how a Silvan prince came to love a Sindarin princess."

In a voice which was as cold, and devoid of feeling as a tomb, Legolas began his tale.

"I was born some little time before Sauron attempted to treat with the Elves of Eregion. (1) For some three hundred years, Greenwood lay quiet and safe. I went often as an ambassador between my father's realm and Eregion. I was sent because I was one of the few of my people who did not despise the Noldor. It was not long before my father found out why I delighted in them so. Living with the people of Elrond was a maiden who was no Noldor. Her name was Tauriel. She was a daughter of Thingol and Melian, sister to Luthien, fairest Elf maid ever to grace the plain of Arda. Luthien was like unto her father, but Tauriel was a true daughter of Melian. After the death of Thingol by the hands of the Dwarves, when Melian had departed Middle Earth to return to the home of the Valar and Maiar, of whom she was one, Tauriel chose to remain in Doriath, in the forests of her birth. Well was she named, Tauriel, Forest Daughter. She was a true daughter of the forest. After a time, she joined her kinsman Elrond in Eregion. (2) She had the wisdom of her mother and was a great help to Elrond in dealing with the Dwarves of Moria. She held no bitterness against them for what their ancestors had done to her father. She grieved for her father, but she thought, as her mother had, that he had been in the wrong. We met, quite by chance, in a small glade of beeches where I was accustomed to spend my nights. It seemed that it was a favorite place of hers also. We had often seen each other, at banquets and such, but we had never really met. That night, as we talked under the stars, with the silken leaves of the beeches caressing our heads, I fell in love."

As Legolas spoke, the rest of the Fellowship slowly began to leave their places around the fire and edge closer, straining to hear the soft words. The Elf seemed unaware of their presence. He still leaned on Aragorn, but his body was tense, like a bowstring which has been held at full draw for too long.

"My father did not take well the news that I wished to marry. He was not opposed to my choice of maiden, in that he was well pleased; he simply thought I was yet too young. In time we convinced him that it was not foolishness for us to be wed; he finally gave us his blessing."

The Fellowship had arranged themselves into a semi-circle about the prince. They sat listening raptly, even Pippin was silent. No one present, not even wise old Gandalf, knew the whole tale which Legolas told. (3) It was a time not often mentioned by those who had lived in it.

"We built a house in the branches of the beech trees where we had first met. Tauriel would stay there and I would live with her whenever I was not in Mirkwood. We were content. She continued to assist Lord Elrond and I was often called away to help my father."

Legolas paused, slipping his hand inside the neck of his tunic and grasping something which hung there.

"I called her my jewel. She wore a green stone on a silver chain about her neck. The Lintaur it was called; Song of the Forest. When she was glad, green fire seemed to spring from it, lighting her face and making her even more beautiful, if such a thing were possible. When she was grieved, the stone grew dark, instead of green, it appeared black as the darkest night. One day, a message came from Mirkwood; my father needed my counsel urgently. As I prepared to go, Tauriel came to me and said that she had a surprise for me. She would not say what it was, but ordered me to go, saying that I must hasten back if I wished to learn her secret. I was already packed and seated on my horse when she came running after me. She pressed her necklace into my hand..."

Flashback————

"Take this with you!"

"But, nξn meleth!" (My beloved!)

"No! Do not argue! Take it and go!"

Legolas bent down from his horse and wrapped his arms about his beautiful wife.

"I will return to you as soon as I may, my most precious jewel!"

"I know, meleth (beloved). I know. Now go!"

Clasping the necklace about his neck, Legolas murmured a word to his horse and leapt away. The Elven steed galloped up the edge of the foothills surrounding their home, a blur of white with a dot of green and gold seated atop it, soon too far away for even Elven eyes to see.

End flashback————

"That was the last time I saw her."

Legolas's eyes had filled with tears, now they overflowed and ran slowly down his pale cheeks. Aragorn gently pulled the Elf's head onto his shoulder and murmured soft words of comfort in his ear.

"I should not have left her!"

Legolas could no longer continue. Gandalf cleared his throat noisily, everyone save Legolas turned towards the wizard.

"I was not present at the time, but I have heard the story from others who were. Once Sauron had forged the One Ring, he took all strength of Mordor that he could gather together and attacked the Elves in Eregion, trying to gain the rest of the Rings. Although he failed in this, he did succeed in destroying Eregion and massacring most of the inhabitants, Elves, Dwarves, and men. The few survivors either shut themselves inside Moria, or traveled with Elrond to where they founded Imladris. By the time the other realms discovered what had happened, it was too late. Galadriel and Thranduil decided not to send forces against Sauron, they knew he was to strong to defeat at that time."

Legolas started up. "We should have sent aid! He was strong, but we could have defeated him! We should have risen up, attacked him as he attacked us. We should not have left them to die!" His voice was harsh, angry beyond reason.

Gandalf rose to his feet, his grey mantle billowing around him, making him seem great and majestic.

"You do not know of what you speak, Prince! If the Elves of Mirkwood had taken up arms that day, many more lives would have been lost. Many others you love would have died!" His harsh words seemed to shake Legolas, the prince sank back to the ground next to Aragorn.

"But, so many. So many died anyways! Do you know what they did? They could not be content to simply kill, they had to completely destroy! Everything was gone! There was nothing left!"

The Fellowship stared at Legolas in bewilderment. His eyes darted among them madly, his voice rising to a hysterical pitch.

"They burned it! They burned our house, they probably burned her inside! A charred ring, a blot on the fair plains of Eregion! But fair no longer! The green plains were scorched and trampled, the trees desecrated and hacked to pieces, the homes burnt to the ground! The few who survived, most were so traumatized they had to seek the Havens and leave these lands! Do you understand how much one of my people must go through to have no alternative but to leave forever? To much for any person to go through! But they did! And now, they are gone! She is gone! I should not have left her!"

His tirade spent, Legolas crumpled to the ground. Aragorn caught him and held the lithe body tenderly in his arms.

The others sat for a time, thinking on all they had heard.

Pippin rose slowly to his feet. Merry noticed and cocked his head to one side, but Pippin paid him no mind. Walking forward, he knelt on the ground in front of Legolas. Reaching out a hesitant hand, the little Hobbit gently uncurled Legolas's hand from where it lay at his breast, tightly clenched. All gasped as Pippin's searching revealed that Legolas grasped a beautiful green jewel. It was such a dark green, it appeared to be almost black, but in the depths of the darkness, a flash of green fire could be seen; faint, almost to be thought of as merely a figment of imagination, but present nonetheless.

"The Lintaur," Frodo breathed. No one could take their eyes from the beautiful gem. "He still wears it," Frodo said quietly.

"Yes," said a quiet voice. "And I always will." Legolas had not opened his eyes, but he clasped his hand once more about the necklace. "I always will."


(1)This would put Legolas's birth sometime around 1150, SA.

(2) This is slightly AU, because Elrond did not go to Eregion until Gil-Galad, worried by the actions of Sauron, sent him there in 1695 SA.

"So, where are we going, Gandalf?"

The Fellowship walked slowly through the former Elven realm of Eregion, known to men as Hollin. Although there was an erie silence about the land, it was still quite beautiful.

Gandalf stopped and turned to look at the curly headed Hobbit walking beside him.

"We must go down the Silverlode into the secret woods, and so to the Great River, and then..." He paused.

"And then," Merry prompted.

"To the end of the journey — in the end," said Gandalf. "We cannot look to far ahead. Let us be glad that the first stage is safely over. I think we will rest here, not only today, but tonight also. There is a wholesome air about Hollin. Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves, if they once dwelt there."

"That is true," said Legolas. "But the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the Silvan folk; and the trees and grass do not now remember them. Only *I* hear the stones lament them: 'Deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they built us, but they are gone.' They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago." Legolas dropped lightly to the ground, curling himself into a ball. "We will stay here? Good." He said no more, but pulling his knees up to his chest, covered his face with his arms.

Merry looked up questioningly at Gandalf, but the wizard merely shrugged his shoulders at Legolas's strange behavior.

Gandalf left Merry's side to go speak with Aragorn and after another moment of watching Legolas, Merry went to help Gimli and Pippin start the fire.

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While the others made camp, Legolas sat motionless at the edge of the dell. Other than his golden hair, shifting occasionally in a breeze, he might have been a holly bush, or a small boulder.

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Aragorn rummaged in his pack. Where was his plate? He soon found it and began to walk back to the fire to claim his share of the supper-breakfast. As the man drew near to the fire, he unconsciously counted his companions; when his mind told him that not everyone was accounted for, Aragorn grew worried.

Where was Legolas?

Spinning away from the fire, the ranger swept the countryside with his eyes, seeking any sign of his friend. When he caught a flash of gold, near to the edge of the dell where they had made camp, Aragorn breathed a sigh of relief. Legolas had been acting strangely for the past few days and Aragorn had no desire to go searching for him, even in the relative safety of Hollin.

Moving swiftly through the faint light of early dawn, Aragorn was soon within a few feet of Legolas. The ranger had been moving quietly, but Aragorn knew Legolas should have heard him coming. It surprised the man when the Elf did not respond.

Reaching out his arm, Aragorn cautiously laid a hand on Legolas's shoulder.

Legolas leapt to his feet, drawing his white knife and bringing it in front of him, ready to defend himself!

Aragorn hastily took a step back. Perhaps it had not been such a good idea to come up behind Legolas like that!

Aragorn looked closely at his friend. Although Legolas held a battle ready stance, his eyes were withdrawn and showed no sign of recognition.

"Legolas!" Aragorn quietly called the Elf's name. Legolas tensed, his eyes staring straight ahead without seeing anything. "Legolas! Tolo dan, mellon nξn!" (Legolas! Come back, my friend!)

Slowly, Legolas relaxed and lowered his knife. He blinked. The look of withdrawn confusion left his eyes, but a light of wary fearfulness remained in their still, blue, depths.

"Estel," he murmured, sinking once more to the ground.

Aragorn dropped to his knees next to his friend, wrapping an arm about his shoulders.

They sat thus for a moment, then Legolas stirred and looked up.

"I'm sorry, Aragorn," he said. "Did you need something?"

The ranger smiled wryly. "I came over to tell you supper is ready. I had no idea I would be attacked for my trouble!"

Legolas blushed and looked away. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I guess you startled me."

Aragorn could not help the wide grin which spread over his face at this comment. "I, STARTLED you?" he stammered, grinning widely.

Legolas raised his head, looking at the man out of the corner of his eye. The Elf narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Yes, you did," he said slowly.

"I seem to remember one golden haired Elf saying something to the effect that a simple mortal could never sneak up on and startle an Elf," Aragorn said smugly.

Legolas tried to smile, but the curvature of his lips did not match the sadness in his eyes. "Perhaps this Elf was simply patronizing this simple mortal," he said.

Aragorn forced Legolas to look him in the eye. "Or perhaps not," he said quietly, all trace of mirth gone. "What troubles you, mellon nξn," he asked. "You are not yourself!" He gently smoothed the golden hair back from his friend's forehead. "What memories haunt your eyes? Why do you sit here alone? What do you remember?"

Legolas bowed his head. Aragorn continued to slowly stroke the Elf's hair as he waited for a reply.

"Deep they delved us. Fair they wrought us. High they built us. But they are gone. Only the stones remember them. Did I say they were strange? And so they were; many of my kindred thought them strange. But I did not." Legolas's voice was strange: distant. Aragorn did not completely understand what his friend spoke of, but he did not interrupt the flow of words.

"I thought them great, and good, and beautiful; very beautiful." He raised his head. "But they are gone. They sought the Havens long, long ago. I was not here when they were attacked. Attacked. Slaughtered! Murdered by the Lord of Gifts! Gifts indeed! He gave a gift to my home; a new name! Greenwood it was and Greenwood it should still be, but it is not. Mirkwood it is called now. That was his gift to us! Annatar! Would that I could have beheld the destruction of Eregion. If I had been able to meet Sauron on the plains, he would not now be taking his ease in Barad-dur!" Legolas's eyes flashed with a fell light as he spoke. Aragorn's hand fell limp at his side in shock. He had never seen Legolas act like this. Indeed, Aragorn had not truly known that Legolas was of an age to remember things to make him act like this.

Legolas fell silent and sat quietly, trembling slightly.

Aragorn regained use of his limbs. Sliding onto the ground next to Legolas, he wrapped his arms around the Elf, pulling the slight frame onto his broad chest and supporting him.

"I should not have left them. I should not have left her!"

"Who?" Aragorn was unsure of whether Legolas would answer him, but was pleased when he did.

"Tauriel," was the only answer.

For a moment, Aragorn sat still, waiting to see if Legolas would say more, but when he did not, he pressed the matter.

"Who is Tauriel?" He murmured.

"Was," came the bitter reply.

Aragorn sat for a moment, trying to decide how to continue the conversation. In the end he chose the most direct course. "Who was she?" he asked, gently rubbing his hand in circles on Legolas's back in a soothing pattern.

"My love, my heart, my life, my own. She was my wife." Legolas's voice had become flat, emotionless, as impassive as a slab of granite. "Shall I tell you of us? Let me tell you a tale of how a Silvan prince came to love a Sindarin princess."

In a voice which was as cold, and devoid of feeling as a tomb, Legolas began his tale.

"I was born some little time before Sauron attempted to treat with the Elves of Eregion. (1) For some three hundred years, Greenwood lay quiet and safe. I went often as an ambassador between my father's realm and Eregion. I was sent because I was one of the few of my people who did not despise the Noldor. It was not long before my father found out why I delighted in them so. Living with the people of Elrond was a maiden who was no Noldor. Her name was Tauriel. She was a daughter of Thingol and Melian, sister to Luthien, fairest Elf maid ever to grace the plain of Arda. Luthien was like unto her father, but Tauriel was a true daughter of Melian. After the death of Thingol by the hands of the Dwarves, when Melian had departed Middle Earth to return to the home of the Valar and Maiar, of whom she was one, Tauriel chose to remain in Doriath, in the forests of her birth. Well was she named, Tauriel, Forest Daughter. She was a true daughter of the forest. After a time, she joined her kinsman Elrond in Eregion. (2) She had the wisdom of her mother and was a great help to Elrond in dealing with the Dwarves of Moria. She held no bitterness against them for what their ancestors had done to her father. She grieved for her father, but she thought, as her mother had, that he had been in the wrong. We met, quite by chance, in a small glade of beeches where I was accustomed to spend my nights. It seemed that it was a favorite place of hers also. We had often seen each other, at banquets and such, but we had never really met. That night, as we talked under the stars, with the silken leaves of the beeches caressing our heads, I fell in love."

As Legolas spoke, the rest of the Fellowship slowly began to leave their places around the fire and edge closer, straining to hear the soft words. The Elf seemed unaware of their presence. He still leaned on Aragorn, but his body was tense, like a bowstring which has been held at full draw for too long.

"My father did not take well the news that I wished to marry. He was not opposed to my choice of maiden, in that he was well pleased; he simply thought I was yet too young. In time we convinced him that it was not foolishness for us to be wed; he finally gave us his blessing."

The Fellowship had arranged themselves into a semi-circle about the prince. They sat listening raptly, even Pippin was silent. No one present, not even wise old Gandalf, knew the whole tale which Legolas told. (3) It was a time not often mentioned by those who had lived in it.

"We built a house in the branches of the beech trees where we had first met. Tauriel would stay there and I would live with her whenever I was not in Mirkwood. We were content. She continued to assist Lord Elrond and I was often called away to help my father."

Legolas paused, slipping his hand inside the neck of his tunic and grasping something which hung there.

"I called her my jewel. She wore a green stone on a silver chain about her neck. The Lintaur it was called; Song of the Forest. When she was glad, green fire seemed to spring from it, lighting her face and making her even more beautiful, if such a thing were possible. When she was grieved, the stone grew dark, instead of green, it appeared black as the darkest night. One day, a message came from Mirkwood; my father needed my counsel urgently. As I prepared to go, Tauriel came to me and said that she had a surprise for me. She would not say what it was, but ordered me to go, saying that I must hasten back if I wished to learn her secret. I was already packed and seated on my horse when she came running after me. She pressed her necklace into my hand..."

Flashback————

"Take this with you!"

"But, nξn meleth!" (My beloved!)

"No! Do not argue! Take it and go!"

Legolas bent down from his horse and wrapped his arms about his beautiful wife.

"I will return to you as soon as I may, my most precious jewel!"

"I know, meleth (beloved). I know. Now go!"

Clasping the necklace about his neck, Legolas murmured a word to his horse and leapt away. The Elven steed galloped up the edge of the foothills surrounding their home, a blur of white with a dot of green and gold seated atop it, soon too far away for even Elven eyes to see.

End flashback————

"That was the last time I saw her."

Legolas's eyes had filled with tears, now they overflowed and ran slowly down his pale cheeks. Aragorn gently pulled the Elf's head onto his shoulder and murmured soft words of comfort in his ear.

"I should not have left her!"

Legolas could no longer continue. Gandalf cleared his throat noisily, everyone save Legolas turned towards the wizard.

"I was not present at the time, but I have heard the story from others who were. Once Sauron had forged the One Ring, he took all strength of Mordor that he could gather together and attacked the Elves in Eregion, trying to gain the rest of the Rings. Although he failed in this, he did succeed in destroying Eregion and massacring most of the inhabitants, Elves, Dwarves, and men. The few survivors either shut themselves inside Moria, or traveled with Elrond to where they founded Imladris. By the time the other realms discovered what had happened, it was too late. Galadriel and Thranduil decided not to send forces against Sauron, they knew he was to strong to defeat at that time."

Legolas started up. "We should have sent aid! He was strong, but we could have defeated him! We should have risen up, attacked him as he attacked us. We should not have left them to die!" His voice was harsh, angry beyond reason.

Gandalf rose to his feet, his grey mantle billowing around him, making him seem great and majestic.

"You do not know of what you speak, Prince! If the Elves of Mirkwood had taken up arms that day, many more lives would have been lost. Many others you love would have died!" His harsh words seemed to shake Legolas, the prince sank back to the ground next to Aragorn.

"But, so many. So many died anyways! Do you know what they did? They could not be content to simply kill, they had to completely destroy! Everything was gone! There was nothing left!"

The Fellowship stared at Legolas in bewilderment. His eyes darted among them madly, his voice rising to a hysterical pitch.

"They burned it! They burned our house, they probably burned her inside! A charred ring, a blot on the fair plains of Eregion! But fair no longer! The green plains were scorched and trampled, the trees desecrated and hacked to pieces, the homes burnt to the ground! The few who survived, most were so traumatized they had to seek the Havens and leave these lands! Do you understand how much one of my people must go through to have no alternative but to leave forever? To much for any person to go through! But they did! And now, they are gone! She is gone! I should not have left her!"

His tirade spent, Legolas crumpled to the ground. Aragorn caught him and held the lithe body tenderly in his arms.

The others sat for a time, thinking on all they had heard.

Pippin rose slowly to his feet. Merry noticed and cocked his head to one side, but Pippin paid him no mind. Walking forward, he knelt on the ground in front of Legolas. Reaching out a hesitant hand, the little Hobbit gently uncurled Legolas's hand from where it lay at his breast, tightly clenched. All gasped as Pippin's searching revealed that Legolas grasped a beautiful green jewel. It was such a dark green, it appeared to be almost black, but in the depths of the darkness, a flash of green fire could be seen; faint, almost to be thought of as merely a figment of imagination, but present nonetheless.

"The Lintaur," Frodo breathed. No one could take their eyes from the beautiful gem. "He still wears it," Frodo said quietly.

"Yes," said a quiet voice. "And I always will." Legolas had not opened his eyes, but he clasped his hand once more about the necklace. "I always will."


(1)This would put Legolas's birth sometime around 1150, SA.

(2) This is slightly AU, because Elrond did not go to Eregion until Gil-Galad, worried by the actions of Sauron, sent him there in 1695 SA.

(3)The Istari did not arrive in Middle Earth until the beginning of the Third Age.



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