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Warnings: Character Death, AU
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JRR Tolkien. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: I must admit this was inspired partly by "The Dove and The Rose" and partly by a great book I'm reading on the subject of storytellers "Homespun".
There's a bit of background on this. I'm not a writer but more of an oral story teller. So I decided just on a lark to record myself telling a story. What follows is nearly verbatim, you'll have to excuse any facts I get wrong (other than the glaring AU), as I was also working on my improvisation skills. If I find some good recording software, and get into the habit of brewing L/G stories on the back burner, you might one day get these in their original format.
Ahem. Character Death, Blatant Misuse of Tolkien's Work.
There is a story I once heard, while traveling with a small caravan of merchants. A dwarf was the story teller, and he told us he had heard it from his father, who had heard it from his, who heard it from his. All the way back, with each generation adding a chapter. This dwarf, who's name I never heard, said his chapter was the last. And such a sad chapter it was.
It began in the land near the Glittering Caves, for that is how all the Dwarves mark such things, to the nearest of their dwellings. And it was in the years directly following the Quest of the Fellowship, for that is how all the creatures of Middle Earth marked the years, after that fateful event.
In the Glittering Caves, In the years following the Quest, there lived an Elf, and a Dwarf. They lived sometimes in the caves, and sometimes in the nearby settlement of the Elves. Often they traveled together, through all the woods, and valleys, and mountains.
This was certainly unusual, for the two races were bitter enemies in that time, and only met to trade necessities and insults. But these two were closer than brothers, closer than lovers you might say. For they never parted.
But I run in front of myself. First, perhaps you would like to know their names. Legolas, named a friend by the Dwarves, and Gimli, named a friend by the Elves. You may have heard of them, for they and the rest of Fellowship are the things of bed time stories and bawdy songs. The latter you would do better to ignore. Colorful as they may be, they are not the same heroes of this story. Most of those songs, I might add, are the products of certain elves with grudges against their shorter neighbors.
But history non-withstanding, Legolas and Gimli became the greatest of friends. Gimli would stay with Legolas in the small settlements of the Elves, making intricate jewelry, or deadly blades for the inhabitants. He became known as a master of his craft, and they say during his stays the fire of his forge was never put out.
And Legolas too, would stay long years with Gimli and his people, helping the hunting parties, or entertaining the small dwarven children with fanciful tales and songs.
And though Elves of any sort have no great love of caves, Legolas himself had been raised in a great Mirkwood cave. And having friends in the mines made it little hardship to pass the years there.
He even grew to love those dark tunnels and the bearded Dwarves, who scurried through them like ants in an anthill.
He spent nearly his entire life with them in those caves. You must remember, though ancient by our standards, he was still quite young in the eyes of the Elves when he first met Gimli the Dwarf.
And he was still quite young when Gimli died. Mortals are not meant to live forever, and no force can hold them to Middle Earth. So Gimli grew old, the way all Dwarves do. His flaming beard turned white, His proud shoulders slumped, His compassionate eyes grew dim and cloudy. Only his smile never faded, until they put him to his rest.
And on that day, Legolas was still as young and fair as he had been on the first day of their adventures.
But that was the way of things, and Legolas himself helped lay his friend down, covering that familiar face with the rune carved slab. "Here lies Gimli, Son of Glóin, Lord of the Glittering Caves."
From that day on the loyal Elf never wandered far from the Hall of the Dead. To the woods to hunt, and only once to Gondor, to visit a dying friend.
The Dwarves took him in, considering him one of their own, in all but height and naked chin. He did all he could to help, teaching the crafts of his people. And telling his tales near the fires of the Great Hall. The nights were few and far between when you could not hear that fair voice lifting in one song or another.
Years upon years passed, as they will, and Legolas stayed with the dwarves. He soon began to speak their language. Dwarves have a different tongue than you or me that they speak only around their brothers. His audience changed, sons and daughters taking their mothers' and fathers' places. Generations of young Dwarves sat at the elf's feet, Lightly bearded faces glowing with wonder at the strange world their story teller wove for them. He even earned the name "Legolas the story teller"
Remember what I told you about the Elves? They live a long time, much longer than we could ever understand. Centuries, for these creatures are shorter than seasons for us. It has been so long since Elves have walked among us, that most of us have forgotten. Thousands upon Thousands of years.
And all those years Legolas stayed with the Dwarves, and stayed near the tomb of Gimli. Often he would go there in the morning, to see the shaft of sunrise fall on the carved runes of the stone box, or at night to see the moonlight softening the hard granite edges.
Centuries like seasons, and near the end of his life Legolas would often say all his seasons were winter now. He, like all Elves, longed for the sea. It drove some to madness, some even to death. But he only sat by the fire, stroking a silver-cast shell, made by Gimli to look like those of the shore. Telling the children the stories they loved to hear. Many of the Dwarves begged Legolas to go find his peace by the sea. But he would not leave his companion's resting place.
It was many, many lifetimes before my Dwarven story teller added his chapter, for it was he who remembered sitting at the Elf's feet the last night he was seen. The Dwarves were leaving the Glittering Caves. The gifts of the mountain had long since been exhausted, and the trade routes no longer supplied their needs. Legolas was asked to go, for as long as any living Dwarf could remember, the elf had always been with them, and always would be.
For weeks they asked him to come with them, and finally the Elf, with the small Dwarf child sitting near him said., "If I am here tomorrow, I will go with you." That night he told stories long into the darkness. No one slept, for at daybreak they would set out to their new home.
But just before dawn, Legolas told his last story, and disappeared into the tunnels, heading for the Hall of the Dead. The elders left him to his self, letting him say his goodbyes to his dear companion.
When the time came to leave, they sent my story teller to fetch him. In the hall it was dark, and he inched past the doorway, holding his breath though he did not know why. Suddenly a dazzling light fell across the ancient tomb of the first Lord of the Glittering Caves, quickly dropping into the reds and oranges of sunrise.
And those reds and oranges caught a pale silver flash in the carved rut of a rune. Inching closer and closer, the dwarf realized it was Legolas' silver shell, worried smooth by those hands over millennia, as a wave eventually tumbles a real shell, turning it into a perfect flawless pebble. And there was the elf, crossed arms resting on the stone slab, head pillowed on the crossed arms, with his eyes closed. In the light of the new sun, it looked like he was only just sleeping. But Elves never sleep with their eyes closed.
There was nothing for the dwarves to do but leave, a song of mourning carrying down the tunnels, to the Hall of the Dead. For the first time in any of their memories, there was no one who could pass the long hours with a light song, or a silly story.
So that is the tale of Legolas, the last Elf to walk Middle Earth. Some say if you go to the Glittering Caves, you can still find that silver shell, resting atop that ancient tomb. And if you sit near where the fires burned in the Great Hall, you can still hear the Elf's voice, and the Dwarven children's laughter.
Some even say, that this story never happened, and that Legolas and Gimli sailed over the sea together ages and ages ago.
I am not here to tell you which story to believe. I'm just the teller. But I will say this, my journeys have more than once taken me to the Glittering Caves, and though I have never ventured into the Hall of the Dead, from the doorway, at just the right moment of sunrise you can see a glitter of silver on the old carved slab, among the reds and oranges of morning. ---
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Issue No: 2.4
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