Legolas & Gimli's Farewell

[Note: Legolas' song to the sea is a direct quote from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King]

        King Elessar, born Aragorn son of Arathorn, great King of Gondor, was gone. Weary yet satisfied, he had passed from this life and his Queen, Arwen Evenstar, departed for the lonely woods of Lothlórien to live out the remainder of her life alone.
        Now the only remaining members of the Fellowship were Legolas the Elf and Gimli, Gloín's son and lord of the Glittering Caves. Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took had spent their last years in comfort in Gondor and then had been laid beside Aragorn, under his protection even in death.
        Samwise Gamgee was also gone, having already crossed the Sea after the death of his dear wife Rosie had left him alone once again. Freed from ties to Middle-Earth, he had gone on to join Frodo in the West.
        With the loss of his friends, the desire for the Sea grew even greater within the heart of Legolas. The time had come for him to leave. Many Elves of Mirkwood now dwelt in Ithilien, once again making it the fairest of all lands as in times past. Legolas had felt the desire for the West growing steadily ever since he had first heard the gulls during the War of the Ring, and now he was ready to go.

        "Awake, Ancient One."
        An olden voice rumbled deep yet kind. "Hello, Elf, friend of Ents. What brings you to all the way to Treegarth?"
        Legolas smiled gently. "I have come to ask your help, friend Treebeard. The time has come for me to leave the shores of Middle-earth, to sail West."
        "Hoom! To do this you will need a ship," Treebeard rustled his branches thoughtfully, "And for that you need wood."
        "I see your mind is as sharp as my arrows, Old One. I would sooner lay a strike to my own body than to the roots of an Ent-tree. So I have come to you for guidance." Legolas sat himself on the green turf at Treebeard's base.
        The old Ent glanced down at the Elf, touched by his respect and love for the ancient trees of Ent-kind. "You are truly a friend of Ents, Legolas of Mirkwood. You and your people have restored Ithilien to its former glory and have been generous friends to us since before the whole hasty affair with that foulfaced-evilhanded-smoothspeaking-treeslayer Saruman. Hoom!" This was accented by a terrible creaking of Treebeard's branches as though he were shaking with rage at the mere memory of the turncoat wizard.
        But the old Ent then continued, "Therefore, I will help you now. Return to Ithilien, what you need will be brought to you all timely." Treebeard's deep voice rumbled with affection for the Elf.
        Legolas quickly rose from his seat, a graceful smile on his lips once more. Treebeard's manner and speech always amused him. "I thank you, friend Treebeard. May your limbs be strong and your leaves ever green." With these parting words, the Elf nimbly disappeared into the dark of the woods, ever watched by grateful Ents.

        Several weeks later, there was a great rumbling and rustling in Ithilien, and the fair Elves were treated to a sight few have seen: a grand host of Ents. Treebeard came, leading several of his kind, each carrying a large grey log.
        "Friend Treebeard, mae govannen!" Legolas welcomed the Ents to his home.
        "We have brought what you need. One of the eldest of our kind has given of himself to aid in your quest. He was one of few who lived in the Golden Wood of Laurelindóran and partook of its beauty and power for many moons. Now he desires to follow the way of his friends, the Elves, and so has given himself for you. Here is enough for your ship, Ent-friend." Treebeard and the others then placed the large logs at Legolas' feet.
        He felt his heart swell gratefully. "I thank you, friend Treebeard and ancient Ones. May you long prosper in Middle-Earth!" The other Elves echoed their kinsman's blessing.
        Treebeard just rustled his leaves pleasantly and, after dining together, the Ents departed once again for Treegarth of Orthanc.
        "Now my desire may be fulfilled." Legolas sighed as he sat upon the shores of the river Anduin.

        Deep in the Glittering Caves of Aglarond, the jovial, boisterous voices of Dwarves rang free and loud and their lord, Gimli Gloín's son, was happy beyond compare. Yet there was a longing inside his heart. A longing for something more beautiful and precious than any Dwarf could craft. Something that had graced his sight and imbedded itself in his mind long ago. Something his heart greatly desired. But what it was he could not uncover.
        Finally, Gimli decided that he had been too long without seeing his dear friend Legolas. Putting everything in order, he left the Glittering Caves in the care of his friend Thraklin and set out for Ithilien and the company of Legolas.
        On the edge of the forests of Ithilien, Mirkwood archers sat amongst the tree branches, ever watchful of their home. Gimli, recalling his encounter with the Elves of the Golden Wood, trod carefully but still not so quiet as to hide his approach from sharp Elven ears.
        Suddenly, Gimli found himself eye-to-eye with at least half a dozen arrow shafts.
        "Who is it that enters the home of Prince Legolas of Mirkwood?" A serious-looking Elf approached from behind a tree; he reminded Gimli of Haldir, the Lórien Elf. "A Dwarf? What business have you in Ithilien, son of stone?"
        "I am on here on personal matters, friend Elf. I am Gimli, son of Gloín."
        At these words, the Elf raised his hand and the drawn bows were lowered. Then placing his hand upon his heart, he bowed to Gimli. "I am Lindir (Swift Watcher). Forgive me, Elendil, friend of our prince. You are welcome here. In fact, I think Prince Legolas has been expecting you. Come, we will take you to him."
        As Lindir led Gimli through the woods of Ithilien, there came the sweetest songs from the treetops. To hear the beautiful voices of Elves again filled Gimli's heart with an even greater longing for something he could not yet touch or even envision.
        Soon, they came to the shore of Anduin and what met their eyes seemed to be a project of large proportions. There sat the skeleton of a ship, one of an ancient grey wood. Atop the forming skeleton, stood a fair-haired Elf, who adroitly leapt from beam to beam, his hands giving shape the ship. It was Legolas indeed and from his lips flowed a song that Gimli had not heard since his last visit to Ithilien many years ago.

"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voice of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years are failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices of the Lost Isle calling,
In EressĎa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people forever!"

        Gimli smiled at the sight and sound of his old friend and moved toward the skeleton, hopping up on a pile of logs. "Your borders are well guarded, friend Elf. It is fortunate for me that I am an acquaintance!"
        Legolas had heard his friend's approach and now smiled at his words, leaping down to the sandy shore. "Vendui, Gimli, my friend. It has indeed taken you long enough to visit." His laugh came merry and welcoming, an arm perched round the Dwarf's strong shoulder.
        Gimli rested the head of his axe on the ground, gesturing to the ship. "Now what might this be?"
        "This," Legolas rested his palm against the wood, "Is my farewell. I am leaving these shores. The call of the Sea is strong in my heart and the time has come for me to join the others in the West."
        The Dwarf felt a great sadness well up in his heart at the news of his friend's departure but, at the same time, the longing grew even greater.
        Then Legolas peered at his stalwart companion again. "You could come with me, if you so desire."
        "Is such a thing permitted?" asked Gimli.
        "You are my friend, an Elendil. It would give my heart great joy if you would join me in the West. Yet, I sense that there is a longing in your heart that points there as well." The Elf spoke gently, seating himself upon the river shore.
        Gimli leaned on his axe thoughtfully. "You were always keen of sight, my friend," said he. "There is a desire in my heart, one I cannot explain nor name, except that it is beautiful beyond the skill of any hand, even a Dwarf's. A thing to be reverenced and cherished. The desire for it makes me weary and yet strong to search for it."
        A smile coursed across the Elf's face. "You have seen and basked in the beauty and favor of the Lady of the Wood. It is not a sight easily forgotten, Gimli. Allow me to comfort your heart and take you with me into the West where you shall gaze on her beauty for all of time. I know it would please the Lady, for she has no more steadfast defender than yourself."
        A smile came to Gimli's own face, partly due to the memory of his argument with Eómer of Rohan over the beauty and virtue of Lady Galadriel. Then he looked at Legolas in wonder and a deep kindred love. "You are a true friend to me, Legolas of Mirkwood. I gladly accept your invitation. I shall help you build your ship and then christen it with our first and last voyage from Middle-earth."
        "Then it shall not be a lonely sailing after all." Legolas smiled.

        So it came to pass that, together, Elf and Dwarf finished the grey ship and, when it was done, took their leave of Ithilien and sailed down the river Anduin until it opened unto the High Sea. From there they sailed ever westward, finally passing into a grand green country where summer is ever fair and flourishing.
        And so it was that the nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring passed from Middle-earth, leaving behind a grand tale to be ever sung in woods, mountains, castles, and hobbit-holes.

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