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Legolas and the Olóre Mallë Part One - # 3 of the Early Adventures series - Chathol-linn© August 20, 2003
What has happened so far: Legolas has decisively proved his bowmanship in an escapade that involved a wild boar, scared the Greenwood Elves and their Lothlorien visitor out of their minds, and fetched Legolas a visit to his father's chamber. The next day the remaining Lothlorien visitors arrive, and Legolas is struck with a desire to test bounds. He does this with varying degrees of success. He loses the Lothloriens' guest-gift - a pair of whitehandled longknives - to a wandering Dwarf, endangers and then saves his sister Elwen and visitor Arwen, and convinces all to swear an unwise oath of silence. He still manages to impress his parents to the point where Thranduil pronounces him ready to train with bladed weapons. Several sun-years pass without incident, and then one day Legolas has a premonition that starts an inexorable chain of events.
"...he could sleep, if sleep it could be called by Men, resting his mind in the strange paths of elvish dreams, even as he walked open-eyed in the light of this world." - The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien, "The Two Towers," Book III, "The Riders of Rohan."
Now they say that Elves live in the Seen and Unseen Worlds at once, and it is true. They visit the Unseen World during their enigmatic waking repose. Their intuitions are informed by flashes of clairvoyance and in Legolas this talent was highly developed. Those who ignored his counsel did so at their peril. Elves can sometimes touch the unguarded thoughts of others nearby to them. From the moment of birth and maybe before, they feel a unity with Eä that only the greatest Mortal mystics can achieve. If Legolas wished he could travel to Lothlorien and look upon the face of Galadriel who had communed with the living Valar in the Blessed Realm.
Prescient, psychic, mystic, were Legolas and all his people. But he had never seen a vision with his waking eyes until ...
Six sun-years had passed since the Lothlorien guests departed on their return journey and Thranduil pronounced Legolas ready for his first bladed weapon. In that eye blink of time Legolas pursued his swordsmanship on the training field or the practice floor, content with his progress but longing to come of age and take his place with the adults. To wish for anything was a surprise to him for, heretofore, everything Legolas wanted had been within his reach.
On his first day the weapons mistress stood before him on the practice floor of the armory and asked whether he had a preference of bladed weapon.
"Longsword," he told her. "Like Thranduil and Elwen."
"You might like knives better," she said. "They are sharper and more precise. You can use both hands. The balance of two suits you." She was right, as usual - Legolas was born with a sense of equilibrium as deep as a mine.
But Legolas said, "I will take the sword. Between a swordfight and a knife fight, the sword wins every time."
"Very well," said the weapons mistress, smiling.
So he practiced, sometimes with the lesser captains Tûr and Telien, sometimes with the weapons mistress, who was high captain of Thranduil's senior officers. They used blunt weapons at first and later, battle-ready swords. Legolas became adept at the longsword, particularly the hand-and-a-half technique. He was able to hold his own with Elwen, although he could not defeat his older sister's two-handed grip. He never equaled or surpassed Thranduil at the longsword. When he turned to the short sword he did better. After some time he could defeat Telien and his older brother Tûr together. He defeated Elwen and then Berendil, and he fought to a draw with Thranduil. However he lost continually to the weapons mistress.
"Do not be concerned," Thranduil counseled. "The short sword is her favored weapon. Everyone loses to her. Do not say I said so, but I think it is because of her short stature."
Legolas smiled, because everyone know the blade-singer wished she were as tall as all the others. Still, he observed how important it was to keep proportion in one's weapon, and he often wondered how he would fare with the pair of white-handled longknives, the lost guest-gift brought by the Lothloriens six years ago, when he had inadvertently put them into the greedy hands of a Dwarf. Then he would think guiltily of how the guest-gift had been lost, and he resolved to forget the longknives and work harder with the swords.
One sunny autumn day with the air as crisp as apples, Legolas and the Berendil the Bowmaster went hunting. They still called these outings "lessons" but they both knew Berendil had nothing more to teach Legolas about archery.
Today the practice involved a mounted archer, moving small target, bright sunlight, still air, broken cover, joined bow, single arrow. The sun beat down upon the weedy fields between the southeast side of Thranduil's hall and the Forest River where trees are thin and the marshes not yet bothersome. Berendil rode Legolas's mare Golden and Legolas rode Berendil's war horse Alagos. They rode Mortal-fashion, needing a saddle for the saddlebags. The target was a brown hare, dashing for the thickets.
On Berendil's instruction, Legolas rose in the stirrups, torso muscles knit against the horse's motion. He bent his bow, sighting through the haze of sun, pollen, dust, mites and motes that he knew from every day of his life in the Greenwood. Sunbeams caught the motes and gave the air a gauzy, woven look.
Legolas thought the sun became very bright. Or else some trick of light caused the air to fill with transparent ribbons of muted colors - gold, green, silver. The air-ribbons rippled and danced before Legolas as if in a wind but there was no wind. Some were like rain-sheets of light, tall as trees and long as leagues, reaching all the way to the Lonely Mountain. Some of the light-ribbons were small as scarves in shape and size. And some stretched like string directly from Legolas's bow to the running brown hare which, Legolas noted with bemusement, appeared to be in several places at once. One of these target-strings was outlined with brilliant blue-white light.
Legolas's mind said, that one, and he loosed his arrow. It sped along the chosen line. A second later the hare lay dead, an arrow through its head. Huntress would have applauded.
Legolas shook his head in wonder and the sheets of light vanished. The weedy grass was ordinary. The light was ordinary sunlight. Dust was dust, and not part of any ribbon. The sun beat down on his head.
Berendil galloped up on Golden. If he had caught any of the experience from Legolas's mind he did not tell it. But his look contained speculation.
"A good shot," he said. "We are near the field of juniper bushes. Does the cook need a crow for the stockpot?"
"Always," said Legolas, who knew because he had once spent a week as scullery boy in the kitchens, in penalty for a certain unlucky experiment involving liquid bread.
Berendil said, "A hawk and a crow are almost overhead. Get the crow." Legolas's one glance skyward showed him the hawk and the crow as clearly as the bow in his hand. The air rippled again with ribbons of light, and a line of blue-white light appeared, stretching to the crow. Elated, Legolas realized he did not need a second look. He thought, there, and loosed an arrow over his shoulder. The crow fell to earth seconds later.
Then a strange thing happened to the ripples of light. They changed into a field of stars that winked out. A shape, a vast magnificent face, eclipsed them and covered the sky. It was the face of an agéd Man if Legolas was any judge, with long grey hair and a grey beard. Never had Legolas seen a more kindly face. He had eyes like dark lakes. They twinkled with merriment. The lips smiled. Legolas smiled back.
"Good hunting, Legolas," said the vision. His words could have been thunder, mind speech, or both; Legolas did not know. "You will find good counsel in a foretelling, but to glimpse the future you must first see the past. The Olórë Mallë awaits you. Farewell!" The face dimmed and vanished.
Legolas remembered to breathe. Had he been less a horseman he would have tumbled off Alagos.
"How did you hit the crow without aiming?" asked Berendil.
For a moment Legolas regarded Berendil as if he were the vision and the agéd Man, the Seen World. Then he said, "I guided the arrow with my mind's eye." He told of the sight-lines of fiery light leading to the target. "And then, I saw...something else. An old Man. He said I would find a foretelling on the Path of Dreams - he called it the Olórë Mallë. That is Quenya. Have you seen anything like this, Berendil?"
Berendil said, "No. You have had a vision. I know of one other archer who saw such things but I have never had a waking vision." He turned Golden around, then stopped. "When I was a lad in Hollin our Loremaster said such things came to Elves selected for some....special destiny. The first vision, he said, signifies a greater prophecy to come. It always manifests itself through ...that person's greatest talent."
"Do you mean all the archery lessons and practice were for nothing? I could have waited for the vision?"
"No," said Berendil. "You were born with your talent and you developed it through hard work. The vision is an effect and not the cause of your skill. If, ah, destiny selected you and you were a harpist, your vision would have something to do with harps. Do you understand?"
"No. Most Elves shoot well with the bow. I am not selected for any special destiny. I will live here in the Greenwood, be the king's envoy and soldier, add my share to the lore books, find a love, and someday maybe seek the havens. That is all I want. I have no wish to see visions."
"Thranduil said your prowess would serve a high purpose some day. He spoke with the Sight, I think. You should obey the prompting and seek the Path of Dreams."
"I do not want to know the future, and I never felt less like repose. But I am curious. Perhaps I will ask Elsila for a dream potion." He collected the carcasses of the hare and crow and put them in the game bag. "Who is this other archer that saw visions?"
"Never mind. It is no one that will ever draw with you or against you," he said, adding, "Stay out of the competitions henceforth. Else there will be no competition, except for second place."
Returning from the hunt, Legolas delivered the hare and the crow to the cook's apprentice. Then he went to the circular clearing that lay on the stream bank opposite Thranduil’s hall. The clearing was deserted in the late afternoon. He meant to enter repose and find the Path of Dreams. Instead he spent the next hour looking up at blue sky through golden beech boughs, resisting the urge to loose an arrow and look for visions.
He felt Elsila's thought before he heard her soft footsteps.
"Berendil says you had a waking dream," she said, aloud, sitting beside her son and pressing her bare feet into the grass.
"Yes. It said 'To glimpse the future you must first see the past.' What can that mean? A memory and then a prophecy?" He turned to face her, looking into the depths of her eyes.
Elsila met his gaze for a moment before looking down and taking his hand. "We think it means that you will have a special destiny, a strange fate, maybe. Seek the Path of Dreams, Legolas."
Legolas thought that over and then said, "When I go into repose I am always at the Awakening. What else is there?”
"It is time you found out. Look!" She took from her pocket a threaded needle and a ribbon. She put the two ends of the ribbon together to form a loop. "How many sides does the ribbon have?
"Why, two, of course. The inner and outer loop."
Elsila took one end of the ribbon and gave it a half twist and then joined the ends again. With three quick stitches she secured the ends together. "And now?"
"No, it is one-sided now. See?" She took the needle and scratched a line down the center of the ribbon, following the half twist and stopping when she returned to the starting point. She removed the stitches and held up the ribbon. It bore a long scratch mark on both sides.
"This loop with the half twist is called 'Lorien's loop,'" Elsila explained. "It goes back into itself over and over. Time on the Olore Malle can be that way, Legolas. Remember that, son. The time has come for you to venture further on the Path of Dreams. Follow the prompting of the waking vision. Our Loremaster in Hollin always said that such things indicated a special destiny. If so, then it will find you, will you or nil you. So be calm."
Legolas smiled. "Practical advice. I will do so."
"Then I will leave you and return in a while to see how you fared on the Path of Dreams."
She departed and Legolas prepared to go within himself. He felt the pupils of his eyes changing into the oval shape characteristic of an Elf in repose. But suddenly there came into his mind, as unexpected as a gust of wind, a compelling memory of his childhood. It was a rich memory, a memory of a story; a story of Elves and Orc-fighting and Elsila's healing skills. It began with a congenial company who gathered round Bessain's fireplace, one autumn afternoon years ago.
*** Ale by the Fireside ***
As youngsters Elwen and Legolas always knew it was better to ask forgiveness than permission. That and the inventiveness of their escapades provided Thranduil much exercise of his famed temper. One autumn day about the time Legolas began to learn archery from the Bowmaster, he and Elwen overheard Tûr, one of the weapons mistress's four captains, speak of ale as "liquid bread." Interpreting the phrase literally, they designed a test of its truth. Sometimes the Elves left bread in the forest to keep animals away from gardens. So Legolas and Elwen left three large pails of liquid bread just outside the clearing across the stream, to see what would happen.
What happened was, three forest pigs found the pails and drank them dry. By evening, wonderfully drunk, they found an apple tree where someone had picked and stored the fruit in a basket but neglected to bring it inside. With snorts of appreciation all around, the three pigs ate the fruit (the last of the crop of Sweet Gold, Thranduil's favorite) and some of the basket.
"I guess Tûr was wrong," observed Legolas to Elwen. "Ale does not have the same effect on the stomach as bread."
Thranduil's wrath fell on Legolas and Elwen like a storm but did little to quell the hilarity of everyone else including Berendil and Huntress, to whom Thranduil sent the culprits at once. Among the Sindar the aunts and uncles (or if none, then "near-kin”) are the disciplinarians, not the parents. Berendil and Huntress saw the escapade as a healthy exercise of curiosity. They refused to set any penalty, until Thranduil, exasperated, demanded it. Berendil and Huntress stood before Thranduil, looked askance at him, said "Yours to command, Milord King," bowed, and departed.
Berendil, bluff soldier but also skilled diplomat, said, "What would please Elwen most?"
Huntress replied, "She would love to be in the stables when the grey mare foals. If not for her other duties I believe she would be there day and night."
"You know he has never attended Captains' Mess. The work is hard but he will not lack for entertainment."
Shortly afterwards Berendil and Huntress announced the culprits' sentences. They set Elwen to be a stable hand for a week and sent Legolas to the kitchens as scullery boy. At first Legolas and Elwen thought themselves unjustly penalized - parents are not supposed to overrule the discipline of the aunts and uncles. But life is not always fair, and anyway they soon found the penalties more fun than a market fair. Thus the aunts and uncles kept peace between the master of the house and the young adventurers.
But when Thranduil recovered his temper he suffered pangs of conscience at such harsh sentences. On the third day he gave in and went to see how Elwen fared at the stables. He found her happy. The stablemaster thought the stars rose and set on Princess Elwen. She was in love with the new colt Hithui, the horse of her dreams whom she had helped foal.
Cheered, Thranduil went next to see Legolas in the kitchens. They lay in the older part of his hall, set into the west side of the hill and fronted with two arched windows and an arched doorway. On either side Elsila and the cook maintained garden plots of herbs and flowers. The windows provided a breathtaking autumn view of yellow beeches and red maples against the wild green of the dark firs.
To this pleasant place came Thranduil and he got as far as the threshold before the cook barred his way. She stood in the doorway. She held her hand against his chest. She explained that one did not come directly from the stables to the kitchens of Bessain. She pointed to the green marble fountain amid the gardens, where the grape-carved basin caught the splashing waters. Hidden pipes carried the water from the stream to the basin and thence away to the gardens.
Thranduil drew himself up to his full height and informed the cook that, as king, he went where he pleased, and should she doubt it she could ask anyone at his court.
The cook drew herself up to her full height, which equaled Thranduil's. She informed Thranduil that she set the state of kings of Elves at nothing compared to the state of her kitchens. Should he doubt it, she invited him to inquire of anyone at court regarding the truth of the matter, and meanwhile get him to the fountain if he wished to enter.
Thranduil was an accomplished strategist and knew how to pick his battles. He bowed, withdrew to the stream and laved his boots. He dusted himself from head to toe. He went to the fountain and washed his hands. This time Bessain admitted him.
Legolas, up to his elbows in scouring a greasy crock-pot, was impressed. He did not mind the kitchen work. Not only did he have all the bread and honey he wished; he had already learned an amazing amount of information from the cook and her large and motley band of admirers, of which Legolas was now one. He had not known, for example, that the weapon mistress and her captains used the kitchens as an informal officers' club. Or that the Dwarf-king under the Misty Mountains was beholden to Bessain, through one Dwarf named Theall, for a remarkable favor. Or that the cook made Thranduil's favorite dish, venison stew, with broth made from crows who had stuffed themselves with juniper berries.
Bessain said, "Legolas, Thranduil is here. You may stop and visit with your father." She went to a tall stone jug in the corner farthest from the fireplace and drew a dipper of cool brown ale into a pottery mug. She gave it to Thranduil, got one for herself, and sat down beside him.
Legolas removed his white smock and dried his hands and arms on it. Then he went to his father who gave him a welcome squeeze of the shoulders and sat him down nearby.
"Why did you have the aunts and uncles punish us?" inquired Legolas. "We were not disobedient."
"You are right and I was wrong, my son," said Thranduil, "If you will forgive me this time I will not interfere with the aunts and uncles again. Bessain! Can you spare Legolas for a while?"
"He has worked hard and not complained. I will gladly give him a holiday. Legolas - fetch us another mug of ale and one for yourself and your chores are finished." But no sooner had Legolas complied than Huntress and Berendil came through the door.
"Ah, Thranduil! Came to see about Legolas, did you?" they said. "We had a wager with Bessain. And here you are, bested by your conscience and your cook."
"By my captains also, it seems. And you are here because...?"
"Captain's Mess," they explained and sat down at the table. It was a large trestle table common to many kitchens, but unlike other such tables in ordinary kitchens, it had separate wooden chairs and green linen cushions stuffed with duck down. A tall vase of queens-lace and goldenrod stood in the center, arranged by Elsila. In proof of the officers' claim, the Weaponsmistress showed up next with her other two captains the brothers Tûr and Telien. Legolas fetched them mugs of ale and as he did so, Galadel the Minstrel arrived with his harp. Legolas found him a mug, and then Elsila the Queen appeared at the door.
"Here is good company," she said. "Legolas, a mug for me, please." Then they all found seats and propped their feet comfortably on benches and trestles. Legolas's guarded thought to Berendil was, if this were punishment, he would seek trouble at every chance.
The weapons mistress lifted her mug. "Let us salute bread-givers and bread," she said, "and what kind of bread shall it be?"
"Liquid bread!" shouted everyone except Thranduil.
"Very well, Blade-singer," he said with a laugh. "I accept defeat from one who never did. - I shall tell Legolas how you first came to our hall."
Legolas filled a crockery pitcher with ale for the table, noticing the odd looks of his future captain. She was the smallest of the adult Elves, maybe five feet eight inches at most. She cropped her hair short - no one else did. It hung around her head like a golden bowl, with her ear tips always poking through. She never wore house robes and rarely the hunting attire favored by most. She liked her practice clothes - a kind of wrapped and divided skirt of fawn skin that covered her from waist to thigh, and a cropped shirt She often went barefoot, and Bessain permitted this in her kitchens. She wore four blades even in Thranduil's presence and it was no whim that he put his army in her keeping. She called the blue of her eyes "turquoise." She said it was the color of the southern sea. Legolas had never seen the sea or anything like the liquid color of her eyes. But then the autumn wind shouted for admittance at the kitchen windows. Young Legolas forgot the blade-singer's looks and gave his attention to Thranduil’s story.
1. The Sindarin Dictionary, © The Sindarin dictionary project, 1999-2001, French law applies regarding intellectual property. Source of the words "Alagos" meaning "Windstorm," "Hithui" meaning "Misty," and "Bessain" meaning "Bread-giver."
2. OLÓRIN AS VISIONARY GANDALF - "It is said that Olórin dwelt in Lórien in Valinor, and that, though he loved the Elves, he walked among them unseen ... and they did not know whence came the fair visions or the promptings of wisdom that he put into their hearts. - Unfinished Tales, JRR Tolkien, "The Istari."
3. Nargothrond archers whose arrows never fail - The Lay of Leithian, JRR Tolkien, Canto VI.
4. Re Sindarin customs on the roles and authority of the aunts and uncles/godparent, see “Elflocks - How Legolas Cured His Sister of Teasing,” Chathol-linn
5. Another name for Lorien's loop is Mobius strip, see http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae401.cfm
6. The canon does not say that the pupils of Elves' eyes change shape when they are in their open-eyed repose. It is my fabrication. - Chathol-linn
Legolas and the Olóre Mallë Part Two -
- by Chathol-linn© July 30, 2002
“As the autumn wind shouted for admittance at the kitchen windows, Legolas … gave his attention to Thranduil and his story.”
*** I Will Drink Your Blood from the Goblet of Your Heart***
“You know I fought in the Battle of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age,” Thranduil said. “Sauron was vanquished. In his defeat the Orcs streamed from Mordor in all directions. Lost and leaderless as they were, their remaining purpose was to destroy what they could before they themselves were destroyed. Thus was Isildur slain at Gladden Fields. Many a queen and chieftess fought yet another battle while the lords were returning home – ridding the lands of fleeing Orcs. So it was in the Greenwood.”
“The Orcs were inside the borders?” asked Legolas.
“The forest was as grey with them as a pestilence of Mortal flesh. I and my army returned, what of it remained. We lost more to Orc arrows in the forest. But the Orcs saw we were well armed, and some left to find easier plunder. On gaining the hall we summoned and gathered in all of our folk. Then we rested and planned how to scour the forest.”
Legolas said, “Was this after you built the halls above ground?”
“Some was completed. Our defense walls reached from one side of the hill to the other and as far forward as the old Great Gates. The bridge over the Forest River was a weak point in our defense, leading from the Forest Path to our walls and front gates, but we needed the bridge. One evening a summer storm came on with thunder cracking the skies. Over this we heard the sounds of battle outside the walls. When we rushed to the parapets the lightning flashes revealed an awful scene.
“Two Elf-women were fighting an army of Orcs in the narrows of the Forest Path.Side by side, they fought as they stood and edged closer to our bridge when they could. The Orcs outnumbered them, oh – it was maybe six dozens to two. But because of the narrowness of the Forest Path where they fought, and the thick growth of the forest, the Orcs’ army was not able to surround and crush them, nor hit them with arrows. Instead, three or four Orcs would push to the front of the line like a funnel and the two Elf-women fought them with sword and spear, and then more would take the place of the fallen Orcs.”
“The physical setting can render a large army ineffective,” said the weapons mistress, and the captains – Berendil, Tûr, Telien, and Huntress - nodded.
“How long had they been fighting?” asked Legolas.
“Long enough to take an arrow each through the shoulder. The taller one had another in her leg. It was my first sight of Huntress. She held her shield against arrows and blows. Her other hand held a spear and with it she kept the Orcs at bay. When they broke through, the other Elf-woman fought with two swords, long and short. Weary were her strokes! Yet she wove a web of steel around herself and her companion. What caught my eye was the method of her longsword. She did not hack and slash. Rather she thrust with it and thrust again. I could see that this took less effort and allowed a more precise wound. It was masterful swordplay. The calad was about her, illumining her space. With each sword thrust she sang a word of song. I knew the blood of our ancestral Teleri tribe must be strong in her.”
Galadel struck his harp and chanted Blade-singer’s battle song. Straight away the listeners saw the fight in their minds’ eye as if it were then and there:
♪ Varda’s starlight, find my sword
Galadel added, “The blade-singer and I have often debated the might of swords and pens.”
The wind shouted again outside the kitchen windows, more insistent now that dark was coming. They all drank some ale and Berendil picked up the story.
“No matter how skilled they were, they could not last. Once they left the Forest Path and gained the bridge, the Orcs would surround them and kill them under our very noses.
“I shouted for torches and archers. In the next blast of lightening we marked the Orcs’ positions and we shot. The column was packed tightly on the Forest Path and the tree branches made the Orcs nearly impervious. For our three dozen arrows we got maybe twelve Orcs. Others ran up to take their places. This time they used their shields. We shot again, but it was plain that arrows would do no more good. Thranduil told me, ‘We dare not open the gates. Take a shield and a sword and get into the basket.’ He meant the large wicker box on ropes that we use to transport supplies over the wall to the upper floors ‘Get them in. We will haul you up. If any Orcs break free of the forest we will cover you.’ “
“’They won’t break free,’ I responded, and did as he said. When the cage reached the ground outside the wall I shouted to the Elf-women ‘Hold your positions!’ I wanted them on the Forest Path like a cork stuck in a bottle, because there would be only a few Orcs to face. I was fresh, not tired, and thought I could hold the line until they got into the basket. That was as far as my plan took me.”
“But we saw another Orc,” said Thranduil, “their leader I guess, clambering over the top of the Orc-column. He carried a shield too. I don’t know how he managed – he must have had the limbs of a tree squirrel. We tried a few arrows and succeeded in hitting only shields. The Orc continued climbing over the shoulders of the Orc soldiers, heading straight for the two Elf-women. We saw Berendil race across the bridge, trying to get there first.
“The Orc leader reached them first, climbing through the thinning ranks of Orc soldiers. The first thing it did was to stoop between the two Orcs currently battling them and twist the arrow that was lodged in Huntress’s thigh. Down she went on one knee, leg buckling and spear down, but shield still aloft. The Orc leader swung back his curved sword while his two soldiers doubled their attack on Blade-singer. The calad about her increased and she sang in the Orc leader’s face.
“Then Berendil arrived. He raised his sword to the two Orc soldiers just as their leader sliced through their two necks and kicked their bodies away. We did not expect that! I guessed he meant to disembowel Blade-singer on the backswing.”
Berendil spoke: “Black blood and worse covered us, but my sword took the backhand stroke meant for Blade-singer’s guts. The Orc leader found himself facing me and Blade-singer alone, for his soldiers would not come closer. I sent her a guarded thought: >Get your friend and yourself in the basket and I will follow. The Orcs have abandoned their leader. We can cross the bridge. <”
“How did you manage to send a guarded thought in such circumstances?” asked Queen Elsila.
“Often I cannot do it,” said Berendil. “This time I did. Blade-singer and Huntress began to fall back behind me, under the cover of Huntress’s shield. I held the line. I was a match for the Orc leader and hoped he might disengage but he fought. Who knows what an Orc has to lose? So I learned anew how hard it is to fight a curved sword with a straight one. The light was bad – dim torchlight and lightning flashes. Finally I managed to wound the Orc leader in the side. I heard Thranduil shout, ‘The basket, Berendil!’ So instead of killing the Orc I ran for it.”
Thranduil said, “The storm paused then, and the half moon shined through the clouds. We saw Huntress lying in the basket and Blade-singer standing beside her, waving her sword at Berendil. We pulled the basket up a few feet. We were sure Berendil could leap up and pull himself in. But that is not what happened.”
“The Orc leader shrieked and dashed crossed the bridge,” said Elsila. “How fast it moved! It overtook Berendil, climbed up him like a ladder, and sprang to the rim of the basket, knocking Blade-singer off balance. She dropped her sword, nearly skewering Huntress.”
Blade-singer spoke: “The Orc reached down, grabbed me by my long hair and pulled hard, stretching my neck. My head tilted back. It seemed to take forever. The Orc raised its sword and spoke to me in Westron, for they do not use Sindarin you know. It said, ‘I will drink your blood from the goblet of your heart.’ I knew its next move was to behead me.”
Berendil said, “I leaped and made it over the side but I was weaponless. Then a strange thing happened. As I grabbed for Blade-singer’s sword the Orc looked upon me. Our eyes met. Our fëar met. Do not smile! I knew the Orc was in horror and wanted to die. It was happy to meet me because it knew me as its fate. I knew this by the touch of unguarded thoughts. It is the strangest thing I have ever known. Never will I forget looking into the eyes of that Orc.”
“The Orc, Blade-singer and Berendil seemed frozen in that second,” Huntress said. “With my last strength I swung Berendil’s hand and the sword in it through the hank of hair in the Orc’s grasp. Her hair parted, and the Orc fell to the ground cursing. Then it fled across the bridge.”
Elsila said, “The remaining Orcs fired some arrows but the tight weave of the basket protected our folk. Thus we got them to the top. I examined the two companions to see if they could be saved of their wounds. None of the shafts went all the way through the body.”
Everyone at the fire shivered, knowing what this meant, save Legolas who had never been wounded with an arrow.
“Fortunately,” said Thranduil, “we of the Greenwood have a healer who has no better, save Elrond himself.”
Elsila’s face went grave as she remembered her efforts that night. “The arrows were poisoned. I could tell by the smell. I sent for medicines but there was no time to wait. I instructed Thranduil and Berendil to hold Black-hair while I thrust the shoulder-arrow through her body and broke the arrowhead off the shaft. Then I pulled the shaft clean. That is the easiest way to do it, and it is not easy.” Nobody argued.
“The arrow wound in the leg was much worse but the shaft had to come out. When Berendil and Thranduil let her go, she swung her fist and knocked me reeling. She thought I was an Orc. My head ringing, I dealt next with the smaller woman’s shoulder. When I finished drawing her arrow, she swung round with her foot, - that is,she stood up on the ball of one foot and pivoted on it like a dancer- and fetched me a blow in the stomach with her heel that felled me to the floor where I lay for some moments.”
“Your apprentice came with potions then,” said Galadel, husband of Huntress. “Maybe one was for love.”
“They brought potions,” agreed Elsila with a smile. “One of them acted as a lock, where the poison is the key. Once in the bloodstream the herb attracted the poison and removed it from the hröa. The other potion allowed the injured ones to see me as I was, a healer and no Orc. Thus I relieved the pain as soon as I could. Then the smaller one told us her amilessi tercenyë, as she walked on the Path of Dreams.”
“It is Quill,” said the weapons mistress, “but I am a warrior not a storyteller. My mother’s insight into my name must have failed.”
….and Legolas held the memory of her smiling face for a moment as he lay in the clearing by the stream. He did not know whence came the memory of the storytelling around Bessain’s fireplace, but both the memory and the story felt as real to him during their reliving as the grass on which he lay.
He thought, well, I have seen the past. Now will I glimpse the future? No sooner had this occurred to him than the visionary face of the agéd Man appeared for the second and last time. His face filled the sky. His bearded lips moved; the kind eyes were intent, encouraging. Looking into them, Legolas tumbled straight away onto the Path of Dreams.
1. The Elven calad. The Sindarin Dictionary, © The Sindarin dictionary project, 1999–2001, French law applies regarding intellectual property. Source of the word “calad” meaning “light.” Among the Sindarin Elves, “calad” means the special light – maybe starlight - inherent in all Elves that shines forth when they most closely approach the fulfillment of their Elvish beings. See · The Fellowship of the Ring, JRRT, Book One, Chapter III, “Three is Company” – “ a shimmer …seemed to fall about their feet.”
2. Tulkas the warrior-Vala is known for his strength and laughter. “He laughed in battles before the Elves were born.” The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien, “Valaquenta.”
3. Morgoth’s Ring, JRR Tolkien, Laws and Customs among the Eldar, “Of Naming” regarding the naming of Elves. Names given by the mother can be prophetic or insightful of a child’s attributes and character.
4. On the vividness of dreams - “Olor” is a word often translated ‘dream’ but that does not refer to (most) human ‘dreams,’ certainly not the dreams of sleep. To the Eldar it included the vivid contents of their memory, as of their imagination.; it referred in fact to clear vision , in the mind, of things not physically present at the body’s situation. But not only to an idea, but to a full clothing of this particular form and detail.” Unfinished Tales, JRR Tolkien, “The Istari.”
Legolas and the Olórë Mallë Part Three of the Early Adventures #3
By Chathol-linn 8/6/02
*** The Olórë Mallë ***
Now they say that Elves do not sleep as Mortals do and that is true. They refresh themselves another way, on the strange paths of Elvish dreams. Little is told of those strange paths, and still less of what the Elves actually do there, until now.
Legolas beheld he was not in the clearing by the stream. The sky above was not blue but the deep violet of twilight. In it burned silver stars the likes of which only Elvish eyes will ever see. The water music that he heard was not the Forest River but the soft plash of the Waters of Cuiviénen. Legolas understood he was again at the Awakening, long before the lighting of the Sun and Moon. Here was where he came in repose, blending the waking world around him with his clear imaginings, finding the paths of Elvish dreams. The waking world was still there; he could see it close by. But it was not east or west or up or down – it was “outer” - a direction that Legolas could not explain except to other Elves, who already know.
Always before Legolas took his rest by watching the play of stars as they danced or acted out the stories for which they were named. But this time he got up from the knoll. He saw he was with Elves, the Quendi, his ancient tribe and kin. He looked skyward with them and together they whispered, “Lo! The Stars!”
After a time Legolas heard the great horn of Oromë the Hunter, whom he loved. It was time to go. He followed a gleaming path that left the waters and rose to a high tor. When he reached the top his power of vision grew beyond waking ability, and he saw the Olórë Mallë.
It was a path the color of ethereal pearls and it ran to the ends of Middle-earth. Sometimes it broadened into a highway. It ran through valleys and over mountains, It ran past clusters of lights that were settlements. It twisted and looped, winding sometimes north and sometimes south, but always West, like the meanderings of a river to the sea. Legolas saw one loop touch the Golden Wood and another, Rivendell with its gorgeous waterfalls and rocky crags. He saw a palace that he knew was a scriptorium, containing all the knowledge of the Elves, and maybe attended by Fëanor himself, let loose from the halls of Mandos. Here was a battle between Orcs and Dwarves, there a castle of Mortals with its town and taverns and market fairs. If Legolas wished to see closer, the path would instantly rush him to the place of his desires, for on the Olórë Mallë, time and space obeyed the will of the dreamer. And what enchantments there were to tempt the will! Legolas felt he could walk forever and never tire of the lands and allurements touched by the Olórë Mallë.
The path did not stop at the ends of Middle-earth. Beyond the Grey Havens it bridged the wide and desolate seas. And here the Olórë Mallë was at its most beautiful and mysterious. It arched gently as it went into the West. Its floor could have been made of dream-ithildin and its rail of imaginary moonbeams. It rested upon arches of mist and the waves broke against them endlessly.
But even the Sundering Seas did not mark the end of the Olórë Mallë. At the utmost range of his dream-sight Legolas saw a warm and steady light. It was Tol Eressëa, where the pardoned Exiles now lived in peace with the Teleri and communed with the Valar. Finally the Olórë Mallë crossed the Bay of Eldamar and came to Calacirya, the Pass of Light that opens to a lane of whispering elms, past Elvish Tirion and thence to all of Valinor.
Legolas imagined himself traveling west, taking ship from the Havens and crossing the Sundering Seas. What would his friends on the shore see through their tears? The ship would not drop slowly over the horizon as Mortal ships do on the Bent Seas. No, the ship would dwindle, and it would rise in the air until finally it became a point that vanished above the horizon. Where did it go? How did it steer? By stars? The Path of Dreams?
Then Legolas suddenly grasped the true nature of the Olórë Mallë. Its physical counterpart was the blessed Straight Way in the Seen World that, for Ages, Elves had followed from Middle-earth to the Undying Lands. The Olórë Mallë was the Straight Way’s transcendent twin in the Unseen World. The two became one at the point where Elven-ships vanish from the physical world.
In wonder Legolas followed the gleaming path down from the tor. Two silent spirits joined him: Elsila his mother and Elwen his sister, carrying long naked swords. Elsila walked at Legolas’s left side and looked backward while Elwen walked on his right and looked forward. Soon he saw a flickering orange light. He followed the pearly path to the mouth of a cave. Two torches burned, one on either side of the opening. He ducked his head and went inside.
Until now this had been a quiet dream but there was a Mortal woman at a hearth who laughed and spoke. Legolas did not know if they used Elvish or a Mortal tongue but he understood her.
“Welcome, Legolas Greenleaf,” she said. “to the Path of Dreams. And as usual you come in company. It is one of your characteristics to go about with others.” The dream spirits of Elsila and Elwen entered behind him.
“What do you mean?”
“Well! Is it not so? All those times your father summoned you to his chamber – how often did you go alone? What adventures have you had with only yourself for company? No, Prince, only the most trivial of journeys have you made, shall you make, in solitary. It is your destiny to go about in company, whether you or the company will it or nil it.”
Legolas gestured to his mother and sister. “Thranduil is more skilled with the sword than Elsila, and more experienced than Elwen. Why is he not here?”
“Your mother and sister have a fierce desire to protect you, of which the swords are a token. You need no defense here. Their spirits wish to be with you, that is all.”
She straightened up from the cauldron she was stirring and bowed. “I am the spirit of Saelon Andreth, the Wise-woman of the Edain,” she said. “In life or death, it is my fate to advise the Elves. The Lords of the West have sent me to tell your future, that you may better prepare for your role.”
Being possessed of an extraordinary equilibrium, Legolas did not quake at this extraordinary statement. He watched fascinated as Saelon Andreth took up a set of game cards. All the speaking peoples of Middle-earth used them for wagering and such except Orcs. No writing or picture survived long around Orcs. She had Legolas mix them and draw a card. He held it up; it showed the figure of a youth – it could have been lad or maid. The figure carried a walking staff and appeared set to step off a ledge, unwary. A small cat pawed the figure’s foot. Saelon Andreth said, “This is you, at the beginning of a journey. Draw another card.”
The next card showed a field of stars.
“This signifies many,” she said. “As I said, you will go about with others all your life. You must never refuse. But the time of the Elves will fade, has faded, and in your greatest adventure in Middle-earth you will not be leader. You will protect, counsel and fight for others. You will not be king.”
“Elwen will be king if Thranduil leaves,” said Legolas. Saelon Andreth smiled a little and did not answer.
Now Legolas was troubled by her words and looks, for everyone wishes to be first sometimes and for things to go as expected. But his sense of balance aided him and he listened again.
He drew another card. It showed two figures holding up two looking glasses, one to the other.
“This signifies infinity. For though you will not be chief, your fame will outlast the ages! You will be, are already known as the greatest archer of the Third Age. The world will know you also for the company you succor and for your warrior’s prowess, your struggles against the forces of the Dark Foe, and for your far-sightedness and your Elvish ability to endure great trials of hardship, and for your fair looks.
The fire leaped high, and Saelon seemed to grow in stature too, until her shadow filled the cave.
“Listen! A mighty bard will report your deeds in words, and another will show them in visions. Then in countless numbers lesser poets and minstrels will take up your tale. I see no end to your fame, whether you die in battle in Middle-earth, or take part in the Battle at the End of Days.” But you will not always live in the light. Three dark passages will you endure, and the first will be more pain than you can imagine. The third will be worse." If you find peace after that, I cannot see."
Now Legolas’s calm nature was of little avail at these awesome words. His heart clutched in his chest.
At the next card she laughed. “Here is something! You will be wise in the ways of Dwarves! Whenever there is doubt on some Dwarvish question, the truth of the matter will be settled by ‘So said Legolas.’”
Legolas took a deep breath and then he laughed too. It all seemed impossible. “Well, Saelon Andreth, you have spoken of company and deeds and prowess and fame and Dwarves. What of love?”
“That is hidden from me. I know only that Arwen Undómiel will not put the first crack in your heart, and she will one day be your friend.” Legolas was content with that.
“How do you like the Olórë Mallë, now that you have ventured from the Waters of Awakening?” asked the spirit of the Mortal.
“It is wonderful!”
“I was told to say, You may come here at will. If you are tired or hurt, there are wellsprings of healing here. There is one nearby – hear it laughing? You already know of the glade of repose by the Waters of Awakening. There are many other places to delight or instruct you. Look for Rivendell to learn of lore, and Lothlorien for insight into your struggles. On this road you may seek foretelling in caves of prophecy, if the Lords of the West will unfold it. And always you may journey in search of counsel and adventures. Who knows whom you will meet, or what you will see? The Olórë Mallë is otherworldly to Mortals and hold wonders I cannot perceive.”
“Thank you, Lady. My folk have spoken of some of this. Is there more? What must I do now?”
“Two things, young Prince. First, be a Prince in all that you do. You will represent your kindred down the ages. Elrond himself will not be better known. So take care that your deeds are worthy: noble, kind, brave and true. You did not act the Prince with Arwen and Elwen.”
“Yes,” admitted Legolas. “It has worried me ever since. I placed them in danger with my mischief and then swore us all to silence when we crossed Thranduil’s borders in violation of the stated rule. I would gladly confess my transgression to Thranduil but then I would be foresworn.”
“Do not be foresworn! Restore your balance some other way.”
“Study war, Prince. And I am bidden to give you your first lesson.”
Saelon Andreth raised her spirit hand over the fire. Flames shot up in a shower of sparks. A huge wind roared through the cave, pulling Legolas backward bodily in its powerful wake. He was falling through an unknowable blackness. The falling-fear gripped him for a moment. Then he thumped solidly into some place, a place more eerie than any he had ever known.
FINISHED IN PART 4
1. Regarding the Mortal prophetess of the Elves, see Morgoth’s Ring, JRR Tolkien, “Finrod Ah Andreth” “Andreth was a woman of the house of Bëor, the sister of Bregor, father of Barahir, whose son was Beren One-hand the renowned. She was wise in thought and learned in the lore of Men and their histories; for which reason the Eldar called her ‘Saelind,’ ‘Wise-heart.’” - page 305. Earlier form of name “Saelon” – pages 351-352.
2. Regarding Legolas as an authority on the ways of Dwarves, see The Peoples of Middle Earth, JRR Tolkien, “Last Writings” Note 21
Legolas and the Olórë Mallë Part Four. This final chapter has the scenes “Zalog the Orc” and “Zalog – Legolas”
*** Zalog the Orc ***
Catastrophic. Hopeless. Rotten. Bad. The huge battle on the slopes of Mount Doom was lost. The Elves had joined with the Mortals and brought Lord Sauron down. One of the Mortals cut Sauron’s ring from His hand and the battle was over.
Zalog saw it all from behind his squadron where he commanded with whips. He saw the deluge of arrows from the Elven bows, carefully staged; the wild charge against Elven lines; the hand-to-hand butchery. Zalog saw the Advent of Sauron and the turn of the battle to His favor. Gil-Galad the Elf fell, and Elendil King of Mortals died by the Hand of Sauron.
As Elendil lay dying, Zalog noticed a weapons station of the Alliance in a nearby trench. An Elven smith toiled there over a battlefield forge, mending swords and spears as quickly as he might. Zalog hated Elven smiths. He would kill this one. The smith popped up over the lip of the trench to grab a broken sword and Zalog got him through the throat with an arrow. There being no living soldiers around for the moment, Zalog scrambled over and found two bodies in the trench, the Elven smith and another - the apprentice. Near the bodies Zalog saw a pair of white-handled longknives. Some folk would have called them beautiful; Zalog called them stinking Elvish Zalog never said or thought the word “Elvish” without prefixing it with “stinking.” Still Zalog wanted them. They could be valuable in hostage negotiations when shown to surviving comrades, or for sport with captives.
So Zalog grabbed the pair of knives and straight away several things happened.
They burned his palms worse than the branding he had received in the Orc-pits of Barad-Dur, but this burning didn’t stop.
Screaming, Zalog threw them with uncanny skill at two nameless soldiers. The knives buried themselves in their backs, whence Elrond retrieved them later.
In the next second, Isildur Elendil’s son took up his father’s sword and defied Sauron as He stood over him.
“My Lord Sauron!” Zalog yelled, seeing the next event as if prescient.
Then Isildur cut Sauron’s hand from His body and The One Ring’s power left Sauron in an instant. The force of its passing knocked all armies to their knees and when they got up again, the Orcs were fleeing. Zalog fled among them, pain huge in his hands, already wondering how far to the north he could get. Dol Guldur? No; tempting as it was to seek that place of strength, it was too close to the stinking Elves of Lothlorien. Perhaps the mountains of the Great Greenwood? Fewer Elves there. Yes, Zalog thought. I will find a hiding place in the mountains and from there, gather followers. I will bide my time.
And he would make the Elves and Mortals pay for the loss of his reason for living. Make them pay until they all lay dead of Orc arrows, or else they ended his life first.
Zalog dodged through the renewed battle – the Alliance soldiers were mopping up. He cursed the Elves and their white-handled longknives and he cursed the pain they caused him, but he embraced the anger of that pain. With Sauron gone he would need it, and he would use it well.
***Zalog - Legolas***
Legolas was astray. Wherever he was, a great press of hard and odorous bodies crowded him so closely he could hardly breathe. It was night and storming. They all seemed to be in the midst of a lot of trees. Indeed the tree trunks were as thick as the beings around him, and much the same color - grey. When lightning flashed overhead. Legolas saw to his amazement he was in the middle of a host of Orcs, heavily armed.
Instinctively Legolas reached for his bow and arrows. They were not there. The arm that did the reaching was not his green-clad arm. It was an arm of grey and warty flesh sticking out of a raw deer hide tunic. Legolas could see little more. His keen eyesight was lessened and his body was too squat to see beyond the misshapen backs in front of him. He could feel, however, and what he felt all around was the presence of a spirit so steeped in anger and desolation and pain it was unspeakable. It was the antithesis of his own fëa.
And then Legolas realized he was not bodily in the crowd. He was a passenger in an Orc's mind.
>O Elbereth, let this be a dream,< he thought behind his guard. The Orc did not sense Legolas's guarded thoughts, but Legolas could read the Orc's, which were - Teach the stinking she-elves to cross my path! Let me up front and I'll show them.
A sheet of lightning lighted the night. Orc-Legolas glimpsed a structure up ahead with walls and torches. The Orc shouted words Legolas recognized as Westron, "Out of my way now, rot you!" But the Orcs were packed too tightly to allow much movement.
From the front of the army a message came back, word-of-mouth: "The lights ahead are the hall of the Elf-king! His archers will be upon us!"
"Are the she-Elves dead yet?" roared the Orc. But word-of-mouth does not allow for an exchange of questions. "Rot you all," the Orc snarled. He raised his shield for protection and leapt to the shoulders of the Orc soldier in front of him. Legolas noted that an Orc-body was well suited to climbing and clinging. Then the Orc crouched with a foot on someone's shoulder and a knee on someone's head and Legolas was finally able to see more than Orc-backs.
Through the narrow alley of the Forest Path, Legolas saw the light and the fight. The light was torchlight on the walls of Thranduil's hall and the fight was between the Orkish army and two Elf-women; one dark-haired, one fair. He heard the fair-haired singing, “Blade is mightier than pen!”
Ale by the fireside! Am I in that tale of Thranduil's? Legolas remembered his mother’s words about the twisting of time on Lorien’s loop, and that dreams were the province of Lorien.
Huntress! Blade-singer! he shouted in his mind, forgetting to guard his thoughts. The Orc jerked as if lashed by a whip and nearly fell off the shoulders of his soldiers. Legolas was discovered. For a moment the Orc and Elf regarded each other, mind to mind.
The Orc was Zalog, and he was fresh from the Battle of the Last Alliance. His palms burned unceasingly. Legolas realized with wonder the Orc had once held in his hands the pair of longknives meant for an Elven guest-gift. Right now the Orc wanted two things - for the stinking Elf to come out where he could kill him, and to kill the two she-Elves by slicing their skinny necks with his curved sword.
I will kill you so slowly the beasts will not eat your putrid flesh when you die, he told Legolas, and even in thought Legolas could hear the snarl. Where are you?
The Elf was Legolas. Two and a half centuries from now, he would be born in the Elf-king’s hall. He knew those longknives that troubled Zalog so. They had come somehow to his Lothlorien kin and would someday come to him, only to be stolen by a wandering Dwarf.
The Elves keep the longknives that burned you, was Legolas’s open thought.
And then the knives called to them both. An image formed in their minds together: the pair of white-handled longknives in all their power and beauty. In the vision the Elf and Orc inhabited their own bodies and the longknives hovered above them, circling, the blades pointing directly at their heads. The Battle of the Last Alliance was raging all around, and Saelon Andreth stirred her cauldron. Zalog wept Orc-tears for the fall of Sauron that was going to happen again before his eyes, while a huge wind roared through Legolas’s head, bringing Saelon’s voice prophesying: death, calamity, destruction!
But whether for either, or both, they could not tell.
Death shall be yours, each spoke to the other, and suddenly, dream-like, they were back on the Forest Path again. Ahead of the Orc column, they heard a voice scream in pain.
Then Legolas got about the business of stopping Zalog from reaching the Elf-women. Or else, putting him in front of Berendil's sword. Even now Berendil might be racing to the parapets to see what was happening.
And indeed they heard a noise that was not rain or thunder but the thwppp of thirty-six Elf-arrows as Thranduil's archers located their marks and loosed. Zalog threw himself to the ground.
Next time I will make this Orc hold still, was Legolas’s guarded thought. If I die with the Orc, may my time in the Halls of Mandos be short.
Enraged at the touch of an Elven mind, Zalog roared, "Shields! Shields, blast you all! Or the next lightning will do us!" The lightning flashed again and Zalog raised his shield. Legolas struggled to stop him and was partially successful. Still when thirty-six more arrows came flying, not one of them reached Zalog. Again he clambered up to the shoulders of the soldiers in front of him and scrambled towards the Elf-women, who, unbelievably, still stood and fought. Legolas knew from Thranduil's story that Zalog would use Huntress’s wound to bring her down.
Meanwhile, Zalog had no time to spare. The Elves were lowering a large wicker box over their wall. Zalog doubted he would like the contents.
Legolas gathered his willpower as Berendil - welcome sight - emerged from the basket, shield and sword in hand. He raced across the bridge toward the Elf-women, their Orc opponents, and Zalog. Except that now, it was Zalog-Legolas.
Zalog reached between his battling soldiers and twisted the arrow lodged in Dark-hair's thigh. As she went down on one knee, Zalog drew back his scimitar to strike off her head, decapitation being his favorite technique, while other Orcs concentrated on Yellow-hair. Legolas reached out with all his mental strength and made Zalog's sword arm slice through the necks of the two soldiers.
Zalog had not expected that. But he recovered quickly. He tried for a backhand swing at Yellow-hair. Too late. The Elven warrior took the stroke on his sword and pressed his attack. Zalog found himself facing two Elves alone, for his soldiers, worthless recent pickups, were yelling with outrage or else laughing. And Yellow-hair was better with the sword than anyone he had ever encountered. The other Elf was deadly also, and fresh. The wounded Elf-women fell back behind the new warrior and retreated across the bridge, while the new warrior kept Zalog busy.
At last the dark-headed Elf was able to get into the wicker basket. As Blade-singer climbed in after her, Berendil slashed at Zalog, wounded him, and ran for the basket himself.
Zalog screeched in anger. He darted across the bridge despite his wound and Legolas's attempts to stop him. Overtaking Berendil, he climbed him like a ladder and sprang to the rim of the basket. It rocked, and Yellow-hair dropped her sword. Zalog was elated. He grabbed her by the hank of her long hair and pulled backward until he she faced him upside-down. For a moment Legolas looked with horrified Orc-eyes into Blade-singer's and she gasped with - recognition?
Then Zalog raised his curved sword. "I will drink your blood from the goblet of your heart," he whispered.
But Berendil leaped into the basket and grabbed for Blade-singer's fallen sword. With all the power he had, Legolas forced the Orc to turn his head and look into Berendil's eyes. Legolas reached out to Berendil with thought speech. Berendil, it is I! Kill this Orc. Now!
Berendil froze in astonishment and disbelief.
Then Huntress grabbed Berendil’s hand that held the sword and swept it through Blade-singer’s hank of yellow hair. She fell on top of Huntress, the Orc tumbled backward, and the Elvish wicker cage went up while Zalog-Legolas fell to the ground.
Lying there on the ground in the Orc’s body, Legolas thought, We are linked, Zalog, by those longknives somehow. Maybe the riddle of Saelon’s prophecy lies in your memory of them. Let us see.” And with thathe opened his mind fully to that of the Orc.
A scream tore out of Zalog’s throat. Legolas screamed too, in his thoughts. He shut away his mind like slamming a door against the horror of Zalog’s being, but two Orkish secrets remained with him like taint on meat. Zalog hated the pair of white-handled longknives and feared to see them ever again. And he had no good feelings except absences: of pain, of hunger, of fear. Legolas pitied him.
The feeling was not mutual. I am wounded but I will recover, Elf, in the mountains near the Dwarf Road. The Mortal villages in the foothills will supply my troops. And then I swear I will come for you and yours.
Legolas responded, Tell all of Orc-kind to fear those white-handled longknives as you do yourself. For if they come to Legolas Greenleaf, the Orcs’ days are numbered.
His fear thus exposed, Zalog conceived a hatred of Legolas so bitter that any previous grudge was a mere shadow.
“You and yours,” he hissed. “Remember!”
Then Legolas felt an irresistible backward pull, like the wind that had pulled him from the dream-cave. He popped out of the Orc’s mind and went – outer. To the Seen World. And there he was, back in the Elves’ clearing by the hall of Thranduil. Seated nearby were the players he had woven into his dream: Berendil, Blade-singer, Elsila, Elwen, and Thranduil.
“The thoughts we sensed from you!” said Elsila, clasping his hand. “We were frightened.”
Their concern was not misplaced, for the touch of an Orc-mind will have its effect. When Legolas looked into Blade-singer’s eyes they widened in astonishment. She lay back on the grass, unnerved.
Legolas said, “I found the foretelling on the Path of Dreams, just as the vision said. Those Orcs that fought Blade-singer and Huntress that first night now live in the southern mountains, Father, above the Dwarf-road. They came just after the Battle of the Last Alliance. Zalog is their leader. He raids the Mortals for supplies. If we do not act soon he will be at our walls. And, he hates and fears the white-handled longknives. Do you remember, Elwen, the guest-gift Arwen spoke of?”
“I do,” she answered.
I need those longknives, Legolas thought, and the dream words of Saelon Andreth came back to him, whispering. I shall find them and claim them.
1. Lorien the Vala devised the Olórë Mallë in the First Age. What is the Olórë Mallë (Path of Dreams)? See The Book of Lost Tales Part One (LT1), JRR Tolkien, Chapter 9, “The Hiding of Valinor.” LT1 tells us that Lorien devised it at the bidding of Manwë after the Hiding of Valinor, so that Valinor would not be completely closed. This occurred after the Noldor’s rebellion and departure to fight Morgoth. Mortal children could visit Valinor via the Olórë Mallë, but only in their childhood sleep. Elves and Valar apparently could travel it at will. LT2 says in “The Tale of Eärendel” that when the fairies left Valinor to fight Morgoth, the Valar blocked the path forever with impassable rocks, Maybe this seeming conflict is why The Hobbit, LotR and The Silmarillion do not mention the Olórë Mallë.
2. The Straight Way existed since the time of the Awakening, but it must have changed in the Second Age after the Valar changed the world and bent the seas. See The Atlas of Middle Earth, Revised Edition, Karen Wynn Fonstad, “The Road Home,” pages 174-175 for a physical representation of the Straight Way. See pages 52-53 for an illustration of the world after the Change of the World. Figure I after the Foreword shows the Olórë Mallë. Was the Olórë Mallë the metaphysical component of the physical Straight Way? Only Elves know.
3. Morgoth’s Ring, JRR Tolkien, “Finrod Ah Andreth” “Andreth was a woman of the house of Bëor, the sister of Bregor, father of Barahir [whose son was Beren One-hand the renowned]. She was wise in thought and learned in the lore of Men and their histories; for which reason the Eldar called her ‘Saelind,’ ‘Wise-heart.’” - page 305. Earlier form of name “Saelon” – pages 351-352.
4. The Peoples of Middle Earth, JRR Tolkien, “Last Writings” Note 21 regarding Legolas as an authority on the ways of Dwarves.
5. Two pieces of fanfic inspired the idea of the psychic link between Legolas and Zalog. See “Toby and the Orc” by Jerry Belcher at http://fan.theonering.net/writing/stories/files/toby_belcher.html. See “Beauty” by Victoria Sweet at http://hosted.insanity-inc.org/vb/beauty.html. These two excellent pieces are extreme opposites in tone and are similar in theme.
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