I hope there are no formatting issues with this chapter, I just could not upload the document so I copied and pasted, for the first time.
This chapter was a massive challenge, and was written with a box of kleenex at my side - one which is now empty…
There is an asterix just before the Avarin Spirit Singer - there is a piece of music I envisage as being the voice and the song this OC sings. 'Sacrifice' sung by Lisa Gerard / Dead Can Dance.
MysticFolly: thank you so much for the lovely reviews - I am just having a hard time catching up :)
Ninde: Amorrrr? ah - puede… Pero quizá se desarrolle en otra historia. Rinion no sabe lo que le espera, es verdad - espero poder plasmar sus reacciones tal y como las veo en mi cabeza :) Gracias, como siempre.
Guest 1345: Thank you so much!
Earthdragon: Lainion - ah - no comments for the moment though. Romance - a possibility yes, but possibly in another story. Rinion's mind is a bit of a puzzle really. We do know that part of his behavioural issues are due to his resentment towards his father - but what he feels about Legolas…. well, he says he can't be bothered, but since when does that mean anything to the Crown Prince? We will certainly find out though. Glad you enjoyed this, and thank you!
Guest: Lainion? Well whatever happens, I really hope you don't leave us :)) Thank you!
Noph: The story may continue, yes. I think that really depends on what you guys think, so when the Silvan has been completed, I look forward to studying that possibility. Lain ion's fate is below, so no comments for the moment. The meeting is coming right up, yes and regarding ranks, I have chosen to keep it basic here - so: warrior - second lieutenant - first lieutenant - captain - then from there I only have a General and then a Commander General.
Lara: Thank you! The meeting is coming up, and it might not be what you expect… Glad Rinion is growing on you and as for Dima well, see below :=) Gracias, como siempre.
GB12390: Thank you for the lovely words :)
Chapter 50: Song From the Heart
Afternoon had turned to early evening and still they sat in silent vigil before the House of Healing - the common folk - the ones that made everyday life work in the Greenwood - the ones that all too often passed through life unnoticed. However, the sound of thundering hooves broke their introspective mood, turning their heads towards the massive doors that slowly whirled into action as the strange mechanism turned and the mighty gates opened inwards.
Legolas stood slowly, his eyes narrowing and then sharpening on the group of tired, exhausted warriors that pulled up sharply and then vaulted off their horses.
Ram en Ondo, Lindohtar, Idhrenohtar and Rhawthir, immediately spotted Hwindotar standing amongst the sitting crowd, and ran towards him in urgency, clapping his shoulders and arms in a rushed but heart-felt greeting, their faces both relieved to see him well, and yet twisted in anxiety at what he would tell them.
"Dimaethor?" asked Idhrenohtar.
"Is making his great journey, brothers. There is nothing that can be done for him now, we simply wait to mark his passage," he murmured to them. Idhreno turned his back to them abruptly, his cape flaring around his calves and Ram en Ondo stifled a moan. Lindohtar cursed the Valar and Rhawthir simply stared on in disbelief.
"His family is with him now…"
"Legolas, come!" beckoned Elladan from the door, not waiting before turning and disappearing once more.
With a shared look of dread, The Company turned and followed him, under the sorrowful yet respectful stare of the elves of Greenwood the Great.
"Elladan met them at the entrance to Lainion's room, stopping their forward motion with his hand.
"He has regained consciousness but it will not last long - you must say your goodbyes and then leave him with his family."
It was too much for the mighty Ram en Ondo, and tears sprang to his eyes as he desperately tried to swipe them away. Idhrenohtar squeezed his shoulder, his own jaw working furiously in a vain attempt at quashing the overwhelming grief that had gripped his heart.
Lindo was the first to approach the bed, sitting softly by Lainion's side and smiling down at him, even though his lips quivered and his eyes danced.
"It has been an honour, to serve with you, Lainion. I will carry you with me always, sing your praises to any who will listen …"
Lainion smiled weakly up at him but could not speak and so he simply blinked and brushed a finger over the Bard Warrior's hand.
Lindo turned away, unable to look at those who followed him with their sad eyes, for if he did he knew that his composure would be broken.
Rhawthir took his place but he said nothing. He took the Avari's head between his hands and kissed him softly upon the brow, smiling down at him and nodding.
A stifled gasp escaped someone in the room, but no one cared to know who it was - it did not matter, and thus, Ram en Ondo took Rhrawthir's place, unashamed of the tears that poured down his face.
"I will see you soon, brother," was all he said, albeit it had been soft and strangled and then the Wall of Stone turned and strode from the room as if some urgent business had called him away.
Idhrenohtar was next, his wise grey eyes settling kindly on the fierce Avarin lieutenant.
"We will sing of you around our camp fires, when we are all lieutenants, and Legolas is Captain at last," he said wistfully, but his smile did not falter. "Dima will always be a part of The Company, even though he journeys now where we cannot follow. Have a care though, for I do not think you will be alone for long," he smiled. "Safe passage, brother," he whispered, and with a final brush of his fingers over Lainion's hand, he too, turned and left.
The moment Legolas had been dreading had come and his feet carried him to Dima's side of their own accord, his brain desperately searching for the words he would say but they would not come!
Sitting now, Lainion watched him through sad eyes and for the first time, spoke. It was quiet and whispered and Legolas bent lower to better hear his last words.
Hwindo smiled a brave smile, but his chin quivered and his eyes sparkled with tears.
"Dima," came the strangled word of a lost child, a child that would soon leave, gone forever with the first kiss of mortality.
"Shine," he said and then watched as Legolas' eyes finally shed a tear. "When I - when I see - her, on the other side - I will - I will tell her - tell her to watch over you," he said, a tear escaping the corner of his strange slanted blue eyes.
"Legolas smiled through his tears. "Only you would be so bold," he chuckled, "to tell a Vala her duty" he said, and then sobered again, sniffing.
"No, Yavanna already does - Lassiel - I speak of Lassiel…"
Legolas' eyes widened and he pulled back for a moment in shock.
"She - she loved you - Legolas…"
"How can you know that?" he whispered.
There was a silence before Dima answered him, and when he did, he smiled a smile of pride, of love, of respect and satisfaction of the job he had taken upon himself, one that had finally come to fruition.
"How could she not?
Words would not come to him for his throat had closed and so he listened, to what would be the last words Dimaethor would ever say to him upon Arda.
"Shine for your Lady, for your people, for me. Wear these…" he said, the effort slowly becoming too great for him, but with one, final gesture, he reached up and pulled on one of Legolas' twisted braids that he himself had weaved. "Wear these - in remembrance of my love."
Tears tumbled over the rims of Legolas' green eyes, and a sturdy hand upon his shoulder told him it was time to leave. Standing shakily, he walked backwards until the face of Dimaethor became a blur - and then his tears finally swept the Avari away, destined now to reside only in his mind's eye, in that part of himself where only the special people dwelled.
He turned his back on those left in the room, and floated from the building and into the last evening Lainion would live. There, beside the door, was the Company. Turning as one, they held out their arms to him and then drew him in until he was no longer visible, save for his hair that stuck out over their heads, and not far away, the elves of Greenwood watched and wept at the sight of the five strong warriors that held on to each other in furious grief. They wept for their breaking hearts, for their youth, for their unconditional service even unto the end of their immortality.
A woman stood, followed by another and then a Silvan warrior, a Sindarin weapons tutor, an Avarin clerk. With tender hands they ushered the grieving warriors into their midst, bid them sit, offered them water and bread and then they simply sat, and they waited.
Captain Tirion walked past them on his way to say his own farewell to his friend of old, and there was time too, for Handir to rise from his sick bed and say goodbye to the elf that had given his life to save his own, and when the blackness of night lightened to the deep blue of an impending dawn, the *Avarin spirit singer raised her voice to the heavens in a voice so deep, so penetrating and yet of such mellow undertones, so charged with emotion their skin crawled and their tears flowed.
One voice rose to meet the Spirit Singer, weaving an other-worldly descant that was soon added to by another, and then another, until they all sung, from bass to soprano, they sung and sung until the Sun rose once more, upon a land that no longer had Lainion in it.
"He is dead," said the king, slowly rising, followed by Rinion, Glorfindel and Mithrandir.
"I must go to his family," he said, shedding his luxurious velvet cloak of greens and blues as he left for a side room, and then reappeared, a black cloak now covering his regal attire, the crown gone from his head.
"Will you accompany me, my friends?" he asked softly.
"It would be my honour," said Glorfindel. There was sadness in his voice, but so too was their practiced custom, for the Noldorin Commander General had lost many in his long life of service.
"Of course, Thranduil," said Mithrandir, "I would say a prayer for his departed soul."
Rinion bowed to his father and then their guests, before leaving for his own room to find something appropriate, and before long, the King, followed by Glorfindel, Rinion and Mithrandir, walked solemnly from the fortress, and as they passed the serving staff, the lords and ladies, the warriors and the clerks, all bowed in silent respect for it was no longer a frequent thing for the king to leave the fortress, and that he would do so for Lainion, was a touching sight, a heartening one for the Thranduil of old had never failed to send off a departed warrior.
On they marched, until they were outside and approaching the singing elves that flocked around the Halls of Healing. They stood and bowed to the king but they did not stop their song, and in their midst, was Legolas, head bowed in sorrow.
But the king did not stop until he disappeared into the stone building.
Some time later, when the Spirit Singer had finished her song and the people sang on, they emerged once more, bound for the fortress, but the king abruptly stopped, almost as if he had not meant to, and then turned to where he knew Legolas stood, watching him from afar. His son's clothes were in disarray, his hair had fallen loose and hung around his waist and his face was cast to the floor in sorrow. This was his first loss, realised the king, the first special person his young son had lost.
Thranduil could not move, his feet rooted to the spot for the image of Lainion's broken father had stuck in his mind, the devastation of grief etched forever upon his stern features, and then, before the astonished gazes of Glorfindel, Rinion and Mithrandir, he walked away from them and towards Legolas.
As the people parted for their monarch, Legolas finally raised his head to meet his father's gaze. The light blue eyes were alive with raw emotion, and his own bright green eyes shone with tears, silvery traces of their passage running down his porcelain cheeks, his brows slanting downwards in a frozen mask of grief unveiled. He did not mask it, felt no shame and Thranduil's heart swelled in pride and love.
He lifted his arms only slightly, and then watched in spiralling emotion as those moss green eyes brimmed over once more and his child took one, uncertain step towards him, until he crashed into the king's strong chest and for the first time, Thranduil felt the beat of his son's heart, the warmth of his flesh, the kiss of his tears.
Closing his eyes in painful love he held his child to him, cupping the back of his head with a jewelled hand, tucking it under his own head and for one, blissful moment, he simply felt.
Glorfindel watched them with bright eyes and conflicting emotions but he smiled nonetheless. Mithrandir's smile was wider and Rinion, Rinion's face was a rigid mask of indifference.
"Will you come with me?" asked the king softly.
"I cannot. My place is here - for tonight."
The king pulled back and searched his son's eyes.
"Tomorrow, then?" he smiled.
"Tomorrow - father."
Thranduil's smile was so bright, so brilliant that the people gasped at his beauty, the beauty they had almost forgotten over the centuries of his grief. But the Silvan, the Silvan had brought it back.
That night, unknown to those of the Company, to the king or to Glorfindel, a bond had been formed, a bond with the people of the Greenwood, and the hurtful insults and disdain that Legolas had suffered since his arrival, and well before, was not heard that night, and neither would it be the day after. They were still there, but they were no longer spoken aloud, for they no longer went unanswered.
The people, working class elves - the base warriors, the teachers, the bakers and the stable hands, the healers and the merchants had shed tears with a son of Thranduil, a prince with no title had sat upon the ground and wept with them, had shown them his heart.
Neither did they forget the extraordinary meeting between the king and his child, or the wild flowers that the kitchen hand's son had offered him, the drooping bouquet that stood to attention no sooner Legolas' finger brushed over their wilting petals and they talked, between themselves, to others of the small miracle they had witnessed, of what it meant.
One thing was sure though; this lost son of Thranduil, this bastard born of a Silvan peasant was no spoilt child that sought power or renown. This was no arrogant Sinda or righteous Silvan; here was a child of the forest with a strong arm and a good heart and that was all they wanted.
It was timid, and nascent, but upon the lips of everyone; this was the people's prince, their chosen lord, said some, and yet others simply shrugged their shoulders with a passing, 'perhaps.'
Elladan had remained inside the House of Healing with Nestaron, stubbornly refusing to take rest until Lainion's body had been purified and dressed, for that night they would offer his body to the wind.
Outside, Legolas stood quietly with the Company, including Melven and Dorhinen.
"What now?" asked Idhrenohtar, as he watched the courtyard slowly filling with Captains. "What is going on?" he asked then, his brow furrowing.
"There is a meeting, one I must attend," murmured Legolas.
"We will accompany you," said Idhrenohtar flatly but Legolas shook his head.
"No, Idhreno, I must do this myself."
"You will not go alone…"
"No - I have Dorhinen here," he pointed, and five sets of eyes fell heavily upon the ancient Sindarin warrior.
"Who is he?" asked Lindohtar curtly.
"He," said Glamohtar, "is a mighty warrior from Doriath. Friend of my father Hador - I trust him," he said.
"Aye, but do we trust you?" asked Ram en Ondo.
"I am glad that you do not," said the stony guard. "Anything else would be a sign of stupidity," he said, not a hint of emotion in his words and The Company stared in curiosity at the cold warrior.
"Legolas, I suggest we all take some rest," said Idhrenohtar with a tired voice. "This last night has been hard for you, and this evening will be even harder."
"It will be hard for us all," said Legolas sadly. "We must face Dima's final passing rites together, brothers. We must show this land what The Company rides for, what we stand for, what it means to us to have one of our own ripped from our hearts. Polish your metal and your boots, bathe and brush your hair until it shines, weave an Avarin braid for Dima, if you will. Stand proud with me at his pyre and sing with me until he has gone and we remain. And only then, we will grieve for him.
Elladan had done all he could, he knew that, but it did not take away the sting of failure, of frustration, of not having the knowledge to curb that infection that had invaded Lainion's body and finally shut down his vital organs, one by one.
His eyes stared at the bottle of strange tonic he had prepared, left now to one side of the the store room where the fresh herbs were stocked. He had tried, and he had failed, and tonight, they would watch as Lainion's body was given to the fire.
Turning slowly, he left the store room and made his way back to the room where Lainion no longer lay, the sheets now clean and pristine, ready for another warrior to take his place. Reaching for his cloak, he slipped it over his shoulders and then picked up his sword, pushing it into the leather loop at his belt.
He was filthy and dishevelled, tired beyond belief, but he had still not greeted the king as his station required, did not even know where to go to bathe and rest and so, with a heavy sigh, he turned and headed for the fortress. However, an elf stood in his path, Nestaron.
Looking up, Elladan cocked his head to the side, wondering what he wanted but he was simply too tired to be angry any more.
"Elrondion," began the Master Healer, waiting to be acknowledged before he continued. Elladan met his eyes.
"You are a skilled healer, Elladan. We are grateful - for your efforts."
Elladan had not been expecting that and his face must have shown his surprise.
"I know," said Nestaron, holding up a palm of his hand, "I have been harsh, and any who know me will tell you that is my way - I only regret that those words now stand between us."
Elladan breathed out and looked to the floor, before raising his head once more.
"Nestaron. I meant what I said, you are a skilled healer and for that you have my respect, but this - unwillingness to think, to reason when it comes to the Silvan, your eagerness to discredit him is not befitting a man of your intelligence - I cannot respect that."
Nestaron looked contrite for a moment, but his face changed as he uttered his next words, words that took Elladan by surprise.
"Logically, I know that you are right, my Lord, but sometimes, it is the heart that speaks, that dictates the rules of the game, it is the heart that can make an idiot out of the most intelligent of elves. For my part, I will remember your words …" he said pointedly, before bowing, and walking away, back to his patients.
And so the trees whispered and hummed their sad song. Lainion the Avari has gone away, crossed the sea with no boat, into the arms of the Lord of Death. And as they spoke and sung, so too did the forest dwellers. The Silvan and the Avarin listeners bowed their heads in sorrow and then lifted their own voices in a song of praise and thanks.
Golloron the Spirit Herder lifted his head to the sun and closed his eyes in grief. Slowly he opened them once more and turned to the elf at his side.
"It is time - time to return to the fortress."