A Few Leaves In The Forest by Jay of Lasgalen
Summary: What happened before and during the battle of Helm's Deep - mostly movie-based, but with elements from the books.
Categories: Movie-verse Characters: Aragorn, Legolas
Genres: General
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 4 Completed: Yes Word count: 5553 Read: 8570 Published: Nov 27 2004 Updated: Nov 27 2004

1. Arrival and Reunion by Jay of Lasgalen

2. Despair by Jay of Lasgalen

3. Battle by Jay of Lasgalen

4. Epilogue by Jay of Lasgalen

Arrival and Reunion by Jay of Lasgalen
Author’s Notes: This is my take on the battle of Helm’s Deep. Unusually for me, it is entirely movie-verse. No slash!!


“ ‘E’s dead. ‘E took a little tumble off the cliff!” The orc’s harsh voice stopped Legolas in his tracks. He turned and went back to the orc’s side, kneeling by it in distaste.

“You lie.” he said softly, coldly, making no move to ease the orc’s torment.

“See for yourself!” The words were gleeful, filled with malice. Then it gave a hoarse gasp, shuddered, and was still.

As Legolas was about to stand, a glint of silver in the orc’s paw caught his eye. Gingerly, trying not to touch the foul creature, he freed the object from the death grip. It was Arwen’s pendant, that she had given to Aragorn before they left Rivendell.

Aragorn had never removed it since then.

It was stained with blood now, black orc blood, and something else. Human blood.

Still clutching the necklace, he stood, searching again, among the living, the wounded - and the dead. Then, very slowly, he made his way to the top of the escarpment.

Legolas stood at the top of the cliff, gazing down in despair at the water churning far below. He could see the body of the warg, lying broken on the rocks at the water’s edge, but Aragorn was gone.

*No. No. This isn’t possible.*

There had been times when he had really believed they could achieve this quest, despite the tragedies that had beset them. Gollum’s escape, the horrific deaths of his guards, Gandalf’s fall in Moria, Boromir’s death.

But now ... this.

Gandalf may have been returned to them; he could not hope for a second miracle.

He became aware of a sharp pain in his hand, and realised he was still holding the pendant in his clenched fist, gripping it so tightly the edges had dug in, and left a clear imprint on his palm.

Somehow, he would return it to Arwen, though he dreaded the task. He had promised her that he would keep Aragorn safe, and suspected Aragorn had made a similar vow. But he had failed both of them.

~~*~~




That last afternoon in Imladris, Legolas had sought Arwen out, finding her on the terrace, watching the preparations for their departure. He had known Arwen since they were both children, and loved her dearly. She was like the sister he had never known. As he made his farewell, he saw the shadow of sadness in her eyes.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’ll keep him safe for you. I promise.”

She had smiled at that. “And how will you manage that? I don’t think Aragorn will appreciate you looking after him. No, your job is to protect Frodo. Aragorn can look after himself.”

“Maybe. But my promise holds.” He hesitated then, and broached a more delicate subject.

“ I know you’ve given him the Evenstar. Does your father know? What does he say?”

“He thinks I am wrong. You know he loves Aragorn like a son. But he fears for me. One day Aragorn will - will die. I know that. Father thinks I should not commit myself to a mortal life. He wants me to retain my immortality, and go over the sea, where I will never forget Aragorn. But that would be only a memory.”

“Then I hope both of you fulfill your dreams. You have my blessing, you know that. Be happy.”

Tenderly, he reached out and touched her face with his fingertips. She returned the gesture, and whispered: “Be careful. May you all return safely. We all depend on this quest. It is our only hope.”

~~*~~

What he felt now was more than his own sorrow at Aragorn’s death, more than the effect the news would have on Arwen. It was the death of hope.

Legolas looked up in surprise as he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Théoden stood there, his own grief still stark in his eyes.

“Come. Leave the dead. We must continue to Helm’s Deep.”

Legolas looked at him in disbelief, about to retort angrily, but then he stopped and sighed, nodding. There was nothing he could do now. And he would not abandon these people. There was still a battle to fight.

He could go on where there was no hope, if he had to. He had learned to live without hope once before. He could do it again.

Tearing himself away from the cliff edge, he tucked the pendant away safely, and went to find Arod.

~~*~~

They finally arrived at Helm’s Deep after a long, weary ride, but without further incident. The women and children, lead by …owyn, had arrived and were safely settled in the caverns.

Legolas’ first sight of the fortress was astounding. Built across the valley, the formidable outer wall was high, looking unbreachable, totally impregnable. Behind the outer defences was an inner ring of stone, and behind that, the citadel. The Hornberg. It was tall, imposing - and depressing. There was too much stone here, and too little greenery.

As he and Gimli rode through the gates into the courtyard, …owyn was waiting. She looked at them both, relieved to see them safe, but then her gaze went immediately past him, looking in vain for one who was not there.

“So few. There are so few who have returned.” She sounded bewildered. Then, although from her face she already knew the answer, she asked softly: “Where is the Lord Aragorn?”

Legolas could not answer her, and just shook his head. It was left to Gimli to explain that he was gone.

“He fell, defending the retreat. We were outnumbered. I’m sorry, Lady.”

Legolas’ despair intensified as he inspected the defences. There were so few warriors here. Most of the young, fighting men were missing, exiled with …omer, and there were precious few of them, anyway. All that was left here were women and children and old men. But they would fight, because they must. There was no one to come to their aid. Rohan stood alone, abandoned by the other realms of men - and by the elves.

His despair began to turn to anger. Too many of his own people were leaving Middle Earth, turning their backs on the world of men. Did they think they would be safe, across the sea? The shadow would reach even there, if it was not stopped. He felt shamed by their selfishness and blindness. The old alliances were dead, it seemed.

In the distance, he could see a single horseman riding hard for Helm’s Deep. He turned away, incurious, uncaring. What possible difference could one more make? But by the time the rider reached the fortress, there were cries going up, cheers, a name being shouted out. Incredulous, he went swiftly to the courtyard and waited.

Exhausted, wounded, but very much alive, Aragorn made his way up the steps and stopped only feet away. Legolas regarded him expressionlessly.

“You’re late” was all he said. Then he allowed a smile of relief to light his face, and embraced his friend warmly. “You look terrible.”

Aragorn gave a short laugh. “It’s a long story. But I had to come back. I told Arwen I’d stop you getting yourself killed.”

“And what did she say to that?”

“That you could look after yourself!”

Legolas smiled at that comment. He should have known.

“That reminds me. I have something for you.” He reached into a pocket, retrieving the Evenstar, and tipped it into Aragorn’s hand. “I think this is yours.”

As Aragorn took it, he realised the symbolism went deeper than Arwen’s token of her love. Legolas was giving the union his seal of approval. Elrond and Thranduil had wanted them betrothed as children, although both Arwen and Legolas had had other ideas. Legolas had reassured him that there was nothing in it, but not before he had had much fun at Aragorn’s expense. Now ... he took the pendant, refastening the chain around his neck.

“Thank you.” The words meant so much more than their face value.

To Be Continued
Despair by Jay of Lasgalen
Later, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli toured the battlements together. As preparations for the battle continued, Legolas’ spirits fell again. Relieved as he was that Aragorn lived, it made no difference to their situation. He watched as a young boy, no more than a child, tried on a helmet for size. He looked terrified. Others were fitted for mail shirts or short swords. Old men, doddery on their feet at the best of times, staggered under the unaccustomed weight of armour. Their faces were frightened, or resolute, or scared, or terrified, or determined, or bewildered, or steadfast, or anxious, or confused, or baffled. Or sometimes everything at once.

He turned to Aragorn. “Look at them! These are no warriors!”

“I know. They have seen too many winters.”

“Or too few.”

*They are frightened. I can see it in their eyes*

It was only when those nearest stopped and stared at him that he realised he had spoken aloud. He tried to stop himself, but it was too late. Anger welled up in him, and he rounded on Aragorn, the words spilling out. “And they are right to be frightened! What hope have they? Old men, and children. A few hundred, set against tens of thousands. They will fight, and they will die! All of them!” At least, he reflected, he had had the wit to speak in Sindarin. These pitiful fighters did not need to hear the odds against them. But there was a real hostility in the glances being cast his way.

Aragorn looked at him coldly. “Then I will die with them!” he snapped, in Westron. These ‘warriors’ needed to know he stood with them, no matter what. He turned his back on Legolas, and strode away into the depths of the Hornburg.

Immediately, Legolas regretted his outburst. He could destroy what fragile confidence these people had. And every one of them was prepared to fight, no matter what. They were not giving in to despair. His anger was misdirected, it was not targeted at Aragorn at all. It was aimed at the injustice of this, at the waste of life, at the betrayal he felt from his own people. And the heavy weight of dead stone all around him was oppressing his spirit. Aragorn needed his support, not depression and self-doubt. He started after Aragorn, but Gimli stopped him.

“Leave him, laddie.”

*Laddie? From a dwarf many centuries his junior?* Legolas fought the urge to smile. Instead, he sighed.

“I feel the need for more of my kindred here. What I would give for a hundred good archers of Mirkwood! But my father has more than enough trouble in his kingdom.”

As he spoke, he felt the sharp gazes of Gimli, …owyn, and Théoden on him. He looked puzzled, then realised what he had said.

“Kingdom? Your father is King of Mirkwood?” Gimli sounded astonished.

Legolas nodded. “Yes. Did you not know?” But he knew they didn’t, it was not something he tended to mention, finding that mortals treated him strangely if they knew he was prince. “I need to find Aragorn. I should not have spoken so.”

He left them, then, with Gimli still staring after him in disbelief.

He found Aragorn inside the fortress, checking armour and testing his sword. As Aragorn reached for the scabbard to sheath Andúril, Legolas picked it up and handed it to him. Aragorn took it without surprise.

“My apologies. I should not have given into despair. There is always hope - Estel.” He used Aragorn’s childhood Elvish name deliberately.

Suddenly there was the clear clarion call of a trumpet, that echoed even inside the fortress. Legolas’ head went up like a hound’s.

“That is no orc war-cry!”

Turning, he ran to the wall above the gate, closely followed by Aragorn. There, they watched in amazement as reinforcements arrived. An army of elves, over a hundred strong, lead by Haldir of Lorien.

Legolas wondered why he felt so joyous. Even this was little better than a few leaves in the forest. But his people had not forsaken them. They had not forgotten the old alliances. Now, he could face the forthcoming battle with renewed hope.

By the time the Elven army was inside the Deeping wall, Legolas was waiting for them.

As Haldir dismounted, Theoden greeted him courteously.

“Haldir of Lorien, you are most welcome. Thank you for coming to our aid.”

Haldir looked a little surprised to be recognised, but then saw Legolas and Aragorn standing immediately behind the King.

“Theoden King, I bring greetings from the Lords Celeborn and Elrond. And I bring archers and warriors from Lorien and Imladris. We will do what we can in this fight. We have not forgotten we were once allies.”

Legolas stepped forward, smiling in welcome. “Mae govannen, my friend.”

Maybe he had misjudged Haldir. He had not forgotten their bitter words when the fellowship arrived in Lorien, and had been denied aid. But they had come. His gaze went past Haldir, and he saw familiar faces from Lorien and Imladris.

There was no one from Lasgalen. He had not expected it, but felt obscurely disappointed. But Thranduil would have his hands full - he would not have abandoned the search for Gollum, or the orcs who had freed him, and the shadow of Dol Guldur would be strengthening. Yes, Thranduil would have more than enough trouble to be able to spare any of his warriors - especially with his army commander absent, and both seconds slain. But there was no time for regrets.

Gimli had also appeared, now. He looked amazed at the sight of yet more elves. He stalked straight past Legolas, muttering, ignoring him for the most part, but throwing occasional glares over his shoulder at his friend. Aragorn wondered what troubled the dwarf.

Suddenly Gimli turned, and Aragorn found himself on the receiving end of one of Gimli’s scowls.

“I suppose you knew about it all the time?” He demanded. “You didn’t think to tell me?”

“Tell you about what?” Aragorn was bewildered. “Gimli, what are you talking about?”

“Him! His father!” He gestured wildly towards Legolas. “His father’s King of Mirkwood!” He never said a word! Blasted elf!”

Aragorn hid a smile, not wanting to infuriate Gimli even more. He wondered how Gimli had found out - it was not like Legolas to mention the fact. He must have been agitated indeed to let it slip.

Théoden was organising the defences, making full use of the arrivals. The elven archers were deployed along the top of the wall, Haldir’s reinforcements making a vital difference here. Legolas stood among them, and beside him was Gimli, trying in vain to see over the wall, which rose above his head.

As he looked out, he could see only a sea of darkness, the whole host of Isengard seemed there. There were more orcs than he had ever imagined, thousands upon thousands of them, filled with hatred and clamouring for their destruction.

An angry voice broke in on his reflections. “What’s going on out there?!”

Despite the army outside, Legolas found himself smiling. “Would you like me to tell you, or shall I find you a box to stand on?”

Gimli glowered at him, then suddenly gave a shout of laughter. The elf on Gimli’s other side also laughed, unsuccessfully disguised as Gimli transferred his glare to him, fingering his axe longingly.

A few short weeks ago, Legolas would never have dared to make such a jest - Gimli’s response would likely to have been to take his knees off, bringing them both down to the same height - but they had come a long way since Rivendell, in more ways than one.

“I challenge you!” Gimli said suddenly. “A match! Which one of us will kill the most orcs?”

Legolas looked down disbelievingly. In the midst of all this, a game? Then he suddenly laughed. It was the sort of thing Tirnan would have said. “Very well, master dwarf. I accept your challenge!”

Then there was no time for further debate, as with a mighty clap of thunder, the battle burst upon them.

To Be Continued
Battle by Jay of Lasgalen
To Aragorn, it felt like he had been fighting forever. Already the dead lay all around, many of them orcs, though far too many were of Rohan or Lorien. Far below, at the base of the Deeping Wall, he saw a stir of movement. Orcs were clustered around one part of the wall - the culvert where the stream drained. He watched with a sense of foreboding. What were they doing?

Suddenly the orcs turned and scattered, and another, very large creature approached, carrying a flaming brand. An uruk-hai. Without really knowing why, he turned to where he could see Legolas, some distance away along the wall.

"Legolas! Take him down!" he shouted desperately, indicating the orc.

With a nod, Legolas loosed an arrow. It struck home, deep into the creature's shoulder. It did not fall. With a curse, Aragorn watched as Legolas fired again. This time he hit the orc's neck, but with super-human strength it ran on.

"Kill him! Kill him!"

Legolas really did not need the instruction. He fired a final time, finally felling the beast, but even as it fell, it threw itself forward into the culvert.

An orange-red sheet of flame shot up, taking the wall with it. There was a deafening roar, and the wall disintegrated. Stone were flung high in the air, along with the fighters who had been above the culvert.

Dazed, Aragorn picked himself up off the ground, looking in disbelief at the gaping hole where the wall had been. Orcs poured through the gap into the area beyond. The defences had been breached, and they would be overwhelmed.

Despairingly, he gave the bitter order. "Retreat! Fall back! Fall back!" Around him, the warriors began to move, edging backwards towards the shelter of the Hornberg.

As the battle raged about him, Aragorn fought almost mechanically. He had lost sight of both Legolas and Gimli in the chaos, and now fought in the midst of elves from Lorien, and the children of Rohan.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw one of the elves go down with a sword slash across his chest. He fell forward, a curtain of long, pale gold hair falling across his face.

Legolas.

Ai, Elbereth, no! This could not be!

His first thought, crazily, was how he would tell Arwen.

Grimly, he fought his way to the elf's side. As he drew nearer, but was still too far away, he watched with despair as an orc thrust its sword deep into the elf's back. His head came up, the movement subtly different to his friend, and he realised that this elf was more heavily built. Not Legolas, then, but who? A flood of relief went through him, to be replaced by guilt. This was still a friend.

Aragorn reached the elf's side and knelt by him, his head against Aragorn's shoulder.

Haldir.

The elf was grievously wounded, his eyes clouded with pain, and his breath coming in short gasps.

Aragorn tried desperately to staunch the wound, his hands wet with Haldir's blood, but all too soon he gave a sigh, and slumped against Aragorn, his eyes closed.

No. Oh, no.

Despairingly, Aragorn closed his own eyes, head bowed over Haldir's body. Dangerous in battle, but he could not help it.

There was a voice, shouting his name, and someone pulling at Haldir. Aragorn resisted, but then realised who it was. Legolas knelt beside him, hair plastered to his head from the pouring rain.

"He's alive! Aragorn, he's still alive!"

Legolas looked around then, realising he was getting little sense from Aragorn. He saw two of the child warriors, one of them the boy he had seen earlier, still wearing his ill-fitting helmet.

"You two! Come here!"

He gestured at one of the litters, hastily constructed that afternoon to transport the wounded.

They were but children, both miraculously still alive, and for the most part unscathed.

They were two lives he could save tonight, maybe even three.

"Look after him. Take him back to the caves, to the healers. Stay with him."

He made it an order, so they would not realise they were being sent out of danger, and showed them how to stem the flow of blood. He did not hold out much hope, but it was Haldir's only chance. And theirs.

"Go!"

He watched as they staggered away with the litter, carrying Haldir away from the battle. Aragorn looked at him wearily.

"Well done. They won't even realise you saved their lives."

"I wish I could save all of them," Legolas said sadly. Then his voice sharpened. "Aragorn!" He drew his bow, an arrow pointed straight at Aragorn, it seemed. "Down!"

The arrow passed so close, Aragorn could feel the breath of it on his cheek. The orc behind him fell dead.

"Come!"

Legolas hauled him to his feet. The battle was far from over. They were over run now, orcs pouring through the gap smashed in the wall. Already, on the outer battlements, black banners were being hoisted high, bearing Saruman's symbol of the white hand.

Aragorn look around in despair. "We must retreat! Continue to fall back to the Hornberg!"

They turned and ran for the steps, along with the last remnants of the defence. The heavy doors were slammed shut as Aragorn came through last.

As dawn began to rise, stretching pale fingers over the hills, a final, desperate rally was made. There were few, so few, horsemen left. They gathered in the hall of the Hornberg. On a signal, the barricaded doors were flung open, and the remaining cavalry rode out from Helm's Gate into the dale. Orcs fell before them, as the troops of Helm's Deep - all that were left - rode down the causeway.

Théoden, as king of these men, lead them, with Aragorn and Legolas at his side. His bow, even the two long knives he used, were useless in this type of assault, and Legolas swung a sword, snatched from one of the dead warriors.

The orcs, not expecting their all but defeated foe to make such a bold move, were scattered, falling beneath the hooves of the horses, or over the sides of the causeway ramp. They retreated in dismay as the sortie reached the end of the causeway, spreading out into the valley. Their panicked flight slowed, however, as they began to realise how very few riders there were.

Before the orcs could turn to fight, an army of horsemen swept down on them from the surrounding hills. They were lead by a rider on a white horse, clad all in white, bearing a glowing staff.

Mithrandir had found the éored lead by …omer, and brought them to the relief of Helm's Deep. Between the two forces, the orcs stood no chance, and fell like leaves in autumn. Those that fled ran into the depths of a strange new forest that had arisen overnight - and never came out.

In the aftermath of the battle, Legolas returned to the Deeping Wall, and prowled the battlements. Everywhere he could see the fallen children of Rohan, so terribly young. Some had fallen with their swords untainted, too terrified to even defend themselves. One was a young girl, her hair falling out of the twist she had put it in to hide it under her stolen helmet. Scattered among them were the old men who had tried so hard to defend the young ones.

And everywhere he could see Haldir's archers. He recognised many, familiar faces from Elrond's court or Celeborn's, messengers who had come to Lasgalen. They lay now, mingled with the young and old of Rohan, and their fallen foes. Many were open eyed, in a vile parody of sleep.

He was glad, now, that none had come from Lasgalen. He had already seen too many friends die.

Finally he went to the caves where the wounded had been taken. The women and girls had not been idle during the battle, but had been tending the injured all night. There were those who could not survive, but his battle experience told him that most of those who had made it here would live.

On a blanket at the side of one of the caverns, he found Haldir, pale and motionless.

So. He had been too late.

He regretted, now, his actions in Lorien. Legolas had been so angry when Haldir denied them passage through Lorien he could not trust himself to speak, leaving Aragorn to argue their case. But all differences had been forgotten with the arrival of the elven army. The presence of the reinforcements had made a difference.

…owyn came softly to meet him, glancing down at Haldir.

"Please, my Lord, don't disturb him. He needs rest for now. He sleeps."

To Be Continued
Epilogue by Jay of Lasgalen
Incredulous, Legolas stared at Eówyn. "He sleeps?" he repeated cautiously, wondering if he had misunderstood her. "He lives?"

Smiling, she nodded at him. "He lives," she told him. Then her face grew grave, sorrowful, again. "He is one of the few. So many of your kindred fell. I'm sorry, my lord Legolas – I grieve for your losses."

Slowly, he acknowledged her words. Yes, the elves of Lothlórien and Imladris had fought valiantly, but so too had the people of the Rohirrim. Yet they had still perished, falling like leaves in autumn. There had been too much death here to be grieved overmuch by one more, too much suffering to find joy in one survival. Yet despite that, he felt his heart lift a little at her words. "He lives," Legolas repeated again, seeking confirmation. The despair that gripped his soul, despite their so-called victory, eased a little. If even one of the elven host – unlooked for, unafraid – had survived, he no longer felt quite so alone. And when, at star-kindling, he sang the laments for the fallen, then Haldir would be with him, in spirit at least.

He dropped to his knees at Haldir's side, noticing the thickly swathed bandages around his torso, a tinge of blood staining the whiteness. He saw the shallow rise and fall of the chest, the faint pulse beat at Haldir's throat. He saw the closed eyes, though that was no longer so unusual. Legolas knew that he too had slept with eyes closed for at least the last two nights, pushed almost beyond endurance by exhaustion, battle fatigue, and grief.

Tentatively, he extended his senses to touch Haldir, wishing again that he had the skills of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir. What he was able to find reassured him, and he realised that Haldir would indeed survive to return to the golden wood of Lothlórien. Finally he rose wearily, and smiled at Eówyn. "Thank you for your care of him, Lady Eówyn. You have fought your own battles this night, and done great deeds. These warriors will live to thank you."

She did not seem to agree, but acknowledged his words. "My thanks, my Lord. And what of your companions? Lord Gimli, and – and Lord Aragorn." A slight flush stained her weary, grimy face. "I have not seem then since the battle."

"Aragorn is unharmed," he reassured her. "And Gimli – " he stopped, realising he had not seen Gimli since riding out from the gates of the Hornberg. His friend had stayed behind, helping in the eradication of the orcs remaining in the keep. Knowing the dwarf, he would have been wherever the fighting was fiercest. Where was he now? "I have not seen him," he admitted. "I must seek him out – there is the small matter of a wager I have with him."

"A wager?"

"Aye. On which of us could kill the most orcs. My final tally is ninety five. I doubt that he will better it!" He spoke lightly, both to hide his own concern, and to erase the strain he saw on her face.

In that, at least, he was successful. She smiled, then laughed. "You remind me of my brother and me," she told him. "I was always trying to compete with him, to keep up, no matter what he did. He must have found it intensely annoying, but was always patient with me. I knew I could never best him, but sometimes, just sometimes, he would let me win. Go, and find Master Gimli. I hope he is well."

"As I do," Legolas thought, as he left the caverns and the wounded. He returned to the wall, looking out over the coomb. He had already overseen the removal of the fallen elven warriors, and they lay together. The soil of this rocky fastness in the mountains was hard and stony, too harsh for elven warriors to rest in peace, although graves and mounds were being dug in the Deeping coomb for the children of Rohan. Instead, two pyres had been built – squat towers of wood, layered with straw from the stables, the whole drenched with oil. The elves from Lothlórien had been placed on one, those from Imladris on another. Pennants, signifying the houses and lineage of those slain, fluttered in the breeze.

At twilight, when the stars were kindled, Legolas would sing the laments and prayers to Elbereth and light the pyres himself. The task would have fallen to him in any case, as the elf of highest rank among them, but as it was, he was the only one left to perform the ceremony. He walked slowly down the causeway towards the towering pyres, looking at the pennants. He recognised far too many. There was one with an emblem of a swooping eagle – he had not even realised that Ashia's brother had been among the warriors from Lórien; now he too was dead, and they had not even spoken. Yet another link with the past had been broken.

At the foot of the slope, men of Rohan laboured to remove the last of the slain, sorting orcs and uruk-hai from elves and men. And there, sitting at ease on a fallen uruk, smoking, was Gimli. He looked remarkably unscathed, apart from a rough bandage around his head. He glanced up at Legolas, then jumped to his feet. "Forty two, Legolas! Forty two! How about you, laddie?"

Legolas stared at him for a moment, and came to a sudden decision. The game was unimportant, he was just relieved to see the dwarf in one piece. He bowed, hand to heart, feigning defeat. "Alas! You have passed my score by one," he replied. "But I do not grudge you the game, I am so glad to see you on your feet!"

Together, they worked with the remaining warriors and folk of Rohan to clear the dead. The orcs were heaped in great piles of carrion. "Leave them," Gandalf advised. "Let the orcs lie. We shall see what the morning brings."

The last fallen warrior was removed and laid with his comrades as dusk was falling. Then, as the first star appeared in the sky, Legolas began the lament for the fallen, a slow, haunting tune, full of grief and sorrow. His voice, soft and clear, cut through the thick twilight, and the Rohirrim paused in their tasks to listen.

Gimli felt once again that he did not know Legolas at all. He had changed from the cheerful companion of the quest, the steadfast warrior, to this fey, eerily beautiful, rather ethereal creature. He felt tears pricking at his eyes. Although he could only understand a few words here and there – his grasp of Sindarin was still sketchy – they seemed to cut into his heart.

There were no others to sing the counter-part, so Legolas sang the responses as well. As he drew near to the end, his voice rose in volume, the tone changing to a paean of joy and hope. "Sí na i veth naid bain." As Legolas paused momentarily, he heard behind him a weak, faint voice completing the final plea.

"Sîlo elin bo men lín." Turning, he saw Haldir, swathed in blankets and bandages, supported between Aragorn and Eówyn, at the top of the causeway. Aragorn swept Haldir into his arms and carried him to where Legolas stood, a lighted torch in his hand, ready to light the pyres. As Haldir was set on his feet once again, Aragorn steadied him, then stood back as Legolas and Haldir, holding the torch between them, touched it to the oil-soaked wood, igniting the pyres.

Flames caught and flickered, leaping into the windless air as the pyres burned.

The End

Translations: Sí na i veth naid bain – Here at the end of all things.

Sîlo elin bo men lín – May the stars shine upon your road.
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