Somehow, they had won. Despite being greatly outnumbered and losing many warriors to injury and death, they had prevailed. Now at last there was peace again, though the scars would leave their mark for many years to come. Many would not remain on these shores long enough to see them healed.
Yet they would try. Trudging through the churned mud that now surrounded the Golden Wood, the three Elves dragged Orc corpses into a pile and retrieved Elven weapons as they walked, a slow trek round the entire perimeter.
“What a mess,” Orophin sighed softly as they walked around a felled mallorn, the glory of the tree now long gone, its branches bare and silver trunk dulled to grey. “I never thought I would see a war so ugly as this one.”
Haldir paused, squeezing his brother’s shoulder lightly. “It is hard to see so much you love fallen and desecrated,” he agreed. “Yet we must be grateful that we won and have the chance to put things to rights. It could have been a lot worse.”
Rúmil looked sceptical. “How so?” he asked, hardly believing his ears.
Haldir looked away from the wood then, across the horizon. “There was talk of sending us to aid the Men… of sending a whole army to fight at Helms Deep. We must be grateful that Celeborn and Galadriel saw the folly of that idea and we remained here, to defend our own borders.”
“You really think that would have been worse?” Orophin queried.
Still not looking at his brothers, Haldir nodded.
“What makes you think that?” Rúmil asked. “Surely numbers and defences would have been more favourable.”
Tearing his eyes away from the skyline, Haldir turned back to them, looking at his brothers with a troubled expression. “It is just a feeling.”