Sacrifice by Miluiel92
This story was written by my cousin and I thought it should get recognition. Enjoy!
As Legolas wandered among the lost, frightened souls of the newly made soldiers of Rohan: children as young as 7 winters… men as old as 12 times such an age… he found his mind looking to the aftermath of the battle; the Battle of Helm’s Deep… the battle that would decide the fate of the House of Rohan. Darkness surrounded the fort, closing in like four great walls of iron, every light fighting for hope among the shadows.
He watched as men walked down a line, taking a sword, as if being handed their doom: and they were. Behind the men handing out the weapons, was a row of fine swords, each one for a general in the small army… and one caught his eye. It was long, straight, and so sharp that the firelight’s reflection rebounded with such intensity it was likened in his mind to a ray of sun. And the pale handle, like a thin glossy, silver sheet of satin to cover the blade beneath, with nothing but a small valley as a handhold, was so brilliant, it could be made of only one thing: mithril.
He could not help himself: he weaved between the men, young, old, very few of an appropriate age, until he reached the row of swords. His hand reached out to grasp the hilt. His hand had just brushed the metal, almost as cold as ice, silk against his fingers, when the flat of another sword slapped the back of his hand.
For a moment, he felt a flash of annoyance with himself. His lust for the beautiful sword had clearly slowed his reflexes. And then he turned, swiftly, his hand sliding out from under the blade easily. The wielder made no attempt to stop him, instead raising the blade to his neck.
“I would appreciate it if you did not touch my sword, Legolas, son of Thranduil,” said the voice, smooth as a hand over silk, “An Elf prince should know better.”
“I apologize,” he said, bowing. But the sword was kept at his neck. He raised his head to look at his attacker.
The figure was tall and slender, and both the hand that held the sword and what was visible of the face behind an elegant helm were lightly tanned. The hand that held the sword was worn and callused. And in the shadows of the helm, he could see the eyes: cat-like, with irises the color of sunlit leaves and each winged with a veil of long black lashes. Legolas laughed.
“I apologize, but I must ask you to take off the helm, so I may see the mortal woman who so easily caught me off my guard.”
For a mere moment, those eyes, so clear and sharp, were surprised. Then a soft, clear laugh rang from inside the helmet, and after a brief glance at the emptying room, a gloved hand was raised to sweep off the helm.
Legolas had always thought in his long life, no beauty could match that of the Elves: that no Elf, let alone a mortal, could match that of Lady Arwen of Rivendell in fairness. And yet here, in the Armory of Helm’s Deep, an hour before the doom of Rohan, or perhaps the doom of men itself, he was proved wrong.
She swept off her helmet, and immediately waves of sable hair cascaded down her back, as soft as the night wind. Her midnight tresses framed her face; long lashes cast feathery shadows on her high cheekbones, the curve of her small, delicate jaw contrasting with her wide, emerald eyes. Chain mail and black leather armor was fitted to her slim body, the fine silver bright against the dark shirt she wore beneath which clung to her slender, muscled body like mist. The knee high, black leather boots she wore hugged her slim calves. A long, dark blue cape swirled around her, her waist-length raven waves tumbling down the cloth.
Legolas was rocked by her beauty, but he knew enough not to let it fool him. This woman was dangerous, as dangerous as Aragorn, who himself was half-elf. Her smooth, graceful movements were just a veil, like velvet over steel: she was dangerous. He nodded to her respectfully and she smiled wryly, returning the slight bow.
“Who are you?” asked Legolas, and she laughed again, picking up the elegant sword that Legolas had wondered at. After a few smooth, lethal test swings, she sheathed it in a black leather hilt, and raised her piercing eyes to meet his.
“I know your companion, Aragorn,” she said, in perfect Elvish, “For he is also my friend; like him, I am a Ranger of the North. I was asked by the Grey Pilgrim to come to Rohan to protect its people, and so I did… only to be forced to flee-” she said the word with such scorn, Legolas need not guess that she was no more happy with the arrangement by the king than he was,-“like some animal to this keep.”
“Your name?” inquired Legolas, in Elvish. She hesitated, her eyes flickering to his face, as she reached for a pale bow hanging from the wall, it’s wood the color of cream. Then she grasped the wood, taking it from the wall. She ran her hand along the taut silver string, and suddenly nocked an arrow, pulling it back smoothly, her hand brushing her mouth.
“I have many names,” she said quite suddenly, voice soft with thought. She let loose the arrow, and it hit, burying itself in the wood wall.
“But as it is my name in the land of Horse-lords and the Shire-lings, you may call me Thorn,” she murmured, and turned to him, smiling.
“Well, Thorn of the North,” he said, watching her as she shouldered her quiver, “Why do you hide that you are a woman?” She gave him a long calculating look, eyes piercing.
“For I was asked not to fight by the king.”
“Why would he make that request of a ranger, let alone one such as yourself?”
“He wishes that I take care of the women and children. But I will not. If this is to be the end of Rohan, I would like to be there at its last. If this to be the end of men…” she trailed off, and for a moment looked uncertain. But then there was a flash of steel in her eyes, and she nodded curtly to Legolas.
“I am glad to have met you, Legolas of Mirkwood,” she laughed, no humor in her voice, “Before the end, I am glad that I was lucky enough to meet a Prince of Elves.”
“If this is the end,” said Legolas, wondering at her pride, “Then do not concern yourself with such petty commands of the King. If it is the end, it will be the end to all. Even those…” he swallowed the bitter taste of his tongue, “Who hide in the caves. If there can be no victory, let your triumph be that the vile creatures you slay tonight will die with the knowledge that they were killed by a woman.”
She stiffened, and for a moment, he worried that he had offended her. And then her sad, steely face, worn beyond her years with suffering, relaxed into a breathtaking smile.
“I will,” she said, tossing back her mane of silky black tresses, “I will. And I will see you on the fields of battle, Legolas. I hope that I will be able to see you once more after the Battle of Helm’s Deep.” And with that she swept from the room, beautiful and proud, prepared for death itself should it come for her.
x x x
Legolas wandered through the courtyard of Helm’s Deep, stepping lightly over bodies, his eyes wandering among the men. He was sickened to find that he recognized some. A boy, a man, a father, a son… too great was this sacrifice.
He heard a voice, and looked up to see the strong face of a mortal man: he nodded to Aragorn, clasping his shoulder but his thoughts roamed through the blue shadows of the castle, his mind still thinking of the woman. So dangerous, so fair, so frighteningly beautiful…
Aragorn left him and Legolas continued on his way, looking among the men.
He spotted black hair floating like a silky cloud in the rain water that had flooded the courtyard. Legolas of Mirkwood stiffened as he looked upon her body.
Her chest rose and sank; so slight was the movement, that only an Elf could have seen. Her full lips were parted ever so slightly, eye lids closed, inky black lashes brushing her skin, tendrils of wet sable hair clinging to her face. Blood was pooling on her fine silk tunic, staining the glossy silver chainmail, so that it glittered wet scarlet in the new sunlight. He did not kneel, nor weep, nor grieve: he stood, face stony, murmuring his Elven prayers.
“Fool,” said a familiar voice, velvety with teasing, “If I am to die, I do not wish to stay here, drowning in my own blood. Sit me upright, you pointy-eared goblin!” she said, her voice a ragged whisper, but her eyes opened. They were so green, like the leaves of Rivendell itself in its last days of Spring. But the fire that once made them burn like emeralds was fading, leaving behind smooth cold stone, as death came for her.
Legolas bent and yanked her upward, his hand grasping the back of her neck so that she stayed up. She gasped, breath ragged with pain at the force of the movement, coughing up blood. Her hair fell back in thick wave, pooling like ink in the water. She opened her eyes again only to glare at him in anger:
“Do you mean to make death come for me all the quicker?” He did not answer, instead staring at her wound; her hair was like satin against his fingers, her eyes like fire against his face. She was regal in her disdain of her suffering, patiently waiting for death. He once again began reciting Elven prayers.
“Shut it,” she snarled, and it was his turn to glare.
“It is gone,” she murmured, “Every color is turning to red. Even your face is fading… Am I to be lost in a world with only scarlet shadows, never once a touch of blue or green? Where color is lost to a world ruled by death and I will suffer forever, begging the world for some small share of light.” A tear track on her cheek glistened gold in the dawn light.
“No,” said Legolas, “There are no scarlet shadows; light is everywhere, and there is no evil to block out the sun. All is silver: as brilliant as moonlight, as strong as sunlight.”
She smiled, staring at his face. Legolas memorized her smile for he knew he would never see it again. “And my father will be waiting for me,” she whispered. Her head tilted back, and death took her spirit that once glowed like fire. But her eyes remained open, the sunlight dancing within them. She had sacrificed herself for the kingdom of Men.
“Please,” he murmured, lowering her to the ground, and cupping her face, “Be at peace.” Thorn of the North watched Legolas of Mirkwood with clouded eyes, as the Prince of Elves walked away.