The breeze was cool, rustling across the emerald grass and making the
heads of the blooming elanor and niphredil wave and bob peacefully
beneath the trees. The Lady Galadriel was dressed in white as she
almost always was, and looked very at home among the slender pale
flowers. True to his word, Elrond had taken the ranger to speak with
the Lady of the Golden Wood.
It was late afternoon now, and Aragorn had chafed all day for this
opportunity, and yet now he hesitated. Now that he was faced with
actually asking the question, he wasn’t sure how to do so and felt as
if his tongue had grown limp and uncooperative. Elrond may have been
perfectly comfortable with Galadriel, but she was still a stranger to
Estel, one that he was more or less in awe of, and it was a slightly
The young ranger resisted the urge to fidget with the edges of the
sling that held his immobilized right arm and shoulder bound tightly to
his chest. His mending injury had been hurting him this morning
after his un-cautious moves last night, and Elrond had insisted he wear
the immobilizing sling again today.
“There is something you desire, Estel?” A hint of mirth in Galadriel’s
wise eyes suggested that she knew exactly what he wanted and how he was
feeling. However, if she did, she said nothing. Aragorn
sighed inside. Just like his father. They could know
perfectly well what was on your mind, but would insist on waiting to
hear it from you in person.
“For some time now I... have been having disturbing dreams,” the young
ranger started slowly.
“So I have heard.” Galadriel glanced at Elrond who stood quietly behind
Aragorn, watching his human son. “You think they are something
other than dreams.” It was not a question.
Aragorn nodded, also glancing back at his elven father. “Lord
Elrond told me that in some small way, I also have the gift of
foresight because of my heritage. I fear this is true and I feel
certain that my friend, Legolas, is in terrible danger. After the
word Trelan brought and the condition he is in...” he hesitated before
plunging onward. “I came to ask if... if you would permit me to
look in your mirror. If this has been so strong in my dreams, I had
hoped...” he left the statement open, waiting for her response.
Galadriel smiled softly. She understood why her son-in-law had
such affection for this one; he had an honest, open quality that made
even his uncertainty more sincere than some people’s boastful show of
confidence. “You hope that you may see something to help you,”
she finished for him with a graceful nod. “Come with me.”
The Lady led them across the green grass of Caras Galadon and down a
curving set of stairs set into the earth which led to the simple basin
that all of them knew was much more than it seemed.
Aragorn stopped in front of it and watched, transfixed despite the
worry eating at his heart, as Galadriel filled the basin with water
from her fountain. The Lady of the Galadrim breathed upon the
water, which almost immediately took on a different hue, and then
Replacing her pitcher she fixed Aragorn firmly in her gaze. “I
will allow you to do this Aragorn, son of Arathorn, although few are
the mortals who can say they have gazed into the Mirror of
Galadriel. Lord Elrond has told you truly: you have both the
foresight and the strength of will to use the far-seeing tools of both
elves and men... but be careful, Estel. Your skills are yet young
and untrained; if you are unwary you can injure yourself. Take a
care where you look and for what purpose. The mirror shows not
only the past and the possible future, but many things that will never
come to be... it is a dangerous guide.”
With these words of warning, Galadriel backed away from the pedestal,
allowing Aragorn access.
Slowly, Aragorn stepped up to the graceful basin, gripping one edge of
the cool stone lip with his good hand and looking down to peer into
water that was strangely dark and reflective for such a shallow
bowl. Both Elrond and Galadriel had their eyes silently fixed on
him, but he tried not to think about that. Instead his thoughts
went to his dreams, and to Legolas, as he gazed down at his own
wavering reflection in the dark water. For a moment that was all
he could see, his own reflection, but presently the water seemed to
become darker and deeper, as if opening out into a vast, swirling
vortex before his eyes. Yet the water itself was not
moving. Beyond sight and consciousness, Aragorn seemed aware of a
thousand different things in the seemingly endless depths of the
He saw many images swirl by as if caught in a gale. Some the
ranger recognized as scenes from his own childhood, but others he could
not even begin to guess at unless they be from tales or things that
happened either very long ago, or possibly had not yet happened at
all. As Galadriel had warned, some things that the mirror showed
never came to pass at all... it was difficult to know what to
The pictures flickered by almost faster than the young man could
A man with a blazing gem in his hand standing before a great, hideous
The bright stars of the heavens in elder days before the shape of the
world was changed.
Tall Númenorean ships... a white tree, young and graceful with
stars caught in its branches like jewels woven into the hair of a
Elrond dressed in armor and locked in desperate battle in the middle of
a body-strewn plain.
Rivendell, filled with many, many more elves than currently called it
home and surrounded by enemies, a lone refuge in a dark sea.
Elrond stood on a balcony looking out from a distance at the dark,
hopeless sea, his face grim and a bloody cloth bound round his
Elladan smiling at a small human boy, Estel, when he was young.
The older twin was teaching him how to hold a bow.
A fiery mountain. Small beings toiled up the side on some great
and perilous errand.
Arwen... Arwen’s face... he was almost tempted to try to look closer,
to see what the future held if he could... but he pulled back.
That was not his purpose here.
Focusing his mind more closely and attempting to weed out distractions,
Aragorn found the images becoming clearer and slower, coalescing under
the guidance of his unspoken thoughts. Legolas. He forced
that to be the one overriding thought in his head. Legolas.
As if at his bidding, Legolas' face swirled into view, but the prince
looked younger somehow, if that were possible for an elf. There
were men and they were hurting him... Aragorn nearly jerked physically
back as his mind recoiled from the images that he knew to be coming
from Legolas’ past.
Elrond, standing a ways back, could not see what Aragorn was seeing,
but he saw the young man tense and recoil and only just kept himself
from stepping forward. Not everything the mirror showed one was
Galadriel met his eyes. This was Aragorn’s test of strength and
will; he had to pass it alone if he would accomplish that which he
Aragorn’s emotions caused the pictures to wobble and spin out of focus
again and for a few moments he was left groping to pull them back into
focus again, but slowly he did.
Legolas’ face appeared once more, but he was laughing this time,
talking with... with Raniean and Trelan it looked like, while riding
next to Elrond. Other scenes, ones that Aragorn remembered from
their own not so distant past together surfaced: Mirkwood, fighting the
spiders, Lord Thranduil’s halls, Rivendell, the Witch King, the cold
snow of the mountains and the burning heat of Harad... all of them
swirled past in the blink of an eye, before Aragorn once again found
himself faced with unfamiliar images, but it was hard for him to know
whether he had just moved forward or backward in time since the mirror
was not showing him things in any kind of order, chronological or
A river. Two riders crossed it... they were elves. One was
Legolas. He couldn’t see the other; it might have been Trelan.
They were attacked, separated... he saw Trelan caught beneath the
horses’ hooves and flinched hard, everything seemed so real.
Aragorn struggled to see what happened and where Legolas was, but he
could not and the scene slid away from him. He did not seem to
have the skill to look more than surface deep into anything he
saw. That frustrated the young man and he tried harder. Of
course, being able to bend the mirror to his will at all was no small
feat; however, Aragorn had no way of knowing that.
A scene snapped clearly into focus. Legolas, lying pale and still
on a slanting bed of grey shale. Behind him in the distance a
faint, foggy mountain range formed a striking resemblance to the image
of an old, hook-nosed man. Something moved in the rocks.
Aragorn could not see what, but he knew it was danger for Legolas.
Mentally he screamed for his friend to wake up, attempting to force the
image to stay, but it slipped away like sand between his fingers and he
had no way of even knowing if it were the past, the present or the
future that he was seeing. Aragorn’s left hand tightened
vise-like on the edge of the mirror basin, causing the stone to dig
roughly into his fingers.
The image wavered. He was closer to Legolas now; he could see his
friend’s face and the elf was awake.
“Don’t be angry with me, Estel...” Legolas’ voice was weak and
soft. “I’m sorry...” the elf seemed to reach out for his hand,
but was not strong enough to do so and the prince’s arm fell back to
his side. Legolas’ eyes closed and his spirit fled as death
reached up and swallowed him.
“No!” Aragorn didn’t realize that he had shouted it aloud. With
all his will he fought to hold the picture he was seeing, to know what
was wrong and why his friend was dying... but he could see
nothing. The elf seemed uninjured. The scene replayed
itself again, exactly the same way and it was like being stuck in a
nightmare all over again. Legolas’ hand fell limply back to his
side and Aragorn reached out, trying to take hold of it, his whole
concentration and will bent on the horrible scene in front of him.
“Do not touch the water.” Galadriel’s quiet warning went unheard and
Aragorn’s good hand slid over the lip of the bowl, reaching for his
friend out of reflex and anguish, even though he knew he wasn’t really
there. The instant his fingers touched the water the pictures
went into a nauseating spin as the seemingly cool liquid bubbled
tumultuously, searing the hand that had violated it. The young
man cried out in surprise and pain as he was mentally ripped free of
the scene he was concentrating on and jerked back to the present.
One of Galadriel’s slim, strong hands was on his shoulder and the other
firmly grasped his left wrist, lifting his hand out of the water and
anchoring him back to reality. “Estel? Estel...” she spoke
his name like a call but for a moment he did not respond.
Her eyes fell quickly upon Elrond but he needed no summons, he was
already beside them, touching his son’s face and bringing Aragorn’s
head around towards him. “Estel. Estel, answer me.”
Aragorn blinked twice and took a deep, shaky breath, looking around as
if not sure what had happened.
“I’m sorry...” he apologized for the concerned looks on their faces, a
deep humiliation flooding him. “I’m sorry. I-I think I must
have done something stupid, didn’t I?” He dropped his head and
his gaze as everything came back to him.
Elrond touched his shoulder gently as Galadriel released the young
ranger. “You are brave, Estel, but you have to be more
careful. Your time will come, but you are not yet skilled enough,
young one, to understand nor wield the full power inside of you.
Now look at me, look at me, Estel,” he insisted and Aragorn slowly met
his searching gaze.
Elrond sighed softly. Aragorn was all right. Weary beyond
measure from exerting himself and his untried abilities far too much
while in an already weakened condition, but ultimately unharmed by his
experience. His foster son was, however, deeply troubled and he
could see that. “What did you see?”
“I saw Legolas,” Aragorn was slightly breathless but quickly got
control of himself. “He was in danger. Grave danger... I
saw him die.”
The raw pain behind Aragorn’s eyes made Elrond’s heart ache. He
knew what the prince meant to his son. “It is not the certain
future, Aragorn. It may not even be the future at all.”
Aragorn was already shaking his head. “No! He is in
danger. I know it. I can feel it. Ada, I know where
Elrond glanced at Galadriel but returned his gaze to his youngest
son. “What do you mean, Estel?”
“I saw him,” Aragorn wavered slightly and had to grip the mirror
pedestal with his burned fingers again to keep steady. “I saw
him, and in the background I could clearly see the old man in the
mountain. It was distant and faint, but there.”
Elrond’s brow creased. The only vantage point from which the
mountains lined up right to create that unique picture was Northern
Rohan, above Fangorn. But what would Legolas be doing that far
south of here?
“But can you be sure? The mirror can show us that which we wish,
or that which we fear, as well as that which is true,” Galadriel
“No,” Aragorn’s mind was made up and he battled the dizziness working
on him. His shoulder and arm were hurting again; a lot. He
was very tired but fought off the sluggishness. “No, he’s there. I don’t know how I
know it, I-I just do! You have to believe me. I know what I
saw and if something is not done he is going to die. I have to
go, I have to...” the young Dùnadan’s knees buckled.
Elrond caught his foster son and supported his weight gently.
“You are not going anywhere in this condition, Estel. Your own
body will not allow it,” he remonstrated as he gently eased the ranger
down onto a nearby bench.
Aragorn’s breathing was quick and fast. His whole being was
exhausted from his efforts and frustrated with its own frailty.
He winced slightly as Elrond checked the burns on his hand, but they
were light ones only and not serious.
Worn as he was, the human was still protesting and attempting to
rise. “I have to go, I have to...”
Galadriel touched his forehead lightly with her fingertips, brushing
them across his clammy brow and the young man’s hurting, agitated body
relaxed almost instantly, slumping into Elrond’s arms.
“Īdh si, rest now,” the elf
lady murmured as Estel’s eyes closed.
“That’s not fair...” Aragorn murmured before sweet, dreamless slumber
pulled him under.
Elrond gathered the young man easily in his arms; careful of the
Dùnadan’s mending bones. “I suppose it’s not,” the elf
lord whispered to his unconscious son with a soft smile, “but it is
best for you.” Aragorn would only hurt himself at this point by
trying to do too much in such a critically weakened condition.
“That works slightly better on him than it ever did on the twins,”
Elrond remarked quietly, directing his amused gaze towards Galadriel as
he carried Aragorn back to bed in one of the ground-level bowers.
The elf woman laughed softly at the memory they were both
recalling. It was a wonderfully musical sound. “They were
young and overactive. This one does not have that much energy
Elrond chuckled as he laid his human son down on the soft, silky
cushions of their resting-place. Like most of Lórien it
was both indoors and outdoors at the same time and the sweet fragrance
of niphredil hung like a healing balm in the cool air.
“You haven’t seen him when he is well. At full strength I would
say he could challenge them both when it comes to energy and
exuberance,” the elf lord remarked with a soft smile.
Galadriel settled the ranger’s mending arm comfortably on his chest and
pulled a light covering over him. It had been a long time since
she had helped tuck anyone into bed and it amused her. “I do not
doubt it. Your and your brother’s descendants have always been a
handful. I’ll have you know that you were no different when you
were young.” Her smile was soft.
Elrond just shook his head as they moved quietly away, leaving Aragorn
sleeping. “That was before I married Celebrían.
Being a father changes many things.”
Galadriel cast her gaze back towards Estel’s still form, her eyes
distant as she thought of her daughter. “She would have liked
him. Many would not have taken him in or taken him to heart as
you have done, yet the fate of the world may someday hang on such quiet
beginnings. My daughter chose well.” She rested her hand
lightly above her son-in-law’s heart.
They did not often speak of Celebrían now that she was gone and
Elrond touched Galadriel’s hand in a gesture of thanks. It did
not hurt now to think of his wife. He would always miss her until
the day they were together again, but he knew she was happy.
“The boy has a good heart and a fierce loyalty. He will go after
Legolas if we are not careful. Yet... I am also troubled for the
young prince,” Elrond said as they walked amid the trees
together. “Estel’s visions are correct if what my heart speaks is
true. He is in danger.”
Galadriel nodded, she felt the same. “I fear you are right, but I
will admit I do not know him as you do. We have never met and his fate
is hidden from me. For Estel to feel the danger so acutely, his
connection with Legolas must be a strong one.”
“It is,” Elrond nodded, clasping his hands behind his back. “It
Thunder rolled lazily across the cloudy sky. The air was thick
and oppressive and the gentle drizzle that was beginning to fall did
nothing to lighten it.
Jagged, craggy, grey rocks and loose shale formed the face of the
landscape, absorbing the raindrops with little effect, save that the
shale slowly darkened in color, as if trying to disappear into the
Water beaded on a grey cloak, nearly the same shade as the shale,
before slowly seeping into the light fabric and running in small
rivulets off of unmoving fingers. A pale face with closed lids
stared up unseeing at the grey sky while moist air and misty rain made
long, black eyelashes glisten and soft golden hair cling to the
unresponsive form. Thin streaks of crimson mingled in the
rainwater, as blood seeped slowly from a deep abrasion across the still
being’s right temple.
A tall, slippery knoll rose high above the unconscious figure on the
left, barren and above the tree-line. In the distance the Misty
Mountains rose faint, yet distinct, forming the shape of an old man’s
The shale on the knoll above was hard and yielded up no secrets.
Not even an elf would have been able to read the struggle that had
taken place up there. Not even their keen eyes would have been
able to see where the larger group of horseman had backed the lone
rider up against the edge of the slippery cliff, whooping and yelling,
shooting arrows and snapping whips, attempting to unsettle the agitated
“Thala... thala, lasto beth
nín, Avornwen,” the blonde-haired rider tried to calm his
horse as the dappled grey backed skittishly towards the cliff-edge, her
hooves slipping and sliding. His bow was gone, he was too far
away for his hand-to-hand weapons to be any use, he had no idea where
his friend was now and that last worried him to no end.
Not even the strangely melted shale or burnt tree stump would have
offered a clue as to how the elven horse, extremely unsettled by the
harassing presence of the others despite the calming reassurances of
its rider, had reared suddenly when lightning struck the earth not
fifty feet away, melting stone like butter and sending the tree
bursting into flames.
No skid marks. No trail. Nothing but the still body at the
base of the cliff to mark the elf’s passing when he was thrown clear of
his horse, glancing off the ragged cliff face three times before
slipping and sliding into this narrow rift where he had lain since,
The grey horse bolted and the riders took off after it. No one thought
of what had happened to the elf. No one cared.
Water pooled in the folds of the elf’s clothing and beaded off his
skin, but the sensation did not wake him. Neither did the soft
sounds of scrabbling, and the scraping of scales across stone.
A long, strong-bodied lizard, larger than a cat but not quite so big as
a dog, dragged its scaly underbelly along the ground as it inched
cautiously forward on four short but powerful legs. Mottled grey,
brown and green patterns enabled the reptile to blend in with its
surroundings while keen senses drew it towards the only thing in these
dead, craggy paths that was radiating heat.
The lhyguan flicked its long, thin tongue out, testing the air in an
almost snake-like manner. It smelled blood. And the blood
Seemingly from nowhere, two more of the creatures appeared, called by
the scent of blood and the silent summons of the first lhyguan.
Warily, the beasts half waddled, half slithered forward towards the
still body of the elf prince. Unresisting prey was too tempting
to pass up and the lhygians looked at one another. The first one
opened his mouth in a soft hiss that was almost a growl, revealing two
small but razor sharp rows of teeth. He had found this one first;
the others could share in the spoils, but the kill was his.
Slithering forward until he was standing on the unconscious elf’s
chest, the lhyguan dipped its head towards Legolas’ neck; its bite
loaded with enough venom to kill a small Oliphaunt given enough time.
The other two creatures edged closer, waiting for their
opportunity. But Legolas remained unaware of the danger.
The prince did not stir.