Stories > Series > Previous Story "The Stars of Harad" > "Mind's Eye" > Next story" "Dark Visions"
Note: During Aragorn and Legolas' return journey from Harad.
Aragorn shifted Legolas in his arms. He didn’t care what they said, the elf wasn’t dead. He wasn’t!
He couldn’t be.
There was no outward appearance of what had happened to the elf, no
reason for him to be dead. There was no wound. Not even a
bruise. How could he be dead?
He isn’t! Aragorn reminded himself sharply. He knew the truth he just had to prove it to Legolas, and everyone else.
And yourself. That small tiny voice of reason echoed in the back of his mind.
He didn’t remember how this had happened. He couldn’t recall the
memory of how they had gotten to this place. He only knew he had
to keep on going. How he knew even that much he wasn’t sure.
And so the ranger kept walking, one foot in front of the other
continuously keeping up a steady soft stream of conversation to the
unhearing body in his arms. Taking a moment to catch his breath,
Aragorn laid his cheek on Legolas’ head. He was cradling the elf
much like he would have a wounded child. His body was so
light. It shouldn’t have been but it was.
Too many things weren’t as they should have been. Everything
seemed off kilter somehow but they still existed around him. None
of it made any sense.
“Don’t leave me not now. Not like this. You promised and
you have never failed me on a promise. Please...” His entreaty
was barely a whisper.
He had heard that Death lived near this mountain range, though he could
not remember the name of the granite hills that towered over him.
If Legolas couldn’t come back then he would go to him. There was
no reason to remain here alone without his friend. He knew if he
could find Death he could right all that was wrong.
But how did he know that? With a shake of his head he simply
continued on. There was no reason wasting time trying to
rationalize, reason seemed to have fled this place anyway.
He couldn’t remember any more how long he’d been walking. The lapses in
his memory were troubling but perhaps they were due in part to the
darkness that clung to the sides of the valley he was walking
through. It seeped into his bones and left a chill in his
soul. Shuddering from the cold that invaded his thoughts he
tightened his hold on the elf in his arms and walked on.
The House of Death was a mere shanty. The wooden exterior of the
building was rotted and decaying. A foul breeze blew through the
gorge where it was located. Somewhere nearby there had to be a
bog, Aragorn thought distractedly as he stepped onto the gravel pathway
that led to the tiny house. This couldn’t be the right place.
Suddenly the darkness swirled around him, coalescing, seeming to draw
every shadow from the shade and ridges of the clefts to a central point
in front of the house. The wind picked up, blowing faster and
tighter until it formed a dark column between himself and the doorway.
Aragorn staggered back a step, nearly losing his balance. He
buried his face in Legolas’ hair as the wind threw small bits of rock
and debris about them.
In moments the fury subsided but the vision before him was more
terrifying than before. There standing in the doorway was the
Witch-king of Angmar. Aragorn would have recognized the
apparition anywhere. The wraith had kidnapped Legolas several
years ago and tried unsuccessfully to enslave the elf. He
wouldn’t get a second chance – Aragorn vowed silently to himself.
Subconsciously he moved to shield Legolas from the dark space beneath the cowl where the eyes should have been.
A soft evil laugh met the human’s actions.
“He is already mine. You need not shield him from me,” a bodiless
voice spoke. The sound of the words came from without and
within. Aragorn looked around him slowly. The voice was not
that of a wraith; it was something older, ancient and surer of itself
than any wraith he had ever encountered. “Come closer. You
were looking for me, were you not?”
The words echoed oddly off the walls around him and Aragorn found
himself complying without his own consent to the creature’s wishes.
“What is it you want of me?” Again the words resounded within and
without. The pressure from the question squeezed his chest and
made his head spin. It was hard to think in the presence of
whatever stood in front of him. “Speak,” the apparition ordered.
The command ripped through his mind and Aragorn found his senses clearing momentarily.
“I have come looking for Death. I want my friend back.” The
steadiness in the man’s voice did not match with the erratic beating of
“And so you are.” The figure walked closer and Aragorn gasped for breath. It felt as though he was suffocating.
“No one demands from Death. Death makes his own rules. All
are humbled before the one who alone holds the keys to the door you
wish to pass through.” The wraith-like being walked toward its
two visitors. Passing in front of Aragorn, it brushed softly
against the man’s shoulder as it moved in a circle around them.
The temperature seemed to drop and the contact with the shadowed
creature brought a soft cry of pain to Aragorn’s lips. “If you
wish to pass there are things that I require. First, you must cut your
hair and that of the elf’s,” Death continued. It laughed softly
once more as it moved back in front of the human.
Cut his hair? The request seemed odd but the cowled creature waited patiently for obedience.
“All are humbled. None retain their glory,” the dark words answered his wondering. “It is the way of death.”
“Will you let me pass to find Legolas if I do so?” Aragorn stalled.
“Yes,” came the soft response.
Gently lowering Legolas to the ground the human rested his friend
against a large boulder. Kneeling next to the elf with his back
to the wraith, Aragorn retrieved his hunting knife. Quickly and
effortlessly he sliced through his own hair dropping the cut pieces to
the ground before he could stop to think it through. Turning to
Legolas, Aragorn hesitated.
“Forgive me, my friend. If it is the only way...” he quietly
begged for forgiveness. Taking Legolas’ hair reverently in his
hand, Aragorn cut the golden tresses shoulder length. But instead
of dropping the shorn hair to the ground the ranger deftly braided the
long pieces of hair into one large braid and laid them in Legolas’ lap.
Pulling the elf’s body back into his arms, he stood wearily to his feet and faced the black apparition once more.
“I’ve done what you asked. Now may I pass?”
“There is one more thing I require of you,” the wraith pressed. He was having fun toying with this human.
Aragorn was tiring swiftly. It was hard to endure the presence of death long.
“What? Please just let me pass,” the man begged quietly. He
shifted Legolas in his arms and held onto the elf tighter.
“Recite for me in the dark tongue for it has been many ages since I
have heard that beautiful speech,” Death requested in its hypnotic
What the apparition asked was nearly beyond the man. He did not
know the black tongue and he had been strictly forbidden by his father
to ever do such a thing. It was not allowed in
Imladris. Before he could protest, the words were in
head. He heard them echoing painfully in his mind.
He started to speak them and the compulsion came not of his own will
but outside him. The first syllable was on his tongue when the
world seemed to stop.
The air compressed around them and one word rang through the vale.
Aragorn couldn’t speak and couldn’t move. The dark speech was wiped out
of his mind and he watched in amazement as the wraith was blown aside
away from the doorway by a powerful blast. The creature was
thrown to the ground a good hundred yards from where he stood.
The air around them rushed out of the valley and was replaced by a
sweet clear breeze. A soft glow bathed the gorge in warm light
and peace seemed to settle over the man. Aragorn was released
from his stupor and turned to look in the direction of the person who
was walking towards him.
The being was clothed as if in light. It was one of the Valar, Aragorn was positive.
The ranger dropped to his knees heavily, still bearing his precious
burden. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the vision before
him. Behind them he heard the wraith muttering and moving about
as it gained its feet once more.
“Let them pass,” the Vala ordered. His voice was deep and full and calming.
The small, humpbacked, shriveled-up frame of an old man shuffled into
view. Death was no more than the empty frail shell of a
human. He was not the imposing, frightening visage that haunted
Aragorn only moments ago – he was simply a small, sniveling, black
“I wasn’t going to harm him. I was only having fun. You
know I hardly get any visitors anymore now that you all have gone and
ruined everything,” Death whined cryptically. “Oh go on with you
then. You may pass,” the pathetic guardian consented. He
shooed Aragorn towards the door of the house and rolled his dark eyes
in mock frustration at the frown the Vala laid on him.
A warm hand on Aragorn’s arm stopped him and he gazed up into the eyes
of the Vala. For the briefest instant he was fearful.
Should he be allowed to stare into a face so fair and
otherworldly? But the thought was fleeting and he calmed
immediately when he noted the kindness in the eyes that watched him.
“Your friend is already there. You do not need to take him with you,” the Vala said simply.
Aragorn frowned and glanced down at Legolas’ body. Shaking his
head slowly he kept his gaze riveted to the top of the elf’s
head. Legolas was his friend, his brother. Sometimes it
seemed the elf was the other half of his life. In some ways that
was truer than he wanted to admit. His stability wasn’t based
where it should be just yet. He relied on the elf more than he had
realized, for more than he had realized until this moment. He
couldn’t let him go and he couldn’t go on without him.
“Oh let him take him in. It’s the reason he’s here. Let him
learn and learn he will,” Death countered. Turning to Aragorn the
black frumpled form addressed the human. “Go. It can’t hurt
anything to take him with you. But remember what the Vala said
because it’s true.”
With that Aragorn was suddenly alone before the old house. He
stood for a moment dumbfounded. Had he simply imagined it all or
had it happened?
“Go child. Find what you seek,” the soft voice of the Vala prompted him.
Stumbling forward Aragorn walked onto the porch of the shanty. The
boards creaked and groaned with the pressure of every step but they
When he passed over the threshold he was plunged into darkness.
Turning around he noted that the door behind him was no longer
there. He reached out tentatively with his left hand as best he
could while still holding Legolas. His fingers brushed a cold,
rough, rock wall.
Standing completely still for a few moments Aragorn realized his eyes
were adjusting to a low level of light. The glow wasn’t from
Legolas. The elf was dark and cold in his arms now. It
seemed the walls of the tunnel gave off a soft sheen. There was
no sound in the cavern. Even the soft footfalls as he walked
seemed to be swallowed up in the darkness. The air was dank and
cold but not musty or foul like he had expected.
He seemed to be in a small room with one passageway leading off and
down to the right. Swallowing his fears, Aragorn began
walking. Reason told him there must be a way out at the end
The farther he went, the darker it became. With a start the
man realized that the passageway was rapidly narrowing as well.
He shifted Legolas more tightly against his chest and moved on,
squeezing them both through the tight places and scraping himself up in
Finally he could go no further carrying Legolas. Moving back up
the passage a pace he found a wider gap in the corridor and set Legolas
down on the gravelly floor. With a sigh he sat down next to his
friend, overwhelmed with grief and despair. He couldn’t go any
further with the elf. He didn’t want to go on alone. There
was no way in his mind he could walk away and leave Legolas
behind. He knew deep in his heart that what the Vala and Death
had told him was true. He just didn’t know how to continue.
How long he sat on the ground holding Legolas’ body, he did not
know. Time had ceased to be and in a manner of speaking so had
he. The thought occurred to him that it wouldn’t be so bad to
simply sit here next to Legolas and just wait for his own death to
come. A few moments later his will to live won out. He had
come here to find Legolas, the Vala had told him Legolas was here; he
had to trust that he hadn’t been lied to.
Kneeling next to his friend, he pressed his forehead to Legolas’ temple.
“I will find the way out, my friend, and I will come back for you. I
promise not to leave you here in this place. I just have to find
our way out. Wait for me. Promise me you’ll wait,” he
whispered softly. After kissing the top of Legolas’ head, Aragorn
stood and eased back down the tight passage.
He found that he had to turn sideways to fit through the small crack in
the rocks that the narrow path had become. Stretching out, he
flattened against the rock wall and reached out with his right hand
trying to feel for anyway to get through, any leverage he could find.
He was startled as someone else’s hand slid along his, grabbed his
wrist and pulled him through. How he had fit through that tiny
space he couldn’t fathom and who it was that had pulled him into a
tight embrace he didn’t know. It was so light where he stood that
he couldn’t see and he tensed in the circle of the strong arms that
held him fast.
Pulling back he was amazed and relieved to find that he was staring into Legolas’ eyes.
With a start Aragorn gasped and sat up. The warm breezes of
northern Harad stirred the long grasses that they slept in, providing a
soft soothing sound. The fire in the firepit had died hours ago
and the moon shone down upon the sleeping pair of friends.
Aragorn glanced around them trying to remember where he was.
Wasn’t he just in the Halls of Mandos with Legolas only moments ago?
Aragorn turned around and reached behind him. Legolas slept at
Aragorn’s back just like they had been for the past week as they made
their way out of Harad.
That was it. That was where they were. Memory slammed into
his dream colliding with reality and finally releasing him to his
surroundings. He and Legolas were in northern Harad heading home
before the first snows closed the high passes into Imladris. He
and Legolas had been living with the Haradrim for months now.
They had teamed up with the tribal family that had adopted Aragorn and
had freed the enslaved peoples.
Legolas had come for him. And Legolas had found him almost at the
expense of his own life. That was the deep-seated fear that had
set off Aragorn’s nightmare – the loss of his friend.
The elf’s back was to the man. Hesitantly he reached out and
touched Legolas’ shoulder. A soft, blue glow emanated from the
sleeping prince and Aragorn sighed in relief when he felt Legolas
breathing slowly and deeply.
The soft touch woke the elf and he turned over slowly, blinking to clear his vision.
“What is it?” Legolas asked softly. He noted with a start that
there were tear tracks on the man’s face. “What’s wrong, Estel?”
Aragorn hadn’t even noticed that he had been crying. He swiped
awkwardly at his cheeks trying to hide the fact that he’d just had a
nightmare and nothing more. The feelings and emotions were so
real he hadn’t been able to recover from them quite yet.
The man glanced out across the plains that lay to the west. They
had camped just under the edge of the wooded canopy that bracketed the
Sitting up, Legolas brushed the long hair out of his face and leaned in closer towards his friend.
Aragorn’s breathing hitched slightly as he tried to calm himself.
Gently Legolas pulled the man against him and quietly held him.
“I’m alright,” Aragorn whispered, finally finding his voice. “It was just a dream, I think.”
Legolas pulled back slowly and stared hard into the silver eyes that watched him so closely.
“You are sure?”
A nod was all the response he received.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Legolas pressed. He had been more
than a bit worried that Aragorn might start to remember more of his
time with Seobryn. The elf was very aware of just how poorly his
friend had been treated in the trader's company. “Was it Rhuddryn
“No, not him. It’s just that...well you were...and...,” Aragorn
stopped talking and took a deep breath. He glanced down at the
grass he was absently rolling between his fingers. “You died and
I was trying to find you,” he whispered softly.
Gently Legolas touched Aragorn’s cheek, causing the man to glance back up at him.
“I’m not dead. I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere,” Legolas reassured. “It was only a dream.”
Nodding again Aragorn dropped his gaze. “It was just so real,” he murmured softly.
With a sigh Legolas lay back down in the soft grasses and pulled
Aragorn down with him. Facing the human he pillowed his head on
his arm and watched the man.
“I’ve had dreams like that, in the past. Not recently. They
are difficult to deal with and wake from,” the elf admitted
softly. “But in the end they were still only dreams.
Aragorn didn’t speak, he just nodded, his eyes fixed on his friend's.
“You aren’t going to go back to sleep are you?” Legolas asked with a
small smile. He knew that look on the man’s face. He’d seen
it before, the lingering effects of fear that the mind couldn’t quite
shake off or get over so easily.
“I’ll sleep,” Aragorn answered. “In a while.” He was lying on his side, his hand propping up his head.
With a soft laugh Legolas pulled them man’s arm down forcing Aragorn to
lie flat. Scooting a bit closer, the elf lay his head down on the
man’s arm and tossed the edges of his blanket across Aragorn’s shoulder.
“There,” he laughed softly. “I’m not going anywhere. I
promise you. Now will you sleep? Forget your dream; we can
talk about it more in the morning when the light chases away all the
terrors of the night. You’re safe. But if you don’t sleep
I’ll probably be wanting to kill you myself halfway through the
day. Tomorrow we pass out of Harad and I’d like to make good
travel time throughout the day. We can’t do that if you are tired and
The elf’s fingers brushed the man’s eyes gently, causing Aragorn to
close his eyes. He laughed at the prince’s soft jibes and finally
relented with a deep sigh.
“Just be here in the morning and don’t turn that light of yours out,”
Aragorn whispered. His gentle teasing about the elven glow made
the elf giggle.
“You and your night lights,” Legolas retorted before settling down. “Good night, Estel.”
“‘Night, Legolas,” Aragorn answered sleepily. He reached out with
his right hand and gently touched the elf’s shoulder; content that his
friend was indeed alive and well, he let the contact soothe him back
into peaceful slumber.
Tomorrow Legolas would make him tell the whole dream he was sure of it,
and they would laugh and talk about it on the way home. Opening
one eye a mere slit, he checked to make sure the elf next to him was
still glowing softly.
“Sleep,” Legolas growled quietly. His response elicited a soft laugh.
But to Aragorn it was just proof that tonight things were right once more and he could rest.
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Stories > Series quick > Series with summaries > Previous Story "The Stars of Harad" > "Mind's Eye" > Next in the Mellon Chronicle series "Dark Visions".