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Mirkwoodmaiden, thanks for your review for chapter 3 of "Reclaiming Khazad-dum", which triggered this story. This one is for you. *hugs*
Thanks to Cairistiona for beta-reading. *hugs*
We have fought for days. For weeks. We Galadhrims, Thranduil's Silvan folks, and Beornings. And finally, it is over. The forest is clean from evil – from the orcs, giant spiders and all other evil beings that dwelt in it.
The battles are over, and we now meet – we allies against the darkness. I observe Thranduil. His armour is stained with black blood. His face is somewhat pale, his eyes are serious. He is happy, I can feel it, because the evil is finally defeated. But at the same time he is sad, so sad, just as I am. Because the price of victory is so very high. Many lives have been lost.
We need to talk, all together; we have to consider the future of this part of Middle-earth. But no matter how important that is, there is something even more important – something we have to do before everything else.
Thranduil approaches one tree, puts a hand on the bole and closes his eyes. I turn away from him, and I, too, direct my attention to the forest. I touch the bark of the nearest tree, shut my eyes and open my fëa. I watch and listen with my heart.
Emotions reaching me are deep and strong. And all of them – sad. The tree in front of me is weary to the very core. Here reigned orcs and their black steel; many trees were cut down. Here reigned spiders and their poison; many trees died. Here reigned Sauron and his wraiths; their evil choked the forest. I feel suffering and fear. Strong... and long lasting. This forest has been through uncounted difficult years, decades and centuries in which many of its trees knew no joy and freedom at all.
I touch the next tree, then one more, and one more. And all of them are wounded. Oh, how lucky Lothlorien has been! Galadriel's and my power, joined with the power of Nenya, has been preserving our home, our forest, our land. Within its borders there is no sickness, plague, or destruction. Our trees have always been healthy and strong. It is almost as if we are creating a girdle as Melian's, that protects us from the outside world.
This is a part of that outside world. Here ruled pain and death.
It is over, I tell them. The evil is destroyed. I caress their bark and send the thought, Your pain is ended. And they hear me, I notice. The branches sway, the leaves flutter. The trees are talking – sending to the others what I have just told them.
I observe the leaves. They are small and contorted. It is only the beginning of April, but in Lothlorien the spring has already advanced; the leaves there are lush and brilliant green. Here, however, they are scarce, and even those that have grown are pale.
I look at Thranduil again; he still stands next to the same tree. His eyes are still closed, and I feel that his spirit completely enveloped the spirit of the tree in front of him – embraced it and intertwined with it – giving all the strength he has. I slowly approach them, and observe carefully. The eyes of the mortals probably wouldn't notice anything – so slight the change is. But I see with the eyes of the soul too, and I discern that the image does change.
The tree breathes a little easier than before. Its anguish is lessened, just a bit... but it is less. The cracks on the bole shrink. Only a little, and very slowly... but they do. And the leaves, until this moment almost colourless and stunted, now starts to open up, and their surfaces become greener. Not much – just a slight hue... but they do change.
Next to me, Thranduil opens his eyes and lifts his head towards the tree-tops. Up there, in the height, golden sunrays fall on the leaves and caress them – the leaves that are changing, and that will change even more.
"Eryn Lasgalen," utters Thranduil, looking up.
Eryn Lasgalen, I repeat. I like the name; a good choice, and well suited. Because, even though it will take time – both for the whole forest to hear the news, and for the trees to realize that their suffering has really come an end – ultimately, the word will spread. And everything will change. Mirkwood, dark and sinister, remains in the past forever, and ahead of us is the new day. The forest will renew. This part of Middle-earth will again be the world of green leaves.
Eryn Lasgalen = The Wood of Greenleaves
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