Thread: How Legolas Left Middle-earth
Hello, Planet Tolkien writers and readers! This is a self promotion of a story called Tell This Mortal. Part 1 – Sea Fair
The story tells how Legolas sailed his grey ship away. The story also explores the sea-longing and addresses why Thranduil stayed, why he coveted jewelry, and why no one ever knew anything about the mother of Legolas. The characters are Legolas, Gimli, Thranduil, and original male and female characters.
The story is longish, maybe 10,000 words, and I have written it in chapters of less than 1000 words each, mostly. There are no R-rated scenes. Feel free to copy and save this, but please do so in its entirety. Here is the first chapter of "Tell This Mortal."
I am a sail maker from Erith Anduin. The sea, and my little town of Sea Fair are all I ever knew. When I was thirty years old the blest king died, in spring. That autumn, the Elf came down the river with his grey ship and his need, destroying me with the past and leaving me to face an unimaginable end that is coming swiftly now; perhaps tomorrow. But before all that happened, came the Dwarf.
Sea Fair sits far down in the delta where the river meets the sea. Just now we are fishing town, grown up from being a village. We owe that to the blest king, who defeated the Enemy long before I was born and freed the coasts from the Corsairs. Because of that, we will be a mighty port city some day, they say. Sea Fair the Great.
“I am glad I shall not live to see it,” said old one-handed Berendil, as we sat in his tavern a few doors down from my shop. He had been a sailor until a shipboard accident crushed his hand – a mast tore loose and fell on him during a storm at sea. That he made it to Nesta the healer is a miracle; he says the salt water that nearly drowned him kept the blood poison down. She cut off the mangled flesh, cauterized the stump, and waited to see if he would develop the proud flesh and die. He recovered and thereafter used his one hand to pour ale and wine, a service I found most useful.
Just now I was sampling a glass of last year’s vintage of Dorwinion Red – one thing we do not lack at Sea Fair is water transportation, and another is trade. The tavern’s shutters were open wide. However all eyes were on a long, narrow scroll affixed to the wall over the bar, stretching all the way from one end of the room to the other. It was a calendar of sorts, and we were waiting for a golden ray of sun to touch the right place on the scroll. It came. All of us raised our cups and turned toward the westward-facing windows.
Out over the deeps, past Sea Fair’s stilt houses and walkways of planks that wound all about the oldtown quarter, past the docks and the rocking, moored fleet, the evening grew old and glorious as the sun set beneath the waves. We watched in silence, our breaths caught in our throats. The only sounds were the plashing of water against the pilings and the cry of the gulls. When we could see Her no more, a sailor spoke, trying to charm some girl:
“You will never see a more beautiful sunset than tonight’s in Sea Fair,” he said. This homage broke the spell, and the din of conversation rose again. Several folks laughed at the sailor’s sentiment; we had all said the same words many times over.
“You do not like cities?” I asked Berendil, and at that moment a familiar figure pounded through the open door – my head apprentice. We called him “Nath” that is old talk for “Web” for he came from a long line of great weavers, and with his strong, lanky limbs, he was a very spider among the ships’ riggings. No one dared call him “Ungol” of course. Tradition held this to be insulting and an invitation to bad luck, and sailing folk are superstitious.
“Mistress!” Nath cried, breathless from running. “You must come at once. We have a – customer. The customer –“
“I am done for the day,” I interrupted, “and I wish to finish my wine. You handle the customer.”
Nath stood up straight and raised his chin. “No, Mistress,” he said in front of everybody, and I sighed. I would have to send him to the master of boys and…. “He asked for you by name, and he said, ‘I am looking for the best sail maker in Middle-earth.’”
Every shopkeeper and merchant in the place who kept apprentices chuckled.
“Oh, very well,” I grumbled, drinking the remaining wine in one swallow. “He had better still be there. Who is this knowledgeable customer, please?”
“He said, ‘Gimli.’ ”
It has been too long since we have had the pleasure of indulging in one of your tales. I can't wait for the next installment.
Thank you kindly, Rednell. Writers don't need much encouragement! Here is Chapter 2. Part 2 – Aerlinn and Gimli
Old. He was so old, I thought he might stop breathing. I could not see how he managed to move, much less walk without a cane. Old tales say Dwarves become fat as they age. Not this one. He once had been stout and sturdy; you could see it still in the width of his shoulders and the way he stood. But now he was gaunt. About his body hung brown leather garments – tunic, breeches, purse – and boots that looked as if they could walk to the ends of Middle-earth and still stomp rocks. He was a wealth of minerals, with copper-colored eyes deeper than any mine, a long, corded beard as grey as iron, and thin hair on his head like mithril. His skin was translucent in places and splotched in others. His magnificent, craggy face was as wrinkled as a dried apple. In stature he was about a foot shorter than I.
“You are a Dwarf?” I said, but I could not help myself. He was not of my race! For the first time I realized that it was no story. A hundred years ago, and for ages before, many of these beings shared our world.
He ignored my rudeness. “I am looking for the sail maker Aerlinn,” he said. “I sent this lad here to fetch him.”
“ I am Aerlinn,” I replied. “I thought you knew of me.” Most sea folk did. Merchants named their ships "Sea-song" in my honor and captains drank my health every night. Families strove to place their daughters and sons with me, for I took only two apprentices every five years. But now I am boasting and not being honest, and time is too short for lies. ‘Aerlinn’ was only a name I had adopted for my craft. My family came long ago from the far northern woods, near where the Old Forest Road meets the Running River. The folk of Gondor thought our traditional name outlandish. Well – that is not the only reason I did not use it.
The Dwarf bowed low, his hips creaking like a ship under sail. “Ask your pardon, pretty lady. Three months ago I sent you an order for sails. My friend was building a ship and needed the best. I am here to claim those sails.”
I remembered the order. It had come by riding messenger, one who makes a living off of honesty and horsemanship. They usually are of Rohan. The order came with detailed descriptions and a piece of gold. I had assumed the sender was some strangely-named prince of Dol Amroth. Never in my wildest dreams did “Dwarf” occur to me but then, I had never seen one of course.
I said, “Your sails are ready. I made them to your description and used my own judgment, just as you said. Designed by me for weight, shape and size, selected from the best of my woven goods, cut and colored by my head apprentice, and sewed by me and my second apprentice. Do you know much about ships and sails, Master Dwarf, ah, Old Father?”
“Call me ‘Gimli.' As for ships, I know as much as I wish. Soon I shall know more. So do not think to part me from too much of my gold. No, I forgot - the gold does not matter."
If the old tales were true, this was an astounding remark indeed.
"Show me the sails," he said, all business, "and I'll deliver them to my friend.”
So I led him to my shop, where I would give my second apprentice the surprise of her life and where I would receive my own.
Ditto to what Nell said!
Welcome back Chathol-linn! *waits for more*
Indeed. Long live Legolamb!
Very good - and at least two hours since the last instalment was posted - where's the next!
I want it and I want it NOW!
This is fabulous! I've always pondered what happened to Legolas and Gimli following the war of the ring. I wish Tolkien had written a tale recounting their journeys through Middle Earth and beyond. I also wondered why Legolas, son of a king, seemed in no hurry to return home following the war. Can't wait to read more! Bravo!
It is a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you! Here are Parts 3 and 4 of Tell This Mortal. Please be warned that the story turns dark and strange after Part 4. Part 3 - Gwael Reviad - The Sail Maker’s Shop
The view of the boardwalk from my shop is good. We have a large front window. On either side is a pole with hooks, for displaying our small wares. From one pole we hung that vital instrument of sail sewing, the sailor’s palm; both the seaming and roping varieties. We did not make them on site; my original apprentice’s family made them to my specifications back on their farm where leather is readily available. We also had a line of shipboard toolkits containing triangular sail needles, sail twine, beeswax, rounded-back sheath knives with wedge-ground blades, steel sailhooks, two sizes of fids, and oaken seam rubbers. Sailors loved them.
The pole at the other end showed merchandise smaller than our sails but equal in quality and reputation. Sailors’ ditty bags were my test of every prospective apprentice. I took the youngsters on for a week, gave them the materials, tools, and instructions, and let them do what they could. At the end of the week I always knew who was a true sail maker. My present second apprentice had been – there is no other word for it – amazing. They say she has pure Numenorean blood. She could take a lanyard and splice it into a cringle as if by magic, and her ability to size the cringle itself, so that subsequent shrinkage will hold the inserted thimble in place, was nothing short of otherworldly. But these are mere details and technique. All my apprentices made ditty bags if they were not making sails, and sea faring folk as far away as Mithlond used bags that bore my trademark, two gulls flying above a ship - ت .
Whenever the shop was open we secured the tool kits and ditty bags with wire, for they were worth their weight in silver and would have walked off otherwise. But the sun had set and I saw that my second apprentice had already put the shutters in place, preparing to close up. Gimli could view our small wares another time.
I opened the door for him and showed him into the darkening shop.
“Meet Stitch,” I said proudly. “She makes the best ditty bags in the world, and sews Rhûn canvas as if it were silk. Light us a candle or two, Stitch. Then fetch the special order. This is Master Gimli.”
Stitch, whose mouth had been open since the Dwarf walked through the door, lit the candles, bowed – not to me, I noticed with amusement - and went to the storeroom. I seated myself at the customers’ table and gestured for him to sit as well. He struggled to hoist himself onto the chair and once there his boots dangled. I hoped the cushion was easy on his bony old rump.
“You said your friend was building a ship. I know all the folk at all the shipyards. Indeed I tested your sails on a rig at the Meren-sûl. Is your friend with them?”
“He is not. He has already built the ship himself, with the help of some dozens of friends, in Ithilien. He will arrive with it tomorrow.”
“?! Ithilien !? But, but … your friend must be mad. Why would he not come to Sea Fair? We are, after all, near the sea. And we are known for our shipwrights.”
“As for that, my friend knows a shipwright that puts Mortals to shame,” he replied, “and he himself is descended from a tribe of mariners taught by the Valar themselves. But he stayed in Ithilien as long as he possibly could, for his remaining kin and friends are mostly in that part of the world.”
“You say, Valar? Mortals?” My voice went as thin as his, for astonishment. “Your friend is – immortal?”
“My friend is an Elf -”
Here I toppled over backward in my chair. I crashed to the floor, hit my head sharply, and everything went black for a while.
Part 4 - Make No Jest about It
I opened my eyes to an unknown landscape of peaks and valleys. I had just enough wits to wonder where my bedroom ceiling was, and then the landscape resolved itself into Nesta’s face. She was peering at me as healers do.
“Follow my finger with your eyes,” she ordered. I did so as she waved her hand slowly, back and forth. Suddenly she moved her hand away altogether and I followed that too. It was a mistake. I grew dizzy, and the next thing I knew, I turned my head to one side and emptied the contents of my stomach onto the floor.
“Drinking wine again?” Nesta said with no sympathy. “Well you will feel better without it. No wonder you fell.”
Then everything came back to me. I remembered yesterday’s peaceful sunset and the loud interruption of Nath. I recalled going to meet my Dwarvish customer, so ancient and strange, and the excitement that gripped me when Gimli said, “My friend is an Elf.” That is, to be honest, it was not excitement that I had felt. It was disbelief; it was apprehension. It was fear.
No longer shaky or sick, but with a pounding heart, I jumped from my bed. I had to know if it were true. “Where is Master Gimli?”
“Waiting for you downstairs. While you have laid up in bed, your shop has been busy. Your customer’s ship from Ithilien arrived early this morning and is now at the quays. Nath has been there all morning, helping to rig the sails. They are beautiful as usual, and so is the ship.”
“Please tell Gimli I am coming,” I said. When Nesta was gone I cleaned away my mess and washed myself. Opening my shutters, I let in the warm, close air and saw storm clouds gathering seaward. Being as superstitious as any of the sea folk, I threw on some of my brightest clothes as a talisman. They made me feel better at once
Sky blue is for good luck, I assured my misgivings silently, and that is when the air in the chamber changed from storm-warm to cold as a crypt. I gasped; my exhaled breath came out smoking. A frigid kind of fog seemed to wrap tendrils around me like an embrace and then I felt fingers indeed, creeping over my shoulders.
“Aiiii, what is it?” I shrieked, tearing around like a mad woman.
“Mistress?” It was Stitch, coming up the stairs at a run. We collided just outside my door, and for the second time in a few hours I went tumbling, all the way to the landing. Stitch watched from above; the Dwarf gazed up at me from the bottom of the stairs.
“You are, ah, well this morning?” said he.
I straightened up hastily. I allowed that I was well, and that I was pleased to see him. “I stepped on a mouse,” I explained. “Fetch the cat, Stitch.” Stitch stared at me wide-eyed. We had no cat.
Putting the odd experience away for future contemplation, I asked Gimli if he wished to go to the quays.
“I do,” he replied. So we went outside, heading west on the boardwalk toward Berendil’s tavern and the quays beyond. Every eye noted our passing. We would be the talk of the waterfront from the shipyards to the ropewalk.
“You will want to meet my friend, of course, and he wishes to meet the sail maker,” Gimli continued. “But I must tell you something. This Elf means more to me than my own clan.”
“They say opposites attract. How strong the forges of friendship –“
“So if you do not wish for death at my hands, do not trouble him.”
I stopped walking; I could not believe my ears. He stopped too, as soft and yielding as any stone. He looked me over appraisingly, judging my character and maybe finding it no better than it should be. To be sure, I thought, this day holds surprises.
I found my voice. “Well – Master Gimli, I do not doubt you were once a fearsome warrior. But you need not threaten. I would never –“
“I make no jest about it. I will kill you. He is troubled. Do not add to his cares.”
Just as I was about to reply – what, I don’t know - a voice called, “Hoy, Gimli!”
I had never heard the voice before in my life, or any other voice like it.
Suddenly the name of Gimli meant somewhat more to me. I knew my history very well, and I knew exactly whose voice called, even before Gimli returned the greeting.
“Legolas!” he was shouting. “Legolas!”
Hello, Lenwe! It is a pleasure to hear from you. Did you know your name is an anagram for the name of one of my favorite characters, Elwen? I'm glad you are enjoying the story. I finished it last month. If you would like to check out the rest of it I suggest the Stories of Arda site. Here's the URL (I hope this is okay with the site moderators). If people seem to like it I will approach the
Council about posting it here. Do let me know if you have anything you would like me to read or beta read. Regards - Chathol-linn
A warning - if you read those stories make sure you have a box of tissues handy!
Sad..... so very sad.
*sniff* More tissues needed......
Ah, but is it without hope? -
Thank you, Vee, for taking the time to read and comment. If you or any other reviewer has something they want me to read or beta read, please let me know. Regards - Chathol-linn
Beautiful, just beautiful! What can I say? You know how you read a story and there is quite often something that makes you roll your eyes and think 'oh please'. There was not a single eyeroll, not any "I have seen this before", the story held water (no holes), things made sense and Mary Sue was miles away.
Thank you for writing it!
Thank you, Amarie. How good to hear that you thought it was original. And thanks for the comment about Mary Sue. I often wondered if readers would think this a Legomance or a Mary Sue.
Willofain may be the closest to a M-S. I liked her though, and I think my favorite chapter was "Pity Thranduil if He Ever Hears the Gulls." But "Morgoth has Made a Maedhros of Me" was a close second. They were all fun to write, actually. - Chathol-linn
Who is Mary-Sue?
And yes, there is hope in that story.
Wow.... Val bows low to you. That was fantastic Cathol. It's been a long time, but well worth the wait. If you did wish to have it included in our fan fiction section, I'd imagine it would have no problem passing the panel of judges. In my opinion, we would be indebted to you for letting us have it in there.
Hello, Vee and Val!
Vee - Mary Sue is a stock character in fan fiction. Marty Stew is her male counterpart. Beginning writers often create a character who is too perfect - better archer than Legolas, stronger, smarter, more beautiful than everyone else. in LotR fandom, it is typically a young woman who falls to M-E, becomes the 10th member of the Fellowship, saves Gandalf and Boromir, acts completely out of the canon of Tolkien, and often has the same name as the author's pen name. And usually has strange eye color, such as cinnamon. Mary Sue parodies are legion. Two of my favorites are "Mary Sue's Ugly Divorce" and "Nine Men and a Little Lady." "Mordor Mary Sue" is also very good. I indulged in a little M-S when I first began writing Tolkien fan fiction. I gave a minor female character the name "Blade-singer" which is the translation of my Sindarin pen name and I gave her turquoise eyes. It was a struggel to keep her in her place.
Val, long time no talk! Last time we spoke it was about role playing games and real life, and real life won. I've been reading your stories. I like your realistic depictions of battle and training, and I love action adventure, so it's a real pleasure. "The Coming of the Eastern Dragon" and "A Soldier's Tale" are two recent favorites, although I still like "The Watcher in the Water" the best of all. Thanks so much for your encouragement. I'm glad you liked "Tell This Mortal." Regards - Chathol-linn