I do not want to be here.
After the last time I swore to myself I would never return.
This is a dark place, dark and evil and I can see no good coming of it, but what choice do we have? We have been backed into a corner.
The lake spreads eerily before us, grey, murky, foreboding, as we wait and our anxiety grows. Gandalf is no closer to unlocking these doors and with every word he throws at them our chances grow slimmer.
I look to Legolas, he sits far away, at the edge of the fellowship, silent and brooding. It is unlike him. He wishes to be here even less than I, but perhaps he might hold the key to get us in. I wonder why Gandalf has not asked for his help before now?
He barely moves as I approach and does not acknowledge me yet I know he senses me. He will have known from the time I made my first step towards him. Is he angry with me? It is not my fault we find ourselves here. I spoke against it but was outvoted, as was he.
He does not look up as I sit beside him, simply carries on spinning the dagger in his hands, it is mesmerising to watch the way it glints and shines as it twirls, so fast with his elven reflexes.
"I am beginning to think Gandalf can not get us in here," I say quietly, I speak in Sindarin but there are others here who know it and it would not do for them to overhear my doubts. He does not reply, does not pause in his spinning, so I try again.
"Do you know anything of the doors....of Celebrimbor?"
Then I get a reaction. He bites my head off.
"Do I know of Celebrimbor? He, who is the reason we are here. Whose father slaughtered my people. I am not as uneducated as you obviously consider me."
It takes me aback. He is light and joy, I have never seen this bitterness and it seems incongruous with the sweetness of his soul.
"I do not consider you uneducated. You have lived a far longer time than I."
"In the forest, uncivilised and wild. Do not tell me the Noldor have not told you of our reputation. More dangerous, less wise, is what they call us."
I have heard them called that, it is true.
I try again to negate his anger which will get us nowhere. I need to discover what he knows and I am sure he knows something.
"Celebrimbor was not at Doriath of course."
"I know that too Aragorn. He turned from his father's deeds at Nargothrond. There is nothing of Doriath you can tell me I do not already know. Do you think my father raised me as a dullard?"
I know his father will not have.
"You forget I have met your father." I smile, "He is .......somewhat imposing."
"As he has to be, for the Noldor have forsaken us to the dark."
To late I realise a debate on Elven politics is not going to help us here and I cannot help but sigh for I am weary and dispirited.
"I think Gandalf could use your help if there is anything you can offer. Do you have any idea of the password? Can you read the words on the doors?"
"I can read my own language!"
"So can I," I answer, "but I struggle here, I thought perhaps you did also."
He frowns in concentration....or frustration...I am not sure which. I think then I should have spent more time speaking with him before now for I am obviously doing a bad job of understanding him. He is not what I thought him to be.
"The runes are archaic." He says "but the words are mine. Once I understood that, I can decipher it."
"So you CAN help!" I am gleeful at this discovery.
"Mithrander obviously thinks otherwise," He snaps. "He asks the dwarf for more advice than I."
So that is the problem.
"He is distracted and you have placed yourself somewhat out of reach. I am sure he means nothing by it."
"It is MY language, my heritage, my people lived in Beleriand. He pays me no heed. He sees what the Noldor see.......my grandfather...... and he dismisses me."
"I think you have it wrong. He dismisses none of us. He has great respect for your father, and you also. How else do you think you were chosen for this quest?"
But he feels he has been wronged and he is sulking. He does not answer me.
At the sight of his stubborn back, my anxiety at being here, my tension and bad temper at our misfortunes spill out.
"You have information....knowledge, and you would withhold it from us? Leave us standing here? You are a member of this fellowship Legolas."
"If Mithrander wants my information, if he thinks it worth hearing, he can ask. He does not."
"If you can help us you should! You do not wait to be asked. For the sake of your pride....because you feel overlooked in favour of the dwarf you would do this?"
I turn on my heels to leave. I have had enough of this, of him, of stubborn elves and bull-headed dwarves and shortsighted wizards.
I do not get far before he calls me back, he has decided to see sense and elaborate it seems.
"Gandalf is not an elf, he is not thinking as an elf. The answer is on the door for all to see. It was never a secret."
That is all he gives me.
"Can you be more specific. I am not an elf either. I see no answer there."
But he will not.
"Tell him," he mumbles, "It will be enough."
"You should tell him Legolas."
He shakes his head. I had no idea he could be this belligerent. He has shown no indication of this temper before now, instead he has been light itself, it is he who has kept our spirits high.
And so I sigh heavily to let him know I am displeased with him and tell Gandalf myself.
"Legolas says you do not think like an elf." I whisper.
"Who would want to!" He mutters, he is frustrated beyond belief. If we were not stuck in such an oppressive place it would almost be amusing.
"He says the answer was no secret, it is there for all to see."
"And why does he send you as messenger? Can he not speak for himself?"
I shrug. I have no intention of being caught between them. Gandalf can deal with this schism himself if he so wishes.
Legolas is right it seems. It is enough, it is the key that unlocks the doors for it takes Gandalf but seconds to see what was in front of us all along.
It gets us in to Moria. Is that something to celebrate? I think not.
The way is dark. The walls bear down upon us. My soul feels drenched in evil here. Gimli is the only one of us who walks with confidence. He is filled with optimisim and I only hope it is not misguided.
I look to the back where Legolas walks, I can see his glow but he says not a word, has not spoken since we entered. I allow myself to drift back to him for I would see how he fares in this darkness. Elves are not meant to be separated from the stars.
"You are quiet," I say, "It is not like you."
"I do not think this is the place for song and laughter Aragorn."
"We could all benefit from your light,"
He does not answer but stalks ahead leaving me in no doubt a conversation is not welcome. I am not about to let this go so easily though, something bothers him and I have been remiss in my dealings with him before now. I did not dig deep enough, I do not know him. I match his step and catch him up.
For awhile we walk in silence until at last he speaks,
"This is my fault, that we are in this predicament."
"How so? You wish to be here no more than I. It is not your choice."
"I have failed the Fellowship."
He confuses me. I have no idea why he believes this.
"I do not think so."
"If I had not wasted time outside, if I had told Gandalf what I suspected, Boromir would not have disturbed the Watcher. The doors would not have been destroyed, we would not be trapped here. I fight so hard against the Noldor's preconceptions of my Grandfather... and yet I am fated to follow in his footsteps. I let my pride rule me and others suffer because of it."
In my eyes he judges himself too harshly and I seek to reassure him, restore some balance to his thoughts.
"You do not know that. It may have ended exactly the same. You suppose too much I think, including how others see you."
"No. I know too well how others see me."
"You know how you think the Noldor see you. There are no Noldor here."
I manage to score a point there and to my joy he admits it.
"That is true," he sighs, "There is only a dwarf."
"Who knows nothing of Oropher I imagine."
"Who knows everything of Thranduil."
He says it with a straight face but even in the dark I can see the glimmer, the slightest hint, of amusement in his eyes. Still I wonder at newly discovered burden he carries.
"You need feel no shame of your ancestors Legolas."
"I am not ashamed of Oropher!" His response is lightening fast and cutting. I flinch as the words hit me. I should have been more careful and I will be in future.
"Tell me of him then for I know only what I learned at Imladris and I am sure you will point out its inaccuracies."
"I cannot," he says sadly, "for I never knew him. I have only heard my father's stories and he loved him. He was not the elf they remember him as in history, one error, the weakness of pride and it is all he is known for........it seems unfair. I would not have that fate befall me but perhaps it is inevitable. Perhaps I am too like him to avoid it."
I would not have thought him anything like Oropher at all, not what I know of him and I wonder who has it wrong, him or me?
"If we are speaking of the inevitability of following in our ancestors footsteps, what of me?" I say, "I am Isildur's heir as everyone insists on reminding me. What if I follow him? What if I fail? What if I am fated to be him, what then for all of us?"
This worry dogs me endlessly, I can understand him in this. The terror of repeating past mistakes, of being caught in the tide of fate with no means of escape.
He stops then and turns to me, eyes glinting in the dark, face serious.
"We will be masters of our own fate. You are not Isildur."
"You are not Oropher." I return, "You are Legolas, whose lightness lifts us all.......even the dwarf."
And then he laughs, and that laugh is bright, shining, beautiful, a laugh that makes you smile. The silent, brooding, introspective Legolas has vanished and in his place is the joyous creature I had assumed was all he was. So swift the change I did not see it coming, it takes me completely by surprise.
The Fellowship turn as a man to see him, to see what he laughs at for why would he possibly be laughing here? He tosses his head, golden hair glowing in the dark, unconcerned at the scrutiny and grins at me.
"Even the dwarf? Perhaps we shall be as Celebrimbor and Narvi by the end of this.....they will write of us in the annuls of history!" He doubles over with mirth at the thought of his own ridiculous statement and I smile, I cannot help smiling, despite the cold forbidding grimness around us.
"Thranduilion, this is hardly the place for such merriment!" Gandalf barks his disapproval, but beneath his words I can hear even he wears a smile. "Keep him in line Aragorn, for all our sakes."
Legolas dances ahead of me then,
"I will like to see you try," he throws back over his shoulder as he heads for the nearest hobbit in order to entertain them, keep their minds from the task ahead, I imagine.
"We would not be without you Legolas," I call after him for despite his change in mood, despite this light and joy I will not forget the melancholy elf I spoke with moments ago. He is still there somewhere, I know it, for all that I can no longer see him.
And I make a promise to myself,
I will not lose sight of him again.
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