The Last Ship

by Evermind
The Last Ship
Fourth Age 120, after the death of the King Elessar Telcontar.

The youthful elf with the bright, beautiful eyes smiled sadly. His glance was deep, and imimately sad, his blue eyes held a grief beyond the knowledge of mortal men. His gaze swept over the small bay, as if trying to imprint every detail of it on his memory for the last time. In his slender hand played gently about the soft grey rope which moored his white swan ship to the shore. Silently, the elf surveyed the white shores of middle earth. The tall white tower of Dol Amroth, the green wooded hills of Ithillien stretching beyond sight, the wide flow of the Anduin as it found at last it's long home. And far off on the edge of sight, the great white mountain of Mindolluin. The elf's face saddened, thinking of the great king now buried deep beneath that same mountain. In his mind's eye, the elf saw that tombs of kings, the great stone table bearing the body of his companion, hands folded across his breast, finely chissled features graven like stone in time immemorial. The elf sighed, lowering his gaze. The paths of our kindreds are sundered, and we shall not meet again . His elven eyes saw before him things of other times; the great green woodland of his birth, clear nights beneath the silver stars of Elbereth when the leaves were young, a grove of high trees roofed with golden leaves, the glittering caves of Aglarond whose beauty surpased even the stars.

A single figure stood before him upon the grey shore, a mortal man tall and noble of bearing. Young he seemed to the eyes of the elf, who had seen three hundred lives of men pass and fade. How brief are the lives of mortal men. For a moment, the elf paused, remembering the green mound upon the highest hill of Emyn Arnen where Faramir and Eowyn slept side by side. He thought too of the long road to Edoras, and the white evermind that covered like snow the tomb of Eomer, Lord of the Mark. And it seemed to him that he heard his own voice speaking 'Five thousand times have the red leaves fallen since then in Mirkwood, in my home, and but a little while does that seem to us.'

The elf lifted a hand to his heart, and slowly, sadly the boy did the same. His dark hair blew loose about his shoulders, and his eyes were grey as the sea, shinning with unshed tears for this last elf of Ithillien. In his hands he cradled a silver horn, an heirloom descended to him from the warriors of old. Silently, Legolas embraced the young steward, then turned swiftly away, closing his eyes in grief as the white bearded dwarf tottered forward to say his farewell.

Slowly now, Legolas unbound the grey rope. With a hand beneath Gimli's arm he assisted the aged dwarf aboard. Then as lightly as if the years had left no mark upon him, Legolas leaped upon the deck. His slender hand carressed the smooth grey wood of the rail as gently he swung the tiller over and the great boom swung out. The white sails bellyed and filled, and slowly, silently the ship began to move. Legolas lifted his eyes to the masthead where the gulls were wheeling, their wings outspread and shinning where the sunlight caught their feathers. Plaintive their voices called to him, crying of loss and long awating. As if in answer, the boy upon the shore lifted to his lips the silver horn. Clear and cold it's note swelled, echoing bittersweet across the widening distance between them. And Legolas remembered another Prince of Gondor, in another time and place long ago, and in his head he heard a half remembered voice. "Always I have let my horn cry at setting forth..." Legolas' eyes rested for one last moment upon the white gulls, and he smiled suddenly with joy, as he turned his face from the land of his birth and pointed the tiller west towards his long home.

Gimli stood in the stern of the ship, gazing back towards the land of his people. And he watched with failing eyes as Boromir son of Elboron, the son of Faramir son of Denethor winded his silver horn. The dwarf's aged hand reached out, clutching at the mithril chain about his neck, wheron was strung a gem of great brilliance. The imperishable crystal glowed with an inner radience and at it's heart were enshrined three strands of golden hair. The old dwarf smiled. Slowly the shore faded from the dwarf's dim eyes, and the young prince dwindled and was swallowed up by the horizon. And the dwarf saw for the last time the mountains of middle earth sinking beneath the dark wave until at last, he too turned his gaze from middle earth, and saw before him Anar the fire golden revealed in it's full splendour, the last fruit of Laurellin. And Gimli the dwarf looked full into the blazing sphere, and was blinded not, but passed west of the sun, and east of the moon, Isil the sheen of many names. Then it seemed to Gimli that the years were rolled back like a grey rain, and his eyes percieved a far green isle, and he passed, the first of all Durin's race upon the straight road into the utter West. And thus it was that that Legolas and Gimli came last of all the fellowship to Eldamar, and saw again the faces of those long past the shadows, as they heard the sweet song of loved ones welcoming them home.