‘Victory! We have victory!’ cried King Théoden,
raising his sword to catch the first rays of the rising sun. Legolas looked
around and on all sides a black horde of Uruk-hai flowed away like a dark
ocean. The land seemed to spring from night into day, and the defenders on
the battlements of the Keep joined the shouting, holding up their battered
weapons and throwing down the black banners of Saruman from the walls.
Legolas reined in Arod and looked up at the walls of the Hornburg. With his keen vision, far greater than that of a mortal, he could see every face on the ramparts, and few of them were Elves. As the Rohirrim cried victory, Legolas felt a shadow cross his heart. He swept the walls with his gaze; where was Haldir?
At the King’s side Aragorn too was looking back at the fortress; the great chasm carved in the mighty walls by Saruman’s blasting fire, the dark sea of dead, all too visible now in the bright daylight. Legolas spurred Arod to Aragorn’s side and asked;
‘Where is Haldir?’
Aragorn turned to the Elf and seeing the look in his eyes Legolas felt a chill fall on him. At last Aragorn replied;
‘Do not seek for him among the living...’
Legolas did not wait to hear more but urged Arod away from the rejoicing Rohirrim across the trampled wasteland before the walls. The horse laid back its ears as it picked its way through the dead Uruk-hai till it reached the wide pool of water that had flowed out when the wall was breached. At the last, impeded by great fallen blocks of stone Legolas dismounted and went forward on foot, ankle-deep in water, dark with the blood of men and orcs and Elves. Looking down as he went, Legolas thought he saw a glint of gold in the fouled water and reaching down picked up one of the standards of Lórien that the Galadhrim had brought with them to Helm’s Deep.
The bright silken material was torn and stained with orc blood. Legolas bent down and washed it in the muddy water. When he took it up again he could see the fine silver weave and on it a golden roundel in which was embroidered a Mallorn tree. A pattern of gold and silver leaves ran round the border. For a moment Legolas was back in that enchanted realm of Lothlórien, the colours glowing with a freshness seen nowhere else on Middle Earth since the beginning of the Ages. He felt again the carved bone grip of the great bow given to him by the Lady...then the noise and blowing smoke of battle brought him back to the present and holding the crumpled pennant in his hand he walked on into the keep, seeing all around him the slain Galadhrim, dead Uruks lying among them. The triumphant cries of the Rohirrim beyond the walls did not reach him as he walked slowly to the steps up to the battlements and ascended them picking his way over the bodies of great Uruks and the boy soldiers of Rohan. At the top he looked out over a plain filled with fleeing Uruk-hai and pursuing horsemen, but above the sun had around it a halo of dark matter, like a ring of metal, and the wind carried a smell of smoke and fumes from the East.
Legolas walked along the walls, his steps unwilling. At the southern end stood five Elves and at their feet lay Haldir, dead. When Legolas walked up they saluted and stood back, and Legolas knelt and saw that Aragorn had spoken the truth.
The Elves had wrapped Haldir in his red cloak and put their own over him so Legolas could not see his wounds but they had left his face uncovered. For now at least the victory of Men meant nothing to Legolas and he pulled up the hood of his own cloak and for a time not measurable he fell into darkness. Then into his dream came a voice calling his name.
‘Legolas! Legolas! Where are ye? Has anyone seen the Elf?’
It was Gimli, finding Arod riderless and fearing the worst...
Legolas sank his head on his chest and sighed. He put a hand on Haldir’s already cold heart and said a silent prayer of farewell. Feeling something in his grasp he looked down and saw the ragged and soaked pennant. He took Haldir’s hand and put in it the silken leaves of Lórien. Then he got up and walked stiffly down the steps and out into the battle plain...