by Frodo Baggins
Chapter 44: Return of an Elf
Many weeks were spent in merrymaking and joy after the coronation of
King Elessar, and the visitors from Rohan, Lórien, Rivendell,
and the Shire stayed for all of it. Aldamir came to know some
inhabitants of Minas Tirith quite well, not to say spending a great
deal of time with old friends from Mirkwood and Rivendell. On some
mornings, when the sun was just rising in the East and spreading a gold
mist over the land, the Elves would ride down to the river and follow
it eastwards, talking, laughing, and sometimes just being silent. War
was a thought now put away. No longer did the shadow of Mordor hang
over their world.
A few times, those who wished to would leave the White City for a few
days and ride down to the Sea itself, or perhaps take a ship down the
River to Pelargir, now being rebuilt after the rule of the Corsairs.
Some would stay there for a while, others would sail further to the
very edge of the Sea, where Middle-earth ended and melted into the
endless waters. At this place, at the river’s mouth, there was a small
city with a great many grey stone towers, looking out to sea.
During one of these visits, Aldamir was standing on one tower’s
circular balcony and watching the moonlight play on the waves. It was
close to midnight, and not being tired at all, he had left the warm,
fire-lit sleeping quarters below for the balcony. Not moving, he stood
silent with his hands clasped behind his back. His gaze roamed among
the stars in sky, and then their reflection in the lapping waters below
When quiet footsteps approached him from behind, he turned slightly.
Uruviel was standing there, clad in her grey cloak. Aldamir motioned to
her. “Welcome, melda,” he said softly. “The stars are dancing tonight.”
Uruviel came to the balcony’s railing and gazed down into the water
beneath her. She shivered slightly and drew her cloak closer about
Aldamir frowned. “Are you cold?” he asked, and drew her close. “Here, let me warm you.”
“Only a little,” she answered, smiling and capturing his hand in her
own. “I’ve been walking on the beach. The stars are beautiful tonight.”
“They are indeed,” he said. “I haven’t seen them this clear for a long time.”
For a while both Elves were silent, watching the stars, and then Uruviel sighed. “I’m going to miss them,” she said softly.
“The stars,” she said. “Somehow, I don’t think they’ll be the same in Valinor.”
“Why not?” asked Aldamir, but he understood.
“Valinor lies on the other side of the sea,” she answered. “Maybe we’ll see the same stars, but still, it will be different.”
“Aye, it will,” agreed Aldamir quietly, tightening his arm around her shoulders. “It will be different.”
“But how different?” she wondered. “I don’t want to leave Middle-earth.
I was born here and have dwelt here for all the years of my life. I
wish I could stay here.”
“As do I,” responded Aldamir. “It won’t be easy to leave, and yet we can’t stay.”
“I know.” She sighed. “For a long time, somehow, I’ve known that the
day would come, but I always pushed the thought away. I wanted not to
think about it, to pretend that it wasn’t going to happen. But you
can’t do that forever.”
Aldamir didn’t answer right away; instead, he kissed the top of her
head and held her close. “But even if the stars change and the world we
know is gone, we will still have each other,” he said at last.
Her only answer was a gentle kiss.
As long and wonderful as the days spent in Minas Tirith were, they
could not last forever. The hobbits began to miss their homeland of the
Shire, and much as they were loathe to leave, they perceived that it
was time. For the Elves, too, it was time to depart.
And so, one morning in the late summer, a great company gathered to
depart from Minas Tirith: the Elves, the people of Rohan who were
returning to their country, and the hobbits. Elessar would ride with
them for a while, at least as far as Rohan for the funeral of
So they departed from the White City among many farewells and
leave-takings. Both sides were sad, yet they remembered the long days
of happiness they had had in Gondor and were grateful. As they rode
away in the sunlight, the Minas Tirith stood behind them, tall and
proud, peaking in the tower of Ecthelion, like a sentinel in the
Aldamir, turning back one last time, remembered a few words he had
overheard by chance one night in Lórien while walking. “Have you
ever seen it, Aragorn?... The White Tower of Ecthelion, glimmering like
a spike of pearl and silver, its banners caught high in the morning
And Aldamir, remembering the proud man with a stern glance and a long
sword, bowed his head slightly in honor. “Never did a warrior more
deserve to see his home in glory,” he said softly, under his breath,
“as did Boromir of Gondor.” But as he turned away and rode onwards, he
knew in his heart, that somehow, Boromir did know that his home was
safe, and once again rose from the mountainside in unshadowed glory.
Along with the others, the Elves paused in Rohan for the funeral of
king Théoden. He was buried just outside Edoras, laid to rest in
a mound of green covered with small white blossoms. As all present
bowed their heads in remembrance, Merry stepped forward quietly and
fell to his knees near the king’s grave. Aldamir saw his lips moving,
but his words were inaudible. Then he covered his face in his hands and
wept. And yet, when he rose again, there was calm and love on his face,
shining through his tears.
Riding onwards and northwards, the company spent a night at Isengard.
Despite the fact that the evil had been banished and the filth washed
away, there was something unnatural about the black tower of Saruman
looming over them that night. Perhaps it was a shred of what had been,
some bit of evil that still lurked. Some had uneasy dreams and others
could not sleep. But Aldamir spent the night walking through Isengard,
speaking with the Ents and exploring the fallen wizard’s domain.
After spending the next night at Fangorn, they rode north over the
plains for several days, until at last Aldamir laid eyes on a sight he
had longed for since leaving it so many months ago. Glowing in the
setting sun’s rays, Lothlórien, the Golden Wood, lay once again
before him. As he rode toward it he forgot all else, caught in the
wonder of that Wood he called home. This was what he had fought for
when he had left with Haldir and the Galadhrim; now it welcomed him
home, the mallorns’ leafy boughs seeming to stretch lovingly out toward
And so it was, that after six long months of battle, hardship, grief,
bloodshed and victory, that Aldamir at last returned to
Lothlórien, riding toward it through the last heavy, golden rays
of the setting sun...
Chapter 45: The Grey Havens
After his return to Lothlórien, it seemed to Aldamir that he had
never loved the Golden Wood so intensely. He had always loved it deeply
before, but somehow the months spent away from it, in the battle and
darkness of war and despair, had heightened his love for it, and little
would tear him away from it again. Yet, during the years after the War
of the Ring, he did leave Lórien a few times to pay visits to
Mirkwood, Rivendell and once, Gondor . But those visits are another
tale, for another time.
Aldamir spent much of his time walking under the mallorns, sometimes
alone, sometimes with Lindir or with Uruviel. Among the mallorns he was
at peace and at home; he needed nothing. Sometimes he would sit and
watch a silver stream babbling in and out between the mallorns’ mossy
roots, other times, he would spend nights in the Golden Wood’s
observatories, high in the mallorn-tops, watching the stars.
Two years after the War had ended and the Fourth Age of Middle-earth
had began, Galadriel called the Galadhrim to her. Her expression was
sad as she spoke to them, telling them that the time was in. “Long have
we known that our time is ending,” she said, “and now that end is here.
Whether we desire it or no, we must leave this land that we love and
dwell in. A ship is waiting at the Havens to carry us over the Sea, by
the Straight Path, into the East where Valinor lies. We have fought
alongside men and renewed the alliance of old, but for the last time.
The time of the Elves is over, the power of the Three is ended, and now
the dominion of Men has come.
“I am leaving for the Grey Havens soon, and I bid you who will, follow
me across the Sea, for no longer do the Elves have a place in
The words struck sadness into the hearts of all the Elves. They knew
the truth of her words, but that did not ease the pain. Some would not
go, and determined to stay in Middle-earth, among the greying trees.
Among those remaining was Celeborn, who wished for no life in Valinor
but to live out his days in Middle-earth.
Aldamir determined to cross the Sea. Much as he loved Lothlórien
and all of Middle-earth, the Sea’s call tugged at his heart. While in
Gondor, he had visited the Sea and heard the gulls. Now, though he was
happy in Lórien, he desired also to give in to the call and sail
the Straight Path. Lindir, too, decided as he did. For Uruviel, it was
One morning, not long before the Elves going with Galadriel were to
depart, Uruviel went looking for Aldamir and found him kneeling in a
clearing. His hands were buried in the dirt as he carefully and gently
worked to uproot a very small mallorn-sapling from the mossy soil.
“What are you doing?” she asked curiously.
He sat back on his heels. “Haldir loved the mallorns,” he said softly.
“He once said that life in a land without mallorn-trees would be a poor
life indeed. He did not know if mallorns grew in Valinor; I don’t know
if he would have gone. But I am going to take this sapling with me
across the Sea, and plant it in Valinor, so that it can grow and
blossom forever for Haldir, lover of mallorns....”
The day came at last, and in the light of a quiet morning Galadriel and
her company rode forth from Lórien. Aldamir had spent the
previous night walking one last time through the Wood, breathing in the
beauty and storing it away in his heart. As they rode away slowly,
silent and filled with a sadness that was not bitter, he paused once on
the top of a hill and looked back. Lothlórien lay golden and
beautiful in the dawn, and yet it almost seemed to be disappearing in a
mist. A golden mist of memories, of years that had passed and ended.
For a long moment he merely gazed at it, and none ever knew what went
through his mind during that last moment. Finally, unable to speak, he
turned away and rode down the hill.
Never again would he see the Golden Wood, yet forever was it imprinted in his heart.
The company continued north, the last journey of the Elves. Riding at
the feet of the Misty Mountains, they passed the West-gate of Moria,
came to the Gladden Fields and passed through them, crossing the
Mountains into the valley of Rivendell. Here Elrond joined them with
those of his house who wished to journey with them, as well as the aged
Hobbit Bilbo, and so they left Imladris for the last time and forded
the Bruinen. Then they followed the Great East Road past the windy,
dark, ruin-crowned hill of Weathertop, and came to Bree.
They did not ride through Bree, but instead rode around it, passing
through the wooded parts. Few saw them, and those who did thought
afterwards that the beautiful, sad sight must have been a dream. So
they came to the Old Forest, and Buckland, and on the 22nd of September
they rode through what the Shire-dwellers called the Woody End. As they
rode, they sang in many soft voices;
A! Elbereth, Gilthoniel
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath
Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees
The starlight on the Western Seas.*
As if in answer, two small figures on ponies became visible in the
trees and rode toward them. They were Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee,
mounted on the Ponies they had journeyed home from Minas Tirith on.
Galadriel greeted them with welcoming words and a smile, and Sam
blushed, having forgotten how beautiful the Lady was. Frodo, however,
seemed to Aldamir to be weary and wounded; he still carried pain from
the wounds of the Ring-quest. Then he understood: Frodo too was to
cross the Sea into the Blessed Realm, to be healed of his hurts and
find the peace he so richly deserved.
And so it was that the last company of Elves rode down to the Gulf of
Lune and the Grey Havens lying in the sunset. Aldamir’s heart stirred
at the sight of the sunlit sea and the sound of gulls crying out; the
sea-air swirled about him. A golden light filled the firth as wine
would a glass, and a grey stone quay reached out into the waters.
By the quay a white ship lay resting, with white sails furled at the
masts, and in the East the sunlight laid a path on the water. Near the
ship stood Círdan, the shipwright of the Elves, with a light
reminiscent of stars in his eyes. He greeted Galadriel as she walked
down to the ship. When he spoke, his voice sounded like an echo of the
waves, gentle and ageless. “All is now ready.....”
Then Aldamir went aboard the ship with his kin, and Mithrandir too went
aboard, with Frodo and Bilbo. The sails were unfurled to catch an
Eastern wind. Aldamir did not go below, but stayed at the ship’s
railing as it drew away from the quay, and watched the grey buildings
of Mithlond fall away behind him, along with the rest of Middle-earth.
Namárië...... murmured his heart, but he could not speak aloud, not even to whisper.
Aldamir did not stir from the railing until the Havens had faded into
the mists and he could no longer see the Eastern edge of Middle-earth.
Then he turned his face east into the sunrise, where the mists swept
away and Elvenhome lay under the stars......
*J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
The Grey Havens, page 1005