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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Advent of Man
Submitter: Date: 2009/7/13 Views: 233
Summary: A small part of Mirkwood was never touched by evil, because it was kept safe by magic.

anchorTitle: The Advent of Man
Author: Michelle
Summary: A small part of Mirkwood was never touched by evil, because it was kept safe by magic.
Universes: Lord of the Rings/The Last Unicorn
Beta: Nancy
Genre: crossover
Rating: K
Disclaimer: “The Lord of the Rings”, its characters and settings are J.R.R. Tolkien’s marvellous idea and as always, I’m only taking Aragorn and Legolas out to play. I’ll put them back as soon as I’m done. “The Last Unicorn” was written by Peter S. Beagle. I’m borrowing his unicorn and be very careful with her – she’s the last after all.
Author’s Note: This story merges the universes of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Last Unicorn”, assuming both take place in the same world, just at different times. For LOTR, this is set somewhere in the 4th Age. For “The Last Unicorn”, the story takes place many years before the book starts. The story was inspired by the opening scene of “The Last Unicorn”, though you need not know the book to understand this story. I’m not taking Beagle’s sequel “Two Hearts” into account (since I haven’t read it), so in case I’m actively contracting him, I apologize in advance. The first sentence is a direct quote from Beagle.

~*~

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood and she lived all alone. She did not feel lonely, though, because in her estimation this wood was the most beautiful in all of Arda and she never tired of looking at its wonders. Nothing died here, because the wood was trapped in an everlasting spring: the grass looked fresh and green, the leaves were succulent and young, the sun’s rays were gentle, tickling the countless flowers just enough that they reached heavenwards and opened their blossoms like an ancient sacrifice. She knew every living plant, every tree and every blade of grass here. And she knew every animal, every rabbit, bird or stag that passed through.

And because nowhere could the grass be greener, and nowhere the trees grew taller, she never ventured into the world. Instead, she liked to curl up under the boughs of the old oak standing in the center of her wood. She would close her eyes in repose and listen to her heartbeat, to the gentle wind and to the calming melody of birdsong.

It was on just such an occasion that a new and unknown sound reached her sharp ears. It reminded her of the clack-clack her hooves made when she walked, but the sound she heard now was louder, less – elegant, if such a word could ever be used to describe sound. In one fluent motion she stood, and the wood around her grew still as if every living creature stopped in its task to observe the unicorn as she listened to this unexpected sound. She flicked her ears this way and that, and blinked once when she realized that yes, it was the clapping of hooves she was hearing. Two horses were walking steadily in her direction.

It was a rare occurence that strangers crossed through her wood. In fact, the last time someone had dared ride on her paths had been when her favourite old oak had been nothing but a tiny sapling. For that reason, she was surprised and slightly disturbed and yet – a small spark of curiosity also lived in her. She wanted to know who was riding through her wood and for what reason. However, she did not want to be seen herself. Swiftly, she galopped away and and the wood received and swallowed her. No one would be able to see the unicorn that now hid in its midst.

The sound of laughter reached her ears and in this moment she realized that countless summers must have passed since she had last heard someone laugh. The sentiment felt so real, so uninhibited, that the sound alone lifted her heart.

Two beings on horseback came into view and rode just past her on a narrow path. They did not even glance in her direction, but looked at the road ahead and the oak she had been lying under not too long ago.

“It is beautiful,” one of the riders said. His eyes were alight with interest and fascination and his keen grey gaze rested on his surroundings with obvious awe. “I never knew such a place existed within Mirkwood.”

Ah yes, Mirkwood. That was what the elves had been calling this place for many years now. They were her neighbours and in the past they had ventured into her wood from time to time. Their visits had grown less frequent during the last age, and she had not grieved their absence. She saw now that the companion of the speaker was just that: an elf sitting atop a grey mare, his hair as golden as the delicate flowers that grew beside the small stream at the western edge of her wood.

“Not many venture into these parts of Mirkwood,” the elf said with a wistful note in his voice. “You see, Estel, before the Necromancer came, all of Greenwood looked like this.” He paused. “Or almost like this, because nothing can match the beauty of what you see here. Darkness swept across our forest and took away its beauty bit by bit. But these parts, they could never be touched by evil. They are unchanging.”

“Why?” the one addressed as Estel asked in curiosity.

“Because the wood is enchanted, of course,” the elf explained as if that was the most natural explanation. “A good spirit watches over these woods. It causes the trees to grow straight and keeps the animals here safe. In the past, elves tried to hunt here, because game is plentiful. However, their arrows would always meet thin air and they would come home emptyhanded. In the end, we gave up trying to hunt here.”

“A spirit? Like a ghost?”

“No,” the elf laughed lightly. “It is simpler than that. A unicorn lives here and wherever they reside things are beautiful and everlasting.” The elf’s voice was full of conviction, but his companion laughed heartily. The unicorn frowned, somehow feeling that she herself was being laughed at.

“Oh, Legolas!” Another chuckle. “I am not a child anymore. I stopped believing in fairytales a long time ago.”

“You are a king, wise and just,” the elf nodded. “And yet I am not spinning a tale for you. What I told you is the truth.”

The one called Estel seemed to consider the elf’s words, but he was not fully persuaded yet. “You are sure you are not just pulling my leg?” The unicorn saw his grey eyes sparkle with amusement.

“No, adan. I am very sure I am not just pulling your leg.” The elf gave a long-suffering sigh while the unicorn wondered about the elvish word he had used. She had never heard it before. Adan... what might that mean?

The grey-eyed one seemed satisfied with the elf’s answer and now was truly interested. “Have you ever seen one? A unicorn, I mean.”

“Yes, I have, but that was many years ago.” The elf’s voice had turned wistful again, almost sad. “Let us rest here for the night; the hour grows late.”

They unmounted under the unicorn’s oak. The spot of grass she had rested upon was still warm and showed the silhouette of her body. The elf’s eyes fell on the telltale sign of her presence and his gaze lingered for a while, but in the end he did not comment on it.

They let their horses roam free, to find what food they might, and sat on their bedrolls sharing tales and some cheese from their packs. The unicorn could have left them to their own devices, having come to the realization that they were not harmful. However, she was still curious and she could not deny that she enjoyed the tales those two were telling.

She recognized the fair elf for the prince of this realm. As he had said earlier, he had come here before – as a small elfling on the hand of his mother, to pay tribute to the unicorn living here. With trembling hands he had put a crown of flowers upon her head and had spoken the traditional words that assured an alliance between elves and unicorns.

His companion, the one the elf had addresses as Estel, was unknown to her. And when both had fallen asleep, she could not resist the temptation to walk a little nearer and have a closer look. He was lying on his bedroll using his overcoat as a cover. All she could see was a crown of dark hair and a face darkened by the sun. She lowered her head to inhale his scent, but in that moment he woke and his hand went for the weapon at his side.

The unicorn recoiled slightly, ready to take flight if this strange creature meant her harm, but he stopped his movement when he realized what had woken him. He inhaled audibly and his eyes went wide. The knife in his hand shook before he lowered it.

“Legolas was right,” he muttered to himself and his eyes were overly bright in the dark of night.

“I hear you do not believe in unicorns,” the unicorn said in amusement.

“I do now,” he replied and his voice shook. “I apologize most profusely for indicating otherwise.”

“You are no elf,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“No, I am a man.”

That did not mean anything to the unicorn and she looked at him in question, her big eyes dark and fathomless. “A mortal?” he ventured. “Human? The Secondborn? Adan?”

“Adan,” she repeated, slowly understanding what the elf had meant. “Mortal,” she mused. “So you will die one day?”

“Yes, but I will die having seen a unicorn. How many men can say that?”

“I am a trophy to you?” She was not quite sure whether she liked this mortal. His eyes were kind, but his speech was most confusing.

“No! Far from it. You are proof that magic has not left these lands and will not for a long time to come.”

“But there are other magical beings in Arda. You are travelling with one!”

“Yes,” the mortal said. “But one by one they are leaving these lands and their magic leaves with them.” Sadness was in his voice and he looked at his sleeping companion, taking solace from his presence. “It is a comfort for me to know that your magic will keep this wood safe. Do not venture into the world; I fear it would not receive you favourably.”

“I would never leave these woods,” the unicorn said with conviction. “Where else should I go? I have everything I need right here.”

“I hope you are right,” the mortal said. “I hope when I am dead, and my children and grand-children have left this world, that you will still be here and that your wood will still be as beautiful as it is today.”

“It will be,” she assured him. “I am immortal, unchanging, everlasting.” She lowered her head and exhaled. Her immortal breath ruffled his hair and he closed his eyes as a sign of respect. He fell into a deep sleep then, from which he would only wake when the sun was high in the sky. And he would tell his elven companion that his dreams had taken him far away and shown him strange things.

The unicorn however, would run along the borders of her wood until her flanks were lathered with sweat. Leave here? Never, she vowed.

- The End

(June 2009)

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