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The Valinor Trail

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This story is No. 14 in the series "Return of The Key.". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Returnverse story - with the return of Spike... and Haldir. Picks up from the last line of the epilogue of 'Return of The Key'. COMPLETE

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Dawn-Centered(Recent Donor)curiouslywombatFR152969,295818917,46828 Dec 1210 Jul 14Yes

All Together Now

Legolas received a message asking him to come to Rumil and Tindómë’s house. On arrival he found himself sitting drinking wine with not only Rumil and Tindómë but also Orophin, Haldir, and Mithrandir who explained to the ellyn the outcome of his visit to the Valar.

“I will come with you, meleth,” Rumil said, as soon as he understood that she was to go to the Máhanaxar.

“As will I, nethig,” Legolas declared, equally firmly.

“I would like to,” Orophin chipped in, “it would be a wonderful experience… I think. But I can see your escort becoming overly large.”

Haldir said nothing.

“I don’t know if Gandalf is meant to whisk me there magically, or use my Key-ness to take us straight there, or… well, anything; except that the Valar are, at least, letting me ask.” Tindómë looked, expectantly, at Mithrandir.

“You will make your way there just as any other Elf would,” he said. “But you are most certainly not expected to travel alone.”

“Good, ‘cos I don’t actually know exactly where Valimar is, or when we are supposed to arrive, or how long it takes to get there for that matter…”

Something about that speech wrenched at Legolas’ fëa – he could hear and see Frodo standing in the centre of the gathering in Imladris offering to take The Ring to its destruction, though he did not know the way. He looked at Mithrandir and was sure he saw a spark of similar recognition in the Maia’s eyes.

Surprisingly the voice that broke the moment was that of Haldir.

“There will be maps.”

“Well yes… I’ve seen a few of them,” Tindómë answered in a tone Legolas recognised (as, doubtless, did Rumil and Orophin) – all that was missing was her favourite “duh!” “But the problem is, oh husband-brother, that every single one of the maps that I have seen shows it in a slightly different place.

“I mean, have you ever really studied them? Do you know which one is likely to be right? You know – the one in Master Elrond’s library that shows Valimar being Northwest of Alqualondë, or the other one he has that shows it due West, but three times further away? Or even the third one he keeps on the same shelf, that seems to have Alqualondë in a different place, and makes it look as if Valimar is to the Southwest of it? About the only thing that’s clear is that it is somewhere inland.”

It was, Legolas thought, about time she’d spoken bluntly to Haldir; who looked as blank-faced as one would expect but was, probably, somewhat taken aback, as he did not vouchsafe an immediate answer.

In fact it was Mithrandir who broke the ensuing silence. “You are quite right, my dear, but those maps are mostly ones brought by Master Elrond from Middle Earth. They were drawn from memory, or from the description of others. And yet there are few other maps, you are quite right. Those who live here usually know how to find the towns or cities they need without them…

“However,” he went on, “maps drawn by elves who have lived here all their lives do exist – and are not that dissimilar.”

“Longish, skinny, continent with the settlements mainly on the East coast more or less sums it up, then?” Tindómë asked.

“That is, indeed, what the maps all show,” Mithrandir confirmed.

It seemed to Legolas that there was something else in the conversation that was only apparent to Mithrandir and Tindómë – but he could not grasp, at all, what it could be. Perhaps, he thought, he was imagining it.

The Maia continued talking, and Legolas gave up trying to discern whether there had been more unsaid in the previous interchange, as the conversation now, very clearly, was relevant to him.

Mithrandir was clear that all the ellyn in the room were to be part of this expedition. All were to accompany Tindómë at her audience with The Valar!

Well, that was unexpected. Legolas had rather hoped he might be allowed to stand beside her in the Máhanaxar but had not expected to be, more or less, commanded to do so. Orophin seemed pleased, Rumil his usual calm self, and Haldir, if anything, nonplussed.


Truth to tell, as Haldir’s main objective was still to persuade his brothers to return to the service of Her Ladyship – which currently meant moving to Tirion – if they were both accompanying Tindómë there was little point in him staying in Alqualondë. Indeed the journey to Valimar would probably best be accomplished by going first to Tirion.

But he could not see any reason for him to have been asked to go to the Máhanaxar. He had heard nothing of this project to bring someone from the ‘other world’, that Tindómë was said to have lived in at some time, until this meeting with Mithrandir. Haldir was fairly sure that he did not approve. However he knew that his approval was really not important, which still annoyed him – no, actually it hurt him to realise that his brothers no longer really saw him as the head of the family.

Being honest with himself he knew that they should all see their father as head of the family – but he had expected that to be in a token fashion, with his brothers automatically turning to him. And if his brothers saw him as the family head, then so would their wives…

On the other hand, he could see no chance of the Valar agreeing to the venture and they, clearly, saw him as the head of the family or they would not have commanded him to attend the audience. That thought improved his disposition, and it would almost certainly be an experience to boast about... ah, mention to anyone he wished to impress… and there were already one or two ellyth in that category…

“I, of course, know the road to Tirion,” he said, entering the conversation, “and so the inaccuracy of Master Elrond’s maps is no longer important. Her Ladyship will doubtless know the road from Tirion to Valimar and can advise us.”

“Cool,” said Tindómë. “I’ll tell Erestor that you will be able to help him with the inaccuracy of the maps sometime. Or, hey! You could keep track as we travel and draw your own for him! I don’t know how we would cope without you, really. I mean, Legolas and Gandalf would totally be unable to remember the route…”

Haldir was sure she used language so oddly mainly to annoy him.


There were things to organise before they set off to Tirion. Rumil was not sure that he wouldn’t have preferred the message from the Valar to be that Spike must remain in ‘California’, even though it would have upset Tindómë, but the Valar would do as they willed – and she would need him to support her, whatever happened. So, best to look on it as a reason to travel and see more of this place; he sharpened his sword and knives (still a warrior first and foremost), checked his bow, his arrows… and his pencils and pens. He was ready to travel.

Orophin also readied himself by checking his weapons; no more was necessary. But spending the days before they left Alqualondë swimming, and joining with his wife, was good as he would do neither for some time.

Legolas spoke about this upcoming journey to Saeldauron and Galanthir, then to Master Elrond and Lady Celebrían, as well as to Gimli.

“I wish you joy in Tirion, if you stay there long,” Gimli said.

They had spent time there together after Gimli had spent time at Lord Aulë’s forge. Gimli had been treated with a mixture of awe, fascination, contempt and patronisation. Legolas had actually been treated much the same, but in slightly different proportions – and also been pursued by a number of ellyth. Whether for his (uncommon in Tirion) fair hair, or that word ‘Prince’ before his name, it was hard to say.

“But,” the dwarf went on, “Lord Aulë will give the lass a fair hearing; even if I can’t speak for the others.”

He went on to reassure Legolas that he was most unlikely to succumb to old age whilst his friend was away, unless the trip was going to take tens of years not just a week or two. Anyway, he would have Tharhîwon for company, Tharhîwon’s ‘friend’ Nithdur would doubtless also spend time in the hobbit-hole, as would Haldirin unless he was to return to his parents’ house now that it was less full. And Naltatamë had promised to visit him every day as well.

Legolas wondered, not for the first time, exactly what the relationship was between Gimli and the female smith. He was fairly sure that, if he asked her, she would say; but it seemed a betrayal of his friend who kept everything to do with personal relationships more close to his chest than his beard was.

Ithilienne would move back and share the house with her aunt as Haldir was vacating the bedroom she had previously shared with her brother. She helped her mother prepare for the journey by day – but the nights before the party left she spent with Legolas.

Tindómë worried about what one wore to an audience with the Valar.

“I do not think it matters, meleth,” Rumil said. “Surely it is your fëa they are interested in, not what you have used to cover your hroar. They created you. Why would they worry about what you are wearing?”

But she noticed that he, and the other ellyn, all packed their best, dress, robes.

Preparations were completed in a few days, bags packed, and horses chosen; from Master Elrond’s stable, as only Legolas and Haldir had their own mounts. The others had, so far, had no need to replace the horses left behind when they sailed.

Somehow Tindómë had presumed Gandalf would travel with them and so it had come as a surprise, the evening before they left, when he had said no, he was remaining here for a little; he would meet them in Valimar.


The journey to Tirion took some days. Gandalf had said that there was no need to make haste; time was not so important when they were considering bridging the gap between worlds. If the Valar decreed that it should be done, it could be done to a point in time in the other world that suited them. Tindómë was not sure about this but there was no point in constantly chivvying the others; especially Haldir who, she thought, might well take longer the more she tried to make him hurry. So only Rumil was aware of her ‘champing at the bit’.

The land was beautiful, even now in what was late winter; there were flowers in bloom in places, evergreens in copses here and there, fields that were clearly well cultivated. It occurred to Tindómë that the Elves in Middle Earth were not, on the whole, farmers. But here there were no other races with which to trade, and the farming elves looked content in this role.

They stayed in inns most nights. Well appointed inns with light airy rooms, comfortable beds, and pleasant communal spaces. They attracted attention, but not unpleasantly so. Clearly these inns were used to traffic of Telerin Elves going inland, and Noldor visiting the coast – Sindar and Silvan elves were less common, but welcome.

One afternoon Legolas said that they would leave the well-kept road. Haldir looked at him questioningly and Legolas explained that there was a settlement of Wood Elves within an hour or so. That night they sat around a fire, singing familiar songs, and slept in telain. Tindómë thought it was good to see Legolas so clearly accepted as royalty by these, his people, how comfortable Rumil and Orophin were – and Haldir, for that matter. Although, on the whole, she thought that when they finally moved from Alqualondë she would rather have a more solid dwelling.

All in all the journey was interesting and enjoyable. But then they reached Tirion.

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