Summer had ended. A cool, damp breeze, blowing from
the east, brought with it a strange scent of decay.
Returning home from Doro Lanthron one evening, Legolas was startled
by a dark, birdlike shape that skittered across the road, just
a few yards ahead.
He immediately dismounted andbow in handfollowed
it into the bracken.
Where did it go? he wondered.
The elf turned full-circle, scanning the Forest, the trail, and
the Forest again, thenspotting it flitting between the treeshe
set off in pursuit once more.
He caught up with it in a small clearing, far from the road,
andwhen it turned to face himhe was surprised to see
that it was, in fact, a man: smallish, dressed in black,
and bent beneath a huge pack which, together with his short, spindly
legs, had given him his raven-like appearance.
Legolas nodded a cautious greeting.
The man swung the pack off his back and, with a few deft movements,
opened it, unfolding its front and sides to display his wares.
The man spread his hands, inviting Legolas to take a look.
But there was something disturbing about himquite apart
from his unprepossessing appearance, and the absence of the customary
pedlars dog, something...
Legolas had no sense of him. He could hear no sound of
him, feel no warmth of his fëa. Were it not for the fact
that I can see him, he thought, I would never know
that he existed.
Then the pedlar beckoned again and, despite himself, Legolas
glanced at the ingenious stall, his eyes passing quickly over
the shelves crammed with crystal bottles (no doubt holding perfumed
oils), glass flasks (filled with potent liquors), carved wooden
boxes inlaid with mother of pearl, gilded lockets, tall horn goblets
capped with silver, birds skulls decked with ribbons, and...
A beautiful, iridescent shell; long, and smooth, and
spiralling in tighter and tighter curves...
Legolas stretched out a hand; the pedlar smiled, and gestured,
encouraging him to pick it up.
Legolas fingers brushed the cold, hard nacre, and closed
around it. He lifted the shell to his ear, and listened.
He could hear the sea!
He closed his eyes, and listened harderlistened to the
great tidal wave that was rushing towards him.