Little Nudge Out of the Door, A: 13. Sins of the Father

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13. Sins of the Father

Three weeks later…

“Hah! I would wager you gold if I had any!” Legolas grinned challengingly at Elrohir. “Your horse could never beat Lanthir.” The elven horses, sensing that they were the topic of the conversation, had begun prancing and snorting at each other.

Elrohir shook his head as a parent would at an upstart child. “Legolas, Legolas, your lack of experience in the world shows all too clearly. My Ethuil has outrun every horse in Imladris. Swift your mount may be, but no so much as she.”

Their captains had been watching the exchange, and smiled at each other (though the smile seemed challenging.) They were nearly to Moria, and the elven company’s course would soon turn east toward Lórien. As they drew further south, there seemed to be orcs hiding behind every rock, and the entire company was weary from almost incessant fighting every night from dusk until dawn for the past three weeks.

Their path had been rough and steep, and there had been less rain than usual this summer, and many of the mountain creeks had gone down or dried up completely. Neither Langcyll nor Glorfindel had anticipated this--to the chagrin of both--and at one point during this stretch, the company had gone for nearly ten days without finding water. The late August sun beat down mercilessly during the day, and while it was cooler when they traveled by night, the trail was dusty and dry. The situation had been growing serious, until six days before, when the elves had discovered a large mountain stream with a more protected source. The warriors had all but flung themselves in after providing the horses with a much-needed drink, and Galithil and Glorfindel had gone three miles out of their way to inform the dwarves, who were also being hampered by the drought.

Now, their paths had separated again, and it had been four days since discovering their last water source, but the captains did not make the same mistake twice and rationed the water strictly, so their situation was nowhere near as dire as it had threatened to become before. Just the same, that unexpected complication had hurt morale, but tonight for the first time, the spirits of the company seemed lighter.

“I’m sorry to spoil your fun, Elrohir, Legolas, but there shall be no racing. We cannot risk dehydrating your beloved horses,” Glorfindel said, with a shade of playful regret in his tone that none missed.

Langcyll nodded soberly, “Indeed, I fear Lanthir would run poor Ethuil right into the ground, and we could not have that!”

Legolas burst into laughter at Elrohir’s outraged sputtering of protest. The Mirkwood elves all grinned and voiced their agreement with Langcyll while Faron, Elladan, and Glorfindel immediately began disputing Langcyll’s claim. Elrohir mock-glared at Langcyll and his youngest warrior, “Be thankful for this drought, son of Thranduil, or I should put your mount to the test and have your captain regret his uninformed remark.”

Whatever response Langcyll or Legolas would have made was forestalled by a piercing whistle from one of the scouts further down the track. Glorfindel’s head whipped around, “Orcs.”

***

Legolas slashed one of his knives through the neck of the fleeing orc and whirled to chase after another down the trail. He was still a little wary of running too hard on these mountains, lest he or the orc he pursued break through the dry ground again, but his light feet overtook the orc in seconds. The fell creature spun with a screech of terror and attempted to fend Legolas off with its shield--its sword had been shot from its hand by an elven arrow. It was nothing Legolas could not handle, and in a few swift blows and dodges, the orc was down.

Wiping sweat from his face, Legolas turned and quickly surveyed the trail behind him, taking his habitual (and always anxious) mental count of his comrades. There was Faron, tending a slash on Elunen’s arm, and there were Fanfirith and Nathron, returning from chasing down other orcs. He identified Elladan and Elrohir on their horses, beheading some unlucky orcs who made too much noise hiding in the bushes, and Glanaur, Galithil, and Glorfindel were collecting used arrows. And where was…ah, there was Langcyll, standing upon a boulder keeping watch. All present and accounted for, Legolas returned to the company.

“No injuries, Legolas?” Langcyll asked without taking his eyes off the mountainside below them.

“Nay,” Legolas replied, picking up some arrows of his own. “And no orcs escaped my pursuit that I could see.”

“That is well. Elunen? How fares your arm?”

“Superficial, Langcyll. It will not hamper my shooting.”

Legolas heard noises down the trail just as Langcyll turned to look. “The dwarves come. They must have heard the sounds of battle.”

“Shall we make camp here?” Glorfindel asked him.

Langcyll frowned, gazing at the sky. “Yes. The sun is nearly up.”

“Hello, there, Master Elf!” came the cry from down the trail.

The captain waved at the torches bobbing in the predawn gloom, “Here, Master Dwarf!”

“We heard orc screeching, I trust you’re all unharmed?”

“We are all well, thank you. And the orcs are dispatched.”

Moments later, the party of dwarves, Naldin in the lead, “Well, well. Two bits of good news in one morning, Langcyll of Mirkwood. Glad none of you are hurt.”

Legolas had moved to the outskirts of the camp as he continued to collect arrows, but he heard every word that was said. *Please do not ask them to camp with us please do not ask them to camp with us please--*

“We are making camp for the day, if you and your company would care to join us.”

*Confound it! I shall have to either stand a far watch all day or scout for water. Or find an excuse to sleep behind a rock somewhere!* The elf and dwarf companies frequently crossed paths as they continued their respective journeys through the mountains, but Legolas still felt no interest in warming up to the dwarves.

But the offer had been made, and Naldin had accepted, so the dwarves were now joining the elves in preparing the camp and setting watches. Legolas started forward, but Langcyll turned and shot him a look that told Legolas all too clearly not to bother--Langcyll was not going to allow it. Turning away in disgust, Legolas tossed down his blankets next to Faron, not that he needed them in this heat, but at least one could sleep on top of them. Perhaps he could simply sleep the day away. The hot sun made sleeping difficult lately, but after these weeks of endless orc-hunting by night and searching for water by day, he began to think his weariness might overcome the heat.

Several of the elves had gone in search of water, but Legolas knew that if Langcyll would not let him stand a watch, he would not permit the prince to depart with the scouts either. Sighing to himself, Legolas cast himself down onto his blanket, only to have Langcyll call to him, “Legolas, have you not eaten?”

Cursing furiously to himself, Legolas sat up, forced a straight face, and turned to the captain, “Nay, I am not hungry.”

Langcyll simply folded his arms, fixing Legolas with a stern gaze, and fighting the urge to curse again, Legolas rose and made his way to where the elves and dwarves were sharing out rations. None cared to sit near a fire in such heat, so cold meat, bread, and apples were the fare of the morning.

Galithil, deep in conversation with Sháin, glanced up and grinned as Legolas came to collect his share of rations. “Well now, look who decided to eat with us for once. You skip so many meals I am surprised you have never keeled over, Legolas.”

Glaring at her, Legolas went to join several of the Mirkwood elves. The others of Langcyll’s original company had not become nearly so warm with the dwarves as Galithil with Sháin or Elunen with Sothi, though most of them were on better terms with the dwarf party than Legolas. Still, they at least sat a little apart from Naldin’s company. Unfortunately, they still talked to the dwarves at times, which was more conversation than Legolas desired to have.

***

“And this,” Sháin pulled out a blood-red ruby the size of a man’s eye. “This I found nearly thirty years ago, in the Blue Mountains. Cut and polished it myself. Rough, it was the size of a walnut. Like frozen wine, isn’t it?”

Galithil took the heavy jewel in her hand and gazed at it, “It is beautiful,” she agreed. Though she was as willing as any to look at a handsome gem, the elf warrioress could not fathom why men, elves, and dwarves would shed blood for such things. She noticed Sháin staring at her, and smiled, “It is beautiful. I just do not see why…why they would cause such strife among…people.”

“Well, Moon Maiden, there are risks in gaining all valuable things. You and your warriors would fight to prevent men from cutting down your trees, would you not?” the dwarf asked her.

By now, several of the other elves were listening. “But trees are living things,” protested Nathron. “They breathe and drink and give life back to the world.” Looking anxious not to offend the dwarves, he raised a hand and added, “Not that your gems are not lovely to behold. But they are not alive. Why should they be worth such pains?”

“All treasures are worth more, the more pains we take to obtain them, Master Elf,” Sothi replied matter-of-factly. “It takes a great struggle to tear gold or silver or gems from the insides of the earth. That is why such things are treasured.”

Elunen shuddered playfully, “I cannot see myself desiring anything so much that I would crawl inside the earth for it.”

“Nay, all you elves seem content to do is wait for the dwarves to dig up treasure for you and then take it from them by force.”

Lorben stifled a bark of laughter. It was Broni who had spoken. The elves stiffened. Several shot anxious glances at Legolas, particularly Faron and Langcyll, who were the only ones who knew about the pearl. But all the rest knew what Broni the dwarf was referring to. Sothi gave Elunen a little pat and then stood up to face Broni, drawing himself up (which would have looked absurd had not all the elves been sitting down.) “Broni, take Lorben with you, and go scout for water. At once.”

Folding his arms defiantly at the elves, Broni departed with Lorben. When they had gone, Naldin turned and bowed to the elves. He too shot a worried glance at King Thranduil’s son. Legolas was looking fixedly at the ground. The dwarves exchanged embarrassed looks for the rudeness of their companion. Clearing his throat loudly, Sothi asked Glorfindel, “Tell me, Lord Glorfindel, did you happen to see Bilbo Baggins when he came back through.”

In a rush, Glorfindel replied, “Nay, I fear I was on a patrol at the time, but I heard he returned to the Shire.”

Sháin slapped his knee, “Ah, that gladdens my heart. Gandalf the Grey was due back at Lonely Mountain shortly after we left, so we never had tidings of whether that strange little hobbit ever made it home.”

“The sons of Lord Elrond might know better than I,” Glorfindel said, gesturing to Elladan and Elrohir. “I believe they were in Rivendell at the time.”

Elladan nodded, “Indeed we were, and met Bilbo when he came through. Singular, I believe was the word my sister used to describe Bilbo Baggins.”

The dwarves found this greatly amusing, and several roared with laughter. “Aye, singular is how I would speak of him,” chuckled Sothi. “Poor little hobbit, like a fish out of water among us dwarves at such a time. Brave, though. Didn’t abandon us, even when that elven--er, even when things took an ill turn.”

“And the Valar know there were many ill turns during that adventure,” Naldin remarked, shaking his head. “My father Óin said he himself was quite undone by the time it was all over. Just wanted to sleep for a few years.”

“Why did…” When Legolas spoke up, both companies looked startled. None more so than Legolas himself. Blushing somewhat--*he has not done that in years!* Galithil thought--he asked, “Why did the hobbit go with the dwarves to Lonely Mountain in the first place?”

The dwarves exchanged glances, either puzzling over what the answer was or how to respond to Legolas, it was uncertain. Then Sháin shrugged, “I could not say, and neither could Sothi or Naldin’s fathers, I imagine. Gandalf had a great deal to do with it.”

Langcyll chuckled, “Mithrandir has a way of instilling courage in unlikely persons.”

The rest chuckled as well, including, Galithil was surprised to note, Legolas. Almost inaudibly, she heard him murmur to himself, “Yes, he does.”

Naldin had been digging around in the provisions of the dwarves, and returned with a small jug, seating himself next to Glorfindel. “Here, Master Elf, have you ever tasted dwarf ale?” At Glorfindel’s surprised face, the dwarves laughed. “Come, come, Lord Glorfindel, you elves have fine taste in wine, but one must develop an appreciation for a good brew. Go on, try it!”

With a very doubtful expression, Glorfindel accepted the proferred jug and took a small swallow of its contents. There was a pause, then his eyes widened, and the dwarves, along with most of the elves, burst into laughter as he hurriedly returned the jug to Naldin, wiping his mouth. “My thanks--” the way Glorfindel’s voice rasped caused both companies to explode into renewed laughter, and he irritably waved them to be silent. In a somewhat clearer voice, he said, “My thanks, Naldin, but I think I shall always prefer wine.”

Laughing still, Sháin reached for the jug and took a great swig, smiling with satisfaction. He offered the jug to Galithil and laughed when she hastily raised both hands to decline. “Oh, go on, Elf Lady, we must hear the opinion of a wood elf on the subject of ale.”

“Nay, I do not--” Galithil protested, but now the elves of her own company were prodding her as well, and she soon found Langcyll pushing the jug at her. “Oh very well.”

“Yea, I must insist that you all try it,” Naldin declared, getting a guffaw from the dwarves, along with remarks that none of them could appreciate the art of brew making. “Go on, Galithil of Mirkwood, have a taste.”

Praying she would not disgrace herself, Galithil forced herself to take a sip, and immediately gagged, unable to restrain herself from spitting it out. The companies roared with laughter as she stammered her apologies, and the jug went on to its next victim, Elunen (who also could not swallow it.)

In the end, every elf, even Legolas, tasted the dwarf ale, and the dwarves could not convince them that such a beverage was fit for an elven table. Legolas proved stronger than any of the other Mirkwood elves; his eyes watered and he coughed furiously, but he was the only one of his company who did manage to swallow it.

***

At dusk, the companies separated again, and the elves moved on down the mountain leading their horses. Elladan smiled with relief as they rounded another mountain bend and saw that they would soon be entering a break in the mountains. “There now, that shall be a welcome change of scenery.”

They reached the gap several weeks later. “Just beyond this valley is Caradhas,” Langcyll said, pointing at the high, forbidding peak rising in the distance. “Beneath it lies Moria.”

The valley did not have the slightly scorched appearance that the mountainsides had of late. All was green, and many mountain creeks had emptied into a lake here that was wide and deep enough to withstand the lack of rain. The company would be able to drink its fill here. And eat too, from the looks of the apple trees, their branches laden with deep red fruit.

As they were watering the horses, Elrohir spotted Legolas looking speculatively at the green meadow about them, surrounded by majestic peaks. Legolas turned then and saw Elrohir watching him. Both grinned. “Perhaps Langcyll and Glorfindel will not say no to that race now, my friend,” Elrohir said slyly.

Legolas, feeding an apple to Lanthir, did not speak, but turned and raised his eyebrows at Faron and Elladan. They both grinned in turn. Galithil and Fanfirith were giggling. Elrohir patted Ethuil’s neck and murmured, “We have him now, my beauty.”

“Elrohir!” a sharp voice rang out. The group froze and Elrohir turned to see Glorfindel, with Langcyll a step behind him, glaring at him. Glorfindel strode forward sternly, “Are you instigating this foolish exercise yet again?”

Sheepishly, Elrohir looked at the others. Faron and Elladan were staring at the ground, Galithil and Fanfirith were attempting to busy themselves with their saddlebags, and Legolas was blushing furiously. “And you, Legolas?” Langcyll said severely. “We’ve been in a drought for weeks now. You ought to know better than to talk of racing horses under such conditions.”

Elrohir turned back to face the captains, and caught the faintest twitch at the corner of Langcyll’s mouth. With intense relief, he cracked a grin of his own, and the company’s leaders could no longer hide their smiles. Behind him, Elrohir heard Legolas sigh with relief, and turned to see him grinning as well. “So then, by your leaves, sirs, shall we test the horses of Mirkwood and Imladris?”

Glorfindel smirked and folded his arms, “By all means, young prince, but do not be surprised when the racer of Imladris outmatches your mount.”

“Hah!” was Langcyll’s only remark on that subject.

***

“Where are they to race?” demanded Galithil, staring eagerly at the wide field. The captains had not lost all sense in the eagerness to partake of this rare chance for merrymaking, and had insisted that the company sleep and eat before beginning the challenge between Legolas and Elrohir.

Langcyll and Glorfindel were debating that matter as the others watched. “To the far end and back?” suggested Langcyll.

“Nay, it is too far,” Glorfindel said. “It is true that we must not strain the horses for the sake of our morale.” He looked about the valley. “We are closer to the opposite end. Let them race to where the gap in the mountains leads back down to the plains, and then turn back and return to us.”

Langcyll shaded his eyes and examined the track Glorfindel suggested. “Yea, that will do. Very well, we have our course!” he declared to the others, who applauded.

Legolas and Elrohir were warming up their horses on the grass near the lake, cantering about. Elladan, standing next to Faron, grinned at the elves of Mirkwood. “Mirkwood may have the finest archer, but Imladris shall prove itself to have the finest horses, my friends.”

With a dismissive wave, Fanfirith retorted, “Mirkwood has the TWO finest archers in Middle Earth, I would hasten to remind you. And we shall soon see about the horses. Shall we wager?”

“I should enjoy it--if I possessed anything suitable to bet with,” Faron remarked, and the company laughed.

“Come, the rest of you, we require your assistance if this race is to be finished by sundown,” Langcyll said, beckoning to the party.

The sun was growing low in the sky indeed, and the company lost no more time placing themselves in a line down to the edge of the valley so that Legolas and Elrohir would see their course better. At last, the two racers rode eagerly up to where Glorfindel was waiting for them. He did not shout, but the keen ears of all the company heard what he said. “Very well, riders of Mirkwood and Imladris, here is your track. You shall ride straight down the valley past your companions to where Langcyll awaits you. You shall then ride around him to his left and return back the exact same way that you came. The first rider to pass me shall be declared the winner. Do you understand?”

“Perhaps you describe the course more clearly,” Legolas said in something of a drawl. “I fear your explanation may have been beyond Elrohir’s limits.”

“Well, let us hope your directions are not beyond your horse’s limits,” retorted Elrohir, earning shouts and jeers from up and down the line.

Glorfindel waved brusquely at them, “Peace, all of you. Come, you competitive boys. Elrohir shall be on my left, Legolas on my right.”

“I protest, who gave Elrohir the rights to the inside path?!” demanded Elunen from halfway down the line of elves.

Legolas raised his hand charitably, “Fear not, Elunen, I shall not be hampered by riding a few extra lengths. It seems only fair that I should handicap myself for the sake of giving Elrohir something of an even chance.” Now the jeers came from the Mirkwood side.

“Very well, very well. Make ready,” Glorfindel told them, smiling broadly. He paused and waved his arm in the air to Langcyll at the far end, receiving an answering wave from the Mirkwood captain, and each elf of the company along the line. “Are you ready then?”

Legolas and Elrohir nodded eagerly. Legolas leaned forward in the saddle, feeling Lanthir tense underneath him. His horse always knew when there was glory to be had. “Ride hard, my friend,” he murmured.

“Ready,” Glorfindel raised his arms. “Ride!”

With the drop of the Imladris captain’s arms, both horses were off, their riders leaning forward in the saddle, concentrating on giving them the proper guidance. Casting long shadows in the last rays of the sun, the elves cheered lustily as their comrades raced down the plain.

Legolas felt Lanthir’s powerful legs surging beneath him as the gray horse raced down the plain towards the waiting Langcyll, as his companions shrieked their encouragement at him. It is often said that horses bred and trained by the elves acquire some elvish characteristics, and to see them run suggests there is a grain of truth to the legends. For the mounts of Legolas and Elrohir seemed barely to touch the ground as they flew on, and indeed their feet left little impression in the soft earth for animals who were running so hard.

Legolas spared a quick glance to the left; Elrohir was directly beside him, perhaps ahead by a nose. But the horses of Mirkwood are trained for their endurance to cover the wide forest and surrounding plains, a fact which Legolas was counting upon. So he did not urge Lanthir up to his full speed, merely kept pace with Elrohir, feeling Lanthir’s powerful strides as the wind whipped his hair.

He waited, waited, and as they drew closer to Langcyll, Legolas suddenly whispered, “Ride hard, Lanthir! Fly!” Pouring on a burst of speed, Lanthir obeyed his rider and charged forward, surging ahead to the excited cries of the Mirkwood elves.

Legolas braced himself. This bend around Langcyll would be very tight at such speed. He must leave Elrohir enough room. Leaning to the left, he measured the distance closely as they bore down on Langcyll, then guided Lanthir into a swift, sharp U-turn around the Mirkwood captain. Elrohir took advantage of being on the inside of the turn, and was nearly up to Legolas again as they charged around, leaning far over on their mounts’ backs. All at once--

“Ai!” Movement on the plains beyond the mountains caught Legolas’s eye, just as Lanthir gave a wild neigh and shied sharply to the left, nearly falling over and all but pitching his rider from the saddle. Legolas managed to get his arms around his horse’s neck, but the movement brought them right into Elrohir and Ethuil. The mare whinnied in surprise and also swerved, and Elrohir did lose his grip and fall in his effort to jerk her back and avoid striking Langcyll.

The eager shouts of the elves turned to cries of dismay, and all of them rushed to the accident. Just as it seemed Legolas was getting Lanthir under control, and Elrohir stood to calm Ethuil, both horses inexplicably panicked again. Elrohir threw himself from range of his bucking horse’s legs, but Legolas clung grimly to Lanthir’s mane, trying to discern what could so spook elven horses with their riders. But Lanthir seemed in a frenzy, and raced wildly about.

“Legolas! Jump off!” someone shouted.

“No, he’d break his neck!” cried another.

“Hold on!” “What ails those horses?!”

“Lanthir!” Legolas exclaimed, struggling to bring his panicked horse under control. “Lanthir, do not fight me! What is it?”

The horse at last ceased bucking and shying, and slowed to where Legolas could catch his breath and right himself. Elrohir had also gotten his horse under control. “What could possibly--”

Legolas whirled, distant sounds pricking his ears. Immediately, he realized what had frightened the horses. “Orcs! On the flatland below the mountains!”

The other elves could now detect the distant orc-shrieks, and hurried to the hillside to look. “He is right. What are they doing?!” exclaimed Elrohir, still soothing Ethuil.

“They are far out, and there is a fog. I cannot see well,” murmured Langcyll, squinting in the moonless dark.

Legolas peered into the hazy darkness, trying to filter out something worth seeing. All at once, it was there, the faint spots of torchlight, moving as though the carriers were in a great rush. “There! Travelers on the plains, Langcyll! The orcs are attacking them!”

Langcyll wasted no time, but whistled sharply for his own horse. The other elves did the same, and soon all were mounted. Fortunately, the captains had not abandoned caution for their fun either, and all the elves still wore their weapons. “Ride!” Langcyll shouted, and the company charged out of the valley, between the gap in the mountains, onto the plains below.

“Look, Langcyll!” Glorfindel cried, seeing another object illuminated by the travelers’ torches. “The flag of Mirkwood! They are a Mirkwood party.”

“Probably bound for Rivendell--make haste! Fly!”

Looking to the left, Legolas saw more torches and realized the dwarf party had heard the orcs as well. The torches bobbed as the dwarves signaled to Langcyll, who waved at them to invite their assistance. The torches waved in response, and the dwarf company charged out of the mountains as well, after the orcs who were attacking innocent travelers.

***

“Orcs, my lord!” one of the guards shouted to King Thranduil of Mirkwood.

The elven king had already drawn his sword, awaiting the attack as the shrieks of the foul creatures grew louder. *Even with a full guard, it seems no company remains safe,* he thought.

Falling with a great screech, the orcs were upon the party of Mirkwood. Thranduil braced himself and met the orc charge with his sword whirling, slashing them before they could get within their own blades’ reach of him. For several millennia, the children of Thranduil had come to fame of their own as warriors, and it was easy to forget that the elven king himself was a renowned bearer of all weapons.

Orcs were coming from everywhere, and Thranduil was growing anxious as he heard cries of pain in elven voices from about him. *This fight goes ill. Our escort is well-armed and well-trained, but the beasts have the advantage in sheer numbers.*

Half a dozen orcs suddenly pressed toward Thranduil all at once, trying to overwhelm him, and he backed up swiftly, swinging his sword in one hand and a torch in the other to keep them at bay. Then a collective orc shriek went up as new battle cries filled the air, along with the whinnies of many horses. He heard the challenge shouts of familiar elf voices, and Thranduil needed no long glance to see that one of his realm’s war parties had discovered them. It was an immense relief.

Even as he fought, Thranduil glanced about him trying to see with one part of his mind whose party this was, for many warriors were abroad at this time. But the elves and orcs flitted too swiftly in and out of the torchlight, and all he could identify were fair and dark heads.

Ducking under an orc-scimitar, the king of Mirkwood thought he spied Glorfindel of Imladris, but more orcs pressed toward him and he could not be sure. Parrying a flurry of wild blows from another orc, he dispatched the creature and managed a quick look around. About a dozen elves had joined them, but the orcs were still coming. Their predicament was very serious. Elven arrows sliced through the air, but even as orcs dropped, others seemed to burst from the shadows beyond the torchlight to take the places of the fallen.

All at once, new battle cries echoed, and for a moment Thranduil was disoriented, for the cries were familiar yet strange. The elven king rolled under a blow from an orc shield aimed for his head and found himself staring at a large company of dwarves, axes brought to bear, charging into the fray. Most were so intent on the orcs that they did not even notice him, or perhaps did not recognize him, but the one in the lead practically froze in his tracks. Thranduil faltered as well, and had it not been for the dwarves rushing past him to drive the orcs back, he might have been wounded.

But there was no time to demand explanations on either side, and the elven king and the unexpected arrivals charged back into the battle. Now the fray seemed still more confusing, for Thranduil was certain he had seen Glorfindel of Imladris, as well as Elrohir son of Elrond (therefore it went without saying that Elladan was here as well) but the king thought he had also seen Elunen and Langcyll of Mirkwood.

Another elf, fair-haired and too slight to be Glorfindel, swept through the torchlight for a moment, but a stray orc sword swept the torch to the ground before Thranduil could identify the warrior, who looked like he hailed from Lórien. The king charged at another groups of orcs menacing one of his guards, who had been wounded by an arrow. Whirling back from dropping several of them, Thranduil aimed his sword at another, only to have it dropped from behind by the Lórien warrior. The momentum drove the younger elf forward, and he caught his balance less than five feet from Thranduil.

Thranduil blinked. This elf of Lórien wore Mirkwood colors. Their eyes met, and the concentration of battle fled the young elf’s face--along with most of the color. His dark gray eyes were wide as he froze in shock… “Father!”


Time did not seem to crawl. Time seemed to stop.


It did not seem possible. Thranduil scarcely knew this warrior. It had only been two years! How could this be? Yet here he was, and the strange expression in his dark eyes was all that gave him away. Had this elf not reacted to his own recognition of the king, Thranduil believed he would never have recognized him at all.

It was Legolas.

Father and son, both frozen in disbelief--and no small measure of dismay--were for a moment oblivious to the fighting taking place around them. An elf’s cry of pain to one side finally snapped Thranduil out of it, and he rushed to the wounded warrior’s aid, forcing himself to turn from the astonished face of his son.

The elven king’s mind was in such turmoil that he did not even feel rankled by the fact that the assistance of the dwarves was at last gaining them the upper hand. Thranduil did not join the pursuers chasing the rest of the orcs across the plains, but he saw the fair head amongst the others and knew that Legolas had.

*Legolas. He is here. My son.*

***

Legolas fought to keep his mind on what he was doing, lest he face an injury due to lack of concentration. But the turmoil in his mind refused to subside, and one thought whirled frantically round and round in his head, trying to blot out the fight he was struggling to finish. *He is here. My father is here.*

With a savagery that had little to do with his hatred of orcs, Legolas slashed to pieces the orc he had managed to catch up to, seized its sword, and went looking for more. Anything to take him further away from Thranduil. *I must face him. After everything that I did, I practically ran away without a word to him.* He challenged another orc and swept forward with his sword, dodging the creature’s slashing scimitar. *He went back to live in the caves like a dwarf. He locked people in the dungeons--those dungeons! He nearly started a war for a share of that dragon’s treasure!*

Legolas ducked and parried another blow from the growling orc, but he barely saw it. Instinct alone was guiding him, for his mind was somewhere else. *I do not know him anymore! I cannot face him! I am afraid--*

The orc sensed its opponent’s loss of concentration, and with an awful clang!, it slammed its scimitar into Legolas’s sword, knocking the weapon from the elf’s hand. Cursing, Legolas drew both of his knives and dove into a roll under a sweeping blow from the orc. He suffered a swipe on the forehead as he leapt back to his feet, but managed to slash the creature’s arm, forcing it to drop its own weapon. Venting his frantic emotions with a furious onslaught of knife-blows, Legolas all but dismembered the creature with his knives.

Breathing hard, the prince of Mirkwood looked around, hoping to find another foe, but the orcs were defeated, and those who had fled were too far out of reach in this darkness. *I think I would rather face the darkness.*

***

Langcyll scanned the battlefield absently, noting the large number of wounded elves and dwarves. That orc army must have been lying in wait for the travelers, and that was why the company had failed to see or hear them sooner. Frowning, he turned to where Legolas was standing motionless on the outskirts, staring into the dark. Langcyll was confused and troubled, for he too had seen Legolas fighting those last few orcs, and the young warrior had seemed completely distracted. *He’s lucky that orc wasn’t quicker or he’s have lost his head to that scimitar.*

The captain purposefully started forward, intending to demand an accounting for such poor fighting form, when from the corner of his eye, he noticed another elf also making for Legolas. Without thinking, Langcyll turned to tell the other warrior to leave off, and at that instant, the other elf also looked at him.

It was King Thranduil. He and Langcyll both stopped dead in their tracks, and for a moment, Langcyll could not find his voice. “My lord!” he finally blurted. *Of all the elves in Middle Earth who could have appeared at this moment…*

Langcyll’s king hesitated, then said, “Well met, Langcyll. Your timing was excellent.” Thranduil seemed distracted, and Langcyll had no trouble guessing by what. *So that is why Legolas was behaving so strangely.*

Before he knew what he was doing, the captain of Mirkwood called out, “Legolas!” His youngest warrior turned to face him, and went practically rigid when he saw the king standing close to Langcyll. Taking a deep breath, Langcyll ordered him, “Some of your comrades are wounded. See to them at once.” Legolas all-too-willingly did as he was told. Langcyll forced himself to face the king, then saw that he needn’t have bothered. Thranduil had eyes only for Legolas. “Forgive me, my lord. I must see to my warriors.”

Blinking as though just remembering that Langcyll was there, Thranduil nodded, “Of course.” He slowly turned and went to help one of the guards from his party.

Langcyll walked back to where the wounded warriors were being tended, and noticed Glorfindel heading in his direction. He walked a few steps out of his way to avoid speaking to the Imladris captain; Glorfindel doubtlessly had plenty of advice to impart, none of which Langcyll cared to hear. The captain of Mirkwood surveying the warriors by the fire, and his eyes inevitably were drawn to Legolas. The young warrior was bandaging an ugly slash on Faron’s shoulder, and worrying over whether his friend had lost too much blood. Elladan had taken an arrow in the thigh, Glanaur and Fanfirith had also been wounded. Several of king Thranduil’s company were being tended, along with four of the dwarves.

*It would have been much worse for us if the dwarves had not come,* Langcyll thought grimly. And that was another problem. Those dwarves who were neither caring for the injured nor injured themselves stood in a tight knot well away from the elves, and the eyes of every one were fixed on the elven king. *Curse whatever fate brought Thranduil here! This might well have been a turning point in our relations with the dwarves but for this unhappy chance!*

After a long conference among themselves, the dwarves spoke to their wounded companions, and apparently came to a consensus. Naldin, son of Óin, walked a few paces closer to Langcyll and said, “Captain Langcyll, if you have the situation under control, I think it would be…for the best if my company departed now.”

Langcyll nodded grimly, feeling the eyes of the king boring into the back of his head. “You have my thanks for your MANY acts of assistance to us, Master Naldin.” He dared not name Naldin’s father.

Naldin replied, “And we also owe you our thanks, Master Elf. I do not expect our companies shall meet again.” With a bow, he concluded, “We take our leave.”

Langcyll also bowed to the group, “Safe journey, Master Dwarves.”

With that, the dwarves reassembled, and quickly departed the area for the mountains once again. Langcyll noticed with a brief flicker of amusement that Sháin glanced back and waved at Galithil as he walked off with the others. Sothi had also bidden a personal farewell to Elunen, and a few of the others were looking back at Langcyll and his company with shades of regret in their bearded faces. (On the other hand, Lorben, Therik, and Broni seemed all too eager to be setting off.) With regrets of his own, Langcyll turned to Glorfindel and raised his eyebrows (the elven equivalent of a shrug.) It really had been for the best that the dwarves had departed as quickly as possible. Perhaps that way, at least some semblance of good feelings between the elves and the dwarves had been allowed to linger in the end.

*Indeed, considering the king’s state of mind at this moment, it would not be a good time for diplomacy.* Langcyll forced himself to return to practical matters. “My lord,” he called to Thranduil. “How many of your company are wounded?”

The king replied, “Eight of the twenty,” without once meeting Langcyll’s eyes. Thranduil was staring past Langcyll at where the wounded were being treated, and Langcyll did not need to turn and look to know without question what his liege was watching. A thought that Langcyll had been struggling to suppress continued to force its way into his mind, a bitter memory of Glorfindel’s warning to him that rang over and over in his head, leaving him powerless to shut it out.

**

“Langcyll, Legolas is a prince of Mirkwood. He is Thranduil’s son.

Not yours.”

**

Langcyll closed his eyes, but the words would not be repressed. *Not yours…*

***

Thranduil felt as though he had been rooted to the ground. Even the very odd involvement of the dwarves in this battle had not managed to command his attention away from the figure of his son, working beside the fire. The king could do nothing but stare, bewildered, awed, and grieved by how deeply two years had changed Legolas.

Physically, on the outside, the king’s youngest son did not look very different. Perhaps a little slimmer, but Legolas had always been trim, (unlike Thranduil, who was quite sturdy for an elf and had even been able to pass himself off as a man in his youth.) Legolas was facing Thranduil’s direction, but his attention was focused upon the wounded elf he was tending. Thranduil wondered to himself, had his son’s face really changed so much? Or was it a worried father’s imagination, at seeing the worry that furrowed the young elf’s brow and the bloody streak across his forehead. Or perhaps it was the shadows under his dark eyes that spoke of long, hard travel, and numerous battles, with not enough sleep to make up for them.

Legolas rose then, looking up at the sound of another elf calling his name, then went to assist another wounded warrior. It was clear to any observer that Legolas was not viewed by his comrades as a recent novice or newcomer, but as a veteran warrior with far more battle experience than was normal for two short years. Thranduil sighed in spite of himself, still feeling lost and confused. Legolas was as fair as ever, and his features remained very like his mother, yet…for some strange reason, the resemblance was not so obvious anymore. The bones of his face seemed a little more pronounced, not that he was gaunt by any means, but still, there was a…hardness. And Thranduil understood what it was about his perception of Legolas that had nearly prevented him from recognizing his own child.

Legolas had left him as an untried novice. Now, only two years since then (an eternity to a parent but a blink by elven standards) Legolas was a warrior. Undeniably, unmistakably, and irreversibly, a warrior. And the timid, uncertain, inexperienced child that Thranduil had last seen was gone forever, and had gone without saying goodbye.

As that fact dawned upon him, Thranduil, elven king of Mirkwood, one of the greatest of the elven realms in all Middle Earth, felt a terrible urge to stand where he was…and weep.

***

“Legolas.” The prince of Mirkwood felt his hands tremble slightly as he finished bandaging Glanaur’s knife wound. How strange it felt. The voice behind him was so familiar, and yet so alien at the same time. Among a thousand other confused emotions, Legolas felt puzzlement, for he was frightened. Being afraid in itself was not something to deny; Legolas had been taught that there was no shame in any emotion as long as it did not prevent one from taking action. But this fear…it had to be wrong. It must be wrong to be so deathly afraid to turn and face his own father.

“Legolas?”

He had no other task that could claim his attention. There was no choice. *I must rise. I cannot hide from him.* Forcing a reassuring smile at Glanaur, whose eyes were concerned for Legolas despite the warrior’s own wound, Legolas slowly stood up and turned to face the king of Mirkwood. “Father.”

Thranduil looked as tense as Legolas felt. It was no surprise to Legolas; the king doubtlessly felt the weight of many unspoken words just as his son did. *And I would rather leave those words unspoken. At least now.*

“Well, my son,” Thranduil said at last. “You have changed. I hardly recognized you.” Legolas could find no reply to that, so he simply stood there and waited for his father to say more. “It has been a long two years.”

“Y--” his voice failed him on the first try. Legolas wanted to curse. He had fought countless battles and seen incredible horror and grief over the past two years--why, oh, why should he be so nervous about speaking to his own father?! “Yes. It has. The shadow has grown over Middle Earth.”

“I imagine you have seen much action in the mountains.”

“Yes we have.” *This is ridiculous, I sound as a child, yessing him so! I must either say my piece or depart. I am not required to dance attendance while more pressing matters exist! If I‘ve nothing to say, I‘ve no reason to stand here.*

The king seemed to also be groping for words, and Legolas frantically searched for a graceful way to exit--and occupy himself for a more extended period of time (preferably until either the king’s party or his own company moved on). Just as the silence was beginning to weigh heavily, like the answer to a prayer, a voice called, “Legolas?”

“Yes?” Legolas all but whirled around, so relieved was he.

It was Langcyll, sitting beside several of the injured warriors while they rested. “Please forgive me,” he said more to the king than to Legolas, “but Faron is awakening and asking for you.”

Turning hastily back to the king, Legolas said, “Forgive me, Father.” Thranduil nodded automatically, and Legolas had to restraining himself from all-out running away.

Faron, who had lost a great deal of blood from that wound, was not as close to wakening as Langcyll had thought. Legolas frowned, briefly distracted from his own problems, and checked his friend’s pulse. It was steady, and the healers from his company and the king’s attendants had all agreed Faron would recover completely. Legolas did not have nearly as trained an eye as the more seasoned warriors, but he suspected Faron would sleep on for several more hours.

Behind Legolas came Langcyll himself. “He did not wake?“ the captain asked.

“Nay,” Legolas replied. “Perhaps…he was dreaming and began to move.”

“Hmm.” Legolas glanced up and saw Langcyll gazing with a troubled expression over the bloodied field, taking in the wounded warriors, the healthy ones standing guard, and the king still watching them. The captain passed a weary hand over his eyes and said, “Stay with Faron if you wish, Legolas, but you must sleep tonight. We have been neglectful of rest these past few months. While there is more protection, we must make the most of it. There will be time for conversations later.”

“Yes, Langcyll.” If his captain had ordered him to sleep rather than talk, Legolas was quite happy to obey. But it troubled Legolas that the veteran warrior had thought Faron was waking so soon after such an injury. Langcyll must have been very worried over how badly the battle had gone to make such an error in judgment.

Legolas saw Thranduil still watching him, but resolutely went to Lanthir and retrieved his bedroll, laying it next to Faron and casting himself down. Cursing himself for his skittishness, he could not restrain himself from looking once more, and the king’s eyes were still upon him even as exhaustion from battle and excess emotion claimed his weary body. He went to sleep deeply unhappy.

***

Elladan had been keeping watch after the battle, and with dawn came a cold but much-needed rain. The shower roused all the elves before long, and many of those who had been wounded in the dusk battle were well on the mend.

*At least that is a small mercy,* Elladan thought, watching as Faron tested his shooting after the shoulder injury, and found that his aim was true. Fanfirith and Elunen could both walk, if limping slightly, and Glanaur would be beating everyone at sword practice again in a day or two. The eight wounded warriors of King Thranduil’s company were also recovering well.

*Thranduil. Of all the elves in Middle Earth, it was Thranduil we encountered here, now. I wonder, did the Valar decide life for us was not complicated enough by this shadow? With Prince Legolas in our company and dwarves fighting with us, we had to cross paths with the king of Mirkwood.* Mentally shaking his head at the wickedness of fate, the son of Elrond observed the activity in the camp.

Legolas, roused like the others by the cold prickle of raindrops, was helping to stir up the fires and tending the injuries of the other warriors. To Elladan, the prince seemed desperate for something to do, anything that would keep him busy--and, Elladan translated, away from the king. *You cannot avoid him forever, my friend. So why do you try? Better to face him now, and even have it out if necessary, rather than let these old and new resentments boil within both of you.*

But apparently, Legolas was opting for the evasion tactic, and found some pressing activity any time King Thranduil took so much as a step or a glance in his direction. He also had the hood of his cloak up, ostensibly to keep off the rain, but in the process, effectively hiding his eyes from anyone he did not directly look at.

Turning his attention to Thranduil, Elladan had to suppress a shudder. The king had looked utterly stunned and shaken the night before by the unexpected reunion with Legolas, but now the initial shock had passed, and Thranduil clearly desired to speak to him. It was uncertain whether Thranduil knew what he wished to say, but Elladan could tell that the king wanted a moment with his son. And, worse yet, whatever Thranduil’s other faults, he was no fool. His gaze, never leaving Legolas as the young warrior worked, had grown darker throughout the morning, and Elladan was becoming very uneasy. *Legolas, you little fool, forget your own grievances and speak to him before there is trouble! You know how dangerous Thranduil is when he is angered!*

It both did and did not amaze Elladan that Legolas, who could face raging orcs, slavering wargs, and all the horrors of life as a warrior head-on without faltering, could suffer such a loss of courage in the matter of his own father. *Nay, I am too harsh in my thoughts toward him. Even warriors have their weaknesses, and to most of us, it is our family. But therein lies the difference between Legolas and others. For most warriors, their weakness is love,* Elladan glanced at his brother, one of the wounded, to confirm his thought, and sighed repentantly. *For Legolas, it is fear. And shame.*

***

Legolas, keeping himself busy by gathering and mending spent arrows, prayed that Langcyll would order the company to move out again at dusk. Another night here, and he would likely run out of reasons not to speak to King Thranduil. He still felt unready--and unwilling--to face the conversation that he and his father would eventually be forced to have.

Faron walked over and sat down next to him, taking a handful of arrows and starting work. Though Legolas was glad of this company at least, he wished Faron had not, for it would speed up the task and force Legolas to search for something else to do. He focused his attention fixedly on the arrowhead he was sharpening, feeling eyes on him from all direction. So tense was the prince of Mirkwood that he all but jumped out of his skin when Faron spoke at last. Bluntly. “I do not believe I have ever seen you so nervous.”

Raising his eyes from the troublesome arrow, Legolas replied quietly, “Have you often seen me nervous?”

His friend chuckled quietly, “Oh indeed, when I journeyed to Mirkwood on occasion as a novice, I cannot recall having ever seen you when you were not nervous about some matter of import or another. Then again, everything was a matter of great import to you back then.” There was a hint of sorrow in Faron’s voice at the memory of those past times.

Legolas found himself smiling wryly as well, “I worried about a great deal, it is true. Looking back, I wonder how I could have given myself such anxiety over such trivialities.”

“We were children. I suppose it is natural.”

“Yes.”

Silence descended again, then Legolas felt Faron looking at him and raised his head. Faron began softly, “Legolas--”

“--Faron. I know what you would say,” Legolas cut him off, but not rudely. “Please. Do not. It is no use.”

In a voice barely above a whisper, his friend protested, “You cannot run from him forever!”

“I am not running,” Legolas hissed back, praying none of the others could hear them. “I…I am simply not ready.”

In a fashion that was painfully reminiscent of Tathar, Faron snorted. In a more normal voice, he said, “Legolas, you and I both know that fate seldom waits for the time when we decree ourselves ready to face a challenge.”

Whatever reply Legolas would have come up with was fortunately avoided by the arrival of Galithil. The young warrioress joined her comrades and began repairing several broken bows while the other two continued with the arrows. “How are you this morning, Galithil?” Legolas asked her, relieved to change the subject.

Galithil smiled, though she also looked tense. This situation was having ill effects upon them all, Legolas noticed grimly. “I am well, thank you, Legolas. Faron? Your wound is not troublesome, I see?” At his nod, she met Legolas’s eyes and said softly, “Langcyll has told the king he wishes to move on at dusk. He says we are far behind our time and must reach Lothlórien within two weeks.”

Legolas could not hold back a sigh of relief, and ignored Faron’s annoyed expression. Faron was a close friend, but he could not possibly understand the situation Legolas faced. Galithil smiled slightly at Legolas, more sympathetic. As she reached for another bow, a small stone fell from the pocket of her pouch. “What have you got there?” Faron asked, and before she could respond, he had picked it up.

The discovery of the stone did not seem to trouble Galithil terribly, so Legolas also leaned forward and looked at it. “That is lovely,” he murmured, attracted to it in spite of himself. Legolas had never seen such a gem before. It had the pure white luster of a pearl, but was clearly not one. Nor did it have the flickers of colored fire like that of an opal. It was heavy, smooth, round, but rather flat, the size of a thumbnail. It was an opaque white, with a tint of gray-blue.

Faron voiced Legolas’s thought, “I have never seen such a stone before.” With a sly grin, he said, “Sháin of Lonely Mountain gave it to you.” It was not a question.

Galithil grinned sheepishly and nodded. “He said he was sorry that he did not have the opportunity to show us the wonders of Moria, that this would have to suffice.” She giggled, “I confess I did like that dwarf, but I am glad he settled for the stone as opposed to a tour underground.”

“I too would agree with that exchange,” Legolas said vehemently, and chuckled as Faron nodded in vigorous agreement. Then he drawled, “Very generous, that Sháin. I seem to recall someone saying that dwarves would make off with anything made of metal.”

He and Faron laughed aloud as Galithil raised her hands defensively. “Ah, I admit it freely, my friends, I was in error. I believe elves and dwarves are capable of getting along.”

Now Legolas found himself snorting. “Perhaps in this case, but I doubt that such a thing would be possible for any great length of time. Not to impugn your friend,” he added hastily at Galithil’s outraged expression. Then he grinned, “I‘ve no doubt his friendliness was sincere. But he seemed unlike most dwarves, and you are not an ordinary elf.” He grinned slyly at her, and shook his head, “All in all, I suspect such a friendship was a mere fluke.”

Aware of the futility of changing his mind, Galithil rolled her eyes, smiling good-naturedly. Faron gestured to the gem she held, “So, that was his parting gift to you? What exactly is it?”

With a distant smile, and very faint blush, Galithil replied, “He said it is called moonstone.”

***

Elladan was not the only one deeply worried by the rising tension between the king of Mirkwood and his youngest son. Glorfindel, from where he stood tending the horses of both companies, kept a discreet eye on the other elves and felt his own anxiety growing as well.

The sun was well into the west, and Langcyll was determined that the company should move on at dusk, now that it was certain that the guards of Mirkwood had taken no lasting hurts. But Glorfindel’s concern was not only directed at Thranduil and Legolas. The king and the prince were certainly playing a game of hunt-and-hide around the camp, and that was cause for worry, but Legolas would never be able to evade Thranduil so successfully if he did not have an ally.

Every time that Thranduil attempted to approach Legolas, the young warrior would search desperately for some task to occupy his attention, and Langcyll was all too willing to find him one every time. Consequently, the prince managed to have a legitimate excuse always to avoid speaking to the king, and Glorfindel could see the king’s confused frustration beginning to smolder into genuine anger.

Like many others this day, Glorfindel was cursing the ill timing of fate. *Perhaps if it had not been so soon after Tathar’s death, the situation would not be so bad. The heart of Legolas would not be so fragile, and Langcyll might have got past this protectiveness. But if Legolas does not speak to his father at all, and we depart, things will go very ill the next time they meet.*

In desperation, Glorfindel decided to try for the sake of all concerned to intervene. He waited until Langcyll was busy discussing orc activity with the captain of the king’s guard, and advanced purposefully on the prince. As usual, Legolas was busy, packing saddlebags with Faron and Galithil. “Legolas.” The young elf looked up. “I would speak with you,” Glorfindel said.

Legolas hesitated, startled by the Imladris elf’s stern tone. “At once,” Glorfindel added, in a tone that brooked no argument. Having no choice, Legolas shot an anxious look at his two equally-startled friends, and followed Glorfindel to the edge of the camp. Glorfindel turned and faced the prince of Mirkwood directly. There was little time. He came straight out with it. “Legolas, we depart in barely an hour’s time. You must speak with King Thranduil before then.”

Legolas blinked, caught off-guard. “I--” he glanced hopefully across the camp, but Langcyll’s back was turned still. “I do not…”

“Legolas!” Glorfindel said urgently, towering over the young warrior and lowering his voice to almost a hiss. He disliked deliberately intimidating anyone, but at this point, the situation had to be defused by any means necessary. “You canNOT leave this place without once speaking to your father. To depart with such bad blood between you will only invite disaster.” Forcing himself to calm, he said gently, “I am aware that the conversation will have its unpleasant points, but the differences between you must be faced. When it is done, you will feel better for it.”

To Glorfindel’s relief, Legolas looked more thoughtful, and he believed he was getting through. Pressing his advantage, he went on, “It is for the sake of us all, young prince. I am sorry to place such a burden on you, but you are aware how King Thran--”

“Legolas?” both elves jumped and turned. It was all Glorfindel could do not to groan. Langcyll had seen them. The game was up. He prayed that Legolas would heed his advice.

“Langcyll?” the prince called back.

“We are breaking camp. Assist Fanfirith and Nathron with loading the horses, if you please.”

“Yes, sir.”

Legolas walked away without meeting Glorfindel‘s eyes, and that was all the answer the older elf needed. Glorfindel gathered up some empty water skins and carried them to a nearby creek to fill. Once there, and well out of earshot, the warrior captain of Imladris began to curse savagely and creatively, in every language he could think of.

***

When Langcyll told his warriors that it was time to depart, Legolas felt an insane desire to laugh with relief. *Thank the Valar. I was perilously close to going mad.* Glorfindel’s words still hovered somewhere in the back of his mind, but he pushed them away. *Glorfindel spoke of conversation, but it would be nothing but a quarrel, that would take far more than an hour’s quiet talk to resolve. Better to say nothing.*

He was so distracted by his thoughts that he did not notice the elf coming to intercept him. “Legolas?”

It was the king. Legolas faltered, glancing at his company, preparing to ride. “Yes, Father?” In a rush, he decided to get through this as swiftly as possible. “I…am sorry there…was not time for us to talk. There is little time for leisure during times like these.”

In a voice as frigid as the ice in the winter mountains, Thranduil replied, “Yes, so I have seen. It seems we will have to wait until we meet again to reacquaint. Whenever that may be.”

Legolas nodded hurriedly. *Let this end, please…*

“Farewell, Legolas.” With a wordless bow, Legolas walked swiftly to his horse and mounted, meeting only Langcyll’s eyes. *How could my father expect me to be glad of meeting him after all he has done? Perhaps I should have…nay. My anger is still too great. It is his own fault.* The captain of Mirkwood gave the signal to move out, and the company rode away. Legolas did not look back.

***

Thranduil, King of Mirkwood, watched the company of Langcyll until they returned to the mountains and disappeared around a bend. He could not fathom what had passed in this one day. *He would not speak to me. My own son treated me as a complete stranger. I did make some mistakes in my raising of him, which I have long acknowledged, but I did nothing to deserve such ill treatment.*

With a sharp clap of his hands that made every one of his company jump, Thranduil snapped, “Ready the horses. We ride on for Rivendell.” This visit to the House of Elrond no longer held much interest to Thranduil. The beauty and peace of that elven haven, which he had viewed before as a much-needed change of scenery, would now serve only as a reminder of the shadow that wreaked havoc on his own realm, and its serenity and harmony would remind him only of the manner in which his youngest son had so carelessly dismissed him.

*This is the second time he has left me without so much as saying goodbye.*



*****

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Jocelyn

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/15/04

Original Post: 07/09/02

Go to Little Nudge Out of the Door, A overview

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