17. All Things Must Change
The company reached the borders of Mirkwood with little fanfare; there were few elves living that far out. The warriors rode with an almost reverent silence under the forest’s dark canopy, barely able to see the sun peeking through the leaves far above them. But there was no mistaking the way the song of the trees changed as the company rode through; all the elves heard the sound of rejoicing in the forest’s voice.
Faron, riding at his friend’s side as always, grinned knowingly at Legolas, “The son of Mirkwood has returned.”
Legolas said nothing, just smiled back at him. In his mind, he thought, *Would that the son of Mirkwood could be as unconditionally glad of his return as the trees. At least this is a happy reunion.* Absently, he brushed a hand along the dark bole of a tree as he passed it, then smiled to himself. As often as he had tried to deny it during the trip, there had been many times he had felt painfully homesick. *You being one of the chief reasons,* he told the trees.
Legolas had had his misgivings as the company drew nearer to Mirkwood, but now there was no evading the reunions that would take place, and he was simply anxious to see his home again. Lanthir seemed to be of the same mind, and the horse’s strides beneath his rider were becoming restless. Just ahead of him, Glorfindel and Orthelian took notice and grinned. “Let us pick up the pace, Langcyll,” said Glorfindel. “I believe some of our company are growing anxious to return home.”
From the front of the company, Langcyll looked back over his shoulder at them and smiled faintly. “If we ride hard, we can reach the king’s halls in two days.”
In spite of himself, Legolas felt a shudder run down his spine at the mention of the king. *Still, there is no avoiding it now, and I’ve more than just my father to see at home. I have not seen my brothers or Eirien or my friends in a third of a century.* Aloud, he said, “The horses seem willing enough.”
Several of the others chuckled at him, and Langcyll turned to face the front, raising the flag of Mirkwood, “Let us fly then!”
Two days later…
The company’s passage by the first elven dwellings had spread the word of their return, and by the time they drew near to the elven king’s fortress, a great escort had grown, shouting and cheering in welcome. They were but a few miles from the palace when Haldir and Glorfindel and the other neighboring captains suddenly gave way, and turned to Legolas. “My lord,” Glorfindel startled him by saying. “It is fitting for you to ride at Langcyll’s side when you return.”
Legolas blinked, having not even considered that custom, and not entirely pleased by it, but Faron and Galithil began eagerly urging him forward, and so with a measure of reluctance, the prince of Mirkwood rode up next to Langcyll. A great cry went up from the crowd of elves riding and running alongside them when they saw their Prince take his place at the front of the war party, then the company rode on. Legolas wondered if any of his comrades knew how hard his heart was pounding.
By the time the war party rounded the last bend and beheld the great edifice of King Thranduil’s fortress, the crowd had grown to a throng, and hundreds of wood elves were awaiting them. Their banners held high (the flag of Mirkwood in front, followed by Lórien and Imladris) the company rode through the North Gate to the winding of many horns. As was to be expected, the royal party was waiting outside the palace to greet them. But nonetheless, Legolas felt his heart lurch at the sight of King Thranduil, standing tall and majestic in his spring crown, his dark eyes sweeping over the company to settle directly on his son. The prince barely heard the shouts of the elves.
“Welcome home, my lord!”
“He is returned, Prince Legolas is returned!”
“The son of our king is truly a warrior!”
The company dismounted and only memory reminded Legolas to hand Lanthir’s reins to one of the other elves--his horse looked equally startled at suddenly being led by an elf other than his rider. Forcing a calm, glad expression, Legolas stood at Langcyll’s side and bowed. Then King Thranduil approached.
*He looks older,* Legolas thought. *I have not been gone that long.* But it was true, Thranduil did seem to have aged, although this only caused his dark eyes and heavy features to appear still more intense. The king’s eyes rested upon Legolas for several disconcerting seconds, before he turned his gaze to the captain, “Welcome home, Langcyll of Mirkwood. Our entire realm rejoices at your company’s return.”
“We are pleased to be home, my lord.”
“Haldir of Lórien, Glorfindel of Imladris, the hospitality and gratitude of Mirkwood is yours. We welcome you and your warriors.”
“My duty to you, King Thranduil of Mirkwood, and the greetings of the Lady Galadriel.”
“And of Lord Elrond of Imladris,” added Glorfindel, with a bow.
The king nodded, then ordered the steward to see to the comfort of Mirkwood’s guests, and released the company so that the Mirkwood warriors might reunite with their families. “There shall be a feast tonight to celebrate your company’s homecoming, Langcyll.”
“We would be honored, my lord.”
Rather briskly, Thranduil said, “I look forward to hearing tales of your company’s travels, but now I will not keep you from your families.”
“Thank you, my lord. Until tonight,” Langcyll bowed, and the company dispersed.
Legolas knew he must go into the palace, but he could not make his legs carry him forward. He noticed Langcyll also hesitated, but then Glorfindel came up and expressed a desire to meet Langcyll’s family, and the archer captain nodded, shooting Legolas a very intense stare before departing. *He knows what this homecoming is likely to hold for me,* Legolas thought with a mental sigh, and followed the royal party into the palace, trying not to look apprehensively at his father. He could sense rather than see Thranduil’s eyes upon him, and for a moment, the king looked as though he was going to approach Legolas. Then he seemed to change his mind, and went to speak to the Steward about the evening’s banquet. King and Steward departed through a side door and Legolas breathed a heavy mental sigh of combined relief and regret.
He was jerked out of his tension when a familiar and very happy voice called his name. Startled, Legolas looked up and blinked. “Berensul!”
Laughing in delight, the eldest and youngest sons of Thranduil flung themselves into each other’s arms. “Did you think I would not be waiting for you?!” demanded Berensul, hugging Legolas until he gasped for air. “Ai, how I have missed you!”
“You’re breaking my ribs, Brother, leave off! I have thought always of you and all our family. Sometimes I missed you so much I thought I would go mad!”
“Fah, you were too busy winning glory for Mirkwood, from what I hear,” Berensul loosened his grip on Legolas and held him at arm’s length. “Look at you, the veteran warrior. I hardly recognize you!”
Raising his eyebrows, Legolas asked, “Is my appearance truly that different?”
Thoughtfully, his eldest brother replied, “Nay, not physically. But you do seem older. Perhaps more mature. We were wondering how different you would seem last week on the day of your birth.”
Legolas laughed, “So you remembered too.”
Pulling a face, the younger prince explained, “Let us just say my company enjoyed great merrymaking at my expense at the crack of dawn that morning.”
“Aye, indeed we did!” Orthelian said from behind Legolas.
Berensul let his younger brother go to clasp arms with Limloeth’s husband, laughing as he did, “Forgive me, Orthelian, I fear I was swept up in the joy of abusing my little brother again.”
“You needn’t apologize, my friend, I know it has been a long time. And you will be pleased to learn that we did arrange for some, ah, festivities to commemorate our brother’s coming of age,” Orthelian said, smiling slyly. “Is that not true, Legolas?”
“More true than you know, and I got very wet.”
Berensul laughed aloud, “Got you, did they? Good, I am glad you were celebrated--oh look, even fully of age, you still blush. Haha! In some ways, you have not changed, but for that I am glad, little brother.”
“And you have not changed; you still enjoy laughing at me,” Legolas said good-naturedly.
The brothers grinned and Berensul went on, “Come, there’s much to reacquaint you with. And acquaint you for the first time--Eirien? I believe introductions are in order!”
The Crown Princess, just as lovely as Legolas remembered, had been watching the exchange between her husband and brother-in-law with an amused smile, but at Berensul’s words she beamed and walked out onto one of the balconies, calling a name Legolas did not recognize.
At first, Legolas was confused, then his heart all but stopped when he saw Berensul’s proud smile and his memory caught up with him. “Oh no…” he whispered, a helpless smile coming to his face.
Eirien returned with an elf child in her arms, who looked comparable in age to a human around seven years old. “It is high time you were introduced to Mirkwood’s newest princess,” Berensul said, his eyes shining. “May I present my daughter, and your niece, Silivren.”
For a moment, Legolas could not speak at all, so intense was his emotion. *“Glittering”…* It was an appropriate name. The little girl, her pale arms around her mother’s neck, twisted to face the stranger before her. Her hair was a brilliant, sunny blonde, in natural ringlets to her shoulders, and her large eyes were an astonishing shade of pale blue, the color of the morning sky. She was only twenty-nine, still well-within her toddling years by elven standards, but at the same time, she had a definite regal bearing.
At last Legolas found his voice and his delight and pride overcame the initial urge to burst into tears. With a broad smile, he bowed deeply to the child, and said ceremoniously, “My Lady Silivren, I am honored to make your acquaintance.” Orthelian, equally dumbfounded by the little girl, followed suit.
Eirien bit her lip to keep from laughing, and Silivren cocked her head curiously, as though sizing him up. Keeping her amusement at bay, Eirien added, “Silivren, this is your uncle, Prince Legolas, and your uncle Prince Orthelian.”
*I am an uncle!* “Would you like to hold her?“ Berensul asked.
“I…yes,” he managed to say.
Silivren did not squirm or even appear nervous when she was handed to Legolas, but looked at his face with large, curious eyes. Eirien smiled, “She does speak, but at the moment I suspect she is shy.”
“One of many ways she reminds me of you,” Berensul added. Astonishment swept over Legolas again as he held the tiny, perfect little girl in his arms. He had always liked children, but had seldom had the chance to see or play with them in previous years, for elves did not have as many children as humans. (Indeed, by elf standards, Thranduil and Minuial had raised a small army.) And this was certainly the first time he had been witness to the rearing of a child in his own family.
Shaking his head and grinning at the child, Legolas said, “Limloeth told me Eirien was expecting when I was in Lórien. I am so happy for you.”
“She came in time for the birth,” Eirien told them.
Orthelian laughed, “Was she beside herself?”
“I know not,” Berensul chuckled. “I was engaged with my own hysteria at the time.” They all laughed.
“You look like me!” Silivren said suddenly. She had been staring at her uncle Legolas’s face all this time.
They all laughed. Berensul held out his arms (and Legolas somewhat reluctantly handed Silivren over) before saying, “I told Silivren she looked like one of her uncles. She could not wait to meet another member of the family who was not dark-haired.”
“I can think of no better name than Silivren, except perhaps Nimrodel,” Legolas said admiringly. Then he glanced around, “Speaking of her other uncles, where is Belhador?”
[ My dear brother,
I fear I shall be long since departed by the time you receive this letter. I shall regret leaving behind many things in Middle Earth, but most of all, that I shall not have the chance to say goodbye to you in person. Perhaps chance will let me encounter you on my journey down the Anduin. I shall visit Limloeth in Lothlórien on my way to the sea, and fate willing, I may yet see you one last time.
I know you will not understand my reasons for leaving. But the sea-longing has stirred in my heart, and it will not be silenced by any reason or tie to this world. If you are angry at my departure, I do not blame you, but please wish me well. I am going to the Undying Lands, and in spite of all I have tried, the call of the sea will not allow me to tarry. I think one day you will understand my decision, but I hope you shall never face it, for it is a painful, and ultimately impossible choice.
I pray that this letter finds you safely returned to Mirkwood and our family. I have missed you greatly, and my deepest regret is that I shall not see you again. I know you have become a great warrior, and I believe in the end you shall be the greatest of all our relations. My heart shall be with you always.
Be well, Legolas. Forgive me.
Your loving brother,
Legolas had to read the letter three times before the meaning of its words registered. A feeling of shock and numbness overwhelmed all other emotion as he groped for some kind of explanation. Turning to Berensul, he managed to say, “And that is all? He just…left?”
Berensul nodded, sitting down in a chair next to Legolas in their brother Belhador’s empty chamber. “He departed over the sea, Legolas. He had gone West to Lindon to study the healing arts, and the smell of the sea captured him. I was surprised that he even managed the return home long enough to tell us that he wished to leave.”
Legolas was still reeling with disbelief. “He gave up everything, his studies, home, our family. All for the sea?”
“The sea longing is not a natural thing, Legolas, you have seen it stirred in our kindred before. It would have been cruel to try and force him to stay. Be not bitter,” Berensul put a hand on his shoulder. “You did not see his discomfort before he departed, but I did. The sea-longing is painful, my brother, and its call cannot be silenced by any rest or healing draught. He dearly wished to see you before he left, but we knew not where Langcyll’s company might be, and he could tarry no longer. Believe me, Belhador thought of you, and sorrowed at how you would grieve. But he could not stay.”
*He is gone. I shall never see him again.* “I do not understand this sea-longing that grips our people. I think it is a curse,” Legolas said, trying not to sound resentful. *I have lost my brother. He is not dead, but gone. Gone…*
“Perhaps it is, in a way, but it exists. I feared when I heard your company was to travel south that you might come too close to the sea, and depart without any of us having the chance to say farewell to you,” Berensul said.
Legolas looked at his brother in astonishment, “I would never do such a thing! How could any elf forsake his family, his friends, his life, without a word, simply for the sake of…of this…calling!”
Berensul chuckled sadly, “Belhador did not think you would understand. Nay, I am not sure I understand it myself. To understand it is to feel it, and I would definitely not chose to test my resolve or yours against the sea-longing.”
Legolas looked away, feeling bitter in spite of himself. *I knew I had reason to be uncertain about coming home. Now I fear to find out what else has changed. I have known for years Mirkwood would never seem the same without Tathar, but Belhador…my brother has gone! He has left us and I will never see him again!* Rising swiftly to his feet, he hurried out of Belhador’s chamber.
Going to his own was not much of an improvement. Nothing had changed. Nothing. There was not a speck of dust anywhere, and the windows appeared to have been opened every day during fair weather--just as Legolas always liked it. Still shaken by the news of Belhador’s departure, Legolas now felt simply confused. When so much of the outside world had changed, it threw off his mind to find that his own rooms had remained exactly as they were when he had left them so long ago. The prince sank onto his bed, feeling an almost overwhelming desire to cry.
The door opened--he had forgotten to lock it--and Berensul came in. Legolas wanted to ask his brother to leave him be, but his voice had failed him--for about the fifth time that day. Instead, he looked down, both unwilling and unable to meet Berensul’s eyes. His eldest brother’s hand squeezed his shoulder. “My first long mission as a warrior took me away from home for nearly twenty years,” Berensul said quietly. “When I returned and found that the world had turned in my absence, I too could not decide whether to laugh or cry.” There was a pause, then a faint chuckle, “You look like you are closer to crying.”
Legolas could not restrain a laugh at his brother’s remark, but it ended up sounding closer to a sob. Berensul said nothing more, merely squeezed his shoulder again. At last regaining some degree of control over himself, he murmured, “I knew better than to expect everything to remain as it was. Things were changing even before I left.”
“All things must change, Legolas. It is the way life is.”
“Legolas!” Legolas was coming out of the royal chambers when Faron came rushing up to him, a wild look in his eyes, with Galithil on his heels. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
“I have only been seeing my brother,” Legolas said in amused confusion.
“Well, your kin must spare you for this,” Galithil said, no less breathless than Faron. “Guess what news we bring--oh, you never will, so we’ll tell you!”
Laughing with near-hysterical excitement, Faron cried, “It seems two of our dearest Mirkwood warriors have got themselves wed during out absence.”
“What?!” Legolas exclaimed, his melancholy forgotten. “Who?!”
“Merilin, Legolas! She was married only two months ago!” Faron was practically jumping up and down.
For a moment, Legolas could only gape. “Merilin? Married? But--to whom?!”
“Candrochon?!” The empty practice field, well outside the palace in a quiet clearing, rang with a sudden shout of astonishment followed by a long silence. By elven standards, Merilin and Candrochon were still newlyweds. And both they and Faron and Galithil took great delight in the utter shock with which Legolas took the news of their union. Once he recovered his voice, their friend seized both of them in a delighted embrace, “I do not believe it! It is wonderful!”
“Ai, how I wish you had returned in time, Legolas,” said Candrochon. “I should have liked you to have stood with me on our wedding day.”
“Believe me, I would have been honored and proud,” Legolas said fervently. “But who did, then?”
“Thalatirn, and we were glad of him. Tuilinn stood with Merilin,” Candrochon told him, his hand lightly clasping his bride’s. “It was a fine day. All we lacked was you, Faron, and--” he broke off quickly.
Legolas nodded, knowing all too well who Candrochon had been about to name. He was stubbornly determined that today would be a joyous reunion. *You would have been so thrilled at this news--ai, you would have been beside yourself. Had we both been here, I think Candrochon would have been hard-pressed to decide between us.*
“Come, come,” Merilin broke through his thoughts. “Do not be sad, Legolas, not today. There will be time for us all to mourn absent friends later. They would have wanted it so.”
She had read his mind. Legolas grinned, “You’ve not changed, Merilin.”
Candrochon gazed thoughtfully at Legolas, then grinned himself. “You have, but not so much as Langcyll seems to think.”
“No?” Legolas asked, surprised. “I feel changed myself…”
“Nay,” Merilin regarded Legolas for a moment, then shook her head. “You have gained much experience and many memories, but in essentials I think you are very much the same. Your heart and spirit are as good and noble as they ever were.”
“Ha! And you still blush!” crowed Candrochon, and the others laughed.
“I know, I have been reminded of that today already.” His friends laughed harder.
Galithil was thinking, a small, perplexed frown furrowing her brows, “But Langcyll thinks he has changed much?”
Merilin nodded; Langcyll had sought out his fellow warriors at once upon returning and had had a long conversation with her and Candrochon. Remembering what he had said when she had enquired after Legolas, she told the others, “He said Legolas had grown greatly in skill and strength--”
“--That at least is true.”
“Peace, Faron. Go on, Merilin.”
Looking speculatively at Legolas, Merilin went on, “He said also that you had been forced to harden, for you had seen far more darkness than any elf your age ought.”
“Hardened?” That assessment startled Legolas, but then he shrugged dismissively. “Very few things turned out as they ought to have done on this mission. No warrior anticipates the--things that occur during journeys such as that.”
“I think it is Langcyll who has changed the most,” Faron said softly, his voice sad.
Merilin and Candrochon raised their eyebrows, and Legolas agreed grimly, “He was discouraged from the beginning by how badly the mission was going, and by how strong the shadow had grown. But he truly has not been the same since…Glanaur fell.”
“One cannot blame him,” said Galithil sadly. “He and his cousin were as close as siblings, and Langcyll has been fighting since the First Age. He is one who has truly seen his share of darkness.”
Legolas leaned back against the bole of a tree, his eyes downcast, taking comfort in the familiar-scented breeze of his home. “Langcyll has lost many comrades in his day. Three warriors of his generation fell at the border of Lórien thirty-one years ago. All three were his friends.”
Merilin winced, “I had forgotten you were in that battle. Orcs have attacked the Golden Wood in force twice since then.”
“So we heard,” said Faron. Looking uncomfortably at the others, he said softly, “How do you suppose he faces it? Time and time again…he has lost so many friends, and many of his own kin. I wonder after so much time and so much darkness…how he finds the will to go on?”
A painful silence settled over the training field, and for a long time none of them spoke, as though realizing for the first time how little sorrow they had truly had to endure. “Ai…”
“I know what you are thinking, Langcyll.”
“Indeed, Glorfindel? I doubt that,” Langcyll, seated alone on a flet outside the palace, did not take his eyes off the forest. It did not take the wisdom of thousands of years for Glorfindel to see that the song of the trees no longer comforted Langcyll as it once had.
*He found no joy in this homecoming. It is as I feared.* “Langcyll, you cannot let your heart wither now that you have come home. There shall be many other novices--”
Langcyll shook his head suddenly, “Ai, Glorfindel, do you think my sorrow is due only to Legolas? Would that it were so, for then I might have cause to hope for my recovery. Nay, my friend,” he turned to face Glorfindel, and the elf lord winced inwardly. Langcyll’s always-dark eyes were shadowed, and the bright, alert sparkle had gone. “What has and will transpire with Legolas is but a drop in a great river that can no longer be dammed.”
Glorfindel was silent, his heart heavy, as Langcyll turned away again, releasing a slow sigh that seemed to come from deep within him. “It is too much, Glorfindel. I had only just come of age when the Enemy began his first rise to power. I beheld great shadow and sorrow, and saw both of my brothers and a nephew slain at Mount Doom, along with countless friends. When it was over, my one prayer was that Middle Earth would never face such black times again.”
“I remember,” Glorfindel said quietly. “And I recall making just such a prayer myself. Alas, fate has its own reasons for what comes to pass.”
“My sons departed over the sea just before the last Gathering,” Langcyll went on. “Glanaur was the last family I had, here or anywhere. And you are right, though I cherished Legolas as utterly as my own children…he is not. And now that we are returned, I have no call to keep him in my attentions.” His eyes, meeting Glorfindel’s again, were utterly without hope. “I have no one, Glorfindel.”
The forest was quiet, even the leaves seemed hushed, as though aware of the fading of one of its people. Glorfindel sighed to himself. *The sea-longing is not all that drives elves from Middle Earth. I have seen many of our generation thus diminished. One can only face so much fear, blood, death, and sorrow before hope is worn away.*
Aloud, he asked, “What do you intend to do?” even though he suspected he knew.
Taking a deep breath, Langcyll said, “I have no heart to continue as captain of Mirkwood’s warriors. I shall seek the king’s leave to depart this realm, as soon as another is chosen to take my place. It shall be Eregdos, I imagine. I hope to leave within a few days.”
“Where will you go?”
“I know not. But in the fullness of time, I suspect I shall arrive at the Gray Havens, and go to where my family now resides.”
Glorfindel did not attempt to protest; he knew it would be futile, and Langcyll’s voice at last had ceased to sound lifeless. But in his mind, he berated himself, *I should have seen it sooner. His attachment to Legolas was but a symptom of the greater ill. Middle Earth will lose a great and wise warrior with Langcyll’s going. Would that I were able to delay him. But I’ve neither the means nor the fortitude to try to hold one here whose heart has already gone.*
*I cannot avoid this forever,* Legolas told himself despite the quailing of his heart. *Perhaps it is best just to get it over with.*
He had managed to convince himself back in his own chambers, but as he walked back through the palace, it had suddenly dawned on Legolas: seeing his father would mean going into the caves! *Ai, Tathar, you would laugh at me now.* Legolas had asked Faron to accompany him at least to the king’s throne room, but Faron had firmly told Legolas he must do this alone (though Legolas suspected Faron would have been more willing had the throne room been in the outer palace. *Still, I suppose I cannot blame Faron. He has the same reasons as I for despising caves. More than I, really. Indeed, I can hardly believe I myself am doing this!*
The wood and marble wall of the outer palace ended in a great open green, down the center of which flowed the Forest River. On this green, many tables and decorations were being set for the evening’s feasting, to be held under the stars in the warm spring air. The green ended in a steeply-rising slope that was one of the tree-covered mountains in that part of Mirkwood--though these mountains were not nearly as tall as the ranges over which Legolas had traveled with the company. A sturdy bridge at the end of the green passed over the river, leading straight into the great, yawning cave mouth that had always terrified Legolas as a child. (His brother Belhador had once told him that the cave was actually the mouth of a giant animal that sometimes swallowed the elves who went in so that they would never come out, that childhood taunt being one of his many reasons for fearing caves.) Great beeches covered the mountain slope until the nearest seemed to have their feet right in the swift stream of the Forest River, and between them two grand, sturdy gates hewn of iron (made by dwarves many millennia ago) stood open to admit audience-seeking elves.
All in all, it was not as bad as Legolas had feared or vaguely remembered. Torches hung closely along the walls lit the corridors well, and they did not delve so deep underground. The air was far cleaner than Legolas recalled from his childhood escapade in the dungeons, or from the cave where he and Faron had been trapped three decades before. Perhaps if his visit had a less difficult purpose, he would not have minded this cave much. But being below ground only succeeded in unsettling him further, and by the time he came in sight of the doors that opened on the king’s halls, Legolas was suffering from an acute crisis of nerves.
The doors were closed, and the few seconds it would take Legolas to declare his presence gave his mind far too much room to imagine the conversation that he was about to have. Just as courage began to fail altogether, and he was about to bolt, the doors opened on their own.
“Prince Legolas!” the herald announced even before the doors were fully ajar. Legolas found himself gazing into a very grand hall with pillars hewn out of the living stone, much greater in size than the throne room in the tree-palace outside. There were several attendants in the high-vaulted hall, and at the end, on his throne of carven wood, sat King Thranduil, his black eyes fixed at once upon Legolas. There was no escape now.
The king elven king rose, his expression very guarded, and Legolas felt his heart pounding wildly in his chest. It was all he could do to bow smoothly. “Well, my son, I had begun to wonder if you would ever trouble yourself to greet me.”
This meeting was not beginning well. *Elbereth give me strength…* “My apologies, my lord,” Legolas said with careful formality.
Thranduil beckoned his son closer (he was still standing just within the doors) and Legolas approached the throne, with a strange calmness of one who walks to his own execution. *In another moment, he will dismiss everyone and have me alone. Ai, I should have spoken to him that day on the plains, rather than give his anger thirty years to grow. What a little fool I was!*
But there was no erasing the past, and Legolas was now about to face the outcome of his choices so long ago. King Thranduil turned to the servants, opened his mouth--and the doors opened. “Lord Glorfindel of Imladris and Captain Langcyll of Mirkwood!” The tension between king and prince had not gone unnoticed, and the herald stuttered slightly.
Legolas turned swiftly, knowing there was no chance that he could hide his emotions and preferring that Glorfindel and Langcyll saw his relieved face rather than his father. Glorfindel looked as though he wanted to groan, and Langcyll too looked chagrinned. *They did not know I was here or they would never have come.*
“Forgive us, my lord,” Glorfindel said in clear dismay. “We had, ah, we had hoped to speak with you before the banquet, but--”
“Not at all, Glorfindel.” Legolas stiffened in surprise at his father’s words. “If you have come before me together, it must be a matter of some importance. I will see you. That is, if you’ve no objections, Legolas?” It was not a question.
“Nay, Father, it can wait,” Legolas said faintly, relief and now confusion were making him dizzy. Managing to maintain some control, he bowed to the elven king and walked quickly from the halls, nearly gasping with relief when he departed from the cave and found himself on the bridge over the river once again.
For several minutes, he stood right where he was, breathing in the clear spring air. The area about him was quiet, but for the flow of the river and the songs of birds in the trees. The trees. *How I have missed you. How could my father have forsaken you to dwell underground like a dwarf?*
When the worst of the inner tremors had faded, Legolas walked off the bridge and leapt into the branches of the nearest tall elm, climbing high into its green crown and then made his way back to the outer rooms of the palace via the treetops.
“Can’t catch me! Can’t catch me!” For so small an elf, Silivren was quite nimble, not that Legolas could not have caught her. If he wished to. And as Eirien had predicted, it took the little girl barely a few hours to warm up to her new uncle.
“Now come back at once, daughter of Berensul! This behavior is quite unbecoming a young lady--where did she go! I cannot see her, perhaps I must call her mother--AHA!!! Got you!”
SHRIEK!!! (Giggle! Giggle!) Squeal! “Leggo, leggo!”
“You are my prisoner now, little elf! Hahahahaha!! No, you cannot escape--ow!” Legolas rubbed his shin as a giggling Silivren ran to hide under the table in a room that had been assembled for her to play in (filled with especially sturdy or worn furniture.) “Ai, Berensul, she will be a warrior like you.”
Berensul put his hands on his hips, bending down to make eye contact with the child beneath the table. “For shame, Silivren, are you abusing your uncle already? He’s only just returned from his adventures abroad!”
“Very true, Silivren, you should have waited at least a day to begin giving me bruises, like your father would have.”
“Adventures?!” the curly-headed child popped out from under the table and flung herself into Legolas’s lap, nearly knocking him over. “Tell me! Tell me!”
Standing in the doorway, Eirien laughed, “You see, Legolas? She is more like her father than you can imagine.”
“Nay, I can imagine all too well. Peace, little one, I have been gone since before you were born! How could I tell you all I have done?”
“Tell me anyway, Leg’las!”
“Hmmm, perhaps if you are very good, I will tell you of the time I was lost in a cave with three dwarves…”
“Yes? Please? I’m good, very good! Please, Leg’las!”
Legolas glared past her at Berensul, who was taking too much interest in his daughter’s name for his youngest brother. *I will let her call me that--him I will trounce if he dares it.* Pointedly ignoring Berensul, Legolas stood up and settled himself on a couch, pulling Silivren back into his lap. “Very well. I suppose you are good enough. We were high, high in the Misty Mountains…hunting…ORCS!!!”
Legolas got all the way to the part where he and Faron discovered the dwarves (with the tale properly embellished for Silivren’s fancy) when Eirien came to get Silivren ready for the banquet. “But Uncle Leg’las isn’t done with the story yet!” the child protested vigorously.
Laughing, Legolas handed her over to her mother, and promised, “I will finish the story later, Silivren, I promise. Go with your mother now.” He grinned helplessly as the little elf waved wildly at him as Eirien led her from the room.
“Legolas,” Berensul’s voice sounded strangely hesitant--as unlike him as a fit of temper was for Legolas. “You were not in Father’s throne room long.”
Legolas walked to the window and gazed out at the forest, lit red by the sunset. After a moment, he pulled his mouth to one side in a faint grimace, “You mean to say, not long enough for us to have had the violent quarrel that has been brewing for thirty-four years.”
“You cannot avoid him--”
“--forever. Peace, Berensul, I know this. And if you must know, I did not end the interview myself.”
With a little shrug, he turned back to his brother, “Glorfindel and Langcyll arrived; Father chose to hear them first.” He chuckled dryly, “Probably a wise choice.” Berensul stiffened, and Legolas felt a surge of alarm, “What?”
“I do not know. Perhaps you know better than I what ails Langcyll,” Berensul’s dark, knowing eyes stripped away any illusions Legolas had had about the purpose of an official visit by the two captains to the king.
The younger prince closed his eyes, feeling sorrow surge through him anew at the inevitable truth, “Langcyll is fading. This journey wearied him, and the loss of Glanaur…” for a moment, his throat tightened so he could hardly speak. At last he forced the words out, “Now he goes before the king with Glorfindel of Imladris as a witness. Such an interview can mean only one thing. Langcyll is stepping down.” He was forced to look away hastily.
He heard Berensul come closer behind him, “All things must change--”
“--It is the way life is,” Legolas finished, laughing bitterly. “But that does not diminish the pain. I begin to wish I had not returned.”
“Do not say that!” Berensul exclaimed, seizing his little brother’s arm and forcing Legolas to face him. “You cannot endlessly run from your troubles, Legolas! It is foolish, and in the end it is useless. For they have a way of following you.”
Then banquet celebrating the company’s arrival was a bittersweet affair. By nightfall, rumors that the renowned and much-loved captain of Mirkwood was resigning his position had spread to every elf in the palace.
The feast was one of special magnificence even by elven standards. Greedy as some might call him, King Thranduil certainly was not stingy toward his own people. Great stores of fine food and wine were opened, and the long tables set with great elegance. Silver lanterns were strung through the surrounding trees, bathing the banquet in a light that reminded some of Caras Galadhon. There was festive music and song, and many exciting tales to be told.
But in spite of all the splendor, the expected announcement by Langcyll had cast a shadow over all. And as if that were not enough, no one had missed the tension between the youngest prince and the king, casting a still-greater damper on things. Nonetheless, a conscious attempt was made by all to be merry. Faron caught Legolas’s arm as the prince when to take his rightful place near the head of the table beside Thranduil. “Have you seen all the food?”
“I did not need to; the smell alone is enough to drive me mad,” Legolas whispered, grinning.
“Ai, it is true,” moaned Galithil. “I can smell spice cakes!”
The other two also groaned in anticipation, and Faron added, “I wonder if such richness after subsisting on lembas for so long will make us sick?”
“I know not,” Legolas snickered. “But I fully intend eating myself ill, so it matters little.”
Galithil giggled, “Such deliciously guilty pleasure after such abstinence, indulging in this matter seems almost…”
“Obscene!” Legolas finished, and the three struggled to stifle their laughter. A quiet chime sounded. “I must go. Enjoy yourselves.”
“Ai, believe us, we shall,” Faron said gleefully as he and Galithil departed for their seats at another table. *That will be the fun table,* Legolas thought rather crossly as he went to sit with the lords.
Protocol required Legolas to be at his father’s right hand, but his tension at that place was lessened when Langcyll sat across from him. Legolas seized every opportunity to catch his captain’s eye, but to his dismay, Langcyll avoided his eyes just as often. *Delaying the inevitable,* he told himself dismally, but was unable to kill that one flicker of hope that he might yet somehow convince Langcyll to change his mind.
The company of Langcyll, and the warriors of Imladris and Lórien, were greatly honored that night at the banquet. Songs were sung in praise, and one lament for those who had fallen: Glanaur, Fanfirith, Nathron, and Tathar. When that song was ended, the elves fell silent, and Legolas saw King Thranduil catch Langcyll’s eye--specifically, giving the captain a barely-perceptible nod of permission. Langcyll rose, and all sound and movement ceased. Legolas felt frozen. *No…no…*
As Langcyll rose to speak to the assembled elves, he told himself firmly, *I must not let myself be swayed by Legolas. This no longer concerns him.* Aloud, he spoke calmly, “My friends. We have returned at last from a long and hard mission. Four of our comrades fell in battle, but we fulfilled our journey. Now many of our warriors have returned for the spring festivals.” He took a deep breath. “Now is the best time. It is the time for change.”
A flicker of movement across from him caught his eye; Legolas had winced. No one else save Langcyll noticed. “My lords and ladies, I have served the warriors of Mirkwood faithfully since my coming of age, a very…long time ago.” He was answered by weak chuckling. “I have trained many of our novices in the defense of our realm, and fought in many battles.” There was barely a sound. Many of the elves were holding their breath. “I regret to announce that this mission shall be my last. I have chosen to step down as archer captain of Mirkwood. I shall depart from this place for the Grey Havens tonight.”
There was absolute silence. There was the sound of more than one breath caught in a stifled sob. Legolas was completely motionless, his face pale, his eyes wide, reminding Langcyll of when the prince had been a timid, uncertain novice. Despite the tightness of his throat, Langcyll continued, “I have no regrets at this parting. I am leaving behind a valiant and brave force to defend this realm, under the leadership of Eregdos of Mirkwood.”
His eyes downcast, Eregdos rose and bowed to the assembly. Langcyll’s friend had fought vigorously against the captain’s decision, but when Langcyll had refused to reconsider, Eregdos had at last consented. He discreetly scanned the tables, seeing intense grief on many faces but no obvious resistance to his choice. “I am honored to have traveled and fought with these warriors. I am honored to have served and defended our homeland. I bid you all a very fond farewell.”
The banquet was over. Many of the warriors of Mirkwood had broken down and wept as Langcyll departed in the way of elf warriors--quietly, with no fanfare or prolonged farewells. King Thranduil lingered near the head of his table long after all the elves had gone and only moonlight lit the green. He was paralyzed by indecision.
*Perhaps I should go to Legolas so we can speak now. Yet this news cannot fail to have grieved him, and I made the mistake long ago of trying to barge in on his sorrow. But we must talk, and the sooner the better. Perhaps these circumstances will ease the discomfort.* Feeling unpleasantly tense, Thranduil reached for a flagon of wine that had not been cleared, then changed his mind. Better to face this with all his wits, and he had drunk a great deal at the banquet already. He went to the royal chambers in the outer palace and, almost as an afterthought, knocked on his son’s door. Hearing Legolas’s acknowledgement, Thranduil opened the door and quietly came in.
Legolas was standing by the window, his room lit only by the moonlight and a few candles. He had not changed out of his formal clothes, and though his face was turned away, Thranduil could see him in the reflection of the glass. The young warrior had not wept, but his face was a mask of anguish, and he looked rather tired. It had been a long day for them both. Thranduil hesitated, uncertain of how to begin this, but Legolas took a deep breath and turned to face him, “Father. If you will forgive me…I fear I am not in the best mind to…speak of why I came before you this afternoon.” He raised hesitant eyes to meet the king’s, “Might I come before you tomorrow?”
Thranduil faltered, his mind racing. *It used to be that I always knew exactly what to say to him. Now I cannot begin to understand his mind. Will he not let me in again? I cannot bear this silence from my own child, this mistrust. Will he not speak to me?* He took a few steps forward, forcing his voice to be calm and unchallenging. “I understand. I too am grieved by Langcyll’s departure. But perhaps we might still talk…”
Legolas flinched as though the words of Langcyll’s leaving had physically stung him, and hastily turned his head away from his father’s intense eyes. “Please. I cannot. Not now.”
*Why?! Why do you insist on tormenting me this way? Why do you shut me out?* Thranduil fought to keep frustration and anger from getting the better of him. *Nay, that is unfair; he is upset. I should not push him to share his feelings--yet it has been thirty-four years! So long since I have seen him, talked with him! He left me without a word, and yet I come to him as though begging his forgiveness! It is he who--I must be calm. It will not do to alienate him.*
“Legolas,” fighting to keep desperation from his voice, the elven king walked to his son’s side and placed a hand upon his shoulder. Legolas did not flinch away, but he went completely rigid. *Why?!* “I know you are upset. I know you’ve no wish to speak of…other matters tonight, but this…perhaps I might help.”
The shoulder beneath his hand did not relax. Legolas closed his eyes and swallowed. “Father, I know you mean well. And perhaps we might talk of…other matters, and Langcyll also, at some time soon but now, there is no one who can help. Please,” he turned to face his father. “Let me be alone tonight. I must face my sorrow myself.”
Frustration welled up in Thranduil like water in a geyser, beginning to boil with resentful anger. *This is spite. He does this deliberately to hurt me, knowing how I wish to speak to him again. Does he think me a fool? He avoided me then and he shuts me out now, treating me as a stranger! I have made mistakes, yes, but I have done nothing to deserve this mistrust!* He no longer had any desire to speak or attempt to comfort Legolas. Nodding stiffly, he replied, “As you will,” and departed the room.
Legolas winced as the door closed rather hard behind the king. It had taken all the will he had not to disgrace himself, but the minute the door closed, he buried his face in his hands and choked on a sob, stifling his tears frantically lest his father hear him. Thranduil had sounded angry when his son had refused. *I did not mean to push him away. But I cannot speak with him tonight, not like this, when the whole world seems twisted and confused. Surely he would grant me time alone, time to think and…understand what has happened. So much. All in the one day since we returned. Nothing is the same anymore. Nothing!*
He paced restlessly back and forth in his chamber, feeling a wild tempest of emotions inside that refused to stop their spinning and give him peace. *I lost Tathar. Now Belhador has gone and Langcyll is leaving. Orthelian will go back to Lórien soon and Elbereth only knows when I will see Limloeth again. Two of my friends have wed and Faron will go soon and Haldir and Rúmil and all the others…what shall I do? What am I now?*
His mind came again and again to the knowledge that Langcyll was probably preparing to depart at this very moment--alone, as was customary for a resigning warrior like him. The farewells had come as half-hearted good wishes and hand clasps at the banquet, but that would not seem enough to any warrior who had ever served under Langcyll of Mirkwood. *Him too I will never see again. After all he has taught me, all we have been through, am I truly supposed to let him depart this way? I cannot make him stay, but surely I might say more to him than the two words we spoke after his announcement.*
Now his heart was beginning to leap in his chest. *I owe Langcyll so much. I should not let him go in this manner, without thanking him as I should. I cannot…I must not!* He threw open the window to the balcony and leapt to the nearest tree branch, descending swiftly to the ground and racing away through the palace grounds toward the outer gates.
Langcyll was alone in the stables, readying his horse. The forest was dark and very quiet, there was not even a wind tonight. *I will feel better for it when I have put Mirkwood behind me,* he told himself. *Nothing remains in this realm for me. The last of my novices have grown and become true warriors--I can no longer claim any excuse to look after Legolas. Especially since he no longer requires looking after. And my king…* he sighed, and admitted a bitter truth that he had tried to deny to himself. *I should have left sooner but for Legolas. But now he is grown and able to survive adversity on his own. I can no longer serve a king whom I partly despise.*
The rather low esteem in which Langcyll held Thranduil was not merely due to Legolas, but to the king’s love of wine and wealth--something the warrior captain had never understood--and his ill turns toward the dwarves when Langcyll had been much younger. When Legolas had elected to become a warrior at his first coming of age, Langcyll had taken it upon himself to see that the young prince received good principles and training that might avoid Legolas turning into a noble of similar temperament to his father. *Ai, Glorfindel was right; I interfered. Though I had no right, I did. As long as I stay, I will be tempted to interfere. I must go.*
He was about to lead his horse from the stable when he heard someone come in, and an elf cleared his throat. Langcyll faltered on seeing the silhouette in the doorway of the stable against the moonlight. It was Thranduil. “My lord,” he bowed. “I was about to depart.”
The elven king stepped aside, and Langcyll led his mount from the stable, glancing cautiously at the king. He seemed tense and rather agitated, and Langcyll’s sharp senses detected a familiar scent. Thranduil had been drinking wine; he was not drunk, but not entirely unaffected either. “Well, Langcyll, it appears this is our final farewell.”
“Indeed, my lord,” *Be calm, be courteous, and get out of here!* “I take my leave of you, my king, with no worries for our realm’s safety. Eregdos is a wise warrior and he shall lead your forces well. I would never permit Mirkwood to have any but the best leading her protectors.”
Thranduil nodded absently. “Did my son bid farewell to you?”
*Ai, I do not like the turn of this conversation!* “Yes, my lord, all the royal children present gave me good wishes.”
The king’s eyes were smoldering with a suppressed, frustrated anger that raised hackles for Langcyll immediately--this look meant danger for whomever it was directed at. And it was not directed at Langcyll. He felt a surge of anger of his own and tried to force it down; there was enough fuel on this fire as it was. But his mind seethed, *That’s right, O King, blame Legolas for your shortcomings! You held him back, manipulated him, drove him from Mirkwood, and now you wonder why he hesitates to speak to you! You do not deserve him!*
Langcyll searched desperately for a means of graceful exit, for his own temper was not without his limits, and knew himself enough to realize that he would never be fully rational where Legolas was concerned. But Thranduil spoke again, resentment coloring his voice, “Tell me, my former archer captain, did Legolas speak of me to the other warriors? Did he tell them what a dreadful father I was? Or did he never acknowledge my existence during the decades your company was abroad.”
“I know not of what you speak, my lord,” Langcyll said tensely, outrage making his hands shake as he continued preparing to ride. *You great tyrant! You have the malice to speak ill of your son to others; Legolas would never do such a thing to you! By the Valar, would that I might say such things to you!* “I am sorry to be hurrying in this fashion, but the hour is late, and I must be well down the trail before dawn. With your permission--”
Thranduil seemed not to hear him. “I tried to speak to him tonight. He showed me no more kinship than he would a dwarf! My son treated me as a stranger! Fine thing when a child treats his own father--”
Something angry and bitter within Langcyll would be repressed no more, and it broke free in a few terrible words. “You have not been a father!” The former captain of Mirkwood lashed out furiously. Thranduil broke off, stunned. “You have been a jailer!”
There was silence between them for a long moment. Langcyll had not shouted, but the force of his words and his anger made him tremble. *Now I have truly done it. I am no longer fit to lead warriors. Good sense has deserted me.* With an icy tone that would not be hidden, Langcyll said to the king, “I believe it would be for the best if I left now, my lord. Farewell.”
Thranduil seemed frozen, and Langcyll did not hesitate, but leapt upon his horse and rode from the stable yard at a gallop. The sooner he was out of those gates, the better. *But Legolas is still within them, and what I said…ai! By the Valar, what have I done?*
Shock rooted Thranduil where he stood long after Langcyll disappeared around the palace wall, riding toward the gate. The king’s captain’s words repeated over and over in his ears-- “You have not been a father! You have been a jailer!” Like the reverberating echo of a great gong, they rang on and on until Thranduil physically clapped his hands over his ears in a vain effort to shut them out, shock giving way to confusion and anguish. *Do all my children despise me? Have I failed them? Does Legolas truly see me thus…his captor? By the Valar, where did I go wrong?*
He did not remember beginning to walk, but wandered aimlessly along the grounds of the fortress until he came again to the banquet grounds. With a curse of combined anger and anguish, the king hurled a chair over as he passed, and began walking faster. He cursed Langcyll, his own captain, for having spoken thus to him, he cursed the Valar for the circumstances in which he found himself, and he cursed Legolas. The elven king stormed on, choking on angry curses while at the same time blinded by tears, following the corridors down into one of the lower store rooms--where the wine was stored.
It seemed like forever until Langcyll reached the West Gate of the elven king’s fortress. He rode through them with a heavy sigh of relief, and heaved another when he turned on the path and could no longer see the palace behind him. All at once, someone dropped from the trees just a few yards ahead of him.
Langcyll’s horse whinnied in surprise and stopped. The captain tried not to cringe. “Legolas. What in the name of Elbereth are you doing?”
Coming no closer but standing where he was, rather forlorn before Langcyll’s mount, the prince said quietly, “I wished to see you before you left.”
Langcyll’s head told him to simply bid farewell to Legolas and ride on. *My failure to exercise good sense has caused trouble once already tonight. I may as well do it again.* He dismounted. Legolas came to his side. “You must not ask me to remain, Legolas. You know full well that I cannot.”
His eyes downcast--*they are the same color as Thranduil’s, yet they are not like the king’s eyes,* thought Langcyll--Legolas nodded. “I know, though my heart grieves at the knowledge.” He raised his eyes to meet Langcyll’s, “I owe you much. I did not wish you to depart without saying…how very grateful I am for all you have done.”
*Ah, Elbereth, must this be so hard?* Langcyll swallowed against the lump in his throat. “You needn’t have troubled yourself, young prince, for just as many thanks are due you from myself.” He gripped Legolas’s shoulder tightly, as he had many times in the past when the young elf was troubled. Unable to keep his voice from going hoarse with emotion, he said, “Wherever I travel, I shall not forget you, Legolas. You have been a true son to me.”
Answering his captain’s grip, Legolas replied, “And you have been…as a father to me. I was honored to have had the chance to fight with you. Mirkwood shall never know such a leader as you.”
*I must tell him. I must warn him.* “Legolas,” Langcyll closed his eyes. “I must tell you this. The king and I…exchanged words just before I departed.” He forced himself to look at the prince, “I fear my temper got the better of me.” Legolas blinked; that was quite an admission from the normally-unflappable Langcyll. “King Thranduil’s anger at my words…will likely fall heavy upon you.”
Legolas grimaced slightly, but replied, “I must face many causes for anger in my father already; one more will hardly make the difference. Fear not for me, my captain.”
Langcyll smiled in spite of his grief. *How brave you are grown.* With deep reluctance, he stepped away from Legolas and remounted his horse. “I do not fear for you, for I know you shall be well.” Reaching down, he clasped Legolas’s hand one last time. “I am very proud of you. Farewell, Legolas.”
“Farewell, Langcyll. Safe journey.”
With that, the captain of Mirkwood turned and rode from the forest that had been his home for thousands of years, leaving the prince of Mirkwood standing until his friend and mentor was out of sight. Langcyll forced himself not to look back.
When Langcyll’s mount vanished into the trees, Legolas sighed, raising his eyes to the stars. *So Langcyll made Father angrier still. Well, it appears I must face his wrath on the morrow for many causes. I suppose this is the price I pay for my foolishness years ago.*
All the same, as he meandered back into the palace grounds and wandered to release his own thoughts, Legolas felt far more at ease than before. He no longer felt that there was aught left to be said between himself and Langcyll, and could now let his friend go with peace of mind.
But there still remained the question of what would pass between himself and the king, and what would become of Legolas now that he had returned from this mission. Should he join another at once, under another captain, or wait for a time in Mirkwood? He did not desire to leave his family and friends again so soon, without even having the chance to reacquaint with them.
Though these questions had not diminished since his talk with Langcyll, Legolas now felt far more ready to deal with them. *I will face my father and his anger tomorrow. We have made mistakes in past years, and words must pass between us, but I shall come through it. Father will see reason when his anger has cooled.*
He had wandered onto the banquet ground, absently setting back up a toppled chair. Closing his eyes, he breathed in a great breath of forest air, then turned to reenter the palace.
Someone was there, a dark figure standing still, awaiting Legolas in the shadows of the entryway--giving off a strong smell of wine. Legolas stepped hastily back as the larger elf stepped forward, trying to control the frantic beating of his heart.
TIMELINE of “A Little Nudge Out of the Door” (Adapted From the Timeline in Appendix B of LOTR)
Gilraen takes Aragorn to Imladris. Elrond receives him as foster-son and gives him the name Estel; his ancestry is concealed.
The Gathering of the Elven Realms and Prince Legolas of Mirkwood wins the Great Gathering Trial, witnessed by Gandalf. Legolas’s second coming of age is officially recognized on that day. A month later, Legolas departs with fourteen other elves in the war party of Langcyll, warrior captain of Mirkwood. Gandalf leaves Mirkwood and goes to the Shire with Thorin Oakenshield to visit Bilbo Baggins.
Bilbo Baggins meets Smeagol-Gollum and finds the Ring of Power. Bilbo, Thorin Oakenshield and company are captured and imprisoned in Mirkwood by King Thranduil. The Battle of the Five Armies in Dale. Dáin of the Iron Hills becomes King Under the Mountain.
Bilbo returns to the Shire with the Ring.
Tathar of Mirkwood falls in battle with the orcs in the Misty Mountains.
The war party of Langcyll reaches Rivendell, and are joined by Glorfindel, Elladan, Elrohir, and Faron of Imladris. The company encounters a party of dwarves in the Misty Mountains and travels the same road with them for some time. King Thranduil, bound for Imladris, meets Legolas and his war company on the plains just west of
The company of Langcyll and Glorfindel arrives in Lothlórien. Legolas looks into the Mirror of Galadriel.
The battle on the borders of Lórien. Haldir, Rúmil, Maethor, and Orthelian of Lórien join the company from Imladris and Mirkwood. The company elects to travel south together to scout the strength of Mordor.
Elrond sends for his sons. The rest of the company continues south. Gollum leaves the mountains and begins his search for the Ring. Late in the year, Crown Princess Eirien of Mirkwood gives birth to Silivren, daughter of Berensul.
The dwarf company of Naldin returns to Lonely Mountain with a favorable report on the condition of Moria. Balin, Ori, and Óin begin pressing Dáin for permission to lead a force to reclaim Moria for the dwarves. Dáin gives his permission and the dwarves begin making plans.
Gandalf and Balin visit Bilbo in the Shire. The war party of Imladris, Mirkwood, and Lothlórien is ambushed south of Emyn Muil. Fanfirith, Nathron, and Glanaur of Mirkwood are slain.
Sauron declares himself openly and gathers power in Mordor. He begins the rebuilding of Barad-dur. Elrond reveals to Estel his true name and ancestry, and delivers to him the shards of Narsil. Arwen and Aragorn meet. Aragorn goes out into the wild.
The war company crosses the Anduin into Ithilien and continues south.
Mount Doom bursts into flame again, to the alarm of the elf war company. The last inhabitants of Ithilien flee over the Anduin.
The war company reaches the Crossings of Poros and turns North again.
The birth of Frodo.
Lady Merilin of Mirkwood weds Candrochon of Mirkwood. Legolas’s actual second coming of age. The joint company of Mirkwood, Imladris, and Lothlórien arrives in Mirkwood.
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.