The Prince of Eryn Galen waited patiently at the gates of the palace. He had sent his friend to fetch the visitor, and was eager to show the wonders of his beloved forest to the visitor. Nothing was more invigorating than a leisurely stroll through the beeches. If anything, it would help take his mind off matters.
His old self. He missed the carefree days that seemed so far away. It had been a year since the terrible events had taken his brother away from them.
A little fawn wandered up to him, unafraid, curious, innocent. Legolas smiled. Love swelled in his heart as he beheld the bright eyes, the velvet nose moist with breath, the face lifted up to him.
He started singing softly to the little fawn, the words gentle and lyrical.
In a time when peace prevailed, There lived a maiden fair as snow, Her gentle touch she left behind, As she moved through trees and vines.
The trees she called her brethren, The birds she named her kin, The beasts she termed her children, The rivers she loved and cherished.
Wonder fills those who behold her, Their hearts would burst with joy, All sorrows vanish in the air, As they regard the beauty before them.
O little one do not fret, For she is said to come, To those who need her the dearest, And kiss all worries away.
Tears crept to his eyes as he finished the verse. There was much more to the song, but he could not bring himself to carry on. It was a song his mother used to sing to him when he was but a child. He found himself missing her dearly. Her wisdom, her strength, her love, her laughter.
The fawn walked up to him, and pressed its face on his open palms. It rubbed its body against him, and the prince felt a warm tingling sensation spread itself from the little beast's affections. It spread out like a undulating wave, pulsing through his body. The weariness and sorrow poured away from his body, and he felt whole again.
Such was the magic of the woods. It was difficult for others to understand. The magic was not made by the Silvan Elves, but given to them by the forest itself. One had only to learn to listen to it.
The Sindarin prince knelt down and continued to stroke the animal. He rubbed his face against the soft fur, and poured his heart out to it, channelling his wonder and amazement at the world into the little creature. His anger and grief dissipated like smoke. He was always at home with animals. They had come to him like to no other, and he could communicate with them well. One of his many gifts, and one that he had always put to mischief. But now, he found it soothing. The touch of the animal was invigorating to his senses.
He spoke soothingly to the fawn. The words came out in a low undertone, and the fawn continued its affectionate rubbing against him. He laughed, the song-like quality of his tongue blending in perfectly with the soft rustling of trees.
Legolas became aware of his approaching friend and the visitor, but he did not look up. They were standing in front of him, watching him, but were ignored. All that mattered was the love of the creature that was making its way into his very being.
After a long while, he kissed the wet, soft nose, and bid the fawn farewell. It walked away reluctantly, turning back from time to time to look at him, as he spoke faint words of farewell and promise.
When it had disappeared from sight, he turned and looked at the other two. Wonder and amazement was written across the face of the high-Elf, and there was love on the face of his friend. Esendri too, had a gift with animals.
"My apologies for keeping you waiting, Lord Glorfindel. The forest offers many distractions. Do forgive me."
Esendri beamed at his master. "Ai, my dear friend, for it is not our place to hold a grudge against a Sindarin prince!"
"Mighty I am, so therefore take heed then from your own words, or I shall see to it that the birds of prey find their next meal in you!" Legolas laughed back, "I need not abase myself to ask for your forgiveness, and it is instead, to our esteemed visitor that my apologies are directed at." He made a little bow in the direction of the Elflord.
"Do not worry, my dear prince, for I have time aplenty. From what your friend has said, I doubt your father would reach a decision soon. And it seems that I am stuck with the two of you till that time comes."
"I would prefer it if you spoke not of my title. It brings with it many things that I wish were not so. Please! Let speak with each other instead as brothers should!"
Glorfindel chuckled at the thought of referred to on the same level as an Elf who was many folds younger than him.
"If you wish, Legolas! Ai, I have never been spoken to like this for a long time. My heart greatly appreciates the openness shown towards me. Many questions that need answering plague my mind, and I hope you do not mind my inquisitiveness."
"Ask all you need to, Glorfindel, for we have time aplenty," Esendri replied. He smiled, his cheery face lighting up. He dragged Glorfindel along by his arm away from the Palace grounds. "Please, let us get away from the stifling palace! Perhaps a meal in the prince's quarters would suffice?"
Glorfindel nodded, surprised that the prince did not stay within the palace grounds. He turned his head to ask a question, only to find himself being pushed along by the young prince. Resistance was futile, and the two young Elves led him out of the palace, though a series of narrow paths that wound away from the main hustle of the dwellings.
He was brought to a place that exploded with life. Beeches and Elms grew in abundance, birds flew from branch to branch, unafraid of the intruders. Bees and butterflies proceeded on their daily job of collecting nectar.
They came to a silver ladder which hung from the trees, and Esendri ran lightly up it. Glorfindel followed suit, and found himself facing the magnificent façade of a house. Built up in the trees, it was like some of the other he had seen earlier, but its beauty and splendour outshone everything else. It was not brazenly ornate like the palace had been, but subtle and intricate. Little vines with flowers attached ran all over the house. The patterns that they wrought were beautiful and alive. Given free hand to grow as they pleased, they filled the spaces in the vicinity with vigour.
Beautiful curtains made from plant material resembling silk were hung in the open arch leading into the house billowed as the wind blew gently, filling the air with expectancy and promise. Glorfindel laughed out loud upon seeing the house.
"Welcome to my humble abode. I hope you do not find it untidy, as my servant has neglected his duties." Legolas said, having followed them up the ladder.
Esendri coloured, and led them into the house.
Once through the doorway, Glorfindel saw that the house was not an enclosed space and instead, opened up into the trees. There were many platforms woven from the branches of trees, connected together by silver rope ladders and the vines. Some platforms were simple and opened to the sky, others enclosed. Some were empty spaces, with squirrels and small animals scampering about, while others had been shaped into little huts and rooms.
A thick perimeter grown from tree-trunks wound around the compound, protecting them against intruders. Save the hated axes of ten dozen Orcs, the prince's dwelling was safe and could not be breached.
It was so marvellous that Glorfindel stopped in his step and stared.
"Ai, the trees let you through. It shows you have an affinity with the earth that many do not possess."
The voice of the prince broke into his wondrous appreciation of the place.
"You managed to pass through the doors without any hindrance. The trees favour you," Esendri explained further.
Legolas smiled as he took in the sight of his dwelling. A shy flower moved slowly towards him, and intertwined itself in his flowing tresses. He tinkered and extradited his blonde hair from its grasp as if it were a common occurrence.
"Do you like it?" An unmistakable hint of pride leant itself into his voice.
"Indeed! I have never seen anything of the likes before. How came you across the skills to do it?"
"The trees are kind enough to share their secrets, and are willing to provide us with shelter from the elements. I did not command them, and instead, merely requested it of them."
"Now you see why my little Master chooses not to stay in the Palace grounds. Few have seen the insides of this dwelling, and you are lucky to have caught his liking enough to warrant an invitation!"
"Indeed I am fortunate, for it is something I shall remember for all eternity. There is much to be proud of. You display such skill with the earth for one as young as you are, Legolas Thranduilion. Do not throw your gift away, and use your talents well."
"Yes, indeed, my high-Lord. However, I believe my powers are nowhere near yours. After all, it is not everybody who can claim to have come back from the dead after slaying a Balrog."
Glorfindel stared at the prince. "You know much. Truly worthy of the Sindarin lineage." A new measure of respect crept into his eyes, as he surveyed the young Elf. His talents were raw, powerful and brimming with potential, clearly unexplored and underutilised yet.
"Enough of talking! I sense hunger! Let me serve a meal of such great splendour that you groan with your stomach bursting full of food!" Esendri cried.
"And is the prince himself going to be preparing this wonderful meal?" Glorfindel said.
"Alas! You have caught my weakness in too short a time. I am hopeless with all domestic chores! Let cooking be known as the bane of the prince for all it signifies!" Legolas laughed. "Leave the servant to do what he ought to be, and I shall show you to the Great Hall where we shall feast!"
The Great Hall in question was a splendid platform with radiant, sweet smelling flowers lining its perimeter. Rugs were thrown over the place, made from the finest silk, and plush cushions accompanied them. The tapestries were luxuriant and thick. Jasmine incense burned in various parts of the room.
The two sat and talked while waiting for Esendri, speaking about Eryn Galen in general, the animals and the trees.
Before long, Esendri returned with platters full of ripe fruit, nuts, breads and grains. He also carried with him goblets of wine. Legolas touched the floor and spoke soothingly, and vines sprung from the floor to form a low table in front of him. It was steady and firm, and the servant placed the dishes on top of the table.
"Just a little more of my magic, my friend," Legolas winked at Glorfindel's startled face.
"Forgive me, my esteemed visitor, for I have neglected my duties. What I have here is nowhere indicative of the usual feasts that we have, and I hope you will not judge my skills from such a lacklustre display of talent."
"Esendri, I believe the food that you have prepared is enough to make me dream about it for nights to come," Glorfindel said.
Legolas snorted into his wine glass, only to receive a sharp and annoyed glare from his servant.
"The blame is yours for not doing your work as you should. Why I keep you as my servant is quite beyond me. I should get another who actually does the most basic of chores!" Legolas said.
Esendri grinned and replied, "Too simple! If not for me, none would dare to stand up to you? Why, you would get so haughty that your head swell, and you will risk falling down with every step you take!"
The cheerful taunting and teasing continued throughout the meal, and Glorfindel enjoyed himself immensely. He soon felt his alertness fading, with the afternoon sun shining through the trees, and so excused himself. He had ridden out from Imladris non-stop for days, and was now feeling the strain. The servant leapt up and brought him back to his quarters within the palace grounds, and returned to find his master sprawled amidst the cushions, holding a tiny sapling and singing to himself softly.
He looked at the peaceful face of his master.
"Master, why the sudden change in your temperament?"
"It comes from partly that the Lord Elrond has been alerted to the situation. That has drained much of the worry from my heart."
Esendri shrugged. He knew Legolas was close to Elrond. While not entirely sure about its details, Esendri chose not to probe further.
"And your father?"
"I did not tell him about you knowing. It would have angered him further."
"I noticed you had a minor quarrel earlier this morning."
Legolas laughed. "Ai, it was the usual, about my choice of clothing."
"I knew it!" Esendri shouted triumphantly. "I knew His Majesty would have been upset to see you dressed so!"
"Yes, but it fails to bother me! I have been doing so for as long as I can remember! I do not understand his great love for ceremony. He chided me for not dressing as a prince should, but I am used to it, and my ears have gone numb with his many scoldings. Do you think it wrong for me to go around not acting like a prince?"
"You must understand that the hopes of your father are placed entirely upon you now. He will be naming you as Crown Prince soon, and you will have to behave yourself! I should have a fine time watching you acting like the fine little prince you were supposed to be!"
"Ai, my friend, do not mock me so! You know it is not in my heart to be a prince. Would you then trade places with me?"
"If so, the house would rot and fall apart, for with your poor house-keeping skills, surely the place would die from lack of attention!"
"That is too true! Perhaps I would have to find another to trade places with then!"
Esendri scowled. "You dare not!"
Legolas jumped up from his seat, only to have a wrist grabbed. He tried to untangle himself from the other's grasp, only to be met with more resistance, and the two ended up wrestling on the ground. They rolled around, each trying to get the upper hand. Esendri had gained much strength since the last time they fought, and the prince found himself having to fight hard to prevent himself from being held to the ground.
Their grunts and laughter filled the air, and finally, the impossible happened. Esendri, with a triumphant yell, pressed his master firmly to the ground and held him there, pinning his friend's body between his legs.
Legolas shouted and tried to kick him off, but to no avail.
"Your Highness is weak, I see," Esendri gloated. "What has made him so?"
Legolas struggled before finally giving up when it was evident his friend would not move. Letting all his strength go, he lay on the ground, limp as a rag-doll and stared at the trees above.
"Do what you want! You have won this round! I bravely await my fate!"
"You are good at pretending too, my lord," Esendri said. "That was for holding me to the ground with the knife the night before!"
He abruptly released his grip, and rolled over to the side.
The prince lay there however, and continued staring above him.
"I am indeed sorry, Esendri, for everything. Sorry for making you worry the past year, sorry for not letting you in on the truth. But I believe I have more than redeemed myself for letting you pin me down like a common ruffian. You could be stoned for treating a prince so!"
"Ai! Master, I would not be so certain about that. Who would believe that anybody could hold the Silvan prince to the ground? For is not so that your and skill are legendary?"
"Not so, Esendri, not anymore. You have surpassed me in areas where I have not been working at the past year. Being a prince has softened me. There are many trivial matters that take up my time, and I am too busy combing and braiding my hair for the next banquet to hone my skills!"
They both chuckled, and a long, peaceful silence passed between them, Legolas, lying on his back, staring at the trees. Esendri, sitting on the floor cross-legged, gazing at his master.
"Legolas, what worries me is your father's longing for you to produce an heir."
"He knows that it is not the way of our kind to force such a thing, but yet he wishes for it."
"You must understand that there are only the two of you left."
"And has he ever spared a thought for my feelings? That it is not simply a matter of turning to the nearest maiden and asking for her hand? At any rate, I am rather certain that I would end up scaring her off with my brusque behaviour!"
Esendri winked at Legolas. "The prince with poor manners? I doubt so. After all, it is widely known that you have caught the attention of many a maiden and page-boy without even consciously trying to. Who has failed to fall under your charms? What about Caeriel?"
There was no reply for a while, as the other contemplated his words.
"What about her?" Legolas asked defensively. "Surely you cannot have failed to notice that she has Lithroleah - "
"Lass, it is only natural that the two of them are closer, after your abandonment of us all. Do not read too much into it."
Before the prince could reply, however, voices were heard from the entrance of the house, and Esendri left to investigate.
He was back not a moment later. "My dear prince, it seems that you have pressing matters at hand. The King wishes an audience with you in his chambers, immediately."
Legolas grimaced. Getting up, he took his time as he walked down the ladders, out of his house. He rolled his eyes at Esendri. Esendri stifled a laugh. It was good that the messenger had left.
"Come with me, Esendri. It is time for you to have a hand in the matter as well!"
The servant reached over, giving his master's hand a tight, reassuring squeeze, as the both of them took their time and sauntered slowly through the forest back in the direction of the palace.
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.