The men walked through the forest, hearts beating wildly. Elves walked, grim-faced, on either side of them. It had been the first time they had set foot within the bounds of the enchanted forest. However, the circumstances were such that they could not find the spirit to admire the beauty around them.
It had been almost dark when the party had stumbled, fatigued and injured, finally coming within the confines of the Great Wood for shelter. They knew, from stories and ballads passed down through generations, that a great Elven King dwelt within the forest, and kept all good creatures that passed through it safe.
Not being familiar with the strange forest, they had staggered about wearily. It was not long before they were approached by the Elven Hunters. Dressed in greens and browns, the Elves slid right up and formed a tight circle around them, making escape impossible. It was only when they spoke did the party notice the sharp arrows slung and aimed at them. They were not surprised to be approached and accosted by the Elves in this manner. The Silvan folk were known to be brusque in their treatment of Man, for they did not trust them.
Their leader had stepped forward and identified them, asking for help. It was then that the Elves lowered their bows and offered to take them to see their King. They explained how they had to escort the Men for they could not decide on behalf of their king if the men were to be trusted. Desperate for shelter and relief, the party had agreed eagerly.
Healing salves were applied upon the injured, bringing quick relief. The mortals were amazed by the fast action of the medicines and rejuvenating effect of the draught given to them. It burned its way down to their stomachs, but brought with it such refreshing strength that they did not stop to catch their breaths, and so pushed on readily, keeping pace with their escorts.
They walked on for what seemed like ages before they came to a standstill. A messenger greeted the party. He spoke softly to the Hunters. Dressed differently, with a chain-mail shirt glimmering softly in the soft glow of starlight, he had a regal appearance, and his movement was fluid as flowing water.
The Elves spoke quietly among themselves. The Men strained their ears, while soft and rhapsodic utterances filled the air. They found their eyes shining with wonder as they listened. Lulled by the soulful rise and fall of the Elven language, the Men felt their eyelids drooping, and drifted away into the strange dreams of the woods.
In another part of the great forest, the King of the Silvan Elves nodded gravely upon being told of the new occurrence within the northern edge of his kingdom.
A small barn owl flew in and twittered briefly. Night had fallen, and only owls remained that could carry messages rapidly among the Elves, for the eagles had retired to their eyries.
He called for an interpreter, one who could at least partially understand the tiny bird's trills and whistles. Instinctively, the feeling welled up in him again, wishing that his younger son were around, for he alone could speak the language of the beasts and birds flawlessly.
Thranduil himself was not as comfortable among the sentient creatures of his realm as some of his people. While fair and just, ruling the forest well, he had not developed a close affinity with the earth. It came of having come ascended the throne so early in his life.
He half-listened as the interpreter started to speak, putting the bird's excited chirps into words.
"Our Hunters in the North of the forest came across a party of Men, numbering about two dozen. The leader told the Hunters that they had been attacked by Orcs and sought safety within the forest.
"The Hunters do not sense any deceit, although it is a strange tale they carry."
"Did the men not say from whence they came?" Thranduil asked.
The little owl started to hoot again.
"The information was not divulged to the messenger!"
The King nodded solemnly and indicated for the interpreter to carry on.
"The Hunters await your orders, Your Majesty!"
"Tell them to bring the Men as swiftly as the Forest River would carry them to the Palace. There is much more to this, I fear. I will speak to the Men personally!"
The bird gave a small hoot of assent, and took off, eager to deliver its message.
The interpreter took his leave of his King, leaving Thranduil feeling as lost and helpless as he had ever been.
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.