Caeriel and Lithroleah emerged from the forest into dazzling sunlight. It was nearing dusk, and the air was filled with an expectancy. They were perched upon the edge of the woods. Overlooking the valley set before them. Far off to the horizon, the rocky hills glowed red with the setting sun. The Elves stopped to admire the beauty of the surrounding country.
The crimson glow of the sun coloured the entire valley, encompassing it with all its splendour. Elves appreciated nature more so than any other creatures. Wonder found its way into the heart of the two. Arda was truly gorgeous. They could not understand why any would want to leave it for Valinor.
Time was forgotten, and all senses of urgency slipped away. They only existed for themselves at that very moment. A little awkwardly, Lithroleah slipped his arm over Caeriel's shoulder. Startled, she turned and looked at him. He coloured furiously. She smiled at him, a warm, grateful smile. Grateful for him being there. Grateful for the beauty they were experiencing.
The sun set gradually, darkness crept slowly into the world. The golden view was replaced as twilight made its slow but sure way into the earth. Slumbering creatures awakened, and others fell into the embrace of sleep.
Lithroleah trembled suddenly. A barely perceptible tremor which passed through his body, and he awoke from his enjoyment. The cause for it was unknown. Images of the prince flooded his mind, and he took a step back from Caeriel, withdrawing his arm as if stung.
"We must seek your uncle. The hour grows late."
Caeriel turned, questions in her eyes, but his tone was curt, and she did not probe further.
The two arrived at a crudely fashioned gate in the middle of a wheat field, an odd residence for an Elf.
Lithroleah pushed open the gate, brows furrowed. Uneasiness was mirrored in his deep eyes. He could not shake the feeling. The Elven prince still occupied his thoughts.
They walked down the path towards the rudimentary house that stood amidst the golden crop. A flickering light peeked out from within, glimmering ever so faintly. Above, stars had started to appear. Eärendil, the most beloved of all stars, shone brightly down upon them and bathed the earth with her gentle light.
Reaching the door of the house, Caeriel turned and looked at Lithroleah, uncertainty mirrored in her eyes, still puzzled by his earlier behaviour. It was so unlike him to be so abrupt and harsh. He sensed her concern and managed a small smile.
Still unsure, she raised her face to his and stared into his eyes. Her lips trembled. Just as they were about the part, Lithroleah pulled the knocker and banged on the door, breaking the moment.
Moments of silence passed, it was awkward, suffocating. The door opened a crack, breaking the uncomfortable situation. Intense blue eyes stared out. Fear and distrust were instantly replaced by recognition and happiness.
"Caeriel!" the Elf within cried out with joy, "It has been long indeed ere I last saw you!"
He flung the door open and embraced the Elf girl. Beckoning to Lithroleah while slipping off the hat that concealed his dark head and pointed ears, he led them within the humble abode. Homely and comfortable, it was filled of the forest. Vines grew snaking all over, twisted branches of trees intertwined with them, flowers closed for the night. There was a tree grown into the shape of a chair, a table, silver trimmings. Human artefacts interspersed with Elvish ones, a lone candle on the table, the dim light barely bright enough to fill the corner it sat in.
"Sit down! Sit down! Some tea for you?" The older Elf was beset himself with joy. He flitted lightly from place to place, opening drawers, pulling things out. The neutral, peaceful face usually accustomed to quiet contemplation lit up like the morning sun.
The two younger Elves sat down. They had forgotten the wonders of the place. The way the older Elf effortlessly combined both Elven and Human objects was a wonder. The first-born usually had no wish to have anything to do with Mortals. They considered themselves above it all. Not this Elf. He was fascinated by Humans, and had spent a long time studying and living with them. A fancy Legolas seemed to share as well.
Caeriel smiled, watching her uncle and his uncontained excitement. "Do not trouble yourself. We do not require any sustenance."
"Nonsense. Plenty of good food would go to waste if they are not eaten. I am afraid I overdid myself today. A visit to the town resulted in the buying of a whole lot of good food. Human, of course. You do not mind, do you?" the last question he directed at Lithroleah.
Lithroleah shook his head politely, having composed himself. He smiled warmly at the older Elf.
"Milinral, if you think it is good, I would try some."
Milinral chuckled, as he laid out the food on the table. He rarely had guests, and it was always a special occasion when his niece visited. Lithroleah caught himself staring at the Elf's hands. Scarred and rough, they told of his great suffering, fighting in the Great War. It was then that he had developed his fondness for Humans, Caeriel had told him. Fighting alongside them, he had found them fascinating. And it was then that he had found his own immortality a burden. He watched helplessly as his friends, one after another, died of old age. And their children. And their children after that, while he himself lived on; cursed with the fate of living forever.
Even if he wanted to, he could not be like one of them. Hence he had decided to spend his days living like them, with them, guarding them. He was an Elf with great powers, and very wise too. To spend it with Humans was considered a shame. He was thrown out of the Elven community, and stayed in a small hamlet near the Western Sea. The Humans had welcomed him with open arms in spite of his race. They became his new family.
Then one day, while sparring with a mortal child, he had forgotten his own strength, and fatally wounded the boy. Filled with grief and self-loathing, he took leave of the place, and moved back near Eryn Galen, masking his identity, becoming a wheat farmer. Few knew of his existence, which served him well. He could learn of the other race in his relative anonymity, and his new life pleased him.
Lithroleah started from his recollections as Milinral filled the cup in front of him with tea. A Human beverage, Elves generally it found too mild for their liking. Lithroleah found that it calmed his frazzled nerves, however, as he sipped at it slowly.
The conversation wound its way to the real intent of their visit soon. The old warrior sighed as he heard the questions. He knew much about the recent events in the forest, and he debated if the secrets should be revealed. He leaned back in his chair, sucking at the pipe filled with Dransloon, a favourite of Humans.
Lithroleah and Caeriel waited patiently. They could sense the other knew much and was deliberating.
"How fares our friend the prince?" An unexpected question escaped the lips of the old recluse.
"More difficult than ever. Legolas is no longer the carefree spirit we knew and loved. He has grown withdrawn, and avoids speaking more than is required to us. Only Esendri has remained close to him." Caeriel said.
Milinral nodded. His smile did not mirror what was felt in his heart. He was very fond of Legolas, and was greatly troubled by the changes in the Silvan prince. He could sense that the Elf had drifted apart from his friends. And during a time like this when he needed his friends' support.
"Ai, do not worry yourselves unnecessarily about our young prince. Give him time to get over the fact that he can no longer run wild! Which is very well too! Goodness knows how many times that fool has given me a splitting headache with his mischief! It is a change for the better. He has got to learn the meaning of responsibility!"
A faint smile played on Caeriel's lips. Indeed, Legolas had spent much of his time annoying his elders, a plague that never left them alone until he was satisfied. Yet, at the same time, he remained endearing to all. There was much love in the Silvan community for the younger prince in spite of his pranks and misdemeanours.
"Do not think so much about the changes to Eryn Galen. It is true that Legolas knows of it, and tell you he will when the time comes and he is ready. Stay close to him and offer him all the support you can. It is a difficult time for him. Do not speak of the clearing to any. Thranduil has enough to deal with without his people spreading rumours and fanning fear."
The two nodded. They were startled by the urgency of the tone. The situation seemed more serious than they had believed.
"The night is still young. Do not let your hearts be troubled by this. Starlight does wonders for a troubled soul. Finish your food and be off! Send my regards to Legolas. Let him know that he is free to visit my humble abode if the need should ever arise!"
A/N: Sorry for taking so long; things have been a bit hectic here. I'll try to update as soon as I can!
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.