Esendri's mouth dropped in wonder. No amount of stories about the beauty of Imladris had ever prepared him for this. The trees seemed to be whispering, sizing up the strange company that sought to pass beneath their boughs. The intensity of the chattering increased as they neared the Last Homely Home, and the Silvan Elf felt his heart thump wildly with anticipation.
The first waterfall burst into view a few moments later, its silvery stream catching the rays of the lazy afternoon sun. Another appeared to its left, and another. Birds whistled overhead, squirrels chattered eagerly. Before long, the first roofs began to appeared, finely carved patterns out of wood that seemed to glow silver under the gentle illumination of Anor.
"Welcome to Imladris," Elladan said from behind the column, pride in his voice as the newcomers gaped at the sight before them.
The horses stopped abruptly at the large silver gates, and the party was greeted by a young sentry, face glowing with happiness at seeing them.
"Ai, Lord Glorfindel! We have been eagerly awaiting your return!" he called out, giving a bow, and ran into the city, abandoning his post. Glorfindel exchanged a raised eyebrow with Elladan, who chuckled and dismounted, a peacefully slumbering Daniya clasped in his grasp. He paced the area up and down as they waited while throwing apprehensive looks at her.
"We have to await Lord Elrond's permission for you to enter Imladris," said Glorfindel to the humans, "It has been long since our races fought in arms, although my lord is constantly working to renew our ties. The perimeters of the city will throw out any intruders, and it is not a pleasant experience, as Elladan here can attest to that."
"My brother and I decided to test this once. We kidnapped a Dwarf, drugged him, and attempted to bring him back in a sack."
"Now really, Master Elladan, you do exaggerate the matter. Mayhap the Dwarf triggered of an averse reaction!" Esendri had leapt off his steed and was peering at city with interest.
Without warning, the Silvan Elf took a large step into the perimeters of Imladris. There he stood, in shock at the easiness of the task. He let out a shout of triumph, which quickly turned into a strangled scream, as an invisible force picked him up and hurled him out of the boundaries, where he landed in a pile of arms and legs.
The rest roared with laughter as he untangled himself, brushing aside the proffered assistance, and spat the leaves out of his mouth. Softly uttered Nandorin curses filled the air, much to the amusement of the Imladrin Elves.
"Mind, Esendri, it seems your exit was equivalent to that of a Dwarf!"
"Ada!" exclaimed Elladan, turning to face his father. He looked apprehensively at the girl in his arms, and deciding against stepping past the gates for the time being.
"Welcome to Imladris, otherwise known as Rivendell. Your journey has been long, and rest is what you need," said Elrond, gesturing for the men to step within. Grooms appeared on either side, and led the horses away.
The Elves quickly greeted their high Lord before dispersing.
"Lord Glorfindel shall show you to your chambers."
The humans smiled and turned to leave. Allanor took Daniya from Elladan, was relieved beyond measure.
"Come, Esendri!" called Elrond, noting that the Silvan Elf hung behind, mistrust upon his face.
Thus addressed by the high Lord, Esendri had no choice but to heed his words. He did not put it past the Imladrin Elves to play another trick on him, and he screwed up his face and squeezed his eyes shut before stepping through, bracing himself.
"Esendri!" He let out a yelp of frustration as he was once again hit by a force and lifted off the ground. Yet, this time, he was not sent flying.
"Legolas?" he cried, unsure if he was hallucinating.
"Ai, 'tis I, Esendri!" Legolas finally let go of him. "I thought you lost! Are you hurt?"
"Nothing but a few bruises sustained from an unpleasant fall," said Elladan with amusement, and Legolas grinned knowingly.
"I see, Dan, that you have taken to caring for mortal children." Elrohir too had arrived.
Esendri snorted with laughter. "You must be Master Elrohir, judging from your somewhat similar appearance to Elladan." he said, before proceeding to introduce the mortals to Legolas and Elrohir.
"Now that Master Esendri has said his piece, mayhap my guests might finally be allowed to rest?" interrupted Elrond.
Esendri coloured, but did not fail to notice his master avoiding Elven-lord's eyes. A strange emotion crossed Legolas's face, before it was carefully hidden. A look at Elrohir revealed that he kept throwing worried glances at Legolas.
Esendri waited for the others to move off, and hung behind. Legolas did not seem to realise that the rest were almost out of sight, and stood there, eyes fixed upon a spot on the ground. The servant caught Elrohir's eye, confirming that there was indeed something bothering Legolas.
Gently, Esendri laid a hand on Legolas, causing him to jump.
"Sen! Where is everybody?"
"Master, we need to talk."
"We should rejoin the others!"
Esendri was not about to give way and Legolas knew that, so decided that there would be no sense pretending any further.
Nodding in defeat, the Sindarin prince gestured that Esendri follow him.
Legolas led his friend back to his private spot, and a jolt of joy ran through his heart as Esendri exclaimed at the beauty of Imladris in the setting summer sun.
Esendri stepped forward, and stroked the bark of the lone beech that grew atop the cliff, small waves of magic emitting from his palms. He blinked in surprise as a great sorrow washed over him, and turned to voice his discovery, only to find Legolas rooted to the spot, smile frozen into place. His face was deathly pale, and there was terror in his eyes. Esendri rushed up to him, frightened by the uncharacteristic show of fear.
"Lass?" he called, touching him, unwittingly sending a spark of magic along as he did. The effect it had on the prince was unexpected. Sharp pain shot through his body, and he gasped as it refused to abate. Instead, it intensified as he fought against it. Esendri cried out in alarm, and caught Legolas as his legs gave way. The blonde Elf collapsed into his arms, darkness taking over him.
Esendri quickly scooped up the light body, and made a beeline for Elrond's dwellings. Bursting through the doors, he called for help, and was greeted by the twins. Upon seeing the pair, Elladan quickly led Esendri into the nearest bedchamber, and Elrohir was sent to fetch his father, knocking over a few startled servants in his haste.
When Elrond entered the room, he found a frantic Esendri being pried away from the bed by Elladan, who was doing his utmost best to calm the Silvan Elf.
All three young ones watched apprehensively as Elrond examined Legolas. The high Lord noted the absence of injuries and the erratic pulse that surged along in leaps and bounds. He already had a brief idea of what ailed the young prince.
"How fares he?" asked Elrohir, who was unable to contain his concern.
"There are no physical injuries. I doubt he is in any immediate danger. What happened, Esendri?"
"I do not know!" exclaimed the Silvan Elf. "I touched him, and he stiffened up before collapsing! It was as if he was in terrible pain! I was examining a tree earlier, before I turned and saw Master Legolas standing there, looking more terrified than I have ever seen him!"
"Might you by any chance also be in possession of the magic?"
Esendri nodded, extracting a knowing look from Elrohir and a confused noise from Elladan.
"You were using your magic on the tree," Elrohir said. "Some of it must have been transferred to Legolas when you touched him."
"But we have always used it on each other without any ill effects!"
"We do not understand it too, Esendri! Legolas is rejecting the magic. It is more powerful than you ever imagine it to be. Promise me neither to use it nor tell any other about it until I tell you. It might be the reason those Orcs and Men are after Legolas. Something tells me more than just the fate of Eryn Galen hangs in the balance. Legolas will tell you more about the events of the past days if he is ready. In the meantime, I shall leave you to look after him."
Esendri could only nod mutely as Elrond left the room. He turned to the twins, only to received identical confused and concerned looks.
"I had no idea," said Esendri after a long, awkward silence.
"Neither had we," Elladan said. A quick glance at Elrohir caused him to change his mind. "At least I am as confused as you are. I cannot speak for my brother, though!"
"Ada is right, Legolas will speak of it when he is ready." Elrohir answered, drawing a disappointed look from his twin. "We will leave you alone, as ada will be in need of help as he prepares for our guests."
Esendri did not respond, and returned to his master's side.
It was not long before Legolas awoke, opening his eyes to find an anxious Esendri staring at him.
"Do not fret, Esendri."
"Legolas, you must rest."
The Sindarin prince struggled to sit up, prompting a ghost of a smile to flit across Esendri's face.
"I see it still impossible to keep you down."
"I know not for sure, Master. Lord Elrond did not explain much. All he said was that it had to do with the magic. He said you were rejecting it. I do not understand."
"Do not use it, Esendri," he whispered.
"You do not understand!"
"It is because you do not tell me!" Esendri's voice had almost risen to a shout.
Tears leapt to the eyes of the blonde Elf. He blinked them away angrily before starting to speak.
"The magic is dangerous. I killed Obsiran with it!" he choked, repeating the disclosure for the second time that day. Once the words were said, the rest came tumbling out, "He was injured by Orcs, and I tried to cure him, only to kill him. A strange euphoria took over me, and I drank in his life-force. I enjoyed it, Esendri!"
The horror-stricken face of the other did naught to calm his troubled thoughts, and the tears came, fast and hard. Unable to control his emotions any further, he broke into silent sobs, each wrecking his slender frame.
Although shocked by the turn of events, Esendri reached over and held him, murmuring soft, comforting words. A great unease rose in him. Legolas was more distressed than he would ever admit to allow his feelings such free-flow. Esendri had rarely even seen his friend shed tears, much less cry so openly. The revelation about the eagle too was deeply unsettling. Nobody knew more than himself the love Legolas had for the creatures of the forest. Obsiran held a special place in the prince's heart, for he had nursed the injured egret back to health and saw him returned to his nest.
The more Esendri thought about it, the more the fear in him grew. It was a fear of himself well, of what he was capable of, for the magic was the same in them both. If Legolas had used it to take another's life, Esendri was certain that the ability to do so was present in himself too.
Gradually, the sobs eased, but Esendri did not stop his quiet reassurances. It was only when Legolas wiped his tears from his face and stared up at his dearest friend, his blue eyes hooded, did Esendri speak.
"Do not feel bad about this, Legolas. Your grief is befitting for as great a friend and beast Obsiran was. I do not believe what you did was intentional. In the meantime, be on your guard, and remember that Lord Elrond has promised to look more closely into the matter. Despair is not an option!"
Legolas nodded, his face starting to take on the hardened, steely look.
"I wish for a walk alone, Esendri."
A withering glance from the other quickly told him his request was about to be firmly put down.
"Anything but being confined to the bed, good Esendri! The number of hours I have been kept under the sheets this past week has been far too much for me!"
Esendri hid a wry smile. His master's restless nature was surfacing again, which was a clear sign of his recovery. He too, yearned to be with the trees that called so invitingly through the large windows. While strange and foreign, they held the familiar promise of life he both knew and loved.
"You have spent enough time alone, Legolas! I wish to see the gardens of Imladris for myself, for I have heard much about them! A tour of the city is in order!"
He was glad to see a ghost of a smile light up the strained features. Legolas's wonder and love for living things had yet to be beaten out of him, and Esendri doubted if it were ever possible to do so.
"Perhaps Your Highness would like a quick change to appear presentable to all? Eryn Galen's very honour depends on your appearance! His Majesty will throw a fit if he were to see you!"
His words had the intended effect, as Legolas shuddered with disdain at the thought. He scowled at his friend, before leaping out of bed and dashing for the door.
"My father can fuss over the state of his subjects yonder the mountains!"
He was followed by Esendri, and the pair made their way through the splendid corridors of Elrond's abode, Esendri finding the time to marvel at the elegance and skill. Legolas smiled at the other's wonder, remembering his own the first time he had laid eyes on the place.
"How feel you, Legolas?" One of Elrond's sons chanced upon the pair, momentarily confusing Esendri, for they were identical down to the twinkle in their eyes.
"Ai, Roh, it was naught to be worried about."
"It is good to hear."
Esendri saw that Elrohir was still unconvinced by his reassurances.
"Where do you plan on sneaking off to, this late in the night? Mischief and mayhem, I presume?"
"Nay, Elrohir! Esendri has demanded a tour of your lovely city, and I have agreed to play host to him. However, it seems we have found a more suitable guide!"
"Can the beauty of the gardens not wait, Lass, for the council is to be held tomorrow!"
"Even so, there is no excuse to deny a curious eye the spectacle that is your home! Come, Roh, sleep is the last thing we need!"
Elrohir muttered something under his breath about the antics of Silvan Elves, before allowing himself to be dragged along by the two younger ones into the gardens.
Once out into the moonlight, Elrohir's misgivings were pushed to the back of his head as Esendri gasped in delight at the sight that greeted them. The very leaves of the trees, earlier golden from the setting sun, had now taken on a brilliant silver sheen. It was a cloudless night, and a stiff late summer breeze rustled through the leaves, bringing delight to their hearts.
"It is to your liking?" asked the Imladrin Elf, the pride in his voice unmistakeable.
"Ai, Master Elrohir, it is a wondrous sight!"
"Mayhap you might chance a visit to the golden woods of Lorién one day, for they put Imladris to shame!"
"Indeed, Roh, I shall take up your invitation. Yet you know what my father would say if he found out!"
Elrohir's face clouded. "Ai, Legolas, do not worry about that for the time being. We shall think of a way such that he never finds out, or it makes it inevitable for you to pass through!"
The remark drew a curious look from the servant, and Legolas rolled his eyes.
"Elrohir does not think much of my father. He makes his opinion no secret."
"You know full well why," muttered Elrohir darkly, "Ada too, shares my view."
Esendri opened his mouth to enquire further but was cut short by the arrival of another.
"Lady Yuvinel!" Legolas took a step forward. "Is it not late to be roaming the gardens of Imladris, beautiful as they are?"
To their surprise, the mortal girl flashed a weak smile before continuing her way with nary a word. All three exchanged worried glances, for they had picked out the downcast, reddened eyes, as well as the tremble in her lip.
A meaningful glance from Legolas, and he started off after the girl.
"He should keep his own house in order before rushing to tend to the troubles of others!"
"Such is the nature of Legolas!" said Elrohir, mirth in his tone. "Surely you know him far better than I do! Let him be, if it is what he wants. Come, Esendri, we shall continue on our tour, for there is much more to see!"
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.