Shadow: 56. LVI

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56. LVI

The early autumn sun hung high in the sky as the guests took their places. The members of the company from Imladris occupied the main table in honour of their mission to come.

"I have heard stories of Thranduil's feasts, and the great escapades that go along with it, Esendri. I hope you do not disappoint tonight!" Elladan said as he took his seat between Esendri and Elrohir.

"From whom might you have done so, I wonder?" Esendri said innocently.

"Needless to say tonight will be no exception," Elrohir added. "Mayhap Dan and I will be able to make a few contributions!"

The delight on the face of the servant drew snorts of laughter from the twins, who turned and gave him identical grins. It was then that he realised that they were dressed in outfits that were so similar that one had to look carefully in order to distinguish the two.

Esendri's answer was swallowed by the entrance of the king, and all rose. Thranduil smiled graciously and took his place, flanked by Legolas and Glorfindel, a distance away from the young Elves. Legolas looked so uncomfortable in his ceremonial dress that his friends half-expected him to start tugging at his collar. He was ostensibly avoiding looking in their direction, and instead acknowledged those around him with measured grace.

"Why is Caeriel seated beside Legolas?" Elladan whispered. Esendri shrugged, shrugging aside a nagging feeling.

"A very good evening to all." Thranduil had risen, his powerful voice and commanding presence drawing the attention of all instantly. Esendri sniggered at his formality, but fell silent when he was elbowed hard by Elrohir.

"This feast is held in honour of special guests from Imladris, and in celebration of the re-strengthening of ties between our kingdoms. We face dark times, and it is important that we stand together, as we did against the Dark Lord. The fate of Middle-Earth lies in our hands once again.

"It is under such circumstance that I anoint my successor officially today, with all present to bear witness to this."

A round of tumultuous applause and cheering greeted his words, for the Silvan folk had great love for the younger prince. The newly appointed crown prince rose after a couple of seconds, before gradually acknowledging the applause.

Elrohir turned over and looked accusingly at Esendri, disbelief and shock written all over his face.

"I did not know about this!" cried the servant between loud cries of jubilation for his friend.

"it seems neither did Legolas," Elladan said, clapping hard.

When the applause died down, Thranduil spoke again. "It is also with pleasure that I announce his betrothal to the Lady Caeriel!"

Another round of cheers rose from the guests, and this time, the bewilderment was all too clear on Legolas's face. Still standing, he shot a quick look at Esendri. None of them realised the reactions of others in the room, from the furrowing of the brows of Glorfindel, to the flabbergasted expression of Lithroleah, as well as the polite smile on Caeriel's face as she too stood up.

Eventually, Legolas seemed to regain some of his composure, and turned to address those gathered.

"Thank you for your well wishes. I am privileged indeed to have this duty bestowed upon me, and will try my best to live up to the responsibilities that come with this honour, and accept it with humility. The needs of my people will always be at the forefront of every undertaking, especially in time such as this."

Another more ovations greeted his words, and he waited for it to die down with apprehension on his face.

"It is however, with deep regret, that I announce that I am unable to take the Lady Caeriel as my wife, for this would be a disregard of the free will that our people hold so highly."

A shocked silence filled the hall, and Thranduil's cheek before he rose.

"It is a little known fact that Lady Caeriel's father was the greatest loremaster in the history of Eryn Galen, who disappeared without a trace before she was born. He requested that his unborn child would be betrothed to a child of mine, provided she does not object to the union."

All eyes focused on the Elf-maiden

"My liege, it is an honour that I gladly accept," she said, her gaze fixed somewhere in the distance, avoiding making direct eye contact with any.

The smile that lit up Thranduil's face was measured, as he shot his son a warning look. Legolas smiled, no, grimaced, at those present. He knew that there was to be no further challenging the authority of his father, but the rest of his brain was screaming warnings at him. Once again, a sense of being a pawn rose in him, as he realised how little control he had over his own life. The cheers around him did little to soothe his wildly thumping heart, as he mechanically turned and kissed his childhood friend's hand graciously, drawing yet more applause.

"Elrohir!" Elladan hit his stunned brother hard on the back of his head.

"Ow!" the younger twin cried, squinting in annoyance at his brother. "That was not in the slightest bit necessary!"

"Care to share your thoughts with us, Roh?" Elladan said, smirking at his irritation.

Elrohir blushed and scowled at his giggling friends. He noted the pained expression on the face of the Elven prince as he attempted to accept the congratulations with as much grace as he could muster.

"Let the festivities begin!" Thranduil cried, before he sat down as well.

On cue, servers appeared with platters of rich and exotic fruit, laying them down on the plates of amazed guests. Before long, their goblets were filled, and the merry chatter soon filled the dining area. Musicians struck up lively music at the far end of the clearing, and minstrels and entertainers started mingling among the guests.

After the plates had been cleared for the next course, Esendri rose, a goblet in one hand, and a white-gold carafe with intricate carvings in the other. He winked at the twins, who exchanged delighted glances, before sauntering up to his master, presently engaged in awkward conversation with Caeriel. Esendri winked at the twins, who egged him on devilishly.

"Caunri Legolas," Esendri said as he sank to one knee with an exaggerated flourish. "Shall your humble servant polish your crown for you?"

As expected, Legolas coloured furiously, and dragged him up to his feet.

"Behave yourself, Esendri!" he said, drawing a giggle from Caeriel.

"Ah, the lovely wife of the prince, what can I offer you, a drink, mayhap?" Esendri turned his attentions to the lovely maiden, presenting his goblet to her with even more exaggerated twirls of his hand.

Unable to take it, Legolas rose from his chair, and firmly marched his servant away from the table.

Once a distance away, Legolas relinquished his grip, and threw his hands up in exasperation.

"How does it feel now, Master Legolas, to be suddenly given both power and a lovely wife? I would watch your progress carefully, for I fear you about to turn into someone without any humour, as those who are married and powerful are usually wont to be. How many children - "

A punch in the shoulder sent him backwards a few steps, the goblet in his hand dropping to the ground as he struggled to keep his balance.

"It is of no laughing matter, Esendri!" Legolas said, his brows tightly knitted. "I cannot accept Caeriel's hand in marriage!"

"Try telling that to your father, Legolas, not especially after you made no further protests in front of everyone."

"I could hardly have said no there and then!"

"Then you have accepted it!"

"Are you blind? Can you not see that she does not love me?"

Esendri patted the shoulder of his friend congenially.

"I understand your pain, but there is naught we can do about it. At least not tonight, so why not enjoy yourself?"

Legolas gritted his teeth in frustration, and looked away, only to find the carafe being thrust into his face.

"A drink, master?"

Glaring at his servant, Legolas grabbed the container over from his friend and took a quick swig out of it, almost coughing.

"By Elbereth, Esendri, where did you get this from?" he spluttered, "'Tis practically pure alcohol!"

In response, Esendri gave him a wink and returned back to the feast, where the next course was already being served.

Left behind, the Elven prince studied the still almost-full carafe he held, before sighing and downing its contents. Almost immediately, a warm, fuzzy glow began to fill his head, and he too made his way back to the feast.

Caeriel seemed to notice something amiss, and looked at him with concern.

"Legolas?" she enquired, only to receive a broad smile in return.

"Eat up, Caeriel, for the days ahead will be dark indeed!" Legolas replied, now wishing he had never finished the drink his friend had proffered him, or that he had at least eaten something during the day, for the night was still young, and he could already feel the effects of the drink starting to get to his head.

By the time the eighth course was served, joyous laughter filled the forest, and a row of guests had taken to dancing in the middle of the clearing.

With another three carafe's worth of the same liquid under his belt, Legolas rose from his seat and wandered unsteadily over to his friends, who were huddled together, whispering furiously.

"What, may I ask, are you three whispering about?"

The evil looks the trio gave him was enough to send him into expressions of delight.

"Keeping up the traditions, I see, Esendri?" he practically shouted.

"Hush, Legolas, or you will give the game away!" said Esendri, and it was then that Legolas noticed the vial of liquid he held in his hands.

"That, is unoriginal, Esendri; anyone can think of honey!"

"Nay, Master, this is a concoction brewed by none other than the great twin Lords of Imladris!"

"And what purpose does it serve, Roh?" Legolas turned and faced one of the twins.

"My apologies, Legolas, but I am Elladan!" the twin said, causing the Elven prince to colour.

"What purpose does it serve then, Elladan?" Legolas repeated.

"I fear letting you in on this, Legolas, for what will others think if their crown prince were to start pulling pranks on them?" the other twin said.

Indignation filled the blonde Elf, and he squinted in anger at him. "Very well, we will just have to play the trick on somebody who is not from Eryn Galen!"

"Our thoughts exactly! How about gluing a certain Elflord to his seat?" Esendri giggled, gesturing in the direction of Glorfindel, who was dancing with a girl that Legolas recognised as being the daughter of one of his father's advisors, although he could not, for the life of him, recall her name at the moment.

Evil sniggers escaped both twins, who stood up, and both strode over to the Eldar's seat, and gestured for their friends to join them.

"What now, Dan?" Legolas asked as he neared.

"My name is Elrohir!" the twin corrected, causing Legolas to blink in surprise again. He could have sworn that - Shaking his head, Legolas tried to clear his thoughts.

Elrohir stuck his hand out for the vial, and Esendri uncapped it, before pouring its contents over the outstretched palms. The twin then winked and spread it carefully over the seat of the still-dancing Elflord. He chuckled as he thought of the other's reaction when he found himself being stuck onto his chair.

"Would you like some of this?" The twin with his hands full of the sticky substance, whoever he was, wound his arms around Legolas from behind, and thrust his hands out in front of him. "'Tis very good!"

Without a second thought, the prince took a measured lick of a finger, the sweet, floral taste with a hint of lavender causing him to shudder in delight. More desperate licks of the fingers followed, and he was soon sucking greedily on the long and slender index finger.

Esendri exchanged a surprised look with the other twin, who also looked back at him with his mouth hung open. Both shook their heads, unsure of whether they were seeing it correctly.

"Have I had too much to drink already?" Esendri murmured at the other, and turned away from the sight before them.

When the pair showed no signs of letting up, the servant coughed loudly, and averted his gaze as they abandoned their behaviour. He noted with amusement that at least both had the decency to blush and break apart, the peredhel quickly hiding his hands behind his back, and Legolas running the back of his hand over his mouth in a futile attempt to wipe off the sticky fluid.

Clearing his throat, Esendri turned and faced the other twin, who was still looking away with a maddening grin on his face, and waved a bag of herbs in front of their faces before saying loudly, "So, Master Elladan, shall we proceed to see if Gallenon makes an excellent chicken?"

This time around, Legolas decided he really did not want to know what they had planned, and made his excuses, before sinking into his seat, carefully making sure he did not sit on Glorfindel's chair by mistake. Taking a few swigs of the water jug, his attention was drawn to Caeriel, who had just returned from a dance with Allanor.

"Enjoying yourself, Legolas?" she teased, seeing how red he had turned.

If it were possible, he turned redder still, before muttering something about Esendri's feywine.

Giggling, she took a small, measured sip out of her wine glass.

"A walk might do you good!" she suggested, standing up and holding out her hand.

Legolas agreed, and got to his feet unsteadily, following her lead away from the noise and the crowd. He leaned back against a tree, letting go of her hand, before taking another swig of ice-cold water in an attempt to chase away the haze that surrounded his brain.

Unknown to them both, Esendri, Elladan, and Elrohir had followed at a distance, and were watching, trying to stifle their giggles, although they were not doing a very good job.

"Roh, you should have known better than to let Legolas have the contents of the vial in the state he is in!"

Esendri turned and looked at them quizzically, noting the guilty blush that filled Elrohir's face.

"Ai, the concoction might effect as an aphrodisiac when taken with copious amounts of alcohol," Elladan explained.

Legolas felt his heart beat increase and his mouth go dry. Why was he feeling like this?

"Caeriel," he breathed, leaning forward. Why did he feel so hot? Surely the wine was not affecting him so much! Once again, he tried to clear his head from the dizzying haze that surrounded him, but to no avail.

She smiled at him, face lighting up.

"Why did you agree to marry me?" the Elven prince finally blurted. "I will not hold it against you were you to decline."

In response, the girl reached forward and stroked his cheek lightly, and he moved away from the touch, not trusting himself to stay in control any further.

"Your father sought me out yesterday and asked if I were agreeable, and I did not raise any objections," she said.

"Why?" he pressed. "Does your heart not belong to Lithroleah?"

She shook her head, the sadness in her eyes not quite hidden from him in spite of his state, but her voice was steely. "I have let him down, but have made my choice."

"You do not have to do this."

She pressed her hand to his lips, stopping his protests.

"I made a choice, Legolas, and I chose you."

"Why?"

"Need there be reasons? Unless you do not wish to go ahead with it."

"Mayhap it is time we left them alone!" Elladan's whisper in his ear jolted Esendri. As an answer, he shook his head vigorously and indicated that they should stay just a while longer. Elladan relented as he saw that his brother too was watching with rapt attention.

"Caeriel - " Legolas tried to speak again.

He was silenced by a soft, sweet mouth being pressed to his own, and stepped back in shock. When the contact did not break, all vestiges of control shattered, and he returned the kiss, pressing eagerly into the contact, cupping her soft face with his palms. After what seemed like an eternity of sweet bliss, Caeriel gently broke apart.

"Esendri, shall we leave now?" Elladan tried again, feeling awkward at having caught a friend in such a personal moment.

The servant nodded. The older twin motioned toward Elrohir, drawing the servant's attention to the preoccupied look upon his face. Without a word, both grabbed an elbow each, and carried him back towards the feast, Elladan clapping a hand firmly over his brother's mouth to prevent him from protesting out loud.

The scuffle was heard by Caeriel, who looked up.

"Esendri!" she shouted, guessing correctly the cause of the noise after a moment's consideration.

As she tried to leave to go after the servant, Legolas grabbed her arm.

"Please, stay," he croaked.

Just as she were about to acquiesce, a loud roar erupted from the dining guests. Enraged shouts interspersed with peals of laughter.

"Elladan! Elrohir!" One could not help but feel nervous for the twins at the way their names were being hollered out.

A giggle passed through Caeriel as realisation dawned about what was going on. She turned and faced Legolas, mouthing something he could not quite make out, before indicating that he follow her. She then turned and hurried back, without turning to look if Legolas had followed her.

Left behind, the Elven prince could only grind his teeth in frustration for letting himself lose control. When taking a few deep breaths of the cool air did not seem to help, he took the jar of water in his hand and emptied its entire icy-cold contents over his head in an attempt to clear it.

Brushing the water away from his eyes, he noted that he was still wearing his cumbersome robes, which were dragging him down. He quickly removed the flowing outer raiment to reveal more comfortable breeches and a light tunic. His father would have had a fit if he had seen the delicate robes with their gold embroidery being tossed aside and lying in a heap on the forest floor, but the Silvan prince was past caring about such matters.

Just as he was about to rejoin the melee in search of more food and drink, another rustle broke the trees and he looked up to find the dark eyes of Yuvinel staring straight back at him.

"Yuvinel!" he cried happily, stepping forward to greet the girl warmly. "How find you our festivities?"

"Congratulations, Legolas, on both your anointment and your betrothal to such a lovely lady," she said, the strain in her voice not quite escaping his notice.

"What is wrong, my lady?"

"Don't worry, Legolas. I'm just tired, and wanted to let you know I am returning back to my room." A tight smile pasted itself onto her face that did not quite fool him, but decided it was not his place to push her further.

"I shall walk you back."

"There is no need for that!"

"I insist."

***

When Legolas returned to the banquet grounds, he was accosted immediately by Esendri, who shoved a goblet into his hand. Grinning at his obviously wasted friend, Legolas downed its contents, letting the drink fill his head with warmness. Looking around, he saw that the musicians and performers were still going strong, as were the revellers.

"Lass, I must say it quite an achievement, two girls after you in a single night! Even I cannot claim to posses such charm about me! Although I must say one would have been quite enough for me, as I am not greedy!"

The blonde Elf coloured furiously, but decided not to tell him off for spying on him.

"The twins have fled, for Lord Glorfindel has managed to spring free from our trap. Gallenon and Allanor are passed out under some table somewhere. These humans are absolutely appalling at holding their drink!"

"Mayhap you had something to do with it?"

"Me?" Esendri's grey eyes opened wide with a well-formed innocence, causing Legolas to raise his eyebrows.

"Legolas!" he turned to see the pair of twins, now ever more identical than ever, approaching, successful in shaking off Glorfindel.

"Hullo, dearest Ran and Doh!" Legolas greeted the twins with the names he had used for them as a child, when he had been unable to distinguish them apart. That in itself drew a few laughs from the pair. "Managed to get rid of Glorfindel, have we?"

"I am amazed your father allows the existence of such traps so near the palace! They are brutal!"

"Nothing a few good swipes of a blade cannot handle!" Legolas laughed. "Might I add that Esendri and I constructed them such that only the weight of an Elf would trigger them off, and so you need not fear about helpless animals being trapped in them!"

"Legolas, ever the animal-lover!"

"Ai, Lord Eilwar looks lost!" Esendri cried, spotting an old friend. "Perhaps we should make him feel welcome?"

Legolas laughed, but politely declined the offer to wreck more havoc, pleading exhaustion.

"Very well, go ahead and be all stately and dignified!" Esendri left his friend behind without a second glance, followed closely by one of the twins.

"Come, Legolas, perhaps more drink will lift you out of your tiredness?" The remaining twin handed him another wine glass.

"To the mission," the twin toasted.

"To Arda," Legolas replied, downing the contents and reaching for more.

*****

Sindarin Translations: Caunri - Crown Prince

A/N: Yes, I am afraid that Elves do get drunk, if reading the Hobbit is anything to go by. Rest assured, however, that this is more a one-off thing, as is the romance/almost Mary-Sue-ish bit. Just something I thought the story couldn't really function without! Apologies if I have offended or put off anybody in any way!


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.

Story Information

Author: fael bain

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Kings

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/10/05

Original Post: 09/21/03

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