1. The Salt-Rose
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul." ~Pablo Neruda~
Legolas tugged at the high collar of his robes of state and sighed. Another banquet. This time they were hosting the Haradrim. The peace, only newly acquired, was tentative at best and, as a gesture of good faith, the Eastern King insisted on providing the entertainment for the evening. Only Elessar, present for the planning, gave any sign of anticipation. Exchanging a look with Gimli, Legolas noticed that the dwarf's eyes were already half-lidded in drowsiness from the sumptuous feast. He hoped that no one else would be so bored.
The sound of drums and rhythmic ringing of bells caused him to straighten in his chair.
May it be quick, if it is unpleasant.
Fifteen Haradrim women entered the room, nay, they glided across it. Legolas struggled to keep his expression mild. He had never seen such beauty! While he was used to Elven women being fair and lithe, these women were dark and exotic. Their dance was nothing like the elves. They were graceful, yes, but they were also sensuous. Every move seemed to be designed to invite the onlookers in. The dancers wore veils so that he could see nothing of their faces except their eyes, but... such eyes! Amber and gold and a fathomless deep brown, all met his gaze boldly as he watched them.
They danced around the hall, their hips rhythmically twisting, bodies undulating to the beat of the drums. The small bells on their fingers sang out in time, as they scattered through the crowd. A dancer approached, twirling in front of him, the orange-red-brown colors of her skirt and veil swirled around her, reminding him of a flame. Their eyes met and held. The drums moved to a crescendo and then abruptly stopped, as did she. Legolas released the breath he had been unaware he was holding. The audience rose to their feet filling the hall with thunderous applause, as the dancers bowed.
Legolas watched them exit. He met Gimli's bemused glance and smiled uncomfortably.
He vowed to find out more about the Haradrim. Much more.
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.