1. A Letter to His Son by Prince Erchirion of Dol Amroth
Your mother retired early tonight, leaving me alone in a house that feels unnaturally silent since you departed to begin your training with the Swan Knights. I know you are nearby and that we will see you frequently, but it is difficult for me to accept that this will no longer be the principal residence of my only son. I cannot pop my head into your room to say good night or listen for the sound of the latch to reassure me you have returned safely after you have stayed out too late. I will even miss the voice of your mother scolding and interrogating you on such occasions.
The time we spent together these last few days passed all too swiftly. I enjoyed hearing your insightful and humorous observations of variances in culture, customs, and mores that you encountered during your visits with your cousins in Rohan and Minas Tirith this past summer. When our discussion was interrupted, I was prepared to launch into a story of a similar nature from my youth.
Since I realize that on your future visits home I will be competing with your mother and your young friends for your attention, I decided to write down my memories before they grow any dimmer.
Bear in mind, although I was several years older than you at the time this incident occurred, we were emerging from a period when we had been isolated from the Eldar for many generations. I had not the privilege, as you have, growing up knowing Queen Arwen, her brothers, our dear Prince Legolas, and the elves of Ithilien.
I will never forget the night I caught my first glimpse into certain aspects of Elven sexuality, which had been shrouded for me in equal parts of misconception and mystery.
That evening, early in the second week after the Armies of the West had arrived at the Field of Cormallen, my family left me to my own resources. Lothíriel wandered off with Éomer of Rohan. They were young, in love, and in large part oblivious to the rest of us. My brother Amrothos was with his sweetheart as well. Elphir abandoned me to join father and Aragorn to discuss what were to me less than fascinating details of troop provisions and the deployment of scouts and guards around the periphery of the camp.
Along with the Peredhil, Elladan and Elrohir, and the indomitable Legolas, I spent most of the evening at an impromptu drinking party and dance near the campgrounds of the Rohirrim. At its height, that gathering included the majority of the youngest and most footloose among the officers and nobles of Gondor, with a heavy Dol Amroth presence, and a large number of lively Rohirrim riders. The Rohirrim, as you learned on your recent visit with your cousin in Edoras, do like a good party. The presence of numerous youthful Gondorian noblewomen, accompanied, of course, by their brothers, cousins, or husbands, added color and spice to the mixture.
Toward end of the evening, after all but the most indefatigable of the merrymakers drifted away, I came upon Legolas engaged in openly amorous behavior with the pretty daughter of a family of minor nobility from the environs of Minas Tirith. That night her two brothers, officers at the time of the City Guard, were so deep in their cups that they paid no mind to her at all. She is now a matron with a substantial reputation for good works and a formidable influence in and around the outer circles of the court. I will not mention her name. She, in any case, has a negligible role in the story.
I was uncertain what the consequences might be if she and Legolas continued in their ever less furtive fondling and kissing. Deciding to err on the side of caution, I pointed out the happy couple to Elladan. He immediately snagged Legolas and dragged him away from jeopardy. We quickly left, at my suggestion, to seek a less dangerous outlet for the elf Prince's obvious desire.
By that time, the campsites and pavilions had turned eerily quiet, especially in comparison to the previous two nights when the festivities had continued in full force until dawn. A cool breeze wafted up from the river across the fields. The sky was black and the stars brilliant.
I can still see the fair Legolas, as clearly as though it happened yesterday, grumpily leaning against the makeshift counter of a southern Belfalas vendor of wine and alcohol-laced fruit drinks. Elladan and Elrohir looked near to bursting with mirth at the ill-concealed sulking of the disgruntled Sinda.
Legolas had stopped to order a glass of wine, insisting we had deprived him of the opportunity for one last drink. It was clear to all of us that it was not his thirst, but the frustration of his carnal appetites that engendered his uncharacteristically surly mood.
"The way you pulled me away from that lovely young lady from Minas Tirith was extremely rude," he said, frowning darkly at Elladan. "Five more minutes and I would have secured her as a companion for the night."
"That was precisely why I did it," Elladan answered, matching his scowl. "For your welfare as well hers."
Elrohir laughed, "It is not hard to see you were raised isolated from humankind in Taur-nu-Fuin. Did not your father even permit you to make trips to Dale?"
"Of course he did. But never alone and always with instructions to stay away from the women there. And, in any case, they were, with few exceptions, far less appealing than any of the fair elves with whom I kept company," he said.
"However, the last time I looked I did not see the old elf or any of his story-carrying lackeys lurking anywhere about," Legolas continued. At his last remark, the brothers Elronnion released an explosive crack of laughter.
This was becoming interesting, I thought. I asked, "When you say 'kept company,' Legolas, do you mean that you carried on flirtatious dalliances or actually had intimate physical relations with these Elven ladies?"
"I may be young as my people reckon age, Erchirion, but I am no elf-child. Of course, I had intimate relations with them. I was popular not only with those near my own age, but a few sophisticated older women valued my company highly as well," he said defensively.
"My apologies. I in no way intended to impugn your virility or your attractiveness to the opposite sex. However, I learned as a youngster that when two elves consummate the act of love they are forever bound to one another for all the Ages of Arda. That they seek no further intimacy with any other partner even if one of them departs to the Halls of Mandos or to the Undying Lands of West, leaving their true love behind," I responded.
All three of my companions burst into laughter to my embarassment.
"I wager I can even name the text that you were asked to read," Elrohir said with a cheeky grin. "Could it have been a certain document written by a Númenórean, credited to our Golodhrim forbearers, and called something like The Laws and Customs Among the Eldar?"
At that, Legolas sputtered and choked, turning quickly and inelegantly to one side to avoid spraying wine over the rest of us.
"That was, indeed, the treatise that we studied," I admitted.
Elladan snapped, "The thing has been debunked at least a dozen times and still won't die."
Legolas, still gasping, said, "Ouch! My chest hurts. When I was young, if an Elf nearing his maturity asked questions about such matters, one of his comrades with a bit more experience sent him to the library, recommending that same book as the one holding the answers to all his questions."
"That is simply cruel," Elladan scoffed.
"We would all wait outside to see the poor elf's face when he emerged," Legolas continued, still laughing, his own face now bright red.
"Silvan barbarians," Elladan fumed.
"When one picked up the book it fell right open to those pages, so worn were they by frantic Elven fingers thumbing through them, futilely searching for some small shred of enlightenment or hope. We would let the poor miserable creature wander around for a day or two in despair, before we took mercy on him and told him there was not a scrap of truth in it," Legolas said.
"What of you? As a prince of Taur-nu-Fuin were you spared this nasty prank?" Elrohir asked.
"Oh, not at all. Silvan elves are democratic in their mischief. I diligently read the whole piece. Being an earnest and serious sort in my early youth, I was horrified at what the punishment of the Valar might be for my relentless pursuit of self-gratification of the preceding several months. I did not leave the library until I had ransacked the entire place searching for further information," Legolas chortled. "Finally, I found more interesting and accurate texts, some romantic and others brutally anatomical, which answered my questions and relieved my torment."
"What did your friends do when you emerged from the library?" Elladan asked.
"Before I finished, they had long departed for their supper and bed. I told my father about the whole experience later that night. My persistence impressed him. He said I might grow up to amount to something after all," Legolas answered, with that endearing grin he still has.
"Elrond was a firm believer in answering every such question as soon as it was raised," Elrohir said.
"Your father is a good deal less off-putting than mine. I could have talked to ada. I am sure he would have been forthcoming, but I always feared he was beleaguered and overwhelmed with more serious matters," Legolas said. "What of you, Erchirion?"
"My father's approach was similar to that of Elrond. Nevertheless, I truly think he believes, as I did, that each elf took only one sexual partner throughout all the Ages. I will certainly share this discussion with him. It clarifies many things. These looser attitudes of the Eldar may have resulted in the decidedly more liberal outlook on sexuality in Dol Amroth than exists in other parts of Gondor," I responded.
"Or perhaps," Elladan said. "That such a piece could have been written shows how far apart the worlds of the Eldar and Edain have grown."
I speculated further by asking Elladan, "Might it have been written with a deliberate political or societal purpose, the reinforcement of the strictures on female virginity at the time of marriage, for example, or the value of abstinence or celibacy outside of marriage?"
Legolas looked mildly appalled and asked, "The Edain consider such things a virtue?"
"Ai, Elbereth! Legolas, you truly have been isolated." Elladan answered. "Did you learn nothing about the sexual practices and mores of Mortals during your long months with the Fellowship?"
"We encountered few women!" Legolas answered. "There was Lothlórien, of course, but I learned nothing new there. Although I did demonstrate to those snooty elves there that their less-privileged cousins to the north could teach them a thing or two." Legolas did not suppress a snort at whatever memory that conjured up for him.
He continued, "The Galadhrim are given to ceaseless gossip about the intimate affairs of others. That, no doubt, comes from living in a small, enclosed community. I heard a number of entertaining stories relating to the two of you, in fact. Where I come from there is far less talk, more action, and a higher value placed on privacy."
"Other than in Lórien, the whole lot of you sought no relief for such needs during those long months of your quest? Nor even discussed the subject?" Elrohir asked disbelievingly.
"I did not say that. One uniquely attractive member of our company found me as appealing as I found him. I have fond memories of those encounters and am assured he does also," Legolas said smugly. "I have to admit I thought descriptions I heard of the bright allure of the fast-burning flame of Mortal passion were exaggerated, but…"
"Are you saying that elves speak of a particular appeal in consorting with humans?" I asked fascinated. This was news to me. The only tales I had heard of such pairings were few and contained in dubious histories shadowed in heavy layers of myth.
Legolas began, "Well, for my part I can only speak of one partner among the Edain, but he not only responded to my ministrations with impressive ardor, but was unerringly sweet and generous in his . . ."
"I really do not want to hear the details!" Elladan snapped.
"Poor Elladan," Legolas responded with an evil grin. "Maybe you envy me. I happened to learn that you never enjoyed such intimacy with him. I asked."
"Eww. That's disgusting," Elrohir interjected.
"You are not blood relations," Legolas said, eyes wide with obviously feigned innocence.
Elladan jumped back in with, "Maybe I was not interested, Wood-elf. Or, perhaps, I am capable of exercising good judgment. In either case, I do not begrudge the two of you what comfort you may have found in one another. I simply do not want to hear about it."
"I wish you would have spared me that image as well," Elrohir said.
"Is he referring to Aragorn?" I asked, completely mesmerized with the turn in the discussion. I was familiar with finding comfort among one's comrades on lengthy campaigns, but I never heard those encounters described in such glowingly tender terms.
"Let it go," Elladan answered.
"Fine," Legolas said huffily. "In Rohan, however, the Lady Éowyn let it be known in her own way that she would have gladly entertained the attentions of your foster brother. He apparently was not interested."
"Legolas, you are thick-headed. Interested or not, he would not have engaged the affections of a young maiden of her standing when he was betrothed to another, especially if he sensed, as she admitted later, that she fancied herself in love with him," Elladan said impatiently.
"Perhaps not, if it was clear to him she wanted more than an evening's comfort," Legolas admitted. "If she had approached me, however, I would not have turned her away."
"Thank all the Valar she did not!" Elladan said. "I heard that she was distraught, despairing, vulnerable…"
"This is a speculative discussion," Legolas said heatedly. "I am neither an idiot nor a knave. If I thought, as Aragorn did, that she desired more than I could give her, then I would not have trifled with her feelings. The same is true if I sensed she was incapable of making a well-considered choice. I only meant that if what she sought was solace in a dark time, I would have gladly offered it to her, and, in doing so, might have found some measure of respite for myself as well…"
"I do not think you understand, Legolas. A young Mortal woman in Éowyn's position anticipates coming to her husband a virgin. She is expected to marry someone of suitable rank and he wants to be assured that any children she bears are his own, as they will be his heirs," Elrohir said.
"You certainly cannot be implying that I would ever consider conceiving a child under such circumstances," Legolas said, growing irritated.
"It is more complicated than that. Since Mortals are unable to choose the moment of conception . . ." Elrohir began to explain.
"Conception is a random, chance occurrence among humans?" Legolas asked stunned.
"No. Not entirely random, there are times when a woman is more fertile than others, but one cannot always be completely certain, even with the most careful calculation," I tried to explain. "But aside from the problem of conception, there is the entire series of expectations around the question of virginity, the purported honor of a maiden, and, by extension, that of her family."
"I see. So, when you so brutally separated me from the lovely Gondorian maid, you were considering some of these things?" Legolas asked of Elladan.
"At last the sun breaks through the clouds!" Elladan answered. "Yet there are still a great many subtleties you may miss, Legolas. For your own protection, I suggest you avoid intimate contact with Mortal women without consulting one of us first."
Legolas's face then took on a mournful expression. "To think that only a short while ago we were snowed under by a virtual avalanche of apparently willing female lovelies…" He sighed sadly, adding, "I have held duty before personal need for quite some time."
"After all of the bragging you suffer us to endure, now you complain of want?" Elladan said, not entirely without humor.
"I never said it was frequent or recent, merely that I found occasional release during the past few months, and that it was more than crude attendance to a basic need," Legolas whined.
Elrohir, although he appeared amused at the young elf's desperation, had always been kind-hearted and was quick to offer aid.
"Erchirion is familiar with what this campsite has to offer. He may be able to suggest a solution to our immediate dilemma," Elrohir said.
"Is that true, Erchirion?" Legolas asked, turning to me with an expression of a poignant mixture of hope and enthusiasm.
"Yes, I think I can," I answered. "There is a pavilion near the River, which belongs to the lady who is the proprietor of one of the finest establishments of its kind in Dol Amroth."
"Then we need not ask you if the ladies are clean and comely," Elladan stated.
"No, you need not," I affirmed. "The lady employs only the loveliest and most accomplished of their profession."
Our visit to the pavilion of Dol Amroth's most prestigious ladies of evening is also a tale worth telling, but the hour grows late and my bed beckons. I will save it for another time. However, I offer one final point in summary. I had become accustomed to being the center of attention when I had visited the Dol Amroth quarters of this establishment. Arriving, as I did that night, in the company of the brothers Elronnion and the elf Legolas of Fellowship fame was a lesson in humility.
I hope that you have enjoyed my tale. I am looking forward to seeing you again in a few weeks.
Your most affectionate father,
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.