When I was forty-nine years old, I ran away from home. The cause was a thing so insignificant that I have forgotten the exact circumstances. My father scolded me for something I had done, or something I had failed to do, or someone I had failed to be. I was a consistent disappointment to him from my early childhood through to the last days of his life. But on that one night, when he had been harsher than the usual or I more sensitive to his criticism, I resolved to leave. And so at the mid-night change of the guard I slipped from his loveless halls and out into starlit freedom.
I am the youngest of my father's children, and the only son. I have four older sisters. My eldest sister, the sister I have never met, is over three thousand years my senior. She was born in Doriath, toward the end of Thingol's reign and not long before my father led his party to Ossiriand. Her mother stood opposed to my father's political ambition and remained behind with her kin. I am told she died there. My father never speaks of her, or my eldest sister, who left him long ago to marry a kinsman of Amdír in Lothlórien. She too was a consistent disappointment, when for uncountable years my father thought himself more luckless than Thingol for being cursed with only a daughter, and a daughter not even half as beautiful or clever as Lúthien. In his weak fledgling kingdom, he longed above all else for a son to strengthen his line.
My mother was his second wife. She is one of the Laegrim, though my father was strictly and proudly the product of a northern branch of the family tree of a faithful follower of Thingol. He had no true royal blood, though he did take care to point out that his great-grandfather was among the last to search vainly through the woods of Nan Elmoth. That, in his mind, was a grand honour. But for however concerned he was with his own heritage, he preferred Laegellen culture. The Laegrim, he always said, were pure and uncorrupted by the decadence and classism that had plagued Doriath. They would accept him as a leader even when his common birth prevented him from rising to even the least of stations in the court of Menegroth.
So, the settlement in Eryn Galen was built on a foundation of equality. There would be no class system in my father's land. When the first settlement was established at the beginning of the Second Age, he called himself Reeve rather than King, as he had been chosen by his people and would only guide them, not rule them. He never considered himself above his citizens. How many kings do you know who would dig their own wells, or plane their own doors? Would Gil-galad in Lindon have helped his neighbour sow a garden? My father did this, and governed his people by the example of his own hard work. At least in the beginning, when the settlement was new. But old habits die hard. Many of his followers came from Doriath and had lived their entire lives under the Kingship of Thingol. By their own linguistic carelessness, Reeve Oropher of Eryn Galen soon became King Oropher of Eryn Galen. And my father grew too accustomed to the prestige and power that title afforded him to give it up. By the end of the first long count, he was calling himself King.
But he was still a good king. He still laboured with his hands, as much as his ever-increasing duties would allow. He was unburdened by high ambition for personal glory. In truth, the only thing he desired more than happiness and prosperity for his people was an heir. As Reeve, the necessity had not been so great. A reeve is elected, and can be succeeded by any qualified leader. But a king is a different story. Kingship is passed down from father to son, and in the case of my father's death, who would take the crown? He had no family: no sons born to him, no brothers living, no cousins known. At the best, he had a chancellor, a weasel-eyed sneak named Coristui, whose rule would never have been suffered. The future of the Kingdom of Eryn Galen was threatened so long as my father had no heir. Thauron's might was growing in the South, and he was vulnerable. So, even as Gil-galad's armies met the enemy in Eregion, my father took his second wife.
It was no strange thing among the Laegrim to be twice married. The old Iathrim fought it, citing the sanctity of eternal bonds as championed by the Belain, but their ancient ways were weakened by years of assimilation. There was no longer any distinction between Iathrim and Laegrim, my father claimed. And he called them all Tawarwaith, a citizenry undivided by ancestry or former cultural bounds. They would pay no heed to the laws of the West, and the King of the Tawarwaith would by no means subject himself to Western rule. And so to spurn the interference of the powers of Balannor, who ruined the pure Elves with the addiction to light, my father married my mother on the night of the new moon. He was 2281 years old then. She was 96.
It was some years before their first child, my second sister, was born. My father, by all accounts, hid his disappointment well. He was less gracious when my mother gave birth to my third sister. When my fourth sister was born, he reputedly cursed my mother, berating her for the gift of three fine daughters when all he truly wanted was a son. He accused her of producing girls out of spite. They grew apart after that and she removed herself from his bedroom to a room in the east corridor. This would naturally explain the large age gap of nearly eight hundred years between me and the youngest of my sisters.
My conception date was on the first day of spring in the year 3374 of the Second Age, as far as I can calculate. I can only assume this date coincided with my father receiving troubling news of Thauron's activity in the south and thus resolving to renew his quest for a son. Luck must have been with him, or fate on his side, as on the first day of spring in 3375, I was born. My father wept for joy, my sisters said. He had been given a boy. He named me Thranduin, but according to palace legend the name was misheard and thus misspelled on the birthright scroll by a lazy scribe. I was Thranduil ever after. My father might have taken this as the first sign that not everything was right in his dream.
My first portrait was painted when I was mere weeks old, lying asleep in my mother's arms. That was also the only portrait he ever commissioned of me. He guessed early on that I wasn't his ideal son, and I was continuously frustrating him with my inadequacies. I was too small. I didn't grow fast enough. I wanted to play with my toys instead of study maps of our territory. I was disinterested in weapons. I was too sensitive. I cried in front of him. I was never tall enough, strong enough, smart enough, or ambitious enough, and so whatever meagre love he originally afforded me quickly faded into disdain. However disappointing my sisters were to him, I was doubly so. He still had in his mind the image of a perfect heir: Thranduin, the father's pride. I was merely misspelled Thranduil. And no matter how hard I tried, on those long-past and rare occasions when I did indeed try to win his favour, I couldn't help but fail. It was in my nature.
Maybe that was why I ran away: not for a specific event, but for the accumulation of every criticism, every frown, every defeatedly wistful sigh. I didn't wish for his approval so much as I wished for my own peace of mind, away from the fear of being constantly judged. His expectations were strangling me. To save myself, I needed to leave. I needed to go as far as I could from Eryn Galen. West, I decided. There was wasteland to the north, and Thauron to the south. East was wild and unknown. But in the west stood a firm chance. I resolved to go west, as far as I could go. To the sea, if I might, and to Círdan. My father had spoken of him often enough, and nearly always with praise. Círdan, he considered, had been the greatest Elven ruler until deferring to the crushing kingship of Gil-galad.
I was no stupid child who ran away on a whim, though. As useless as my father thought me, I was well-trained enough to care for myself. I had been planning this, whether consciously or not, for a long time. I had been training. I knew exactly which leafy plants were the best to eat, and which concealed valuable root vegetables underground. I knew where to look. I knew how to make and set traps and, if need be, make crude but effective weapons out of branches and stones. I could build a shelter out of sticks and my spare cloak. My father always said I spent too much time outdoors, but how am I to blame when it was he who drove me from his halls? He drove me to wander, further and further afield, until that one night when I told myself not to go back.
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.