I stood beside Legolas taking in the scenery and knowing I was suddenly engulfed in a world unseen by any human. Everywhere I looked were wooden pathways leading to a number of white archways. I breathed deep. The smells were unfamiliar to me. Everything was much more vibrant. The smell of the trees was intensified. The freshness of the air was intoxicating. I seemed to forget everything that had to do with my modern world, even the sound of gunshots and Ethan.
"Welcome to my world mellon nin." Legolas said proudly.
"Legolas, it is absolutely beautiful here. Why would you ever want to leave and go to my world?" I said still looking around me.
"Only because of you would I leave this place. But always it is a joy to return." he said with that smooth voice of his.
"I can definitely see why." I commented.
He led me by the hand through the archway and I noticed the cedars growing on either side. "Where are we going?" I asked, my voice sounding dreamy.
"I will show you around but first I must take you to see my father, though I'm afraid he will not be pleased."
Legolas smiled and kissed my cheek. "Because I have just broken one of our most protected laws. 'No human shall pass through a portal.'
"Should I be worried?"
"Leave it to me. I have a good reason for breaking this rule and soon my Adar will understand why. Just be quiet and speak only when spoken to. Understand?" His voice was so magical and kind. He could have asked me to jump from a cliff to my death and I would have obliged.
We walked along the wooden paths until they led us to a forest of the biggest trees I had ever seen. I looked up and saw platforms and huts built carefully within their branches. "Is this what Greenwood looked like?"
"It is a close replica, but Greenwood was much more full of life and wonder. Do not misunderstand me. I love this home just as much, but nothing can compare to an elf's begetting place."
He moved us along until we came to a set of spiraling stairs that wrapped their way around the base of a huge tree. We made the ascent until we reached a platform. On the other side of the platform was a golden door of a very big elvish house. I noticed other elves dressed very much in the same way as Legolas except for the color of their clothes. They wore lighter shades of tans and greens than his. And there was no silver embroidery sewn into their tunics. They bowed as we passed but their faces turned to surprise when they saw me in my jeans, tee shirt and boots, or maybe my human heritage was what shocked them.
We stopped in front of the golden door. "Wait here while I call for a meeting with my Adar. You will be safe here, though if you are not used to such great heights, I suggest you stay away from the edge as we do not use railings as in your world." He winked at me. "It's a long way back to the ground, though mighty quick if you choose to go that way." He walked to the edge and looked down. Jokingly, he acted as if he was about to fall. I felt my heart leap out of my chest with fear. Then he laughed slightly at my expense and it seemed to bother me. Where did this sign of arrogance come from? I guess he was feeling brave in his element.
Legolas disappeared through the golden door and I stood there, in the middle of the platform, far from any edge, watching these mystical beings as they passed by.
* * *
Legolas approached his father. "I think I have found something Adar, something that will aid us in obtaining the key to the portals."
Thranduil swished his robes behind him as he turned to face Legolas. "Are you certain this time?" he asked slightly excited but still maintaining his kingly stature.
"I am almost certain." Legolas answered.
"Istuion." Thranduil called and another door in the room opened. Istuion entered.
"Ah Prince Legolas. Back so soon?" the healer said.
"It seems my son has found something that might be of great importance in the finding of the key."
Istuion gasped. "Do tell my Prince. What is it you have found?"
Legolas smiled. "First, I must have my Adar's promise that he will contain himself and not make any hasty judgments or decisions. Will you agree?"
"Very well, I agree." Thranduil said. "Well, where is it?" he said trying to see if his son hid something in his hands.
Legolas went to the door and opened it. "It is alright, you may come in." he said to the woman and she slowly peeked inside before stepping fully through the door.
Istuion stood with his mouth agape. Thranduil did not move for a moment, remaining like a cold stone statue. Then slowly, he shook his head from side to side as his fingers came up to grip the bridge of his nose. "What have you gone and done this time ion nin? What have you done?" he said in the faintest whisper.
"This is my friend from the other side. I believe she has the power to help us find the key." Legolas said smiling.
* * *
"What?" said the two very important looking elves standing in front of me.
"What?" I said turning to Legolas and shaking my head. "Hey, I didn't sign up for this. Legolas, you didn't say that… I thought I was just going to…"
Legolas ignored me and just smiled as he continued on with the introductions. "My lady, this is my Adar and former King of Greenwood the Great, Thranduil son of Oropher." he said with such respect and pride. I didn't know what I was supposed to do and thought of those old King Arthur movies. I did a sort of clumsy curtsy-bow thing, which I instantly regretted doing.
"Stand my child." Thranduil said in a booming voice. This guy was all about power. He kind of scared me. I guess he saw my expression because his features instantly softened. "Istuion, will you see that the lady gets a bite to eat and a draught of wine while I speak with my son?"
"Yes my lord." said Istuion. Then he walked up to me and offered me his arm. I looked at Legolas who only smiled and nodded. I took Istuion's arm and he led me through a different door than the one I came in. I had a bad feeling about this.
* * *
"Legolas, this is an outrage. We have rules we must follow. Those who break the rules must be punished. And here, my own son is the biggest law breaker of them all. You are a Prince. What kind of example are you setting for our people? What were you thinking bringing her here? No human has ever passed through a portal." Thranduil went on for some time before he gave Legolas a chance to speak. Then finally, he finished. "What have you to say?"
Legolas merely smiled and whispered very nonchalantly. "She is the key Adar."
Thranduil stood there a moment. "She is the key. And how do you know such a thing?"
Legolas raised an eyebrow in a condescending manner, very unlike himself. "Have you forgotten what you told me Father? When I see it I will know. Well, I stand before you now and say… I have seen it and I know. She IS the one. She IS the key."
Thranduil couldn't deny his curiosity. "Tell me more of this. Does the woman know?"
"I think deep down she knows but has not realized it yet. It is simple really. Ever since first meeting her, I knew there was something different and special about her. And then, after forming a friendship with her, I began to sense things I had not sensed before, feel things I had not felt. There is a connection here. She reacts differently in my presence. She senses me in her world. This should not be possible for any modern day human. Yet with her it is true. Then she began to have visions, dreams she called them. She saw Greenwood the Great in one such dream and explained it to me so vividly, I thought I was back there. We share a connection that I could not explain until recently, a common acquaintance you might say." Legolas paused and put his hand on his father's shoulder. "This woman has dreamt of Minaethiel, but not just a dream. She was within Minaethiel's mind, reliving her memories down to every last detail. She described our first meeting and the day I asked for her soul. I cannot help but feel it was Minaethiel herself, sending a message through this woman. Adar, she told me of Minaethiel's fate and what I must do to get her back. I think if I can find her through this human woman, the portal's can be closed for good."
Thranduil listened to everything Legolas had to say before he answered. "And what about the woman? What will happen to her when and if she accomplishes this? Will she be allowed to go home? Will she be trapped on this side of the portal? Does she even want to help you knowing there might be a chance she can never go home? You have not thought things through son. You cannot toy with someone else's life just to regain something you lost."
He was right of course. Legolas had not taken this into consideration. Actually, he was not sure about anything or how it would play out. All he knew was that he needed to try something. Nothing ever felt as right as this. Somehow, he felt everything would work out in the end. "I have prayed to Eru every day since losing Minaethiel. I trust with my whole being that all will end well."
* * *
Istuion turned out to be a really nice person, uh elf. He took me back to the ground and showed me to the dining hall where he ordered up a tray of delicious fruit. I skipped on the wine, being I didn't want to send the wrong message to anyone. I was not a lush. He asked me a few questions about where I was from and what it was like there. He seemed particularly interested in the story of the night Legolas was shot and who tended to him. I told him about our family doctor, Dr. Bradford. He had delivered me as a baby, helped my mom through her sickness and was there when my dad had his heart attack. It only made sense that it was he who stitched up Legolas.
As we talked, Legolas came in and joined us. Finally, someone I knew and felt comfortable with, not that there was anything wrong with Istuion. It's just that Legolas made me feel normal in this unusual place.
"So how did it go?" I asked as he sat down on the bench beside me. Istuion seemed just as anxious.
"It seems you are my responsibility while you are here." Then he flashed me a dimpled smile. "So don't do anything that I will have to have you locked up for." he laughed.
I was getting a little tired of his jokes. "You know, you may think this is funny Legolas, but you're not the unwelcome visitor from another world."
Istuion leaned back a little, surprised to hear someone talk to Legolas as I did. That's when it dawned on me that Legolas was a real life Prince, and not one of those movies types. People treated him with utmost respect. I'm sure not many had ever raised their voices to him. To me he was still Mr. Magic Man, my friend.
"Sorry, I did not mean to disrespect your position or anything. I forget who you are here. Back home your just Legolas, but here you are a Prince."
"It is fine. It is only a title anymore. There are no Kings or Princes in Valinor. We are all equals here, though many still view me as such. It's my Adar who still likes to be known by his title." Legolas said then stood. "Would you care to walk with me? I would love to show you around."
"Alright." I said and he held his arm out for me to take. This must be customary here. I saw many males escorting the ladies around in this fashion. I played along, since this was not my world. 'Always respect the traditions of the places you visit.' my mother always told me.
Legolas led us to a beautiful garden full of blooming flowers and butterflies. It smelled wonderful. Some flowers I recognized and other seemed very strange and exotic to me, but one stuck out more than any other. I walked over and examined its odd droplet shape. "This flower seems familiar to me, like I've seen it before. But I'm pretty sure nothing like this grows at home."
Legolas came up and stood next to me. "Can you think of its name?" he asked as he took my hand in his.
I closed my eyes and envisioned the flower. 'White like snow and in the shape of a water drop.' I said to myself. 'A snowdrop.' I continued. "Ni… Niphre… Niphredil?" I stumbled across the name as it came to the front of my mind.
Legolas just smiled and squeezed my hand. "You remember." he whispered.
"I don't know how I knew its name. I've never seen it before." I said confused as was usual lately.
"Aye, but you have, in a dream perhaps. You have had many visions of my world. Do you not remember the one you told me of my native home? You described it perfectly. Come. Let us sit for a while. There is something I need to tell you." Legolas led me to a soft grassy patch under a beautiful ash tree. He proceeded to tell me about Minaethiel and their forbidden love. He told me what he thought happened to her and how I help him to understand the truth of her disappearance. He mentioned his father's involvement and even some visions of his own. Everything was related like pieces of a puzzle. But the last piece was the one that was missing for many, many years. It was the one that would close the portals forever. "You are the last piece."
"Me? How am I the last piece? I am nobody, a country girl, a human. How do I fit into all of this?" He was really beginning to worry me.
"Do you remember when I told you that you had a very old soul and I could sense things from you?" he asked.
"Yes. You said it was not normal for an elf to sense human feelings, let alone a modern day girl like me."
"You are somehow connected to Minaethiel. Your souls are intertwined. This is why I felt so in tune to your feelings. This is why you could always sense my presence in your world. In a way, being connected to Minaethiel has connected you to me and my world. You are like a vessel."
"But what does this mean Legolas? Will I be stuck here, never able to go home? Will I die in the process of retrieving her soul? Or maybe she will take over my body and I will disappear." Now I was really beginning to panic. I was feeling very alone all of a sudden.
"I honestly do not know what it means." he said as he looked to the ground. He was just as worried as I was. I know he would never want any harm to come to me.
A tear escaped the corner of my eye. Legolas reached out and wiped it away then drew me into his chest and held me tight. "I'm scared Legolas." I whispered. For the first time in my life I uttered those words aloud.