2. Rawien's Request
Rawien entered the hall silently. He stood in the shadows and gazed thoughtfully upon his King. The grief and sorrow of the past days had aged him in a way that time could not. Rawien himself had been the one to face his King earlier that day and relinquish to him the bodies of Queen Narawen and Prince Alagos. Narawen’s face held no peace – she had died violently. Rawien had cleaned her body and dressed her in a clean robe before wrapping her in a cloak and laying her upon the bier that had borne her back to Mirkwood. He was glad to have spared the King seeing her as they had found her.
He and his warriors did not find, however, the one she had just birthed.
Missing with that little one were the two young daughters of Urithral, the King’s advisor; and Tathiel, a she-elf who had waited upon Queen Narawen.
The elves were an immortal people. Their lives were tied to Arda; as long as Arda existed they would also. They did not become ill, nor did their bodies grow weary with time. Death in battle, and rarely, death due to grief did occur. The body was then no more, but the spirit passed to the Halls of Mandos. Manwë could keep the spirit until Arda ended or the spirit could be re-born. Thus, the elves knew that their loved ones lived on, and they had only to bide their time until they would be reunited. Not knowing if a loved one yet lived was perhaps the greatest torment on the mind of an elf, for they had not the presence of their loved one nor the comfort of the Halls of Mandos. In this instance, when the missing were young elves – elves not fully nurtured into adulthood – the torment was greater still.
Thranduil shifted in his chair, and raised his head. His eyes slowly swept the Hall, falling upon his Captain standing in the shadows. Their eyes met and Thranduil saw the sorrow that mirrored his own, but also a flicker of determination. Rawien had come with a purpose.
Rawien approached the King, stopping before the throne and bowing. “My King.”
“Rawien,” the King acknowledged him softly.
“My Lord, I have come to ask permission to leave at dawn with a party of ten.”
“You have hope, then?” Thranduil asked him steadily.
Rawien kept his eyes fixed on the King. “There is hope, my Lord.”
“On what is your hope based, Captain?”
“My Lord, we found no evidence of Tathiel or the children in the cave. Their small store of supplies were gone, as well as their blankets and packs. There were many tracks around the upper entrance, of horses and of booted feet. Human feet, we believe. There were no signs of struggle,” Rawien paused as he choked on his own emotions. “Tathiel is resourceful, my Lord. She will find a way to keep the children safe and keep them all alive.”
Thranduil was quiet for a moment, his eyes again closed. He pictured the faces of Tinánia and Eärundra, daughters of Urithral and Ethiwen; remembered their excitement at going on their first trip with their parents. He thought of Tathiel, of the friendship she shared with his dear wife and how Narawen had loved her like a sister. He pictured in his mind what his warriors had told him, of how Narawen had gone into labor in that cave and Tathiel had tended her. He wondered about his son, his little Legolas. He wondered if the child yet lived - wondered if the child could live without his mother or father with him. To have Legolas, to have that legacy of Narawen…..
“Permission granted,” Thranduil finally whispered. He paused, eyes closed, “May the Valar protect them.”
Thranduil walked slowly back to his chambers, glad for the empty halls. He was not ready to face the grief and compassion of others. He had to go see to his other children, to share their grief, and comfort and reassure them. He would cry with them over the loss of their mother and brother, and tell them again of the Halls of Mandos and of Valinor. He would give them Rawien’s hope that perhaps their beloved Tathiel would yet be found and their baby brother too.
As he walked, his mind was drawn back yet again to the events that had led to this time.
One month earlier…..
“There is a trade delegation from the land of Dorwinian that will be meeting in Laketown in two weeks,” Narawen whispered to Thranduil as they lay in bed in the early morning hours. “We should take a trip to meet them, now before the baby is born.”
“Hmmm,” Thranduil sighed, not quite fully awake.
“Ethiwen would like to come too, and bring their children. It would be their first trip away from Greenwood,” Narawen paused. “It would be an enjoyable trip. You and Urithral could negotiate some new trade agreements. Ethiwen and I could shop. Perhaps you could restock the Dorwinian wine. It is your favorite,” she coaxed.
Thranduil was silent for a few moments. “Is it safe for you to be about this close to the birth?”
“Yes. I have already discussed it with the midwife. She reports that my progress is perfect and on schedule,” Narawen was pleased she had done her homework.
“Then far be it from me to withhold from my very beautiful and very pregnant wife such a desire that is in my grasp to fulfill,” Thranduil murmured as his wife’s hair brushed over his face and chest as she leaned over to kiss him mid-sentence.
Thranduil loved his wife dearly. She was everything he had ever hoped her to be when she agreed to be his wife and Queen of their people. She had borne him six beautiful children already, and this seventh child was as much a celebration of their love as he - Narawen was sure it was a son - was a celebration to the peace they had enjoyed for so many years. The elves of Thranduil’s realm were very productive when it came to children – it had taken long to build up the numbers of their people after the terrible loss of two thirds of their warriors at the battle of Dagorlad nearly 2500 years earlier. They valued their children greatly; Thranduil felt like a very rich man whenever he surveyed his offspring gathered around him.
Narawen nearly bounced out of bed. “Then come, sleepyhead, we must get ready!”
Thranduil laughed out loud. The excitement of his wife was catching, and he found himself rising and preparing himself for the day, already pondering what items the elves of his realm needed and what they had to barter.
Narawen found herself nearly giggling as she went to her dressing room. Tathiel was already there, waiting to assist her. Tathiel’s face lit up into a smile when she saw her queen.
“He said yes,” Tathiel laughed.
“Yes, he said yes. I feel as excited as a young elf-maiden again,” Narawen finally did giggle. “One would think I had not left the realm in a hundred years!”
Narawen twirled in a circle, laughing again, and finally depositing herself on the stool of her dressing table. Tathiel began brushing her hair. “Perhaps not a hundred years, but it has been some time. You are glowing, my Lady, do you know that? I think pregnancy agrees with you.”
“My son brings me great joy already,” Narawen smiled as she placed both hands over her ever-enlarging belly. “I believe he will also enjoy this little adventure.”
Tathiel joined in the laughter as she listened to the Queen recite the plans for the trip. She placed the hairbrush back on the table and went to choose a gown from the wardrobe. Her eyes fell on a beautiful blue gown that matched the queen’s eyes to perfection. She helped Narawen into the gown, the empire waist style flowing gracefully around the pregnant form of the queen.
“There. You look ready to take on all the trade delegations of Arda. Come, eat, so you may go find Ethiwen and share the good news.”
“You will come too, Tathiel? Narawen asked
“On your trip? Of course. Someone must ensure that you eat and rest and otherwise take care of yourself,” Tathiel snorted. “Now go, I will take care of packing and speak to the King’s guard about preparations.”
Narawen hugged her tight. “I love you, my little sister,” and then was gone out the door.
The mood in the palace was high as preparations for the trip were begun. Light and laughter followed Narawen as a matter of course; for the last week however, the mood was even lighter and laughter more frequent. Thranduil loved seeing the sparkle in her eyes and her voice raised in song. The tunes were merry and spoke of the beauty of the forest, the stars in the skies at night, and the wonder of the star-kindler Elbereth. The trip would be pleasurable; but it would also be of benefit to their people. Each member of the group had some business to attend to, and sample items for trade were carefully packed on carts for the trip. The route they would take required little planning. It would be an easy journey, meant to be treasured and enjoyed, of five days to reach Laketown by the Forest River path. There had been relative peace for nearly four centuries. Orcs and spiders had fled from the realm of the elves, and relations with the men of Laketown were still quite good. There seemed little to worry about.
The small group gathered at dawn on a fine summer’s morning. Thranduil was hopeful for both a successful trade negotiation and for the enjoyment of this time spent with friends and family. Urithral was his most trusted advisor, and would be meeting with the Laketown men to discuss trade for metals they would use to outfit the warriors of Greenwood. Thranduil and Urithral well remembered the horrors of Dagorlad when so many of their people had fallen, many due to inadequate armor and weapons. Elves had been sent to Imladris, and some even to the dwarves, to learn the arts of weapon forging, and had detailed lists of materials they would require. Ethiwen, the wife of Urithral, was an accomplished warrior who spent her time since the conception of their children within the realm of Greenwood, teaching the novices and experimenting with new weapons. This trade was close to both of their hearts. Narawen would be discussing trade for fine cloth and useful household items. Calardan, an ingenuous craftsman, would be assisting Narawen. Tathiel had long trained as a healer and had traveled to other elven realms to learn and share knowledge with others of their craft. She hoped to further the knowledge of the Laketown healers and teach them to use the herbs and medicines crafted by the elves. Rawien and five others would act as protectors of the leaders of Greenwood. Included in this group was Alagos, the youngest son of Thranduil and Narawen. Alagos had just completed his warrior training and been through the formal ceremony commissioning him with the responsibility to defend and protect his people.
Thranduil mounted his horse and turned to the merry travelers. Narawen and Tathiel were riding in a cart; Tathiel insisting that no matter how light and smooth the steps of Narawen’s fine horse Tembor, the cart would be more comfortable for her and the baby. Tembor had snorted and stamped his foot when he saw the group preparing to leave. Narawen had scratched his head and agreed with him that she knew he would safely carry her and the little one; but, nonetheless he would need to remain behind or agree to pull the cart. Tembor threw his head at that suggestion – he did not pull carts and how could she even suggest he perform such a task?
All other members of the party were mounted on horses; Ethiwen with her young daughter Eärundra in front of her as the child was yet too small to sit a horse on her own. Tinánia, older daughter of Ethiwen and Urithral; and Elumeril, youngest daughter of Thranduil and Narawen; both sat proudly on fine young mares. Both had recently received their first horses, and had been deemed able to ride on their own by their riding masters.
Thranduil turned to the palace steps and surveyed his children again. Bregolas would be holding court in his father’s stead for the first time without one of his parents or Urithral present. Thranduil was proud of his son’s bearing; he looked every inch the confident Crown Prince. His younger brother, Lathron, would be acting as advisor to the Prince. Narawen had laughed after Lathron’s birth that he had appeared to listen intently and wisely from the moment he was introduced to the world, and he had held to that countenance throughout his entire childhood and into adulthood. Their third child, Celebrinduil, was a craftsman who had long trained under Calardan. He and Calardan were still talking and discussing which raw materials would most benefit the elves in their endeavors. Thranduil shook his head and smiled. Celebrinduil’s imagination and lack of attention to matters of court used to drive him to distraction and at times, anger. It was Narawen who had suggested an apprenticeship to Calardan, and her insight into this child had proved true as Celebrinduil flourished under Calardan’s tutelage. Thranduil’s eyes turned to his fifth child and oldest daughter, Elenath. Named for the starry sky under which she was born, this child was a fiery whirlwind who kept up with her brothers and yet curled up with her mother to discuss the latest fashion. A novice warrior-in-training, she was thrilled to be with all the other young novices and even now at the departure of her parents, older brother and younger sister, she could barely stand still in her eagerness to rejoin her new comrades.
“We shall return in approximately three weeks hence,” Thranduil reminded them, his eyes twinkling. “Rule wisely in my stead, Prince Bregolas.”
Bregolas stood tall, prepared to bow and answer the King, when a quiet comment from Lathron sent all of the nearby elves into snickers. Bregolas reddened and waved a hand at his brother to quiet him, but whispered words from Celebrinduil set everyone off again.
Thranduil threw back his head and laughed at Bregolas’ discomfiture and joined Rawien in leading the group out the palace gates. His siblings would be sure to keep Bregolas’ head from swelling too much at the responsibility to which he had been entrusted.
Narawen looked back at the four on the steps one last time and waved. She was confident and proud of each, and already looking forward to returning home to hear from each what they had accomplished in the absence of their parents.
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.