The huge hall was
hushed as King Thranduil entered, followed by Lord Elrond. Thranduil
seated himself and indicated a seat to his left for Elrond. The elf
lord bowed his head slightly and took his seat.
turned his attention to the guards surrounding his son and Aragorn and
instructed them, "Be seated."
away from the prince’s side and bowed before speaking, "My lord, if it
pleases you my contingent and I would stand with the accused. We do not
support this banishment and have evidence that it is ill-advised. If it
is so decided today that the ruling stands, we would be counted as
outcasts with these who stand before you now."
casually at the King who surreptitiously returned the gaze before
responding. He had had no doubts that something like this would take
place and had forewarned Elrond. Returning his full attention to the
small group of elves he steeled his gaze and continued, "Do you
understand the gravity of the situation?"
forward next to Raniean. "They saved us, my lord. Surely that is
Elrond cast his
eyes down, but couldn’t help smiling as he glanced at Thranduil.
The king leaned on
the arm of the throne and spoke quietly to Elrond. "Do you see what I
have to deal with?"
"Well they are
very loyal." He covered his expression with a serious glance. "Young
elves are always impudent and sure of themselves. My own are enough for
me I do not envy you your position at all."
chuckled and returned his attention to the warriors. "Your argument is
duly noted. Stand with the accused then if you will."
The two warriors
stepped back near Legolas and Aragorn and, after a moment of silence,
king once again spoke.
"The accused stand
guilty of breaking their banishment. They have violated the law levied
against them and entered elven territory." Thranduil stared hard at
Legolas and Aragorn. "By doing so, they bring down the sentence of
upon their own heads."
from the crowd of elves whispered through the great hall. When it had
quieted Thranduil continued. "However, as it has
been brought to this assemblies' attention, these two have acted in a
manner worthy of the houses they represent. The orcs that have
encroached upon our forests and engaged the dwarves in battle have been
destroyed by these two outcasts. And if it were not for their bravery
alone, many are the immortals who would not sit nor stand beneath this
hall today. Those freed from the lair of Tairach stand as silent
One by one the
elves that had been saved from the spider’s cocoons quietly stood to
their feet. Aragorn glanced around the room, surprised at the number of
elves that stood behind them. In the heat of the battle, it had been
difficult to tell how many the spiders had taken.
"However, when a
ruling is passed down from a king it may not be violated for any
no matter how noble the motives may be." He glanced at Lord Elrond,
"The only way that those who stand accused before this court may live
is if the original ruling is found to be ill-conceived or has outlived
its purpose and may be overturned. It takes two, however, to do this."
to Elrond, "Lord Elrond of Rivendell, you have heard of the banishment
of these two. You have also seen witness to their testimony as given by
others and have heard it explained to you in the privacy of my own
chambers. On this basis alone, do you feel that the verdict has
Elrond gazed out
across the sea of elven faces, his eyes lighting lastly on his adopted
son. "On the basis of the witnesses and the testimonies given I do and
on the honor of those who stand before this court, I find that this law
has outlived it usefulness. But I would further request that it be
stricken from all elven courts and never be handed down again." He
turned to Thranduil and continued, "This law has done great harm and
therefore is not a just law. Do you not agree?"
eyed the Noldor elf for a long quiet moment before slowly nodding. "I
do, and it is henceforth stricken from all courts of law in the
elven territories and may never be used again against another elf."
Elrond nodded once
in consent and turned back towards the audience chamber.
"Write it up and
seal it with my insignia." Lord Thranduil removed his signet ring from
his finger and handed it to Elrynd who curtly bowed and turned to
"And with mine."
The elven lord stated, slipping his own ring from his finger and
it to the servant.
"See to it that
the new edict is read in every territory." King Thranduil further
Legolas sighed in
relief and glanced at Aragorn before his attention was refocused on his
Greenleaf," Thranduil addressed the young prince. The elf stood tall
and looked his father in the eyes. "As the court has seen to lift your
ban, come and take your seat as Prince of Mirkwood once more." The king
motioned to the empty seat on his right.
forward and kneeled before the king, his right hand covering his heart
in pledge. When he stood, Thranduil was smiling openly at his son. The
young elf restrained himself from exhibiting his joy and walked calmly
up the steps to take his seat next to his father.
The chamber of
elves roared in approval and came to their feet in a swift motion. Only
a few of those present did not stand or cheer and their actions were
noted by all.
the elves once more and continued, "Now as to the matter of the human."
Elrond glanced at
Thranduil, raising his eyebrows at the slight. However the smile that
the king barely hid was not lost on the elven lord and he relaxed.
hide his own smile as Trelan and Raniean moved closer in towards the
Dùnadan giving him their support with their presence.
"This one named
Strider is no ordinary man," the king spoke once more.
forward and whispered in Aragorn’s ear, "Strider?"
"It’s a long
story," the man whispered back and returned his attention to the king
who was still speaking.
"Because of his
acts of bravery in freeing the elves and his disregard of his own life
in saving the life of the prince, he is now and will always be free to
come and go under Mirkwood’s trees for as long as he and his
descendants live. The banishment is repealed, Aragorn son of Arathorn,
Heir of Isildur and one in the guardianship of Lord Elrond." Thranduil
Trelan and Raniean
both turned towards the human and asked incredulously, "Aragorn?"
rolled his eyes and replied, "It’s a long story"
forward." King Thranduil motioned the man towards him. The king
stepped down from his throne and approached the human. Elrond and
Legolas stood from their seats in silent approval.
Thranduil, appearing from the wings of the hall and handed the king a
swath of dark blue velvet. Carefully the elder elf unwrapped an elven
sword and passed it to the young man. "Because I owe you a debt of
gratitude I cannot repay in saving my son, consider this house as your
Aragorn took the
sword on the upturned palms of his hands and kneeled before the elf
lord. "Thank you my lord."
his shoulder and motioned the man to stand. Addressing the crowd once
more he dismissed them, "This assembly is at an end. You may leave.
Tonight we will celebrate the prince’s return!"
The exit of the
elves was quite different than the last time Aragorn had watched them
leave. Their faces were joyful and bright and they congratulated the
warriors that had stood with Aragorn and Legolas, even including the
twins in their cheer.
As the room
cleared, the two elf lords talked quietly among themselves and the
younger elves had formed their own small knot where they were
animatedly recounting the events of the afternoon.
Aragorn felt eyes
on him and looked about the hall. Near the doorway, Sarcayul stood with
his small band of warriors. His eyes were dark and the anger and hatred
in them barely concealed. Legolas followed Aragorn’s gaze and noted the
band of elves. He stepped back near Raniean and touched the warrior.
Instantly the small group of elves around the prince stilled and
on Sarcayul’s clan.
With so much
attention on him, the elf dropped his gaze and glanced to his left.
Morifwen sat by himself on the far side of the hall, his eyes down.
called to warrior. Slowly the elf looked back at his friend and was
motioned to join them. He had already made up his mind he would not be
a part of Sarcayul’s contingent any longer. He had seen the grief and
the pain the elf had enjoyed causing and he had had enough.
Morifwen shook his
head and looked back to the front of the hall. With a snort of disgust,
Sarcayul led his group out of the assembly hall.
"That one will be
trouble, my lord." Raniean watched the elf leave.
Legolas started to
answer but was interrupted as Aragorn slowly left his side walking
warily over to where Morifwen still sat. He took a seat in front of the
elf and leaned over the back of the wooden pew.
"You all right?"
Morifwen sat back,
surprised to see the human so near him.
"You and Legolas
saved me from the spiders, although I deserved to be left by you." He
glanced over his shoulder towards the place Sarcayul had been, "I can’t
be a part of that anymore."
his hand over the chair backing and reached out towards the elf. "No
hard feelings then?"
Morifwen stared at
him, unable to speak. "You forget that I framed you and hunted you?"
answered him softly, "But I forgive it."
"Your brother is
quite unusual," Raniean stepped near Elladan and spoke quietly to him.
"That he is," the
twin answered watching with interest as the human made peace with the
his open hand closer to Morifwen, "What do you say we start over again?"
Morifwen smiled at
the man and nodded his head. Taking the proffered hand he answered the
offered peace, "I would like that very much."
watched whole thing spellbound. As Morifwen stood and walked back with
Aragorn, Trelan stepped up behind the elf warrior. "Maybe you should
him to join our contingent. He could use some retraining."
The tall warrior
looked down at the smaller elf. "I supposed you’d volunteer for that?"
he asked as Trelan grinned wickedly at him.
stepped out and stopped Morifwen. "I see you have been left behind by
your companions." When the elf did not respond, he continued, "You have
a lot to learn about compassion and what it means to be an elf."
and dropped his eyes to the floor. It seemed the human could forgive
easier than his own.
"Would you care to
join my contingent?" When the warrior met his gaze, Raniean continued,
"You’ll have to leave that bigotry behind though. I won’t tolerate it."
the group of young elves as Morifwen readily accepted Raniean’s offer.
"My sons, it's time to go." He interrupted the conversations and
to the door with his hand.
"I’d like to stay, Father. At least for a few days."
Aragorn stepped around the warriors
and approached Elrond.
The elder elf
smiled and shook his head. "Not this time. I do believe our original
agreement was a fortnight. I think that you have passed that deadline
quite a few fortnights ago. We are leaving and you are coming with us."
He smiled into the begging face of the human.
next to the ranger and touched his shoulder. "I have an idea, Strider."
His eyes were twinkling as he spoke and he purposefully avoided his
father's gaze. "How about I promise to come and visit you in a
fortnight. And we can spend some time in Rivendell; see what sort of
trouble we can stir up in your woods this time."
"Yes! I will look
for you then!" Aragorn grasped the prince by his forearm and pulled his
Elrond’s eyes. "Good luck to you," he commented dryly. His sarcasm
elicited laughter from those standing nearby.
Elrond signed and
nodded. "Yes, thank you, I believe I am going to need it with these
He fondly draped his arm around Estel’s shoulder and escorted the boy
out of the hall, trailed by his sons.
Thranduil gazed at
Legolas, who smiled back at his father, "Well that was fun."
Raising an eyebrow
in mock indignation, the king turned and strode slowly out of the hall,
his son at his side. "Yes well, let’s not do that again for a very long
"Is a fortnight
"When I have
crossed to the Undying Lands you may pull a stunt like that again, but
until then, no." Thranduil smiled at the young elf.
The prince’s laughter rang through
the halls and resonated in the king’s heart. It was so good to have him
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