Siege of Dread
Chapter 2: Legends and Myths
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Thranduil entered the guestroom where Elrynd had indicated that Raniean had been
placed without preamble and surprised the young healer who was
currently locked in an argument with his patient.
Raniean’s left arm was in a sling and his hair spilled around the
bandage that covered his forehead, but he was on his feet and obviously
attempting to leave the room.
“Nestad, stop it,” Raniean batted the healer away. “I am all right, I must speak with the King...”
“And I would speak with you, Randomirion, if you are well enough.”
The King’s voice startled Nestad, who had his back turned to the
doorway. The healer jumped slightly, spinning around and giving a
Raniean was also surprised, but quickly dropped a respectful bow as
well, although lowering his head was a bad idea. He suddenly
found himself required to reach out and catch hold of the wall to
remain upright. Nestad grabbed his good arm quickly in a
“After you fall down on your face in front of the king, maybe then
you’ll listen to me, hm?” the healer chastised, trying to lower Raniean
back onto the bed. Raniean would have none of it; it wasn’t
proper to sit when his King stood before him. When he had taken over
for his father many years ago, Randomir had imparted the duties of his
position to his son along with his own unbendingly strict code of
“Raniean, sit,” Thranduil gestured to the bed. His captain looked
pale. He needed to talk, but he did not want the younger elf to
stress himself with formalities.
Raniean obeyed, his good hand drifting to the bandages on his
head. It felt as if there were a cave troll up there, still hard at
work. “My Lord, I fear my news is ill.” A deep sadness
touched Raniean’s clear blue eyes; sadness and guilt. “My
Thranduil raised his hand, wishing to spare the younger elf that
particular pain right now. “I know, Raniean, Elrynd told
me.” The King let his hand fall to rest lightly on Raniean’s
shoulder. “Do not blame yourself because you came back and they
did not. It is the sad way of this world sometimes. But
tell me, what news is there? Is the High Pass blocked? Why?”
Raniean laid his own personal feelings aside for the time being and
focused on the King’s questions. “There is something going on up
there, your Highness. Never have I seen so many orcs and wargs in
the mountains. The wargs caught our scent quicker than we thought
they would. I... I should have known better, your Majesty, I am
sorry,” he admitted his culpability plainly. As a leader,
anything that went wrong was his responsibility by default. “I
have dealt little with those fell beasts and I fear my ignorance cost
Raniean dropped his gaze. It was true, few wargs had ever
ventured into Mirkwood itself, seeming uncomfortable in the close
confines of the trees, and in border skirmishes the elves had only dealt with
them a little outside the forest. Still, he did not feel that
absolved the blunder that had cost his warriors' lives.
Thranduil’s hand tightened gently on the younger elf’s shoulder.
In a way it was Raniean’s fault, but it had not come through a lack
of care or diligence. The King knew his young captain’s worth and
this error was not going to change that. “Experience is
hard-learned sometimes. Honor the memories of the fallen by
learning from the mistakes made and never repeating them. But do
not hold their deaths on your head; that wrong belongs to the creatures
that killed them, not you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Raniean nodded quickly.
Thranduil sighed and let his hand fall back to his side. He could
see that Raniean didn’t really, not yet. He would need time to work past the grief first.
“Did it seem they were lying in wait for you? Do you think they
mean to attack?” Thranduil was deeply disturbed about this threat, even
if it was quite a distance away from any of their immediate
borders. He didn’t like all this trouble coming on the heels of
his disturbing nightmares, even if it was only coincidental.
Raniean shook his head slowly. “No, I do not feel that they were
waiting for us at all. Their attention did not seem to be focused
on the paths that we came up upon; it was more like a muster of some
kind and we had the ill fortune of being in the wrong place at the
wrong time. It seemed that many of them were arriving from away
to the south. I do not know what their purpose is, but for so
many of them to be out and about in the daylight... they are up to no
good, that is certain.”
Thranduil nodded thoughtfully. This was not good news. “How long since the attack?”
“Perhaps six or seven days, my Lord, I... I do not entirely recall my
entire return journey I am afraid,” Raniean admitted quietly.
Nestad eyed his patient. “Some of our scouts found him in the
border woods half-delirious yesterday and brought him here with all
haste, your Highness,” he ventured. “He needs to rest despite what
Thranduil nodded, smiling slightly at Raniean’s glower. “Yes, I
have no doubt he does. Raniean, you take after my son far too
much. With that in mind, Nestad, you may sedate him if he refuses
to behave,” the king threatened with a small, wry grin.
Raniean was a lot like Legolas in that way...
Thranduil’s heart was troubled. He missed his son as a few
seasons’ separation should not have warranted. Something told him
that this odd concentration of orcs bode ill for the elves and they
could not afford to ignore it, even if it did not seem to directly
affect their kingdom.
Raniean started to protest, but Thranduil silenced it with a commanding
look. “I need you well, Raniean. I do not like these
developments. In two days I lead a host of our people to the
mountains. If there is still trouble, we will deal with it,
otherwise we will journey across to take Council in Rivendell with Lord
Elrond.” //And see Legolas again, to confirm with my own eyes
that he is all right// Thranduil’s heart added the significant, but
“I would that you went with us, Raniean, so that I might leave Amil-Garil
in charge of the troops here, but I cannot allow it unless Nestad gives
you a clean bill of health. So I suggest you follow his
Raniean half-bowed in obedience. “As you command, your
Majesty.” It was not entirely unusual for Thranduil to ride out
with his troops himself, but it usually signaled an important
event. The last time it had happened was when they rode to aid
Lake Men who were being devastated by the dragon Smaug, only to arrive
and end up participating in the Battle of the Five Armies on the slopes
of the Lonely Mountain instead.
Thranduil nodded and turned to leave. He couldn’t help smiling
slightly. If only Legolas were that easy to deal with when he was
convalescing. Unfortunately his son usually seemed to feel a
little less honor-bound to obey the Elvenking without complaint.
Elrynd opened the door to let Thranduil out and the King found himself
face to face with another elf. Although... chin-to-face was
perhaps a better description since he had to look down to see anything
other than the top of the other elf’s head.
“Trelan,” Thranduil smiled slightly as the younger elf quickly backed
up, murmuring apologies for having almost run into the King.
“I’m sorry, your Highness, I heard that Raniean had returned... Is he...” Trelan’s lively eyes were filled with worry.
“He is going to be fine, Trelan, go in and see for yourself. You
may visit, but not too long, he needs to rest.” Thranduil moved
aside to let the other warrior into the room. He knew that Trelan
would be able to do his friend’s heart good and Raniean needed that
right now. Doubtless Raniean’s relatives would be along soon as
well. If they wished to take Raniean home to recover the King
would allow it, although the warrior was more than welcome to stay in
the palace if he so desired. If Legolas were there the question
would be moot; Raniean would stay and the prince would enjoy the chance
to fuss over his friend.
But Legolas was not there.
Elrynd followed wordlessly in his master’s wake as they walked down the
halls towards the council chambers until Thranduil spoke to him.
“Elrynd, send for Lord Celemir, I need to speak with him.”
Thranduil would leave Celemir regent while he was away and they had
much to discuss.
The fire flickered low and Estel leaned back against the cushions
behind him, eyes half-lidded, only barely listening to the minstrel’s
stories. He had heard most of them many times before and they
were now merely a pleasant backdrop to his relaxed state. Outside
the moon was high overhead.
Evenings such as this were not uncommon in Rivendell, but this evening
was all the more festive an occasion because they were celebrating
Elrohir’s return to the hearing world. Indeed, they had been for
the past several days, so great was the whole valley’s joy at the
lifting of the dark cloud that had descended on the Peredhil family.
It was a tenuous return at first, but now, after three days, it was
amazing how quickly everything had begun to come back. The finer
ranges of Elrohir’s hearing had yet to return, but he could already
hear at least as well as a normal human. Elrohir was simply glad
to be able to hear anything again and trusted that his hearing would continue to regain its former keenness with time.
Legolas lay on his side near where Estel sat. The elf prince was
propped up on one elbow, his head resting on his hand so that his
unbraided golden locks spilled down around his arm, gracefully brushing
the floor. The elf had stretched out on one of the many downy
spreads strewn across the large hall for the comfort of those who
wished to do exactly as he was doing. The prince had a bowl of
cherries and was eating them slowly while he listened to the
tales. Ever and anon his attention drifted away, but he paid more
heed to the stories than his human companion did since, to the Mirkwood
elf, the tales of Rivendell were not nearly so familiar.
Elladan and Elrohir sat on Aragorn’s other side. The elder twin
was sitting on the floor, reclining against a cushion very similar to
the one being used by his human brother, while Elrohir was lying down
with his head resting on his brother’s leg. Elladan’s long
fingers ran aimlessly through his twin’s dark tresses, lightly touching
Elrohir’s healing ears with a tenderness that spoke of how relieved
even his subconscious mind was that it no longer looked as if he would
lose his twin to a silent world.
Aragorn lazily watched as a cherry arched gracefully over his head -
the result of Legolas tossing Elladan one of the fruits he was
eating. Elladan caught it easily in one hand, the fingers of his
other never even leaving their protective resting-place on Elrohir’s
head. Legolas and Elladan had been doing this for a while now
since neither of them felt like actually moving from their comfortable
positions in order to more effectively share the cherry bowl.
Elladan popped the cherry into Elrohir’s mouth and caught another for himself.
“You could just give them the bowl, Legolas...” Aragorn murmured with a contented, sleepy voice.
Legolas smiled and teasingly pulled the bowl in closer to his chest,
enjoying pretending to be childish. “If they want it they can
come and get it. What, not worried about my aim are you?”
Aragorn chuckled softly, not even bothering to open his eyes. He
was too comfortable. “I saw how much you drank at dinner. I
have good reason to worry.”
That remark was rewarded by a wet cherry pit that immediately lodged itself in the ranger’s ear with a firm thwap.
Aragorn half-yelped as his contented near-doze was interrupted by the
unusual feeling and he shook his head, brushing the cherry pit onto the
“Your wines here are a child’s drink compared with my father’s
preferred vintage of Dorwinion.” The prince’s laugh was light as
he watched his friend remove the cherry pit. “Besides, I think my
aim has not suffered any, hm?”
Aragorn dropped back against his cushions once more with a smile,
settling easily back into his former state of semi-wakefulness.
“Whatever you say, Legolas.”
The prince smiled. He could learn to like arguing with the human
when Aragorn was relaxed and comfortable. It made him extremely
compliant. He eyed the cherry pit that Aragorn had let fall to
the floor. It had rolled a little ways away and lay on the
polished wood floor near the walkway.
“You’re just going to leave that there? Someone could slip,” the
elf said with an apathetically lethargic tone that suggested he wasn’t
really very concerned.
“Mmm,” Estel murmured. “You pick it up. You’re the one
tossing them around.” He yawned. “Besides, you’re the one
with the cherry bowl, so it’s your ears Celboril will pull for leaving
things on the floor, not mine.” That last was accompanied by a
The human was rewarded with another cherry pit that smacked right into
his eye. Aragorn flinched, but didn’t get up this time, merely
flicking it easily off his face with a sweep of his hand. “That
makes two now. Celboril will make you wash dishes.”
Elladan and Elrohir chuckled beside them. Elrohir reached his
hand out from where he was lying and picked up the two offending
cherry pits, which had rolled close to the twins.
“There, I saved you from the fearsome wrath of Celboril, Legolas,” the
younger twin said with a smile. “Now you owe us some more
At that, Legolas launched a playful mini-barrage of the small fruits at
the two elves, about half of which intentionally missed their target
and ended up pelting the human that sat between them.
“Hey!” Aragorn batted at the flying fruit hitting his face.
The twins abandoned any attempt to catch them and laughed helplessly as it rained cherries.
Across the room, Lord Elrond sat in a high-backed chair by the fire,
watching the younger beings with an unconcealed smile of fond
amusement. For an instant his eyes caught those of his human
son. Aragorn felt a familiar, overwhelming sense of warm serenity
fill him as the elder elf’s dancing eyes held the gaze of his
youngest. A small quirk of Elrond’s lips and Aragorn suddenly
found himself in danger of bursting out into laughter as well.
The human shook his head with a wry smile, giving his foster father a ‘what am I supposed to do with them?’ look.
Elrond just smiled but his amused eyes clearly seemed to say: ‘You think I have any idea? After all these years you should know better...’
Aragorn chuckled and let his head fall back again, his gaze languidly
tracing the curves of the ceiling beams. Ignoring the small
clusters of ripe red berries that pooled in the folds of his tunic and
slid down to the floor beside him, he listened to the centuries-old
elves on either side of him giggle like children.
“You elves are so strange,” he murmured with a smile.
Aragorn perceived the cherry heading for his nose after that comment
and opened his mouth in time to catch it instead, eating the sweet
berry and rolling the pit absently around on his tongue. These
were the good times. The times he treasured. At this moment
he felt so utterly complete that it didn’t matter what perils he had
ever been through, nor even those that may yet lie ahead... as long as
he always had his family and friends... had this special place to
return to... nothing could ever be too bad.
The cherry bowl was now empty, its contents spread in a small
mischievous halo around the three elves and the human. Legolas
let his head fall down onto his arms, his chuckles finally dying down
to a self-contented smile.
Elrohir rolled onto his back and played with a pair of
cherries still on the stem, dangling them from his fingers and watching
them swing with a relaxed fascination that could only be accomplished
after a lot of food, a fair amount of wine, a warm fire and pleasant
Elladan brushed cherries off his lap and out of his brother’s long, brown hair that lay tangled across his legs.
“Somebody ought to pick those up...” the elder twin glanced at the
berry explosion around them, snagging one near his hand and popping it
in his mouth, at the same time wiggling his leg to unsettle his brother
who was still lying on him.
“Mmm, not me,” Elrohir lifted his head until his brother stopped
moving, then promptly plopped it back down again. “Legolas
Legolas grinned, pillowing his head on his arms and turning his
attention back to the minstrel. “That would require moving, which
I do not see happening any time soon. Estel can do it.”
“No he can’t,” Estel retorted placidly without opening his eyes.
Elladan snorted. “I think you all had too much wine.”
“I note you’re not moving, brother,” Elrohir gave the cherries another spin.
“That’s because you’re lying on me, brother,”
Elladan pointed out, quickly catching Elrohir’s head and pushing it
back down when the younger twin started to pick it up.
Comfortable silence descended once more as the minstrel finished the
rather fanciful love story he had been weaving and began to move on to
another of similar sort. Some of the other elves groaned and
laughed merrily in protest.
“Come, Sinnarn, we can only take only so many verses about moonlit
nights and flowers in a maiden’s hair; can you not sing something
else?” Moranuen teased his friend.
“Something more exciting!” another elf near the fire chimed in.
“Perhaps the battle between Sauron, Hurin and Lúthien on the
“Oh please!” someone else quickly protested as others added their
opinions. “I’ve heard that one a dozen times. Can we have
something not quite as old as the hills?”
“Something with great deeds!”
“Something we have not heard in a while!”
The chorus of voices called out their preferences amid merry laughter.
Sinnarn, their storyteller for the evening, chuckled at the
good-natured jesting. “Well it seems we certainly could use
something to shake sleep from our minds...” he commented with a smile
as his gaze traveled across the half-slumbering room. “Very well
then, if it’s bloodshed and mayhem you young warriors desire, I will
tell you a tale of the exploits of Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen,” he
smiled as he strummed his small lap-harp softly. “Although I
usually doubt the wisdom of telling these tales after dinner...” he
continued to tease his half-lively, half-sedated audience.
The dark-haired elf’s fingers traveled rhythmically over the strings of
his instrument, gently stroking them without even needing to look down
at his work as he slid into his next tale.
Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen were two warriors who had lived in Rivendell
what seemed a long time ago. Legolas started really paying
attention only part way into the story and wasn’t sure if the two
elves’ swords carried the same name as their owners, or if he was
simply too tired to be separating the details because Sinnarn was using
an artistically hyperbolic and symbolic story-telling manner. In
any case the pair had apparently lived up to the names, which meant
“Orc Slayer” and “Goblin Bane” respectively in the old tongues of the
region. If the tales held true they had washed the vales and
surrounding hills in a dark and vengeful tide of orc blood until there
were none of the evil beings left living for hundreds of miles in any
direction. And in those days no foul creature dared come near
this area for fear of the merciless duo.
Legolas pondered how very much he had often wished to do the same thing
for his home, but it was a foolhardy risk of life and in practicality
would take a far greater number of warriors to accomplish than made for
a good tale. The skill and obvious burning hatred behind
Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen’s bloody purge was a little breath-taking,
especially the way Sinnarn told it and the elf prince, who had never
heard this story before, found himself listening with no small amount
of interest. Legolas had to commend their deeds, although a few
of the particulars made him wince. The prince had more than
expected the tale to end in Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen’s deaths since
Sinnarn spoke of them solely in the reverential past tense, as was
customary only of the dead in the style of story telling being
employed. However, the minstrel finished his tale without giving
the specifics of their demise, but only alluding that they passed out
of knowledge and their memory faded back into the hills, a warning
whispered with fear and loathing by all orc-kind.
Sinnarn then moved on to an account of the Fall of Gondolin, but
Legolas had heard this tale before. The blond archer turned to
The ranger jerked awake when he felt a cherry pit ping his
temple. “Legolas!” he was half amused, half annoyed as he rubbed
his eyes. “What was that for?”
“You were sleeping through the story,” Legolas smiled slyly.
“I’ve heard it before,” Aragorn grumbled.
“Was it true?” the elf prince inquired.
“Hmm? Oh, yes, so they say,” Aragorn looked as if he would like to go
back to sleep, but his elven friend was not about to allow that yet.
“So what happened to them?” Legolas prodded.
“What happened to who?” Aragorn’s voice was laden with traces of slumber.
“Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen!” Legolas was amused by his human friend’s
sleepy state and gave the ranger’s arm a poke, causing Aragorn to
grumble like a hibernating bear and try to pull farther away from the
suddenly irritatingly energetic prince. “Sinnarn didn’t say how
they were killed, but considering the run-ins we’ve had with orcs
around here they must have departed many ages since if the tales of
their purge are true. So what happened?”
There was a long pause and Legolas wasn’t sure if Aragorn was falling
asleep again or just ignoring him. “I don’t know Legolas, they
were long before my time.” The human closed his eyes again,
seeming to say that the elf would get nothing more useful than that out
Legolas turned to the twins to ask them, but Elladan and Elrohir had
risen to their feet, shaking cherries out of their clothes.
“We’re retiring for the evening. Good night, Legolas. Good night,
Estel,” Elrohir yawned and bid their companions farewell.
Aragorn watched his brothers leave under half-lidded eyes and Legolas
thought he heard the ranger sigh softly before his gaze darted across
the room. Following his friend’s glance, Legolas’ saw Lord Elrond
also watching his sons’ somewhat abrupt departure, a brief shadow
flittering across the wise face.
Legolas pushed himself up on his elbows, turning questioning eyes upon
his friend. “Estel? Did I say something wrong? I’m
Aragorn shook his head against the pillows, his dark, wavy locks
fanning around him a little more. He opened his eyes and turned a
small, reassuring smile upon the disconcerted prince. “No,
Legolas, you did nothing amiss. Do not trouble yourself over it.”
Legolas let his forehead fall forward against his arms, blinking as he
found himself eye-level with a cherry. The rhythmic rise and fall
of Sinnarn’s flowing voice carried his thoughts away again and he felt
himself growing tired as well.
“Aragorn?” he murmured after a few minutes.
A soft, barely noticeable snore made the elf realize that his human companion was asleep again.
Legolas lifted his head to find Aragorn asleep with his head falling
forward a little. The ranger’s right hand had automatically come
up to curl under his cheek and his dark, tangled tresses tumbled in
unruly curls about his brow.
A gentle smile tugged at the elf’s lips. When Aragorn slept the
lines of care and age smoothed out of his face and he looked again the
young man, nay, the boy that Legolas had met and befriended so many
Aragorn’s left hand was hanging out from his body in what looked to be
an uncomfortable manner, so Legolas picked it up gently and placed it
upon the human’s chest. Aragorn stirred but did not waken.
Legolas smiled, brushing the curls back from his friend’s face and
stealing one more moment for fond reflection before rising to his feet.
“Idh mae, mellon-nín,” he whispered. “Rest well, my friend.”
A suddenly devilish grin caught at the prince’s fair features as an
idea struck him. He stooped swiftly, picking up the empty cherry
bowl and placing it in his slumbering friend’s lap before he turned to
Legolas felt eyes on him and turned to see Elrond looking at him with
an amused grin. The elf lord raised one eyebrow. Legolas
just smiled. Placing his hand over his heart before sweeping it
out to the side, he silently bid the elven lord good night.
Elrond shook his head, his eyes going back to his human son who now sat
slumbering amid a chaotic sprinkling of cherries with an empty bowl
resting incriminatingly in his lap.
Celboril would not be pleased.
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