With Friends Like These

Chapter Fifteen: Journey to Imladris

by Jay of Lasgalen

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Legolas missed Elladan and Elrohir intensely at first, and moped visibly for at least two days.  While it was true that he still had Brethil and Tirnan, the twins had had so many ideas - and because they were unfamiliar with the forest, it had been easy to play tricks on them; to tease them about creatures like the spiders.

A few weeks after their departure, a messenger arrived bearing a letter of thanks from Elrond.  There was also a note from Elrohir, which Thranduil handed to Legolas.  He read it quickly.  Elrohir wrote that on the journey home, he had made a spider for Arwen, to replace the squirrel he had given to Taniquel.  Arwen was delighted with it.  Legolas read a little further, then laughed.

“Elrohir says that she keeps putting the spider in their parents’ bed!  He says his mother has to scream when she sees it.”

Amongst the other letters and messages, there was a package for Taniquel.  Thranduil called her into his study to collect it - he wanted to see what it contained. 

She opened it curiously.  There was a small, engraved wooden box, filigreed and inlaid with gold leaf.  Inside, she found a cloak clasp of mithril, shaped like a beech leaf and enamelled in green.  There was also a matching buckle for her belt, and a very simple note:  ‘Thank you’, signed by the whole family, even Arwen.

She stared at it for a long time, open mouthed.  “They should not give me this - they cannot! This is far too valuable.  What did I do to deserve it?” she said at last, bewildered.

“Do you plan to return the gift, then?” Thranduil asked dryly.

“No!  Of course not!  Oh, what am I going to do?”  she asked in despair.

“Accept it graciously,” he advised her.  “You think it too valuable?  What price do you think Elrond and Celebrían would put on Elrohir’s life?”  Thranduil’s eyes flickered towards Legolas as he spoke.

Taniquel looked at the clasp and buckle again.  “It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

“Then wear it, and remember.”  Thranduil took the clasp from the box and carefully pinned it to the collar of Taniquel’s tunic.  “Remember that you showed the courage and presence of mind I expect from one of my best warriors.”

Such high praise from the King was rare indeed, and Taniquel felt herself redden.  The words meant even more to her than Elrond’s gift.

“Thank you, your Majesty,” she managed.  She glanced down at the brooch again.  “Thank you,” she murmured.

“I just wish I knew why the rope broke like that,” Thranduil continued.  “It should be checked to prevent this sort of thing happening!”

There had been an unspoken agreement among those present not to mention the precise cause of Elrohir’s accident to Thranduil, Orionë or Elrond – the novice responsible, Hirilornë, was feeling guilty enough as it was.  Alfiel had sentenced him to retake the most basic archery course - but as tutor, not pupil.  Hirilornë would be far more likely to remember the basic principles of safety in the future if he taught them to others - and humiliating him would be in no one’s interests. Orionë and the elf lords had been left with the impression that the rope had simply snapped through wear.

“I - ah -  believe Alfiel is dealing with the problem,”  Taniquel explained carefully.

“Good,”  Thranduil nodded in satisfaction, then added:   “Tell, me how is Hirilornë enjoying his role as tutor?”

Legolas’s head snapped up, and he stared at his father in horror.  Taniquel looked equally aghast.

“I believe he is doing very well,” she said weakly.

“Excellent!  I am sure he will learn from this.  In fact, I am sure you will all learn a lesson from this - is that not right?  Would you please tell Alfiel I enquired after Hirilornë’s progress?”

“Yes, your Majesty.”  It never paid, Taniquel realised ruefully, to underestimate the King.


It was in fact not until some two years later that Thranduil and Legolas were able to make their visit to Imladris.  It was Elrond’s turn to host the Ten Year Council of the elf lords, and Legolas was naturally included in the invitation.

There was much to do before Thranduil could leave his realm, although he had full confidence in Tionel’s capabilities as steward.  Thranduil had finally had enough of Lanatus’s dour attitude and pedantic manner, and replaced him.  Lanatus in fact seemed far happier with his new role in charge of maintaining the archives, where his insistence on accuracy could be of use.

Tionel relished his new responsibility, and looked forward to Thranduil’s imminent departure with thinly-veiled enthusiasm.  “My lord, Lasgalen will be quite safe.  I will send a messenger every week, to keep you informed of matters.  Go, and enjoy Elrond’s hospitality!”

Thranduil viewed his friend’s impatience with amusement.  “Perhaps I should ask Lanatus to help you.  Or perhaps he should oversee things during my absence?” he mused.

“No!  Thranduil, you cannot do that to me!  If you knew how difficult it was to work with him ...”  he stopped as he saw Thranduil’s broad smile.

“Peace, my friend.  I would not do that to either of you!  Now, if all is ready, we will depart in the morning.  We leave at dawn.” 

The party travelling to the Council assembled on the green in front of the main doors in the grey dawn light.  As well as Thranduil and  Legolas, a few advisors and a detachment of warriors, a small group of apprentice healers were to journey to Imladris.  They would study with Elrond, and stay on there for at least a year, in an exchange programme set up by Calmacil and Elrond over the last two years.  During Elrond’s last visit the healers had discovered that each had developed new techniques and medicines that were unknown to the other, and they had decided that such valuable knowledge should be shared.  A group of apprentices from Imladris would make the return journey with Thranduil after the Council.

The proud families of those chosen to attend had gathered to watch the departure.  They spoke in low voices, bidding fond farewells to their sons or daughters.  The harness straps on the laden pack horses jingled loudly in the pre-dawn quiet.  The warriors, well used to being away from Lasgalen on patrol, travelled light, carrying everything they needed themselves.

Tirnan and Brethil were also there, yawning, bleary eyed, having got up early to say goodbye to Legolas.

“Don’t forget to say hello to Elladan and Elrohir from both of us,” Tirnan reminded Legolas.

Brethil chipped in too. “I thought last night that it might be nice if we sent them a present, but it’s a bit late now.”

“That would have been a wonderful idea!”  Legolas was enthusiastic.  “What sort of present did you have in mind?”

“A spider!” exclaimed Brethil promptly.  “Just a baby one.  I thought you could make a cage for it for the journey, and feed it with flies and things, or whatever it is spiders eat.  Then you could give it to them when you get to Imladris!”

“Brethil!”  said Legolas, aghast.  “Are you seriously suggesting that I find and catch a spider, a baby one,  and take it all the way to Imladris with me, and give it to them as a pet?”

“Yes,”  he said simply.  “I think they’d like it.”

Legolas sighed.  “Oh, I wish I could!  I wish there was time.  Brethil, that must be the most brilliant idea you’ve ever had!  You don’t suppose ...”  He stopped and turned round, gazing up at the trees surrounding the area speculatively.

No,” declared Tirnan firmly.  “Legolas, you can’t!  Can you imagine what Elrond would say?”

“Oh, yes,” Legolas sighed happily.  “Wouldn’t it be wonderful?”

“All right then, can you imagine what your father would say?”

Legolas’ face fell.  He could imagine it only too well. “Oh.  Perhaps it’s not such a good idea after all,” he admitted.  “But maybe next time!”

Thranduil approached them then, his gaze fixed on Tirnan and Brethil.  “I hope you two will manage to behave yourselves while we are away,” he told them sternly.  They both nodded, rather wide-eyed.

“Good.  Because I would hate Legolas to return home to find that he has missed any excitement!”  He turned to his son.  “Are you ready?”

Legolas nodded.  “Yes, Father.”  The pack containing his personal belongings lay on the ground near his feet.  He picked it up, slipping the straps over his shoulders, and turned to mount Dorlath, his horse.  They were ready to go.

As the party moved slowly off, Tirnan and Brethil walked alongside for a short distance, calling reminders to Legolas.

“Ask Elrohir if he remembers anything else about the day he fell in the Morn Nen!”

“Tell Elladan not to fall out of any more trees!”

“And don’t forget to remind them about the Spider Path!”

“Look out for those trolls Elladan told us about!”

Legolas turned with a laugh.  “All right!  I will.  Have fun!”  With a final wave, he moved Dorlath up to the front of the procession, and rode into the forest.  It felt rather childish to admit it, but he was quite ridiculously excited about the trip.  The furthest afield he had ever been before was on several two-day excursions through Greenwood, and he had made a handful of visits to Esgaroth.

On this journey he would leave the Greenwood completely, cross the River Anduin, and the Misty Mountains, and travel to a totally new land.  He wondered what adventures would befall them, both on the journey, and when they finally got to Imladris.


Meanwhile, in Imladris, Elladan and Elrohir were telling Arwen again about their visit to Lasgalen two years before, the many adventures they had had, and the people they had met.   With the exception of Thranduil and Legolas, they did not know who else would arrive, although Elrohir rather hoped that Taniquel would be there. 

The three were lying on one of the many lawns surrounding Imladris, basking in the early summer sun.  Arwen was picking daisies, and weaving them into a long chain to wear in her hair, while Elladan was giving his sister some instructions on how to behave when she met their guests.

“Now Arwen, you must remember that King Thranduil is - well - a king,” he explained.  Arwen did not bother to answer such an obvious statement.  “And that makes Legolas a prince.”

She gave him a look full of exasperation and rolled her eyes.  “I know that, Elladan!  Does it mean he’s more important than you two?” she added slyly.

“Well, no, not exactly,”  Elladan said hurriedly.  “But Ar, the thing is, Thranduil - King Thranduil, I mean,” he amended “he’s - not as easy going as Ada.  So there are some things you have to remember.  I wouldn’t want him to shout at you if you say the wrong thing,” he warned her.

Arwen looked rather worried.  “Why would he shout at me?” she asked in alarm.

“He won’t,” Elrohir reassured her.  “Not if you remember what we tell you.”  He sat up, and patted the grass next to him.  “Now come here, and listen carefully.”


Author’s Notes:  Brethil, of course, is Treehugger’s, and so is his idea of sending a spider as a present to Imladris.  Fortunately Tirnan has the sense to talk them out of it!

 And before anyone tells me that the twins were adult by the time Arwen was born:  I know they were; but for the sake of this story I’ve moved her date of birth forward by 100 years.  She is 11 years younger than her brothers, rather than 111.  In this and subsequent chapters Arwen is 8, Legolas 14, and the Els are 19.  So yes, it’s AU, or non-canon, in that respect. 

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