Now that the formalities were safely over, Legolas took the opportunity to look properly at his surroundings. The valley of Imladris - or Rivendell, as he had also heard it called - was breathtakingly beautiful, but totally different to his beloved Greenwood.
He was overawed at the splendour of the place; the river foaming over moss covered rocks as it tumbled through the ravine, the trees clinging to the steep sides of the misty valley and Imladris itself; the walls, arches and walkways a seamless merging of living stone, wood and nature.
He glanced around to see where Elladan and Elrohir had gone, but they had disappeared somewhere in the crowd thronging the courtyard and his father was deep in conversation with Elrond. Celebrían however gave him a friendly smile, and came down the steps to join him. “Well, Legolas, welcome to Imladris. I am pleased to meet you at last! I heard a great deal about you from my sons when they returned from their visit to Lasgalen.”
Legolas stared at her. He had never seen anyone like Celebrían before. She was very beautiful, with hair of pale silver, unlike anything he had seen before in an elf. But it was not grey with age, like some of the people he had seen on the few times he had been to Esgaroth. It was the colour of moonlight, or starlight, the colour of the purest mithril. He realised that he was staring, and shook himself, managing a smile in return. This was not how he had been taught to greet the rulers of other realms. “Thank you, Lady Celebrían. They got back in one piece? There were no more - accidents?”
Celebrían shook her head. “No, no more accidents, but I believe there was something about someone falling in the Anduin. I decided I did not want to know the details.” She paused, and then added, “But that reminds me, there is one member of your party I would very much like to meet. Can you take me to the Lady Taniquel, please?”
Legolas walked up two steps so that he could look out over the courtyard, scanning the crowd. He saw the Lasgalen warriors near the back, under the archway, but there was no sign of Taniquel. Then he spotted her with Alfiel, leading the horses off to one side, presumably towards the stables. He nodded.
“This way!” He led her through the elves still crowding the courtyard, angling so that they intercepted the path Taniquel and Alfiel took. “Lady Celebrían, may I introduce Alfiel and Taniquel, warriors in Lasgalen’s army. Taniquel, this is Lady Celebrían. She asked if she could meet you.”
Taniquel looked at Legolas in surprise. She was no fool, and could easily guess why Celebrían wanted to meet her. But how had the lady of Imladris known she was here? However that question was soon answered.
Celebrían greeted her warmly. “Taniquel? I am so pleased to meet you at last, my dear. I asked Thranduil to ensure that you were included in his party, so that I could thank you personally. You know why.”
Taniquel was amazed. She had had no idea that the King had been involved in selecting her to join his company. She made a curtsey.
“Thank you, my lady. I feel greatly honoured to be here. This is a lovely place.”
Celebrían smiled at her. “Thank you. Now, as you can imagine, we are holding a feast tonight to welcome you all. Elrond and I would be greatly honoured if you would join us this evening at our table.”
Taniquel opened her mouth to reply, but found that she had no idea what to say. The lord and lady of Imladris wanted her, a novice warrior, to join them and the King, at the high table? Surely not? She began to protest, but Celebrían stopped her.
“My dear, I will not take no for an answer. Will you join us?” She smiled again. “I see you still wear the brooch we sent you.”
Taniquel touched the cloak clasp she wore. “Yes. I always wear it, it’s so beautiful. Thank you.”
“Then I shall see you tonight? Goodbye.” Celebrían turned to Legolas. “Thank you, Prince Legolas. I see my sons over there, perhaps you would like to join them? Elrohir can show you where you will be staying.” She pointed back across the courtyard, then she was gone, off to greet her other guests.
Taniquel hurriedly followed Alfiel towards the stables, before she could have any more surprises. The invitation was undoubtedly a great honour, but the prospect terrified her.
Back by a corner of the steps, Legolas could see Elrohir speaking heatedly to Elladan and Arwen about something, although his brother and sister were both laughing at him. Elrohir’s daisy crown was missing, and Legolas could make a shrewd guess what the argument was about. He crossed the courtyard to join them.
Arwen saw him first, and hurriedly made a curtsey. “Prince Legolas, your Highness,” she murmured. Legolas was a little surprised at her use of the honorific. His title was very rarely used normally, except on the most formal occasions. It had been expected during the ceremonies as they arrived, but now? But perhaps things were done differently in Imladris. In any case, Arwen seemed to be a little nervous around him, so he did not think it would be fair to correct her - especially not in front of her brothers, who would no doubt tease her about it.
Mimicking the earlier formalities, Elladan bowed to him. “Hello, Leg’as, welcome to Imladris.”
“Yes, we are pleased to meet you again, Leg’as,” Elrohir joined in.
Arwen was furious with her brothers for teasing Legolas with her inadvertent nickname, and for risking his father’s wrath. Legolas, however, did not seem to notice anything amiss.
Instead, he gave the twins a bright smile. “Ellahir, it’s wonderful to see you both again. Thank you for the welcome to your city.”
Arwen blinked in surprise, and stifled a giggle at the expressions on her brothers’ faces. Ellahir. She must remember that name. It was rare that the twins’ sharp humour was matched. They exchanged a look - twins’ glances, her father called it - and suddenly all four were laughing.
“Legolas, I wish we could show you around the valley. We will later, but first we have to do escort duty. All of us! Showing people where their rooms are, and where the hall and library are, things like that.” Elladan sounded resigned. “I have to take the healer apprentices to the infirmary, to meet Raffael. I’ll see you later.” He departed to meet Tirana, and round up the rest of the apprentices.
“Come on, Legolas, I’ll take you to your room, and show you where things are,” offered Elrohir. “Have you got everything?”
“Yes, for now.” He slung his pack across his shoulder and followed Elrohir, up the steps, through a great doorway, and along a wide, airy passageway. They went up another flight of steps, then Elrohir opened a door.
“This is your room.”
Legolas stepped inside, then stopped in wonderment. The room was not particularly big, about half the size of his quarters in Lasgalen. But there seemed to be no end wall. Instead there was a vast open space, the carved frame arching delicately, framing the trees outside. Light, filmy curtains drifted in the slight breeze. Wooden shutters, which could be closed if necessary, were folded against the wall.
He dropped the pack onto the bed, and crossed to the window space. The valley dropped away below, and he was looking down onto the tree tops, and could glimpse the trace of pathways weaving through the wood. Even further below he could hear the Bruinen flowing swiftly, and could see the river in places through gaps in the trees.
Still slightly stunned, Legolas turned to his guide. “This is - amazing,” he said at last.
Pleased with the effect, Elrohir resumed his duties. “The bathing room is in there, and your father is next door. Do you like it?”
Legolas merely nodded.
Having shown Legolas where everything was, Elrohir left him to unpack. Legolas waited until he had got to the door, then commented, “Elrohir, I meant to say how much I liked the daisy chain. It suited you.” He wore an expression of pure innocence.
Elrohir spun around. “I shall never live that down, shall I? It’s all Arwen’s fault, she made me wear it!” He was laughing now, though, so seemed to have got over the embarrassment.
“I doubt if any of us even noticed it,” Legolas explained tactfully. “Most of our people are Silvan elves, and often wear flowers. And don’t forget, my father sometimes wears a crown of flowers at our feasts.”
Elrohir flushed a little with remembered embarrassment. “I doubt he wears a daisy chain, though!”
Legolas smiled. “Well, no. Not normally, anyway. But I remember making him one when I was little, I think he wore it at the Mid Summer feast one year. So don’t worry!”
It was true, Elrohir realised. The Silvan elves of Lasgalen did indeed wear flowers in their hair. So perhaps Taniquel would not think there was anything too strange about it. He would have to try to find out at the meal that evening. A mental image of Thranduil wearing a daisy chain crown crossed his mind, and he grinned.
Legolas spoke again, this time seeming more hesitant. He chose his words carefully. “Elrohir, Arwen seemed very - nervous. Is she usually like that?”
“Arwen? Nervous? No, never!” In truth, he felt rather guilty. The tales he and Elladan had told her about Thranduil’s formidable temper seemed to have backfired, for she seemed terrified of the King. Legolas had already noticed something was wrong.
“Well, could you tell her that she does not need to call me ‘prince’ or ‘highness’? There’s really no need. I don’t get called that at home, you know I don’t!”
Elrohir nodded. “Yes, I’ll tell her. I’ll go and find her now.” He hoped he could find Arwen before Elladan scared her even more, and especially before she said anything to anyone else. If Thranduil or their father found out what they had been telling her, there was sure to be trouble.
Arwen’s gaze was fixed on Legolas as he followed Elrohir indoors. The prince seemed more friendly and approachable than she had expected, so perhaps this visit would not be too difficult after all. If only his father could be equally pleasant! She looked up as she heard her father calling her.
Elrond looked around, frowning, but then smiled at her. “I cannot see your brothers anywhere. Could you please take King Thranduil to his room? You know where he will be, do you?”
Knowing she could not refuse, Arwen nodded silently, feeling very apprehensive. Why did this task have to be hers? Why had Elladan and Elrohir managed to disappear at just the right time? It was typical of them.
Arwen, however, could be very charming when she wished. Perhaps if she turned on that charm now, the King would not shout at her? She turned to him, gave him her most winsome smile, and said politely, “Will you come this way, please, your Majesty?”
Thranduil looked down at the little girl in amusement. She seemed to be a most charming and courteous child. “Of course, Lady Arwen.”
Arwen smiled with relief. So far, so good. But she knew he could change mood in an instant. Her brothers had warned her about him. She would have to be careful not to put a foot wrong.
Elrohir found his brother just returning from the infirmary, where he had delivered the apprentices to Raffael. “El, we need to find Ar, and tell her the truth. This is all going wrong. She seems terrified of Thranduil, and Legolas!”
Elladan swore. “Valar, I never thought of that! Yes, you’re right. And if she says anything to father, or mother ... Where is she?”
They hurried back down to the courtyard where they had left Arwen, but there was no sign of her. Erestor was assigning escorts to the last few visitors, but apart from that, the courtyard was nearly deserted. Elrohir hailed him. “Erestor, we need to find Arwen. Have you seen her?”
“Yes, indeed. She went to take King Thranduil to his room a while ago.”
The twins exchanged horrified glances. “Oh, no!” they mouthed.
They went back inside, wondering if Arwen would have finished her escort duty. But as they passed the hallway that lead to Elrond’s study, all their worst fears were realised. The sound of a raised voice was clearly audible, even at the end of the corridor, and through the closed door. It was Thranduil. His fury was unmistakable. “I simply cannot fathom, Lord Elrond, why you sent this foolish child to help me!” he bellowed.
There was a pause, and the low murmur of Elrond’s soothing voice. The twins strained their ears in an attempt to hear, but he must be further away from the door, and they could hear nothing of their father’s reply.
Whatever he had said, it had done nothing to placate the irate King. “Sorry? Sorry is not good enough! She was so nervous she knocked a pitcher of water all over my best robes! Look! Ruined!”
Outside the door by now, Elladan and Elrohir looked at each other, and winced.
“Oh no -”
“- we’re too late -”
“- Arwen’s in trouble -”
“- and it’s all our fault!”
The exchange was so rapid, they did not even notice they were using twinspeak.
“We have to go in -”
“- and stop this!”
Then came the worst moment of all. They could hear Arwen crying.Stories > First > Previous > Next