Part 12

by Cassia and Siobhan

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    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.
    King Thranduil turned his attention to the guards surrounding his son and Aragorn and instructed them, "Be seated."
    Raniean stepped 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."
    Elrond glanced 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?"            Trelan stepped forward next to Raniean. "They saved us, my lord. Surely that is something."
    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."
    Lord Thranduil 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, the 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 death upon their own heads."
    Slight murmurs 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 witnesses."
    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 reason, 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."
    Thranduil turned 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 outlived its usefulness?"
    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?"
    Mirkwood’s King 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 Elrond.
    "And with mine." The elven lord stated, slipping his own ring from his finger and handing it to the servant.
    "See to it that the new edict is read in every territory." King Thranduil further instructed.
    Legolas sighed in relief and glanced at Aragorn before his attention was refocused on his father.
    "Legolas 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.
    Legolas stepped 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.
    Thranduil quieted 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.
    Legolas couldn’t 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.
    Elrohir leaned 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 finished.
    Trelan and Raniean both turned towards the human and asked incredulously, "Aragorn?"
    The Dùnadan rolled his eyes and replied, "It’s a long story"
    "Please come 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.
    Elrynd met 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 own."
    Aragorn took the sword on the upturned palms of his hands and kneeled before the elf lord. "Thank you my lord."
    Thranduil touched 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 focused 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.
    "Mori!" Sarcayul 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."
    Aragorn extended 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?"
    "No." Aragorn 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 elf.
    Aragorn pressed 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."
    Raniean had watched whole thing spellbound. As Morifwen stood and walked back with Aragorn, Trelan stepped up behind the elf warrior. "Maybe you should ask 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.
    Nodding, Raniean 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."
    Morifwen nodded 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."
    Elrond approached the group of young elves as Morifwen readily accepted Raniean’s offer. "My sons, it's time to go." He interrupted the conversations and motioned 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.
    Legolas stepped 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 friend close.
    Thranduil caught 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 two." 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 time."
    "Is a fortnight long enough?"
    "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 home.

The End

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