Siege of Dread

Chapter 2: Legends and Myths

by Cassia and Siobhan

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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 bow. 

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 steadying gesture. 

“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 honor. 

“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 companions...” 

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 us dearly.” 

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 he says.” 

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 unspoken after-statement.  

“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 instructions.” 

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. 

Thranduil sighed. 

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 floor. 

“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 satisfied smirk. 

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 cherries.” 

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 company. 

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 started it.” 

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. 

Elrohir laughed. 

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 bridge!” 

“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 heroic!” 

“Something frightening!” 

“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 Aragorn. 

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 of him. 

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 sorry.” 

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. 

No answer. 


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 years ago. 

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 leave. 

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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