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Interrupted Journeys: Part Two--Journeys Perforce

Chapter 1: Stirrings

by ellisk

AN: This is a continuation of a series of stories titled Interrupted Journeys. It should not be necessary to read the first part of the series, New Journeys, to understand this story, though you might understand the characters a bit better if you did. The series as a whole covers a lot of ground: Thranduil's first years as king, his decision to move his people north to the stronghold (this story), the birth of Legolas and his youth all the way to their journeys to Valinor in the Fourth Age. Some parts may be more interesting to some people than others. This part is mostly drama. There are some battle scenes.

The series is entirely written and I will be posting the chapters of this portion every other day or so.

Any Sindarin used is translated at the end of each chapter. I am not an elf so if you see something incorrect please tell me and I will fix it.

I hope you enjoy this part of Interrupted Journeys.

********

Eryn Galen

TA 954

For 954 years of the Third Age Thranduil had ruled the Woodland Realm and under his leadership the people prospered. The healthy forest provided good hunting and sundry other foodstuffs such as nuts and berries and fruits. What the villages did not have, they traded for in an ordered fashion amongst themselves and even the woodsmen. The trees sang contented songs for they were protected by well-organized warriors and tended by increasingly skilled foresters. The elves were merry and peaceful and their numbers again began to increase, recovering from the terrible losses of the War against Sauron. It had been a struggle for the new king to wrest the forest and his people back from the despair they had suffered when he returned from Mordor with so few of their original numbers. But he had succeeded. He could finally say that this forest was everything it should be—green and bright and happy. And most importantly, peaceful.

*~*~*

Thranduil boarded the boat that would carry him from Lorien north to Greenwood. He was always happy to return home from any travel. He loved his forest and worried about it when he was away despite the fact that he fully trusted his steward, mother, brother and council to rule it satisfactorily in his stead. With a troubled frown, he watched his wife saying her tearful farewells to her parents in the dawn light. It hurt him to know how much she missed her family and friends in Lorien. It was only for her that he suffered these trips. Thranduil had done enough traveling in his life. If he never stepped another foot outside his capital, that would suit him just fine. But he could not deny Lindomiel’s happiness nor did he want her to travel alone. So he went with her as regularly as he could to Lorien to visit her parents and tried not to be too obviously happy to return home.

The king and queen took their seats on the boat and the rowers began to maneuver the craft from its moorings. Thranduil repressed his sigh of relief in deference to the elleth pressed against his side. Not fooled in the slightest, Lindomiel leaned her head against his shoulder with a sad smile.

“I hate leaving Eryn Galen to travel here and I hate leaving here to go back to Eryn Galen,” she whispered quietly enough that no other elven ears could hear her comment over the noise of the strokes of the oars.

Thranduil drew her closer with an arm around her waist. “I know, meleth. I very much wish you did not have to be so far separated from your parents. You know they are welcome to come live in Eryn Galen,” he replied sadly. He did hate seeing her crying as she left her childhood home behind her.

Lindomiel let out a short little laugh. “You know, one day you are going to make that offer to my adar and he is going to accept it. I hope I am there because I want to see the look on your face.” She paused and raised her eyebrows playfully. “The last time I visited with the woodsmen, I heard one of them saying that his father died suddenly of a weak heart after a terrible shock. I wonder if similar things can happen to elves.”

Thranduil’s eyes crinkled and she felt his body shake with suppressed laughter. “If your adar accepted my invitation to move to my capital that would certainly be a good test of that question, meleth,” he responded softly.

Lindomiel giggled, as Thranduil had intended. He motioned over the side of the boat where schools of silver fish darted about in the water, knowing she would want to see them. She thought they were beautiful. He simply loved watching the delighted expression on her face as they glittered by. Traveling by boat was less exhausting for Lindomiel and faster for the most part but it bored Thranduil out of his mind.

They traveled peacefully until dark. At that point, they hauled to the shore and set up camp on the plain. There was little hunting this close to the river unless they were lucky enough to find a marsh rabbit. But it mattered very little—those silver fish that Lindomiel liked to watch were quite tasty and very plentiful. The guards were well on their way to creating quite a feast and the pungent smell of fish was making Thranduil very ready to eat when he saw the perimeter guard on the east side of the camp tense and focus intently on the grass.

The guards and rowers around the camp fell silent, watching him. Lindomiel, who was sitting by the fire with the guards and singing a silly song to entertain them, quieted as well and her eyes sought out Thranduil. The king stood. Conuiön and Tureden, the captain and lieutenant of his guard flanked him, standing shoulder to shoulder in front of him as he faced east, studying the grass himself. After a moment, Lindomiel saw Thranduil, Conuiön and Tureden reach for their bows and string them, while at the same time the perimeter guard dropped to a low stance. Fish now burning over the fire, the rest of the guards in the center of the camp reached for their own bows, squinting into the darkness. One of them kicked out the fire and extinguished the other torches in the camp. Conuiön turned to face the guards, snapped his fingers for attention and began signaling the positions he wanted them to take. The last of this series of gestures pointed to Lindomiel, a guard and the river.

That guard, Galuauth, took Lindomiel’s arm and began to pull her to the riverbank. The queen had many skills, but fighting was not one of them. She could hunt adequately but all the guards knew that she had never seen a battle. They had very specific commands from the king that she should never see one.

“What is out there?” Lindomiel whispered to Galuauth. He was the newest member of the king’s guard, not much older than Lindomiel.

He shook his head and shrugged, signaled for her to be silent and continued to pull her towards one of the boats.

Suddenly, a volley of arrows could be heard singing through the air from the darkness. Lindomiel could not repress a squeal as she saw the perimeter guard jerk back violently. The rest of the guards crouched and moved quickly, taking up the positions Conuiön had ordered them to behind anything that offered cover or simply falling to lie flat on the ground. Lindomiel saw Thranduil, flanked by his guards drop and return fire as Galuauth dragged her into the boat.

“No,” she began to protest, not wanting to leave Thranduil, but Galuauth’s hand clamped firmly over her mouth.

“Be silent, your majesty. You do not want to call attention to yourself. We do not know what we are facing,” he whispered in her ear as he shoved her to lie on the floor of the boat. She drew a frightened breath as she felt the weight of his body cover hers. Soft leather boots scuffled on the floor of the boat and splashed tiny droplets of water on her face as two rowers climbed aboard the boat after shoving it from the shore.

Pinned beneath the guard, Lindomiel now could only hear the sounds of battle. Arrows flew, striking targets with thuds, swords clanged together and screams marked when either weapon drove home. Elves yelled commands—Lindomiel heard Conuiön and Tureden directing the guards and her heart raced. She did not hear Thranduil. But most frightening of all were the inhuman cries of whatever it was that attacked them. Lindomiel had never heard such a terrifying noise.

Without warning, the boat lurched to one side. Lindomiel screamed and reflexively threw her weight to the side of the boat that now rose dangerously out of the water, reaching for the side to try and steady it. Galuauth grabbed her wrist with one hand and forced her down again but not before she saw the reason the boat had tilted—one of the rowers lay half in the boat, half in the water with an arrow in his shoulder. Galuauth grabbed his belt and pulled him in the boat. He collapsed inches from Lindomiel’s face where she was pressed against the floor of the boat by the weight of Galuauth’s body.

Arrows began to fly over them.

Lindomiel felt Galuauth tense sharply. “No matter what happens, do not, under any circumstances, raise up or try to push me off you. Keep me between you and the shore. They will not come in the water. Stay in the boat and keep out of sight. Do not go back to shore until Conuiön or Tureden signal that it is safe. Do you understand?” Galuauth whispered in a strained voice, speaking into her ear. She felt his breath against her hair.

Lindomiel heard arrows hit the side of the boat and felt Galuauth jerk in reaction. She tensed as well but did not respond.

“Do you understand?” he repeated, urgently.

She nodded. “Who are they?” she whispered.

“Orcs,” he replied.

Lindomiel’s eyes widened in horror and she froze.

The sound of arrows thudding against the side of the boat or hissing over them made Lindomiel flinch each time one did. She stared with wide eyes at the rower on the floor of the boat next to her. Blood ran from his shoulder to the indentation made in the floor by the keel. There it pooled. The other rower, now crouched down in the boat as low as possible, continued to try to propel them further into the river. Lindomiel marveled at his bravery and tried not to think about the fact that the guard lying on top of her was tense and trembling. She knew he was young but his reaction did nothing to calm her. She closed her eyes and held her breath.

The number of arrows hitting the boat appeared to be lessening. Lindomiel took a deep breath and tried to calm herself enough to determine if the sounds of the battle on the shore were diminishing or if the rower had finally moved them out of range of the orcs’ archers. She heard very little.

“Galuauth,” she whispered.

He did not answer.

“Galuauth,” she said, this time in a stronger voice. “Is it over?”

She realized the boat was drifting in the current.

Lindomiel shifted as much as Galuauth allowed her and looked at the other rower. She gasped. He had an arrow in his neck and blood covered the front of his tunic. His eyes stared emptily in front of him. Lindomiel clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle the scream that rose to her throat. She had never seen anyone dead before this moment.

“Galuauth, for pity’s sake. He is dead. Is it over? Can we do something to help the other rower before he dies too?” she whispered desperately, turning her head to meet the pain filled eyes of the other rower on the floor with her.

He drew a shuddering breath. “Galuauth is not going to answer you, my lady. Be still. When all is safe on the shore, there will be a signal. Listen for it.”

Lindomiel stared at the rower for a moment, realization dawning. Then with a little, involuntary shriek, she dragged herself from underneath Galuauth. She did not know whether to be relieved or horrified when he moaned softly from the shift in position as she freed herself from his weight. Raising up slightly on one elbow, Lindomiel looked at the guard lying next to her—several arrows protruded through the side of the boat an into various places on his body. Again she covered her mouth with her hand, eyes flying open wide. She drew herself to a seated position on the floor of the boat and began to inspect Galuauth’s wounds, swallowing back the bile rising in her throat at the sight of the blood and torn flesh.

A rough but weak hand grasped her shoulder.

“Get back down. It will not do any good that he dies if you get yourself shot now. Wait for the signal to return to the shore,” the rower gasped out.

Lindomiel ducked reflexively at that sharply delivered order and her eyes turned to the shore.

“I do not see anyone there. I only see bodies.” Then her breathing came to her hard. “Valar, I do not see a person standing!” she exclaimed, panic claiming her voice.

“Then get down.”

Lindomiel looked at the rower. “We have to help them. We have to help Galuauth. You need help,” she whispered fearfully.

“You are not going to be any help to anyone if you go back to that shore and get yourself captured by orcs. Do you know what orcs would do to you? Remember what Galuauth said—stay in the boat. If no signal comes from the shore by sunrise, take up the oars and go back downstream to Lorien and get help there. Do not go ashore yourself until you get to Lorien. Promise me, my lady.”

Liindomiel stared at him. Movement in the dark at the shore caught her eye and she threw herself to the floor of the boat instinctively.

She heard elven voices…Sindarin, being spoken rapidly. Lindomiel raised her head to peek cautiously over the side. In the darkness, she saw elves running about the camp. She looked at them, searching. Finally from the depths of darkness in the eastern side of the camp, Lindomiel saw her husband’s golden hair. She drew a sharp breath to call to him but then silenced herself not certain if it was yet safe to call attention to herself or him. Eyes level with the side of the boat, she watched as he strode into the camp, comforted by the fact that he was still flanked by Conuiön and Tureden. He issued several orders that caused guards to move rapidly. Then she saw him look about fearfully. One of the guards pointed to the water and his eyes darted towards the river. Lindomiel sat up fully in the boat and saw Thranduil sag with relief. Without a sound, he waded out into the water, Conuiön and Tureden on his heels.

Lindomiel frowned and reached for an oar, taking one from the dead hands of the rower. Lindomiel whimpered slightly, beginning to feel the terror she had been holding off claim her. With shaking hands, she paddled the boat closer to the shore.

“Are you injured, Lindomiel?” she heard Thranduil call, still wading into the water.

She looked at him across the twenty or so feet of water that still separated them. He was chest deep. She shook her head. “Stay there, Thranduil,” she called, applying more effort to the paddle. When he could reach the boat, he grabbed its bow and pulled it towards him. His eyes widened seeing the sight in the boat—the dead rower and the injured guard and rower.

“Valar, Lindomiel,” he whispered looking up at her. He frowned severely at her expression. She was clearly terrified. With a strong tug, he propelled the boat towards the shoreline. When he was close enough to the bank to carry her without dragging her through the water, he wordlessly lifted her from the boat and carried her back to the shore. From there he led her directly to the tent they had set up earlier. Walking through the camp, over the bloodied ground and past the bodies of the dead or dying orcs, Lindomiel heard Tureden calling for help to treat Galuauth and the injured rower.

*~*~*

Thranduil’s brother, Aradunnon, sat amongst his friends in the courtyard of the capital city laughing himself silly. He served as the troop commander in Greenwood and had recently returned from a routine visit with his officers on the Western border. Now he was catching up on the news in the capital. As they commonly did, elves in the city were gathered in various parts of the public courtyard singing and dancing and talking—enjoying the pleasant spring evening. A little gaming took place on one side of the courtyard while a little drinking took place in another. The guards that were off duty and entertaining themselves hoped that Aradunnon would break out some Dorwinion as he occasionally did.

Unfortunately for them, Aradunnon’s focus was not on wine but rather a group of ellyth singing on the opposite side of the courtyard. The three friends with him did not even concern themselves with the fact that he was talking to them while looking at the maidens. There was nothing unusual about that.

“Which one has your eye this week, Aradunnon?” Dollion teased in a lull in the conversation. Dollion was the captain of the city guards in the capital. He and Aradunnon worked closely together and had been friends since they were both elflings.

Aradunnon smirked. “It is hard to chose from that particular group, is it not?” he quipped, not taking his eyes from the maidens.

Dollion laughed in response. Colloth, Aradunnon’s guard, just shook his head. He was all too familiar with the prince’s dalliances. The last member of their group, Haradon scowled in mock-disapproval. He had been a guard in Greenwood since before Oropher had come across the Misty Mountains. He was happily married and found Aradunnon’s attitude nothing short of astonishing. Amusing, but astonishing.

“You will never learn, Aradunnon. And any lady that might be truly interested in you will only put up with your behavior for so long.” This warning was issued in a fairly serious tone that made Aradunnon look back at his friends.

He smiled indulgently. “If you are referring to Amoneth,” he replied airily, “she understands that I am dedicated to her.” He paused and his tone became teasing. “I am merely enjoying the lovely sights around me. How can I help but do that?”

Everyone knew that Amoneth, one of the Queen’s friends, was the maiden that Aradunnon truly favored. He had pursued her since Thranduil and Lindomiel were wed nearly one thousand years ago. She clearly cared for him as well but it was equally obvious to all that she could not abide Aradunnon’s flirtatious personality.

Dollion’s eyes widened in amusement. “Does she understand that?” he asked, voice rising slightly in pitch. “Is that why she would not even speak to you during the New Year’s Festival?”

Aradunnon frowned. “That was weeks ago. We have settled that,” he said dismissively.

Colloth shook his head again. “You are a fool, Aradunnon,” he said softly in an amused voice.

Aradunnon raised his eyebrows and turned an annoyed look at his guard. “I beg your pardon, Colloth?”

Colloth loosed a short laugh. “You are a fool, my lord. Does that make it sound better to you? You are still a fool. Amoneth is a wonderful maiden and she has tolerated more than she deserves from you for longer than I would have ever imagined she would. If she gives up and chooses someone else, you will only have yourself to blame.”

Aradunnon stared at his guard a moment in obvious disbelief before Dollion and Haradon burst into laughter at his expression. “Do not even try to deny he is right, Aradunnon. And while you are staring at ladies this night, you may want to take a look towards the ladies by the Great Hall,” Haradon choked out, still laughing.

Aradunnon scowled at him but did turn his eyes reflexively towards the Great Hall. There he saw Amoneth and her friend Gwedhieth. They were sitting on the stairs of the Hall and talking in what appeared to be a fairly intimate fashion to two ellyn. Aradunnon’s scowl deepened. That reaction only made his three friends laugh harder.

“Excuse me,” Aradunnon said quietly, standing and moving off towards the Great Hall. With a wry glance to Dollion and Haradon, Colloth followed his charge across the courtyard to the Great Hall, maintaining a professional façade with difficulty.

As the prince approached Amoneth and Gwedhieth, he saw Hallion, Thranduil’s steward, doing the same. Hallion reached them first and Aradunnon raised his eyebrows when, at a word from the steward, the two ellyn departed. The ladies were alone with Hallion when Aradunnon and Colloth finally reached them. Hallion motioned them all into the Great Hall.

“I just had a messenger from Thranduil’s traveling party,” he began with no preamble when the doors to the Hall closed behind them. “They will return tonight. With wounded.” He paused. “And dead.”

Aradunnon, Amoneth, Gwedhieth and Colloth looked at each other with wide eyes.

*~*~*

The next morning, Thranduil sat in his office with Hallion, his uncle Engwe and Aradunnon. Engwe served Thranduil’s ruling council as an advisor on military strategy and logistics. Aradunnon was the realm’s troop commander. It was to them that Thranduil would turn for an explanation of the attack he had suffered while traveling past the southern part of the forest.

“I want to know how fifty orcs could be so close to the southern border of my forest,” the king said irritably. “Where did they come from?”

Aradunnon glanced at Engwe and then returned his brother’s stare grimly. “It is difficult to say, Thranduil. At the point they attacked you, you were at least eighty, possibly one hundred miles from the mountains. I do not think they came so far from the mountains into the open plain. Besides, the Dimrill Gate is so near to that area. The dwarves would have had them if they had passed so close to the Dimrill Dale.” He paused. “You were only about fifty miles west of Amon Lanc. And we have had some unusual reports in the southern-most villages. Perhaps they came from that area,” he suggested.

The king’s eyebrows climbed. “Are you saying that orcs have taken up residence in my forest, Aradunnon?” Thranduil asked dangerously.

Aradunnon sighed. “You are asking where they came from and I am speculating. I cannot say for certain.”

Thranduil glared at his brother. “I am sorry, Aradunnon, but that will not do. Are your patrols inept? How could fifty orcs be in the southern tip of the forest without being detected?”

Aradunnon exchanged another glance with Engwe. No one liked to deal with Thranduil when he was this angry. But being attacked by fifty orcs did tend to put one out. “No one lives that far south, Thranduil. The patrols only occasionally pass near that area since there is nothing to defend. I will send a group of scouts specifically to the southern tip of the forest to see if they can find any evidence that the orcs came from there. ”

“I want answers to this, Aradunnon. You will lead some scouts to the southern forest. Personally.”

Aradunnon tried to hide his irritation. He knew Thranduil was correct that he should look into this himself. He fully intended to do so though the way he had phrased his response did not reveal that. He was simply disappointed that he would not have time for more pleasant pursuits after spending nearly four weeks on the borders. “As you wish, Thranduil. I will leave tomorrow morning.”

Thranduil nodded. “Be very thorough, Aradunnon. I do not like this one bit.”

*~*~*

Eryn Galen--Greenwood (the name of Mirkwood before it fell under the Shadow. From Eryn=Forest and Calen=Green)

Adar/ada--Father/dad

Elleth/ellyth--Female Elf(s)

Ellon/ellyn--Male Elf(s)

Meleth (nin)--(My) love

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Chapter name
Stirrings
Created
25 Sep 2004
Last Edited
25 Sep 2004
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