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Interrupted Journeys: Part Three--Journeys Begin

Chapter 15: Imprisoned by past evils

by ellisk

As Hallion’s voice murmured in the background, concluding the details of the last interview and preparing for the next, Thranduil leaned against the back of his throne, reflecting on the testimony he had heard thus far. Since early that morning, he and his steward had questioned the villagers that Aradunnon sent to the stronghold. It was an exhausting and oddly painful process and the recurring themes of the separate confessions disturbed Thranduil more than he had expected they would.

“We are ready to continue when you are, my lord,” Hallion stated, climbing the stairs of the dais to take his place next to the king. Conuiön and Galuauth also returned to attention where they stood flanking the dais. They had been a presence in the throne room throughout the day. Now they stood tensely.

Thranduil’s brow furrowed slightly at their stance and he nodded to the guard at the door to admit the next person. “Who will this be?” he asked Hallion quietly as the guard opened the door and signaled to someone outside it.

“Tulus,” Hallion whispered.

Thranduil nodded, understanding Conuiön and Galuauth’s tension a bit better. This was the encounter they all expected to be the most difficult. Thranduil composed his face in neutral lines as his former guard passed through the tall, carven oak doors of the throne room, glancing around the Hall with wide eyes as he did. When his gaze fell on the king, Tulus looked down and strode swiftly along the center corridor of the Hall until he reached a distance of several feet from the throne. There, he knelt on one knee, eyes on the floor before him.

As he had done many times this day, the king took a deep breath and reined in the emotions that would not help him make fair judgments. He found that exercise unusually difficult as he looked at the elf before him—one who had once been trusted with his family’s lives and who now stood accused of plotting their assassination.

“You may stand, Tulus,” Thranduil said quietly.

Without lifting his gaze, Tulus rose. He stood rigidly, hands clasped behind his back, shoulders squared tensely, head bowed.

Thranduil glanced at Hallion and his steward returned his gaze, eyebrows raised.

“Tulus, the information that you volunteered to lord Aradunnon has been proven true through the interviews I have already conducted today. It was invaluable in resolving this situation and I appreciate your willingness to provide it,” he began. “I have a few further questions that I would like to discuss with you. Then I want to try to understand what caused you to take part in this group’s activities. Do you understand?”

Tulus glanced up quickly. “I do, my lord,” he replied in a low voice returning his eyes to the floor.

Thranduil paused and studied Tulus. He had not been as surprised as Aradunnon by Tulus’s willing confession. Honesty had never been the guard’s problem; restraint had. While Thranduil supposed that Tulus might have learned to govern his tongue over the last millennia, he found it much easier to believe that he would argue to justify his actions as he had in their last encounter. His utter lack of defiance was quite surprising.

“Very well,” Thranduil said, musing to himself that he should be thankful for Tulus’s reserved behavior. “The foremost question in my mind involves this elleth, Manadhien. You know her, correct?” he began.

Tulus nodded slowly without looking up. “Yes, my lord. I know her,” he answered gravely.

Thranduil raised an eyebrow at Tulus’s tone but continued his questioning. “I believe you might also remember an elleth named Marti who lived in the old capital. I want to know if you remember Marti and if Manadhien and Marti are the same person.”

Tulus looked at the king fully for the first time with furrowed brows. “Yes, my lord. I remember Marti. She uses the name Manadhien now. They are the same person,” he answered readily.

Thranduil’s mouth formed a thin line and he heard Hallion loose a quiet breath. From the corner of his eye he saw Conuiön and Galuauth tense.

“Do you know where either she or Fuilin are now?” Thranduil continued, not allowing his tone to reflect how that confirmation had disturbed him.

“I do not, my lord,” Tulus replied quietly.

Thranduil frowned. “Do you know where she lived before she joined your village or do you know where her family lives?” he asked.

Tulus shook his head regretfully. “I do not know, my lord. She came to live in my village about a yén before you moved the capital and she moved with us when we relocated north of the mountains. She occasionally left the village for extended periods—sometimes months—but she never told anyone where she went during her absences. I do not think she visited family and no family ever visited her. She never spoke of her parents or siblings so I assumed her family had all been killed or had sailed as mine has. We often spoke of my losses and she always seemed to understand them well.”

Thranduil nodded, smiling slightly. When planning the questioning of the villagers, he and Hallion had discussed the possibility that Tulus’s naturally loose tongue might provide more information than the guard intended if he were questioned properly. This last answer had been more characteristic of Tulus than his other responses—it was long-winded and overly thorough and it was the type Thranduil wanted to encourage.

“Do you know anything about her past that might help us find her?” he asked, assuming a conversational tone.

Again Tulus shook his head. “She did not speak much about herself. I think she is noble born. I know at least that she has wealth because her clothing and jewelry are far beyond anything I have ever seen in this forest. I know she lived in Doriath before it was destroyed. That is the only past home she has ever mentioned to me but clearly she has not returned there so that will not help you find her. I am sorry, my lord.”

Thranduil felt Hallion lean subtly again his shoulder but he hardly needed to have the significance of that monologue pointed out to him. “You know she lived in Doriath?” he repeated, unable to entirely conceal his surprise. “What makes you think that?”

Tulus’s brow furrowed and he looked up at the king nervously. “She spoke of it,” he answered evasively.

“What did she say of it,” Thranduil demanded, eyeing Tulus suspiciously.

“Nothing kind,” he replied softly, the muscles in his arms flexing as he wrung his hands still clasped behind his back. “Neither about the realm, the High King or your family, my lord. I will repeat her words if you wish to hear them but I think they will anger you.”

“My family,” Thranduil said with open incredulity, looking at Hallion. The steward shook his head almost imperceptibly. Thranduil returned his focus to Tulus. “I would very much like to hear what Marti said about Doriath, the High King and my family, Tulus,” he said with a sharp edge on his voice.

Tulus shifted uncomfortably. “She said you rule this forest as poorly as Elu Thingol ruled the forests in Doriath,” he began in a quiet voice, eyes on the floor. “She compared your unwillingness to fight the orcs here to the High King’s unwillingness to join Maedhros against Morgoth in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. She said you are repeating the mistakes here that led to the fall of Doriath.”

“Those statements only retell historical facts,” Thranduil replied, “although in a twisted manner,” he added under his breath. “They do not necessarily indicate that she lived in Doriath.”

Tulus’s brow puckered and he shook his head. “She spoke of those events as if she remembered them first hand though I admit she was never specific about anything she said,” he replied. Then he hesitated. “She did occasionally remind me of a particular story involving lord Oropher that made it clear she lived in Doriath.”

Thranduil blinked. “What story did Marti tell involving lord Oropher?” he asked.

“One about a meeting in the High King’s court in Doriath. Apparently her family was there asking the High King for some sort of aid and lord Oropher said something damaging about them…she was very bitter about that incident. She always claimed lord Oropher had begun persecuting her that day and had not stopped until nothing was left of her family to destroy.” Tulus looked up at Thranduil and, when he spoke, his voice was hard. “She learned not to say things like that around me too often. I was amongst the warriors that lord Oropher first encountered when scouting this forest. I accompanied him to escort your people here, as you may remember. He always treated me well and I would not listen to Manadhien disparage him.”

Thranduil regarded Tulus silently for a long moment. “That rather begs the question of why you were so willing to listen to Marti disparage me,” he said in an even voice.

Tulus looked down and shook his head slightly. “I had many reasons in my head, my lord. I cannot deny that the primary reason was that I was embittered by the way you and lord Aradunnon have treated me…”

Thranduil raised his eyebrows.

Tulus frowned seeing the king’s reaction and continued in a determined voice—one that shook with millennia of resentment. “I do not deny that I was wrong to speak the way I did about the queen and I was a fool to respond to you as I did when you confronted me. I deserved to be dismissed from your Guard. But I never believed that I deserved to be barred permanently from serving in the patrols and essentially banished from this realm. I certainly do not believe my son should continue to suffer for my mistakes but he has. He has served this realm faithfully since he came of age. He has never had a single reprimand. Yet lord Aradunnon refuses to consider him for promotion because of who his father is. I see that as very unjust.” He stopped and looked down, as if suddenly aware that his tone was heated. “Forgive me, my lord,” he continued in a softer voice. “I am not trying to justify my behavior. I committed a crime and I am here to accept the consequences for it. You asked why I betrayed you and that is the honest reason. Manadhien tried to make us see our actions as noble. She told us repeatedly that we were acting to protect the forest when you had failed to do so. But, I am here to be honest with you and I will not hide behind those lies because I have known for many yeni that they were a distortion of the truth. I would not have fallen in with this group if I had not allowed myself to be manipulated by my anger towards you.”

Thranduil remained silent for a moment, taking time to see past the anger directed at him to better hear the words behind it. After a moment’s reflection, he could not deny their validity and that pained him. But he was also interested that Tulus’s statement, like those of the villagers who had already testified, led straight back to Manadhien.

“You were manipulated?” he asked softly.

Tulus sighed and looked down. “I do not intend to blame others. My actions were my own, my lord.”

Thranduil nodded. “I recognize that you wish to accept responsibility for your deeds, Tulus, and your willingness to do so will not go unrewarded. But you are not the first guard from your village to say that you felt ‘manipulated’ and that is something I must understand better. Can you explain it? Who manipulated you?”

Tulus hesitated a moment as he struggled to formulate his thoughts. “Manadhien is very good at controlling people, my lord. She could portray actions that would normally seem abhorrent as utterly justified,” he finally replied. “As I said, she reminded us constantly that we had to protect the forest since its king would not. She said that our actions were necessary since you had already broken faith with us by not defending our homes. When she spoke of such things, she would emphasize recent difficulties…a raid by orcs or some lack of supplies or any request that you refused to grant. Her words sounded very logical and convincing.” He sighed. “And she could read what was important to people…what motivated them.” He paused and looked at Thranduil. “She repeated that story about lord Oropher to me, saying that he had set out to destroy her family and she said you were doing the same to my son and I. She cited the facts that I had been barred from the patrols and Glílavan had been refused promotions as evidence. It seemed very believable when she said it. That is what makes me think she was noble born more than her wealth. She spoke as someone accustomed to commanding people. It was hard to deny her demands.”

“So when she turned from calling for me to abdicate and began to plot my removal, you found it difficult to resist taking part in that plot?” Thranduil asked coolly.

Tulus looked at Thranduil directly and shook his head. “I swear I did not participate in those plans, my lord. When you chose to retreat so far north, I was willing to try to persuade others that you had not upheld your vow to defend this forest. But I was never willing to do more than that. Manadhien, Fuilin and possibly Dannenion were the only ones sympathetic to more extreme proposals. I first heard the suggestion that you should be forcibly removed only in the last few years, but in retrospect I believe someone, probably Manadhien and Fuilin, has been planning it for a long while. They know the Easterlings far too well.” He paused for emphasis. “While I freely confess to sedition, my lord, I swear that I was not involved in any of the dealings with the men and I did nothing to support those dealings.”

“But you knew about them,” Thranduil stated.

Tulus grimaced. “Yes, my lord. I knew Manadhien had hired the men to try to capture the queen when she went to Dale. Very recently I had heard Manadhien and Fuilin imply that another attempt might be made, but nothing else was said about it.”

Thranduil spoke in a carefully controlled voice. “I admit that I am very disturbed to hear that a guard I once trusted with my life and the lives of my family members knew in advance of these attacks and did nothing,” he said, his tone implying he wanted an explanation.

Tulus looked down. “To the best of my knowledge, the men were not supposed to injure the queen, only capture her,” he began.

Thranduil could not conceal his reaction to that statement—it was the sort he expected from Tulus. His expression hardened. “You thought the men only intended to capture the queen?” he interrupted, voice rising. “And it did not occur to you, a former member of my Guard, that elves, including the queen, would be injured and possibly killed in the attempt?”

Tulus closed his eyes. “No, my lord. I did not believe the men could get into the forest, much less overpower your guards. I thought, if anything, the men and not elves would be killed. They were in the first attempt.”

“Well, we were not so lucky in the second, were we?” Thranduil said harshly. “Himion and Candirith were killed, my wife was injured and my infant son and nephew were forced to watch men attack their mothers and kill their guards.”

Tulus remained silent, eyes on the floor.

Thranduil glared at the guard, reining in his anger. Tulus’s silence was an improvement over what Thranduil remembered of his normal reactions.

“Does your failure to prevent these incidents not make you complicit in them, Tulus?” Thranduil finally asked, again in the same calm tone he had held to throughout most of the interview.

Tulus nodded. “Yes, my lord,” he admitted. “I tried to distance myself from Manadhien and Fuilin and even the village leaders when they began plotting with the men. I should have reported them.” He looked down and continued in a whisper. “I did not intend for this to happen. I have been very troubled in the last years by how extreme Manadhien’s schemes have become. I wanted it to end but I did not know how to make it end.”

Thranduil leaned forward to draw Tulus’s gaze. “You wanted it to end because you feared it would end in violence?” he asked softly.

“Yes, my lord. And it did.”

Thranduil nodded. “Indeed it did. Tulus, if you feared it would end in violence, why did you not come to me? Even if you had to incriminate yourself to do so, what could I possibly do to you that would be worse than the death of two innocent elves?”

Tulus closed his eyes again. “I know I was a coward, my lord. Manadhien and Fuilin made it clear that if I spoke against them, I would fall with them. And worse, they threatened to accuse my son as well. I was afraid of what you would do to us…more afraid for my son than for myself…but I was afraid.”

Thranduil frowned. “Is Glílavan involved, Tulus?” he asked, looking at him intently.

“No, my lord,” Tulus whispered.

“Are you certain? Someone passed information about the patrols to the men. Glílavan would certainly be in a position to provide that information. And some of the village guards stated that Manadhien got her information from letters that Glílavan sent to you.”

The fear that had radiated from Tulus when he first came to stand before the king returned full force as he responded to that statement. “My son did not betray his fellow warriors, my lord. If it is true that Manadhien got her information from my son’s letters, that was not his intent when he wrote me. He only wrote letters to his adar about his new duties.”

Thranduil regarded Tulus narrowly for a long moment. “Very well,” he said quietly. “I have no other questions for you, Tulus. Now we must discuss what to do with you.” He paused and Tulus straightened, looking at him tensely. Thranduil continued in a soft voice. “You have confessed to sedition, Tulus, and given the activities that you described to lord Aradunnon, I believe you are indeed guilty of that crime. That disturbs me greatly. I am not a tyrant, Tulus. If the villagers in the south or anywhere else in the forest have grievances, encourage them to speak to me, not call for my removal. I am happy to hear their concerns and address them however I can without sacrificing the overall safety of the realm. Do you understand that?”

Tulus nodded. “Yes, my lord.”

“Do you believe it?”

“Yes, my lord. I realized many years ago that I was allowing my own resentment to prevent me from reacting to you fairly. I know that you have done all you can given the enemy that you face.”

Thranduil nodded once. “As an experienced warrior, one more familiar than most of the citizens in this realm with the cost of weaponry, the requirements of training, and the complexity of guarding a forest this large, I would expect you to understand the difficulties presented by the orcs and spiders in the south, Tulus. I am relieved to hear you say that,” he replied. “May I take your response as an indication that you are willing to continue living in this realm under my rule?”

Tulus looked up at the king with surprise and a spark of hope at that question. “If you allow it, my lord, then yes I am.”

Thranduil sighed. “It has never been my goal to drive any of the Silvan from their home or allow the forest to fall to ruin, Tulus. If you wish to live here and you are willing to accept my rule and law, then you are welcome to do so. I have made the same offer to everyone else involved in this incident.” He paused and looked at Tulus firmly. “But you must be willing to accept my law and that means that there will be consequences for your actions.”

Tulus returned Thranduil’s gaze. “I expected so, my lord. I came here willingly to accept those consequences,” he replied.

Thranduil nodded. “I find you guilty of sedition, Tulus, and of failing to report Manadhien and Fuilin’s treason,” he said formally. “But I believe it was not your intent to actually commit high treason and I believe that you wanted to report your co-conspirators’ actions but were too afraid to do so. You did behave honorably when directly confronted and that took courage that I wish to reward.” He paused. “If you want to continue living in this forest, you must remain in the capital, under guard, until such a time that I am convinced you can be trusted. I will not hold you in the stronghold—you may build a cottage or talan—but if the guard reports to me that you are engaged in any crime, I will be forced to banish you from this forest for the safety of all the citizens of this realm who depend on me for protection. That banishment will be permanent because then you will have betrayed the mercy that I have shown you today and I will have absolutely no tolerance for that. Do you understand?”

Tulus looked down and bowed. “I understand, my lord. Thank you,” he said with relief in his voice.

Thranduil nodded and continued in a softer tone. “Furthermore, I acknowledge your complaint that you and your son have not been treated fairly.”

Tulus looked up with surprise but Thranduil continued without pause.

“As for Glílavan, I was not aware until recently that lord Aradunnon had denied him promotion. Lord Dolgailon brought Glílavan to my attention with his recommended that he serve as a lieutenant in the training program. I supported lord Dolgailon and of course you know Glílavan did receive that appointment. I believe that satisfies that situation.”

“It does, my lord. I was very pleased when Glílavan told me he had been promoted. I did not know you were involved. Thank you,” he replied.

Thranduil looked at him sadly. “As for yourself, I never intended for your dismissal from my Guard to result in a permanent expulsion from military service. I would have supported a temporary ban from general service since you were dismissed for insubordination, but not a permanent one. If I had known that had been the result, I would have clarified my intent to lord Aradunnon sooner. Given the current situation, the only thing I can offer you is this: after you have convinced me that you should be trusted, I will speak to lord Aradunnon about permitting you to join one of the patrols if you still wish to do so.”

Tulus blinked and looked at Thranduil incredulously before finding his voice. “Thank you, my lord,” he repeated. “I am very grateful, both that you have allowed me to continue living here and that you have given me hope that I might return to the patrols. I know that after everything that I have done, that is a great boon. I expected much worse than this.”

“And that expectation, born of the results of our last meeting, is what prevented you from coming forward and allowed this situation to escalate to the point it did,” Thranduil responded. “You are required to regain my trust, Tulus, but I realize that I must also earn yours in order to truly rectify this situation. I will strive to do so if you will allow it.”

Tulus looked up at him. “This conversation has gone a long way towards achieving that goal from my point of view, my lord,” he said softly.

Thranduil nodded and stood, stepping down from the dais to speak to Tulus. “I am aware that you and my adar were closer than you and I ever were. Perhaps your stay in the capital will change that and we will come to know each other better. And as for your son, lord Dolgailon has always spoken highly of Glílavan and I know he considers him a true friend. I honestly I never realized who his father was until we discussed the training program. Since he is in the capital and is now an officer in my military, I will make an effort to get to know him better as well.”

Tulus smiled at Thranduil cautiously. “I am sure Glílavan will like that, my lord. He and lord Dolgailon have long been friends.” The smile faded from Tulus’s face. “Before this, Lord Dolgailon and I were friends,” he added sadly.

Thranduil looked at Tulus steadily. “Lord Dolgailon is fair minded, Tulus. Speak to him as you just did to me and he may understand all that has happened better than you think.” He paused. “Are you not concerned what Glílavan will say to you when you tell him why you are here?” he asked.

To Thranduil’s surprise, Tulus only snorted. “Glílavan is going to be furious with me,” he said readily. “You will likely hear the argument all the way in the stronghold. He has never hesitated to express his opinions to me and I am certain this incident will not be the exception.”

Thranduil pressed his lips together in an effort not to laugh. “Forgive me, Tulus, but it sounds to me that Glílavan is his father’s son,” he said, earning a wry smirk from his former guard. After a moment, he grew more serious. “But you believe he will not turn you away? I ask only because in his report to me, lord Aradunnon said that several statements you made implied that you have felt very isolated in the south…that your remaining family and friends had turned away from you after you were dismissed. You said to me earlier that you felt ‘essentially banished.’ That was never my intent and it is not my intent now. I will speak to Glílavan if you wish.”

Tulus stared at Thranduil a moment, surprise and gratitude in his eyes. “I greatly appreciate that, my lord, but I do not believe it will be necessary. Glílavan and I are all the family we have ever had since his naneth sailed. He will be furious. I may even be made to sleep on his doorstep for a few nights. But since you have given me another chance, he will as well. I am sure of it.”

“Very well,” Thranduil replied, gesturing for a guard standing at the back of the Hall. “Then I suggest you go look for your son. The report I had from the training masters this afternoon indicated Glílavan had returned from an exercise this morning so he will be either in his cottage, on the green or possibly at an Oak tree that the warriors sometimes gather near for merrymaking. I am sure your guard can direct you to it if you cannot find Glílavan anywhere else. I wish you a happy reunion with as little argument as possible.”

A faint smile brightened Tulus’s face. “Thank you, my lord,” he said. With a bow, he turned and left, followed by the guard Thranduil had called.

Conuiön eyed his departure until the doors to the throne room closed behind him.

“Tulus was the last of them, my lord,” Hallion said, descending the dais to stand next to Thranduil.

“Good,” he replied, a hint of the exhaustion he felt in his voice. Then he turned to face his steward and guards. “What are your thoughts? Have we found everyone? Do you believe we have the entire truth of the matter now?”

Hallion nodded thoughtfully. “I believe so, my lord. None of the villagers mentioned any names other than the people we have in the capital. With the exception of Manadhien and Fuilin, of course. We still must find them,” he began.

“I am not satisfied that Glílavan is not involved,” Conuiön interrupted firmly, taking a step forward to join the conversation.

Thranduil nodded. “Nor am I. But that is the advantage of keeping Tulus and the others in the capital. We can watch them. I sincerely hope that they are all as willing to return to productive lives in this forest as they appeared to be, but if they are not, they eventually will grow comfortable and return to their scheming. I intend to give them the impression that they have the freedom to do just that. Perhaps they will lead us to Marti and Fuilin and whoever passed the information about the patrols—whether that is Glílavan or not.”

Conuiön scowled. “That may work and it may not but I do not recommend that we wait to find out. We have at least three of the conspirators at large, two known to us and one unknown. And those still at large appear to be the most dangerous,” he said.

Again, Thranduil nodded. “I agree, Conuiön. I intend to have Golwon send word to every village describing Marti and Fuilin and asking the village leaders to inform me if they are seen. Aradunnon will speak to the officers in the patrols to have them search the forest.” He sighed. “Amoneth and Galithil will be disappointed but I intend to ask Aradunnon to remain in the south and be a presence in the villages until we are confident we have overcome any damage Marti and Fuilin might have done there. And of course Dolgailon must stay until we are certain the Easterlings will confine their attack to Gondor.” He paused and looked between the captain of his guard and his steward “Do either of you have any further suggestions?”

Hallion sighed softly. “I do not think we will find Marti in the forest, my lord. We searched for her after your wedding to no avail. I believe she left the forest then and I think she will do so again since her co-conspirators have clearly been discovered. When they are not exiled, she will have reason to believe she has been betrayed so she will be cautious. I recommend that we ask lord Fengel and the Master in Esgaroth to watch for her in their lands.”

Thranduil frowned at that. “I do not like the idea of involving men any further in this,” he protested quietly.

Hallion could easily read that statement was an automatic reaction, not a position the king believed he could hold. “I do not think we have a choice if we want to be certain to find them, my lord,” he pressed.

Thranduil sighed. “You manage that, Hallion. Delicately. And perhaps you should include lord Forthwini’s people as well. Marti and Fuilin could go west as easily as east.”

Hallion nodded his agreement.

Thranduil paused a moment, his expression growing grim. He looked sidelong at his steward. “I assume you did not know that my adar had any association with Marti in Doriath?” he asked, turning to the most surprising revelation of the day.

Hallion’s eyebrows went up and he shook his head. “I could have fallen over when Tulus mentioned lord Oropher in connection with Marti or Manadhien…whatever her name may be. I do not recall ever meeting her in Menegroth but it is very unlikely that I would have. I did not attend the court. I did research; others advised the king. That duty fell to me only very rarely.”

Thranduil looked to Conuiön and the guard’s eyes widened. He also shook his head. “I was a warrior on the marches in Doriath, my lord. I had no contact with the court. I first met lord Oropher when the Dwarves invaded the stronghold. It was only after we fled to Sirion that he asked me to join his household. You know that very well for your own actions inspired that decision.”

Thranduil smirked at that memory. “True. But I also know guards often see far more than kings. Now that the connection has been made between Marti and Doriath, do you remember seeing her traveling on the roads, for example? Or living in the forests?”

“Not that I recall, my lord,” Conuiön replied. “The High King allowed very few of the Noldor into his lands and I cannot remember seeing Marti amongst them.”

Thranduil frowned in response to that reminder. “Marti, one of the Exiles…this only continues to grow worse. When we were waiting to ask Tulus if Marti and Manadhien were the same person, I was concerned, of course—the idea that a spurned elleth would plot against my rule as revenge after nearly two millennia was very disturbing. It would clearly show that she is insane. But this—if her actions against me are inspired by some offense my adar caused her in Doriath three Ages ago… that is clearly much more serious. If nothing else, it demonstrates a frightening level of determination.”

Hallion nodded. “I was greatly disturbed by each of the villager’s testimony regarding her ability to twist others to her way of thinking. Villagers are bound to disagree with some of the decisions that are made for the greater good of the realm. The idea that someone is inflaming their displeasure and driving it to rebellion is very troubling.”

“Agreed. It is especially troubling since such behavior is not exactly foreign to the Noldor—Curufin and Celegorm in Nargothrond and Celebrimbor in Ost-in-Edhil are two obvious examples,” Thranduil said gravely.

Hallion looked at Thranduil thoughtfully in response to that comment. “Do you intend to discuss this with anyone else who might remember Marti in the High King’s court? Lord Engwe and lady Dieneryn, for example?”

“I will discuss what we have discovered with the entire council,” Thranduil replied. “But nana could not possibly know anything about Marti or she would not have allowed her to weave in her workshop for so long. And Engwe did not seem to recognize her name.”

“Still, I think you should ask. This altercation between lord Oropher and Marti must have happened at least six millennia ago. It would be easy to forget. Perhaps some memory will come to the surface if you mention what Tulus told us,” Hallion suggested. He paused and regarded Thranduil cautiously. “And perhaps you should write Celeborn and even lady Galadriel about Marti giving them both the names we know she uses and a description of her. Lady Galadriel would have known almost all the Noldor that came to the High King’s court. And since Marti did not live in Eryn Galen during your adar’s reign, she may have lived in Lorien or Ost-in-Edhil and they might be acquainted with her.”

Thranduil loosed a long breath. “It is a good idea,” he said with resignation. “I doubt Marti lived in Lorien or Amglaur would have recognized her when Lindomiel and I were courting—Marti even spoke to him directly once. But as you said maybe the connection between adar and Marti will help Amglaur remember her. I will speak to him and to nana and Engwe.” He smirked at his steward. “As for Celeborn and Galadriel, again I will leave the composition of the foreign correspondence to you, Hallion.”

Hallion returned his smirk and bowed his head in acknowledgment.

Thranduil looked between Hallion and Conuiön silently for a moment. When neither said anything further, he turned towards the door. “Then let us go seek some dinner and the company of family,” he said tiredly.

They both nodded, clearly as relieved as the king that the day was behind them, and moved to follow him from the Hall.

*~*~*

As Thranduil entered the family chambers his eyebrows rose in response to how quiet it was.

Hallion smiled at his reaction. “It is amazing how quickly we grow accustomed to the excitement that children bring to our lives, is it not?” he asked.

Thranduil nodded, also smiling. “It is indeed. And amazing how I miss them when they are not here,” he replied, turning into the family sitting room to see if anyone was already there awaiting dinner.

The only person in the room was Amglaur. He sat in a chair by the fireplace with a cloth in his lap. It was covered with wood chips. He held a knife in one hand and a piece of a pine in another. On the table next to the chair was an army of little figures—archers with bows and warriors on foot and mounted on horses carrying swords and spears.

Thranduil looked from the figures to his father-in-law silently.

“Forgive me for not standing, Thranduil. I do not want to spill these shavings all over the floor,” he said, beginning to rise and stopping himself when he recognized the futility of the attempt.

Thranduil shook his head. “I quite understand,” he replied, still eyeing the little army. “I will be satisfied if you tell me where the children are and what you are doing,” he said expectantly, amusement in his voice.

“The children are with Arthiel and Ruscil, the forester she is studying under. I believe they will return soon. As for me,” Amglaur said cutting a curved piece from the wood he was holding and beginning to shape a little bow. “I am making an army for Legolas, Galithil and Berior. I intend to teach them Orthor.”

Thranduil’s brows knit together. “They are a little young for such games I think,” he said coolly.

“They are,” Amglaur replied evenly. “But Legolas and Galithil spent a good part of the morning questioning me about warriors and their duties and I mentioned this game while trying to answer their questions in a way they could understand and now they want to play it.”

Thranduil’s frown deepened and he sat in the chair next to his father-in-law. “What did they ask you about warriors and how did such a topic come up?” he asked, concern in his voice.

Amglaur sighed and laid the knife on the cloth. “Galithil asked me if I knew when Aradunnon and Dolgailon would come home,” he began, looking at Thranduil sadly, “and he was very concerned that they might be so injured fighting men as to go to Mandos instead of returning here. I tried explaining to them that Aradunnon and Dolgailon are very well trained and experienced warriors. That alarmed Legolas because he knows Lindomiel is training with Langon and he thought she would go fight the men too when she finished. I told him Lindomiel was only training because she was interested in skills involved and she would not become a warrior. To make a long story a bit shorter, I told them about the game to distract them from the more frightening aspects of being a warrior and now they are curious about it.” He shrugged. “I think they will be more interested in helping me paint the figures than the game itself. They are too young to understand the strategy.”

Thranduil leaned back in the chair and rubbed the bridge of his nose between two fingers. “I would give nearly anything to erase that day for them,” he said, voice barely above a whisper. “And for Lindomiel for that matter.” His voice grew hard. “Legolas is worried because his naneth is training. That is unacceptable.”

Amglaur watched Thranduil silently for a moment. Then he placed a hand on his arm. “You cannot erase the evil in this world, Thranduil, nor can you hide from it. Your adar moved his household from Lindon, across all of Eriador, over the mountains and to this forest to shield you and Dieneryn from harm, but evil followed him. He moved these people deeper into the forest and it still pursued him. We all fought in Mordor and, despite our sacrifices, the Shadow still endures. You cannot shelter Legolas from the Enemy. It is simply not possible. He will be a presence in this world until the time comes to destroy him once and for all. May those who fight in that battle succeed where their parents, or forefathers in the case of Men, did not.”

Thranduil turned an angry glare on his father-in-law. “Legolas is two, Amglaur. I do not even want him to know about such things. I certainly do not intend to teach him about them.”

Amglaur met his anger calmly. “Of course not. I am not suggesting that you should. I am simply suggesting that you accept what your own adar never could: you cannot prevent the Enemy from touching Legolas’s life any more than your adar could keep you safe from him by moving to this forest.”

Thranduil frowned. “I know adar moved here to try to shelter nana and I. He told me that he did not want me ensnared by the curse the Noldor bore by being forced to serve them. But when he led us here, he was not fleeing from anything; he was seeking something—a more wholesome life. The song of elves and the Song of Arda.” He paused and looked at Amglaur. “I was forty when Elu Thingol was murdered and I saw my cousin die. I was forty-three when I witnessed the second kinslaying in Menegroth and the deaths of nana’s parents. I was barely of age when I fought in the third kinslaying in Sirion. My adar knew very well what those experiences did to me. Anyone that knew me before the dwarves came to Menegroth could see the change in me. I could see that change in myself but I did not know how to resist it. I may not be able to shield Legolas from the Enemy, but I can see to it that the focus of his life is on the beauty in Arda, not the evil.”

Amglaur nodded. “I agree with that, of course, Thranduil.” He hesitated and then continued in a softer voice. “But I do not agree with your assessment of yourself. I remember you as a very young child. I often watched you and Ninglor playing outside the gates of Menegroth and I heard all the stories of the trouble you caused. I remember thinking how very much like your adar you were—daring, willful and determined to the point of being stubborn. But as much as I wanted to see Oropher’s negative qualities in his son, there was one other trait I saw in you that I could not deny—you were deeply caring. I do not doubt the effect everything you saw in your youth had on you. Indeed I can see that you are embittered by the losses you have experienced. But evil never claimed you, Thranduil. Whatever you saw in the past, it does not dictate the way you respond to the world now—surely you can see that in the way you rule this kingdom. I still see in you the same caring personality that I remember from Menegroth—that was what persuaded me to allow you to bond with Lindomiel.”

Thranduil had been struggling to conceal his various reactions as Amglaur spoke but this last statement made him look wryly at his father-in-law. Amglaur smiled at him.

“My point is that Legolas is naturally a very happy little elfling,” he continued. “Even now, when he is still worried about the men, he is easily engaged in some game or distracted by a bird or some other wonder in the forest. I do not doubt that you will be able to nurture that part of his personality. Have faith in yourself and in him.”

Thranduil looked at Amglaur silently for a long moment, thinking about his words.

“He is right, Thranduil,” Hallion said softly from his other side.

Thranduil glanced at his steward sidelong and loosed a long breath. Then he picked up one of the figures Amglaur had carved. “These are quite good, Amglaur,” he said, inspecting it. “I have no talent for carving what-so-ever. I admire your ability and I am grateful for it since it has provided my son, nephews and niece with so many toys.” A smile crept to his lips. “You are spoiling, Legolas, to tell you the truth. You must have been carving this little army all day.”

Amglaur looked down his nose at Thranduil as he continued to carve the archer in his hand. “Daeradars are supposed to spoil their daerelflings. That is my privilege, ion nin, and you will respect it.”

Thranduil’s eyes snapped to Amglaur. He had never used that form of address.

“You will learn that when you become a daeradar,” Amglaur continued airily, apparently unaware of what he had said. “I hope your son does not force you to wait nearly two millennia before he has children and I hope you do not force me to wait another two millennia before you have a daughter,” he concluded with a dramatically disgusted tone.

Thranduil snorted. “Is that what you are waiting for? I have sworn to Lindomiel that we are only raising one child at a time so I fear you will wait at least fifty years for more daerelflings.”

Amglaur shrugged. “Limmiel and I intended to stay here until Legolas comes of age,” he replied. Thranduil’s jaw dropped at that declaration and Amglaur raised a single eyebrow. “You have often invited us to come live in your realm. Surely we are still welcome? Or were those invitations idle courtesies?”

Thranduil looked down and laughed lightly. “Of course you are welcome,” he replied quietly as Hallion looked at him with bright, amused eyes. He knew perfectly well those invitations had indeed been idle courtesies.

*~*~*

“Please tell me that you were not involved in this,” Tulus’s voice pleaded quietly. He stood in the main room of his son’s small cottage.

Glílavan glanced at the member of the Palace Guard visible through his window briefly before returning his incredulous gaze back on his father. “You confessed!” he finally managed to exclaim.

Tulus eyed his son with increasing concern. “I asked you to tell me that you were not involved in this, ion nin,” he repeated more firmly.

Glílavan turned his back to his father. “I cannot believe that you betrayed Fuilin and the other guards,” he said in a hoarse whisper.

“Himion and Candirith are dead, Glílavan” Tulus exclaimed. “I would say that they were the ones betrayed.” He grasped his son’s arm and pulled him to face him. “Answer me. Did you give the information about the patrols to Manadhien?”

Glílavan shook his head without looking at his father. “Did you give my name to Thranduil?” he countered with a neutral tone.

“Of course not,” Tulus replied, his voice barely above a whisper. “I swore to him that you were not involved. And you no longer will be, do you hear me? I will not have you killed for Manadhien’s insanity, ion nin.”

“It is not insanity to defend this forest, adar,” Glílavan began.

Tulus grasped him by both shoulders. “Then serve in the patrols. Train the new warriors. But do not follow Manadhien. She is gone. If she approaches you, I want you to report it to whoever is serving as your captain while Dolgailon is in the south. Promise me,” Tulus said urgently.

Glílavan frowned and looked away. “I promise, adar,” he said readily.

Tulus’s eyes narrowed and he gave his son a slight shake to draw his attention. “You make sure you mean that, ion nin. I will not allow you to come to harm. You are all I have left in the world. Do you understand me?”

Glílavan looked at his father for a long moment. Then he nodded.

*~*~*

Manadhien sat silently, staring at the deep blue jewel in her hand—a gift from her father so long ago. It was the color of the sea, he told her as he fastened its silver chain around her neck. The sea they would cross to find a better fate. A greater one. He gave identical stones to her brother and sister. They had been lost many Ages ago along with those that held them.

Manadhien closed her hand and thrust the sapphire into its pouch. She still sought the destiny her father had promised her, but this jewel was a thing of the past. A past she had no desire to recall. Nonetheless, it was one of two gems that she would not part with at any cost. It would fetch little price, for it had been damaged and its silver chain lost long ago in one of the many battles she had fled, but it was her only remaining connection to her family.

The soft footfall of Elven boots brought her attention fully to the present. She stepped deeper into the shadows of the dense forest and drew the dagger that hung at her waist.

Fuilin’s eyes widened and he glanced from it to her face as he approached their hiding place.

“From what I have been able to gather, the king’s patrols are looking for both of us by name and description. It seems the village leaders are being informed to watch for us as well. Thranduil has arrested everyone and is holding them in the capital,” he said in a whisper though there was no one about but them.

A bitter look flashed across Manadien’s face. Then she shrugged and smiled at him. “No matter. There are many advantages to having our allies so close to the king…”

“I have the impression many of them confessed willingly, Manadhien. That the king has persuaded them that he is no harm to the forest,” he interrupted.

“Then they are fools,” she replied firmly. “But we still have allies, as you know. And they are better placed than ever before. This is a setback. I do not deny that. But we have gained some important ground as well. We will prevail in the end if we are patient.” She smiled at him. “You will see.”

*~*~*

Naneth/nana--Mother/mum

Adar/ada--Father/dad

Daeradar/daernaneth--Grandfather/grandmother

ion nin--my son

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Chapter name
Imprisoned by past evils
Created
29 May 2005
Last Edited
29 May 2005
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