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Interrupted Journeys: Part Four--Journeys of Discovery

Chapter 12: Affectations-- Part Three

by ellisk

Chapter 12: Affectations Part Three

As Thranduil, Hallion and Conuiön strode through the Great Gates, the king acknowledged the Gate Guards' bow with a jaunty salute that made them raise their eyebrows and smile. His light step as he descended the stairs to the bridge contrasted sharply with the tense posture of the captain of his guard and the concerned expression of his chief counselor.

"I will make sure you are informed when I have returned, captain," Thranduil said as he started across the bridge. He could not hide a smirk when he noticed that comment caused the Gate Guards' eyebrows to climb even higher.

Conuiön took the stairs two at a time and made several long strides to bring himself even with the king.

"I am very uncomfortable with this, my lord," he whispered into Thranduil's ear. "Please reconsider it."

Thranduil smiled but did not slow his pace. "No, Conuiön, I will not reconsider it. This discussion is going to be between fathers and fathers do not have guards marking their steps," he replied with a pleased tone.

Conuiön scowled.

Hallion hurried behind them. "Conuiön, this is an important matter. Do not complicate matters further," he whispered anxiously. Then he turned to Thranduil. “And if you do not take this conversation seriously you will complicate the situation further. Please, my lord.”

Reaching the end of the bridge, Thranduil stopped before stepping onto the green and faced his guard and steward seriously. "We have already thoroughly addressed this issue. I am going to speak to Dolwon and Dannenion rather than calling them to me and I am going alone rather than with a guard in an effort to emphasize my concern for them. This conversation will be about families, not politics,” he said looking at his guard. Then he turned to Hallion. “And I assure you, lord Hallion, I am taking this opportunity to improve our relations with Dolwon and Dannenion very seriously.” He stepped lightly off the bridge and onto the fresh spring grass and the sincere smile returned to his lips. "I feel like an elfling set free from his tutor," he said to himself. "This is the first time in an Age that I have gone anywhere without being followed by guards."

"Remember the trouble that elflings freed of their tutor often find, my lord," Conuiön called after him from the bridge.

The king answered that admonition with laughter.

As Thranduil crossed the green, the pleasant novelty of strolling across it alone was quickly overcome by renewed annoyance at the errand at hand. Speaking with Dolwon and Dannenion was never an agreeable experience. Bringing them news about their sons' mischief did not promise to improve their disposition. Thranduil could not imagine what good Hallion thought would come of this, but he did recognize the need to do something to address the situation they were causing and he admitted he could think of no other common ground he might find with them apart from fatherhood.

The path to their cottages led past the barn and Thranduil found himself looking at it longingly. "Elflings freed of their tutor," he mused with a smile. "An elfling would abandon the unpleasant task in favor of a more enjoyable one, like a nice ride." The smile faded. "In many ways it would be nice to be an elfling again," he muttered and forced himself to look away from the barn. Then he stopped and looked over at it again. "I could go for a ride after this wretched conversation. Indeed, that might be a very good idea." He veered off the path to the barnyard, intent upon informing the stable hands that he would require his horse within an hour and smiling as he imagined the look on Conuiön's face when the guard found out that he had gone for a ride alone.

As he approached the barn, Thranduil heard a familiar voice inside it.

"I do not think your lord father would approve of me discussing this topic with you, Legolas," it said.

Thranduil stopped where he was, hidden by the partially closed door. He could see through the slats of wood that formed the door, but he did not need to peek through them to identify the voice. He recognized the speaker as Tulus.

The next sound he heard was Legolas's laughter. Between the slats of wood, Thranduil could see that Legolas was following Tulus around the stalls in the barn as he worked, close on his heels. Tulus was trying to avoid his gaze.

"Why would ada mind?" Legolas asked. "I only asked you what you meant when you said that Anastor and Noruil were as much trouble as orcs. Ada would not care about your opinion of two elflings. And I want to know why you said that. Maybe it will help me understand why they are so mean all the time. My cousins and I never did anything to them."

Thranduil stifled a snort. 'Help me understand' was a common tactic Legolas used to coerce all manner of favors from his parents. The child knew that argument was nearly impossible to deny. He found himself watching to see if it would work on Tulus as well. And he found himself very curious to hear what Tulus would say about the children of his former co-conspirators.

Tulus paused in his work and look at Legolas with a deep frown. He reached down and caressed Legolas's cheek. "Child, I understand how frustrating Anastor and Noruil can be. I remember children like them when I was your age..."

Legolas raised a single eyebrow.

"I do remember my childhood, pen neth," Tulus insisted with laughter in his voice, thrusting an empty feed bucket into Legolas's arms. Legolas took it, set it outside the stall and fetched a full bucket, lifting it carefully. "For example, I remember how much trouble I was in when my adar caught me fighting with the children who annoyed me most," he continued with a meaningful tone.

Thranduil leaned closer to the barn door, watching as Legolas followed Tulus to the next stall.

He heard Legolas sigh as Tulus began tossing fresh hay into the empty stall with a pitchfork. "Ada would be furious if he saw my cousins or I fighting. I already know that," he said while kicking hay into the stall himself. "But we did not fight with them. You stopped the fight. And if you tell me why you think Anastor and Noruil are so mean to us, maybe we would understand them better and feel less inclined to fight with them in the future," he reasoned. "I know you know why they act that way, Tulus. Else you would not have said what you already said. It is only fair to tell me now. There is no reason not to."

"Except your lord father would not approve of me discussing this topic with you, Legolas," Tulus replied, repeating his earlier comment more emphatically. "And I have no intention of doing anything that might anger the king, especially where you are concerned. Ask him why they behave the way they do. He is the appropriate person to discuss such things with you."

"I cannot ask him, Tulus," Legolas said, exasperation creeping into his voice. "Ada would barely recognize Anastor and Noruil, so how could he tell me why they are so mean?"

The frown returned to Tulus's face and he responded quickly without looking at Legolas. "I assure you, child, your lord father knows precisely who Anastor and Noruil are. He has had more dealings with their parents than he ever wanted, and the acorn never falls far from the oak, as they say." Thranduil saw Tulus cringe slightly before turning his back to Legolas. "Enough of this," Tulus concluded quietly.

But Legolas was staring at Tulus intently. "What dealings has ada had with their parents?" he asked. "And why would that make him understand anything about Anastor and Noruil's behavior towards my cousins and I?"

"Enough, Legolas. Go ask your lord father about this," Tulus repeated. This time his voice was pleading.

Legolas's brow creased. "Anastor and Noruil's parents have had more dealings with ada then he wanted," Legolas quoted. "In other words, they do not get along with my adar." Legolas's eyes widened and he scurried around to stand directly in front of Tulus. "Anastor and Noruil's parents do not get along with my adar and that is why Anastor and Noruil are mean to us. Am I right?"

Tulus silently continued tossing hay into the stall.

"And if you are not willing to talk about it—if you are insisting I speak with ada about it—the reason they do not get along is not just some disagreement that people sometimes have. It is related to governance. The only reason my uncles or Master Rodonon ever refuse to explain anything to me is if it is related to governance and they think I should talk to ada. You are doing the same. Am I right?" he demanded, grabbing the handle of the pitchfork to compel Tulus to look at him.

Tulus loosed a long breath. "Yes, Legolas, you are. You are just a little too astute at drawing conclusions for your age, I would say."

Legolas grinned. "Master Rodonon says I am smart when I bother to try to be."

Tulus snorted loudly, covering the laugh that escaped Thranduil's lips.

"So what did Anastor and Noruil’s parents do to cross ada?” Legolas pressed with a quiet voice.

Outside the barn, Thranduil found himself again raising his eyebrows, this time at his son's persistence. Tulus was all too right that this was a topic he did not care to have Legolas discuss. To Thranduil’s relief, Tulus seemed to remember that himself. He leaned the pitchfork against the barn wall and put his hands on his hips.

“I have told you that you must discuss this with your adar and I mean it,” he said firmly, wincing slightly when Legolas adopted a determined expression. Tulus turned one of the empty feed buckets over and sat on it. “I will make you a deal. You stop asking me about Anastor and Noruil’s parents and I will tell you another story. A pleasant one.”

Legolas's eyes lit. “About what?” he asked, plopping down in the hay in front of Tulus.

Tulus shrugged. “How about a story like the ones the elders told you on the green that day Rodonon arranged for you to speak to them?”

Legolas's expression brightened even further. “But something more recent. I like stories from this Age.”

Tulus smiled. “I know a good story. And it is a compromise—it is not from this Age or from the First Age. It is from the Second. How does that sound?”

Legolas nodded and scooted a little closer to Tulus.

“Very well then. One night in the early part of the Second Age, I was on the very western edge of the forest with a group of warriors. It was night and we were preparing the evening watches after dinner.”

“You were a warrior, Tulus?” Legolas interrupted.

“I was,” Tulus confirmed. “I was a leader of the warriors that guarded the western forest.”

“A captain?”

Tulus nodded, smiling at Legolas's amazed expression. "Though we did not use terms like 'captain' then. We did not know any such formal structure before the Sindar arrived."

Legolas frowned. “What did you call the leaders then if you did not call them captains?”

“Just leaders,” he replied, now laughing. “Do you want to hear the story or do you want a vocabulary lesson?”

“I will be quiet. I want to hear the story,” Legolas replied, pressing his lips together.

Tulus laughed quietly at that. Outside the barn, Thranduil also listened, curious to hear what story Tulus might tell his son of the Second Age.

“As I said, we were setting watches,” Tulus continued. “I had climbed with another warrior into the trees to watch the plains. It was a night of the full moon and Ithil's light shone brightly. We had been on watch long enough to be growing bored when I noticed...I can only describe it as a glowing light on the horizon. We signaled the other warriors and waited, not understanding what it could be, but we had seen enough of Morgoth's trickery to be wary. Finally, we could make out riders. The lead rider was clad in deep blue and Ithil's light glinted off the silver stars embroidered on his cloak and off the sword he carried in his hand. His hair glinted with silver also and he was riding a white mount. He was magnificent. We thought it was Tauron himself and his huntsmen riding towards us across the plains and we were frightened."

Tulus paused and smiled at Legolas's rapt expression. Outside the barn, Thranduil laughed quietly at himself, realizing he was no less enthralled by this story than his son. He recognized who the riders would be and he was fascinated to hear Tulus’s perspective of this event.

"The huntsmen continued towards the forest. When they rode under the eaves of the trees, even when they rode directly under us, we still were not certain what we were witnessing. We had no metal work at that time. The riders' swords and the breastplates they wore—they were beyond anything we had ever seen or imagined. Beautiful and awesome. But more awesome still was the manner in which the trees reacted to their presence. By then the trees had already learned to be wary of strangers under their boughs. Despite that, they greeted these strangers with hope and no less admiration than we were feeling. And the riders responded in kind, with an obvious, deep love and appreciation for the forest."

“Who were they, Tulus?” Legolas whispered. “Was it really Tauron? Does he still ride in the forest?”

"Well, my warriors and I were whispering in the branches, trying to decide if we dared order the riders to halt. Even when they were in plain view, the only reason we doubted their leader might not be Tauron was that we could not see his horn. While we were still debating, they stopped and looked into the trees. Their leader hailed us, speaking a language we could not understand. But given the trees' response to them, we trusted he was no threat and we still half believed he was Tauron, so we came down and tried to speak with him." He paused and looked at Legolas. "Have your tutors taught you the Silvan language, Legolas?"

Legolas nodded. "Of course," he responded, obviously surprised by that question.

Tulus raised his eyebrows and tried to hide his surprise at the answer. "That is good," he said softly. "Then you know the languages have many words in common and some that are very similar..."

"Like legolas and laegolas," Legolas interrupted.

"Precisely," Tulus affirmed. "The language the strangers were speaking was Sindarin, so speaking with them was slow and frustrating, but we finally understood what we were seeing. I think we were even more amazed when we realized their true identities than we were when we thought they were Valar. Can you guess who they were yet, Legolas?”

Legolas was looking at Tulus with wide eyes. “Speaking Sindarin here in the early Second Age? Not my daeradar?” he asked incredulously. Then he laughed. “You thought my daeradar was Tauron?”

Tulus smiled. “I told you, he was an awesome figure in his armor, with his silver hair in the moon light. And we had no idea who could be approaching from that direction. This was our first reunion with any of the people that had continued across the mountains on the Great Journey.” Tulus paused and continued in a solemn voice. “He introduced himself as Oropher Cellonion. Cellon. We had not heard that name since lord Cellon split with us to follow Elwë. Lord Oropher was his son and therefore himself a descendant of our long, lost king Lenwë. A distant relative, to be a fair. A great nephew. But he had returned from far off lands, able to tell us all that had happened to the kin that we had not seen for many an Age. And moreover, he had come to seek us out. To ask us leave to bring that kin home! The very next day, the celebrations began and did not end for an entire Moon."

"Is that why you asked him to be king?" Legolas whispered, clearly awed by this view of his grandfather. “Because he was Lenwë’s great nephew and he brought your kin back here?”

Tulus shook his head. "No, that decision came much later. That night, the only matter we established was that he was not one of the Valar." Tulus looked at Legolas's wide grin and laughed himself at the memory. "I went back to Lindon with lord Oropher as a guard to escort our people home," he said proudly, pleased when Legolas's eyes widened at that. "I traveled across Eriador and saw the sea and the stone walls the Elves had built to keep it at bay. I met the strange elves living there. And I understood why your daeradar wanted so badly to leave that place to return to the forest. Why he risked traveling into an unknown land driven by the hope of finding a people and a place that he could not be sure still existed. That took courage—a courage that inspired people to follow without hesitation."

"Is that why the Silvan made him their king—because of his courage?" Legolas asked.

"No, Legolas. We admired him and all the others that returned with him for their courage. But they came here with the intention of settling in the forest, nothing more. When they arrived, they established a village of their own and your daeradar led it, but there was no talk yet of making him King." Tulus paused and grinned at Legolas. "You know, we thought you Sindar were very odd when you first arrived here. Even the Nandor who had followed lord Denethor to Beleriand had adopted some strange customs."

"What sort of customs?" Legolas asked.

"Well, the oddest one was that when they settled in their village, they built very permanent looking cottages. We did not do that, you see. We wandered through the forest and across the plains as we wished. Staying in one place seemed very odd to us. A recipe for disaster, if truth be told, for the food in that area would surely be quickly depleted. We mentioned that to lord Oropher and he told us not to worry, so we left him be. Then, they began planting things and putting food they gathered into glass bottles that they stored in pits they excavated in the ground. We could not fathom what they were doing..."

"They were just planting gardens and preserving food," Legolas said with a shrug.

Tulus nodded. "But we had never seen such things. As I said, we wandered where ever there was food. We did not grow it or preserve parts of a harvest. We thought that was a silly lot of work when it would be much easier to just move to warmer lands when winter came. But the newcomer's affairs were their own and we did not interfere." Tulus paused and looked at Legolas gravely. "But the second winter after they arrived was a very harsh winter. Snows came all the way south to the plains below the forest—they capped the black peaks of Amon Lanc. There was no food and hunting was scarce. The situation was no better in Lorien where the snows blew off the mountains and covered the forest. In times like that, our people suffered. Those times were rare, but difficult to endure. But not that time. Your daeradar rationed the food that his people had stored and shared it with us. And they showed us fishing and trapping techniques that were far superior to our own. Some of our people would likely have starved that winter if not for your daeradar and those that had followed him here." He paused again. "That was when we asked him to be our king, Our leaders met and discussed it. Some dissented. But in the end, we decided that the forest would greatly benefit from a king like him. So we asked him."

"Did Anastor and Noruil's parents dissent?" Legolas asked quietly.

"Yes, they did," Tulus answered, nodding. "They were two of the youngest of our leaders and youth does not suffer loss well. They resented any loss of the authority they had so recently gained."

"Mmmm," Legolas murmured softly and Tulus looked down at him sharply.

"You tricksy little..." he sputtered before cutting himself off. "You already knew all this. You are still only trying to get me to talk about Dolwon and Dannenion."

Legolas shook his head and looked at Tulus earnestly. "I promise that is not true. I have heard stories of daeradar's arrival in the forest. Lord Hallion told me about scouting the route here with him and daernana and ada told me about the celebrations when they returned with all the elves, but I have never heard the story told by anyone outside my family. I truly enjoyed hearing you talk about daeradar," he said sincerely. Then he looked at Tulus sidelong. "I only asked about Anastor and Noruil's parents since it seems a natural guess after you mentioned that about dissent. So is that why they do not like ada? They still resent losing their authority?" he pressed.

Tulus sighed. "That is part of it. The root of it, most likely. But you know your family has a long history here. It is much more complex than just that."

Legolas nodded. "But it explains why Anastor and Noruil always say my cousins and I are bossing them, when we are not."

Tulus raised his eyebrows and a corner of his mouth turned down. "That is possible," he said, standing. "And that is also the end of the stories. I am not clever enough to manage a conversation with a twenty year old child, so I think I had better stop before I say something I will regret."

Legolas burst out laughing. "I am almost twenty-four, Tulus. But tell me one more thing," he pleaded.

Tulus stopped and looked down at him with amusement. "What else would you like me to tell you, Legolas?"

"I am curious why you are no longer a warrior if you were a captain before," he said.

The amusement faded from Tulus's face. "That is also a very complicated story, child," he said softly.

"And a very personal question," Thranduil said, stepping around the barn door that had hidden him. He smiled when Legolas cried out with surprise and ran to him, throwing his arms around his waist. He stroked his son's hair, but looked at Tulus. "You know better than to ask such things."

Tulus frowned and looked down.

"Are you going riding, ada? Can I come?" Legolas asked, ignoring the admonition and nearly hopping at his father's side.

"I had come by the stable to ask Tulus to prepare my horse for me. I have a meeting, but after it I intend to go for a ride. And yes, you may come with me."

"I will have a horse waiting for you, my lord," Tulus said quietly, bowing in part to hide a concerned expression.

“Legolas, go find your cousins so they can come riding with us,” Thranduil said, turning him towards the barn door with a hand on his shoulder. Legolas nodded happily and trotted out into the barn yard.

“I apologize, my lord,” Tulus began, causing Legolas to stumble to a stop in the yard. He did not want Tulus to get in trouble. “I am not sure how much you heard…but, I know it is not my place to discuss these topics with Legolas,” he continued. “I tried to avoid saying anything but…”

“But Legolas is very insistent,” Thranduil interrupted Tulus’s worried ramblings. “I understand. Just as you understand that I very much prefer to tell Legolas the answers to his questions regarding you, Dolwon and Dannenion myself. And I prefer to discuss it not at all at this point in time. He is far too young as yet to understand that incident.”

Outside the barn, Legolas frowned. He looked over his shoulder to see Tulus looking down and nodding.

“But I enjoyed your story about lord Oropher’s arrival in this forest,” Thranduil continued with a lighter tone. “Did he realize you had mistaken him for Tauron? If he did, he never confessed that to me when he told me the stories of that journey.”

Legolas saw a relieved smile form on Tulus’s face as he looked up to meet Thranduil’s gaze. Legolas ran towards the stone fence surrounding the yard and jumped up onto it. His mind was still focused on Tulus and Anastor and Noruil’s parents as he headed towards the training fields to find Galithil.

*~*~*

adar/ada--father/dad

naneth/nana--mother/mum

ellon/ellyn--male elf/elves

elleth/ellyth--female elf/elves

daeradar--grandfather

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Affectations-- Part Three
Created
31 Mar 2007
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31 Mar 2007
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