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Interrupted Journeys: Part Four--Journeys of Discovery

Chapter 14: Affectations--Part Five

by ellisk

Chapter 14: Affectations--Part Five

“And then, I jumped over an enormous log. It must have been this high,” Galithil exclaimed, holding his hand at waist level.

Gathered in the sitting room with their wine, Galithil's aunts and uncles made appropriately impressed noises, nodding and smiling at his enthusiasm. Amoneth tried to smile at her son, but her alarmed gaze quickly shifted to Thranduil, silently demanding an explanation.

“I think you are exaggerating just a bit, Galithil,” Thranduil said softly.

Galithil shook his head emphatically. “No I am not,” he said, his enthusiasm undiminished.

“Yes, you are,” Legolas said, laughing at his cousin. “That ‘log’ was little more than a stick. The horse hardly had to jump to step over it.”

“It was not a stick. It was certainly a branch,” Galithil insisted, scowling at his cousin.

Legolas raised his eyebrows. “You do not want to lie, do you?” he asked quietly. Galithil narrowed his eyes, but remained silent.

Amoneth, clearly relieved, drew Galithil into an embrace causing the elfling to squirm and moan. “I am very pleased you had such fun, my sweet.”

Aradunnon nodded, ruffling his son’s hair. “And I am as well. It sounds like a wonderful adventure.” He looked at his brother. “Pity I was not there to see it.”

“How many times must I apologize, muindor nin?” Thranduil groaned.

“At least one hundred more,” Aradunnon replied. “I can never recover the opportunity to see my second-born’s first ride.” He paused for dramatic effect. “How proud a moment it would have been.”

Thranduil rolled his eyes as Legolas and Galithil giggled.

Adopting an exaggeratedly put upon expression, Aradunnon appeared ready to carry on expressing his woes when the door to the family sitting room opened and a guard stepped partially into the room. “Excuse me, my lords,” he said, glancing around the room and finally focusing on Thranduil. “Your appointment is waiting for you in your office, my lord.”

Thranduil stood. “Good,” he said with a serious enough tone to cause the adults to look at him curiously. “I am saved from my brother’s theatrics,” he added with a lighter tone and a wink at Aradunnon. Then he turned his attention to Legolas. “Time for you to head to your room…” he began.

Legolas immediately frowned and Galithil put his hands on his hips. “But Eirienil and Berior are going to watch the dancing on the green,” he interrupted.

“Yes,” Thranduil agreed readily, “because while you were riding, they were completing their studies. Now they may enjoy the dancing while you finish yours,” he said, as Aradunnon nodded. When Galithil drew a breath to protest, Thranduil shook his head forbiddingly. “Do not even think about arguing with me,” he said softly. “Privileges like riding come with responsibilities like completing the work Master Rodonon sets for you. Now go.”

As Galithil and Legolas moved slowly from the family sitting room, Thranduil looked between his steward and brother. “Hallion, Aradunnon, join me in my office, please,” he requested, setting his wine goblet on the tray on the table. He bent over to place a kiss on Lindomiel’s cheek. “We will not be long. When we are finished, we will join you and Amoneth to encourage the children with their studies.”

Lindomiel stood and tiptoed to place a kiss of her own on Thranduil’s lips. “You had better,” she said, with a teasing smile. “You are responsible for getting them this worked up, so it is only fair that you should help settle them down.”

“They settle down? I must have missed that,” Aradunnon joked, as he placed his wine goblet on the tray and pulled Amoneth against him for a kiss. “I will come help too if I can see something like that.”

Amoneth slapped Aradunnon playfully on the arm as he followed Thranduil and Hallion from the room.

“Finish your studies,” he mouthed at the children. They had watched this exchange from the hallway outside the sitting room, not certain if they should giggle or appear insulted. “If you finish, I will take you to the green,” he mouthed, behind Lindomiel and Amoneth’s backs, as they herded the children to their rooms.

Legolas and Galithil’s faces lit and they smiled at Araudunnon a moment before turning and trotting willingly down the hall.

Amoneth looked suspiciously over her shoulder at her husband, but Aradunnon only winked at her as he followed Thranduil into his office and shut the door behind him.

Aradunnon frowned slightly upon entering the king’s office. Conuiön stood waiting for them, which might have been alarming in itself if it indicated Thranduil felt the need to discuss matters of the family’s personal security. But Tulus was present as well. The fact that the king had asked Conuiön to bring Tulus to speak with him put Aradunnon immediately on edge.

Thranduil sat at the head of the meeting table in his office. Hallion sat in his usual place at Thranduil’s right. Aradunnon hesitated. Since he hated attending counsel meetings, he normally sat at the opposite end of the table from Thranduil, closest to the office door and escape, but that did not seem appropriate under these circumstances, whatever they might be. So he sat across from Hallion, to his brother’s left and looked at him expectantly. Normally, Thranduil would sit at his desk if he planned to discipline Tulus in some way. Indeed, even at this late hour, discipline should be discussed in the Great Hall, from the throne. Thranduil’s office was a dramatically less formal setting and the conference table in that office seemed entirely out of place in Aradunnon’s mind.

He looked over at Conuiön and Tulus. They were also both looking expectantly at the king. Conuiön apparently had no more an idea of the purpose of this meeting than Aradunnon.

“Please take a seat,” Thranduil said, indicating the two chairs next to Hallion and Aradunnon.

Aradunnon looked back at his brother, noticing even Hallion’s brows rise almost imperceptibly in response to that invitation.

Conuiön made no pretense of hiding his surprise. He openly stared at Thranduil with obvious confusion for a long moment before glancing at Tulus and seating himself next to Hallion. Tulus watched his former captain take his place. Then he sat on the edge of the other chair. Aradunnon studied him. His posture was rigid and he was clenching his hands tightly in his lap, waiting for Thranduil to speak.

Conuiön also looked at Tulus, but his expression was more pitying. “My lord,” he said quietly, turning to Thranduil. “If you are displeased that I was waiting for you at the barn before your ride, it is with me alone that you need discuss that. I am responsible for disobeying your order to remain in the stronghold and no one else.”

Aradunnon looked between Conuiön and Thranduil with wide eyes—Thranduil had ordered Conuiön not to accompany with him on that ride? He had teased Thranduil about taking Galithil riding for the first time without him, but he would not hesitate to reprimand his brother, in private, for taking his child into the forest without guards present. Thranduil’s answer only caused Aradunnon’s confusion to rise.

“I was curious how you knew I was going for a ride,” he said mildly, looking at Tulus.

Aradunnon blinked. Conuiön should know Thranduil’s every step throughout the day.

Tulus shifted under Thranduil’s gaze and looked down in his lap. “I know you told me that you intended to speak to Dannenion and Dolwon alone, my lord,” he responded to Thranduil’s implied question with a voice that shook slightly. “But I thought certainly you did not intend to ride in the forest, at dusk, when the more dangerous animals are coming out, with the children, armed only with your knives—you were not even carrying a bow.” He looked up. “I thought surely you did not intend to take such a risk. And I thought after your conversation, you would appreciate not having to wait for someone to fetch your guard, so I sent a message to Conuiön.” He looked down again. “I apologize if I did wrong, my lord.”

Thranduil shook his head. “I admit, when I came to the barn, I did intend to enjoy a ride without Conuiön, but when I decided to take the children with me, I should have called for a guard.” He paused and regarded Tulus closely. “That explains your motivation for ignoring my order that you need not ready Conuiön’s horse and I do not deny you were right to do so. Now perhaps you will explain your motivation for following me through the trees to Dannenion’s cottage?”

Aradunnon’s eyes flew open at that request and he turned sharply to face Tulus. Conuiön’s eyes snapped to Tulus as well and any sympathy Aradunnon had seen in them before was now replaced by a guarded, suspicious glare. Even Hallion wore a shocked expression.

Tulus shifted in his chair again, looking around the table. He drew a breath to speak, but when he opened his mouth, no sound came out.

“It was you I saw in the trees, was it not?” Thranduil prompted.

Aradunnon’s brow furrowed and he glared at his brother momentarily, not understanding his soft tone. “You were spying on the king’s conversation?” Aradunnon demanded, no longer able to restrain himself.

Tulus looked at him sharply. “No! I was not spying!” he replied forcefully. He pressed his lips together a moment and when he spoke again, he had tempered his voice. “If I wanted to know what the king discussed with Dannenion and Dolwon, I would simply ask them. They would tell me even if the king had asked them not to repeat the conversation.” He looked back at Thranduil. “I did follow you,” he admitted softly. “I did it because…well, my lord, you were going alone to speak to Dannenion and Dolwon.” He glanced at Conuiön. “That simply did not seem safe to me and I thought you obviously had ordered Conuiön not to accompany you, but your orders to your guards do not apply to me.”

Aradunnon laughed. “You expect us to believe that you followed the king secretly through the trees to guard him,” he scoffed.

But Thranduil spoke over him. “What precisely did you think I needed protection from, Tulus?” he asked. “Do you believe Dannenion and Dolwon are still such a threat to me that I am in danger simply speaking with them here in the capital within sight of the stronghold?”

Tulus frowned and shook his head. “No my lord,” he said quickly. “Well, yes, possibly.” Tulus sighed and looked directly at Thranduil again. “You told me that you intended to speak to them about their children. About their children’s misbehavior. People do not like hearing others criticize their children, my lord. Such discussions can become very…emotional…passionate. What if they had lost their tempers over something you said? What if it had come to blows? I know perfectly well that you can defend yourself, my lord, but fights escalate. Accidents can happen when tempers run hot. I thought no harm could come of me simply keeping an eye on the situation, my lord. That is all. Again, if I did wrong, I sincerely beg your forgiveness.” He held Thranduil’s gaze a moment longer before looking down at his lap again.

Aradunnon looked between Conuiön, who was still regarding Tulus closely, but with an expression that seemed believing, and Hallion, who was actually smiling. His mouth fell open and he loosed a forceful breath. “You do not actually believe this, do you?” he asked, incredulously.

Tulus straightened and faced Aradunnon. “You can rightly accuse me of many wrong-doings in my past, lord Aradunnon, but lying has never been one of them,” he said with his chin raised.

Aradunnon pressed his lips together and remained silent. He could not deny that.

Thranduil nodded. “Quite true, Tulus,” he affirmed. He turned to his brother. “What makes Tulus’s explanation so unbelievable to you, commander?” Thranduil asked.

Aradunnon shook his head. “Perhaps the fact that he plotted with the two people he claims to wish to protect you from now to abduct your wife in order to drive you from your throne?”

Thranduil’s expression grew severe. “That is something you may never forgive Tulus for, Aradunnon. That is your privilege, but I do not have the same freedom to hold grudges that you might. Nor am I inclined to. If we are to contrast Tulus’s behavior with that of Dannenion and Dolwon since their arrest, I think the comparison works out strongly in Tulus’s favor…”

Aradunnon rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. “Just because he told you a story about adar today that pulled at your heart…” he began.

“You want to remember to whom you are speaking, commander,” Thranduil interrupted with a soft but clearly dangerous tone.

Aradunnon looked quickly back at Thranduil and fell silent.

“And you want to remember your place. You are a member of my counsel and I have included you in this meeting to benefit from your advice. Now if you have any solid evidence why I should suspect Tulus’s motivations were sinister—some fact that you can provide—do so now. Otherwise keep your grudges where they belong.”

Aradunnon pressed his lips together and one corner of his mouth turned downward, but he shook his head with a sigh. He spent a moment schooling his features to more respectful lines and spoke in a soft voice. “Forgive me, my lord. I have no evidence that Tulus should be suspected of any recent wrong-doing.”

Thranduil regarded his brother narrowly and then looked back at Tulus. “Nor do I,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “And that is what I wanted to discuss with you, Tulus.”

*~*~*

Legolas and Galithil lay on their stomachs, a jar of ink between them, their quills scratching away on the parchment before them. They were writing quickly, in hopes that Aradunnon would take them to the green if they finished.

Galithil squirmed a bit and glanced at his cousin. They were both trying to concentrate on their essay, but even so, the silence hung heavily between them. “So, did you persuade Tulus to tell you why he called Anastor and Noruil orcs?” he asked, with a somewhat exaggeratedly conversation tone.

Legolas nodded and did not look up from his writing. “Mmm hmm,” he murmured, his voice barely rising over the scratching of the quill.

Galithil frowned and dipped his quill into the ink so forcefully that a bit sloshed over the sides to stain the stone floor. Drips of ink trailed back to his parchment. “Fine, I do not care if you tell me or not,” he exclaimed bitterly, while scrubbing the ink on the floor and the blotches that obliterated parts of his essay.

Legolas did look up at that, if for no other reason than to avoid the spill. “We need to finish if we are going to go outside,” he said.

“Right,” Galithil replied, throwing aside the parchment he had used to wipe up his mess. He had accomplished little else but to spread the ink more thinly and over a wider surface. “It would be impossible to finish this essay and talk at the same time. We have never done anything like that before.”

Legolas sighed. “Tulus said Anastor and Noruil’s parents do not get along with my adar,” he said without pausing in his writing.

Galithil rolled his eyes. “Well, I could have told you that. Have you ever seen how they glare at uncle?”

Legolas finally looked up at his cousin. “So can you tell me why they do not like ada?” he asked, trying unsuccessfully to appear uninterested in the conversation. Galithil shook his head. Legolas grinned and laid down his quill. “Because they were village leaders when daerada came to Eryn Galen and he was made king. Dannenion and Dolwon opposed making him king.” Legolas nodded as Galithil’s jaw dropped. “Tulus says they do not like ada because they resent losing their authority.”

Galithil thought about that a moment while staring at Legolas. “And they are not even village leaders now. Everyone says uncle made them give that up and move to the capital. Did Tulus tell you why that happened?”

Legolas shook his head. “Tulus did not want to say a word about any of this—he kept saying I should talk to ada—but I intend to find out,” he said, picking up his quill again and continuing his writing with a dramatic flourish. “Every decision that ada makes in court is written in records and stored in the library. I am going to ask Eirienil to help me find the records.” He laughed. “She actually understands how Master Rodonon has all those dusty scrolls and ledgers ordered.”

Galithil giggled. “There is order to it?” he joked.

Legolas smirked at him. “And here is something else interesting: did you know that Tulus was a warrior?” Legolas nodded when Galithil looked up at him incredulously. “A captain,” he affirmed. “I asked him why he was not a warrior anymore and he changed from laughing at me to being deadly serious in a heartbeat. Then, ada came into the barn and told me not to ask personal questions.” Galithil’s eyes widened again. “That has to be a good story. I bet Tulus was wounded in the War and cannot fight anymore—one of those types of stories ada does not like for us to hear.”

“Could be,” Galithil said. “But he does not have any obvious wounds. Not like some of the elves that we know fought with daerada that lost hands or fingers.”

Legolas shrugged. “Whatever might have happened, I intend to find that out too. There has to be a record when a captain leaves military service.”

“I could ask Glílavan,” Galithil offered. “I bet he would tell us.”

Legolas’s expression soured. “I think you are in enough trouble with Glílavan as it is without looking for more.”

Galithil scowled. “Glílavan said I could do it,” he said in a whisper, looking at the open door that led to Legolas’s parent’s chambers, where Lindomiel and Amoneth’s voices could be heard.

“But our adar’s both said you cannot. And it is a rule that only warriors can use the archery range to practice. You broke a rule and you broke your word and you are not even ashamed,” Legolas said, his eyes fixed on his essay. “I would be ashamed,” he concluded in a soft voice.

Galithil frowned at his cousin, squirming again and trying to make it appear as if he were simply uncomfortable on the hard stone floor. But he said nothing.

*~*~*

In the king’s office, Hallion exchanged a smile with Thranduil when the sound of excited pleading drifted through the open office door. Aradunnon had exited the office only moments before.

“Take the children—and Lindomiel—to the green to dance, my lord. I can finish up here,” Hallion said with a pleased smile.

Thranduil laughed and shook his head when Aradunnon’s openly conspiratorial voice was heard promising to help the children secure the other adults’ permission to go to the dancing.

“I think I will have no choice but to go,” he said. Then he focused on Hallion regretfully. “I am sorry, but I must ask you to do one other thing before you join us.”

“Of course, my lord,” Hallion replied.

“I would like you to go to the library tonight and remove any documentation pertaining to Tulus, Dannenion and Dolwon. Bring it back here and lock it in my desk drawer.”

Hallion’s eyebrows rose. “I will go now, my lord, but may I ask why you want those papers in your office? Given the decisions you made tonight, removing those documents seems a little odd.”

Thranduil shook his head. “It has nothing to do with that. I mentioned in the sitting room that Tulus told Legolas a story in the barn about adar.” He paused and Hallion nodded. “Tulus told that story as a distraction because Legolas was asking him about Dolwon and Dannenion and why I do not get along with them.”

“Surely Tulus did not tell a child, and particularly Legolas, anything about what they were all involved in?” Hallion asked, his voice rising slightly.

“He tried not to, but he said enough to pique Legolas’s curiosity,” Thranduil replied. “And you know as well as I do how Legolas will react once he decides something interests him.”

Hallion nodded, smiling wryly. “I will make sure there is nothing in the library for he and his cousins to find.” He motioned towards the door with his chin. “Now you go find your son and wife. It has been a trying day.”

“That is has,” Thranduil said, smiling gratefully at his steward before turning toward the door.

He closed it behind him and Hallion soon heard Legolas and Galithil’s exclamations double in volume as they begged Thranduil to go to the green. Hallion smiled and settled himself at the table with a piece of parchment and a jar of ink to record the orders that Thranduil had issued that night before fetching the papers he was charged to retrieve from the library. As he wrote, he heard the triumphant cries of the children, some excited scurrying about and several doors opening and closing. Finally he heard the door at the end of the hall that led out of the family’s private quarters open and close, muffling Galithil’s chattering as he followed his parents to the green. After a moment, silence reigned in the king’s office and Hallion’s concentration turned fully to complete the task at hand.

When a quiet knock sounded on the office door and it opened slightly, Hallion looked up in surprise. His surprise only increased when he saw Legolas peeking at him.

“What is it, Legolas? Why did you not go with your parents and cousin to the green?” he asked, lying the quill down on the table.

“I told ada I would go out in a minute,” he said. “I wanted to ask you something.”

Hallion frowned. Legolas’s expression was far from what he would expect from a child that spent the afternoon riding and now was going to spend the evening on the green. “Well come ask me, then,” he answered, patting the chair next to him.

Legolas slipped into the room, closing the door behind himself, and trotted silently to the table. He sat next to Hallion, but instead of looking at him, he cast his gaze about as if searching for a distraction. He paused looking at the papers on the table.

“What are you writing about Tulus?” he asked, eyes fixed on a word near Hallion’s quill.

The king’s steward gathered the papers in front of him into a stack and moved them to the far side of the table. “I will have to start writing my records in Quenyan to foil the efforts of prying elflings,” he said jokingly. “Now what did you want to discuss with me?”

Legolas grinned. “Master Rodonon has begun teaching me Quenyan, so that will do you no good.”

Hallion blinked. “Why would he teach you that? Does your adar know?”

Legolas shrugged, still grinning. “He said I should learn it so I can read documents from the First Age. He said Eirienil and I are the only two of his students that have a chance of mastering it.”

Hallion laughed quietly. “I have always been pleased that you enjoy languages so, Legolas. I was a scholar of languages in the High King’s court, you know. The Dwarves even permitted me to learn a bit of their language.” He shook his head and held his hands out in front of him to forestall the onslaught he saw coming as Legolas’s eyes lit with interest in response to that comment. “But we are not going to talk about Khuzdul tonight. You did not stay in the stronghold to speak to me about that and besides,” he added when Legolas showed no signs of relenting, “I promised those Dwarves I would keep their words secret if they taught me some of them.”

Legolas deflated dramatically at that. Much more than Hallion would have expected.

“What is wrong, child?” he asked softly.

“You have to keep your promise,” Legolas said softly. Then he drew a deep breath. “I know something…I saw something. Something that someone…two, people…well three, but the one had permission…something some people were doing and they were not allowed to do it. Worse, they are not even sorry they did it, so I think…I know they are going to keep doing it. And when they get caught, it is going to be really serious trouble.” He paused. “And one of them…I feel like ada should know what he is doing.”

Hallion looked at Legolas sympathetically and resisted the urge to draw him onto his lap. He knew the child felt far too old for such attention, but it was difficult to see his normally cheery face so gravely serious. “You feel as if you should tell your adar, but it is very hard to tell on your friends at your age,” Hallion prompted.

Legolas nodded. “I said I would not tell, which is awfully close to promising I would not.”

“I would say it is the same as promising, if you said you would not,” Hallion replied.

Legolas nodded again and slouched a little in his chair.

“And perhaps that is a promise you should not have made, since it makes you complicit in their wrong-doing,” Hallion concluded.

Legolas looked back up at him with some alarm. “But you are not supposed to tell on your friends…to betray your friends.”

“Perhaps. But neither does a true friend allow those dear to him to come into trouble. And you have already said that whatever they are doing will lead to ‘serious trouble.’”

Legolas frowned and looked down.

Hallion reached out and patted Legolas’s hand consolingly. “You clearly came to me for advice, so I will give you some: you must decide if you are a better friend for keeping their secret or keeping them safe from trouble. Ask yourself if you would you prefer to bear the consequence of your friends being angry with you because you told on them or if you would prefer to bear the guilt of knowing that you failed to prevent them from coming to harm doing whatever it is that they are doing. That is a difficult decision, but you are the king’s son and you will face many such decisions in your life.” Legolas looked up at Hallion sharply. “I think since you came to speak to me, you are leaning towards making a very good choice now,” Hallion finished softly.

He raised a questioning eyebrow when Legolas remained silent, studying him intensely.

Legolas frowned seriously. “Someone else…one of the people involved in this…the one I want to tell on, said something similar to me today. He reminded me that I am the king’s son too. But when he said it, it made me feel…strange.”

Hallion remained silent, his expression encouraging Legolas to continue. So he did.

“I do not really know why it made me feel that way. I was too busy trying to get…” he cut himself off. “I just wanted to stop them from getting in trouble.” He paused thoughtfully. “When you said it just now, you were trying to make me see why I need to do something I do not want to do, but that is right. When the other person said it to me, he was using it as an argument to try to convince me to do something I know is wrong. Maybe that is why.”

Hallion blinked. “One of your cousins tried to convince you to do something wrong using ‘you are the king’s son’ as an argument? Though I doubt any of you children, even you, fully understand the significance of that phrase as yet, I think maybe you had better tell me what happened this afternoon, Legolas.”

Legolas shook his head. “No, it was not one of my cousins that said it. It was an adult,” he said, looking back at Hallion.

Hallion leaned forward. “An adult tried to persuade you to do something wrong by reminding you that you are the king’s son? Now I insist that you tell me, Legolas. What adult and what did he try to persuade you to do?”

Legolas shrugged. “I do not mind telling you this part. It is the part that bothered me most anyway,” he said. “Glílavan said that to me when trying to convince me to shoot…” again he hesitated over a name. “To shoot an arrow into the targets on the range. He said I was the king’s son and would eventually defend this realm and so I had to learn to shoot.”

Hallion sighed. “I am certain he would not know that your adar does not want you and your cousins playing with bows until you are twenty-five,” he suggested.

Legolas shook his head. “Most parents give their children bows when they turn twenty-five,” Legolas said. “And besides, I told him we are not allowed. That is when he said that about me being the king’s son and he said it would be our secret if I did shoot it.” Legolas looked directly at Hallion with a serious expression. “I know Glílavan is charged with keeping elflings and anyone else other than warriors from using the range. He is an officer and he not only failed his charge, he actively participated in violating it. I think that is wrong and I bet Dolgailon would think it was wrong too,” he concluded.

Hallion nodded slowly. “I think you are very correct,” he replied softly. “You did the right thing to tell me this, Legolas. I will discuss it with Dolgailon tomorrow. Is there anything else you want to tell me?”

Legolas looked down and squirmed uncomfortably. “I think that was the most important part. If Glílavan stops letting children use the range, the rest of the problem will work itself out,” he said, though he did not sound convinced of his own words.

Hallion turned Legolas to face him with a finger under his chin. “You must do what you think is right, Legolas,” he said.

Legolas turned his gaze to the ground as much as he could.

“Very well,” Hallion said. He drew Legolas into a quick hug. “I am very pleased you spoke to me about this, Legolas. You know you can always speak to me. Whenever you need to.”

Legolas returned the embrace and nodded. “I know. Thank you uncle Hallion,” he said. Then he pulled away, the normally cheerful expression returned to his face. “I think I will go out to the green now,” he said, hopping up from the chair.

Hallion returned his smile. “Go enjoy yourself. I hope to join you shortly.”

Legolas gave him one last, quick hug before rushing out the office door.

Hallion remained where he was, staring thoughtfully at the closed office door, listening to Legolas’s soft footsteps as he ran to the other end of the hall and out that door to join his parents and cousins on the green. Three people, Legolas said he saw. One was Glílavan and Hallion had no trouble guessing who the other two were. The trouble came in trying to decide what to do with the information.

*~*~*

Tulus leaned on the stone fence that divided the public garden from the green. He had a large mug of mulled wine in his hand and his son sat on the wall next to him. Tulus rarely participated in the festivities on the green, so Glílavan had been surprised when his father joined him tonight. But he had been surprised when Thranduil’s guards had appeared at his cottage to escort his father to the stronghold after dinner too, so he was glad for the opportunity to press his father for an explanation now.

“You heard him tell Dolwon and Dannenion about their sons’ nightly wanderings?” Glílavan asked, watching his father take a long draught of wine. “That must have been an explosive conversation,” he sniggered.

“It was relatively friendly,” Tulus responded, wiping his hand across his mouth and looking to the other side of the green where Galion was dispensing wine. “As encounters between Dannenion, Dolwon and the king go.”

“Well, then Dannenion is finally listening to good advice. We have both been telling him for years that he should make an effort where Thranduil is concerned.”

Tulus turned to look at his son. “They should make an effort,” he said seriously.

Glílavan returned his father’s gaze innocently. “I just said that, did I not?” He smiled. “I made my own sort of progress today. Aradunnon has assigned his son to clean the training weapons and Dolgailon left him in my charge. I think the child rather likes me after today. That can only have good results.”

Tulus scowled. “What did you do?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” Glílavan replied. “I did nothing worse than you do with those children. Playing with them and those dogs. Leading them about on Thranduil’s stallion.”

“What did you do?” Tulus repeated.

“I played a bit with Galithil. Nothing more.”

Tulus eyed him narrowly. “Mind how you ‘play’ with the king’s nephew. That is dangerous territory.”

Glílavan nodded. “I am always careful, adar,” he said sincerely.

An enthusiastic commotion amongst the elves on the green attracted Tulus and Glílavan’s attention. The musicians and minstrels and many of the elves dancing stopped to wave and shout greetings in the direction of the bridge. Tulus and Glílavan turned towards the stronghold in time to see Thranduil and his family emerge through the Great Gates. They watched the king silently as he crossed the bridge across the river, returning the revelers’ greetings.

Glílavan saw the king briefly catch Tulus’s eye, but he did not react to his presence.

Tulus, on the other hand, turned away. Taking his son’s arm, he steered him in the other direction from where Thranduil, Lindomiel, Aradunnon and Galithil were going to join Celonhael, Golwon and their wives and children under the trees.

Glílavan raised his eyebrows. “Had enough of the king tonight, hmm?”

Tulus nodded silently.

“He must have been furious with you for following him,” Glílavan prompted.

Tulus nodded again.

“Why did you bother to follow him? If you were that curious to know what he said to Dannenion and Dolwon, you could have just asked. They would have told you,” he said.

Tulus said nothing and continued leading his son in the direction of their cottage.

*~*~*

Dolwon and Dannenion sat under a great beech, sipping wine and watching the king’s family on the opposite side of the green. Dannenion tapped his foot in time to the minstrels’ music with a half smile on his face.

“You are in fine spirits for someone who just found out his son has spent every night this season defying his orders while endangering his life,” Dolwon observed. Then, despite the volume of the music, he leaned closer to Dannenion and lowered his voice. “For someone who was forced to endure Thranduil’s company and give him thanks for bringing such unpleasant news.”

Dannenion simply raised his eyebrows without looking away from the dancers. “Unpleasant news? I found Thranduil’s news to be quite the best I have heard in many years,” he replied.

Dolwon’s eyes widened. “Have you gone mad? Noruil and Anastor could have fallen into the river or been attacked by wolves or…”

Dannenion waved his hand. “But they were not. They are armed. Who can blame them for wanting to explore the forest at night under the stars? Is that not what young elves should be safe to do? But that is not the news that pleased me so,” he concluded with a mysterious air.

Dolwon rolled his eyes skyward. “And what news did you find so interesting?” he asked tiredly.

Dannenion turned and looked directly at his friend. “That Thranduil had to assign a guard to our cottages to confirm Anastor and Noruil were the children wandering in the forest,” he said triumphantly. When Dolwon only continued staring at him, he sighed. “Think, you fool. That means Thranduil no longer has a guard on our cottages on a regular basis. Else he would have known immediately it was our children in the forest.”

Understanding dawned. “And if he does not constantly guard us…” Dolwon began.

“We can be of far more use than we have been,” Dannenion concluded. “I have already composed a letter. I just need to get it sent south without scrutiny, but that should not be too difficult,” he said, taking another long swallow of his wine.

Dolwon frowned slightly and then sighed, returning his attention to the music.

*~*~*

AN: Sorry for the week delay. I had a long paper due for the class I am taking last week. Also, next week, instead of posting the next chapter in this story, I am going to post a chapter of Dawn of a New Age. I will come back to this story in two weeks. Thanks so much to all of you who are reading. Smile smiley face

adar/ada--father/dad

naneth/nana--mother/mum

muindor nin—my brother

daeradar--grandfather

pen neth--young one

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Chapter name
Affectations--Part Five
Created
22 Apr 2007
Last Edited
22 Apr 2007
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6317