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Interrupted Journeys: Part Four--Journeys of Discovery

Chapter 8: Expectations--Part One

by ellisk

Chapter 8: Expectations--Part One

Legolas awakened in the unhurried manner of youth, slowly becoming aware of the household stirring around him—voices speaking quietly in the outer hall as the morning guards relieved the evening ones, a servant entering his room to light the lamps and check the fire in the fireplace, the kitchen maids singing as they set the table for breakfast, rustling in his parents’ room next door. Legolas took a deep breath, yawned and stretched. Then he burrowed further under his soft, wool blanket.

Ordinarily, the smell of freshly baked bread and breakfast meats were what finally drew him from the warm cocoon of his bed, but the winter had been harsh and the supplies of flour and meat were exhausted. Only porridge awaited him this morning—the same porridge they had been eating for breakfast for several weeks. Made of acorns and walnuts, which could always be counted upon to be found in abundance in the forest, and served hot with a bit of honey, it had a pleasant enough sweet, nutty flavor. Even so, Legolas was sick of it and he knew his cousins were too. That, combined with the fact that he and his cousins were still not permitted to leave the stronghold without supervision, left him very unmotivated to rush from his bed.

After procrastinating several more minutes, he finally swung his legs over the side of the bed with a sigh and padded quietly to the bath to wash. He was lazily drawing a comb through his hair when he heard the latch on the door to his parents’ chambers click. Legolas looked in the direction of the sound for a moment, debating with himself. Then he dashed out of the bathroom to snatch up the clothing that his mother had laid out for him the night before, quickly jumping into the leggings. Then he pulled his nightshirt over his head, tossing it aside without noticing that it fell half on his bed and half on the floor, and replaced it with the shirt and tunic. Still fastening them, he raced out his door and across the hall into the family sitting room.

Legolas knew where his parents were going—they always watched the sunrise together in his mother’s garden. He rarely awoke early enough to join them, but since he had today, and since he could not look forward to a nice breakfast, he wanted to enjoy some time with them before his lessons. Besides, he rarely passed up on a chance to spend time in that special place.

In the back of the sitting room, the garden door stood open, allowing the warm spring air into the caves. As Legolas entered the garden, the sun’s first faint pink rays were climbing over the horizon. He saw his parents sitting on the bench under the old beech tree in the center of the garden. Delicate green leaves were beginning to appear on its branches.

Normally his mother and father sat silently watching the sun rise. Occasionally, and to his dismay, Legolas had come into the garden to find his mother on his father’s lap or to find them kissing. Today, however, they were speaking animatedly, the glow of the sunrise completely ignored.

“There is nothing I can do about the fact that we have had three late freezes, Thranduil,” Lindomiel was saying with an unusual hint of annoyance in her voice that made Legolas stop where he was.

“I am well aware of that, Lindomiel,” Thranduil replied. His voice sounded tired to Legolas’s ears, despite the fact that it was morning. “But the hunting is still very poor, even further south, and I am not sure if naneth had time to mention this to you yet, but Celonhael confirmed the rumors that the Men lost their spring grain crop in the heavy snows, so we will not be able to count on trading for any supplies from the east. In fact, the Men will likely be coming to me soon about hunting. So, if you can give me any good news that I can pass on to the village leaders in my meeting with them this afternoon, it would be most welcome.”

Still unnoticed in the archway of the garden door, Legolas saw his mother frown. “The sweet birch sap will be running soon, if it is not already,” she offered, her voice now as tired as Thranduil’s. “While we are in that part of the forest collecting the sap, we can harvest some bark to make into flour, but that will yield no more than a few weeks supply of bread without damaging the trees.” She sighed. “I have been reluctant to dig up the cattail roots to make into flour since that means we will not have their shoots to eat or their pollen for flour in the summer—and the flour from their pollen is much more rich than that from their roots. But if the Men lost their grain too, I suppose we have no choice. Thankfully the cattails reproduce quickly.”

Thranduil appeared pleased by that decision. “Do you think you might see to the cattails today?” he asked quietly.

Lindomiel looked at Thranduil sidelong. “I know you are desperate to give the villagers some good news if you have been reduced to that tone, meleth,” she said, leaning over to kiss him lightly on the lips.

Thranduil smiled in response. “A good ruler knows how to manage the people who serve him, Lindomiel, and ordering you to do something never gets me anywhere, so I am willing to try pleading.”

Lindomiel laughed out loud at that. “So you think you are ‘managing’ me, do you?” she teased playfully. “In that case, just to spite you, I might not bother to look for the asparagus, chickweed, dandelions, and watercress that we hope have tried to sprout since the last freeze as I had planned to do today.”

Legolas watched as his father’s eyes lit. “Do you think you might find some greens? That would be a wonderful addition to fish and nuts.”

Legolas scowled, not certain that he agreed with that assessment. The greens his mother had mentioned were not amongst his favorite foods.

Lindomiel continued laughing softly. “Yes, I am almost certain we can finally find some greens since we have gone several weeks since the last freeze. It is only a matter of finding enough people to help gather them. Galion is coordinating that and we are going out today. I will ask Amoneth to see to the cattails. If you had not spent so much time trying to ‘manage’ our conversation this morning, meleth, you might have learned my plans for the day much sooner.”

Thranduil smirked and pulled her closer to him for another kiss. As he did, he finally noticed Legolas in the doorway.

Raising his eyebrows slightly, Thranduil motioned for his son to join them. The child trotted over to his parents, studying them carefully. He was fairly certain that they were not truly angry or arguing, as he had initially feared—at least they had not been before they saw him standing in the doorway—but his father’s face had taken on the unreadable expression that Legolas had long since learned indicated he was displeased about something. Fortunately, his mother greeted him with her usual enthusiasm.

“Why are you up so early?” Lindomiel exclaimed as she pulled Legolas onto her lap and kissed his forehead.

Legolas would ordinarily squirm when confronted with such treatment. He was far too old, in his opinion, to sit on his mother’s lap, but his father was still looking at him sharply and had said nothing in greeting, so Legolas accepted the embrace without protest.

He shrugged. The truth of the matter was that he had awakened because he was a little hungry, but that did not seem to be the right thing to say given the conversation he had just witnessed. “I just woke up,” he finally answered. “I heard you leave your room, and I knew you were going into the garden, so I followed. I wanted to come sit out here too and enjoy the spring morning before I go to lessons.”

“It is easier to ‘enjoy the spring morning’ from this bench than from the shadows of the doorway,” Thranduil said coolly.

Legolas saw his mother scowl, but Thranduil pretended not to notice her, fixing his gaze instead on Legolas and waiting for him to respond.

Legolas knew that meant he would not escape at least some scolding. He looked down. “I am sorry, ada. You were speaking…arguing, it seemed when I came out the door. I did not think I should interrupt the conversation, but I did not mean to eavesdrop. I was only trying to determine if I should leave or not.”

Thranduil turned Legolas to face him with a finger under his chin. “There are some conversations that you should not hear, Legolas. If I am speaking to someone, you make sure that I know you are present—I will tell you if you may stay. We have discussed this before.”

Legolas struggled not to roll his eyes. “Yes, ada. I remember, but you and nana were only discussing the fact that there is no bread or meat. Everyone is eating porridge in the mornings, so everyone already knows that. It is hardly as secret as the contents of the treasury might be.”

Thranduil’s eyes narrowed slightly.

“It is no secret that supplies are short, Legolas,” Lindomiel intervened with a warning glance to her husband, “but it is your adar’s place and not anyone else’s to communicate how that shortage will be managed to the villagers. Therefore it concerns him that overheard conversations might be repeated in inappropriate settings.”

Legolas turned in his mother’s lap to look at her. “I understand that I am not allowed to repeat what ada says, nana,” he said sincerely.

“I would also not like to have it repeated that your naneth and I were ‘arguing’ over this topic, Legolas,” Thranduil continued sternly.

Legolas sighed and looked away. “I know, ada,” he said, casting about in his mind for some way to distract his father from this lecture. He looked back at his mother hopefully when he thought of one. “Can I help you gather the greens today, nana?” he asked. Since their adventure to see the moonbow had resulted in the curtailment of so many of their privileges, Legolas and his cousins had to seize any opportunity to go into the forest when their parents, aunts and uncles or grandparents had duties to perform there. If they would be able to spend time amongst the trees while participating in this task, the greens might be more palatable.

Easily recognizing his motivation, Lindomiel smirked. “Yes you can,” she replied, hugging him closer and laughing softly when Legolas beamed at her happily. “I hoped you and your cousins would help. Do you think Galithil and Berior will be interested in going with us as well?”

Legolas nodded. “I think we all will be happy gathering greens if it means getting out of the stronghold.”

Thranduil laughed shortly and shook his head. “You and you cousins have been behaving well recently, Legolas. The best way to end this punishment is to continue to do so.”

Legolas looked at his father innocently. “Even Galithil cannot get in trouble when we have to stay within sight of adults,” he said.

Thranduil and Lindomiel exchanged an amused but doubtful expression. “You may be underestimating your cousin, ion nin,” Thranduil responded, laughing lightly. “Time will tell, but for his sake, I hope you are correct.”

*~*~*

“Perhaps Anastor and Noruil will pick greens with us,” Galithil said excitedly to Legolas as they pushed their spoons around in their porridge.

As they always did when the children mentioned Anastor and Noruil, the adults at the dining room table quieted to listen to the conversation.

Without noticing the attention they had drawn, Legolas made a sour face. “Why would that be a good thing?” he asked.

“They might bring the bows they got for their begetting days,” Galithil replied.

Hearing that, Thranduil and Aradunnon immediately frowned. Even Lindomiel and Amoneth looked at their sons worriedly.

“You may not play anywhere near those children if they are shooting those bows,” Thranduil interrupted in his most forbidding tone of voice. “And if I find out that you shoot them yourselves, you will be very sorry,”

Aradunnon nodded. “That would be a very good way to find yourself confined to your rooms,” he added. “This time until you are old enough to have a bow yourself.” Then he fixed Galithil with a suspicious glare. “And how did you know about the bows? Neither your naneth nor Arthiel have mentioned that you have played with Anastor or Noruil recently—not while they were supervising you, at any rate.”

Galithil scowled at his father. “We saw them when we were with Master Rodonon listening to the elders' stories. Brethil, Aewen and some other children were there along with Anastor and Noruil.”

Galithil's tone was enough to make Legolas cringe. “We only saw the bows, ada. We did not play with them,” Legolas said quickly, looking nervously at his father, who was studying him intensely.

But Galithil continued speaking to his father without pause. “Anastor and Noruil are younger than us. Why can they have bows but we cannot?”

Aradunnon put his silverware down and turned to face his son fully. “Anastor and Noruil are not old enough to be responsible with those bows or even strong enough to use them properly. If their parents choose to make decisions that endanger their children, that does not require me to follow their poor example. We have promised all of you that you will be given bows for your twentieth begetting days.” He paused for emphasis. “Unless you give us some reason to doubt that even at that age you will not be mature enough for such a responsibility.”

As Galithil and Aradunnon continued to glare at one another, Arthiel leaned towards Legolas. “Please tell me that my brother has not played with Anastor and Noruil’s bows,” she whispered.

The worry in her eyes made Legolas look down. “Brethil is not even speaking to Anastor and Noruil,” he responded quietly. “As for the bows, I think he agrees with uncle Aradunnon that their parents are…” Legolas stopped himself from referring to the adults as ‘stupid,’ though that was the term Brethil had privately used to describe them. “That they do not know their sons as well as they might,” he concluded.

Thranduil snorted upon hearing Legolas’s words. “The problem is not that they do not know their children. The problem is that they are not much more intelligent than their children,” he said under his breath, though everyone present heard him.

“Thranduil!” Lindomiel exclaimed disapprovingly. “Legolas just showed better judgment and more respect than you did.”

Arradunnon waved his hand. “So Legolas can be a diplomat in his father’s court when he comes of age,” he said dismissively. “But whether you phrase it politely or directly, the fact is that Dolwen and Dannenion are fools to allow Noruil and Anastor to carry bows at their age, and I want Galithil to understand and acknowledge that,” he said, looking at his son expectantly.

Galithil smirked. “That they are all fools? Well, I acknowledge that,” he said readily. His expression grew more serious when his father’s scowl deepened. “I just do not think it is fair that they should have bows when we are older and do not…”

“Life is not always fair, Galithil,” Aradunnon interrupted, but his son did not pause.

“…so I was going to ask if we could just have lessons. Not be allowed to carry bows,” he emphasized when Aradunnon drew a breath to interrupt him. “Not even be allowed to have them except during lessons. I just would like to learn how to shoot on the archery range.”

“No, Galithil,” Aradunnon responded firmly. “When you are twenty, we will show you how to make a bow and teach you to use it to hunt. We promised to begin teaching you to track this year, but that is all. All things in their time and that is final.” He paused. “Now promise me that you will not lay hands on anyone’s bow until you are twenty.”

Galithil sighed and looked at his porridge. “I promise,” he said resentfully, scooping up a large mouthful and grimacing because it was cold.

Lindomiel looked around the table silently for a moment before placing her napkin beside her plate. “I think it is time for the children to go to their lessons,” she said, standing.

Everyone at the table rose as she did.

“I will walk them to the library,” Dolgailon volunteered, reaching for his brother’s hand. Galithil tried to twist free of his grasp, but Dolgailon’s grip only tightened. “I am due on the training field in a few moments. We are taking some of the third-years into the forest for a drill today.”

Lindomiel studied Dolgailon and Galithil for a moment before smiling and bending over to place a kiss on Legolas’s head. “Arthiel and I will come meet you after your lessons so you can come with us to pick greens,” she said.

With a nod to Aradunnon, Dolgailon led his brother and cousin from the dining room, setting a quick pace out of the family quarters and towards the library. Before they reached it, he stopped and crouched on the ground, positioning Galithil and Legolas in front of him, against the stone wall. He fixed Galithil with a stern expression.

“I could not find my knife this morning,” he said with no preamble. “The conversation at the breakfast table makes me wonder if either of you know where it might be?”

Legolas’s eyes widened and he glanced at Galithil before answering. “I have not been in your family’s suite in several days, Dolgailon. I could not have touched it unless you lost it somewhere else. And if you did, I have not seen it.”

Dolgailon nodded. He had not taken his eyes from his brother.

Galithil scowled. “I have not been in your room, Dolgailon,” he said, looking down.

Dolgailon frowned. “Very well. Perhaps I left it in the armory yesterday.” He forced Galithil to look at him with a finger under his chin. “Weapons are not toys, muindor nin. If adar catches you with a bow or a knife, you will earn a punishment you will never forget. Assuming you do not injure yourself first. Please promise me you will not make such a mistake. You have been wearing adar’s patience recently. You would be wise to behave for a while.”

Galithil pulled away from his brother’s grip. “I already promised ada. I do not have to promise you. And I know weapons are not toys.”

Dolgailon sighed. “You do not have to promise me anything, Galithil, that is true. I only wanted to make sure that you did not have my knife because it is a dangerous weapon and you could be hurt playing with it.” He grasped Galithil’s chin again, this time holding it firmly. “You should be thankful I did not ask you this in front of adar. If I find out you lied to me, I will not show you that courtesy again.” He paused and continued in a softer voice. “ You are going through a stage where you do not care about adar’s approval, and I think that is normal, though you are a bit young for it. Regardless, while you go through this stage, you might keep in mind that in very few years, you will want more than just archery lessons. You will want to join the warrior training. Warriors are neither reckless nor disobedient, Galithil.”

Galithil made a face. “I do not think I would want to be a warrior under your command, Dolgailon, or ada’s,” he declared defiantly. “You are both too bossy.”

Dolgailon laughed and released his brother’s chin. “I am sorry, Galithil, but captains, along with adars and sometimes older brothers, are ‘bossy’ by their very definition.” He grew more serious. “But you will want to be a warrior. Perhaps you should think about how the young warriors behave and compare your own behavior to theirs. I think they would be a better example than friends like Anastor and Noruil.”

“Anastor and Noruil are not my friends,” Galithil responded coldly.

“Well that is a bit of good news then,” Dolgailon said, standing. “We should get you to the library before Master Rodonon has reason to be angry with you.”

“If he is, it is your fault,” Galithil muttered, following behind his brother, with his arms crossed over his chest.

Legolas looked at him with concern, earning himself a black look as well.

*~*~*

“I cannot believe we have to spend the entire day cutting dandelion leaves,” Noruil groaned, sitting back on his heels and wiping his muddy hands on his leggings. “I could be practicing with my new bow,” he added in a voice that was just a little too loud.

Legolas, Berior and Galithil turned their attention away from the dandelions they were plucking to glare at the other elfling. Galithil dramatically rolled his eyes, causing Legolas and Berior to giggle quietly. Next to them, their friend Brethil stifled a snort. Even their very proper cousin Eirienil and her friend Aewen ducked their heads to hide a smirk. All of the children had enviously studied the quivers and bows that Anastor and Noruil conspicuously carried when they had first arrived to help gather greens, but their superior attitudes had quickly dampened the other children’s interest.

Anastor pointedly ignored them, plopping down on his backside and leaning back to look up into the trees. “I agree. Picking greens is for ellyth and children, not those that could hunt to provide food,” he said, fingering the fletching on an arrow that he pulled from his quiver. “How much longer do we have to do this?” he called to his mother, who was on the far side of the glade with the other adults.

“I hope his naneth tells him to leave now,” Galithil whispered loudly enough for all the elflings present to hear. Noruil and Anastor glared at Galithil, while most of the other children snickered. Only Anastor’s twin sister, Maidhien, did not laugh. She only stared at Galithil silently.

“No one else is going to provide us with food, Anastor,” his mother replied without looking up from her work. “You are going to stay right here and help me gather our share of these greens.”

Anastor glowered resentfully at his mother before tugging at a dandelion, pulling it from the ground roots and all and tossing it carelessly into his basket.

“We are not gathering the roots this early, Anastor,” Galithil scolded. “Just the leaves. Be careful not to be wasteful.”

“Do not tell me what to do,” Anastor snapped in return.

Galithil’s brows drew together and he opened his mouth to respond, but Brethil cut him off.

“My sister is glaring at us,” he whispered in warning.

Galithil and his cousins looked quickly to the other side of the clearing at Brethil’s sister, Arthiel. She was indeed watching her younger brother and his friends closely.

“She will tell Dolgailon that we misbehaved and Dolgailon will tell our fathers,” Berior said nervously.

Galithil frowned. “Dolgailon would not tell on us,” he said defensively. “And besides, we have done nothing wrong.”

“Let us keep it that way,” Legolas said quietly. Bent over a patch of dandelions, he peered through his hair to look at his mother. Lindomiel was also studying the children closely.

With a sigh, Galithil turned his back on Noruil and Anastor, and focused on the task at hand.

A few moments later, Arthiel and Lindomiel climbed to their feet, still looking at the elflings.

“We can all use a break,” Arthiel declared. “And we should not take more dandelion leaves in this glade. I think we would do best to walk further east along the river to find another sunny area with more greens.”

At that suggestion, everyone stood, the ladies shaking out their skirts and the children chattering happily. Only Noruil and Anastor’s mothers remained where they were, looking at Arthiel with surprise.

“There are many more dandelions in this area,” Anastor’s mother, Eregeth, said sharply with a stern frown. “There is no point in going even further down the river to find more until we have gathered all these.”

Arthiel’s eyebrows rose slightly at Eregeth’s aggressive tone. “The dandelion leaves will be sweet and provide food for many more weeks, Eregeth,” she responded, keeping her tone even out of respect for her elder. “We do not want to harvest them all now.”

Noruil’s mother, Lalfien, glared at Arthiel as well. “We need food now, not in a few weeks. We should gather all the greens that are available,” she argued.

Legolas and his cousins looked between the adults with obvious confusion. Every time they had helped gather food, especially in the spring and summer, they had always been cautioned not to gather so much as to deprive the animals that also depended on the plants or so much as to prevent the propagation of more plants for the next season.

Arthiel was also obviously surprised by Lalfien and Eregeth’s objections, because she made no answer, instead simply staring at them. Lindomiel responded in a gentle but firm voice.

“Perhaps when you lived in the south, there were so many places to find food that you could afford to wholly deplete some of them, Lalfien. Or perhaps your village was so small that it could move often to follow the available food supplies. But too many people live in the capital to permit us to harvest from the forest so recklessly. And the capital cannot move as easily as a village if food supplies are exhausted. So we must be more careful.” She paused for emphasis. “That means will be moving on to the next glade now.”

Eregeth and Lalfien narrowed their eyes at Arthiel and Lindomiel, but they did not argue further. Instead, they picked up their baskets and marched without another word eastward along the river. Noruil, Anastor and Maidhien hurried to follow them. Arthiel sighed as she watched their backs recede and the other adults in the clearing remained silent, some shaking their heads, but otherwise not interfering.

“There is a really big sunny patch only a short walk from here, nana,” Legolas volunteered into the silence. “Remember the one that had asparagus in it last year? New shoots should be growing on the old stalks by now.”

Lindomiel and Arthiel smiled at Legolas.

“That is a brave suggestion, pen neth, knowing how much you dislike asparagus,” Arthiel replied, ruffling Legolas’s hair.

Behind Arthiel’s back, Galithil and Berior stared at their cousin as if he had lost his mind.

Lindomiel nodded. “Your adar will be very pleased by how helpful you have been,” she added as she began to walk towards the clearing Legolas had mentioned.

Arthiel smirked as Legolas responded to his cousins’ expressions by making a face at them. “We will indeed go to that glade next, Legolas. You elflings may lead the way if you wish.”

Hearing that, Eirienil, Aewen and the other children happily broke into a run and dashed down the path. Legolas, Galithil and Berior followed them with their eyes as they disappeared amongst the trees. Only Brethil loyally stayed with his friends.

“You may go with them,” Lindomiel said softly, smiling when Legolas turned to her with cautious excitement in his eyes.

“Ada said we had to stay with adults,” he reminded her.

Lindomiel nodded. “And so you will. Go ahead with your friends. We will be right behind you.”

Galithil did not wait to be told again. With a whoop, he ran after the others. Legolas, Berior and Brethil paused long enough to flash a grin at Lindomiel before they followed him.

Lindomiel and Arthiel exchanged pleased smiles, ignoring their guard’s annoyed frown as half of his charges disappeared from his sight.

*~*~*

Racing down the path, Galithil crashed into the underbrush to its side, dodging by Lalfien and Eregeth. He did not slow a bit when they admonished him to be more careful. Indeed he laughed in response when the same reprimand, in even stronger language, was shouted at Legolas, Berior and Brethil after they also darted to either side of them. Galithil was simply happy to be free amongst the trees—the momentary exhilaration of jumping through the ferns and annoying the elleth was a great joy after weeks of confinement.

When he burst into the clearing where they intended to gather asparagus, his brow furrowed in confusion. Only Noruil, Anastor and Maidhien were present, but he had not passed the other children on the path. Noruil and Anastor were hastily but clumsily stringing their bows. Galithil took a hesitant step towards them. He did not like them one bit, he had promised not to touch their bows, and his father had made it perfectly clear that he was not to even be around them when they shot them—but despite all that, the temptation to join them was strong. Debating with himself whether he should go forward or turn his back on them, his brow furrowed further when he saw Noruil and Anastor’s hands were shaking and Madhien was looking at them with wide eyes.

“Come into the trees,” he heard Eirienil’s whispered voice order sharply as Legolas, Berior and Brethil reached the clearing as well.

Spinning around, he saw Eirienil, Aewen and the other children in the branches of a young oak. At the same time, he heard Legolas gasp and saw Brethil leap without hesitation into the tree. Turning and following his cousin’s gaze, Galithil saw several wild sows rooting amongst the asparagus. He froze involuntarily when he saw the boar with them staring at Anastor and Noruil, his head lowed aggressively.

Legolas reached over and pulled at the sleeve of Galithil’s tunic silently as Berior began to back slowly towards the tree that sheltered the other children. Eyes on the boar, Galithil backed towards the tree as well. When the noise of an arrow sliding free of its quiver made the boar turn towards the center of the clearing, Galithil stopped and stared at Noruil and Anastor.

“What are you doing?” he asked in an incredulous whisper as Noruil fit the arrow against his bowstring.

“It is called hunting,” Noruil responded mockingly. “That boar will make a much better dinner than those asparagus it is trampling.”

Galithil glanced at Legolas, his jaw slightly agape. They both stood at the foot of the oak.

Legolas shook his head. “Have you lost your mind?” he asked. “Even if you could hit the boar from this distance, you cannot kill it with that bow. Even with an adult bow, it would take several shots to kill a boar. If you shoot at him, asparagus will not be all he tramples—he will charge you.”

Anastor glowered at him. “You cannot tell us what to do, Legolas. Go into the trees with the ellyth. Noruil and I will shoot the boar and sows.”

Legolas and Galithil both took a step forward to argue with him further, freezing when the boar snorted and tossed its head, brandishing its tusks threateningly.

“Come into the trees,” Eirienil and Aewen repeated in unison, panic tinging their voices.

“Just because they are stupid, does not mean you must be as well,” Aewen added.

Eirienil nodded. “Do not make the mistake of following them into trouble twice.” Though her male cousins would not confirm it, she had concluded that it was Anastor and Noruil that they had followed to see the moonbow, primarily because all their other friends swore they had never gone into the forest at night.

Legolas hesitated a moment longer and then jumped up, catching a low branch on the tree and pulling himself up. Galithil stood to the side of the tree and gestured for Maidhien to climb it. Seeing that, Anastor glared at him and caught his sister’s arm. Galithil stared at him. “She is not armed or part of your hunt. Let her come into the tree with the other ellyth,” he said, mimicking what Anastor had said earlier.

Anastor scowled. “You do not tell my sister what to do anymore than Legolas tells me what to do. Go hide in your tree.”

Galithil looked at Maidhien, who had not moved and was staring fixedly at the ground. He shook his head. “If I ever have a sister, I hope I treat her with more care,” he said derisively. Then he followed Legolas, swinging into the tree’s protective branches.

The children watched with horrified amazement as Anastor and Noruil drew their bows and aimed at the boar. Understanding that clear threat, it snorted angrily and charged towards them several steps in warning. With frightened yelps, Anastor and Noruil released their arrows. To the surprise of everyone in the tree, their aim was true and the arrows struck their target—one bounced off the boar’s thick skull, leaving only a gash on its forehead, and the other grazed its tough hide. Neither penetrated.

Squealing furiously, the boar lowered its head and charged full speed at the children.

Anastor and Noruil dropped their bows, turned and ran towards the trees. Screaming, Maidhien followed them. The ellyn reached the trees first and leapt up, scaling into the branches to safety without pause. Directly behind them, Maidhien grabbed the lowest branch of the oak and placed her foot on a knot on its trunk to help push herself up.

Her hand slipped and she fell backwards onto the soft grass at the foot of the tree as all the children gasped. Raising her head, she saw the boar mere feet away and bearing down on her swiftly. With a terrified whimper, she threw herself flat on the ground and covered her head with her arms.

*~*~*

Naneth/nana-Mother/mum

Adar/ada--Father/dad

Meleth nin--My love

Muindor nin--My brother

Elleth/ellyth--Female elf(ves)

Ellon/ellyn--Male elf(ves)

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Expectations--Part One
Created
23 Apr 2006
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23 Apr 2006
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