Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Interrupted Journeys: Part Four--Journeys of Discovery

Chapter 13: Affectations--Part Four

by ellisk

Chapter 13: Affectations--Part Four

From the corner of his eye, Thranduil watched Legolas departing the barnyard to fetch his cousins.

“But I enjoyed your story about lord Oropher’s arrival in this forest,” he said with a light tone. Legolas leapt off the stone fence and ran into the forest, so Thranduil turned his complete attention on Tulus. “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.”

Tulus loosed a long breath, looked up and smiled at the king--a smile that transformed into a conspiratorial, almost playful, look when Tulus was convinced that Thranduil was not angry. “My lord,” he said. “You know I loved your lord father with all my heart. But you knew him far better than I, certainly. Would you have admitted to him that you mistook him for one of the Valar? Do you truly think that would have had any positive effect on his already…” Tulus appeared to search for a word, “…self-confidant nature.”

Thranduil’s eyes widened and he struggled to suppress a laugh. “Are you saying that my adar was arrogant, Tulus?” he forced out.

Tulus smiled and looked down with all apparent humility. “Arrogant? Lord Oropher? No, of course I did not say that, my lord. I said he was self-confidant.”

Thranduil laughed openly. “And beyond need for further encouragement in that trait—in other words, arrogant. I think there are a good many kings of elves and men and dwarves that would heartily agree with you, Tulus…”

Tulus raised an eyebrow in mock seriousness. “I pray you are not likening me to a dwarf or a man, my lord,” he interrupted.

“No, Tulus, not at all,” Thranduil replied, shaking his head. Tulus’s expression softened and the two elves smiled at each other for a moment. “I think I enjoyed your story about lord Oropher as much, and possibly more, than Legolas,” Thranduil continued in a quiet voice. “I rarely speak of him.” He sighed. “It is still painful to dwell on thoughts of him and I doubt that wound will ever fully heal.” He looked back at Tulus and his face brightened slightly. “But I have spoken of him twice today. Naneth mentioned him at mid-day meal when I requested that Legolas train the puppies.” Thranduil reached down and scooped up one of the dogs clamoring around his legs. It tried to lick his face. “She reminded me of how much I loved training my adar’s horses, just as Legolas loves these dogs.” Thranduil’s gaze wandered inside the barn where his own stallion stood, snorting at him and stamping its feet, demanding to be released from its stall. Lindomiel’s mare was also staring at him intently and dancing. Thranduil turned back to Tulus. “Bring the Queen and lady Amoneth’s mares into the yard as well, Tulus. Legolas and Galithil are big enough to ride by themselves. I remember very clearly the first time I rode with my adar on my own horse—it is one of my fondest memories, in truth. I think I would like to share that experience with Legolas and Galithil today.”

Tulus nodded. “I will have your horse, the ladies’ horses and Conuiön’s ready for you, my lord,” Tulus replied with a bow. “Legolas and Galithil will be thrilled.”

“You need not bring Conuiön’s horse out, Tulus,” Thranduil said. “He is not with me today.” Then he frowned suddenly, as if remembering something, and looked back at Tulus sharply. “And come to think of it, you may not need to bring out the mares either. What was this about a fight?”

Tulus’s expression shifted quickly from one of confusion over Conuiön’s absence—he glanced behind Thranduil and around the barnyard to confirm that unexpected statement—to one of concern at the mention of the fight.

“The children did not fight, my lord,” he said quickly. “I was only trying to distract Legolas by saying that about fighting. Granted, they nearly got into a fight. Anastor and Noruil were certainly trying to provoke one. And that little Eirienil is definitely her father’s daughter, no doubt about that. She has his temper and she did her share of provoking herself, calling them cowards and all. Of course, they practically called Legolas a coward first. But that was in response to Eirienil saying they were idiots. But that comment was deserved because they were behaving like idiots…” Tulus paused and frowned in response to Thranduil’s increasingly troubled expression. “But Galithil was not even here, so he is completely innocent,” Tulus continued quickly. “And Legolas handled the whole situation very admirably. He ignored their provocations and tried to walk away. Of course, he did intervene when Anastor shoved Eirienil,” Anger flared in Thranduil’s eyes at that statement and Tulus shook his head and waved his hands nervously. “But I pulled Anastor and Noruil back at that point. Nothing more happened. I scolded them and sent them home and I intend to say something to Dolwon and Dannenion about it tonight.” Tulus paused and looked earnestly at Thranduil. “But if I were Legolas’s adar, I would have been very proud of how he handled himself in this situation. Very restrained. Especially as your family goes.” Thranduil raised his eyebrows and Tulus looked down, his brows drawing together sharply. “Well, my lord, you do have a temper when provoked and so did lord Oropher. It is only the truth.” He sighed. “The point is, Legolas behaved well and certainly deserves to ride with you this afternoon,” he concluded softly.

Thranduil studied Tulus silently for a long moment. Long enough to make Tulus look up at him nervously. Then Thranduil laughed lightly and shook his head. “Thank you for setting my mind at ease about that incident, Tulus. I am pleased Legolas handled himself well.”

Tulus adopted a plainly relieved expression and merely bowed in response.

“But as for speaking to Dolwon and Dannenion, there is no need for you to do that. I am going to speak to them now about another matter. I will mention this incident to them too,” Thranduil concluded, a hint of tiredness creeping into his voice. He inclined his head to Tulus in farewell and moved to leave the barn.

“Begging your pardon, my lord,” Tulus said, following him. “You are going to speak to Dolwon and Dannenion? And you said Conuiön was not with you? One of your other guards is then? I should get one of their horses?”

Thranduil shook his head. “No, I am speaking to them alone. About their children. Father to father.” He paused and looked back at Tulus. “You cannot have missed the fact that they are still very dissatisfied with their situation. I am hoping to find some common ground with them this way.”

Tulus frowned. He appeared to want to say something, but he held his tongue instead.

Thranduil’s eyebrows rose involuntarily in response to that. “You, in contrast, have adapted very well to life in the capital, Tulus. I enjoyed our conversation,” he said, smiling. Then, he turned again to leave and this time departed the yard without further interruption.

Tulus watched him disappear on the path to Dolwon and Dannenion’s cottages, the frown still on his face.

*~*~*

Legolas ran along the path to the training fields, scanning the buildings on their outskirts for a sign of Galithil as he approached. The door to the shack where the training weapons were stored was open and Legolas could see neat rows of swords in their racks and shields hanging on the walls, but Galithil was nowhere to be seen.

The sound of arrows sinking into targets drifted towards him from the range.

“Maybe Galithil finished cleaning the weapons and is watching Dolgailon practice,” Legolas said to himself as he veered off in the direction of the range.

As soon as he rounded the shack and came into view of the archery range, he stopped and stared at the sight that greeted him—Galithil with a bow at full draw.

“Do not rush,” Glílavan said. He was kneeling on the ground next to Galithil, correcting his stance. “Follow through is important. As a beginner, you should hold your stance until the arrow reaches the target,” he said, though he did nothing to prevent Galithil from dropping his arms immediately after he released his arrow to watch it fly towards the target. It struck near several others on the bottom edge of the target.

Ignoring the lieutenant’s admonition, Galithil’s face lit up when he saw the position of the arrow. “That was better than the last one,” he exclaimed.

“Indeed it was,” Glílavan agreed, ruffling Galithil’s hair.

“One more?” Galithil pleaded, looking between Glílavan and Maidhien. Maidhien shrugged and handed him another arrow from her quiver.

Legolas strode towards his cousin as Galithil nocked the arrow. “What do you think you are doing?” he asked, finally finding his voice.

Galithil started and lost his grip on the arrow in mid draw, sending it flying awkwardly to clatter on the gravel in front of the target. But he did not even see where the arrow landed. He turned quickly and looked at Legolas with wide eyes. Legolas reached his side and looked back at him expectantly, but Galithil returned his gaze silently.

“You should know better than to surprise someone while they are practicing on the range, Legolas,” Glílavan said mildly. “That can cause dangerous accidents.”

Legolas answered without taking his eyes off his cousin. “Galithil should know better than to be ‘practicing’ anything on the range.”

Glílavan smiled at Legolas. “He and Maidhien have my permission to shoot a few arrows into the targets. I am sure Maidhien would not mind if you borrowed her bow to do the same,” he offered and Maidhien nodded her agreement. “Galithil, let Legolas have a turn with the bow.”

Legolas’s brows drew together. “I am not allowed,” he said firmly.

Galithil had not offered him the bow.

Glílavan’s smile broadened. “Galithil said that as well, but as I told him, it will be our secret. Come, you are the King’s son. It will be your duty to defend this realm. You must learn to use a bow eventually. I would be happy to give you a lesson as I did Galithil.”

In response to that comment, Legolas looked from Galithil to Glílavan. He studied the lieutenant silently for moment and then took a step back, away from him. “No, thank you.” He turned back to Galithil. “Adar sent me to find you. He wants us to wait for him in the barn.”

Glílavan shrugged and stood. “If you change your mind, I will still be happy to give you a lesson, Legolas,” he said. “Our secret, just as I promised.” He patted Galithil on the shoulder. “You have finished your work here for today, so you are dismissed. I will see you tomorrow.” With that he turned and walked back to the bench where he had been reading reports.

Galithil handed Maidhien her bow and thanked her quietly, studiously ignoring Legolas.

“Will you and your cousins be on the green again tomorrow?” she asked with a small voice, also without looking at Legolas.

Galithil nodded. “After lessons in the afternoon. Just come join us. You do not have to wait to be asked.”

Maidhien smiled at that. Waving good-bye, she skipped to the target to retrieve her arrows and then trotted along the path that led to her cottage.

Galithil watched her a moment in order to continue avoiding Legolas’s gaze.

“If Dolgailon had seen you…or worse, your adar…” Legolas began in a low voice.

Galithil turned to face Legolas with a scowl. “You are neither my brother nor my adar. I do not have to listen to you,” he said with a brave tone that did not quite make it to his eyes—they still held guilt.

“No,” Legolas replied, “but you do have to listen to Dolgailon and uncle Aradunnon. If either of them had seen…”

“Are you going to tell?” Galithil demanded.

Legolas shook his head. “No, I am not going to tell. But I cannot believe you did this. You are supposed to be here cleaning the training weapons as a punishment for taking Dolgailon’s knife and now you were using Maidhien’s bow? Your adar would restrict you to your room until you come of age.”

Galithil started down the path toward the barn. “I did not get hurt. That is all ada worries about,” he said.

Legolas followed him. “You did not get hurt, that is true…”

“And Glílavan is right, you know. Eventually we will both be warriors. The sooner we start learning how to use a bow, the better…”

Legolas shook his head incredulously. “Glílavan has no business saying what we should or should not be learning or when. You broke your promise, Galithil. We promised our adars we would not touch those bows.”

Galithil grimaced. “I think we promised not to touch Anastor and Noruil’s bows. I do not think we promised anything about Maidhien’s,” he said quietly.

Legolas stopped short and grabbed Galithil’s arm, pulling him to face him. He stared at his cousin. “You cannot believe that argument would satisfy your adar…or win back his trust. Galithil, you broke your promise to him,” he repeated forcefully. “You broke your word.”

Galithil made a face and pulled free of Legolas’s grasp. “Why does uncle want us in the barn,” he asked in order to change the subject.

Legolas frowned, but followed him. “He is going to take us riding with him.”

Galithil brightened somewhat in response to that.

*~*~*

Maidhien skipped along the path to her cottage, inventing a song about puppies as she went. When she neared the beech that sheltered her parents’ cottage, she slowed her pace. Her father and uncle Dolwon’s voices drifted amongst the trees accompanied by another voice—one she did not immediately recognize. It was only vaguely familiar. She stopped to listen and realized her father and uncle were greeting someone stiffly. When the strange voice returned their greeting, recognition struck and she ran to the end of the path to confirm her suspicions.

“No!” she yelled, interrupting her father’s invitation to his guest to sit. She ran into the yard and stopped directly in front of the king. “You promised me that you would not say anything to my adar about the boar. You promised you would not make him angrier. You promised!” she repeated, stamping her foot for emphasis.

Thranduil stared silently at the child for a moment completely taken aback by her vehemence. Maidhien was looking up at him, face flushed with anger, fists clenched at her sides. Studying her posture, Thranduil found himself wondering if the little elleth was about to kick him in the shin.

“Maidhien, this is not your affair. Go inside,” her father’s voice demanded.

Maidhien’s brow knit. She folded her arms across her chest and planted her feet, never taking her eyes off Thranduil.

“I did promise you that I was not going to speak to your adar about the boar, Maidhien, and that is not why I am here,” Thranduil said calmly. The little girl did not stop glaring at him and Thranduil found himself frowning. He glanced at Dannenion. “If your adar allows, you are welcome to stay and listen to our conversation if that is necessary to convince you that I intend to keep my promise to you,” he added.

Without waiting for her father’s permission, Maidhien plopped down on the ground where she stood, still regarding the king suspiciously.

Dannenion only sighed and seated himself on a log. Dolwon hesitated a moment before doing the same.

Thranduil looked at the three elves, now looking up at him, all with some degree of antagonism. Then he seated himself and stifled a sigh of his own.

“If you are not here about the boar, why did you want to speak to Dolwon and I?” Dannenion asked.

“Maidhien is correct that I did want to speak to you about Anastor and Noruil,” Thranduil answered in an even tone. “Along with Legolas and his cousins, they recently did something that I found rather difficult to learn about. But regardless of how disturbing it is, when I discovered what they had done, I was certain you would want to be informed, so you could speak to your children as I spoke to Legolas.”

Dannenion’s eyes narrowed in response to that statement, but Dolwon regarded the king with concern.

“Since the last snow, the night watch has reported on multiple occasions seeing children in the forest and on the mountain that houses the stronghold…” Thranduil continued.

But Dolwon cut him off. “Noruil? They saw Noruil in the forest at night?” he asked with a clearly dismayed voice, leaning forward slightly.

Thranduil nodded. “I fear one of the children was Noruil,” he said sympathetically. Then he looked at Dannenion. “And Anastor.”

Dannenion scowled. “If the guards caught Anastor in the forest, why did they not awaken my wife and I to tell us when they brought him home? Surely they did not leave him out to wander?”

“The guards never managed to catch the children. They only saw them,” Thranduil replied, but again he was cut off.

“Then how can you be certain it was my child they saw? If they were so far away that they could not apprehend him, how were they certain who they saw in the dark?” Dannenion demanded.

Dolwon nodded at Dannenion. “That is a fair question. At night from a distance it would be difficult to distinguish one child from another.”

Thranduil sighed, this time openly. “As I said, Legolas was involved as well. A little over a month ago, he and his cousins were camping in Crithad’s yard. They went with Anastor and Noruil to see the moonbow in the waterfall behind the stronghold. The guards saw them involved in some truly dangerous activities you should be aware of…”

“So it was Legolas who accused our sons?” Dannenion asked, his chin jutting out slightly.

“Legolas did not accuse…” Thranduil began.

“I say he lied,” Dannenion interrupted. “To distract attention from his own misdeeds that night. You have no evidence to prove my son is involved other than the word of a child who is guilty of the same offense and the statements of guards who were so far away that they could not possibly be certain that what they claim to have seen is true.”

When Dannenion stopped speaking, Thranduil returned his angry gaze silently for a full minute before he felt sufficiently in control of himself to respond without open aggression. “Dannenion, I cannot tolerate you accusing Legolas of lying,” he said in an overly calm voice. “What sort of a child would be so deceitful that they would tell lies designed to deflect blame from themselves? I have never heard of such a thing. Where would a child as young as our children learn such behaviors?”

Dannenion only glared at Thranduil.

“I assure you Legolas did not accuse your children to distract attention from himself,” Thranduil said, abandoning hope of accomplishing his intended goal and now focusing on simply concluding the interview. “In fact, he refused to reveal the names of the other children involved when he and his cousins confessed to me they had gone to the moonbow. I only learned who the other children were when Legolas and I were speaking about Anastor and Noruil after the incident with the boar. It was then that he finally admitted to me that they were the children that went with him that night.” Thranduil paused, but Dannenion’s expression had not changed. “This is not a trial and I did not come prepared with witnesses, but, if you would like, I can send witnesses to speak to you. When I finally learned who had gone with Legolas, I wanted to confirm that they were the same children that had been wandering at night all Spring, so I set a guard on your cottage and Dolwon’s. The guards did report catching both children sneaking from your cottages at night. They required them to return home, but did not speak to you on my orders. I thought it would be best for you to hear about this incident from a father rather than a guard.”

Dannenion glared at Thranduil silently and the king expected to be challenged to produce the witness he claimed to have. But instead of arguing further, Dannenion’s expression was suddenly thoughtful. After a moment, he turned towards his cottage. “Anastor. Come out here,” he shouted.

The child came out the door promptly, looking warily at Thranduil.

“Thranduil says you and Noruil have been in the forest at night. He said you went with Legolas to see the moonbow,” Dannenion said sternly.

Anastor looked quickly between Thranduil and his father. “That is not true. Legolas is constantly trying to start trouble with us. Just today he called me a coward and tried to pick a fight with me.”

Dannenion’s brow furrowed in response to his son’s words. “Legolas called you a coward?” he asked, voice rising.

Anastor nodded quickly.

Dannenion turned to Thranduil, his jaw clenched in anger.

“I have heard about this fight,” Thranduil responded evenly. “From Tulus. He separated you and Legolas, from what I heard. And he told me that you and Noruil initiated the fight by shoving Eirienil.” Anastor grimaced and glared at Thranduil. “But anything that might have happened this afternoon in the barnyard is irrelevant to the topic at hand—the fact that you and Noruil have been wandering the forest at night.”

“I know you have been out at night,” Maidhien interjected before her brother could argue further. “I have seen you climb out your window. And you and Noruil boasted to me about tricking Legolas and his cousins into going to the moonbow,” she accused.

Anastor glowered at her and drew a breath to respond.

“That is enough, Maidhien,” Dannenion said. “If you knew your brother was doing this, you should have told me.”

“You would not have believed me,” she answered.

“Enough,” Dannenion said sharply. Then he faced Anastor. “Thranduil said his guards caught you leaving this cottage. Recently,” he said with a questioning tone, watching his son’s reaction. Anastor’s lips pressed together in a thin line and he looked away. Dannenion scowled at his son and sighed before turning back to Thranduil.“I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. It will not happen again,” he said. Then he paused before adding, “You have my thanks.” From his tone, it was plain that the words were bitter.

Thranduil’s gaze lingered for a moment on Dannenion’s rigid posture and Anastor’s angry glare. He shook his head slightly before regarding Dannenion with as sympathetic an expression as he could muster in the face of the behavior he had just witnessed. “I know we both want to keep our children safe, so I wanted to share this information with you as soon as I was certain of it myself,” Thranduil replied neutrally.

Dannenion only nodded stiffly.

Thranduil stood. “I am sure you wish to speak to Anastor further, so I will leave you to it.” Turning, he patted Maidhien on the head, earning himself the only smile he had seen during the entire interview, and he made to leave. Dannenion had already herded Anastor inside their cottage before Thranduil reached the edge of their yard.

“Thranduil,” Dolwon’s voice called after him. “Lord Thranduil,” he amended, taking a few hesitant steps after him. Thranduil stopped and looked back to see Dolwon frowning concernedly. “You said the children had been involved in some ‘dangerous activities.’ Would you tell me what they were, specifically?” He took another step towards the king. “The guards did not see them jump over the river in the trees, did they? Noruil swore to me he would not do that again.”

Thranduil nodded, but his expression was sincerely regretful. “I am afraid so. They did see two children go through the trees over the river. Legolas and his cousins swear none of them did that and I believe them.”

Dolwon loosed an exasperated sigh. “That child is determined to kill himself. Or kill me with worry,” he said fretfully. “Why would he do such stupid things?”

Thranduil reached to put a hand on Dolwon’s shoulder. “I wish I could offer you some good advice, but I have none. I know I was ready to lock Legolas in a cell when I first heard this story.”

“May I borrow one of your cells, lord Thranduil?” Dolwon asked dryly.

Thranduil smiled sympathetically. “Shame always worked very well to restrain me—my naneth with tears in her eyes because she was so worried. Can your wife cry on cue? I think it is a requirement for motherhood.”

Dolwon smirked despite his concern. “The cell idea seems more certain to work,” he said grimly. Then he looked directly at Thranduil. “I do appreciate you telling us about this. I know it was not…pleasant,” he said glancing at Dannenion’s cottage. “It is difficult to hear that one’s child is doing such things.”

Thranduil nodded. “I understand, Dolwon. Truly,” he replied. “We all only want the best for our children. I wish I could do more than bring you bad news. If I can, please let me know.”

Dolwon’s brow drew together slightly and he looked down. “Thank you,” he said softly. “I suppose I have a difficult discussion ahead of me with Noruil and my wife—she will not like hearing this about her son. I had best go home to face it.”

“I wish you luck, Dolwon,” Thranduil replied. With a nod, he turned to leave. Behind him Dolwon started in the direction of his own cottage, but it was movement in the trees that caught Thranduil’s attention and made him pause to search their branches. As he studied them, they were perfectly still; the movement he thought he had seen absent. Raised voices from Dannenion’s cottage encouraged him to hasten his departure, but Thranduil kept an eye on the trees surrounding the path as he walked back to the barn.

*~*~*

Thranduil was still contemplating his conversation with Dannenion as he approached the barnyard, but the excited exclamations of two elflings running towards him quickly drove any unpleasant thoughts from his mind.

“Why are naneth and Aunt Amoneth’s horses in the yard too, ada?” Legolas shouted. Reaching Thranduil’s side, Legolas seized his father’s hand.

“Are they riding with us too?” Galithil asked, clasping the other and pulling Thranduil along into the barnyard.

Both children looked up at Thranduil expectantly, awaiting his response. Thranduil smiled at them, but his brow furrowed when he noticed Conuiön standing by his own horse also awaiting a response. He glared at his guard a moment and then purposefully turned his attention back to the two elflings at his side. He disentangled his hands and pulled the children against him with an arm around each of their shoulders.

“No, your naneths are not riding with us,” he said, walking them towards the horses. Without warning, and with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, he seized Legolas around the waist and swung him onto Lindomiel’s mare. “I thought you might enjoy riding their horses yourselves,” he declared, grunting a bit as he settled Legolas on the mare’s back. “You are certainly big enough. Very soon I will not be able to lift you like that,” he said with a slightly dismayed tone.

“We can ride by ourselves?” Legolas asked, looking down at his father with a grin that lit his whole face.

“Help me up too, uncle!” Galithil cried. He already had his hands planted on the back his mother’s mare and was hopping in place and patting her anxiously, but he had little hope of mounting her without assistance. Thranduil complied and ran a soothing hand down the horse’s neck to calm her response to her excited rider.

He looked over the horse’s back at his guard. “How do you come to be here, Conuiön? Or have you been with me all along?” he asked with an edge to his voice.

“I have not, my lord,” the guard replied. “You ordered me to stay in the stronghold and there I stayed. The Gate Guards brought me the message that you intended to go riding and had sent for me.”

Thranduil’s eyebrows rose. He mounted his stallion and looked around the yard as the horse danced about in anticipation. “Where is Tulus?” he asked quietly.

Conuiön shook his head and looked about as well. The children sighed loudly in response to the delay.

“Did you ask for me, my lord?” Tulus asked, coming from around the far side of the barn into the yard hurriedly.

“Uncle, let’s go,” Galithil demanded, impatiently. Reacting to his anxious squirming, Galithil’s horse was stamping its feet.

Legolas nodded enthusiastically. “Can we still ride as far as we normally do, ada? We better leave now if we are going to because I do not think Galithil and I will be able to ride as fast as we do when we are riding with you.”

“I can ride that fast,” Galithil insisted, casting his cousin a defiant look and clearly ready to attempt to prove that assertion.

Thranduil held Tulus’s gaze for a moment before focusing on his nephew. “You will not try to gallop that horse or you will ride with Conuiön. This is your first ride, so we will go slowly until you are steady. No arguments,” he said firmly when Galithil drew a breath to do just that. Thranduil turned his stallion towards the open gate and encouraged it to hold to a slow walk. Mindful of their youthful riders, the mares followed at a sedate, steady pace, twitching their ears irritably, but ignoring any efforts to encourage more speed.

*~*~*

adar/ada--father/dad

naneth/nana--mother/mum

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Affectations--Part Four
Created
08 Apr 2007
Last Edited
08 Apr 2007
Hits
405
Words
5069