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Interrupted Journeys: Part Four--Journeys of Discovery

Chapter 15: Loyalties--Part One

by ellisk

Chapter 15: Loyalties—Part One

“And then there is the matter of the drill for the Fourth Years,” Langon said with a grim expression. “In the caves.”

Dolgailon smirked at the swords master. He could barely be persuaded to enter the stronghold. The training exercises conducted in the small caves that riddled the hills around the capital were nearly unbearable in his mind, though he could not deny their worth in preparing the young warriors to fight orcs in their element.

“I seem to recall it is your turn to set up the traps,” Pathon said, with a teasing tone of voice, looking at Langon with bright eyes. “I did it last time and Hebor the time before that and Tirithion the time…”

“I know,” Langon interrupted, glaring at his grinning colleague. “Glílavan had already decided how he wants to attack the different teams, so we began setting the traps today.”

Laughing at his lieutenants, Dolgailon withdrew a map of the cave system used for the drill. “We were too easy on them last time,” he said as he spread the map out on the table. “Or perhaps we are becoming too predictable. Did Glílavan design new tactics for this drill as I suggested? And some more complex traps?”

Langon nodded. “The problem with the traps is making them similar to what orcs do to kill intruders in their lairs without making them deadly,” he said. Then he looked around at his fellows with an amused smile. “I am rather certain that lord Thranduil, and possibly even lord Aradunnon, would notice and disapprove if anyone were crushed in a deadfall trap or stabbed by a trap that loosed spears.”

Pathon, Tirithion and Hebor snorted.

“But falling into hidden pits is too obvious and does not prepare the novices for what they will really see in the patrols,” Dolgailon countered, with a serious tone.

“Glílavan had an idea to solve that problem,” Langon replied. “Personally, I think it will lead to some minor injuries…”

“Or at least some soiled leggings,” Hebor interjected, laughing.

Langon cast him a disapproving look to silence him. “But it is now a much more practical drill. No doubt about that.”

Dolgailon regarded Langon with an obviously concerned expression and drew a breath to question him further, but he was interrupted by a voice coming from the open door of his office.

“It sounds as if I should be very glad I will not be required to go through this training drill,” it said.

The five officers looked up to find Hallion, the king’s steward, standing in the door with an amused smile. Dolgailon made to stand in greeting, but Hallion gestured for him to remain seated.

“I had hoped to speak to you if you were finished with your meeting, but I can wait and enjoy listening to your plans,” Hallion said stepping into the room. “If I will not disturb you,” he added before seating himself on the bench along the wall where the young warriors normally awaited their daily assignments.

Dolgailon studied Hallion a moment and then shook his head. “I am not needed to plan this drill,” he said, sliding the map towards Langon. “They were only showing me how they intended to set up the course. But I can speak to Glílavan about it when I check with him to see how Galithil is doing cleaning the training weapons.” He looked at Langon. “I will be sure to question him about the new traps. I want the drill to be realistic, but the king and troop commander are not going to tolerate injuries any better than they will fatalities.” He paused. “I will speak to you again in the morning to confirm the set up,” he concluded.

Dolgailon’s officers nodded and stood, gathering the map and their other materials. They saluted their captain and bowed to Hallion before leaving the office, still discussing the test they were charged with designing.

Dolgailon gestured towards one of the chairs that had just been vacated. “What did you need to discuss with me, Hallion?” he asked, as the door to his office closed, shutting out the voices of his officers. Dolgailon’s expression was one of concern—the king’s steward rarely had any business with the training program, so Dolgailon could not imagine what had precipitated this visit.

Hallion seated himself at the table and looked at Dolgailon silently for a long moment, causing the younger elf to frown. Hallion sighed.

“I am sorry, Dolgailon. I do not mean to worry you. This is not a grave matter. It is simply one I am not certain how best to handle and I suppose I am still debating my decision with myself.”

That caused Dolgailon’s eyebrows to rise involuntarily. Hallion was not known for indecision.

“Legolas spoke to me last night,” he finally began after drawing a long breath. “I think I have decided that what he told me is a problem that Glílavan’s captain and Galithil’s brother can best resolve.”

Dolgailon’s eyebrows climbed even higher in response to that.

*~*~*

“Why does everyone always chase me first?” Berior cried while running as hard as he could, dodging in and out amongst the trees.

“Because you are the easiest to catch,” Legolas replied, laughing. He hauled his cousin to a sudden stop by seizing his arm.

Berior glared at him. “It is not fair,” he whined as he joined hands with Legolas and together they inspected the other children, who were, by then, scattered to the far corners of the area that was ‘inbounds’ for the game. “Brethil next?” he asked, causing Brethil to crouch in anticipation of the chase.

Legolas grinned and nodded. He and Berior charged towards their victim with their hands clasped but their arms stretched as wide apart as they could reach. As they charged him, Brethil arched his back to skirt by them, avoiding being touched, and therefore caught in their ‘web,’ by mere inches. He squealed involuntarily and ducked behind a tree, laughing at his success. Legolas changed course to try again to trap him, but was jerked backwards when Berior pulled him hard in the opposite direction. He drew a sharp breath to protest—in this game the children forming the ‘web’ had to work together to win—but his complaint was drowned out by a high-pitched scream. He turned to see Aewen sporting a disappointed look and joining hands with Berior.

“Good job, Berior,” Legolas said as Berior grinned at him.

The three children spread out as far as they could while still holding hands, casting their ‘web’ as wide as possible, and they turned again to Brethil. He ran from them, laughing and seeking cover amongst the trees.

“Galithil and Maidhien are coming back,” Eirienil called from the other side of the playing area, where she was safe from the ‘web.’

Legolas, Berior and Aewen paused in their pursuit of Brethil for a moment. Turning, they saw Galithil charging towards them.

“Are you finished cleaning the training weapons, Galithil?” Eirienil asked as Galithil approached. “I hope you want to play again. We need more people for the game to be fun. And Legolas has been the Spider for three turns in a row now.”

Eirienil frowned when Galithil walked past her without even acknowledging her question. He stopped nearly toe-to-toe with Legolas. As the other children gathered around them, Legolas bit his lip and met his cousin’s gaze reluctantly.

“You did tell!” Galithil exclaimed, reacting to Legolas’s expression. “I cannot believe you told. We are supposed to be friends. We are cousins!”

Legolas grimaced, but said nothing.

His silence only angered Galithil further. “We are supposed to be friends!” he repeated, shoving Legolas hard enough to push him into the tree that Brethil had been hiding behind.

“And friends do not shove one another,” Brethil said, stepping between Legolas and Galithil. “What is wrong with you?”

Galithil’s eyes narrowed as he looked over Brethil’s shoulder at Legolas. “Legolas saw me shooting Maidhien’s bow on the archery range yesterday. Glílavan said I could do it. He even taught me how. And Legolas told Dolgailon. He told!”

Brethil and Berior looked at Legolas with wide eyes. “You did not really tell, did you Legolas?” Brethil asked disbelievingly.

“If he did tell, he did the right thing,” Eirienil said. “We promised we would not play with their bows. If Galithil did, he deserves to get in trouble.”

Galithil glared at her. “This is none of your concern, Eirienil. Besides, we promised not to play with Anastor and Noruil’s bows and I had Glílavan’s permission to use Maidhien’s.”

“If that is the excuse you plan to use with your adar, you are going to be in even more trouble than you think,” Aewen replied and Eirienil nodded.

Maidhien sighed loudly. “Well Glílavan did not deserve to get in trouble,” she said. “He was just trying to be nice to us and let us have a safe place to practice with our bows. And now Dolgailon is going to make him do night duty along side the Fifth Years as a punishment and we cannot shoot on the range anymore.”

“Good,” Legolas said quietly, speaking for the first time. Everyone turned to him, Galithil and Maidhien with angry glares. “Glílavan did deserve to get in trouble. He is an officer and he is supposed to enforce the rules, not help you break them.” He looked at Galithil. “I told on Glílavan, not you, Galithil. I did not mention your name or Maidhien’s.”

“Well Dolgailon came to talk to Glílavan and caught us shooting arrows,” Galithil began.

“Again?” Eirienil exclaimed. “You did it twice? You had to know you would be caught eventually! You cannot blame Legolas for that.”

“Be quiet, Eirienil!” Galithil shouted.

“If you got caught doing something you know you are not allowed to do, you have no right to shove Legolas around for it,” Eirienil yelled back.

“Except he would not have been caught if Legolas had not told,” Berior said quietly.

Legolas looked at Berior and Brethil, but they would not return his gaze.

For a long moment, the only sound heard was angry breathing. Then Galithil turned on his heel and stalked off in the same direction he had come from.

“Where are you going, Galithil?” Eirienil demanded.

“To enjoy my last day of freedom before Dolgailon makes me tell ada about using the bow,” he threw over his shoulder without turning back or pausing in his march away from them. “He said I have to tell him after dinner.”

All the children grimaced sympathetically in response to that.

“We could stay and play Spider,” Maidhien suggested, trotting after Galithil but looking back at the other children.

Brethil nodded and took a few steps after him. “Stay and play, Galithil. You could beat Legolas and be the Spider and that would make you feel better.”

Galithil stopped at looked back over his shoulder. He fixed Legolas with a bitter glare. “No, it would not make me feel better. I do not care to play with Legolas at all, so I would prefer to leave.”

Legolas sighed, but said nothing in reply. He merely returned Galithil’s glare until Berior nudged him with his elbow.

“Maybe you had better go play on the green, or something,” he suggested in a voice that was barely a whisper.

Legolas’s mouth fell open and he turned to stare at Berior. “You want me to leave? You will not play with me because I told on Galithil?”

Berior squirmed slightly. “Well, you should not have done that, Legolas. And I think Galithil needs us right now if he has to face his adar tonight…”

Legolas loosed an angry harrumph. After pausing to glare at Berior and Brethil until both children turned their gaze to the ground, he strode off towards the green without another word.

“That was mean, Berior,” Eirienil exclaimed. “He is not the one who did something wrong!”

Berior and Brethil looked up at her guiltily, but Galithil growled. “Yes, he is. He betrayed his friends.” Eirienil drew a breath to argue, but Galithil did not give her an opportunity to interrupt. “And I am not going to stay around to listen to your lectures, Eirienil. Adar’s will be bad enough.” With that, Galithil stormed off into the forest. Maidhien hesitated a moment and then, with a quick wave to the other children, followed after him.

Eirienil and Aewen looked at Legolas’s retreating form in one direction and then Galithil’s in the other.

“Nana is right,” Aewen said softly. “All ellyn are insane.”

Eirienil shook her head disgustedly and took Aewen’s hand. Together they stalked off in still another direction—towards Aewen’s cottage.

Now alone in the forest, Berior and Brethil looked at each other with wide eyes.

“I suppose we can go to my cottage and play Orthor,” Brethil suggested quietly.

Berior only nodded.

*~*~*

Maidhien scurried along side Galithil struggling to keep up with his angry strides as he raged deeper into the forest. Stomping along, he fancied that he made as much noise as a boar. Squirrels and birds and other small creatures looked at him with alarm and fled before him. Behind him lay a wake of silence of the sort that normally accompanied dangerous animals trekking through the forest. And that gave Galithil a perverse sense of satisfaction.

“I told you,” Maidhien said, breathless from her efforts to keep up with Galithil, “I will tell your adar that I was shooting the arrows and you were only watching. If Dolgailon says he saw you with the bow, I will say you were just holding it for me while I fixed the fletching on an arrow. He did not actually see you with the bow drawn, so that might work.”

Galithil shook his head but said nothing.

“Well,” she said, still skipping along at his side. “I can tell him that it was my fault because I talked you into trying the bow.” Her face brightened and she skipped along a little faster. “I will tell him that it is my fault because I teased you…that I said an elleth could shoot and you could not and you can say that you could not let that pass. Your adar will surely understand that and it is almost true. I was the one that talked you into shooting it.”

Galithil stopped and looked at her appreciatively. “I cannot say those things, Maidhien, and really, neither should you” he said quietly. “They are lies. I will be in trouble for breaking my word more than for shooting the bow. And if I lie, that will only make matters a hundred times worse.” His face screwed up in an angry scowl and he flopped on the ground next to a rock. “Eirienil is right,” he said, rolling his eyes skyward. “I deserve to be in trouble. I knew I should not shoot your bow…I even said I should not…but I did it anyway.” He groaned and slumped against the rock.

Maidhien knelt in front of him. “I am sorry I talked you into it,” she whispered. “Please do not be angry with me.”

Galithil’s eyes snapped to her worried face. “I am not angry with you,” he said quickly. “It is not your fault. You did not know I was not allowed. It is my fault because I just really wanted to shoot it and I did when I knew I should not.” One side of his mouth turned down and he looked away from her. “I do not know why ada is so stupid about letting my cousins and I shoot. I understand why he will not let us carry a bow yet. But why are we forbidden from shooting one with supervision?” He sighed dramatically. “Glílavan was right there with us. It is stupid to be so upset about me shooting when an officer of the training program was showing me how to do it!”

“Your parents are mean, then?” Maidhien asked quietly. “Ada says your whole family is mean.”

Galithil scowled. “No, that is not true.” He sighed again, this time more softly. “Ada is going to yell about this, though. He is probably going to restrict me to my room until the Final Battle and I will never be allowed to touch a bow or any other weapon again,” he fairly whined. Then he took a deep breath. “He is not mean. I just do not think all his rules make sense. Some make no sense at all, like not letting us shoot just because we are not yet twenty-five.” He paused. “I really do not like making ada angry, but sometimes I cannot help it. He just refuses to understand what is important to me.”

Maidhien frowned. “Shooting is really important to Anastor too, but I admit I do not understand why. He cannot hunt yet. He proved that for certain. He really is not that good with the bow, so it does not seem it would be fun for him to shoot it. But shooting it is all he wants to do.” She looked at him. “Why is it so important?”

Galithil looked at her levelly and adopted the same look Rodonon did while lecturing. He drew a breath to answer. He opened his mouth. And then he stared at her a moment, shut it again and looked away. “It just is,” he finally said, drawing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them.

Maidhien chewed her lip and they sat for a while in silence.

“So what are you going to do then?” she asked timidly once the birds had finally returned to sing around them.

“I wish I could find someplace to hide until I come of age,” he replied, picking up a stone and tossing it at a nearby trunk. “But since I cannot do that, I would settle for someplace I could hide until I think of how I am going to tell ada about this.”

Maidhien perked up and her face brightened. “I know a good place. It is my secret place. Even Anastor does not know about it. But I will show it to you. No one will find you in it until you are ready.”

Galithil rolled another rock around in the palm of his hand, but rather than throwing it, he looked at Maidhien thoughtfully. “What sort of place?” he asked.

She smiled at him, an impish, mischievous smile that made Galithil’s eyes light in anticipation despite his determination to be angry. “A cave,” she whispered.

*~*~*

adar/ada—father/dad
naneth/nana—mother/mum

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Chapter name
Loyalties--Part One
Created
03 Jun 2007
Last Edited
03 Jun 2007
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3138