Title: Beyond the Long River
Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel
Rating: PG for mild mentions of violence, maybe a soft PG-13
Theme: A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words
Element: picture, “sunset river”
A/N: Thranduil and Legolas belong to Tolkien. All the rest belong to me and Emma.
Summary: Young Prince Legolas, training for his father’s army, accepts a dare from another warrior trainee. It does not go as well as Legolas would have hoped.
Word Count: 1,180 words. Sorry this was late – muse is nuts, first silent, then can’t shut up. Yes, I know this was supposed to go to LJ, but I'm having LJ issues again - sorry!
Beyond the Long River
"You must be insane, and I must be insane for following you." Ferion brushed dark gold hair out of his face and glared at his little brother, poking him in the back with the end of his spear as they followed the path along the river. He shivered as Anor’s waning light cast strange shadows upon the ground. "You realise I'm only doing this so you don't end up dead."
"I'm hardly untrained, Ferion," Legolas said sardonically. "You should know. You helped teach me yourself." He was more advanced than the other Trainees in his class because of it, too, he thought gleefully. Having a Captain for a brother was quite an advantage. Even if Talathben called it favouritism, it wasn’t. It wasn’t.
Ferion sighed. "I know, Las. I know I trained you. I was there, remember?" Quickening his pace to keep up with his brother, Crown Prince Ferion shook his head. "I just think this is a very bad idea, and Adar will slaughter us both when he finds out."
The elleth's voice startled Legolas, and both young princes spun as one, Legolas' arrow nocked and Ferion's spear raised.
Amdirien brushed a cobweb out of her red-gold hair and grimaced. "Do you know how many spiders I had to fight off to find you?" she demanded in a furious whisper, glaring at her beloved and his little brother. "The pair of you are in so much trouble when I get you home. If I get you home. Honestly, didn't either of you learn anything from the last time? And didn't the king say, oh, what was it, something about..."
"I believe the exact wording was, 'No one is to leave the stronghold without supervision and permission, especially you, my children and heirs," said Daethor as he swung lightly down from a dead tree branch.
"Which means you're just as wonderful at following orders as the rest of us," Ferion told his older cousin drily. Amdirien looked from one to the other and rolled her eyes. "Ellyn!"
"Oh, shut up," Legolas muttered, looking around quickly for signs of spiders. Night was coming swiftly, and it was harder to see in the dark. "How did you fight off all those spiders, Diri?" he asked, trying to change the subject. Amdirien held up a sword and looked pointedly at Daethor, who carried one of his own. Legolas sighed. "No wonder we didn't have so much fun."
"Fun? You think a spider attack is fun?" Amdirien demanded. Legolas nodded eagerly.
"M-hmm, then I could fight," he told Amdirien patiently. "Just like Ferion taught me." And prove to that Talathben I’m not a coward, he thought angrily.
"He obviously didn't teach you enough," Amdirien said bluntly. "This is no place for elflings!" She crossed her arms and glared at the younger prince. “If we hadn’t happened along, you might be eaten!”
"I didn’t need your help! I'm not an elfl--" The last word ended in a squeal as Legolas was pulled up into a tree by a sticky strand which had come from nowhere.
Click click. Click click.
The three older elves paled considerably.
Legolas had lost his bow when he was flung skyward, so he went for his belt knives, pulling them out, hacking and slashing at the strands which held him. But it was too much. Around him, he thought he heard the sounds of fighting, of swords and arrows, but only briefly. Too soon, all too soon his world was plunged into disarray, enveloped by a web, a cocoon of sticky threads as his knives clattered to the ground. The sickly-sweet scent they gave off was impossible to ignore, and he could not move or speak. Oh, please, he thought miserably as he battled nausea, trying not to cry. Princes did not cry, they did not…he wasn’t a coward. Elbereth, please, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Feri, Diri, Daethor, Ada, Nana, please, I didn't mean for it to end this way...Talathben said horrible things, and I just couldn’t let him slander the family honour…
It had just been a lark, an adventure, a dare, really, from Talathben. He hadn't expected his brother - not to mention the others - to find and follow. But he couldn't cry for help, he couldn't struggle - it was as good as over. He wondered miserably if he'd feel it when they came to eat him, or if they'd knock him out first. Would they kill him before they ate him? He wasn't sure. Terrified and miserable, Legolas' fears overwhelmed him, and the tears flowed as he cried himself to sleep, blessed darkness overtaking him. As he faded to slumber, he wondered if he'd ever wake again...
Below Legolas, Ferion scrambled up the tree nimbly. With his brother's fallen dagger, he cut the 'web' and carried Legolas down. He gave the approaching General a reproachful look. "With all due respect, Sir, was that truly necessary? He's just a boy, an elfling, that's all..."
"A Trainee, my young Captain - and if he wishes to live to be a grown warrior, he will learn to distinguish play from work, and to ignore dares," Rochendil said quietly. "I love him, Ferion, as I love you. I cannot lose him. We all agreed this had to end now."
Amdirien and Daethor nodded in tandem, and Ferion gently unwrapped the knockout potion-laced silken strands from his brother, carrying him toward home. Maybe Legolas would learn not to take such silly, and potentially lethal, dares from now on.
When Legolas woke, it was in the little throne room of the stronghold. He was – much to his embarrassment and confusion – cradled in his father’s lap, Thranduil’s arms around him. “A-ada?”
“Laes-nin,” Thranduil replied, softly and steadily. “Why did you disobey me, guren?”
“T-there were spiders – oh, Ada…” Legolas hesitated, looking anxiously up at his father.
“Tell me, ion nin,” Thranduil said quietly. “It is all right.”
“Talathben said, he called me a c-coward, too scared to go and fight, if I was so good, and…” Legolas trembled. “I was scared, Ada, but I can’t be a coward…”
“No, not a coward,” Thranduil agreed, still keeping his voice low and even. “You are certainly not that. But your behaviour was heedless and foolish – something certain of our family might say I well deserve, were they here to tell me so.”
“Daerada?” Legolas guessed tentatively, awake enough now to realise they were alone.
Thranduil smiled reluctantly, and gave a single nod. A warm breeze blew through the window, and the scent of pine and citrus enveloped father and son.
“I’m sorry, Ada. I won’t do it again.”
“I know, ion nin. I think, this time, you have been punished enough. But keep to the stronghold now, until the danger passes. Am I understood, my Trainee?”
“Yes, sir,” Legolas said softly, and accepted his father’s comfort as the scent of pine and oranges intensified, relaxing into Thranduil’s arms.
Thranduil inhaled slowly, and heard it as though from far away.
Well done, my son.
The Elvenking smiled in relief. Thank you, Ada.