Where Is It Chapter 1

 

Author’s Notes

 

This story was written for the Middle-earth Express Prompt Challenge at the aragornangst yahoo group. It is a multi-chapter story, each chapter based on a weeks prompt word.

 

In this story, Legolas is an adolescent of about 35 years of age, or equivalent to a 14 year old human.

 

Elvenking's Family

 

Thranduil

Laerwen – Deceased Queen of Mirkwood

Faervel – Deceased Prince, killed during Last Alliance

Belthul – Eldest living son of Thranduil

Orthoron – Next eldest son of Thranduil

Anoriel – daughter of Thranduil

Legolas – youngest child of Thranduil

 

Where Is It?

by Nieriel Raina

 

Part One

Prompt # 63: Siblings

 

Elvenking's Halls

Year 1111 Third Age

 

It was a typical day in most ways, Legolas noted. Servants rushed to finish their morning chores. Several of the king's advisors stood chatting near the council room about the latest developments in the south. Ladies gossiped and giggled, as Belthul, the eldest son of the king, strode down a hallway with determination, completely unaware of their looks.

 

Legolas slipped through an archway, trying hard to remain out of sight. A call from behind him caused him to pick up his pace to a jog. Darting around a corner, Legolas nearly ran smack into Belthul. How did he get there? Legolas wondered, not for the first time thinking there were likely secret passages he had yet to discover in caverns.

 

His eldest brother quickly stepped back to avoid the collision and glared down at Legolas, who wished he could simply fade into the stone walls. Being caught was bad enough, but being caught by Belthul was torture. It was nearly as bad as being caught by his father.

 

"And just where are you going in such a hurry?" his brother asked in a tone too similar to Thranduil's voice. Legolas trembled at the sound, having heard it too many times in his short life. "Our father has been looking for you. He has myself, Orthoron and Anoriel looking for you as well! What did you do, little brother?"

 

Legolas swallowed hard and tried to think of a way to escape. He could not outrun Belthul, nor dodge him in the halls, as his recent attempt proved. Belthul was an good tracker, even over cold stone. Legolas would not be able to escape, and if he did not confess his deeds, Belthul would take him by the ear to their father...  He shuddered again at the thought of that scenario. The king's study was not where he wished to spend any time today.

 

"I...um...well, you see..."

 

A sparkle of amusement began to twinkle in Belthul's green eyes, followed by a mischievous grin. His brother was much like their father, but he also retained a spark of their mother's humor. Legolas blinked back the unwanted moisture that came to his eyes any time unbidden thoughts of his mother came to mind.

 

"Tell me where you hid it, and I'll forget I found you." Belthul's smile grew.

 

A spark of temper, well known among those of the House of Oropher, welled up in Legolas's chest, bursting forth with outward defiance. "No! I will not share it! You have no idea how hard it was to sneak it out from under Ada's nose! I'd rather be punished for the next century, than tell you where it is!"

 

Belthul's eyes narrowed, the green going from bright to dark as all hint of amusement faded from his expression. "Indeed. Well then, that is probably what you are facing. But let us allow our father to decide, though I do think in this case you will be facing your king, rather than our father." And grabbing Legolas by the lobe of his right ear, Belthul drug his young brother in the direction of the king's study.

 

Legolas, never one to go without a fight no matter how futile, began to fight his brother's hold, but Belthul's grip was strong and he found himself dragged along, quite embarrassingly before staring lords and ladies, towards his father's formal study.

 

To Legolas's relief, Belthul was stopped in his tracks when someone threw a large tapestry over the older prince's head. He released Legolas with a yelp and began to struggle against the heavy, dusty material, but before the eldest prince could free himself, Legolas found himself dragged through a secret passage in the wall. Probably hidden by that tapestry, or used to be, Legolas thought as he found himself being dragged down an entirely different corridor, this time his only sister, Anoriel, who was looking quite upset herself.

 

"This is the last time I help you, Legolas!" she declared crossly, turning seemingly furious eyes upon him. But Legolas knew his sister too well. Had she not stepped into their mother's shoes when their mother had… He gulped, and pushed the thoughts away, refusing to think on them.

 

"You are not mad, my sister. You just wish you had thought of it and managed to get away with it." He pulled out of her grasp and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at her through his loose, gold hair.

 

The corners of her mouth twitched. "Where is it?"

 

Legolas continued to glare. "Not telling."

 

"Our father is really angry." A sympathetic look, but a false one.

 

"No."

 

"I'll help you make it look like it escaped." She smiled conspiratorially at him.

 

He paused.

 

"And I'll confirm we found it in the woods together after I found you, and we, knowing our father's love for it, decided to bring it back."

 

A good plan, except… "It will never work, Anoriel. He already thinks I took it."

 

"Fine. I hope you like the dungeon. That is where he has been threatening to move your room...for the next century." She folded her arms and turned her nose upwards in a huff.

 

Legolas moaned softly under his breath. His father would not actually send him to the dungeons, would he? He bit his lower lip nervously, then came to a hasty decision.

 

"Fine. I will take you to it, but if Ada doesn't believe your story, I will tell him you were in on it from the beginning."

 

A cleared throat caused both of them to freeze. A deep voice spoke, low but conniving.

 

"I want in."

 

Part Two

Prompt # 64: Shadow

 

Silently, Legolas and his companions slipped from the secret corridor leading from the halls into the wooded hillside, where they quickly ascended into the tall trees and disappeared from sight of any watchers, or so they thought. Unbeknownst to them, serious and thoughtful green eyes continued to watch the place where they had melded into the greenery of the forest. He waited perhaps a quarter of an hour, then he slipped into the trees as well, traveling in a slightly more northwest direction from where the three conspirators had vanished, before angling back towards the others' trek.

 

 

"Where is it, Legolas? Orthoron asked impatiently of his little brother, looking around the small clearing northwest of the King's halls where Legolas had led them. They had been standing here for at least half an hour while Legolas searched the trees surrounding the small break in the forest. Turning his irritated gaze back towards his youngest brother, who was looking somewhat confused, Orthoron sighed heavily in annoyance. 

 

"Legolas," Anoriel walked over to Legolas and turned him towards her with a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Are you sure this is where you left it? Many of these clearings look the same. Maybe it was..."

 

"NO!" Legolas pulled from her grasp with a look of severe indignation, backing away from both of his siblings. "I left it here. Just because I am the youngest does not mean I do not know these woods. Just because Naneth taught all of you the woods…" his voice cracked but he pushed on defiantly. "Just because she's not here to teach me doesn't mean I do not know where I left something. It's here!" he declared forcefully before his voice became softer, sounding a bit confused. "Somewhere..." His eyes continued to peer into the depths of the forest, but his shoulders had begun to slump.

 

Orthoron, having little patience for such things, glanced around the clearing once more before rolling his eyes and turning his feet back in the direction of the halls. "Great joke, little brother," he called over his shoulder. "You had me there for a while. I can't believe I fell for it." He stopped abruptly and turned to pin Legolas with a look. "I do not think you really took it, Legolas. It has to have been a prank by one of the king's captains. Tórchal especially would like to do something like this to make the king look less composed in the court. Now, I'm going home." He stared hard at his sister, bidding her with a look to follow.

 

Anoriel concurred with a frown. "This is not funny, Legolas. You could have just told Father that you didn't do it, instead of dragging us out here. Come on, we're going back." She reached for their adolescent brother, but fury flashed in his young face.

 

Gold hair tossed and grey eyes flashed in indignation. "You go back. I'm staying here until I find it again. And you cannot stop me!" Turning, Legolas quickly darted into the trees, swiftly becoming one with them in a way that startled his older siblings.

 

"Legolas!" Anoriel called irritably, "We cannot leave you out here alone! Come back here."

 

Orthoron snorted. "Like that will bring him back." A dark glare was his reward for that statement. "Oh, by the stars, let's go after him, if it keeps you from worrying, but I think he's fine out here by himself. It's time to let him grow up, Anoriel."

 

"I know," she whispered, "but the king would never forgive us if harm befell him. I doubt you can track him. I wish Belthul had come. Perhaps I could..."

 

A dark shadow separated itself from the trees near where Legolas had disappeared. Orthoron and Anoriel both paused in alarm, until the figure threw back the hood of his cloak, revealing golden hair and green eyes that glittered like emeralds. After holding them both speechless in his gaze for several moments, he spoke with authority. "Return to the halls. I will bring the little one home."

 

The siblings bowed their heads. "As you wish, my lord," Orthoron said, taking his sister by the hand and leading her quickly from the clearing and away from the cloaked figure, who disappeared once more into the forest.

 

Part Three

Prompt # 65: Direction

 

 

Legolas fled from his siblings, his feet sure, but fighting despair as his heart faltered. He was not the child they thought him to be! He bit back a sob, even as he pushed himself harder.

 

The trees rushed by him in a blur as he ran heedless of his direction, skimming over the forest floor. All that mattered to him now was to escape his brother and sister, who thought him incompetent, and to somehow distance himself from the pain that throbbed in his chest as a result. No one understood him, not since his mother had taken that fateful trip to the South five years past.

 

Long did he run: past tall, russet trunks, over soft, green turf under a vast, blue sky in which soft, snowy clouds hung with graceful poise. A flash of white off to the side halted his fleeing steps, and standing still, heaving for air, he stared into the trees from where the movement had come. His breath calmed after a minute, and he listened with care for any sign of danger, his eyes searching for what he had seen out of the corner of his eye.

 

Then, he heard it. There was the sound of a branch snapping underfoot, rustling of underbrush, and a soft thudding, followed by a snort. Legolas smiled as he sighed in relief, his body relaxing. He had found it! He could now prove he had taken it, and not Tórchal! The smile slipped a bit as he realized that meant confessing to what he had done...and to his father at that. Why had he not considered that when he originally decided to take it?

 

Another thought occurred to him as he looked around at where he stood. When running from Anoriel and Orthoron, he had not paid attention to where he was going, and he had run long. His eyes widened as he realized he had traveled far from home and was in a part of the wood he was not familiar with. Frowning, he hesitantly took a step towards where he had heard the movement and called softly, hoping Manuilos would come to his voice.

 

Another snort and sounds of movement, only it was moving away from him, skirting him and heading back in the direction from which he had come. He called again, this time a little louder, but the rustling and thudding continued moving north.

 

Groaning, Legolas followed the sounds, not having yet caught sight of Manuilos. He had only taken a dozen strides when a sharp whistle pierced the air around him. Legolas froze, obeying the command of the signal without thought. He had long been drilled on obeying certain indicators used by his father's patrols. Moving only his eyes, he searched for the danger which must be near for someone, probably one of the patrols, to use such a warning sign.

 

The whistle had come from not far away, and Legolas hoped whoever it was would arrive with due haste. In his excitement to show Anoriel and Orthoron what he had done, he had left the halls without weapons, something which now made him feel very foolish. Orthoron had carried a sword, but that did not help him much now.

 

His breath stilled when he heard a clicking noise above him. SPIDERS!  Dismay filled him and he wished whoever had warned him had given him the signal to flee, not to stand and be used as bait.

 

It seemed an eternity before anything happened, but when it did, there was no warning. There was the slightest twang of a bow and the soft swoosh of an arrow in flight, followed by a thump. The spider that had been hovering over Legolas's head by a thick, silken thread dropped to the forest floor beside him. He gasped and flinched instinctively away from the large arachnid, but the creature was dead, an elven arrow lodged in the thick, black body.

 

Legolas studied the arrow protruding from the spider with wide eyes. He knew the fletching far too well. He was in trouble for certain. There was no getting away from it now.

 

Looking up, he took note that he was no longer alone. Standing not a foot in front of him stood a tall, imposing form shrouded in a dark cloak. But Legolas did not need the hood to be thrown back to determine who stood before him. He had known the moment he saw that arrow who had saved him.  Without taking his eyes from the form, the adolescent dropped to his knees.

 

"I'm sorry, Ada," he said contritely, and, to his amazement, he found he meant it.

 

Part Four

Prompt # 66: Wildlife

 

Thranduil sighed and looked down at his kneeling son. His heart churned over the things he had learned this day. He was no longer angry at his son, but at himself. His eyes strayed from Legolas to the curled black body of the spider a few feet away. The wildlife was no longer friendly in this part of the wood, and the youngest prince did not yet have training in dispatching the evil creatures. He wondered how Legolas had survived harm without that knowledge, then he remembered certain unfamiliar scars his son had sported from time to time over the past few years. How many times had Legolas come close to death while Thranduil thought him safely in the halls?

 

Putting his dignity and kingly mantle aside, Thranduil kneeled before his son. Legolas gasped and started to lower himself further, but Thranduil stopped him with a firm hand on his shoulder. "No, my son," he said, shaking his head. "You need not lower yourself further. It is not your king, but your father who seeks you. Look at me, Legolas."

 

He lifted the young elf's trembling chin with a finger and a great breath left him when their eyes met. Legolas had his mother's silvery grey eyes, and every time Thranduil gazed into them, he remembered his loss. His heart twisted even now, but this time he bore the pain, remembering how it had been before he had learned the awful news of his wife's death.

 

"Ada," Legolas began, breathless and quaking. "I..."

 

"Shhh." Thranduil laid a finger over his son's lips. "I am not angry with you, Legolas." He forced a grim smile, dropping his hand.

 

"You are not?" The youth looked confused. "But...but I took it! It was I, Ada. I knew Manuilos was dear to you, and I took her anyway. I just... just wanted to..." Legolas' voice broke, and he dropped his chin to his chest.

 

Thranduil opened himself up to the voices of the trees, and sensing no nearby danger, pulled his son into an embrace, leaning his cheek against the soft gold hair. It felt good to hold his son again. When had he last embraced him? Spoke kindly to him?

 

As soon as his arms tightened about Legolas' shoulders and back, the youth began to speak, his voice wavering.  "I miss her, Ada. I miss Naneth so much, and I just wanted to see Manuilos, to be with her, but you said no."

 

"Legolas," Thranduil rubbed his son's back in small circles in an effort to comfort his child. "I understand why you took Manuilos. You wanted to have a part of your mother, which is why I have kept her to myself. It was selfish of me, but she is the last of your mother's line. I am sorry. I should have allowed you to see her." A nod against his chest confirmed Legolas agreed. Thranduil smiled. "Perhaps, I shall give her to you, though not as a reward for your disobedience and reckless behavior. Rather, because I should have done so from the beginning."

 

A heart-rending sob came at those words, and Legolas's fists knotted in his father's tunic. "Thank you, Ada," he breathed through tears. "Thank you. I will take good care of her..." Legolas yanked back from his father's arms with a cry of sudden fear, blinking moisture from his eyes. "Manuilos! She won't come to me! And there are spiders in these woods!"

 

"Now, you think of danger, my son?" Thranduil chuckled, shaking his head in exasperation. "She will come to me. And then we shall head home. We have much to discuss about your forays into the forest alone. Perhaps as punishment, I shall have to bring you out here for a month to teach you the forests ways, before you spend the next year in added lessons."

 

A blissful smile spread across Legolas's face, and he nodded. "That would be a good punishment, Ada."

 

Manuilos – Sindarin, 'pure white ghost'.

 

Part Five

Prompt # 67: Decision

 

Legolas looked up to see that his father had closed his eyes and bowed his head. Thranduil inhaled deeply, then, without opening his eyes, he lifted his head, pursed his lips, and blew out softly. At first, the only sound was one as a light wind, which became a light, whistle.

 

Legolas inhaled sharply, for the call was compelling, and he found himself taking a step closer to his father and wondering at the power the king commanded.

 

Patiently they waited. A few moments later, a flash of white appeared from around a tree, and Legolas gasped, then smiled in delight. "Manuilos!" he called, and the gentle creature took a careful step towards them, its hooves making the slightest noise as it stirred the dried leaves which made up the floor of the forest.

 

Spindly legs, lifted one after the other, bringing Manuilos closer. She was no more than a faint, white ghost, true to her name. She paused in front of the Elvenking, who smiled and stooped down, laughing when her cold nose found his face. A pink tongue flicked out to swipe the king's cheek, before the head butted his chest, sending Thranduil sprawling, chuckles echoing off the trees surrounding them.

 

Legolas froze, awe shining in his eyes, for he had not heard his father truly laugh since before his mother had died. He tore his eyes from his father to gaze in wonder at the white fawn, whose mother had died giving her birth. The decision was made for him when her legs folded under her and her head rested on the Thranduil's abdomen.

 

"I cannot take her, Ada. She is yours." Legolas knelt next to them, stroking the soft face, and looking into dark, doe eyes. "I understand why you love her so much. Perhaps..." he swallowed and glanced up at his father's face. "Perhaps your huntsmen can find a stag when she is older. We can continue Naneth's breeding..."

 

But Thranduil was shaking his head. "Nay, my son. She is the last, for I will not take another from the wild, not even just to stand stud for a brief time." He sat up and gently turned Legolas's chin with a finger, and Legolas looked into sad eyes. "It's time to let them go, Legolas. It's time to let her go. She bred them for a purpose, to make sure they did not die out in this part of the wood. And she succeeded, for the white deer abound, where before there were only ten. She did not breed them to be pets, my son."

 

"I know, Ada. Can...can I help you raise her, then? I'd like to be there when you set her free."

 

Smiling, Thranduil nodded. He carefully moved the small head from his stomach and stood, offering a hand to Legolas as he stood. Legolas took it and pulled himself up, then bent, scooping the fawn into his arms, and followed his father back to the halls.

 

The End

 

 

The female deer and fawns in Mirkwood were white, whereas the stags were dark. This was discovered by thirteen dwarves and one Hobbit on their trip through Mirkwood. You can read about it in The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.

 

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