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Athélèrn Ithilrim

By lindam2254

Adventure / Fantasy

Chapter 3

The throne room wasn't either very big, but big enough to all of the women of Athélèrn to gather inside the palace if their queen had something to announce. The room didn't let any daylight in as said, but it was lit by countless candles and torches, which warm glow against the wooden walls made the atmosphere remind of one in the caves of the Dwarves. The room was high, higher than it looked from outside, and there were two thick carved pillars holding it up on both sides, in middle of them being situated a couple of low benches.

On the every wall the fellowship could see many different kind of weapons of the Athélèrn. All of them being as weird looking as the bows the women had been holding earlier. But what made their eyes next widen was the person laying on a bench at the end of the throne room. Leaning on cushions softening the hard platform, they finally saw the queen of the Athélèrn. Shakiiya's mother, and the ruler of the forest of Úthulien. And she was impressive sight as she glanced over the guests and nine men, surprise in her as warm eyes as Shakiiya's.

The members of the fellowship really stared at the queen in same kind of daze as at Shakiiya earlier back in the woods. The queen didn't look anything like her daughter, with her long raven black hair and as dark eyes. But she was extremely beautiful. The same kind of features she shared with Shakiiya were the only proof of them to be a mother and daughter, though being minor. But Shakiiya's mother was like a true Elven queen. And when you thought about it, she was as sublime and elegant as Lady of Lothlórien, Galadriel. The only difference was that the queen of Athélèrn was more proud and fierce.

She looked like a true female warrior even she didn't bear any weapons or armor, but was also attired into a dress made of brown leather like her other blood-sisters. But like her daughter's clothes, also on the hem and on the short sleeves there were feathers sown at the ends, which covered her shoulders and thighs as if being part of her own body. The very presence and the aura around her, which every one of those men could sense, only proved for great wisdom and power and so the queen's gaze was deep, and wise. A lot seen and examined the strangers carefully until they hit on her daughter who then walked to the throne. And putting her arms on her chest, Shakiiya dropped elegantly down on her right knee and let her head sank for respect.

"My honored, dear mother", Shakiiya said, using surprisingly common tongue and then stood up as fastly as she had dropped down to greet the ruler of her tribe. "I have brought these nine men for you to cast your judgement upon. They had accidentally wandered into our lands while trying to pass the forest from the west, but lost their way. I have explained the situation to them and they understand the mistake they have made."

Shakiiya's mother cast her gaze over the men, stopping longer on Legolas, who immediately after meeting her gaze also bent down and made the formal Elven greeting, earning a dazzling smile from her. The nine companions jolted a little when suddenly with most graceful movements she now stood up and spread her arms, smiling at her daughter.

"I thank you my daughter, for your loyalty to your mother and our laws", she said gently and Shakiiya walked over to her mother, as the queen now first swept three fingers over Shakiiya's face before pressed her forehead against her daughter's. That gesture seemed too very foreign to the fellowship, but looked somehow intense. So loving and affectionate that also that made smiles spread on the men's faces. But in a fast moment once again Shakiiya had stepped away from her mother and the queen was now watching over the nine members of the fellowship very curiously.

"I see you have come from very distant, different places to my kingdom", the queen continued then, smiling sweetly which could've stopped the men's hearts. Her voice was so lovely that it flowed like a river itself, but still there was authority hidden under the soft tone. Masked threat of suffocated ember, as well easily igniting into dangerous fire.

She put her right hand on her heart and bowed, and the men saw that she wore the same king of serpent bracelet as her daughter. But the way she bowed to them and welcomed them to her kingdom was so noble and sincere that they were touched in their hearts.

"My name is Miyériel, and I am the queen of the tribe Athélèrn. Me and my kinswomen welcome you into our humble village and apologize for you to have to cross your path due of our laws", the queen said, sitting back down and lifted her right leg on the left, so elegantly that felt even impossible to think that she had both Human and Dwarf blood too flowing in her veins.

The men watched in daze, even Gandalf who had met this warrior queen before. Miyériel's eyes now did travel on Gandalf and she smiled delighted.

"Mithrandir!" she exclaimed and looked as pleased as Shakiiya had after meeting the old Wizard. She stretched her arm and waved the Wizard to come closer. "We haven't had the pleasure to hear your wise advice for a couple of centuries", the queen continued, as Gandalf did walk toward the throne smiling and bowed down to the woman.

"Indeed my queen Miyériel, it has been long, but I see you have not changed", Gandalf said politely. "Your people still bloom and you my queen are as beautiful as ever."

The queen laughed shaking her head slightly and she directed amused look toward the Wizard. "Such a flirt as always", she noted, smiling that friendly smile of hers, which reminded of Shakiiya's. Then she turned her attention back to the others. "And you eight, I'd be delighted to learn to know you better also. State your names with no fear!"

And so did the eight men introduce themselves once again and the queen smiled pleased, nodding her head.

"Good. Now, my daughter said you to have taken a way on your journey through my forest, if I understood correctly…" She sneaked a quick peek at Shakiiya, until returned her eyes to the fellowship lifting her brows. "On what purpose are you traveling through this forest? What could be your destination, if you can bestow upon me the privilege to know the course of your minds? As maybe the wisdom that to me has been given can offer you a new perspective or guidance", she continued. Gandalf nodded in turn, turning back a bit toward the rest of the nine.

"Indeed, we can my queen", he consented. "We took a shortcut through the forest thinking it would save us some time on our long journey. We accidentally mistook your realm as our path, and we ask your forgiveness for the trouble our presence might've caused. And would appreciate all your wise advice…"

"Nonsense! If your deeds are honorable, there is no need to apologize! It is always delightful to have such rare guests as you, as we do not have them very often as you might know", Miyériel said. "And when it comes to seeking guidance from me in some possible case, I would be very pleased to be of any help…" Her gaze swept through them once more. But then her eyes suddenly hardened and she looked at Shakiiya.

"I do not pry your destination more, if it is that secretive to be told. But I must ask you this… Did you or did you not find anything suspicious after you entered this forest?" she asked then, totally serious, her expression changed. The fellowship looked confused.

"No, my queen, we did not find anything out of ordinary after entering Úthulien", Aragorn answered. "What do you mean by asking?"

There was a slight relief on the queen's face as she directed her eyes at Aragorn. "It just crossed my mind if you noticed anything out of place. We have kept very hard watch in our lands lately because of the everyday growing darkness and evil, even inside our borders…" she said.

"I was sent to check if there were any enemies moving inside our borders when we came upon you", Shakiiya cut in then, all the gazes of the fellowship falling on her briefly. "We had received some strange reports from our scouts, but they made no sense when we arrived at the scene later this morning. If there had been something in the woods, it had vanished."

"By this evil do you mean Orcs, your majesty?" now Legolas inquired, looking at Shakiiya in the end. Shakiiya let her eyes drop as her mother answered.

"There have been some of their herds passing through the forest and our lands from time to time…" she started. "But this recent occurrence… I do not know where they Orcs or some other trickery of Mordor. What is certain is that the dark presence grows every single day in the forest… Did you not feel it after entering?"

Legolas looked down and the rest of the fellowship either shook their heads or looked thoughtful. Miyériel sighed and leant back her eyes closed.

"I guess as we have lived in this forest so long, we have come to sense the evil in it as in inside our own bodies…" she said quietly, as more of a statement. Then she opened her eyes looking at Gandalf.

"Can you tell me something, Mithrandir? Is there anything to be afraid of either here, or outside our borders we should be aware of?" she then asked, looking completely serious again. And then they exchanged a small conversation conserning the state of Middle-Earth. At the end the queen rested her head against her hand.

"I knew things were starting to change from bad to worse soon…" she said glancing up to the fellowship. "… But to hear the One Ring to have been found and decided to be brought back to the Mount Doom to be destroyed… It is truly relieving to hear under these dark clouds of danger hanging over the Middle-Earth as well as our kin…"

Some of the fellowship started squirming uncomfortable for the fact that Gandalf had so easily revealed the true intention of their journey to the queen, even though she seemed to be their ally for now. But still their quest was a secret after all, and none of them were supposed to reveal its true nature to outsiders. Boromir looked at the Wizard sharply.

"Was it really wise to reveal our mission to her, Gandalf?" he whispered, once again thinking no one else and either the queen wasn't able to hear him.

Shakiiya wrinkled her forehead for annoyance, which only Legolas and the Hobbits noticed. Merry and Pippin did utter laughs as they saw her finally roll her eyes before looking at the roof briefly. Even Legolas shot a small smile toward her as Boromir kept on talking.

"…I mean, our mission is already at risk to fail without anyone else knowing we have the One Ring in our hands. What if… What if this queen wants to have it for herself…" he continued. But he and the rest were surprised by a cheerful laugh coming from the throne. And they indeed saw Shakiiya's mother laughing at Boromir's suggestion. She was very amused.

"Trust me, son of Gondor, I bear no such interest of obtaining this object to myself!" she answered in behalf of the Wizard and leant forward, looking Boromir into eyes. "I do not believe in such things as the Ring you speak of. I believe they cannot be used into anything good, as eventually they all can be corrupted into something else from the true purpose they were meant while preparing them. No matter which race holds the title of being the one forging such objects! My power will not be assured by such petty things as One Rings!"

There was a mix of embarrassment and annoyance on Boromir's face as he answered the queen's look briefly, before turning it away. But then Miyériel's eyes flashed and she leant back.

"Or if your heart is still in doubt and you wish not to believe my words, you can indeed leave as soon as you all wish… However before we know the owner of the dark presence in the woods, it would be wise for you to stay here, even if it would bring you unwanted delay. It is for your own protection, even more the reason as you have the Ring-bearer among you! This, is my advice to you, unwanted or not!" Miyériel smiled at Frodo, who sent it back a bit halfheartedly.

Then there was a shriek of a falcon splitting the air, and all of them saw indeed one, tiny bodied bird fly at the ceiling. Gimli let out a huff.

"A falcon! It is an enemy spy no doubt! Well, Legolas, what are you waiting for, shoot it quickly!" he exclaimed while lifting his own axe.

All of the nine heads followed the tiny bird flying with extremely quick wings above them, some of them wary for Gimli's remark. Legolas gave him a look until slowly took out his bow as his intention truly to shoot the bird, taking his aim.

But he was stopped by Shakiiya who now suddenly rushed to his side, pushing the bow away and lifted her hand, making a quick whistling sound which also reminded of a falcon cry. Then Legolas and the others watched in awe as immediately the bird followed the whistle, and in a blink of an eye waved its long wings as landed on Shakiiya's hold out hand, making a pleasant squeak.

Shakiiya smiled. And pulling the bird closer whispered something in her language to the bird and then smoothed its brown and black feathers covered in spots. That falcon also looked unfamiliar to the nine outsiders and they admired those long, silvery feathers at the end of the bird's wings as well as one silver colored stripe on its head.

The falcon tilted its head as Shakiiya's fingers smoothed it and it let out many satisfied sounds. Eventually it shrieked once more, lower, and jumped on her shoulder, rubbing itself against her neck before flashing its wings once more. Many eyebrows rose.

"Is it… yours?" Merry asked then, lifting his brows once more. Shakiiya looked at him smiling.

"Well, technically no, he is not mine. But he is my dear friend and companion. He flies wherever he desires, and sometimes comes back to greet me", she answered. Merry grinned curious.

"He is yours?" Legolas asked too, as if not hearing Shakiiya's words. Shakiiya's lifted her brows now in turn and sighed lightly, rolling her eyes quickly until smiled a little at the Elf.

"Yes, I guess he is mine, if you have to put it that way. I have raised him, and that is why he acts so friendly with me. He loves people as much as I do…"

Then Shakiiya made another whistle and then the falcon rose in the air, now flying to Gandalf and sat on his shoulder, glancing at the members of the fellowship with wise red eyes. Gandalf uttered a laugh as the bird examined the Wizard until rubbed his head now against his beard, before flying back to Shakiiya who extended her hand out again. Obediently he flew back straight away, staying there until she ordered him to fly away, the bird all the time looking at the nine strangers interested.

"I am sorry I tried to…" Legolas started then, seeming to be a bit embarrassed in fact, which was quite a peculiar sight. Shakiiya shook her head.

"Do not worry. There was no harm done. And I am to believe that even though you must be an exceptional bowman, prince Legolas, even your careful aim and sharp eyes couldn't get to him in time. He is very fast…"

"How strange for him to be so friendly with people", now Frodo stated, smiling surprised. Shakiiya shrugged and looked at the bird, who answered the gaze.

"Well… Sometimes to me he seems much more than ordinary bird. He is unique individual among all the falcons of these lands…"

"Maybe it is like that because he thinks of you as his mother", Aragorn then suggested, smiling widely amused. Shakiiya was surprised by this remark but then just laughed that same light laugh of hers and shook her head. Then another shout broke the silence.

"Khôr! Where did you go, Khôr?!" a clear child like voice shouted somewhere close. And many pairs of eyes turned to see indeed a young girl run inside the throne room from its left side, near the throne.

The girl was younger than Shakiiya, around thirteen to fourteen as she still was very thin and shorter to other adults, but her clothes were the same design of Athélèrn tribe. Her long dark hair was hold back by a long braid, and on her hand she had the same kind of snake bracelet like Shakiiya and the queen. Only it was smaller and the snake figure only rounded her wrist. But same kind of bright red jewels shone its light out of the snake's eyes and its jaws.

The fellowship followed as the girl suddenly stopped. And after looking at Shakiiya for a moment, a broad smile rose on her lips and she now ran to her, wrapping her arms around Shakiiya's torso.

"You're back sister!" the girl exclaimed in Athélèrn. And there was another surprise seen in the fellowship's eyes as they stared at the two.

Legolas, who stood nearest of the two now examined the younger girl and compared her face to Shakiiya's, truly seeing similiarities even he yet had not understood their such close relation. Not until Shakiiya now smiled as widely and wrapped her free arm around her younger sister too and spoke in common tongue as answered.

"Hello, sister", she answered. The falcon now jumped on her left shoulder as her sister lifted her eyes up on Shakiiya's face, glancing at the bird and giving it a squint.

"Khôr just flew away all of a sudden in middle of the target practice!" Shakiiya's sister shouted then, pointing at the falcon before crossing her arms. Shakiiya gave her falcon, whose name apparently was Khôr, one amused look before laughing a little.

"Píríel, you know he isn't that dependable in practice, as he does have a tendency to fly away in the middle…" Shakiiya said back a bit matter-of-factly.

Some of the fellowship uttered amused laughs. And as Píríel sneaked a quick peek at Legolas next to her, she blushed after seeing the Elf's warm smile upon her. She quirked her eyebrow at her older sister.

"Then why doesn't he do that with you?" she asked challengingly. "With you he always carries the target bags neatly as long as needed and doesn't run away! And while I try, he always plays with me!" Píríel directed another glare at the bird, who only tilted his head and answered her look innocently. But then after a short laugh Shakiiya then became more serious and turned her sister around to face the fellowship.

"Now Píríel, you mustn't be rude to our guests", she said and nodded toward the nine men. "You know Gandalf, but these other gentlemen are rare guests in our village and you should introduce yourself, instead of blabbering everything indifferent concerning only us…"

Píríel gave Shakiiya a short sorry glance before letting her eyes first hit on Gandalf. And then she made the Elven greet, her mother smiling approvingly.

"My name is Píríel. I am the second princess of the Athélèrn tribe of women and three thousand years old! I like archery, hunting, swordplay and swimming and my favorite past time is…" Shakiiya's sister then said, trailing a bit off.

"That is enough, Píríel", Shakiiya said then, interrupting and shaking her head a bit with a small sigh, which also made the men laugh. Shakiiya's sister seemed to be very talkative and energetic young girl. Well, if young was the right word… Then Legolas was the first to respond as he bowed, answering the Elven greet with a smile.

"I am pleased to meet the other, younger princess of tribe Athélèrn. My name is Legolas, and I am the prince of Mirkwood, my Lady Píríel", he said and met the younger girl's eyes.

Píríel smiled back, another blush making its way on her cheeks as she nodded. But then she directed her eyes forward to the others, who greeted and introduces themselves once again in the same fashion as Legolas one at a time. Píríel answered their greetings as politely as was proper. She still stood in front of her sister, Shakiiya's hand on her shoulder but she kept on glancing at Legolas shyly until she then rushed to Gandalf, her eyes glowing for excitement.

"I must say my queen, you have two charming daughters. Very fit to be the future rulers of your tribe", Aragorn said politely after a moment stepping forward, earning a thankful smile from the girls'mother as Shakiiya did make amused browlifting to no one in particular, which made Legolas chuckle under his breath. Shakiiya seemed to be much more with her both feet on the ground when it came to etiquette and polite way of talking, even she did honor them of course.

"I thank you Aragon, son of Arathorn for your kind words. Yes, I am very blessed to have two such wonderful children as my own…" she answered nodding, until extended her right arm as a call to Píríel, who immediately ran to her mother, sitting next to her on the throne. Then Gimli suddenly stepped up too.

"Indeed the women of Athélèrn are beyond comparing in beauty and wisdom!" he concured, his head held high for respect. The queen smirked amused.

"Thank you Gimli son of Glóin, for your praises also. But I am afraid I do not know what to answer to this all so polite claim. I think we might be left out by other very beautiful race as our cousins… Or what do you say, Legolas, son of the great Elven king Thranduil? Is there any Elven maidens who are more beautiful than the women of this village?" she continued then sarcastically, looking now at the Elf mischievously. Legolas was surprised but then bowed slightly.

"I can't really say, your majesty", he answered truthfully, looking at the queen straight into eyes. "The concept of beauty cannot be weighed in outer appearance only. True beauty isn't usually seen outside, and even the ugliest of things can carry the gentliest and most beautiful inners…"

Queen Miyériel smiled agreeably and nodded to him. Legolas met Shakiiya's gaze shortly as she was staring at the Elven prince measuring, until they smiled each other breaking their quick stare. But then all of a sudden one Athélèrn woman dashed inside the throne room and Shakiiya took a step past Legolas.

"What is it?" she asked, wrinkling her brows lightly as the entered woman came to her, looking somewhat startled. The fellowship saw Shakiiya's eyes widen as she listened to the words of the woman, and her head next flashed to look at her mother.

"What is the meaning of this?" her mother queried, standing now up once again looking questionable. Shakiiya frowned even deeper and her expression was suddenly cold.

"Orcs", she revealed voice as cold as her face, turning now to her mother completely. "They have entered inside our borders, and are now moving straight toward the main gate as we speak!" Shakiiya continued. All of those in the room now gasped.

The Hobbits looked startled, but Aragorn, Legolas, Boromir and Gimli only also wrinkled their brows for disgust as Shakiiya's mother stepped down next to her older daughter.

"I shall go. It is known that their group isn't that large, and I shall go against them with few of our women!" Shakiiya said then, turning away.

She threw her hand holding Khôr up, and as he once again rose in the air she started to run in a flash through the floor toward the exit. Her mother looked after her looking very serious, but then another voice called out.

"I'll come too!" Píríel exclaimed and ran to her sister, who stared at her first surprised. But then Shakiiya put her hands on her shoulders, shaking her head.

"No, Píríel. You stay here", Shakiiya ordered simply. Her sister's face twisted for annoyance.

"Why? I am old enough to come! I can fight! I can take care of myself, and there is no danger if the number of the Orcs isn't that high anyway…"

"Píríel!" Shakiiya said more loudly, directing a commanding look in her sister's own. Everyone could see now with only that one look that she truly was the crown princess born to give orders, as Píríel froze on her spot even Shakiiya's voice had been gentle.

Shakiiya sighed. "I know you are strong and can fight. But even one Orc can be a great danger, if you go out to face it with blind mind clouded by your own self-confidence. Sometimes bravery is a flaw that can be a danger to our life…" She kept a break, until saw a flicker of understanding in her sister's eyes. She smiled briefly, placing a quick kiss on her forehead. "That is why you have to stay here. It is not your day to join the fight yet, and you know this Píríel."

Píríel nodded. "I know. I understand."

Shakiiya smiled wider. And after sweeping a trace of hair out of Píríel's face then she turned to leave again, until Legolas then took a step closer to Shakiiya.

"Let us come and help", he offered, and Shakiiya stopped briefly looking at him, her eyes being visited by thankful expression but she only shook her head again.

"No. You must stay here too. If the Orcs were sent to find you, they would know of you if you come. And even if they aren't after you, they would find out this way…" Shakiiya answered. There was realization in Legolas' face as he slightly then nodded. But Shakiiya then flashed a quick thankful smile to him.

"I thank you for your brave heart, hurrén. It is needed in the future of your quest…"

After saying that it took only a second as Shakiiya had rushed then to one of the walls of the hall and taken a sword in her hand, running outside, leaving the queen and the fellowship standing alone with Píríel who was staring after her sister. The queen then took a step closer to them.

"My daughter is right, hurrén Legolas. You all are safer to stay here, as long as the Orcs do not know of you. But are you not to be troubled. Shakiiya and the others will take care of these creatures, are they after you or not. So, do not step outside of this throne room, is it understood?"

The queen had said this gently as she also now walked to the same wall and took a spear to herself, now too directing her steps toward the door after her daughter.

"Wherever are you going honorable queen?" Frodo shouted then, and turned to face her eyes with the rest of them. She smiled.

"I feel that my sisters need me to face those Orcs of Mordor. But fear not, we shall return as soon as possible totally unharmed. Gandalf can surely prove my words to be trusted in this matter…"

Frodo glanced at Gandalf who nodded. "Trust her words. Athélèrn are not to lose against something so petty as little herd of Orcs…" the Wizard answered. Then Frodo looked once more at the queen who smirked then, before also went out to the daylight. Leaving the fellowship now all alone in their own mids.


"I still feel that we should have gone to help them", Legolas said after half an hour of waiting. "Especially if it were us who brought these creatures to their lands. I can't help but feel responsible…"

"Legolas, we do not know anything as doesn't the Athélèrn either", Aragorn answered, looking at the Elf from his spot on the stairs leading to the throne. "Besides it was the order of the queen for us to stay…"

"I bet a certain Elf only wants to ensure the safety of a certain princess…" Gimli remarked then amused, hinting something, and Legolas sent him a sharp glance. Aragorn rolled his eyes but didn't comment.

"I do not, master Dwarf. I believe Lady Shakiiya being more than capable of defending herself as a member of the warriors of Athélèrn", Legolas replied, not looking at Gimli. But there was a certain sharpness also reflecting from his still polite tone. Gimli snorted.

"Even so, she's still a woman! A young woman to that…" he stated, leaning on his axe. Now Pippin's attention was woken from the conversation he and the rest of the Hobbits had engaged with Shakiiya's sister, who proved to be very curious about them and their culture, and he rose a bit from his spot.

"That is true! What if something really happens to Lady Shakiiya?! Or her mother the queen!" he said, suddenly a bit worried. Now even rest of the Hobbits became restless for the thought, but Gandalf only snorted then in turn.

"Like Lady Shakiiya and I both said. Such a small group of Orcs will not harm her or the honored queen Miyériel, or any of their sisters. The women of Athélèrn are not as weak and defenseless as average women of Middle-Earth as you already might've noticed, Peregrin Tuk! And they aren't in fact, young. They are as old as youngest mountains", he said, glancing at the Hobbit matter-of-factly.

Pippin looked embarrassed once more. But then as an answer they could hear the cloth covering the entrance rustle quietly and Shakiiya entered, her mother and a couple of other women following her.

The Hobbits smiled happily and both Legolas and Aragorn directed somewhat relieved glances at Shakiiya, who was the first to stand back on her place at the left side of the throne as her mother threw the spear on the floor, sitting on her seat, looking as serious as her daughter did.

The room was as silent as a grave, as the fellowship waited the women to start to speak. Píríel ran again to her sister, who gave her a small smile, until once more placed her hands on her shoulders silent. But eventually it was Legolas to break the silence as he stepped forward.

"My queen, what happened?" he asked, using now suddenly Elvish and Miyériel lifted her eyes from the floor to stare at the Elf man, then slowly shifting it forth on Aragorn and on the rest of the fellowship one by one.

"The Orcs did not enter our realm in the mind of a normal trickery or same sort of business they always do while wandering around the lands", Shakiiya was the one to answer and she opened her serious eyes, meeting Legolas' own, wrinkling her brows in anger.

"I do not know how existence of our tribe has reached into the sight of the enemy…" she continued. "… But Sauron clearly seems to know about us. His Eye has found our hiding place after these many centuries, and it was Him who sent those creatures from the Black Land. They did not indeed come here to destroy us and our race as Gâshem once tried, or either they were after you nine. But instead he offered us a contract. Those Orcs came here to hire us to fight in the lines of Mordor in the upcoming war!"

Legolas' eyes widened for shock as did many others'. Even Boromir looked a bit shaken now, and Píríel looked up to her sister's face her own full of worry. All of them searched the confirmation from the queen, who didn't say anything. But seeing her as furiated and serious expression as her daughter's, they could see that answer clearly written on her features and turned their gazes on the floor. Then Pippin gasped.

"You… didn't agree to the contract, did you!?" he then exclaimed, being first a bit hesitant but now shot up and stared at Shakiiya and her mother in turns.

Shakiiya looked shocked and her mother gasped, as Gandalf shoved his staff toward the Hobbit.

"Damn the Hobbits and their big mouths!" he exclaimed in turn and shot a hard look at Pippin, who bent his head in realization. "Queen Miyériel would not agree to such a pact with the Dark Lord!"

"Indeed I wouldn't!" Miyériel now exclaimed, her voice reflecting such a great disgust and fury that it made a trace of fear flicker in the small Hobbit hearts, as she stared at Pippin for a moment her brows as well wrinkled. "The Dark Lord insults my honor by thinking my blood-sisters and I would ever fight alongside Him and His creatures of evil! No! It is an insanity to even ask such a favor of me, the queen of the proud tribe of Athélèrn, who despises Him and all the evil which has ever been born under His cursed conception!"

The throne room echoed slightly for the queen's strong voice. There was a silence once again, as the fellowship stared at the queen who let out a long breath. And lifting up her jaw as a gesture on defiance, she slowly sat back down her throne she had risen in a moment of her anger. The members of the fellowship could tell that both she and Shakiiya fumed inside, even outside they looked nearly serene despite of that serious expression taken over their beautiful features. But their pride had been crazed, proved by the queen's reaction to Sauron's offer, signifying that it was clearly the last thing she would ever agree on.

"What about the Orcs?" now Aragorn spoke up, looking at the queen. "What did you do to them?"

"We let those scums run back to their disgusting realm of filth and death!" queen Miyériel answered tensely. "We would've wanted to kill each and every one of those creatures, but we couldn't. By killing them we would've sent a direct message to Sauron as our definite denial and then He would've sent much more back to kill us all now, when He knows where we've been hiding all these centuries… We chased the Orcs out of the forest, and left them to run back to their Master to give Him our answer. That way we might have a bit more time to prepare to the unavoidable blow Sauron most likely will strike on Athélèrn soon. As we, thought tiny, are the one small liability in His plan if not worth count on. And that way vital to be destroyed. I see it now, and should've seen it sooner to be prepared."

There was another silence, a depressing and longer one as the queen didn't then say a word and all in the throne room just stood quietly. But after a couple of minutes she then sighed, deeper, but smiled once more her polite beautiful smile while opened her eyes to meet the fellowship's ones.

"It is indeed a terrible moment this development to surface, as the time of our greatest celebration is at hand on these very same days…" the queen then started. "… To Sauron to send his messengers this couldn't be any worse time, as it clouds our days of joy with its shadow. But we must not let this cloud our own hearts any more than this! It is getting late, and I would think you to want to stay a night inside our village before continuing your journey tomorrow morning", she spoke again, and stood up once more into her whole length.

"You are of course free to leave, but it would be better for you to sleep your night in peace here under the protection of our tribe and have a nice, filling meal we are more than happy to offer you to regain your strength. You are of course welcome to stay as long as you like as our guests, and are very welcome to attend our celebration, which as said will be carried out soon in two days at most. And in the case you'll choose to stay a little longer, I'll arrange more proper accommodation to all you nine…"

"We thank you for your kindness, queen Miyériel. But I am afraid we cannot stay any longer than one night, even our hearts would rejoice for such possibility. We have a long journey ahead of us, and we need to continue as soon as possible… But we are more than obliged to accept your proposal of place to sleep", Aragorn answered then.

Some of the others nodded their heads agreeably, especially Boromir who still didn't totally trust this tribe of women. The queen only nodded too with a smile, and then waved toward Shakiiya.

"Very well then, as you wish. Shakiiya will lead you to your sleeping quarters where you can leave your belongings, and then you can attend to supper with the other women if you like", the queen said back politely. And after that she sat back down, giving Gandalf another nod before turned her attention away as a signal of the meeting being over. But she wasn't rude by doing so, as her words were all in all polite. Aragorn and many others nodded back, as Legolas bowed to her.

"We thank you, your majesty", Aragorn replied. Miyériel smiled.

"The joy is mine. I wish to help along with your quest. Now, sleep and have a good night!"

Píríel also said a goodnight to the fellowship before ran to her mother, and they started to talk in the tribe's language. Shakiiya turned her attention to the nine and nodded her head toward the exit.

"Just follow me", she said, glancing at Legolas as walked past him.

Legolas smiled at her briefly as was the first to follow after her, until eventually all of them were once again walking after the princess. And once again as Shakiiya led them higher up to the cliffs after coming out of the palace, the women outside stared at them in as great interest as they passed by, making their way toward their temporary accommodation.


hurrén= loyal heart in Athélèrn

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