Of More Fears and a Fight
Legolas gazed towards the sparring ring as the match ended. Only two pairs of opponents were ahead of him in the double line now. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards. He glanced at the elf beside him, the one he was feeling increasing nervousness from. Yes, his opponent was looking a little gray.
The other elf was not a warrior. He was the clerk who kept track of the imports and exports of the woodland realm. Centuries before, as the darkness enveloped their wood, Thranduil had commanded all his subjects learn to fight. Most of the non-warrior Silvans had mastered the basics. Now the king had ordered the weaker fighters to start sparring with the stronger.
Legolas and the other warriors were ordered to not go easy upon their less practiced opponents. After all, their true foes would have no mercy. Who knew how much time there was to prepare? Still, Legolas told himself he would hold a little back in the upcoming match. Orcs were without mercy, but he had some.
Legolas sighed as he looked back to the ring. It was a shame though. He had hoped to be challenged in his training today.
He sensed movement beside him. Legolas turned to see another elf standing alongside the startled one at his side. This Silvan grinned down at the clerk. He pointed to himself, Legolas' opponent, and then gestured to the back of the line. The servant grinned, nodded, and rushed off. The new elf stepped into his vacated place at Legolas' side.
This elf was also slender, misleadingly so. The air around his thrummed with the note of a warrior. He drew out his fighting knife and began to run a finger over its edge as he spoke.
“So . . . you got my sister a position in Imladris?”
Legolas turned his gaze straight ahead and nodded. “I did.”
“It is a position of great honor?”
“Have not the most famous tragedies to befall elleth in the last age occurred in the mountains Mellolaes will travel through to reach The Hidden Valley?”
Legolas' head whipped around to scowl at his new opponent. “I have traveled that path alone a thousand times! And she will be far safer there for the next several years than we will here!”
Several elves and elleth turned their attention from the sparring match in the ring to this verbal one. Neither new combatant seemed to notice. Sadorchyl was scowling back at Legolas now.
“Not if anything happens to her on the way, or to that manling after she arrives. You think she has not enough heartbreak surrounding her here that you must send her away to find it!”
“I would never ask her to take a risk I would not. She raised my sister!”
“She is my sister!”
Now both elves were nose to nose. A ring of watchers had gathered around them. Even the elves locked in combat were beginning to sense they were no longer the focus of attention and wondered at it in the midst of their struggle. Legolas jabbed a finger into his own chest. “I will be her guard myself as far as the edge of our Kingdom.”
“And who will take over from there?”
“The best Elrond can send.”
“Truly? The Balrog Slayer will guide her?”
A flash of frustration twisted Legolas' face for a moment. The other elf smirked. “I thought not. Then he will not be sending his best.”
Legolas' eyes popped open. He sneered into the other elf's face. “Do you want her to catch attention on the journey? Glorfindel would be too conspicuous, but each member of her guard will have slain twice as many orcs than you have ever seen.”
“You have forgotten how much older I am than you. And I have no faith in the vigilance of Noldor.”
“They are not just any Noldor.”
“Then who are these great warriors?”
“You will go to escort her yourselves, my sons.” Elladan and Elrohir nodded to their father. The Lord of Rivendell acknowledged their gesture and turned his attention back to the map laid out before them. “The route is not without its dangers, and we must decide if we wish to combat this with speed, disguise, or show of force.” He looked up to his sons. “What do you suggest?”
Elrohir grinned. “Show of force will draw the attention of the strongest foes and only scare off the weak and cowardly. We should make it seem as though we are only escorting another healer here for training. She is a healer anyway and interested in learning from you. Let us do no differently than we would in that case. We ride out in common garb with our mails shirts and swords hidden beneath.”
Elrond nodded with a carefully guarded expression. Then he turned a commanding stare upon his eldest. “Elladan?”
“We should go as well armed as we can in secrecy. We should also take the swiftest horses who do not appear so and who also know the route best.”
Elrond nodded. “You should both follow your own suggestions.”
The twins grinned. That had recognized the question for the test it was. Now if only things went as smoothly during the actual journey.
“Cousin Mellas! Cousin Mellas!”
The shouts caused the healer to miss the center of her target worse than usual. She turned upon the elves responsible with an only partially mock scowl.
“What has excited you both so you must share with me while I practice archery?”
Anduant and Adulas grinned at her as the eldest twin replied. “Cousin Sadorchyl and Legolas have gotten into a fight over you.”
The jaws of both Mellolaes and her instructor dropped.
Legolas and Sadorchyl had latched onto each other and were rolling about on the turf. The crowd of spectators backed away as the two neared them, and then stepped forward again when the combatants changed direction. No one was watching the match inside the ring anymore, not even the referee.
Sadorchyl had sheathed his knife while the fight had just been words. Still, the referee thought keeping his attention upon this battle might be more important than keeping it on the one inside the ring. None present thought about stopping the fight.
This was how Silvans resolved things. They believed it preserved harmony among themselves better than the millennium-long, cold feuds Noldor and Sindar practiced. After all, some of those had ended in blood-shed. They were of the opinion that if the Valar had let Fëonor and Fingolfin wrestle out their frustrations with each other, much tragedy may have been prevented. Besides, it was hand-to-hand combat training.
When their faces were not mashed into the turf Legolas and Sadorchyl continued to exchange words. The older elf was on top for the moment. He took the opportunity to shout down at his opponent. “If it is anyone's job to make my little sister miserable it is mine, not yours!”
Legolas slipped free. He got Sadorchyl into another hold and pushed him down. “That was never my intent! You are being paranoid! This is a great honor for Mellolaes!”
Sadorchyl was facing upwards. The Silvan mocked his combatant even while he was in the weaker position. “Ha! The honor of being last asked! I am so comforted for her!”
This retort flew straighter than Sadorchyl could have predicted and sank deeper than had been intended. Legolas' grip weakened slightly. His opponent took full advantage. The two were rolling again when they stopped just before running into someone who had not backed away from their approach. Both combatants paused to look up.
Mellolaes was staring down at them. The elleth's hands rested on her hips and her gaze was cold. “What are you doing?”
An answer slipped out before Sadorchyl could remind himself he was the elder and had no need to explain himself. “We are training, sister, like everyone else.”
“Really? Because I think you two have interfered with the real training.”
She tilted her head in the direction of the sparring match. Seeing the situation outside the ring temporarily resolved, the referee's attention turned back to the one inside of it. He finally noticed the combatants had fought to a standstill. One was forcing a blade down upon his opponent lying on the ground. The other was pushing back the arm, holding the blade up to keep its point in the air and not his flesh. Both were waiting for the referee to declare their match ended. He did so.
The combatants sagged in relief, sat up, and glared at him. Then their attention was caught by the heightened tension in the air. They also looked towards the pair still lying in the grass at the elleth's feet. Mellolaes was staring down at them as well.
Sadorchyl was red in the face. Legolas was glaring at him, waiting for the other elf to explain. He had not started this after all. Mellolaes, realizing it was probably so, turned her gaze upon her brother. He lifted his own. Defiance and rage flashed in his eyes. “You could get killed!”
Mellolaes' eyes softened. “I have been in danger before.”
Her brother's gaze fell to the ground. “Never when our father, I, and the entire palace garrison were more than a day's journey away.”
The elleth knelt down at Sadorchyl's side and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Has Legolas told you who I will be traveling with?”
Her brother glared. “Yes.”
A grin flashed over Mellolaes' face. “Oh come now, I shall be perfectly safe. After all,” her grin became a smirk, “both have killed hundreds more orcs than you.”
“You forget I am much older than they!”
“And you are in denial about how much hunting they have done in comparison.”
Legolas nodded. “Indeed.”
The other elf turned his glare upon the royal. Mellolaes' focus was still on her brother though. “Sadorchyl, I am doing this of my own free will. Besides, Elrond has been so desperate he would have heard of me sooner or later anyway. It is not truly Legolas' fault.”
Now the first hint of a smile crossed Sadorchyl's face.
“You overestimate your fame, dear sister.”
Mellolaes answered with no pride in her tone. “No, I do not.”
Her brother bowed his head. It was true. There were not many of the elder race who so continually offered their services to the second born anymore, especially not among the Silvans. It was not what he would have preferred his little sister be known for, but it was the truth. He sighed. Then he spoke.
“If any treat you with disrespect, you must tell me, and I will show them how a Silvan defends his sister.”
Mellolaes kissed his forehead. “That is a promise.” She stood up and smirked darkly down upon both elves. “Now, I have spoken to a few of our most experienced instructors here. They have both agreed your energies need to be put into advanced combat so this does not happen again today.”
The eyes of both combatants widened. They glanced at each other and then turned back to face the elleth. Mellolaes waved her hand towards two figures who stepped out from the crowd.
Both troublemakers' faces turned gray. An elleth with a smirk exactly like Legolas' own stood over them. This was Lathwinn the Great, the first Silvan to wield a blade and developer of the Silvan fighting style itself.
Next to her stood an extremely different figure. This elf's hair was jet-black. His eyes were gray, and the grim smile he gave them was all Noldor.
A few scars that refused to fade from even his elven skin ran down his cheeks and across his forehead. His shoulders were unnaturally stooped for one of the elder, but that did not fool either younger elf. This was Sarnhael, survivor of Morgoth's mines and inventor of the Silvan fighting blade. Legolas wilted.
Why do I never listen when people tell me to be careful what I wish for?