Arrival at Lothlorien
Chapter 1: Arrival at Lothlorien
In the dim of the evening, two shadowed figures approached one another on the edge of a great forest, fair and feared. The canopies were green and golden; the trees, mighty and deep. This was Lothlorien, home of the Galadhrim.
A guard moved silently from the cover of the woods and addressed the visitor, with a voice both fair and lilting: "Hail, son of Thranduil. You have long kept your distance from our borders."
For this young guard recognized the incoming guest. It was Legolas Greenleaf, one of the Nine Walkers, a member of the Fellowship. He had passed through the Golden Wood once before, during the War of the Ring, and now he returned. Only for what purpose, the guard standing watch could not fathom.
Legolas answered his call sure and merrily. His heart was light from travel and the sight of these great trees stirred his spirit. The young guard's obvious excitement at having been the one to greet him was contagious.
"I have been much occupied in Eryn Lasgalen, but now my duties necessitate my travel to your fair land," Legolas answered him and gave him a solemn elven salute that secretly thrilled the guard to no end.
He studied Legolas for a moment, a small grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. As much as he tried to adopt a dignified expression, his smile he could not suppress. "Will you be long with us?" he asked eagerly and swung down from his post on a low hanging tree branch and landed in front of the elven prince.
"I cannot say for sure," said Legolas. "The Lady Galadriel has beckoned me, and I cannot help but answer her call." No one, not even elven princes, ignored summons from Lady Galadriel, and even in his reticence to speak of it with the guard, Legolas knew what this meeting would entail. He had not endured the worst argument with his father in two centuries for a whim. He meant to leave Mirkwood behind for the woods of Ithilien in Gondor and had asked for his father's blessing in this venture. But in the end, even King Thranduil would not deny the Lady Galadriel. She ruled Lothlorien from Caras Galadhon. She was ancient and wise, and above all things, a good and kindly ruler. Many of the elves speculated that she would be soon to leave these shores now that Sauron the Great Deceiver had been thrown down.
As Legolas walked through the forest, his eyes drifted among the mallorn trees, enjoying their beauty and ancient grace. His quiet thoughts were interrupted by the voice of the guard who had met him at the forest's edge.
"I have heard the captain of the guards speak of you. He said that you were one of the Nine Walkers and very skilled with the bow," the guard said and eyed Legolas with a look bordering on near reverence. He chattered on, "I should very much like to see your skills, if Haldir spoke so well of you. For he is one of the greatest among the Galadhrim in that field."
"Yes," Legolas smiled, "Haldir is not one to be overly generous with praise. That is a rare compliment from him."
The young guard nodded his head. "I would know about that more than you think," he added, "for I am Farothin, and Haldir is my uncle." He paused for a moment and glanced at Legolas as they walked toward the center of the forest. "I know this is bold of me to say, but I would dearly love to see you and my uncle compete in a contest of archery."
Legolas laughed out loud. "I? Compete against Haldir in a contest of arrows? Mark me, Farothin, when I say that I am honored, but I do not crave embarrassment, nor would I seek it."
"My lord," Farothin protested, "I meant no jest. It would surely be a diversion welcome among the Galadhrim."
"Perhaps, Farothin, if my duty to the Lady does not interfere, we will have our little game of arrows. Haldir's profession makes him an expert and a worthy opponent in any game. I should dearly love to beat him." Legolas said, winking at Farothin.
As the two elves neared Caras Galadhon, they came upon Cerin Amroth, the heart of the ancient realm. Legolas paused to pick a cluster of niphredil, the pale blossom that grew in clusters around the ring of mallorns. He felt young again among such aged trees, and his heart remembered the last time he had been there, with the fellowship. Such sorrow they had suffered. He thought of Frodo and his burden, hoping that the young hobbit had found peace again in the Shire. His thoughts drifted to Aragorn and Arwen, recalling that Cerin Amroth was home to their confessions of love.
"It is a magical place, is it not, Farothin? Full of memories…" Legolas stated, not really asking for a reply. He place the nephredil in his pocket, and said, "Come, the Lady awaits."
Legolas ascended to the talan and the great chamber of the Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. The platform hung among the mallorn trees like the deck of a vast and powerful ship, open to the air and the hush and whispers of the trees.
Here, Galadriel and Celeborn reigned supreme. They were as ancient as the trees themselves, and their eyes held the wisdom and sorrow of many ages.
"Welcome, son of Thranduil. Too long has it been since we saw you last at the courts of Gondor," said Celeborn, warmly beckoning Legolas to his chair.
Legolas approached the Lord and Lady, bowing before them.
"I am here at your command, my lady." He glanced around the chamber. Many elves had gathered in the hall, which shone with the brightness of their raiment and complexion. Legolas felt slightly unnerved at their interest and wished to discover for himself the purpose of his visit.
He looked into the Lady Galadriel's eyes, and she held his gaze.
"You wish to leave Mirkwood, son of Thranduil?"
"Yes," Legolas nodded solemnly. "With my father's blessing, I would travel to Ithilien and create a new kingdom of elves in its fair forest." Legolas broke his eyes away from Galadriel to look at Celeborn. "My father has given his consent in this matter."
Galadriel turned her eyes on Legolas once more. "We know, for he sent word of this matter himself. Legolas, you are still young yet and have much love for Middle-Earth and its peoples. It is not wholly wrong for you to want to stay, but many of the firstborn are leaving these shores."
Legolas nodded. He had seen many depart from his own land, seeking the light of Valinor on western seas.
"My own time has come for me to depart. Soon I will make way to Imladris to meet Elrond and ride on to the Havens. The power of Nenya is failing, and then Lorien will be a ghost of what it once was."
Legolas could see twilight in her eyes. "My lady, what would you have of me?" he asked softly.
"If you are willing, the Lord Celeborn and I would have you lead some of our people with you. We have many young elves among the Galadhrim. They are not yet weary of this world, as I am. They would be a credit to you."
"I am honored by your words." Legolas could not hold back his smile, or his excitement. "I would welcome any of the Galadhrim in Ithilien. May the Valar bless this new chapter in the history of our peoples." He bowed before the two, barely able to stop grinning before Celeborn motioned for him to rise and present himself before the rest of the court.
The lady and lord arose from their seats, and Celeborn spoke to the court, saying "We give our blessing to Prince Legolas, son of Thranduil, to lead some of our brave, young hearts to a new realm where they may find their own courage and place in Middle Earth under his guidance."
Many of the elves, young and old, looked at the youthful prince with expressions of disbelief, murmuring amongst themselves. Legolas could only hear snatches of words, "he is too young… what does a Mirkwood elf know of the Galadhrim? Who will go with him? Wasn't he one of the Fellowship? How exciting…where is he going?"
Legolas felt the scrutiny of their eyes and the heat of their gaze. His heart was wild in his chest for approval from these elves who might be his future subjects. As his eyes scanned the hall, he saw Farothin who nodded at him. Legolas almost started to smile in spite of his nerves until he saw the grim look on the face of the elf maiden standing next to Farothin.
She met his gaze and did not look away; her eyes were full of contempt, and Legolas began to feel a tinge of self-doubt. Instead of looking away, he smiled at her and lifted his chin. She arched an eyebrow, turned, and left the hall, leaving a bevy of golden curls chasing behind her.
Legolas was musing to himself that his dimples usually got much better reception from elf maidens when Lord Celeborn interrupted his thoughts.
"Come, son of Thranduil. We have prepared a banquet in honor of your visit. You will have many questions to answer, I am sure."
Legolas followed, his heart full with just as many questions. He had been brought up for this, trained for this moment all his life. Leadership. Responsibility. And honestly?
The thought of it all made him absolutely sick to his stomach.