Building Ithilien

Stealing Their Hearts

Author's note: Thanks for the reviews! It's so exciting to have someone read your story, period. Before I start Chapter Three, I wanted to share my perspective on how I see Tolkien's elves. The movies make the elves seem like really serious creatures, and as well they should be, for the War of the Ring was a serious time in their history. Yet in the books, Tolkien's elves have a lighter, merry side to them:

So they laughed and sang in the trees; and pretty fair nonsense I daresay you think it. Not that they would care; they would only laugh all the more if you told them so. They were elves of course, (The Hobbit, 46).

The elves had brought bright lanterns to the shore, and they sang a merry song as the party went across… "Mind Bilbo doesn't eat all the cakes!" they called. "He is too fat to get through key-holes yet!"

"You speak for me Gimli," laughed Legolas. "Though I would sooner learn how they came by the wine," (LOTR, 544)

With this said, elves definitely know how to have a good time!

Chapter Three: Stealing Their Hearts

The great table had been pushed to the back wall. On one side of the room, chairs had been gathered, and the rest of the space was to be used for a large dance floor. The Lady Galadriel shimmered in the gathering of chairs, smiling and conversing with some of her younger, female subjects. Legolas thought he might as well and try to recruit some of those fair maidens for Ithilien- -purely from a non-biased leadership perspective, of course!- -and he moved to join them. As we walked across the room, he took delight in seeing elves tune their instruments: lyres, harps, flutes, and yuvitars with long strings and round heavy bottoms.

Just as Legolas neared Galadriel, hoping that she would introduce him to her handmaidens, Celeborn intercepted him.

"Legolas, I had no idea that you were interested in the different methods of rune engravings. Tell me, have you ever studied the scrolls of Belthuin, in the house of Elrond?"

"Well, I..." Legolas started.

"They are really something. They compare the Tengwar of Rumil to that of Feanor and feature a whole section about moon letters. You must come to my study and look at them with Gilgafier and me. We could spend hours comparing the variations in the alphabet of Daeron and how they affect Sindarin etymology."

"I can not claim the knowledge that you and your minister must possess. I fear I could only be a hindrance," stated Legolas flatly.

"Well, of course, you have much more to look toward now that you are planning for the future of Ithilien. Which is exactly why I came over to meet you! Not to ramble on about runes and dialects. I wanted to introduce you to someone who I think will be a great asset to you and your plans for Ithilien." Celeborn steered Legolas to a young group of elves. "Prince Legolas, please allow me the honor of introducing to you one of the finest young hearts of Lorien..."

"Eledhel!" Legolas exclaimed and immediately shook his hand, and clapped him on the back.

"Well, it seems you know each other already," Celeborn said, smiling at the reunion. "Eledhel has been one of the biggest supporters of your project, ever since he first heard mention of it."

"We met during the Fellowship's stop-over during the War. He was one of the first elves I met during our stay and showed great hospitality toward me and Gimli." Legolas added.

"Well as no further introductions are needed, I believe I will join the Lady." Celeborn bowed and left.

"Well, prince, things have been awfully dull since the siege of Dol Guldur. You have met Farothin and Haldir here, but this is Belegil and Sulindal, two brothers who would take the journey with us. They both fought bravely in the battles of our realm."

Legolas bowed to them for he could see that they were elven warriors with hearts forged on the battlefield. "It would be a blessing to have you both." He then turned to Farothin and Haldir. "What of you two, would you take the journey over river, hill, and plains to a new land, both free and wild?"

Farothin nodded. "I would, my prince, if only to guard the fair forests of this new land," he said, enthusiasm ringing in his voice.

"What of you, Haldir? Would you join us?" asked Legolas, anticipating his answer, for he knew that Haldir loved the Golden Wood too much.

"Would that I were a millennia younger and not so bound to the great Lord and Lady of Caras Galadhon," he said, his tone less wistful than his words. You undertake a great labor, prince, to forge a new realm in the heart of much darkness."

"Yet it is a challenge I would eagerly suffer," claimed Eledhel. "Now what is this I hear about a challenge of skills between two great archers?"

"Yes, I have spoken to Farothin about that during dinner. Let me assure you, my Lord, that you will hear no more of such silliness from him," Haldir retorted and gave Farothin a pointed look.

"It would only seem like silliness, Haldir, if one of the competitors was not worthy of the challenge." Legolas said smoothly and raised an eyebrow at Eledhel.

"Yes, I am with Legolas on this matter," agreed Eledhel. "It has been too long since the Galadhrim have had the pleasure of seeing sport among champions. I would join this venture."

"As would my brother and I," declared Sulindal. "All of the best archers would agree, unless…" and he slyly looked at Haldir, "they did not feel themselves capable."

Haldir bristled a little. "Are you implying that I am unworthy to compete with the prince, or Eledhel, or any of you for that matter?" the March Warden said and looked sharply at them. "I did not come to be Captain of the Guard on the basis of looks."

"No, that would never have come to pass!" laughed Eledhel and then stopped himself. "So are you willing to join us in a battle of skill?"

"Yes, if only to teach younger elves that they would be better served keeping their mouths shut." Haldir replied grimly, leaving to seek more suitable company than his nephew and his friends.

"Now, did I not tell you that we could get Haldir to join our little scheme?" said Eledhel, eyes gleaming.

Farothin chimed in happily. "That was sheer brilliance, Eledhel!" he said and clasped him on the shoulder. "You were right. He would not back down if his skills were in doubt."

"I can not believe that I have let myself become part of this scheme." Legolas said, feeling pressure to do well, wanting to impress his new subjects.

"We will ask Lord Celeborn if he will allow us to have this tournament next week." Eledhel planned out loud, "When did you want to leave for Ithilien, Legolas?"

"Although I do not yet have Celeborn's agreement on this, I was hoping to make way toward Eryn Lasgalen in three weeks, pick up more of my people, and from there turn toward Gondor and the Minas Tirith." Legolas replied.

"Oh, enough of this serious business," interrupted Belegil, "can you not see that we are talking of arrows and tournaments, when there are so many lovely elves begging for our company on the dance floor?"

"Yes, and Legolas, it is your duty as prince, to convince them of the wonders of Ithilien, for if our party is bereft of young maidens, it will lack my presence as well!" laughed Eledhel. "Come, I can make many introductions. I know that last time you were here, your heart was too weary of the Fellowship's burdens to think of romance, but now all is right in Middle Earth. Many the elf maiden was grieved that you were so reticent."

"They will not find me that way now," promised Legolas. "I will do my best to convince the female population of Lorien to join us on our endeavor."

As Eledhel and Legolas crossed the dance floor, the latter spotted the elf maiden who he had met earlier. She was standing near an open window chatting with Gilgafier's son, letting the cool night air tease her curls.

"Eledhel, who is that maiden?" asked Legolas, curious to know the name of the one who looked at him with such disdain.

"Who, her?" Eledhel tilted his head toward the window. "Why, do you think her worthy of conquest?" He winked at Legolas and teased, "love at first sight?"

"Varda, no!" insisted Legolas. "She may have the face of a Vala, but she has the tongue of an orc."

"Oh, so you have spoken to her. This keeps getting richer. Tell me, you did not find her absolutely charming?"

"She is as beautiful as any, but she pretty much hated me on sight." Legolas admitted. "Why, is she taken?" He leaned in conspiratorially. "Do you love her?"

"I can not help but love her," roared Eledhel, "for she is my sister, Miredhel!" He laughed and slapped Legolas on the back. "And she would not pay you the slightest bit of courtesy? Well, good for her!"

This evening keeps getting better and better, Legolas thought. First, he was bored to grief by Gilgafier, then shunned by Miredhel, conned into competing in a tournament, and now he would suffer teasing for the rest of the evening from Eledhel.

"Please, Eledhel. Direct my attention to a more gracious recipient than your fair sister, Miredhel," asked Legolas. "Surely you know some eligible young ladies who are tired enough of your antics that they might be interested in mine?"

"Of course, my friend," replied Eledhel in between fits of laughing. The two elves made their way toward Galadriel and her audience of young maidens, stopping to bow before her.

"My Lady, may I introduce the Prince Legolas to these fair ladies, for I fear their vengeance if they were to discover that I kept him talking all evening of tournaments."

"Oh, Eledhel, will there be a tournament of champions? I heard Farothin talking of it earlier this evening," asked one of the elf maidens known as Tinarien.

He winked at her. "Yes, but only if the Lady of the Wood deemed the tournament worthy enough to grace it with her loveliness."

Galadriel smiled at the pair of young elves, her eyes merry. "We have seen much sorrow and toil in the years of late, Eledhel son of Bragoglin. It would be a welcome sight to see our youngest compete in the spirit of competition and skill, rather than on the battlefield in the face of death." Eledhel and Legolas-they were like two children before her-but even so, they gave her hope. "Make it so, son of Bragoglin, and I will see that the champion of such a tournament receives a prize worthy of his skill."

Soon Legolas found himself introduced to all of the young maidens in the circle, and before he knew it, he was crossing the dance floor with Tinarien, the elf maiden who had first spoken to Eledhel. She was fair of face and form with the light hair and eyes that came standard to most of the Galadhrim, and Legolas could not help but think that perhaps the evening would turn out well after all.

"You have heard, Lady Tinarien, that I would lead some of your people to a new elven kingdom in Ithilien?" he asked, trying to make conversation, but also wanting to hear her opinion of his quest.

"Yes, my lord, it seems that everyone in Caras Galadhon is speaking of naught, but Ithilien." She replied and then hesitantly added, "Every worthy young elf desires to follow you into adventure."

"Would you be one of those willing?" Legolas asked, hoping for an affirmative answer. He led her in the promenade with the rest of the elf couples, keeping time to the merry beat of the music.

"It is more difficult for a lady to decide in such things. We would have to leave our homes, the fruits of our labor and the comfort of our souls, to risk everything in an untamed land." Tinarien paused.

"Yes, but we would build a beautiful new kingdom; everything and more that you deserve or could wish for could be yours in Ithilien."

"I will consent to join the journey, but not for adventure or the new life promised, Legolas Prince. You are stealing the hearts of our young elves, turning their minds from thoughts of settling down to that of adventure. I merely wish to not be left behind." Tinarien said and bowed low. "Thank you for this dance." She turned and joined her friends.

"So Tinarien was resilient to your charms as well, my friend?" It was Eledhel.

"I would not say that she was resilient, but that our efforts on the dance floor tired her." Legolas claimed. "By the end of the night, you will be begging me to make the introductions."

"We shall see!"

So Legolas found another partner, and then later another, wheeling turns on the dance floor. The dancing couples mirrored the spinning of the stars as they slid across the sky into the depths of the night. The music and singing wove solid into the early hours, and the torches burned into ash.

When he finally retired, the elf prince took account of the many things that had come to pass, fully knowing that much more would follow in the morning light. He had heard many promises from elves willing to follow him to build a new life. If he could only steal the hearts of the ladies as well, then his dreams for Ithilien would begin to take shape.

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