The Games Begin
Disclaimer: This whole lovely world belongs to JRR Tolkien. (except for the parts I made up!)
Legolas Greenleaf: prince of Eryn Lasgalen. Plans on building new kingdom of elves in Ithilien
Haldir: captain of the guard in Lothlorien
Eledhel: friend to Legolas, son of Bragoglin,
Miredhel: sister to Eledhel, daughter of Bragoglin
Belegil and Sulindal: twin brothers, warriors, and friends of Eledhel.
Galadriel and Celeborn: ancient and wise rulers of Lothlorien
Tinarien: elf maiden and lady-in-waiting to Galadriel
Gilgafier: advisor to Celeborn, likes runes
Thranduil: king of Greenwood (Eryn Lasgalen) and father of Legolas
Caras Galadhon: Elvish city in Lothlorien
Lothlorien: the Golden Wood, realm of Galadriel and Celeborn
Eryn Lasgalen: aka Mirkwood, Greenwood the Great, home of Legolas
Ithilien: Forest between Gondor and Mordor. Legolas plans on setting up a new elvish colony there.
Author's note: Thanks for the reviews! Expect much more this upcoming weekend!)
Chapter Seven: The Games Begin
Preparations for the archery tournament followed the sun's slow creep over the hills. Busy hands set up seating, hung targets. Across Caras Galadhon, elves crept from flets to see the stars and moon dim in early morning rays. First one voice, then two, then numerous uncountable called to each other in ever-changing song, both joyous and as old as Cuivienen. They sang of rivers running and forests deep. A myriad of voices strong and clear, sweet and sad, blessed the dawn and the contest to come.
Legolas alone in his room lifted his voice as checked his bow and gathered his arrows into his quiver. He had already dressed before dawn, choosing to represent his royal house by wearing green and brown. He had also decided to rebraid his hair into the traditional Greenleaf braids. Legolas had never cared too much for pomp, but his intuition told him that his father would have been pleased by this gesture. Thranduil would have been piqued to discover that his son had been omitting his prince's crown from his standard attire as of late. The crown was not balky, gaudy, heavy, or any of those things; it was merely a simple circlet of silver carved with leaves. Legolas peered at the crown among his possessions. With a sigh, he picked it up and put it on. He tilted his head. The crown slid over his ear. 'This will never do,' he thought, not for a tournament at least.
Legolas carefully placed the crown back into his pack, picked up his weapons and proceeded to the stables on his way to the archery fields. In the stables, Legolas cheerfully greeted his horse, Arod, who whinnied and stamped in return.
"Easy, my friend. I do not come empty-handed," replied Legolas. He produced an apple and offered it to Arod. While the horse munched greedily, Legolas ran his fingers through the mane. He had owned and loved many horses in his years, but he thought Arod one of the finest. They had become fast friends on the fields of Rohan, seeing many battles and traveling many more roads. Always, Arod had been faithful.
"You will not fail me today, will you?" Legolas asked. "You must be fleet-footed if we want to win the race in the archery contest." In the way that all elves had with beasts, Legolas could sense that Arod understood him.
As Legolas led Arod out of the stable, Miredhel entered to secure her horse for the race portion of the tournament.
"My lord," she exclaimed, "I would have expected you to have been at the field nearly an hour ago!"
"The morning was too lovely to rush, Lady Miredhel," replied Legolas as he studied her. Dark green leggings hugged her shapely legs, and she wore a light, silvery green tunic. She had tied her golden curls back, making her face seem even more heart-shaped.
"You have not won our wager yet, Prince Legolas," she coyly said, eyeing his sly observation of her.
"Why did you not tell Eledhel or Belegil of my condition on the wager, that you should kiss me if I win?"
"Why should I have?" Miredhel indignantly answered. "Our business is our own. Besides I fully intend to win the wager." She mounted her horse in one seamless movement. She looked down at Legolas, "I suppose you informed them of the terms?"
"And if I did?"
"I care not," she said and tossed her head.
"You blush, my lady." Legolas observed.
"Only when I consider the embarrassment you will feel at losing face in front of your friends…when I win."
"And what if Eledhel wins?"
"Then I will leave the Golden Wood and only know misery as a companion." She started to ride from the stable, but Legolas stepped in her way.
"Please move." Miredhel attempted to edge past him, but Legolas caught up her hand and held fast.
"I look forward to the outcome, my lady," Legolas said and brought her hand to his lips.
She jerked her hand away. Her eyes narrowed. "You have not won yet."
"No, but my father taught me to believe in myself," he countered.
"You are an arrogant one."
"Do not forget to whom you speak, my Lady." Legolas warned her.
"Kissing you will be the last thing I do, Prince Legolas." Eyes flashing, she straightened her posture and lifted her chin in the air. "Now, if you will excuse me? I have a tournament to win."
"As you wish," said Legolas and stepped out of the way. She sailed past him, not looking back.
"Me, arrogant?" Legolas fumed to Arod. "She is the very picture of it." He thought for a moment. "And why did I make such a foolish wager? She obviously finds me repulsive in every aspect. Of course, no one forced her to accept the conditions… Well, we shall see…" Legolas' voice trailed off. "Let us go, Arod. We have a tournament to win." With a determined look in his eye, he quickly mounted and was hardly out the door when stopped by Eledhel.
"Well met, Legolas and Arod," he called. "You are in a hurry to win. Wait a moment, and I will most happily join you on the way over." He neatly side-stepped Arod and led his horse Firmith from the stall. Legolas felt agitated at the prospect of company but did not wish to dismiss Eledhel, who had been such a good friend and support. He shifted uncomfortably atop Arod.
"Legolas, you do not look at all well," Eledhel observed quietly. "Nervous?"
"Not at all," he replied and attempted to put Miredhel's words behind him.
Eledhel mounted Firmith and rode to Arod's side. "I am not so easily fooled. What troubles you?"
"I did see your sister not long before you entered the stable, "he reluctantly confessed.
"Enough said." Eledhel shook his head. "I have never seen her more shaken than this morning. Usually so calm, she is. I almost told her to consider our wager cancelled, but she never would have agreed to that."
"She seemed far from nervous to me," Legolas said. He replayed his conversation with Miredhel in his mind from a new perspective. She was nervous?
Eledhel nodded. "Only because you do not know her as well as I. She is as constant as the northern star, just as brilliant, and just as distant to try and reach. Through a lifetime of study, I have learned to love her, but not understand her."
"Yet I have only known her a few days and would try for the same," Legolas admitted.
"You can no more rush the rise of the sun…" said Eledhel, his voice trailing off.
Both elves rode silently together toward the archery field. As they reached the tree line, Eledhel spoke first.
"Best wishes and true aim, my friend."
"About the wager," Legolas started, but Eledhel interrupted.
"Do not speak of it, Legolas. Let us both prove our mettle today, regardless of bets made."
The two friends dismounted and shook hands. They led their horses to the archery field for the contest was about to start.
The warriors, both male and female, of Caras Galadhon lined up along the field. They wore the colors of their different houses and bore weapons grim and sleek. Legolas took his place among them next to Farothin, and Eledhel stood out in front to address the spectators. The elves had quickly erected a collection of raised platforms along the green. In the middle of them all sat Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn. With a nod from her ladyship, Eledhel began.
"My lords and ladies, the warriors before you will compete in a series of challenges. The first is marksmanship. Points will be awarded on the basis of skill and accuracy on the circular targets before the green. The second contest challenges speed, accuracy, and decision-making against moving targets. Finally, the top five competitors from the previous rounds will compete against each other in an obstacle course."
The platforms were full of elves, young and ageless. They applauded and cheered for their favorites. Many laughed and traded opinions, guessing who the champion would be.
"It will be Haldir. He has been the captain of the guard for countless years!" argued one elf.
"Haldir may be the best shot, but he is not so quick on horseback as Sulindal," countered Gilgafier, Celeborn's advisor.
"No, no. Eledhel is bound to win, for he organized the whole contest!" said Gilfier, Gilgafier's son.
"Yes, but can he outshoot the Prince from Mirkwood?" asked another elf.
Even the Galadriel debated with her lady-in-waiting, Tinarien, on the outcome. "Even the wisest cannot see all ends, but the Lady Miredhel may surprise many young elves with her skill," she said knowingly.
Celeborn rose from his seat and said, "May our tournament begin."
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