A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter Fourteen - Secrets
Following the Royal Wedding, Legolas had been relieved of his duties for a few days, and neither he nor Mithryn were seen by any, for never did they leave their chamber. Food was routinely left upon their doorstep, and it was understood by all that none were to disturb the newlyweds; the King commanded it so.
During the weeks that followed the nuptials, as Legolas' responsibilities as heir to the throne resumed, he and Mithryn recommenced daily life, but now in a more euphoric state of mind. Many noticed the change in Legolas' temper, as a smile adorned his face, ceaselessly.
During the feasts, the loving couple did little but gaze adoringly at each other in silence, while those around them, the King included, found their conversation to be very dull; none seemed able to entice the pair out of constant worship. Haldof repeatedly told Galamed how ill he felt watching them, and how he refused to speak to Legolas again until his newlywed brother spoke in a more rational manner. Secretly, however, he was pleased for Legolas; never before had he seen him so happy.
* * *
In the warm morning sunlight, Legolas impatiently waited for Galamed by the stairwell to his tower. At length, Haldof approached, but Galamed was not to be seen.
"Where is Galamed?" Legolas asked, perturbed.
"He has been assigned to other duty this morning. I shall be going in his stead."
The two began walking deep into the woods to the Kingdom's nearest boundary. Legolas' brow was creased with confusion and ire. "What duty?"
Haldof would not meet his gaze. "I know not. What matter is it to you?"
"Galamed has been acting so strange as of late. Have you not noticed? I wonder if I should speak to Father."
Haldof stopped, quickly turning to Legolas. "You will do nothing of the sort. Let it be."
"What is all this, Haldof? What are you not telling me? Ever since my wedding, Galamed has been acting so peculiar. I demand you tell me at once!"
"You are not King yet, Legolas," Haldof said, resuming his pace.
"Why all this secrecy? Why are you in his confidence, and not me?" Legolas asked, following sprightly.
Haldof's pace quickened all the more. "It is not my secret to tell!"
Legolas stepped into a run, and soon the pair were racing to the edge of the boundary with great speed. Upon reaching it, they quickly stopped, chests heaving. "Does he not trust me?" Legolas asked, somewhat hurt.
Haldof shook his head. "Do not be a fool, Legolas. You have been busy. During the passing months, your eyes and mind have been distracted elsewhere." Legolas was about to rebut, but Haldof interrupted. "Nay, allow me to continue. We do not hold it against you. You have maintained your duties with honour and propriety, as well as followed your heart. I am simply saying that during that time, while you were so preoccupied, things have happened."
"I am not so wholly inattentive, Haldof! I know all of Tarnil's plans, for he has told me."
"Tarnil?" Haldof said in confusion. "I speak of Galamed, and not of Tarnil. He has plans? What plans?"
Legolas bit his lip. "Now it is my turn to say that his secret is not mine to share. I did not realize he had not told you."
Furrowing his brow, Haldof's mind was busy with puzzled thought. "Now I wish to speak to Tarnil."
Legolas nodded. "And I with Galamed." Simultaneously, they both turned away from the border, and with displeased faces, quickly strode back to the palace. While heading for its massive stone doors, Haldof said, "You will not find Galamed in his quarters."
Legolas instantly stopped. "Well then, where shall I find him?" Haldof stared but made no reply. "Where shall I find him, Haldof?" Legolas asked, using a more indignant tone.
Haldof sighed, relenting. "In Hidden Valley."
"Hidden Valley? He traveled by pony? What was his errand in going so far in our Kingdom? Nay, wait; I forget," Legolas said, waving his brother off. "You cannot tell me. Should I suppose him to be in any danger?"
Haldof stared long into his brother's earnest eyes. "Yes," he said at last.
"Understood. I shall seek him out." Haldof hurried into the Palace, and Legolas strode to his own bedchamber to fetch his weapons case.
Upon entering the stables, he found several white ponies in their stalls, as well as Anfalas. He approached the large, Rohan horse, gently petting her muzzle. "How fare you, Anfalas? Wish you to go for a ride? I do not think Mithryn would mind if we had a run, do you?" The massive horse neighed, rearing her large head up. Opening the door, Legolas led her out, jumped lightly on her back, and they swiftly rode toward Hidden Valley.
* * *
Finaviel was regarded as a most beautiful baby among the elves. Mithryn gazed at the helpless child, thinking of her long future with no end, and cradling the happy child, she slowly dipped her into the basin of warm water. Elmarin sat, watching her friend bathe her small infant. "Did Legolas tell you of the tapestry?"
"Nay. Have the ladies begun work on one? What event does it commemorate?"
"Not one, two. One is being sewn of your wedding, and the other of Finaviel's birth. Your likeness shall be on each."
Mithryn smiled warmly, for she was greatly touched indeed, knowing these tapestries would be held dear as historical items. She would live forever in their memories, and for some, in their hearts as well. Her full attention was brought back to Finaviel as the child joyously shrieked and splashed her arms in the water. Lifting her up, Mithryn placed her on a towel, enveloping her.
"I am truly touched," she said, returning the child to it's mother's arms.
"Indeed, I would have it no other way. You played such an important role in Finaviel's birth; that must be commemorated." Elmarin gazed up at Mithryn's face to find it, suddenly, much altered, contorting with affliction. "Mithryn?" she said, concerned.
Mithryn, however, was no longer in control. Raising her palm up to her forehead, she winced as the pain took rein. Elmarin gently lay Finaviel on the bed, rushing to her friend's aid. She clasped Mithryn's hand until a sea of calm washed over her.
"Mithryn, what has just happened? Are you ill? Need you a physician?"
"Nay, it passes," Mithryn said, softly rubbing her sore temple. "Do you recall my telling you of my foresight? I just had a vision of what may come to pass."
"Of what did you see?"
Placing her hand over her mouth, Mithryn's brow furrowed with disturbing thought. "I fear I cannot say," she said, her eyes meeting those of Elmarin. "Pray forgive me. I do not understand what I have seen. For now, I think it best only I know this event."
"I sincerely trust your judgement, Mithryn."
"I . . . I must find Legolas." she said, exiting the chamber in a distressed state.
* * *
Legolas and Anfalas rode far north to the mountains that lay beyond his father's Palace. Hidden Valley was a primeval place which Legolas had not been for some time. The mountains rose high up as he approached them. Taking a pass through a gully, Legolas rode swiftly to the north side of the largest of the three mountains, Fidelis. Charging to the top of a hill, Anfalas came to a stop, and Legolas gazed with skillful Elven eyes over the vast rolling landscape. In front stretched an immense, green valley, lush with sprays of wildflower, with a stream winding along its center. Trees were scarce, and the extensive vale was encircled by soaring mountains.
At first, Legolas could see now sign of this brother, but the sparkle of the sun as it danced upon the water, caught his eye. There, laying beside the brook, was Galamed, two white, elven ponies grazing nearby. To Legolas' surprise, Galamed was not alone by the riverbank. Beside him sat an Elf-maiden with flowing flaxen hair which fluttered in the gentle breeze. Even at a distance, Legolas recognized her. "Anardil. . ." he said quietly to himself, shaking his head.
From afar, Legolas watched as the maiden leaned down, kissing his brother. Galamed drew her close and she lay on the grass beside him. There was no mistaking the nature of their relationship. Legolas turned away. Commanding Anfalas to swerve about, Legolas rode down the hill homeward, without a backward glance.
* * *
After hours of searching her quarters, the Palace halls, and the wide wood, Mithryn finally relented and hoped that he would come to her. Mithryn sat at the table in their stateroom, desperately trying to focus her attention upon her book, but to no avail. Relentlessly, her mind flashed back to the images in her vision; a disturbing future had been foreshadowed which she could not shake. Suddenly, the door burst open and Legolas strode in, much agitated.
"Legolas, where have you been? I could not find you, and then your father sent for you and I knew not what to say."
Legolas let out an exasperated sigh, striding to his armoire, and placed his weapons inside. "I am sorry I said naught to you. I had to ride northward."
"Northward? For what reason?"
He merely shook his head. "Haldof . . . I do not find his pranks entertaining. "
Mithryn rose and approached him. "Legolas, what do you speak of?" Her stubborn husband merely shook his head, refusing to comment. "Well," she said at length, "I doubt you are half as angry at Haldof, as Tarnil is with you. I met with him while I was searching for you. I did not know he could become so impassioned."
Legolas winced, remembering his morning conversation with his brother. Indeed, Tarnil would be most irate with him.
"What did you do to make him so enraged with you?" she asked, perplexed.
Again, Legolas replied by only shaking his head; no words would he say.
"What a closed book you are today, dearest. Very well, as you wish. Listen, I do not mean to add to your woes, but there is something very important I need to discuss."
Their attention, however, was abruptly distracted by a servant standing at the door. "I beg your pardon, Prince Legolas," the elf said. "The door was ajar."
"Nay, it is alright, Noriath," Legolas replied. "You do not disturb."
Mithryn looked reproachfully at her husband. This disruption, indeed, was disturbing for her.
"It is your father, my lord," Noriath continued. "He begs conference with thee, as well as with your brothers."
"Aye," Legolas replied. "Pray inform his Lordship that I am coming."
Noriath bowed and hastily exited down the spiral steps.
Turning back to his wife, Legolas placed his hands on her sloping shoulders. She did not meet his gaze. "I am sorry, Mithryn. I fear our conversation must wait."
It was her turn to simply nod, and make no reply. He kissed her on her forehead, and strode out of the room in much the same manner as he had entered it.
* * *
Legolas entered his father's study to see him, Tarnil and Haldof already seated at the long table by the fire. Upon Legolas' arrival, Haldof's face broke out in mischievous grin, while Tarnil eyes him, unamused. Thranduil, however, maintained the least emotional demeanor of those present, though, he did not appear in the best of spirits, either.
"Come in son," the King bade his son, who quickly took a seat beside his father. "You come at the end of the meeting, I fear. Haldof shall acquaint you with our discussion."
"Aye, Father," Legolas said, gently.
"Yes, yes. You may go, now," the King said. His three sons rose and moved to leave when Thranduil quickly called back. "Not you, Legolas."
Legolas stopped; Haldof turned to him, patted him on the shoulder and smiled wickedly. It took all his strength not to strike a blow in return, but Legolas refrained from getting himself into deeper trouble.
When Haldof and Tarnil had left, Legolas resumed his seat. Thranduil turned to him, face stern. "Must I ask where you have been all this time?"
"I am sorry, Father," Legolas said remorsefully. "I went in search of Galamed."
"Yes, Haldof spoke of his little joke played upon you. Yet, that is no excuse for you to ignore your responsibilities. Nathuil had to replace you. It is not becoming of my sons to be lax in their duties! You, most of all!"
"Aye, Father; you are right. I am sorry. It shall not happen again."
"I am pleased to hear it." Suddenly, the door opened and Galamed entered. "I am sorry. Did you wait long for me?" he said most unwittingly.
"Aye," Thranduil said, motioning for Galamed to sit. "However, naught is to be done about it now."
"Shall I leave you now, Father?" Legolas asked as he stood, anxious to escape.
"Nay," the King commanded. "As heir to the throne, I feel you have not had enough opportunity to lead and make important decisions. You shall stay, for I am interested in your judgement, as well." Legolas sat down.
"Now, Galamed," the King began. "Why did you exchange duties with Haldof? You were assigned to patrol the southwest boarder, not he."
"I did not think I would be missed," Galamed replied, anxiously.
"Yet, this is not the only instance that I know of. Tell me, what is it in Hidden Valley that repeatedly draws you so far from here?" Thranduil asked. Galamed stood agape, eyes turned toward Legolas who did not seem at all surprised. "Nay, my son," the King continued when he had not received an answer. "Your brothers have not betrayed your confidence. Surely you would know that I, your Father and King, would know the goings on in my own Kingdom? However, I wish to hear the truth from your own lips."
Galamed nervously cast his eyes downwards, fearful to meet the gaze of any. "I am in love, and have been meeting my Lady there."
"How long?" Thranduil inquired.
"Several months now. Prior to the attack on the orc camp."
"And whom is this Lady that you feel you must hide from us?" the King asked.
Galamed sat in silence, either unwilling or unable to answer. At length, Legolas answered for him. "Anardil. It is Anardil."
Galamed stared at his brother in amazement; Thranduil sighed and covered his mouth with his hand. It took Galamed several moments to find his tongue. "I understand she is young, Father, but she is of age."
"Barely," Thranduil replied. "She has only, last winter, reached the age of courtship. She is too young for you, Galamed."
"I feel I ought to be the one to make that decision," Galamed replied, feelingly.
Thranduil shook his head and turned toward Legolas. "What is your opinion on this subject? As King, what would you say?"
Galamed looked beseechingly at his brother, who refused eye contact with either his father or brother. "She is too young," he said at last.
Galamed gazed at his brother, hurt. "Who are to you to speak to me of this?! Mithryn being the second youngest person in our Kingdom, and that did not prevent you from wedding her! How dare you reprimand me?!"
Thranduil sighed again. "You both give me much to contemplate. I shall give my opinions on these subjects, as well as others, tomorrow. Now, leave me in peace."
Quickly and quietly, the two brothers rose and exited the study. When the great oak door was closed, Galamed turned to Legolas. "Why did you not defend me in there? It is you he listens to! Legolas, I am your brother!"
"He asked my honest opinion if I were King and I gave it. But I am not King. It should not matter to you if I agree with your choice or not."
"But it does matter, brother. Your opinion has always mattered, as does your loyalty," Galamed said before striding away.
* * *
Legolas exited the Palace to find Haldof waiting for him neath the arbor. Legolas eyed him warily. "I do not find your jests amusing, brother. Neither did Father."
I great laugh escaped Haldof. "I am sorry, Legolas. I had no idea you would ride after Galamed as you did."
"What did you expect?!" blasted Legolas. "You led me to believe he was going into danger alone! Nay, leave me. I am in no mood for your antics right now."
Haldof shook his head. "May I remind you of all the pranks you played upon me not too long ago? It was you who placed me in some very hot water indeed, with Father! I still do not believe he has forgiven me for some. Like when I crossed the Monuath Gorge on a tight rope. Or when I . . ."
"Aye, but things have change," Legolas interrupted, his face serious. "I am married now, and I have responsibilities as heir that cannot be ignored. You would not understand . . ."
Those last words pained Haldof. "I am not such a simpleton, brother, to not know what your duties be! Married life has changed you, Legolas," Haldof said before backing away, and leaving Legolas alone.
* * *
Elven merrymaking recommenced, yet, neither the King nor his sons had much wish to join the festivities that night. Legolas and Mithryn retired early after dinner; being newlyweds, they were not expected to offer any excuse.
"You were very quiet tonight, husband," Mithryn said upon their entering their abode.
Legolas stood at the balcony, gazing outward. "My thoughts overcame me, I fear." Suddenly, remembering his previous conversation with his bride, he turned to see her seated upon the bed. "I am sorry, my love. You had something to tell me, did you not? It has been a most turbulent day!"
"Ah," Mithryn began. "I do not mean to alarm you, but, while you were away, I had a vision."
Legolas quickly took seat beside her, clasping her hands. "Of what did you see?"
She breathed deeply, staring into his cool, azure eyes. "I cannot tell you."
"Mithryn . . ."
"Nay, for I barely understand it, myself. However, Legolas, I must bid you to make me a promise."
"Mithryn, these blind promises you force me to make . . . it is not fair. Not even you can see the whole future. It is alterable, as even you have said. Is this truly necessary?"
"It would comfort me."
"Very well, then, if it shall give you peace of mind. What is it you wish me to swear?"
"Legolas, the time may come when others you hold dear shall depart for the Grey Havens. You must promise me not to go with them."
He furrowed his brow in confusion. "I do not understand. Why must I not go with them?"
"You must promise not to go with them. You shall depart when your heart bids you." she said, firmly, yet, gently, meanwhile refusing to answer his question. "Do you promise to follow my direction in this matter?"
Legolas sighed, staring at her. "I do, if only to give you comfort, although it gives me none. I wish I could see what you have seen."
"But you cannot, therefore, you must trust my judgement."
"And I do," Legolas said, as he leaned in and kissed her. He rose off the bed and walked to the balcony again, eyes examining the clearing. Many festive Elves could he see and hear. Suddenly, something stepped out of the Palace which caught his attention immediately; it was the unmistakable, hunched figure of the creature Sméagol, surrounded by four guards. Their bows were fully armed as they walked the beast out of the clearing and under the shroud of trees.
"Dearest, come to bed," Mithryn bade him from behind, in the shadows. Her husband cast one long glance at the guards and their captive, before shedding his clothes and joining her.
End of Chapter Fourteen