Of the Lady of the Moonlit Night - Part 1 - Meetings in Mirkwood (cont)

In Rivendell, Finguld was walking by Anaran's tree.

"It's always so calm when she's not here," he thought. He stopped, and stared at the surrounding mountains, wondering if she had reached the other side of the Misty Mountains yet.

He started when he realised that someone was standing beside him.

"Welcome back to the land of the living, brother."

"Mae govannen, Arilmadith! I did not know that you were here, or even that you were coming."

"I have come for the council. Lord Elrond summoned the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, but they were unable to come, so I was sent on their behalf. It was Lord Elrond that told me that you would be here. He told me that you have been moping around here since a certain someone departed for Mirkwood." Finguld blushed. "But never mind that. Come! We have much to talk of." Arilmadith linked her arm with Finguld's, and they walked away, Arilmadith talking animatedly.

***

Finally Anaran had entered the forest of Mirkwood. Elrond had instructed her that if she were to follow a river on the West of Mirkwood, she would come to a path leading her to the palace of Thranduil, King of Mirkwood. She followed these directions and, as promised, she came across a path well worn into the ground.

After several hours, Anaran began to feel very weary and weak, for now she hadn't eaten for three days. As she was wondering if she would ever reach the end of the path. She nearly rode straight into an arrow, aimed at her head. She looked up and realised that half a dozen arrows were aimed at her in this fashion. She was surrounded. Their leader rode up, a handsome wood elf with long blonde hair.

"You are trespassing in the realm of King Thranduil of Mirkwood. What business do you have here?" Not liking the elf's attitude, Anaran decided not to tell him of her errand.

"Nothing that concerns you. Let me pass."

"No one passes through these lands that has not been permitted." The wood elf signalled his companions, and they move in to bind her hands. "As you will not tell us of your business, we will force it out of you."

Anaran jumped off Weda, suddenly filled with energy. She stood waiting for the first elves to approach. They had put their bows away, not expecting a fight, but that was not what Anaran had in mind. Once, twice, thrice, four times, five times she punched and kicked, until the only one still standing was the leader. They stared each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. The elf moved first, meaning to push her down, but Anaran was too quick. Her hand flew at his nose, causing it to bleed. She then whirled about elbowing him in the stomach, then jumping down, and knocking his legs from beneath him. Suddenly they heard clicking, rattling noises.

"Spiders!" hissed the elf, standing up, wiping the blood from his nose.

"What?!" Anaran pulled a knife from each her boots, her only weapons. The other elf pulled his bow out. Soon they could make them out. Ten, many legged, squat creatures were making their way through the gloom. The elf was already shooting arrows at the forms, killing three. One jumped at Anaran, and they were apon them. Her knives were swirling, stabbing, slashing at the creatures, the elf's bow twanging. Anaran cried out in pain as a pincer cut into her cheek and then another into her arm. It then fell to the ground, an arrow sticking out of its hairy body. That was the last of the spiders.

The other elves, who had joined in the fight just in time to stop themselves from being dragged away, were now standing.

"You will come with us to the King. If you will not tell us who you are or of your errand, perhaps you will tell him."

"My name is Anaran of Rivendell. I bear a message for the King," Anaran replied simply, to weary to argue. The elf nodded and ran off into the gloom, leaving his companions behind.

Anaran gave a pierce whistle, and Weda came trotting up to her. The other elves lead the way to the palace.

***

"My son tells me that you bear me a message," Anaran was standing in the centre of a large hall in before a grand throne. She was confused.

"I do, my Lord. From Lord Elrond of Rivendell. But I do not understand, how can your son know of my errand?" Anaran saw someone step out from behind a great pillar. It was the elf from earlier. He scowled at her

"This is my son, Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood," Anaran gasped and turned a deep shade of red. "I believe that you have met," the King said with a smile. "But, pray, tell me of your message."

"Lord Elrond summons yourself and your son," at this she reddened, "to a council of the leaders of Middle-earth in two weeks. It is of utmost importance that at least one of you attends." The King nodded thoughtfully.

"Very well, Legolas? You will attend this council, for I cannot leave." Anaran bowed, not believing in curtsies, and turned to leave. "Wait. You are clearly weary, as is your horse, I have been told. Stay a while and regain your strength."

"I thank you, my Lord, for your kind hospitality. If it is acceptable, I will stay for one night, for Elrond wishes that I return as soon as possible." Thranduil nodded, and an elf-maiden came forth to take her to her room for the night.

***

When Anaran was summoned to the feast, she was feeling much better. She was wearing a dark blue dress, with long, lowing sleeves. It belonged to the maiden who had shown her to her room. Her hair, freshly washed, was in a long plait curled about the crown of her head.

She entered the main hall after the elf-maiden, whose name was Tyarine. The heads of many of the Elf-lords present turned to watch her, but Anaran pretended that she did not notice. Tyarine lead Anaran up to the main table, and sat her two seats away from the King. Unfortunately, this placed Anaran in a most uncomfortable position, for she found herself sitting next to the Prince of Mirkwood, Legolas. The same Legolas with whom she had had a very unfortunate encounter.

"Oh no," she muttered. The Prince turned to look at her, and stared.

"Could it be that this elf before me is the very same fierce elf who I met this very same day?"

"Yes it is," Anaran retorted. "And I believe that it is rude to stare, so kindly avert your eyes, before I am forced to take desperate measures myself." Legolas scowled, and turned away. They did not speak again until feast was drawing to a close. Anaran spoke to Tyarine for the duration of the feast, who was eager to learn of Rivendell and its inhabitants, for she had never visited there.

When the feast finally drew to and end, King Thranduil proposed that Legolas would escort their guest to her room. Anaran was about to protest, but Legolas replied too quickly.

"Yes, father." He then led the way to Anaran's room, who followed after pulling a face at Tyarine. They walked in silence until they came to the door of Anaran's room. Legolas then swung around to face Anaran.

"How dare you embarrass me in front of my people?!" Anaran chose to say nothing, presuming that he spoke of their first meeting. "You then choose to be rude to my face, at my very own table!"

"Well, maybe you should have been more courteous at our first meeting, and I wouldn't have had to do such a dreadful thing as defend myself. This night, I was no more rude to you than you were to me. And it's not your table; it's your father's." Anaran was about to enter her room, when the Prince spoke again.

"You are so, so-" Anaran cut in, her temper flaring.

"What? I'm so stubborn, strong-willed, determined, sarcastic, fierce, irritating, bad tempered... the list just goes on and on. I know my faults, my Lord. But the question is: do you know yours?" with that Anaran stepped into her room, slamming the door shut, leaving Legolas stunned.

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