The Cry of the Gull (Chapter 21) - The Father and the Son
One more chapter and we will have reached the middle, my friends! Thank you for sticking with me this long!
The Father and the Son
Legolas's wrath soon passed as his mind wandered to what lay ahead of him, if indeed the evil that had ruined the beautiful kingdom of Lorien had passed his father's land by. Sleep seemed to sense the urgency of his speed, and he pushed himself to his undying limit, with is brother Rest close on his heels.
It took them but a day to traverse Lothlorien, and though scarred throughout, Legolas was still loathe to leave the legend that he had seen and loved in before years. But little by little the trees thinned, and soon they had left the forest behind them completely.
Aer guided them north a few miles, and then he made a sharp movement eastward, and Legolas realized that they were headed over the Anduin.
They reached the great river at high noon of that day, the tenth since Ulmo had come to Thranduil in the north of Eryn Lasgalen. Aer flew over the wide, rushing water and landed on the opposite bank. He turned and called to the Elves, who had hesitated on the bank of the river.
"Come, Legolas, we have little time!" he cried. "The horses are Maia, the Army is Spirit, they will not fail you!"
With a nod from Balved that said "I'm ready", Legolas allowed Sleep to take his first steps into the Anduin. The horse was strong and did not shy from his task, and Rest, seeing that there was nothing to fear, followed easily. When they had reached the other side the Army
began its own crossing. Aer took off, and Legolas joyed in the fact that they had reached the eastern side of the Great River, and that home was nearly in sight.
"We will not stop until we reach my father's halls," Legolas called up to the gull, who hovered in the air. "Fly, oh messenger of Ulmo!" he did not look behind him and Sleep dashed off to the northeast. In a few short days they would reach the kingdom of Thranduil, and Legolas would come to know his father's news.
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They did not encounter any danger over their trek, and on the eve of the third day, Aer sent out a cry that brought joy to Legolas's heart for it mean that the gull had seen on the horizon the great stone palace that was his father's Hall.
They came to it at noon of the day after, the very day that a fortnight had passed. From his watch on the walls of his palace Thranduil saw them flying through the trees, and looked in wonder on the enormous gull that giuded them. Aeraew, to the King's greatsurprise, landed next to him and spoke.
"Thranduil, Sire," he said bowing low. "I bring your son and his army."
Thranduil nearly fell over in shock, but as an Elf and trained to hide such, he quickly regained his composure and turned his face to see Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood return home after his long absence with a great army behind him. The King fled the presence of the gull and threw himself down the stairs that would lead him to the gate and the arms of his son.
Legolas dismounted Sleep and waited whilst his father released the gate and ran to him.
"My son, my son!" Thranduil said, tears spilling down his cheeks. "How much there is to tell! Come! You must first sup with us, and your presence here made known! Legolas, the Commander of an army. You never cease to amaze me, my son."
Legolas embraced his father tightly, and Rayn and Balved stood next to the horses, Rayn's own eyes filling with tears at the glorious reunion of Father and Son. An Elf came up to the horses and called them softly, and they followed him to a stable. Thranduil waved to the company, for Aer had joined them, and they went within the walls of Thranduil's Halls. The Army of the Living surrounded the Palace, and would spend the night there.
Thranduil was bubbling with happiness. He showed the Elves to their rooms, Balved and Aer were to share one, Legolas was returned to his former quarters, and Rayn was given and apartment with Elven maidens to tend her. They all declined his invitation to walk the grounds, and even Legolas said that he must have rest, so Thranduil went to his fountain, to see if Ulmo would come to him.
It did not take long for the Vala to appear in the river. With joy in his face Thranduil looked into the blue-green eyes of the Water-King.
"My son has returned," he said.
"But your mission is not finished, Thranduil. You must tell him."
For the first time that day a shadow creeped across Thranduil's face.
"I do not wish for this. He may forsake me."
"He will never forsake you, Son of the Forest. He is always your Son, as I told you once."
"Oh?" Thranduil asked in sarcasam.
"Yes," Ulmo said firmly. "Feast with him tonight, but bring him here alone after the revelry has ended. You must tell him then, no later."
"I will," Thranduil said softly. "Do not fear."
"I do not fear," said Ulmo, and disappeared.
Thranduil sighed, and left to make ready for the evening meal.
Legolas could not remember a more happy time. The singing, dancing, and lights created a lovely blur in his mind, all the more happy for the feast in his honor.
Rayn sat to his right, she had dressed in a long, deep green dress that flowed about her like wind in the trees. Her skin was smooth and white, and her green eyes sparkled in the firelight. For Legolas, she was the most beautiful sight of all.
For Aer, the feast was not uncomfortable for him, but the few Elven children that had come to the supper swarmed around him and begged him to speak, for they had never seen a gull, nor had they ever heard an animal that spoke the Elven tongue. Aer delighted to talk to them, and he told them stories of faraway lands that the Elves had only heard tell of.
Thranduil prolonged the feast as long as he could, calling for dances and questioning Legolas closely about his adventures, which Legolas eagerly recounted. But as the night wore the Elves began to dissipate, and return to their quarters or houses. Rayn retired early as well, and Balved insisted to Aer that they aquire rest before the next day, much to the dismay of the children, who were quite content to leave with their parents when their private source of entertainment had gone to his quarters.
Legolas had made to excuse himself when Thranduil laid a hand on his arm.
"My son, you must come with me before I can allow you to go to your room."
Legolas deteced solemnity in the King's voice, and followed without a word.
Thranduil led him through the narrow tunnel and to the chamber which held the door. The King opened the rock face, and led Legolas out into the starry night.
"Father, what is this place?" Legolas asked as he looked around the small courtyard. Thranduil had paced to the river and looked down into it, seeing swirls in the water that resembled Ulmo.
"Sit, my son," he said, gesturing to the white bench that he had sat upon and debated with himself so many times. "I have a very long story to tell you."