The Scarred One - Chapter Six
Elfling is another name for an elf child and different races of elves determined what age an elfling would mature into young adulthood (note: adolescents were also considered elflings). The average age for young adults is about 1,500 for most elves believe you knew nothing of the world unless you've lived for at least a millennium and a half.
Elflings are the most innocent creatures one could encounter. They are speedy learners and extremely curious of the world around them. They have wide, intense eyes that drank in everything they captured. If they had a question such as "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, then how did the tree fall in the first place?", they would not drop the subject until you gave them a satisfying answer.
The Dwarves especially fascinated elflings. This is one reason why dwarves do not like elves because the elven children acted, in the dwarves' eyes, like a bunch of ninnies. The extremely young ones enjoy pulling at the dwarves' beards while the older ones sat back and laughed.
It had been elflings whom Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and Thorin and his Company of dwarves had heard singing in the valley of Rivendell when they journeyed to the Lonely Mountain some 80 years ago. Though it is possible that a few adult elves had been among them, only elflings think up crude lyrics like "tra-la-lally, in the valley" while the adults preferred more poetic, more complex verses.
As much as elflings love to laugh, run wild, and pull pranks on each other and the older, "crankier" people of their kind, they are still well-educated and well-disciplined. Elflings are as much polite as they are innocent. In public gathers especially, they carry themselves in good manner and such proper dignity, most guests would swear the elfling they spoke to had already reached young adult maturity.
But the innocence an elfling possesses is like balancing a crystal ball atop a thin reed. Drop the ball and it would shatter into a million fragments and therefore shatter the elfling's soul. His mind would forever be corrupted, his innocence lost never to be found again.
Two main reasons caused this: Intimacy and war.
The latter was exactly why Haldir of Lorien lost his innocence at the mere elfling age of twenty. Over 3000 years ago, he and other elflings his age and younger had been drafted into a war against a powerful Dark Lord and a Ring of Power. The elflings did not fight on the front lines, but were called in as reinforcements. That's how desperate the elves had been.
At first, Haldir had been ecstatic at the thought of going into battle, but the thrill soon turned into a horror he would carry till the end of his days.
Haldir had long since grown accustomed to the carnage of war, but for some reason that particular battle at Mount Doom still made him shudder, even now as he rode through Fangorn, a day away from crossing Rohan's north-eastern border. Haldir did not ride his usual white stallion, but on the back of Celeborn's griffon, Talon. It would be important that Haldir reached Gondor as soon as possible.
Haldir rode alone, not wanting to attract anyone's attention by riding with the Lothlorien Archer Company he was in charge of. Celeborn had been rather reluctant to send Haldir by himself, but the captain was insistent. If he was to be haunted by the shadow of his lost innocence in the form of Legolas's son, he would do so where there was no one else to see.
Raul had been standing outside of Elrypso's chamber door, pounding on the wood for the past ten minutes. "Sir, are you okay?" he cried. "Come, sir, Thalor demands a council."
The door flew open and Elrypso stood there glaring at Raul so intensely that the ice-blue gaze seemed to rip the elf's soul to shreds. "So, that fool wants a council, huh?" Elrypso snarled. "When does he never?"
"He's found the elfling, sir."
Elrypso's eyes went from white-hot anger to frozen shock. Without a word, he shoved past Raul and marched briskly down the hall. Raul shivered, unable to shake the feeling that whenever Elrypso brushed passed, it felt like an icy phantom blew him a deadly kiss, raising the hair on his arms.
"THALOR!" Elrypso yelled, bursting into a large, black walled room located at the top of a high tower several miles south of the palace of Mirkwood. The room was empty except for a small desk holding a crystal ball and a dark-haired elf standing behind it. "Raul tells me you've found the kid," Elrypso announced.
Thalor looked up from the ball and grinned nastily. "Yes, I did. Took me several hours of relentless searching of every nook and cranny of Gondor, but I found him."
Elrypso's mouth moved, but for a moment no sound came forth. Thalor basked in his comrade's reaction. "You're speechless, I see," he observed smugly.
"I did not realize you had the power to find the kid so fast," Elrypso finally managed. "I figured you would be spending weeks trying to relocate him."
This was far from an apology and Thalor knew it. Elrypso never apologized for anything. That only made Thalor smugger. "Yes," Thalor said proudly. "Apparently, the elfling is staying with High King Aragorn of Gondor. That is not all. During my search, I felt a strange notion to take a look at Rohan's north-eastern border. And what do I find?" Not expecting a reply, he continued, "Haldir of Lorien riding on a griffon approaching Gondor. No doubt coming to the child's aid."
"Haldir, huh?" Elrypso chuckled. "A mere pawn in this game. We can dispose of him easily."
The other elf shook his head. "No. The sudden disappearance of an elf of high rank will arouse many suspicions. Plus, I hear Haldir lost his elfling innocence when he was back in his twenties. It should be amusing to watch him get along with an elfling now. Wait until he escorts the brat to Mirkwood. Then the real games will begin."
Aragorn felt very confused.
Not about the truth of Alak's words. As having once been a Ranger, Aragorn knew when one told the truth and when one did not. The boy was without a shadow of a doubt who he said he was, the proof in the face that looked so much like the one who fathered it.
The king's confusion began the moment Alak told him that his scar wasn't a scar at all, but a birthmark said to be brought on by the pain of his parents. When asked what the pain was, Alak told Aragorn the whole dispute between the Sea-Elves and the Wood-Elves and how Legolas was executed because he married the Sea-Elf Queen.
That's where Aragorn became confused. From what he had gathered, the Sea-Elves and Wood-Elves had a tight allegiance to each other way before he was born. Why would such a dispute occur now?
And the Council of Elders trying their own prince of treason when he was clearly innocent? What of that?
What was going on?
Then, later, Aragorn began to notice that the elves were acting peculiar. His own elven servants who came out of love and loyalty for himself and Arwen were not themselves. They were jumpy and uneasy, their intense eyes darting back and forth as if expecting something to leap out of the shadows at them.
Did this have something to do with the oppression the people of the White City were feeling? The elves were so in tune with nature, it could be possible that if they should feel uneasy, it would affect the very atmosphere around them.
Whatever it was, Alak had been right. The elves were scattered and confused, the world changing far too fast for them. Elves had never experienced so much change during so little time.
There was only one elf who had the power to restore organization among the elves and help them change with the rest of the world.
And he was currently in Mirkwood, in a glass coffin, in a deep sleep.