To Overcome the Shadow - Chapter 4 -- Tanie and Ninque's Desire
Again, the four elves found themselves in Lord Elrond's study. This time, though, they were accompanied by Legolas Thranduilion, who was gingerly holding a slab of raw meat to his eye. Elrond sat down behind his desk and sighed. His face seemed drawn and weary. Tanie glanced over at her comrades. No one met her eyes. She lowered her own, feeling ashamed.
"Maybe I went too far this time." She thought with chagrin.
Her companions were having similar thoughts.
Elrond finally began to speak, softly and slowly. "I had hoped years ago that you had all outgrown these childish pranks. You are all grown elves!"
Elladan spoke up. "I am sorry ada. It was my idea and I..."
Elladan snapped his mouth shut and lowered his head.
"Times are changing. This Middle-earth as we have known it is ending. The shadow in the East is growing and time cannot be wasted on frivolous activity! Elladan, you, your brother, and Legolas know this all too well! What is even worse is that you dragged an honoured guest into your conspiracy!" Here he paused and gave a pointed look at his sons, who shifted nervously. Elladan decided to keep quiet about Estel being a part of the conspiracy, knowing that however strict his father was with his immortal sons, it would be thrice as sever for his mortal foster son.
"Legolas is to return home in two days' time." Elrond continued. "Scouts have just returned with reports of orcs guarding the pass east over the Misty Mountains. I am sending an escort along with Legolas for protection as he has only a small convoy of his own kin with him. Elrohir and Elladan will accompany them."
The twins' heads shot up with surprise. "But ada, you could send any number of Elves, why must we go?" Elladan asked.
"To keep you separated from Ninque and Tanie, who seem to be the source of your troubles. Perhaps this fortnight long trip will help you two realize that life is not all fun and games. Tanie and Ninque will learn likewise while you are gone through various chores I will assign to them."
Tanie waited in growing impatience. Finally she mustered up enough courage and addressed Elrond. "My Lord Elrond, might I speak?"
Elrond looked at her and nodded.
"Perhaps the reason Ninque and I must amuse ourselves through pranks and jokes is that we are weary of having no real tasks to accomplish. If we could only fight! To ride to war with the elven company! That would give us meaning and purpose!" Tanie's voice rose in pitch. "Please, Lord Elrond. Let us learn to fight! Let one of the masters instruct us! Then we could ride to the aid the elven company that so faithfully keep our borders and cease to feel so useless and unprepared for the dark days that are destined to come."
Elrond gave a kindly smile to the passionate she-elf. "Your purpose is to be there when the company returns, to tend the wounded and prepare food for the battle-weary."
Ninque spoke up. "Yet we would be there to protect those who would be wounded, and to fight for the home we love! What honour is there in cooking and cleaning?"
Elrond held up his hand, silencing the girls. "You both have approached me many times in the past, Erutánië Litsos and Ninquetolliel Erunyauve, seeking to go to war. Your passion is strong, that I do not doubt, but..."
Tanie's eyes fell, dreading the answer.
"As I have answered before, so I will answer now, the battlefield is no place for a she-elf."
Tanie's hands lay clasped in her lap. A single tear traced its way down her cheek and splashed onto her clenched fingers. Ninque rose part way out of her chair, a plea rising to her lips.
"I will say no more." Lord Elrond said, silencing her outburst with a firm look. Ninque sank back dejectedly into her chair. "You may leave." Elrond watched as the five elves slowly filed out of his study. Elrohir was last to leave and as he reached the door Elrond called out to him, "My son, wait."
Elrohir turned and looked at his father. "Yes, ada?"
"What has caused you and your brother to linger so long in Imladris? You both used to be so eager to fight orcs. Ever since..." Elrond could not force the words out of his mouth.
"Ever since mother passed into the West?" asked Elrohir sadly. "Aye, and eager we still are."
Elrond looked questioningly at his son.
"We have found reason to stay. Or you might say that reason found us and placed us in bonds not easily broken," laughed Elrohir softly. "But you are right, ada, we have neglected our duties for too long. We must ensure Imladris stays safe for those we cherish." he finished quietly. He turned and walked silently out the door, leaving his father to ponder his words.
Elrohir desperately wished he could comfort Tanie, even if just as a friend. He was still unsure of these strange feelings he was experiencing towards her, but knew that she had been hurt deeply by his father's refusal. As he left his father's study, he hurried after her down the hall. She had reached her room and was about to enter.
"Tanie, wait!" he called. She paused, her hand on the doorknob. Elrohir stopped beside her and reaching out, tentatively took her hand in his own. His heart skipped a beat as his fingers came in contact with her soft skin. She would not meet his gaze, but patiently waited.
"Tanie," he said tenderly. "I..." For a moment he struggled for the right words to ease her pain. "I...am truly sorry." he finally choked out. "I know what it is to be unable to have that which you most desire." Fresh tears coursed their way down Tanie's already damp cheeks. Elrohir longed to reach out and brush them away. He could feel her hand slightly trembling in his grasp. Tanie slipped her hand from his grasp and, pushing her way into her room, closed the door without a backward glance. Elrohir stood silently for a moment outside her closed door. His fists were clenched and his whole body tense, as if waiting, hoping, for a sign. He finally sighed, and turned away, a hopeless despair filling his eyes.
Legolas groaned as he plopped down in a chair in Elrohir's room, still holding the raw meat slab to his eye. "This has been the worst day of my entire immortal life!" he said, leaning his head back and closing his uninjured eye. "That's the last time I help you fools with anything!"
"Oh, you said that last time." Elladan replied with a grin, stretching himself out on his brother's bed.
Legolas lifted his head and looked at Elladan with a puzzled look on his face. "But, I had not known that Tanie and Ninque were so desperate to go to battle! Did you Elrohir?" he turned and asked the twin who had just walked in.
"Yes." Elrohir answered distractedly. "I knew." He sat down in the remaining chair and rested his elbows on his knees, rubbing his face wearily.
Legolas shook his head and sighed. "I still remember my first battle. Bloody awful it was. I could not stop shaking! I swear I lost more arrows that day to trees and bushes than in all the battles since combined!"
"How did you survive, Princess?" Elladan asked, flipping over on his stomach and staring at his friend with an enraptured look on his face.
"Well, unknown to me at the time," Legolas explained, ignoring Elladan's barb, "My father had several skilled archers hidden around me, making sure I did not get seriously injured..." His explanation was cut short by uproarious laughter coming from Elladan.
"So," he choked out between guffaws, "how many enemies did you really kill, Princess?"
"Stop calling me that." Legolas replied with a grin, chucking a pillow at the elf.
Elladan deftly caught it and threw it back. "You didn't answer my question."
"Well, I don't see why you need to know."
"To have some fun at your expense of course!"
Each comment was punctuated by the throwing of the pillow.
"Please Princess! Do tell all!"
"Will you quit calling me that if I tell you?"
"Hhmmmm..." Elladan pondered, tapping his chin with his finger. "Oh, very well."
"I had believed that I had killed a total of 18, but the truth was...I killed a grand total of...two. Alright?"
At that, even Elrohir could not help a grin spreading across his face. Elladan hooted and hollered till tears streamed from his eyes and his stomach ached. After it had gone on for a while, Legolas became irritated.
"Oh, do shut up! I don't see what this has to do with anything! I'm still trying to figure out what Tanie and Ninque see that is so appealing in the bloody carnage of battle, remember?"
Elrohir's smile faded. "It is because of their parents." He said sadly.
Legolas looked at him curiously. "So it is in the blood?" he asked skeptically.
"No." Elrohir shook his head. "Their mothers were both good friends with my mother, Celebrían. They were in her vanguard the day it was attacked by Orcs on the way home from Lóthlorien." Legolas' face saddened as Elrohir related the tale. How Tanie's mother had been killed, and Ninque's mother severely wounded. Ninque's mother was healed by the skills of Lord Elrond, but eventually became weary, as did Celebrían, and accompanied her to the Grey Havens.
"Tanie and Ninque were only just coming of age. But even then their desire for revenge was strong. They begged to be able to ride with their fathers and us in search of the Orcs. But instead, they were forced to watch as the only family they had left rode away, never to return."
"What happened?" Legolas asked. Elrohir turned tear-filled eyes upon the elf.
"After Tanie's mother died, her father lost hope and left her in the care of Lord Elrond before departing into the West. Ninque's father died in battle that same day. We had battle as an outlet for our grief, they only had each other. Such is the curse of being born a warrior in a she-elf's body." He ended bitterly.
Composing himself, Elrohir continued. "Ever since then, they have been inseparable. My father treats them as if they were his own daughters."
Silence filled the room. Thunder rumbled in the distance and a light rain, warm and pleasant, begin to fall.
After several minutes of thoughtful silence, Elrohir suddenly slapped his thighs in apparent frustration and stood up. His face was clouded with anger. Both Legolas and Elladan jumped at the sudden noise and stared at their distraught companion. "I hate this!" Elrohir burst out, angrily pacing the room.
"Yes, I know." Elladan answered dejectedly. "Think of all the feasts we will miss escorting poor vulnerable Princess Legolas half-way across Middle-Earth! At least Tanie and Ninque get good food along with their punishment. We have to live off of lembas and dried meat for a whole month!" Elladan made an its-all-your-fault face at Legolas, who threw the pillow back at him.
"You promised not to call me that!"
"No. No." Elrohir interrupted his brother's response. "I hate feeling so helpless! I wish there was some way I could comfort Tanie!"
"Why?" Elladan asked. "She'll get over it, they both will, just like after all the other punishments. At least, I think they will..." he glanced sadly at Legolas. "But if they don't, Legolas, I'd leave early if I were you."
Elrohir paused before his brother and spread his hands helplessly. "I know! I know! I don't know why! I just feel, well, tied to her grief, as if I were experiencing it myself! She's drowning in it, Elladan. I feel I must save her, or no one else will!" He sat back down and held his head in his hands. "I just don't know how." He muttered dejectedly.
Elladan sobered up, realizing that his brother really was experiencing some severe distress. Closing his eyes, he started to communicate telepathically with his twin. This was usually very hard to do even between close kin, but the twin sons of Elrond had been gifted with exceptional skill, so long as it was between them only.
"You love her, don't you, Elrohir?"
"I don't know Elladan. But answer me this, why have we stayed so long at home, when we were once so eager to be out hunting?"
"I feel it same as you, muindor*. Something is keeping both us tied to home."
"You mean...You have feelings for Ninque as well?"
"I don't know. Sometimes, I look at her, and her beauty and strength pierce my heart, and I forget all else. I see in her an unconquerable spirit, like that of a great elf lord of old."
"Ai! I have noticed, Elladan. So has ada. But whatever our ties here, he has reminded me that we have responsibilities as lords of Imladris, which include protecting those we love."
"I understand, Elrohir. But will staying true to our royal duties make us neglect the duties to our hearts? How can they ever know how we feel if we are always being driven away by our duties?!"
Elrohir did not answer. Suddenly, Legolas popped up and peeled off the slab of raw meat. He was sporting a beautiful shiner that gleamed in the afternoon light. "Well, gentlemen, I have just come up with a plan that will solve all of our problems!"
Elrohir looked skeptically at the grinning elf. "And what are our problems exactly?"
"You want to cheer up Tanie, I'm sure Elladan wants to cheer up Ninque, although he'll never admit it, and I want to be assured of no retaliation from either."
"So, what is this unfoilable plan of yours?" Elladan asked.
"Well, you see..." Legolas started excitedly. The twins' faces began to lift as Legolas began to unfold the details.
muindor -- brother