Legolas watched her pace for a few minutes, and then approached her. “Did I offend you, Aarien?” he asked softly.
“No, Legolas, you didn’t.” Mandy snapped, still pacing.
“Then why are you angry with me?” Legolas stepped in front of her, “Why do you find it so offensive that you don’t have to impress me?”
“It’s not that…I…” Mandy broke off, shaken by his gaze, “I don’t know, I guess…it’s just that… I have never known anyone like you before. Back at home, well, where I am from, the guys weren’t like you…most would have gone after a different girl by now, especially with everything I’ve done around you.”
“What things?” Legolas gently guided her to a bench.
“Well, always stumbling around you, falling out of a tree on top of you–ok, wasn’t my fault–and…beating you at fencing.” she said awkwardly, glancing down at her hands, “I guess all of that combined with being Aragorn’s daughter and a princess: I didn’t know how to act around you. It was so much simpler at Lorien, where I was just another elf.”
“Oh, Mandy.” Mandy looked up, startled that he had used her normal name after several weeks of not hearing it, “Do you think I care about any of those things? You would not be the care-free girl I know, if I felt you had to impress me.” Legolas brushed a strand of her hair out of her face, “and I wouldn’t want you any other way.”
Mandy looked at him, wondering if he was just saying that, and was taken aback at the frank honesty shining from his eyes. She lowered her eyes. “I have been such an idiot.” she muttered.
“Oh, Aarien…” Legolas cupped his hand around her face, “Do not…” He was cut off by Pippin racing over to them.
“‘Elp me! Sam is about ready to…” Pippin leaped behind them, looking not at all like a Guard of the Citadel should, “Sh…I am not here.”
Mandy rolled her eyes, “Ai!, this is the second time you’ve interrupted us.”
“Yes, what is it?” Legolas grasped Pippin and pulled him up.
“Sam is about ready to kill me, Merry, and Frodo `cause we shoved him into you, Lady Aarien.” Pippin groaned, squirming under Legolas’s cool gaze.
Mandy desperately tried to keep a straight face, “I see.”
“Is that any reason to rudely run out here and interrupt us?” Legolas asked, his face hard.
“Well, no, but Aragorn-king ordered me to come and find Aarien, so that is a reason.” Pippin retorted back.
“Oh no. Ada!” Mandy jumped up, “I’ll bet he’s wondering…I should go back inside.”
“May I escort you, Lady Aarien?” Pippin asked, cautiously looking around, “I think Sam is chasing Merry at the moment.”
“No, you may not.” Legolas answered, “You and I are going to wait for Sam.”
Mandy laughed and went inside, while Legolas kept his eye on a very uncomfortable Pippin.
“Ada, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to disappear.” Mandy raced up to Aragorn.
“It’s alright.” Aragorn looked up from where he talking with Eomer, “We are leaving in the morning to go to Rohan. We are going with Eomer to bury Theoden-king.”
“Oh, yes. In that case, I will go to bed and see you in the morning.” Mandy curtsied, “M’lord, Ada.” She turned and with the softest whisper of her skirt, left them.
“Sh…” a voice whispered.
“I am being quiet!” another answered angrily raising her voice.
“You’re going to wake her up, Celebel.” Elwen grinned at her.
“Here.” Tethcelebel gave Elwen the sack.
Mandy rolled over, mumbling to herself.
Elwen carefully looked at her and then grinned triumphantly, “She’s asleep!”
“Now, what are we doing again?” Tethcelebel asked softly.
“I saw…ah ha! There they are.” Elwen carefully leaned out of the window, “I can’t reach them. I am going to have to climb out. Keep watch, Celebel.” She easily climbed into the tree and up to where the owl’s nest was. Carefully, she picked up each owlet, placing them into the sack. All of a sudden, she froze, hearing voices and footsteps. Holding still, she watched as soldiers walked under her and away. Waiting until they were gone, she turned and jumped lightly into the room. “I have them.” she spoke in a whisper.
Tethcelebel smiled mischievously and helped her with the sack. Gently, they placed the three owlets onto Mandy’s pillow. They exchanged impish grins, and then froze, hearing elven voices. They quickly went out the window and into the tree.
Elrond, Celeborn, and Galadriel were walking down the hall when Galadriel stopped.
“What is it?” Celeborn asked, placing a hand on Galadriel’s shoulder.
“I thought I felt something….” Galadriel opened the door and glanced in at Mandy. Seeing nothing the matter, she closed it, and they went on their way.
“Whew….that was close, Elwen.” Tethcelebel turned to her friend, “I may be considered an adult, but I have a feeling my grandmother would still punish me for doing this.”
“I agree.” Elwen laughed, going back inside the room. They cracked open the door, only to see Eomer and Eowyn coming down one way and Elrond the other.
“Etarish…” Elwen muttered to herself.
“Quickly, Elwen.” Tethcelebel motioned, “Through the window.”
They climbed into the tree again.
“Now, where….ah.” Elwen knew where she was going, “To the roof!” Tethcelebel climbed up and reached a hand down to Elwen. Elwen clasped it firmly and scrambled up as well. They silently went across and dropped lightly to the other side. Hurrying, they were entering the palace when Elrond caught sight of them.
“Girls!” he stopped them short, “I want a word with you.” Grasping each firmly by the shoulder, he escorted them to their room, lecturing about how maidens shouldn’t be wandering around Gondor in the early parts of the morn. He brushed a feather from Elwen’s cloak, and then he said goodnight and left them.
“Let’s go see her in a couple hours.” Tethcelebel’s eyes glittered.
“Let’s.” Elwen nodded her agreement, smiling mischievously.
“Ah….” Mandy yawned, not quite awake. She seemed to fade in and out, hearing weird noises. Suddenly, she felt something scramble around her head. Glancing up, she froze, seeing what seemed like claws coming at her face.
Suddenly, a scream rivaling the Nazgul echoed through the halls of Gondor. Legolas was walking down the hall and heard it. He raced into her room, only to find her angrily sitting on the bed with her head leaning down, trying to undo owlets’ talons from her hair.
“Stop smirking and help me!” Mandy growled, wincing every time the owlets moved around.
“Here, hold still.” Legolas gently untangled the little birds, holding them in his hands, “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, except for having hair pulled out by those…those…raukos (demons)!” she sat up, shaking her head, “Are you laughing?” Legolas instantly went serious, but couldn’t help the merriment shining in his eyes. “You did it, didn’t you?” Mandy leaped out of bed and confronted him.
“Me? Don’t be ridiculous!” Legolas shook his head, “Why would I?”
“To play a trick, to joke, to get back at me for beating you…how should I know?” Mandy snapped, as Legolas backed away.
“Aarien, on my honor, I swear I didn’t put these in your bed!” Legolas protested, putting the owlets back into the nest.
“I don’t…” Mandy went quiet as her ears heard the sound of soft laughter coming from near the door. Legolas walked quietly over to the door while Mandy put on a robe. Throwing it open, they saw Elwen and Tethcelebel standing there, with guilty looks on their faces.
“You two!” Mandy said, her voice rising to a high pitch, “What are you doing here?”
“We came with Grandmother, Aarien.” Tethcelebel managed to choke out between the laughter.
“Your scream would wake up the whole palace!” Elwen doubled over laughing.
“Why you!” Mandy strode towards them.
“Now, hold on, Aarien. It was just a joke!” Tethcelebel protested, as they both backed away, “Don’t lose your temper.”
“I’m afraid it’s already lost and gone!” Mandy sputtered angrily, running towards them. They both dashed down the hall with Mandy after them. Elwen and Tethcelebel turned the corner, smacking straight into Aragorn. Mandy came just seconds after them, sliding to a halt behind as she saw him.
“Good-morning, M’lord.” Elwen smirked at Mandy.
“Good-morning, Elwen, Tethcelebel…” Aragorn looked from one face to another, pausing longer on Mandy’s disheveled look, “What is going on to make you run down the hallways in your nightdress, Aarien?”
“They put owlets in my bed!” Mandy glared at them, while Aragorn tried to keep a straight face but failed.
“Owlets?” he laughed, “You should be glad, Aarien. They put spiders in my bed when I came to Lorien many years ago.”
“SPIDERS?!” Mandy screeched.
“Yes, spiders. Keep your voice down, or would you like to wake up the rest of the palace?” Aragorn said sternly, “It’s a common practice for elf-friends to put things in each other’s beds. Just be glad it wasn’t something worse. Now go get dressed.”
Mandy watched as Aragorn walked away, and then she turned to look at her friends. They glanced at her warily. “You really put spiders in his bed?” she asked.
“Yes, about a dozen…at the foot of it.” Tethcelebel answered, smiling.
“I see.” Mandy looked at them, “Then I guess mine wasn’t too bad.” They all walked back to her room, “By the way, what are you doing here?” Mandy asked. They laughed and told her that they and some of the Lorien elves had come to go to Rohan with the funeral procession.
The next morning, they all prepared to leave. “Then they laid the bier upon a great wain with the Riders of Rohan all about it and his banner borne before; and Merry being Theoden’s esquire rod upon the wain and kept the arms of the king. Frodo and Samwise rode at Aragorn’s side, and Gandalf rode Shadowfax, and Pippin rode with the knights of Gondor, and Legolas and Gimli as ever rode together upon Arod. In that riding went also Queen Arwen, and Celeborn and Glaladriel with their folk, and Elrond and his sons.” (ROTK)
Mandy ate some of the lembas as they rode out of Minas Tirith. She rode Ilma, with Tethcelebel and Elwen by her side. They talked softly, almost solemnly as they rode, each being preoccupied with thoughts about Theoden. Mandy wished that she could have met him; Tethcelebel was saddened once again for all the lives lost in the Battle of Pellenor Fields; and Elwen remembered the many hours spent with Tethcelebel, waiting for news of the war. The trio didn’t know how long they rode without speaking, but suddenly the horn blew, and all the company stopped and dismounted.
“How long of a journey will it be?” Mandy asked as she stretched.
“Riding hard, it usually only takes three to four days.” Elwen replied, “But because we are in such a big company, most likely fourteen or fifteen.”
“Oh.” Mandy smiled, “Well, that sounds like fun.”
“Especially since there are no orcs about.” Tethcelebel winked at Elwen.
“Of course.” Elwen agreed, “That’s always a good thing, except that we still have that contest going on.”
“I won.” Tethcelebel shook her head, “See how she is? She hates to admit I beat her!” Tethcelebel glanced at Mandy, “And besides I did. I had thirty-eight.”
“Which is hard to believe since you were half-dead.” Elwen jokingly glared at her.
“Whoa! Half-dead? What are you two talking about?” Mandy interrupted.
“Well, it’s a long story.” Elwen answered.
“But we have time.” Tethcelebel rubbed her horse’s nose, “This happened a little more than half a century ago, when Legolas and I were not adults. Elwen and Legolas came to visit Lorien, along with some others. The short of it is that two of our friends got kidnapped, and we went after them.”
“Not very smart considering that we would get beaten for crossing the border.” Elwen interjected.
“Anyway, we find out that the Rangers helped one of our friends, so we meet up with them. One of them, Estel…” “Who is Aragorn.” Elwen interrupted. Tethcelebel gave her a glare, and then continued, “Yes, it is Aragorn. He wants to come to Lorien. So, we (six or seven in all) head back to Lorien. We get ambushed by a band of orcs, and I get cut off from the group. By the time Elwen comes, I am pushed up against a tree, with arrows in my torso and a spear in my side.” Tethcelebel broke off, her eyes taking on a faraway look.
“Well, what happened?” Mandy prompted.
“I draw the orcs away and kill a score of them.” Elwen ended.
“While I had twenty-eight.” Tethcelebel said triumphantly.
“Yes, you did.” Elwen conceded a little grudgingly.
“But what happened to you, Celebel? How did you survive?” Mandy yelled, “You cannot stop there!”
“That is a story for a different time, my dear Aarien.” Tethcelebel smiled as the horn blew, “Let’s go.”
Mandy shook her head, frustrated, “You aren’t going to tell me, are you?”
“Nope, at least, not right now. I have to go talk with my grandmother.” Tethcelebel laughed and left to find Galadriel.
Elwen and Mandy stood up and called to their horses. They saddled the horses, and the company rode out.
i hope you enjoyed this chapter. it’s kinda the start of a new page for Mandy….