Part Twenty Two
Meranyn sat on her bed as she combed her hair in the mirror. She smiled at her own beauty. Her golden hair was bright, her eyes were vibrant, and her complexion better than any Elf’s. She was pleased with her classical beauty, and often summoned pictures of herself as Queen of Mirkwood in her scrying glass. Her dark powers had been discovered by that woman, Celebra, and so she had been sent away from Rohan long before her plan would work. She had had to dismantle the idea, and now she was more than ready for another trick.
But magic without power brought a beautiful woman only fear, and so she needed the power. Such power could be wielded by a queen, and the position of Gondor was already taken. But Mirkwood…Mirkwood was a whole different story. Legolas was young, unattached, it all worked out perfectly. That fool Lhunidil actually thought they were friends, but Meranyn was just using her to get closer to Legolas. Still, she had just overheard a conversation between Legolas and Aduin, his chief advisor. Aduin had told Legolas that his parents had refused to allow him to court the girl he wanted, and that he had to court Lhunidil, the daughter of Thranduil’s friend.
The girl he wanted was Analsiel, her foster sister.
Oh, she hated that girl. But no matter what Legolas did, or how obvious his love was to everyone at court, Analsiel shunned him. Still, that was all the better for Meranyn. She would just have to get rid of her beautiful sister very quickly.
Analsiel rode hard. She was riding to a moor where the archers often practiced, carrying her hated bow in her hands. A quiver was strapped to her back, and tears flew freely down her pale face. What was happening? Legolas wanted…her? No, no, it was all wrong! She wasn’t at all interested in him!
Carandae seemed to have caught her fever, and was galloping faster than he ever had before. The two of them made a dark blur as they rushed down the hard streets of the seven-layered city.
Once she reached the moor, she slid off her horse and sat quietly, thinking. Her life was becoming a mess. She never saw her friends anymore, and she was unhappy as a soldier. Now Legolas loved her and Firndil showed no more interest than Elladan and Elrohir. She was overcome by a wave of righteous self-pity, and she stood to walk off her gloom. Then she fainted.
Arwen had followed the girl out of the city. She had watched the whole time she thought, and she had seen Analsiel fall. The ride must have been too much for her, thought Arwen. Still, she had no idea what had made so calm a girl so frantic to leave the city. Now she walked up to Analsiel, who reminded her so much of her first born daughter. That beautiful one had been lost many years ago, and Arwen missed her more than life. But Analsiel was so like her in manner and in looks that the Elf-Queen had begun to think of her as her daughter. Now she went to her, and held her in her arms until darkness fell.
When Analsiel woke, she was back in the city in her bed in the palace. She remembered Arwen putting her back on Carandae and taking her into the city, but after that she couldn’t remember anything. Still, it was good to be back in her bed in her room. She had missed the palace.
She sat bolt upright when the door opened, but it was not Legolas, only Nori and Arwen. Nori looked worried, and sat right next to Analsiel on the bed. “Are you alright?” she asked immediately.
Analsiel smiled. “I think so. But my legs are a little sore. From the fall, you know. And my head hurts.”
“That is to be expected,” Arwen said. “Lean forward. I have a little salve I can put on your shoulder to help it. And some tea for your headache. But I think what you really need to heal is an explanation.”
Analsiel cringed. “Do you have one for me?” she asked.
Arwen nodded solemnly. “I do. Legolas loves you very much, or he thinks he does. How well he really knows you I have no idea, but that is what he thinks. He asked Thranduil and Antafei for permission to court you, but they forbade him. They would not allow him to marry a mortal, and especially one who was of Rohan, because the Mirkwood Elves have never loved the Rohirrim. It didn’t even matter to them that you were of the noblest blood of all Rohan. So they chose Lhundil for him.”
Here, Nori winced and bit her lip very hard. Analsiel reached out and held her friend’s hand with one hand, as she held the mug of tea with the other. Analsiel knew that Nori loved Legolas. It had been revealed at the Midsummer party. Nori was also mortal, and not half as noble. She had so little chances of ever having Legolas it hurt her even to hear such things.
Arwen continued. “He has been fighting his parents about it for months. Analsiel, you ought to tell him you are not interested, instead of making him so angry all the time. He deserves to know.”
Analsiel nodded miserably. “I know. But I don’t think I can face him. Not after…what I did,” she said weakly.
Arwen smiled. “Still, face him you must. But you must do it before the end of the month.”
Analsiel blinked. “What happens in a month?” she asked, genuinely curious.
“You and all my ladies,” said Arwen, “Are going to join a border patrol!”
Nori had been just as shocked at this turn of events as Analsiel. The two of them had so many questions for her, they would have swamped the most patient listener in all Middle Earth. The most patient listener in all Middle Earth, Arwen was not, and so she made a quick exit during Nori’s question about “what in the world were Orcs doing on the borders when nothing was happening.” She left her two maidens completely flabbergasted.
“Analsiel?” called a tentative voice. “What’s the temperature like out there?”
For the hundredth time that time, Analsiel felt ready to scream. Just because Mena had put her in charge of the squad didn’t mean she knew everything there was to know about everything! Analsiel felt her temper rising and bit her tongue to stop it from cutting out poor Vanadar. The girl was absolutely hopeless. But she meant well, and obviously felt bad about asking so many questions, so Analsiel answered her gently.
“I’m not really sure Vanadar, but it will probably be like it is here. Maybe a little colder.”
“Oh,” said Vanadar as she returned to her packing. Firnciliath nudged her in the ribs. “Oh!” said Vanadar, as the color rose in her cheeks. “Thank you, Analsiel,” she said belatedly.
Lhunidil snickered. She had asked Arwen to put her in charge of the squad, but Arwen had left it up Mena, and Mena had chosen her. So now Lhundil decided that she hated Analsiel and she found every excuse she could to laugh at her. Now Analsiel scowled at her.
“Something funny, Lhunidil?” she asked savagely.
Lhunidil sobered immediately. “No,” she said.
“Good,” said Analsiel.
The rest of the day went well. The girls had a good time packing, and Astianen, Firnciliath, and Analsiel were happily reminded of their preparations for Mirkwood. Mirkwood…Legolas…Analsiel worried just thinking about what she would say to him. So she didn’t. She`d just say it when the time came.
Analsiel stepped nervously up to the door. She knocked softly. It swung open, and there was Legolas.
“Legolas?” she said. “Can we talk?”