It wasn’t such a special day in late fall. The wind had been blowing hard all afternoon, a cold, chilling wind that harmonized perfectly with the gray, cloudy sky. The whole atmosphere of the frigid, murky day was burdening to the body and chilling to the soul. All the elves of Greenwood were quietly awaiting the return of the sun from the shelter of trees or caves or any place out of the ever blowing wind. Even in their elven wisdom they had yet to find a way to master the weather or keep it from being so dismal. Every immortal heart was sitting a little lower in every slender chest that day.
Araviel was no exception. His very soul felt weighted down by the overcast, windy day. He alone was not taking shelter somewhere. No, he, the self claimed unconquerable Araviel was out in the wind and all because of his own foolishness.
Its a matter of pride. He told himself, as he stood bravely alone and faced the wind. He shivered a little and tried to hum, but his voice was lost in the wind’s wild tune. If I don’t do this, I can never show my face in Greenwood again. That thought seemed to comfort him a little and he stood slightly straighter even as, with evening’s descent, a cold, disheartening drizzle began to fall.
The sad truth was, it was completely Araviel’s fault that he was out here at all. He had, as young boys (even elves) do, exaggerated his strengths and abilities until finally they were being tested. He had bragged about his resistance to things like rain and wind so much that the other elf boys had decided to see if he was really as noble as he said he was. He had, of course, foolishly accepted their challenge to spend the day and night outdoors in one of the tall trees of Greenwood with no wraps except the clothes on his back.
If he had gone inside, or swung down to snatch a blanket, none of his friends would have known, they were all inside away from the wind. But Araviel was true to his word. He told the boys he would do it, now he would do it, honestly and without cheating. It was, perhaps a foolish deed, but an honorable one as well. Not only would he face the anger of the wind, but afterwards, the wrath of his parents. He preferred the former to the latter. He shuddered a little, more from the thought of what his father would have to say about his absence than from the biting wind.
He felt as if he could never do anything quite right in his father’s eyes. It seemed that Legolas, his elder brother, had done just about everything brave and noble that could possibly be done and had left no courageous deed for his younger brother to perform. He grimaced a little as he thought of how his father would rant “Staying out all night! Your mother was worried sick! We’ve been looking everywhere for you! Legolas wouldn’t ever do something like this!” his green eyes narrowed a little as he thought of how his father was sure to compare the can’t – do – anything – right second born son to the absolutely perfect first born.
Of course, he should probably have been used to it by now. He had been hearing comparisons between the two of them all his short life. All about how wonderful it was the Legolas could shoot a small bird straight through the eye and how awful it was that Araviel missed the deer he was aiming for and hit his sister. (“It was an accident!” he claimed.). What a great prince Legolas made, and how sad it was that Araviel didn’t fill his position quite as well. Araviel was a natural born trouble maker, the mischievous side of him far too often won over the noble side. He often felt the need to `liven things up a bit’ as he put it when faced with one of many lectures from his stern father.
It didn’t seem fair to him that Legolas should be so good at everything. If he had just once slipped up and killed a dove or broke a tree branch, or even just snapped a twig when hunting, Araviel would have felt better and more, well, princely and worthy of the small crown he wore at feasts. But never had he caught Legolas doing anything wrong.
Never that is, until that one not so special fall day.