Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood, was trying his best to get away from the following he seemed to have gathered. Desperately, he searched for a place to hide. Turning a corner, he found himself in the open courtyard. Unfortunately, the maidens easily caught up with him. Legolas sighed and submitted himself, pretending to be interested in what they were saying. Looking at the elves sitting around the banquet table, he noticed the princesses, who had just returned home after visiting Lorien. He had never met them, though he lived in the same forest, and he wished to do so now.
The maiden sitting to the right of their father had long, flowing, dark brown hair and brilliant hazel eyes. And the one sitting to the left of Maliphy… she too had long, dark, hair, but her eyes were a deep brown, and seemed like windows to her soul.
Legolas sensed that Aldariel was deeper than most elves, and he got the impression that she didn’t miss much. He detected sorrow and pain and was moved by it. Such was the princess’ dark beauty that Legolas realized he was not the only one affected by it. Several other male elves were watching Deliphy and Aldariel with rapt attention. But beauty isn’t everything, Legolas thought to himself. He turned to bid his following a farewell, ignoring their cries of protest.
When he turned back, Aldariel was gone. Suddenly, Legolas heard a sweet voice in the air. Many elves stopped talking to listen. Following everyone else’s gaze, Legolas saw Aldariel, surrounded by harps. He recognized her song as the “Lay of Leithian.” Her voice carried with it a hint of sadness that pulled at the Prince of Mirkwood’s heartstrings. What could have happened to her? He wondered.
As soon as she finished singing, Aldariel made a break for the royal stables. She desperately needed a comforting shoulder, and as Deliphy was disposed at the moment, she turned to her next best friend, her horse.
“Aranor?” She called softly as she approached his stall. A soft whicker answered her. Aldariel put her arms around the stallion’s neck. She immediately felt better. She stayed for a while, collecting her thoughts. She gave Aranor one last pat on the neck, then turned to leave, stopping short as she saw Legolas watching her.
“Forgive me,” he started.
” You had no right to follow me!” Aldariel interrupted, eyes flashing.
” I know, my lady,” he continued smoothly, ” but I wanted to meet you, and this seemed to be the only way to do it.”
Aldariel was slightly suspicious. She wasn’t good at trusting these days. ” Fine, I’m Aldariel, Princess of the Leafers.” She said curtly.
Legolas was struck by the coolness of her tone. ” I am Legolas, Son of Thranduil, Prince of Mirkwood.”
” There, now we’ve met,” she said, starting to leave.
“Wait Aldariel, don’t leave.” He pleaded. Aldariel braced herself and turned around. She would not fall for him, she told herself. But…she thought, I could always use a friend. Legolas walked forward to stand beside her.
” You know…” he said musingly. ” I’ve always hated ceremonies, and I understand that your father intends to introduce all of the visiting elves.” He looked at her with a tinkle in his eye. ” I understand your horse is fast.” Aldariel saw where this was leading.
Oh well, she thought as she grinned back at him. Even though I’m no Deliphy, I’ve done my fair share of wild things in the past. I’m overdue for a severe punishment of sorts anyway.
Minutes later, Aldariel and Legolas were racing through the trees. Aldariel was riding Aranor, and Legolas was on her sister’s horse, Arpenya. As the wind blew through her hair, Aldariel threw back her head and laughed, a clear silvery sound. Legolas heard the sound and briefly turned his head and smiled at her.
” This is more like it!” She called, exhilarated.
” Yes, nothing like a mad dash through the trees to lighten up your day.” He called back. Aldariel laughed again. She was beginning to like this prince. They came to a clearing and slowed the horses down to a trot. ” We should head back,” Aldariel said when she got her wind back. ” I’m going to be in enough trouble as it is.”
” You won’t be punished too severely, will you?” Legolas sounded concerned. She shrugged, ” It depends how father’s feeling today.”
Maliphy was furious. ” Where is she?!” He stormed. ” I go to introduce my daughter, only to discover she’s no where in sight. You girls are going to be the death of me.”
Deliphy hid her smile behind her hand. Not only had Aldariel run off, but she had run off with the visiting Prince of Mirkwood. Deliphy had watched as the two went riding off. She wholeheartedly approved of her sister’s actions. But then, Maliphy’s daughters are known for being wild. She thought. Deliphy was happy for her sister. Maybe she would come to realize that not all men were bad. Deliphy looked to the East to the sound of hoof beats rapidly closing in on their assemblage.
Aldariel’s face turned a shade greyer as she noticed the size of the crowd she and Legolas rode up to. She caught a hold of her sister’s comforting face. Maliphy opened his mouth to speak, but the sound of a bugle interrupted. All eyes turned to the archway where a group of men sat on horses. The elves viewed the men suspiciously, distrust evident in their features.
But lo! An elf rode by the men’s side, or rather, by one of the men. Aldariel and Deliphy abandoned their positions and ran to greet her. Layiwen got down from her horse and hugged her longtime friends. The Captain gazed passively at this scene. Maliphy stepped forward and addressed him.
“Why are you here? And how did you find the Leafer Kingdom?” Legolas, meanwhile, had been studying the visitors. The elf-maiden, Layiwen was stunning. In fact, He thought to himself, all three of them could be sisters, and they look close enough to be. The rest of the men were dressed in the armor of the Kingdom of Rohan. Their Captain was a singularly handsome man. His steely grey eyes watched every movement. When he spoke, it was obvious he was a thoughtful man and weighed his words carefully.
” My name is Farand. I am a Captain of the Riddermark under the eored of Helmdor, whom we were separated from. We have come to ask for assistance, for a band of orcs and Wildmen have invaded our Northern Territory. We have sent a messenger to Théoden King, to tell him of our condition and ask for help, but he did not send us an answer. He has not been himself of late. We asked for help from Lorien, but they would not give us aid. They are very distrusting of the race of Men.”
Maliphy was still doubtful. ” But how did you find us? Mirkwood is very difficult to navigate through, and only the Eldar can find the Leafer Kingdom and the Woodland Realm.”
At this, Farand motioned toward the trio of maidens standing behind him. ” Our trip to Lorien wasn’t completely unsuccessful.” For a fleeting moment his mask was dropped and the Captain gazed at Layiwen with a fierce love in his eyes. Aldariel was taken aback by the passion and devotion that emanated from the eyes that had been so devoid of emotion just moments before. She had not thought it possible for any of the race of Men to feel so strongly. In fact, the only elves she had ever seen that look in were Haldir and her sister. She looked at Layiwen and saw the same love in her eyes. Aldariel closed her eyes in grief. It seemed their friend’s fate was sealed.
Maliphy’s tone suggested he was unhappy. ” We will discuss this later.” He said, nodding toward the courtiers. Farand nodded understandingly. ” For now, ” Maliphy continued. ” You should rest.”