Leetha shut the door behind her, closed her eyes and held her breath. She had made it to her room without being caught. `Maybe I’ll be lucky this time and they won’t have noticed my absence.’ She opened her eyes and put her ear to the door expecting to hear approaching footsteps. `Silence.’ Leetha let out a whoosh of air and smiled to herself turning away from the door and across her room. She couldn’t help but grin as she placed her new dye on her dresser. She quickly undressed and replaced her ragged blue dress with a lovely flowing green dress that hung gracefully off her curves. She brushed out her long auburn hair and braided it into one long braid running down her back. She then washed her face and inspected herself in the mirror. `Leave it to Lady Stealth; they won’t even know I was gone.’ No such luck. A knock rang through her door loud enough to make Leetha jump into the air. Leetha spun around and took a deep breath to collect herself. She should have known that her parents would have found out she was gone and she then rolled her eyes.
“Come on in.” Leetha called trying not to let her voice give herself away as she promptly turned back to her dresser and put her precious dye into the top drawer. She heard the door begin to open and she gradually turned around expecting to find her mother;
“Darian!” Leetha tried to hide her surprise as he stepped into her room. He was clasped in his usual color of dark gray the very color that brought out his handsomely dark features. She didn’t have much time to look at him because his eyes appeared dark and angry.
“Why did you go out again alone? You know that it is not safe, especially with all the strange travelers roaming in from the festival.” He took a few steps towards her never taking his eyes away from hers. “I would have gone with you and protected you.” His voice became harsher and sterner with every word.
Leetha finally broke his gaze and looked down to the floor. She wanted so bad to talk back to him in the same voice as he was to her. She knew from experience what it was like to go to the festivals with him, `Sure I’ll go to the village with you so you can stare at weapons and eat and drink till you become sick and I follow you around like a leashed dog on a chain.’ She bit her tongue for she knew she could never say these words to him. Instead she looked back up at him,
“I am sorry, Darian. I will not go out again alone.” She knew she was lying through her teeth and Darian’s face seemed to know that these too were fibs.
He stalked up to her quickly and grabbed her arm looking her straight in the eyes.
“See that you don’t,” Darian’s grip became tighter as he squeezed her small arm, “A girl like you needs to learn her place.”
Leetha tried not to flinch as his grip became even tighter and began to hurt her.
“Promise me, Leetha.” His black eyes pierced through her.
Leetha held back the tears creeping into her eyes, “I promise.”
He held her arm a little longer and then released it. His face softened and he leaned into her and gently kissed her cheek. He pulled back and smiled down at her.
“That a girl, love. You know that I only do this because I care about you. You’re more important to me then anything and I don’t want to see you taken by another.”
Leetha forced a smile as she gently touched her arm, for he had gripped the very one that held her birthmark that had been giving her pain that very morning. But her attention went to her door for she heard approaching footsteps. She knew they were by her mother for they had that light gracefulness that only her mother seemed to possess. But as they came closer they began moving quickly and were almost clumsy. Darian too heard the steps at he too spun around and took a step so he stood beside Leetha. Her mother soon appeared at the entrance wearing a lovely silver dress but her hair was wind blown and she was slightly out of breath.
“Leetha, honey, there you are.” She walked up to her and took her hand and pulled her lightly so that she would follow, “we have a guest that we need you to talk to.” Leetha followed her mother and looked back at Darian. He obviously too did not know what was going on for he went after them, the same look of puzzlement on his face.
Legolas soon found himself being led down a long corridor leading to large double doors at the end. He looked left and right of him at the people that lined this passage. Each were either a servant or a guard of some kind but all looked at Legolas with the same puzzlement and wonder that he received on his entire journey to the palace. It had not taken long for the guard at the main entrance to return to where he had left Legolas standing outside. He had appeared out of breath and sweat lay on his brow. He had apologized to Legolas for doubting him and immediately opened the doors and instructed him to follow where the king was waiting. So here Legolas was following closely behind the guard as they made their way through mazes of doors and halls till the guard came to a stop before a wide wooden double door. He gave one last look to Legolas, smiled awkwardly and left disappearing around a corner. Legolas turned back to the doors slightly puzzled. Obviously, he was supposed to go through them. He gently knocked on the doors and they were immediately opened by two women whom he assumed were more of the king’s maids. They both looked at him nervously and bowed gesturing with their hands for Legolas to step inside the hall.
Long columns decorated in the same fashion as the ones at the main entrance lined this room at either end. There were six on either side and they all led to the end of the room where a figure sat watching him intently. Legolas knew that this was the king and he nodded to either servant as he made his way towards the man. He heard the doors shut behind him and the king stood to greet him.
The king was garbed all in a deep blue and a golden crown lay atop his head. He stood proud and tall yet his shoulders tensed as Legolas stopped and stood before him. The king reminded Legolas of the late King Théoden except his face still showed signs of youth yet he had a slightly longer beard. As he drew closer, he saw dark circles and under the king’s eyes as well as a few wrinkles that shown signs of stress. The king however looked upon Legolas and a smile creased onto his face and Legolas instantly did not feel so out of place.
“Mae Govannen my elf-friend, I am called Avatre and I am the king of this land.” the king said and extended his hand towards him. “We’ve been expecting you.”
Legolas couldn’t help but smile at the notion that the king had greeted him in elvish and accepted the king’s hand in a firm hand shake.
“Mae Govannen,” Legolas greeted back through a warm smile and then released the king’s hand, “we received your message that you needed aid from an elf.” Legolas said this more in a tone of a question than a comment.
The king’s face seemed to fall somewhat at this comment.
“Aye, this is true.”
Legolas tried to read the man’s face but received no answers.
Avatre looked up at him and smiled again, “It is indeed quite and honor to send out a distress call for an elf only to have it answered by the famous Legolas Greenleaf.” The king looked past Legolas, “I am sorry for the treatment I’m sure that you received upon entering my village but you must forgive them. They have not seen an elf for ages if any has ever seen one at all.” He looked down at his hands and sighed, “The fact that an elf has come to this place is indeed going to arouse a stir, for they will come to believe that we are on the brisk of war.”
“Is it true?”
Avatre looked up quickly at Legolas.
“Is what true?”
“Is it the calling of war that brought me here?” Legolas asked with intense eyes, “Do you need the assistance of elves in this battle for our numbers have grown short and am afraid we would not make much of an army.”
The king laughed slightly, “No it is not war,” and looked down at his hands folded before him.
Legolas was becoming more and more confused and continued looking at Avatre for answers.
“Well, what is it then? Why else would you call for me?”
The king stood there and seemed to be trying to think of words to say. Legolas could tell that the Avatre was distressed and waited patiently for the king to speak. Legolas’ mind raced, `Why would a king ask for the aid of an elf if not in fear of war?’ Finally, Avatre sighed and looked up at Legolas and he could see tears welting in his eyes. “Legolas, it is my daughter.”
Legolas was taken aback. This is not what he expected Avatre to say and his brow lowered in confusion. The king broke his gaze and down to the floor and he paced slightly.
“I do not understand,” Legolas responded as he watched the king pace, “what does you daughter have to do with me?” He did not intend to sound like a negative response but Legolas was caught of guard by Avatre’s comment.
Avatre stopped pacing and looked at him, “Many years ago, when my daughter was no more than an infant, a curse was laid upon her.”
Again, Legolas became confused, “Cursed? What makes you believe this and why would a curse be put upon your daughter and not you?”
Avatre sighed and sat back down into his thrown, “I believe that I should tell you the story so you might understand what it is I need you for.”
Legolas nodded and waited for the king to start.
Avatre paused for awhile so to collect his words and then began;
“Years ago, before our daughter was born, we had a sorceress that worked for us in the castle. She had worked for my father before me and his father before him. She was mostly a healer when one of us became ill and once in awhile we would have her create weapons that had special powers held within them that we could use against the enemy.”
“Special powers?” Legolas interrupted.
“Yes, like powers against diseases that one might get when going into battle and some even held the natural spells such as fire and wind.”
Legolas understood but did not believe it. A sorceress was never known to help anyone but themselves and the idea that one was helping out an entire kingdom was a little too much for Legolas to swallow but stood quietly so the king could continue.
“She was a wonderful servant to have around because she was so powerful and incredibly skilled in what she did.” Avatre brow furrowed, “but with power comes greed. Her name was Kaisha and we soon realized that she was using her skills against us. Of course, we didn’t realize it at first, it was little things such as slipping powder into our drinks so we’d fall asleep and then she could steal the jewels that we wore. We did not realize this of course at the time or I would have banished her immediately. After our daughter was born, soldiers using the weapons that she created had no effect or they would turn on them and not the enemy. Since she had been such a faithful servant, I did not believe that it was her intentional doing and that maybe she was just losing her skill. As things became worse, I began to suspect she was slowly trying to destroy what army we had leaving us defenseless, but these were all suspicions and we did not know if these were facts.”
“What finally made you get rid of her?”
“One night after we had retired, I heard a voice coming from my daughter’s room a few doors down. My daughter at the time was no more then a year old so she was too young to be talking on her own. I had gotten out of bed to make sure everything was all right. When I got to the door, I saw Kaisha holding my daughter out with her arms and murmuring words in a tongue that I did not understand. Maids often would hold my daughter and sing to her so I might not have thought too much of it except for how my daughter looked. Her head kept rolling about on her neck and her eyes were rolled back into her head and there was a red-green light that was illuminating off her. I of course ran to my child and grabbed her demanding that Kaisha leave and never come back. Well, Kaisha left all right but like she was, she wouldn’t go without a fight. As she was leaving she told us that be wary of the day that our daughter turns the age of two decades for that would be the last time that our eyes would ever see her again alive. Then she completely vanished and we have not seen her since.”
Legolas mind raced. Getting involved with a sorceress was a bad idea to begin with and the fact that their family had trusted one and had survived for so long was amazing in his mind.
“What makes you believe that Kaisha is still pursuing this threat?”
Avatre seem to break from a trance and looked at Legolas like he had forgotten that he was there.
“We probably would not have remembered it if not for this.” Avatre stood up and gestured for Legolas to follow him. Avatre walked to one of the columns and stopped at its base. “Put your hand down at the base.”
Legolas looked puzzled but did as instructed and kneeled down and placed his fingers onto the smooth stone. At first, there was nothing and then Legolas felt heat begin to course through his fingers. Legolas’s mouth parted slightly as words began to unveil beneath his hand. They were in elvish and the letters were a deep red-brown. The scent of burnt graphite filled his nostrils and soon Legolas had to pull his hand away for the dull heat was starting to burn like fire. Within moments of Legolas taking his hand off the stone the words faded and nothing remained but the smell. Legolas absently cupped his hand that had been upon the base and stared down confused.
“One of the maids discovered that while scrubbing the floors,” Avatre said breaking Legolas’s gaze, “It only reacts when the heat from a person touches it.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Legolas whispered, “When did the servant make this discovery?”
“No more than a month ago. As soon as I saw it for myself, I instantly sent out a call for an elf.”
Legolas now understood why he had been sent, “You need me to translate it for you, don’t you?”
Avatre nodded, “Yes, no one here knows the elvish tongue.” He looked back at the column’s base then back to Legolas, “Did you have time to read what it said?”
“Yes,” Legolas responded as he put his hands to his side.
Avatre looked at him eagerly, “Please, what did it say?”
Legolas sighed and looked the king in the eyes, “I believe that your daughter should be here when I tell you.”
Avatre’s eyes clearly showed disappointment but he turned back to one of the servants that were standing by the door, “Go and tell my wife to get our daughter and to come to this room.”
The servant nodded and raced out the door. Legolas kept his eyes down and did not make eye contact with the king. Legolas knew that this was more then a simple curse and it grieved him to have to stand by Avatre knowing what he knew. They both stood there in silence, Avatre waiting in anticipation for them to arrive and Legolas not wanting to have to be the one to break the news.
What felt like an eternity but was no more then a few minutes they heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Legolas turned his back to the door and tried to quickly think of how he was going to tell them. The footsteps grew closer and then stopped. A few whispers were exchanged before Avatre spoke, “Legolas, I would like to introduce you to my daughter.”
Legolas took a deep breath and turned around gracefully to meet the princess. What Legolas saw before him made his eyes widen in shock and his breath caught short. For the princess standing before him, was the same girl who had given him the directions to the very palace that he know stood.
Leetha quickened her steps as to keep up with her mother. She heard the rustle of feet behind her and knew that Darian was following closely behind. Leetha stumbled a bit as her mother jerked her hand as they rounded a corner.
“Mother, would you mind telling me what this is about?” Leetha asked.
Her mother tightened her grip, “I told you, you need to meet someone.” She said bluntly.
Leetha was beginning to get frustrated, “You realize, I do have a right to know,” she said curtly, “if this is something that has to do with me, I’d like to know about it,” She then added, “and whom I’m meeting.”
Her mother ignored her and Leetha turned to Darian. He quickened his pace so that he was right beside them.
“Is there something that I could do to help?” he asked, “or would you like me to take Leetha to the visitor or find out what this is about first?”
Her mother slowed a bit and then stopped, “No, it is not necessary.”
Darian looked at her, “And why is that?”
She sighed and looked forward, “For we are here.”
Leetha turned her attention to where they had stopped. She recognized it right away and knew that they stood in front of the doors that led to her father’s meeting room. Her mother looked at her daughter, forced a smile and kissed her forehead. Leetha was more confused then ever, `What is this all about? First she drags me here and then she acts like I’m leaving and never coming back.’
Her mother pulled the latch and the doors swung open. Her mother stepped into the room and Leetha followed with Darian right behind her. A strange smell hit Leetha like someone had been burning something that she could not quite put her finger on. Movement caught her attention and she saw her father coming towards her.
He stopped and smiled down at her, “I’m sure that you would like to know why we have brought you here.”
“We all would,” Darian added.
Avatre sighed and took his daughter’s hand into his own, “There is something that we must discuss with you that has recently come to our attention.”
Leetha met her father’s eyes, “Yes, what is it?”
“First we must introduce you to our guest,” he turned and waved his hand towards the stranger that Leetha didn’t even realize was there.
He had his back turned towards them but she instantly knew who it was. It was the elf whom she had almost run into in town. A dozen thoughts went through Leetha’s mind at once. Why had she not thought twice when she had guided this elf to the palace? There were many reasons for a visitor to come to the palace that in no way would involve her father. It also helped that the moment that the elf has turned away from her, that she was bombarded by the people of the village asking her questions. However, this was not the average visitor and she felt her face blush at her stupidity. `Why did I not think that he was going to come into contact with my father? Why else would he have come all this way?’
Before Leetha could ask herself more humiliating questions, her father spoke, “Legolas, I would like to introduce you to my daughter.”
Legolas turned around to meet the cause of all his worries and Leetha could immedietly see his look of surprise soon followed by the look of confusion. Not that she blamed him, she had felt the same way upon seeing him.
Legolas tried to hide his surprise and knew that he was failing miserably.
Darian read their faces clearly, “Have you two met before?”
Leetha flinched slighty because she caught the anger in his voice but still kept her ground, “Well, I would not say quite that,” she heard her father and mother murmur slightly and she knew she better think of something quick before her parents had time to ask her themselves, “I had gone out to the stables and I ran into Tyrell,” Tyrell was one of her father’s most trusted advisors, “and he had told me the rumors that an elf had come into town. I just feel surprised to be able to meet our Master Elf in the flesh.” Leetha felt horrible about lying to her parents, but from what she had read on their faces, she knew that knowing that she went into town was the last thing they needed. She just prayed that Darian would understand this as well and hold his tongue.
Her mother took a step towards her, “Leetha, why on earth would you need to go to the stables…”
But her father put a hand on her shoulder to stop her, “Not now, Arien, we can discuss this later at a more appropriate time,”
She sighed but knew her husband was right and Leetha felt her felt her shoulders relax. She sneacked a glance towards Darian and he looked at her with slight aggravation but he did not say anything.
“Now then,” Avatre began turning to Legolas, “Maybe a proper introduction is in order, Legolas, this is my daughter Leetha,” Avatre gave a small push on her daughters back to move her forward, “Leetha, this is Legolas son of Thranduil.”
Leetha felt her heart stop in place. `Legolas son of Thranduil?’ The very elf who had journeyed with the Ringbearer to save Middle Earth all those years ago? Standing before her was the very being who’s name had been marked as legendary. For many years she had heard of the tales of the Fellowship that had assisted the Ringbearer ever since she was a young child. It was these beings that brought peace to Middle Earth and she was looking one of them in the eye.
Legolas looked upon Leetha’s face and read it as he had many other faces who recognized his name. Not that it annoyed him too much, but there were times when it was nothing more then a nuisance.
“It’s nice to meet you, Leetha,” Legolas said breaking her gaze as he took her hand in a welcoming gesture. Leetha nodded. Legolas head tilted slightly as he leaned close, “you DO give good directions though.” He said in no more then a whisper so that only she could hear.
Leetha couldn’t help but give an embarrassed smile, “Well, I would hope so considering that I do live here.” She whispered back to the elf. She was glad that he had recognized the fact that she was trying to keep her visit a secret and that he eagerly played along.
Legolas smiled warmly and Darian did not like this at all. Seeing Leetha talking to this elf in the way that she was, made his face flush in jeleousy.
“Ahem,” Darian stepped forward and pulled Leetha back towards him as he turned to Avatre, “isn’t there something of importance that you would like to discuss?”
Avatre turned to Darian as his face fell, “Yes, you are right Darian.” He then turned back to his daughter and Arien also stepped beside Leetha, “There is something that we have been keeping from you.” Avatre looked at Arien and she took his hand and squezzed it in comfort, “we did not want to worry you but this has gone far beyond mere rumors and threats and it is time that we take action.”
Leetha felt like she was about to burst in anticipation. She was not very patient and they seemed to be taking far too long to just tell her the news.
Avatre looked down at the ground and sighed before looking his daughter in the eyes, “It began after you were born when Kaisha was still working for us…,”
He then perceeded to tell Leetha the entire story that he had just told Legolas. Legolas stood quiet and still, watching Leetha’s face as her father told of the sorceress’s curse. Her eyes took on a strange haze and her face began to turn white. She stood completely still and unmoving like a statue as her father told her the tale. Leetha’s mother, Arien, put her hand to her face to hide the tears that threatened to pour as she absently fingered a silver pendent she wore around her neck. Darian’s face showed nothing but anger and his right hand stroked the handle of a dagger that hung by his side. Avatre’s voice continued to crack as emotions began to overwhelm him at he told his beloved daughter the story. Legolas cast his eyes to the ground finding himself unable to look upon their faces anymore. Too many times he had to witness the sadness of Middle Earth that seemed far too cruel at times.
“It was not until recently that we found this message on the base of this column,” Avatre’s words broke Legolas’ thoughts knowing that he would soon be asked to tell them what the words said, “They are written in elvish, and that is why Legolas was asked here, to translate them.”
Leetha’s blank gaze looked up at Legolas as well as the eyes of everyone else in the room. Legolas felt like their eyes were burning into him and he felt his face flush.
Avatre knelt down by the columb and motioned for Legolas to do the same. He then put his hand down and just as before, writing began to appear under Avatre’s fingers and the smell of burnt graphite filled the room.
Avatre looked into his eyes, “Legolas, would you read it to us?” He asked anxiously. Legolas looked up into Leetha’s eyes and she forced a small smile as if letting him know that it was all right.
Legolas’ gaze went back to the writing and he began to translate the writing out loud:
“Nearly two decades since thy time has past,
Curse upon ye has yet to last.
Say farewell to thee last of Kin,
For thy curse lay upon the hand of sin.”
With that Legolas stopped speaking and looked up at Avatre. His eyes were filled with tears and he removed his hand as he stood to look at his daughter. Her face was grim and she simply stared at the spot where the writing had been. Her mouth twitched slightly as if trying to ask the many questions that she needed to know but did not want to know the answers too. Arien put her arms around Leetha and looked at her as the tears streamed down her face. Legolas stood and looked sympathetically at the girl who’s life seemed normal that very morning and had taken a horrific turn. Again, Legolas had to look away, remembering how the same thing had happened to Frodo Baggins when the Ring of Power had fallen into his hands. Frodo’s life had changed dramatically from the peaceful life prior and he was never the same after that.
“What does that mean?” Darian asked breaking the silence, “The hand of sin?”
Legolas looked up, “The hand of sin,” he gestured, “the left-hand. The hand of the devil it is also called.”
Legolas walked to Leetha and gently took her left hand into his and turned it over so that her palm was facing up. Just as he expected, there was a mark. It would have appeared to others as no more then a birthmark except that Legolas’ keen eyes could see the red hue that surrounded it.
Leetha’s mouth parted. This mark had always been there. It was never more then the width of a small coin and she had come to accept it. Leetha now understood why it had been burning and itching for the past few weeks but it was never more then a dull throb.
Arien looked down at her daughter’s mark and then to Legolas who seemed to be inspecting it, “But this is no bigger then the head of a flower, how is this going to ever hurt her?”
Legolas ran his finger over the mark and it felt hot to his touch, “The mark will spread. It will continue to grow and will go up her arm till it reaches her heart,” Legolas looked into Leetha’s eyes and then to Arien’s, “It will consume her heart with its blackened poison and then will kill her.”
Leetha finally spoke for the first time since the ill news, “Is there a way to stop it?” Leetha’s voice sounded choked as she held back her grief.
Legolas’ brow wrinkled slightly, “The only way to stop this, is to confront Kaisha in person and to destroy her.”
He saw everyone’s face fall except for Darian, “Then we will find her,” He turned to Avatre, “we can get your best warriors and I will lead them. We will find her and kill her. She has little chance against our army.”
Darian’s arrogance reminded Legolas of Gimli. For sometimes this confidence was a virtue but it could also lead to many disasters. But Legolas couldn’t help but welcome Darian’s slightly optomistic thought at a time like this.
Avatre shook his head, “And how do you plan on finding her? We have not heard of her, or from her till recently. I would not even know where to start,” It was at that last statement that Avatre’s eyes lit up and he turned to the elf, “Legolas, might you have heard of her? Elves are known to be travelors and from what I have heard, you are just that one. Have you heard rumors at all to where a she might be?”
Legolas looked down as his mind raced. There have been many words spoken about wizards and sorceresses and trying to pin point a specific one was going to be challenging. Legolas mind sorted through the names of many enemies and tried to think of one such as Avatre had described. Then it hit Legolas, on his last journey to Argonoth he had fallen upon a small group of orcs. He made sure to remain in the shadows invisible to the eye but he could overhear what they were saying. They were sitting around a small fire and were discussing traveling to a sorceress that promised them protection and food if they would work for her. This was not uncommon for a small band of orcs to do but he was having difficulties remembering the name of whom they spoke of. The more Legolas concentrated on that night, the more the name began to come out of his memory. His head lifted for he was almost certain that the name of the very sorceress that the orcs were discussing was Kaisha.
A small grin spread over Legolas fair face,”Avatre, Arien, Leetha, Darian,” He looked them each in the eye with a look oh hope on his face, “I believe that we may have a long journey ahead of us.”
*Authors note: Sorry for the delay of this chapter guys but you should feel lucky. I was originally going to end it when Legolas first sees that the princess is Leetha. Thank you all so much for all your helpful tips on my first fan fiction so please continue them so I can put them to use as I continue this story!