Novarwen tried to console herself that finding out how Sauron had killed Goroth was more important than attending a Council in Rivendell to decide something very important. She wasn’t having much luck by the time she got to the Taurroch barracks and went into the Captain’s quarters. She grabbed her bag, always packed with the things she’d need on a long ride, and opened it to check the contents. If she was to investigate Goroth’s death, she’d probably need to do some field work.
But the clothes in the bag weren’t hers.
Startled, Novarwen opened the small cupboard she kept the rest of her practical clothes in. She didn’t recognize a single stitch on a single pair of britches. Worried now, she even checked the closet that held her few dresses – not a one there. But the closet was now full of male court gear.
“Looking for your things?” asked a condescending voice behind her. Novarwen spun around and found herself glaring at Firith, her second-in-command. She didn’t like the nasty smile on his lips.
“Well, yes, I was, as these are my quarters.” The look in her eyes dared Firith to say anything to the contrary. “Would you mind telling me where my clothes are?”
“In the common barracks,” Firith replied contemptuously. “With the rest of the Taurroch.”
Something was very wrong. Novarwen’s senses were humming as though she were in a fight. “What do you mean?” she asked slowly.
The nasty smirk deepened. “You’re no longer the Captain of the Taurroch.”
Novarwen felt as though she’d just been punched in the stomach. “I’m what?” she demanded. “I was this morning.”
“You’ve been discharged.” Firith tapped his belt, where a scroll was tucked. “You can read it if you want.” She snatched the scroll from his belt and raked it with her furious green eyes.
“I, Irithion, in my position as chief councilor to King Thranduil of Mirkwood, hereby do discharge Novarwen, Princess of Mirkwood, from her position as Captain of the Taurroch. She is to be succeeded by her second-in-command, Firith son of Heldrith. This discharge effective immediately.” Novarwen finished reading the scroll and glared with ice-cold eyes at Firith. The new Captain fidgeted. He had seen her give that look to many a lawbreaker. It was not a pleasant experience to receive it.
“You’re now a common rider.” He stumbled a little over the words. “If you choose to stay.”
Novarwen slowly rolled up the scroll and handed it back to Firith. She was numb now. She had devoted almost her whole life to making the Taurroch a law-keeping force to be reckoned with. To be discharged from that position was like a blow in the face. She walked out of the room and toward the common barracks, keeping her face away from Firith, so he wouldn’t have the satisfaction of seeing her struggle not to cry.
She found her barracks easily enough. All the rest of the Taurroch were staying away from that particular room. She walked inside and found her own familiar clothes and possessions in the room and on the cot. That comforted her a little, but not much.
At least Firith had been a decent second, even if he was a tactless Elf. He might have some idea of what to do with the Taurroch. That was another slight bit of comfort. Novarwen lay down on the cot and pillowed her head on her still-packed bag. Firith might be a good Captain, but life in the Taurroch would not be pretty for her. Most likely he wouldn’t listen to a word she said, and she would get angry with him, and finally leave the Taurroch in disgrace for having picked an unnecessary fight with the Captain.
The idea hit her like a well-aimed arrow. Why shouldn’t she go with Legolas to the Council?
There was nothing to stop her now, after all. If she stayed in the Taurroch, life would be miserable for both her and Firith, and she didn’t really want that. Besides, she hadn’t gone on a trip with her brother in a long time. He had been very busy with their father’s council. And it would be fun to have an adventure.
Novarwen felt a twinge that she couldn’t stay with the Taurroch, but there was no help for it. Firith obviously didn’t want her to stay, and she had no wish to sign away her life to anger and annoyance. She reached to pack her bag, and then discovered another reason for going with Legolas – she was already packed.