Again. And again. And again. Always in the ribs. He couldn’t take breath. Slowly he gasped, “All right, I get it! Now let me breathe, would you?!”
Reluctantly, Seldonique dug her practice sword into the muddy earth and rested her head, peering at him through a large brilliant grey eye. “Now at least you understand that when I say keep practicing, I mean keep practicing. No slacking from the amateurs. Get up and stop your bloody whining, and fight me.”
Aurseldo dragged himself out of the murky puddle of melted snow, nearly stabbing himself in the foot. He slipped, fell, and began to crawl out on all fours. Sedonique kicked him in the rump. “I said get up! NOW!”
The boy scrambled to his feet, nearly losing his balance in haste.
However, the Númenorean literally had a trick up his sleeve. Wooden practice knives. She and Larkarusse had urged him to plan some type of surprise attack without their notice. He had done so, and was sure that this would work. It didn’t.
“One, two, three four. Alright, now five! One, two, three, four –“
The knives left his hands in one smooth motion. Without batting an eye, Sedonique flicked them to the side of the large practice circle with her sword. Aurseldo gaped. How could she have dodged that? I was less than 10 paces from her!
The Elf maid only laughed and commented, “That was meant to hit me?! If you’re going to attack an enemy by surprise, you’ll have to do much better than that!”
They were all the same. Every person the boy knew that had been in some sort of military action or other all had that same characteristic — a coldness, an insensitive air of a person with no compassion in their being. Excepting my brother, the boy thought sadly, He loved more deeply than his heart could endure; and now it’s been broken ten thousand times over . . . once for each year he’s become farther from her presence.
“Al; right, boy, that’s enough for today. Larkarusse will be training you tomorrow. Go inside and get some sleep.”
* * *
Legolas came into Aurseldo’s chamber and sat at the foot of the narrow bed. The child lay reading a book, “Tales of True Love, Compiled by Various Peoples of No Importance in Mirkwood of the Third Age“.
“Is the story of the mallorn tree in that?” the Elf asked quietly.
“Why would the history of the mallorn tree be in a book of true love?”
Legolas came to sit nearer his brother. “Because that is the history of the mallorn tree.”
“Please tell me,” the boy asked sleepily.
* * *
In a time long ago, before even Men were created, there lived an Elf named Ringil. He was walking one day when he heard merry laughter. Off to his left there was a pool. A maiden swam there, her horse grazing. Ringil listened as she sang to herself, and to the trees and stones and all else that would hearken. He stood enchanted by the loveliness of her voice, and she never taking notice of him. He returned to the pool week after week, which to mortals would seem as endless years, until one day she spotted him. She turned herself into a pebble, and sank to the bottom of the glade. He quickly dived after her and held her cupped in his hands. She became a fish and swam away from him. He caught her and held her against his chest so that she might not escape again. She changed into a seal, and he saw in her eyes then a sadness as deep as the soul.
At last she became the beautiful maid he had first laid eyes upon, but she scorned him saying, “You may wish to win my heart, but I am not a prize to be won.”
She changed one last time, into a great swan, and disappeared over the treetops.
For years Ringil attempted to woo the beauty and grace of Kemeniel, for that was what she called herself, until she discovered one day that she loved him as he did her. One day, Morgoth attacked the area of the pool, crushing her spirit as he declared that he would have her as a wife and maid in his dark fortresses. In an effort to save her, Ringil was burdened by the weight of a broken heart as he realized he could not. With a song of mourning pouring from her throat, Kemeniel took on one last form, that of a great tree, with leaves of purest silver.
Eventually, Ringil drove the enemy away, and kissed one last time his beloved. At that same moment, the first day of Winter dawned, and her leaves transfigured to shimmering gold. Into his hand fell a beautiful seed, which he had planted as his Tree, for he died of pain from the loss of a loved one. Ever to this day when the winds stirs the leaves of a mallorn tree, one can hear the echo of Kemeniel’s voice, mourning the loss of her true love.
The Elf smiled at the snoring Aurseldo and slipped quietly out of the room.
* * *
All was chaos. The Orcs were ready to bite each other’s heads off if they weren’t given anything to kill very soon. Morihondo only beamed proudly, slapping Arathorn heartily on the back. “See lad,” He boasted; the younger King had not paid enough attention to the task of creating the Orcs and instead meandered off into his daydreams of architecture. “All things are possible if one tries hard enough.” Now it was his turn to be sarcastic. If the man didn’t want help, then he wouldn’t get help. A greater fool every day; I won’t even have to torture him to keep quiet! The Elf was very talented at thinking on one level and speaking on quite another. “The plan is this. This I am sure will be more fool-proof then the first. Slowly, we work our way up the social ladder in our murders. Once that dunce Larkarusse is taken care of, the Prince’s fear should be enough of a weakness to be able to get to them easily. Then, we attack the boy. That idiot Legolas will be so torn between guilt and loss that killing him will be like an afternoon stroll. Then who will the Greenwood Elves look to for support? Their closest allies, of course. And that would be — Gondor.”
Legolas has always been soft. He doesn’t remember probably; he was too busy blaming himself for letting his precious Raana die. He doesn’t remember, which is a well for me, I would have died many years ago. Morihondo couldn’t help but smirk. “I killed her.I killed her.I killed her.” He chanted under his breath, as the Orcs snarled and growled, lunging towards the forest of the Elves that lay defenseless before them.