Chapter 3: “Wait!” Tharel is young. If you put her in human years, she’d be younger than Hetaura, most likely, but she’s quite knowledgeable on a few things. She’ll make cameo appearances in more than just this chapter.
I decided to create another character, most likely temporary, for this chapter. She may show up every now and then in the future, but we’ll see. Let me know how you like her, and I’ll think about adding her permanently if you guys like her enough.
Tharel – “Distant star” Whereas, I can openly say I only spent about five minutes working on my original characters; making up their names, planning out who they were, et cetera, it took me 5+ minutes looking for a suitable name for this girl that didn’t sound too…blah. Now to think of whom she is.
The sun shone brightly around the edges of Mirkwood forest. Tiny flowers were just visible under the thick grass surrounding the trees. There was still a small amount of winter chill that clung to the air, so Hetaura pulled her light pink and white colored cloak closer around her for warmth. Spring had only begun the previous day, but the young girl wanted to savor the days as much as she could. But she wasn’t much of a `young girl’ anymore at her near sixteen years.
Tharel is young. If you put her in human years, she’d be younger than Hetaura, most likely, but she’s quite knowledgeable on a few things. She’ll make cameo appearances in more than just this chapter.
“Faster, Isilme, faster,” she goaded near her horse’s ear. “Faster, before Legolas finds us.” At that, the horse broke out of her trot into a canter. Hetaura let out a whoop of excitement as the wind blew through her hair. Her eyes began to water from the cold air being forced upon her eyes, but she cared not about that at the moment, but of winning the race and escaping Legolas.
“To those trees, Isilme, just beyond that stream,” she murmured eagerly. “Just a little further.”
Upon those words, she heard the thrashing of leaves behind her. Glancing backward momentarily, she saw Legolas, with a look of sheer bliss and amusement on his face. There was also the determination to win etched on his features, as well. He was riding quickly, but not as fast as he could go, Hetaura knew that.
But she wouldn’t take any chances, so she clicked her tongue and nudged her horse on to a gallop. Her short hair barely fluttered around her, but she didn’t mind. At least she didn’t have the long blonde mane her riding opponent had flicking about his face at that moment. That thought made her laugh, though. “Faster!” she cried out to the horse as she heard Legolas nearing her speedily. “We are almost there, Isilme!”
“It is no use, Hetaura,” Legolas shouted to her when he was riding beside her now. “This race is mine!”
Hetaura was just about to believe him when she noticed he wasn’t paying close attention to the oncoming stream. “There, you are wrong, Legolas!” she gleefully exclaimed as her horse jumped the rivulet. Legolas’ horse ran through it, slowing him down. In a matter of seconds, Hetaura had reached the designated finish spot, with Legolas only moments behind her. “I won!”
“You cheated,” Legolas grumbled, rolling his eyes when the horses had slowed to a quickened paced walk.
“I did not. You are only a sore loser who hates to admit defeat unless it is forced out of his throat,” Hetaura replied. “Admit it. I won.”
“Never.” He glanced at her with an arched eyebrow. Confusion went through him so as to find out why the young woman was staring past him with a wicked gleam in her eyes. “What is it?” Hetaura slipped off of her horse, and then loosely wound the reins around the end of a tree branch. “Hetaura, what do you see?”
“Shh!” she hissed, creeping as quietly as she could towards the end of a small cliff. “Come here.” She waved her hand for Legolas to come closer to her. Upon reaching the edge of the rock, she laid flat on her belly, with her chin resting on her folded hands.
Legolas, still perplexed from Hetaura’s odd behavior, stalked silently towards her. When he failed to lie down on his stomach, the girl reached up and yanked him down next to her. “Hetaura–“
“Shh!” She pointed at the ground below them gingerly. “Listen and wait.” A look of sheer glee washed over her face as she stared at a thick fog. “Any second now, it should clear.”
The prince was listening. He heard voices, but they were muffled by the fog, so he couldn’t quite place if they belonged to a male or a female. Slowly, but surely, the mist did disappear. Behind the thin curtain of fog was a hot spring. But that wasn’t what caught Hetaura’s and Legolas’ eyes. Naiads were bathing there, as they did during springtime. It was seldom one could find them during this time, and even more seldom that you found them at any other time of the year. That was why Hetaura was so entranced with the creatures.
Legolas, on the other hand, had turned away since he knew naiads had very little care for modesty. Thankfully it wasn’t first hand knowledge. Anthaer had told him when both were younger and exploring one day outside of the forest.
“Legolas, look,” Hetaura whispered. “They’re beautiful.” The girl leaned her head on the side of a rock and gazed through the foggy haze at the water creatures. A moment later, she was moving to stand up.
“And also very dangerous if you are too close to them–Hetaura, wait!” Legolas reached up to grab Hetaura’s wrist before she ran off towards the naiads, but his grasp slipped on her hand. That left Hetaura to run towards them, but the second rocks splattered into the spring, the water nymphs immediately splashed under the surface of the steaming pool.
“Wait!” Hetaura cried. She knelt down by the edge of the spring and gazed down in. She could almost see a face looking back up at her.
“Hetaura!” Legolas ran down towards her in hopes of reaching her before the naiads. But, when he reached the bottom of the cliff, it was too late. The water creature had reached up and pulled Hetaura into the hot spring. Panic swept through Legolas as he stood ramrod still for five pure seconds. When he was able to think again, he had his boots, cloak, and tunic off faster than lightning. Then, he plunged into the water after Hetaura.
It was an instant change in temperature the moment the water hit the prince’s skin. He went from mildly chilly to near boiling hot in a matter of seconds. When he opened his eyes to try to find his companion, the liquid would have burned his eyes if it had been any hotter. But he pushed that though to the back of his mind when he saw Hetaura thrashing in the water. Naiads had her by her wrists and ankles. The prince kicked strongly from the edge of the side of the slab of rock, giving him a better advantage in swimming, despite almost his leggings coming close to weighing him down.
When he reached Hetaura, she had ceased her flailing around by much, seeing as she lay motionless in water. The naiads had let her go, allowing her to sink to the bottom, and disappeared in the water. Legolas quickly hooked his arm around Hetaura’s waist, pulling her against him, then swam to the top. He gasped for breath upon his first chance. As he struggled to the edge, he feared for Hetaura’s life when he heard nothing from her yet. `Do not leave, young one; you are almost safe,‘ he thought desperately.
When he reached the bank of the spring, he pushed Hetaura onto the ground first, then slid out beside her. He immediately leaned over her and touched her cheek. Cold; deathly cold, despite the warmth from the hot spring. Legolas couldn’t help the fear that shot through him. “Breathe, Hetaura,” he told her, deciding on what to do.
A moment later, he’d leaned down and pressed his mouth against hers in that act of artificial respiration. After the process of blowing in her mouth, listening for breath, and pumping her heart, Legolas shook his head. “No, please!” Shakily, he pressed his fingers against her neck for a pulse. But just as he did, Hetaura coughed and spat water up from her lungs.
The burning sensation of the liquid leaving her body was a painful one, but not one so bad as the burning of the lack of oxygen in her lungs. Still, she choked the water out, and shook as Legolas helped her sit up. A breeze was blowing by that only increased the cold feeling inside of her. She glanced at him and froze at the sight of him without a shirt.
She knew this was not the time to be thinking of this, but her mind raced ahead with the thought of Legolas’ well-muscled chest and abdominal muscles. She could literally feel her jaw dropping to her lap as her eyes involuntarily looked him over. `Stop, stop, stop!‘ she scolded herself. `He is like your brother, and here you are, just after a near death experience, thinking of his able-bodied muscles!‘ She tore her gaze purposely away from his torso to look up at his face.
“Are you all right? Can you breathe?” he was asking her.
“Yes,” she wanted to say, “I just don’t know if I can think straight now,” but instead she gasped and nodded. Over a cough, she managed, “Yes. I’m all right. Just c-cold.”
“Here,” Legolas murmured, taking her saturated cloak from her shoulders and slipped his around her.
“Thank you,” Hetaura stammered through chattering teeth. She pulled the Elven linen close around her, but it still did not ward off the cold as well as it should have, had she been dry.
“Iluvatar’s sake, Hetaura, why did you run to them? I told you they were dangerous!” the Elf prince exclaimed ironically. “You could have been killed! In fact, you almost where.”
“And I am quite sure that bothers you so much, Legolas,” she retorted indignantly. She stood and began walking towards the horses.
“Yes, it does! You just wait! I am not done talking to you, Hetaura Calen.” Legolas pulled his tunic and boots on quickly, then ran after her. The girl had already reached the top of the slope, and was now trying to make it halfway to the horses before he caught up to her.
“Maybe I’m done talking to you.” She grinned slightly, but twitched when the image of him, shirtless, popped into her mind again. `Remember, he’s like your brother!‘
Legolas, not used to having people ignore him, stopped in shock. “What makes you think so?” He ran to catch up with her now.
The real reason played through Hetaura’s mind, causing her to snort slightly in laughter. She decided against telling him she was through talking with him because she couldn’t say two sentences, looking him in the eye, without bursting out laughing. The thought of him shirtless was too good to pass up, though. “Because I’m cold and want to go back to the palace, maybe?” she said instead. That caused the Elven prince to roll his eyes at her slightly.
When the two had ridden back to the forest, and were near the opening to the underground palace, Legolas stopped and looked over at Hetaura. “You did not just want to go home, did you? There was something else,” he murmured.
Immediately, Hetaura froze. “What? No,” she lied. “Nothing. I just nearly drowned; I want to change out of these wet clothes.” She continued riding on towards the stables with a red hot blush tainting her cheeks.
After the two had reached the horse’s hutch, hung up the tack, and taken proper care of the horses, Hetaura sped quickly to the palace entrance. Legolas looked after her and shook his head, grinning. He trudged after her a moment later, even though he felt an odd sensation run down his spine. Something told him there was about to be an odd happening, but he just figured it was a drop of water running down his back.
“Legolas, what happened to you?” Sheelewen exclaimed when she saw his wet hair and clothing.
He winced slightly, since he had been trying not to be seen in his clinging clothes, but he could not escape his stepmother. “I, ah, had to rescue Hetaura from drowning in the naiads’ hot springs earlier,” he mumbled.
“Oh, is she all right? Are you all right?” Immediately, the aged she-Elf rushed forwards and grasped Legolas’ forearms.
“Yes, we are both all right. I believe the only thing she is suffering from is a bruised psyche.” A smirk crossed his features unconsciously.
“Why would she be feeling so?”
Legolas glanced down over his wet form and his smirk broadened. Sheelewen laughed slightly, then pushed him towards the living area of the underground palace. The prince let out a laugh finally, but stopped abruptly when he saw Hetaura walking down the hall with a towel under her arm. She was warily trotting down the hall, fully aware of her surroundings.
“Hetaura,” he murmured when he was standing behind her. He reached out to touch her arm, causing her to halt her pace. Legolas felt a chill run down her arm. What caused her to shudder? His touch?
“Yes?” The girl turned around to face Legolas. Her cheeks were a dull red, almost, though the color was hardly visible in the dimly lit hallway. Painfully aware of her present state, she bit her lip to keep from some strange emotional outburst.
“Are you all right? I mean about earlier. You seemed…a little shaken up,” the prince murmured to her, unintentionally stepping closer to her. His hand was still on her arm, slowly trailing up to her cheek.
Hetaura’s lips parted ever so slightly at the feather-like touch on her shoulder. Her hands began to shake slightly, despite her fruitless attempts to keep them from doing so. “Yes, I’m fine.” The girl averted her eyes. “Legolas,” she added. She had his full attention, like always. “I-I’m sorry.”
He smiled, then reached up to touch a wisp of her curly dark hair. With a strange, kindling look in his eyes, he took another step forward and angled his head towards hers. “‘Tis all right, young one,” he told her.
Immediately upon the endearment registering, Hetaura pulled away from Legolas. Was that as she was to him? Young? Little? Paltry? Why, when all these feelings blooming inside of her said the exact opposite about him to her? To Hetaura, he was older, but wiser therefore; courageous, and strong enough to protect her if need be; and magnificently glorious. He was everything to her, her world. Although it was cliché for her to think so since she’d heard so many Elf maidens talking about it, Prince Legolas was her sun, her moon, her stars.
Hetaura jumped back an extra step. When had those feelings and thoughts occurred? All of five seconds ago? Those thoughts were too capricious for her taste, by far.
“Are you all right? You seem pale?” The Elf in question’s voice broke into her thoughts suddenly, reminding her of his presence and her current position.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine, Legolas.” She skipped away from him when he tried to touch her again. Hetaura couldn’t let him see her like this, with her emotions set out finely in her eyes, and her heart an open book in her hands, held out to anyone to read. Mainly Legolas. So she set out in a quick pace down the hallway until she’d reached the female bathing pool, in the far end of the palace.
Once there, the girl quickly stripped from her clothes, now dry from the heat of embarrassment. She folded her clothes neatly, and set them in the corner of the room. Excruciatingly conscious of the strange gazes she’d earned from the suddenly silent she-Elves, Hetaura dived into the water, grateful for the sudden chill. Her body felt like it was going to melt from the inside on out, she was so hot.
When she surfaced, womanly chatter had risen up again, relieving Hetaura. She swam over to an unoccupied corner of the pool, feeling slightly calm.
Heavens, she was a dunce! Acting so strangely always showed something was wrong, especially with her. But she had an excuse, didn’t she? Shock, from the previous happening; temporary insanity, even. Yes, that’s what it was. She was in shock. She would wait a little while, calm down, and then go to the healer to see what could be done.
“Hetaura? A voice asked. The girl started in surprise at the intrusion upon her thoughts.
Turning, Hetaura saw a young Elf, probably just now able to enter the “woman’s” bathing pool. Her wet, shoulder length blonde hair clung to the sides of her face, and a few beads of water hugn onto her eyelashes. No wonder Hetaura hadn’t heard her striding over to her. She’d swam under the surface. For some reason to Hetaura, she felt like she should remember the Elf.
“Yes?” the human girl said, pushing a shaggy piece of black hair away from her eye.
A goofy grin spread over her face. “Do you remember me?” she asked expectantly.
Hetaura didn’t want to crush the girl by admitting she didn’t. But in all honesty, the Elf could have been a complete stranger, had the feeling of recognition not been so great. “No, I don’t, I’m sorry.”
Instead of disappointment crossing the Elf’s features, the grin stayed in place. “That is all right! I did not really expect you to remember me, since it was so long ago that we met.” The enthusiasm in the talkative girl’s voice made Hetaura feel bad, almost.
“Tharel,” she supplied with a smile.
“Tharel, look. I am not in the most `conversational’ of moods, so could you please–“
“Oh! I apologize! Of course!” Immediately, Tharel turned to swim away.
Hetaura shook her head. That had been odd, she thought a couple minutes later. She was finally allowing herself to think. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be so jumpy now, as she had been earlier. Now, all she had to do was avoid–
“Legolas!” someone called around the corner angrily. It sounded much like Ainer. Wait, then that meant–
A second later, before being able to finish her thought, Hetaura was laying on the ground, with someone else on top of her. She opened her eyes and saw Ainer, jumping up to her feet again.
“Ah, good. Hetaura. Have you seen Legolas? I must speak with him.” The advisor’s voice was cool and detached. And, Hetaura mused, hostile.
But she shook her head. “No…” she said slowly. Angels above, how much trouble could Legolas put himself into in the time span of twenty-five minutes? Judging from the look on Ainer’s face, Hetaura surmised, a lot. “Not in the past half hour. In case you haven’t noticed, Ainer, I just finished a bath.”
Narrowing her eyes, Ainer bore a hole into Hetaura’s head with her eyes. “Do not become sassy with me, little one. I can have you put away in mere seconds,” she growled.
“And I can have myself back out in less time, Ainer. Are you going to stand there all day, trying to offend and insult me, or will you actually say something worth listening to for once?” Hetaura glared daggers at the Elf as darkly as she could.
Making an appalled and frustrated noise, Ainer stalked away. Hetaura shook her head, exasperated, and headed towards her room. As she turned a corner a second later, she was pulled into a little hall closet suddenly. Before she could scream, a cold hand was placed over her mouth. This was an Elf she did not recognize, nor did she have any inclination to do so.
He had long black hair framing his face. Cobalt eyes stared into her own ivy ones. The hand over her mouth was a deep tan, indicating much sunlight. Hetaura caught sight of lightly tipped ears. They weren’t as pointy as Legolas’ or Sheelewen’s. `Half-Elf,’ she realized. Perhaps half Morquendi, from his skin tone.
“Give me your money purse, and I will let you live,” he said quietly.
Hetaura looked out of the corner of her eyes and saw a crack in the door. `Let someone walk by, please,’ she prayed.
When she failed to act upon the half-Elf’s demand, he drew a small, but lethal looking dagger and held it against her throat. The blade was cold against her skin. It sent chills down her spine, causing her entire body to shift. Unfortunately, she shifted closer for a moment, and the small knife cut into her neck. She winced and clenched her teeth together tightly. Shaking her head ever so slightly, she muttered against his hand:
“I don’t have my money purse,” but it came as incoherent speech. The Elf took his hand away from her mouth slightly, and Hetaura repeated herself. That earned a glare from her captor.
A moment later, as he began to speak, Hetaura saw a shadow moving in the hallway, towards the door. She took her chance and cried out. “Help!” That, did draw the passerby’s attention. It also, however, caused the half-Elf to press the dagger deeper into her neck.
In a few short second, though, the closet door swung open and a certain blonde Elf stood there in surprise.
“Legolas!” Hetaura gasped.
In surprise as well, the half-Elf moved so he was facing the Elf prince, but had Hetaura in front of him, the knife still pressed against her neck. “If you move, she dies,” he hissed.
Hetaura clenched her fists together tightly at her sides. She watched Legolas, who was wondering what he would do.
Legolas, however, stood in the confusion and wake of a very interesting matter. Of course, he was very good in the perception of such things, but this was happening all too fast for him at the moment. When the situation caught up in his mind, he jumped into his plan.
In a split second, the dagger was in the air and Hetaura was being yanked forward, away from danger. Her cheek suddenly met the hard firmness of Legolas’ chest, as did her hands to steady herself. A moment later, his arm was hooked around her waist and she heard him speak. The vibrations of his vocal chords rumbled against the side of her face. Obviously, he had caught the dagger.
“Who are you?” the Elven prince asked coldly. The silence was nearly deafening. As was the pounding of blood in Hetaura’s ears. She reached up numbly to her neck and felt blood. Her own thick, sticky blood. Glancing down as much as she could, she saw the blood on Legolas’ tunic, as well. Panic swept through her. Following it was a sickly feeling.
“I am someone who should be well-known throughout Middle-earth, but I am obviously not,” the other Elf responded finally.
Legolas smirked. “Obviously,” he agreed. “Tell me, what were you doing to my lady Hetaura?”
His lady? This was a first, and quite different. How did she suddenly become his lady, belonging to Legolas?
The other Elf was silent until Legolas urged him further. “I am the heir to an ancient Elven fortune, traveling the world in hopes of uncovering the key to gaining my wealth. Unfortunately, I am without currency, and I was hoping your lady could be of some service to me and lend me some money.”
“So you resort to petty thievery?” Legolas scoffed. “On those smaller and weaker than yourself, no less.”
Out of nowhere, two Elves appeared, and took the half-Elf to arrest him, most likely. But what had just happened, in all honesty? Hetaura asked herself. Everything suddenly became a blur as Legolas pushed her back by and arm’s length. Worry tainted his features suddenly, and Hetaura realized she still holding the wound on her throat.
“Let me see,” he murmured to her softly. He gently took her hand away from her neck. Hissing in a breath at the blood still gushing from the cut, he gazed at the wound. He ripped part of his tunic off and pressed it against the cut, then replaced her hand there for the pressure. “Come with me.”
Hetaura had no choice. Everything had been so sudden, she was having problems comprehending it all. So she followed Legolas down the hall, her other hand caught in his. Eventually, the haziness of the previous happenings melted away until it all became clear as a summer morning.
Worry and panic carried over Legolas as he walked down the hall with Hetaura. What had happened? Who was that Elf, really, and what had he been doing to Hetaura? There could not have been truth to that absurd play of words about being an heir to an ancient fortune, could there have?
Suddenly, Legolas was stopped mid-step, and almost lost his footing. Turning, he saw Hetaura’s blank expression. Her face was pale, and her usually ivy green eyes had an almost…dead look to them.
“Legolas,” she whispered before her knees gave out. He reached forward to catch her quickly. In his arms, Hetaura felt nearly like a dead weight, or an oversized rag doll. Even though she tried to stand, her attempts were fruitless and gained no merit passed dizziness and blurry vision.
Uncontrollably, tears sprang forward and trailed down her cheeks. She didn’t mean to cry, nor did she want to. She didn’t want to do anything she was doing at the moment already. She just wanted to restart this day. That was all.
A note to all: Sorry it’s taken so long to update! I finally pulled my butt in gear and edited everything and here we are! lol But, I have about up to chapter…6 or 7 written in my notebook. I have no problem writing it, it’s just typing it up that I can’t stand. >.< O.o *twitch* I want my laptop to work again! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter! The next one will come once I get over the boredom of typing it up and post it. Hopefully in a couple days. Love you all! Thanks!