He woke to a light tapping sound at his door. He stirred.
“Who is it?” he called.
The door opened and in walked Balved. He looked nervous.
“Rayn told me to get you and take you to the counsel chamber. I’m sorry to wake you.” He bowed.
Legolas smiled at the boy.
“I was just about ready to wake up anyway,” he said, trying to reassure him.
“Well, then, come now, Prince, they are waiting for you,” Balved led him out of the room. As he followed Balved Legolas turned his eyes again on the vein in the wall and it seemed again to shimmer pink, and die out.
Balved led him through the maze of Yardan, to a balcony overlooking a lake filled with swans. Yardan was seated on an elevated chair, whilst seven lower chairs surrounded it. Six elves were seated already; Legolas took the empty spot. Tension in the very air around them seemed to lift as Legolas sat down with a finality he didn’t intend. Balved bowed to the king, and left.
Legolas searched the faces of the elves around him. Seven elves of six different houses of royalty sat in the seats around the Highest Chair. From the Mansions of Manwe and Varda, he learned, were the Princes Angon and Oradan. They were big elves, muscular and seasoned fighters. From the Isle of Estë, in the Gardens of Lorien Queen Elenim, who, like Rayn, was a warrior. But he observed that she was more delicately beautiful, and one who would rather walk in the woods than fight. Erindor, King of Avathar, and master of the ocean was present. His face told plainly of a long life in salt and sand. Globril also, King of Yavanna and the pastures there. He was the most majestic of these, fairer than most, and his presence was to Legolas as though the sun sat with them. Rayn was seated across from Legolas. She smiled an excited smile. War was at hand, and she was ready. Yardan stood.
“Members of the council, Kings, Queens, Princes, the final member of those who were written in the lore is with us. We can now begin, with all brain, brawn, and logic we can muster and was mustered for us at the beginning of time, to plan a way out of this death-trap, not only for us but for all earth as well.” No one spoke.
“What can we do, King? There is no way out,” said Erindor. He was clad in grey.
“We must find a way, Erindor. We cannot sit idle while Ymir kills our people and steals our lands,” Rayn said.
“I see not what else we can do, Half-Queen,” Erindor sat forward, glaring at Rayn. “I’m a fighter, not a war-planner. Do you have an idea for us already?” he asked. His sword shifted and fell in front of his knee. Rayn said nothing.
Elenim rose and stepped to the middle of the circle.
“What we must do is evident. The lore speaks of armies who would come against Ymir, and of Seven Rulers who brought them. We are the seven, and we must gather our own armies, but I am afraid there are not enough elves to come against him,” she said.
“We are eight, Queen Elenim, you only spoke of seven, who is the odd?”
“That I cannot say, Legolas, the lore is unclear. And it is unclear about you, Son of the Sindar. Great things are mentioned surrounding your name, but we know not what they are.”
Yardan broke in.
“I believe that I am the odd. I think I am here only to watch, and to die eventually, but I am not afraid, for what was written, was written, and you were written about, not me.”
“The lore also does not say whose armies will conquer, so we simply must do what it says.” Elenim bowed and went back to her seat.
“I do not see that any elves from Yavanna would be of any help,” said Globril. “My people are shepherds, not warriors, what help would we be to us?”
“This is true, and our people only warriors when need be. There has not been battle since we crossed from Middle-earth, many of us barely remember,” said Angon.
“It is clear we must do something, or this is idle chatter,” said Yardan.
“That is true,” Rayn found her voice again. “We are going in circles.”
“Why not sail from this place, to far off lands?” asked Erindor.
“Elf of the Sea, what would that do? We can only run so far,” Rayn said.
“The Half-Queen is right, if Ymir took the whole world over, where would we go then? We should stand now,” said Globril, least of all fighters present.
“You speak tough words, weak one,” Erindor said.
Legolas wondered when they would find a solution; a strange hope for battle began to fester in his mind and will. He realized that for all his fear of pain, he lusted as well for war. With a start, he glimpsed an idea in the corner of his mind.
“Now we are back to the first question, what will we do?” said Yardan.
“I still sat we sail, across Ekkaia,” said Erindor.
“And fall off the edge of the earth? For one such warrior you are showing an urgent desire to flee,” Rayn said hotly.
“Are you calling me a coward, Half-Queen? For being stuck between princess and queen as if you cannot make up your mind, you seem to know a lot about others,” Erindor shot back.
Rayn sprang to her feet.
“Can’t you see we must do something? There must be a solution somewhere,” Rayn cried.
Legolas continued to think.
“And when we find it you will see that I’m right. If we leave and grow in numbers somewhere else…” Erindor said, now he was on his feet.
Elenim broke in.
“That is where the problem lies, in numbers. If we had enough…”
“I have it!” Legolas too rose and stepped forward. “I know what we must do.” All eyes were on him.
“What?” asked Rayn.
“I will go back to Middle-Earth, and I will gather and train an army.”
For a moment no one spoke, then, realization dawned in the eyes of those around him.
“Yes!” said Rayn.
“It’s perfect!” said Globril.
“We agree as well,” said Oradan and Angon, who had been conferring in their seats. Elenim smiled.
Erindor gave Legolas a glare. Legolas could tell that Erindor wanted power, but what he saw in sailing away he did not know.
“But what if it does not work?” asked Yardan.
“Then we tried,”said Globril
The king sighed.
“Then you may all rest here for a week, no more, before heading back to your own lands to build your armies. Once you have finished you all will return here.”
“But father, how shall Legolas get across the ocean? Our ships are small, and he needs many, and he cannot paddle them all at once,” Rayn said.
“Erindor, we ask you for ships, large ones that will hold many beings,” said Yardan.
“You have them, King,” said Erindor, he had returned to his seat and was staring at his lap.
“You will go with him, as admiral of the fleet,” Yardan said to Erindor.
“One more instruction I have for you, Legolas,” the king said. “You must not return here with men. Men must never come here to live or to die,” he sent a keen glance toward Legolas. “I understand, Yardan,” Legolas bowed, and all members of the council did likewise; except Rayn of course. She stared at Legolas through sadder eyes than usual. He smiled a small smile at her. He did not feel like rejoicing, for his fear had returned. The members of the council left, one by one, and he went to his chamber.
§ § §
He sat on his bed. For how long he did not know. He contemplated touching the wall, but decided against it. A knock on the door startled him.
“Come in,” he said, staring at the floor, which unlike the wall was jet black. Rayn entered and sat down next to him.
“What ails you, that you lapse into silence like this?”
“I don’t know what I was thinking, offering to go on like that,” he said. “My heart longed for my father, my homeland, my forest. But I do not like war. Indeed, I am so great a warrior because I fear getting hurt…or worse,” he looked at the wall. He put out his hand and brushed the white line. His fingertip turned only a hint of pink, but the strength flowed through him greatly. He looked up, feeling better. Rayn gave him a quizzical look.
“What fascinates you so about that stone?” she asked.
“I have never seen it before,” he said.
“It is common, used for walls, floors, weapons, and many other things. Some say it has great power, especially the white streaks, but I do not believe those tales,” she said.
He shrugged and said nothing, for he knew better.
“What did you come here for?” he asked.
“Just to exchange words, someone should tell you things about this place.” The sound of a trumpet made them both jump. A swan landed on the balcony, followed by its mate.
“Where is your mother?” Legolas asked.
“She died of grief over my brother, who was killed by a stray member of Ymir’s forces. I have lost nearly everyone I love, I reserve myself from many now, even my father. I fear love, for the way of love is the way of heartbreak,” she stared at the swans. Legolas saw a tear roll down her cheek. He brushed it away.
“You fight for them, then, to take out your anger in killing those that hurt you?” Legolas asked.
“Yes, I fight because I loved,” she said. She rose and went to the window.
“And even if I were killed it might be better, for I would go to my mother,”
“Is that truly your belief?” Legolas was amazed that any elf would embrace death. She said nothing. Legolas touched the wall, allowing his fingers to turn pink, then red. He let his hand drop.
“Power,” he thought. “Power in the stone.” He looked up. Rayn had yet again left.