His week in Yardan went by slowly. Legolas realized later that it couldn’t go on long enough. But he kept that thought from everyone; except Rayn, who already knew of his fears.
He wandered through the palace, sometimes accompanied by the half-queen. She took him many places, and he found that the palace extended into the mountain; and beyond.
The book on his table intrigued him greatly. In the mornings when the sun glowed upon the wall he sat on his bed and read of kings and battles, of elves who crafted beautiful jewely, and great gardens that had taken centuries to build and to keep in the lands of Aman. He read of the powers in the black stone and how it was used to see the future. He read of great white cities, and of paths that led nowhere and never returned. The book filled him with awe that such a place existed, and sadness that it was nearly dead. When he could take no more he set the book down, and greived for a land that he most certainly would never see.
It was on one such morning that he laid that book next to him and hugged his knees to his chest. He bowed his head, crying softly. He felt a hand laid on his shoulder.
“What hurts thee so deeply?” asked the soft, clear voice of Rayn.
“That such a land should be taken control of…” he trailed off. “And this quest. What possesed me that I would offer to go and build an army of who knows what? I feel so lost, and alone.”
“You won’t be alone on your quest,” Rayn said.
“Erindor is no friend of mine,” he said. Rayn sighed. Suddenly she grabbed his hand.
“Come, you have not yet seen my realm,” she said. He got up and let her lead him out of the room.
She led him up a long stairway. They traveled up and up, through great halls off moss and lichen. Suddenly Rayn broke through the canopy and faced the sunlight. She continued along a stone ledge, her hand on the mountain face. She reached a groove in the wall, and slid her hand into it. To Legolas’s surprise, the stone moved. She led him into a narrow rock cave. She took his hand and led him to the other side. The door closed behind them and the only light came through a few chinks in the roof. She put her hand on the wall and her fingers quickly found another crack. She turned to Legolas.
“Close your eyes,” she said.
He obeyed, and stone ground against stone as the door rolled back. He could feel sunlight on his face, its warmth filled him with strength. Water fell in a great cascade somewhere, and he smiled at the sound of the happy voices of elven-children, singing and shouting in the morning light.
“You can open them now,” Rayn said. He leaned against the mountain in wonder as the world came into focus. A white light spilled over everything, trees and plants grew everywhere, and he noticed that many of them were ferns. A great building of white stone sat nestled on a ledge not far off.
“What is that?”he asked, pointing to the place.
“That is Lanthrisam, I cannot wait for you to see it.” She began to carefully traverse the legdge.
Legolas followed, one tenative step after another, trying to step where Rayn had.
By the time he reached the building the ground had leveled out some. Rayn had already disappeared inside. He noticed as he entered that there were no doors, and like most buildings in the palace it was open to the world, having only pillars, a ceiling, and a marble floor. Ferns in gold pots dotted the floor around him, and cool air caressed his face. To his left was a fountain, surrounded in green things, a likeness of the Trees of the Valar spewed water out from their branches, disturbing the pool around them. Rayn peeked out from behind a pillar.
“Come,” she said simply.
He strolled over the cool stone floor and looked around the pillar. He heard Rayn’s voice in his ear before he felt her next to him.
“Take off your weapons, Elf-Prince, this is no place for the strains of war,” she whispered.
He unbuckled the leather strap that bound his quiver to his back. He set it on the floor, along with his elven-cloak. He stood, and the silver thread woven into his otherwise blue shirt transformed him from bark and tree to cloud and sky. Again he heard Rayn’s voice. But this time he was ready. He whirled around and grabbed her by the shoulders. He looked into her eyes, and saw surprise, and a hint of fear. He smiled.
“What do you wish to show me, Half-Queen?” his tone suggested command, not inquiry.
She backed away from him slowly and walked around the pillar. He followed and what he saw took his breath away. A maze of fountains and green plants spread out over the floor before him. Rayn slipped her hand into his, and led him through the labryinth. He wandered as though in his own world, taking it all in, breathing the life in the air as he walked. Rayn led him to a little staircase outside of the building. She began to climb it, leading Legolas behind her. She reached the top, and he saw that there was a little shrine, surrounded by candles and plants. It was dark on the side that faced the mountain, and was open windows on the other side. It had a sort of half-wall, to act as a rail, allowing no one to fall below. Rayn let his hand go, and went to a window nearby.
“Is this to your mother?” Legolas asked.
“Yes, and only I and those I bring here are allowed to enter. Come look, this is what I wanted to show you.”
He walked to the window where Rayn stood. Outside he could see the whole valley, and he could hear water, thundering above somewhere. Rayn reached for a cord, and pulled it.
Water crashed down over the roof, pouring over the edge and spraying Legolas. He jumped back, astonished. Rayn stood next to the cord, her hand over her mouth, vainly trying to hold back the laugh that threatened to bubble over.
“The water adds a nice touch,” Legolas said, laughing and wiping spray off of his face.
“It is more beautiful here at night, when the candles are lit, and when there are elves singing so that you can barely hear, and the waterfall sounds only as a fountain, not a torrent,” she sighed, and went to the window, peering out through the fall.
“You leave soon,” she said.
“Yes, and I don’t wish to leave. My heart cries out for my father, for my friend, Gimli, who was going to come here with me, but then went off to take his rightful place as King in the Glittering Caves. I am anxious to see them again, but I wish that I could stay here…with you,” he said. Rayn was startled; she continued to stare out the window, but with surprise on her face.
“I’ll go with you,” she said softly.
“I can’t let you do that, Rayn.”
“Why? I have nothing to do here but wait. Like Angon and Oradan, who have no free kin left. I would wander around here, doing nothing,” she turned to face him.
“It’s a simple matter, we sail there, gather an army, and sail back,” he explained.
“Then why do you want to stay?” Rayn asked. Legolas said nothing.
“I am going,” Rayn said determinedly, and turned back to the waterfall.
§ § §
Yardan was displeased.
“No, daughter, you cannot go with him!” He said from his throne in the middle of the room.
“Why not, Father? I go nowhere; I am made to sit here, while the world falls in around my ears,” Rayn paced around the room.
“It is dangerous,” Yardan said.
“We go across the water, we gather an army, and we come back; it is simple!” Rayn stopped pacing. “Why don’t you let me go anywhere?” she asked.
“I do not wish to lose you, Rayn, it is a bad world out there,”
“What could happen?” Rayn asked more gently, striding to him and taking his hands.
“I could name many things,” he looked despairingly at the floor, knowing he was beaten.
“We will be careful, Father,” Rayn assured him. “I will protect him,” she laughed. Yardan smiled a sad smile at her.
“I’m sure you will,” he said.
§ § §
Not long after his talk with Rayn, Yardan visited Legolas. He took him down the mountain to the armory on the day before they set sail, intending to kill two birds with one stone.
“I want you to look out for her,” the king said. “She has hardly been away from home, and I want nothing to happen to her.”
“I will do my best, Sire,” Legolas said obediently. They stopped in front of a shirt of chainmail. It was polished silver with a black leather collar and vambraces. He stared at it, captivated by the beauty that such a hard piece of art could convey.
“It was my son’s,” Yardan lifted it off of the hanger and held it against Legolas. “It should fit. Come, I will have Balved put it on you,” he said. He led Legolas outside, and called for Balved.
“When you are done I shall return,” Yardan said. Balved nodded, and picked up the mail.
Balved was as talkative as usual during the arrayment.
“Going on a quest, eh? Leaving us a week after you get here, and not even talking to hardly anyone but the half-queen, I say, you are a quiet one, aren’t you? For leaving tomorrow you sure don’t talk much. And another thing, do you have room for one more on your boat?”
Legolas was surprised by this last statement.
“What?” he asked.
“I would like to go,” Balved stopped tying the vambrace he was working on and looked up at the elf-prince. The young elf had great green eyes that sparkled like sunlight on the trees.
“I would serve you, Prince, not to war would I go,” Balved said solemnly. Legolas’s tender heart was pierced by the sincerity and the plea in his voice.
“If you can leave your door, I will take you with me, Balved,” he said. The elf’s face lit up at those words.
“Thank you, sir,” Balved went back to his vambrace, but he didn’t say another word.
When he was finished Yardan returned.
“You remind me of my son,” he said, admiring the armor. “Just make certain you are not as weak as he,” the king lapsed into silence.
“Do you need a weapon?” he asked suddenly.
“I have a bow and a quiver of arrows, and I am good with knives, but they were lost in the storm,” Legolas said.
“Knives,” the king murmured. “Balved, come with me. We will bring him his knives,”
They left, and Legolas turned to his own thoughts. He wondered again about his decision. And if he had done the right thing.
“It’s to late to back out of it now,” he thought. He sighed a weary sigh.
“You ail again, Legolas,” Rayn stepped out of the surrounding woods. Looking up, the Prince was filled with awe at her appearance.
She wore boots and leggings, much like his, but green rather than brown. Above these she wore a chan-mail shirt of metal which shone gold, and a collar and wrist guards of deep green leather. She wore a sword, and she, too, had a bow. Her long, golden-brown hair she had twisted elaborately on the back of her head. She sat next to him and gently ran her fingers over the mail on his shoulder.
“He gave you my brother’s armor?” she asked, whispering the question. He nodded, and they sat in silence. The king and the doorkeeper returned with the knives, and Balved kneeled and placed them on Legolas’s lap.
“Their hilts are made of the stone that is found in the mountains, but only of the white, not the black; long ago a great load of it was brought in, and many beautiful things were made of the ore, including these.” He drew one, and the blade gleamed in the sunlight.
“It is almost like bone.” The hilt indeed was white, but Yardan’s hand showed nothing of the power or the color that Legolas had come to expect. The king sheathed the blade, and placed it with the other. Legolas gingerly reached out to tuch the hilt.His fingertip tingled and glimmered pink at the brush. He quickly drew his hand away, lest his secret be discovered.
“Take these things and return to your room, Legolas, you leave in the morning,”
“We leave in the morning,” said Balved, standing tall. Rayn gave Legolas a surprised look.
“I take Balved as my squire,” Legolas said.
“My most trusted doorkeeper, my daughter, everyone is leaving me,” Yardan said.
“We will be back, Father,” Rayn said.
“I know, and good luck to you all. But remember, it is a sad thing when a elf dies, but when an elf is killed…” he turned and walked up the path.