Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Third Age of the Sun
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure (“AU”)
Rating: T / FRT
Characters: Legolas, Thranduil (, OCs)
Summary: Soon after Legolas’ birth, there was a bodyguard chosen for him, as had been the custom in the royal family. But how was Rafél chosen to this task, and did he accept his new duty immediately and without hesitating? How did the young Prince of Mirkwood receive his guardian? And most of all, how did they befriend and grew inseparable…
Part of the history of “The Last Journey”. Complete.
Warnings: Violence, mentioning of death.
Not for a first time, Legolas felt like Rafél was slowing down on purpose, shuffling along the path that led to the training fields. Glancing back yet again, Legolas made sure the other was actually coming. “Rafél! Hurry, we cannot be late.”
Chuckling, Rafél responded: “We will not be late, young Prince. We are still early as we are, without running along,” he said with a slight remark.
Legolas would not have it, of course. This would be his first day on the training fields, and he didn’t want to waste another moment. He had woken up even before the sunrise, too anxious to sleep. When his father, after months of begging, had finally allowed him to join the other novices, Legolas had been beside himself with joy. He would become a warrior, at last! “Rafél,” he began again, and then decided he would be only wasting his breath.
As Legolas rushed forward on the path, Rafél could only wonder again the youth’s energy. In the end of the day, Legolas would most likely be covered with dust and bruises – if the Prince would keep going as he was – but knowing Legolas, that would not bother him a slightest.
Rafél wasn’t sure if Thranduil had done the right decision. Sure, it gave the guardian himself less headache when he didn’t have to tell Legolas continually that he would not become a novice yet. But yet Legolas was some years younger than the youngest novices, and that might be a problem. And then there was another thing: Legolas was a Prince. That always affected his training – and would affect the years to come. Even if the trainers would not do difference with a Prince of their realm, the other novices would. Legolas would have hard time in proving that he was indeed capable of beginning his training and gain the respect of other students as a warrior.
Rafél’s brow furrowed as he thought, his eyes never leaving his task. Legolas most likely didn’t understand the entire picture of becoming a warrior. Right now, the Elfling may be content with a swinging of a sword, but later he would be forced to understand why warriors were needed, especially in their realm. Sighing, Rafél entered to the training fields, his eyes searching for Legolas who had run ahead of him.
The field was crowded with only a few people. It was early still, anyway, and many of the novices were still seated in their breakfast tables. Legolas didn’t mind, though, while wandering through the field, eyeing everything with utmost interest. There was one Elfling seated on a barrel next to a pile of wooden weapons, his hands cleaning them with experience. Legolas stopped near him, noticing that the other couldn’t be many years older than he.
Rising his eyes form his task, the other Elfling flashed Legolas a charming smile, laying aside the sword and jumping down from the barrel. “Hello. Are you new here? I haven’t seen you before so I guess you are,” there was a soft laugh. “My name is Shannai. What is yours?” Shannai stuck out his hand to Legolas, and the younger Elf returned the handshaking a bit gingerly. This wasn’t actually a way he was taught to introduce himself to people.
“My name is Legolas, son of –”
“Nice to meet you, Legolas,” Shannai announced before Legolas was finished. Then the youth’s face got thoughtful, and he looked at Legolas with narrowed eyes. “Your name sounds familiar… I guess I have heard it somewhere before.”
“You may have,” Legolas answered cautiously.
“Ah, Prince Legolas, I heard you were to join my group today,” came an older, deeper voice, and Thrénandu appeared. “Is Rafél here?”
“Yes, he stayed on the other side of the field, I think,” Legolas answered, eyeing the older Elf interestedly, the captain’s uniform making an impression to him every time they met.
Thrénandu nodded, heading out to find Legolas’ guardian.
When Legolas turned back to Shannai, the other was staring at him awed. “You are a Prince? I mean, Thrénandu only shows respect for few, and never to novices.”
“Yes, I am a Prince,” Legolas smiled.
Shannai also grinned, nodding. Then his brow furrowed again. “But aren’t you a little too young to be a novice?”
“My Ada said I could start practising,” Legolas chided.
Shannai laughed. “My Ada said it is better for me to learn some manners, so he sent me here. I’m one of the youngest novices, but I think you will be the youngest now.”
At that moment, Thrénandu appeared with Rafél, and the youths turned to meet their elders. Shannai bowed respectfully, and Legolas followed him suite, not knowing what else to do. Rafél laughed, stepping to Legolas and drawing him up. “I will leave you to Thrénandu’s care today. I will come to get you when the day is over.”
Legolas nodded, smiling brightly.
Noticing that all was well, Rafél nodded to Thrénandu, who slightly bowed back, and then the guardian left the clearing that was now filling with more young Elves.
When all the novices had arrived, Thrénandu drew them all together and introduced Legolas. Then he told his students what they would be expected to learn here – to inform Legolas and remind the others. They would learn to fight with sword, knife, bow and with many other weapons, learn hand-to-hand combat, hunting and tracking skills, and many more things that Legolas couldn’t remember when Thrénandu was finished. But one thing all the novices understood: they would become warriors.
Then they were all given wooden swords, and the real practice began. Legolas had never guessed that it would matter how you held the sword. Or how your legs were set to the ground. Or the position of your body. Or your present mood. There were many things that Thrénandu informed him about, and Legolas made his best to do the things right. When the last break came, Legolas was exhausted, panting slightly. He sat to the root of the tree, some yards away from the other youths, afraid to approach them. But he didn’t have to sit alone: after a moment, Shannai dropped next to him, offering Legolas some bread his mother had made that morning.
“I wish we would have real swords,” Shannai announced.
“Me too,” Legolas agreed, remembering the swinging blades sparkling in the sun. He sighed. “We are too little for real swords.”
“Says who?” Shannai challenged.
Legolas wasn’t warned by this, and answered truthfully. “Rafél says so. And my Ada: I once asked him. My brothers only laughed at me.”
“But maybe they are wrong. I have seen the warriors use smaller swords, too. They would be small enough for us. I cannot even lift my Ada’s sword. I tried that once,” Shannai said matter-of-factly. He turned to Legolas. “Would you like to try one of those smaller swords?”
Legolas looked shocked. “They would never give us those,” he gasped, even if the idea sounded appealing.
“No they wouldn’t,” Shannai admitted, pondering. Then his face lightened up again, and he leaned closer to Legolas’ ear to whisper. “But I know where we could get those swords. We could only borrow them a little, and then we would put them back,” he said, noticing Legolas hesitated.
Legolas thought about this, and then nodded reluctantly. This sounded about something Rafél would not approve, but what did it matter? His guardian would never hear of this, and he would get a chance to try a real sword, even if smaller one. “All right,” he said at length.
Shannai grinned, and then pulled Legolas up with him. “Come, we must go quickly before Thrénandu notices.” Taking Legolas’ hand, Shannai led him into the bushes, making them both crouch low. At last they reached a small warehouse, and Shannai opened the door, motioning Legolas to enter. Glancing carefully from side to side, Shannai made sure that no one was in sight. Then he also slipped in, closing the door behind him.
Legolas stood in the middle of the room, his eyes wide open, his head turning from side to another. He had never seen so many weapons in one place! Bows, swords, knives… Shannai grinned at him, his light green eyes shining. “Great, isn’t it?” Legolas nodded, temporarily mute.
Shannai headed forward, climbing swiftly to one of the shelves, reaching up with his hand. At last he found what he was hunting, drawing out a small sword, tossing it to Legolas, then taking out another, jumping down to the floor. “Come, let’s go outside and test these.”
The two Elflings opened the door cautiously, glancing to every direction before stepping outside. Shannai led them to a thick brushwood, Legolas following his new friend only a step behind. Soon they came to a small clearing in the middle of the thicket, and Shannai seemed to be content with their hiding place. With a smile, Shannai grasped the scabbard of the small sword, drawing out the blade. The sound made them both gasp, and Legolas repeated the action with his own blade, rising it to the level with his eyes. Elven runes traced the blade, and it glinted in the rays of the sun.
A tap of another blade against Legolas’ awoke him from his dreams, and he grinned at Shannai who stood few steps away, ready for a match. Throwing the scabbard to the ground, Legolas took position himself, trying to remember what Thrénandu had taught him today.
When their blades met for the first time, Legolas’ smile widened even more. He put a little more strength to his next blow, challenging Shannai. They danced like this for a while, slashing out with their blades, laughing with joy. This was much more fun than battling with wooden swords: the sounds and the feel of the blades were real, not dull impacts along a wooden shaft.
Their pace quickened, their strokes hitting closer to their opponents. Shannai had practiced longer than Legolas, but the Prince made that up with sheer willpower. When they were starting to learn how to strike with more force, a loud shout startled them.
The Prince whipped around, going all pale and dropping his blade.
Rafél didn’t look much better. The shock upon his face was evident, his eyes ablaze with fear and anger. Thrénandu stood behind him, his face a myriad of emotions.
Legolas backed up a little, standing slightly behind Shannai. The other youth seemed quite unaffected, his face still flushed from the exercise. Legolas also collected his courage, trying to look brave and unafraid beside his friend, who seemingly wasn’t too much afraid himself.
“What by the Valar you are doing?” Rafél choked out.
“We are fighting,” Shannai told him, his voice full of pride.
“Don’t you understand you could have killed each other?!” Rafél all but shouted, taking a step closer to Legolas. His eyes searched those of the Prince, and Legolas soon lowered his, unable to meet his guardian’s gaze. “Give me those swords,” Rafél said softly, as if being afraid that the Elflings would still hurt themselves before he would get the short swords away from them.
Legolas complied swiftly, Shannai following him more reluctantly. Then Shannai stepped back beside Legolas, his eyes meeting Thrénandu’s, who seemingly had many things to say to the couple. Throwing one hand over Legolas’ slightly shaking shoulders, Shannai stood beside his friend, countering the gazes of his elders.
“Which one of you came up with this ridiculous idea?” Thrénandu asked quietly. “Or do I even have to ask? Legolas couldn’t have known where to get these blades by himself.”
Rafél turned to look at the captain, and then at Shannai, the weight of his gaze falling upon the bronze haired youth. “Have you any idea what you did? You could have hurt Legolas, or even killed him.” Drawing a long breath, Rafél collected his thoughts. “And Legolas, I would have expected a little more sense from you in this. Have I not said to you times enough that you are simply too young to rise a proper blade? Have I not?”
“Yes,” Legolas mumbled, his eyes dropped to the ground.
Rafél snorted, handing the blades to Thrénandu. “Now come, both of you. I am sure your mentor has a lot to say to you.”
Silently, the Elflings followed their elders away from the thicket. “It was fun, as long as it lasted,” Shannai whispered.
Legolas was too afraid to answer, knowing that Rafél might hear. He would hear enough of this as it was: he didn’t need to make it any worse.
When they reached the training field, the other novices were already gone. They followed Thrénandu to his office, near the side of the fields.
“Sit down, both of you,” Rafél said sternly, and Legolas dropped to a bench quickly, his eyes tracing path on the floor. The captain and the guardian went to Thrénandu’s office, their voices muffled by the closed door.
Shannai snorted, sitting beside Legolas. “Why do you let him do that?” he asked.
“Do what?” Legolas replied, confused.
“Boss you. Tell you what to do. You are a Prince, after all. You should be the one tell him what to do.”
Legolas blinked, staring at the other youth, then lowered his gaze again, pondering Shannai’s words. Maybe he was right. Maybe it wasn’t necessary that Legolas did all as Rafél wanted.
They waited in silence for Thrénandu to summon them in, so they could hear his thoughts about their little fight...
to be continued…