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.
Thrénandu called a break, and all the novices sighed with relief. It had been a hard session today, and they all craved the day to be over. Legolas sat beside Shannai, drinking greedily from his water skin. Setting the empty flask aside, Legolas leaned against the boulder behind them, closing his eyes and trying to control his racing breath.
“Aw, is the Princeling tired? Maybe we should call for a servant to make his Highness feel better?”
Legolas’ eyes snapped open and he felt Shannai stiffen beside him. “Please, stop that Tinrod. You know no one is laughing at that joke,” Shannai snorted, eyeing the older novice with distaste.
“Really?” the one called Tinrod rose a mocking eyebrow. “But he looks really uncomfortable. Surely he hasn’t used to such a labour –”
“If I were you, I would be more worried about your own outer impression,” Shannai snapped, his face defiant. A few of the other novices laughed at this, but an angry glare from Tinrod silenced them.
Legolas sat up straighter, putting a calming hand upon his friend’s shoulder, telling Shannai wordlessly to stop. Tinrod also had seemingly enough, and with a snort, he turned back to his friends.
Shannai made a face at him, then turned back to Legolas. “Doesn’t it bother you? Being mocked like that?”
“He does so because he is uncertain of himself,” Legolas answered.
“Is that what Rafél told you?” Shannai asked.
“Lossaurion,” Legolas corrected. “But it doesn’t matter. I have developed a skill to ignore it. I would advice you to do the same.”
“You know, it won’t stop before you make them stop,” Shannai continued, his face worried. “This had continued since we were moved to this group. Even if we are centuries younger than the other novices, it does not give them a right to bully us so.”
Legolas raised an eyebrow, leaning back against the boulder. “We are younger than them, but I am sure that Captain Thrénandu knew what he was doing when he decided to move us here.” He punched Shannai playfully. “We are too good to be in the same group with the younger novices.”
At this, Shannai grinned, punching Legolas back, and they both laughed. They had been moved to a more experienced group of novices some weeks ago. Thrénandu’s choice had been a surprise to many, but the Elder Elves understood the captain’s tactic: Legolas was learning swiftly, and following his friend’s example, Shannai had developed greatly as well. It would have been waste to keep the two among beginners. But this did not mean that the older novices would welcome them: Tinrod was a good example of this.
Shannai was in middle of explaining his rather funny meeting with a mouse in his room when he suddenly stopped talking, his ears picking up something more interesting. Turning his head around, he looked at the older youths, who were gathered together and were speaking quietly. “Come,” Shannai said to Legolas, standing up and swiftly making his way to the others. Legolas followed his friend, trying to figure out what had woken his interest. Reaching the group of others, the two Elflings stopped, listening intently.
“No warrior – how great he might be – dares to enter that place and approach the tree,” Tinrod said with an ominous voice.
“What tree?” Shannai asked excitedly. He loved to hear stories, and he definitely wanted to hear this one.
Tinrod grinned, looking down at the younger Elves. “It is a frightening story – a true one, of course – and I am not sure if I should tell you: you may have bad dreams later.”
“Why don’t you try us,” Legolas challenged, not wishing to back off.
“Come on, tell them,” one of the other older novices encouraged. “Maybe they’ll run home for nana.”
Legolas felt like bristling, but he kept his face calm, his blue eyes directed to Tinrod. The older Elf shifted under his stare, and Legolas congratulated himself of a momentary victory. I better remember to thank Lossaurion for his help, he thought. He had first been reluctant to tell anyone that he and Shannai were bullied, but now that he had spoken with Lossaurion and Rafél, things seemed much easier.
“Very well,” Tinrod said dramatically. “Listen carefully.” He leaned forward with false confidence. “In a dark valley on the curve of the mountains of Mirkwood, there is an old, terrible tree. Some say it is cursed, others that it is a source of immense evil. None dares to approach it, not even bravest of warriors.” Shannai’s eyes were glimmering, and Legolas felt pity for his friend: surely there was no such thing as this existing. “But I have decided to enter the valley, and climb to that tree. Me and my friends shall leave tomorrow.”
Shannai gasped, his eyes full of fear. “You must be mad,” he exclaimed with a hushed voice.
Tinrod smiled arrogantly. “Nay: I have courage. I would take you with me, but you are merely too young and unskilled. And of course Legolas could not join us: at least without a royal escort.” A sharp glance was directed to the direction of the young Prince.
“But could I come?” Shannai begged. “I won’t be on the way!”
“Perhaps,” Tinrod looked like considering his options. “Fine, it is your choice.”
Shannai shouted excitedly, bouncing up and down. “Did you hear that, Legolas? I am going with them!”
Legolas made no answer, his eyes downcast. Even if Tinrod hadn’t noticed, his words truly hurt him. Not because they came from another Elfling, but because they were true.
“Well, it is time to continue!” came a shout from Thrénandu, and the novices returned to the field, Shannai still hopping from side to another.
Legolas followed slowly, deep in thought. I shall find that cursed tree on my own, real or not. Then let’s see if they still laugh at me! I am good enough to look after myself, even without a royal escort.
His face set and grim, Legolas resumed his place, his thoughts far from the training itself. On the other side of the field, Thrénandu watched his youngest student, who seemed to be far less attentive than usual. Frowning, Thrénandu wondered if he should tell of this to Rafél or not.
to be continued…