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Ch. 8 – “I am to blame…”
Legolas walked purposefully across the greensward within the walls of Thranduil’s halls. He tried to push to one side the stone-cold look in his father’s eyes as he dismissed him and the resultant pain that sat on his heart. He would make this right. He would see joy again in his father’s eyes. He could not disappoint him again. His first stop was the house of Erthion and Vivelle to inform them of the plan and then to the Healing Houses to see if Navedir would be able to ride with them. They needed to ride within the hour if they were ever going to be able to pick up Gollum’s trail. It was growing colder by the hour.
He reached their dwelling and tapped the onyx stone to metal alerting them to his presence at the door. Erthion opened the door a bit distractedly and immediately Legolas felt contrite. “Pardon the intrusion, mellon nin, but I have need of you and Vivelle in urgent business.”
Vivelle, in a hastily donned flowing wrap, appeared at the door to their bedchamber, her hair down, “Legolas…What is it?”
Legolas colored slightly looking at Vivelle, her attire confirming the activity he had indeed interrupted, “Pray pardon, Vivelle. But we must leave at once. We are to track Gollum’s whereabouts and bring him back to here to the Halls. We must leave at once. Make ready!”
Erthion combed back his honey blond hair with his fingers and replied, “At once, my prince. The King commands this?”
Legolas paused and Erthion noted that his eyes flashed pain and confusion for a second before he quickly nodded, “I go to the healing houses to see if Navedir is able to ride with us. Be quick. We have need of speed.”
“At once, my prince,” Erthion intoned as he watched Legolas spin on his heel and stride intently towards the healing houses. He sighed, wondering at such urgency. As to the stated reason urgency was understandable but Erthion had known his prince and friend for many years and he was sure something was very, very wrong.
Vivelle walked up to him, “What do you think is wrong?”
Erthion looked at her seeing that she had sensed it, too. “I do not know, my love. But I do know that we had better make ourselves ready, if only to protect Legolas if and when it goes wrong.” He turned rueful eyes upon his delightfully disheveled wife, “all else shall have to wait,” kissing her on the forehead.
After confirming that Navedir indeed was able to ride with them Legolas returned briefly to his suite of rooms in the main halls. He quickly gathered up his patrol gear, adding such equipment and provisions needed for a longer tour in the deeper portions of the forest. Preparations made he sat at his writing desk and pulled forward a piece of parchment. He drew in a large breath trying organized his traumatized thoughts. He began:
“My dearest adar,
Know that I am deeply ashamed of my actions and words earlier this day. I behaved towards you with a level of disrespect that I know not how to excuse. I cannot ask your forgiveness until I have made right my childish and irresponsible actions. I will not have the right to look you in the eye until I have made amends. I go forward to seek Gollum with my patrol,”
Leaving off those I know to be my minders, Legolas thought before he continued his letter,
“I will find him and bring him back. If we should range far enough to the south without having found him, I will join with Sadron and his patrols and we shall together continue seek Gollum until he is found. I have no right to ask but I hope you can find it in your heart to not think quite so ill of me until I return. By which time I hope to have redeemed myself in your eyes.
Your loving son,
Legolas looked over the letter and then folded it and applied his own seal of a leaf and feather in red wax, he then hefted up his pack and went in search of Guildor, his father’s chief attendant. At the master attendant’s door Legolas shed his pack and entered unencumbered at least physically; his heart as ever remained weighed by the sorrow he had created. “Master Guildor,” he proclaimed as pleasantly as he could, “Might you know where my Adar is?”
“He had gone to the stables sometime ago,” Guildor replied, “He did not say when he would be returning.” He looked up briefly in a distracted way from the parchment he was copying out of.
Legolas feigned disappointment for he knew that he could not face his father at this time, “Well then,” he started slowly, “Can I ask that you give him this note,”
“Is it urgent?” Guildor asked politely, still continuing with his copying.
“Um, Not urgent, just a matter that needs seeing to,” Legolas said, trying desperately hard to keep his voice light.
“Set it there with the dispatches, he will read it tomorrow.” He motioned toward a carved wooden tray without looking up.
“Hannon le! Guildor.” Legolas bowed and left, standing outside the master attendant’s door hefting his pack again and making his quick way to the stables.
Something in Legolas’ tone of voice caused Guildor to pause in his copying and pick up the note instead. He looked at it and then at the door. Something was not right. He frowned and set the letter next to his inkwell, to remind him to give the letter into the King’s hand the moment he returned. He sighed and absentmindedly picked up his goblet of wine took a sip and returned to his copying.
Legolas entered the stables and saw that the other three were waiting. He took a moment to compose himself then said, as he looked at the three of them, “Hannon le, for the quick response to the summons.”
All three bowed and Erthion, “Always, my prince. We are here for you.”
Legolas looked at Erthion wondering at the elf’s thoughts, “Hannon le, Erthion.” He said as calmly and decisively as he could. “Let us begin our mission. We are to pick up the trail as best we may and track Gollum and re-capture and bring him back to these halls. We are a small party to be sure, but the smaller the party the more chance of moving swiftly.” Legolas swung upon Lhegrin’s back signaling that all should mount and be off on their journey. Legolas fronted the group and as a result he did not see the look of concern the other three were sharing. The silent communication among the three; they were to protect the prince at all costs, even if that meant protecting him from himself. They needed no king’s directive; they would each give their lives to see Legolas safe.
Thranduil return to his halls in the late afternoon. After stabling Alagos he walked as quickly as was seemly back to the main halls to seek out his youngest son to apologize to him and beg his forgiveness as Lasgalen had instructed. He knew it was the only way to heal the cleft in his heart. They would begin anew. At this time of day Legolas was at the shooting range when he was not on patrol. He would speak to each of his body retainers explain that they duties were to change. Thranduil gained the shooting range in quick time and on first glance he did not see Legolas’ gleaming blond hair on the line with the rest of the archers. A reflexive flare of worry and Thranduil smiled ruefully. He would have to stop such reactions, or at least try to, though he could make no promises. Change indeed was not a strong suit of his. He could hear within his mind Celebren intoning that same trope, that he needed to embrace change just a little bit more. Thranduil saw the master of the range, Gannedir, and flagged him over to ask him about Legolas.
“Good Master Gannedir, Mae Govannen!” Thranduil greeted him cheerfully.
“Mae Govannen, My King!” Gannedir returned, noting the unusually cheerful mien of his normally more reticent liege lord, “Can I be of any service, my liege?”
“Yes! Master Gannedir. You can. Has my youngest son finished shooting for the day? I do not see him on the line with the others.”
“No, my liege. In fact, he did not come and shoot today. To say true, I thought it rather odd.” The range master added, a bit puzzled that Legolas should miss practice.
“So say you?” Thranduil replied, again dampening down the flare of worry. “Very well.”
Gannedir offered, “Perhaps matters called him away?”
Thranduil smiled a small perfunctory smile, “Yes, I am sure that is it. Hannon le Master Gannedir, I shall allow you to tend to your duties once again.” Gannedir bowed to Thranduil and returned to his position overseeing the archers on the line.
Thranduil stood still, trying to quell his worry and decided to see if Celebren had seen his little brother. He returned to his study and had the young door attendant, Lachon send for the Crown Prince so that Thranduil could speak with him about a few matters. He tapped his fingers on the desk in an unconscious effort to release nervous energy as he thought that he could just send for Legolas, but given their last encounter he did not want start so important and personal a meeting with an official summons. He wanted to talk to his son in private where a real conversation could take place and he could begin to make amends as he could.
Guildor announced Celebren’s presence. “Adar? You wished to speak to me?”
Thranduil stated, “Yes,” he stopped himself and took a far less formal approach than he had been about to embark upon. “My son,” he struggled not to retreat into the cold formality that he always fell into when dealing with emotions that threatened to overflow. That was the path he had taken with Legolas earlier with disastrous results. “Do you know where Legolas is?” the direct question tumbled out of his mouth. “I wish to speak to him.”
Celebren noted that his father seemed to be most uncomfortable, most likely owning to the words that had been spoken with his youngest earlier in the day. “He did not come to speak with you?”
“No, he did not,” Thranduil rapped out sharply and then stopped himself again. “Forgive me.” He thought I need to see my son. Is that so difficult to achieve!
Celebren seeing his father’s discomfiture offered tentatively, “I spoke with Legolas earlier today, Adar. And if you will forgive me, he told me of your conversation.”
The battle between never showing weakness and the desperate need to see his youngest played out within Thranduil’s breast. Desperation won out. “I see,” Thranduil paused, “And can I ask what was said?” he said in a voice of strained emotion, his fingers gripping the edge of the table tightly as he strove to maintain a veneer of outward calm.
“He was ashamed of his behavior. He said he never should have spoken to you in the way that he did.”
Thranduil was speechless. So typical of Legolas to blame himself and absolve his father of his massive mistakes. A forgiving heart as Lasgalen had said. All pretense dropped Thranduil merely said, “Where is he, Celebren? Do you know?” The only thought in his soul was to go to his youngest and salve his wounds and make sure that he knew that he need not be ashamed, that he was not to blame.
Celebren shook his head sorrowfully. “I thought he was coming to talk to you. He said as much.” He stopped as a thought dawned on him.
An impatient, “What?” Thranduil prompted his eldest son.
“Legolas said he had to make this right. It was his responsibility. He had to make this right BEFORE he spoke to you!”
Thranduil’s blood ran cold, “In Iluvatar’s name what have I done! If any harm comes to him, I never forgive myself!”
Celebren calmed himself and was about suggest a course of action when Guildor asked leave to enter. Thranduil was in no fit state to give response so Celebren gave leave. “My liege I was set to give you a note from Prince Legolas. He gave it to me earlier this afternoon.” Guildor proffered the letter and Thranduil all but snatched the letter out of his attendant’s hand. He noted Legolas’ wax seal seconds before he ripped it opened and scanned the contents of the letter.
His hands shook as he read, his heart breaking as he read the last words, “I have no right to ask but I hope you can find it in your heart to not think quite so ill of me until I return. By which time I hope to have redeemed myself in your eyes. Your loving son, Legolas Thranduilion.” Thranduil sat back heavily, the letter falling from his hand. He let the pain of those words course through him. His last gift. His son. “He is gone,” he said in a thin, shallow voice, “I am to blame…”
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