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Many thanks to Ellynn for taking on the job as my beta! ((hugs))
Ch. 10 – A Brother’s Concern
Sadron sat in what served as his study in his forest enclave in the Mountains of Mirkwood looking over reports made by his captains. They did reconnaissance work south of the mountains traveling in some very dangerous regions. Sadron had an unusual pang of sadness. It flared in his soul as he remembered the forest before it became known as Mirkwood. Before, when his beloved forest was rightly named Greenwood the Great and they ruled from Amon Lanc in the south to the far reaches in the north of the Greenwood. The woods where his captains tread carefully was once carefree and green. But he learned long ago looking back to the past lead to nothing productive. His father, who he loved dearly, had never seemed to learn this lesson. He refused to forget the past and Sadron knew that it tore at him.
Before he left to take the position of lord of the southern marches, he and his father frequently went around and around about letting go of the past and only looking forward. His father could see the value of being forward thinking for the good of the realm, but Sadron could never get him to stop dwelling on the past. Both were quick-tempered and as a result this portion of any conversation usually ended up in a shouting match. Their “favorite” topic was Legolas. Sadron saw that Thranduil’s treatment of Legolas was different than he and Celebren had received. He had long argued for allowing Legolas more freedom and responsibility, arguing that he was ready for more. Thranduil refused to listen.
As much as they argued, Sadron, like all who inhabited the Woodland Realm, never mentioned the real reason his father did not allow Legolas the freedom to grow. The pain of loss, grief unfiltered by time lived in Thranduil, as it did for many Elves. It had not helped that the one time that Sadron had succeeded in prevailing upon Thranduil to allow Legolas some latitude, a little under a hundred years ago, he had been captured by Orcs and held for ransom. Legolas had escaped unharmed with the help of Aragorn and the Elves of Imladris, but after that incident Thranduil would hear no word on anything that would jeopardize Legolas’ safety. Shortly thereafter it was deemed prudent to establish a presence further south and Sadron volunteered to be Thranduil’s eyes and ears in the Mountains of Mirkwood, nearer to Dol Guldur. It also put a little needed distance between the two volatile personalities of Thranduil and his second son. Sadron sighed and scrubbed his face with his hands. It did not do to dwell on what could not be changed. At that moment Faron, his attendant, made his presence known.
“My lord Sadron, there is a courier from the King wishing to speak with you.” Sadron thought it odd that Faron should address him so formally, but then he surmised that the courier must have been within earshot.
Sadron replied in a puzzled voice, “His bi-weekly courier has already come and gone. Curious. Send him in, Faron.”
“As you wish, my lord.” Faron departed and a few words were heard from beyond the heavy green silk curtain that served as a door. It was a familiar voice he heard.
“My Lord Sadron,” Daenir stated with a knowing smile as he pushed aside heavy silk and entered the study. “Quite formal, I must say!”
Sadron stood and quickly embraced his friend of many, many years. They had shared patrols and scouting parties too numerous to count in their younger days.
“Daenir! Don’t you start. Faron is young yet. And he is only looking after my dignity. Wanting to make sure proper form is being observed here on the wild southern reaches in case you should report such things to the King.”
Daenir looked at his old friend.
“I believe you, thousands wouldn’t,” he ended with a smile.
Sadron sobered and asked, “But to be serious, Daenir. What are you doing here?”
“I have come as a special courier. I was charged with the instruction to get here with the utmost of speed and stealth.” He then opened his pouch to extract to two letters and handed to them to Sadron.
Sadron looked down at the two envelopes. The first thing he noticed were the two seals. One was Celebren’s seal-of-duty which was not odd in and of itself. He received official dispatches from either Celebren or his father. It was the second that was the curiosity. He recognized his father’s personal seal which was only ever used in familial letters. It was the strict understanding than no one other than the addressee was to see what was written therein. Sadron flipped the letter over before opening and upon seeing the name written it was good that he had because the name that was written on the outer side was not his but Legolas’.
“What the-?” Sadron placed the letter on the table next to him and then opened Celebren’s letter hoping for some sort of clarification.
I am sure you are full of questions and this letter will attempt to give an explanation. Some of which I think Adar would not appreciate me relating to you, but I do think that you should know.
Sadron’s eyebrow raised a little in curiosity. It was unlike Celebren to do something that was against Adar’s wishes unless there was a very good reason for it. And knowing Celebren he had already thought through all possibilities and decided this course of events was the optimal choice. He looked up from his letter.
“Daenir, go have some wine after your journey, I will join you shortly and we can talk more then.”
Daenir looked at his friend with a rueful smile.
“I know when I am being not-so-subtly dismissed. And for that it will be the best wine that you have,” he finished, still smiling.
At least Sadron had the good grace to look apologetic to his old friend.
“Hannon le, Mellon nin! Till then.” As he placed his hand on his heart, Daenir departed and Sadron returned to the letter.
First the larger happenings. Gollum has escaped. By the time this reaches you it will have probably been less than two days ago given Daenir’s abilities and we both know those quite well.
Sadron smiled. “That we do, brother.” He continued reading growing concerned over the next passage.
It was under Legolas’ patrol’s watch. They were attacked by Orcs late at night while they waited for Gollum to come down from the trees. Two Elves were killed, Maethon and Eithediriel. They had been guarding the tree that Gollum had climbed.
Sadron closed his eyes as the faces of the two Elves he had known since their training days appeared in his mind’s eye.
“May they accept the summons of Mandos and be among us once again,” he murmured. And he thought of how Legolas was handling this loss. He had not lost many under his service and not for a long time, thinking back to one that was lost and the length it had taken for Legolas to move forward once again. But he quickly pushed that sad thought aside. Sadron continued reading searching for more answers than questions.
As you can guess Legolas found this all very hard to accept. He blames himself. And apparently Mithrandir told him a few things that he left to Legolas’ judgment as to whether or not he should tell Adar. Legolas chose not to tell him and he thinks that this lead to the ambush and subsequently Gollum’s escape and the death of his friends.
In reporting back to Adar, it all came out. All as you thought it might as you argued for more latitude for our youngest brother. Legolas told me himself that he shouted at Adar that Adar didn’t trust him, and if he did why he still send body retainers to follow Legolas’ every move. All as you said it might happen.
Sadron walked back to his chair, sat down and began rubbing one eyebrow in a way reminiscent of his father. His heart was heavy as he continued reading, fearing he knew what was going to come next.
Adar then dismissed Legolas from his presence saying that he could no longer trust him. Legolas has now left with Erthion, Vivelle and Navedir to seek Gollum to possibly restore himself in Adar’s eyes.
Sadron stopped reading, shaking his head. He had so wanted to be wrong in this. He had wanted to his father to make peace with the past before any misunderstandings happened between him and Legolas. He read the last paragraph.
Legolas wrote in a letter he left for Adar that he would search and if his travels south did not yield Gollum he would then seek you out and ask for help. Other patrols have been sent out to scour the northern woods. Expect Legolas soon for he specifically said he was heading south. All of which brings me to the second letter you have received. Adar was distraught as you can well imagine.
Sadron allowed a small smile as he murmured, “Ah, I see dear brother that you are engaging in understatement once again.” Because he knew in his very bones that “distraught” did not even begin to describe his father’s emotional state at the departure of his youngest and most beloved son.
I suggested writing a letter to Legolas by way of explanation and to perhaps apologize. Between you and me brother, the fact that he agreed with my advice shows how shaken he was. It was sobering to see our Adar that low. I don’t mind admitting to you, brother, that I hope to never see him that shaken again. It struck me to my core. But I digress. The letter you hold is the letter Adar wrote. Please give it into Legolas’ hand the first moment you see him. I have written that which Adar would frown upon anyone knowing, even his own sons. You know how he is. Legolas should be coming to you soon. If he has somehow found Gollum in the interim, I shall send by way of courier that very information. Till we see each other again.
Your loving brother,
Sadron sat mulling over the letter’s contents. He had seen this coming. Legolas was a cheerful and merry-spirited elf and was willing to sacrifice much of himself to give his father peace of mind, but Sadron had feared that unless Thranduil somehow made peace with his past, there was always going to be a reckoning and apparently that reckoning had come. He picked up the letter from his father to his youngest son and wondered what it said, but he would never know unless Legolas chose to share.
He thought of his little brother. Legolas was a very capable warrior. He worked many long hard hours on the training field and on the archery range, honing his skills – to make the most of his considerable abilities. Sadron thought he worked so hard and tried to be so perfect so that through his skills alone he could convince his father to give him more responsibilities, to show that he was worthy. As result, Legolas’ skills as an archer were among the best he had ever seen. If truth be told, he was better than either Celebren or himself, though he would never tell Legolas that exactly. Brotherly vanity needs must be served, Sadron smiled. His skills with two knives was poetry in motion. Centuries spent training, driving himself to the perfection of his abilities created fluid and deadly execution on the training field. And there was the rub.
Legolas did not have a lot of experience outside Mirkwood and even within the borders of their realm farther away than a day’s ride away from the King’s Halls. Thranduil simply did not allow it. Legolas had slipped past his minders on rare occasions while on patrol and had had exposure beyond Mirkwood, but it was very limited. Sadron awaited his little brother’s arrival with great anticipation. He opened up a box on his desk and placed what he suspected was a very private letter inside, locking it for safe keeping.
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