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A/N: Once again many thanks to Ellynn, for sorting out my meaning! ((hugs))
Ch. 14 - “If it is what I must do…”
Legolas was quiet as they neared the Enchanted River close to Sadron’s holding. They had been riding for three days since his reluctant decision to turn back towards Sadron’s home. Responsibility began to hang more firmly about his shoulders the closer they drew towards his brother’s holding; he felt it keenly as the horses drew ever closer. Ever closer to facing truths he had been able to avoid up until this point.
“Legolas!” the shout rent the air.
He shook himself from his thoughts at his brother’s voice. “Yes! Sadron. What is it?” he said more crossly than he had meant.
“Pardon me,” Sadron began, somewhat sardonically, “next time, I should let you ford the stream straightaway instead slanted, and especially when we are already on the side where my holding lay.”
Legolas colored immediately, realizing with no small amount of horror that he had approached the Enchanted River from the trail that emerged from heavy forest. Embarrassed that he had shown temper where it had not been necessary, he quickly apologised, “I’m sorry, brother. My mind was elsewhere.”
“Obviously,” Sadron snapped and then his eyes softened with compassion. “Soon we shall bathe to remove the travel dust and then drink deep!” He stopped. “Perhaps not in that order.” And he grinned and waited until he saw Legolas return the same, “Good, you can smile. That is reassuring! I was beginning to think you had forgotten how.” He turned to his riders. “Soon, we will be able to sleep soundly in our own beds!” A cheer rose up at the prospect of the missed comfort. It had been a longish tour. It would be good to be home.
Within fifteen minutes they crossed through the protected forested archway and into Sadron’s holding. Fendir greeted them, “Welcome home my lord! Was the hunting good?”
“Alas, Fendir,” Sadron sighed, “it was not. But we shall re-group,” he said with a somewhat forced positivity. “Send word to Faron to have baths made ready for my brother and I while we stable our horses!”
“At once, my lord!” Fendir called to the young elf that was stationed with him at the gate. “Thilion, make haste! You heard his lordship!” The young honey-haired elf placed his hand over his heart and scurried off to fulfill his task.
Legolas breathed in deeply as the peace of Sadron’s hidden stronghold stole through his soul. “Ah, it is good to return to friendly confines.”
“Yes it is!” Sadron affirmed, “We shall crush a cup of wine and find a way forward!” Legolas smiled, though the emotion did not quite reach his eyes, Sadron noticed. Something inside his heart cried warning, but he quickly stifled that emotion wanting only to revel in the joy of being home after a long journey.
Upon entering his bedchamber Legolas saw Faron, Sadron’s attendant, filling the brass shoe-tub up the soaking line with an ewer of steaming water. He smiled genuinely, thinking of the bliss it would be to soak his weary body in the scented steamy water. He looked at Sadron’s attendant, still smiling. “Thank you, Faron. This looks divine after so many weeks on the trail. You best get back to my brother though, before he starts squawking!”
Faron returned the smile. “Granted. He does like his comfort when he can get it, but he told me to see to your needs first.”
Legolas grew thoughtful. “Did he now? Well I must remember to thank him for this unforeseen courtesy. Off you go now, though. I will be fine, and we would not want to strain my brother’s courtesy further.”
Faron nodded his head sagely before his retreat. “As you say, my lord. Good evening.” Legolas nodded his thanks the young yet seemingly wise squire to his brother’s needs.
In truth, though he could have done with a bit of squiring, he was glad to send Faron off. He needed to be alone. There was much he needed to think through, and he could not have pondered so deeply with an attendant close. He distractedly peeled off the travel worn layers and stepped into the soaking tub. It was indeed bliss as the lavender scented water began to soothe his tired muscles and unwind the many thoughts he had desperately tried to hide from both Sadron and Vivelle, both whom could so easily read his thoughts and emotions. He was at a loss concerning Gollum. The accursed gangrel creature was gone, and with that realization, Legolas struggled with how to make amends for his actions. It weighed upon his soul and depressed his spirit, this necessary yet elusive charge he had placed upon himself.
After scrubbing and washing down, Legolas allowed the warm water to lull him into contemplation. He remained motionless as he became mesmerized by an area of water ringed by suds. He noticed the everchanging colors as they shifted and melded into one another. An image slowly began to coalesce before his eyes and within a few moments, he saw himself riding through an archway on a horse with Vivelle to one side, Erthion and Navedir on the other. He saw himself dismount Lhegrin and look around in wonder. His view shifted and he beheld stonework buildings soaring airily above his head and all around him, reaching back into the mountain for as far as he could see. It was an enclave nestled within what seemed to be a ravine. An feeling of urgency permeated the vision and then it was gone, and he was left merely gazing upon the coalescing colors dancing across the surface of the cooling water. Legolas shook himself from his reverie but sat still for a moment as the vision played itself out again in his mind’s eye.
He rose from the tub and began drying himself with one of the large drying cloths left by Faron for his use. He donned a russet colored robe and stared into the full-length mirror in one corner of the room, wondering what the vision had meant. He did not recognize the airy enclave, yet he clearly was there with his companions which spoke to it being a vision of a possible future. He pondered his reflection until the more mundane grumblings of his stomach caused his mind to return to the here and now and the importance of the evening meal. He would talk to Sadron to see what his brother could make of such visions.
Sadron sat at table with a goblet of wine in his hand looking at his little brother eating. Something had happened to him; he knew it in his heart. Ever since Legolas was a little elfling, their bond had been a close one, probably owning to the traumatic loss of their mother and their father’s inability to accept what had happened to Lasgalen, which had caused him to withdraw from the world for a time. He would just have to be patient and wait for Legolas to come to him. He always did.
After the meal, Legolas did exactly that. He asked to meet with his brother in Sadron’s chambers. Sadron had Faron replace the wine decanter with another wine that his little brother had a particular fondness for. He then dismissed Faron for the night and asked not to be disturbed. The attendant was instructed that only Legolas was to be allowed admittance to his chambers for the rest of the night. The younger elf departed, leaving Sadron with his own thoughts as he waited for Legolas’ arrival. A strange foreboding once again began to color his heart. He was sensing that irreversible events were coalescing and instinctively he knew that Legolas was the focal point of this change. As he waited for his younger brother, he tossed back a goblet of wine in an effort to calm his nerves though it availed him little. A knock on the doorframe interrupted his thoughts. “Come!” he voiced with anticipation clear in his tone and anxiety a subtle undercurrent.
Legolas stepped across the threshold pushing aside the thick deep red velvet curtain that served as a door, took one look at Sadron and then sighed. “You know, I really wish that neither you nor Vivelle could read me like a book!”
Sadron smiled, some of the tension in his posture melting away with the evidence of Legolas’ discomfiture. “Well little brother, what can I say? It’s a gift!” he said, some of the lightness with which he spoke a bit forced, but Legolas did not seem to notice as he made his way over to the side table that held the decanter and goblets, and poured himself a generous portion of the dark wine. He sipped the wine tentatively.
“The ’85? You spoil me, brother!”
Sadron smiled and thought, That is because I sense something is coming to an end and I want to savour these moments! Aloud, however, he merely stated grandly, “And why not, I only have one little brother!” He sobered with his next words though. “What is it that you wanted to speak about?
Legolas sat in the padded wooden chair opposite Sadron and swirled his wine around in his goblet for several moments before speaking. “You know how you said that Naneth had the Sight?” as he drank from his goblet.
“Yes,” Sadron said cautiously.
“Well, I think something of it must have passed on to me,” Legolas stated looking straight ahead and downing the remaining contents before getting up to refill his goblet.
Anxiety filled Sadron’s soul, but he fought to keep it under control. “Legolas, what are you talking about…?” His eyes following his brother’s movements from chair to table and back again.
Sitting down, Legolas looked Sadron in the eye. “I had a vision.” He smiled wryly. “While taking my bath.”
Sadron said nothing, but merely eyed his little brother, awaiting explanation.
Legolas continued somewhat alarmed that his brother, always the one to respond to humor when cued, said nothing. “On the surface of the water I saw myself riding under an archway that looked unlike the stone it was made of – more like spun sugar than stone or wood. I have never seen its like before. And I was with Erthion, Vivelle and Navedir. I dismounted Lhegrin and looked around and saw a settlement of soaring stone and archways and waterfalls.”
Until Sadron heard the word “waterfalls” he had held out hope that the vision did not mean what he feared it meant. At that word however, he knew that his hopes had been in vain. It was Imladris that Legolas spoke of, the enclave of Elrond, Half-elven as he was called. The Herald of Ereinion Gil-galad, the last High King of the Elves, East of the Sea. Elrond had retreated in the Second Age after the fall of Eregion to the Misty Mountains to create Imladris as a refuge from the Deceiver. This he had heard from his father in those rare moments when he was expansive upon the past, usually when he was too deep in his cups to care about an unguarded memory or two.
Sadron had attended a council there with his father before Legolas had been born. His father had gone to the council of Imladris to inform the remaining Noldorin and Sindarin Lords that the Deceiver had taken residence in what had been known as Amon Lanc in the south of Mirkwood. His information had not been received well. It was a thorn in Thranduil’s side to this day that his word had been doubted and he bore a grudge against the other elves since then. He felt he had been disregarded as a Moriquendi elf and son of his rash father, Oropher, who had not waited upon High King Gil-galad’s word and rushed into the fight at the Battle of the Last Alliance where a large portion of their army met with a tragic fate to Thranduil’s everlasting grief. But he was judged as his father’s son and therefore his word had not been looked upon as authoritative. Also, Sadron knew that it held a dark place in Thranduil’s soul because it was the place that his beloved Lasgalen was journeying to when she was taken by Orcs.
“What do you think it means, brother?” Legolas interrupted Sadron’s thoughts.
Sadron took a deep breath. “Brother, I honestly do not know for sure. But I can tell that it is Imladris you saw in your vision.”
“Imladris!” Legolas remembered Thranduil using the name in unguarded moments as one would speak an epithet. For Legolas it always conjured the emotion of sadness and loss being the place that his mother was traveling to when she was killed. “How do you know?”
“Because I have been there. I was with Adar. We attended a council of Elves there before you were born. Adar had wise words for the Council, which they unfortunately did not heed. He rarely speaks of that time.”
Legolas pursed his lips. The more he heard, the less inclined he was to think favorably upon this admittedly beautiful but sad place, that apparently did not recognize his father’s words to be of any value. “I already hear the name with sadness, and now you tell me they disregard Adar’s wisdom.” He ended incredulously, sitting back in his chair.
Sadron inwardly sighed. Legolas was so his father’s son. Both Celebren and Sadron loved their father, but each knew that Thranduil did have shortcomings, that he was not perfect. Legolas, however, held no such views. He idolized his father, who could do no wrong in his eyes. And to this day, Imladris was always a place that brought sadness to all his family mixed as it was with remembrances of their mother. “Nevertheless, it is considered to be a place of knowledge and a place of influence among Elves.” Sadron paused as events within his mind’s eye moved closer to fruition. He ventured the opinion. “In thinking about it, it may be the next step in your journey.” He eyed his little brother unsure of the reception the idea would receive.
Legolas stared at his brother, “How do you mean? Why should I go to this place of sadness?”
Sadron saw a shuttered look begin to fall across his brother’s normally open and cheerful face. “Hear me out.” He continued hesitantly, “I know you are at a loss for what to do, now that Gollum has been deemed gone.”
Legolas peered at him intently, almost angrily, at his brother’s attempt to speak to the responsibility he felt for Gollum and the consequences of those actions. Sadron noticed the same look growing in Legolas’ eyes that he had always known in his father’s. That private pain that would bear no eyes upon it. He inwardly sighed again. Legolas was so his father’s son. “Mithrandir said that it was important that Gollum remain within Mirkwood.”
“Yes, thank you! Sadron, I am well aware of what Mithrandir had asked! I am well aware of how much I have failed him!” Legolas’ eyes flashed with shame and indignation.
“Brother, hear me out, please!”
“You keep saying that! But you have yet to say why!” Legolas fervently cried out as he jumped up from his chair.
“This is why!” Sadron exclaimed standing up. “I think you were given that vision to show you the next step. Perhaps you need to go to Imladris and inform Lord Elrond what has happened and see if he can somehow convey the message to Mithrandir so he can perhaps devise a new course of action.”
Legolas stood there fuming, shame and anger comingling within his expression. He was desperately trying to quell his emotions. All the emotions that he had kept bottled up while the search of Gollum continued and had given him a focus, a goal that kept his emotions of anger, grief, shame and recrimination at bay while he was actively trying to make amends for his mistakes. With the realization that Gollum was gone Legolas had been at a loss, not knowing how to deal with the magnitude of his mistakes.
Sadron saw the painful emotions playing across his younger brother’s face. It broke his heart. He took a step closer and said gently, “I am sorry. I should not presume to tell you what to do, nor would I claim to know the pain you feel. But I can tell you this. The only way through the pain is to move forward through it, even if the path forward is fraught with difficulties.”
Legolas looked up and Sadron saw such pain and confusion. Sadron said, again gently yet with some urgency, “I believe this is your way forward. I know it is a place of sadness in your heart as it is in mine, and you resist going there, but sometimes those places and the emotions they stir have to be dealt with. I do believe this is such a time.”
Legolas looked into his brother’s eyes, still trying to martial his emotions. He saw the wisdom of his words and realized that there was not only courage in the asking, but there was also courage in the accepting of the answer. His heart was heavy with sadness as he said, “If it is what I must do, then it is what I shall do.”
With those words, Sadron felt within his heart a series of events that had irrevocably clicked into place and that their lives would be forever changed. He leaned forward and kissed his little brother on the forehead and then looked into his blue depths and smiled.
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