And now, the end – or at least for the time being. This is the last chapter of The Wild Ones, a story I have enjoyed writing, and gained much satisfaction from. Your reviews, favorites and follows have motivated and inspired me, and so I think perhaps I may write another story.
I am truly grateful to all those who reviewed the story and kept it alive, there are no adequate words to express how rich they make me feel. I truly hope you enjoy the ending of the tale, and that you will continue reading my stories – it would be my very great privilege to write for you.
I wish you all a very joyful and prosperous 2015!
They are Noldo and they are learned, gifted in the skills of the physical sciences and the arts, refined and graceful like no other. The Wise Ones, led by Elrond and Glorfindel, travel to the Greenwood to reciprocate Thranduil's invitation. What will they see? How will it change their perception of the life those unruly tree-dwellers live? The Greenwood prepares for imperious Noldos…
The shimmering grey eyes stared down menacingly at the one called Taú. There was no mistaking it – he was a scion of the house of Oropher, there could be no doubt about it. The strong nose, the unique shape of his lips, the slanted eyes and brows that spoke of stubbornness and power. Strange that only now, had he noticed these things.
Who exactly this was, Elrond did not know. What he did know was that this elf belonged to the Royal house of the Greenwood, and that he had withheld that information for reasons Elrond took offence to, and that was all too apparent now, in his thunderous eyes.
The table had fallen into shocked silence, until first Glorfindel, and then Elrond's children slowly leant forward to peer at the portrait sitting in the midst of their food, dust still settling around it.
One by one, their mouths had opened and their eyes had bulged, moving from the portrait to Taú and back again.
Someone cleared their throat – Erestor.
"Well then," he began softly, albeit his words seemed to echo around them far too loudly.
"Here is a mystery," he said, as if he were beginning a tale, "tell us, Taú, why King Thranduil would fail to reveal the identity of one of his own house? Is it, perhaps, that he is – ashamed?"
In one swift move, Taú stood, his tunic swirling around him. He was tall, and well-built, and he did not make the slightest effort to hide his strength – indeed Erestor flinched only slightly, enough for Elrond to see and understand. His Chief Advisor had spoken out of turn, and to one of a line that had been well-known for their impetuousness. He wondered if he should break the death glare he had been giving the elf and intervene. Erestor was, after all, his friend.
"Ashamed? I do not think so, Lord Erestor. Tell me, why you would assume such a thing?" said the captain quietly, dangerously, like a mountain puma ready to pounce upon its frozen prey. Elrond preyed that Erestor would tread lightly now, and to his great relief, he did.
"I sought merely to obtain a reaction, for you are still unwilling it seems, to reveal your identity, even after your deception has been revealed. If it is an apology you require, you will have it after I have heard yours, my Lord?" he said calmly, admirably, thought Elrond, and his own body relaxed as the Silvan captain broke his murderous stare and looked to the floor in silent acquiescence.
"'Tis not deceit, my Lord Erestor. I merely follow orders," said Taú softly.
"Whose orders are these, then?" said Elrond as he slowly moved forward until he stood but inches from the strange, pale wheat hair that was too thick, too long to be purely Silvan. He could see it now – the Sindarin in him.
"Those of my King, Thranduil Oropherion."
"Why would he order such a thing?" asked Glorfindel, leaning forward with a quick glance at his lord.
"To protect me. You must try to understand, my Lord," said Taú earnestly. "He has become – insular – distrustful of those outside his besieged realm – in all conscience I cannot fault my King for that."
"I find it – offensive, that your king would think us capable of harming you. We are not kinslayers…" said Elrond meaningfully, and Taú stared back at him calmly. He saw it then, this very point was still questioned by Thranduil it seemed. It was preposterous and yet, he had not had dealings with Thranduil for over a millennia – and suddenly, he doubted his own, righteous anger.
"Is that it then, he believes we would harm one of his family, should we discover your lineage?"
"Partly, my lord. There is also the question of my – reputation," he said shyly. "I – eh, have been given many names over the centuries. These names have transcended the ranks of our warriors and some have been given to me by – by the enemy."
Glorfindel scowled as he too, stood. "What names?" he asked carefully.
Taú hesitated before revealing some of the names he had been given – slowly and with some disgust, he began to enumerate them; "The Reaper, Head Cleaver, Elven Avenger, Tr…."
"Troll-slayer – Silver Spawn. You are Legolas – Thranduilion," finished Glorfindel in utter surprise, for even as he had said the words his disbelief was still apparent, and Elrond's head snapped back to Taú."
Silence availed however. Elrohir slowly stood, followed by Elladan, both brothers looking at the Silvan captain in complete puzzlement. Elrond knew what they were thinking, for the simple act of revealing his names and lineage, had almost physically transformed the elf before them. This was no ignorant tree-dweller, but the powerful warrior son of Thranduil.
"Is this true? Are you Legolas?" asked Elrond finally.
"I am Legolas Tauron, only remaining son of Thranduil Oropherion. Aye, 'tis true."
Another prolonged silence ensued, until Elrond calmed his thundering heart and collected himself enough to speak once more.
"I request your presence in my study in thirty minutes," he said simply, glancing meaningfully first at Glorfindel, and then at Erestor, before turning on his heels, and leaving.
The crackling tension eased as both lords nodded once at Taú, and followed their leader, leaving the siblings alone with a still standing Taú.
"I am sorry. It was never my intention to deceive you."
Elrohir walked towards the rigid Silvan, and then placed a warm hand upon his muscled shoulder.
"Only remaining son?" he asked.
"The only one," replied Taú quietly. "I lost my two elder brothers to the enemy. Since then, I swore I would avenge their deaths, make it my sole purpose in this life to put an end to that which took my happiness from me – from my father… So you see," he said with a sad smile, "I understand you so well, my friend."
Elrohir held this sparkling gaze for a moment, before closing his own eyes and moving forward to embrace him. Legolas stood rigid for a moment, before he relaxed and wrapped his own arm around Elrond's son, a sad smile gracing his extraordinary features.
"Well, well, my Prince," said Elladan playfully as he too, drew closer, followed by Arwen. "The resemblance is nothing short of – amazing," he said with a tilt of his brows as he looked down at the still open book.
"I know," smiled Legolas. My father calls me Oropherion sometimes, when he is angered – some of the more mystical members of our society even claim I am Oropher himself reincarnated!"
"Well, whoever you are," contributed Arwen, "you are a friend to us now, whatever our father has in store for you," she finished sourly.
"Will he banish me, do you think?" asked Legolas innocently. "My father will not be happy about this at all – he will not let me past the borders in a century."
"That I cannot say," said Elrohir. "You saved our sister's hide, and I know that he was pleasantly surprised by whatever was in that missive. Perhaps he will not be quick to sever these tenuous ties that may be had from it; and you have an ally in Glorfindel, I would wager."
"Do you think so?" asked the Prince hopefully.
"I do. He likes you, I think."
Legolas smiled widely. "I am glad of that, to have the approval of one so great."
"You are a warrior, Legolas, down to the very marrow of your bones. In everything you do, in all the words you say, in all that you are. You and he are alike in so many ways."
Legolas dipped his head solemnly at Elrohir, before wandering over to the fire and staring into the bright orange flames.
"I wish I knew what words my father has written… to be kept in the dark is a frustrating thing. Your father and Lord Erestor have the upper hand in this. Perhaps they will reveal them to me now. And if they do not and I am banished, I will take with me the promise of your friendship," he smiled as he turned to them with resolve. "A friendship I wager will be famous!"
Elrohir smiled cheekily and Arwen's eyes glittered, and Elladan's smile was one of relief, for Legolas may have lost his two brothers, but he had returned his own twin to him, and in doing so, had earned himself two brothers that would stand by him – to whatever end.
"Elrond. Try to see it from his perspective. He may not agree with this father' tactics, however much he is honor-bound to respect and uphold them. I saw shame in his eyes, I am not mistaken," said Glorfindel passionately.
"Courage often lies in stepping forward and claiming the truth rather than that which is expected of you," drawled Erestor.
"Aye, but courage too is found in loyalty, even unto your own inner conflicts, if it is for the good of the land. Courage is not about stating your personal ethics but doing what benefits your people, Erestor."
The advisor remained silent and Glorfindel knew that Erestor had accepted his reasoning, but had Elrond?
"It is offensive, Glorfindel, that Thranduil would take his skepticism to such limits…"
"Offensive, perhaps, but we cannot, should not blame him because the seed to mistrust endures. It is also for us to show him we have changed, that our intentions are noble."
"Yes, I will admit that the time our people have been estranged has been too long and in that I am glad of this missive."
"Then do not end it even before it has been allowed to begin. Do not banish him or punish him so that his father will hear of it. If Thranduil does indeed do this to protect his son, this means he holds him dear. Publicly berating him will earn us his wrath."
Elrond simply nodded. "Let's get this over with then…"
All three lords moved to the long conference table and settled their robes about them. Glorfindel had managed to calm Elrond's anger and possibly avoid the prince's banishment, but that did not mean the pup would be getting off lightly. They were Noldor, and the Noldor would have retribution, one way of the other.
"Come," said Elrond curtly as Legolas stood in the doorway.
Legolas walked until he was before the long table. No invitation to sit was forthcoming and so he stood as if to attention, his hands neatly folded before him, head slightly bent in submission.
"It is custom amongst the Noldor to welcome guests as is befitting their station. However, if said station is not revealed, we are thus denied our customs and traditions. I am most disappointed in your king's actions."
Legolas said nothing for a while, until he realized Elrond was not going to continue until he did.
"I was following orders, my Lord," he said quietly.
"And do you agree with those orders?" asked Elrond.
"No. I do not. I understand them, I rejoice for the feelings behind them, but I do not believe it was wise."
"What feelings are those?" asked the lord, his head cocked slightly to one side.
"Love for his youngest son, fear of losing the only one that is left to him. Anger and frustration because his queen was lost in defending me – to lose me would be to make her sacrifice – sterile."
Elrond's eyes had grown round and wide, and trembled only slightly. As Glorfindel watched him, his own eyes became warm and moist, because the young prince had touched upon his lord's own agony.
"You are the general of his armies, I saw your band… If he is so protective, then why has he not wrapped you in fleeces and kept you in his fortress of stone?"
"Because he cannot," said Legolas, his face now showing all the emotions of his words. "He has no choice and should you ever grace our lands with your presence, my Lord, you will see why. I am his loyal subject but it is not only my face that I share with my grand-father. We are kindred spirits he and I. He was stubborn and so am I. He was fierce and so am I – He was wild, and so am I," he finished in a whisper, his bright green eyes locking onto Elrond.
Elrond rose and walked around the table until he faced Legolas.
"Those are the traits of a leader, as Lord Erestor has just pointed out to me. I cannot say I approve, Prince Legolas, but you have at least, made me understand his motives – a father's motives. I cannot gainsay that. Welcome then, to Imladris, young prince. Tomorrow, we will feast in honor of your presence, and then discuss the contents of your father's missive."
The atmosphere relaxed enough for Legolas to let out a relieved breath and Glorfindel allowed a fleeting smile to grace his lips. 'He is too young…' he thought to himself, not for the first time.
"My Lord, should my father hear that I have revealed myself, he will not be pleased…"
"Then take that as your punishment. You will confront him and explain it as best you can. Once he sees our answer to his letter, I am sure you will not find yourself in his renowned dungeons for too long," smirked Elrond, and Glorfindel and Erestor shared a silent, painful 'ohh'.
Against the odds, a grin spread over Legolas' face and his eyes twinkled in what Glorfindel could only describe as merriment.
"You place before me a challenge my Lord, one I hope to rise up to," he said.
But Elrond did not smile back, and as his eyes looked to the side, he uttered his next words quietly and solemnly, and Glorfindel's skin crawled with something ancient, of the deep Earth…
"And it will not be last one I place before you…"