A/N: This story was spun from boredom. It's a romance storyline. So if you're allergic to Legomance, then it's best you leave now. I am a little nervous about this romance tale because Tolkien elves are not like humans. So hopefully I don't mess up Tolkien's idea of elvish romance. There are no lemons but there will be lime! It's rated T. Nothing too graphic, I promise. I'll do my best to stay true to the characters. Overall I do hope you enjoy this story.
Strange elvish names that no one can pronounce: Calaerien (Cal-air-ein), Romonil (Row-mon-il), Aeril (Air-il), Hinnoron (Hin-nor-on), Rivalel (Riv-al-el)
- I've considered going complete elvish but I decided not to. There will be words such as Naneth, Arda, elleth, elloth, Pin min... But nothing too crazy.
-Legolas's birth: TA 240 - he'll be 2005 when the story starts. (If you don't know. Tolkien never stated Legolas's age).
-The story will begin 726 years prior to the Hobbit. Events from the Hobbit (some movie details) will be in this story!
-I have not decided if the events of LOTR will take place in this story.
-Revised/2020. Some minor details were changed along with the dates.
Disclaimer: I am not Tolkien. I do not own his books, or characters, or plots, etc..etc ..etc ... what a bummer...
Summary: A young elleth resides in Mirkwood during dark times. Spiders infest the forest and orcs raid the lands unchecked. Safe behind the Elven King's Hall, Calaerien strives to make a name for herself while she harbors feelings for the Prince of Mirkwood.
Secrets of a Raven Beauty
Journey to Greenwood
It was the first day of spring and the sun radiated warmth across Lothlorien. The elven city shimmered, and the beauty of nature bloomed with the promise of another grand year. There were no trees like those in Lothlorien. The leaves changed into a rich green, ladened with yellow flowers and the stems twisted up the trunks. The flowers released a sweet scent that elicited wildlife to wander freely through the forest and occasionally welcomed the attention of the elves. The elves sang in unison as the forest echoed and then vibrated.
Calaerien, a small elfling climbed up a tall tree until her favorite branch came into her reach. High up, close to the highest branch and almost reached the morning sky. Skillfully little Calaerien positioned herself against the body of the tree whilst the branch supported her tiny weight. Her small legs dangled freely and the wind tugged on the hem of her skirt.
It was peaceful far up from the inhabitants of Lothlorien. The birds sang in gladness under the sun. Calaerien was but eighteen years which was equivalent to a five year old mortal child. She was small for an elfling with a head full of raven hair. She tangled her little fingers through her strands. Whenever she was troubled or confused, Calaerien escaped into the trees high above the talans and found peace. Soon that privilege would be gone for the time to journey to Greenwood would be soon upon them. Her father Romonil was a skilled archer from the Woodland Realm and second in command to the Captain of the Guard. Fifty years ago, he came with a fleet of elves to Lothlorien on King Thranduil's behest. Upon greeting the Lady of the Light and Lord Celeborn, Romonil's eyes met another golden-haired elleth who stood next to the Lady.
Erweth. A humbled maid to Galadriel…
Calaerien always begged her mother to share that memory which she was so fond of hearing over and over again.
"I found him memorizing." Erweth would say to Calaerien, whilst she stroked her daughter's long raven hair, "He had the darkest hair I had ever seen and eyes as bright as the sea…. When our eyes met… I knew…"
"You knew what?" Calaerien would inquire with a childlike voice and completely soaked into her parent's love story. Never mind that she knew the answer.
Erweth would turn to Calaerien, eyes locked and with the softest voice, she answered, "That I lost my heart to this second in command of Greenwood."
Romonil did not return to the Greenwood that year but remained in Lothlorien with leave from the King. During that autumn and under the golden leaves, their love flourished. Not long after, Erweth promised to be Romonil's bonded and would return to Greenwood in fifty years' time. As the years passed, Romonil remained at Erweth's side and took her as his mate. Soon after Erweth bore him a daughter named Calaerien.
A child of both Lothlorien and Greenwood. Light of the sea, that was the meaning of her name. Her mother often told Calaerien that when she first opened her eyes, her father instantly thought of the sea. For her eyes reminded him of the light that bounced off the waves. It gave him comfort for he ignored the call of the sea for many moons. Romonil feared that the sea calling would come sooner than he anticipated and wanted anxiously to return to the Woodland Realm.
It troubled Calaerien for Romonil spoke fondly of Greenwood until she envisioned the trees, the Forest River, and the wildlife. However, there were rumors… It was now called Mirkwood by mortal men. Spiders infested the trees with large and twisted web, ready to ensnare their victims. She had never seen a spider larger than her little hand. Should she look forward to the new land? Calaerien was a shy elfling and did not like strangers nor unfamiliar lands. Most Elves of Lorien thought she was a strange one. For elflings were often full of life, singing, and dancing but Calaerien felt safest behind her mother's skirt or deep in the trees. Even when the Lady of the Light smiled down at her, Calaerien would blush and swiftly look away.
Calaerien came out of her thoughts and sighed inwardly. She leaned further back onto the tree and gazed at the sky. Why must she be confused this morn? Her father has been jubilant about returning to Greenwood whilst her mother had been despondent to leave Lothlorien. Two completely different emotions left her bewildered. Lothlorien was her birth home and this was her favorite tree. She'll miss the golden leaves of autumn.
"Calaerien!" A soft voice that carried the sound of wind chimes prickled her little ears followed by the climbing movements of another. Calaerien froze and hoped she would go unnoticed but her heart already jumped from surprise.
"Not to answer is rude, little mouse." The voice came again. Rounded up from a lower branch came another elfling. However, this elf was almost matured and reached the tender age of seventy-one. A teenager to mortal's eyes. Her height towered over Calaerien by several feet but not quite reached her full potential. It was none other than her cousin, Tauriel. An elfling with auburn wavy hair and piercing green eyes.
"There you are. I was wondering where you fled too." Tauriel murmured with a smile, her child-like voice almost faded into a deeper tone. She sat in front of Calaerien and her legs dangled on the side of the branch and her eyes twinkled with mirth. "You know better than to run off."
"I… I wanted to farewell my favorite tree." Calaerien murmured innocently, bit her lip, and dropped her eyes in worry. Whilst her parents made preparations, Calaerien was in Tauriel's care. Under her cousin's nose, Calaerien stole away through the little window and climbed up. Her aunt would not be pleased with her.
Tauriel softly chuckled to her younger cousin's expression and stroked her hair with tenderness for Calaerien always worried if she had done something wrong. A shy elfling that preferred trees and animals over socialization. "I understand little one, but to slip out like a thief would surely earn more than a frown from my mother."
Calaerien hands tightened and never looked into her cousin's eyes. But when Tauriel chuckled again, Calaerien looked up curiously through her thick lashes.
"Come now, little mouse. Do not be so down, lest you fall." Tauriel jested lightheartedly. Calaerien barely cracked a bashful smile and fidgeted with her tiny fingers. Tauriel tugged on a single strand before she ordered gently, "Come little one, say your goodbyes, and let us return."
Calaerien brushed her tiny fingers on the bark and made her farewell to her favorite tree. 'I shall miss you.'
'And I you, my little mouse…'
Came a soft voice from the tree which forced a small smile on Calaerien's lips. When she finished, Tauriel took Calaerien's hands and gently lifted her up. Calaerien followed Tauriel until they reached the balcony of Tauriel's talan. Trepidation grew in Calaerien's heart and she swiftly grabbed Tauriel's hand when her Aunt Aeril came into view. A fiery auburn elleth who waited with her hands on her hips and her frown deepened when Calaerien was delivered before her.
"Calaerien…" Her aunt scolded. "You ought to remain in this talan and not going into the forest at a time like this."
Calaerien bit her lip and dropped her eyes shamefully. A trembling voice came from the elfling, "I went to say farewell to my favorite tree, Aunt Aeril.
Aeril's stern gaze softened with understanding and her arms fell limp to her sides. She replied gently, "Very well. I'll allow this one act of disobedience but no more. Understood?"
Wagged a slender index finger at Calaerien. There was no room for argument. Calaerien nodded, "I am sorry, I will not disobey you again."
Satisfied with the answer, Aeril turned away and returned to folding her unmentionables. Only a few precious items were packed and readied for the journey. Calaerien released her cousin's hand and scurried to her Uncle Hinnoron. The intense elf stood by the balcony with his hands behind his back and overlooked his homeland with heavy eyes. Although he was aware of Calaerien's presence, he never broke his gaze. Calaerien stood next to him comfortably because no words were ever needed between them.
Hinnoron reminded Calaerien of her mother for they shared the same golden shade of hair and eyes. What differed them were their characteristics that reflected in their demeanors. Erweth's loving and open personality always shadowed the distance and watchful Hinnoron. Like a day and night as they were told by the Lady. Hinnoron bonded with Aeril many centuries prior to Romonil's arrival to Lothlorien. Their talans were parted by one tree because the twins refused to live far apart from one another. When the time came to journey to Greenwood, Aeril was all too eager to follow her family across the lands. Once they cross into King Thranduil's domain, they'll reside in their permanent home.
Erweth stood alone on the balcony of her talan and listened to the songs in the hope to free herself of despair. Tomorrow a small company of elves will depart from Lothlorien. This was her home, her birthplace and it almost broke her heart to part from it. She would not experience another spring here for many years. Erweth never once, in her long life, ever stepped outside this realm. It would be a different adventure.
However, this was not what truly left her worried. A strange warning grew as the days passed. Was it her fear of leaving? Erweth couldn't decide. She contemplated if she should seek out her Lady, but feared Galadriel's mirror for it showed many uncertain things. She was but a century-old when she first looked into the mirror and it left her frightened. It never pleased her to know the future or remember the past. The present was a gift to her and so, she decided against it.
Erweth sighed and turned away. Her long golden hair whipped behind her as she returned to her vacated home. Despondent crept up for her home was emptied of their belongings which would be transported to the Woodland Realm. She served her last day as Galadriel's personal maid yesterday morning. It grieved her to leave her Lady soon, and into the hands of another. For many centuries, she was loyal to the Lady of the Light and was humbled to do so.
By the table stood Romonil with his board shoulders rolled back. Thick raven hair streamed down to the warrior's waist and small braids on either side of his head. He was a foot higher than her golden crown with sharp chiseled cheekbones and thin lips. Erweth's heart constricted to the sight of him and her fleeting trepidation was forgotten. Though the elven warrior was handsome, it was never his appearance that drawn her in like an insect to a lamp. It was his eyes that she was fond of. A pool of endless water poured into her with love and promise.
"Must we go, my love?" Erweth inquired and approached him from behind. His weapons were unsheathed and sprawled across the table. He meticulously sharpened each and every weapon.
"Aye Erweth," He murmured deeply with a tint of firmness, for she begged that question for the hundredth time. He sheath his small dagger after recently sharpening the tip. "I have been parted from my king for too long. King Thranduil will not allow me to reenter Greenwood if I delay further."
"We could remain here." Erweth voiced lightheartedly and her eyes twinkled with mirth and hope.
He turned away from his weapons and came to wrap his firm hands around her waist. She loved those skilled hands that wielded a bow and made their mark with such accuracy. Romonil drew her closer until they were chest to chest. His thick black hair tangled with her golden crown. He never regretted his time in Lothlorien, for it blessed him greatly, but his heart yearned for the Greenwood's trees. He desired his daughter to experience life in his homeland and watch her mature into an elleth. She would live amongst his people, learn their ways beneath the starlight, and continue his line with a woodland elf. His deepest hope would have Erweth bless him with more elflings. As the days drew closer, he was severely anxious because he received word of foul things in the forest.
I must return...
Romonil wasn't moved by Erweth's pleading eyes but he gently elaborated, "Alas, my love we made an agreement fifty years ago and I must keep my word."
Erweth sighed inwardly as her eyes lost hope. A gentle kiss closed the distance between them. Romonil parted from her and rested his forehead on hers. It pegged his heart to have Erweth despondent but he must return. He was convinced that Erweth would eventually love the Woodland realm. Erweth began softly, "The years passed in a blink of an eye. There is so much I wanted Calaerien.."
"I know, beloved." He acknowledged and leaned away from her. With his free hand he twirled a long strand of her golden hair around his long finger, "I assure you, she'll be happy in Greenwood."
Erweth smiles ruefully. "Will I be happy?"
He smiled impishly, "Aye… I shall devote every day to your happiness."
Her heart swelled with that promise for she'll hold him to it. Erweth leaned in for another kiss, one that lasted longer with enthusiasm. Romonil cupped her face with his free hand and chuckled against her lips. He struggled to part from her and he murmured, "You mustn't tease me, my love. I must ready our supplies for the journey."
He turned away whilst Erweth watched him with interest. The twitch of warning return but she ignored it to be anxiety. She turned away and strode to her brother's talan to collect her sweet daughter.
Night descended and young Calaerien was taken from Tauriel's care. The young auburn elleth smiled when Calaerien trailed closely to her mother as they passed through the narrow bridges which connected one tree to another. Ever since Calaerien came into their lives, Tauriel grew devoted to her little cousin. The young elfling hung on Tauriel's every word. Tauriel was relieved when she learned they would not be parted from each other.
"Tauriel…" A deep voice came from behind her and broke her train of thought. When Tauriel looked over her shoulder, Hinnoron stood patiently with Aeril beside him. In her father's hands, he held an elongated box that extended further than Tauriel's arm. Tauriel went to them and curious questions wheeled in her mind.
Where did that come from?
"Yes, Ada?" Tauriel inquired as her eyes bounced between her parents.
"Come here, my daughter." He waved his hand and encouraged her to come closer. "I have a gift for you."
Tauriel came to him swiftly, her eyes jumped to his and then to the box. Then up to her mother who was smiling proudly with twinkling eyes. A smile developed on Tauriel's lips as she eagerly lifted the lid. Inside was a beautifully designed wood bow fit for a warrior. Her heart stopped for a moment in amazement before she pulled the weapon out and fiddled with it in awe. Her fingers brushed across the leaf engravings that tapered around the grip. It was a powerful weapon that was given to warriors and therefore it was a significant gesture. The gift moved her deeply and she looked up at her father with glistering eyes. There was only pride in his deep orbs.
Hinnoron placed a firm hand on Tauriel's shoulder and gazed affectionately at his only daughter. He uttered in steadfast voice, "No matter where we go, always remember where you came from Tauriel. May this bow protect you."
Tauriel swiftly hugged her father in a tight embrace while Aeril stood back and loved witnessing such a moment. A memory she would treasure forever. Although her daughter did not possess the skills of a Lothlorien warrior, Tauriel had great potential and determination which Hinnoron would not waste on formalities.
Erweth held Calaerien in her tight embrace as they sat on the window sill overlooking the forest. The moonlight cast a silver streak across the trees. Lamps hung on each talan as the elves sang softly in the night. This would be the last night Erweth would share such a moment with her daughter in Lothlorien. Her heart grieved to that thought. Despite the despondent feelings, Erweth wanted to remember this night for all the days to come. Erweth hummed the same tune that the elves sang and rocked Calaerien side to side.
"Naneth?" A soft voice came from the elfling who twisted her mother's golden hair between her fingers.
"Yes, my child?" Erweth answered, smiled against her daughter's hair.
"Tell me again of Ada coming to Lothlorien."
"Ai! Again?" Erweth couldn't resist laughing at her daughter's love for that story. It was repeated more times than Erweth could remember. But beneath the moonlight of their last night in Lothlorien, Erweth humored her. With a chuckle, she began. "Well fifty years ago, there came a fleet of elves….
Morning came swiftly.
Despite the bright sunlight that broke through the tree and illuminated the company, Erweth could not shake her worrisome feelings. The small company of elves stood in front of the Lord and Lady of the Realm. Calaerien stood in front of her mother with Erweth's hands clasped on her daughter's shoulders and Romonil was next to Erweth. Next to Romonil was Hinnoron with his serious expression and equipped with his bow. His firm hand was on Tauriel who stood slightly in front of Aeril. They were surrounded by elven warriors, maidens, and small families who decided to journey with them. All were clad in silvery cloaks.
Calaerien bit her lip nervously for being centered in front of the Lady and Lord of the realm. Her tiny fingers grasped the small gift that Galadriel gifted her prior to this gathering. A flower made of glass, painted with yellow petals and golden leaves.
All the elves came to the gathering to offer their farewells and hopes for a safe journey. Lord Celeborn took a single step down the short platform with Lady Galadriel at his side. Lord Celeborn spoke over the gathering and his deep voice reached every elf, "Now is the hour where we shall part ways. Take heart for we pray for your safe journeys."
"Go in Peace." Lady Galadriel added.
Erweth gazed upon her lady with sadness. She stole a few moments before she bowed her head respectfully. Then she heard her lady's voice in her mind. 'Have no fear Daughter of the Golden Wood, we shall meet again.'
When Erweth looked up with hope in her eyes, Galadriel offered a smile before she glanced at Calaerien. 'Farewell, young Calaerien.'
Calaerien blushed and ducked her head.
The marchwarden Haldir came with his patrol and led the company through the vast forest toward the northern borders. The company filed down the path with the marchwarden leading the way. In several days' time, the borders neared and the vast open land of Drimrill Dale was before them. Calaerien eyed the open space fearfully and she tightened her hold on her father. The world was too big and it would surely swallow her up.
Haldir was the first to approach Romonil who parted from his daughter to properly farewell the Marchwarden. Their forearms clasped together when the Marchwarden respectfully said, "Safe journeys, Romonil."
"And to you, Rumil and Orophin." Romonil returned as he swept his hand over his chest.
Calaerien watched with utter fascination when her eyes found Rumil's cool gaze. He smiled down at her and said, "Farewell, young Calaerien."
Calaerien's cheek flushed and her tiny hand found her mother. Rumil took no offense to Romonil's shy daughter when she remained silent. All of Lothlorien knew of her timid ways and simply let it be. Then Hinnoron, a former member of the patrol, regarded them with his farewells.
The time had come. Erweth breathed deeply and her eyes took in the forest of her home before she turned away despondently. Romonil came to the front of the line with Erweth at his side and the company followed behind them. They walked in a line and two horses hauled a caravan of the company's belongings. Further and further they went until the trees of the Golden Wood was no more. The journey eased into a smooth and untainted pace after the Great River. They walked through the nights with nothing but lamps and sang songs of traveling. All the elflings were hidden in the middle, far from prying eyes, and held onto their parents. Calaerien did not sing but listened to her mother's angelic voice whilst she held her hand. In Erweth's voice, she heard sadness.
Tauriel walked behind Calaerien and felt indifferent to the journey. The only elf she noted that struggled with this change was Erweth whilst her twin brother Hinnoron was glad to not part from her or his mate. The thought of her father brought her attention to him who observed their surrounding with sharp eyes. It was natural for him to be cautious after years of patrolling Lothlorien. Tauriel thought of her bow which was tucked away in her quiver. She glanced at her father again with pride in her chest, therefore she followed his example and scanned the wilderness of the Gladden Fields with pure diligence.
As the days passed, the company neared Rhovanion and the outskirts of the immense forest of Greenwood. Romonil sent out three scouts to alert their arrival to the elven king in hopes of a patrol would accompany them through the forest. If there were indeed spiders infested his beloved woods, then he'll take no chances with his family. Calaerien watched with utter fascination when her father went from a beloved parent to an intense elven warrior. His calm voice that he often spoke to her with, swiftly became domineering and commanding.
Four days past and the forest became visible in the far distance. Romonil stretched out his hand to Calaerien and grasped her tiny fingers in his. He smiled down at her and anxious to show Calaerien the beauty of his home. It gave him pride when he thought of introducing her to the Elven King. The elleths would surely adore her and offer many presents to the youngest elflings. He had great hopes for her.
"We are nearly there, my little Calaerien," Romonil murmured in the darkness, his voice barely contained his excitement. He could imagine hearing the horn blaring to their arrival. A feast to celebrate with the best wine, dancing, and singing. He smiled with anticipation.
Without a thought, Calaerien inquired, "Will the spiders harm us, ada?"
Romonil sharply looked at her and was affronted by the question. Her uncertain eyes did not sway his hardened ones and he swiftly looked away. He snapped, "No Calaerien, no spiders will harm us."
She bit her lip nervously and feared she troubled her father with the rumors of spiders. Romonil's mood did not change but only darkened. If there were spiders in Greenwood then he would see them burn. It would be a delight and honor to protect his people from the spawns of Ungoliant.
His train of thought was shattered when a whistling sound came to his sensitive ears. Every muscle tensed as he stopped the company and went for his bow. Before he could react, a black arrow soared through the air and swiftly pierced Hinnoron's heart. The elven warriors became animated in seconds followed by an ear-piecing shriek from Aeril. She rushed to his side as Hinnoron went limp in her arms. Tauriel stood and watched in utter horror as her mother mourned her father and cried to the heavens. A final breath escaped Hinnoron's lips as his eyes stared up at the bright stars.
"No, no please Hinnoron!" Aeril begged hysterically in a high pitched voice. The sound left Tauriel frozen as if a blizzard storm stilled her. Tauriel barely whispered, "Father?"
"Hinnoron!" Erweth cried in horror when the noise of what sounded like a stampede elicit her attention.
Over the hill came a pack of orcs. It happened all too fast for Calaerien. The company was outnumbered and she watched the elven warriors face down the orc pack. Elflings screamed and clenched to their mothers in fear. Arrows swooshed and marked the orcs in the chest. Sounds of swords clashed, moaned, and even screamed in the dark night. Three elves had fallen with blood spilled from their wounds. Calaerien froze in the middle of the battlefield as she watched with innocent eyes of the bloodshed. A wail from an elleth brought Calaerien's eyes to her who held her dead elfling in her arms. Erweth came to stand in front of her child and blocked Calaerien's view of the massacre. Romonil shot down every orc that neared his family.
Tauriel finally breathed after holding it for too long. Her eyes never strayed from her father's dead ones. No, he can not be. An orc suddenly came at her weeping mother and hauled a dull and filthy weapon over its head. Aeril was the Orc's target. Instinct urged Tauriel to pull out her bow and marked the creature between the eyes. Her first kill…. and she wanted to hurl.
When Tauriel nocked her next arrow, Romonil roughly yanked her by the arm. He shoved her toward Erweth as he commanded with a growl, "Tauriel, take Calaerien! Flee!"
Tauriel stumbled but swiftly regained herself. She argued over the battle noise, "I can help you!"
"Do as I say!" Romonil boomed angrily and jostled her away. Tauriel trembled to his voice and her eyes went to her mother. Lips quivered to the thought of abandoning her.
Suddenly Erweth grabbed Calaerien and all but shoved her into Tauriel's unsuspecting arms. "Flee!"
A black arrow whistled before it struck Erweth's thigh. Erweth screamed in pain and staggered weakly to the ground. Romonil instantly came to his wounded mate and unsheathed his daggers when more orcs came.
Tauriel grew weak with each scream that slipped from Erweth's lips. Salty tears swelled in her green orbs and Tauriel gave her weeping mother a final glance before she snatched up a distraught Calaerien into her arms. Tauriel escaped to the dense forest and scarcely listened to Calaerien plead for her mother. There was nothing further Tauriel could have done except listen to her cousin's cries and felt her own broken heart. When the first tree was in their path, Tauriel shoved a reluctant Calaerien up the tree.
"I want my mother!" Calaerien screamed, tears seeped out of her eyes but Tauriel had no patience to console her at this moment. Roughly Tauriel dragged Calaerien to a high branch that would strong enough to carry their weight. Tauriel pushed Calaerien in the crook of the tree whilst she used her body as a shield for her small cousin. Sharp eyes scanned the distance and listened to the cry on the battlefield.
To Tauriel's dismay, three orcs sprinted in their direction, laughed, and taunted the elflings in the tree. Calaerien cries alone drew the orcs to them. "Come down elflings! Let's have some fun."
One of the orcs mocked, smiled, and shown off his blackened teeth. Tauriel pulled out her bow and nocked it. She warned with as much strength she could muster, "Leave us filth!"
They laughed, "Little she-elf believes she knows how to wield a weapon…"
"…You are but a weak girl. I like the taste of elfling flesh. It's sweet, it's tasty…" The other orc said, as he licked his knife and imaged their blood on his blade.
Calaerien whimpered, rested her forehead on Tauriel's shoulder, and shivered in fear. Tauriel frowned and anger burned in her chest. Her father taught her how to wield a bow. If those filths didn't believe in her ability, then they were in for a rude awakening. Tauriel released her arrow and marked the closest orc in the chest. A warning came from the brave elfling as tears burned her eyes, "I said leave or I shall strike you down!"
The two orcs were stunned when their fallen comrade collapsed to the ground. But they did not flee. They slowly turned their attention to Tauriel and growled maliciously. Lips twisted downward and they drew out their weapons, "Come here you elfling rats!"
They climbed up the tree, snarled, and cursed Tauriel. Panic struck through Tauriel as she knocked another arrow and missed an orc by an inch. She hissed in anger as they drew closer. Out of instinct, she pushed her back further against Calaerien and was utterly determined to protect her. Tauriel's quiver was dangerously low with arrows and she never learned how to fight one on one. Fear crawled from her stomach up to her chest as she knocked another arrow. Swiftly the arrow made its mark on one of the orc's shoulders and he fell to his death with a screech.
The last orc rounded up the branch and gave no time for Tauriel to nock another arrow. Before Tauriel could react, the orc swung his heavy weapon and snapped her bow in two, and nearly missed her neck. Tauriel watched in disbelief as the gift from her father slipped out of her hands and tumbled down the tree.
"What are you going to do now, elfling?" The orc taunted and laughed at Tauriel's predicament. It flashed his black teeth which sent a chill down Tauriel's spine and the orc offered falsely, "Give me the young one, and perhaps, I will spare you."
Tauriel grimaced and knew better than to trust an orc or trade her life for Calaerien's. As the orc laughed at her helpless demeanor, Tauriel's hands tightened until her knuckles whitened with rage. These filthy creatures murdered her father, attacked her aunt, and planned to hurt Calaerien. There was nothing more degrading than to submit to this orc. Even if it cost Tauriel's own life, she would not let this filth take Calaerien! The orc lifted his heavy weapon over his head, smiled in triumph, and threatened to split her head in two. Tauriel brought her leg over the branch and swooped against the creature's legs. The orc squawked as his body fell to the side and his weapon fell from his hands. Fleetingly grabbed anything to prevent his fall and clutched a hand full of Tauriel's slivery cloak. He hauled her with him off the branch before her clothing slipped from his fingers. The orc fell to his death with a deep shriek.
Tauriel let out a wail as her arms hugged the branch as it bit into her skin. Calaerien went for Tauriel and wrapped her tiny hands over Tauriel's wrist. With what little strength she had, she tried to help Tauriel. Tauriel pulled herself up and when she was once again safe on the branch, she was suddenly shaken and weary. Calaerien lunged into Tauriel's arms, whimpered, and held her tightly.
"Shh, Calaerien. I will not let anything happen to you." Tauriel promised and hugged her little cousin. Her eyes went to the broken bow that hung on a lower branch. Sadness filled her as they waited until dawn.
Hours passed when the sounds of the battle had subsided and the sun rose at the edge of the world. Tauriel led Calaerien back to the battlegrounds. What was before their eyes would forever scar them. Nothing could hinder them from the loss. It hit Tauriel like a tidal wave and the very air was snatched from her lungs. Tauriel mindlessly abandoned Calaerien and rushed to her mother who laid dead and limped over her father's body. Dried blood painted across her mother's shoulder from the black arrow that impaled into her back. Aeril was never given a chance to defend herself from those heathens during her grief.
Calaerien was left behind and watched helplessly when Tauriel wept under the pale sun. Unable to do anything but listen in vain to Tauriel's cries. Calaerien's ocean eyes filled with unshed tears as she gazed around the remains of the ambush. They were but a mile from Greenwood forest to be waylaid by orcs. Under the barrier of moaning clouds, came destruction and ruin. When they took shelter in the trees, all they heard were screams and all they could do was wait. The battle was won but at a cost. Amongst the dead warriors and orcs, were elleths and their elflings. The orcs smelt of decaying corpses. The sun cascaded its light across the land with no hope. And to witness such foul cruelty made Calaerien's stomach twist. There were too few survivors who wept for their loved ones.
Calaerien looked for her mother and father amongst those who survived and the dead. Those who survived sought to aid the wounded or burn the orcs carcasses. As she walked, her heart dropped and fear came like poison. The remnants of the battle were sprawled around the caravan and even the horses were unlucky. Calaerien did not find her parents then a soft familiar sob came to her ears and she looked in the direction of the sound. In the short distance, Calaerien noticed two elves a little ways from the battlefield. She rushed to them as her heavy heart sunk deeper until what felt like an ice bucket of cold water hit her.
Erweth laid unmoving on the ground with a black arrow protruding her left leg. Though she was dangerously pale and weak, Erweth survived by labor-breathed through the pain as the black poison coursed through her system. The dress was ripped around the wound and revealed fair skin that had black veins festered from the wound. Tears slipped from her shut-tight eyes and grasped the hand of her fallen mate. Romonil laid lifelessly with his glossy eyes that stared at the sky. An arrow pierced his heart when he valiantly dragged his mate away from danger and sacrificed his life to protect her. Calaerien wanted to say something. Anything. Despite it all, she couldn't cry or speak but watch with wide innocent eyes as her mother suffered silently.
Calaerien moved to snuggle in her mother's arm and between her parents. The wails from the other survivors didn't cease as the night came. It grew darker. Erweth scarcely noticed Calaerien gently stroking her golden hair and hummed soft hymns. And all they can do was wait.
Morning came again but with bitterness. Tauriel leaned away from her mother with blood splashed across her left cheek. It didn't matter. The poison from the arrow had consumed her mother and father. Her eyes glanced at those foul creatures that laid dead across the terrain. Anger, hatred… all new sensations that were unfamiliar to her. They consumed her until her knuckles turned white from the silent wrath. One last sob slipped from her lips followed by a soft lament. Tauriel looked at her parents one last time before she finally walked away with a heavy heart.
Tauriel looked to the morning sky and found no comfort. Then her eyes swooped across the plains until she found Calaerien in the distance. When she came to her little cousin, Tauriel found Calaerien wrapped and her face tucked in Erweth's shoulder. Raven hair stood in contrast to the silver cloaks. Not sob or lament came from the Calaerien. Guilt filled Tauriel when she left Calaerien behind yesterday morning. Tauriel came to Calaerien's side and gently placed a comforting hand on Calaerien's shoulder. The small elfling tensed to the touch.
Tauriel noticed Erweth was alive, but barely and was in utter pain. Romonil... was dead. Tauriel sighed deeply when an elf warrior came from behind. He inspected Erweth's wounds and gently probed her skin as she moaned. His eyes were set upon the arrow and then glanced at Tauriel with a knowingly look. No words were needed for Tauriel to understand. Swallowing hard, Tauriel gently pulled Calaerien back by the shoulder. The small elfling was stubborn and clenched to Erweth. Tauriel muttered, "Come, you mustn't witness this."
Calaerien peered up from beneath her dark mane and her innocent eyes were transfixed on her cousin. The sadness in Tauriel's eyes forced her to release her hold on her mother. Gently Tauriel coaxed her to the broken caravan where she found a white blanket in the rubble and wrapped it around Calaerien's shoulder. They sat under the shade of the caravan, whilst Tauriel cradled the elfling in her arms. Gently rocked Calaerien as her mother would and that memory instantly struck Tauriel's heart. Calaerien tensed when she heard her mother cry from when the elven warrior pulled out the arrow from her thigh.
"Aid will come." Tauriel's voice trembled, almost as if she said to convince herself and repeated with more certainty. "They will come."
The hours rolled together and before long the following morning came. At dusk when the sky welcomed the sun, Calaerien and Tauriel heard a fleet of elves approach the scene.
Legolas came with his patrol and followed the smoke signal from the burnt carcasses. Upon their arrival, the survivors cheered in gladness. They welcomed the Elves of Lorien with the promise of protection and supplies. Food and water were given to them. The patrol rushed to aid the wounded with athelas and remedies. Guards of the patrol went to the broken caravan and used the pieces from the wreckage to construct stretcher-like beds for the wounded.
Legolas viewed the scene with fury burned in his blue eyes. When the scouts arrived at the fortess with tidings, King Thranduil ordered his guards to receive them immediately. It was several days to travel through the dense forest, but Legolas's company didn't hesitate to make haste to the borderline without being tainted by spiders. Their swift arrival to the borders of the Greenwood was met by dark smoke hovered over the destruction. As Legolas inspect the Lorien elves, he noticed the dwindled numbers of the company. Three elven warriors survived along with two elleths and four wounded.
'Nine'. Legolas thought bitterly, 'Only nine survived…'
He came to the dead who were brought together by the survivors. The dead was great amongst his people. Even four elflings were massacred by the orcs. His hand instinctively tightened on his bow and almost snapped from his anger. Death was rare for elves and now many of them walk in the Halls of Mandos. Legolas murmured a soft lament for the fallen people.
Legolas found himself in front of an elven maiden who stood alone and her eyes were too grave to notice his approach. Her golden hair mingled with dirt and dried blood. It made him wonder if she was wounded? Why wasn't she with the others and regain her strength before they return to his father's domain? Her beauty challenged many elleths and by the way, she stood, Legolas thought of her proud. When she finally heard his approach, she regally turned her head and cocked an eyebrow in surprise. Her light blue eyes assessed him before realization crossed her face. Immediately identified him as the Prince of the realm. Before any further introductions, she bowed her head respectfully, "My lord, I thank you for your aid."
He gave a slight nod, and asked kindly though his anger burned beneath the surface, "Are you wounded?"
She blinked in surprise when Legolas indicated there was blood in her hair. Her slender fingers stroked through her long strands to find there was, in fact, dried blood. "Nay, my lord. It does not belong to me."
"What would be your name, my lady?" Legolas inquired further.
"I am Rivalel, a former lady of Lothlorien's court but native to Greenwood." She boldly said with her head held high.
Legolas gave a slightly arched bow in curiosity for there was pride in her voice. It made him wonder if she intentionally told him of her title or was it out of habit. Outside of his realm, friends and even wanders referred to him as Legolas, not Prince Legolas. With a sigh, he pushed for information, "Worry yourself no more lady Rivalel. Pray tell, what happened whilst you've journeyed from Lothlorien?"
She fell silent when emotions came to her eyes and she replied steadily, "We were untainted for many moons since Lothlorien and needlessly believed our journeys would be safe. We were waylaid by orcs three moons past under the cover of darkness. We were but a small company and they were higher in number though I thank the Valor for we few have survived."
Legolas nodded his head in comprehension with remorse in his eyes. He waved his hand toward his patrol and urged, "Go to my guard, they will have provision for you and rest before we depart."
She glanced where the survivors clustered around the elves of Greenwood with the provisions. With a bow, she uttered, "Thank you, my kind lord."
Legolas found himself blinking and watched her walk away with grace in her step. There was something about Lady Rivalel that caught his attention. It was how she carried herself. Prideful but not arrogant and can easily draw attention. He foresaw her as a beacon for most elloths of the woodland realm. When Legolas looked away, his second in command suddenly appeared at his side. Legolas inquired with controlled rage, "What is the count Maenor?"
"Nine are dead and only five survivors and four wounded," Maenor responded, his voice held as much contempt as Legolas felt but Maenor did not care if his anger showed. Maenor's grey eyes hardened when they wandered back to the dead elflings.
Legolas's lips tightened and he walked away from Maenor to inspect that battle. Then he heard soft breathing from the other side of the caravan. Rounded the wreckage and came into his sight were two surviving elflings wrapped in a blanket and protected under the shade from the caravan. He would have assumed they were siblings but their looks were vastly different. The auburn elleth glanced up hesitantly with smudges of blood and dirt on her left cheek. To him, she appeared to be in her seventies and almost reached maturity but there were childlike curves in her face that had yet been developed. Even more, her eyes were a deep green with a slight blue ring and her gaze was sharp and ever watchful. In her arms, Legolas noted a much smaller elfling. Her face was thin with weariness and framed by thick raven hair. Wide innocent eyes pierced him with wary curiosity. Her orbs were a deep ocean shade crowned by long lashes. What baffled him was her relentless unblinking stare.
At least two elflings survived but it did not console Legolas much. When he replaced his bow in his quiver, Legolas knelt down beside them and attempted not frightened the elflings. The older elfling was not intimidated but out of instinct, she tightened her hold on the younger elfling. She felt the overwhelmed need to protect her even from her own kin.
Legolas smiled kindly and tried to appear harmless, more for the youngest. He began in a soft tone, "Do not fear young ones. You are safe now. Why do you not step out into the light."
The auburn elleth hesitated and spared a quick glanced to the elfling in her arm before she gently moved the younger one who tightened her hold. They rose from the ground and allowed the blanket to pile on the grass. They slowly came into the light as Legolas's smile never ceased and remained knelt beside them. Legolas continued as he introduced himself, "I am Legolas and behind me is Maenor. What would be your names?"
The auburn elleth was the first to speak, "I'm Tauriel."
Her voice was raspy from exhaustion and thirst. Legolas could hear her throat swallowed dryly. He frowned and held out his hand to Maenor who immediately, without question, handed him a flask of water. "Here drink slowly, Tauriel."
Tauriel drank willingly before she attempted to give the flask to the elfling beside her. However, the ocean eyed child was hypnotized by Legolas and never once shifted her gaze from him. Curious by her stare, Legolas smiled and inquired, "Do you have a name?"
She never answered but stared at Legolas as her hand loosened on Tauriel's. When the elfling did not answer, Legolas looked to Tauriel for an answer. "She is Calaerien."
Legolas looked to Calaerien again and said fondly, "Light of the sea. Lovely name."
Calaerien bit her lip nervously and blushed to his compliment but never looked away. For reasons that she did not know, Calaerien found Legolas to be a beam of light that chased her twisted thoughts away. Oddly enough, she felt comfortable with him.
"My lord." Another voice broke their conversation and Legolas glanced over his shoulder. Gaelira of his patrol stood behind him patiently. Her gentle grey eyes stole a look at the elflings and her overall appearance swelled in gladness for two more had survived. The older elf was gentle and sweet but fierce in combat. Honey-colored hair was braided back in a warrior fashion with elegant curls on the ends. Gaelira looked back at Legolas who arched a brow in question. She recomposed herself and continued, "The company is ready and waits for your command."
Legolas rose up gracefully, easily towered over the elflings, and commanded, "Good. Gaelira has these elflings tended to before we depart."
Without further command, Gaelira was eager to greet the elflings with warm welcomes. Tauriel came willingly but Calaerien hesitated and, her eyes widened to the stranger that awaited with open arms. Calaerien feared strangers especially without her mother near. Calaerien backed away and her arm strained against Tauriel's hold. Gaelira softened her approached and smiled sadly at the youngest. She coaxed sweetly, "You have no fear of me, little one. No harm will befall you. Come, we mustn't delay."
"She is wary of strangers," Tauriel murmured, her voice protective and quick.
Gaelira was slightly taken back and looked to Legolas with a questioning look. What to do?
Legolas did not wish to traumatize the young one further and so he waved Gaelira away from the elflings with an appreciative smile. Gaelira nodded in comprehension and gave a worrisome glance to the elflings before she returned to her company. Calaerien relaxed but gave Maenor a warily glance who in return was unwilling to move.
"Shall we journey to Greenwood, little Calaerien?" Legolas inquired softly, hoped the child would not delay them further. Maenor sighed inwardly, if it were up to him, he'll haul the elfling over his shoulder back to the kingdom. The smile on Legolas's face allowed Calaerien to follow him to the company. The prince slowed his pace to match the younglings when, to his surprise, Calaerien grabbed his hand. Legolas was taken back but said nothing. Maenor walked behind them with curiosity painted on his face and surprised when Legolas did nothing to steer the child away. All the years he's known the prince, Legolas was always uncertain around children.
The patrol had the dead and the wounded readied for the journey and the survivors rejuvenated. Gaelira appeared at Tauriel's side with bread and hoped not to trouble the youngest elfling. Tauriel eagerly took the bread from Gaelira and never realized how hungry she was until the aroma invaded her nostrils. When she pulled her hand from Calaerien, she ripped the bread apart and gave half to Calaerien. Calaerien looked at the bread and then up at Legolas. When the prince felt her stare, he looked down at her uncertain eyes and offered a smile of reassurance.
Legolas was unaccustomed to elflings since they were rare and there hasn't been an elfling in the Greenwood for many decades. Then there was this dark hair child who held onto him with utter determination. Several guards glanced at him curiously but never spoke against it. Calaerien nibbled on the bread to taste it. It was saltier than the bread in Lothlorien but deemed it good. Eagerly she took a larger bite.
"We await your command," Maenor murmured, slightly impatient.
"Lead the way," Legolas ordered and Maenor swiftly went to the front of the company.
The survivors lingered in the middle with their bows in hand. Many of them were weary but ready for another attack. Gaelira brought an arm around Tauriel, smiled maternally, and steered her to the middle of the group where she would be safest. Tauriel glanced at Calaerien in worry but she relaxed When Calaerien was not frightened with Legolas. If anything she was quite relaxed in his present, which baffled Tauriel.
Odd, she never liked strangers…
When Legolas realized that this little Calaerien had no intention of releasing him, he sighed and gathered her into his arms. With her stomach full, she melted against his armor and leaned her head on his shoulder. Before long Calaerien's eyes glazed over and she fell into a waking sleep. Her small mouth parted and slowed her breathing. Her tiny arms limped over Legolas's shoulders and her head rocked to the Prince's movements.
Legolas was amazed by how this elfling relaxed in his arms. Especially since none other than Tauriel could touch her. He wondered how long this child waited for help to arrive and where were her parents? Who were her parents? None of the elven warriors or elleths claimed her. Tauriel was too young to bear children. Perhaps her parents were amongst the wounded or the dead? Regardless, Legolas would see this elfling safe in his father's halls.
The sound of doors opened in protest made Calaerien flinch, her eyelids widened and dazed. After she blinked the drowsiness away, the memories came rushing back. Everything from Lothlorien to the six-day journey through the Greenwood forest. She frantically looked around and squirmed in Legolas's arm who had to reposition her or she would have fallen from his embrace.
"Calm yourself, little Calaerien. You are safe in these halls." His voice calmed the tense nerves in her systems. Calaerien relaxed once again in his arms.
The two towering doors closed behind them as Calaerien inspected her surroundings. She had never seen such a place. Then she saw her mother on a stretcher being hauled away to the House of the Healing. She bit her lip, wished to cuddle with her and have her father stroked her hair. The thought of her father saddened her greatly. Never again will Romonil look upon her with pride in eyes or laugh at her timid ways. Calaerien rested her cheek on Legolas's shoulder and could not stop the tears from escaping from the corners of her eyes.
He was truly gone.
Legolas felt wetness seep through his armor and immediately knew who's tears they belonged to. He was unsure how to comfort the elfling but he sympathized with her. Anger resurfaced when he thought of those foul things scar Calaerien. She did not wail or cry during their travels back to these halls. Calaerien spent those days silent and deep in her own thoughts. If she was orphaned, the King would surely make sure she's well taken care of. Elflings were rare, precious, and pure. He would make sure…
The survivors and along with several guards of the patrol followed a narrow bridge, linked to the throne.
King Thranduil waited patiently for his people to return to the Greenwood. He sat regally on his high throne, his leg crossed over the other and he held his specter in his firm hand. His sensitive hearing picked up their footsteps. Elves step lightly and yet, their approach echoed to his sensitive ears. Most peculiar thoughts crossed his mind. Over the bridge, which gave passage to his throne, came the elves of Greenwood and Lothlorien who filed before him.
When the last few entered his domain, Legolas came with a young elfling tangled in his arms. A small child who had tears in her eyes. He swiftly gave Legolas a questioning look. Legolas place a reluctant Calaerien down onto her feet but she swiftly hid behind him and her arms wrapped around his leg. She would peek out from behind his leg and gaze at the king in fear and fascination. By now Legolas was accustom to her shy ways and tolerated her hiding behind him. Tauriel came to Calaerien's side and held her hand. Calaerien was all the family she had left and Tauriel sought to keep her close.
King Thranduil's delicate eyebrows knitted together to the appearance of his kin. As clean as they appeared to a naked eye, King Thranduil noticed rips and stains on their silvery cloaks. The warrior was tense with a hard gaze and pressed thin lips. The elleths had a glint of despair in their orbs. What truly captured his attention was the hallow and non-observant gaze of the elfling with auburn hair. Several he recognized from his court long years past or visits to other realms. It was not hard to guess that their journey was tainted. A frown developed to their disarrayed appearances.
King Thranduil began in his deep voice that was steadfast and full of authority, "Twenty-three had parted from Lothlorien and yet there are six before me apart from your scouts."
He uttered and waited for confirmation from his kin. His fea felt large and overwhelming as he sat on his throne and elegantly positioned above them. An elven warrior from the group spoke up with grief in his voice, "We were attacked by orcs and were outnumbered, my king. Our dead were great…"
"The wounded were taken to the House of the Healing," Legolas added firmly, his voice heavy with a wave of deep anger that never subsided since their departure from the outskirts of Greenwood Forest.
King Thranduil looked to Legolas again, but his eyes were drawn to the elfling that glanced at him from behind his son. Elegantly he rose from his throne and stepped down from the rounded steps until he stood over the others with his high height. "Twenty-three were to be accepted into my kingdom and yet few stand before me. You have come under terrible tidings. As promised you shall have shelter in these vast halls and in time you all will find a place amongst us. Have them shown to the west wing."
King Thranduil ordered the guard who stood at the side of his throne. The guard stepped forward and bowed his head before he carried out his King's command.
All while King Thranduil eyed the two elflings in his presence. Rare and such as they were, King Thranduil did not know them. They were unfamiliar and he intended to discover their forebears. Before the elves were taken away, King Thranduil added, "The elflings will remain."
Tauriel blinked. Why would he want us here?
Once the throne was cleared, King Thranduil came closer to them. Calaerien leaned further back behind Legolas's leg and tightened her hold on Tauriel's hand. It even made her cousin wince.
"It would seem she has grown rather attached to you, my son." King Thranduil noted as he looked to his son who looked down at the elfling. Thranduil returned his penetrative gaze to the raven hair elfling with no emotion. Though she tried to tuck herself away, her curiosity kept her visible to the king.
Legolas sighed inwardly and broke the silence, "None other than Tauriel..." He waved his hand at the auburn elfling, but the king did not follow his hand motion and Legolas continued, "and myself were allowed to touch her."
The little details did not matter to the king. His only interest was to know their forebears. Finally, King Thranduil looked away from Calaerien and gazed upon Tauriel. He inquired in a demanding tone, "Pray tell who are your parents?"
Tauriel found herself speechless under those intense eyes but swallowed hard and responded as steadily as she could, "My father Hinnonon of Lothlorien and my mother Lady Aeril of Greenwood… my king."
King Thranduil knew all in his domain for his memory was long and everlasting. The name Aeril triggered a memory of her in his halls. A most stubborn elleth, he recalled and hope this offspring of hers would not bear that trait.
"Where are they now?"
Tauriel swallowed hard against the sorrow. To admit the truth, made it real but this King not would be patient for long. She struggled to speak and finally murmured barely above a whisper, "In the Halls of Mandos."
Even with his stoned face and hard eyes, Legolas noticed the settled sympathy in his father's blue eyes. Despite his ill-tempered ways, Thranduil cared for his people and now this child was in his care. Without another word, the King turned his penetrating eyes to the smaller elfling. "Come into the light, young one."
That was not a suggestion but a demand. Calaerien's eyes widened with trepidation and froze. King Thranduil patiently waited though he was not pleased to do so. She almost quivered as she hesitantly stepped out into the light and fully emerged in the King's sight. The elfling stared with wide innocent eyes at the towered elf king. Even now under the mercy of her fears, the King looked even larger. She was mesmerized by his looks and completely intimidated by his demeanor.
Unlike Tauriel, King Thranduil granted her with a softer tone but demanded, "What is your name young one?"
She bit her lip nervously and King Thranduil urged, "You have nothing to fear. What is your name?"
Legolas softened when the child finally spoke with the softest voice that was laced with fear and weariness. Thranduil immediately recognized that name in a message from Romonil. With a tight smile, he remembered the news of Calaerien's birth to his second in command to the captain, "Light of the sea. Your father would be Romonil of my guard. Pray tell, is he amongst the wounded? He did not greet me on this morn."
Legolas glanced at Calaerien with recognition and wondered how he could not have noticed before. She was his image: The raven hair and blue eyes were a dead give away. Romonil served on his patrol. The elven warrior was regarded with advanced skills and his fierce loyalty to his homeland.
Calaerien dropped her gaze, bit her lip from quivering, and her eyes suddenly filled with unshed tears. Without a verbal confirmation, Thranduil had his answer. He sighed inwardly for he favored Romonil for many years and was rather unhappy to give him leave to remain in Lothlorien for an elleth in these trying times. Now his offspring stood before him and carried his dark hair and bright ocean eyes. King Thranduil inquired further, "What of your mother? Is she amongst the wounded?"
Calaerien nodded before she looked up at the king. Those intense blue eyes were softer than before and he voiced, "You will have a place here, young ones. You have my leave."
He waved his hand and returned to his throne. Legolas led the elflings to the west wing to be cared for by a maid.
To be continued...
What do you think? I would appreciate any feedback that would help me improve as a writer. Please no flames...