(Fic 10-And now for the conclusion of the story and the finale of my Thranduil series.)
Part 3 of 3
Recovery of the lad, Kazan, took several weeks past a full month.
There would be a farewell feast, but it was only proper that the patient be presented to the Elvenking for formal leave when recuperation was complete. Granted, he could have easily traveled while the limbs were still in their casts, but Remily, the Chief Healer, and Oin both wanted to see how well the dwarvish bones had mended using elven methods.
Though his hands were folded across his chest judgmentally, Thranduil was smiling as he waited for them at the base of throne. Tauriel, Bresalden and several of the other healers were there as well. Trays of goblets and wine decanters had been set out and attendants were standing by ready to serve them.
Oin had brought several changes of clothing, including more formal finery—which they both proudly wore now—as Remily escorted them into the presence of the Elvenking.
She came up the steps ahead of them and bowed her head respectfully.
"My Lord King Thranduil, may I present Kazan for your consideration in our joint effort of healing and science." She bowed her head again and stepped aside.
Kazan came forward and presented himself with a bow and the formal greeting of Durin's Folk. "Kazan, at your service."
Thranduil inclined his head with an elated smile before stepping forward to look him over. "You are well then and feel fit to travel?"
"Aye, my Lord King, and ready to get back to work!" Kazan answered enthusiastically. He gave Remily a quick wink before she slipped back to stand beside Oin behind him.
Thranduil had been studying the results of the newly restored dwarf as they had approached. He remembered the badly mangled, barely breathing body that had been brought in and was impressed with the perfectly straight and strong limbs. He also knew how all the internal injuries had been treated along with other health issues Remily discovered, including some kidney stones, the mildly inflamed appendix and various troublesome bone spurs. And the facial scars were barely noticeable. It gave the boy a roguish charm that females would, no doubt, find attractive.
The process had not been pain free but apparently the dwarves had a "concoction" that relaxed the patient and a salve that numbed the injured area. Unaware that the Eldar would have no need for such remedies, Oin graciously shared the formulas and Remily gratefully accepted them for future use to help other people.
All and all, Remily had done an excellent job as chief healer—he expected no less—and as a diplomat of science. The sharing of knowledge had been a success.
Thranduil unfolded his arms and put his hands behind his back as he started a slow circle around the dwarf for inspection while he spoke his mind.
"The life of the Eldar is endless..." The Elvenking's articulation had an ethereal eloquence and everyone within earshot of the throne stopped to listen. "We are immortal, Durin's Folk are not. And yet bone is bone, flesh is flesh and blood is blood. It can be broken, it can be torn and it can be spilt regardless of the life to which it belongs.
"The difference lies in the nature and speed of recovery and I have often marveled how the science and the magic of our Light changes the process of healing both for us and in other peoples. But what of the science and magic others may hold and can that knowledge be shared?"
Thranduil paused with a smile in front of Oin and the dwarf nodded in agreement as he touched the elven ear horn he wore.
"Our peoples stood against each other in battle," the Elvenking continued on around. "We broke bone, tore flesh and spilled blood until an evil far greater than any differences shadowing our hearts crawled out of the very pit of Darkness. And the bond of a common enemy formed an alliance of war that would not have been found otherwise, if at all.
"The alliance is tenuous a best. Those for Good had no choice but to turn to each other and join forces against Evil. But to us standing here today," he stopped in front of Kazan, completing his circle, "we now know that the blending of sciences can form another bond of healing and strengthen an alliance for life that benefits us all."
Oin nudged Remily and whispered, "fine speech-maker, your king. Wish our king—"
"Shhhh," Tauriel hissed with a smirk.
Towering over Kazan, Thranduil made eye contact with Remily and Oin. "Well done. Consider yourselves highly commended in this Realm. I applaud you both." He stepped back, gave them a formal bow of his head and closed his eyes. There was a moment of silence after which Thranduil held his left hand out to his side where he knew Bresalden would step up and give him a glass of wine.
That was the signal for the attendants to serve everyone else. The others came around to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle with Thranduil, whose head remained bowed.
Kazan glanced around nervously, suddenly stuck in the middle and wondering what was going on. Remily grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him back between her and Tauriel.
Thranduil waited until he sensed everyone had been served. The attendants had also each taken a glass and formed an outer ring around the group.
When everyone was ready, the Elvenking opened his eyes and with a satisfied smile, put his glass straight out in front of him. Everyone else followed suit so that the glasses formed a center ring of crystal that sparkled in the sunlight streaming down from a slit in the rock above.
"Though the circumstances were cruel, the opportunity to share science between differing folk was great. To more alliances born out of Good and not of war!" Thranduil toasted in a clear strong voice. In unison, they raised their glasses in a salute till the rims touched with a melodic clink. The elves gave a merry cheer and they all took a drink.
"And now to the feast!" As the host, Thranduil gestured for the guests and others to proceed him.
"I did not think Elves ever celebrated anything." Kazan said to Remily, Tauriel and Oin as they walked along the flyway to the Great Hall.
"What do you mean?" Tauriel asked
"Aye, what the lad means," Oin piped in answering for him before they were out of earshot, "and I have to admit I agree with him, is that you all seem so serious..."
"Well, that was not so bad," Bresalden teased when he saw how Thranduil was staying put to watch the group move across the cavern. "The Woodland Realm survived having dwarves under its roof."
"Of course it did!" Thranduil agreed jovially as he finished the last swallow of wine. He held out his glass for a refill.
"And you. You survived as well, I might add."
Thranduil took a deep breath and another swallow of wine. He studied the group as they disappeared through the doors to the Great Hall. His eyes narrowed. He had come to associate dwarves with loss: They were part of the reason he lost his beloved wife, they cheated him out of the gems he commissioned and then there was Legolas. Yes, his son's broken heart—because Tauriel only had eyes for that dwarf, Kili—put him on the path to a greater destiny, but would the prince ever come back to his own inheritance?*1
Destiny... it had presented an opportunity to build peace and Thranduil had to admit he was glad they took advantage of it. In some ways, it also represented closure for him. Dwarves were allies who could be kept at arms length—and that was that.
"Of course I did! Let us go to the feast and celebrate!
Several more months passed and life in the Woodland Realm had settled down without incident until Tauriel came to him in his audience chamber with Nis.
"My Lord," Tauriel took a deep breath after bowing her head and decided the direct approach was best. Even though the "science alliance" had been a success, there was still an undercurrent of dislike towards dwarves. "Kazan is here with two other dwarves. They want to give you something."
"How nice. Let them present it to Remily, she did all the work and I have no need for any gifts."
"Sire, it is a box, about this big," Tauriel measured out the dimensions with her hands. "They came heavily armed to guard it—arms which they willingly surrendered at the gate—and they insisted it can only be presented to you."
Thranduil's eyes went wide with surprise, then narrowed into suspicion. It could not be...
"My Lord?" Tauriel asked some what taken aback by his reaction.
"Keep them at the gate. I will receive it at my throne and will send Nis back to you when I am ready. Summon Remily and those that had been involved with his care. Oh, and make absolutely sure they have been relieved of all arms—I do not care about discretion now." Dwarves were allies he had wanted to keep at arms length and now this?
"Yes, my Lord," Tauriel bowed her head in obedience, but concerned curiosity got the better of her. "But what is wrong? Surely you do not think them a threat? What is it?"
"Something from long ago," Thranduil whispered, then finished with a hiss, "that should have been left there!" He turned away to gaze into the fish pond as a form of dismissal and to regain his composure.
...There are gems in the mountain that I, too, desire. White gems of pure starlight.*2
He wanted to be on his throne and regretted staying on the dais with Bresalden, Remily and Tauriel—anything to be as high and as far away from The Box as possible. He recognized it instantly as he watched them approach and could not believe the dwarves would insult him with it after all they had done for them.
He kept his fingers clenched behind his back and a pleasant smile frozen on his face. Ridiculous, he thought and resolved not let those gems—if that is what is... but of course it was, what else would it be—get the best of him.
Kazan was in the lead, genuinely glad to have had the opportunity to deliver it, completely unaware of the history behind what he was presenting. He was flanked by two other dwarves, one of which was carrying The Box.
"My Lord King Thranduil, Kazan, at your service." He bowed with the customary greeting and winked at the elf-ladies. "I bring greetings and a delivery from Lord Dain, King Under the Mountain."
Thranduil inclined his head in acknowledgement but could not bring himself to come any closer when Kazan pulled out an envelop from his coat pocket. He could see the dwarves were becoming nervous at his reaction and fought for inner balance.
A slight tilt of Thranduil's head told Bresalden to take it and read it. The other two dwarves exchanged glances of ill-ease as did Tauriel and Remily—the Elvenking's behavior was odd to say the least.
Bresalden broke the seal of the king and opened the envelope. He glanced at the sheet and cleared his throat before reading:
"To Lord Thranduil, esteemed King of the Woodland Realm, from your servant, Dain. On behalf of all of Durin's Folk and myself, please accept our profound gratitude in the saving of Kazan's life and the extraordinary gift given to Oin.
"And now I ask that you also accept our deepest apologies in the extreme delay of delivering these gems to you. We have no defense other than, perhaps an inexcusable error in bookkeeping, and pray you accept them now without further delay.
With sincere regards and admiration,
Lord Dain, King Under the Mountain."
Anxious now, Kazan took The Box from the other Dwarf, gave a little bow and opened the lid.
There they were, the White Gems of Lasgalen...*3 The necklace was splendidly arrayed on top of a bed of shining, sparkling gems of pure starlight just as they were hundreds of years ago when they slammed the lid down on his fingers.*4
Everyone gasped except Thranduil who felt like he had been kicked in the stomach. "No..." he hissed in a wintery whisper.
The maelstrom of emotion he thought he had put to rest reared up and threatened to engulf him. He took an involuntary step back trying to regain his equilibrium.
So long ago... and they dared to give them to him now?! "You would go to war over a handful of gems?" (Bard)*5
The Eldar exchanged glances of alarm, Durin's Folk paled in alarmed bewilderment.
Tauriel saw out of the corner of her eye Kazan reach for his sword, but he did not have it—it had been wise to divest them of their weapons. She tried to reassure him with a smile, but it was a thin one.
The guards at the base of the dais stairs that were more for show and mostly ignored, suddenly came to life and moved into position, ready to spring to the Elvenking's defense. Tauriel tried to wave them back with a quick motion of her hand, but they ignored her since they reported directly to Thranduil—or would have to Legolas.
"Sire?" Bresalden whispered gravely, glancing over his shoulder at his stricken king. Thranduil gave him a slight shake of his head and took a deep breath. The Chief Steward cleared his throat then and tried to give the dwarves a reassuring smile that fell flat.
So long ago... "Those gems were not all your wife left you, my friend." (Gandalf) "She gave you a son. Tell me, which would she have you value more?"*6
So long ago...! They have no value now! She is gone and Legolas is gone! By the hand of these dwarves—this is a mockery!
So... long... ago... No, not these dwarves. He looked up and locked eyes with Kazan. He took another deep breath. They saved Kazan's life and he realized, had the situation been reversed, Durin's Folk would have done the same for his people.
A kind and compassionate smile suffused his face as he came forward. "Forgive me, I was over come. They are even more beautiful then I remembered."
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, not realizing they had been holding their collective breaths. The dais guards faded back to their respective sides to become statues again.
Kazan smiled gamely. "Are they to your liking, then, my Lord? I've never seen gems like these before. They look... well, they look like..."
"Pure starlight." Thranduil finished in a soft, silky breath. Then he gestured for the others to gather around. "Come, have a look."
The other two Dwarves had never seen them and came around. "Aye, "starlight", that is what they look like."
Tauriel, Remily and the other healers moved in for a closer look, allowing Thranduil to easily and unobtrusively back away from them to Bresalden.
Tauriel reached for one, then stopped with an inquiring look. "May I?"
"Please do." Thranduil allowed.
She gingerly reached in and plucked one gem out. She held it up between her thumb and forefinger to the light and it seemed as if she was holding a little star. She and Remily ooohed and ahhhhed.
Bresalden handed the Elvenking a glass of wine and they both took another step back at the same time so as not to be heard.
"Do you remember our conversation the night of their farewell feast after the toast?" Thranduil asked while an attendant served the Chief Steward some wine.
"Yes, I believe I said something to the effect of, 'the Woodland Realm survived having dwarves under its roof'."
"Yes... and I, in my thinking, thought I had put all dwarvish issues to rest."
"Ah yes, "allies to keep at arm's length", perhaps?"
Thranduil rarely showed surprise, but this he could not hide. "Very astute."
"Not really," Bresalden replied with a chuckle. "Your father voiced a similar sentiment once and you are much like him."
They fell into a companionable silence as they watched each person hold up their own little starlight.
Finally, Bresalden asked what the Elvenking wanted done with the gems.
"Distribute them among all the warriors and the families of the Fallen. Those are the gems they so valiantly went to war over. Be sure to compensate Remily and the Healer Hall and those working on repairing the Elven Path and..." Thranduil shrugged his shoulders. "Just distribute it all as you see fit—you know how to administer such things."
"You do not want any of it for yourself, my Lord?"
"No..." Thranduil paused thinking, then finally shook his head and finished in a wintery whisper, "...they have lost their value for me. Dispense them as you see fit."
"Yes, my Lord."
"Yes, my Lord?" She put the gem back in The Box, but Thranduil told her to keep it. They all could keep one. "That is very generous, my Lord, thank you." She went around Kazan to stand before the Elvenking.
"Our visitors must be weary from the journey and need refreshment. Please see to it and serve them in the Gallery. And make arrangements with Kazan for us to aid them in building the path to join ours. They may be working beyond our immediate border, but anything involving the woodlands should remain under our care."
"Yes, my Lord, I will—" And then the unthinkable happened...
In one flowing motion, Tauriel stepped back and started to turn, while at the same time Kazan had shifted position behind her before closing the lid of The Box. They bumped into each other and The Box was upended out of his hands.
A half a-million tiny stars skidded across the dais and down the steps. The other half a-million went flying through the air to rain down on them, while others went as far as the rivulet encircling the throne and even over the platform.
The hush was heavy with alarm and no one dared move except Thranduil. He carefully crept over the gems and picked up the necklace laying on top of a small pile. "Bresalden," he calmly called out.
"Yes- my- Lord-?" The Chief Steward could barely breath and groaned over the mess. It would take ages and ages to clean it up and they would never, ever be sure if they had ever retrieved them all.
"Perhaps I will keep the necklace," Thranduil said with a smirk.
The author would like to extend her gratitude to "Remily" and "Kazan" for all their
encouragement & help to do this series and belief in me as a writer...
*1. =Referencing my fic, "My Queen of Starlight".
*2., 3. & 5. =B5A-14, "The Elvenking's aid".
*4. =AUJ-1, "Prologue: The Fall of Erebor".
*6. =B5A-The Appendices Part 12 (extended release dvd), "The People of Middle-Earth, Thranduil"—Like I said before, this is the crux of the whole change of heart thing.
[No gems, formal finery or Kazan was harmed during the production of this last part and the finale of the series.
Thranduil and the world of the Hobbit movies are the property of Warner Bros. Entertainment & MGM directly; Sir PJ indirectly and Mr Lee Pace embodimently because he is—oh my yes!—Thranduil. I was just visiting to see what all the fuss was over these gems of pure starlight—I got to keep one!—and not for profit. jk2017 tyl]
Thranduil has left the gates to the Woodland Realm open (and if you happen to find a white gem on the floor, please return it to Bresalden, the Chief Steward).