Chapter 28: The greatest adventure

Selina was sitting on a bench in the palace garden. The sun was shining brightly and a warm breeze played with her long auburn hair. An intoxicating and sweet smell was filling the air, coming from the uncountable flowers that were blossoming everywhere. The bright laughter of children filled the garden, as a small boy and girl were running happily on the green lawn in front of her. The sight of the playing children evoked painful memories inside of her.

~

A little girl was staring with fearful eyes out of the window, while outside a thunderstorm was raging. The wind was sweeping through the trees with a loud howl, bending them back and forth. She sucked in her breath when thunder bathed the scenery in broad light and every muscle in her small body tensed. Her eyes were as huge as saucers. Her big brother Tulrah, he was only one year older than her, stepped up to her and soothingly took her little hand in his. She clung to him like to a lifeline.

"I'm afraid," her shaky voice announced timidly.

"You don't have to be. We are save inside the house," he said puffing his chest bravely. He would never let any harm come on his little sister.

"But the thunder..."

"Don't you know that it is only the Valar practising their skills? If they don't do it from time to time they get rusty. They don't mean any harm by it. It is like when father practises with his sword. They just want to stay in shape, you know," he explain, while she looked up to him with a gaze full of admiration, listening to every word he said intently, completely forgetting about the thunderstorm that had terrified her so much only moments ago.

~

The little boy tackled the girl playfully and they fell to the ground with a loud giggle. The rolled around on the lawn, tickling each other mercilessly, their laughter resounding in the quiet garden. A single tear trailed down Selina's cheek and she suppressed a sob. She missed him.

~

It was Turlah's twelfth birthday and their father had made him a little wooden toy sword. The boy was practising on the lawn in front of their house, fighting an invisible opponent, his cheeks flushed by the exertion and excitement. Selina was sitting on a huge tree trunk her legs dangling from it, while she watched him interestedly. If she asked her father nicely maybe he would make her a sword, too.

Tulrah turned around and grinned at her, "Someday I will be the best warrior in the word. No one will be a better sword fighter than me."

She held her head up proudly and announced, "And I will be a mighty shaman and marry the most handsome man of the valley."

"You want to marry someday? Yuck! Besides a warrior is way better than a shaman," he said with determination.

"He is not!" she protested.

"He is too!" he retorted more fiercely.

"Well, lets say shamans and warriors are even," the little girl shrugged her shoulders trying to mediate.

"A warrior is better and that's my last word," Tulrah crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly.

~

"Ha, give up! You have got no chance!" the boy exclaimed between laughs, while he continued to tickle his playmate. "Never!", she squealed with delight ringing in her voice.

Selina's tears were now falling freely. She had neither the strength nor the will to hold them back any longer. All those happy memories of her childhood days passed before her eyes. Of times when Tulrah had comforted her, when he had told her stories to chase away her fears or had been her partner in crime in one of the uncountable pranks they had played on unsuspecting adults. A melancholic smile tugged at the corner of her mouth when she remember those days, but almost immediately her mind was assaulted by the memory of his dead body lying lifelessly at her feet, his glassy eyes wide open in horror and fresh tears welled up inside of her.

~

Selina and Tulrah were preparing for the coming-of-age ceremony. They straightened their clothes and made sure they had everything with them they would need.

"I will beat you by lengths sister. I will be the first to arrive at the lakeshore," he said with determination in his voice.

"First of all I would worry about whether we will get there at all. And secondly, I don't intend to let you win this one easily, brother," she answered in a playful tone.

He slapped her on the shoulder affectionately, "Well, good luck to you." He paused and then added with a smirk, "And don't be disappointed if I steal you the show."

She ruffled through his hair "We will see, Tulrah."

Tulrah's grin fell when a new thought came to his mind and his expression got very serious.

"I' m afraid what will happen if I drink from the bowl. My friends told me it would be painful."

"People talk a lot," she replied calmly.

"Yes, but it is said that you will receive incredible powers if you drink more than just one draught of the sanctified water. Don't you wonder what will happen if....."

"No!" she interrupted him with an mortified expression on her face. "It could be very dangerous and nobody has ever tried it before. There is no telling what might happen!"

"You talk like a true shaman, but don't you long for some excitement in your life? We are young and got our whole life in front of us, but yet again we are trapped in this dull valley. I swear I know every inch of it, even with closed eyes. Don't you think it's high time we experienced something new and get out of here?" Tulrah asked with excitement ringing in his voice.

"You know that I wish nothing more than to finally see the rest of Middle- Earth, but I will not break the ancient rules. The last time we got in contact with the other races it ended in disaster. Just remember the what they told us about the Eye Staff of Shalakrah. You have to promise me that you won't do anything foolish just because your curious! Don't drink more from the water than you are allowed to! " Selina said to him, her voice very serious.

"Alright, I promise," he answered, though he was not sure whether he could resist the temptation and keep his word to her.

~

Legolas was walking through the palace garden, searching for Selina. In the last days she had often been distraught, her eyes full of grief and sadness. He had often asked her what aggrieved her so, but she had always shook her head and said that it was nothing. He was desperately trying to reach her, but he couldn't help her if she didn't let him in.

He found her sitting on a bench under a blossoming jasmine bush. Tears were running down her beautiful face incessantly, her pain a sharp contrast to the beauty that surrounded her. Legolas sat down next to her, gathering her in his arms wordlessly. He stroke her head soothingly, murmuring elvish words of comfort in her ear to calm her.

Her whole body was shaking with sobs and she repeated again and again, "I killed him. I killed him." He rocked her back and forth in his arms like a frightened child and she cried till tears refused to come.

"What have I done? He was my brother and I killed him," Selina said in a shaky voice.

"There was no other choice," Legolas replied.

"There always is. I'm a murderer," she looked at her hands as if she could see the blood on them, "I'm the lowest creature that has ever walked this earth. I don't deserve this life. Neither the friendship that has been offered to me so freely nor your love."

"Do not say such things! You are the most amazing person I ever met in my life," he said and looked her deeply in the eyes to emphasis his words.

She let out a humourless snort, "Then you haven't been around people a lot, haven't you?"

"The people I met in my long life are as numerous as the stars in the evening sky, but your light is the brightest of all. You are a child at heart and yet you have the wisdom of the old, wild as the raging sea and at the same time calm like a mountain lake, a mystery and yet an open book to read. I look at you and see all the wonders of this world. How can I ever turn my head on you? How can I ever look away, when your soul is so beautiful?", he said in a serious tone that made clear he meant every word he said.

Selina turned looked at him and emphasis every word she said clearly, "I killed my own brother. What does that make of me?"

"I have seen numerous battles. The blood of Orcs, Uruk-hai and men sticks to my hands and I will never be able to wash it off. I fought evil, but nevertheless I extinguished lives that were filled with dreams, hopes, expectations and love. What does that make of me?"

She looked at him with big eyes, unable to answer his question.

"I do not take pleasure in fighting and killing. I mourn every life I take, as you do, but imagine what would have happened if we would not have stopped Tulrah. We all would be his slaves by now, our will would be broken, all the dreams we ever had, shattered. His rule of chaos would destroy this beautiful world.

Did we do the right thing? Maybe. Taking a life can never be right. We will have to live with the knowledge that we have killed somebody and try to redeem ourselves daily. There are no words of comfort I can offer to you. I cannot tell you that you have done the right thing. I can only reassure you that you have saved many lives in the process and protected this world from evil.

If you had not stopped him Sulrathi's sacrifice would have been in vain. She would have died and I would not have made any difference."

Selina remembered the panther and the words she had said to her. She had wanted them to survive, to be able to continue their lives after the battle would have been fought. If she gave up now she would throw away, the gift her friend had made her.

"You are right," she said and exhaled heavily.

"Can I ask you a favour?" Legolas said looking her deeply in the eye.

"Yes, anything," Selina answered and a brief smile flitted over her face.

"Please, do not ever shut me out again. I can sense the sadness in you and it pains me if I cannot help you ease it, melamin."

"Never again," she promised and kissed him on the cheek tenderly. She let her hand glide through a straight of his blond hair and when she looked at him, an overwhelming feeling of love rose inside of her, warming her soul and chasing away the darkness that had held her in its grip for the last days. A huge grin spread over her face, "So, I hear Mirkwood is a nice place this time of the year."

He let out a warm laugh, filled with relief about the fact that she was obviously getting better, "Yes, but unfortunately we have a little spider problem at our hands."

"How highly unfortunate!" she said smilingly, her face hovering just inches away from his. "Well, I just might now the right person to help you. She's good with all sorts of animals, I heard," her voice was a husky whisper as they got closer and closer.

"Oh, is that so? You are not suggesting, by chance, that we go on a new hunt, are you? Because I most certainly had my share for the next millennia," Legolas smiled jokingly.

"No," Selina answered, while she stroke his cheek tenderly "to go hunting means either chasing after things you want to have or looking for adventure. I have made the best prey there is ", she paused briefly and placed her hand over his chest, "your heart. I already have everything I need, because l love you. Love is the greatest adventure of all and I have the best companion with me for it. " She closed the distance between them and they shared a sweet kiss that made them completely forget the world around them.

~

The two children, Nathan and Theodora, who had been happily playing on the lawn only moments before, stood there and looked at the kissing couple with a strange fascination.

"Yuck! I can't see why anybody would want to kiss a girl," Nathan said his nose cringed in disgust. "She's all pretty, but nevertheless I wouldn't want to do that," he pointed with his finger at the two lovers, who were oblivious to the presence of the two, lost in their own little world, whispering to each other with hushed voices.

The girl had a stars in her eyes, when she spoke, "They are the most beautiful couple I have ever seen! I have heard that she was sick and he sat at her bed all the time. It is so romantic!" she squealed excitedly.

Nathan let out an annoyed huff and rolled his eyes, "Girls!"

Theodora's head whipped around and a angry frown was on her small face, "You are so insensitive. You will never ever get a girl to like you and much less be your girlfriend."

"Well, maybe, I don't want to," he stuck out his tongue at her and sprinted off.

"Don't you think you will get away with that," she exclaimed and chased after him.

THE END

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Good bye to you, the best readers and reviewers in the world! I hope you had as much fun as I had with this story. I'm a bit sad that it's over now, but, well, this way I will have time to start something new. The best wishes to you and take care! Bye!