This story is the next story in a series that started with Thranduil and The Dark Elf of Fangorn. Ideally it would be read after The Dark Elf, but it can also be a stand-alone read. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Amdir bounded down the steps of Lothlorien's central treebound staircase, wishing that she could simply climb down the trees as she often did in Mirkwood when she was an elfling in King Thranduil's Halls.

As she descended each level of steps, she kept her eyes glued to the newly arrived travelers milling about in the courtyard below.

Haldir was part of this group, Haldir was the real reason she was here. She hadn't seen the march warden of Lothlorien since she was all of 15 years old, 35 years ago, when her parents had been murdered by orcs. She had managed to escape, and was eventually found in the north of the forest by the Lady's best warrior and tracker.

She owed her life to Haldir, and while she had successfully blocked out many of the memories surrounding the trauma of her parent's attack, the memories of Haldir's kindness had long stayed with her, and it was thinking about this kindness had helped her avoid the bitterness that often comes with surviving a tragic event.

But that was many decades ago and she had grown. Next year she would begin her official role as King Thranduil's translator. She had always had a passion for languages and both the King and his Queen, Amdir's close friend Isobel, had supported and mentored her.

It was the Queen who had suggested that she travel to Lothlorien to perfect her grasp of Khuzdul and to work with Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn's counsellors and diplomats to better understand Khazad-dum culture.

Below her, the melee showed no signs of dissipating, in fact, more elves had arrived and were greeting the returned travelers with hugs, laugher and good natured insults.

While she generally found the Galadhrim to be more reserved than their Mirkwood counterparts with visitors, on their own they could be surprising gregarious, exhibiting camaraderie and humour.

She paused near the bottom of the stairs and nervously smoothed her brown braids, pushing them off her shoulders so they hung in a neat river down her back, and looking down to check that her blue silk gown was draped appropriately.

By the Valar she was nervous to see her childhood protector! With a small shake of her head and a deep breath she continued into the small crowd, where the warriors of the march were handing their horses to well-trained grooms and catching up with family and friends.

Amdir caught the curious eye of some of the warriors, and she appreciated their welcome smiles, for she understood that these elves knew that Amdir could be no stranger, if she had leave to wander amongst them unattended.

She quietly approached a group of four elves, the tallest elf stood erect, his silver hair gleaming in Lothlorien's dappled forest light, his features straight and more full than normal for a Galadhrim. His cheekbones were slightly bronzed from rare days spent outside of the forest's misty shade, and he looked at his companions with intelligent blue eyes that missed nothing. He was just as she'd remembered him only more… handsome. She shook her head and repeated her original thought. He was just as she remembered him, full stop.

At that moment, his eyes flicked up and caught her own. Amdir stilled as Haldir's headed tiled slightly to the right as he puzzled her out. One of his companions was the stately Uiron, Celeborn's main advisor, and he followed Haldir's eyes. On seeing Amdir standing just outside the group, he pivoted towards her and took her hand with a warm smile, pulling her into their circle.

"Amdir, how lovely that you've come to greet our march wardens," he said, his steady light blue eyes held the merest twinkle. He motioned to the other elves in the group.

"This is Rumil, Orophin, and of course, you may remember their eldest brother, Haldir, from his days in Mirkwood many years ago."

The two younger elves smiled warmly, but Haldir's eyes opened wide in surprise and he stepped forward, his shock transforming into a broad grin. "Amdir? The tiny elleth I returned to King Thranduil's halls all those years ago? You are so….grown!"

Amdir laughed and shyly looked down, and when she looked up again, she directed her gaze at Uiron. "Thank you, Uiron, I am pleased to meet you both, Rumil and Orophin. I have heard much of your adventures. Prince Legolas speaks of you both with much reverence, and...Haldir."

She found the courage to look up at him, and was gratified that he stared back at her, his winsome face beaming. "Of course I am most happy to see you again, and to have the chance to thank you for all you did for me during that time. I don't remember much of it, but I do remember riding with you at the front of your saddle."

Rumel and Orophin exchanged amused glances, and Haldir nodded, his smile faltered as he no doubt remembered the events of that winter when he had found Amdir wandering the forest, in shock at having witnessed her parent's murder at the hands of Dul Gudor orcs.

"I am most happy to see you here," he said graciously, his eyes studying her with a slight question as though to ask "how are you really?"

Amdir stepped back, not sure to interpret his look as thoughtful or a tad forward, when the group was interrupted by three grooms who'd come to take their horses away to be watered down and fed after their journey. Uiron spread his arms, encompassing the group. "Come, we must prepare as the Lady has planned a banquet to celebrate your company's safe return from the outer marches, Haldir."

Haldir and his brothers nodded and Uiron turned his wise face to Amdir. "I trust you will be joining us in the main hall tonight?"

Amdir nodded, knowing that Uiron was well aware of the Lord and Lady's mentorship, and that she would be included as one of the guests of honour, alongside the returning march wardens. The four turned to walk towards the private flets that housed the city's militia.

"Then we shall have time to catch up," said Haldir, glancing down at her. "I would hear of your education and your life in Mirkwood."

Uiron offered Amdir his arm and with a grateful smile she accepted. "I shall walk you back to your quarters, Mistress Amdir. As these warriors clean up, you can give me a full account of your studies to date. I understand you wrote an impressive report on the culture of fostering young male dwarves in Khazad-dum to strengthen alliances. Is it true that foster families are chosen even before the dwarves are born?"

The two younger warriors took the hint and nodded at Amdir and Uiron before taking their leave, but their big brother paused for a moment, his eyes on Amdir. Then with a small smile and shake of his head, as though he still doubted what he was seeing, he followed his brothers, his step quick and light to catch up with them.

As Amdir allowed Uiron to lead her back to her quarters, she could hear Haldir's laughter in the distance and her own lips creased into a smile.

That evening found Amdir sitting near the head table in a long outdoor hall with a ceiling of velvety green beech and burnished gold mallorn leaves than hung enchantedly over three long tables lit with hundreds of candles and silver bright lanterns.

At the top of hall, against a white quartz wall accented with green moss in the places where small waterfalls gently blessed the stone as they gracefully made their way down the rockface, was the head table, where sat the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, emanating more light than the brightest of lanterns. Next to them sat their closest advisors including Haldir and Uiron. Amdir herself sat near the top the middle table across from Liadan, an elleth of the same age who shared Amdir's love of languages.

During the three weeks since her arrival, Amdir had grown close to Liadan, as they attended classes together. To the Lord and Lady's pleasure, Liadan had taken it upon herself to help Amdir navigate the finer details of life in Lothlorien and proved herself a dedicated companion of whom the young wood elf had grown quite fond.

"Did he recognize you?" Liadan asked, as both elves looked over to the silver haired march warden who was deeply immersed in conversation with Lord Celeborn, his fingers lingering over a meal of venison and beech nuts.

Amdir's face returned to her friend and she shook her head. "Not at first, but afterwards he seemed quite pleased to see me again."

Liadan took a sip of wine. "Will you speak with him afterwards? You should. You know he is not bonded. They say his heart was broken many years ago and since then he avoids romantic attachments."

Amdir's eyes widened and she looked around nervously. "Hush Liadan, others will hear you!" But Liadan only laughed, and Amdir smiled in spite of herself, and leaned in. "I have heard the same said in Mirkwood," she admitted, "but nobody will say who the elleth was that stole his heart and never returned it."

Liadan lowered her voice even more. "We have not the same reserve when it comes to gossip; I have heard it said it was the Queen of Mirkwood herself."

Admir sat back and rolled her eyes, her voice returning to its normal level. "That's ridiculous. Our Queen has only ever loved the King. Everyone knows that."

Liadan shrugged her shoulders and pushed Amdir's wine goblet closer to the tall chestnut-haired elleth. "Sometimes there is more to the story than we think," she said. Amdir responded with a shake of her head and both elves dissolved into laugher.

"And may I enquire as to the source of such merriment?"

Haldir's voice interrupted the two elves whose faces immediately grew sober, and two sets of abashed eyes turned to take in the simply dressed march warden who stood watching them, wine glass in one hand.

"Haldir! We were just discussing…errr…" she hastily took a sip of wine, and Liadan jumped in. "The mating rituals of dwarves."

Amdir chocked on her wine as Haldir took the seat beside Liadan, who moved down the bench to accommodate him. He looked across the table at Amdir and offered her a napkin, which she gratefully accepted with pink tinged cheeks.

Liadan suddenly stood up, and the march warden rose with her. "Haldir, I am most happy to see you returned safely from such a dangerous mission, but if you will both excuse me, I promised my…Ada... that I would spend time with him after the banquet, and I don't want to be late."

Haldir smiled graciously and waited for Liadan to depart before returning to his seat across from Amdir, who smiled shyly and took another sip of her wine.

"I had heard that the King had arranged for you to visit us, but did not expect you so soon. Uiron mentioned you are proficient at languages and training to become a translator in King Thranduil's diplomatic corp."

She glanced up a him taking in his sharp blue eyes, and pausing on his full lips.

"Yes, I am pleased to have the chance to complete my training here in Caras Galadhon, but I also came here because I wanted to see you."

Haldir blinked although his face remained kind. "Now what would a young translator-to-be want with an old ellon like myself?"

Amdir smiled and tilted her head, causing Haldir's lips to twitch. "The Queen has told me much of what happened the season I lost my parents and if it weren't for you, I would not have survived. You rescued me from the forest and the orcs that hunted me, and you travelled with me north to King Thranduil's halls. I owe you my life, and I wanted to show you that I am not wasting the life you restored to me."

Haldir's smile faded as he absorbed the gravitas of the the young elleth's words. "You do me great honour, dear Amdir. Rescuing you was no act of valor as you imagine, it was my job, but one I performed with great pleasure, and the memory of that small lost elleth warms my soul to this day."

Amdir sat taller on the bench. "As you can see, I am not a small lost elleth anymore."

"Indeed you are not."

They stared at each other for a heartbeat, then their attention was directed to a commotion at the far side of the hall, where a messenger had entered and was making his way up the length of the outdoor room, between the tables, to deliver a message to the Lord and Lady. Once at the top, he dropped to one knee.

"You may rise," said Lord Celeborn. "What message do you bring this evening, Meldir?"

The messenger lithely stood and bowed his head in acknowledgement.

"The Southern detachment travels this way now. They bring with them a prisoner, an Easterling, my Lord and Lady, and who claims he once served in Dul Guldor as a slave."

"An Easterling elf? Now that is a surprise." Celeborn and Galadriel exchanged a meaningful glance as the sound of shocked murmurs rose above the tables.

"Thank you. You are weary, please partake in this banquet and recover your strength."

"My Lord," said the messenger with a bow, and he was quickly led away by a serving elleth.

Haldir rose. "Well Amdir," he said ruefully. "How is your grasp of Rhun, for it looks like we may be in need of a translator."

Amdir nodded. "I am at the Lord and Lady's service, Haldir. As I am at yours."

Haldir smiled. "Come with me, let's see what we can make of this Easterling who approaches our city."

Amdir glowed, pleased that he would single her out for service so quickly. Together they left the hall, Haldir offering Celeborn a curt nod as they departed.

Amdir sat on a bench outside Lord Celeborn's private office. Inside he, Haldir and a bevvy of advisors gathered to discuss the arrival of the Easterling slave who had only now just arrived and was being held in a small oak grove whose careful enchantments served to imprison the interloper with more strength than mithril bars.

Rather than feeling left out, she was pleased to have been included at all. It was a great display of trust for she knew that Lothlorien had its own translators, although she also knew that few, if any, in the Elven realms were as proficient at Rhun as was she.

The door suddenly opened and Amdir quickly stood. Seeing Celeborn emerge first, she fell into a deep curtsey.

"Rise Amdir. We will require your services to assist in our interrogation." He looked at her closely, silver eyes boring into her. "Interrogating a prisoner is not always a pleasant task. Do you feel ready?"

She looked to Lord Celeborn and the expectant faces of his advisors behind him, including that of Haldir. She nodded. "Yes, my Lord."

"Very well. Haldir, you and Rumil may bring her down to the prisoner. I entrust to you her safety and protection, for if anything should happen to her, it is you who will have the pleasure of explaining it to my cousin, King Thranduil."

Haldir nodded and turned to Amdir. "Follow me," and three elves hastened down the starlit staircase to where the prisoner was held.

Haldir's demeanor, so warm and open earlier, had transitioned to the hard warrior persona for which he was known and feared across Middleearth. Amdir looked at him through the tail of here eye with interest. His jaw was squared and his lips set in a grim line. Beside him, Rumil, who looked much like his brother but for a leaner physique, shared his intense gaze and determined gait.

"You are not to speak unless spoken to," directed Haldir as he walked. Amdir struggled to keep up with his is long-legged stride. "If we direct you to leave, I request that you do so with haste, as it will be for your protection. I warn you: While our methods may seem harsh to you, you are not to defend nor question them, and you will make no contact with the prisoner outside of what is strictly necessary to translate his speech."

As they approached the cell-grove, Amdir paused in wonder. In Lothlorien, even the prisons were strikingly beautiful. The enchanted trees emitted a strange and wondrous green energetic curtain that sparked blue when touched by leaves or insects. A small white butterfly passed through it with a bright spark, but emerged on the other side quite unharmed. She imagined it would be a different story if the prisoner tried to do the same.

Inside the transparent green walls, a man knelt in the corner, his knees on a bed of soft moss, leaning over to cup his hands under a small waterfall and wash his face. Amdir's breath caught. On closer inspection, he had the long limbs and graceful stature of an elf, and a noble elf at that. Yet his bronzed skin was covered in tattoos; a bridge of dots crossed his cheeks and eyes and strange symbols decorated his jaw down his neck and disappeared into a dirty grey tunic. Jet black hair hung in disheveled braids down his back. He turned to face them and wild green eyes fell on the three elves, his lashes wet and dark. Full lips parted as he stared at them, showing the hint of white teeth. He rose, and that's when Amdir noticed the golden ropes around his feet and wrists.

The Easterling's gaze fell on the young translator, dropping from her face down to her feet, and studying every inch of her in between. Haldir quickly stepped in front of her to block the prisoner's view.

"You will remain out here," he said to her. "Repeat everything he says. Do not look at him. Do not speak directly to him."

She nodded, suddenly nervous, but determined to do a good job, and stepped aside as the two guards entered the cell, swords drawn.

Rumil stood in front of the prisoner, while Haldir stood beside him.

"What is your name?" demanded Rumil. All eyes shifted to Amdir who quickly translated. The prisoners' dark green eyes had calmed as he began to understand what was happening. With a deep breath, he began to speak.

"He is Uldor son Ulfang, and he comes from a long line of chieftains from the south east, past the dark lands…he was taken by a band of orcs, the army of his father's guests, there was an alliance but the orcs killed his village - no, his family - and he and his sister were taken… and his sister raped and tortured…"

Amdir paused to gather herself, but Uldor kept talking.

"Please slow down," said Amdir, making eye contact, and the prisoner paused.

"Amdir," said Haldir sharply, and she looked away.

Uldor began to speak again, but more slowly this time, he looked at Rumil and occasionally turned to look at Haldir, who still held his sword a few inches from the elf's neck.

"He says that he was spared because he is elven kind, but he was forced to serve Maeglin before you – Haldir – took Dul Guldor many decades ago."

Surprise crossed Haldir's face and he exchanged a look with Rumil. "How is it?" Haldir asked, "That an elf identifies himself as an Easterling and indeed bears the dress and tattoos of an eastern clan?"

Amdir quickly translated, and Uldor watched her, his eyes alert but his bearing wary. Despite Haldir's warning, she met the prisoner's gaze, for she too was curious to know the answer.

Uldor's eyes did not waiver from her face. "He is half-elven," she translated. "His mother was an Easterling, his real father elven, Noldo – no – Sinda, both, he says. But he was raised by Ulfang who took him as his own son. When you destroyed the Orc army at Dul Guldor, he escaped and has been living in the Brown Lands these years hence. He came south because the land has become too barren and dangerous with encroaching Orc raiders, and he seeks refuge within the Elven realms."

"Who was your elven father?" asked Haldir, and the prisoner's face shuttered, suddenly expressionless as he spoke.

"He says he does not know. His elven father disappeared before he was born and his mother would never tell him the name."

Haldir looked hard at the dark-haired elf in front of him, who in turn stared at Amdir and asked a question.

"He requests that you release his ropes," she translated. "He says there is no reason to tie him up as he means no harm."

"We'll be the judge of that," replied Haldir as he and Rumil abruptly quit the cell, the interrogation completed for for the time being. He turned back to the prisoner at the last minute "You will remain bound," he said, and the prisoner's face fell. If he didn't understand the march warden's words, his tone was clear enough.

Amdir watched the exchange. While the elf was well-built with broad shoulders and almost as tall as Haldir, he didn't seem dangerous. But it was not for her to question Haldir's tactics and was this not what Haldir had warned her not to do? With a deep inhale, she turned away and followed Haldir and Rumil down the forest path to the main hall to report back to its Lord and Lady.

But as she walked she could not forget the feral look of those deep green eyes, simultaneously beautiful yet dangerous, nor the strange tattoos that traced the contours of Uldor's face, or his strange eastern accent as he told his story in a soft masculine voice. She had never seen anything like him, and she only hoped that her intrigue didn't show.