This may actually become a chapter in "The Nameless One." DemonicaAngel19 suggested that I fill in the gaps between Mithrandir's visits to check on Legolas/Anomen at Rivendell, and that is what I am trying to do. If people like it, I will finish it and reconfigure the chapter breaks in "The Nameless One" to fit it in. Let me know what you folks think.
Starlit Hope, as soon as I finish this part of the story, I'll do something about establishing in greater detail the relationship between Legolas and Thranduil after their reunion at Rivendell.
Mithrandir had been gone for a month, and sometimes Anomen wished that he could slip away from Rivendell and go off in pursuit of him. It wasn't that anyone was treating him badly; on the contrary, everyone was most anxious that he be made to feel welcome. Lord Elrond treated him as a son. Glorfindel gladly permitted him to join the novice warriors who were training with knives, swords, and bows. Elladan and Elrohir cheerfully made room for him at the table in the library where each morning they were tutored by Erestor. (Of course, Anomen grinned to himself, the twins' willingness to share their tutor was not entirely disinterested; they no doubt appreciated the fact that Erestor's attention was now divided amongst three, rather than two, elflings.) And Arwen worshiped him, while he doted on her in return. No, the problem was not that he felt unwelcome; instead, he simply was not used to a world in which people expected him to tell them where he was going and when he would be back.
In Greenwood, Anomen had been expected to show up for lessons and weapons-training, but then he had been left to his own devices. His father had no longer even noticed whether or not he put in an appearance at meals, so he had taken to filching bread, cheese, and fruit from the kitchen and settling down to eat in whatever tree he happened to be climbing at the onset of hunger. It was only now, under the care of Elrond and Glorfindel and Erestor, that Anomen became aware that it was unusual for an elfling to roam about unmarked and unchecked. Here, when he strolled back into the Hall after vanishing for the first time, he had been mortified to learn that Glorfindel was out with a patrol searching for him.
"Elrond," spluttered the usually unflappable Glorfindel the third time this happened, "if Anomen leads me on one more merry chase, I swear I shall fasten a mithril chain around his neck and attach a dwarf-bell to it!"
Erestor smiled. "Come now, Glorfindel, an elf-lord who has faced down a balrog should not let a mere elfling rob him of his composure."
"Yes," agreed Elrond, "I concede that Anomen's habit of vanishing is disconcerting, but surely we can solve this problem without resorting to drastic measures."
"Alright," muttered Glorfindel darkly, "but if he doesn't shape up soon, then bell him I shall—or, better yet, I'll orc-tie him!"
"Perhaps," suggested Erestor, "since we know that Anomen has a habit of disappearing, we should simply stop sending out search parties. If he is missing, we should simply assume that he is safely ensconced in a tree somewhere. In short, let us cease worrying whenever we cannot find him and merely wait patiently for him to reappear."
"A millennium ago, I might have concurred," replied Elrond, "but the world has grown treacherous. Even a grown warrior would not go off without leaving word; surely we cannot let an elfling do so."
Erestor sighed, "Yet it will be difficult to rein him in. He was used to looking out for himself even whilst still in Greenwood, and once he left Thranduil's realm he journeyed virtually alone all the way to Imladris, along the way confronting many perils and surmounting many obstacles. How he must chafe at now being required to give an account of all his comings and goings!"
"You are right," replied Elrond, "but Anomen must be made to see that it may be needful for an elf to rely upon the wisdom and strength of others. There was more than a little luck involved in his arrival in Rivendell—not to mention that he had a wizard looking out for him at the end! Moreover, I have lately received a message from the Lady of the Galadhrim—she had a hand in keeping him safe as well."
Glorfindel was growing impatient at the talk—he, after all, was the one who had to ride out when Anomen took it into his head to go wandering.
"Well and good, Elrond. But how are we to make this elfling see that he should ask permission before wandering off!?"
"Anomen has only been with us a very little while, Glorfindel. You cannot expect him to quickly change habits of thinking and behavior that he has relied upon for over a century. I will, of course, speak with him—
"Again," grumbled Glorfindel.
"—speak with him," continued Elrond, unperturbed, "and I believe that gradually he will both see the need for reporting his whereabouts and become accustomed to doing so."
"Hmmph," snorted Glorfindel.
"Glorfindel," exclaimed Erestor, "you are taking this too much to heart!"
"Easy for you to say, Erestor! Have you ever been bucked off your chair whilst tutoring!?"
"Glorfindel," laughed Erestor. "You weren't!?"
"Aye," admitted Glorfindel, shamefaced now, "I, Glorfindel, balrog-slayer, was thrown by my horse whilst pursuing one errant elfling."
"Well," declared Elrond, suppressing a smile, "we can't have that happening now, can we? Erestor, after his lessons tomorrow, please tell Anomen that I wish to speak with him."
At this very moment the elfling under discussion was trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep. It should have been easy—after morning lessons and an afternoon spent on archery, swordplay, and horseback riding, Anomen did indeed feel tired. But he also felt incomplete, as if something had been missing from his day. As he twisted fretfully, he began to think over the day's events.
"First I woke up—no, first Elrohir woke me up!" Elrond had moved Anomen in with the twins, thinking that the elfling would be glad of the company. Anomen did like the twins very much, of course, and in the beginning was overjoyed at sharing a room with them. He remembered his first lonely days at Thranduil's Hall, in the enormous room in which he had been dwarfed by oversized furniture. But after a few days at Rivendell, Anomen realized that over the years his Greenwood room had become his sanctuary. No one ever came looking for him there; far away from the King's disapproving gaze, he was free to read and daydream. He couldn't imagine reading and daydreaming in this room. Elladan would tackle him if he read, and Elrohir would pounce on him if he daydreamed. One always had to be alert around the twins! He wouldn't have minded so much if he could have found another place to read and daydream, but he hadn't found such a place—except, he thought wistfully, in the woods.
Anomen sighed. In Greenwood, the woods, like his room, had been a sanctuary. Not only had the woods been a place where he could continue with his reading and daydreaming; the forest was also a place where he felt himself to be amongst friends. He had spent hours listening and responding to the murmuring trees. The trees called to him here as well, and he would have gladly spent hours amongst them. Unfortunately, the elves of Imladris seemed to disapprove of his venturing alone into the woods. Elrohir and Elladan no doubt would eagerly accompany him into the forest, and the three of them would surely receive permission if they promised to stay together; but then that would have defeated his purpose in going into the woods in the first place—to be alone with his thoughts and his dreams and his trees.
Anomen sat up and looked toward the window. He was wide awake and had no hope of sleeping. He slipped from his bed and padded softly to the window. In the moonlight the trees swayed and whispered. "All are asleep but the trees," mused Anomen. Suddenly he thought to himself, "If all are asleep, then there is no one awake to discover whether or not I am in my room!"
"And," Anomen smirked to himself, "if no one learns that I am not in my room, then no search party can be sent out. And if no search party is sent out, then Glorfindel cannot be angry." Glorfindel had been quite, ah, eloquent, the last time he returned from a fruitless search for the elfling. (He had also seemed to move without his usual gracefulness. Indeed, he had seemed to hold himself rather stiffly.)
Anomen crept quietly to the wardrobe. Softly he opened it and pulled out a tunic and pair of leggings, which he quickly donned. His boots he tied together and hung round his neck before stealing back to the window. Carefully he slipped over the sill and climbed down a trellis that supported one of the graceful vines that adorned the outside of the Hall, making it sometimes hard to see where the vegetation ended and the building began.
An hour later Anomen was deep in the midst of the forest of Imladris. Sighing in contentment, he picked out a particularly welcoming tree, one that seemed to stretch out its boughs to embrace him. He settled himself securely on a wide branch, and hidden from the stars and any creature that might pry, he quickly fell asleep. "I will only sleep for a little while," he promised himself, for he knew that he must climb back into his room before dawn. Unfortunately, he truly was exhausted, and his brief nap turned into a relaxed slumber. He slept both deeply and long. So it was that the stars passed overhead and went to their rest, and the sun arose. So it was that Elrohir and Elladan awoke to find Anomen's bed empty and the elfling nowhere to be found, and so it was that a bemused Elrond found himself sending yet again for Glorfindel.
"Nowhere to be found," repeated Glorfindel, as if dazed. He had not planned on getting up quite so early and also had looked forward to soaking in warm water once he did get up.
"Aye, Glorfindel, that is what I said," replied Elrond, a trifle testily. "He slipped out at night; the watchmen at the doors saw nothing, so he may have gone out the window."
Glorfindel groaned. His backside was undeniably sore. "Elrond, forget the chain and bell; I say we go directly to orc-tying him."
Elrond gestured impatiently. "Glorfindel, we will discuss that later; it is possible that he has been gone for hours, mayhap for the entire night. Please assemble a patrol."
"Very well," growled Glorfindel, "but you had better hope that he makes his way back here on his own before I get my hands on him." He turned and strode out the door, betraying, Elrond noticed, a trifle of a limp.
As Glorfindel marched awkwardly down the hall, he did not notice that a small figure had hidden herself behind a column just outside the door to Elrond's sanctum. Arwen stared after Glorfindel anxiously. "Oh, oh, Glorfindel is angry at Nomie," she thought to herself. "Glorfindel says Nomie better come home before he finds him! I better tell Nomie. I better go in the forest and find him!"
Overlooked in the bustle of preparations for the departure of the scouts, Arwen trotted on her short legs up to and out of the door, vanishing within minutes into the gardens that surrounded Rivendell. From thence she made her way to the gate, and as the guards gazed wonderingly back at the hubbub that had erupted within the walls, the little elfling, well beneath their line of sight, simply strolled out into the wide world beyond.
Shortly after, a very disgruntled Glorfindel departed with his patrol, scanning the the trees for any trace of Anomen. Based on past experience, Glorfindel did not expect to find any signs of the elfling on the ground; a pity that, for had he looked down, he might have spotted some evidence of Arwen's passage. But Glorfindel was looking for an elfling who would climb into a tree at the earliest opportunity and then travel across branches to the next tree. Glorfindel would not waste time intently studying the ground for signs of such an arboreal elf.
The longer Glorfindel rode, the more his backside hurt him. He knew he hadn't seriously injured himself in the fall the previous day, but it was certain that more than his dignity had been bruised. Try as he might, he could not keep from wincing from time to time. Indeed, after several hours, the occasional wince had turned into a fixed grimace that made him look positively ferocious.
The sun was overhead when Glorfindel's quarry finally awoke. The branches had shaded Anomen's eyes from the light of the sun, but at last a ray broke through the canopy and fell upon his face, rousing him and revealing to him that night had long since turned to day. Anomen was dismayed; he knew instantly that his absence must have been discovered, and he quailed at the thought of what Glorfindel would say. It was then that he heard the sound of horses making their way through the forest. He flattened himself on the branch and cautiously peered down. Ai! It was Glorfindel and his patrol, and, by the Valar, Glorfindel's face was a study in fury! It wouldn't do to let himself be caught by the balrog-slayer! Anomen shrank further back into the cover of the tree, hardly breathing until the sound of the patrol had receded into the distance. Then he sat up and considered what to do. He was certain that Glorfindel was furious with him, and he wondered if Elrond was feeling the same way. Elrond had already twice spoken to him about the necessity of asking permission before he left the vicinity of the Hall. Tears sprang to Anomen's eyes at the thought that he may have angered the Lord who had given him sanctuary and treated him as a son. Anomen began to panic, and he let his imagination take over, not even listening to the trees that murmured soothingly to him. "I have ruined things," he whimpered to himself. "I could have stayed in beautiful Rivendell, but now everyone is furious with me. Perhaps Mithrandir will still have me. I must get away and find him!"
Anomen tried to remember what Mithrandir had said about his journey and was quite sure that he had said something about stopping in Lothlorien. Anomen didn't want to renew his acquaintance with the Lady Galadriel, but it seemed that he would have no choice. And perhaps, if he were under the protection of Mithrandir, the Lady would not probe too deeply into his past. Now how to get to Lorien? He recoiled at the prospect of journeying once more through Dunland, for he had not forgotten his ill-treatment at the hands of the man with the cudgel. Moreover, such a path would force him through the Gap of Rohan, and that would bring him too near to Isengard for his liking. He still could not understand why Saruman made him uneasy, but, with reason or no, he was determined to stay out of the grasp of the wizard.
"I will cross the mountains," he resolved, "and so come to Lothlorien. True, the peaks are riddled with caves from whence Trolls spring in ambush, but I will be mindful of that. I will journey only during the brightest part of each day, and as the sun begins to descend I will seek out clever hiding places in spots too small for a Troll to creep in to." With his path chosen, Anomen stood upon the branch and lightly ran to its end before leaping gracefully to a branch in an adjacent tree. He gave no notice to the fact that the trees were moaning frantically and swishing their leaves about in a nigh frenzy. For once his wood sense failed him.
While Anomen was deciding upon a course of action, Arwen was thrashing about with great determination in the forest undergrowth. She was now several hours and an equal number of miles from the Hall. Sheer luck—or mayhap sheer ill luck—had kept her on a straight path; otherwise her wanderings would not have taken her so far from the doubly-anxious Elrond, an Adar who now knew that both a son and a daughter had gone missing. The search for Arwen had been hitherto restricted to the garden and the many rooms of the Hall, but Elrond was about to turn his eyes towards the forest of Imladris.
"Elrond," said Erestor hesitantly, "we have been through each room in the Hall not once, not twice, but thrice. Indeed, all of the buildings in Rivendell have been thoroughly searched, and we have looked in, under, and behind every bush in the garden. I wonder if she is indeed here."
"By the Valar!" exclaimed Elrond. "Where would she be if not here!?"
"Arwen is very fond of Anomen, is she not?"
In all the millennia of their friendship, Erestor had seldom seen Elrond look frightened. This was to be one of those rare occasions.
"You think Arwen has followed Anomen into the forest!"
Erestor nodded unhappily.
Elrond let loose a string of oaths in Elvish, Westron, and Dwarvish. Erestor had never heard his friend curse in Dwarvish, and from the look on Elrond's face, Erestor feared that he was on the verge of venting in the Dark Tongue. He hastened to calm him.
"Elrond, with all the riders searching the woods, I am sure that someone will happen upon her tracks."
Elrond groaned. "Erestor, do you not see!? With all those scouts ranging about, all signs of her passage will have been obliterated. If we find her, it will be because of luck—that and the grace of the Valar!"
Erestor looked concerned but begged to differ. "You are much too pessimistic. I suggest that we send out scouts to systematically comb the forest. Have the undergrowth swept by a line of searchers spaced an arm's length apart. Surely Arwen could not have gotten far, and a methodical, thorough search will uncover her. She is much younger than Anomen and cannot have gone far. Moreover, she will not be hiding from us, as Anomen will."
Elrond looked at Erestor with surprise. "You think he is evading the patrol?"
"Anomen has never been gone this long. What better to explain the length of his absence than his fear that he has angered you—or, more likely, Glorfindel?"
Elrond grimaced. "Ai, I myself said that it would take time for Anomen to adjust to our ways. It has no doubt not entered his head that an elfling can do great wrong without forfeiting the affection of his elders. That has not been his experience, I warrant. But, Erestor, I fear there could be another reason that Anomen has failed to reappear. Over these past several weeks, the patrols have repeatedly found signs that orcish scouts have penetrated our borders. I pray that Anomen has not wandered so far that he has stumbled into the hands of spies probing the fringes of the forest."
Erestor nodded gravely. "There is that danger, but Anomen is unusually alert to the moods of the trees. No doubt Anomen would be warned off long before coming within the reach of the enemy."
"Aye," said Elrond, "but only if he is indeed listening to the voices of the forest."