Title: The Haunted Talan

Author: Mayetra

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: All the Lord of the Rings characters and places belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm just borrowing them and promise to return them in good condition. I make no money from this story.

Timeline: Early Third Age - AU

Archive: Yes

Author's Note: Since there are no dates of birth for Legolas, Haldir, Orophin, or Rúmil, I am taking poetic license with their ages. Also, Elladan and Elrohir are 102 years older than Arwen. Elves reach adulthood between 50 and 100 years. For purposes of this story, I have decided to make 100 the age of adulthood and I am making Arwen only 30 years younger than her brothers. These stories were written for my son and I have twisted or suspended canon for the purposes of plot.

Summary: Some Elven children investigate a haunted talan.

34 Quellë 169 T.A. – Caras Galadon, Lórien

Galadriel looked out upon her captive audience and smiled inwardly. For all their bravado, even the older children were completely engrossed with her tale. She had paused at a particularly suspenseful part of her story and the children had leaned towards her in anticipation. She let the silence hang for a moment more before continuing.

"So the betrayer Ameldo hung himself from the beam in his talan. But because he had chosen to align himself with Belegûr, he was refused entry into the Halls of Mandos."

Galadriel paused briefly once again, pitching her voice lower, she continued.

"They say that his spirit still lingers in the talan on the eastern side of Caras Galadon, seeking a body so he can avenge himself on the Belain."

She scanned the audience looking each child briefly in the eyes. "So I warn you, never enter the talan of Ameldo or you may find yourself possessed. Especially on a night such as this when the veil between the world of the living and the spirit is thinnest."

The children looked wide-eyed at each other before turning their attention back to Galadriel. She smiled. "Go now and enjoy the celebration."

The children scattered then, moving here and there about the glade, where treats and games awaited them. The story was completely untrue but that did not stop some of the more imaginative children from swearing up and down that they had seen Ameldo's ghost in the old talan. Since the Elves had begun to return to Aman many of the talans on the outskirts of the city had been abandoned. The children often used them as playhouses except for the great talan on the eastern edge. It had provided a location for Galadriel's ghost tale. She chuckled as she wondered which of the children would venture there later this evening; eager to prove they were not afraid of Ameldo's ghost.

There was another who was wondering the same thing. He knew that Galadriel's story would prove to be the bait that, at least, a few of the children would be unable to resist. He had been preparing for weeks for this night. Using stealth and subterfuge to ensure that no one was aware of his plans. Now everything was set, he only needed the children to set the whole thing in motion.

Haldir, Rúmil, Elladan and Elrohir sat upon some bales of hay eating candy and watching the younger children bob for apples. They laughed as Legolas leaned too far into the squat, black cauldron. He lost his balance and as a result, most of his upper body was soaked.

"So do you want to try and bob for some apples?" Rúmil asked looking somewhat longingly at the cauldron surrounded by laughing children. He was ten years older than Legolas and he missed the games.

Haldir shot his younger brother a look. "If you want to go play with the little kids, be my guest."

Elladan and Elrohir laughed.

Rúmil shook his head. "Nay, I was just wondering." He regretted his question. He idolized Haldir who had just turned 62. Only twenty-two years separated them but Haldir always thought of the best adventures. Everyone wanted to hang out with Haldir and the twins. Rúmil was the envy of his peers.

"So what do you want to do?" Elladan asked Haldir.

Haldir leaned back against his bale of hay and propped his legs up on a nearby pumpkin. He discarded one idea after another. Finally, a smile crossed his lips as he thought of Galadriel's story.

"I say we go to Ameldo's talan and see if we can scare up his ghost." Haldir looked at his companions. "Unless you are too scared."

Elladan and Elrohir exchanged looks. A silent conversation seemed to pass between them. Elladan looked back at Haldir. "We are not scared of some stupid ghost."

All three of the older boys looked at Rúmil.

Rúmil was scared but he was not about to admit it to them. "I am not afraid."

"Neither am I."

The four conspirators looked over at the speaker.

Legolas stood before them with Arwen and little Orophin by his side. "What about you Arwen?"

Arwen and Legolas were the same age, which resulted in fierce competition between them. If Legolas was going then so was she. "I am not afraid of some stupid ghost."

"I wanna go, too!" Orophin piped up. At the tender age of twenty, he was the baby of the group.

"Nay. You will stay here." Haldir said quickly.

"I wanna go." Orophin whined.

"You will just get scared and tell on us." Elladan insisted.

"I no 'fraid. I wanna go!" Orophin's voice raised several octaves causing a few of the nearby adults to glance in their direction.

"Ok. Ok." Haldir motioned for his baby brother to be quiet. "You can go but you have to promise not to tell anyone."

Orophin smiled broadly. "I promise." He was not quite sure what a ghost was but if Haldir and the others were not afraid then neither was he.

Haldir waved for them to come closer as he laid out his plan.

From the shadows, someone else listened attentively. He smiled. Haldir and his little band of cohorts would be perfect for his plans.

Later that evening, the seven children met in a small glade near the party glade. The adults had long since sent the children off to bed while they continued the harvest celebration.

They made their way silently towards the eastern edge of Caras Galadon. Orophin trailed behind the older children; Hwest, his black toy cat, clutched to his chest.

They reached the base of the mallorn, which supported Ameldo's talan. The small group gathered around the ladder. The branches high above them were dark except for a faint light coming from the talan in question.

"Do you see that?" Legolas whispered, suddenly not feeling so brave.

"Aye." Haldir swallowed with difficulty. He was also having second thoughts.

"Are you scared?" Arwen asked Haldir with more bravado than she felt.

"No." Haldir said a bit too quickly. "It is just probably a lantern left behind by some of the other children."

The wind picked up a little causing the branches above them to creak and moan.

Sending a silent prayer to the Belain, Haldir began to climb the ladder, the others following quickly behind him.

They stood upon the terrace outside the talan's only entrance. A tattered curtain fluttered in the breeze revealing glimpses of a lone lantern in the center of the room.

"Who wants to go first?" Haldir eyed the others.

"I will go." Rúmil said suddenly. He wanted to prove, once and for all, that he was not a little kid anymore.

Rúmil reached over and moved the curtain to the side. He stepped hesitantly into the room beyond. The others followed him.

It was a large room about twenty by twenty, hollowed into the center of the tree. There were large pillars in each corner with heavy beams crisscrossing the ceiling.

"Look." Elrohir said in a hushed tone pointing to the center beam.

The others looked up to see a remnant of rope hanging from it. The ends were frayed and it looked to have been there for a long time.

"Do you notice something strange about the floor?" Arwen asked suddenly.

"What?" Elladan looked around the worn floorboards. "I do not see anything amiss."

The others followed suit and then turned to Arwen with looks of confusion on their faces.

Arwen sighed. Sometimes she wondered if Ilúvatar had bothered to gift boys with any brains. "There is no dust."

"So." Legolas said in an exasperated tone. "What about it?"

"If the talan has been deserted for all this time, then who swept the floor?" She pointed to a broom leaning haphazardly against a pillar in the corner. "Certainly not Ameldo."

Haldir snorted. "Who cares? Probably some dumb girl."

Arwen responded by sticking her tongue out at him.

"Hey look. There is a doorway back here." Rúmil had moved to investigate the back wall.

Haldir bent and picked up the lantern. He walked over towards the doorway and used the lantern to illuminate the space beyond. "Looks like stairs that go up."

Just then they heard the ceiling groan as if someone were walking across the floor above. They all looked wide-eyed at each other.

"Maybe we should leave." Legolas whispered.

"No way." Haldir said determinedly. "It is probably just some other kids. I say we sneak up and scare them."

Accepting his explanation, the others grinned at the prospect.

Haldir set the lantern back onto the floor and slowly crept up the stairs. The others followed except for Orophin who had found an old toy boat abandoned in a dark corner.

Yelling like banshees, Haldir and the others burst into the room on the second floor. Their howls trailed off as they realized the room was empty of any other occupants. They stared in macabre fascination at the room's contents. The room mirrored the one beneath it except its only exit was the stairs. Cobwebs hung in long, white tendrils from the ceiling. The walls were covered with strange arcane symbols drawn in what looked like blood. The room was bare of any furniture except for a long, table against the far wall.

The table was covered with a black cloth embroidered with crimson thread. Two large blood red candles sat at either end of the table and provided the only light in the windowless room. But the thing that sent chills of fear down the spines of the children was the large Warg skull that sat in the center of the table. Its long, white fangs gleamed in the candlelight.

"I told you someone was here." Arwen hissed. "Looks like someone who is in league with Sauron."

The others shuddered at the mention of his name.

"Hush." Haldir hissed suddenly. "This is just probably something Galadriel cooked up to try and scare us."

"It is working!" Elladan said quietly. He secretly doubted that his beloved grandmother would have anything to do with this foul display.

"Can we leave now?" Legolas said quietly.

"Not yet." Haldir moved towards the table. "I want to see if there is anything else here."

The others reluctantly joined him, curiosity outweighing fear.

The tall figure stepped from the opening of the secret passageway that led up to the second floor. He could hear the older children talking quietly above him. His focus, however, was on the little one playing quietly in the corner.

He walked towards Orophin, his long black robes floating noiselessly about his boots. His gloved hands flexing in anticipation of what was to come. The boy was perfect for his needs.

Orophin looked up as he felt the presence of someone else in the room. He opened his mouth to scream but a gloved hand pressed against his mouth muffled the noise. A second hand gripped him tightly about the waist and lifted him from the floor.

Arwen cocked her head suddenly. "Did you hear that?"

"What?" Legolas asked.

"Hush. I thought I heard something too." Elladan hissed.

"Where is Orophin?" Haldir asked suddenly. He felt a tingle of fear work its way down his spine.

The others exchanged nervous glances before heading silently towards the stairs. They crept downward, stopping just before the doorway that opened onto the first floor. They looked out in shocked horror.

There discarded on the floor in the center of the room was Orophin's stuffed cat.

Haldir rushed over and picked it up. "Orophin would never leave Hwest. Something must have happened."

"Maybe the ghost got him!" Rúmil said in a tearful voice.

"Do not be silly!" Elladan said quietly. "That is just an old story my grandmother tells to scare the little kids."

The others were not convinced.

Just then a high-pitched wail sounded from the floor above. The children turned and rushed up the stairs. They reached the second floor and their screams joined Orophin's.

There stood a black robed figure with a leather mask covering his features. Orophin lay upon the alter while the figure stood above him holding a wicked looking dagger.

At the sounds of their screams, the figure turned icy blue eyes on them. He lifted one hand and said in an eerie deep voice, "You are next my pretties."

The six children turned and sprinted down the stairs, across the first floor and fairly flew down the ladder.

Galadriel and the other adults turned as the six children came barreling into the party glade, shrieking at the top of their lungs.

Elrond and Celebrían rushed forward to comfort Arwen and the twins. Legolas fairly threw himself into his father's open arms. Rúmil all but collapsed at his mother's feet.

Haldir ran to Galadriel and began to explain what had occurred. He was surprisingly coherent considering his companions had been reduced to hysterics.

"Easy, Haldir." Galadriel pulled the young boy into her arms. He had fairly sobbed that last bit of his tale finally succumbing to his terror. "Your brother is well."

"But, my Lady, the ghost of Ameldo has him!" Haldir wailed.

"Nay. I shall go forth and retrieve him. This Evil shall hold no sway here." Galadriel reassured Haldir.

She pushed him toward his parents and strode from the glade. She had a fairly good idea of just who "Ameldo" really was and he was going to get a piece of her mind.

Galadriel walked into the second floor room. Her suspicions confirmed when she found her husband and Orophin sitting on the floor sharing a rather large piece of pumpkin pie. A discarded leather mask lying to the side while Celeborn's normally regal robes had been replaced with tattered black ones.

"Well Husband, I hope you are happy." Galadriel frowned at him. "You have managed to cause quite an uproar at the celebration. I fear Haldir and the others may will be permanently scarred by your little joke."

Celeborn smiled sheepishly. "I could not help it. Your ghost story was just too tempting a morsel to pass up."

"And you Orophin, are you having fun?" Galadriel eyed the small child nestled securely in Celeborn's lap. His face was smeared with pumpkin and he looked to be having the time of his life.

Orophin grinned and nodded. "We played a joke. They were scared! I wasn't scared." The young Elf returned to stuffing his face with pie. He was quite proud of the fact that Celeborn had chosen him to help scare the big kids.

"Well, my Lord." Galadriel was trying unsuccessfully to keep from smiling. "You had best clean up this mess and return to the glade before your presence is missed. As for you, Orophin, you shall come back with me."

Galadriel walked over and scooped Orophin up.

Celeborn looked at Orophin, a twinkle in his eyes. "Remember, Young One. This is our secret."

Orophin nodded solemnly, for Celeborn had promised him pumpkin pie for a whole month if he played along and kept it a secret.

Galadriel rolled her eyes and left the talan. Sometimes she wondered how her husband who was normally such a noble, dignified Elf could be such a child at times.

She returned to the party glade with Orophin. The other children were ecstatic to see him alive and well. Galadriel reassured them that she had vanquished Ameldo's ghost and rescued young Orophin just in the nick of time.

There was no use in ruining a perfectly good ghost story. Besides, she had a few ideas for next year.

The End

34 Quellë – The Elvish date for Halloween Belegûr – Sindarin form of Melkor. Halls of Mandos – Where Elven and Human spirits go after their physical body dies. Belain- The Sindarin word of the Valar Hwest – Sindarin word meaning Puff