I borrow characters and settings from Tolkien but they are his, not mine. I gain only the enriched imaginative life that I assume he meant for me to gain.

Thank you, Nilmandra, for beta reading this chapter

*******

10. Warriors

Legolas wrapped the thread carefully around the pheasant feathers he was holding at the nocked end of the new arrow. His patrol had returned from their mission late last night, and Todith had set him and his group's other wounded members to making arrows today. They certainly needed a new supply. Even though they had salvaged all the arrows they could after the battle with the Orcs and Wargs, Legolas's quiver had been only half full on the return trip, and his had not been the only one. They had been fortunate not to have run into more trouble.

Fóril was singing a song of his own making about a foolish, egotistical warrior, and Legolas wondered how long it would be before Tinár realized that the song was about him. He was a little worried that Fóril would go too far and provoke Tinár into blows. If that happened, they were all likely to spend the next month doing clean up duty for the whole patrol. But the song was very amusing, and Legolas had finally decided that washing dishes with his friends was a small price to pay for the entertainment.

Fóril had just reached a verse in which the foolish warrior was standing naked before the enemy, boasting mistakenly about the size of his undersized weapon, when the sound of an approaching rider was heard. They all turned to look as a Man rode into camp, accompanied by the patrol's sentries. The Man looked nervous. Legolas had noticed that Men were often ill at ease around the Elves.

The Man dismounted and approached Todith, pulling a message from a pouch at his belt. Todith scanned the parchment while the messenger waited and then spoke to him briefly, evidently sending him on his way, for he climbed quickly back on to his horse and rode out of camp with relief written all over his face.

Todith walked over to rock he used as a desk and began writing a message of his own. Then he looked around, spotted the group making arrows, and beckoned. "Legolas!" he called. Legolas placed his arrow carefully in the container and then jumped to his feet and trotted over to his captain.

Todith grinned at him. "I want you to carry some messages to Ithilden for me." Legolas's heart leapt. He was being sent on a visit home! Todith obviously saw his delight, for he laughed out loud. "I am letting Ithilden know about our encounter with the Orcs, and also the Master of Esgaroth tells me they have imprisoned the Man who cut the trees without the king's permission. Take an extra day's rest once you have delivered the dispatches," he added, clearly enjoying this chance to make one of his warriors happy. "With that shoulder wound, you cannot go out on patrol for a few days anyway. Beliond will accompany you, of course. You can tell him." Then he waved his hand in dismissal, and Legolas turned to go happily in search of Beliond.

He stopped by Tynd, Tinár, and Fóril, who were still making arrows. "Todith is sending me with dispatches to Ithilden," he told them, scarcely able to contain himself. His loneliness had abated considerably in the last few weeks, but he still missed home far more than he had ever thought he would.

Tinár raised one eyebrow. "I wonder why he chose you," he said, sarcasm evident in his tone. He said no more, but the implication was clear that Legolas was getting preferential treatment because of who he was.

Fóril shrugged and winked at Legolas. "Todith always sends the new warriors home as soon as he can after they have been wounded for the first time. He says it eases their families' minds so that he does not have to answer anxious letters." Legolas smiled gratefully at him and then ran off in search of Beliond, while Fóril took up his song again, this time with a verse about a maiden booting the egotistical warrior in the backside and sending him sprawling down some stairs.

***

"Lord Legolas," announced the aide, and Ithilden looked up, startled to find a grinning Legolas coming through the door into his office. The smiling aide withdrew as Ithilden jumped to his feet.

"Legolas!" he cried, coming around his desk, intent on embracing this youngling who had been in his thoughts so much over the last few weeks.

"Wait!" said Legolas. He backed up and put his hand over his heart in formal salute. "I have messages from Todith, my lord," he announced and handed over two sealed dispatches. He grinned again. "I planned to say that, and you almost ruined it." Then he came forward to exchange embraces with his brother. "It is so good to see you!"

Ithilden grasped him by the shoulders and held him at arm's length to inspect him, and as he did so, he felt Legolas flinch slightly. He loosened his hands immediately, dismayed by what he suspected. "Have you seen Adar yet?" he asked neutrally.

Legolas shook his head. "I came here first because I had the messages. Todith says I am to stay an extra day before I go back, so if you have anything to send to him, you do not have to have it ready right away."

Ithilden hesitated. One of Todith's dispatches would probably tell him what he wanted to know, but he could not bear to let Legolas leave his office without learning the truth from his own mouth. "Are you all right, Legolas? Adar has been fretting about you for the last few days, so I thought it was possible you might have been hurt." He did not say that that idea had filled him with terror and not a little guilt, although he knew that the latter emotion was irrational. He had done what he had to and, moreover, what Legolas wanted when he sent him to the Border Patrol.

"A minor wound," Legolas admitted, looking, to Ithilden's annoyance, rather proud of himself. "We ran into some Orcs and Wargs, but we disposed of them without losses to ourselves. Eilian's patrol was there too," he added.

Ithilden managed to keep his face from showing his alarm. Over the years, he had grown used to the idea that Eilian was sometimes in danger, and he had gradually come to trust that Eilian would wiggle his way safely out again. But every protective instinct he had was roused by the news that his baby brother had been wounded in a battle with Orcs and Wargs, indeed that he had even been in such a battle. That Eilian had been there, too, was probably a sign that the situation had been ridiculously dangerous, since that was the state in which Eilian could usually be found. And the youngling had the nerve to look pleased with himself!

As Ithilden scanned the lean young face, however, he could also see something in his brother's eyes that was not quite so straightforwardly happy with what he had been through. Ithilden drew a deep breath. "That is good news," he lied calmly. "How fortunate that you were there." Legolas smiled, apparently soothed by his commanding officer's approval. Legolas would have to go into danger again, and Ithilden had no right to let his brother see that that necessity worried him.

"You should go and see Adar right away," Ithilden went on, "because he has been worried. And Eilian is due home soon, I think." Legolas's face lit up at this news. "Adar wanted to talk to him about something," Ithilden added vaguely. He knew why Thranduil had summoned Eilian home, but there was no need to share that information with Legolas.

Legolas saluted, turned to go, and then paused. "Ithilden," he said hesitantly, "if I am out of line, you can tell me, but there is something I would like to ask you."

Ithilden raised an eyebrow. "What is it?" he asked cautiously, ready to tell his little brother if he was asking about matters that were none of his affair.

"One of those dispatches will tell you that the Men from Esgaroth have imprisoned the Man who cut down trees without Adar's permission." Legolas paused and seemed to grope for words. "Will Adar have heard of this before?" he asked delicately.

Ithilden carefully concealed his amused surprise. Legolas had evidently learned more than battle tactics during his time with the border patrol. "I have not felt it necessary to bother Adar with this situation until now," Ithilden answered. "He and I will doubtless discuss it later today, though."

Legolas eyed him levelly and suddenly broke into a cheeky grin. "It was thoughtful of you not to bother Adar," he said lightly and then laughed and left the office.

Smiling, Ithilden returned to his desk and skimmed the dispatch in which Todith reported on the battle with the Orcs and Wargs. Todith did not say so specifically, but Legolas was evidently doing well.

I will do better by him than I have done by Eilian, Ithilden vowed, thinking of the shadow sickness that had weighed Eilian down the last time Ithilden had seen him. I will not burden him with command so soon; he will stay a simple warrior until he has enough age and experience to bear being responsible for others. And Eilian is going to spend every other year someplace other than the south whether he likes it or not. I will not see him brought so low again.

He picked up the other dispatch from Todith and read with interest about the fate of the Man who had been so foolish as to cut the trees in Thranduil's forest. He wondered whether Thranduil would accept imprisonment as sufficient punishment for the offense and had just decided that he probably would, when he heard a familiar voice in his aide's office and looked up with a broad smile on his face.

"How is your new son, Calith?" Alfirin was asking, but Ithilden did not hear his aide's answer because Sinnarn came trotting into his office.

"Ada!" he cried. "Nana says you must stop working now and go riding with me."

Ithilden rose, caught his son in his arms, and lifted him high, making him squeal in delight. "She does, does she? Then I had best do so because it does not pay to disobey your nana." He had been expecting his wife and son because Alfirin had been telling him that he was working too hard and had convinced him to spend part of this afternoon with Sinnarn. She stood in the doorway now, smiling at the two of them.

"The stablemaster has your horse outside for you, husband," she told him, "and your adar sends instructions that you are to take his grandson for a long ride." She came forward and kissed Ithilden on the cheek. Ithilden smiled fondly down at this Elf who had made it her business to see that he had a life outside of his work.

"If you and Adar are joined against me, then I have no hope of resisting," he told her, resting Sinnarn on his hip.

"Ada," said Sinnarn, patting Ithilden's cheek to get his attention, "is grandfather your ada?"

Ithilden looked at him, amused. "Of course. Did you not know that?"

"I thought he was," Sinnarn said judiciously, "but then I thought that you were too big to have an ada."

Ithilden laughed. "Your grandfather has always believed that your uncles and I will never be too big to have an ada, and I do believe I am coming to think that you will never be too big either."

"Good," responded Sinnarn approvingly, and Ithilden put his free arm around his wife's waist as the three of them walked past the smiling aide and out to where his horse waited.

***

Thranduil looked up at the servant's discreet rap on his office door. "Beliond is here to see you, my lord," the servant announced.

Thranduil's breath caught. "Show him in," he commanded, and Beliond came into the room and bowed. Thranduil rose and came to clasp arms with him. "Is Legolas with you?" he demanded, unable to waste time indulging in pleasantries first.

Beliond smiled. "Indeed he is, my lord. He has dispatches to deliver to the troop commander and has gone there first."

"He is well?"

"He has been wounded, but you may believe me when I tell you that he is well."

Thranduil let out his breath slowly. His child had been wounded. But he is well, he reminded himself. This Elf to whom I have entrusted him tells me that he is well. "Come and sit," he invited and took his own chair behind the desk. "Tell me about my son," he ordered as calmly as he could.

Beliond paused, looking thoughtful. "Legolas is as skilled with weapons as the novice masters indicated," he said slowly, "and while he is green, he is also teachable. He is courageous; he follows orders; he gets along well with his fellow warriors. In short, I think you may be very proud of him, my lord."

Thranduil frowned. "That is very gratifying, but it is not what I meant. How was he wounded? What happened?"

"Legolas can tell you that, my lord," Beliond answered cautiously.

Thranduil stiffened. "Are you refusing to tell me how my own son was wounded?" he demanded.

Beliond sat very still for a moment. "My lord, when you asked me to become Legolas's body guard, you told me that my responsibility was to look out for his safety. Perhaps you feel that because your son has been wounded, I have failed in my task?"

"I doubt that," Thranduil answered promptly. He had been a warrior and, indeed, still thought of himself as one; he knew that sometimes wounds could not be avoided. Moreover, he trusted Beliond, or he would never have given him charge of Legolas's well being. "However, you have been singularly close-mouthed on the subject of my son's activities. I want to know what he has been doing and what has befallen him."

"But it is not part of my responsibility to tell you that, my lord," Beliond answered, his tone respectful but firm. "Moreover, if the youngling believes that I am spying on him for you, he may try to evade me at times, and that could have unfortunate consequences."

"Are you refusing to give me the information for which I am asking?" Thranduil asked incredulously.

"No, my lord," Beliond answered. "I would never dare to refuse you anything. But I will tell you that if you force me to give you this information, I do not believe that I can continue to serve as Legolas's body guard, and that would grieve me, for against my better judgment, I have become quite fond of him."

Taken aback, Thranduil sat for a moment, scanning the old friend who now sat before him. "It seems to me that you are refusing me something," he finally said. "You are telling me that I must choose between having you watch my son's back and having you report to me about what he has been doing."

"It is not I who forces this choice upon you, my lord," Beliond answered, his face sober. "It is simply the nature of things that the young grow up and demand a life of their own outside of our control and sometimes out of our sight. If we refuse to grant it, they take it anyway, and then they lose our guidance entirely."

Thranduil studied him for a minute more, and then he looked away and sighed. "You are right," he admitted. "This one is my third. I should know better by now."

"Legolas will tell you most of it if you give him time," Beliond offered.

Thranduil smiled wryly. "Most of it, yes, but he will leave out the parts that he thinks will frighten me. As I say, he is my third. I have learned a few things while raising the other two." He leaned back in his chair and eyed the Elf before him. "You look well, Beliond," he observed thoughtfully. "Legolas has not led you on too merry a chase then?"

Beliond chuckled. "I must admit that life has been livelier since I began looking after your son, my lord. He reminds me of you when you were young although he is somewhat more biddable."

Thranduil laughed. "Legolas brought messages from Todith you say? I hope that one of them is about the trees that have been cut without my permission. I am tired of pretending to Ithilden that I do not know anything about them." He rose to indicate that the interview was at an end. Beliond too came to his feet. "Come and see me again while you are here," Thranduil invited. "We will drink wine and talk about old times."

"Perhaps there will be time for that, my lord," Beliond responded, "but I think I will spend tonight and tomorrow alone in the woods. I have grown fond of Legolas, but I think I will like him even better if I am free of his company for a few hours."

"I understand," Thranduil acknowledged wryly. "I occasionally feel that way about my sons myself and I fear that they may sometimes feel that way about me." Beliond laughed, bowed, and was gone.

Thranduil stood for a moment, trying to convince himself that he could wait for Legolas to appear and finally deciding that he could not. He had just started toward the door when there was a quick knock and Legolas came striding in. For a second, Thranduil stood stock still, suddenly wondering when his sweet elfling had turned into this long-legged warrior. Then all he saw was his son, and he stepped forward and caught the youngling to him.

"Hello, Adar," Legolas grinned

"Welcome home, iôn-nín," Thranduil responded, caressing the back of his son's head. "I cannot tell you how happy I am to see you."

"I am happy to be home," Legolas said, sounding gratifyingly moved. Thranduil embraced him again. He remembered only too well Ithilden's and Eilian's visits home after they had first been in battle. The fear they had felt and the death they had seen had left them both more remote and more grateful to be drawn again into the familiar circle of family and home.

Thranduil studied his last child's face, noting the strain around his eyes. He started toward the door, drawing Legolas with him. "Come," he said. "The day is fine and I have worked enough. We will walk together in the garden, and you will tell me how things have gone with you."

Legolas seemed to hesitate, and Thranduil recalled the conversation he had just had and turned to him. "I would like to know both the good and the bad, Legolas, but if there are things of which you do not wish to speak, then it is your right to keep them to yourself. Understand, though, that I would help ease whatever burdens you carry if you will let me."

And suddenly, Legolas seemed to relax. "It has not been so bad, Adar. I would like to talk to you about it." Thranduil took his son's elbow and led him out of the palace and into the afternoon sunshine.

***

Eilian strode down the hallway of the family's living quarters, intent on gaining his own chamber and washing off the dust of travel before he had to face his father. A summons from Thranduil had been waiting for him when he had arrived back at the northern Border Patrol's campsite. He had not really been surprised. His response to Thranduil's demand that he apologize to the settlers had been provocative and he knew it. What he did not know was what he was going to do now.

He entered his chamber, slammed the door shut behind him, and stood for a second staring moodily at nothing. Then he shrugged, dropped his pack on the bed, and walked toward the bathing chamber, peeling off clothes and dropping them on the floor as he went. He might as well enjoy a hot bath as long as he was home. He would deal with his father when he had to. It is not as if Adar can make me say the words it I refuse, he thought defiantly. But he feared that Thranduil meant to do just that.

He did not linger in the bath. He supposed he would be summoned to the king's presence soon. The guards would have told Thranduil of his arrival and his father was unlikely to let the matter slide. He was pulling on clean clothes from the chest in his room when a servant tapped at the door. "The king wishes to speak with you, my lord," he said. "He is in his own rooms."

Eilian blinked at that. He would have expected Thranduil to see him in his office or even in the Great Hall. Eilian had stood in both places stoically accepting more reprimands than he could remember over the years. His parents' private sitting room had usually been the site for the sharing of confidences and comfort, and Eilian's mother had more often than not been the one who spoke to him there. Puzzlement mixed with apprehension as he knocked on his father's door and then entered in response to Thranduil's bidding.

Thranduil was standing in the center of the room while a servant adjusted the robe he was donning for the evening meal, but he came forward immediately to embrace Eilian and kiss his forehead. Eilian returned the embrace in some bemusement, unable to make out just what his father's intention was. Then the king waved the servant out of the room and took a seat in one of the chairs near the unlit fireplace, leaving Eilian standing, and suddenly the situation seemed more familiar.

"You know why I have summoned you home, Eilian," Thranduil began. "I want you to apologize to the leaders of the settlement for whatever it was you said to them."

Eilian drew a deep breath. "Adar, I swear to you I was not rude to them, or at any rate," he amended, "I was no more rude to them than Sólith in particular was to me."

"But Sólith is not my son," Thranduil responded sharply. "You may not have intended to speak as my representative, but you surely must know that you are always likely to be heard that way."

"Sólith is not angry at me because he thinks I spoke as your son," Eilian said hotly. "He is angry because he knows I intend to bond with Celuwen."

Thranduil regarded him for a moment and then indicated that Eilian should take the chair nearest him. "Eilian," he said more gently, "no matter what the cause of Sólith's anger is, I believe that if you extend this apology, the settlers will do as I have been asking and move inside the area guarded by the border patrols. Think about it, iôn-nín. They will be safer there. Celuwen will be safer there."

Eilian looked at his father's face and knew he was not unsympathetic but he was also unbending. And with a sinking heart, Eilian also knew that he had no choice. If he could do anything at all to make Celuwen safer, he would do it. He would do it for her, even if it meant eating crow in front of Sólith. "When?" he asked.

Thranduil visibly relaxed. "We will meet with them in the morning." Eilian nodded resolutely and Thranduil smiled at him and reached to pat his knee. "Let us go to evening meal," he said. "Legolas is home, did you know?"

Eilian's heart lightened at that news. "No, I did not. I do not know how much he has told you about the battle we were both in, but you would have been proud of him, Adar."

"He told me more than I expected him to," Thranduil answered, "and I am proud of both of you. You are both willing to do difficult things when the safety of others depends on you." He rested his hand on Eilian's shoulder and they left the room to join the rest of the family.

***

Eilian drew a deep breath and looked straight into the eyes of Sólith, who was sitting directly across the table from him in Thranduil's council chamber. "I must apologize for any rudeness in the words I spoke or in my manner toward you. I assure you that I intended no disrespect." Thranduil smiled approvingly and Eilian drew what comfort he could from that.

Sólith smiled with malicious satisfaction. "Thank you, my lord," he said smoothly. "Knowing we are respected by those who guard us will help us to feel comfortable in our new home."

The settlement leader heaved a large sigh. "We will begin the process of moving as soon as we can, my lord," he told Thranduil, who had now risen, drawing everyone else to their feet too.

"We are glad to know that you and your people will be under our protection now," Thranduil responded, "for you are dear to us."

"My lord," Sólith spoke again, "could I have a few moments to speak to Lord Eilian in private? I have a message for him from my daughter."

Eilian's heart leapt and Thranduil looked pleased. He had always liked Celuwen. "Of course," Thranduil agreed. "You may use this chamber." He gestured for the settlement leader to accompany him and the two of them left, closing the door quietly behind them. Elian turned to Sólith, eager for what he might have to say. Abruptly, he felt a twinge of apprehension for Sólith looked entirely too satisfied.

"You have a message from Celuwen?" he asked.

"Yes, I do," Sólith answered. "Celuwen bids me tell you that she releases you from whatever commitment you might still feel toward her, and she asks that you not visit her again."

Eilian stared at him, open-mouthed. "That cannot be true," he breathed.

"I assure you it is true," Sólith answered smugly.

"But why?" Eilian cried.

"Do you really need to ask?" Sólith demanded. "I had not been here more than a day before I heard rumors that you were drinking to excess and spending your evenings alone with a maiden in her cottage. Do you think that I could know that and not tell my daughter? I will not let you hurt her, Eilian. She deserves better than you. Stay away from her!" Eilian stood, too stunned to even protest, while Sólith turned and was gone, leaving Eilian to sink into his chair and drop his head in his hands.

For a moment, he burned with a fierce anger toward Sólith, who had no doubt been only too pleased to pass word of Eilian's misdeeds to his daughter. Then he moaned, for he knew that if he had not done the things about which Sólith had heard, there would have been nothing to tell. The person who was most to blame was himself. By his own actions, he had driven away a maiden about whom he had cared from the time of his earliest memories. What was he going to do? What could he do? He would have to go on as he had been and act as the warrior he was. He did not really seem to have a choice.

***

Carrying his fishing gear, Legolas walked out of the Great Doors and across the bridge in front of the palace toward the familiar figure leaning against the railing at the other end. With a grin, Annael straightened up and extended his arm to be clasped, and Legolas took it but then drew his friend into an embrace. "How good it is to see you, Annael," he said feelingly. "How are you?" He knew that Annael had been in battles with spiders and that he probably still sorrowed for the death of his father.

"I am better," Annael answered, as they began walking towards the woods where they planned to spend the hours before Annael had to go on duty. He smiled at Legolas a little shyly. "Beliniel and I are going to be betrothed next month. Do you think you will be able to be home for the ceremony?"

"Why am I not surprised?" Legolas laughed. "I am happy for you, and I will try to be here, but you know how these things are."

"Yes, I do," Annael said more seriously. They walked together in silence for a while, as the trees hummed around them. "How has it gone with you, Legolas? I know you were wounded."

Legolas paused. If this had been someone other than Annael, he might have answered lightly, but Annael knew him through and through and, moreover, had recently been in battle for the first time himself. "Do you mean the battle?" he finally asked, and Annael nodded. "I did well, I think, although it was terrifying," he admitted. "And yet in some ways, it was exhilarating too."

Annael smiled slowly. "Yes. That combination is odd, is it not?"

"Do you remember how we used to play at being warriors? You and I and Turgon would guard anyone who would let us, although your naneth was usually the only one who welcomed us completely."

Annael laughed. "Naneth says you are to go and see her while you are home."

"I would like that," Legolas said. They came to the stream where they had had the best luck fishing over the years, dropped their lines into the water, and sat contentedly on the bank. And in talk and silence, the afternoon slipped slowly away for these two, who had now taken their places among Thranduil's warriors, as they had played at doing when they were too young to know what it would mean.

*******

Many thanks to all who have read and reviewed this story. This is it for this one, but I'm already thinking about what I might want to do next.

JastaElf: So the server gods are smiling on you for once? Good. Isn't Thranduil the tricky one? Beliond and Legolas should both benefit from his manipulation here: Beliond gets someone to care for and Legolas gets someone who is determined that no young warrior under his care will ever die again.

Deana: I think Legolas's wound hurt. I read lots of stories where the warriors just shrug injuries off. I'm such a baby that I can't imagine that that's realistic!

Gwyn: Well I certainly dote on Legolas, whether he knows it or not! He is so used to his family's care and love that he can't imagine what it would be like to be without it.

Angaloth: Tinar is really losing a lot by shunning Galelas's advances. Eilian could tell him a thing or two about the rewards of having an admiring little brother (although Legolas is probably not as uncritical of Eilian as he used to be).

Lyn: Thank you for your words of praise. I enjoy writing these stories, so I'm glad other people get pleasure out of reading them. I am most interested in relationships, so I am particularly grateful you think my stories are warm.

Frodo3791: Reviews are a very nice reward for writing because they let me know I'm not talking to myself. I think I found calling Beliond 'nana' more amusing than he would have found it! The blend of action, politics, and family that you mention is one I really enjoy writing about.

Legolas4me: Eilian does love his little brother. It's going to be hard for him to see the kid as a warrior like him. I thought getting stitched up would hurt a fair amount. Some writers sort of fluff off pain like this, but I'm too much of a sissy!

Draekon: I amused myself by making Legolas swear in Dwarvish and even more by telling Thranduil's sons that he can curse too when he wants to. I expect he's tried not to do it in front of them.

Feanen: It sounds as if you are becoming an Eilian fan! That's good. I am an Eilian fan myself. He is so charming.

Farflung: I'm hoping Beliond can relax a little more now that he's seen Legolas do OK in a real battle. I thought Thranduil's sons might be a little startled by the news that their father can curse when he's not around them. I'm glad you laughed at this chapter. I knew I was mixing some dry humor in with the battle and the story of Beliond but I couldn't stop myself.

Nikki1: Legolas has always had big brothers looking out for him and is probably unaware of how sheltered he's been. But he's learning to stand on his own, which is good. And Beliond never wants to see a young warriors die again so he should make a good guardian for Thranduil's youngest.

Erunyauve: I hadn't thought about it until a couple of reviewers mentioned it, but Beliond would indeed have been driven mad by reckless Eilian and have made Eilian crazy in return. It's actually a little amusing to think of it. And at the moment, Eilian is, indeed, well protected but I think it's mostly by the love of his family and his keeper.

Alice: I think Tolkien's story is told from the Noldor's point of view, at least in the Silmarillion, so the Sindar do get short changed. I love Thranduil, out there in the woods, taking care of his people and holding off evil by himself for centuries. I was also pleased to let Gelelas show up Tinar. Ah, sometimes life is good.

Konzen: Thank you! I'm glad you like the story. I like your young Legolas story too.

Lamiel: Little brother would indeed love to lecture Eilian if he got the chance. I wrote Beliond's backstory when I was planning this story and kept looking for the right place to work it in. And the runes of protection thing just sort of happened! Eilian has lots of people who love him, even though he is a pain.

White Wolf: And you see how Thranduil handled Legolas's first battle wound too. Poor king! Legolas is basically kind hearted, so I think he will remember that Beliond has lost someone and that's one of the reasons he worries so much. Eilian is still not entirely on the road to happiness, as you see.

Bluebonnet: Seeing Eilian as Legolas's commander for the first time might be interesting, don't you think? ;-)

Ana: You may recopy my lines all you like! I enjoy it when you do that. It makes me feel that you paid particular attention. Your reviews are wonderful just as they are.

PokethePenguin: "Class": what a wonderful thing to say. I hope you liked this final chapter too.