This fic is RAPE FREE and SLASH FREE. It has references to abuse. You have been warned.Brave Prince
For the next few days, Herendil travelled faster than ever before. His only thoughts dwelled on reaching Mirkwood. But on the last day of his journey, as he steadily approached home, doubts began to resurface in his mind. What would the King of Mirkwood say about his son being left in Imladris? Would he be angry that the peace treaty was not signed? What would he say about Ruthiun's death? Suddenly, Herendil went pale. Ruthiun's death – What would Githil say?
This thought clouded his mind as his horse galloped; sweat covering its powerful flanks. The hoof beats seemed to echo the beating of his heart. From the surrounding, Herendil knew that he was already inside Mirkwood borders. In his heart, he felt ill prepared. He did not want to confront Githil. Mechanically, Herendil stopped at the gate of Mirkwood palace.
A guard welcomed him, "Welcome back, Herendil, son of Renendil, sub-supervisor, servant of the King of Mirkwood." He bowed, as was the custom. Herendil almost forgot about the restricting customs at Mirkwood and using titles. "May I ask, where my friend Ruthiun is? I heard that he came with you, did he not?"
"Thank you, Meleris, son of Varsis, guard of the palace of the King of Mirkwood." Herendil paused, then replied in a solemn tone. "We were attacked by a group of orcs. We were outnumbered. Ruthiun died valiantly in battle. He never reached Imladris, but the time Elrond reached us, he was already dead. I have come to return his body and to bring a message to the king."
The guard was shocked at the death of his friend, then he saw the body that Herendil was holding. "What happened to the prince? Is he well…sir?" he added quickly.
"The prince was injured, he is recovering in Rivendell," Herendil answered vaguely. "I must hasten to the king. I must tell Githil of this sad news."
"Of course, sir. I will not keep you, I'm sorry," Meleris apologised.
Herendil merely nodded and rode through the gate. When he dismounted in the stable he was met with servants. They cowered from him as they began to take care of his horse.
"I won't hurt you. One of you, please take this body to the Mourning Room. It is the body of Ruthiun – the supervisor's brother," Herendil instructed.
The servant widened his eyes in astonishment but hurried to comply with the order. Herendil thanked them and went to his room to change. Donning a fresh pair of leggings, an elegant deep blue tunic and an embroidered sash, he looked befitting his rank. He brushed his hair and quickly rebraided it. Then he left nervously for the throne room.
Herendil entered the lavish and spacious throne room. He knelt humbly before the throne, respectfully dropping his eyes. "My great King of Mirkwood," he said reverently yet he could not help but feel that he was being insincere. This was the one who hurt Legolas and made him a servant – No, a slave. Herendil had to force himself not to show his disgust or disappointment. After all, the King of Mirkwood did represent the people of his realm. What a pity, Herendil thought sarcastically.
"Rise, Herendil, son of Renendil, sub-supervisor and my loyal servant. Report the results of the peace treaty from Imladris?" the King ordered.
Herendil chose his words with care. The last thing he wanted to do was to offend the King. The King of Mirkwood was known for his fiery temper and passionate opinions. "Your Majesty, on the journey to Imladris we were attacked by a brigand of orcs. I suspect that they have been following us for some time, although we cannot be sure. Unfortunately, Ruthiun died in battle before help came. Elrond, his sons and his warriors came to our rescue because we were badly outnumbered. Legolas was badly wounded. The orcs wanted to know where the Prince of Mirkwood was, this was their intended target. However they held Legolas as a bargaining hostage. Subsequently, I sustained a stomach wound when I tried to protect Legolas. Elrond and his companions then killed all of the orcs. I fell unconscious when Elrond extracted the knife from my stomach. I woke up in Imladris-"
"Enough. What was the RESULT of the peace treaty from Imladris?" The king interrupted impatiently.
Herendil had to mask his offence at the King's irritation. "My king, Elrond and I found the peace treaty inside Ruthiun's belongings some time after. I had not known what the message was. Ruthiun did not disclose this information. I believe he would have but he had not the chance. Elrond is still pondering his decision with his advisors."
"I hope he was not offended by the way you address him. He is a Lord and you shall call him so," the King said disapprovingly.
"With all due respect my king, Lord Elrond specifically asked me several times not to use the title in his presence," Herendil explained as politely as possible. He was beginning to feel agitated. Would he king not ask about his own son? Didn't he care that Legolas was not home? Or that he almost died in an attack? "I will use it in your presence, if it pleases you my Lord. Lord Elrond extends his sympathies for our loss of a warrior during the journey to Imladris. Ruthiun's horse remains at Imladris, my Lord."
"Have you personally brought Ruthiun's body here?" the King asked. His eyes seemed to narrow and bore into Herendil.
"Yes, your Majesty. It is the custom. I also have his belonging, I believe. He was my foster brother," Herendil said solemnly. He bowed his head to avoid the king's intense gaze.
"Very well. You must inform your family of your loss. I extend my condolences to you and your foster family," the king said without much emotion.
Herendil, understanding that the conversation was now over, turned to leave. As he bowed the King stopped him, "Where is…where is," the king said with an abnormal loss for words. After a pause, which Herendil noted, "…Legolas?" The intelligent sub-supervisor also observed that he did not say that Legolas was his son. Still an improvement, at least he did ask, Herendil thought.
"Your Majesty, Lord Elrond thought that it was best if Legolas did not travel. He wanted to make sure that Legolas was completely healed from his injuries," Herendil answered.
The king merely nodded and dismissed Herendil. Inside the king's mind the guilt was slowly worming its way through his hardened resolve. What would your people think if they knew that you hit your own flesh and blood? What would Elrond think if he knew? What if Legolas told him? Maybe he already knows, Thranduil's heart lurched, it could completely jeopardise the peace treaty he had been campaigning for so long. You never even said he was your son, his mind accused. You never even asked how badly he was hurt. What kind of father am I? What if Legolas dies?
Herendil went to his room, feeling somewhat let down in his king. Doesn't he even care about his own son? Herendil then went to his window, looking in the direction of the hidden valley of Imladris. He hoped that Legolas was happy. Then Herendil sighed, he had to break the news of Ruthiun's death to Githil. Oh Valar, Herendil prayed, give me strength.
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