With anger blazing in his startling blue eyes, Legolas gave his father and brother a final look of defiance before turning on his heels. Both Thranduil and Aldeon could not help but cringe at the sound of the slamming door.
"That child - "Thranduil looked at his oldest with unmasked exasperation. "Sometimes I just do not know how to deal with him."
"He is still very young ..." Aldeon began.
"And yet he believes himself an adult," his father continued. "Ready to go into full battle."
"He is becoming a very skilled warrior," Aldeon said with a small smile. "You yourself know that there is no better archer in Mirkwood than Legolas. He is also very quick with his knives."
"Are you saying that I should let him go to battle?" Thranduil asked incredulously.
Aldeon sighed. "No, of course not. Legolas is skilled, but has no experience. Perhaps we can let him join short scouting missions, somewhere close to home."
Thranduil shook his head. "No, he is but a child yet. I will not have him put at risk. Mirkwood has warriors enough that we do not need to send elflings into danger. His time to serve the realm will come soon enough."
"I too do not wish Legolas be put in danger, but I fear if we continue to hold him back, he may do something foolish," Aldeon said with a slight frown. Of his three brothers, he knew Legolas the best.
Again his father shook his head. "No, I will not hear of it. Now, we have work to do before the troops leave tomorrow morning."
With arms tucked behind his head, Legolas was holding a wordless communion with the ceiling of his room. Anger smouldered in him still after the confrontation with Thranduil and the deep breaths that he was forcing himself to take were not lessening the anger at all. Adar called him a child! Why, he could outshoot any seasoned warrior in all of Mirkwood, and yet he was not considered good enough to fight along side with them. All the long years spent at training were for naught if he could not put his skills to use. What good was he to Mirkwood if he could not fight to protect his people? How many more years must he stay in the protective confines of the palace before he was considered old enough to join the other warriors?
There was a soft knock on the door and the voice of his oldest brother called out quietly. "Legolas?"
In defiance, Legolas rolled over onto his side and ignored Aldeon as he approached the bed.
"Legolas?" Aldeon called him again as he sat down onto the bed. "I know you are not asleep." He reached out and laid a hand on his brother's bright head.
"Go away. I thought you and Adar have much work to do. Why are you then wasting your time with an elfling who was sent to bed?"
Aldeon laughed. "I had not realized we sent you to bed. Come, sit up and talk with me."
Legolas reluctantly rolled over and pushed himself into a sitting position. He loved Aldeon dearly and found that his anger was dissipating a little at the sound of his brother's soothing voice. Still, he could not keep the sulkiness out of his voice when he addressed Aldeon. "What is there to talk about? Adar has already forbade me to go with the troops tomorrow."
"Adar only has concerns for your safety when he refused your request to join the troops. He loves you very much and does not want harm to come to you."
Legolas rested his chin on upraised knees. "What about Feren and Tavaro? Adar sends them into battle. Does he not fear for their safety? And you, you were a captain already at my age."
Aldeon laughed. "Now, Legolas, you know you exaggerate. I was never a captain at your age. I was training, just as you are now, at your age. And Feren and Tavaro are much older than you. They were experienced warriors even before you were born. Do not worry, your time will come. Adar will not keep you back forever."
"Oh, he will keep me back forever if he has his way. I fear I will be doomed to be the only elf in Middle Earth who will sail to the Valinor without ever having seen battle," Legolas muttered rather hopelessly.
His brother laughed again and placed a hand on the sagging shoulder. "If that should become the case, then you are truly blessed. You cannot imagine how I wish Mirkwood warriors will never see another battle. Being in battle is not all glory, you know. There is death, pain and fear all around you. Adar and I would give up our limbs if we could spare you of that."
"But I shall not be spared of that! The shadow spreads each day into our realm. What choice do we have but to fight it? I am the king's son and it is my duty and responsibility to protect our people. You and Adar cannot take that away from me. Other warriors have given their lives to fight the evil that is spreading in our great woods. It is not right that I should sit here day after day and do nothing to help this cause!"
Aldeon looked at the slightly flushed, passionate face of his young brother and felt a surge of pride. He grasped Legolas' shoulder again. "You will carry out your duty and responsibility as a son of the king. I know you will make us all proud someday. But now is not yet your time. Trust us, Legolas, we only want what is the best for you."
"But it is my life! You and Adar cannot live it for me!" Legolas protested heatedly.
Aldeon sighed rather resignedly. "I know." He took a deep breath and added, "I promise you will join the troops into battle when we feel you are ready."
"When you feel I am ready? But I am ready now! You have seen my skills with the bow and the knives," Legolas pointed out.
"Being skillful with your bow and knives does not necessarily make you a skillful warrior, Legolas. There are battle skills that you must learn -"
"But how am I ever to learn battle skills if I am never allowed to go into battle?" Legolas demanded in exasperation.
"Be patient, Legolas. I will speak to Adar. Perhaps we can send you on some scouting missions. It would be a beginning."
Legolas looked at his older brother with renewed hope. "You promise?"
Aldeon laughed and ruffled the blond hair . "Yes, little one. I promise, but you also must promise me that you will be patient."
Legolas winced. "Aldeon, do not call me little one for I am as tall as you."
Aldeon pulled him into a fond embrace. "You will always be a little one to me. It is late. Go to sleep."
"Aldeon, when are the troops leaving tomorrow?"
"At first light. They will be gone before you are awake."
Legolas nodded and lay back against the pillows. "Good night, Aldeon."
"Sleep well, Legolas".