And here it is. The epilogue. :sniffle: So touching. I don't imagine it will be too long…it is just sort of clearing a few things up and other stuffs, like what happened afterwards. So, yea, hehe. Enjoy. By the way, it may be a tad confusing (but what have I written that isn't confusing?). So, you have been warned. Also, part of it is set in the future (as in waaaay in the future).
Chapter 15- What Time Changes
Nendir gazed around the grassy fields with content eyes. A few trees were scattered here and there and a trickling creek ran over smooth rocks down the hill. He and Ethiriel had found this area naught but a few days ago and had declared it their new home where they would start anew. The beginning of a talan was up in one of the tallest trees and a post had been set out to tie up the stallion. While their home was being built, they had no choice but to sleep on the ground. Because of this, the former Crown Prince had not gotten much rest and was beginning to feel the effects.
The ellon vaguely felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he turned around slowly with a small smile on his face. The elleth smiled back and rested her head on his shoulder.
"I love it here, Nendir." Ethiriel said quietly, "It is like our own piece of heaven."
"Indeed, it is." He replied, wrapping an arm around her waist, "But where is Aerogaladhad?" The elleth smiled and motioned behind them with her head.
"Under the tree." She answered and he looked back to check on his sister.
The little elfling was lying on her back in the grass, bubbling with giggles. The tall grass nearly concealed her from their sight but her hand occasionally reaching up alerted them of her presence. The stallion sighed heavily as he took careful steps towards the baby and he sniffed her curiously. Aerogaladhad giggled uncontrollably as she grabbed a hold of the horse's flowing black mane.
With a small smile, the couple turned back around and gazed off in the direction of their past home. Even to their sight, the edge of the forest was a mere speck on the horizon. Ethiriel frowned when she heard her husband sigh and she looked up at him.
"My love? Are you alright?" She questioned, moving her hand into his. He nodded once.
"I am fine." He replied.
"Do you regret your decision?" He shook his head.
"I did what I deemed was right." He answered, "Though I do miss them. All of them." Ethiriel said nothing more, only resting her head on his shoulder again and giving his hand a comforting squeeze.
A loud cheer erupted in the courtyard and the clapping drowned out the sounds of the birds calling and the winds blowing. Every elf in Mirkwood was gathered in the palace grounds, celebrating the coronation of their new Crown Prince. Flowers of gold, white and blue were strewn at his feet and a circlet of leaves and wildflowers was upon his brow.
Norui bit his lip nervously as he gazed out into the crowd of elves. He felt his Ada place a comforting hand on his shoulder and he looked up at him. Thranduil offered him a smile and he returned it weakly, then looked back out to his people.
"What if I can't do this, Ada?" He asked quietly, "What if I mess up?"
"You will not mess up, ion-nín. You will do just fine and I will be there to help you." (My son) The King replied. He gave Norui a squeeze on the shoulder, then turned away and strode towards his younger son. The new Crown Prince swallowed hard before turning back to face the other elves. His emerald eyes locked eyes with a few of his people and then they suddenly fell silent. Norui glanced over to the Elvenking who gave him a reassuring smile. He swallowed hard once more, then faced the crowd again.
"I do not know much about how to run a kingdom." He started quietly as the noise dwindled down so that only the birds could be heard, "And I do not think that I will be as good a Crown Prince as Nendir was.
"We are in the middle of a very trying time that we must pull through. Not only has the royal family lost someone dear to them but the people have as well. Perhaps more then us, even. But I am ready to help in any way I can. I cannot replace Nendir or our Queen and I do not want to be looked upon as a replacement for our lost Crown Prince. In my eyes, he will always be our Crown Prince and my brother, no matter what happened.
"We defeated our enemy, thanks to Nendir, and now we must continue on with our lives. Neither he nor my naneth would want us to grieve. So let us put the past behind us and look forward to the future. I may be young still and inexperienced but I will try my best to fulfill the expectations you place upon me as your Crown Prince."
Norui bowed his head slightly, signaling the end of his speech, and clapping and cheers immediately followed. He sighed quietly in relief, then strode away from them with quickened steps. He felt his neck go warm when he heard a few chuckles and giggles from some of the elves.
He felt Thranduil place his hand on his shoulder again and he smiled at him. The Elvenking chuckled and placed a small kiss on his brow.
"Good job." He said, his eyes twinkling, "I told you that you would do just fine."
"Thank you, Ada." Norui replied, smiling. Lothron and Melyanna came forward with small smiles upon their faces. The Crown Prince placed a kiss upon each of their foreheads and grinned slightly, "It looks like you will be listening to me now." The younger princess just scoffed while Lothron's smile grew.
"I believe that I have more experience then you, Gwador. I think that it is you who will be listening to me." (Brother) She said mirthfully. Norui smiled and placed another kiss on her brow.
"Nice flowers." Someone said from behind and the Crown Prince rolled his eyes with a smile, knowing who it was already.
"Thank you, Legolas." He replied, turning around to face his grinning brother. The young prince grinned wider and came up to the older ellon.
"Blue is very much your color. It goes with your robes." Legolas commented, reaching up to finger one of the petals.
"Perhaps you would like to wear it." Norui replied, taking off the circlet and placing it upon his brother's head, "It matches your eyes." The golden haired ellon grinned and rearranged it slightly.
"It looks better on me, I bet." He commented, smoothing out his robes in order to make himself appear more 'princely'. Norui chuckled quietly and Legolas smiled softly, placing a hand on his brother's shoulder, "You will make a great Crown Prince." He said gently, all humor gone.
"Thank you, my brother."
"Just don't screw things up too bad." Legolas added quickly, earning him a nice wallop on the back of his head.
Years passed. The royal family of Mirkwood pushed through their losses, though with difficulty, and were soon almost back to their normal selves. Norui took up his place as Crown Prince and prospered in the task. The elves of the Woodland Realm began to love him even more and look at him with much higher respect. Thranduil taught him all he knew, not trusting any tutor to do it instead, and was sure that his son would make an extraordinary king once he, himself, took the voyage over the great sea.
Legolas remained as carefree as ever. Even at his age, the palace staff spoiled him and looked upon him as a child though he was considered an adult. Espenshade became his constant companion and they were rarely seen without each other. The falcon was odd and this did not go unnoticed by the other nobles in the palace. Frequently would they see her acting strangely, almost humanlike, but the young prince cared naught. Only when the creature's life expectancy was past did the ellon grieve but, much to everyone's surprise and curiosity, the falcon lived on as recklessly as she had before.
Much to the surprise of everyone who heard, Princess Melyanna claimed Elladan of Rivendell as her lover. Not only that but Princess Lothron claimed Elrohir as hers. Of all the times that the twins had visited, not once did anyone suspect any romance between them. Rarely did two brothers of one house take two sisters of another as their lovers but it was not unheard of nor was it frowned upon.
Before long, shadow fell over the elves again. Word reached Mirkwood, as well as Lothlórien, that the Lady Celebrían had been captured by orcs in the Misty Mountains. The royal family aided the family of Lord Elrond, knowing the feeling of having lost a loved one, but the twins were not one to give up. They set out to rescue the elleth and succeeded, bringing their Naneth back home. Though grateful for their heroic deeds, Celebrían's torture and suffering robbed her of her will to live. She sailed into the west in the year two thousand five hundred and ten of the Third Age.
Upon return to Mirkwood, something transpired within Legolas without anyone, not even him, noticing. He took to locking himself in his room and indulging himself in his studies to the point where even Thranduil thought it unhealthy. Upon being asked for the reason, the young prince would lash out and drive the person away. The only one who he still responded to normally was Espenshade who was nearing her fiftieth year.
A few years later, darkness struck again and this time in Mirkwood. Many elves perished under the shadow but, with the help of the princes and princesses and their friends, they were able to lift the evil again. The golden haired prince even found himself a lover throughout his travels and Norui soon claimed the Lady Glithiel as his wife.
Throughout all of this, not once did the people of Mirkwood hear from Nendir or Ethiriel. The princes had searched for them many times but always returned to their home empty handed. That year, enough elflings were born to occupy each day of the year and marriages were the same way.
Espenshade was nearing her two hundredth year and every single elf in Mirkwood stayed away from the falcon though she acted as she always did. She appeared as though she had not aged a day.
The quiet whimpering of a babe roused the ellon from his sleep. He sat up on the edge of his bed and rubbed his eyes with his palms, sighing groggily. He took a quick glance at his sleeping wife and he placed a chaste kiss on her lips before standing to his feet. With a groan, he arched his back until he felt a crack and then stood straight again. Another whimper from a crib on the other side of the room kept him lying back down again and he strode over to it tiredly.
Nendir peered down into the crib with glazed eyes and the elfling inside immediately looked up to him with a toothless grin. The ellon rolled his eyes with a smile and reached down to pick her up.
"Hello there, aranel-nín, how are you doing this morning?" (My Princess) He asked as he cradled her in his arms and brought her to the bed. She giggled bubbly when she was placed upon the silky sheets and she struggled to hold herself up with her tiny arms. Nendir smiled softly as he lay down next to his daughter, stroking her creamy cheek. The elfling squealed in joy as the ellon pulled her against him, placing tiny kisses on her face, "I do hope you realize that it is not yet dawn." He stated, earning him more giggles from the child.
Nendir looked up to his wife when he heard her stirring and her eyes steadily unglazed. A bright smile spread across her lips when she saw him and she placed a kiss on his lips just as he had before.
"Did you wake up Ada, Eccaia?" Ethiriel asked mirthfully. The elfling's big, cerulean eyes shimmered as her lips turned up into another grin. The elleth laughed and sat up, pulling her child into her arms.
"Do you recall the time when Aerogaladhad was that small?" Nendir asked with a smile playing on his lips. His wife chuckled as she stroked Eccaia's tuft of golden hair. Neither ellon nor elleth knew where this came from but suspected it was from the Queen.
'Naneth has given us yet another reminder of her.' He would think to himself often.
"Indeed, I do but I believe she was much more a handful then our own child. She is so much like you and your brothers. Playful like Legolas, proud like Norui and intelligent like her Ada." Ethiriel answered, allowing her daughter to play with her auburn hair. Nendir smiled and placed a lingering kiss on his lady's lips.
Eccaia let out a small whimper at being stuck between her parents and the two pulled apart, smiling shyly at one another. The former Crown Prince placed a kiss on the elfling's head and stood up.
"I am going to see if I can find some food for aranel-mín." (Our princess) He said as he made his way towards the door. Ethiriel nodded as she lay back down, cuddling the babe against her chest. Nendir looked over his shoulder at the two with a soft smile before closing the door behind him with a click.
The sun shone brightly upon the family of elves. The sweet laughter of the elfling reached their ears like the soft tinkling of water trickling over smooth stones. The elleth sat with her back against the tree that held their talan and her arm draped around the waist of a young boy with dark tresses and jade eyes. A grin was plastered on his lips as he watched his Ada and young sister play in the tall grass.
The sound of a horse's hooves reached their ears and Nendir immediately straightened up, staring into the distance. Hearing it as well, Ethiriel stood and strode over to her daughter, then scooped her up in her arms. The boy was soon beside her.
"What is it, Naneth?" He asked quietly but she did not answer.
"It is Aerogaladhad." Nendir said after a few moments and relief flooded the elves' senses. The boy grinned as he saw the elleth come into view and he rushed towards her, laughing. She swung down from her horse and knelt down to his level, grinning as well. He leapt into her arms, nearly pummeling her to the ground.
"It is wonderful to see you again, Rissien!" She exclaimed, cupping his cheeks in her palms, "My, how have you grown!"
The elleth looked up and smiled when she saw her brother and sister-in-law making their way towards her. Her face lit up even more when she saw Eccaia in her arms. Nendir placed a hand on her cheek and kissed her brow softly. Aerogaladhad rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless.
"What brings you back so soon?" The ellon asked once all of the greetings had been said, "You are not due back for another week. It is not like you to return home early."
"I ran into some people in the forest." She began, "They said they were looking for you, Nendir, but I do not know who they are." The former Crown Prince nodded.
"Where are they?" The elleth turned around and whistled shrilly, causing the others to wince slightly.
A few moments later, three horses appeared over the hill, obviously taking their time. A tall figure clad in a green cloak rode upon a bay stallion with a long, black mane and tail. A smaller figure in a navy cloak was riding upon a dappled gray mare, obviously younger then the other. On a white stallion rode another the same height as the first and a red cloak was pinned at his shoulders. Nendir furrowed his brow when he noticed that yet another rode behind that one, its figure smaller in height yet round at the belly. Their faces were concealed by the hoods of their cloaks, casting small shadows over their features. Only their lips were visible.
The single riders hopped off their horses and glanced at the ellon, then quickly came together in hushed whispers. The red cloaked rider helped the smaller one down carefully as if afraid they would break.
"How may I help you?" The former Crown Prince questioned, instinctively raking a step closer to Ethiriel and his children. The one in the green cloak chuckled softly, taking a step forward.
"Do you not know who you speak to?" He asked, his lips turning up into a smile. Nendir furrowed his brow. The voice seemed familiar but he could not place it. The person laughed again, "Your memory has not improved!"
As if on cue, the people cast down the hoods to reveal themselves as elves. Nendir studied each one carefully, as did Ethiriel.
The one in the green cloak had dark, auburn hair and cheerful, emerald eyes. His skin was pale and appeared to be smooth to the touch. A full smile was upon his lips. It was obvious that he had seen quite a few years. Much to the ellon's curiosity, a thin white scar was across his jugular vein.
The ellon in the navy cloak had the older elf's emerald eyes but his hair was golden, almost silver. A playfulness shone in his green orbs, signaling his youth. He had high cheekbones, just like the other ellon, and appeared almost identical except for the hair color.
The last ellon in the red cloak had golden hair that shone from the sun's rays. His eyes were a bright cerulean, much like his own daughter's, and his arm was wrapped protectively around the one who rode behind him.
Nendir felt his head spin at the realization of who these people were. He heard Ethiriel gasp beside him and saw that she clutched Eccaia tightly to her chest.
"Sweet Eru…" The ellon breathed right before passing out on the spot.
It is done! Yes! Hehe, I hope you liked the ending. I thought it was pretty good. I'm happy! Yay! Okay, reviewers!
Crecy- It really kept you guessing? Wow! That is, like, one of the best compliments that I could get for this particular story. After all, it is a mystery thingy so you would think it should keep you guessing, lol. Here is the ending for you and thank you so, so much:) Hey, if you want, go check out my other story 'Lost in My Mind'. It is basically a continuation of this…except no Nendir, lol.
Jousting Elf with a Sabre- Aw, of course she would be able to come! I wouldn't dare part them, lol! I love 'em too much. :grin: Well, you got the update for this but… I am still down about the LIMM story. I haven't even felt motivated to write in my book. :( Sorry. But thanks for reading and reviewing!
Well, this is it! But don't worry! If you can imagine, there will be something to clear the ending up but not for a long time. Muahaha.
Until Next Time,