Chapter 20: Spring Festival
Stars began to twinkle into view in the darkening sky above the Green and the golden sparks of fireflies mirrored their glittering light in the shadows beneath the trees. Elves on the Green gathered around Galion, who was dispensing wine from a barrel, or danced and sang with the minstrels. A cacophony of musical instruments, songs, conversations and laughter echoed across the Green as the Woodelves awaited the arrival of their King to begin the Spring Festival. When the musicians trumpeted the royal family's emergence from the stronghold, the noise quieted down for a moment, only to be replaced by cheers.
Maidhien bounced on her toes, craning her neck this way and that, trying to catch a glimpse of the King between the forest of tall adults around her. Next to her, Galithil and her other friends stood completely forgotten. Unable able to see properly, Maidhien clamored up to stand on the long bench behind the table.
"Ooo, Galithil, your nana's dress is so pretty!" she exclaimed.
"Stop her before she climbs onto the table," Aewen said.
Galithil turned to scowl at Aewen, but her father, Dollion, placed a hand on his daughter's shoulder. "Let Maidhien be," he admonished quietly.
Maidhien had not noticed any part of this interchange. She was still staring at the procession behind the King as they took their places at the High Table. Her mouth was open slightly and she covered it with one hand, as if to contain her excitement. "Oh, and Legolas, your adar has flowers instead of berries in his crown tonight," she declared, pointing at the King.
"He always changes for Spring Festival," Legolas replied, smiling at her in amusement, but Maidhien did not hear him either.
"And look, there is your brother, Galithil," she said, now pointing at Dolgailon. "Why does he sit with Thranduil..."
"Lord Thranduil," Dollion corrected.
"...and you and Legolas do not?" Maidhien finished. She still had not taken her eyes off the King and his family
"Because we are too young to sit at the High Table," Galithil answered her. "The only thing I like being too young for," he added under his breath, with a grin. Legolas laughed.
"Everything just sparkles!" Maidhien said, breathlessly.
Everyone at the High Table had seated themselves except the King, indicating everyone else should sit as well. When the elves around her began to sit, Maidhien looked at Galithil. When he sat, she hopped down from the bench and knelt on it, in order to have a better view of the High Table.
Aewen rolled her eyes. "Honestly, you would think she had never been to a festival before," she said to Eirienil as the King began addressing his subjects assembled at the lower tables.
Eirienil shook her head quickly and cast her friend a disapproving look.
Maidhien turned her attention from studying the gowns worn by the ladies at the High Table to glance at Aewen. "But I have not been to a festival before," she said, turning back to the High Table. "Ada does not like them."
Aewen stared at her in response to that. Brethil and Berior turned to her as well. "Never?" Brethil asked, his voice rising a little too loudly in his surprise. Several nearby elves glanced away from the High Table to look at them. Brethil's father, Crithad, cleared his throat and arched an eyebrow in warning. Brethil mouthed an apology, but still looked at Maidhien incredulously.
Maidhien shrugged. "No, never. Ada and Nana do not approve of the festivals," she said, gesturing towards a table far at the back of the Green, where her brother sat with her parents, aunt, uncle and cousin. "Ada said we were only going to this festival because Golwon ordered him to go and Ada has to do what Golwon tells him to do now." She leaned her elbows on the table and propped her chin in her hands to listen as the King finished speaking. "I am so glad we came," she said when the musicians began to play again. "This is absolutely amazing. I wish..." But she did not voice her wish. Instead, her voice trailed off and she sat up straight, her gaze focused behind the High Table. "Oh my!" she exclaimed, in barely a whisper. "Look at that food!" She pointed to where a long line of elves carrying the first course of the banquet had begun to bring out platters laden with food.
"Everyone understands that you are excited, Maidhien," Brethil's mother, Merileth, said gently, "but try to remember that most of the time, we do not point. It is considered poor manners."
Maidhien glanced at her and pulled her hand back to cover her mouth again as she stared in awe at the food now being laid out on the table before her. She was blissfully unaware of Legolas and Galithil's smirks or Brethil and Aewen's parents smiling at her.
Noruil reached into his pocket to touch the napkin he had stuffed inside it. It was still there. He felt the shapes made by the sugar candies wrapped in the napkin and patted them gently before making sure for the thousandth time that they were well tucked, deep inside his pocket where they could not possibly fall out. When the festival had first begun, it initially seemed it would be every bit as horrible as uncle Dannenion had said it would be, what with the foolish way everyone was made to dress and be still and sit quietly at the table. And when Thranduil had started talking about hard Winters giving way to Springs of plenty, Noruil could not keep from rolling his eyes right along with his uncle and father and cousin.
But, the food was good, he conceded readily. Nana had never made boar and venison and pheasant all for the same meal. And he wished she would ask someone how to make the sauces that came with those dishes, because they were more flavorful than anything he had ever tasted! But when the elves bringing out the platters of food carried out the the first subtlety--the first of three and then a separate dessert too--it was all Noruil could do to keep himself from sweeping the whole thing onto his plate and devouring it all himself. A whole little hunting scene made of hardened sugar--one for each table! His mother had commented under her breath that each table's subtlety probably used up a hundred tree's worth of sap to boil down enough sugar. Noruil could not care less how much sap was used. Never, not once in his life, had he ever had candy made of sugar and it was the most delicious thing ever. It melted in his mouth as he sucked on it and the flavor was better than a thousand strawberries. When the other adults at their table gave him and Anastor their portions of the candy, Noruil could not believe his luck and he did not even mind the way they smiled at him as if he were a baby. He had enough candy stowed away in his napkin to last well into summer if he rationed it carefully, and that was exactly what he intended to do. That plan made him think of something else.
"Hmm?" Dolwon replied, focused on the minstrels.
Noruil rolled his eyes in response to his father's absent expression and ardently hoped that, since dessert had been served, this would also be the last round of singing. Singing was simply stupid, and the fact that Legolas's cousins had performed in this latest round of singing only made it worse. "Is there a festival in summer too?"
Dolwon nodded. "First Fruits," he replied without taking his eyes off the entertainers.
"Are we going to it too?"
Again Dolwon nodded. "I imagine Golwon will expect us to go to all the festivals."
Noruil smiled. Maybe he could make the candy last until that festival and then there would be more candy at that one. Still smiling at that idea, he used his finger to scrape up the last bit of custard from the dessert bowl in front of him. His mother smacked his hand and said something about manners, but he ignored her. He was too happy to worry about manners.
"Oh no," he heard Anastor mutter.
Noruil looked up from his dessert bowl. His uncle Dannenion was hiding a grimace behind his napkin as he pretended to wipe his mouth. His father sat with a completely neutral expression on his face, still watching the minstrels. Anastor was openly glaring in the same direction. Noruil soon understood his cousin's disgust. That was Legolas singing.
Denethor, the forest's child,
was born in the starlit Wild,
over him the forest song held sway,
and merrily led him away,
Noruil sighed. "He is going to sing that stupid story Tulus told about the Ents," he whispered to his cousin.
Anastor nodded. "I hope it is short," he whispered back. "I am tired of sitting here."
Noruil nodded in response to that. So was he. Unless there was going to be more food, he was ready to get up and play. There were archery targets set up some distance down the lawn and Noruil hoped anyone would be allowed to shoot at them and not just the adults. Noruil turned his head to look at archery targets and as he did, his gaze swept over the High Table. And it stuck there. Noruil stared at Thranduil. He was clapping along with the song Legolas was singing and he was looking at his son with a ridiculous smile on his face.
"I would die of embarrassment if Ada ever made us do anything like that," Anastor whispered in his ear. "And then made it worse by fawning all over us like Thranduil is doing. But Legolas is actually enjoying himself!" he concluded with a revolted tone.
Noruil's frown deepened. Ada had never 'fawned' over him in such a manner, that was certain. His eyes narrowed as he glared at Legolas.
"Indeed!" he heard his uncle whisper. "Singing about Denethor! Not courteous at all! I, for one, do not want to hear songs about a prince who abandoned his people."
Hearing that, Noruil shrank a bit closer to the table and some of the merriment he had felt earlier slipped away. He looked at his custard bowl to see if there was anything left in it to scrape out. To his surprise, from the corner of his eye, he saw the elf seated on his father's other side nod.
"Denethor is indeed not a pleasant topic in everyone's mind," he said quietly. "But this is a song about him as a child. And it was composed by a child. Legolas has probably learned very little about Denethor as an adult."
"He may even admire Denethor," the elf's wife added. "Remember, the Sindar all remember him fondly because he brought news from Eryn Galen to them in Beleriand. And no matter what you think of Denethor leaving the forest, we have him to thank for Oropher coming back to it. If Denethor had not gone to Belariand, Oropher might never have thought to come back across the mountains."
The husband held up his flagon. "True. Whatever evil befell us when Denethor left, he did that much good." He took a long drink from his cup.
Noruil tensed, expecting that comment would inspire an explosion from his uncle. His shoulders slumped a bit in relief when he saw Dannenion had maintained an unreadable expression. His father, on the other hand, had apparently missed the entire conversation. He was still watching the minstrels and was actually tapping his foot! Noruil turned to fully stare at his father and as he did, he saw Thranduil rise from the High Table and take Lindomiel onto the lawn. After a moment, other elves at other tables began to get up to dance.
Noruil held his breath and looked at his father, hoping he would release them from the table. He blinked when his father stood and held out his hand to his mother. Lalfien stared at his hand a moment and then her gaze moved from it to his face. Dolwon was smiling down at her.
"Come! It has been too long since we have danced," he said, reaching for her hand and pulling her to her feet.
"Ada, can we go play?" Noruil called as father...well, it could only be described as skipping, Noruil thought making a face... as his father skipped off to the dancing area.
Dolwon nodded and gestured for him to follow him to the dancing area.
Noruil placed both hands on the edge of the table, as if to prevent someone from dragging him over it. "I am not going to dance," he said.
"Me either," Anastor echoed. "Ada, can we go get our bows and shoot at the targets?"
Dannenion nodded without looking at his son. He was watching Dolwon and Lalfien.
Anastor stood with his back to the other children, arms crossed over his chest. He was looking out over the Green so that he would not have to look at the archery target. The shot he had just made was not as good as Noruil's had been. On the border between the second and third rings of the target, he was not even sure it would be good enough to beat his sister. That thought made him scowl and grind his teeth as he listened to Legolas and Galithil give her advice.
"Hold your left elbow higher. Level with your wrist," Legolas called.
"Remember to hold your stance once you release," Galithil added.
"As if you know how to shoot," Anastor interjected, looking over his shoulder at them. "You are not even competing."
"There is no point in us competing," Legolas said calmly. "We have only had two lessons from our adars and you have had your bows for months, so there is no doubt you would be better than us."
"But keeping your elbow up and holding your draw is what our adars told us during our lessons, and Maidhien does not do either, so we might as well help her," Galithil added.
Anastor cast him a scathing glare before turning back around, mimicking 'we have only had two lessons' quietly to himself while making a face as he did. They are not even ashamed that they could not win the contest, he thought. That was what Anastor hated most about Legolas. He was always so...reasonable and annoying!
"I do not have any idea why you like to play with them, Maidhien," he said out loud, still with his back to her. "They do not do anything interesting."
Maidhien ignored him--an immensely irritating trick she had learned from Legolas and his cousins. In his peripheral vision, Anastor saw his sister position herself and draw her bow. She lifted her elbow, slowly loosed a long breath and released her arrow. She even took Galithil's advice and left her bow in place in front of her, with her left hand against her jaw, which was something Anastor had never seen her bother with before. She dropped the bow to clap her hands when her arrow sunk into the target, so Anastor did not even bother to look where the arrow had hit. It was obvious her shot had been better than his and Noruil's.
"That is my best shot ever!" she exclaimed, beaming at Galithil and his cousins as they also applauded her. "I beat you, Anastor," she added with a gloating tone, turning to face him.
Anastor turned just enough to make a face at her. "Eirienil still has her turn," he reminded her.
Maidhien shrugged. "It suits me if she beats you too," she mocked.
"She is going to beat you," Anastor said, turning fully and taking a step towards his sister.
Maidhien smiled, which only made Anastor clench his fists. "And if she does, that shot will also beat you, so it will be a good one." She stepped back off the mark they had been shooting from and winked at Eirienil.
Eirienil stepped forward and lined herself up to take her shot as Anastor continued to glare at his sister. At the sound of her bow twanging, Anastor looked at the target. Eirienil's arrow hit inside its center. Noruil groaned.
Maidhien, in contrast, squealed with delight and clapped her hands. "You won again! You are so good!"
"Thank you," Eirienil said a little bashfully, but with a broad smile. "Nana is a good teacher," she added, looking at her mother, Isteth, who had been supervising their little contest.
"I heard that you shot a deer during the hunt for the feast," Maidhien interrupted, speaking to Eirienil's mother and looking at her excitedly for confirmation.
That made Anastor pause. He raised his eyebrows and looked at Isteth incredulously.
Isteth only smiled and nodded. "Go on and get your arrows. I think I hear the warriors coming and we must let them use the targets for their games now."
"Can we stay and watch them shoot?" Maidhien asked, skipping towards the targets. Then she paused and turned to look at Legolas and Galithil. "Will your adars compete?" she asked excitedly.
Anastor sighed--having to watch Thranduil shoot would ruin an otherwise perfectly good game--and followed the other children slowly and silently to the targets to retrieve his arrows.
"Ada does not usually play festival games," he heard Legolas respond.
"Too ashamed to lose them in front of everyone here," Anastor said under his breath as he approached the targets.
Noruil poked him in the side and gestured towards the approaching warriors. "Look, Anastor," he said. "They have spears too."
Anastor's face lit hopefully. "We always get caught spying on the warriors when they train with spears, since they always only do that right in the middle of the training grounds. This could be fun to watch!"
"What is so special about spears?" Galithil asked. "They are easy to use. The first weapon all the warriors are trained to use."
Anastor paused with his hand grasping one of his arrows and he turned his head from the warriors to look at Galithil disdainfully. "You do not know any more about fighting with spears than you do about archery," he said, giving his arrow a hard tug. He imagined he was tweaking Galithil's nose rather than pulling the arrow free.
"I know spears require less steel to make than swords and less skill to use than swords or bows, so that is why the patrols and village guards have more spears to fight with than swords," Galithil responded heatedly. "And I know that someone inexperienced with weapons can best defend themselves with a spear because it takes so little training to use."
"But offensively, they are better used as thrusting weapons than throwing weapons, unless you are fighting from a fortification," Eirienil added.
Anastor stared at her and she shrugged.
"Have you never played Orthor? If you throw a spear at your enemy on an open field, another enemy can pick it up and use it against you."
"What is Orthor?" Anastor asked, despite himself.
Galithil stopped pulling arrows out of the targets entirely and turned to face Anastor. "You have never played Orthor?" he exclaimed. "It is the best game ever. There are archers and pikemen and calvary and infantry and you can play on any map you can invent so your war can be on any terrain..."
"But it is only play, like with an elleth's dolls," Anastor interrupted, trying to sound uninterested, though he almost thought that game might be worth learning more about. That small feeling was squashed when Galithil laughed.
"Well since you are so interested in the spears, but you are too good to play Orthor, maybe you would like to play a match of pole and hoop with us," Galithil challenged.
Anastor felt his temper rise when Legolas and Eirienil smirked.
"What is that game?" Maidhien asked, always too eager to play foolish games with Legolas and his cousins.
Galithil grinned. "All of us would have a pole, like a spear. One of us rolls a hoop with netting on it and we all take turns throwing the poles through the hoop, trying to get the pole through the center of the netting. And there are two ways to determine who wins. One is just by counting points. Whoever gets twelve points first wins. Or you can play where two people throw at the same time and if one person gets the pole through the center of the netting and the other does not, the person who did not loses their pole to the person that did. You play until one person has all the poles."
"That game would be too easy to be fun," Anastor said scornfully.
"You have never played it?" Galithil asked, with a scheming expression.
Anastor studied him through narrowed eyes as he shook his head.
"It is not so easy," Galithil said. "I bet we could beat you."
"You could not," Anastor sneered.
"Prove it," Galithil replied. "We always play that game at festivals, so we have the hoop and enough poles for all of us over by the tables."
"Very well," Anastor answered back quickly, unwilling to back down and certain he could beat Galithil and Legolas. He had never seen them do anything that required skill. "Go get them. Noruil and I will play one game with you to show you how stupid you are being and then we are going to watch the warriors do something that takes real skill."
"Go get the poles and hoop, Berior," Galithil said without looking at his cousin. Instead, he was looking straight at Anastor with a mocking expression that made Anastor want to hit him. "If you think this game is going to be so easy and takes no skill," Galithil said as Berior sprinted off, "maybe we should have a little bet on the outcome."
"Galithil!" Legolas exclaimed, spinning around to face him. "Ada gets mad at your adar and brother for gambling and they are adults. He will kill us if he catches us doing it."
Anastor broke into a broad grin. "Agreed," he said immediately, laughing at Legolas's furious expression.
"You have nothing of value to bet," Legolas reminded them. "Neither of you do."
"Then the loser has to do a dare then," Anastor suggested. "If Noruil, Maidhien and I win, Galithil has to jump off the cliff into the pool where the moonbow is."
"I do not want to play on your team, Anastor!" Maidhien protested.
Engrossed in placing the bet, everyone ignored her.
"Agreed," Galithil said so readily that Anastor felt a twinge of nerves. "If Legolas, Eirienil and I win you have to..."
"You have to leave my cousins and I alone if you cannot be nice to us," Legolas interrupted.
Galithil scowled at him. "No, Legolas, I am not wasting the bet."
"And I am not watching you dare them to do something stupid where they might get hurt. That is not funny and it will only get us in even more trouble than if we are only caught betting. That is the bet or..." he hesitated, not sure what to threaten.
"Or what? You will go tell your adar like you did when I shot Maidhien's bow?" Galithil asked, bitterly.
"What?" Anastor fairly yelled, leaning forward in amazement. "You told on your own cousin! You are worse than I ever imagined!" He laughed when Legolas cast a betrayed look at Galithil, who did appear a little guilty.
"No," Legolas said quietly. "Or I will play so badly that you cannot possibly beat them and you have to make that stupid jump," he said, finishing his threat.
Anastor looked at Galithil with a delighted look.
"You would not do that!" Galthil said, studying his cousin warily.
"Yes I will," Legolas retorted coolly.
Anastor was openly laughing as Galithil crossed his arms across his chest. "Fine, if we win, you and Noruil have to be nice to my cousins and I," Galithil said.
Anastor sobered slightly. "Leave you alone, not be nice to you," he corrected, with a smirk. "That is what Legolas said."
"Well, I am changing it a bit," Galithil said.
"Very well, but if both Noruil and I have to be nice to you if you win, then both you and Legolas have to jump if we win."
Galithil looked at Legolas. Anastor did as well, with a mocking expression, certain Legolas would not agree.
Legolas sighed. "Agreed," he said quietly.
Anastor blinked. "It is going to be so funny to see you jump, Legolas, That cliff is really tall and you were too scared to even climb up it the night we went to see the moonbow," he said in a low voice that he hoped was frightening.
"Idiot," Eirienil said, shaking her head. "Do you think Legolas would have agreed to do something that stupid if he did not know he could win? You should be thanking him for preventing Galithil from making you do something stupid, not making fun of him."
Anastor glared at her silently. Legolas and his cousins were not going to beat him at any game, he said to himself firmly. A moment later, when Berior ran back with the poles and hoop, Anastor snatched a pole from his hands. "This is your 'spear?'" he asked, inspecting it scornfully. "It is blunt at both ends."
"It is for throwing through the hoop, not at targets," Galithil replied. "Berior, you roll the hoop. Legolas, Eirienil and I have a bet with them," he added.
Berior looked between Galithil and Anastor with wide eyes as Anastor hefted his pole.
"I can show you how to hold it," Galithil offered, looking at Anastor's fist closed tightly near the front of the spear.
Anastor cast him a sneering look. "I think I know how to hold a stick, Galithil," he said. "Just roll the target."
Galithil glanced at his cousins and laughed quietly, causing Anastor's eyes to narrow. With a shrug, Galithil signaled for Berior to roll the hoop along the grass. "Start out with a slow roll, Berior, " he said.
Anastor watched the hoop roll, so slowly it almost wobbled, and snorted. It would be easy to hit the target if Berior rolled it that slowly. He heaved his pole towards the hoop, but his mouth fell open and he felt his face burn when the pole bounced off the ground several feet short of the target.
Noruil and Maidhien also missed and, to Anastor's horror, Legolas, Galithil and Eirienil easily tossed their spears through the still rolling hoop as it passed them.
Anastor turned to stomp away. "You tricked us. You are cheating. We are not playing anymore," he declared.
"Do not be a bad sport, Anastor," Berior called after him. "If you let one of us show you how to throw, you will do much better."
Anastor wheeled around to face him. "I do not need you to show me how to do anything," he answered back sharply.
"Apparently you do," Galithil replied. Anastor's hands balled into fists before he registered that Galithil's tone had been even, not mocking. "Everyone has to be shown how the first time they do something," he continued when Anastor said nothing.
"Maidhien cannot do it either, Anastor," Berior said. "Maybe you can just watch us show her."
Anastor glared at him, but he did not leave either. Instead he watched as Legolas and Galithil showed Maidhien how to hold and throw her spear. When they were done, Galithil nodded to Berior, who had retrieved the hoop, and he rolled it slowly. Maidhien threw her spear when the hoop passed in front of her. It did not go through the hoop, but she was close.
"Let me try again!" she yelled, running to pick up her spear. When Berior rolled the hoop again, she got her spear through it. Everyone but Anastor clapped.
"Ask Anastor if he wants to try," Legolas whispered to her as she hefted her spear again.
"Why not ask me yourself?" Anastor snapped.
Legolas sighed and turned to face him. "Because it is impossible for me to say anything that does not make you angry."
"So then why even ask me to play in the first place?"
"I did not ask you to play!" Legolas said, losing his temper. "It was you and Galithil that wanted to bet on it! So here we are. Either play it or not."
Anastor glared at him a long moment and then stepped forward to snatch up his pole from the grass. "Roll the stupid hoop," he demanded and Berior rolled it automatically, not accustomed to anyone speaking to him so sharply. "But the bet is off because you cheated."
Anastor threw his spear, trying to remember in his anger everything Galithil and Legolas told his sister. Loose grip, level shaft, step forward with opposite foot. He threw. The spear went right through the hoop! He was still staring at it, pleased with himself, when he realized Legolas and his cousins were applauding him. He looked over at them, expecting to see mocking expressions. When they all appeared sincerely pleased, Anastor just stared at them.
"That was really good, especially for only your second try," Galithil said. "I bet you will be really good if you play a little."
Anastor frowned and looked down. "Noruil, you go get your spear and take a turn," he said quietly.
The moon was high in the sky and the barrels in the serving area empty, but many elves, including the King's family, continued dancing or singing or gaming on the Green in front of the stronghold, not ready to stop celebrating the end of a very difficult winter. Anastor and Noruil could hear the noise of the merrymaking through the window in Noruil's room.
Noruil tossed the embroidered tunic his mother had made him wear to the Festival into the laundry basket in his room. As he did, Anastor was tucking a blanket over the old mattress he always slept on when he spent the night in Noruil's cottage. He glanced at the discarded clothes.
"Stupid fancy tunics," he said quietly.
Noruil nodded. "I do not like wearing clothes I cannot even play in properly." He was quiet for a moment as Anastor fluffed the pillow he had brought from his own cottage and arranged it on the old mattress. "But the food was good and there was a lot of it," he ventured.
Anastor nodded. "I hid some of the sugar candy and kept it," he said showing his cousin a bulge in his tunic pocket.
Noruil grinned. "So did I," he said, lifting the mattress on his bed to reveal where he had hidden the napkin full of candies he had protected so carefully the entire evening. Then he looked at his cousin cautiously. "And I did not think the game Legolas and Galithil showed us was entirely stupid. But it would be more fun with a properly sharpened spear," he added quickly.
To his surprise, Anastor only nodded again. "It was a good game. I sure would like to get my hands on one of those real spears that the warriors used for their contest. That would be fun to play with."
"Maybe we could steal one from the storage shack on the training field tonight," Noruil suggested.
Anastor shook his head. "Ada said Thranduil has guards watching our cottages to make sure we do not sneak out at night anymore. And he said I would really regret it if Thranduil came to speak to him about me again."
Noruil slumped back against the headboard of his bed. Then he looked back at his cousin. "Maybe Glílavan will give us an old one."
Anastor shrugged. "We can ask, but I doubt it. He never even gives us arrows."
Noruil thought for a moment again. "Maybe we could persuade Galithil to get one for us. He is cleaning the weapons now, so he could maybe hide one for us where we could get it after dinner but before dark. We could say will will share it with him if he helps us get it."
Anastor raised his eyebrows. "That might work. Galithil is not as bad as the rest of that lot."
Noruil looked at Anastor sharply and then quickly assumed a thoughtful expression to hide his surprise when Anastor glanced up at him. "I suppose not," he answered.
"At least he wants to learn to be a warrior, it seems," Anastor said as he pulled the old blanket over himself.
Noruil only nodded.
Legolas, Galithil and Eirienil walked slowly through the quiet halls of the stronghold, wishing they could stay longer on the Green, but not foolish enough to argue.
"They are unbearable," Eirienil said as the door to the family quarters closed behind them. "Well, maybe not Maidhien," she added with a sidelong glance at Galithil. "I admit I rather enjoy playing with her. She is always so happy to do anything we like to do, it is hard not to like her. But her brother and cousin are horrible."
"They were good at throwing the spears. And I bet they would like Orthor if we showed it to them," Galithil said. "They might not be too bad if we gave them a chance."
"If we gave them a chance?" Legolas exclaimed, turning to look incredulously at Galithil as they stopped where the hall to Eirienil's quarters split from the one that led to Legolas and Galithil's rooms. "We always give them a chance. They never give us one. We have never been the ones to pick a fight."
"I thought you said Uncle told you we should try to be nice to them because he is trying to improve his relations with their parents," Galithil shot back.
Legolas shook his head. "I said that Adar asked me not to provoke them. Playing with them is a far different thing from not provoking them."
Galithil sighed. "I just think they might be nice, like Maidhien, if they had time to figure out we were going to be nice to them. I mean, look at how Maidhien reacted to everything at the Festival. And to everything she does with us. It is as if she never did anything fun in her life or had any friends to do anything with. I imagine her brother and cousin must never have had any friends or done anything fun either. It is sad really and I feel sorry for them." Then he grinned. "Besides, you cannot deny it would be nice to have some real competition when we play games like throwing the spears. Berior and Brethil are both too young to play those games very well yet."
Eirienil put her hands on her hips. "I beat you both at pole and hoop. And I beat Anastor and Noruil at the archery contest. Am I not good competition?"
"You are an elleth. You do not count," Galithil said without looking at her.
"Hmmph!" Eirienil exclaimed. And she turned to trounce down the hall to her room without a backward look.
Legolas giggled quietly and pulled his cousin along the hall to their own rooms. "I will not refuse to play with them if they want to play with us. Which is easy to promise, because I cannot believe they ever will want to do anything with us. Just looking at me seems to make Anastor angry." He fixed Galithil with a serious look. "But I will not do anything stupid with them."
Galithil shrugged. "When have we ever done anything stupid?" he asked with a grin as he pulled open the door to his family's suite.
Legolas rolled his eyes and pulled open his own. "Drag your mattress over and camp in my room?" he suggested.
Galithil nodded eagerly and dashed into his room to get his mattress and pillow.
Adar/ada - Father/dad
Naneth/nana - Mother/mum
AN: I am ending Journeys of Discovery with this chapter. I have several other vignettes featuring young Legolas that stand alone, better than they fit in this story, so I decided I would post those separately. The main story will continue in Interrupted Journeys: Part Five--Journeys in Mirkwood.
I want to thank everyone who has stuck with this story so far. I appreciate everyone who reads (and especially reviews) very much and I hope you continue to enjoy.