Summary: One-shot. A young Legolas gets himself in trouble on the way to Rivendell... Fortunately, a certain Balrog-slayer just happens to be passing by. Characters: Mainly Legolas and Glorfindel, with brief appearances by Elrond and his family.

This story was written as a (slightly delayed) Christmas present for Nina... Thanks for the idea and the inspiration, mellon nîn!

Many thanks to my wonderful beta, Calenlass, for advice, suggestions, and patience with questions.

Update: For those interested, I strongly recommend Nina/PeppyPower's delightful fic "Dear Elfling", written as a gap-filler to this. *grin*

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Alas, no... I am not Professor Tolkien and I do not own any of the Elves.

Elves in the Wood

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

... And I told Elrond it would never work, but has he ever listened to me?

Elladan and Elrohir are leaving for Eryn Galen with Legolas. I confess I will be happy to have all three of them away. Such chaos as there has been in Imladris these past weeks! Those three seem to bring out the worst in each other.

That reminds me... I must tell you about my interesting experience with young Thranduilion. How he manages to find trouble so consistently and unremittingly I simply cannot imagine. He was bad enough when he was an Elfling, but now that he has begun his warrior training he seems to have made it a personal mission to get himself injured in every way possible. Thranduil will be lucky if he still has his heir in a century!

Who would have imagined that Lindariel's child would be so badly hurt by...


The man spat the word as though it were a curse. Legolas shifted, trying to get into a position that took the pressure off his broken ribs. His right arm throbbed painfully where it had been sliced by the man's sword, and he could feel the arrow in his left shoulder grating against the bone.

The man watched him struggle for a moment, his face impassive. Then he broke into a grin, beckoning to someone Legolas could not see. The young Elf heard footsteps behind him. He was untied and hauled unceremoniously to his feet.

"Tell me again, Elf," the man said harshly. "And this time see if you can keep to the tongue of Men instead of using the foul language of your race."

Legolas just managed not to groan. He was tired and his head ached and he had been finding it hard enough to keep his conversation coherent in Sindarin. When the men had taken exception to his use of the Grey tongue and demanded that he answer in common speech the situation had become disastrous.

"I am an Elf of Greenwood," he said, groping for the words in the unfamiliar language. "We have no quarrel with you or with any other Men –"

He broke off, just biting back a gasp as someone hit him from behind.

"No quarrel with Men?" the man said mockingly. "You and your kind have been responsible for most of the woes that plague Middle-earth. Do you think we're stupid, Elf? I have travelled to the East and I have seen how content Men can be when there are none of you interfering with their lives. I have heard all about the great battle fought in the shadow lands to the south in the days of our fathers, and how it was the doing of the Elves, precipitated by their arrogance."

Legolas opened his mouth, fully intending to give the man a more objective perspective on history, but another hard blow to the chest prevented him from speaking.

"Do you have a name?"

Legolas said nothing. He was not sure whether his name would be familiar to these people, but if it was, revealing it to them could well lead to the destruction of all he held dear. If they used him against his parents... He grunted as a fist connected with his ribs, but did not answer.

"How many centuries do you count, Elf?" the man demanded.

"One... A little more than one."

"Did you hear that?" his interrogator said loudly, turning around so that the men milling around the clearing could hear him. "We have ourselves a baby Elf. I've never seen one this young before." He turned to Legolas. "Tell me, does one as young as you know anything of death?"

"Of course I have heard of death," Legolas snapped, bristling and nearly rolling his eyes. As though every second sentence addressed to him by his parents or his weapons masters did not specify a dire fate as the ultimate consequence of too much curiosity!

"You may have heard of it, but do you know it, Elf?" Legolas felt cold steel at his throat. "Do you know what it is like to die? I have heard that it can be terrible."

"I am a warrior," Legolas said with all the confidence he could muster. "I do not fear death."

"An Elven warrior who let himself get caught? I think not. I imagine you are still considered a child by your kin. How unfortunate that you will never have the chance to grow up."

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

And I don't mind telling you that I was not pleased. It was bad enough that I had to spend so much time on the journey, riding south around the Hithaeglir because Elrond thought it would be unwise for me to antagonize the marauders we've been hearing of in the High Pass.

Not that Elrond's noble restraint lasted long. When he saw the state Legolas was in by the time we got him to Imladris –

But that comes later. First I must tell you how I found him.

There I was, then, returning from Lórien by the southern road, when all at once I found myself being accosted by trees. This, as you know, is not something that happens to me often. I like trees well enough, but I am consumed by no Sindarin desire to make them my close confidantes.

I couldn't get a single sensible sentence out of the trees, but they all seemed to be urging me to ride in a north-easterly direction...

Legolas suppressed a shiver. The man's sword held his gaze hypnotically as it rose.

Ada and Nana would be heartbroken. He hoped they would at least find out what had happened to him so that they would not hold to false hope that he would return. Maybe the trees would carry word to them.

The young Elf-prince's eyes went to the leafy canopy overhead. He sensed the oaks' intent a moment before he saw the flash of brown and managed to wrench himself free of the men holding him and dive away just as several heavy branches fell straight at the men. The blows were only glancing, but they startled the men enough to keep them from grabbing Legolas again at once.

Legolas scrambled away from them. He had barely moved a foot when he felt a low-hanging branch digging into his back. He had no idea how the tree had managed to lower a branch that much, but he got himself onto it at once, forcing down the pain of his injuries to climb out of the men's reach. When he was high enough, he relaxed, leaning against the strong trunk and drawing strength from it. The men were shouting furiously below him, but the higher branches were too slender to bear their weight. He was safe... at least, he was safe until they realized he would not tire or lose his balance and started shooting at him to make him fall.

Move, Elfling. The tree's thoughts brushed his mind. If you stay here they will eventually find a way to get to you. Men can be inventive.

How? Legolas asked desperately. I cannot possibly move through the branches –

Do it, the tree urged anxiously. Do not fear. We will not let you fall.

But –

Do it, Elfling. It is the only way you will be able to get to safety. Go towards the south. You will find help there.

Legolas sighed and inched closer to the trunk, steadying himself as best he could. He did not feel at all well, but the tree was right. He had to get away while he still could. He flexed his right arm. It was painful, but he could still use it if he had to. His bow and long knives had been taken away from him, but he still had a couple of daggers tucked into his sleeves... He hoped it was enough to defend himself.

Move! the tree practically shouted. Don't stand there thinking. We are covering you; they cannot see you through our foliage. Move!

Legolas moved.

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

I'm not saying I understand the language of trees as well as a Wood-elf or even a Sinda, but I can definitely tell when one of them is calling me an idiot. And they were all doing it. If I hadn't sensed their fear I would have stopped to take an axe to them. (So I told them, at any rate, but then they started creaking in that ominous way trees have and I thought it was best to drop the subject.)

Something like half an hour after they first called out to me, they were getting... worried is not the word for it. They were terrified. I think they found a way to speak to Asfaloth directly, because he suddenly started running as though Morgoth were chasing him.

We came to a clearing, and then I saw – or thought I saw – what had been bothering the trees. One of those bands of marauders, although what they were doing so far south of the High Pass I cannot begin to imagine. They were gathered around someone – I could just see a cloak; he was facing away from me – lying on the ground. I thought it was one of their number who had been injured, and for a moment I considered offering them some aid...

Then they noticed me, and they drew their weapons.

I had no trouble getting rid of them. I sent an arrow past the ear of one and brushed the fingertips of another, and they fled. Just as well for them; once I saw what they had done I could have chased them down and slain them all.

Glorfindel let out a cry of shock as he dropped to his knees beside the prone figure. The form was slender; the pointed ears and tousled golden hair all too familiar. Gently, hoping he would not be worsening any injuries by doing so, he turned the Elf over.


The Elf-lord heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that the young Sinda was alive. He ran a hand over Legolas' chest, frowning as he felt cracked ribs. His frown deepened as he examined the deep cut to Legolas' arm and the broken-off arrow in his shoulder. He was aware of the trees plying him with questions, and he grunted irritably. Exactly what he needed, all the oaks of Middle-earth agonizing about what was going to happen to their beloved Thranduilion.

"Not now," he snapped. "Let me look at him and then we'll discuss –"

But it's our fault!

Glorfindel stared. "How is it your fault?"

We promised not to let him fall. He would have stayed where he was; he knew he was injured and if we had not urged him on he would not have moved. But we did not want him to stay there – the Aftercomers knew where to find him – and we said we would make sure –

"It's still not your fault," Glorfindel pointed out, forcing himself not to grind his teeth. "I have no idea what happened, but I do not doubt that he did something foolish. In any case the fault is with those who hurt him."

But we did. He fell – he hit his head.

Glorfindel drew in his breath sharply.

"Concussion?" he demanded, examining Legolas' head and cursing softly when he saw the gash on his temple.

What is concussion? one of the trees asked.

I think it's like what happened to those beeches by the pool during the storm, another volunteered. Do you remember? When lightning struck the water...

Glorfindel ignored the trees and concentrated on rousing the Elf-prince. It would complicate matters considerably if Legolas had a concussion. He was vaguely conscious of the trees getting agitated about something – perhaps they were arguing about what concussion was like – but he paid them no heed.

"Legolas? Legolas. Legolas!"

At last the young Elf moaned and opened his eyes.

"Who am I?" Glorfindel demanded at once. Legolas' expression, a mixture of bewilderment and surprise, alarmed him even further and he bent forward, repeating the question in a more urgent voice.

"My... my lord Glorfindel?" Legolas murmured.

"Good. Do you know where we are?"

"Clear glade three oaks four elms by white stream," Legolas said absently. Then, when Glorfindel stared at him as though he had lost his mind, he grinned sheepishly and added, "I'm sorry. That's what the trees are calling it. I've never been here before."

Glorfindel shook his head.

"Mad Elfling! All right, Legolas, I'm going to look at the wound on your head. Then I have to get that arrow out of your shoulder and stitch up your arm before we do anything else. Are you feeling well?"


The Elf-lord rolled his eyes. "No, Legolas, I'm serious. There might have been poison on the arrow or the blade that cut your arm, and so you must tell me exactly how you feel. Are you at all dizzy or nauseated?"

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

The child insisted that he had not been poisoned, but I was reluctant to take his word for it... Balrog-slayer I may be, but I was shaking in my boots at the thought of having to go and tell Thranduil that his son had died on my watch.

In the end I had to accept it, and accept that he had no concussion, since he could see and count and even managed to recite the eight uses of larkspur. (Actually, he gave me nine; my teachers in Aman never thought to include "Poisoning orcs" in the list. I suspect Legolas' teachers did not include it, either. I think he just said it to see how I would react.)

What really bothered me, though, was the thought that Legolas' first close encounter with Men should be so distressing. It would be a pity if he started disliking the entire race.

Glorfindel propped Legolas up against the nearest tree.

"This will hurt," he warned, grasping the broken end of the shaft protruding from Legolas' shoulder.

The young Elf grinned. "It can't be worse than whatever foul concoction Lord Elrond will make me drink when we get to Imladris." Then he gasped, clenching his teeth.

"Hold on," Glorfindel said, holding Legolas' shoulder steady with his left hand as he worked the arrowhead free of the bone. "It's just glanced your collarbone but I don't think it's broken anything – you've been luckier than you deserve, Thranduilion." Legolas nodded, saying nothing. "Hold on," the Elf-lord repeated, before he pulled the arrow out with a quick movement. Legolas could not hold back a groan.

"That's the worst of it, tithen pen," Glorfindel murmured, as he got to work stitching up the wound.

"Le hannon."

"If you want to thank me, see if you can stay out of trouble for once!" He paused in his work to look at the trees, whose excitement had only grown since Legolas had opened his eyes. "What do they want?"

"They say there are still men roaming the forest and we should be cautious."

"Near us?"

"No... They are afraid of you."

"Good," Glorfindel grunted, bending over Legolas' shoulder again. He glanced at the Sinda, noting with concern his uncharacteristic paleness and sunken eyes. "Why didn't the trees warn you about the men?" Even as he spoke, Glorfindel was assailed by a strong emotion from the oaks around them... One that, had he not known better, he would have described as smugness. "Legolas?"

Legolas flushed.

"They did warn me... I wanted to get a closer look."

"What! Why?"

"I have never seen Men before," the young Elf said defensively. "Not at close quarters. I thought it might be interesting to befriend them –"

"Legolas, these are outlaws, shunned even by their own kind. If you want to meet Men Elladan or Elrohir will introduce you to some of the Dúnedain. With other Men... I have nothing against them, but they frequently have grievances against the Eldar."

"I know."

Something in the young ellon's voice made Glorfindel look up at him sharply.

"How long did they have you, Legolas?"

"Two... three days."

"So is it Thranduil or Elrond who is frantically sending out riders by now? Where are you supposed to be?"

Legolas reddened again.

"In Imladris, but only tomorrow morning... Nobody will be worried yet. My escort was a day's ride behind me and Lord Elrond did not know to expect me early. They will realize I am missing when the escort reaches Imladris tomorrow."

"In other words," Glorfindel said with a sigh, "if I hadn't been returning from Lórien it might have been too late by the time we found you. You must learn caution, Legolas." The young Elf's face fell at the rebuke, and Glorfindel laughed and patted his shoulder. "One day we will all stop going so easy on you."

He began to wrap a bandage around Legolas' shoulder. He had almost finished when Legolas spoke.

"Why do they hate us?"

Glorfindel grimaced. He had been expecting that question, and dreading it.

"They hurt you because you are an Elf," he said softly. "Was that what happened?"


He finished tying off the bandage. "Give me your arm – can you raise it? That'll do... Legolas, there are some Men who feel the same way about Elves in general that your father feels about Noldor." That prompted a grin, as Glorfindel had known it would. "The difference is that Thranduil does not waylay Noldor and try to kill them. He blames the kindred of Finwë for many of the ills of Middle-earth, and I must admit that he is not entirely unjustified. But your father understands that the mistakes the Noldor made were due to foolishness, at worst due to overconfidence. Some Men think that the Elves' part in the destruction at the end of the last Age was due to sheer wickedness."

"I tried to tell them –"

"You cannot reason with everyone, Legolas. Some choose willfully to be blind." He glanced at the young Sinda again. "I'm going to bandage your arm now. When I'm done you just sit still while I arrange for our dinner. Your injuries went untended too long and you've lost too much blood – I won't have you collapsing before I get you to Elrond."

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

For once the Elfling obeyed! I was astounded. He must have been more badly injured than he let on... Or perhaps he was scared at thought of having to return to Eryn Galen and tell his father about his foolishness. I don't think he has anything to worry about; I don't see Thranduil being angry with him for longer than ten minutes.

I didn't sleep at all that night – there was no way I could have done. When Legolas wasn't looking embarrassed he was much too pale and so compliant I was sure he was going to die by the time I got him back to Imladris. Can you imagine the reception I would have received if I'd ridden through the gates with a dead Sindarin prince in front of me on Asfaloth? Celebrían would have sent me straight to Mandos to bring him back!

To make matters worse, towards morning Legolas started running a fever. I had no idea which of his wounds was infected, or even whether the fever was because of infection or poison. With him you can never be too cautious!

"Don't complain," Glorfindel said, when Legolas grimaced at the taste of the liquid. "If your fever doesn't break by the time we reach Imladris you'll have Elrond giving you far less palatable potions to drink." Legolas continued to frown into the cup. "Finish it quickly. We have to move... We have a long way to ride." He glanced at the young Elf. "I do have something that might please you... I scouted the area last night and found these." He raised his right hand, in which he held Legolas' bow and knives. "The men must have dropped them in their haste."

Legolas grinned. "Le hannon, hîr nîn."

Glorfindel hid his concern at the weariness in the Elf-prince's voice. "We must spend some time on the archery fields in Imladris, penneth. I am told that your skill has grown greatly since I saw you last." Legolas hid his flush in the cup. "What's bothering the trees?"

"There are still groups of men about."

Glorfindel glanced at the surrounding forest. He had sensed its discomfort, and given time he would have discovered the cause, but he knew that the trees would speak much more freely to Legolas than to him. He had also not missed Legolas' slight shudder at the word 'men'.

"Can you find out where they are? I can hold off a band of men if I must, but it might be better to avoid them altogether if we can."

Legolas nodded, reaching a hand behind him to touch the bark of the tree on which he was leaning. Glorfindel got to his feet and broke camp, his hands doing their work neatly and methodically while his eyes never left the younger Elf. As a lively Elfling Legolas had fallen out of trees and broken bones and had even, according to Thorontur, once tried to befriend a warg. He was no stranger to injury, but this was the first time he had been deliberately hurt by sentient creatures.

Glorfindel's brow furrowed with worry. Something would have to be done before Legolas started to fear and hate all Men.

He cast his mind back to Gondolin. His memories of it could be garbled sometimes, with all the centuries that had passed, but he did remember that there had been more than one Elf who had disliked Túor intensely, and it had sometimes made things difficult. Minstrels never mentioned that when they sang of his graces.

Glorfindel shook his head, wondering how Legolas had managed to go so long without ever having met a man, considering how frequent a visitor he was to Imladris.

He finished scattering earth over the remnants of the fire and went back to the young Sinda.

"Do you know where your horse is?"

"Faelwen? I told her to go straight to Imladris when I was surrounded by the men."

"Good," Glorfindel said grimly. "At least we won't have nonsense about you riding by yourself... No, don't even try to stand." He whistled for Asfaloth, who shot out of the trees to the left, and lifted Legolas carefully, cursing under his breath at the heat radiating from the Elf-prince's skin. "Tell the trees to send word ahead to Imladris, penneth."

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

I thought the night was bad, but the journey was worse. I told Asfaloth to step lightly, and he did, but even that minimal movement looked like being too much. By the middle of the morning Thranduilion was running a raging fever and I had absolutely no idea what to do about it! I washed his wounds and changed the bandages; I made him drink more of that potion; I even put him under a birch for an hour hoping the trees might be able to do something.

Of course it didn't work.

By the time we stopped in the afternoon to let him rest, I truly was terrified. A fine thing it would be if the valiant captain of Imladris were killed by a Sinda – and not just any Sinda, but Thranduil – for being an inadequate healer!

I will say, though, that if Legolas had not managed to stay conscious until we were well clear of all the bands of marauding men, it would have taken far longer to reach our destination. The child is infuriating, but the trees seem not to think so, and they positively took pleasure in misleading the men and dropping nuts and fruit and branches on them at inopportune moments.

Glorfindel glanced at the western sky. Anor had almost set. Legolas had lapsed into sleep or unconsciousness – the Elf-lord was not certain which – some time ago. Although Glorfindel knew the lie of the land fairly well, he did not want to risk going on in the dark.

He laid his hand on the trunk of the nearest tree.

"Has Elrond sent out riders?"

The Elrondionnath rode out this morning. We have been guiding them to you.

"With healing supplies?"

Eärendilion is well acquainted with the Elfling. He supplied them with enough herbs, splints, and bandages to minister to a small army.

"How long until they reach us?"

You will see them tomorrow. They have stopped for the night – as you should, incidentally. The Elfling's condition will not be helped if your horse trips on a loose stone in the dark.

"Asfaloth does not slip."

All horses slip, the tree said serenely. Even Elven horses, when ridden through an unfamiliar forest in the dead of night. Your mighty Asfaloth as much as any other.

"I do not like this," Glorfindel murmured, more to himself than to the tree. "I had hoped to meet someone today... He shows no signs of improvement and I am no healer! Is there nothing I can do for him?"

You ask us, Noldo? You must be desperate!

Glorfindel shook his head and nudged Asfaloth with his knees. The stallion sank to his cruppers to let the Elf-lord lift Legolas off and dismount.

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

So I had another sleepless night. Sometimes I feel very sorry for Thranduil!

The trees made it even worse. They kept at it all night, mumbling to each other in that way they have. I did not understand all of it, but they were discussing us – or, to be specific, me. Legolas is the one who sought an encounter with brigands – brigands! – and then got himself caught and tortured but it was me who was being called several different kinds of idiot. Oaks have no idea of the most basic principles of justice!

Elladan drew rein and turned, waiting for his brother. Elrohir, who had paused to consult a beech, was a few paces behind.

"We're going in the right direction," the younger twin said. "And apparently we do need the healing supplies Ada sent. The Valar know what Legolas has gone and done this time."

Elladan grunted in response.

"At least he is with Glorfindel," Elrohir went on, hoping to temper some of his twin's fury before it was vented on the Sinda. "He cannot be in that much danger."

"Let's go," Elladan said shortly.

They rode for several minutes in silence, Elrohir's occasional comments receiving no response from an increasingly grim Elladan. Elrohir finally gave up trying to lighten his brother's mood, deciding that Legolas deserved whatever he got.

The first sign that they had of the Elves they sought was a frustrated shout from somewhere ahead of them.

"Áva quetë, Valarauco! This is his doing, not mine! And if you discuss me as though I am deaf once, but once, more –"

"Glorfindel?" Elrohir called, barely able to keep the laughter from his voice.

There was sudden silence, broken by a relieved exclamation and an admonition to Asfaloth not to run. Elladan and Elrohir, not constrained by having to hold a gravely injured Elf-prince without jolting him, urged their horses to a gallop.

They came upon Glorfindel at once, although both Elves stiffened at the sight of the golden-haired figure slumped unmoving before him.

Elrohir leapt off his horse at once, crossing the distance to Glorfindel in a few strides and reaching up so that the young Elf could be eased down into his arms. Elladan was beside him as he lowered Legolas to the ground and began to undo the bandages. He distractedly noted the thump as Glorfindel's feet hit the ground.

"Well?" the Elf-lord demanded anxiously. "How is he?"

Elladan bit his lip. "Poison, I think... His injuries don't seem to be infected. We can give him something to reduce the fever and slow its effects, but we need to get him to Ada for an antidote." He tapped Legolas' cheek. "Wake up, Elfling."

As Legolas moaned softly, Glorfindel drew Elrohir away.

"Are there any men in Imladris now?"

"Some of the Dúnedain, yes... You knew they were coming. Is something wrong?"

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

Oh, just lovely, wasn't it? Precisely what was needed at a time when Legolas was still suffering the ill effects of his first encounter with men. I could just imagine the scene, us riding into Imladris, Legolas half-conscious in front of me, and then out of the shrubbery leaps some Dúnadan challenging him to a sparring contest or an archery match.

I tried to tell Elladan and Elrohir this, and urged them to ride ahead and warn the men to stay out of sight until Elrond and I had had a chance to talk to Legolas, but did they listen?

Do they ever listen?

"Legolas will be fine," they said. "Legolas does not harbour foolish prejudices."

Foolish prejudices? If an Elf's first experience of Men is being tortured by them for four days, apparently starved and presumably stabbed with a poisoned blade, I would call him neither foolish nor prejudiced if he were wary of them for a few centuries!


Legolas tried to open his eyes, but they were too heavy. He could hear voices, dimly, and smell the faint aroma of steeping herbs that meant he was in the Healing Ward of Imladris.

The voices came closer, but it was some time before he realized that they were calling his name.

He tried to respond, but all that came out was a soft whimper. At once, he felt a gentle hand on his head and a voice murmured soothing words in his ear.

He managed to open his eyes a crack. His vision was blurred, but he could tell that the room had been darkened and there were several Elves gathered around his bed. He blinked, and his vision cleared enough to allow him to see that the Elves nearest him were Elladan and Elrohir.

"Welcome back, Legolas," Elrohir said softly, smiling. "You had us worried, tithen gwador."

"Aye, you did," Elladan said, more sternly than his twin. Legolas turned blue eyes on the older Elf, but before he could say anything, Elladan raised a hand. "Sîdh, tithen pen. I do not even intend to try to stay angry with you this time. You scared us too much."

"I'm sorry," Legolas said, his words coming out in a hoarse croak.

"Here," someone else said, and then Elrond's face appeared in Legolas' field of vision as Elrohir helped him sit up and a cup of water was pressed to his lips. "You should be sorry, Legolas," the Elf-lord went on, although his smile belied the severity of his words. "Glorfindel told us what you did. That was very foolish. You could have been killed."

Legolas flushed, shivering at the memory of the men and what they had done to him.

Elrond and his sons exchanged a glance, but none of them said anything. Elrond patted the Sinda's head and got to his feet. Elrohir lowered Legolas to his pillows again, noting with a small smile that the Elf-prince was already drifting off... He had not even recognized the taste of the drug in the water he had been given. He had to be very far gone for that.

"How is he?" Celebrían asked from where she was sitting by the window, in one of the few pools of sunlight that had been permitted into the room, sorting a basket of herbs.

"He should be fine if we leave him to sleep the night out," Elrond said. "Nobody need sit with him – he is in no danger now, and I doubt he will wake before tomorrow morning. But, you two –" He glanced at his sons. "Make sure the Dúnedain know not to come here even by accident. I agree that he should meet them, but not before we have had a chance to speak with him."

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

And what do you think happened then?

Let me tell it properly.

I went to help Elladan and Elrohir explain matters to the men – it's not that I don't trust the twins, but they are still young and you know what they can be like when they get carried away. Of course the men agreed to be careful – they know Thranduil's reputation, at any rate, and they were even less eager to be accused of harming his Elfling than I was – but they also wanted to meet him. They seemed quite eager to uphold the honour of their race.

Legolas woke with a start. For a moment he was not sure what had roused him, and then he heard it again – someone knocking sharply at the door.

"Tolo," he called, managing to wriggle into a sitting position and wondering who it was, since no one of Elrond's household would have waited to knock, not while he was still in the Healing Ward. A glance at the window confirmed that it was just past dawn – he had slept through the previous afternoon and night.

The door opened. The figure that stepped into the room was broader across the shoulders than any Elf Legolas had ever seen, broader even than Glorfindel, although not as tall.

"Are you feeling better now?" the visitor asked anxiously. He spoke in Sindarin, but his voice was not quite Elven.

"Yes," Legolas said slowly. "I am."

"Mae." Again the slightly unusual intonation. The figure came towards the bed, and Legolas realized with a start of alarm that it was a man. Memories came to him unbidden... Memories of pain and the rage of his captors and the feeling of being hated for no fault of his. He shrank back against the pillows.

The man stopped short.

"What's wrong?" He took another step forward and gasped. "You are not Baralin."

"No," Legolas said, fighting not to flinch as the man came right up to the bedside. "I am not."

"But then... You must be Prince Legolas!" the Dúnadan exclaimed, horror tingeing his voice on the last word. Legolas nodded. "Forgive me, ernil nîn. I did not mean to disturb you. I will go." He went swiftly to the door, but, before opening it, he turned back to the Elf. "Now that I have disturbed you, do you want anything?"

"If you would draw the curtains... Forgive me; I do not know your name."

Legolas had not planned to ask the man for help, but the words came out of his mouth before he could stop them. He only had time for the barest sense of astonishment at himself; then the man said, "Of course, my prince. My name is Suldal."

In the light that flooded into the room Legolas could see Suldal more clearly. He was not as fair as an Elf, nor as noble in his bearing, but there was just as much sympathy and concern in his eyes as there had been in Elrond's earlier. Legolas was no judge of men's ages, especially not when it came to Dúnedain, but this one had probably seen at least a century and a half.

When the man had finished, he stepped away from the window, seeming to study Legolas as closely as Legolas was studying him. The silence was rapidly growing uncomfortable

"You sought someone else?" Legolas asked in a desperate attempt to break it.

"Aye, Prince Legolas, one of my men. He was injured and we brought him here for healing... He is in the room beside this one. I'm so sorry, I should have been careful. I –"

"Do not apologize," Legolas cut in. "It has happened to me in the past."

A wide smile split the man's face.

"I could wish I had met you under more propitious circumstances, my prince. I believe we might have been friends."

Legolas repressed a shudder as the man came to the bedside again, this time seating himself in one of the chairs by the bed. He found himself wishing Elrond or one of the twins would come to check on him – the man seemed friendly, but the young Elf did not want to be left alone with him. It was too soon after his encounter with the brigands.

The man seemed to sense what he was thinking.

"Lord Elrohir told us some of what happened... I am truly sorry that you should have received such inhuman treatment at the hands of my race, Prince Legolas. This may be difficult for you to believe at the moment, but most of us have respect and affection for the Eldar."

The man held out his hand. Legolas hesitated, not quite able to bring himself to take it. The man who had captured him had been just as friendly to begin with.

Then he looked up into Suldal's face. There was no deception there: it was open, the man's eyes clear and bright.

Still Legolas hesitated. He could not forget what had happened, not with his arm and shoulder still bound and his ribs aching... But if he let a few men taint his view of all the Secondborn, surely he was no better than the men who had tortured him only because he was an Elf.

Making up his mind, the Elf-prince drew in a deep breath and grasped Suldal's forearm in a warriors' greeting.

The door opened again, this time without a warning knock. Elladan came in, stopping short when he saw Suldal and fixing him with an accusing glare that made even Legolas draw back a little.

The man laughed nervously.

"Forgive me, my lord. I came in looking for Baralin, and I could not resist staying to make Prince Legolas' acquaintance... It is not often that I meet a Sindarin prince, and even rarer that I meet an Elf who has seen fewer summers than I have." He got to his feet, edging around Elladan to the door. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness. I will go now. Mayhap we will meet again."

Elladan watched the door until it shut behind Suldal. Then he seated himself on the edge of the bed.

"Perhaps you are more of an adult than we give you credit for, Elfling."

Excerpt from Letter from Glorfindel to Círdan

The Dúnadan insisted on spending time with Legolas on the archery ranges every day. (Not that I blamed him, mind you – the Elfling can shoot. It's a pleasure to watch him.) He had an unfortunate habit of telling Legolas stories from his youth. Well, you know the trouble men can get into...

All I say is that I don't want to be Thranduil when Legolas returns to Eryn Galen with his head full of thoughts of mischief. For that matter, I don't want to be Suldal if Thranduil ever catches him.

Legolas never saw Suldal after that summer, but over the centuries he met other men and learnt that they were capable of courage and nobility and greatness of heart.

Some years – a short time, as the Eldar reckon these things – before the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth he was introduced to another man, the foster-son of Lord Elrond, with whom he shared something more than a light acquaintance. Between them was one of the greatest friendships ever known between Elf and Man, a friendship to rival that of Túrin Turambar and Beleg Cúthalion.

Elvish Translations


Áva quetë, Valarauco! – Be quiet, Balrog!


Ada – Dad/Daddy

Nana – Mum/Mummy

Tithen pen – Little one

Le hannon – Thank you

Ellon – Male Elf

Hîr nîn – My lord

Penneth – Young one

Gwador – (Sworn) brother

Sîdh – Peace

Tolo – Come

Mae – Well

Ernil nîn – My prince

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