Thud Thud... Thud Thud..
No sound... No movement... Everyone was so focused on the door in front of them...
Thud Thud... Thud Thud...
Anticipation... Excitement... the very air that surrounds the room suddenly became thick...
Thud Thud... Thud Thud...
The door suddenly creaked open... oh painfully slow... Light bursted out from within... and a lone figure step out...
"What's up b #$%es! Fuyu Jin is back!"
Haha, well how's that for a comeback speech? It's been 3 years... 3 years! heck, i thought I won't be able to come back again. Me thinks namo doesn't want me in his halls anymore and sned me back to you to finish this story of mine... haha. Sorry guys, it took me so long to continue. I reread all your reviews and decided to continue this one, haha. I hope I'm still welcomed. Oh by the way, i would like to thank those people who offered me their assistance by being my beta. I spent some time thinking about that, but decided to finish this story on my own. No offense. I think I'll try to improve my English through your constructive criticism. Take note: Constructive, okay? Haha. I want to see my improvement through out the story. So, that's it. But I do hope I can count on you on my following stories. I already have a story in mind and I'll be more than willing to have your help with that, so... mwah!mwah! tsup! tsup! haha. I love you huys. Please enjoy this suoer delayed chapter. ^^
Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Rings and it's characters, they are Tolkien's. Story is very much based on Margaret Moore's A Warrior's passion.
"Aren't you bargaining too much?!" Thranduil thundered.
"Aren't you pricing too much?" Aragorn answered calmly.
The two sat at the king's hall as they were discussing the conditions of their trade. Thranduil reached for his goblet, scowling as he mumbled under his breath about men who knew nothing of the dangers of the forest.
Aragorn ignored his mumblings, thanking the Valars for the patience and self control they had gifted him when he was born. He had partaken of negotiations before, but none like his negotiation with the woodland king at the moment. The two had spent the entire morning discussing the terms and conditions of their trade. He somehow wondered if they were going to discuss the price of the spider silk the whole afternoon.
It's a good thing he wasn't in a hurry to leave Mirkwood, and so he allowed the king to complain as much as he liked.
Then he suddenly remembered the arrival of the Saxons, as Legolas told him. He wondered what their business here in Mirkwood was. He had noted the Saxonian prince's absence from the hall that morning to break the fast. His father taught him that as a visitor, one should accept the hospitality of his host.
"Foods, weapons and other materials are needed in procuring the spider silk. And then there's the risk, not only of acquiring the silk, but also in sending it to you." Thranduil said.
"The travel to Gondor, I understand. But whether we or we not buy your silk, you will still acquire it anyway, so I see no reason charge such high amount."
"But perhaps my men would not venture deeper into dangerous forest and spend more time than intended in spider lairs just to acquire more spider silk for you. Mind you Prince Elessar, those are my men!" Thranduil cried.
"Yes," Aragorn agreed. "But otherwise, your men would still go such dangerous task to acquire the silk."
Thranduil let go of a 'un-kingly' heavy sigh as he fell back on his chair. "You're a cold hearted fellow," he grumbled as he took a sip of his wine.
Aragorn managed to raise his eyebrows, making an amused look. Cold hearted? Oh yes, he was, until an elf named Legolas managed to creep under his skin, run through his veins and swim directly to his heart.
"Come!" Thranduil suddenly ordered, jumping to his feet.
Aragorn scrambled after the king as he marched out of the hall. Thranduil led him several hallways, turning left and right, until finally they were outside. A few more turns away from the courtyard and Aragorn found him being led to a busy area. Aragorn surveyed the scene before him. Many elves scampered here and there as they busied themselves in preparing and weaving the spider silk.
"Strong and smoother than Lorien silk," Thranduil boasted, glancing at Aragorn. "A very precious piece, that's spider silk."
All the elves working fell silent when they realized they have visitors, and they bowed in respect as they recognized their visitors. At Thranduil's wave their resumed their work, minding to clear a path for the two as they walked through their midst. And as they walked, Aragorn couldn't help but admire the silk that was being meticulously prepared by the elves.
"This is what I will trade with your father. Acquired from the most dangerous lairs that is harder to penetrate giving it the highest and finest quality,' Thranduil announced. "These silks received more attention in preparing and more meticulously weaved."
"This does look a fine silk," Aragorn agreed, resisting the urge to run his hand along the silk that hung from a clothesline.
Thranduil came around Aragorn and gestured at Aragorn at what clearly was his pride. "Is that all you can say, Prince of Gondor? This will be the finest silk in the whole of Arda!"
"So it may be," Aragorn conceded. "But that is of less concern to my father than the amount you wish to put on it."
Some of the nearby elves began to mutter, believing that Aragorn was insulting their handiwork, which reminded Aragorn that he was in an elven territory, whose elves were very much capable of wielding weapons that they could easily throw on him.
Aragorn stepped back with obvious admiration, "I have seen no silk to compare it with, though. Tell me, what does your Saxonian guest think of it?"
Thranduil's face darkened for a moment before a thundering voice answered the question.
"He will undoubtedly admire it."
Aragorn turned to see a tall, broad, blonde elven warrior standing there, a cold smile gracing the elf's stoic yet handsome face. He was dressed in a black silk tunic with the ruby-eyed wolf insignia, his waist was adorned with a silver sword belt with two pockets for his mithril twin knives, black woollen breeches and his booted feet topped with black leggings.
As the fellow strode towards them, in an all high and mighty attitude, Aragorn tried not to raise one of his eyebrows, though he couldn't help thinking, 'is he mourning?'
He said nothing to Aragorn, though he inclined his head at Thranduil as a greeting, before speaking with some elves in Sindarin. Judging with his tone and the elves' respectful and pleased reactions, he was definitely complementing them and their handiwork.
Finally, Thranduil moved. "Prince Limuel," he said to the warrior elf. "This is my other guest, Prince Elessar of Gondor."
Limuel glanced at his shoulder and gave Aragorn a dismissive glance. "I thought as much."
"Prince Elessar, this is Prince Limuel of the Saxons"
"I thought as much," Aragorn replied coolly.
The Saxon turned and focused his cool visage at Aragorn. Then he laughed. Knowing very well that Aragorn had no idea about his people.
Aragorn did not as much as smile.
Thranduil looked uneasily, though as discreetly as possible, from one prince to another.
"You are interested with silk?" The Saxon asked.
"When they are of finest quality." Aragorn replied.
"A spider silk is better than an elf," Limuel remarked, running his fingers at the spider silk. "So smooth and soft, making it challenging at times, although whatever challenge it presents, it's still all worth it, especially when you feel it caress your very skin..."
"Fine things in a silk perhaps," Aragorn observed. "If you prefer a thing rather than flesh, blood and spirit, so be it.
Limuel threw back his head and roared with laughter. "You have me there, Gondorian!" He cried jovially. "What is a piece of spider silk to a willing and beautiful elf, indeed?" Then Limuel casted a short glance at Thranduil and smirked. "Perhaps, Gondorian, you would like to know more about the Saxons: who we are, where we hail?" He cocked his head and ran a measuring gaze over Aragorn. "Would you come out and ride with me to the forest?"
The last thing Aragorn wanted to do was to spend some time with this Saxon.
"Or has your little injury prevents you from doing even just that?" Limuel said, not hiding the challenge in his eyes.
Aragorn felt a déjà vu. The last time he took up a challenge, he was lucky he was not seriously injured. Would there be a danger if he were to ride with this elf, which he still considered as a mystery?
He was Prince Elessar Telcontar, son of the King of Gondor, and a welcomed guest of King Thranduil. Surely he was too valuable a person to be murdered.
He would not have anyone think him a coward, most certainly not an arrogant Saxon, who ever they are, or Legolas' father.
"I will be most pleased to ride with you."
Later that day, Legolas stared unseeing at the stream by the clearing, as he sat at the bank, letting his feet dangled at the cold water. His mind lies far away from his home, imagining a future he had never dared to dream of, as the cherished mate of someone who would accept him and love him unconditionally. Once he was with Aragorn, happy and free at last, he would do everything in his power to be a good mate for him. Their lives would be full of pure, radiant joy and passion. Passion – that word alone brought a burning desire to him.
"Well Legolas," Lorellin said, walking towards the brook, carrying Beithris and leading Finduil by the hand. "You are here."
Legolas was startled to find Lorellin at his clearing and flushed guiltily because of his recent imaginings. Too hooked up he was in his thoughts that he did not notice her approaching.
Lorellin sat down under the shade of a tree near Legolas, and cradled Beithris in her arms, while Finduil stood next to him and faced him.
"Where's Prince Elessar?" Finduil asked plaintively. "I want to see him."
"I don't know," Legolas answered honestly.
"When can he tell me another story?"
Lorellin looked at her son with annoyance, then at Legolas. "If Finduil had been put to bed earlier," she charged, "he would not be so peevish."
Legolas wanted to ask Lorellin if a similar thing would make her less peevish, but he just kept it to himself.
"Prince Elessar is probably with the king," he explained to Finduil. "Perhaps the prince will be able to tell you some story again later, when he already has some free time."
Lorellin's eyes gleamed with the superiority of someone who knew something of which others were ignorant. "I saw him at the silk field. Your father was there too, as well as the other prince."
Finduil grabbed Legolas' hand and started to tug. "Then let's go see him!"
Legolas gently disengaged the elfling's hand. "They might be discussing maters of importance. Perhaps later, Finduil."
Finduil, apparently sensing the futility of persistence, reluctantly sat beside Legolas. The elfling pulled his boots off and dangled his little feet on the water, much like Legolas.
"I wonder what they are discussing with the Saxonian Prince..." Legolas wondered, more to himself than to Lorellin.
"I heard Prince Limuel inviting Prince Elessar to ride with him to the woods, saying something about who they are and where they from." Lorellin replied as she gently rock the sleeping Beithris in her arms.
"But what about his sprain? I'm sure it still hurts... a bit..." Legolas said worriedly, with a frown marring his beautiful face.
Lorellin just shrugged her shoulders, "well, I'm sure that Prince Elessar won't be so much of a fool to agree with it if he still feels any discomfort..."
Legolas just let out a heavy sigh. Catching the scent of rain, he looked to the north, where high, gray clouds massed in the distance.
Aragorn couldn't help but admit that Prince Limuel was a great companion, although he still couldn't shake the feeling of coldness, arrogance and mystery surrounding the said elf. Limuel had told him some interesting facts about the Saxons during their ride towards the northern forest. Although Aragorn could clearly see that the Saxonian Prince was carefully keeping some information untold.
King Cedric, the King of the Saxons, built his own kingdom somewhere in Arda where no one knows, and they intended to keep it that way. No records of them were written in history for their kingdom was established after the battle of the last alliance and all the elves that went with King Cedric cut all connections they have with other elven realms. They built their own empire, which they called Nevareth, and they called themselves Saxons. They chose to live in seclusion, and only the King of Mirkwood knew of their existence. But now, someone else from the race of men was aware of their being. Limuel told, or rather, warned Aragorn that it may well be good for him to be the only man who had this precious limited information.
Aragorn agreed to it. Despite his confidence that nothing would happen to him in the hands of the Saxon, especially because as the son of King Arathorn, he was an important man, Aragorn kept wary with him. After all, an unforeseen 'accident' was not impossible, as he mind his injured ankle, and the gray clouds that started forming in the north.
Limuel, too, glanced northward as he came beside Aragorn, still atop of his own stallion.
"The weather should hold for some time yet," Limuel said.
"He's a wonderful steed," Aragorn said, not hiding his admiration of the brown horse he was riding at the moment.
"Aye, he is well trained. I can say that, unlike other elves, we Saxons have more affinity with animals. There's no beast we can't tame." Limuel said proudly, earning him a raised eyebrow from Aragorn.
Well, what can anyone expect? For the most part, he was raised by Lord Elrond Peredhel, and 'twas no wonder that he managed to copy some of the Noldo's actions.
"I have heard of your father, the King Arathorn of Gondor, with his one eye."
"Yes. Although we live in a more hidden corner of Arda, it doesn't mean we are ignorant with the rest of the world. And I think, somehow, we have something on common."
"And that is?"
Limuel chuckled before he continued. "Well, you do have an elven blood in you, knowing your race is the descendant of Elros."
Aragorn nodded, reflecting that Limuel seemed in an oddly serious mood. Indeed, somehow there's elven blood in my veins, albeit very little. But because of this, I was able to spend big part of my childhood under the care of Lord Elrond and his household, of whom I dearly consider as family."
Limuel gave him another sidelong glance. "So, is your family's loyalty to the men, or to the elves?"
Aragorn kept his gaze focused on the north. "I have come to Mirkwood for a trade arrangement, not to take sides. In fact, I don't see any need for it."
Limuel chuckled as a response.
"Perhaps you thought this trade pact implies an important alliance with my father."
Limuel grinned. "Why would I? It's no concern of us if Thranduil make more allies. After all, we already have his loyalty, hmm?"
The words were calmly spoken but Aragorn heard the underlying menace. Just what Limuel was trying to point out? He was now beginning to get confused with the other's motives. Then, he somehow thought that his bonding with Legolas might have other consequences.
Suddenly, a sound caught Limuel's attention, and if it wasn't for his elven agility, it would have been his head and not the tree on his side that would be struck of an arrow. That arrow was followed by several more, and to make it worse, orcs came out from the trees. Soon they found themselves fighting down the fell creatures.
"Tsk, as if this is not a bad situation enough," Limuel muttered as thunder roared from the sky, followed by heavy drops of rain.
The two tried to fight the orcs while preventing themselves from falling out of their horses, especially Aragorn, whose ankle was still in the process of healing.
Limuel surely showed more prowesses in fighting than any elves Aragorn had seen. Slashed here, slashed there, stabbed down then curving upward. The twin knives he was using seemed like flashes of light with the swiftness of his hands.
Aragorn easily and expertly swung his sword around, cutting everything that crossed is path. The horses, he managed to observe through their predicament, were truly well-trained, for instead of being surprised and restless due to the surprise attack, were calm and knew how to act for their riders' comfort and advantage.
They'd been like that for what seemed like hours and yet their enemies' number didn't seem to diminish. They have realized too late that they have ventured too deep in the forest, and regretted on not having any escort to accompany them.
Aragorn groaned through clenched teeth as he instinctively kicked an orc with his injured foot. A dagger flew past Aragorn's face just to land on an orc's forehead. He looked at Limuel and nodded his head in thanks.
"I could fight off these orcs myself with no problem at all, but I think I must not endanger King Thranduil's important guess," Limuel shouted as he guided his horse near Aragorn's. "I think it would be wise if we retreat for the meantime."
He reared his horse towards the direction of the Palace. "Come!" He commanded above the sound of the battle and of the howling wind.
Whew! Chapter 11 up! Haha... so... just tell me what you think of this chapter. i'll go back to my old routine, that it, to update one chapter every week. I hope you won't mind. Haha. So, until the next chapter! Please don't forget to leave your reviews. Thank you! :)