Disclaimer: I do not own Middle-earth or any of the known characters of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Author's Note: In this story, Legolas and his father, Thranduil, do not exactly live in Middle-earth but somewhere in Europe instead. They chose to live in our World but still travel back to Middle-earth from time to time, or at least, Legolas does.
Please be advised I am NOT going by the book's events or all the characteristics that the Elves possess. If that bothers you, then thank you for stopping by!
The way the Elves speak in this story will also be written in our time, instead of the proper way that they tend to speak. Remember that it's fan-fiction so anything goes!
The characters I own are Isa (eye-sah) Culver, Shohrae (sho-ray) Holone, and Ellessia Morningstar. There will be a few others characters later in the story that will also belong to me. I'm sure you can figure them out. The story will also be written in Isa's point-of-view. As the story progresses, I might do other POVs from the other characters but that's a maybe.
Hope you enjoy. Happy reading!
I stare out the window and see nothing but forests and narrow two-way roads. We are a good ways from the city now, the kind of civilization I didn't want to be away from. I keep imagining throwing myself out of the moving vehicle and running back to the city to catch the next plane back to New York. Why did he have to live so far out in the country?
The road we pass reminds me of a place you consider for camping trips with your family or hiking adventures with your friends. Taking a dead body and hiding the evidence here also crosses my mind. With nothing around but trees and bushes, it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But, I shouldn't think like that. If I ever have to walk this road on foot, I'd rather not think about a serial killer stalking me—especially at night. The people here will probably lock me away for running around like a madman, or should I say madwoman? I quickly shake the thought away.
The driver stares at me from the mirror, most likely wondering if I'm having some sort of a nervous breakdown. I smile at him politely and sink a little more into the leather seat to hide my embarrassment. He slowly looks away and focuses back on the road. He must think I'm a strange American girl.
When I no longer have his eyes on me, I trace my fingers on the leather seat. The inside still smells like a new car. I've been in town cars before, but this one looks like a newer model, a nicer model…an expensive model.
The man in the front seat waited for me outside the terminal gate of Heathrow Airport with a sign that read ISA CULVER when I arrived. The kind of sign you see held up for business people, diplomats and of course…celebrities. It made me feel a little special myself, minus the paparazzi with their blinding cameras.
"I am, Henry, your godfather's driver. Welcome to England," he greets me. Henry is slim with sandy-blonde hair, wearing a simple black suit with a white shirt and skinny tie. Somewhere in his fifties, I guess. He reminds me of a dapper George Clooney. "Your godfather lives out in the country, so it will be quite a drive." Two hours to be exact. He looks at me in the rear view mirror when he finally sits in the driver's seat. I'm already starting to feel restless and the car hasn't even moved yet.
I look out the window again, now wondering if my godfather's house is some sort of cottage with one of those old-fashioned chimneys. It seems like the kind of place for a cottage but it didn't fit the way he carries himself. He's some sort of English businessman so I assume he has a nice house and a garage full of vintage cars, which sounds more like his taste.
The phone in my purse vibrates. "Yes, kydaraes, I'm in the town car...yes, I think we're almost there…mm-hmm…yeah, it was fine…okay…will do…bye."
The man on the phone is my godfather, Thranduil Greenleaf. When I was about five-years-old, he wanted me to call him kee-dahr-ays and so I did. Thranduil said it means godfather in Gaelic from what I remember. I used to love calling him that as a kid because it sounded so strange and cool, like a name out of a fairytale book with princes and princesses, and pretty unicorns. However, I've long outgrown those make-believe fantasies.
"We are almost there, Lady Culver."
My insides jump for joy. Finally! Wait…Lady what? I want to tell him to call me Isa but he seems too proper to obey my request, so I let it go. I look straight ahead at the road. His turn signal indicates that he plans to make a right. The car slowly turns down a Private Road. The way is still a little mucky from the rain they had the previous night making me bounce in my seat from the bumpy path. But, any minute now and I will be free to stretch my legs!
"Here we are," Henry says after a few minutes.
I lean forward to get a better look of what's ahead. Big black gates come into view. I suck in a breath as we enter. I was completely wrong. My godfather didn't live in house, he lived in a castle! A freaking castle! My make-believe fantasies briefly resurfaces and I'm five-years-old again. I can't believe my eyes. Seeing where he lives for the first time, it now occurs to me that I have no idea what he really does for a living. The head of a British mob, perhaps?
Henry pulls the car over by the massive front door and turns off the engine. I'm so busy looking at my new surroundings that I didn't notice he opened my door for me. He clears his throat, obviously wanting me out of the car. I smile politely as he waits for me to compose myself. Give me a second while I lock my inner princess back in the trunk and swallow the key.
When I finally step outside, he closes the door behind me and grabs my luggage out of the trunk. I'm still in awe of the castle and the garden in the front lawn. I'm not sure how many acres the entire property sits on, but it looks much bigger than any golf course I've seen back home. I also notice a forest surrounds most of the backyard secluding it from the main road. Anyone could pass the private entrance if you weren't looking for it.
I I I
"Isa!" I hear my name.
I turn around and smile. "Kydaraes!" I jog over to his outstretched arms. He give me a big hug, almost shaking me in his grasp.
"My, how you've grown!" he chuckles. I playfully roll my eyes. It was something he always said when he saw me. "You look great."
My godfather kisses my head and examines me from head to toe. Thranduil doesn't look like he's aged a day since last time I saw him, but then again, it's only been a year or so…at my mom's funeral. She told me Thranduil's wife passed long before I was born so I never brought it up and because he never mentions her.
He has long, grayish-white hair that falls past his shoulders in a well-kept ponytail. His stature is that of a refined businessman, except for the long hair. But, it suits him. Even for this age, he's still a handsome man with a warm smile. Thranduil also still looks strong and healthy. I figure it's due to some special diet he's on and lot of exercise.
I rarely get to see Thranduil since he lives here in Europe, but regardless—he never misses sending a birthday gift or holiday card in his own writing. "I'm glad you're here, Isa," his voice is soft and sincere. "Stay for at least the summer and then, well…whatever you want to do I will continue to support you."
"Thank you, kydaraes...for everything," I half-smile.
He hugs me again, but this time, a lot more gently. "There is nothing for you to be thanking me for, my dear. I promised your mother I would take care of you and I intend to do so. I know you're an adult now and free to do as you please, but remember…I am here for you and you'll always have a place to live. Consider this your home." And a big home it was.
My heart smiles at his sincerity. He truly is a good man. After my mom died, Thranduil paid for her funeral expenses and took care all of the necessary paperwork for her Estate. She made him her main beneficiary, which didn't bother me at all. The whole idea of having to take care of my mom's affairs was too overwhelming with everything that was going on at the time.
But, of course, she didn't leave me without anything. Our home in New York and her precious jewels I inherited. The mortgage on the house was paid off by Thranduil years ago as a birthday present to her and I know her jewels are priceless as they have been passed down for generations within her family.
I also have no known living relatives, but my mom considers Thranduil like family. My father died before I could remember him. Because I'm no longer a minor, my godfather can't claim to be my legal guardian. He was concerned about me living alone, but I assured him I'm fine on my own. I'd been living alone or with roommates since I was eighteen—when I moved away to college—so living without parental supervision isn't new to me. When my mom passed, he felt I was still his responsibility—my somewhat legal guardian—so he paid for my college tuition and occasionally sent me an allowance to live on, which was a lot more than I ever expected. I saved most of it in case I needed it for a rainy day.
Thranduil also kept insisting I visit him for the summer when my finals were over. I couldn't deny him his request after everything he'd done for me, so naturally, I said yes. I took advance courses and only had a year or so left and planned to study some more while I was here. He offered to get me private tutors if I decided to stay past the summer. But, I wasn't sure yet if I was ready to give up my life and friends back home.
"Hello, there." A woman in a pinstripe suit approaches us.
"Ah, Shohrae." Thranduil smiles in her direction. I have no idea who she is but force a quick smile, anyway. Shohrae takes her time, walking gracefully, like someone who took ballet lessons as a child.
She holds the smile on her face until she reaches us. She moves the planner in her right arm over to her left and extends her hand to me. "Good morning. I'm Shohrae Holone. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Hi...I'm Isa Culver. It's nice to meet you, too." I shake the hand she offers. She squeezes my hand more than I thought she would. My weak hand cowers underneath her firm grip but I pretend it doesn't faze me.
"What a lovely name you have."
"Shohrae is my assistant," Thranduil says. I smile again, flexing out the fingers of my hand behind me. "She will be taking care of your needs."
"Anything you need please don't hesitate to let me know," she smiles with a short nod.
Her smile never falters. She's a slender woman, around five-foot-nine if I guess correctly. Dark hair, darker than mine, that passes down her mid-back with a fair complexion. The assistant wears little make-up, but not that she needs to wear any at all. She could pass for a European model. Her brown eyes smile in harmony with her lips. "Henry, could you please take Isa's belongings to her room?"
"Yes, of course," the driver responds. He takes my backpack, my purse, and the rest of my belongings in his arms and walks into the house. I mean castle. I watch him carry my things like they were empty cases full of air. One luggage alone weights at least sixty pounds. I didn't even see him put any effort when he picked them up.
"Thanks…" I try to utter, but he's already at the doorway.
"Come, darling. You must be famished after your long flight." Thranduil places a hand on my back to get me moving inside. Shohrae follows right behind us.
My eyes are shocked once again as I step foot on the onyx tiling underneath my feet. The inside only seems to fuel my notions that every piece in this gigantic place is taken from the medieval times and from my favorite fairytale books growing up.
A big mahogany table is set in the middle of the spacious room. On top of the table holds a bouquet of fresh flowers that fills the room with the scent of roses, lilacs, peonies, and lavender. Something about the smell is familiar to me. Other antique tables lie against the walls with tapestries hanging above them. There are also multiple doorways on either side of me, each leading to a different part of the castle. Like a curious little monkey, I want to venture into each doorway and see what kind of décor they hold.
But, my Louis and Clark expedition has to wait. Barely getting a chance to take in the new environment, I'm already taken to narrower hallway to the right, next to the staircase. The steps are wide with ivory Kiran carpeting that fork into two more staircases, splitting East and West. Bedrooms, I guessed.
"Lord Thranduil, is that you with your goddaughter?" I hear a man ask as the hallway starts to end.
"Yes, it is, Markus," Thranduil answers him. I look at him confused. He smiles at me and whispers, "It's our resident chef."
"Oh..." Of course my godfather has his own personal chef. Why wouldn't he? He already has his own personal driver and personal assistant so there has to be more people on his staff to add to the personal fill-in-the-blank role.
The narrow hallway opens to a spacious kitchen. It looks more modern than the main room with more onyx tiling, hanging lights, marble countertops, electric cook tops and ovens, and stainless steel refrigerators. There is more than one of everything—except the cook.
"It is a pleasure to meet you," he places his hands on my shoulders, leans in, and kisses both cheeks. I stand there like a deer caught in headlights, taken by surprise. He has the same grayish-white hair as my godfather, except shorter, and plumper around the mid-section. Markus sort of reminds me of a jolly looking Santa Clause.
My godfather must see the look on my face because he breaks out in a soft laugh. "Markus has been waiting for you to arrive." I look at him confused again. His laughter dies down to a smile. "We never get too adventurous with our meals but now that you're here, Markus can…expand his cooking skills a bit."
"Anything you would like to eat, I will make for you!" He smiles at me looking hopeful for something out of the ordinary like a hot dog or a pepperoni pizza from their American guest.
I take a moment to think of what I want. I'm starved after the long seven or so hour flight here from New York. Thranduil bought me a non-stop first class ticket but airline food tastes all the same to me no matter where you sit. "Umm…a cheeseburger and fries?" I hesitantly ask for something familiar. I thought he'd be disappointed at my lack of creativity but Markus just smiles even wider at my request.
"Done!" He turns around and heads for one of the refrigerators that is actually a full size freezer and takes out the hamburger patties and opens the other fridge to get the cheese. American, of course. The head chef also picks up a few potatoes sitting in a basket on the other counter and makes his way back to us. "I will make you fresh potato fries that will taste better than your American 'French fries'," he says.
My godfather nods at me as if to say to trust him. "Markus, make that two." Markus nods happily.
Shohrae excuses herself to attend to other business matters, but says to call on her if I need anything before she disappears. She leaves after I thank her. Thranduil and I eat on the long glass table in the middle of the kitchen. It looks sort of like an island with cupboards, but longer, that can sit twelve people comfortably on the suede cushioning.
"So, tell me, Lady Culver, what do you think?" Markus asks, eager to hear my answer. That title Lady Culver again.
I swallow the last bite of my cheeseburger and nod my approval and a thumbs up. "It was really good. I really liked your potato fries, too," I give him a big grin instead of full smile in case I have food stuck between my teeth. No need to embarrass myself again so early in my stay.
"Better than your American fries?" he raises a questioning eyebrow.
"Yes," I chuckle.
Markus clasps his hands in delight, which makes me laugh a little. He's acting as if he's won first prize in some Iron Chef cook off.
"Excellent!" he smiles again.
My godfather chuckles silently to himself as well. "I told you he'd been waiting for you." I let out another quiet laughter. The cook is quickly becoming one of my favorite people from the short amount of time I've been here. What an amusing man.
Markus takes our empty plates and puts them in the sink. I casually yawn as I watch him, not giving much thought to my actions. "Oh, I forgot, you must also be feeling jet-lagged," Thranduil breaks my gaze from the cook washing the dishes. "Come, I'll have Shohrae bring you to your room."
The food coma must have set off the jet-lag I'm now feeling. I smile at him as he rubs my back.
He walks over to the wall and presses a yellow button on the intercom and waits for a reply. Immediately Shohrae's voice comes through like a walkie-talkie. "Yes, Lord Thranduil? How can I assist you?" It's strange hearing someone call him 'Lord' as if he rules them like a king or nobleman. But, I suppose this is how they do it in England.
"Can you please escort Isa up to her room?" he pushes a different button to speak.
"Of course, I'll be right there."
We say goodbye to Markus and walk back to the main foyer to wait for Shohrae. But, when we got there, she's actually the one waiting for us. Again, she smiles. Thranduil turns me toward him and gives me a kiss on the forehead. "I hope you enjoy your stay here. Shohrae can take care of your needs but if you need me for anything, don't hesitate to let me know. All right?"
"Yeah…sure, kydaraes…thanks." He gives me another warm smile and squeezes my shoulder. Shohrae and I watch him leave the room until it's only the two of us.
I I I
"Ready?" asks Shohrae. I nod and follow her up the stairs. She walks smoothly on each of the twelve steps, not looking back once. We turn east at the fork-in-the-road and climb up some more stairs. I probably already climbed fifteen steps in total and still, we aren't even close to the top yet. "Are you still doing all right?" Shohrae asks again with her focus still straight ahead.
"Yes," I lie. My legs want to collapse. My lungs are also begging me to stop to catch my breath, but I try to endure it and keep my heavy breathing as quiet as I can. I'm not ready to admit to myself—or to Shohrae—how out of shape I am. This is what I get for cancelling my gym membership last year.
Shohrae keeps the same pace ahead of me, not once breaking a sweat. "These stairs can be quite a challenge at first, but you'll eventually get used them," the assistant assures me. I hope she's right. If not, I might just have to convince my godfather to have an elevator installed…if he didn't have one already.
I'm panting heavily by the time we reach the top. Sweat forms on my forehead that I wipe with the back of my sleeve before she notices. The hallway reminds me of a fancy hotel, except the lighting isn't as bright. It would be darker on the floor if it wasn't for the light coming in through the windows. I see another set of stairs winding to a third floor and frown. How many stories did this place have? Shohrae cuts my attention away from my next would be challenge.
"Don't worry, I won't make you climb anymore stairs," she chuckles as if she's heard what I was thinking. I guess the panicked look on my face also gives me away. "Your room is actually just over there. Your belongings should be inside." Thank God! I see more tapestries hanging on the wall as we walk a little further down the hallway.
"Here we are." She stops at the first door on the left and lets the door swing open. She steps in first turning on all the lights. I slowly follow inside a few seconds later. My godfather's castle is still full of surprises.
"Are you all right, Lady Culver?" she asks looking a little worried. I hadn't noticed I'm still standing by the doorway. "If this room is too small for you or you just don't like it, there are plenty of other rooms you can choose from."
"No, no! It's not that…" I look around the room again. "It's great, actually. I just didn't expect it look like this. It looks like a hotel room."
The assistant lightly chuckles again at my reaction to the bedroom. "Well, then, Lady Culver…consider this your penthouse suite. That is, of course, you'd prefer an upgrade?" another grin forms on her lips.
"No…this will do," I assure her. "Thank you."
"You are very welcome." She walks to the door and points to the intercom on the wall. I failed to notice it as I was too busy gawking at everything else when I walked in. "There are multiple intercoms all over the property. The yellow button here," she points, "is how you get a hold of me. Your godfather holds the button down for a few seconds so I know it's him. For you, press the button twice, so I know it's you. Any questions?"
"Well, what if you're busy though? You can't be on call twenty-four-seven," I joke. "Or can you?"
The assistant simply smiles. "Don't worry about that. Just call if you need me. You can reach me anywhere on the property."
"Even outside?" I ask curiously. I can't imagine an intercom sitting on the side of a tree. But, after seeing what I've seen so far today, I could be wrong.
Shohrae points to the black pager on her belt. "If I don't answer, you can page me. I know pagers are a thing of the past, but it still comes in handy around here. Press the pound sign on the key pad. When you hear the dial tone, dial 6-1-1-2. Once I get the page, I'll call you."
"Oh," I nod at her instructions. They really did have the art of communication perfected. I'm glad because I'd rather not run around this maze of a castle to find someone or an exit outside.
"Oh, and of course, the green button is your godfather's. Same instructions except if you need to page him, dial 2-1-2-5. All right?" I nod again and repeat his number in my head. "All the other buttons are labeled for your convenience."
"I'll be going now so you can get settled in. I'll come by later to check in on you."
"Okay. Oh! And by the way…could you just call me Isa? I'd prefer it that way."
"Very well," she smiles again and closes the door behind her.
I look closer at the intercom pad and read the labels. The labels are marked for the kitchen, the indoor and outdoor pool, exercise room, garage, and laundry room. Out of all those buttons, the kitchen is really the only one I need to remember. I have a habit of waking up in the middle of the night, hungry for a snack. Good thing that's the first location I know how to find.
I turn to face my penthouse suite—as Shohrae puts it—and sigh at the overwhelming room that will be mine for the summer. There's a small antique chandelier in the middle of the ceiling that gives the room the most light. I have a queen bed inside a four-post bed frame with sheer drapes that hang down the sides; something Sleeping Beauty could sleep in while she waits for her Prince Charming.
On either side of the bed are tables, each one with a lamp with an ivory marble base. Straight across is a mahogany armoire with drawers and a plasma TV inside. In the far corner is a small couch where I can sit and read in comfort. The room even comes with a coffee table and fashion magazines neatly spread out on top of it. Shohrae probably picked those thinking I'd read them from cover to cover. It's a nice thought, but I doubt I'd go through any of them.
My little couch is placed perfectly near the balcony. Yes, I also have a balcony. I can sit on my couch and look out to stare at the side of the yard through the glass-tiled wooden doors. Normally, the side of a house isn't very exciting, but it would be if you were staring at a sea of flowers.
The heavy drapes around the balcony door reach as high as the ceiling. They are beige and tied by thick golden ropes to hold them open. I look up and see the whole design of the glass tile reaching to the ceiling as well. I unlock the door to see what kind of view I actually have outside.
I smiled at the cute little tea table set. This one is probably Thranduil's idea. It has everything you need for a tea party. I walk out farther and place my hands on the railing. The design of the balcony reminds me of a Roman layout with the thick coliseum poles. I lean forward a little more to see what part of the backyard I can see. It only seems like half of a tennis court and nothing more. I'll make it a point to venture outside when I can.
Something suddenly lands on the back of my hand. Something wet. I look at my hand then up at the sky and see dark clouds forming. More drops hit my hand and soon my face. The clinking
rhythm on the tea set comes at a faster speed each time the droplets touch them. I run back into my room and lock the balcony doors behind me. I did some research on the weather in this area and it isn't a good place to be if you're planning on soaking in the sun because it's supposed to be the rainy season. Terrific.
I run my fingers through my hair to get some of the wet spots out. I open my luggage that Henry placed on a bench and dig through my toiletries for my hairbrush. I yawn again as I search for it. My jet-lag finally returns. The food I ate and the journey up the stairs exhausted me even more. I gave up looking for the hairbrush. There are so many pillows on the bed that I just threw most of them on the floor, not caring where they land.
I crawl into the comfy bed with my hair already disheveled and drown out the rain.
Author's Note: Hope you liked the first chapter.