Chapter 18: Dissention & Understandings

*Legolas' POV*

We followed the Great River throughout the next few days, though we were forced to sleep at night on the western shore. It was hard for any of us to sleep, due to being wary of the journey lay ahead of us. The hobbits, Merry and Pippin, were always trying to lift our spirits, and had somewhat left their uncertainties behind. Sam stuck close to Frodo, of which I was gladdened by the act.

Frodo was looking more pale and dour every day. It became a game of sorts of Sam and the other hobbits to try and see which hobbit could make the Ringbearer smile the most in one day. It was often a futile attempt, but it gave them something to look forward to besides the possibility of our trackers crossing the river and finding us.

So far, our luck was holding. Yet, on the second night, when it was Aragorn and Borimir's turn to watch over us while we slept for a few hours, they spotted Gollum. That foul creature had followed us all the way down the river, despite our attempts to shake him off our trail. I did not like the creature any more than anyone else in our dwindling Fellowship, but something in my heart told me that tonight was not the night for him to perish.

There had been so much bloodshed and fighting already, though I think all of us in our hearts knew that this was only the beginning of a cascade of battles. War was something I was used to. The men, and the dwarf even had seen their own battles in wars or strife. And though the hobbits had not experienced as much as us in battle, they too were starting to learn what it was like. I knew that if Locien was here with us, he would feel pretty much the same way.

Locien. Often my thoughts drifted to him as of late, though I made sure to keep my mind on the present so that I would not be distracted. Now, however, with myself trying to rest while looking up at the stars, I allowed myself to think of him fully. Was he now in Lorien, or was he still trapped in Moria, fighting alongside Gandalf or perhaps fighting on his own? And if he had managed to get to Lorien, had he been able to decipher my elvish writing? Or, did he even still have the letter?

I know now that it probably was very foolish of me to give him something he no doubt couldn't read. But, I had felt the need to tell him on paper what I could not express with any word or song I could conjure. My kin are gifted with their songs and their words, but I always did better with writing. True, my words were always better than any human or Dwarf, but my writing had always been my strongest aspect. Smiling slightly, I will always remember how my father would tell me that I took my love of writing and reading from my late mother.

I can only regret that I did not know her better. She was killed by a Spider not long after she gave birth to my sister. Being only a child then, myself, I only have faint memories of her, ones that bring warmth and solace to me, but nothing more. My father had done the best he could raising us, when he too was grieving horribly. For a long time our people speculated that the only reasons why he did not fade into darkness and join our mother was due to the fact that he did not want to fail her by leaving us without a father, and the other reason was due to himself being the king of our people. Yes, it is often said that elves mate for life, but there is a very rare occasion that a widowed elleth or ellon take another mate some years after their previous mate's passing.

It is very rare an occurrence, though, and even when they do take another mate, it is not with their full hearts that they love their mate. So, it stands to reason that my father will probably endure the rest of his long life alone, for he believes as I do: that it would be cruel to take another mate, especially if one could not give that mate what they truly deserved – love, pure and freely given from their heart.

My thoughts came back to the present in a hurry, for I started hearing raised voices coming from Borimir and Aragorn. Arching a delicate brow, I turned to look at Gimli, who had been also started out of his own musings. We regarded each other for a moment before Borimir finally quieted and took to storming off in the direction of the trees. In the dim moonlight I finally decided that whatever it was that was at the forefront of Aragorn and Borimir's quarrel, it was over, and done with.

Gimli grunted, saying softly so he would not disturb the resting hobbits, "One would think that two men could actually get along with each other. Now is not the time to have words of strife."

I regarded him for a long moment, for once appraising the burly companion of mine. Throughout this journey I had started to soften towards the dwarf, and though I should be wary of this feeling of congeniality, I wasn't. Maybe it was best to do as Lord Elrond had spoken of… to let go our differences and unite.

It had been hard for me at first, letting old prejudices die, but due to being in close quarters with Gimli for a long time, I was beginning to understand that he was a good soul, no matter if he was a dwarf or not. With that thought in mind I smirked at him slightly, "No, indeed. However, I fear that if they did not have their say, that they would let their own inner strife consume them until it overflowed like a billowing mote of flame."

Gimli grunted again, taking the time to adjust his pallet before responding. "Aye. Humans are often quick to anger amongst their own kin, no matter how daft the reason."

This, coming from a dwarf? I snickered slightly in agreement, for once letting my own wicked sarcastic tongue stay silent.

It wasn't until a few hours later that I was startled out of my respite by the return of Borimir. The son of Gondor sat down near his packs and quickly looked around to see if anyone was watching. When he seemed to feel satisfied that no one was watching, even though I definitely was watching him out of the corner of my eye through my eyelashes, he rummaged through his pack.

Shock and a bit of anger flooded through my veins as I spotted what Borimir was pulling out of his pack, wrapped in cloths. There lay one of Locien's daggers. I knew it had been his, from remembering my mate wearing such a dagger on his person during our plight in Moria. How Borimir had managed to steal it from Locien was not clear, nor did I think it mattered. What mattered to me was that Borimir knew of the danger of handling a weapon he had no idea of it's powers or of it's history, and still took it from my mate.

Some small part of me thought that possibly Locien had given this dagger to Borimir as a gift. But, somehow I reasoned against that thought. Otherwise, why would Borimir hide it from everyone that he had it on his person? My thoughts were further muddled when Aragorn walked by Borimir and noticed the weapon before the other man could hide it.

"What do you think you are doing, hanging on to a weapon not meant for you?!" Aragorn hissed, but making no move to take it away from Borimir.

"Let me bring at least ONE thing home to my father to help protect our people! I would not have taken it had Locien not have dropped it when fighting with the Orcs in Moria. He did not miss it, and I did not have a chance to give it back to him." Borimir hissed back, and I sensed that he was telling the truth.

"Still, you should take care not to give that weapon to anyone but Locien himself when he returns to us." Aragorn insisted, scowling deeply in the moonlight.

Borimir looked cowed for a moment and then he sighed, nodding, "Aye, and what if he doesn't return?"

"Then you should have it destroyed. A dragon weapon not freely given is a liability we do not need." Aragorn said with unyielding certainty in his voice. "As for me, I have faith that Locien and Gandalf are alive. If hope is all that we have, then we should believe in it."

Borimir watched numbly as Aragorn left his side before covering up the dagger and putting it back in his pack, careful not to touch any part of it with his skin. I sighed softly and mulled over this new development. Now I knew what Borimir had been plotting ever since he set eyes on my Locien. Though the dagger fell into his hands by accident, his objective was now clearer than ever. He had meant to take Locien's weapons, and use them for Gondor.

*Locien's POV*

After helping my strange companions pack up their things, we broke camp and got ready to enter Lorien. I couldn't help but put all of my trust in finding Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel in the hands of these three Dark Elves. Bending down to tighten one of my boot ties, I felt eyes on me. I straightened slowly as Erulassë came to stand next to me, a feral smile on her face.

That smile reminded me of one of our tawny cats back home when she cornered a mouse. I shivered slightly and arched an eyebrow at her quizzically. The young elleth reached out and pushed away my hair from my shoulder, making me flinch horribly. After all of the battle I had seen in the past month and a half, I was not keen on anyone touching me unless it was Legolas or those of the Fellowship. Even then, it might only be Legolas that could touch me without having me flinch.

It wasn't that I was afraid to be touched. It was more along the lines that I didn't relish the thought of being touched, especially not by a virtual stranger. Erulassë frowned at my flinch, but then she shrugged, "You would make a beautiful Dark Elf, you know."

"I-I am nothing special like that." I flushed in embarrassment, almost feeling like I was being sized up like a great big juicy hunk of meat. Swallowing slightly, I looked around in vain for help out of this situation. I spotted Erurainon helping his mate adjust her pack, and nearly panicked. Erulassë was either unaware of my plight, or did not care, for she continued to encroach on my personal space.

Finally, taking the initiative, I hurried away from her, just to put distance in between me and the young, curious elleth. I did not feel that she was attracted to me per se, but I was uncomfortable at best in her presence, much less being a source of amusement to pass the time. Some small part of me figured that she was probably just trying to be friendly with me, but a larger part of me couldn't take that chance.

I entered Lorien's woods and shivered as I felt an enormous sense of power filtering through the trees and in the air itself. The unwanted attentions of the elleth were forgotten as I breathed in the magic of this place. I came to a sudden stop and let my eyes close as I felt a familiar voice tug into my mind, both feminine, and wise, "Dragon prince of Withered Heath, may your heart be lightened. I know what it is you seek, and will steer you into the right direction."

There was a pause, and then I dimly realized that Erulassë had managed to claim my arm. I blushed again, feeling both mortified and strangely amused. What the hell was she doing to my arm? I watched as she gently whispered some elvish, though darker in speech than what I'd ever heard before, while gently rubbing a large bruised area, and suddenly I felt the soreness in my muscles fade to a dull ache. Eyes wide, I looked at her with a dumfounded expression of which she returned my look with a wry smirk.

"Feels better, doesn't it?" She said more of a statement than an actual question.

I nodded numbly as she snickered and let go of my arm. Turning, she hurried over to her parents, who were watching us with resigned amusement. I felt an amused laughter in my head, and again the soft voice whispered to me, "You have much to learn, young dragon prince. She is only curious. It is not every morn that Dark elves are able to interact with people as unusual as themselves."

"I know that, but I am not used to being touched by strangers." I answered back, finally realizing who must be speaking with me. This was the same voice who had spoken to me right outside of Rivendell, when the Fellowship first began their journey as a whole body. This must be Lady Galadriel. But, why would she take interest in me?

Granted, I was an unusual creature to be sure, being a dragon, but what really drew her to me so much that she felt the need to give me advise? Was I that in need of instruction? I felt her laughter at my muddled thoughts before the presence of her mind against mine was gone. Noting that my companions were watching me curiously, I sighed and mentally shook my head to clear it.

I needed to stop being distracted by phantom voices, strange healings of a whimsical elleth, and my own uncertainties. Feeling a bit sheepish by making my companions probably think I was loony or something, I waved them forward, saying softly, "Sorry, was talking to the boss lady is all. You know, in the head." I pointed to my head.

Indilwen arched a brow and gave her daughter a wary look, "You know, if I hadn't already known how gifted in the mind talents of my sister, I would have sworn that Erulassë accidentally broke you."

Was that supposed to make me feel sane? Or even better? I shared a knowing glance with her mate before we started off. Erulassë, for her part, just turned and gave her mother a raspberry before skipping on ahead.

Shaking his head at his daughter's antics, Erurainon rolled his eyes and gave me an apologetic smile. I tentatively gave one back to him, feeling as if I was now walking with a bunch of lunatics that might turn around and eat me any moment. I must have looked a bit daunted, for Erurainon hung back from the two ellith to speak with me.

For a while we were silent, just listening to the sounds of the forest and enjoying the soft murmur and occasional outburst from the ellith in front of us. It felt strange that the two ellith would be in front of us, for didn't Indilwen lead me to believe that there might be a slight problem from the Marchwarden with passing through? Then again, Indilwen was Lady Galadriel's sister, so if she didn't feel the need to have her mate protecting her, then maybe there wasn't a much of a threat from the wood elves in these woods . Either that or Indilwen and her daughter were very much two Dark elves to be reckoned with.

Either way it went, I was content to walk side by side with Erurainon. He had a very calming presence once one got past his rather scary looks. I didn't want to mention that fact to him though, he'd probably decide to take it as an insult. Some folks were like that. Plus, I did not like the look of that really wicked looking double edged sword he was carrying in his left hand.

Eurainon waited for a few more minutes before he said softly, "This may come as a shock to you, but we know exactly who and what you are."

I blinked over at him, not surprised in the least. Why else would the Dark elf help me so much if he had no idea who and what I was? Then again, since he knew all this, why didn't he just leave me there to die at the base of the cliff? I turned to look over a few trees and murmured, "Not really. I am beginning to understand that pretty much any elf, dark or wood, that I come into contact with knows everything about me and my quest."

"Mmm… don't sell yourself out too short, Locien. The only reason why we know is because Indilwen had a vision about a week ago, about you, a wood elf cousin of ours, and her sister. In a way, we were essentially looking for you along with scouting for Orcs. In her vision, she could not tell if there were enemies near Lorien, or if you'd encounter them after your journey out of the wood." Eurainon explained softly, before shrugging, "It may seem a bit odd to you that we'd do all this to help you on a whim from one of Indilwen's visions, but that's the way it is."

I nodded slowly, not sure if I got what he was saying, but felt the need not to look like a dumass. Finally, I said softly, "So, basically you are telling me that you'd never hear the end of it if you didn't give in to your mate's schemes?" Feeling like a total douche saying that, I bit my lip and prepared myself to be smacked. When the hit didn't come, I blinked and looked over at my ellon companion.

He was grinning in amusement. "So, birth dragons are smart. Good to know. You have NO idea how painful it is to let her nag you about something for hours on end." He snickered a bit before he shrugged, "Then again, Indilwen's visions are never to be taken lightly. Whenever she has one, we heed it, no matter how ridiculous or mundane it seems. Plus, we haven't visited the Lord and Lady of Lorien in over an age. It will be good to see them."

After that we talked about inconsequential things, but it wasn't too long before we were surrounded by wood elves. I smelled them and sensed them before I saw them. They smelled slightly different than the elves in Rivendell, and they sure as hell didn't smell like Legolas, but wasn't that a good thing? There were no bows drawn, though a few older looking elves, fair and wise, looked like at any moment's notice they would pull their weapons and shoot at anyone who made a false move. One slightly shorter ellon who was dressed in soft greys and greens that set off his steely, silver eyes, addressed Indilwen with as much courtesy as any high bred elf. This must be the Marchwarden.

They spoke at length in rapid, fluid elvish, before finally they seem to have come to an agreement. He beckoned us all to follow him, saying for probably only my benefit in Westron, "Follow me this way."

I arched a brow, looking totally clueless and lost after about half a mile of trekking through the forest. Erurainon followed his mate silently, though his double edged sword was ready at his side at all times. I would love to see him in action in battle, but I also didn't ever want to be on the receiving end of a blade like that. Even though I usually loved looking at weapons and loved the weapons the dragons forged, the blade that Erurainon carried held more of an evil aura around it than any weapon I'd ever seen besides the Ring of Power.

It did not frighten me much, but it did make me give it a wide berth.

Erulassë watched as the platinum haired wood elves started to surround us, giving us a nice circle to walk in, full of protection at all sides. "Wow, Aunt Galadriel knew what she was doing when she gave us an escort group." She then regarded the Marchwarden's back as the ellon and her mother were talking in soft tones, "I am a bit surprised that we didn't get a stalemate, you know. My mother and the Marchwarden weren't always the best of allies."

Erurainon snorted in sardonic amusement. "That's the understatement of the century."

Giving the dark haired ellon a quizzical look, I was not prepared for Erulassë to come to walk at my side, saying softly, "There was a time when Haldir, the Marchwarden, cared a great deal for my mother. But, mother only had eyes for my father. So, when father finally took mother as his mate, Haldir was very bitter for a time. It seems as though he's better now than he was the last time we saw him, near a thousand years ago or so."

Beautiful. So, Haldir got shafted? That made me sort of feel a bit of sympathy for the stranger ellon. But, at least he wasn't so in love with Indilwen that he faded. I sniffed the air as the breeze went through the trees, making the fall colors burst to life under the cool sunlight. Thinking of the days that had passed, it must be now near the middle of December, and though winter had not reached Lorien, something told me that it would soon. Maybe not this year, but in the near future.

Twitching my nose slightly I caught the faint scent of my mate. He had passed the same path only a few days ago at most. That meant that I was closer to finding him than I had originally thought. Still, I needed to rejuvenate and speak with the Lord and Lady of Lorien before I continued my journey in finding Legolas and the others. The fact that he was closer caused my heart swell with excitement.

Getting a bit inspired, I looked over at Erulassë and asked her on a whim if she could teach me how to read elvish. She snickered, "No, because that would take way too long to do actually physically. There are so many different dialects in written words."

I must have looked disappointed, for she offered, "But, I could cram the information into your head with a spell. Granted, it's a bit dark, but it'd be good for you to have if you really want the knowledge."

I was about to say yes when Erurainon said softly, "Not while we are in Lorien, if you please. Your Aunt and Uncle do not allow dark magic in these woods, maybe after we all leave."

Blinking in astonishment. After WE all leave? Did that mean that they were coming WITH me? Oh hell.

Thank you so much for your reviews. I hope you liked this little twist. The next chapter will deal with Locien's stay in Lothlorien, and Frodo's and Borimir's final skirmish for the Ring.