Chapter 1

Thranduil was still Prince of the Great Greenwood when he first laid eyes upon her. She was chatting with another ellon, someone Thranduil found to be insubstantial. He was a poet and in the Prince's eyes, he was weak. What did an elf like this contribute to the community besides entertainment? That did not win wars. That did not keep the borders safe.

He stood behind a tree and observed the elleth. Her smile was infectious. Her eyes lit up her face. She was a bright shining star among the rest. She needed someone equally qualified, not this 'poet'. He must meet her before she made the mistake of being wooed by Nedhudir (Neth-oo-dear), but he needed to lure her away from this ellon. Why she was speaking to the likes of him was beyond his understanding. This mundane male had nothing to offer her. Thranduil, on the other hand, was the son of a King. Many ellith had tried to gain his attention. Some succeeded only to find him unwilling to involve his heart. It was good to be the Prince.

As he watched this fair-haired beauty, he realized he felt something more than just mere attraction. She was different from all the rest. She was independent and strong. She needed someone who matched her determined personality. She needed a Prince, a strong hand to take hold of her and teach her the ways of royalty. She was Princess material, he laughed to himself.

Alastegiel (Ahl-ahs-tegh-ee-ell) was the daughter of a border guard, her father. Her mother was a healer. This was how her parents met. Her father was injured and it was her mother who nursed him back to health. Ever since then, they were inseparable. Her mother desperately wanted her to follow her example and become a healer. This required years of studying and books and such. Alastegiel was too adventurous to be kept shut away in a library or a classroom. She wanted to be like her father, a border guard. She was always very curious to see him in action. Once, she snuck off and followed him to the border. It just so happened that there was a confrontation and she finally got her wish. Never had she been as proud of her father as he fought bravely against the enemy. He stood tall upon the fortress wall. His movements were smooth and every arrow found its target. It was at that very moment she realized what it was she wanted to become. No one would tell her otherwise. As soon as she came of age, she began her training.

Thranduil watched the elleth lightly kiss Nedhudir's cheek. He made a face of disgust. How could she be fooled by his poetic charms? Well, he had his own set of charms and it was time to show them to her. Thranduil waited until she was alone, walking back to her home, and made his move. He followed her with light footsteps. Alastegiel peeked over her shoulder. Thranduil immediately stopped and looked up, as if observing a tree. Alastegiel cocked an eyebrow and resumed her path, now ears tuned in to who it was that was following her.

Light booted feet followed her once again. 'Silly ellon', she thought to herself. If she had taken a better look at him, she might not have said that. Again, she stopped and turned to find him peering up into another tree. Again, she resumed walking. She felt him close in on her and quickly stopped, spinning around. "Might I ask what it is you are doing?" she asked catching him off guard.

Thranduil took into account her lightening speed. She was not your typical elleth. "Does there seem to be the faintest hint of rain in the air?" he asked.

"No." she said simply and watched his next move. He came up to stand next to her. That was when Alastegiel recognized him. She gasped. "Oh I am sorry my lord. I did not know it was you," she said, bowing low to the Prince.

Thranduil thought he could use this to his advantage. "Rise my lady. You have shown your respect," he said as he touched her arm, guiding her up. His eyes met hers and his heart sang out. She was even more beautiful than he first thought.

Alastegiel was captured by his stare. She had never been in such close proximity to the Prince before. He was stunningly handsome and had an air of power about him. Many tales had she heard regarding him. He was a very alluring character and only pursued certain ellith. Certainly, that was not what he was doing now. Of course not. She was very different from the kind of female he desired. She was not a weak-minded, lovesick follower of royalty.

"May I ask where it is you are off to? Maybe I can escort you there myself," he said in his most charming voice.

"I am headed for the training grounds. I would not ask you to go out of your way my lord. I'm sure one such as yourself has much more pressing issues at hand," she replied.

Thranduil's eyes widened. "Training grounds you say? And what is it you are in training for?"

"Archery, my lord. I follow the path of the border guards like my father," she said not daring to look him in the eyes again.

"I would never have guessed that one as beautiful as you would want to join the ranks of our armies."

Alastegiel raised an eyebrow. "Beauty has nothing to do with it my lord. It is about skill with a bow, which I have been told I seem to possess." She thought he was being a bit abrasive and she did not take too kindly to it, Prince or no. Still, she had to respect royalty. "Now, if you will excuse me my Prince, I must go before I am reprimanded for my tardiness."

"All the more reason that I join you. I will speak to your Captain so that you will not incur any punishment," he said offering her his arm.

Alastegiel could see what Thranduil was up to. She did not need this kind of attention drawn to her so early in her training. To show up on the arm of the Prince would not look good. Her fellow company would think she was pursuing him only to further herself in the elvish army. "If I am late, it is my own fault. I will take the punishment," she said sternly.

Thranduil couldn't help but notice her feistiness. "Very well then. But might I at least accompany you part of the way? I would not be upholding my princely duties if I did not see that you arrived safely."

Alastegiel laughed to herself. What kind of trouble could she get herself into within the borders of her elven home? It seemed the Prince was playing games. He had developed an interest in her. She was flattered though he was not the type of ellon she would have found an interest in. "Very well my lord. I would not want to disrespect royalty," she answered kindly and took his arm when he offered again.

They reached the halfway point and Thranduil halted. "It seems I have reached my boundary, my lady."

She smiled. "Thank you my lord. It has been a pleasure," she said respectfully.

"May I ask your name so that I may know who I escorted?"

"My name is Alastegiel, my lord."

"Bringer of joy, a beautiful name indeed and it suits you well. So Alastegiel, since you will not let me take you to your destination, I feel as though I did not do my duty. Maybe if the lady will allow me to accompany her to the evening meal, I will feel as though I have completed my obligation."

"That will not be necessary. Besides, another has asked this of me and it would be rude to cancel on such short notice."

Thranduil cocked his head to the side and gave her a quizzical look. "So are you saying that if there had been more time, you would have turned down this admirer and joined me instead?"

Now Alastegiel had had enough. "My lord, you are making it difficult to not show any disrespect. If I may be so blunt, I do not find you to be my type. I am sorry if I have dishonored you, but you should not waste your time here. I'm sure there are plenty of other ellith that would jump on such an opportunity. Now, if you will excuse me, I must be on my way. Good day, my lord." She walked off, leaving Thranduil completely flabbergasted. No one had ever spoken to him in such a manner. Until now, all had bowed to him and agreed with his opinions or commands. This made his pulse race, but not out of anger. It was excitement. The fact that she was not interested made her even more alluring and mysterious. No elleth had ever turned down his charms. He would find her weakness and then he would conquer this strong-minded, stubborn, beautiful shapely female.

Alastegiel arrived just in time but she was somewhat perturbed. The conceited Prince seemed to have gotten under her skin. Her best friend Faelwen had seen her leaving the company of Thranduil. Alastegiel and Faelwen had been lifelong friends. They did everything together, even training to become border guards. This new bit of information peeked her interest and she began to ask questions.

"Was that Prince Thranduil I saw you with?" Faelwen asked excitedly.

"Unfortunately, yes. He was following me. Can you believe that?"

"Well, if he was following you it can only mean one thing. He is interested in you. What a stroke of luck to gain the attention of none other than the handsome, much sought after Prince," Faelwen said in a dreamy voice.

"Luck! It would be luck had he left me alone. He tried to charm me as if I would ever fall for such nonsense. Honestly, I do not see what all these desperate silly ellith find so attractive about him. He is arrogant, pompous, condescending… I could go on but I'll surely run out of words. He only looks to add another notch to his bedpost, if there is any room left for one. Besides, Nedhudir holds my interest now. He is so kind and understanding. His poetic words are just lovely and…"

"Blah, blah, blah. He is boring Alastegiel. You are not boring. You need excitement in your life. You need someone who will challenge your personality. I think you and Thranduil make a perfect match," Faelwen said as she smiled and thought about these two elves as a couple.

"Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?" Alastegiel mocked. "I think you need to find your own partner and stay out of my love life, which I do not have at the moment."

"Think what you like melon nin, but I think deep down you find the Prince attractive and a possible match for you. I know. I have an instinctive knowledge for these things," Faelwen said.

Alastegiel merely rolled her eyes and examined her bow, ready to start the day of training and forget about Thranduil.