An elfling of about one hundred years—looking only ten to Men's eyes—walked in the forest of Greenwood: his home. He was golden haired and silver eyed, lithe and surefooted, and walked between the thick fir and oak trees with ease. The elfling carried a quiver of arrows on his back and a bow in hand, but was obviously not looking for something to shoot, for he was humming quite happily talking to the trees as if to old friends on occasion. He wore a forest cloak, but underneath that were silk bedclothes of clean white.
The child's keen elf ears heard a crunch of fallen leaves and a small whine. He fitted an arrow—though uncertainly, for he did not think that if this something was going to attack him it would whine—and followed his ears. He passed two sturdy trees, and at the base of the third there was a small fox cub, barely half grown. It was auburn-grey with black accents and a white chest and tail tip, and sitting in a bed of dried leaves it was hobbling to its feet while trying to spare its right foreleg any weight.
The elfling knelt down in concern, and the fox cub looked up fearfully. "Do not be frightened," the child said gently, and the elf language soothed the animal. "I am going to help you. My name is Legolas, and your name shall be Iskanaur." (Pale Fire)
Legolas carried Iskanaur back to his home, and came upon a problem. He had snuck out of his room that evening while he was thought to be sleeping—as he does quite frequently—and was unsure if he could get back the same way while holding Iskanaur. Then Legolas had an idea: He took off his green cloak, and wrapped it around his middle, tying both ends to his shoulder on the opposite side, making a sling. Iskanaur had lain patiently while Legolas did this, and did not protest when she was deposited in the folds of the soft material and just rested upon the small and flat chest of the elfling. She thought that she was lucky to be taken in by an elf.
The way Legolas got in and out of his room was by his balcony. His room overlooked a courtyard, and two twin trees were on either side of his balcony, so all he had to do was climb down them. His parents probably thought that it would be nice for him to be as close to the forest as possible and that it would help him with the fact that his walls were mountainside stone. It did help, just not in the way they would have thought or probably hoped.
The sling turned out to work very well, even if it did slow Legolas' climbing a bit. Legolas pushed aside the thick curtains that separated his room from the balcony and the first thing that he did when he entered his room was make a little bed for Iskanaur. The bed was made from a goose feather pillow, a black wolf fur, and a heavy formal robe his father had given to him that was now too small. Legolas placed Iskanaur in her new bed, and the fox cub looked quite pleased with the arrangement, but then she shifted and whimpered, licking her right foreleg.
"Forgive me: I almost forgot." Legolas spoke softly, both because he did not want to frighten his new friend and because he did not want anybody who might walk by to hear him. He reached slowly for her injured leg and smiled when she allowed him to examine it. Legolas was not going to be a healer—he was much better with his bow and arrow, so he would be an archer and a warrior—but he had been taught the basics. He probably knew a bit more than the basics considering both of his elder sisters were healers, but this didn't seem to be that complicated. Iskanaur's shoulder had been dislocated, and one of the first things that Legolas had been taught was to relocate shoulders. "This will hurt Iskanaur." The elfling warned.
Then he popped it into place, and the cub cried and whimpered in pain while trying to get away from his hands. Legolas hummed soothingly and got some strips of cloth. He wrapped her front leg, chest, and shoulder to keep Iskanaur from re-injuring herself. Legolas sat back on his heels and thought.
"I'll be right back." He said suddenly and dashed between the curtains to outside. Legolas climbed one of the trees beside his balcony—an apple tree—and picked the best looking one. He brought it inside, cut some small pieces with his training knives that he would be learning to use soon. He placed the pieces right in front of Iskanaur's muzzle and waited, but she sniffed it and looked at him with mistrust.
Legolas took a bite out of the remaining apple emphatically.
Iskanaur nibbled the fruit before swallowing it whole with great hunger, and Legolas smiled.
Two days later Iskanaur was getting less lethargic and Legolas was finishing a project. There was a large step from his room to balcony, and for the first day Iskanaur had been brought into his room Legolas gathered dirt. He brought bucket after bucket of fresh soil through his rooms and dumped it all onto the stone floor of his balcony. He smoothed it out, and lay seeds of grass and flowers and even planted an already partially grown berry bush. Then he fell asleep curled up beside Iskanaur, with dirt in his hair, smeared on his tunic, embedded in the knees of his leggings, and under his fingernails.
His father was not pleased.
The second day he sang. He sang of growing and life, of wind and water, of tall trees and colorful flowers. He did this most of the day, and watered the soil in small amounts, and felt rewarded by midnight that night when he saw a small blade of grass peeking out of the dark earth.
On the third day Legolas opened the curtains wide and walked onto the thin grass, and Iskanaur followed after him. The fox cub hobbled over to the berry bush and pulled a not-quite-ripe berry from the plant. She scrunched up her nose and looked at Legolas as if to say, "You know these aren't good yet, do you not?"
Legolas laughed and produced some rabbit that he had taken from thee kitchens.
He emptied one of his desk drawers, packed in yarn and sticks, and feathers and silk, leaves and a dead rabbit. He put a small bowl of water in a corner.
Then he put the blue-jay in.
He hadn't meant to find another injured animal, but when Legolas had seen the bird on the forest floor in more of his nighttime wanderings, unconscious but without further hurt, he had taken her with him. Legolas had decided that there was nothing wrong except exhaustion and he also suspected that she was pregnant. Iskanaur made a snuffling noise as she trotted over—she had healed and was now free from her bindings and seemed to take delight in walking everywhere. She had also learned to climb trees, and the first time Legolas had come to his room and she had been nowhere, not even on the balcony, he panicked. Iskanaur was larger now, and if Legolas was honest, getting a bit fat—he did not say this out loud because he was sure that she would take offence.
"What should we name her, Iskanaur?" The fox sniffed the bird again. "And you cannot eat her."
Legolas thought. "Luinraama. It suits her." (Blue Wing)
Luinraama woke up and squawked.
"This is going to be more difficult than it was with you isn't it?" Legolas asked Iskanaur and sighed.
His son was up to something; that Thranduil knew.
Legolas was extremely protective of his room—it was now forbidden to all, even his sisters. The King was sure it had something to do with that time Legolas was carting dirt in there that never came out again, and how there were always feathers or red hairs on his clothing. Legolas had always been a clean child, so it was odd that he was now constantly in a messy state. Maybe it was a phase, Thranduil had thought at first, but when for a whole day Legolas had been pale and verging on green like the time he had seen a mare giving birth, that thought had been discarded.
Still, Thranduil was patient and watchful. Legolas took two more berry bushes to go with the first one he had taken, and then many long, curved, and broken off branches from the ground, and four vine plants. The King wondered if his only son was making a forest in his room, but it seemed so foolish. If the plants were inside, they would surely die. That was when Thranduil decided to make it a lesson, and when Legolas came to him in upset, Thranduil would act out his fatherly duties. It had been a long time since he had been able to impart his wisdom onto his son—ever since Legolas had turned ninety he had been much more responsible.
Nothing happened though. Legolas did not come to him and there was no upset. If anything Legolas seemed to grow happier, to glow. His room stayed off limits.
On this day though, Legolas was going on an educational hunt and would be gone all day, and perhaps the next. On this day Thranduil was doing something that he was sure his wife would have looked down upon: he was going into his son's private—forbidden—room. He was too curious, and he was King, so he deemed that he of all people was allowed. Yes, he was definitely allowed.
When Thranduil came to his sons room he hesitated, frowned at himself, and pushed the door open with his eyes closed—he was already starting to feel guilty; Legolas did not ask much, but he had asked that his private space remain private. Maybe he should stop. Thranduil opened his eyes. Too late.
The King's face was impassive as he took in the state of the room. It was typically clean—Legolas always cleaned up after himself—except for a pile of assorted blankets, animal skins, and pillows. And was that an old robe?! Thranduil scowled. He wandered into the room, closing the door behind him. There was a desk drawer taken from its place and was on the surface of the desk. Thranduil peered inside. It was filled with garbage: yarn, twigs, leaves, and ripped fabric.
The King looked at the ceiling. What in the name of Arda are you doing Legolas? He asked silently.
The curtains were open, and there was green showing. Since Thranduil had not seen any of the plants that his son had taken, he assumed that it had been brought to the balcony, and walked outside. There was thick and healthy green grass covering where Thranduil remembered stone—now he knew where the dirt had gone. There were flowers too, and he counted all three berry bushes. The branches were on either side of him, making an arch and leaning up against the metal railing and bars. At the base of the branches, where they had been stuck in the ground, were the vines which had climbed up the dead tree limbs. It gave the whole balcony a surreal and peaceful look; it was beautiful, and the Wood-elf in Thanduil was very pleased.
This was not, however, what caught and held his attention. No, that would have to be the four foxes. One mother and three cubs were munching on an apple and berries. The mother was a greyish-auburn, and two of the cubs looked exactly like her while the other one was mostly white with grey specks. They looked very at home.
The King looked up when he heard chirping, and his face stayed expressionless. He now knew where the blue feathers had come from. The blue-jay nest contained two young chicks, and it rested on the tree branch closest to the balcony. Their feathers were still patchy, so they had only recently hatched and were waiting for their mother to feed them.
The door to the bedroom opened and shut. "The trees say that it is going to rain, Iskanaur, so I will be going hunting tomorrow. Is Luinraama back yet—?" Legolas cut himself off when he saw his father turn to him. The elfling's eyes were wide. "Ada!"
Thranduil started to walk out of the room.
"I saw nothing."
As Thranduil went to bed that night he tried to remember a time when his daughter's had done something so weird and could not. He tried to imagine his wife doing it and could not. He himself had never done something so strange, so he came to the conclusion that it was purely his son that was making his room and balcony into an animal haven. That spoke to them like friends, and named them like one would a pet or a child.
His son was strange, but at least Thranduil now knew why Legolas had looked so pale and sick that one day: he must have witnessed the birth of the fox cubs.
… His son was strange.
Fox cub 1 (grey-auburn): Celebnyelle (Silver Bell)
Fox cub 2 (grey-auburn): Maldanyelle (Gold Bell)
Fox cub 3 (white-grey): Nimtempla (White Magic)
Blue-jay chick 1: Luinlina (Blue Song)
Blue-jay chick 2: Malraama (Golden Wing)