This used to be in One Song at a Time however I wanted people to be able to read this without knowledge of the other stories. One Song at a Time will focus on side stories that have to do with Almiel, Legolas, and Thranduil in the Third Age, mostly after Almiel's birth.
Disclaimer: For this story, I have made disclaimer before in reference to why I chose Thranduil over Oropher. I did a little more research and I found the reference to Oropher in Unfinished Tales. However, in Lord of the Rings Appendix B, like I mentioned before I found this:"but before the building of the Barad-dur many of the Sindar passed eastward, and some established realms far away, where their people were mostly Silvan Elves. Thranduil, king in the north of Greenwood the Great, was one of these." This is mentioned under the timeline of the Second Age. In Unfinished Tales, Oropher is only mentioned on three pages, and when his name is mentioned in the Index it is asterisked to show that he is never mentioned in any work Tolkien himself published. In The Peoples of Middle-Earth there is another timeline of the Second Age, where again Tolkien makes reference to Thranduil as establishing Greenwood the Great: "Remnants of the Telerian Elves (of Doriath in ancient Beleriand) establish realms in woodlands far eastward, but most of these peoples are Avari or East-Elves. The chief of these were Thranduil who ruled in the north of Greenwood the Great beyond Anduin…" In my opinion, Tolkien had two different versions of the events and that he chose to publish the version with Thranduil. It is my opinion based on my own personal experience with writing, and this story goes with that conclusion. I do love a good Oropher story, however, and it gives a good emotional background to Thranduil's story. After all that, I am saying this once, guess what? I don't own Tolkien's stuff.
The Life & Times of Greenwood the Great
Part I: A Nation is Formed
We Need a King
c. 750 SA (Second Age) Lindon
"Some of our kin have actually been united and settled in the woods south of here, it's now called lothlórien. They are being governed by Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn." Idhrenion said. He was one of the oldest Silvan Elves alive in Ennor, they who had wandered the land far and wide while no one else had. "The rest of us still have yet to find a place to call home, even though out of all our kin we have lived here the longest."
The other Elf, Daugion sighed. "And who would unite us? None of those who would want a united nation want to be ruled by a Noldor. They believe that those who have been to Valinor and consider themselves High-Elves are rather lofty and look down on us."
"It does not have to be a Noldor, what of one of our own people?"
"We have been trying to unite our people for a very long time, to no avail." Daugion
"That leaves little option then." Idhrenion said dryly. They walked slowly, lost in their own thought.
"Maybe not," Daugion said, turning suddenly. "What of the Sindarin, they are High-Elves yes, and they are descended from Noldor yes, but none of them have been across the Sea. Most are more inclined to us than the others."
"Which of them will come? All of them are happy and comfortable in Lindon, under the care of Gil-galad High King of the Elves of the West. Some have even happily settled in Eregion where they have mithril to keep them comfortable. Which of these comfortably settled Sindarin will uproot themselves to unite us?"
"I do not know, but it is an option." Daugion replied softly.
"In either case, will any of them understand us? We have love for Ennor, not love for the Sea as they do."
"What of that warrior?" Daugion suddenly said, stopping in his tracks. "The one who saved one of the Eagles not that long ago! Did he look down on us? Hardly, and he even admired us at one point for our oneness with this earth."
"That's it, perhaps he could rule us."
"His parents have returned to Valinor, who's to say he will not join them?" Idhrenion said, pessimistic.
"It is a risk, to be sure, but I think we should at least ask him."
"We shall discuss it with the other leaders that we do have… Then perhaps we shall write to him."
Daugion smiled. "As you say," he said.
"Thranduil… I think that is a good choice. He is most assuredly strong enough to lead us, but is he wise enough?" Tawarthion asked.
"We are already none for being rather eccentric are we not? What does it matter?" Suiadan asked.
"Eccentric or not, it matters because he will be leading us."
"Arphenion is right. First we must ask someone else, Gil-galad perhaps, or his charge, Elrond." Tawarthion said.
"I agree." Daugion responded and soon a chorus of agreement fluttered through the cave in which they met.
"We now have a possible leader, but no position for him to fill. Is he to be like Galadriel and Celeborn, Lady and Lord? Will he simply be the head of a Council? More of a governor, or will he…?" Arphenion started but was interrupted by Tawarthion.
"I think he should be King."
"King? Why king?" Now a chorus a surprise and reluctance spread through them.
"Because," Tawarthion started, speaking slowly, "Our people have been scattered and not united for a very long time. We have little cultural identity as a whole, almost none. If we are doing this, a king would give the people a symbol. Once we actually have a king, and we decide on a land in which to settle, we will be a long way toward having a national identity." There was silence for a while and then Daugion spoke.
"Yes, I think that is actually a good idea. Arphenion, Tawarthion, Idhrenion, Suiadan, and myself will go to Lindon. If we find Thranduil a good choice, we will either write or speak to him then. The rest of you spread the word, this may be happening rather soon, and quickly."
Murmurs of assent filled the cave, so far, all was well.
The five of them travelled as swiftly as possible toward Lindon. There, they requested a meeting with Elrond and the High King Gil-galad. They were led to a small meeting room, which ended up being a low table with pillow cushions seated around it. They stood and bowed as Gil-galad entered and then they were all seated again. As they did, Gil-galad eyed them curiously.
"What brings you here?" He asked.
"We have decided it is time for uniting our people." Tawarthion "As such we need a leader."
Gil-galad smiled slightly. "I suppose you want me to find such a person? There are a few that come to mind, however…"
"My Lord," Arphenion interrupted, "forgive me, but we have already chosen a candidate. We have come seeking whether you think he is suitable." Elrond and Gil-galad both looked slightly surprised.
"And who might that be?" Elrond asked.
"Thranduil," they answered. Shock mirrored on both the nobles' faces. Then they both became thoughtful.
"Thranduil… he is a great warrior, that is true. He is one of my generals. But… Are you sure? He is… somewhat rash for an Elf. He carries more passion than most of us… when he is angered, he becomes unmanageable. Though… he can still be wise. He is somewhat young, but he has years behind him. He's just… not who I would have picked. Why him?" Gil-galad asked.
"He may be all those things," Tawarthion answered, "but sometimes leaders have to take risks. He will gain wisdom as we go, as will we. Passion can be a good thing, particularly if he becomes passionate about uniting us. I am not saying he will for sure, but that he could. He has saved an Eagle before and that is a great symbol to our people. He does not look down on us, he can be one of us." Gil-galad remained silent for a minute.
"I do not know if he is…"
"I think he is a good choice." Elrond suddenly said, making everyone look at him with shock. "He is used to leading people as a general. Also, if he did not have any wisdom or leadership capability, you never would have made him a general." He paused. "Besides, as a Sindarin, as long as you keep him away from the Sea and keep him from being run through with a sword, he will never have an urge to Sail. We are friends, he and I, and he has lately revealed to me that he is feeling restless in Lindon. He feels that he is supposed to be elsewhere on Ennor, but he knows not where. This may be what he has been feeling." Elrond smiled then. "Anyway, if he ever actually decides to do something about it, there will soon be a wedding. Lady Oiolairë, I believe, has a strong ability to calm Thranduil, perhaps if you choose him, she will even keep him from committing overly rash decisions."
Gil-galad, though at first almost scared of Elrond's outburst (he could never be sure what Elrond would say) became silent and emotionless toward the end. The other five, however, grinned. "Looks like we have a leader, if he accepts." Daugion said.
"Yes, I suppose the loss of one of my generals will not cost me overly much." Gil-galad sulked. "You never said, or have you even thought about it, what kind of a leader he will be. The head of a Council I think…"
"We have already selected that as well." Arphenion said. "Tawarthion was the one who gave us the perfect position, at least the way he explained it."
Tawarthion blushed slightly. "Yes, well, we decided a king would suit us best." Gil-galad looked even more shocked now. Elrond wondered how much shock in this hour he could take.
"A king? Are your people truly prepared for a king?"
"Well, we believe," Daugion started.
"You realize his word will be law, no matter the cost? A king will collect taxes? Will take your sons for war, and your daughters for servants? He will make demands, declare war, summon people, all at the drop of his finger. He will be royalty, his bloodline will forever be your ruler. He will have absolute authority… and you can do nothing."
The five Silvans were sobered, but their eyes remained determined. "Do you say that as a King, or a subject?" Tawarthion asked. Gil-galad blinked once, his mouth opening. "It does not matter, but you simply do not understand. Our people have been scattered. We are trying to make a nation out of a divided people. Yes, he may do things we do not like. Yes, he word will be law." He paused. "However, we need that. We need a ruler with power, yes, even absolute power. If we chose simply a Council, all of the members would be vying for their own power. It would be nothing but endless debates and arguments. If we simply made him a noble, a lord or governor perhaps, no one would listen to him. Everyone would be fighting for their own power. From the highest noble to the lowest peasant. Anyone could make themselves king. We would fall apart before we had begun to stand. A king can, and will, hold us together, give us identity."
Gil-galad and Elrond sat quietly, thinking over their words. "Well," Elrond finally said, "I now get a feeling that your nation will end up being the birth place of a great people." He paused. "You have certainly thought this through. Shall we write to the general?" He asked, looking to his King. Gil-galad finally nodded.
"Yes, I suppose we shall. Where will you await his answer?"
"We will set up our camp Eastwardly, about a half a day ride from here." Idhrenion said.
"Very well, after you sign the request, you may go."
The sun was making its final descent when Thranduil got the message. He had been watching his troops train, eyeing them carefully. "Faster! They will not be standing around, waiting for you to kill them!" Was what he had been saying when the royal messenger rode up to him. Thranduil took the sealed letter seemingly impassive, but confusion glittered through his eyes. The Elf who delivered it simply pressed his hand to his chest and remounted his horse and rode away. Thranduil had then looked at the sun where he found it sinking.
"Training dismissed," he called, "We resume at daybreak." He cleaned himself quickly and then headed to his house. He sat at his study and flicked the letter open. Inside were two sheets of paper. He pulled them out, but the King's seal and signature on the second caught his eye.
His eyes scanned it, but his heart refused to believe it. As the realization sunk in, his fingers started shaking and he shut his eyes once. Why? He thought. Abandoning the rest of the letter, he stood and practically ran from his house. He found Elrond sitting quietly in a garden reading a book. Thranduil started to walk up to him, and then hesitated, not sure he wanted to know the answer.
"I guess you got the letter?" Elrond said, putting his book to the side and standing to greet Thranduil.
Thranduil's hand shook slightly. "Why does he wish to cast me aside?" His voice was a whisper, carefully being kept from breaking and showing weakness.
Elrond sighed. "You did not read the other part of the letter did you?"
"O-Other?" Thranduil stuttered, all efforts toward his dignity forgotten. "What could it say?"
Elrond stepped closer to the frightened Elf and clapped him on the shoulder. "The order is an option for you to decide, not a command. I suggest you return home and read the rest of the letter for yourself. You have a meeting with the King tomorrow morning, your troops will be joining mine."
Thranduil hesitated. "But…"
Elrond never gave him a chance to finish. "It will be okay, I promise. Just read the letter."
Elrond finally convinced the General to take his leave and return home. As he left, Elrond chuckled slightly. King Thranduil… What a man to choose… I'm not quite sure they know what they are getting into… Oh well, it will be amusing for the rest of us. Little did he know how unamusing he would find it later, when he was Lord of Imladris himself.
A delegation of Silvan Elves came to me earlier today. They are forming themselves into a nation, and have requested that you be their leader- more specifically their King…
Thranduil's eyes went wide and for a moment his heart might have stopped beating. He scanned the line again, to make sure he was not seeing things, and then continued slower than before.
It was quite a surprise for all of us. They gave us no warning. We spoke, and ended up deciding you were a good choice after all. You have Elrond to thank for that. Come and meet with me at daybreak to discuss this. Enclosed is a release from the army if you so choose, it only requires your signature. Listed below are the signatures of those who requested your leadership. Take your time to decide. We will speak soon.
High King Gil-galad
Idhrenion Daugion Tawarthion Arphenion Suiadan
p.s. you saw the other note first, did you not? – Elrond.
Thranduil dropped the letter into his lap and stared for a long while at the fire burning in his study. Me… King… In the back of his mind, it made sense. He had been restless for a while. He had always wanted to lead, it was why he pursued becoming a general in the first place. He was a warrior, a good one at that, and he had no ties keeping him in Lindon, except one.Oiolairë…
He then jumped as he heard her voice right beside him.
"My dear, if you plan to court me, you might as well show yourself outside your training fields and study more than once a day." Oiolairë said, grabbing him on the shoulders from behind and leaning over him. He looked at her out of the corner of his eyes and laughed softly.
"I am sorry, my dear, I am distracted."
"That much is obvious, you did not notice when I walked right in the door." Oiolairë teased. "But what is it that distracts my love's mind from me?" Thranduil, still smiling slightly, turned his chair slightly so she was now facing him.
"My dear, nothing much can distract you from me, you remain too close to my side." He did, however, pick up the letter as he did so. "But if you must know, you know I have been restless here, and I…"
"Oh, Thranduil, we have discussed this, and we have nowhere else to go."
Thranduil sighed. "I know, but that is not true anymore." When Oiolairë became silent, he continued. "Ever since Galadriel and Celeborn settled Lórien, other Elves have been looking for a new home as well."
"You wish to join them?"
"No," he answered.
"Then where are you thinking of going?" She asked. Here Thranduil hesitated. Oiolairë sighed and pressed her hand to his chest. "If we are to eventually make this work, you must tell me what is troubling you."
"The Silvan Elves who did not join them have asked for a leader."
"Indeed?" Oiolairë and Thranduil's eyes met and she seemed to know what he was thinking. You think it is your duty to lead them?
"I do not know…" He said. "I did not ask to lead them, they chose me and requested I say yes… and become their King." Oiolairë stared at him in shock for a few minutes.
"King?" She finally asked.
"Yes," Thranduil answered, handing her the letter. "That is all I know." He admitted. "Gil-galad has requested my presence tomorrow, at daybreak."
"Will you accept the offer?" She asked.
"It is tempting, yes, but I am worried that I am not fit. I know some of the reasons why they asked me, being a general one of them, but I worry I am not wise enough for the job. I worry that I would tear them apart instead of unify them."
"Wisdom comes with learning," she said. "You will all be going through this together, and I think that the fact they chose you should be good enough for you to at least strongly consider this. Besides all that, I know how you have been feeling of late, and perhaps it is a sign."
Thranduil sighed. "When did you get so smart?" He asked.
"Since I started courting you, I had to get smarter so I could be the wisdom of this relationship."
He narrowed his eyes while she laughed, kissing him lightly on the lips. "Well, since you seem to be so sure, if we do this, will you marry me before we go?" He asked, now speaking softly.
Oiolairë's eyes sparkled. "I am delighted you finally got around to asking after all these fifty years."
"I am sorry, I did not know you were so eager." He teased back.
"Well, for one, you avoided me like the plague at first... and then you have not asked my father."
"Unfortunately, my love, both of our parents are not here." He finished. "I would ask yours first if I could. Besides," he started, his eyes twinkling, "I only avoided you because I did not know if my love was requited or not."
Oiolairë sighed. "You do know how to persuade me." She said. Then she cocked her head. "I suppose you could ask someone else."
"Who?" Thranduil asked again. "You are long grown and capable of answering for yourself."
"Oh? And when we have a daughter? Will you say the same to her or her suitor when she is only a millennia old?" Thranduil sighed.
"That will be different. By then I will have a painful reputation so that the ellon who wants to court our daughter will have no option but to go through me."
"Ah, so what is this painful reputation you intend on having?"
"I do not know yet, I shall have to think on it." He said. Then he paused. "In the morning I will meet with Gil-galad, and then I shall go to the delegation of Silvan Elves and see if they'll accept me, and to see if I feel like it is what I am supposed to do. Whenever I return we shall marry, and then once we settle on a location, we shall establish our realm." He said.
Oiolairë smiled. "It is a deal then, My King." He smiled.
"Not yet," he said, kissing her once more.
Gil-galad awaited Thranduil in his private meeting room. He sighed, still not entirely sure Thranduil was the best choice for the job. The Silvans had explained their positions, yes, but he was still not convinced Thranduil would make a good king. Elrond could have been chosen. He thought.
He had implied the same to Elrond after the Silvans left. Elrond had only given him a small smile and shook his head. "I am a Noldor, remember? They do not want a Noldor as their King."
That much was true, and if he had only Sindarin elves to choose between, he would choose Thranduil as well. I suppose we will find out. It was then that he heard a knock on the door. "Come in," he said. Thranduil entered the room, bowing from the waist, before Gil-galad motioned for him to sit.
"I assume you read the whole letter?" he asked. Thranduil nodded, face impassive. Well, at least he has a good politician's face. "What do you think?" He asked.
Thranduil hesitated. "Why me?" He finally asked.
"They gave me several reasons. One, they do not want a Noldor, they think that the Noldor look down on them. They want one of the Eldar, but not one of their own. You are a Sindarin. You were the only one they thought would be convinced to move out of your home. They knew you were a good general, a good warrior. They only needed to be assured by I or Elrond as to your wisdom." Gil-galad paused. "It seems as if one of the biggest reasons your name even came up was because of your mission where you helped save the Eagle. It seems they were convinced that meant you were as in love with Ennor as they were."
Thranduil remained quiet. Gil-galad tried to study the man before him, but he remained emotionless, eyes downcast, lips resting on the top of his fingers. He was obviously deep in thought.
"If you so choose, once everyone is all in agreement, you will then all decide on a location, and then all the other things that make a nation a nation: coat of arms, flag, banner, and other such things." He then continued in a lower voice. "I know you might want to say yes, but I warn you, instinct tells me this will be no walk in the park. It will be hard, uniting a divided people is never easy. Whatever location you choose, there may be wars, and there will be Elves who try to gain your power for themselves. Do not think this will be in any way easy."
"No one said any road was easy." Thranduil said softly when he finished. "If they think I can do this, the only person that needs convincing is myself. I will meet with them, and form an opinion from us being together, not just from talking to you. I thought about this all night long, and on my way here. I cannot decide simply listening to everyone's advice. You say no, my lady says yes, Elrond says nothing, and these five Silvans have already decided they want me."
"So, what do you want?"
"I have been restless, that is true… but… King… I do not know." Thranduil then became silent once more.
"Go," Gil-galad finally said, "they are waiting for you half a day's ride east. Elrond will take over your troop until everything has been decided." He hesitated, and then spoke again. "If it makes you feel any better, I will be most disappointed to lose you."
Thranduil only lifted an eyebrow, his eyes sparkling with amusement.
Thranduil was approaching the camp the Elves had set up. As he got closer, a sense of anticipation and apprehension settled on top of him, as if something in the fate of the world was settling upon him. The Elves heard him approaching and were now watching him ride closer. Something about it made him nervous. He stopped his horse further away and swung off, going to the Elves on foot. They seemed very conscious about Noldor looking down on them, and approaching them as equals, at least for now, was at least the respectable thing to do.
The Elves seemed to appreciate it too, for they all exchanged a glance after he dismounted.
"My Lord," they all said, placing their hands on their hearts. He inclined his head to them.
One of them then stepped forward, "I can guess you have received the request?"
Thranduil nodded. He was silent for a second before he spoke. "Yes, I have. It was… shocking to say the least. I did not know how you even thought of me in the first place." Then he smiled. "I suppose I did not know what kind of trouble saving an Eagle could get me into." The other five smiled as well.
Daugion stepped forward then as well. "Come," he said waving his arm, "we will eat as we talk. I am sure you have had naught to eat on your journey here and it is past lunch time."
Thranduil graciously joined Daugion while the others filed in around them. They sat in a circle around a small fire pit, though it remained unused for the time being. They passed around the food, being Elves they all laughed and sang through the meal.
"You are enjoyable at least." Tawarthion said smiling at Thranduil.
"I am an Elf for a reason."
"Forgive him, My Lord," Arphenion said. "He has a way of always speaking his mind."
"I never took offense," he said, and then Thranduil smiled wryly. "I have been told by others occasionally that I perhaps enjoy the feast a little too much."
Daugion grinned. "I knew I suggested him for a good reason." Idhrenion slapped him upside the head.
"You speak to soon." He said. "And that is not a good reason to elect him our ruler either."
"Not necessarily true," Tawarthion said. Thranduil turned his gaze to him curiously. Tawarthion spoke with his hands. "The other Elves like singing and dancing as much as we do, if not a different kind. We are different, we cannot deny that. Yet they tell you that you enjoy the feasts too much? If that is the case, none of them would be a proper ruler for us. They do not understand what we enjoy, and can therefore not understand how we think entirely. Yes, we are all Elves, yes, we have the same basic morals and loves and hates, but they are of the Sea, unlike us. We have lived here forever, and Ennor is our home, much though its once darkness. We will stay here until Eru calls us to the Second Singing… or until we die." He paused, now speaking softer. "We did not necessarily choose you for your kingship capability, but rather for how much you could relate to us, as a people. You, out of all of them, have shown us understanding. The others that have, are not anywhere close to being ready to be chosen as such a leader." He looked around the circle. "If we were to choose from among ourselves, the result would be chaos." He looked back at Thranduil. "If you say no, I am sure we could find another… but if you say yes, I think there is none better."
The other four nodded in agreement, but remained silent. Thranduil bowed his head, knees drawn up slightly, elbows resting on his knees, and his chin again resting on his fingers. Then he sighed, and they all looked to him in anticipation.
And Thranduil closed his eyes as oil ran over his head, and down his face.
Idhrenion - wise
Daugion- of the army
Suiadan - manly
Ennor- Sindarin for Middle-Earth