Here it is! The prequel to I Keep Looking For Something More. If you haven't read it, that's okay, this is largely a stand-alone story. The Epilogue at the end will be the only part where reading Something More will be helpful. I am still not entirely happy with this intro, but I couldn't come up with a good way to change it. I hope you like it, and please review. I will post chapters faster if I get reviews. This story is essentially done and just needs to be posted. Anyway, on with the story! Enjoy!
Thranduil laughed merrily as he strolled through the halls of Harlond. The young prince was untroubled by anything at the moment. Life was good. He lived peacefully in Harlindon, studying under Lord Celeborn. He was currently on his way to the practice fields with his three closest friends, and he was looking forward to beating them soundly when they got around to sword fighting.
"You should have seen her face, Thranduil, I think she might have stopped breathing."
"I can't help that," Thranduil replied as his friends laughed again, waving his hand dismissively. "It's not like I do it on purpose."
"I'm sure," Lithiavas said sarcastically. "You know you enjoy the attention."
"Maybe a little," Thranduil said with a grin, emphasizing the point by saying "Good morning, ladies," to a group of passing elleths, who began giggling madly as soon as he had passed. He and Lithiavas were both right. Thranduil couldn't help being attractive and a prince, but he did enjoy the attention. As a young elf, he did get a great deal of pleasure in making elleths swoon.
When they reached the practice field, none of the elves were surprised to see a group of ladies standing nearby, whispering to themselves as Thranduil and his friends began practicing.
"I question why I am your friend sometimes," Novathin said, glancing at the elleths. "No elleth will look twice at me when I am standing next to you."
"You are my friend because we have known each other since long before any elleth began to look at either of us," Thranduil said, the resounding thud of an arrow hitting the target punctuating statement. "You get enough attention by yourself, so don't complain."
They continued shooting for a while, all four of them showing off for the group of ladies hovering off to the side. Thranduil was good at archery, but he was much better at the sword. It didn't take him long to grow tired of shooting.
"Come on you three, I've had enough archery. Let's try the sword."
"You just want to show off more," Novathin said with a sigh, taking off his quiver. "I hate sparring with you."
"How about you, Balamaethor?" Thranduil asked, unsheathing his sword and giving it a few practice swings. Sighing, Balamaethor drew his sword, obliging his prince's request.
Thranduil smirked and quickly feigned at Balamaethor, before striking to the left. Balamaethor blocked the attack, taking a low swing at Thranduil, who deflected the blow and spun around to attack again.
They sparred for quite a while, Thranduil wearing down Balamaethor. He was pleased to hear the "Ooos" and "Ahhhs" and gasps from the ladies whenever he pulled off a spectacular spin or narrowly avoided Balamaethor's blade. Finally, when he was growing tired of showing off, he feigned at his friend once again, coming in close enough to grab the other elf's arm and disarm him, spinning away with his blade to Balamaethor's throat.
"I win," Thranduil said, grinning. There was applause from behind him as he sheathed his sword. Lithiavas was right. He did love the attention, perhaps a bit too much.
"Now that you're done showing off," Novathin said picking up his gear. "Let's go for a ride before dinner."
"Alright, let's go," Thranduil said, following his friends towards the stables. Before leaving the practice fields, he couldn't resist turning towards the gathering of ladies and bowing regally. A series of giggles arose from the assembled maidens, several of which waved or clapped as he left.
Thranduil galloped through the forests with his friends, his bow in his hand, ready to shoot if they came across any game. It wasn't often he was able to go out and hunt with his friends. Unfortunately, they didn't have any luck. They returned empty handed.
Novathin was riding in front of him and slowed down as they arrived back to the city. Thranduil trotted next to him as they rode back into the stables. They passed more young elleths as they did so, and Thranduil smiled at them, nodding his acknowledgement.
"Don't you ever get tired of it?" Novathin said, dismounting in the stables.
"Tired of what?" Thranduil asked, also dismounting. Balamaethor and Lithiavas did the same behind him.
"The giggling fan club," Novathin said, leading his brown into his stall. Thranduil led his pure white stallion, Arandil, into his stall, a smile on his face.
"Not really. I mean, it can be inconvenient, but generally, it's nice to be appreciated."
"You're more than appreciated. You're like a piece of meat that they are all eyeing like hungry wolves."
"Really?" Thranduil laughed. "I've never thought of it that way."
"Don't you want to just find someone to marry and settle down with?"
"Eventually," Thranduil said, unconcerned. "I have plenty of time to do that though. No need to rush. I plan on enjoying myself right now." He patted Arandil before looking up at his friend. "What about you? You've broken your own share of hearts."
"Maybe a few," Novathin said with a half smile. "But that's because I still haven't found the right one yet, not like Balamaethor."
"I am just lucky," Balamaethor said from a few stalls away, a smile on his face as he thought of his beloved. "The real question is whether Thranduil will ever find a girl who won't swoon at the sight of him. It would be a tough marriage if his wife kept passing out every time she saw him."
"Haha, you're hilarious Balamaethor," Thranduil said, walking out of Arandil's stall. "I like things the way they are. You may want to be tied down, but I am happy being free."
"You say that now, but wait until you meet your soul mate. You won't be so indifferent then."
"Well if that happens, I'll let you know," Thranduil said as he left the stable with his friends. Soul mate, ha. Thranduil was content with his life as it was, and doubted that his soul mate would just pop into his life anytime soon. What were the chances of that?
Thranduil stood leaning against the railing of his tower balcony. He could see the early morning sun starting to peak over the treetops, the warm summer morning disturbed by a quiet breeze that ruffled the leaves and his hair. He loved watching the peace and quiet of the forest in the morning before everyone woke and began their daily routines. However, today, the peace was not his alone to enjoy.
As he focused on the horizon, he noticed something moving on the ground out of the corner of his eye. Looking down, he saw a cloaked figure moving quickly across the open space below. He watched the figure, curious about the strange behavior so early in the morning. Upon reaching the tree line, the figure looked back before disappearing into the woods.
Thranduil felt his breath catch in his throat. He had been surprised to see that the figure was in fact female. But what hit him hardest was at how beautiful she was. He had never seen another like her. With his elf eyes, he was able to see every feature, from her hazel eyes to her thin red lips to her strawberry blonde hair. Thranduil had been hit in the stomach before, and seeing the girl in front of him was a similar experience.
It took him a moment to realize she had disappeared, he was so in shock from the experience. When he did realize she was gone, Thranduil had an overwhelming urge to go after her. He needed to know who she was. But as he opened his door to leave, he found Novathin and Lithiavas outside his door, about to knock.
"Good timing. We were just going to get you so we can go to breakfast before your meeting with Lord Celeborn."
Thranduil frowned. He had forgotten he had a meeting. Now he didn't have time to go find out who that girl was. When he failed to respond to Lithiavas's statement, his friends looked at him curiously.
"What's wrong? You look like you are in pain."
"What?" Thranduil said, pulling his mind back to the present. He had been contemplating how best to go about finding the mystery girl as soon as he was finished with his work today.
"Are you okay?" Novathin asked. "You have an expression on your face I have never seen before."
"Oh, sorry. Yes, I'm fine. I was just thinking. Come on, let's go get breakfast."
"I'm sorry, what were you saying?"
"What is wrong with you today?" Celeborn asked, his brow wrinkled as he looked across his desk at the young prince. "You are usually far more focused than this."
"I'm sorry Lord Celeborn. I am alright."
Celeborn watched the younger elf with skepticism. Thranduil had a strange look on his face, and despite his assurances, he was not at all focused on what his mentor was saying.
"Hmm, if you say so," he said finally, still eyeing the younger elf with skepticism. "But I can see you are not in the frame of mind to be of any use today. Return to your studies, we will talk about this later."
"Yes, my lord," Thranduil said as he rose and left Celeborn's study. Lord Celeborn watched Thranduil hurry from the room, his behavior uncharacteristic and puzzling. It worried him slightly, but he pushed it aside. Thranduil was a young elf and was prone to mood swings occasionally. Perhaps this was just a new phase he was going through.
Thranduil had no intention of returning to his studies. He was going to go outside and see if he could find any indication of the mysterious elleth's passing.
It took hardly any time at all for him to get outside and find the clearing where he had seen the girl that morning. Eagerly, he began examining the ground around where she had disappeared. Unfortunately for Thranduil, the clearing was frequently trafficked by elves, and he was unable to detect any signs that could be attributed specifically to the elleth from early. Frustrated, he started walking in the direction she had been headed, wondering if maybe he could find further clues as he went. But he didn't go very far before he was stopped by another lady, walking alone in the opposite direction.
"Oh! Prince Thranduil! How are you this morning?"
"Quite well, my lady," he said, not in the mood to chat. "And you?" He really didn't care, but his manners automatically kicked in as his brain went elsewhere.
"Wonderful, thank you," said the elleth, batting her eyelashes. "Where are you off to this morning, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Just going for a walk," he said, barely paying attention to the conversation. If he had been more focused, he would have realized what a poor choice of words this was.
"Marvelous! I was just out for a stroll myself. Do you mind if I accompany you?"
"Of course not, my lady," Thranduil said, realizing his mistake too late to fix it. His royal training prevented him from voicing his real thoughts on the matter. "I am sorry, I did not ask your name."
"Lady Brilnariel, your majesty," she said, curtseying politely. Thranduil held out his arm for Lady Brilnariel, and against his better judgment, allowed her to accompany him as he continued his fruitless search.
It took a long time before Thranduil could convince Lady Brilnariel to let him go. He had only been half listening to her chattering away for over an hour, intent on trying to find evidence of the mystery elleth's passing. He had been forced to give up his search when he reached the stables, since there was far too much traffic in that area to be able to find anything so specific as a single elleth's footprints. It took another half hour before he could get the Lady to release him so he could get back to what he was supposed to be doing. Only when he said he was late for studying did she consent to let him out of her sight.
"Oh," she said, her disappointment evident. "Well, I shan't keep you then if you have work to do. It was an honor spending time with you, your majesty."
"Your company was appreciated, Lady Brilnariel," he said, bowing his head slightly. Truthfully, he had resented every minute of it, but voicing this opinion would have been the epitome of rude. "I shall see you some other time then." He quickly left before she was able to suggest another time for them to meet. The lady was pretty, with dark brown hair and pale green eyes, but he barely noticed any of this, his thoughts completely devoted to the strawberry blonde he had seen just a few hours earlier. As he hurried away towards his tower room to study, he could feel his determination growing. He was going to find her. Harlond was sizable, but he was confident that someone he knew would be able to identify her. Even if it was just a name. Anything to make her real, not just a phantom that appeared once before vanishing forever.
"What's with you lately?" Balamaethor asked, his brow furrowed as he looked at the prince, who was absent mindedly staring out the window. "You have been acting strange for a week now."
"I'm sorry," Thranduil said, looking around at his friend as they sat in the library, pouring over history books. "I forgot I hadn't told you yet."
"Told me what?" Balamaethor asked, incredibly curious now.
"I've been trying to find someone for the last week. Novathin and Lithiavas haven't had any luck finding her, and I'm just getting frustrated."
"Her?" said Balamaethor, his curiosity peeking as a grin spread across his face. "A specific her?"
"Yes," said Thranduil, looking out the window again, ignoring the smug look Balamaethor was giving him. "I just caught a glimpse of her the other morning. I want to know her name."
"Really?" Balamethor said, raising an eyebrow at him. "You seem pretty dedicated to just be looking for a name."
"What are you trying to say?" Thranduil said, scowling as he looked across the desk at his friend.
"I'm saying you are showing an uncharacteristic interest in a single elleth. Since when do you care to do more than smile and make ladies swoon at the sight of you?"
"I'm just curious, alright?" Thranduil said, looking down at his book but not actually comprehending the words as his eyes scanned the page. "Novathin and Lithiavas didn't react this way when I told them."
"What did they say when you told them this?"
"They just looked at each other and asked what she looked like," Thranduil said, eyes still on his book. Balamaethor didn't respond, but he was highly skeptical that Novathin and Lithiavas had nothing else to say on the matter. His suspicions were confirmed when he caught up with them both later while Thranduil was in his meeting with Lord Celeborn.
"So he told you about his mystery elleth, did he?" Lithiavas said with a smirk. "What do you make of it?"
"It is so out of character. I started asking questions and he got a little testy," Balamaethor responded with a shrug. "He said you two accepted his story without question."
"Oh we did," said Novathin. "I couldn't stop grinning though. You should have seen the look on his face. He wouldn't have noticed a heard of deer running through the dining hall at that point."
"So what do you think?" Balamaethor asked insistently. "Do you think it could be love?"
"Too early to tell, he doesn't even know her name," Novathin said, shaking his head. "You weren't even that bad with Raina."
"I'm not sure she even exists," Lithiavas interjected. "Neither Novathin nor I have been able to find her, and we have been looking, asking questions and all that. Thranduil has been working pretty hard lately, he may have imagined the whole thing."
"Well I think we need more to go on. Shimmering golden hair and alluring hazel eyes is not much to go on."
"Did he really say that?" Balamaethor asked, concerned. That did not sound like his friend at all.
"I'm paraphrasing, but the wistful look he had in his eyes while describing her was enough to suggest all of that. See what you can dig up, Balamaethor. Maybe you'll have more luck."