Music echoed in the great halls of Rivendell that night. Elrond had ordered his cooks to prepare their finest morsels. Table upon table was heavy-laden with fruits, meats, and all manners of wines and ales. Decorations of ivy and flowing silk banners were hung throughout, highlighted by dripping candles and silvery ornaments. Elrond was forced to admit that Thranduil, despite his inflated ego and wild attitude, did have good taste. He had worried it might turn into a gaudy mess, as he did retain a memory of a particularly garish party in Mirkwood in his youth, and the morning after thereof had been most unpleasant. This celebration looked like it might maintain a level of dignity that might keep Saruman happy. Gandalf could always be counted on to find joy in the most casual of gatherings, but Saruman demanded a much grander effort. Anything less than the best was beneath him. Gandalf might not dress for dinner, but Saruman could always be counted upon to criticize.
Elrond spied Thranduil off to the side gossiping with his son and Glorfindel as he entered the festivieties, his daughter Arwen by his side. The three blondes made for a dazzling spectacle. Glorfindel, robed in white, always held himself with such poise that he could not go unnoticed even if he had been an Orc hiding in the dark. Legolas was clad in some of his finest garbs, opting for a simple mask of delicately crafted silver leaves, that echoed similar decorations woven through his hair and embroidered down the arms of his soft green tunic. And Thranduil...
Thranduil had indeed taken first choice of the masquerade garments. Elrond could only imagine that a peacock must be Thranduil's spirit animal—for he was indeed clad in teal hues and a peacock feathered headdress, with a lofty sheer over-robe that draped gracefully to the floor. He definitely stood out, as promised.
Perhaps, even more eye-catching than Thranduil, was Erestor. He was trying his best to shy away and linger in shadows as per his custom, but his appearance could not go unnoticed. It wasn't that Erestor was dressed more wildly than the King of Mirkwood, indeed his attire was tame in comparison, but Erestor had forsaken his usual somber black attire for deep, bold shades of burgundy and gold, with black dancing in sparse patterns near his neck and shoulders, and echoed again down his sleeves. Erestor looked almost uncomfortable with the looks he was receiving from many of the partygoers. Even little Lindir, who was the very essence of subtlety in his pale blue and grey ensemble, could not stop himself from gawking more than once.
Elrond looked about the room as he approached the group. Their guests had not yet made their appearance at the dance.
"Was not Saruman at supper?" Elrond asked coming up behind Thranduil, who nearly hit him in the face with one of his massive feathers as he turned to answer him.
"I saw him not."
"How tartly that wizard looks. I never can see him but I am heart burned an hour after," commented Legolas before taking a sip from his goblet.
"He is of a very melancholy disposition." Arwen agreed. Legolas let out a small chortle.
"He were an excellent Elf that were made just between him and that Dwarf, Gimli. The one is too much like an image and says nothing, and the other is ever more tattling."
Elrond smiled warmly at Legolas. The young prince could certainly turn a phrase, even if it was not always polite and such a succinct description of Saruman caused his lips to curl. "Then," Elrond suggested, "Half Gimli's tongue in Saruman's mouth, and half Saruman's melancholy in Gimli's face..."
"With a good leg and a good foot, and money enough in his purse—yes, such an Elf could win any prize he desired if he tried."
"By my troth, Legolas, dare you speak of finding yourself a prize?"
"In faith, he's to curst!" Thranduil chirped. "Elrond, if he were looking for any prizes this evening, my son would not use a Dwarf as a scale for merit."
Legolas laughed. "Oh, I could not endure a Dwarf! Have you seen the beard on his face? I would rather lie in the woolen."
"Thank the Valar for that!" Thranduil said tilting his glass as in a toast. "I might have a heart attack if you said otherwise. Elrond you plant wild ideas in my son's head."
Elrond quirked and eyebrow at Thranduil. "It was not I who mentioned the Dwarf."
"Humph. Well, Arwen, I trust that you will differ to your father on these important decisions." He said, knowingly.
Legolas, privy to his father's gossip, grabbed Arwens hand and very seriously said. "Yes, faith, it is Arwen's duty to make curtsy and say, 'Ada, as it please you.' But for all that cousin, let it be a handsome fellow! Or else make another curtsy and say, 'Ada, as it please me.'
Elrond shook his head. "Arwen shall have final word on this, and I shall respect it. Worry not Legolas. And I hope that you might one day be fitted with someone worthy." Elrod turned to Arwen and said, "Remember what I told you: If the wizard do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.
The pipers finished their song as Lindir heralded the arrival of the Company of the Istari. Many hooded figures entered, each of their identities concealed behind elaborate masks..
"Lady, will you walk about with your friend?" the first of the group asked, outstretching a gloved hand to Arwen, which she graciously accepted. The music lifted and they waltzed away, followed by a handful of other couples.
Most of the hooded figures found partners straight away. Of the few that remained, one figure hovered low by one of the tables, saying nothing and simply observing. He politely waved off any potential dance partners, though there were few forthcoming. His eyes drifted to various couples on the floor.
Arwen indeed seemed to be enjoying her dance partner's company. He could not hear what words were exchanged, but his eyes lingered on them until they passed behind a pillar. Deprived of the spectacle he turned his view to the other couples in the room.
He noted the way Erestor was speaking with Lindir, who seemed to have imbibed quite a bit of liquid courage, as it were, and was risking flirtation with Elrond's advisor.
"Well, I would you did like me," Lindir declared, voice carrying above the crowd.
Erestor looked oddly flustered at the younger Elf's advances. "I have many ill qualities." He replied.
Lindir smiled. "Which is one?"
"I take notes aloud."
"Ah, then you might make me love you all the more, for you have a beautiful voice!
Erestor blushed a bit, before again trying to usher the little elf away. He silently swore to never let Thranduil influence his attire ever again—he was getting far more attention that he was used to. He was rather certain that the minstrel would be very embarrassed with himself in the morrow, for he had never seen the minstrel act so boldly, save for when he performed. But Lindir was determined, and he did not let Erestor go that night without before getting one dance.
Thranduil had by now truly begun to lose his senses and where Linidr might had had some modesty in his pursuit of dance partners, the Mirkwood King had none. He was dallying about Glorfindel, comically hiding his face with a second discarded mask, challenging him: "Guess who?"
The balrog slayer indeed took it all in good humor. "I know you well enough. You are King Thranduil."
"At a word, I am not!"
Glorfindel chuckled. "I know you by your feathers!" He said, and made to pluck one long plume from the king's headdress.
Thranduil swerved away. "No, no! I'm only pretending to be him!"
"Oh, you could never do him so ill-well unless you were the very man!"
"At a word, I am not." Thranduil insisted unable to hide his mirth. Glorfindel wondered of which wines the king had partaken.
Across the way, Legolas stood looking quite cross ans he conversed with another disguised man who like Lindir and Thranduil seemed to have taken a bit too much to drink, for his stance was wobbly.
"Will you not tell me who told you so?" He demanded of the stranger.
"That I was disdainful and that I had my good wit stolen from poorly written satire?" Legolas sighed. "That must have been Gimli that said so!"
"Who is that?"
Legolas frowned. "You must know him."
"Not I, believe me!"
"Why, he is Istari's Dwarf! A very dull fool. His only gift is in devising impossible slanders, all of the most indecent sort! He is naught but offensive. He both pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him, and beat him." Legolas looked about the hall. "I'm sure he is in the fleet—I swear he crashed into him early. He lacks a certain grace."
"When I know the Dwarf, I will tell him what you say." The robed man promised.
Legolas smiled, mischievously. "Do, good friend!" The song changed, shifting Legolas' attention briefly. The prince considered something for a moment, and turned to invite the stranger for a dance, but when he looked back, he was gone. Legolas felt mildly disappointed.