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The Damian

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Vallis checked her readings for the last time, satisfied that all was as they had hoped. The Colony they had originally settled here seemed to be thriving and there were dozens of children playing about the grounds. What had started out as three hundred souls, had multiplied over the centuries to several thousands. Vallis and her team had visited approximately a dozen villages, give or take, that had sprung up in various locations, to check up on not only their progress but their health in general.

 

Each had assured her team they had all they needed and Vallis got the distinct impression they would prefer to be left in peace. That suited Vallis fine. That was the whole purpose of this experiment. To seed these worlds and then leave them be. To progress as they would without their interference. And it seemed to her this one was ready.

 

She had one last meeting with the Village Chief who was the leader of the largest township, that was on the site of the original Colony drop and had grown over the years. Because of population growth over the years many groups had left to form their own villages so resources in the area wouldn’t be strained by their numbers.

 

This was wise thinking and necessary to maintain and increase their numbers. On this latest round of visits to their many Colonies, they had found much the same on every world. And once this meeting with the Chief was over she would gather her team and they would leave to go back home to report on the successes of their surviving Colonies.

 

At the knock on the door to the cottage she had been given when they arrived, she called for the Chief to enter. He did so and she looked him up and down and decided she liked what she saw. Tall and well made, he was in his prime but was already showing signs of age with silver beginning to streak its way through his dark hair and the crows feet at the corners of deep blue eyes that looked more accustomed to laughter than sorrow.

 

“Cordell, I’m glad to see you and I appreciate you’ve taken time from your busy schedule to see me. I have some final instructions for you and some advice for your future that I hope you will heed.”

 

“I will listen, Commander, but I can’t promise I’ll heed them.” he said stiffly, obviously resenting the intrusion into the inner workings of his home. Though these people knew the history of who they were, where they had come from and why they were there, the succeeding generations were beginning to resent the intrusion of the “outsiders” who insisted on visiting and telling them what to do. None were alive now who had firsthand knowledge of their ancient mother-world.

 

“I’m not your enemy, Chieftain. My only advice to you is to disconnect the portal but don’t destroy it. It could prove an invaluable power source for you in the future. Refurbish it and keep it as a backup, but not as a central power source. You have all under control here and you've looked to the future, which will serve you well. I only suggest this as none can foretell the future and you might need to keep your options open.”

 

The Chief looked nonplussed for a moment and then answered, “This is surprising, coming from you. Your team doesn’t share your views.”

 

“Yes, I know. Which is why I asked to speak to you in private. They wish to make frequent visits to check on your progress and interfere in your decisions. I don’t agree.”

 

“So what would you have me do?”

 

“Nothing. And by that I mean don’t share what I’ve told you with any but those you trust. Once the portal is disconnected most of your technology will cease. None of your settlement will be able to contact us again and that is for the best. You must develop on your own now. I’ve decided it is time to cut the apron strings, so to speak.”

 

“There will be panic among my people.”

 

“Will there? Most don’t use the technology now. What would really change except the option of using it?”

 

“I understand. I’ll tell them you are pleased with our progress and now trust us to make our own way.”

 

“Which is perfect, for it is the truth.” And the two clasped hands in a firm grip meeting one another’s eyes in understanding.

 

~0~

Vallis was doing her best not to roll her eyes at her colleague as he went on for the third time about introducing hydroponics to D-3.

 

“For the last time, Thorne, we agreed that D-3 was to develop without excessive tech. The colonies of D-4 through D-8 have hydroponics and their food production actually dropped by a quarter. If it drops further they will be in real danger of a famine since their populations are all increasing.  We need to see how these worlds will develop if left to their own devices and not dependent upon us.”

 

“I would think you of all people would be for any edge we could provide them to better help in their survival.” he said irritably.

 

“What better way to insure their survival if they can survive on their own without us? What happens over the years when their star sends out solar flares? What happens if a nearby star novas and sends out a massive EMP? Then all the tech they are dependent on is gone and they have no clue how to survive on their own. No! We have several that we have provided tech to and we will check on their progress while we nudge them towards doing without it and some we must leave without it altogether. This is one we have to leave alone. Relax. They are doing fine. They thrive.”

 

“If you say so. You are in charge. But when I file my report I’m going to issue my recommendation that we provide tech to all our colonies. We need to ensure their survival and throwing them out into the cold universe with no advantages to assist them does nothing to ensure their survival.”

 

“You must do what you believe is best. I’ll certainly not stop you.”

 

They were walking towards their portal pad and took their places where their DNA had been stored in case of a catastrophic failure so they could be reconstituted on the other end. Their new bodies would be absent their memories of their last mission but it was the only failsafe they had so their specific scientific knowledge wouldn’t be lost. Vallis checked to make sure everybody on her team was where they were supposed to be and then activated their generator crystals to set their coordinates back to their home world.

 

They had been on a mission to check on their colonies’ progress and D-3 had been their last. They had twelve colonies and though D-3 had been one of their earliest colonies, it was the furthest away from their home world. In the beginning they had thought the further the better, but towards the end had set up colonies within their own solar system close to their home-world as they became more proficient at terra-forming. Therefore, two of their final colonies were actually their closest.

 

As Vallis activated the Homing Crystal, they began their trip back through the portal gates that would see them home. It was a dizzying trip at light speed where stars looked like blurred pinpoints of light and the trip felt and looked like a child’s kaleidoscope. The first time they had attempted to use the gates extreme motion sickness had occurred and they had thought the whole a failure.

 

But Vallis knew it was the only way they could safely navigate their Galaxy and as a Biologist she was sure the effects could be gotten used to. If not, then an INB, or Involuntary Nervous-System Blocker, would have to be developed. But in the end, her first hypothesis proved to be the accurate one. It was simply something they had to get used to and the newbies violent retching after their first trip became something of an initiation into a very exclusive club!

 

Suddenly, Vallis felt a tug and then slackening and she knew something was wrong with the power stream. Shit! That idiot chieftain hadn’t waited to disconnect the power core and it had snipped their slipstream and they would quickly lose the velocity they needed to complete their journey. Worse case scenario was they would slow to the point that they lose their friction shielding and would end up floating, frozen corpses in deep space.

 

Vallis wasn’t only their biologist, she was their engineer and one of those who had built their portal gates across their Galaxy. She knew they had one chance and she took it. She quickly did the math to locate the nearest RW-Class planet with a nitrogen-oxygen rich atmosphere that was within their acceptable parameters and landed them there so she could reset their coordinates.

 

They landed hard, but all members of her team appeared undamaged by their sudden stop. Vallis got up and quickly checked their surroundings. They were within a forest glade and she counted her lucky stars they hadn’t landed in a more hostile environment. Then a projectile struck the ground not a meter away from where she was standing. Shit! Correction, this world was inhabited by hostiles!

 

She quickly ordered her team to take their places so she could send them on their way. They obeyed her without question and she quickly activated her Beacon Crystal for their home-world and removed it from her wrist, as a power source would be needed. Stepping away from her team she threw it into their midst just as they disappeared leaving her stranded. Forever.

 

It was the only way she could have saved them and she did so without a second thought. All team commanders knew the risks when they accepted command. All had to be prepared to make this sacrifice if the circumstances demanded it to ensure the safety of their teams.

 

Once alone she held up her hands in a sign of submission and just as she thought she was quickly surrounded by the indigenous people who seemed to be primitives all holding bows with their projectiles pointed at her. If she had been an anthropologist she might have admired their beauty, but as she was a biologist all she saw was bipeds that seemed to resemble her own species in face and form.

 

Except their ears. These had delicately pointed ears and she briefly wondered if it was simply aesthetic or if this permutation had developed to assist them in their survival in some way. Their eyes also seemed backlit and she wondered at that. Night vision, perhaps?

 

If she had time to study them she would be fascinated by the slight differences she found. But she wasn’t here to study them and she most certainly was in danger of becoming damaged if she gave them reason to believe she was belligerent and meant them harm.

 

One stepped forward and began speaking to her quickly in a language she couldn’t find the roots for. She was a gifted linguist and was at a loss to pick out the common thread that all languages shared.

 

“I’m sorry. I don’t speak your language.”

 

“Ah. You speak common. Very well. Who are you and what are you doing in our forest, human?”

 

She was so astonished she just gaped at him for a moment. He had spoken her language flawlessly and somewhat sneeringly, like he was addressing an subspecies of inferior genus.

 

“You may call me Vallis and I’m not from this world. My team and I landed here by accident and I just sent them on their way. I mean you no harm.”

 

“And why didn’t you go with them?”

 

But before she could answer an arrow pierced her throat. Irritated she pulled the wicked barb out and knew it would be several hours before she’d be able to speak again. But right now all pandemonium had broken loose. Creatures that were foul and misshapen began to stream out of the woods and her captors were soon under siege.

 

She wished to be away from this place, but since she was stuck here she decided to help her captors. They, at least, had spoken to her and hadn’t just shot her even though they’d given a warning shot. She brought out one of her crystals and held it up and gathered the forces she could feel in the atmosphere here. It was a different type of energy than she was used to, but energy was energy and she began directing it at the foul beasts.

 

It took her a couple of tries before she was able to harness what energy she could feel around her, but once she did the crystal acted as a magnifying glass for those energies and she was able to direct a thin beam of light wherever she willed it. The light acted as a laser and she vivisected several of them, separating their heads from their bodies before they caught on that it was she who was killing them and they gathered together to charge her.

 

This actually worked to her advantage as she directed the beam at their entire group and in a matter of moments had reduced them to their twitching parts, their nervous systems not realizing they were dead yet. Then she noticed there were several of her captors who looked to have been wounded in their skirmish with the beasts.

 

Though, since they had been armoured and carried weapons, perhaps she was being unfair in characterizing them as animals. Animals didn’t arm themselves. Whatever these things were, they might have been primitive and they had been aggressive. Another trait most beasts didn’t have. Beasts only became aggressive if their food supply, territory or young were threatened.

 

She put away the crystal she’d used as a weapon focus and brought out another she used to heal. She went to the first, the one who had spoken to her and she began to close up the wounds she found upon his body. She noticed that there was a viscous black substance within several of his wounds and she determined they must be toxic, judging by his pallor and the nausea she could see he was now experiencing.

 

She then used the Psychokinesis all her people had and began to separate the viscous material from his skin tissues and blood. Having gotten the feel of it she then drew it all out his wounds and then she closed them up without leaving so much as a scar on his skin.

 

Once she was satisfied he would recover, she went on to the next and then the next. As she finished with the last she got up to see to the next one and saw they had all been dealt with. She then pocketed her crystal and waited for them to decide what they were going to do with her. She hoped they wouldn’t make the decision to damage her. It was time consuming and inconvenient to heal from those wounds.

 

The one who had first approached her, approached her again and this time gave her a slight head bow.

 

“You saved my life. I thank you for it. Unfortunately our law states that all trespassers must be brought to our King. So I must ask you to accompany us and please don’t try to escape. I would hate to repay your services to me by having to kill you.” He said this with a sardonic smirk and she wondered at his odd sense of humor.

 

She had told him she was from another world. Either he thought her a liar or suicidal. After all, she was a stranger here. Where in the world would she go? So she merely nodded her assent quirking a brow at him, her own eyes lit with amusement and he gave her a strange look. And that's when she noticed for the first time that their eyes were more than back-lit. 

 

Having indicated she would accompany them, they blindfolded her and she felt it when they took her crystals from her and she sighed. She would need to get those back! Then they began to lead her to wherever they were going.

 

She was still able to detect the direction from the scent of the woods and the position of the sun upon her skin as they would emerge from time to time out from under the canopy. At least they hadn’t bound her hands and from time to time they would guide her around an obstacle or they would pick her up and pass her to one of their fellows if the obstacle was too large for her to navigate on her own without sight. She was rather surprised at the gentle treatment of her. They didn’t roughly manhandle her at all. Well, they weren’t barbarians, then!

 

As they walked she began to hear a river in the distance. It was towards the water that they were heading. Then she felt a difference in the ground. Not the forest floor and she deduced they were crossing a bridge as she heard the water rushing loudly under her. Then she felt the pressure on her ears change. They were inside a structure but she felt as though they were underground. A cave, perhaps? Except it didn’t smell of damp or mildew.

 

Then she was brought to a halt and that quick lilting speech was spoken again only this time she could pick out some root words. Root words, those used most often in a language, were the key to learning it. But this language had many sounds that she suspected changed the meaning of words.

 

The structure seemed simple enough, but words that sounded the same were pronounced with slight irregularity and she knew this meant something. Either it was very complicated or she was missing something quite simple and would probably kick herself over the omission later on.

 

Suddenly the blindfold was removed and she was very surprised at her surroundings. She was in a large and well lit cavern and the natural columns were all carved into the shapes of trees. There were natural arching walkways that went up dozens of stories and in front of her was a raised dais that had stairs leading up to a platform and then more stairs that led up to a throne. It all looked free-form, as though it was floating with no supports and she recognized master craftsmanship had constructed this place using advanced building techniques. Perhaps not so primitive after all.

 

Then she zeroed in on the one who sat in the throne and she realized this must be their leader. Their King. And by the looks of him, a most formidable specimen. And what a magnificent specimen he was!

Chapter Text

Vallis took a closer look at their impressive King. He looked large and larger than life. He was blonde and a strikingly lovely male. If she had grown him in a lab she doubted she could have come up with such majestic beauty. It was like he’d been born just for this purpose. To be on display like a superb sculpture.

 

He didn’t look like the others she had encountered, though he bore a slight resemblance to the one who had spoken to her. Only that one seemed a pale reflection of this one, though as a species they were all aesthetically beautiful. She hadn’t seen a plain or average face among them.

 

He in turn was looking at her thoughtfully, and she could see the keen intelligence in his eyes. And the age. Something she’d noticed in all these people. Whatever their genus, they were incredibly long lived and she could see it in their eyes.

 

The king, for his part was studying this stranger thoroughly, trying to gauge her. Though his patrol captain had told him she claimed to be from another world, he had been quick to dismiss this as either madness or a lie. But the truth was she didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before and this puzzled him.

 

Short ash blonde hair parted on the side combed for convenience, not beauty. An oval face with high cheekbones that was very beautiful though it seemed this was the last thing she was trying to emphasize. Large hazel brown eyes, almost too big for her face, a small but straight nose and a sensual mouth that looked as though it had never been kissed. Her bone structure looked delicate and she was very tall for a human, standing as tall or taller than those surrounding her.

 

And then there was some sort of tattoo that surrounded her left eye that wasn’t easily discernible to the naked eye, in a very pale silver grey ink and he wondered if it was meant to show up in certain lights. It consisted of two arcs above her brow, followed by three inverted arcs to the side next to her eye. Then upon her upper cheek right beneath her eye were three dots and under that another inverted arc and beneath that two dots another inverted bow and beneath that one dot. The whole was symmetric and resembled an inverted pyramid with two arcs above her brow completing the look, though nothing touched. The end result was rather attractive, but he suspected it wasn’t for decoration and had some meaning.

 

Then there were her clothes. She was wearing a one piece white jumpsuit that had dark grey accents in various places and hugged her like a second skin. She also wore matching grey boots to just below her knees. It left nothing to the imagination as to her ample assets and yet he did not believe for an instant it was designed to be alluring, but functional. It looked military in nature and that thought caused him to frown at her.

 

And her eyes. She looked to be a maid, but instead of the vacuous look he was used to in the eyes of every human he’d ever met, this one had the wisdom of knowledge and age in her eyes. Vast age.

 

Then he addressed her and it was clear she didn’t understand a word he was saying. But her response surprised him all the same.

 

“Forgive me. I don’t speak your language, but I’m pleased to meet you and I’m willing to answer any questions you have.” Vallis said and was pleased to neither feel or hear any roughness to her voice. She was healed then. Good.

 

“What were you doing in my forest and how did you come to be so deep within my realm with none the wiser.”

 

“I’m from another world and on our way back we suffered a malfunction that caused us to have to stop in your world before we were able to continue on our way. I had to stay behind to send the others off and now I’m afraid I am stranded here.”

 

“You sent them off knowing you’d be left with no chance of leaving?” his skepticism was palpable.

 

“I was the commander and in charge of our team. I had to ensure they made it home. If the cost was myself that was only my sworn duty.”

 

“Your sworn duty? You are a soldier, then?” he asked and she could hear the menace in his voice and was quick to reassure him.

 

“No sir. I am a scientist. A biologist. I study living organisms, but as I said, I was in charge of our team and their safety was my responsibility.”

 

“I don’t believe you. Perhaps a sojourn in my dungeon will loosen your tongue.” He fully expected her to profess her innocence and beg for mercy. She surprised him again by merely shrugging and replying, “Very well. But you should know that I am telling the truth, which I can see you know perfectly well and my story will not change.” And she calmly followed the guards who stepped forward to escort her to the cells.

 

Once she was out of sight he frowned and asked his captain to join him in his study for further debriefing. The captain nodded and waited for his king to descend from the throne and then followed him to his study. Once the door was closed the two flopped down in a pair of comfortable chairs, all protocols dispensed with.

 

“Well, son. What do you think?”

 

“I’m not sure, father. We were near a glade just west of here when she and her people just appeared out of nowhere. And by nowhere I mean thin air. One of the scouts fired a warning arrow and as soon as it struck the ground near her feet she ordered them to their places and then they were gone. Then she surrendered herself to us. But father, when the orcs attacked she took a arrow right through the throat and instead of it being a kill shot she just pulled it out as though it was an irritant. The wounds disappearing almost as soon as she pulled it free.”

 

“Really? And do you believe she is from another world as she claims and not some sort of witch or something?”

 

“The people she came with were all like she was. Those marking she has on her face? They all had them though none were exactly the same. Were I to describe them I’d say they looked more like a scouting group. Military, if you get my meaning. They all wore exactly the same garb.”

 

“Do you think she’s a threat?”

 

“Yes, I do think she’s a threat. I just don’t know to whom she’d be a threat to. She had a weapon that killed all the orcs when I thought for sure we were done for. I, myself was severely wounded with poisoned blades and she healed me like she was wiping jam off my skin. And I mean there was no mark or tenderness once she was done. She did the same for all our wounded. And then she allowed herself to be blindfolded and led here. The rest you know.”

 

“Did you confiscate her weapons?”

 

“Yes father.” and he laid several crystal gems on the table in front of his father. They all looked to be precious and semi precious gems all a uniform size of four centimeters in diameter and faceted on their face and perfectly smooth on the other as though to fit in the palm of the hand. It was a bizarre cut for gemstones and none appeared to be cut to enhance the beauty of the gems.

 

“This is what she used as a weapon?”

 

“Yes father. And to heal. I believe each gem has a specific purpose. She even threw one in the midst of her people before they disappeared.”

 

“Thank you, son. That will be all.” And as his son got up to leave, he called back to him, “Legolas! I want you and your scouts to go see the healers before you return to duty. I know you’re going to tell me you feel fine, but for my sake, please indulge your old adar and have my mind put to rest.”

 

“Yes father. I will do so and have the others who were injured report as well.”

 

“Thank you, my son.” Thranduil smiled at his son with affection.

 

Once the door was closed he broodingly stared into the flames of the fire in the hearth. He was having a difficult time puzzling this out. Who was this strange woman and why was she here? He resolved to leave her in the dungeons for a while to see if that might not make her a little more forthcoming in her responses.

 

~0~

 

Vallis sat in her cell and meditated. She sat cross-legged on the narrow bench that she supposed was her bed and she went deep into her own mind and thought back over her life and paused at the time before her world had been poisoned. How happy and carefree she had been then.

 

Her world orbited a failed star, a gas giant that never ignited, not having enough mass to have the internal pressure and temperature necessary to cause hydrogen to fuse to helium and thus start the chain reaction that would have turned it into a sun. Still, they received heat from it and they were close enough to their star for their world to receive the life giving light and nutrients to grow vegetation upon their world.

 

Their world was actually a moon of Pentalon, the name they gave to their failed and ringed gas giant. It was a beautiful sight in the sky. Pentalon had a total of seventy two moons and they had settlements on several of them, mostly for mining for the rich resources that those moons were the only source for. On one moon in particular they had discovered their power source, Venasian crystals.

 

Each hue was perfect for specific purposes and they’d discovered they could use these crystals as a power source. Others could be used to heal and others as weapons, if needed. Those had initially been used for mining, but they had inadvertently been used in self defense and while they didn’t believe in killing, sometimes it had been necessary with some of the dangerous beasts that were indigenous to some of the worlds they had colonized.

 

She had been twenty two when her world was poisoned and the call had gone out to for their people to study the sciences to see if a cure could be found for the poison. Those who had been off-world at the time were free of the pathogen that infected the whole of their world and they had been quarantined to keep them safe from the poison, though it meant separating them forever from their families. When they had been unable to isolate the pathogen they had decided to colonize to save their species from extinction by sending those unaffected people out to settle new home-worlds.

 

Perhaps they should have just accepted their fate, but something within them had rebelled against that and they had sent their people out to see if they could survive. They’d had many failures and had lost entire colonies, but a few had not only survived by had thrived. They had started out with twenty five colonies.

 

Twelve survived and of those twelve they had grown to populate their new homes. Barring unforeseen events, these would survive. They had been forbidden contraceptives as they were told that in order to be chosen to Colonize they had to ready to propagate their species. In other words, have children. Lots of children. And they had.

 

Vallis had chosen the scientific discipline of biology to help her people for a two-fold purpose. Understanding the building blocks of life enabled her to seek for the pathogen that had poisoned their world and it also allowed her to test water and plant life on other worlds to see if it was compatible with their people’s needs.

 

That is why she had been off world and why she had decided to speak to the chieftain. She felt they were doing very well for themselves and the time had come to cut ties to the mother-world. It was time to stand on their own. She just wished he would have waited to disconnect their tether. Doing so had been like cutting a string, or snapping a rubber band stretched too tautly.

 

The ricochet had flung them who knows where and it had only been her own personal homing beacon that held the coordinates for their home world. She knew no matter where they had been flung she would have been able to get them home. That is also why she had stayed. The removal of her mass would make their return trip a surety and her stored DNA would allow them to regenerate another version of her to keep her knowledge. A clone.

 

It was something every commander knew and had to be prepared to sacrifice should such an occurrence happen. It meant they could be stranded, or worse, but they were also assured they would go on to help their home-world. She knew before long “Vallis 2.0” would be continuing with her mission even if she rotted in this dungeon on this inhospitable world.

 

That was some comfort, at least. And as they were required to replenish their DNA after each mission she knew the new “her” would have the same memories as she herself and the conclusion she’d come to long ago. That they had to cut the colonies ties to their world in order to survive on their own. The new Vallis would continue in her footsteps.

 

She put these musings from her thoughts and returned to that happy time before everything had ended for them. Their innocence. Their future. But she could only go so far before she would recall that horrible day her fiance had given in to despair and had ended his life in the most horrific way possible. She shied away from the memory, for that had been the worst day of her life. And it had taken a long time before the horror of that day had been buried under enough layers of time that it wasn’t right behind her eyes, replaying itself over and over again.

 

She was shaken out of her reverie, literally. As she came back from her meditations she found the one who was the leader of these people impatiently shaking her by the shoulder.

 

“Wake up, blast you. What is wrong with you?”

 

“Nothing is wrong with me. I was just passing the time.”

 

“You have been in here for three days and have had no food or drink. Is it your intention to starve yourself to death?”

 

“No, of course not. I can go for long periods without food and water before I become weakened.” and then looking at him she deduced he was there for a purpose, “Did you wish to speak to me?”

 

“Yes. I came down to see if you wished to tell me the truth as to why you were trespassing within my forest.”

 

“Nonsense. You know I am telling the truth. Why are you playing this game? If you have questions for me I’m more than happy to answer them. I have nothing to hide.”

 

Thranduil entertained keeping his game up to rile her, but he decided against it. What would he gain from her by being so antagonistic. She seemed perfectly willing to speak with him. Why not take advantage of that? Perhaps she was a key to defeating the enemy that was camped out to his south. It couldn’t hurt to ask.

 

“Very well. Why don’t we get you cleaned up and you can join me for dinner. We can speak then.”

 

“That would be fine. You will send someone?” She asked, fairly sure he wouldn’t escort her to the bathing facilities himself.

 

“Yes. Someone will come to escort you. Please be alert when they arrive.” he said caustically, before he turned and left her.

Chapter Text

Once she had bathed and dressed in the gown left for her, Vallis was escorted to the King's private dining chamber. She was trying to get used to the flowing gown, something she couldn’t recall the last time she’d worn. They weren’t exactly practical and she was practical. She needed full motion mobility in her field of work and skirts were not the uniform of the day to accomplish her tasks.

 

She was left at the door and she knocked and waited to be granted entry. She heard the voice on the other side do just that and she entered looking about her in approval. This was no showy place to impress. This was functional but with an eye for comfort. The king was standing beside his chair and she went to the only other seat and pulled it out, waiting politely for him to seat himself first. Then they filled their plates and ate in silence before he spoke to her.

 

“I have not asked you your name. What are you called?”

 

“I am Athney Vallis. Most people just call me Vallis. And if I might ask the same of you?”

 

“I am Thranduil Oropherion and I am King of Eryn Galen.”

 

“I am pleased to meet you.” She said nodding her head.

 

“Tell me of your world.” He asked abruptly.

 

“I’m from a world called Damia.”

 

“So what do you call yourselves?”

 

“Damians, of course.”

 

“I think I shall call you Damiel.”

 

“Whatever for? Is my own name not acceptable to you?”

 

“I think Athney is a beautiful name. But iel is daughter in my language. Damiel would make you the daughter of Damia.”

 

“Huh. I like it. Very well, I will accept it.”

 

“I’m glad you approve.” he smirked and she got the distinct impression he would call her what he damned well pleased. “Go on. You were telling me about your world.”

 

“My world is all but dead. It just doesn’t quite know it’s dead yet, so it keeps turning. But eventually all life will cease there.”

 

“How did this come to be?”

 

“We had developed as all societies develop. We had wars and we had peace. We eventually put war behind us and dedicated ourselves to discovery. Eventually we reached for the stars and looked to see if there were any others out there. We discovered many and found them in various stages of development such as we ourselves had gone through. Then we found a people that seemed most like ourselves and we approached them in friendship. We thought it was reciprocal. We soon found to our dismay it was not. We were seen as competition. A threat.”

 

“Go on.” Thranduil prompted, captivated by her story.

 

“We began through communications and eventually agreed upon trade. We gave them access to our world for trading purposes. We even began exchanging technology. Then one day they offered us a gift. A gift of immortality. To their surprise we rejected this gift. It wasn’t natural to our species and we had grown past the point that we craved such. So they forced their “gift” upon us in secret. They poisoned our oceans with it, thereby poisoning our ecosystem. It was in our atmosphere. Our water tables. Our food chain. Nothing living escaped this “gift.”

 

“Why would this gift be a poison to you.”

 

“It didn’t just grant immortality. It sterilized. Our people, once infected, were no longer able to reproduce. To bear young. That included all the indigenous life on our world. The animal and insect life-forms on our world were also infected. The fish and fowl. Even the plant life. The entire balance of our world was destroyed.”

 

“Do you think this is something that can be transferred to other worlds. Other people?”

 

“I understand your concern. You fear I am contagious. It is a valid fear. The answer, so far as we know, is no. We are not contagious. When we discovered what had been done we isolated those who had been off-world at the time and sent them to colonies we had set up to see if we could preserve our species. We have had some successes and have not infected the new worlds, though we have not been able to isolate the pathogen that infects us.

 

“But as we go to check on their progress we have not infected those worlds with our presence. It is the only way we can feed ourselves now. We have entire worlds that are dedicated to feeding our own dying world. We can’t grow or harvest there anymore and if we don’t want to deforest our entire world and deplete the air supply from those forests, we must harvest from other worlds that can replenish themselves.”

 

“If I were your people I would have been very angry at this betrayal of trust. Did you retaliate?”

 

“We could have. Our technology was such that we could have destroyed their world. All at once and not in the slow cruel way they destroyed ours. But, in the end all we had to do was nothing.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Their star went supernova and destroyed them. They are gone now and they will never do to another what they did to us. They had the audacity to ask us for help. We couldn’t give it, of course.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Our world is dead, though to outward appearances we are all forever young. We have absolutely no new life on our world. Where is the joy in that? What they wanted from us was our help in relocating them to a new world. We refused. How could we possibly comply? Should we allow them to do to others what they had done to us?”

 

“But wasn’t that murder?”

 

“Some thought so. But is it really murder if you simply do nothing? We didn’t kill them. We simply refused to help them. Besides, who is to say that they did not find their own way off? They had our level of interplanetary travel technology. They just hadn’t mapped out the Galaxy the way we had. They wanted us to do the work for them.”

 

“I don’t know if I can accept that.”

 

“You wish to make me responsible for what those in charge of my world decided. That is fine. I had no hand in it. I am merely a scientist. But know this. When we came to your world by mistake I sent the others back through using my own homing beacon. None from my world will ever find you again. It was a malfunction that sent us here to begin with. But one they can not recreate. You are safe from us.” She didn’t mention she had wiped the coordinates from her homing beacon before reactivating the portal. And she knew her team’s beacons didn’t have that capability.

 

“While I appreciate what you say and I don’t wish to lay the decision of your world upon your shoulders, still you seem not to be concerned with that decision.” he said sternly.

 

“Well, a moment ago you said you would have been angry and asked if we retaliated. Why would the fact that we did now make you think our moral compass is lacking? Besides, that all happened over two thousand years ago. So if you are censoring me for my lack of emotion, know that it is very far in my past that this happened. Any emotion I might have had is gone.”

 

“And you still have people alive on your colonies? And do they age and die? Are they baring offspring?”

 

“Yes, yes and yes. That is, in fact how I came to be on your world. We had been on a mission to visit all our colonies. We have twelve on twelve separate worlds. I had been pleased with their development and had been speaking with the Chieftains of each colony. I advised all of them to disconnect the portals so that they could get on with their lives without our interference. They are all stable now. They have increased in numbers enough that they are self sustaining. On each world what started as one settlement has now increased to dozens of towns and villages. They have economies and aren’t just living a mean existence. They are thriving.

 

“Most waited until we got to our next destination before disconnecting the portals. We need a starting and ending point to get from place to place. The last chieftain jumped the gun, so to speak and disconnected the portal before we had made it back home. Losing the connection acted like a slingshot and flung us who knows where from our original coordinates. I found your world to land us on so we could complete our trip with our failsafe. Your people fired upon us and I sent my team though and closed the portal behind them.”

 

“My son told me it was merely a warning shot.”

 

“And I took the warning seriously. It would not have gone well for you had we all been taken captive.”

 

“And why is that?”

 

“Because if we had not come back my people would have looked for us. With the beacons active they would have found us…..and you. The misunderstandings would probably have led to conflict and I would avoid that at all costs.”

 

“Why do you believe there would have been conflict?” And though he asked the question he recalled her earlier offhand comment about her people having the means to destroy an entire world. And he didn’t think she’d meant merely all the life on it. Eru! Not even the Darkest Lord of their World had had that power!

 

“Because your people shoot first and ask questions later.”

 

“What would your people have done had they come here?”

 

“I don’t know. The wrong type would have simply blasted your world into atoms from space. I doubt they would have even tried to retrieve us. They would have sought to mitigate the damage our knowledge could have provided you and eliminated the threat. We trusted once. It did not go well for us."

 

"They would have had so little regard for you and your people that they would just destroy you along with everyone living on this one?" Thranduil asked incredulously.

 

"Oh, they would just grow a new team from our DNA storage database. I'm sure they've already started to regrow another me on my world. Vallis 2.0 will go on. They will not have lost my knowledge."

 

"Your people have the ability to grow new bodies and yet you can not find this poison that keeps you from reproducing. I don't understand this."

 

"As I said I'm a biologist and I have been searching for the pathogen for millennia. My nearest conjecture is the pathogen is actually a protein that has the ability to mask itself and to bind to the DNA strand. DNA contains the information the cell requires to synthesize protein and to replicate itself. In short it is the storage repository for the information that is required for any cell to function. Somehow this one keeps the cell from deteriorating but also blocks reproduction and I can't find it."

 

"I find your people to be a strange contradiction. You say you don't kill, but you do so by doing nothing. You value life but your people would destroy a world to keep a dead world safe."

 

"But as I said, you people shoot first and ask questions after. You would have been deemed hostile. You don’t seek to know whether a stranger is friend or foe.” she said and the king got the impression had things gone differently they could have brought doom upon their own head and her people would have thought they’d brought it on themselves. Hers was a completely alien thought process and yet he sensed no evil in her. It baffled him. Things on his world were very basic. Black and white. Good and evil. This was outside of his or anybody else's experience, and he knew it.

 

“We have been under siege for over two millennia. Because of that we have lost our trust in strangers.” he said a bit defensively and he rather resented that he had to defend himself on his own world. In his own land. His own realm, dammit!

 

“I see. So you are at war?” she asked, not liking the sound of that.

 

“Yes. We have been at war since before the first elves even awoke under the stars.”

 

“Who are you at war with?”

 

“When the Valar made the great music of our creation long ago there was one who rebelled. That one came here at the very beginning and Eru Ilúvatar, our Father Creator allowed it. Everything that has happened since is all part of the Great Music.” And seeing the look on her face he chuckled, “Ah, you think I am reciting something fanciful or made up to explain our world. I assure you they are all quite real corporeal beings. I saw most of them when I was young in Beleriand during the War of Wrath. That war was so great it sent the land beneath the waves. And it is also why myself and our people are here now. We migrated when our land was lost and these people accepted us and made my father king. But the peace was not to last and the lieutenant of the great enemy, Sauron is the one who continues to wage war upon all the free people of Ennor.”

 

“Ennor? Is that what this world is called?”

 

“No. That is what this land is called. Just as the other side of the Blue Mountains was once called Beleriand. This world is called Arda.”

 

“Oh, I see. And what of this enemy that has you under siege. Is this something you see an ending to?”

 

“Of course. All things will end, one way or another. But tell me instead about the markings you bear. Does that have any significance?”

 

“This is the mark of my profession and rank. I am a biologist. I study life and how it works in all its forms. These show the disciplines I have mastered,” and she touched each arc, “This is soul and spirit.” she said indicating the two arcs above her brow, “And these are heart, mind and body.” she said indicating the inverted arcs below. And then touching the spots below, “And this is my rank, I am lead scientist, biologist and commander.” she finished touching each row of dots. “These three are for commander, the two for lead scientist and the lone one is biologist. And these three,” she said indicating the three short arcs next to her eye, “Are for my engineering disciplines.”

 

“And can you explain these?” he asked and laid the crystals out before her.

 

“Those are our power source. Or rather, they are to channel the forces that are on every world and within ourselves. Every life-form has low level frequency bands and generates an electromagnetic field. These frequency bands also travels through the currents present upon every living world, as the world itself is an organic life-form. These crystals merely help to focus the energy that is already present within us and around all of us and focuses it.”

 

“Why the different gems?”

 

“Each gem captures a different energy bandwidth. These gems are the ones I use in my profession. There are others those in other disciplines use. As a biologist I use this one for healing and to assist in the growing of organic life,” indicating the emerald, “It is Body.” “This one is Heart,” indicating the ruby. “This one is Mind.” she said pointing to the sapphire. “This one is Soul.” indicating the diamond, “And this one is Spirit.” pointing to the last on that was an impressive fire opal and was milky but lit with an inner light that encompassed all the colors of the spectrum.

 

“My son told me you used one as a weapon. Which one was that?”

 

“They can all be used as weapons, I suppose. I happened to use this one as we use it for mining. It is very useful to cut through solid rock and ore.” indicating the diamond. “But in my work, I use it to increase the bodies own energy resources. All of these work together to keep the health of the entire body.”

 

“And which one did you use to heal my son and his patrol?”

 

“This one.” pointing to the emerald. “It is specifically for the health of the body. But were you aware those creatures used a tar-like poison on their blades? The emerald is quite useful to stop bleeding and closing wounds, but I had to remove the poison first. That, I’m afraid, none of my crystals can do. I had to pull that out myself.”

 

“How were you able to do that?” And then held his breath as she closed her eyes and everything on the table rose about a meter off the table. She then opened her eyes and everything gently lowered again.

 

“Like that. I was able to sense the foreign material and separate it from your people. As I’m a biologist if you bring me some of the poison I might be able to find a cure for it. Perhaps even develop an antibody that would make your people immune to it.”

 

“You could do that?”

 

“I can’t promise anything, but I’d certainly give all my effort and knowledge to do just that.”

 

“Very well, then. I’ll have you assigned to the Healing Halls.”

 

They finished their meal and Thranduil had her shown to guest quarters on the same level he was on. She suspected that it was so she could be watched. She didn’t mind. She was about ready to sleep in an actual bed and figured beggars couldn’t be choosy when you had to depend on the kindness of strangers.

Chapter Text

In the morning she was awakened by bright light as someone had come in and thrown open the drapes. Vallis knew she was in the upper levels of this cavern, but hadn’t noticed there were windows in this chamber. She must have been more exhausted than she’d thought. She usually wasn’t so unobservant.

 

She looked at the person who had come into her room to rouse her and found her to be a female who she took to be her keeper. Someone to watch over her. She shared the strange backlit eyes she had noticed in all these people. Elves. She didn’t know what Elves were, but decided it didn’t matter. There were bipedal humanoids and they were sentient. That put them in a category that she could deal with. They could be reasoned with. She hoped.

 

The female came and looked at her curiously and seemed surprised by her appearance. Vallis wondered what was so puzzling about her and decided she didn’t care.

 

“Good morning. Is there somewhere I can bathe?”

 

“Yes. There is a bathing pool within this chamber. If you’ll follow me?”

 

Having slept in the nude, Vallis pulled the sheet off the bed and wrapped it around herself to hide her body. The female seemed to find this amusing. “I am Vallis. What are you called?”

 

“Oh! I was told you are called Damiel. I am called Lenniel.”

 

“Pleased to meet you, Lenniel. And Damiel is fine.” she replied with a smirk. Apparently she was to be given no say in her designation. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the bathing chamber. More like a modern spa. A deep sunken pool with steam rising, steps carved from the stone and the painstaking care that had been taken into the carved nature motif was soothing and relaxing. It was beautiful. There were shelves cut into the side that contained various bottles with different colored liquids she assumed were soaps and shampoos.

 

Once she was washed and refreshed she came back and found Lenniel laying out a gown for her. This, she decided, needed to be nipped in the bud right off the bat.

 

“No! I do not wear gowns. Please provide me with my own uniform back. Barring that, I will wear trousers, breeches, leggings or whatever the males wear here.” and then at the ellith’s shocked face, she softened her face and voice, “Please.”

 

After hesitating a moment the ellith smiled and curtseyed and said, “As you wish, Miss.” and left to fetch something a little more appropriate for the work she’d be engaged in.

 

While her keeper was gone Vallis availed herself of the undergarments she’d left and when she returned with a loose shirt, a tunic and breeches, with a pair of soft calf boots and Vallis dressed herself quickly and then ran her hands through her almost dry hair.

 

“Please, Miss. Would you like to see if I can, uh, do something with your hair?”

 

“Whatever for?” Vallis asked in surprise.

 

“Well, wouldn’t you like to look….nice?” and then she flushed scarlet as the implications of her words registered. To her surprise the woman in front of her burst out into laughter.

 

“That’s very kind of you. But I don’t care what I look like. I just want it out of my face. It’s a distraction and I prefer it out of my way while I’m working. But thank you for offering.”

 

“Well, if you’re sure, Miss. I admit I’ve never seen hair as, uh, short as yours. Not even the human men keep their hair so short. As you can tell, we elves prefer to wear our hair long.”

 

“Yes, I’ve noticed. And while you think my short hair is odd, I’ve never seen anyone wear theirs as you people seem to prefer it.” Which was true. She’d seen long hair, of course, but still, not the flawless silk that all these people seemed to sport. The patrol she’d encountered had theirs pulled away from their face and she’d seen the same in these Halls, but they all wore it long. No ponytails or full plaits in sight. And certainly no buns. Strange. If she’d had hair like that, and if she cared, she might experiment a little with it. Not so with these folks.

 

That out of the way, Lenniel led her to the Healing Halls, which seemed to be located in the bowels of the world! Which was an exaggeration. The Healing Halls were actually on the same level as the main entrance. It’s just that her rooms were situated on the top level and it was easily two dozen levels below where that entrance was located.

 

And since she’d already been to the dungeon, which was another dozen levels below, including kitchens and laundries, she knew this palace was in fact a very large city center. She was quickly having to reassess her original hypothesis that these were a primitive people. They may utilize a weapon that her own people had abandoned dozens of millennia ago, but perhaps that’s what worked for them.

 

They finally reached the Healing Halls and Lenniel introduced her to the Master Healer, a no-nonsense looking fellow by the name of Finion, who didn’t look impressed with her at all.

 

“And what am I supposed to do with a human?” he asked scathingly.

 

“You are to give me any samples you have of the poison those beasts use on their weapons so that I can create an antidote.” Vallis said flatly.

 

“And you think you can do that when we haven’t been able to do aught but treat the poison?” he asked incredulously.

 

“It is my field of expertise.” And before he could take another breath to argue with her, “What do you have to lose? Just provide me a sample and any equipment you have so that I can take a close look at it.” She said, trying not to lose patience. Belatedly, she added, “Please.” and she noted that she’d been in a position of authority for so long she’d quite forgotten any manners she’d ever been taught. She’d have to remedy that if she was to get along here.

 

~0~

 

At the end of the first day she was exhausted and not because she’d run into difficulties while examining the poison, which she determined was a mixture of snake and spider venom and completely engineered to kill. Nasty stuff, but she thought she could find not only a cure, but she really did think she could find an antibody that would make these people immune to the effects once they were inoculated against it.

 

And from the scuttlebutt, it appeared that this forest was infested with a deadly variety of spider that had invaded them. If this was the spider venom used to engineer the poison on the beasts weapons she thought they could be immune to the spider venom at full strength, as well. It was at least worth looking into.

 

But that aside, she was exhausted because a patrol had come under attack and many of them had needed immediate and lifesaving care. It would cost her the next two days. But, not having foresight she was glad she’d been able to convince the king to return her crystals to her last evening.

 

He had been hesitant at first after she’d told them they could all be used as a weapon. But she’d explained they were her own personal crystals that she needed not only for her work, but for her own personal health. Then she’d given her word that she meant them no harm and he’d believed her.

 

And it was a good thing he’d returned them because she’d needed them to save the people who had been brought in, some clearly on the verge of expiring. There were so many traumas that she’d decided to do something her people only used in the most dire need. A mass healing.

 

She’d ordered all the staff aside and stood in the center of the trauma ward and brought all her crystals out and activated them all at once. This caused the crystals to rise and take positions above and around her head, glowing and pulsating. She then gathered the energy around her and was able to assess and heal the injuries with the speed of the fastest computers they had on her world. After all, the mind was the most efficient computer ever devised.

 

Once completed she had collapsed because such healings took all the reserves she had. But she was content. They were all well now and that was all that mattered. When she awoke, she found herself in the bed within the chambers that had been assigned to her. And she was exhausted and famished. She would need to consume vast quantities of nutrient rich foods to replenish the energy she’d expended.

 

When she tried to sit up, she fell back with a groan and immediately someone assisted her to sit up and placed pillows behind her so she would sit up. Looking up she saw it was the king. “Thank you.” she murmured, her voice rough. She wondered how long she’d slept. “How long…?”

 

“Two days. What were you thinking?” and she frowned because he sounded angry.

 

“Well, I was thinking that there were a lot of injured people who were in danger of dying from their wounds. Rather than take that chance I made sure none died. Why are you so angry?”

 

“And what of yourself? Did you not care that you could use too much of your own energy?” he asked sternly.

 

“I can’t die. I wish I could. I would have been long gone had the destiny of my world not been tampered with. I would have married my fiance, we would have had children and then we would have raised them until they married and had children of their own. None of that happened.” she said with such bitterness that Thranduil just stared at her, shocked. There had been no emotion at all when she had spoken of this before. This was…..angry.

 

“I’m sorry. I was concerned for your welfare. And don’t think I’m not grateful for what you did for my people. From what I understand we would have lost most of them to their injuries had it not been for you. But please tell me if there is something you need to regain your strength.” he said a little stiffly. She imagined that had been hard for him to say and she admired that he hadn’t let his pride stand in the way, even if his gratitude sounded as though it tasted horrible in his mouth.

 

“Food. I need food. Protein and vitamin rich foods. Carbohydrates.” she said wearily.

 

“I have no idea what those words mean. Can you tell me what type of foods those are?”

 

“Meat, preferably fish, bread and any fruits and vegetables you might have on hand.” she said, and then, “And if you have any red wine, that would also be helpful.”

 

He then surprised her by pulling back the covers and scooping her up and carrying her to the sitting area in her chambers, in front of the hearth. He then brought over a tray that had a mini feast upon it and set it in front of her. She fell upon it like a starving person and tried her best not to make a spectacle of herself, but she feared she was failing miserably.

 

Thranduil was shocked and trying not to show it. She’d sat in his dungeon for three days without touching either food or water and had picked at her dinner the night she had dined with him. And right now she was devouring everything in front of her as though she’d hadn’t eaten in weeks.

 

While he was observing her she did the most extraordinary thing. She was in the midst of eating another dinner roll and her hand simply stopped mid-motion on the way to her mouth and she calmly put it down and picked up the red wine that he’d poured for her and drank it down in three great gulps. She then looked for a refill and he brought the jug over and refilled her glass and she downed it two more times before she put her hand over the top of her glass before he could refill it for the fourth time.

 

“Thank you. That is exactly what I needed. I’ll be myself again in a few moments.”

 

“I must say, that was quite impressive.”

 

“I’m glad my gluttonous consumption of nutrition amused you.” she said dryly.

 

“Amused? No! I’m serious. You obviously expended a vast amount of your personal energy to heal my people and all you require to revive yourself is food. Certain kinds of food, granted, but food nonetheless. How does the wine fit in?”

 

“Not any wine, but red wine. It has antioxidants, such as flavonoids and resveratrol.” and then seeing the lifted brow and smirk, she amended lamely, “It has a quality to it that is healthy for the blood.”

 

“Well, that’s good to know.” he said with heavy irony and she suspected he was a fan of red wine, himself and it had nothing to do with its health benefits. “You had three glasses and you don’t appear, uh, impaired at all. Is it because of the energy you needed to replace or does wine affect you at all?”

 

“Oh, do you mean do I get tipsy off spirits? No. Part of the Gift, I suppose. As fast as it befuddles, our cells repair themselves. We are quite incapable of getting drunk.”

 

“That is evil.” he said with such feeling it caused her to laugh in true amusement for the very first time since she’d landed on this world. It was an lighthearted and joyful laugh and Thranduil just stared at her for a moment, because when she smiled she was breathtakingly beautiful. He had to mentally shake himself to break that spell she seemed to cast on him without even trying.

 

“Thank you, King Thranduil. It’s been awhile since anyone was able to make me smile, let alone laugh like that.” and she smiled at him with an open and friendly smile. Eru! She was beautiful when she smiled. And she was so unaffected and guileless, she seemed to have no idea of her own charms.

 

“Please!” he said holding up his hand, “When we’re alone I’d consider it a favor if you’d just address me as Thranduil. I so seldom hear my own name I fear I’ll lose myself someday and I’ll just be...king.” he concluded with a bitterness of his own.

 

“Don’t you have anybody who is close to you? Someone you grew up with who isn’t afraid of you as...king?” she asked, thinking how horribly isolating that must be.

 

“No. All my friends died in the same battle that killed my father. In fact, I’d say there are very few of my generation left alive on these shores. Though they have probably all been re-embodied in Aman.”

 

“I’m sorry. Did you say re-embodied?”

 

“Yes. We elves are immortal and we are bound to this world. You speak of going to other worlds. That would be impossible for us. And if we die on these shores then our fëa, our spirit, goes to the Halls of Mandos. Also called the Halls of Waiting and there our spirits are healed and when we are ready we are re-embodied in a new rhaw, or body.”

 

“And then you just take up your lives again?”

 

“A few have come back to take up their lives. From my own land the daughter of my king was one, though she and her husband returned as mortals and are sundered from us. The other was a famous warrior who died long ago in Gondolin and returned. He resides in Imladris and serves the great great grandson of that same king. But mostly we are required to stay in Aman, which is the last elvenhome. If we don’t go we are told we will fade and cease. The only true death for an elf.”

 

“Huh. What is so special about that family that they alone are allowed to come back?”

 

“Well, I suppose you could say that Beren and Lúthien got a raw deal while they were alive. She was an elf and he was a man. A mortal. But it is said that she sang a song of such sorrow that she alone moved Mandos to pity and they were given the option to return as mortals and live out their lives and then leave the circles of the world when they died. For such is the destiny of man. The gift of Eru. But as for Glorfindel? He wasn’t of that House. Indeed, he is a Noldor and not one of our Sindar tribe and he alone knows why he was allowed to return and has chosen to serve Lúthien’s great grandson.”

 

“The things you say sound like they belong to a fairy tale. Something make believe and yet I can see that you speak of this from memory, don’t you? You knew these people, didn’t you?”

 

“Yes. I knew them. My family was nobility in Menegroth and the King, Elu Thingol was my father’s kinsman. My kinsman. As was his daughter.” he said wistfully and she could feel the sadness radiating off of him.

 

“I’m so sorry.” she said softly and reached over to clasp his hand in comfort. He clasped her hand and looked down at it, almost as if he were trying to puzzle something out.

 

“Have you been out on your balcony yet?” he asked suddenly, looking up at her and smiling. She had to shake herself, because he was quite something when he smiled. A real smile and not that crooked smirk he usually directed at her.

 

“I have a balcony? My goodness. You have all the amenities here, don’t you?” she chuckled and got up, in perfect health once more. Thranduil, ready to assist just raised a brow at her rejuvenating ability. So he just offered his arm and she seemed confused for a moment before she figured out that she was to take his arm, which she did.

 

He then directed them toward her bedroom and over to another set of curtains she’d thought were there for aesthetics and to balance out the room. Lenniel hadn’t opened them when she’d woken her that morning so she hadn’t paid them any mind. As Thranduil opened the drapes she saw a pair of double doors that opened out to a spacious balcony, complete with small tables next to a pair of chairs.

 

The evening was beautiful, as only a Summer night could be, the air pleasant and perfumed with the scent of the flowers and trees that grew below. He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her in comfort and she settled against him. This was nice, she thought. She hadn't been in the arms of a man for two millennia and she hadn't realized how she'd missed it. 

 

But she had to mentally shake herself. The male with his arms around her wasn't a man and he wasn't him. 

Chapter Text

Vallis didn't know what had come over her. In other circumstances she would be uncomfortable being so close to a man she didn’t know, but she felt right being in his arms. He also didn’t strike her as seducer of women. In all their encounters he had never spoke in innuendo nor used suggestive gestures. He had never set off those alarm bells that all women have when attentions are not wanted.

 

The night felt intoxicating and his arms drew her in to him even closer and now she was molded to him in a very intimate way and still she didn’t object. She didn’t know why, but she seemed to have lost her will with him so close. She breathed in his scent, natural clean and wholesome, like the woods themselves and she could feel his breath at her ear and the warmth almost made her gasp.

 

“Thranduil?” she said his name and was mortified at the breathy whisper that came out of her.

 

“Athney.” he returned and her name was almost a groan wrested from him, as his arms tightened around her and he lowered his head to her exposed neck. His mouth closed over an area of skin below her ear, and she gasped in pleasure as his lips nuzzled over her heated skin. She pressed back against him and offered up her neck to his kisses, becoming aware of the solid hardness that pressed itself against her lower back.

 

His hands began to explore her curves, brushing over her belly, her sides and finally over her ample breasts, kneading them gently but thoroughly and now her breathing began to quicken, and she could feel the weakness in her knees and a warmth spreading throughout her body and settling within her belly, yearning for she knew not what.

 

He slowly turned her, his mouth meeting hers in a deep, warm kiss as his tongue mined the furthest reaches of her mouth, his hands roaming up and down her back until they finally reached her buttocks as he began to massage her there while pressing her into his own loins. He then lifted her and she automatically locked her legs around his waist and now one of his hands was at the back of her head, the other firmly on her rear, holding her to him.

 

At one point he broke their kiss and pulled back to look into her eyes and she saw the same confusion and fear she was sure was mirrored in her own. Then she pulled his head back into a kiss and a breathy groan escaped him as he plunged back into their kiss, drinking deeply from one another, their tongues moving in a rhythm all their own. Her head was giddy now and it vaguely registered when he began walking back into her chambers and she barely noticed when he gently laid her down upon her bed until he broke the kiss again to straighten up and remove his outer coat and then he was laying upon her kissing her with unrestrained passion.

 

He broke away, breathing hard as he kissed his way down her body, her neck, ear, his hands unlacing the fastenings to the tunic she was wearing before he pulled back again and lifted it over her head, his fingers fumbling at the buttons on the shirt she was wearing under it, almost ripping it apart before he lifted that, too, over her head and when he saw the undergarment she wore under that he couldn’t restrain himself from ripping it off her, his head immediately going for her breast, his mouth closing over her nipple and running his tongue over it while suckling her while his other hand gently kneaded her other breast. Vallis arched up from the bed, her legs wrapping around his waist and pulling him closer to her, her hips moving against his while his moved against hers seeming to have their own rhythm.

 

He moved over to her other breast, taking it into his mouth and repeating the lavish attention he paid to the first and then unhooking her legs from around his waist, he went lower, trailing kisses all the way down her belly until he reached her breeches and he quickly unfastened the laces and began pulling them down, removing her boots and then striping them off in one fluid motion.

 

Then he gently slide her underpants down and parted her legs and cupped her sex, before he began slide his fingers up and down her slit until her parted her and slide a finger inside, expertly moving his digit to get the most response from her. She moaned and bucked up to meet him and he put his other hand on her belly to keep her in place. Vallis was beyond thought now and only wanted him. All of him. She strained against his hand, desperate.

 

Thranduil had no intention of teasing her, he only wanted to give her pleasure and soon replaced his finger with his mouth, using his tongue to enter her, sucking her juices and lapping his tongue over the spot he knew she needed it most. Then he felt her begin to tremble as she reached her peak and came, enjoying all her excess juices.

 

He then pulled back quickly divested himself of the rest of his clothing before returning to her eager embrace, her legs parting for him as he nestled himself between her thighs, positioning himself at her opening, pausing to look deeply into her dilated eyes before gently sliding into her and though she was ready for him, he could see he was causing her pain. He pulled almost all the way out before sheathing himself completely inside of her, his mouth on hers as she cried out in both pain and delight.

 

Then he began to move slowly within her and her hips moved against him in rhythm, her body writhing under him as she tangled her hand in his hair while the other ran up and down his back, all the while his mouth ravaged hers as their bodies swayed and moved to a music all their own. When he felt she was ready he began to thrust deeply within her and she groaned deeply into his mouth.

 

Her tongue danced with his as they both began to move with the frenzy that gripped them both as he quickened his pace and as he knew would happen their minds began to become open to one another and he heard her mind beg, “Harder” while his fairly crowed, “YES” in response and his body responded to what she wanted as their bodies began to slap against one another as he pounded furiously within her.

 

And he could feel it when her body began its second orgasm and he tried his best to hold on just a little bit longer, but as soon as he felt the waves hit and her body shudder as she clenched around him, he felt himself come undone and he was joining her as his own release spasmed through his body and then they were straining against each other to draw out the last waves for as long as possible before they both collapsed, exhausted and sated.

 

He rolled over onto his back and pulled her into his arms, planting light kisses upon the side of her face. He could hear the whisper of her mind, “What…?” And he tightened his hold upon her, holding her close to his body, “Not now. Not tonight. We’ll talk in the morning, my lover.” His mind whispered back to her and then he turned to her and kissed her deeply once more, already aroused and ready for more passion.

 

But this time she rolled him onto his back and she raised herself enough to grasp his wide girth and she impaled herself upon him, both of them crying out at how deeply he was able to reach inside of her in this position. She settled her legs in a position and placed her hand on his chest to give herself leverage before she began to move up and down, riding him for all he was worth.

 

This time it was he who was writhing under her and this excited her into a quicker pace before he grabbed her hips to help her, rising his own hips to meet her. And the entire time they held each others eyes, sharing their vulnerability to one another. Sharing their passion. Sharing their bodies with one another.

 

And as they moved together so they both started their climaxes together and as her muscles clenched and the waves flowed down, they met his waves as they were rising up, waves crashing into one another. It was so intense they both momentarily blacked out. When she came to she was collapsed upon his chest, which was rising and falling quickly as he was gulping in large breaths of air, trying desperately to fill his lungs, but she saw his head was turning from side to side and she knew he was senseless and hadn’t come to himself yet. Looking at him like this she thought he was perhaps the most beautiful being she’d ever seen in her life. How had she not seen that before?

 

Then he was back with her and he smiled as he pulled her up into his arms. A sweet smile of joy and he wrapped his arms around her and gently cuddled into her like she was the most precious thing in the world to him. Then he groaned and buried his face into her neck, “Eru! I want you again! I can’t seem to get enough of you. Tell me to stop, my beautiful lover, if you can’t bear my touch again.”

 

Vallis laughed and flung her arms around his shoulders, wishing to never let him go, “I think I could bear your touch at least one more time.” she chuckled and he then stopped her mirth with his mouth on hers, drinking deeply from her once again and she briefly wondered what he had in store for her this time. She soon found out as he flipped her on her belly and grabbed some pillows and placed them under her chest to give her some comfort before he entered her from behind.

 

She couldn’t believe how hard he was and wondered at the stamina of elves. All she could do was hold on as he pounded into her as hard as he liked from this angle and before she knew it she was climaxing again and he only slowed long enough to enjoy it himself before he pulled out and flipped her back over and this time positioned her legs over his shoulders before plunging deeply into her again.

 

She cried out at the depth he reached and held on to his forearms as he in turn held onto her thighs as he whipped them both into a frenzy, battering her body with his own and keeping up a punishing pace that was as astonishing as it was driving them both over the edge of decadent pleasure into the arms of ecstasy as he reached for her nub as he was coming close and wanted to take her with him. At his touch, she instantly came and he cried out as she took him with her.

 

This time as they collapsed into each other’s arms he pulled the covers over both of them and they both fell asleep almost at once, content and sated.

 

The last thing she heard in her mind before she lost consciousness was his mind caressing hers and whispering, “Sleep well, my beloved wife.”

 

???....

 

~0~

 

The next morning Lenniel got the shock of her life as she went in to wake Damiel and found her asleep in her King’s arms. Her eyes widened in surprise and then she met her King’s stern glance as he shook his head and motioned for her to leave everything and go. She bowed her head, curtsied and obeyed leaving the clothes she’d brought for Damiel.

 

She’d already laid out her breakfast and wondered if she should bring another and then decided her King probably didn’t wish to be disturbed again. And she tried not to wonder at what she’d seen. As long as she’d known her king, he’d never shown any interest in anyone. And there were plenty of ellith who would have been happy to ease his loneliness.

 

She almost felt disapproval, then decided she was happy for him. He’d been alone for a very long time and if he found warmth with another, then who was she to judge them. And from what she’d heard of the events in the Healing Halls three days ago, this woman was no ordinary human.

 

Why, it was said she healed two patrols who had been ambushed and most had been near to death before she intervened. And it had been some spectacular intervention if the gossips were accurate. And she knew they were for her own husband had been one of those injured and she owed this woman for saving him. She would have either faded or sailed, taking their two children with her. Because of her their family was safe and her Alain was alive and well.

 

But she hurried back to their chambers all the same. He would scold her for being a gossip but she just had to tell someone or she’d bust. And it was better if that person was her husband. She knew he could be discrete, even if she couldn’t. And she’d be fine as long as she could share this secret with someone so this suited her just fine.

 

~0~

 

After he’d sent the maid away, Thranduil relaxed and held his wife. He knew she didn’t know they were wed, but he’d tell her this morning. As much energy as they had expended last night, he’d needed very little sleep to refresh himself. And he’d spent quite a bit of that time exploring the things that he’d found in his new wife’s mind. And there had been a lot.

 

If he’d ever doubted her story about coming from another world those doubts were now gone. That giant red world with the rings around it that was in her sky and at certain times of the year the other moons that would come into their view. What a sight! He could understand her sorrow at the loss of such a beautiful world. And the wonders of their society. The ease, knowledge and technology they took for granted. And her memories of traveling to other worlds. Eru! What a life she’d led, albeit a sad one.

 

As his life was given to duty through birth, hers had been given through love. She couldn’t have the life she’d dreamt of, but she would do all in her power to make sure others had that chance. Including her decision. Her disobedience. Her treason. She had been going on those missions to set up and assist those colonies of theirs for most of the two thousand years since her world had been poisoned, making the inhabitants immortal and sterile.

 

She had worked her way through the ranks to reach the rank of Commander so she could go behind her governments back and tell the colonists to cut ties with their home world because she felt that prolonged contact would end in contamination of some kind. Either because someone thought they were being helpful or through spite. Or perhaps through an unforeseen mistake. Regardless, she felt the best thing for them was to continue on their own. To build their own society.

 

Had she been discovered, she would have faced harsh punishment. They couldn’t kill her but they could most certainly have made her life a living hell. He briefly wondered if that Chieftain hadn’t done her a favor by disconnecting their tether when he did. Now she would never be caught and disciplined. But the worst memory she had was the death of her fiance. Eru!

 

She’d been having nightmares about it for centuries and he couldn’t blame her. That was a horror no one should have witnessed. And she had never given her heart to another in all the time since then, contenting herself with her work. His poor Athney! He would take care of her. He would try to give her a life worth living.

 

He began to wonder at her continued sleep until he recalled that she had expended a lot of energy three days ago healing his people. He couldn’t believe that she’d been here only a week and she was already his wife. He was getting ready to wake her when she suddenly opened her eyes wide and sat up straight. She looked him straight in the eyes and hers widened in shock and she buried her face in her hands.

 

Ok. Not what he was expecting, but it had been rather a shock for him too. He was just old enough that he was sanguine about such abrupt changes in his life. It was what it was.

 

“How can you say that?”

 

He shrugged and gathered her close to him. “Because we really don’t have a choice in the matter, my dear. Neither of us looked for it but it happened. And before you ask, no, I don’t know why. Sometimes I think the Valar like to play games with us. Unless your science can explain an irresistible attraction between the two of us?” he looked at her hopefully.

 

“No. We don’t have anything like that. I assume you’re asking because you hope I can undo it?”

 

“Oh no. You can’t undo it. It’s done. We are wed. You are my wife and I am your husband. There is no undoing the bond once it is forged. I was just hoping you could explain it.”

 

“It would be easier just to say it was your magic. And I have to say I’m not all that pleased to find out that you really do have magic in your world. I don’t understand the rules here. My world had rules.”

 

“If you say magic, then I think Valar. But even I have doubts that they would interfere in the personal lives of someone like me. What would be the point?”

 

“You’re a king. Doesn’t that make you important here?”

 

“My people are considered the rustics of the elven hierarchy. We have been dismissed by all the other tribes for as long as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter about that. I like the Silvan elves. They have an innocence and joy that the others have lost. If anything they are the ones that need to be fought for. But I’m not sure Beings like the Valor even consider them real elves. It’s quite shocking, really.”

 

“You are a good man. Elf. Whatever. We’ll figure this out, if there’s anything to figure out. You seem to think it unnatural what happened to us. I’m inclined to agree since it wasn’t there and then it was overwhelmingly there. But, tell me. What of your first wife? Didn’t you have a bond with her? You were married and had a son. Shouldn’t that have formed this bond?”

 

“It was an arranged marriage and she died in childbirth. We weren’t together long enough to form a bond. Any kind of bond. And she has decided not to be re-embodied. She was always a gentle and retiring soul and really wasn’t suited to being a wife and mother, let alone a queen. She would have been happy keeping scrolls in the library and living a solitary existence. It was her misfortune to be born into the family she was, poor ellith.”

 

“Well, now what?”

 

“First,” he began and threw back the covers and pulled her up, ”We get up, bath and have some breakfast. Then we’ll go from there, shall we?”

 

Vallis groaned as he pulled her up to follow him into the bathing chamber, “Are you always this chipper in the morning?”

 

“Eru, no! But I have to say I feel quite optimistic today. Can’t say exactly why, but if you’re wondering I have no regrets at all about what happened last night. I think this will work out just fine.” he said jovially and picked his Damiel up and swung her around. She wondered if he’d just needed his pipes cleared and he threw his head back and laughed when he caught her thought.

Chapter Text

Once they were bathed, dressed and had eaten, Thranduil wanted to take her out riding. She had some riding experience, but couldn’t say she was proficient. He had stopped at the kitchens and picked up a picnic basket and Vallis thought it was strange to want to picnic in a forest that was dangerous. But Thranduil said they were going to an area that had been swept and his guards had assured him was safe.

 

Thranduil led Vallis down to the stables and had two horses brought out. Then they were on their way to the spot Thranduil had picked out for their excursion. The horses seemed to know where they were going and Vallis was surprised as she felt Thranduil mentally direct the horse and felt the horses response.

 

“You can speak to the beasts?” she asked in awe.

 

“Well, I told you we elves are bound to this world. That includes everything in it. Can you not hear the song of the forest, my lady?” he asked lightly.

 

And at his direction, Vallis opened up her senses and through him felt the life around her and underlying it all was a melody. She gasped in wonder as she heard the most breathtakingly beautiful melody she’d ever heard in her life. She caught his eyes, a look of wide-eyed wonder on her face and he smiled gently in return.

 

“You hear this all the time?”

 

“Aye. I hear it. And as king I am connected to it. And as I can feel it I can also feel it when it is in pain. The darkness that attacks us from the south is harming my forest like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It screams in pain at times. It is heartbreaking as there is nothing I can do about it.”

 

“There is not?”

 

“Nay. It is too strong and while it breaks my heart that my forest is in pain, I will not risk my people to fight it.”

 

“I can understand that. But if you can feel it, does it not injure you?”

 

“Yes, but I am also given strength to withstand it. As I said, I am connected to the forest and as it takes healing power from me it also gives its strength and vitality back to me to withstand this affront to its health.”

 

“I don’t know if I envy you or pity you. To feel the pain of an organism, regardless of the strength it returns to you seems to me a high price to pay.”

 

“Organism. I now know this word and you are correct. The forest is one living entity with many parts interconnected.” Thranduil smiled and just then they entered a glade covered in sweet grasses and tiny golden flowers with a beautiful crystal clear pool in the center with pure white swans swimming lazily on the calm surface, with three babies swimming next to their parents. “Ah. We are here.” he said and swung off his horse and reached up to help her down.

 

“It’s beautiful. Won’t we be disturbing the wildlife here?”

 

“Nay. They know me. We will not disturb them. Come. Let us find a spot to enjoy our repast.”

 

She found his archaic mode of speech charming. In fact, she was finding everything about him charming and heard him chuckle. “Tis the bond at work, my lady. I find everything about you to be utterly enchanting, as well.” And seating himself upon the cloth he’d spread out he took her hand and pulled her down next to him where he caught her lips in a deep kiss, gently cradling her close to him. Feeling eyes upon them, Vallis gently disengaged herself and surreptitiously looked around to mark the people she sensed around the glade.

 

“Pay them no mind, beloved. They are merely my personal guard. I’m afraid they are tasked with following my every move.”

 

“How can you ignore eyes upon you? And how can you pretend they are not there?” she exclaimed, appalled that he would have taken her right then and there in front of them.

 

Thranduil looked at her in surprise, “I have no choice. What is that saying you have? When you are dealt lemons, make lemonade? I see the meaning of this, even if I don’t completely understand it, but since I have no choice in the matter I choose to believe they give me some modicum of privacy even if they are alert to any danger to my person.”

 

Everything in Vallis rose up and rebelled at the thought that he expected her to be an exhibitionist. Such things were private and not for the eyes of others, no matter they might be a captive audience. She saw Thranduil’s brows lower in irritation and she could tell he felt she was being unreasonable.

 

From what she had gleaned of his own mind she was just beginning to understand these beings, elves, were completely alien to anything she’d ever encountered before. They had a fatalistic view of life, though they felt honor-bound to fight against the darkness they knew was in the world.

 

Vallis just picked at her meal and she tried to puzzle her way out of the predicament she found herself in. Though she felt that some outside force had brought them together she refused to just accept that she was stuck. She knew that her train of thought was irritating her “husband” but she refused to believe some deity had engineered their current circumstances. And then she caught a stray thought from him excusing her behavior as some outcome from what she’d suffered when her fiance died.

 

Rage colored her vision as she looked at him with intense anger flashing in her eyes. She could see by his expression that he’d tried to hide the thought from her. Like a flash she was up and running through the forest as if demons were on her heels, her eyes blurred from the tears that flooded her eyes.

 

Distracted, she didn’t realize her danger until a dart went through her calf and she was down on her knees and she was struggling to pull it out, before a the back of her head exploded in brief pain and the light that flashed behind her eyes and she registered she’d been clubbed from behind, before everything went dark.

 

~0~

 

Thranduil was annoyed with himself for not controlling his own stray thoughts. But he’d had no idea that she’d react in such a careless and thoughtless manner. She hadn’t struct him as an emotional person, but the intensity of her anger had frozen him for a moment and a moment was all she needed to bolt into the forest and right past his guards who had let her go without stopping her.

 

He was angry with them, but in all fairness, he couldn’t fault them. Their sworn duty was to him and his protection. He’d never thought to instruct them to include her and her protection as part of their new duties. It was an oversight he would long kick himself for.

 

Too new was their bond and marriage and instead of introducing her to his people as his new queen, a future battle he didn’t relish having with her, he’d decided on the picnic to discuss their future together and all it entailed. And it had taken him only moments before he’d pushed her sensibilities past the breaking point. And now he couldn’t feel her any longer. How was that possible? It was like her light had been snuffed out. Wondering what it could mean, he called his guards to search the surrounding area for her.

 

He wasn’t worried yet, but as the moments stretched into hours, he began to become greatly concerned that not only had she not been found, but that he hadn’t felt her presence in the intervening hours since she’d stormed off so precipitously. Eru! He couldn’t lose her after just finding her, no matter he hadn’t sought to wed her. The fact was he’d bonded to her in a way he hadn’t with his first wife and that meant something to him. The sudden absence of that bond already felt like a part of him was missing.

 

Eventually, a guard returned from his search and reported that he’d found a spot that looked as though it had recent orc activity and produced a bloody barb and a feeling of dread sank into the pit of the king’s stomach, lying there like a lead weight. Ah, Valor! He hoped she hadn’t been taken by orcs. Orcs didn’t keep prisoners. They ate them. And he doubted even her “gift” of immortality would save her from being consumed by a famished band of orcs.

 

Quickly he directed the guard to show him the spot he’d found the barb and the guard complied, leading Thranduil and the remainder of his guards to the spot in question. There Thranduil could clearly see that the underbrush had been trampled down by brutish feet and while he didn’t see signs of a struggle, something he’d expect Vallis would have initiated had she been in her right mind, but he definitely saw the blood.

 

And a blood trail, as though whoever had been wounded had been taken by the orcs. In touching the blood he could tell it was that of his wife and as he reached out his senses to the surrounding trees, he felt their agitation and heard their whispers of someone being waylaid and carried off and Thranduil knew it was his wife they spoke of.

 

Thranduil closed his eyes in despair and ordered a portion of his guards to follow the trail while he went back to his palace to organize a more comprehensive search party. Until he found some trace of her, whether dead or alive, he would not cease in his endeavors to find her and bring her home.

 

~0~

 

Over the next few days Vallis’ life was one of darkness and pain. She hadn’t been this damaged ever in her entire life. But every time she began to heal and regain her senses she was again knocked senseless, waking up from time to time as she bounced off the back of one of the beasts who had her slung over his shoulder and was running through the woods like he was carrying a sack of potatoes.

 

She had no idea how much time had elapsed since her capture, but it seemed to her these beasts didn’t stop, day or night. Thranduil had told her they didn’t travel during the day due to their aversion to the light of the sun, but these kept to the shadows under the trees and apparently shade didn’t bother them a bit, regardless of the time of day.

 

She wondered vaguely if Thranduil wondered where she was and she dismissed it as of no consequence. She still felt a white hot anger that he’d mined her memories and she didn’t care if she was being unfair or not. Not that it mattered right now as her vision blurred again and she lost consciousness once more.

 

~0~

 

It had been over a week since the disappearance of Vallis and Thranduil’s counselors were trying to convince him to give up the search. The king’s son, Legolas, couldn’t understand why his father was bothering with the woman.

 

He knew that she had been of some assistance when their injured had been brought in, but didn’t think his father should spend so much time and resources on locating one lone woman. And when Legolas finally confronted his father over it, Thranduil broke down and confessed the reason for his obsession.

 

“She’s my wife. I can’t just forget about her, son. We bonded.”

 

Legolas just stared at his father in shock, and then anger twisted his fair features, “And what of my mother? Were you not bonded with her?”

 

“No, son. I wasn’t. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t either of our fault. There just hadn’t been time before she died.”

 

“I don’t understand.” Legolas said, hurt and anger warring within him.

 

“Son, I’ve tried my best to explain that your mother and I had an arranged marriage. We weren’t unwilling. Neither of us had attachments elsewhere and she became pregnant with you on our wedding night. We only had the one year together and there just wasn’t enough time for a true bond to form. And I’ve known for awhile now that she will not be re-embodied. That’s why it was even possible for me to form a bond with Damiel. And it’s not like either of us sought the bond. It just happened.”

 

“What does that even mean?” Legolas sought any excuse to brush past the news that there would never be a time that he’d meet his mother. Ever.

 

“It means just as I said. We were drawn to one another, but we were both aware it felt, artificial. Contrived, if you will.”

 

“Are you telling me she cast a spell on you? Bewitched you?”

 

“No, I’m saying if there was a spell cast she was just as unwilling as I was.”

 

“Wait? You were both unwilling? I don’t see how that is even possible. I would think you would perish if that was the case.”

 

“Whatever enchantment was upon us it was strong enough to...overcome our reticence.”

 

“And you’re sure it wasn’t her who cast this enchantment?”

 

“Yes. And that’s one of the reason’s she’s gone. With the bond, something that is not part of her world, it gave me access to her mind and she wasn’t pleased with this knowledge. She became quite distraught and that’s when she fled. I’m sure she would have returned once she cooled down and could think rationally again, but that didn’t occur because she was abducted.”

 

“Ada! You know orcs don’t keep prisoners. Isn’t it possible that she no longer lives?”

 

“It’s possible, but until I find some trace of her. Some certainty that she lives or is dead I can’t stop seeking her.” and there was no way he could explain that he knew she was still alive. Regardless that he’d lost all contact with her, he just knew this. In the meantime, “Son, I’m sorry about your mother. It hasn’t been long that I’ve known. Months. I just didn’t know how to tell you.”

 

“How did you discover this, if I may ask?”

 

“The Valor sent me dreams. Several, really. It seems your old adar is slow witted and they kept sending them until the full meaning sank into my thick-skull.”

 

“So, months after they sent you dreams, effectively telling you whatever bond you had with mother was severed, this woman comes and you both just happen to fall under an enchantment. Ada, it sounds like the Valor have been playing matchmaker with you.”

 

“I voiced the same to her, as it was the only power strong enough to affect us to my mind. But I couldn’t see how I would even rate their attention, truly, and I said so. And we never had the chance to delve deeper into what had happened.”

 

“And this enchantment, is it the reason you can’t stop looking for her?”

 

Surprised by his son’s intuition, Thranduil just looked into his son’s eyes, wide eyed and nodded, before he looked down tried for what felt like the hundredth time to feel some sign of her.

 

“Then we will continue to search for her. If it was an enchantment and you now feel compelled to keep seeking her then she is indeed still alive and we are merely not looking in the right place. The Valar may not be helping you in locating her, but they are not letting you give up either. That means something.”

 

“Thank you, son.”

 

“Do you think it possible that she’d been taken to Dol Guldur? That would explain why you can’t feel her.”

 

"Nay! That can't be. The distance alone would be too great. Why would those be here? No, more than likely they came from the Emyn Duir. We will contain our searches in the surrounding areas as far South as the Emyn Duir. They couldn't have gotten any further than that without someone noticing."

 

Legolas nodded and went to organize the searches himself. Left to his own, Thranduil sincerely hoped he was right and she was no further South than the Emyn Duir. For if she was in Dol Guldur he had no way of knowing how in the world he was to get her away from there.

Chapter Text

She didn’t know how long she’d been there, wherever she was, but they seemed to consider torture to be sport. The beasts had dragged her out daily to flog her and she’d had learned fairly quickly to allow her body to remain wounded since the healing of her wounds only served to infuriate them and led to further atrocities upon her person.

 

Several times they had crushed all the bones in her hands during one of their temper tantrums. But she refused to spend her alone time as a bloody heap and would then allow her body to completely heal itself. And when they’d come for her again, instead of the bloody mess they expected, they become ever more incensed when they’d found she’d completely healed. Therefore, when they'd drag her out for their next session, they’d gotten progressively more brutal in their treatment of her.

 

Today they had thrown her to the ground and kicked her until it felt as though every bone in her body had been broken. They’d even branded her with white-hot irons, for good measure. She believed it also infuriated them that she never screamed during their little tête-à-têtes. She didn’t particularly care for pain and that’s one line she wouldn’t cross when it came to allowing them to misuse her.

 

Especially since she hadn’t figured out a way out of here yet. She’d just have to be patient without angering them so much they decided to disobey orders and chopped her up in little pieces and consumed her. Something they often threatened.

 

Since she had the ability to separate herself from her pain centers, she used it for all it was worth. She knew she was spoiling their fun, but really! Was it too much to ask that they allow her her own little foibles? Finished with their daily sport, they threw her back into her filthy cell and she went deep into her mind so she could be alone with her thoughts and concentrate on healing her broken bones and burnt skin.

 

This, more than anything, annoyed them. They didn’t know how she could do that and this ability gave her respite from their continuous torture. For while they would beat her senseless and flog her to within an inch of her life, the other Thing, the one in charge, kept up the mental onslaught with the intent of never giving her a moments peace.

 

This had worked for them with every other species and whether man, elf or dwarf, none had ever not broken. Ever. None except this woman who was able to escape into her own mind, a place they couldn’t follow nor penetrate, and therefore was able to rest between tortures.

 

When the ones in charge had noticed her consistent healing abilities, they’d tried to take her blood to feed to their beasts to see if they could make them invulnerable and able to heal their wounds. But instead of healing them, her blood would either boil away if they tried to contain it or it would kill the beasts that it was fed to. And their deaths were rather spectacular in a macabre sort of way.

 

Some had screamed like they were burning from the inside out and some literally burst from consuming it. None that ingested it had lived. They had also tried to use it as a salve and it had acted like an acid, burning its way all the way through. Most died from this treatment. The lucky ones only lost the limb, but it made them useless as warriors and she got the distinct impression they ended up in the stew pot.

 

The ones in charge of this place were strange beings of magic and malice. If she’d ever doubted magic before she now reluctantly conceded its existence. These things, Nazgûl, seemed to occupy two planes at once and they didn’t appear altogether corporeal in this plane. And while Vallis understood that multiple dimensions existed they had learned early that it was not wise to open gateways into them.

 

One never knew the radiation range nor the physics of an unknown dimension and opening the wrong door could very well escape any clean room they set up and spread like a virus throughout their own dimension. Much too risky to even attempt! And yet these creatures occupied two at once. The math didn’t add up for her. To her logical mind it was an abomination and she instinctively recoiled at the horror of such an existence. She’d never thought of good and evil. Rather right and wrong. But she felt deep in her bones that this was both wrong and evil.

 

And while these Things were neither here nor there, their weapons were real enough and she had made them angry. They had shrieked at her several times and once she’d laughed at them because whatever effect they expected from her, she was immune to their voice. The beasts around her had cowered in fear even twitched and writhed as though in physical pain like the pitch of the voice touched their nervous systems. And she’d felt….nothing. The sound didn’t even make her inner eardrum itch like some of the high-pitched machines back home would cause while they running.

 

She wondered if it was because she was an off-worlder. She knew that every creature native to a specific planet bore the unique and particular radiation signature of that world and she had speculated if her own distinct frequency made her immune to some of the laws of physics here because she was synchronized to another world. But this world was within her own Galaxy. How different could it possibly be?

 

Her speculations were cut short, however, for when she’d laughed at the leader, he’d become so incensed he’d stabbed her with his blade and breathed some sort of poison in her face. She felt her lungs burn with it and her shoulder had gone briefly numb, and they’d thrown her back into her cell. Out of sight, out of mind, she supposed.

 

But after a few hours alone to meditate she was fine. And this was the one passive defense she had at her disposal that they couldn’t breach. Her ability to sink deeply into her own mind and thereby closing herself off to the constant onslaught they subjected her mind to. And their attacks were loud and relentless.

 

It reminded her of the history lessons back in school when she’d learned of the war tactics of the armies on her world when they had been separated into nation states and would fight against one another for one reason or another. They had used a tactic called psychological warfare and they would play loud obnoxious noises and even jarring music to give no rest to the opposing side. It would drive them mad and in a lot of cases they would surrender without firing a shot because of sheer exhaustion.

 

Before the Gift, no one of her race had ever lived long enough to gain mastery over and utilize their entire mind. Only through their advancing age were they able to explore every corner of their minds and in doing so had discovered themselves capable of doing many things that had been relegated to the realm of fantasy and magic in their distant past.

 

Now those abilities had become commonplace and second nature to them and that included the ability to meditate at a level that all outside stimuli could be shut out. Many of them used this as a replacement for sleep as it brought great rest and tranquility, allowing them to emerge refreshed and revitalized. She didn’t know it yet, but this ability her people had discovered was also second nature to the elves of this world. Only they called it reverie and they, too, had done away with their need of sleep.

 

But one thing that had happened while she was so immersed that had unsettled her was there seemed to be a voice that soothed and comforted her while she thought herself alone with her thoughts. It would speak to her in her own voice and tell her she wasn’t alone. That she was loved and her hour of liberation would soon be at hand. And there was something else it would say that made no sense to her. That it was no accident that she was there. On Arda. That she had been chosen to give comfort to another. Her husband. And that she was his ring.

 

His Ring? What in the world did that even mean? And who was this voice? For she knew that even though it was speaking to her in her own voice it wasn’t her own thoughts. But she’d been roused from her meditations time and again and when they brought her out refreshed and healed she thought her jailer would completely lose his marbles, he was so angry. Shrieking in anger he had used all his strength to bore into her mind and found a memory that was lurking near the surface. The memory he thought he could use against her.

 

Amusement flashed across Vallis’ mind as she thought she finally understood this Thing. This Khamûl. Second Chief of Sauron. Ringwraith of Dol Guldur. Nazgûl. Of all the lofty titles it gave itself, she discerned that most of its power came through fear. And the way it broke down its opponents was in finding what it perceived as sin. If it could learn of a misdeed or sin committed by their prey they exploited it. Zeroed in on it, taunting their captives with it to torment them. And now this Thing thought it had found her “sin.”

 

This Thing had found the memory she’d fiercely suppressed. The memory Thranduil had found and why it was so near the surface of her consciousness. And while he had pitied her for it, this Thing thought he could use it as a weapon over her. But somehow he had completely misunderstood what he’d seen.

 

In his glee to call her murderer she just serenely stared back into the empty cowl of his hood and smirked. He thought her unrepentant. Evil. And in coming to this conclusion he couldn’t understand why a kindred spirit wouldn’t join with him to subjugate this world. In frustration he’d had her thrown back in her cell, but wouldn’t give up on the weakness he perceived he’d found in her.

 

Now, back in her cell she decided to relive the memory that she’d long since buried. It was another ability her people had learned they possessed with their longevity. The ability to relive a memory so completely it was like witnessing and feeling it as though they were experiencing live, in real time, all over again. It was another aspect her people shared with the elves of this world, though she didn’t yet know this either.

 

But it occurred to her that if she didn’t deal with it once and for all she would never be free of it. It had caused her to run from her husband, when he offered no judgement and it was being used now by these fiends as a weapon to compel her cooperation. She would allow it to be a weakness in her no longer. Her current predicament was a direct result of allowing a simple memory to override her logic and she’d behaved like an adolescent teenage not able to control her emotions. That was no longer to be born! And so she delved deep to confront it once and for all!

 

It had been shortly after their world had been poisoned and the reality of their situation had been revealed to their population. That they were all sterile and there would be no more children on their world. She had been devastated, of course. She was engaged to wed her fiance, a handsome and brilliant engineer who had swept her off her feet. But as devastated as she had been, she had thought they could find some joy with one another.

 

She’d had no idea how hopeless her Devon had become at the thought of endless life with none of the joys to look forward to. To him it was a nightmare of endless existence with no hope, for he had been more anxious for children than she had been. He’d even gone so far as to talk her into an immediate family though she hadn’t yet finished her own studies. She had hoped he would come to terms with it but she hadn’t known that he was falling deeper and deeper into depression.

 

Then one day he’d seemed to have snapped out of it and he’d taken her out on a day trip to all their favorite haunts. It had been a magical day and she’d began to feel lighthearted again and optimistic that everything would be ok. That everything would get back to the way it had been, albeit, without the hope of a family. But when he’d dropped her off he had kissed her lingeringly and said goodbye. Not good night, but goodbye.

 

She’d not closed her door but a moment before that had registered and she had gone to her shuttle to follow after him. Where he went caused her heart to stop and a feeling of dread to settle within her gut, for he’d gone to the old crematorium. The place where they disposed the bodies of their dead. They’d long since ceased the practice of burying their dead, considering it a waste of real estate, and had taken to burning their bodies in a neat a tidy fashion with a super-heated furnace that burned their dead in moments.

 

She’d followed him in and when she saw that he had activated one of the furnaces she called out to him to stop. That he didn’t need to do this. Begging him to think of his family. Of her. He had just looked at her with sadness and had climbed inside. But he hadn’t turned it on properly and the fire hadn’t been hot enough to consume him.

 

She’d never forget his screams as his flesh burned and healed because of the Gift. She had looked into the small window and knew that he’d never be able to completely heal from the damage she saw done to his body. There was only one thing she could do for him and she did it. She turned the furnace on to full power so that he’d be reduced to ashes in a matter of moments.

 

It was perhaps ten minutes later that the Constable arrived and questioned her over what had occurred. Someone had noticed the smoke coming from the vent of the furnace and had called law enforcement to check it out. She had told the officer everything, still in shock, and he had taken her home afterwards, assuring her there was nothing she could have done differently. He had periodically checked up on her afterwards to make sure she was alright, but she assured him she was fine and had eventually moved to another city to put all reminders of the event as far from her as possible.

 

It was then that she’d finished her own engineering degree and had re-enrolled to study biology so she could help in isolating the pathogen that infected them so that something like this never happened to anyone ever again. In all her years of study she was never able to do the one thing she thought she could do to save her people, but with her engineering prowess she been put on the team to build the portal system that they would eventually use to resettle those who had been off-world to seed new worlds and ensure the survival of their species. With that, at least, she could claim success.

 

And now this Thing, this freak of magic and malice, thought he’d found a chink in her armour. Somehow the creature hadn’t seen clearly what she’d done and had assumed the worse. He thought he had her. That he now had her sin to torment her with.

 

And while she had been furious with Thranduil for finding that memory, he had not condemned her with it. No, he had said almost word for word what the Constable had said to her all those years ago, “What else could you have done? It is cruel that he forced your hand like that, but without you his suffering would have been incalculable. You released him.”

 

And she had thrown his reassurances back in his face and had accused him of spying on her mind. The hurt look on his face would always stay with her and she knew that however he had come by her memory, he hadn’t gone looking for it. She strongly suspected she’d dreamt of it and he had been awake to catch it. And new she wondered if she would ever get the chance to see him again and tell him she was sorry.

 

Rough hands rudely drew her out of her meditations and she was being dragged once more to her daily torture session. “Oh, goodie.” she thought, “I wonder what it’ll be today? Flogging? Fists? The iron shod boots they happily employ in snapping my ribs and bones?” But no, she was seated in a chair with the ever delightful Khamûl. And he started in on her at once, but he seemed in a hurry.

 

“Iiit isss ooonly a maatter of tiiime befooore yoou suubmiit. Juuust aaacccept yoourr deeestiny.” he said in that odd disembodied, hissing whisper that was his voice. If voice it could be called. It was more something that echoed within her mind than an actual voice.

 

“Oh piss off you impotent shade. Do you have any idea how boring you are?” she shot back at him. It was the first time she’d openly defied him and his response was immediate. More foul breath and another jab with his dagger. And for whatever reason it didn’t hurt half as bad as before. Was she becoming immune to it? She didn’t think they were turning her. She knew that’s what they were working towards. For she strongly suspected this thing had once been human. As alien as he appeared, his thought processes were all too human.

 

She hoped she wasn’t turning into whatever they were. That would be a fate truly worse than death. She checked her body over and felt nothing foreign within it. If anything, she felt stronger. Like iron ore tempered into steel. She knew she’d never been tested like this before. Either physically or mentally and she suspected it was sheer stubborn pride that was her saving grace in a lot of these little battle of Wills.

 

Losing his temper, Khamûl backhanded her across the room. Well! That felt solid enough! But as she looked at him she saw that he was so agitated that he couldn’t even hold a visible form and was phasing in and out of existence and she laughed out loud at his distress. Then he shrieked out that terrible sound he made when he was enraged and he vanished from her sight. She stood there for a moment, dumbfounded, and realized how quiet everything had gotten. And it dawned on her that they were gone. If she was ever to escape this hell hole now was the time.

 

As she went to the door she pulled on it and realized it was open. She stepped out and was almost confronted at once by one of the beasts. But she was in no mood to fuss with them and as it swung its rusty sword at her head she grabbed the blade and ripped it out of his grip. Turning the weapon on him she swung and took his head from his shoulders.

 

She could feel her crystals, which for some reason they had missed when they’d searched her. But she hadn't dared to use them against the Nazgûl in case they had no effect as they weren’t completely corporeal. And she had also feared she would have lost them to confiscation should they be discovered. She feared losing them greatly, as she knew there would be no way to replace them here on this world.

 

She brought out the mining diamond and began dissecting them where they stood. It didn’t take long for them to figure out they couldn't get close to her and even their archers weren’t safe. In the end they all retreated from the fury of the powerful witch woman and all she had to do was follow their retreat as they led her straight out of the Keep they were in.

 

And as she made her way out of the gates and down the road that sloped down into the forest she felt her husband’s frantic mind try and touch hers. She felt his relief that she was alive, begging her to tell him where she was. But she was tired. So very tired. And as she entered the forest, instead of heading towards her husband’s call, she headed away from it. Walking, walking, killing any of the stragglers that attempted to waylay her, as if she were in a trance.

 

It didn’t register to her that she was in shock, she simply kept walking until she exited the forest and saw a river in the distance. She headed towards it because all she wanted was to bathe and wash the filth of that place from her. And she was thirsty. She didn’t know how long she’d been in there, but she had not eaten anything they’d given her. And the only thing she’d drink was the rainwater that had found its way through the window in her cell. She imagined that they put her in there so it would annoy her, but it was the only source of cleanish water she’d been able to have and she’d welcomed it, even if it wasn’t the sweetest tasting water she’d ever had.

 

When she reached the river she found it was shallow there and she walked right in, careful not to allow the current to take her and she dunked herself and reveled in the clean and wholesome waters. She knew it probably wasn’t wise to gulp down the water but she didn’t care. It was pure heaven after what she’d been consuming. She continued on to the other side of the river, exiting on the far shore, way from the forest, and saw more forest in front of her. On no! Not again! And she began walking South, following the flow of the river, keeping this other forest to her right and never even attempting to enter it.

 

She’d been walking for about an hour before she noticed that she no longer felt her husband’s mind. Good! She wanted some peace and quiet. She began to enjoy the sounds of the river and the fresh cleanliness of the air when she found herself surrounded by a patrol of elves. Similar to those of the Eryn Galen, but dressed differently. These were dressed all in grey and had their bows drawn on her.

 

“What?” she snapped.

 

“You trespass in the realm of Lothlórien. You must answer to the Lord and Lady who rule here.”

 

“Can’t you just direct me away from your realm. I’m really not in the mood to visit anyone right now.” she answered sourly, and it occurred to her she was speaking in their language. A little gift from her husband, she supposed. And if she’d had her wits about her she would have been surprised that she really did think of Thranduil as her husband.

 

“That is not for me to say. You must come before the Lord and Lady and they will decide what will be your fate.”

 

And so saying they escorted her into the very forest she’d been carefully avoiding and it was only then that she sent out a powerful call to her husband, using the power of her crystals to amplify the call. Before she entered the forest she sent out one word, “Lothlórien!” before they blindfolded her and led her deeper within the forest.

Chapter Text

As soon as Vallis had exited Dol Guldur, Thranduil had felt her. For the first time in weeks he felt her and knew for a certainty that she was alive. He called frantically to her and realized how faint her mind felt. Not only that, she didn’t seem herself. She was tired. Weary. No wonder.

 

He was frankly amazed she’d survived and it didn’t occur to him to wonder how it was that she’d escaped. All he knew was she was moving away from him and he couldn’t allow that. He knew she didn't understand their bond or the nature of it. In the wrong hands she could be used as a weapon against him. For any harm that came to her would in turn harm him.

 

He’d gone directly to the stables, pausing only long enough to inform his guards he was leaving. His son was out on patrol and Thranduil left instructions that he was to stay and look after the Realm in his absence. He didn’t bother to argue with his counselors who tried to dissuade his leaving so precipitously, merely snapping that his guard would be all the protection he needed. Now, as he headed towards the stables he chose the fastest mount in his stables. He had to make good time and Falroch was his fastest steed.

 

He had been traveling south for several hours when one word slammed into his mind, “Lothlórien!” before everything went dark again. Eru! Now he knew where she was and he really didn’t want to go there. His kinsman lived there with his Noldor wife and she and Thranduil didn’t see eye to eye at all. But there was nothing for it, and he altered his course westward accordingly, his guards likewise altering their course to follow their King. At least this way he’d meet very few, if any, orcs.

 

~0~

 

Vallis didn’t like these elves. She knew she hadn’t been trespassing and yet they had insisted on bringing her within their realm. Oh, they’d shown her great kindness. Allowing her to properly bathe and allowed her to dress in the breeches and tunic she preferred. They’d fed her and shown her a place to sleep and seemed to leave her in peace, though she knew that was an illusion. Had she attempted to leave she knew very well she’d be stopped and she didn’t want to hurt these people. They weren’t the beasts, after all.

 

But they were annoying. Unlike Thranduil, who might have played games with her in the beginning, these showed a false face. All politeness and grace, but all the while trying to enter her mind and take the information they wanted from her. Today had been particularly trying. She had felt them pushing at her all day, like a concerted effort from all of them. It was getting tedious. Nosey elves! She finally stared down the one who had been the most persistent and who was directing all the others. Finding that she had been perceived and caught, that lady’s eyes widened in dismay and fear.

 

“What are you?”

 

“I am what happens when mortals are allowed to age. We are not so different than you, it would seem. I’m just old enough to have mastered all the parts of my mind. Something we are not able to do when we are young.”

 

“And how old are you?”

 

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand years.”

 

“That’s impossible.”

 

“And yet, here I am.”

 

“I don’t believe you. I think rather that you are some kind of witch.”

 

“I really don’t care what you believe or think. The only thing I care about is leaving this place. I neither sought you out nor attempted to enter your realm.”

 

“It was not safe for you to be traveling alone.”

 

“That was not your decision to make. I’m perfectly able to take care of myself. You had no right to hinder me. And if you don’t stop trying to enter my mind I shall be quite annoyed with you. You don’t want me annoyed.”

 

“Are you threatening me?” she asked dangerously.

 

“Take it any way you wish. You are the one who is out of line. Not me. Now, if you will excuse me…” she said, getting up to leave and go back to the talan she’d been assigned, not caring if she were being rude or not. She was tired of being at the mercy of others and not in control of her own fate. She had been scientist, engineer and commander and the forced confinement she'd been in since she'd arrived chafed.

 

~0~

 

She’d been there a week, still unable to convince this lady, Galadriel, to release her. But she knew her salvation was at hand. She’d felt him coming. Closer and closer until she could practically feel his breathe on the back of her neck. She knew he was within this realm now. And she left her talan to make her way towards him. She heard a commotion and headed towards it.

 

And there he was, his eyes sought and found hers and then he was there before her. Her husband. Her unwilling mate. They’d been drawn together by invisible chains neither could resist and she still didn’t know how she felt about that. Could she just go with him back into yet another form of captivity? She was so tired. Tired of this world and all its conflicts.

 

All the manipulative games they all played in one form or another. But, really, he had been different. He had been the only one who had treated her like an equal. And while he might have wished to use her knowledge for his own purposes, it had been for his people, not himself personally.

 

When she had escaped Dol Guldur she had walked away from his call where she had been found by these others. She hadn’t gone with them willingly as they led her further and further from him, and it was to him she had called for help. And he had come as she had known he would.

 

And she’d felt the barest whisper of him in her mind as he got closer and closer. And now he stood before her glaring his anger and relief at her, his mixed emotions playing across his face and through her mind. She was oddly relieved he didn’t know how he felt about her either and she returned his gaze with calm serenity. She was actually glad he was there. She knew what to expect from him, even though their relationship was confusing, aggravating and passionate all at once.

 

“Lord Thranduil, may I ask what you are doing here?”

 

“I have come for Damiel.”

 

“She doesn’t appear overly pleased to see you.”

 

“I know. Nevertheless, I am here for her.”

 

“What is she to you?”

 

“My wife.”

 

“It would appear you obtained your wife through dubious consent.”

 

“Oh now, that is quite enough. This man, er - elf, whatever, never mistreated nor harmed me. By what reason do you have for showing such disdain for him?”

 

“It is plain you do not wish to return to him. Why else were you leaving the forest when we came upon you?”

 

“What I was doing is really none of your concern. But I will note that is seems to be a cultural trait of you people to disallow people to walk about freely without waylaying them and forcing them to answer to you.”

 

“You were about to enter our lands and we have a right to know who travels through our realms.”

 

“‘Were about to’ means I hadn’t yet crossed your borders. Yet you still felt the need to bring me within your realm. You could have merely warned me off and I would have continued on my way.”

 

“You were a woman alone. We were concerned for your safety.” Lady Galadriel said and ignored the snort of derision that came from Thranduil. Nor did she acknowledge the cynical twist to his lips. “But tell me, if you would, Lady Damiel, why you were trying to escape him if he hadn’t mistreated you?”

 

“I wasn’t trying to escape him. I had just escaped an entity by the name of Khamûl.” she said ignoring the gasps of horror around her. She also felt the wave of concern coming from her husband. It surprised her that he hadn’t known. So he hadn’t left her there after all. It had crossed her mind. Then again, she hadn’t felt a whisper of him until she had exited the Keep.

 

“Yet you were heading away from the forest.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“If you weren’t trying to escape him…?”

 

“You are a nosey lady, do you know that? How in the world are my movements of any concern to you?”

 

“As I said…”

 

But Vallis cut her off, “Yes, yes. You said. I don’t really care what you have to say.” And dismissing her question, Vallis turned to Thranduil and met his eyes, “Husband. Did you wish to be wed to me?”

 

“No.” he replied simply and without rancor, but he did smile.

 

Turning back to Galadriel, “You see. The ‘dubious consent’ was mutual. But for whatever reason it is what it is. And quite frankly that is more information than I would have willingly given to you. It’s none of your business!”

 

“Will you come back with me?” Thranduil asked his wife.

 

“I don’t see how I have a choice. It would appear we are to be stuck together for the foreseeable future. I might as well make lemonade.” and she saw the quick quirk of his lips and smirked in return. They were the only two who knew what she meant by the remark. And then she felt the whisper of his mind, “You know, we could speak completely in your world’s colloquialisms and no one would have a clue as to what we said to one another.” And she smiled and met his eyes, “Our own secret code? I like it, husband!”

 

“But I wish to know of your stay at Dol Guldur. You could give us invaluable information.” Lady Galadriel protested.

 

“I don’t care what you wish. I don’t want to. I don’t like you. You are nosey and have been trying to get into my mind since I was brought here. If you’d shown even the most basic modicum, even the tiniest hint, of good manners I would have told you anything you’d have wished to ask me. But you didn’t and so I won’t.”

 

“And you are saying that Lord Thranduil didn’t try to question you?”

 

“He is KING Thranduil and he asked me all sorts of questions. But that’s just it, isn’t it? Like you, he could have tried to look into my mind. But he didn’t. He asked and I answered every question he asked to the best of my abilities whether he liked my responses or not. And he didn’t like a lot of my responses. Still, he was polite enough to ask and not try and take. You don’t ask. You take. Where I come from, that is very poor manners.”

 

“It is considered poor manners here, as well.” Thranduil murmured and looked pointedly at the lady.

 

“Yes, and you seem closed off in a way that is different than before, King Thranduil." she said contemptuously and then narrowed her eyes, "Why is that?”

 

Vallis and Thranduil exchanged a look. “We thank you for your hospitality, Lady, but it is time we were on our way.” Thranduil said abruptly, offering his arm to his wife. And as she took it, he led Vallis away.

 

Some of the Galadhrim blocked their way and before his own guard got involved, Thranduil looked back to his kinsman with a pointed look. Celeborn, in turn, turned to his wife and narrowed his eyes dangerously. Then the Galadhrim melted from their path as if by magic. Thranduil decided then and there to have better relations with his kinsman, despite his choice in spouse. They were both Menegroth Sinda and there weren’t an awfully lot of them left in this world.

 

But before they left, Vallis took out her mining crystal and sliced a large boulder in two. And looked back to the shocked Lady pointedly, “That was just to let you know I could have left at any time I wanted to. I didn’t only because your people aren’t the beasts. But make no mistake. I don’t like you or your people.” and then she turned and allowed her husband to lift her onto his humongous horse and Thranduil laughed as his wife’s mind whispered to his, “What the hell did you feed this guy?”

 

Once they were out of sight Celeborn turned angrily to his wife and not caring who overheard his words said, “Well done! You’ve just alienated my kinsmen and his new queen.” and he turned and strode away.

Chapter Text

As they rode back they spoke without speaking using telepathy, or what he called Ósanwe-kenta. She thought it a very fussy word for what it really was. Mind-speak. But it was a lightning-fast method of communication and vast amounts of information could be passed between them with little to no fuss.

 

In short, she’d found that while he couldn’t sense her the entire time she’d been held captive, he hadn’t thought she’d been taken by those in Dol Guldur. It was the last thing he’d thought. He’d known something had happened, but Dol Guldur was the last place he’d suspected due to the sheer distance. He had thought it more likely she'd been taken to Emyn Duir.

 

But he hadn’t given up looking for her, somehow knowing she wasn’t dead despite what everyone advised him since there was a complete lack of any trace of her. But he’d sensed her, faint though it was, the moment she had left the prison fortress. And he had left immediately to rescue her when he’d discerned where she was. And then had headed directly to Lothlórien when he’d heard her call for aid.

 

Some of their conversation was stilted and remorseful. Especially when he’d found out she’d been tortured.

 

“They used a Morgul-blade on you?” he asked sorrowfully. And she was amazed she could hear the emotion in his thoughts.

 

“I suppose so. It was poisoned. But I regenerated too quickly for any lasting damage to occur. Even with this so-called magic you people seem to rely on, the technology of the poison used to change us overcame their weapons with surprising ease. They breathed on me a lot, too. Their breath is apparently a poison, as well. But every time it burned through my lungs they healed. They became quite agitated over me. I suspect they wanted to use me as a weapon, but they couldn’t get inside my head.”

 

“My poor Damiel. I would give anything for you not to have gone through that. Though I’m impressed you drove a Nazgûl loopy.” he said with a smile and she smiled as well, both in amusement, and because she could hear the smile in his thoughts, as well. Extraordinary!

 

“Yes, and every time they tried to take my blood it would boil away. They weren’t very efficient. We’ve been drawing our blood for years trying to isolate the pathogen that infects us. We’ve never had a problem with our blood boiling away. I didn’t think it could do that, quite frankly. But they also kept trying to feed it to their beasts and you haven’t lived until you see one of those things explode. Blech. What a mess! Finally, when I sensed they had left, I followed. It was quite easy to get away from those things they depend on to guard the place. Then I felt you and I was so tired, I just wanted some alone time, if you know what I mean. It really wasn’t anything personal.” she concluded contritely.

 

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I made you so angry you felt you had to leave. I’m sorry that it led you to becoming a prisoner to those foul creatures and I’m most especially sorry for what they put you through. But I’m not sorry to hear how crazy you drove those Nazgûl. I would have given half my kingdom just to witness that. You can be quite incorrigible at times, you know that? And a bit scary, too.” And pulled her closer to him and Vallis relaxed into him and the warmth of his body with a sigh.

 

“Are we falling in love?” she asked anxiously. The thought made her feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Two feelings she despised. Knowing exactly what was going through her mind and privy to her emotions he laughed softly and held her closer.

 

“I don’t know. And I don’t really care. Do you?”

 

“I don’t know.” she answered, perplexed that she didn’t have a better handle on her feelings. She felt as though they were something that needed to be controlled and she didn’t feel in control at the moment.

 

“Let’s not worry about it just yet. We don’t seem able to be rid of one another and I find I don’t mind. So let’s, how do you say, roll with it? Yes, let’s just roll with it and see where it leads us.”

 

“You seem very sanguine about all of this. That’s the thing I don’t understand about you people at all. You’re all so fatalistic. As though things will all work out in the end. My people have been fighting our destiny for two thousand years. And we may have saved our people but we’ll never be able to save our world or ourselves.”

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Haven’t you noticed anything about yourself lately?”

 

“No. Except I’ve been very tired. I expect it’s been because of my stay in that hellhole.”

 

“My beloved, Athney. You are with child.”

 

Her breath caught in her throat. “That’s not funny. You know that’s impossible.” she said aloud and sharply, hurt that he’d tease her so.

 

“Beloved, can’t you feel it? Here, follow my senses and I’ll show you what I see.” he answered aloud, as well. And doing as he directed he showed her and she saw what he saw, a tiny spark of life growing within her womb.

 

She gasped in disbelief. “That’s not possible. How is this possible?”

 

“See now, you shouldn’t be asking how it is possible. You should just be thankful that it is what it is.”

 

“Elves! Is this how you survive all the long years. Just accepting the joy on its face value?”

 

“Of course. How else should you accept a blessing?”

 

“You never question? What an infuriating way to live.”

 

“There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but it seems to me your people question everything. That’s as tedious as asking no questions, as you accuse me of.”

 

“You didn’t question what happened with us.”

 

“That’s not entirely accurate. It’s more precise to say I’m patient and feel the answer will eventually present itself to me. I have shared my suspicions with you. I just need confirmation for those suspicions.”

 

“You believe some deity threw a magic whammy love spell at us. I find that hard to believe.”

 

“And yet we came together whether we willed it or no and now you carry my child. Another thing that is supposed to be impossible. Sometimes the impossible is the only logical conclusion one can come to. Especially as nothing else makes any sense.”

 

They had already crossed the shallows of the river and were now headed North, making their way to the Forest Gate and the elf-path that would lead them to Thranduil’s realm. Vallis, taking comfort in her husband’s arms, slept peacefully for the first time in weeks. And even traveling as quickly as they were it took another week before they were approaching the bridge to the Halls of Thranduil.

 

In that time they had talked a lot and Thranduil had told her that as his wife she was to be the new Queen of Eryn Galen. Vallis had scoffed until she found his eyes on her and realized he was serious. Then she was fearful. Queen? She didn’t know the first thing about being a Queen. She hoped to go back to his Healing Halls to take up her duties there.

 

“You worry too much. Did you worry so when you were commanding your research teams?”

 

“Of course not. But I knew what my purpose was back then. Now I feel rudderless. Like I’m floundering and not sure of my course.”

 

“That’s a lot of sea analogies. Are you sure you weren’t a sailor in a previous life?” he teased, and directed his horse to the stables to be handed off to his grooms. He ordered extra apples for Falroch as he had been most uncomplaining and had brought his master to where he needed to be in excellent time.

 

They entered the Halls and Vallis just wanted to bathe and change her clothes. Her husband was ready to oblige her and led her to his chambers and she stopped short, suddenly unsure of herself. He smiled and grabbed her hand and pulled her in after him. She found herself in his sitting area which looked comfortable and cozy and she suddenly realized this is where she’d been brought when she’d shared dinner with him in what seemed a lifetime ago.

 

He then brought her through a double set of doors and into his bedroom and this room was much larger than his sitting room. He brought her over to a wardrobe and opened it and she found gowns, shoes and she even saw her uniform peeking in the back and she realized this was meant for her. Horror welled up in her and Thranduil sent her soothing warmth and took her into his arms.

 

“Don’t panic, beloved. You will still be able to work in the Healing Halls and there are plenty of tunics and leggings for you to wear as you tinker about. I would have you happy here. I’m not ever going to cage you, but you also must abide by some of our safety rules, as we all do. The forest is still a dangerous place and while I know you can take care of yourself, I don’t want you taken unaware again.”

 

“You’re saying I have to learn the rules. I understand that. There are rules we had to abide by on every world we visited. The flora and fauna alone was enough to kill off entire Colonies until we’d learned how to coexist. Some worlds we just had to abandon altogether even though they appeared perfect for our purposes.”

 

“I would love for us to just sit down and you tell me all your experiences on the different worlds you’ve been on. And I would love to see your memories of them. That first night I saw your memories of your world and the moons that appear in your night sky. What a wondrous sight it was to behold. That huge ringed red world! Eru! What a sight! And the colors of the moons! It’s like the children's sweets I’ve seen in my youth in Doriath, but I never got to try because my parents disapproved. I believe they had come from Nogrod and they distrusted everything from that city.” he said chuckling.

 

“Ah, you speak of Pentalon. I’m afraid some of the names of the satellites would disappoint you. There are seventy two and it is my firm belief they got bored naming them. I mean, what was the point of naming a satellite Rubble? I mean, they named the satellite that had all our crystals Venasia. That’s not a bad name for a moon. But had it been left to those others they would have named it Geode!”

 

Thranduil burst out laughing and asked, “Your people named a moon Rubble? There is certain humor in that. Rubble is what we name a damaged building here. Such as, When the Beast of Gondolin was finished naught but rubble was left of the once fair city.”

 

“I believe my people named it Rubble because it truly had that look. Whatever it had started out being and perhaps there had been a collision with another moon or asteroid, but when all was said and done it more resembled a bad clay project slapped together by a child. Misshapen with bits and pieces that didn’t look like they fit together properly, it really did look like a bunch of rubble.” she said laughing.

 

“Come, Athney. Let us wash the road off. Then we can have a proper warm meal. I don’t know about you but a wash, food and bed sound like paradise to me.”

 

“But it is early, yet!” she protested.

 

“So?” he said and grinned roguishly at her and she giggled for she knew what he had on his mind.

 

He led her to his bathing chamber and again she stopped dead in her tracks. This wasn’t a pool! It was a bathing lake! It was huge! A proper swimming pond and she could feel the steam coming off of it and worried about the geothermal activity that caused the heat and wondered if they were sitting upon an active volcano and could wake up one day to an eruption.

 

“Nay, my sweet Athnay. This not what you think. Tis magic that heats the pools within these Halls. My magic.”

 

“Your magic? You have magic?”

 

“Yes. The older we get the more magic we can master. And I’m very old.” and so saying he scooped up a handful of water and then a flame appeared right in the midst of it as she looked on in wonder. Then he closed his hand and it was extinguished. And looking at his hand there was no sign that he’d been burned.

 

“That’s amazing!” she breathed.

 

“But, my dearest, Athney. You have your own brand of magic. I will never, until the world is remade, forget the look on Galadriel’s face when you split that boulder in two.”

 

“But that’s not magic. That’s science.” she protested.

 

“You name it so. But from your own mind you harness the energy of Arda and transfer it through yourself and then concentrate it through the crystal and you are able to do amazing things with it. I know they were not meant to be weapons, but you have to admit they are pretty spectacular. And magical!” he said as he brought his arms around her and drew her close in the heated pool.

 

He then kissed her lingeringly and deeply and her legs automatically wrapped around his waist and in the pool it was no trouble at all to slip right into her and they both gasped at that first pleasure of penetration and Vallis threw her head back and Thranduil went right for her throat, kissing, nipping, sucking and biting in his passion, all the while thrusting deeply into her.

 

Making his way to the steps, he sat and with his hands on her hips rocked into her to get a better rhythm going. This time though, they were already bonded and they could both feel what the other was feeling, which heightened their passion and all too soon they both found their peaks, both taking the other with them. Vallis collapsed into her husband’s arms and she didn’t think she’d ever felt so complete before.

 

And she didn’t know why it was just now occurring to her but she felt she had to tell Thranduil. “Husband. There is something else that happened when I was in that prison. When those things kept trying to gain access to my mind there were times that I would escape them by going deeply into my own mind.”

 

“Mmm. Like you did when you first came here and I locked you in a cell? Did I ever tell you I’m sorry for that.” he said, languidly, still in the throes of his afterglow.

 

“Yes. And no, you didn’t, but I forgive you. It was of no consequence to me. But while I was in that place and they put me in my cell after they would torture me, those things made a hideous racket and it was the only quiet I got there. Escaping into my mind was the only place where I could shut out the noise. But, on several occasions I heard a voice telling me that I was brought here to be a help to you.”

 

“What sort of help?”

 

“I don’t know. But it said I was to be your ring. Does that mean anything to you?”

 

And Thranduil just stared at her a moment before he burst out in merry laughter and drew her in close. He was now certain that both Eru and the Valor had brought her to him and had made sure she’d stay by binding her to him in marriage. Suddenly things were a lot clearer to him and him felt great optimism for the future. And he had his confirmation. At last. And sharing his conclusions with her she held him closely in return.

 

“I think I may finally be a believer, husband. And I understand your patience now. I only hope you can share this trait with me.”

 

“Don’t worry, my beloved wife. For the first time in a very long time, I feel….light. If you know what I mean.”

 

“I do. And I think you’ll be surprised to know that we will be able to use light in the defense of your forest.”

 

Thranduil chuckled, “You know that’s not what I meant.”

 

“I know, husband. I know.” Vallis smiled.

Chapter Text

After sharing a very passionate night and reveling in the joy that in a years time they would become parent’s, Thranduil was in a fine mood when they dressed and broke their fast. He was just wondering where he son was when the son in question entered his father’s chambers and sat himself at the table and helped himself to breakfast

 

“Good morning, ada! Nice to see you back, Damiel. Care to catch me up on where you’ve been hiding the last month?’

 

“I’ve been in, what did you call it? Dol Guldur?” and at her husband’s nod, continued, “Yes, Dol Guldur. Nasty place. I don’t recommend it.” she said flippantly.

 

“Valor!” Legolas breathed, his eyes wide. “How in the world did you escape?”

 

“Well, it was impossible while that creature, Khamûl was around. There were two more like him, but he’s the only one who talked to me. Touchy fellow. Took things very personally. Husband, I have a question about those things. Did they used to be people? Their thinking was very predictable and not at all like these lofty beings you spoke of. I mean, even you elves think different than humans. But this Khamûl thought like a man.”

 

“Yes, they used to be men. There are nine of them and they are very dangerous. I find it odd that you didn’t seem to have any problems with them. And by that, I mean you resisted everything they threw at you.”

 

“You know, I think a part of that is because I’m an offworlder. There was a point that they would scream this dreadful sound, but as I saw the reaction of the beasts, I realized they expected the same from me and I felt nothing at all. It didn’t even bother my ears. But the beasts collapsed and whimpered in fear, but they also twitched like the sound affected their nervous systems. An actual physical reaction. That’s when I theorized that I may not be affected by some of your physical laws here. Which doesn’t make sense, until you understand that all worlds have their own radiation signature and my signature and frequency might be enough that while this world isn’t poisonous to me, nor I to you, still I am unaffected by certain stimuli here.”

 

Legolas just stared at her, his step-mother he realized, and said, “I did not understand one word of that. But am I given to understand that you are immune to the Nazgûl?”

 

“That would be yes. They breathed on her more than once and stabbed her with the morgul-blade.” Thranduil answered.

 

“Oh, they stuck me with their knife several times. Oddly, the first time my shoulder went numb, but it didn’t bother me after that. Like my body had learned how to defend itself from its poison.”

 

“If it was Dol Guldur you escaped from why did it take you so long to get back?” Legolas asked and wondered if he perhaps shouldn’t in case they took their time to have a little alone time.

 

“Because she crossed the river when she left and got caught by Lady Galadriel.” Thranduil supplied and then smirked at his wife, who colored prettily.

 

“Another place I didn’t like. Nosey elves. I don’t recommend a visit there either.”

 

“I don’t understand. Lady Galadriel is called the Lady of Light. She has fought the enemy for millenia.” Legolas said, clearly confused by Vallis’ words.

 

“You know, on my world we had wars in our past. And there were times when the people who believed they were fighting for righteousness ended up turning into the very thing they were fighting against.” and then holding up her hand as Legolas looked ready to object, “Now, I’m not saying that this lady has turned dark, but she certainly has questionable methods. She was quite convinced she had a right to everything within my mind and didn’t have the manners to ask me. Just went poking around. Luckily for me, I’m impervious to being poked.”

 

“And when I went to fetch her she tried to keep me from leaving. I rather owe Celeborn for being able to leave without a fuss. Then Damiel took her crystal and cut a huge boulder into two and told the Lady she could have left at any time.”

 

Legolas looked suspiciously at Vallis and asked, “How were you able to keep your crystals? Did you get them back when you escaped?”

 

“No. They never found them. And no, I can’t answer why. But I also felt a compulsion not to use them while I was in there. I can’t explain it any better than that.”

 

“I can.” Thranduil said and caught his wife’s eyes and silently told her not to mention what she had heard while a prisoner.

 

“And I can see you don’t wish her to share it.” Legolas sighed.

 

“Don’t worry, son. She wasn’t compromised by the enemy. I can vouch for this.”

 

“But is there something else you wish to share with me?” he asked with an arched brow.

 

“Yes, son. Damiel and I are expected a child. You’ll finally have a sibling.” Thranduil smiled.

 

“Yes, I can see that! A little sister. I think that will be nice. The realm already has a prince. What we don’t have is a pretty little princess.” he chuckled.

 

“Wait! You can tell that?” Vallis asked in surprise. She still couldn’t tell on her own that she was with child, but these people seemed to have senses she lacked.

 

“Of course, beloved wife. And every elf in this realm will be able to see it when they look at you.”

 

“That’s…..disconcerting.” she frowned.

 

“But why? This is cause for great joy. We elves don’t have a lot of children. We never have.” Legolas said with a gentle smile.

 

“I see I’m going to have to learn a great deal about your culture.”

 

“We have a library, but you’ll have to learn to read our language.” Thranduil said.

 

“Will I? I speak it now and I’ve never learned it. I got that from you. Perhaps I’ve also gotten the ability to read it as well.”

 

“That’s right! When I first met you you only spoke Westron.” Legolas exclaimed.

 

“I don’t speak Westron. I speak Damican. I was quite shocked when you answered me back in my own language. And I find it a strange happenstance that your Westron happens to be exactly the same as my Damican.”

 

“We will speculate on that later, beloved wife.” Thranduil smiled, “Legolas, did you have something in particular you wanted to tell me? You looked pensive when you came in.”

 

“Yes, of course. Where’s my head. You know that wretched creature that Mithrandir and the Ranger asked us to keep an eye on?”

 

“Yes, what about it?”

 

“Well, he somehow convinced the guards that he needed fresh air and when they took him outside into the forest they were attacked and the vile thing escaped. Four of our guards injured, but we lost none, thank Eru!” Legolas explained.

 

“Oh that is foul news. That blasted wizard was quite adamant that the thing be held here. He said he was dangerous and would cause terrible mischief if allowed to roam freely. I’m afraid we will have to inform the wizard we have misplaced the wretched thing.”

 

“I will go, ada.”

 

“We don’t know where he is, son.”

 

“Yes, we do. He told me he would be in Imladris for the next several months as he had business there with Lord Elrond.”

 

Thranduil smirked, “Ah, I see. You just want an excuse to go to Imladris. Very well. But make haste. The snows will be upon us before you know it and I’d like you home before that happens.”

 

“Yes, ada! I’ll leave first thing in the morning.” and he got up to leave, but before he went through the door he stopped and turned back to the his father and Vallis, “Oh, and welcome to the family, naneth.” he said cheerfully and left.

 

Vallis looked at Thranduil in question, “Naneth? What is naneth?”

 

“Mother.” Thranduil said succinctly with a wicked grin.

 

~0~

 

Thranduil had an idea. And with that idea in mind he took Vallis down to his vault where he kept the realms treasury. When he led them inside the pitch darkness he lit a lamp from a clear crystal with a bright blue light contained within. And then he started as the light made the markings on his wife’s face glow with an answering blue light.

 

“Athney, this light causes your markings to glow. Do you know why?” he asked, marveling at the sight.

 

“The markings are not just my rank and designation. They are a security measure. Without them I could not pass into some classified work areas. The markings can be read by a certain kind of light and the information from them is fed back to the machine reading them. If they don’t match the parameter’s of that work area an alarm would sound and I would be contained in a small area until security could come and arrest me for trespass. Your light must contain some of the same ultraviolet light frequency used on my world to read the information printed within my markings.”

 

“My son told me all the people in your team had the markings, but they were all different. This is the reason?”

 

“The markings on my team indicated both their own rank and their specialty. So, yes. That is the reason. They were different because they had different specialties than I did. Some were computer technicians. Some were a different type of engineer than I am. Some were botanists. Some were combinations of different disciplines as I am biologist and engineer. All were chosen because they were the best in their fields and could contribute to the mission of diagnosing and solving any problems we might come across on our colonies.”

 

“That was a massive undertaking and it is to be admired that your people didn’t just give up and found a way to continue your species though you, yourselves were deemed doomed.”

 

“We were just lucky. We had interstellar travel even before we developed the portal gates. And we had many mining facilities on the other satellites of Pentalon and so the people we had to start with were in the tens of thousands. It was quite enough to start again.” and then looking around at the vast amount of wealth surrounding her she asked, since her husband wasn’t sharing why they were there, “Why have you brought me here, husband?”

 

“Well, I was hoping that you could look around and see if any of the gems here can be used in your light scheme. Your people seem to use them, though as you would say, I don’t understand the “math” of it.” he said smirking at her.

 

Vallis had her own ideas and some of them included utilizing the Enchanted River. She still had issues with “magic” but she determinedly tamped that down in her mind. Magic, she decided, was just another power source. Why not just accept it and use it. And the Enchanted River should be used for more than a barrier. A chemical weapon was a chemical weapon! Thranduil, catching her thought, grinned in appreciation.

 

“Ah! I understand. That is very clever, husband. And I think that while you may not know the precise “math” you certainly understand the gist of it. I think you would have made a fine engineer on my world.” and Thranduil felt she had just given him a great compliment and he kissed her on the brow in thanks.

 

Vallis looked around and gasped in surprise and looked excited, “This! Oh, husband, please! Bring the light closer so I can hold these up to it.” and she took a perfectly clear spherical stone and held it up to the light and was pleased to see the complete spectrum reflecting off the opposite wall. And it was just one of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them in different sizes, but all with the perfectly spherical shape all contained in several large barrels just shoved up against a wall.

 

“I don’t understand. Those are merely baubles. Don’t you need the more precious ones for their hue?”

 

“Baubles? Husband, these are clear quartz and highly prized on my world. See? They can break up light into its complete spectrum. That is important for what I have in mind. I have other ideas, but they involve sound and I’m not sure I can engineer such a device without the materials I’m used to utilizing.”

 

“Yes, I’m sure you see us as a bunch of primitive provincials. But we muddle along as best as we are able.”

 

“And yet you use magic like we use electricity. It’s simply the power source you were given and you’ve utilized it to be an asset for yourselves. Your light, for instance, is very sophisticated and while you say you use magic to heat the water here, you also purify it and have running water. You have a very comfortable home here, husband.”

 

“Oh, the water isn’t a product of magic. That really is engineering. It’s what you’d call gravity fed. The location of this hill beside the river was specially chosen and we use the current and strength of the river for most of our conveniences.”

 

“Water power. Hydroelectric energy! Now that I understand!” Vallis chuckled. “You know, with your water source you could actually use the kinetic energy to produce electricity. You could light up your entire cavern with lights such as you hold in your hand, there. Kinetic energy is one of the principles I used to design our Portal-Gates.”

 

Thranduil gave Vallis a hug, because he could see the excitement in his wife and the ideas clashing into each other in her mind. “I think we will make a fine team. But tell me, wife. What do you propose to do with the, what did you call it, quartz? What do you think you can use it for?

 

“A motion detector! An early warning system, if you will. If my math is correct, we’ll be able to track the nasties in your forest and take them out without them surprising anyone ever again!”

Chapter Text

It had been several weeks since his son had left for Imladris and Thranduil was becoming worried each day his son didn’t arrive home. He knew his son was able to take care of himself and with the escort he’d provided it was unlikely he would have been overcome on the road. Still, Thranduil fretted every hour his son remained away from home.

 

Then word came that his son’s escort had been spotted, minus the prince. Thranduil was distraught, but didn’t feel as though his son had been killed. He just felt in his bones that he’d know if his son left these shores for The Halls of Mandos!

 

When the guard arrived none could meet their King’s eyes and their captain merely handed over a missive from Lord Elrond they hoped explained all to their king. Thranduil demanded to know what had happened to his son and the captain said he didn’t know, only that they had awoken to find him gone and Lord Elrond had given them the missive by way of explanation to their king. Thranduil dismissed them but told them not to leave the Halls in case he had further questions.

 

Making his way to his study he broke the seal and read what Lord Elrond had written, his ire rising to volcanic levels by the time he'd finished it. And just when he was about to throw something across the room in a fit of rage Vallis came in with a concerned look upon her face.

 

“What is it, beloved husband?” she asked softly, concern lacing her voice.

 

“That peredhel has sent my son off on a suicide mission!” and then he looked at her with deep hurt in his eyes, “How could he do that to me? Why would he do that to me? I have ever shown him respect as the scion of my former king.”

 

“Tell me exactly what has occured, my love.” And Thranduil passed the missive to her and she read, confusion crossing her face more than once. “I don’t understand this. And what is your world’s obsession with rings?”

 

“I see how this might seem confusing to you. Think magic. The rings were forged to harness magic. Power. Vast amounts of power.” and as he saw she still struggled with his explanation he saw that he would have to go back and explain about Vala and Maia what what occurred in the first and second ages. By the time he was done his wife looked like she had information overload.

 

“Well, now I understand why the voice said I was to be your ring. Those other realms each have one. But why give the third to a wizard who is actually a maia. Isn’t being a maia already enough of an edge? They should have given you the third ring!” she said indignantly, and then “So this other maia put all his magic into a ring and now they go off to destroy the ring. What a short sighted thing to do! Why put your very essence into a ring? That makes no sense to me at all.”

 

“Think of the ring as one of your crystals. Or indeed, all of them together. When you used them all to heal my patrols you used a vast amount of energy. So, this ring acts like a conductor...No! That’s not right!” Thranduil said struggling to put it into terms he knew she would understand, “I guess you could say it is now a power source, since its creator chose to put his power directly into it, rather than actually using it as a conductor. It’s him, but it’s no longer part of him. Does any of this make any sense to you, my love?” he finished helplessly.

 

“Yes, I think so, though as you say, he put his power into it instead of merely using his creation as a way to focus it. Magnify it. If these things are as old as you say, you’d think they’d be smarter than that.” Vallis shook her head in abstract disapproval and her husband chuckled because he was beginning to understand her and how she thought. Theory, math, invention were all aesthetic concepts to her and she found beauty in the ebb and flow of them. The symmetry of them.

 

“Well, it certainly shows they aren’t perfect Beings. Many were corrupted ages ago and nothing they did afterwards can be said to be particularly clever. Just destructive. And though they were all convinced they could create a better world that our Father Creator, not a single one of them created anything. Oh, they corrupted that which had already been created, but none ever made anything new. Ever!”

 

“That’s rather sad, in a way. So, Legolas has joined a group that has it in mind to destroy this ring that holds all the power of this maia who went bad?”

 

“Yes. And don’t dismiss him as impotent. He’s the one who corrupted those men that held you captive. And he did it with rings of power.”

 

“Those rings sound like they are trouble. I change my mind. I’m glad they didn’t give you one. But I fail to understand how I can be your ring.”

 

“I’ve been thinking on that as well. I’ve seen what you do with your diamond. You said that one is Soul?” and at her nod he continued, “I believe that one is powerful not just because your people used it for mining. I believe it also harnesses your lifeforce. You are immortal so the gem can draw on an infinite amount of power from your lifeforce because yours keeps replenishing itself. But if you were to ask me? I would say the one you call Spirit and what we call Fëa, is your most powerful weapon. It is your very essence and I believe it is a source of magic. Your magic, but magic nonetheless and magic is a force on this world.”

 

“Well, if what you say is true, then as a weapon I should just stick to Soul, the diamond.”

 

“But what would happen if you combined them? I’ve not seen it myself, but from all accounts when you use all of them you are nearly omnipotent.”

 

“That’s nonsense!”

 

“Is it? You snatched a large group of people who were practically in the grasp of Mandos and healed them all. If that is not omnipotent then I don’t know what is!”

 

“That was just basic cellular repair. I only used all the crystals because there were so many and they needed to all be repaired at once.”

 

“You make it sound like you were mending a tunic. I assure in keeping an elven Fëa from leaving its Rhaw and following the Call to Mandos is no small feat and a magic all its own.”

 

“If you say so.” she said dubiously.

 

“Athney!” he gently chided, “You must trust me on such matters. I am a native of this world, after all.”

 

“Forgive me, Thranduil. You’re right, of course. But to get back to your son. What do you plan to do?”

 

“Nothing. There’s nothing I can do. He made his choice and I’m sure he made it because he believed in its success. My son is not suicidal, though I strongly believe this quest of theirs is!”

 

“I’m so sorry, husband! I would take this worry from you if I could. But what I can do, is my very best to ease your mind when it comes to your realm and all the people within it.”

 

“Ah yes, your motion detector. I still don’t know how that would work and not go off every time a rabbit or deer goes by and sets it off.”

 

“That is a matter of calibration. Plus, I need to know what these beasts and spiders are made of. I’m afraid I may need to capture one of each to base my calculations off of.”

 

“I already disapprove. What are you trying to calculate.”

 

“If I’m lucky, there is a quality to both of them that I can configure the crystals to be sensitive to. Something they have in common that no other life-form within your forest possesses.”

 

“They both follow the Will of their Dark Lord. Do you believe that you can fashion a device that is sensitive to evil?” he asked lifting a brow.

 

“Well, if they are receiving telepathic communication I might be able to find the frequency. That would solve everything, actually!”

 

“You think you can find the frequency of evil?”

 

“I don’t know, but those things are all on the same wavelength, from what you are telling me. Your Dark Lord, your Nazgûl, and both species of the beasts. They all communicate over vast distances. If I can find the frequency and disrupt it, it will be like cutting the head off a snake. The body may twitch a bit, but it’ll have no guidance.”

 

Thranduil pulled his wife into his lap and gave her a lingering kiss. “If you can pull that off it would be a miracle. But I’ve become rather a believer in miracles since you’ve come into my life.”

 

“Flatterer!” she chuckled, and then pushed her lengthening hair out of her face, “Ack! I don’t suppose you have any scissors? I need to chop this stuff off again.”

 

Thranduil’s eyes widened in horror, “You do that on purpose? Why? It’s beautiful!” and running his fingers through it, “So soft and silky. Please don’t cut it anymore, Athney. Find another way to keep it out of your face if you wish but please don’t cut it anymore.” and he gave his best pleading eyes that he hadn’t used since he was an elfling trying to cajole a sweet from his mother.

 

Vallis’ eyes widened and then narrowed, “I can see you were a master manipulator when you were a tiny tot, weren’t you?”

 

Thranduil laughed merrily, and then looked at her from under his dark lashes, “Well, I tried. My parents were mostly immune. But every once in a while they gave in and I got my treat.”

 

“I’ll bet you were a beautiful child. I think if ours looks anything like her father I may need help in not spoiling her rotten. Your son turned out well, so I’m going to assume you’re a good daddy. I’ll need all your help, I think.”

 

And Thranduil, placing his hand on her swelling stomach, bulging just enough that only a husband’s hand could tell the differences in her body, smiled and said, “I think you you will make a fine naneth, my beloved wife.”

 

~0~

 

Vallis had been working on the two beasts that her husband had brought to her and she had found something extraordinary about them that she felt gave her a breakthrough very early on. Now she just had to put it to practical use. Excited she called to her husband through their bond and she didn’t particularly care what he was doing. This was important.

 

“I’m here, my dear. What has you so excited?”

 

“I’ve found your Dark Lord’s frequency. And it’s all in the same field. He operates on the electromagnetic spectrum and that includes everything. Sight, hearing, thought and sound. I’ve cracked his code!” she said triumphantly.

 

“Eru! I knew you were brilliant, but I never thought you could use your science to solve a problem we’ve trying to fight for, well, forever!” Thranduil said in awe and was rewarded with a lovely kiss from his pleased wife.

 

“And that’s not all! I took your advice and used the Soul Crystal. It does have properties here that on my world would have been deemed magic in our distant past. Anyway, using it I was able to take some of your larger clear quartz spheres and change the molecular structure of them into lithium tantalate. On my world we use lithium tantalate to shield our equipment from emp pulses from our star. From time to time it would belch out a massive coronal ejection that would play havoc with our equipment until we found a crystal that actually absorbed the radiation from the pulse. This will disrupt not only their sight, but the telepathic signal from their leader. In other words, it’ll make them deaf and blind.”

 

“So the clear crystals in their present form can tell us where they are and when we engage them they’ll be unable to see us and they’re captains won’t be able to direct their movements. That’s brilliant!”

 

“I thought that would make you happy.” she beamed, feeling quite pleased with herself.

 

“I have to say I’ve been very happy, ever since you first stepped foot in my forest, my dearest Athney.” he smiled.

 

“Oh, pshaw!” she dismissed, with a grin, “You thought I was some malefactor come to invade your land! Recall the jail cell!”

 

This earned her a hurt look and she felt bad until she saw the twinkle in those strange backlit eyes of his, “You wound me woman! Did I not apologize to you?”

 

Playing along, she contritely conceded, “Yes, of course you did. And I accepted your apology. We are square.” and then laughed when it took him a moment find the reference and then he exclaimed, “We just have to create a code that only you and I know the meaning to!”

 

“Husband, I know you are old, but is there something about elves that allows you to be mischievous children your entire lives?”

 

And taking her into his arms he grinned wickedly, “Oh absolutely, my beloved!”

Chapter Text

The next several months Vallis spent setting up her net with the help of her husband. She found it was very helpful to have a Wood-elf handy. Especially if that wood-elf happened to be the King! They started with a perimeter around the Halls first and before they even started the king had asked his wife what her plan was. Then, when he stepped out and crossed the bridge he had lifted his arms and tilted his head back with his eyes closed.

 

Vallis had thought to listen in, but was soon dissuaded by the sheer power she felt radiating off of him. Good Grief! A part of her screamed at the thought of all that power in one Being. But she calmed herself. She knew this elf. He was a good one.

 

When he was done, he lowered his arms and turned to her and smiled, holding out his hand to her. She took it and brought her to the first tree. She had thought to mount the crystals on stakes to set them at the height she wanted. But at her questioning look he just pointed to the tree. “Where do you want it, beloved?” and when she indicated with her hand the height she wanted, he touched the tree and the bark parted and shaped itself into something resembling a knothole with a place just perfect to set the crystal in.

 

And when she placed it at the hole it closed around it, holding it firmly in place. And at that height it would be hard to spot for any but those looking for it. Being clear in color, it blended with the bark. And so they went, placing the crystal into the embrace of the trees and when they had finished each section Vallis would take her Soul Crystal and activate her net.

 

Seeing what it did caused to Thranduil gasp in wonder, “I can see it! And it’s just like you said. It’s forming...I can see the word you want, “Grid?” Yes, it’s forming a pattern and I can see all the light threads connecting to one another. And look! A deer just went by and didn’t disturb it at all. Nicely done, my love!” he exclaimed.

 

“I’m amazed that you can see it. Usually my people can’t see such without special infrared vision lenses or infrared visual equipment. And you can see it with your naked eyes. That’s impressive.” she said admiringly. She was always finding something new about her husband. He was quite a physical and intellectual specimen. But she’d thought him quite impressive at first sight. She just didn’t realize just how right she’d been.

 

And catching her thought, her husband actually blushed a little and she thought that was the most adorable thing she’d ever seen in her life. All that and humble, too! And that’s when it hit her. She loved him. When did that happen? And then she looked at him with new eyes and caught him smiling shyly at her. He knew!

 

“Oh course I know. I’ve known for a while now. You know I love you too, my dearest Athney. I knew you’d figure it out eventually.” he said gently and Vallis walked straight into his arms and embraced him like she’d never let go. Oddly, instead of feeling closed in and captured, she felt free!

 

~0~

 

The next few months marked a change in the forest for the Woodland elves. It had also marked a change in their monarchy, for Thranduil had thrown a great feast and before all his people had crowned Vallis his Queen. The only thing that had marred the day for him was the absence of his son. He had also announced that they would be expecting a little princess in less than six months. Vallis had been surprised and touched at how joyous their reception of both the news and she herself, an outsider, was received by his people.

 

Meanwhile, the security net Vallis had set up had proved itself already and a new feeling of optimism had spread through the Woodland Realm. Vallis’ early warning system/motion detector had been attuned to both the trees and the elves nervous systems, making both aware of when the net had been breached and where, specifically, it had been breached.

 

Part of Vallis’ net had included the sensor crystals be placed in the tops of the canopy and angled in a way that touched upon those attached to the trunks and didn’t depend upon sunlight to activate them. These had also been activated by the Spirit Crystal and were able to penetrate the foliage creating a three dimensional grid.

 

This was specifically to track the spiders who made their nests in the branches of the trees. And while the elves had always been able to hear the voices and melody of the trees, through their King, they were now able to get more specific information from the trees. Such as what, whether spider or orc, had breached the net, where and how many.

 

Vallis had worried that using her husband as a communications hub would drain him, but he surprised her yet again by telling her it barely registered with him. And she began to wonder at the mind of elves. It was like his mind was a supercomputer that relayed the information with one of its subroutines while not bothering the mainframe.

 

Vallis, herself, was now obviously showing her pregnancy and as she would make her way through the Halls she had gotten used to the faces of its inhabitants breaking into sunshiny smiles of joy every time they saw her. She recalled Legolas telling her that children were rare for elves and she, especially she, understood how precious children were to them.

 

She had long since found a true cure for the poison on the blades of the orcs, even though she was never able to identify the venom of the snake used. None of the venomous snakes brought to her matched the venom, but the spider venom she’d gotten from the specimen that Thranduil had brought her was definitely that used to mix with it.

 

But as a biologist, working to find cures for much more deadly fauna from the worlds she had been to, she knew that venom attacked in four basic ways. Hemotoxins that poisoned the blood. Cardiotoxins that attacked the heart. Cytotoxins that destroyed the cells and the most common, Neurotoxins that paralyzed the nervous system. One of her duties had been to develop a generic inoculation that protected their Colonists from all four types of poison. Of course one could not inoculate against a constrictor and the best defense was not to be caught by one!

 

The spiders had a nasty combination of Neuro and Cytotoxins that both paralyzed their victims and dissolved their insides so the spiders could suck the liquid insides out when they fed. The worst part was it didn’t kill. The victims were still alive when this took place, though Vallis thought in a heavily sedated and senseless way. At least she hoped so. Whether a deer or a person, it was a nightmarish way to die.

 

Knowing the molecular balance she needed for the inoculation, and also knowing she had to find a way for the elves to ingest it, Vallis studied the various healing plants the forest already provided. She was trying to find a way for them to take it orally as she didn’t have a delivery method to inject it directly into their bloodstream. She found Athelas to be especially fascinating, as it seemed to be a natural cure-all and she used it as a base for the immunization vaccine she was developing.

 

For she didn’t just plan to cure them from the toxin when wounded, she wanted them immune to it altogether so their body's own healing defenses could neutralize it as soon as contact was made with their skin or bloodstream. And with this in mind and knowing what she wanted she found that she required the use of all of her crystals to engineer it.

 

She new the people thought she was magically creating the cure, and she supposed she was, as Thranduil said, using her own brand of magic, but without the proper equipment it was all she had. And it worked! And she even managed to turn the organic goo into something she thought she could convince the elves to ingest.

 

Basing them off the iodine pills they used for radiation poisoning, Vallis was able to create a small mountain of little pills and showing the elves that they were to swallow them whole - and not to chew them - she was able to convince the dubious people all they had to do was throw it to the back in their tongue and swallow it down with a glass of water. Or wine, if they prefered.

 

When they asked if chewing them would stop the healing properties she had to admit that, no, it didn’t and would in fact get the cure into their system much faster and in a purer form. And with that piece of information, they chewed. All of them! Blech! And unbeknownst to her they were rather used to nasty tasting concoctions their healers produced, so the bitter taste was nothing to them.

 

When she gave one to her husband, he threw it in his mouth and chewed before she could even tell him not to. When he laughed at the face she pulled, he explained that their healers seemed to go out of their way to make their cures taste horrible.

 

“I firmly believe they do so on purpose so we’ll be more careful next time. Some of them are so wretched that we would prefer to go to the Halls of Mandos than drink the cure.” he chuckled.

 

“Really? We used to flavor ours to taste like fruit. Pungent fruit, but fruit nonetheless. Most of the time it was still unpleasant, but it could fool the palate long enough to get it down.”

 

“Did you still need such once the Gift was introduced to your world?”

 

“No.” she sighed, “And truth be told many industries were instantly out of business and we had to adapt to people who no longer had a purpose. No more medical doctors. No more funeral parlors. No more pharmacists. Well, that’s not quite true. In a much more focused and streamlined fashion those did continue. But they only functioned to provide medicines and such to the colonists. And only in a limited way in case an outbreak of one kind or another occurred. We wanted the colonists to be able to survive on their own. We only interfered if there was a real fear an influenza outbreak could lose us the entire colony. We lost several because we didn’t get there in time. We could terra-form worlds but we couldn’t calculate the toll a foreign bacteria or virus we didn’t detect infected a population that had no immunity to it.”

 

“I still marvel at your people’s willingness to just fling yourself out into the unknown to ensure the survival of your species. Most would just give up. We elves are bound to this world and had the Dark Lord succeeded in the First Age, as he very nearly did, our only escape would have been to sail to Aman. We could never have left this world.”

 

“But isn’t your Aman now apart from this world? From what you’ve told me it was once a part of the world and then it was removed by your Creator. Is it even in the same dimension?”

 

“That I don’t know, as I don’t, as you say, understand the math of dimensions, though from what you tell me we elves are able to exist in two at once. We are able to see the dark things as they truly are, unlike the second born who cannot. So if Aman was removed to another dimension it is one we elves already have access to.”

 

“Your world and your people violate so many of the laws of physics I was taught were absolute. If anything, you’ve all humbled me in knowing that I don’t know everything and the things I took to be rules all have exceptions here.”

 

“Well, in your mind this world exists in the same Galaxy that your own world does. Perhaps we just operate on rules your people hadn’t yet discovered.”

 

“Yes, well, I wonder about that as well. None of your stars are the same as those I know exist in our Galaxy. I have come to doubt everything I thought I knew in how I came to be here. That voice. The one I heard while I was captive said I had been brought here deliberately. Who is to say that I am in the same Galaxy I started in. There are billions, perhaps trillions, of Galaxies in the Universe. And if you add in dimensions to that math and the numbers could actually be in the googleplex category.”

 

Thranduil seeing the math of googleplex blanched at the shear number of zeroes their computers could calculate to and he felt even his elven mind shy away from such vast numbers. As she would say, that was above his pay-grade, and his wife chuckled at his thought.

 

“Husband, your mind already acts as a supercomputer as far as I can see. You process information and run subroutines that would make my people marvel.”

 

“I see what you are saying and I appreciate it, but I would rather walk in my forest and listen to the song of my trees.”

 

“And that just makes you rather perfect in my view. With all you know and all you have been exposed to through me - and I love your open curiosity - you still love the simple things the best. The song of your trees. The birth of our daughter. Those are the things that brings you the most joy and I find that remarkable and beautiful.”

 

“Speaking of, how is our active ellith today?” he said placing a hand on his wife’s abdomen to feel his child’s movements. And sensing her father the child obliged by moving under his hand, as though to snuggle her adar.

 

“Is she an ellith? I’m not an elf.”

 

“I suppose technically she’ll be peredhel. A half-elf. But I already feel the life of the eldar within her. We’ll not have to worry about mortality of any kind with her. And you still have the Gift. I don’t know what that’ll do to our child, but I’m rather hoping your healing abilities will pass to her.” and he rolled his eyes as she corrected “healing” to cell regeneration within her mind and said, “To-MAY-toes, To-MAH-toes! Same difference, my love.” causing his wife to laugh as he used one her own colloquialisms against her, only with his adorable accent coloring it.

 

“Ah, but do I have the accent here, or is it you, my beloved wife?” he teased.

 

~0~

 

The time had come for the little one to make her grand entrance into the world and due to Valiis’ Gift, the birth was quick and practically painless. All Vallis could say afterwards was that it had felt….odd. The muscles stretching and bones shifting, all without pain, but still feeling strange. Their daughter was a beautiful child with her mother's ash blonde hair and her father's deep blue eyes and Vallis could already see they had that peculiar back-lit quality to them. She'd have to find out about that someday.

 

Vallis’ had originally wished to name their daughter Damiel. When Thranduil objected that it was his pet name for her, she said, “Oh, you haven’t called me that in ages! And I am a Damian. The only Damian here. Her name will be a reminder to me in the years to come of where I originally came from.”

 

“But she is not a daughter of Damia.” Thranduil protested, but already feeling as though he was going to lose this battle.

 

“Would you prefer Damianiel?”

 

Thranduil stared at his wife a moment and said slowly, “That actually works for me. I know it was your attempt at humor, but what think you? Damianiel.” he said, testing it out and he made it sound like the most beautiful word in the world. Vallis looked at her husband and then nodded.

 

“Very well, then. She shall be Damianiel as she is the daughter of The Damian.” Thranduil all but made it sound like a Royal decree.

 

“The Damian. You make it sound like a title.” she chuckled.

 

“I should probably make it so. You are The Damian. The only Damian. Everyone will know exactly who is being referred to.”

 

“You are such a goofball sometimes, my love.” she teased.

 

“I have no idea what that is but I’m sure it is an insult. I shall have to punish you at the appropriate time.”

 

“And when is the appropriate time?”

 

“When I say it is! I am King. I can do that, you know!” he said with a mischievous grin.

Chapter Text

The next few months were hectic ones for the free peoples of Ennor. The Dark Lord had sent a three pronged assault against the Dale-Erebor Kingdoms, the Woodland Realm and Lothlórien. The Woodland Realm had completely annihilated the invasion and the orcs in desperation had set fire to the forest as a weapon.

 

Vallis and Thranduil, together, were able to redirect the fire, killing the entire infestation of the spiders and then were able to smother the fire between them. They had been experimenting on combining their powers, he with his fire control powers and she with her psychokinesis. And they had found they meshed well thanks to their bond. Together they were able to direct and control the flames and very little damage was done to the forest as a result.

 

They then went to the aid of the men and dwarves but they got there too late to save their Kings, Brand and Dain. The Woodland elves then fell fiercely upon the invaders in revenge for their friends, their King and Queen leading the way. The Easterlings were dismayed and terrified of the Woodland Queen who could cut through entire squadrons of men with a weapon that was completely unknown to them.

 

They completely decimated the enemy when a lightening of the very air caused the free peoples to send up a cheer of triumph for all knew the Dark Lord had been vanquished in that moment. The Easterlings, for their part, quickly fell apart and made to retreat. Not many of them made it away intact as the men, dwarves and elves overtook them and dispatched them almost to a man. Had they surrendered and asked for mercy they no doubt would have found it. But since it wasn’t in their nature and they certainly wouldn’t have given their foes quarter, they fought to their bitter end.

 

Then Thranduil and Vallis, along with their army, made their way through the Greenwood, dispatching all remaining orcs they came upon until they reached Dol Guldur. There Vallis finally got her revenge on the place that had made her life a misery the previous year. Using all her crystals she completely destroyed the Keep that had once been the home of her husband. The place his father had built to protect his family, kin and people, the Iathrim who were the refugees of Doriath.

 

She did more than blow it up or burn it down. She changed its molecular structure completely and liquefied it into a stone cap on top of the hill. It would remain a bare stone top, though it was no longer poisoned and moss and ivy would eventually cover all traces of the Keep’s existence. Nothing that was inside escaped, though Vallis had sensed no organic life-forms inside. She suspected it had emptied out to attack them in a last ditch effort to wipe out the Wood-elves once and for all.

 

And now the danger was gone, though she would keep her net activated for any strays. Spider or orc. Both were organic and bore young. Until the threat was absolutely nullified their defenses would remain in place.

 

Then they made their way out of the forest and came upon the rear flank of the orcs that were attacking Lothlórien and cut them down until Thranduil and Celeborn faced each other on the battlefield. They came together and gave one another the warriors grasp and then embraced as the kinsmen they were.

 

Celeborn invited his kinsmen to repast with him and Thranduil hesitated, saying he felt the urge to go home and wait for the return of his son.

 

“I saw Legolas about a year ago. He was fit and hale. But I should warn you, kinsman, my wife saw that he would meet his bane.” and at the fear that crossed Thranduil’s face continued, “Nay, my friend. I don’t mean that. But she foretold that he would hear the call of the gulls and we both know what that means.”

 

“The Sea-Longing.” Thranduil whispered, dread curling in his gut. Of all the things! To survive battle and whatever dangers his son had faced only to be undone by the Sea-Longing was a cruel fate, indeed.

 

“I’m sorry, Thranduil. I know this is grievous news to you. But think of it this way. You’ll have more than your parents as a reason to finally sail. I know and understand your reluctance, but it seems we are all fated to take ship one day.” Celeborn said sadly and Thranduil knew his kinsman didn’t wish to leave Ennor anymore than he did and their eyes met in understanding.

 

“Ah, here comes your Queen. I take it all is well with you both?”

 

“Yes, indeed.” Thranduil smile, his mood momentarily lightening, “I have a baby daughter now. Damianiel.”

 

“Damianiel? That seems a strange name. I’ve never heard of such. What does it mean?”

 

“I suppose it means Daughter of the Damian. For that is what she is.” Thranduil said with a smirk.

 

“The Damian? I don’t understand, cousin.”

 

“Celeborn. I know that you were all trying to figure her out when she was passing by your Realm. But I don’t think it occurred to any of you that she wasn’t of this world. By her own admission she is an Off Worlder. She was brought here by the Valor. Or perhaps by Eru, Himself. I don’t know, but she was brought here by the Powers. They told her so while she was in captivity.”

 

“And that is why you both considered your bonding to be against your Wills?”

 

“Aye! That was strange indeed. There was nothing and then an overwhelming and uncontrollable something. But we have both accepted it and we have found the warmth of love with one another, so all is well.” Thranduil smiled.

 

“A forced compulsion to bond? That is…..That could only happen to you, you know that, don't you?!” Celeborn exclaimed as the humor of the situation hit him.

 

Vallis joined them smiling sweetly at her husband and he tilted his head giving her an answering smile. Celeborn could see their bond was a true one despite its origins. “Congratulations for your joy, my lady. Daughters are especially joyful, in my opinion. I miss my daughter greatly.”

 

“I’m sorry, sir. Did she pass on?” Vallis asked, unsure where elves were concerned.

 

“Nay, love. She was injured grievously and had to sail. He will see her again one day.” And the two shared an understanding glance.

 

“Yes. And that day may come sooner than I wish. My Lady wife will be sailing soon, I’ll wager. Now that Nenya has lost its power and failed all the weariness of the world is descending on her at once. Lothlórien already begins to fade.”

 

“Truly? So soon?” Thranduil asked in sorrow.

 

“Aye. I expect Elrond is experiencing the same. Which means my grandsons will be here before long.” he sighed, causing Thranduil to laugh heartily, for their reputation was legend.

 

“You know, there was a time I longed for a son. Until I got to know my grandsons and then felt blessed that I had but the one daughter. She was enough of a handful as it was.”

 

“Celebrian? A handful? I always found her most demure and ladylike.”

 

“Well, like most children, she behaved in public. Let’s just say she earned the sons she got.” he said wryly causing his cousin to laugh merrily.

 

~0~

 

Word had come that Isildur’s heir had been crowned king and had wed Lord Elrond’s daughter, Arwen and for some reason this saddened Thranduil. When Vallis asked he explained that the peredhel of that family had the choice to choose to remain eldar and share the destiny of elves or to choose the fate of the second born which meant their destiny would be sundered forever from their kin and they would one day die and pass beyond the circles of the world.

 

“This makes you sad for another reason, doesn’t it, my love?”

 

“Yes. The daughter of my king in Doriath made the same choice. That is two daughters from the same family that will be sundered forever from their kin.”

 

“Will it be forever? I mean, you told me of a time when the world will be remade. Will those children not return? The second born?”

 

“You know, I don’t know. And even if not then, eventually? Even if it be an Eon in time, I can’t believe Eru, being a merciful Father Creator, would keep His children sundered forever. I know of two that should be reunited. Aegnor and Andreth. He was Lady Galadriel’s brother and perished in the first age. For the love he bore Andreth, a mortal, he never wed and legends say he will never leave the Halls of Mandos. It is a rather sad story. Because of his fate I don’t know why they didn’t wed. The outcome was the same.”

 

“Yes, and they could have had children. As you say, they are a joy. Speaking of, someone wants to see you.” and she plopped Damianiel into her father’s lap. She was just six months old, but could already walk and had already spoken her first words. Thranduil said she would be dancing and talking before she reached her first year.

 

Already her hair was to her shoulders, like her mother’s, and Thranduil joked that his daughter’s hair would reach her waist before her mother’s did. Vallis only groaned at the thought at having waist length hair even though her husband swore he would tend to it, promising to wash it and brush it and braid it if that was her wish. He really was a doting husband and father. Not for the first time, nor for the last, would Vallis think her husband was simply perfect.

 

It was about a week later that a courier came to advise the King that his son would be arriving home any day now and he was bringing a friend. A dwarf. Thranduil thanked the courier and went to find his wife. He found her just handing off their Dami to her nanny and he grabbed her by the hand and led her into their bedroom.

 

“Husband! I can feel your excitement. What has you so animated?” she chuckled.

 

“Legolas is coming home. My son lives and he is coming home. I’m just beside myself with relief, my love!” he exclaimed and picked her up and twirled her around causing her to laugh happily sharing in his joy. He then led her to their bad where he showed her just how happy he was. She found she liked it when her husband was happy. Oh yes, indeed! She liked it a lot!

 

~0~

 

When Legolas came home with his friend, Gimli the dwarf, he left him in the sitting room so he could go look in on his new sister. And being left alone with the King, it didn’t take long before Gimli let Thranduil know he was ever so annoyed that the King had imprisoned his father. If he expected contrition he was sadly disappointed.

 

“Oh, he shouldn’t have taken it personally. I imprison a lot of people. Especially those who lie to me. Sometimes I imprison them simply because I feel like it. Ask my wife, I imprisoned her, as well.”

 

“Ack! Now yer lying! I don’t believe for an instant that you imprisoned your own wife.”

 

“Oh I wasn’t his wife at the time. His son captured me in the forest and brought me here. The king didn’t believe my story and imprisoned me. But I barely noticed it.” she replied with a smirk.

 

“Indeed, I had to shake you awake.”

 

“I wasn’t asleep. Merely meditating.”

 

“Well, I could have told that Nazgûl that it would do no good putting you in a cell. You’d just “meditate” your time away. Waste of time, really!”

 

Gimli was staring at the two and he had a sneaking suspicion they were playing with him.

 

“Now stop that you two. You will give my friend a bad impression of you. Honestly! I’m gone for a year and you’ve both become completely incorrigible!” Legolas said in mocking chastisement as he rejoined them.

 

“Did you take a peek at your sister?” Thranduil asked proudly.

 

“Yes, I did. She’s lovely. But, alas! She was asleep.”

 

“Oh, well. She’ll be up and about soon enough. She’ll want to meet her big brother.” Vallis said indulgently.

 

Gimli could take it no more and turned to his friend and demanded, “Did ye really capture this Lass and drag her before yer father? And did he really imprison her?”

 

“Yes and Yes!” Legolas replied with a smirk and chuckled at Gimli’s look of outrage. He looked over to the King and Queen, who weren’t paying attention and were making what he’d call swoony eyes at each other.

 

He harrumphed and exclaimed, “Elves! Yer all mad!” to which Thranduil looked confused and said, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

 

While Vallis looked up and said, “I’m not an elf!”  

 

Gimli looked from one to the other, flabbergasted, and didn’t know what to say or do. Legolas just smiled serenely and said, “Welcome to my home, friend Gimli!”


And Gimli simply decided to roll with it and burst out in boisterous laughter, “Well, Laddie! It certainly explains everything about you.”

 

 

Chapter Text

The next decade was one of farewells and rebuilding. As Celeborn had predicted his wife and son-in-honor were wearied of the world with their rings all but useless now. The things they had depended on for so long to protect their people were gone and neither had realized how much of their own vitality they had used in order to keep their homes and people safe.

 

Even the wizard, Mirthrandir, a maia, was so wearied by his labors and wearing the ring had sapped his own energy that he too, was wearied and just wished to go home. Celeborn and his grandsons accompanied their grandfather to bid their sire and grandmother farewell. With them went two of the perians, the halflings that had found and carried the One Ring, thus ensuring its destruction, freeing the world from the great evil that had plagued them for Ages.

 

Also, as he had predicted, once the ring she’d born had failed and his wife sailed, Lothlórien began to fade, the colors washed out of the land and the trees. And the trees, with the help of the ring had grown abnormally large, even for their large species, and they lost their anchors which had been ones mostly of magic, and they began to topple and collapse. Soon there would be no more Mallorns left in Ennor.

 

So Thranduil insisted Celeborn and his people move to the Southern reaches of Eryn Galen, now called Eryn Lasgalen in honor of his son. Celeborn gladly accepted, for he didn’t wish to watch the land his wife had so loved, deteriorate and fail before his eyes and be powerless to do anything about it. He elected to rename the land East Lórien in her honor, which also reminded Thranduil of what Lothlórien had been called of old. Lórinand, when his father’s friend, Amdir, had led those people.

 

Thranduil was glad they were there. He just didn’t have the population any longer to fill the forest and it would heal faster the more elves there were residing within it. Elves were the only ones who had the affinity with the land and the land with the elves. The land would need them to heal the centuries of damage, decay and malicious assault upon it.

 

His son, now acquainted with the world, was almost impossible to keep at home. Plus he had made a promise to his friend, the King of Gondor, to repair the damage to Ithilien, another land that had been so misused by the enemy. He had asked permission to take a large group of elves with him to facilitate the healing of the land and Thranduil agreed.

 

He did make many trips back home, for he had become hopelessly besotted with his little sister, who had quickly wrapped her big brother around her little finger. And little Dami adored her big brother, though she still mangled his name into something that sounded like Legless, much to Gimli’s delight! And Legolas had to get used to his new nickname from his friend. What had sounded so cute from his baby sister, wasn't nearly so charming coming from the dwarf.

 

Thranduil had asked his wife if she could use her healing crystal on his son and cure him of his sea-longing and she had attempted to comply, but had found nothing wrong with him. Confused, she asked Legolas what it was he was feeling and he had described how the urge to sail was so overwhelming at times he couldn’t hear the song of the forest anymore. And for whatever reason when he was in Gondor, which was fairly close to the sea, the feeling was lessened. In fact, the closer he got to the sea, the better he felt. And explained when he’d gone to Dol Amroth the feeling had almost completely left him.

 

Determined, Vallis had gone so far as to use all her crystals to see if she could drive whatever this was out of him and while he said he felt refreshed and revitalized like he hadn’t felt in years, still the sea-longing was there. Vallis was distraught that she had failed, for even using the all the crystals, which including the spirit crystal, which Thranduil had been convinced was her magic, was useless in curing what ailed him.

 

“Don’t worry, Naneth. I know what I have to do to keep it at bay. It seems it is something peculiar in we elves and there is nothing that can be done about it except to follow the Call. At some point it will become so strong that if I don’t follow it I will die. I know this. But thank you for trying.” Legolas said and kissed the top of her head.

 

Vallis was crestfallen and felt a complete failure. She was not only sorry she couldn’t help Legolas, but she felt she had let her husband down. Thranduil tried to reassure her, but even he had to admit he was disappointed and couldn’t hide it from her within their bond which just made her feel worse. And Thranduil wondered for the first time exactly what the Sea-Longing was.

 

Was it something Eru had placed within in them or was it something the Valor had done? For he knew from his son it was physical as well as mental and Thranduil knew Vallis’ magic was a strong magic. It was an alien magic and overcame most of their own physical laws. She had also proven she could snatch a fëa from the grasp of a Vala. So what made the Sea-Longing different?

 

Thranduil had to be philosophical about it because there was apparently nothing to be done about it. And this abrupt switch in attitude confounded Vallis for she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the same. And Thranduil tried his best to explain it to her.

 

“Beloved, of course I’m disappointed. Always in the past sailing to Aman was an escape. Nobody went there because they wanted to except in the very beginning when it was new and wondrous. And let's face it, the only reason it was offered was because one of their own was loose in the world wreaking havoc and they weren't safe. In fact, the reason orcs exist in the first place was because Morgoth snatched elves and corrupted them into those mockeries of Eru's design. And those who chose to stay never had the same yearning to go. Ever. And now that we’ve finally defeated the enemy and can go about our lives without threat of annihilation, it seems our hand is being forced, for I can hardly stay now that my son is being forced to heed the Call.”

 

“And what of me? Will I lose you or do you think I’ll allowed to go with you?”

 

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll be allowed to go. You are not mortal and there have been mortals that have been allowed into the Undying Lands before now, so it’s not like there is not precedent set. And no matter what I'm not leaving without you.”

 

“So we should be prepared to leave this place? That is rather sad. I’ve come to love your forest. I can hear its Song through our bond and I’ve gotten used to the melody. It so beautiful and soothing. I can see why you love it so.”

 

“Yes, I’ve been here most of my life. I wasn’t necessarily young when the First Age ended and Beleriand lost, but I’ve spent the last six millenia here in the Rhovanion.”

 

“You have been here most of your life. But I can feel that most of your love is still for that lost land. Why is that? Was it so much more beautiful?”

 

“It might be the lens of youth. I was born there. But I still miss the voices of the trees there. It really was a beautiful place. The wind through the trunks of the holly trees of the Forest Region would create a great symphony. It was truly wondrous and I’ve never seen their like here.” he said wistfully and he shared the image of the holy trees from his memories and she thought they were truly beautiful. Evergreen trees that would drip with their red berries in the wintertime, their trunks a lacy-lattice work of wonder. They did look to be something out of an artist’s mind and not a practical work of nature.

 

“Wow! That really is beautiful. I can see how you would miss it. Especially if you grew up there. All your innocent childhood memories are anchored there. I understand that. I miss the sky of Damia. Pentalon had a music all its own and our own world would respond. Yes, I understand that scientifically it was the radiation signature of the gas-giant reflecting off the signature of our own world. But sometimes science sucks the romance out of the beauty the eye and ear beholds.”

 

And this admission surprised her husband who thought he had her figured out and he realized just like everyone else there were several layers to her. He had known that she found beauty in her math and science and appreciated the symmetry. But he thought this was the first time he’d realized she also appreciated things just on their face value and he was glad to know she had a romantic as well as a practical side.

 

He smiled and added, “But that wasn’t all. Doriath was a natural wonder. The Kingdom of the Thousand Caves was surrounded by forestland. The Forest of Neldoreth was the beech-forest to the North. To the Southeast lay the Forest of Region, and was the forest primarily made up of the hollies, as I’ve said and its southernmost border was the River Aros. And those two forests were separated by the Esgalduin River.” Thranduil sighed, and his eyes had taken on a dreamy quality, as though he was seeing it all clearly in his mind’s eye as he continued.

 

“To the Northwest lay Brethil across the Mindor and Sirion rivers, and was a forest of silver birches and bordered on the far western side by the River Tieglin. Nivrim was a narrow woodland composed of mostly oaks to the Southwest just across the River Sirion. To the east was Nan Elmoth. There the trees grew to be the tallest and darkest in Beleriand, blocking the sun entirely from the forest floor and where the River Celon flowed.” Blinking to bring himself back to the present, and he smiled, “Do you know the First Age didn’t even encompass a full millenia. My father was born before the Sun rose for the first time and was born during the Years of the Trees when the world was still in the twilight as the elves first beheld it when we awoke on the shores of the Helcar at Cuiviénen.”

 

“Your people awoke before the Sun first rose? That makes no sense to me. How was life possible before you had a star? A star is necessary for life to flourish.” Vallis said in confusion.

 

“Beloved, I think we both know the “Rules” here are different. Our Star, as you call it, is actually a Maia by the name of Arien who carries a vessel with the last light of the Tree Laurelin that we now call Anar. Our moon is Ithil and a Maia named Tilion bears the light of the tree Telperion.” Thranduil leaned forward and said with a conspiratorial aside, “He’s a bit wayward and gets too close to Anar and has scorched the surface of the vessel he bears. Personally, I think he’s rather sweet on Arien and can’t help himself.” he concluded with a chuckle.

 

Vallis looked at him as though he were having her on, but saw he was absolutely serious and had met people, including the Lady Galadriel, who had lived there during this time period and had witnessed these events. She closed her eyes and her mind, unable to process this information, felt like she didn’t have so much as information overload, but rather information that didn’t jibe with her known parameters. So when she murmured, “That just doesn’t compute.” her husband merely laughed merrily in response.

 

~0~

 

When Dami was ten years old, still a toddler, Vallis had found herself with child again and marvelled that they were to be blessed again. And yes! She did consider it a blessing. Children had been out of her reach for two thousand years and now she was to be blessed for a second time. Thranduil told her she was having a son. But then within a day or so, he looked at her and his face broke out in a beatific smile as he told her she was to have twins. Identical twins. Vallis was gobsmacked! Two??? Two little boys?

 

“Oh! I hope they’re not like those boys you and your cousin keep talking about!” she said with concern. She didn’t want sons that were a handful and those boys sounded like trouble!

 

“Calm down, beloved. They really aren’t bad ellyn. They were quite sweet, though definitely on the high-spirited side, when they were elflings. But they went through a rough patch when they lost their mother. They were the ones who rescued her when she’d been captured by orcs and though they saved her she’d already taken the wound that ultimately sent her to Aman. They forever blamed themselves for it and no amount of logic would penetrate their thick skulls. They had determined it was their fault and nothing could persuade them otherwise. In response to that they tried to get themselves killed. Oh, not directly, but they certainly made it their life’s mission to kill every orc in Ennor in their quest for vengeance.”

 

“I think I understand them very well.” Vallis said quietly and Thranduil knew immediately she was thinking of her long dead fiance. And he pulled her into his lap and embraced her gently but firmly and let her know that that had also not been her doing. Not her fault. His despair had been his own and nothing she could have done would have changed that.

 

Vallis heart swelled with love for her husband. In all the time they’d been together he’d always built her up. Insisted nothing was beyond her. Given her children. And to her he was just perfection. She reached up to kiss him and he seemed to know what she needed as he kissed her gently in return, bringing her in closer.

 

She broke the kiss to kiss him on his neck and went for the sensitive spot on his ear but her turned his head and scooped her up and laid them both down on the bed and went back to gently touching and kissing her. He knew she was trying for passion but what she needed was comfort and that’s how he was going to love her.

 

Touching her softly, tenderly, he removed her morning gown and his own morning robe and held her body close to his, wanting the closeness of their skin touching to convey how very much her loved and cherished her. Touching her the way he knew she liked being touched and feeling her response though their bond and continuing on until he knew she was ready for him and then he entered her gently, but deeply.

 

As he began to move within her he touched her lovingly, kissing her deep but without the passion that usually marked their lovemaking. He brought his hands and arms around her holding her closely as her loved her with his body. And slowly, but thoroughly, keeping his strokes deep and steady, he brought them both to completion and gently kissed her tears away as they leaked from the corners of her eyes.

 

Then she sighed and was soon asleep and he had to be careful as he withdrew, for he didn’t want to wake her. He knew he’d provided the comfort she’d needed in that moment and he was content. He loved her. Truly loved her and he would do anything for her.

 

~0~

 

The next year went fairly quickly, mostly because everyone was busy clearing out any signs of their years of siege. Spider webs were cleared out and burned along with any orc remains they came across that they’d missed. And quicker than most thought possible they’d cleared the forest of most of the signs that there had ever been a Dark Lord, orcs and spiders that for close to two millennia had been the misery of their existence.

 

Trade was opened between Dale under King Bard II and Ereber with King Thorin Stonehelm and relations were very good with the Woodland Realm for it would not soon be forgotten how the Elves under King Thranduil had fallen upon their enemies which had been the turning point in swinging the victory in their favor.

 

And then Vallis’ time was upon her and like the first time, her Gift made the delivery of the children free of complications and she brought them forth with relative ease. The babies definitely took after their father, right down to the pointed ears, Vallis noticed with amusement. So delicate and tapering into that tiny point at the end. She thought they were adorable.

 

Dami’s ears tapered a bit, and they weren’t rounded like her mothers, but her brothers definitely had daddy’s ears. They also shared his golden hair but their eyes were a striking mix of both their parents. The hazel brown of their mother but with a brilliant deep blue band encircling the outer rim of the iris that was from their father. Vallis thought they were beautiful and exclaimed that their eyes already looked blue-green in certain lights, which delighted her.

 

Thranduil didn’t care about such. He was simply in joy for two perfect little ellyn. He did what every father does, checking fingers and toes. He knew they were perfectly healthy and perfectly formed, but he couldn’t help himself.

 

And Vallis insisted that he name them since he’d allowed her to name their daughter, especially since they had both thought she would be their only child. Thranduil decided to name them Mírphen and Mírchil as they were both treasured gifts to their parents.

 

Vallis thought they were perfect names especially when he told her what they meant and she marveled that her husband could be so sentimental. But, then again, she already knew he was perfect!

Chapter Text

Having twin sons proved an adventure that Vallis wasn’t sure she was prepared for. They weren’t bad! But being used to her clean daughter, who became distressed if her hands got dirty, she found that boys were a whole other ball of wax.

 

They found ways to get filthy and covered in muck without a the least bit of forethought or trouble. They were only five years old and had been fully mobile since their sixth month. And while left alone for a moment they had decided that making mud pies with the dirt from a planter and a pitcher of water would be a fine idea. And they’d needed no one to show them how.

 

Vallis had only left them a few moments to change her daughter’s clothes, because she had spilled some juice on it and really needed to be spotless at all times, and when they came back into the playroom, her boys were covered head to those cute little toes with mud. Dami had gasped at the mess and clung to her mother in fright, as though the muck would grow legs and mess up her dress, while Vallis silently screamed for her husband.

 

Thranduil had come running, thinking that some harm had come to one of the children and when he’d entered the playroom and took one look at the scene he’d burst into merry laughter. Vallis had just looked at him in indignant astonishment. Thranduil, not wishing to spend the night on the couch, had tried to control his laughter and put on a straight face, but failed miserably and burst into laughter all over again because his sons looked both adorable and ridiculous at the same time.

 

For one thing, they both had an uncanny ability to put on the most angelically innocent look upon their faces that Thranduil had ever seen. Thranduil foresaw a day that that look would bode trouble. And denote guilt. And he filed that information away for future reference. For another, they really were sweet little ellyn and were still too young to know right and wrong and were just in their beginning days of learning what to and what not to do.

 

Vallis was annoyed because they would never learn if they thought doing such would make their father happy. And her husband snorting in laughter didn’t help matters, for her little devils then thought they’d done something good and made their daddy laugh.

 

But he finally got himself under control and went over and scooped them up and took them to the bathing pool to clean them up. And she strongly suspected, to play with them, she thought in exasperation. Being a former little boy himself, he probably understood them better than she did. Plus, he’d already raised one all by himself.

 

Later on, when the mess had been cleaned up and Thranduil had patiently explained to their sons that taking the dirt out of the planter would make the plant sad, their sons were happily playing with their building blocks, the incident completely forgotten and staying out of trouble. For now.

 

Thranduil and Vallis were sitting beside the fire, Thranduil reading a letter he’d received from his son, while Vallis went over the planned menu for the week. She thought it was a mere formality since the cooks were wonderful at the Halls, but she took their request seriously and gave it a cursory glance, all the same.

 

Then she put it down and said, “Do our children strike you as strange, husband?”

 

“Hmm, what?” Thranduil, his attention taken from his letter, looked at his wife in question.

 

“Don’t you find it the least bit odd that our daughter is so fastidious she can’t stand to get even a spot on her dress or a smudge on her arm without having to change her clothes or have a bath, while our sons could roll around happily in the mud all day without thinking it the least bit out of place? It’s like they are on the extremes edges of the spectrum in regards to their preferences. There’s no happy medium with them.”

 

“Well, the boys are still little, so I’m not worried about that…..yet. Dami, on the other hand….” And he sighed a little helplessly, because he thought his daughters obsession was a quirk that might need to be addressed soon. She was only fifteen and nowhere near adolescence yet and he really hoped it was just a stage she’d grow out of.

 

“Right?!! It’s not just me, then. I understand about the boys. They’re only five and are bound to get into everything. I suppose we were lucky with Dami. She wasn’t that kind of toddler. But I tell you husband, there are times I wish to roll her around in a mud bog just to break her of this, this….. need to always be spotless! I certainly don’t remember being like that as a little girl. In fact, from what I recall, little girls and little boys were pretty much the same until they hit adolescence and the differences became noticeable and the pituitary gland releases the hormones that confirms that difference.”

 

“She is young yet, my love. Now is not the time to worry about such things. I will admit it’s a bit odd, but perhaps it’s just a stage. I’m hoping that in time she’ll outgrow it, but I’ll admit that I hope we don’t have to wait fifty years for her to outgrow it.”

 

“You know, on my world, in the old days before the Gift and children were born to us, a child would have already been in school at five and close to finishing school by fifteen. In fact, at fifteen we were already little adults with most of our growth already behind us.”

 

“Yes, we’ve had this discussion before. Elves are different and you being human doesn’t seem to matter. They have the life-force of the firstborn and will age as we do. They will reach adolescence at thirty and remain in that stage until fifty, though fifty would be a human equivalence of eighteen years and still quite young. But we do consider them of age. They’ll be fully grown at one hundred years.”

 

“So they’ll reach their teenaged years at thirty and know everything!” she smirked, “It just seems a long time to wait until they become adults. Not that I’m wishing our time away with them!”

 

“It’s only a hundred years, love. I would think at your age time would be rather relative by now.”

 

“Are you calling me old?” she asked incredulously.

 

And sensing his danger, Thranduil did what every male, of every species, on every world did since time immemorial, “Of course not, my beloved! You don’t look a day over eighteen!”

 

Vallis, knowing he was laying it on thick, just rolled her eyes at her mate and muttered, “Flattery will get you everywhere!” While her husband just wiggled his eyebrows up and down and grinned wolfishly at her, “Promise?”

 

“No promises, you rascal!” and leaning over, “What is that your reading? Is it from Legolas? What is he up to?”

 

“Oh! Yes! He wants wants us to come to Rohan. His friend, Gimli has been made Lord of the Glittering Caves of Aglarond.”

 

“A Lord of Caves? But most dwarves live in caverns, don’t they? Are dwarf caverns the same as yours?” thinking nothing could be so nice as her husbands home.

 

“Yes, they’re called delvings or dwarrowdelf, which are dwarf homes, or dwarf mansions. Basically, they are the same as this. They are cities that large numbers of the dwarven clans live in. And they are much grander than these Halls. Dwarves are master stone carvers and their delvings reflect that. And big! Everything about their homes are huge. Huge statues. Huge doors! These Halls are just a molehill in comparison.”

 

“How come we’ve never gone to Erebor. That’s right here and I could have seen one.”

 

“I suspect they are not yet ready to open them to be seen by outsiders. A dragon wanted the treasure that was inside and destroyed both Esgaroth and Dale and then burst into the mountain killing everyone inside. It was a bad business. They only killed it and got it back about one hundred years ago. I imagine it will take at least a full generation before they get it back into respectable shape. Which is a shame. Those would be Halls worthy of you to see. A fine example of a proper dwarf delving.”

 

“You don’t think these glittering caves would be worth it?”

 

“I think they will be more than worth it. Don’t you recall the dwarf talking about them?”

 

“Yes, but I’ll admit all I really heard was they were filled with crystals. That interests me.”

 

“Ah, my love! You would have loved my home of Menegroth. There were crystal caverns galore!”

 

“Yes, unlike most other elves, you’re definitely a city-boy!” and then, “You’ve been talking about your old home a lot lately. Any specific reason?”

 

“No. Not really.” and at his wife’s look, “I know it sounds strange, but I’ve been dreaming of it quite a bit lately.” then he sighed, “I actually wish I didn’t. It’s been making me feel a bit homesick for it and that’s a useless feeling. It’s gone. Forever beneath the waves of the sea.”

 

“Do you think those Valar are sending these dreams to you? I recall you saying they’ve sent dreams to you before when trying to convey a message to you. Or has something happened for you to be reminiscing about your former home so much lately?”

 

“I don’t know the answer to that, my love. Yes, they sent me dreams to tell me my marriage bonds had been severed because my first wife would not ever leave the Halls of Waiting. I hadn’t understood why they sent me such dreams then, but it was only a couple months later that you arrived. And, well, you know what happened after that.”

 

He smiled, not regretting that interference one bit, though he doubted he would have said the same then, “But the dreams of Menegroth I can’t explain. That land has been gone beneath the waves for over six thousand years. What would be the purpose of sending me dreams of my old home. And terrible things happened there. But the dreams are all of my most pleasant and wonderful memories of the place. It is most strange.”

 

“As you’ve said before, and I trust in your intuition, husband, the solution will eventually present itself to you.” Vallis leaned over and put her hand on her husbands and then recalled what he’d originally said, “So? Are we going to these caves to visit your son and his dwarf friend?”

 

“Maybe. I can’t think why not. I don’t think there’s anything that needs my absolute attention. But I don’t know about taking the children. They are young yet and it’s a long trip.”

 

“Is there any way to go by river?”

 

“Yes, actually, that might be a nice trip. And I think there are quite nice boats for hire. That would save us the headache of trying to get back up river against the current.”

 

“Well, let’s not make any decisions right now. The thought of squirmy children on the river makes me nervous now that I think of it. And the trip on horseback with them would be a nightmare. And I’d hate to go without them. Was there an urgent reason he wants us there now?”

 

“Not according to his letter. Gimli is Lord there but he hasn’t been crowned as king. There is no mention of an important event or ceremony. He just makes mention that he wishes us to come there for a visit. To see them. Apparently they are impressive enough in his mind that we just have to see them for ourselves.”

 

“Well, he knows of my interest in crystals. I have to admit I’d like to see them. I don’t if my own crystals have a life span and I don’t know if they will deteriorate with my constant use of them, but should the worse happen and I am to lose them I’d like to think I could replace them.”

 

“I don’t know the answer to that either. I know the Istari that were here all had gems on their staffs that I believe they used in the same way you use your crystals, as a focus for their own powers, but I don’t know that they ever replaced them. It seems to me they very rarely used their powers perhaps for the very reason you mention. That the gems could fail at some point with use.” Thranduil with sudden concern that his wife could at some point lose hers. He knew she used them to manage her own balance. But with the Gift, did she really need to?

 

“Beloved, have you tried not using them? I know you use them for your own balance, but doesn’t the Gift do that?”

 

“No, I haven’t. We began using them before the Gift was used against us. Our medical professionals determined they cleansed and allowed our body a balance that ensured our health. After the Gift we kept using them and even tried to use them to remove the Gift. Do you suppose it is just...habit?” she asked, never having thought this through before and wondering why.

 

Thranduil, seeing her thought marveled at this himself. She was a detail oriented person and he suspected that was cultural to her people. Why had they kept using something they no longer needed?

 

“I’m glad, for whatever reason, your people kept using them. For if you hadn’t you wouldn’t have had the means to focus the forces around you that ultimately aided my people in our defense.”

 

“I have to tell you, husband, that since I’ve met you I’ve gotten the distinct impression more than once that I’m merely a strategy piece on a board game to be moved about in order to ensure a predetermined outcome. And now I find I’m not so interested in seeing these caves as I was before we began this conversation.” she said sadly. “Perhaps we can go see them at some point, but if it isn’t urgent I would prefer to wait until the children are a little older and I’m sure they can withstand such a long trip.”

 

Thranduil, knowing the children could survive the trip just fine, but understanding his wife’s change of mood quickly complied. “You’re right, of course, my love.” Come. Let us sleep on it. There is no need to make any decision right now.” And he held out his hand to her and pulled her to her feet so they could retire for the night.

Chapter Text

It had been about six months since the letter from Legolas asking his father if he would come down to Rohan and visit he and Gimli at the Glittering Caves. Thranduil had written back immediately and sent his regrets, explaining his fear for the long trip on the children and his reluctance to leave them behind. It was perhaps his admission that he was actually willing to go that had set his son on the course of action that he ultimately took.

 

So when Legolas, himself, arrived with a very large and quite impressive carriage that could hold the entire royal family in both style and comfort, Thranduil only had himself to blame. But as he looked it over, while his son stood there proudly beside it, he could only marvel. It was truly a work of art. It was a dark green in color and even had the white leaf of Eryn Lasgalen embossed on the doors on each side.

 

Opening the door, Thranduil saw the interior was black and that it had two upholstered bench seats facing one another, with comfortable back rests and the floor of the carriage was even carpeted. More importantly, it would comfortably seat his entire family and they wouldn’t have to worry about the children becoming too tired.

 

Legolas excitedly explained some of its features and demonstrated for Thranduil that the seats folded down so the children could lay down and sleep if they became too weary.

 

Indeed, he demonstrated how both sides could be folded down and all of them could recline comfortably should they be out on the road with no Inns close by. Though he stipulated that his adar could always bring along supply wagons so his royal pavilion could be erected along the road if that was his preference.

 

Closing the door, Thranduil looked at his son and smirked, “Son, I take it you really wish us to come for a visit.”

 

“Well, I think it would be nice for you to get out for a bit.” Legolas smirked back.

 

“Where did you get this thing? It’s a work of art, truly. I hope you know how impressed I am with your initiative, son.”

 

“Thank you, ada!” his son said proudly, “And I got it in Gondor. I could have had it here sooner, but I thought arriving in a carriage with the white tree of Gondor on it would be a little bit gauche. So I had this one repainted and I think they did a fine job. You’ll arrive in style as a proper King should.”

 

“A carriage. Is that what it’s called? I suppose that’s proper since its purpose is to carry people. I especially like that the seat folds down for the children. And speaking of, I shouldn’t keep you out here any longer or the twin terrors will use their radar and track us down and will never forgive me if I keep their big brother away from them.” Thranduil said with a grin, gesturing for his son to follow him into the Halls. He knew his stable grooms and guards would be climbing all over that thing as soon as he was out of sight and he didn’t want to spoil their fun.

 

“Radar? Is that one of Naneth’s gadgets from her home world?”

 

“Ah, yes it is, but interestingly enough, they based it off the natural world. For all they appear to have separated themselves from the natural world, they based most of their inventions on what was already around them. And you will understand this, I think. Radar is how they find things they can’t see with sound waves. They send out the wave and when it hits something it bounces back. They can see things from the waves by how they bounce back. And I mean everything. How far, how large and even the shape. And do you know what they based it off of?”

 

“I fear to ask. But I will. What in nature does such?”

 

“Bats.” he said succinctly.

 

“Oh that’s awful, ada!” he said shuddering, thinking of the blood sucking black bats that had plagued their forest for a time.

 

“Oh, she assures me there are all sorts of bats and very few of them are what she’d call, icky. Most feed on fruit or insects and are very beneficial to the environment. But regardless of their size or their eating habits, and she assures me there are probably dozens of varieties even here on Ennor, they all navigate by using radar. Or sound.”

 

“That still sounds awful. I’ve heard their sounds. High pitched and shrill. But the dwarves and humans can’t hear them for some reason. I don’t understand how they can’t hear that racket.”

 

“Athney would tell you it’s the frequency range. Not all creatures have the same sight or hearing frequencies. We were out once and we saw some bats. She was telling me about them and I said there was no way to confound them and they had been a real pest in the past. She just looked at me oddly and said, “Oh yeah. Watch this, and she put two fingers in her mouth and made the most piercing whistle I’ve ever heard in my life and the bats startled in air and seemed to hover and shudder until she stopped. Then they went back to their flying. She did it several times and they always reacted the same. It was the oddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. When I asked her about it she looked rather shamefaced and said it was a game the children on her world used to play. She said it was rather a mean thing to do to them for it disrupts their radar and momentarily blinds them, but each generation taught the next the game. It was her own adar that had taught her both how to do the whistle and the game with the bats.”

 

“And they used what they knew of the bats to do what? How did they use this radar?”

 

“To map the bottom of their oceans, indeed all the land of their world. They have flying machines and they would fly very far overhead, higher than Manwë’s eagles, and they would use this device to map their entire world. Rivers, forests, mountains and the bottoms of their oceans. She said it gave them very precise maps of their world. And she called it their ancient technology.”

 

“You must have really interesting conversations with her, ada.”

 

“You have no idea, son.”

 

“You never really talk about that. Was it so bad?”

 

“Oh, it wasn’t bad at all. Before it was poisoned it was beautiful. It still is. It just can’t produce any new life. And because of that it will eventually cease to have any life. It’s sad because it’s very beautiful.”

 

“I’ve never asked, but can….can you show me?” Legolas hesitantly asked. And Thranduil thought a moment, trying to give him a memorable image, there were so many. But in the end, he knew which one. The first one he saw.

 

And he laid his hand on the side of his son’s face and closed his eyes fixing the picture of Damia’s sky, with its great red ringed gas giant, Pentalon, in the foreground, with their blue sky and pink clouds that diffused and softened the light of their sun and the different colored moons that dotted their sky like brightly colored jewels.

 

This view was near the coast with the bluest sea he’d even seen and he could see from this vantage point in her memory that it was a bay that curved around and the buildings he could see seemed to be carved out of the rocky and rugged cliff sides of the coastline, but in an style that was both beautiful and whimsical. Tall, slender and looked to be carved of pure rose quartz, though they spiraled from their base to their pinnacles, almost as if soft toffee had been stretched and twisted into an exotic sculpture.

 

And the vegetation that surrounded them were of fantastical spiraling shapes and golden-pink hues themselves, while the trees had bright red leaves on trunks of the same golden-pink hue that seemed to be very common there. To his eyes it was a magical place and he could even see the flying machines his father spoke of, gliding gracefully through the sky and landing on platforms, some at the base and some at different levels of the buildings and the distance from this view belied their size as the machines were tiny compared to the buildings. Like a fly landing on a tree. Altogether it was an enchanting view. And completely strange and alien.

 

When Thranduil withdrew his hand he saw the look of awe upon his son’s face and he lifted a brow in understanding. “Indeed. That’s exactly how I felt the first time I saw that in her mind. If I’d had any doubt she was from another world, well…”

 

“Eru! I think that’s the most marvelous thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And I believe I’ve seen quite a bit.” Legolas exclaimed.

 

“And that’s just her world. You should see some of their moons and the different worlds she’s been to. All of them strange and wonderful in their own ways. Some of them just like our world here. They are as varied as a field of wildflowers, none quite like another. Our Father Creator has quite the imagination!”

 

“But the colors! I’ve never seen such colors as that in my life, nor in my imagination! Not even the vivid colors of Lothlórien in its heyday could compete with that and I thought that quite a sight!” and Thranduil had to smile at his son’s enthusiasm. It saddened him to think that one day his wandering days would be over and he’d be forever captive of Aman. No matter how lovely, there was no returning from that place.

 

“Yes, indeed. Though don’t ask her to explain it to you. She has a way sucking the beauty right out of a thing when she explains that the rock and soil are so saturated with gold and copper compounds that the plants absorb it and that is the reason for their color.”

 

“Eru! Does she always speak that way?”

 

“Not always, but it’s her default. Her starting point. She sometimes catches herself and says she must stop and smell the roses, and no, roses are not at all involved in that saying. It means to pause and enjoy a moment rather than trying to analyse and pick it apart. Sometimes it just means to breathe deep and do more than exist.”

 

“Exist? I don’t understand. Everything exists.”

 

“Yes, but sometimes people stop living life and they just exist. They are neither happy nor sad. They just…. are. I believe that is a malady on her world. They don’t have the joy of living anymore. They just...exist.”

 

“That is rather sad. Was it always so? Or just since the Gift?”

 

“I think it’s something that happened after the Gift. Humans feel they have to have a purpose. A reason for living. Whether to contribute to their society or to give something to their future progeny. They have neither, besides their work in ensuring their colonies survive. I don’t know what they’ll do once they are assured their colonies no longer need them. And from Athney’s perspective, that is already the case. Once that’s gone what will their purpose be? I truly fear they’ll fail once that happens. I would say they’ll fade, but how can you fade if your body won’t let you?”

 

“That’s a rather frightening thought. Though it’s one I’ve been having a lot lately. Now that the Dark Lord is gone what now is our purpose? We no longer have to strive to survive, so what do we do now?”

 

“Oh, son! We have a lot to live for. We are not cursed with bareness. We can bear young and it is for them that we live and pass down our knowledge. You need to slow down and take that breath yourself. Perhaps meet a nice ellith and settle down and have a family of your own. I know your old adar would certainly like to see some grandchildren one day!” Thranduil aimed a crooked grin at his son who hadn’t lost his ability to blush, deeply.

 

“I haven’t thought much of that. How can I? One day I’ll be doomed to leave these shores and how can I ask an ellith to join me in exile? It seems a cruel thing to ask of any lady.” Legolas said, suddenly uncomfortable with the topic at hand.

 

“Well, son, it’s not so cruel if you have her heart. She will wish to go whither you go and she won’t care were you end up because you’ll be together. For I know if the places were reversed and it were she who had the longing and she had your heart you would go simply to be with her and you wouldn’t care where that led you. Don’t assume that the ellith that gives her heart to you and you to her will be any different.”

 

“I suppose so, ada.” he said and then sighed, “But I just can’t help thinking of such things.”

 

"That’s because you’ve never been in love. Trust me, son. Once that happens, all thought flies right out the window and is the least of your worries. Indeed, your ability to reason completely abandons you!” Thranduil smirked at his son's look of fear and horror, “Come son, let’s go find your brothers and sister.”

 

Chapter Text

A week later the family of Thranduil, along with a rather large escort, was making its way through the forest towards east towards Esgaroth and then they’d make their way South on the King’s Road, which had been repaired under the direction of King Elessar. The traveling was not the way the King would have chosen, but Legolas assured him it was the fastest and there were newly constructed bridges spanning the rivers so the going would be smooth and uneventful, barring any run-ins with brigands along the way. Hence the escort.

 

Legolas chose to ride and every so often one or another of his young siblings would ask to ride with him and he happily obliged them. The road was a good and smooth one and so the trip was actually quite pleasant for those inside the carriage. Vallis had worried the suspension of the carriage wouldn’t prove to be up to the task of absorbing the bumps and dips she expected, but she had to admit the road was well compacted and smooth, though it lacked a sealant on the surface.

 

It was so comfortable, in fact, that it quickly became boring, and Vallis sighed. It was going to be a long trip. After they had passed Esgaroth and had crossed the River Running, the landscape itself even became boring. It was nothing but grasslands and besides a few herds of horses that excited the children the view out the windows became unendingly monotonous.

 

And then it began. The endless question of, “Are we there yet?” from their children. Thranduil and Vallis exchanged a look and both sighed. Even at their smooth and rapid pace they we weren’t even going to be past the forest for another three days. They were nowhere near crossing the River Running for the second time and still another day and a half from coming upon the East Bight.

 

And from what Legolas had told them this road went all the way down to Minas Tirith and then from there it forked in several directions, one of which was to the West towards Rohan. It would be the most direct and smoothest passage, especially since they were in the carriage.

 

Such a trip would be impossible on the Western side of Eryn Lasgalen in the Anduin Valley, though that was probably the shortest distance. But comfort is what Legolas had aimed for and this was the most comfortable way he could transport his family, and really, this way wasn’t so much longer in distance. And the road assured them a smooth journey.

 

Regardless, it was a trip that was hundreds of Leagues and it was going to take time to get there. Thranduil already regretted it. Vallis, catching his thought, just smiled at him and thought they were going to have to come up with something to keep the children occupied. They could only count on them sleeping for only so long. Then her eyes widened when the thought crossed her husbands mind that he could ensure they slept the entire trip with no harm coming to them. Her eyes narrowed and she lifted her own brow at him and Thranduil knew that idea had just been quashed.

 

But any further ‘thoughts’ on the matter would have to wait as it was time for them to stop to rest their horses and have lunch. Vallis thought it would be nice to stretch her legs and jumped down and then turned to help her children out so they could walk about for a little while. Walking wasn’t really one of their gears and they were soon running all over the place until their father sternly told them to stay away from the horses and to settle down. Chastised, they moped back to where a picnic area had been set up for them.

 

Legolas came to join them and father and son fell to discussing the particulars of the trip and the logistics involved and Vallis soon stopped listening so she could keep her concentration on the children. She still thought they were too young for this trip, but she supposed it wouldn’t really do them any harm. But they were still so young they were hardly going to enjoy it and she wondered if they should have left them after all. But she quickly dismissed that thought. Better she had stayed with them.

 

Thranduil catching her thoughts was bewildered. This was someone who had traveled all over her Galaxy and she was very unhappy at their traveling across the Rhovanion. Vallis saw his confusion smiled and sent that they’d gotten their travel down to almost instantaneous transport. They could travel light years in moments. And she admitted that she was somewhat spoiled and needed to learn to have more patience.

 

Thranduil thought that over and wondered if she had a point. Most things she did required very little of her time. She had found the key to make his people immune to the poison the orcs used fairly quickly, mostly because of her education and understanding of venoms. She had found the frequency to the Dark Lord’s communications faster than he'd thought possible. But again, that was because of her education and understanding of frequency ranges and could isolate them as easily as her crystals could separate white light into its color spectrum.

 

She hadn’t been impatient during her pregnancies. He didn’t think she was spoiled, but was having problems figuring out her impatience now. Was it just because she wasn’t excited about the crystals anymore and therefore the Caves held no special appeal to her any longer?

 

And Vallis sent that her education and the things she applied it to were not really her discoveries. She was merely building on the discoveries made by other people. She didn’t really feel they were her accomplishments.

 

“Yes, but you used your knowledge to specifically tackle a problem and you found the solution using your own personal parameters, yes, but you knew what direction you needed to go.” Thranduil insisted aloud.

 

“What’s this?” Legolas asked, realizing they’d been having a conversation that had just spilled over.

 

“Your naneth is bored with the trip already and fears the monotony ahead. And she is wondering if she shouldn’t have stayed home with the children.” then he looked pointedly at her, “Though she should know I would never have come on this trip without her.”

 

“I have to admit that it’s a long journey and it’s going to be tedious with the little ones. It’s not nearly so long when you’re alone on horseback. I can attest to that. But I had hoped with us all together it would be a nice family trip.” Legolas said, a little baffled at the non sequitur from what his father had said and the apparent gist of their conversation, but willing to run with it.

 

“That’s not your fault. I should have thought to bring more activities to keep the children occupied.” Vallis said in self recrimination.

 

“But I did.” Thranduil said perking up, “I brought their blocks and coloring waxes. We could fold out the seat and they can occupy themselves with play while we relax.”

 

“It’ll be a cramped ride for us.” his wife warned.

 

“I’ll take it! If I hear, “Are we there yet?” one more time I think I might fade.” he said dramatically, causing Legolas to laugh merrily.

 

“I doubt you’ll fade, but you might begin to pull your hair out and I can’t have my ada arriving in anything but pristine condition! The wood-elves would never forgive me. I’ll go and get their play things, ada, if you tell me which trunk they are in.” and then laughed again when his father said, “The black one.” which was unhelpful since they were all black.

 

~0~

 

After the longest month of their life they finally pulled into Minas Tirith and word quickly spread that the King of Eryn Lasgalen had entered the city. Thranduil honestly only wanted to find the nearest Inn to bathe and get something warm to eat. They carried their children who were doing a great impression of wet noodles and seemed completely boneless in their parent’s and brother’s arms, as each carried an exhausted child.

 

They had only been inside a few moments when there was a disturbance out on in the street and suddenly the doors to the Inn burst open and the royal guards of Gondor entered and soon afterwards King Elessar himself strode in and his face broke into wide grin when he spotted Legolas standing with his family.

 

“What are you doing here, my friend! Didn’t I insist the next time you found yourself in Gondor you were to come to me and I would put you up in the Palace?” then catching sight of King Thranduil, he nodded his head to acknowledge another monarch of the land, “King Thranduil, Queen Damiel! Welcome to Gondor. Please! I insist you stay with me while you are within my city. Please say you’ll come.”

 

Thranduil knew he was stuck. There was no way he could refuse the invitation. To do so would be a grave diplomatic insult. Nodding his head in return, “Greetings, King Elessar. I am pleased to be in your fair city. My family and I gladly accept your invitation.”

 

But as his little brother whimpered softly in his arms, Legolas intervened, not bothered at all by protocol where his friend was concerned, “Aragorn, perhaps in the morning?” he softly suggested, glancing meaningfully at the small children.

 

Understanding flooded the Gondorian king’s face and he smiled. “Ah, yes! Of course! I still have little ones of my own at home and well understand their needs come first.” he said gently. Then he went to the landlord and quietly instructed him on the care and provisions to be afforded the royal family. And the bill was to be sent to the palace, of course!

 

The Landlord, pleased to have such distinguished guests, ordered his staff to hop to it and they busily made ready for their royal guests, while showing them to their suite, himself. Thranduil requested several baths be brought to the rooms and the Landlord apologetically said it would take time to heat the water, “No need. If you can just fill them with nice clean water that will be fine.” Thranduil said kindly and King Elessar lifted a brow at that.

 

Legolas chuckled at his friends look, explained, “Recall I told you on our, ah, journey, that I missed a warm bath? Well, he’s the reason we have warm water in the Halls.”

 

“Indeed? And elf who’s a fire-mage? That’s incredible!”

 

Thranduil threw a crooked smile, “Not so incredible. I’m old. Old elves can do things young ones can’t. You don’t think Lady Galadriel was so powerful because of something inherent within herself, do you?” causing the Gondorian king to burst into merry laughter.

 

“Husband, you seem to have a habit on remarking on a lady’s age. Where I come from that is considered bad manners.” Vallis said wryly.

 

“My love, you are as youthful as the morning dew on the petal of golden Elanor!” Thranduil proclaimed, completely unrepentant and causing the former Ranger to laugh even harder.

 

“Oh, I think I am going to greatly enjoy your fellowship, my lord and lady. I can now see where my cheerful friend got his wit!” Aragorn smirked and then he bid them good day and said he looked forward to seeing them on the morrow.

 

Thranduil and his family politely bid the king good day and gratefully made their way to their rooms where the tubs were already there awaiting them. Thranduil heated them all and they gratefully washed the road off and redressed for dinner. As they made their way downstairs, the landlord directed them to a private dining area and they found a veritable feast awaiting them. It smelled heavenly. Thranduil strongly suspected that he had the King of Gondor to thank for their fine meal.

 

As they were seated and enjoying their meal, both Thranduil and Vallis surreptitiously noticed their daughter once or twice got spatters of gravy or juice on both her dress and herself and didn’t squawk once, seeming to barely notice. They exchanged an amused glance and both shared that if nothing else this trip had cured their daughter of her cleanliness quirk.

 

They all retired early and slept comfortably for the first time in a month. Their trip had been an adventure, but they were glad to be in a proper bed again. In the morning they packed up and made their way to the the upper levels of the city to approach the Palace whose personnel were obviously expecting them. A veritable army of helping hands descended on them taking up luggage and leading the horses and carriage away to be cared for by the stables.

 

And in the courtyard of the palace they saw with their own eyes the White Tree of Gondor and that tree’s lineage was just as majestic as the king and queen who now sat on the throne. The Royal family entered the palace and Thranduil was duly impressed. The whole of this city had obviously been built by the Númenóreans when they still had their accumulated knowledge. He suspected they had lost much of that over the years and nothing remained of the works of their hands when they had been at the height of their power.

 

Still, the palace and city were a marvel of engineering and Thranduil wondered if they ever planned on restoring Osgiliath as their main capital. He’d heard it told it had been a very fair city in its day, but it had also taken the brunt of the Dark Lord’s malice. And Thranduil understood that very well, after seeing what he’d done to his own forest in the south.

 

King Elessar and Queen Undómiel were there to meet them in person as where their children and the Lasgalen royals could see they had young children, indeed. The Queen was holding an infant while a little girl who looked to be about seven years stood beside her. Their firstborn son, Eldarion, stood beside his father and looked to be about to enter his adolescent years.

 

Once the formalities had been performed and the Lasgalen royals shown to their rooms, the Gondorian royals dropped their formality and led them to their own private sitting area that was spacious enough to allow the children to become acquainted and play together. Eldarion looked conflicted as he was supposed to be nearly grown now, but then he gave up all pretense and joined his sister and the Lasgalen children in their play keeping an eye on the twins.

 

Damianiel and Ariel, the Gondorian couples first born daughter, were of an age, though Dami was technically older than all of them, and became instant best friends. Neither really had a child to play with of their own age or rank, so this was something of a treat for them.

 

Arwen thought they looked beautiful together, Ariel with her black locks contrasting with Dami's pale blonde. “Oh, I’m so glad to see her playing with someone her own age. She has plenty that are her age, but those treat her differently and I’ve feared that she’ll never form any close bonds. It’s a shame you live so far away, for they would be good influences on each other.”

 

“Yes, but if we did then the day would come when your Ariel would pass up Dami in her development. Dami has the life of the eldar and wouldn’t catch up until she reached her forties. But at least this time will be a fond memory for both of them. And it’s not as though we’ll never visit again.” Thranduil said, though he doubted they’d ever be down this way again.

 

“Yes, it is.” Aragorn said with a smirk, “I don’t know how Legolas dragged you both out of your forest, and I’m glad of it, but we both know this is a one time visit.”

 

“Well, that was what the carriage was for. Hard to say no if you’re offered such a ride in style.” Legolas answered with a smirk if his own.

 

“Yes, but the thought was a lot more fun than the actual trip. I truly must be getting old, for already I dread the trip back!” Thranduil exclaimed.

 

“You’re not the only one, my love.” Vallis said ruefully.

 

“Well, I imagine it was harder because of the little ones. Such a long trip must have been trying for them.” Arwen commiserated as her husband had shared that the royals weren’t to be with them yestereve because the children had looked like wilted flowers. But then she laughed merrily when all three Lasgalen royals piped up with, “Are we there yet?” in unison.

Chapter Text

They stayed for three days before they packed up again and made ready to leave, much to the chagrin of their children who couldn’t help but groan at the thought of getting back into the carriage, the twins leaning against one another and looking the very picture of misery. Especially when they found out they weren’t heading home but to yet another kingdom! Thranduil tried to cheer them up but they were having none of it. They all wanted to go home!

 

Luckily for his parent’s sake, their eldest, and Vallis did feel like his mother these days, was a master of manipulation! He turned his best sad eyes on his younger siblings saying, “But I wanted to show you my friend's glittering caves. They are ever so pretty. I think you will like them and we’re almost there.” and the three immediately went to hug their big brother’s long legs as they all said they were very sorry and they would like to see the pretty caves very much. Thranduil walked by and murmured softly, “Nicely played, son.” to which his eldest grinned broadly, basking in his ada’s approval - which still mattered to him!

 

Problem solved, they all climbed aboard bade farewell to the Gondorian King and Queen, with promises to retain close ties of friendship. And then they were off.

 

If they had thought the road smooth and in good repair from Esgaroth, this one was pure silk. And because of that it was only two and a half days that saw them to Rohan and luckily, the road was so well travelled that there were plently of Inns along the way. They soon entered Rohan-proper and the city limits of Edoras and its Golden Hall of Meduseld. Duty bound to make his respects, Thranduil and his family stopped and paid their respects to King Éomer Éadig and Queen Lothíriel.

 

Thranduil had groaned when he saw yet another city on a hill and wondered what was it about the second born and their obsession with building their cities so close to the heavens. Still, it was his duty as a monarch to convey his respects and he asked Legolas if he would lead their entourage. And making their way up the winding road Thranduil was glad that this road also seemed to be in good repair.

 

Upon reaching the courtyard of Meduseld, it appeared they were expected, and it wouldn’t surprise Thranduil to learn that King Elessar had sent a courier to alert the King of Rohan that the Last Elvenking of Ennor was making his way towards his city and to be prepared for a visit.

 

The King and Queen were awaiting them on the steps, the Queen holding a newborn. It seemed that new life was sprouting up everywhere to bring the light of hope to the land thanks to the demise of the one who had shadowed it for so long.

 

They disembarked and the children looked at the high steps to the Halls in dismay and Thranduil scooped up his daughter while Legolas and Vallis each took up a twin and they began their ascent up the many steps of Meduseld. King Éomer and Queen Lothíriel were gracious in their welcome and King Thranduil was dignified.

 

Legolas rolled his eyes and grasped his friend in the warriors greeting as they were old friends. Protocols broken everyone relaxed and Éomer had them shown to their rooms. They only stayed the night and were on their way the next morning with a promise for another visit on their return. On their way once again it only took them half a day to get to Aglarond and the Glittering Caves.

 

As they approached those within the carriage could hear trumpets blare in the foreground announcing their arrival. The Keep had been repaired with master dwarven stone-masons and had been turned into a palace. Built of the native pale stone, it gleamed golden in the sunlight.

 

Once again, word had been sent ahead and the welcome they received by Lord Gimli was impressive. Thranduil also was impressed with their couriers for once they’d arrived in Gondor, they’d never been out of sight again and their arrival never a surprise.

 

The road, formerly called Helm’s Dike and leading up to the Hornburg was lined with dwarves in livery of blue and silver with the crest of the House of Durin which was seven silver stars over a silver crown over crossed silver hammers above a silver anvil on a field of deep blue.

 

The heavy wooden gate that had been destroyed when the Uruk-hai was sent by Saruman with the intention of wiping out the Rohirrim once and for all, had been replaced with heavy stone dwarf doors embellished heavily. The carriage made its way slowly up the road and through the dwarf door into the inner courtyard where they could disembark and be received by the Lord of Aglarond.

 

After all the pomp and circumstance, Gimli led the Lasgalen royals to their suites to refresh themselves and they gratefully went about washing the road off their persons and changing into more appropriate clothing. Legolas hinted that Gimli would probably wish to throw a grand feast, not so much in their honor, than to show off a grand dwarf feast to uppity elves.

 

And Gimli had planned just such a feast. That is until he saw the young children of the King and knew the last thing those parents wanted was to suffer through a boisterous feast while fretting for their little ones. His face softening when he saw as his friend and the King and Queen of Lasgalen carried their children into his sitting room he immediately called to his aide and informed him the feast could go on, but that he and their guests would take a quiet meal in his private dining area.

 

Then he settled his guests and begged their pardon, as he had forgotten an errand and he left them for about half an hour. When he returned he carried a elaborately decorated chest and when he set it down he opened it and inside were all manner of clever dwarf toys inside.

 

He brought out a metal disk that curved down to a gentle point, gaily painted with bright primary colors and had an odd thin twisted metal piece protruding from the top and ending in a wooden handle. Raising an eyebrow at the curious children, knowing he had their attention, he got down on his knees and started to pump the handle up and down.

 

As he did so the disk began to spin, slowly at first and then so fast it was a blur of color to the sight. And then he let go and the disk stayed stationary and spun, with the sound of light tinkling bells heard from its interior. The children just looked on, with wide eyes and absolute delight. When it slowed down and gently leaned to its side they clapped in glee and asked him to do it again and he obliged them several times before he pulled out the next toy.

 

This one was a stuffed rabbit and while they looked interested it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the metal disk that the dwarf called a Top. But then Gimli started to wind a key in the back of the rabbit and when he set it down it began to hop across the floor, to the surprise of the children.

 

One by one he showed them what was in the chest and all of them moved or made noise in some way. A squirrel that clapped with two metal acorns that had bells inside, a duck sitting on a piece of wood and lifted its wings, turned its head and quacked when pulled by a piece of string, a bird that slowly lifted its wings and then somersaulted in place.

 

One was circular and had intricately carved wooden replicas of dwarves brightly painted, all holding a musical instrument and as Gimli twisted the base several times, he set it down and it slowly turned as it played a lovely melody, the wooden dwarves all moving their arms like they were bringing a violin up, drums sticks down or a flute to their mouth like they were playing the music. Dami was absolutely enchanted with this music box, as Gimli called it, though it wasn’t a box at all, which confused the child, but she just knew it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen in her life.

 

All of the toys were marvels of dwarven enginuity. All of them noisy, and the children were delighted with them and Gimli was soon the recipient of hugs and cheek kisses from the little ones. Then he rejoined the grownups and got another cheek kiss from Vallis who thought it was the sweetest and most thoughtful thing he could have done!

 

“Aw, yer welcome, Lassie. And yer welcome to all of em! My gift to you. It’s a fine joy you have there, King Thranduil.”

 

“Yes, they are. And I thank you for your fine gift. Truly! You have no idea how welcome your generosity is!”

 

“Oh? And why is that?”

 

Legolas laughed merrily, “The trip home, friend Gimli. You have no idea what three bored elflings can be like. Though, ada, I think your return trip will be a noisy one.”

 

“It will be better than, “Are we there yet?” he said mimicking the pitch of their piping little voices perfectly, causing Gimli to chuckle in appreciation. “And aren’t you coming with us?” Thranduil asked his son, though he thought he knew the answer.

 

“I’ll travel with you as far as Ithilien, but that will be as far as I go. I think you know the way home.” he smirked, “And the carriage is my gift to you, so now you don’t have an excuse not to return for a visit any time soon.”

 

Thranduil was saved from answering by a knock on the door and the entrance of several dwarf servers who brought in a veritable feast in with them. They passed through the sitting room and entered a door at the back of the room and the sound of clattering cutlery and silverware being placed came from the room. Soon enough, the dwarves all bowed and left the way they came and Gimli announced that dinner was ready.

 

Legolas laughed and remarked, “And here I thought you’d have a grand feast all set to impress us.”

 

Gimli looked embarrassed and said, “Actually I did. I told them to have the feast but we’d be having a quiet dinner here by ourselves. I hope I made the right decision. When I saw the wee ones I thought a feast might be too overwhelming for them.”

 

“Thank you, Lord Gimli. I, for one, am truly grateful. And you’re right. I don’t allow them to attend the feasts at the Halls yet. Just as I didn’t allow this one,” pointing a thumb at Legolas, “to go to his first feast until he was forty. And I still made sure he had an early night!” Thranduil smiled.

 

“Aye! I understand, Lord Thranduil. We dwarves don’t allow the wee ones to attend those either. I knew you had the children. Legolas told me. Still, I suppose I thought they’d be bigger. But I can see they are quite young and small and shouldn’t have that sort of excitement yet. There’ll be plenty of time for that later for them.”

 

“Yes, and this trip has been enough excitement for them as it is. I know I never took such a trip at their age and neither did their brother.”

 

“Oh, the trip won’t scar them, husband. But they’ll appreciate home all the more, I’m sure.” Vallis said, seating the children and making sure they were able to reach the table comfortably and filling their plates before seating herself.

 

“Well, I hope ye’ll stay for a bit before you scramble back home, though I’m sure yer already homesick fer yer woods.”

 

“Yes, I have to admit that so far I’ve seen very little that I’d care to see again. That is not to say the land is not beautiful in its own way. It’s just not my forest. And yes, I do miss my woods.” Thranduil said with a smile.

 

“Still, traveling takes a lot out of a body, be it an elf body or not. I hope ye’ll rest a bit with us. And I can’t wait to show you the caves. Ye’ll especially like them I think, Lassie. Full of crystals they are. Sometimes I almost hear them sing.”

 

“Singing crystals? Now that does sound interesting.” Vallis said and then fell silent.

 

Thranduil was worried about her ambivalence with regards to her crystals. They had been a constant in her life. Part of her science. They were the power source on her world. But it was the use they had used them for the harmony for their entire selves that had made her stumble. Now she was second guessing and doubting everything she knew because of a careless question he’d asked and he felt horrible about it. He had to fix this somehow.

 

They finished their meal pleasantly and retired for the evening with plans to go to the Glittering Caves on the morrow. Gimli promised to have some Dames available to watch the little ones so they wouldn’t have to worry about bringing them into the caves. While there had been some work done in them, he wished it to go slowly as careless excavation would spoil the natural beauty of the place. With that in mind they all went to their rest.

Chapter Text

Helm’s Deep was actually a large valley gorge in the north-western Ered Nimrais and the Hornburg, now the palace of Lord Gimli, had originally been a Gondorian fortress, but part of the lands given to the Rohirrim when the Gondorian Kings of old had given it as a reward to Eorl the Young for his services to Gondor in its hour of need. The Fortress had been built to block the gorge and together with the Deeping Wall completely blocked the entrance. Behind the fortress the Valley lay open and narrowed towards the entrance of the Glittering Caves.

 

Lord Gimli led his guest through the valley and it looked like they had started work on the barren valley to turn it into a place of beauty with fountains fed by the Deeping stream, statuary and benches. It looked like great thought had been taken in their layout and construction and would be grand and magnificent once they were finished. Thranduil was sure what they more concerned with were the caves themselves. He was also glad the dwarf had made provision to leave the children behind for though elf children were hardy, this was quite a hike!

 

As they approached the entrance to the cave it was already apparent that work had been done to reshape the entrance into a perfect arch and runes and embellishments had been carved to create a border around the arch. Gimli reached for a lantern to light their way and Thranduil told him he could take care of that.

 

“How can ye do that? Can ye make light out of thin air?” he asked skeptically and wondered when his friend smothered a chuckle. Thranduil merely lifted a brow and opened his hand and a shining blue-white orb appeared in his palm which he sent aloft to light their way.

 

Gimli looked accusingly at his friend and said, “Why didn’t ye ever do such when I brought ye here in the first place?”

 

“Because I can’t do it yet. I’m not old enough.” Legolas chuckled and then tried to form one and while his hand lit up no orb formed. “See?”

 

“Yes, but you can at least bring up the light now. Very good, son! It won’t be long now!” Thranduil said approvingly.

 

“Thank you, ada. I’ve been practicing like you showed me.”

 

“Yes, and you are showing patience. It takes patience. You’re almost there, my son.”

 

“Naneth! The light makes your markings glow. They’re beautiful!” Legolas said admiringly.

 

“Thank you. I’ve been wishing them gone. They are useless now. A reminder of a lost home. But your father likes them and there is no way to get rid of them, so….” And Thranduil worried again at the ambivalence he sensed from her.

 

“Why they are beautiful, Lassie. I noticed them before, but the Lad is right. In this light they look magical.”

 

“Well, I’m glad they please you, Lord Gimli.” she said kindly.

 

As they followed the light the passage suddenly widened and opened up into an enormous cavern and Thranduil sent the orb up higher to better light their way. They came upon carved stairs that looked very precise but yet conformed with the curve of the cavern floor and Thranduil asked if the steps had been carved by them or if the Gondorians had done so.

 

“Twere the men who carved them. They were very clever in their past, they were. Their stonework was excellent and the way they did their measurements were as precise as I’ve ever seen in a delving.”

 

“High praise, indeed.” Thranduil said with a lifted brow. He knew dwarves were excellent stone workers and to hear a dwarf compliment anything made by the hands of another race was unheard of. At least in his experience.

 

As they walked deeper into the cavern there came a point when Vallis stepped up onto a stone platform that brought her up into a better position when suddenly the entire cavern seemed to light up with an inner fire, all the crystals lighting up and glowing with an inner fire of their own and then a symphony of sound began low and then reach a harmonic crescendo that sounded like something the heavens would make.

 

Vallis, frozen in place seemed transfixed, feeling every vibration and frequency the crystals made through her bones and the crystals in the pouch she carried with her at all times activated and flew out of her pouch and circled above her head, all of them resonating with the crystals in the cave.

 

Vallis had never seen them behave so and was shocked and confused, but she was unable to do anything for she felt immobilized and filled with an energy she wasn’t familiar with. Then the light and sound faded and Vallis’ crystals lowered onto the pedestal she was standing on.

 

Once everything ceased she collapsed and Thranduil, who had been frozen by what he had been witnessing, barely had time to catch hold of her. Frantically he reached out and found that she seemed undamaged, just unconscious. Snatching up her crystals and pocketing them he lifted her and carried her out of the cavern and walked outside to see if he could rouse her. After a few moments he began to carry her back towards the Palace.

 

“Ada! What’s wrong with her?”

 

“I don’t know. You saw what I did.”

 

“Did it hurt her?” Gimli asked, concerned.

 

“I don’t know that either. Clearly she was overwhelmed, but I don’t know why or if she suffered a hurt.”

 

“Well, lets get her inside and I’ll have a healer look after her.”

 

The three hurried, the King holding his wife close, as they entered the Palace and Gimli called for healers to attend to him as he led them to the Healing chambers of the palace. Thranduil was trying not to panic, and only reluctantly gave his wife over to the dwarven healers, but insisted on staying by her side. Gimli and Legolas went to wait in the outer chamber, not wishing to be in the way, and sat and exchanged a worried look.

 

“You saw that, right? The cavern spoke to her.” Gimli said in awe.

 

“I saw all the crystals light up and I heard a great music come from them. It seemed to happen when she stood on that pedestal.”

 

“Laddie. I’ve stood on that pedestal many a time. Nothing like that ever happened. Many have stood on it. You’ve stood on it. Nothing like that ever happened until she stood on it.”

 

“I wonder what it all means?” Legolas asked rhetorically, knowing his friend didn’t have the answer.

 

~0~

 

Inside the healing chamber the dwarven healers were bustling around fussing and didn’t seem to know what to do. Thranduil suspected they hadn’t a lot of experience in dealing with humans.

 

Suddenly he felt a warmth in his pocket and he looked down and saw a light showing through his coat pocket. He brought out his wife’s crystals and raised up a hand to halt the healers.

 

“Hold a moment. I think she needs these.”

 

“What good would those do?” the lead healer asked skeptically.

 

“She is not from this world and this was their means of healing. She was just in a cavern full of crystals and they all came alive in her presence. That means something, though I know not what.”

 

Thranduil then laid the crystals on her abdomen and they went out. Then he looked at the markings on her face and felt there was a clue there. The two marks above her brow were Soul and Spirit. Those under her eye were Heart, Mind and Body. Body being the smallest inverted bow on her face. He wondered if were a key, somehow.

 

He then arranged them vertically on her stomach in that order and still nothing happened. Then he thought of what they did when she activated them. They always circled her head. He didn’t think that would work without her being alert, but he  arranged them in a circle in the same order as her marks and they instantly lit up.

 

Then they began to pulse and then they rose and began to coalesce and appeared to lose their solid structure with every color of the spectrum pulsing within. Then they stretched into what looked like a glittering mist and then settled upon her entire length and seemed to be absorbed into her skin. Into her self.

 

And then she sat up wide eyed and looked at her husband in shock.

 

~0~

 

When they had stepped into the cavern, Vallis was astounded by the myriad crystals that she saw. She didn’t see precious gems, she saw crystals of all sizes and hues. Every color of the spectrum and she had been touched by the sight on a deep level. They reminded her of her first sight of the insides of Venasia, which was nothing more than a giant geode orbiting Pentalon, filled with enormous crystalline structures.

 

And like Venasia, she had felt the hum of this world’s radiation signature conducted through the crystals. And it was something she felt and knew the others didn’t because they were of this world and weren’t sensitive to its magnetic pulses because they were part of it. Already attuned to its frequency. She, however, wasn’t of this world and was therefore sensitive to the alien chatter.

 

All worlds spoke. They all had their own voices in the cosmos. Vallis knew Damia had its own voice. They had recorded it from orbit and had been astonished that it seemed to hold conversations with the other moons and to its parent, Pentalon. They recorded definite interaction between the heavenly bodies. But the sound was something that could neither be felt or heard by the natives on their own world.

 

This world had magic as part of its DNA and its song was ethereal and beautiful. Inside the cave she felt that music resonating on a cellular level and quickly looked at the others and knew they weren’t feeling this as she was.

 

Then she stepped on the pedestal and it was like flipping a metaphoric switch and the whole cave had activated. The music and light show completely overwhelmed her and she felt in that moment that she was a part of it. Her own inner music combining with that of the cavern. The entire world of Arda. And in that instant she felt as though her mind was a true mainframe as the cavern performed a data dump into her mind.

 

The vast amount of information and stimuli was overwhelming and she had to shut off her feelings or she’d scream out loud in her fear at what she was seeing and feeling. More surprising still, her crystals answered and burst from her pouch and activated themselves, something they’d never done before. And since these were her personal crystals they were connected to her and in that moment she, her crystals and the crystals within the cavern became One.

 

And with the circuit complete she could feel the link. Giving and taking both information and strength. And they were interacting as though they were one organism. One body with a nervous system, brain waves, heart beat  and a circulatory system. When it ended she felt her whole body go limp as though the music had been holding her up and now that the switch had once again been flipped off, so too were her muscles and she crumpled and blessed oblivion overtook her.

 

Now something else had happened and she awoke wide eyes and frightened on a table with her husband returning her gaze with worry and relief warring on his face.

 

“Beloved! Are you alright?”

 

“Yes. I...I think so. Something happened, didn’t it? My crystals. I can feel them. They are part of me now. How did that happen?”

 

“Oh, my love. That was my doing. I’m so sorry. I thought they might help you to wake up and I placed them on your body in the hopes they could heal you. They…..their light turned on and then they arose and became as one. Then they seemed to dissolve into a mist and the mist settled on you and you seemed to absorb it. Then you awoke.” Thranduil explained fearing he’d done the wrong thing.

 

Sensing his fear, Vallis was quick to reassure him, “You did nothing wrong, beloved. I don’t know what has happened or why, but it all seems part of what I experienced in the cave. Which is alive. It’s the heart of this world. Or a passage to the heart. Like an artery? Or perhaps like one of the chambers of the heart. I haven’t puzzled it all out yet.”

 

Noticing the healers for the first time, who stood in a group off to one side, looking frightened at the apparent elf-magic, Thranduil turned to thank them for their care of his wife. To which the lead healer openly scoffed and said, “Seems to me ye took care of that yerself, yer lairdship!”

 

Thranduil smiled and said, “I think that was an accidental happenstance. Nonetheless, you did your best by her and I thank you for it.” And scooping up his wife he carried her out of the healing chambers, while she protested she felt fine and could walk under her own steam.

 

Thranduil ignored her and met the eyes of his worried son and gave him a nod to indicate she seemed fine and he and Gimli followed Thranduil back to his suite so he could see to any needs she might have, whether she liked being pampered or not.

 

Chapter Text

They ended up staying with Gimli for two weeks before they reluctantly bade him a fond farewell and in Gimli’s case a fond, “Haste ye back!” The Lasgalen Royals had especially enjoyed their time with the dwarves, most especially because of their complete lack of adhering to protocol. This made the visit actually fun and relaxing. The children loved the pretty caves and more importantly, they loved the gifts of toys that the dwarves showered on them.

 

They had high hopes for more children in their future, but being a new realm they lacked an important ingredient to achieving that desire. Dwarven maidens! Most of the dwarven dames within the new realm were married and well past their childbearing years. So the advent of three small peredhel children was a pleasant change for them. And they were so unspoiled and polite. Perfectly pretty little manners!

 

As they retraced their journey they stopped again at Meduseld and had enjoyed a longer visit and found the Eorlingas wonderfully earthy and a homey type of folk. Though when they left Thranduil commented that he was surprised Eomer’s wife had conceived at all with the stench of her husband.

 

At his wife’s outraged look, “Oh come now! Twas an arranged marriage. Are you telling me you’d allow me, as a virtual stranger, to crawl into your bed smelling thusly?”

 

And Vallis had to admit, that no, she’d probably come down with a headache if such were the case, “Though, I’m sure they bathed him for his wedding night, beloved.” she added with a smirk.

 

“Come to think of it, that child is probably the result of their wedding night. I think you may be right. But if he doesn’t change his bathing habits that child could well be an only child.” causing his wife to laugh, because he was probably right.

 

They stopped again in Gondor and shared a nice visit with the Royal Gondorians and their daughters were happy with the reunion and Dami was pleased to show her friend her new music box. For by unspoken agreement, all the children agreed that she should take that one gift, though the boys also thought she should get the hopping bunny. She just didn’t know that yet. The rest they could share and already the addition of the toys had occupied the children enough that they hadn’t even noticed being cooped up in the carriage.

 

And then on their way north they stopped in Ithilien so Legolas could show the progress he’d made in bringing the forest back to what it once had been. Many of the native flowers and plants had made a comeback and the trees appeared to be healing from the malice that had been directed at it for so long. They also met the Prince and Princess of Ithilien, Faramir and Éowyn. And not surprisingly at this point, the Lady Éowyn was holding an infant. Thranduil smirked and remarked that they had been a little ahead of the population boom that had sprung up all over the land.

 

“Or maybe we heralded it in?” Vallis smiled.

 

“I like the way you think, my love.”

 

Not having much choice in the matter, he and his family accepted the invitation to stay with the Ithilien Royals, but Thranduil’s main purpose was to see what his son had been up to. Faramir seemed to understand this and suggested that he and his wife could sit with their children until the Lasgalen Royals returned. So they made a point of leaving in the morning and just making a day trip to get a tour from Legolas in what they had been doing since he’d taken it upon himself to heal the woods.

 

Mostly the tour consisted of visiting sites that had already been healed and looked lovely and healthy. Thranduil began to wonder why he still needed to be here and Legolas seemed to understand this, for the next site he brought them to was a portion of the woods that was still blackened and diseased. Thranduil was already sensitive to the suffering of a wood under siege and he could feel the pain of this wood. It was unhappy, but with the advent of the elves he could feel the wood now had hope.

 

Greatly affected, Thranduil turned to his son and said, “I understand now. It’s a good thing you do here son. I’m proud of you. But I’m always proud of you. You’ve turned out to be such a fine ellon. I couldn’t have hoped for more in a son.” and was surprised when his son hugged him tightly, but he returned the embrace all the same. It had been a long time since his son had shown open affection. The price a father paid when their child grew up and began to lead their own lives. He was sure his own father had felt much the same way.

 

~0~

 

Bidding their farewells with the Ithilien Royals the Lasgalen Royals had to also bid their loved one farewell. Legolas presented a parting gift to his step-naneth in honor of their visit to the Glittering Caves. In opening the gift Vallis was touched that it was a rose-quartz pendant in a yellow gold setting.

 

“Ada showed me a memory of your home world and I couldn’t help noticing it was very, eh, pink! And gold. The rock. The plants. The clouds. So I thought this might remind you both of our trip together and a little bit of your home. I hope you like it, naneth.” he said shyly and Vallis gave him a big hug and cheek kiss.

 

“Oh! I love it Legolas! It’s perfect! And the soil of my world has an abundance of copper and gold particulates and the plants absorb it. That is why the rock and plants have the tint they do. The clouds are that color because the light from the star reflects off the red gas giant that is always in our sky and the defused light makes the clouds appear that color, but they are actually white. They just never look white.”

 

Legolas shared an amused glance with his father, as though they were sharing an inside joke, and he kissed his step-naneth on her cheek and said, “Well, however it got that way, it is very pretty, naneth.”

 

“Oh, you’re right, of course. And I sincerely thank you for your thoughtful gift, son. I shall miss you terribly.” and Legolas grinned in pleasure as it was the first time she’d actually addressed him as her son. He knew that’s how she felt, but it was nice to hear it, too!

 

Once they were on their way again, they knew it would be several long weeks before they reached their home. They had enjoyed their visit, but the trip there and now back was something none of them wanted to repeat anytime soon. At least this time the children had some toys to occupy themselves.

 

And they’d been on the road for over a week before both Thranduil and Vallis began to regret the toys. They didn’t regret them as gifts, but soon tired of the same tune from the music box that Dami played over and over again. The squirrel with its acorn bells, that the twins insisted on winding up time and again began to wear on their nerves.

 

The one thing they didn’t have this time was Legolas to give them rides. And it was plain they already missed their big brother, but Thranduil was glad they had been able to spend some time with him. There was going to come a time when his son would leave and then they would all miss him.

 

Catching her husband’s thought, Vallis placed her hand over his and sent, ”I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help him, beloved.”

 

“Don’t be. You weren’t able to heal him because he wasn’t meant to be healed. I don’t know exactly what the sea-longing is, but it is ever something we have feared in our existence. People have gotten the sea-longing when they’d heard no gull and have been nowhere near the sea. But it gnaws at them every bit as much as it is currently eating away at my son. And if they don’t follow the call they fade and die.”

 

“Why do they die?”

 

“Because any joy they once had in this world is overshadowed by the Call and taken from them. Their years weigh on them and they suffer in their misery. Even if they have their family around them they are unable to find peace. It is most cruel, especially if they still have their family around them.”

 

“Do their families go with them when they have to answer that call?”

 

“Some do. Some eventually have to go anyway because their loved one tries to fight it or feel they would rather die than go to Aman and they do. Then their family will leave because of their own grief.”

 

“That’s terrible. To be forced from the only home you know. And it sounds like you’re being forced to go to that place. I’m sorry. I guess they're your deities.”

 

“I’ve always been taught to revere them, though we don’t worship them. Nor do they expect it from us. They know they are Children of Eru the same as we all are.”

 

Suddenly their silent conversation was cut short by a commotion outside the carriage. Thranduil told his wife and children to stay inside and he went out to see what was happening. Vallis tried to calm her children who were frightened by the noises and Vallis heard her husband's curse of "Huitho!" and order a guard to hand over his sword. Alarmed Vallis exited the carriage to see that all manner of pandemonium had broken out due to a large group of brigands that were attempting to waylay them.

 

Thranduil saw and ordered his wife back in the carriage and too late saw one of the ruffians approaching her with a raised sword. Calling out her name in despair, Vallis looked and fearing for her children lifted her hands and cried out “NO!” and suddenly they were all gone without a trace. Their guards all looked about them in confusion thinking some sort of trick had been played and did a quick parameter check to be sure they weren’t lurking anywhere. But again, no trace of them could be found.

 

Vallis met her husband’s eyes and he looked surprised, but also relieved. She knew her own were probably frightened because she knew they were gone because of her. She ran to her husband to make sure he’d taken no hurt, but she passed a guard that had a deep cut on his forearm that he’d used to block a strike that was meant to take his head. She stopped and laid he hand on his arm and it stopped bleeding and then the wound closed.

 

Then she made her way through their escort and performed the same healing on any she found that had suffered a wound. None had been killed, but several had been injured because they’d been taken by surprise. Once she was certain they were all whole she made her way to her husband and found he’d taken no wound but was looking at her like he’d gotten an answer to something that had been puzzling him and she recalled his story of the crystals. What had happened to them.

 

She had assumed they were gone, but apparently they had gone through some manner of transmutation. Perhaps being in proximity to the crystals in the cave had done something to them, but whatever the cause, the crystals were now part of her. And their properties were now part of her. That thought frightened her, because some aspects of them were quite powerful and she didn’t want that kind of power. Especially since she had no idea how to use it. Or not to!

 

Thranduil did his own once over of his guards and asked them if they wanted a break or if they wanted to continue their journey. All wanted away from this area as soon as possible, because in their minds if there was one band of bandits there were probably others.

 

Thranduil and Vallis boarded the carriage once again and made sure their children were all right. They were frightened because of all the noise, but it was clear they really hadn’t understood what had occurred and Thranduil wanted to keep it that way. And with the resilience of youth they were soon playing again, the incident already forgotten.

Soon enough Thranduil wished to speak of what happened and Vallis knew that now was as good as a time as any. So when he asked, “Beloved?”

 

“I don’t know exactly what has happened, and you’ve shown me what happened when I was in the dwarven infirmary, but from that information I can only conclude that somehow my crystals have become a part of me. Including all the power I called up through them. Husband, this frightens me because I could do wondrous and terrible things with the crystals. I’m not sure I know how to control this new power. And I’m afraid I will hurt someone. Maybe even someone I love.”

 

“What did you feel when you made those men disappear? And do you know what happened to them?”

 

“Gone. I wanted them gone. That’s all I felt...No! That’s not true! I felt fear. Extreme fear. Fear for you and fear for our children. Not so much myself. But for you and the children, yes. It really didn’t register with me that man meant to kill me. All I could think of was he would hurt my children. Then I screamed No! And he was gone.”

 

“So you don’t know if they are dead or not?”

 

“I didn’t want them dead. I wanted them gone. I don’t know what that means, but I have a feeling I transported them somewhere. Had I wanted them dead they would have died. I’m sure of it.”

 

“I see. I’m not sure if that makes me happy or not. I know I should be glad they are not dead, but it means they are someone else’s problem and could cause a mischief to others. Don’t get me wrong, my love. I’m inclined to be glad. I wouldn’t want that on you. It’s one thing to kill orcs. Quite another to kill men.”

 

“But I killed men in the battle at Dale.”

 

“In self defense during a battle. This was a robbery attempt, though they most certainly would have taken our lives. Still it will be something we have to test. By this example, your emotions were involved. That could get sticky. On the other hand you are generally cool headed. It was your fear for the children that triggered this.”

 

“I’m willing, husband. Whatever we have to do. I almost wish I could have it blocked off. I would prefer not to have use of it at all if it becomes tied to my emotions. I don’t want any accidents because I become angry or fearful.”

 

“You have great control, my love. We will find a solution. I’m sure of it!”

 

Chapter Text

The rest of their journey was completed with no further mishaps and as they entered the forest word was quickly spread that the royal family had returned. Great was the joy of the people and Vallis remarked that it was nice to know they had been missed. And indeed, the closer they got to the Halls the more elves gathered to line the sides of the road leading to the bridge spanning the Forest River, to welcome home their monarch, for Thranduil was greatly loved by his people.

 

Though all he wanted was to go inside to bathe and eat, Thranduil stopped briefly to address and thank his people for their warm welcome. Then he announced that in a week’s time they’d have a feast to celebrate the peace he had beheld upon the land. This announcement received enthusiastic approval from his people for the King knew them and their joy in a good feast.

 

Then the family made their way inside and to their rooms for the longed for bath as servants scurried to get a repast together to be made available to them when they emerged. For their part, Thranduil and Vallis gratefully entered their bathing pool, leaving the children’s baths to their nannies care. Both entered and commented they would never take the pool for granted again, for they had been three months without and it had been the one thing they could agree they missed the most during their entire adventure.

 

One activity they had missed during their bathing was enthusiastically engaged in and the guards outside the kings chambers smirked in amusement, exchanging a knowing glance when the serving elves left blushing to their ear tips, as the royals couple’s enjoyment could be heard all the way to their sitting rooms where they had laid a repast for them. It was good to have the king and queen home again! Yes, indeed!

 

Over the next couple of days new rules had to be set in place once the luggage was brought in - including all the dwarf toys! The nannies had been at first enchanted and then dismayed by the racket the children engaged in while they played with the different windup toys. The king and queen quickly declared that the toys could only be played with in their playroom and couldn’t be brought with them into the sitting room with their parents. Only quiet activities could be engaged in while they sat with their parents such as coloring with their colored waxes, reading or the strategy board games.

 

When Vallis brought up that perhaps they needed a quiet time within the playroom as well, her husband gave her an aghast look, explaining, “Beloved, think! If they are noisy we know where they are! Tis when they are quiet that they go looking for mischief!”

 

Vallis had to reluctantly agree with him and decided the nannies needed extra-special Yule gifts to compensate them for their frayed nerves.

 

Gimli had also gifted Thranduil with a windup clock to place on his mantle and while he had been initially pleased with the gift it soon became apparent that the ticking became a distraction to him. He’d eventually let it run down and then placed it in a closet to keep it out of sight which had amused his wife no end.

 

When she’d first came to their world one of the first things she’d noted was their pointed ears. They weren’t large, rather the same size as human ears, but the points had piqued her curiosity. She had wondered if they were just a aesthetic permutation or if they served a purpose.

 

She had concluded they were aesthetic and conducted sound no better than any other shaped ear, but she’d also learned that elven hearing was far keener than that of the second born. That, she knew, was the general construction of the inner ear and how the organs were connected to their far superior brain functions.

 

Elves, she had determined, were darned near physically perfect when it came to their physical attributes of strength, agility, sight, hearing and thought processes. The only thing they seemed to lack was an awareness of the moment. This was no doubt a product of their longevity. They always felt they had time. But in this attitude they often missed a moment that could never be relived again. Though she believed her husband could mark and enjoy those moments through their bond as she marked them.

 

But soon enough Thranduil got around to the thing she had been dreading. Her new power. He wished one of the Istari were still around so he could seek guidance on the matter, but he hadn’t seen nor heard aught of Radagast in several decades now and thought he must have sailed with the others when they left for Aman. He even considered contacting Círdan, for that ellon had regular contact with Aman and was probably the oldest elf living in Ennor, now that Galadriel had gone.

 

Therefore, he was rather surprised when it was announced that Radagast had called to pay his respects. Then his suspicious mind kicked in and he wondered, not for the first time, if any part of his life was his own, or if he were still being moved about like a strategy piece on that celestial board game the Creator seemed to be playing. And were his very thoughts so open that the Vala could hear them and choose when to intervene?

 

But then he sighed and instructed that the wizard be given guest chambers befitting his station and went to inform his wife that they may be given aid in their quest to discover her new powers and what their purpose was and how she might go about controlling them. And as he suspected she wasn’t altogether pleased to learn the wizard was one of the maia. One of the deities of this world.

 

“What does he want? What is his purpose here? I don’t like this, husband!”

 

“Please calm yourself, my love.” Thranduil said worriedly and Vallis instantly got her emotions under control understanding his fear. She sighed and decided she didn’t care why the vala was there. If he could give her a handle on this situation she’d be grateful. The last thing she wanted was for her husband to be afraid of her.

 

Remarkably, she was able to calm herself to real serently almost instantly and she’d forgotten that part of her crystals function was to bring the whole of the body, heart, mind, body, soul and spirit into harmony. To bring serenity.

 

And she thought she began to understand exactly what had happened when she’d absorbed the crystals. They still functioned as they always did, by her Will. She just no longer had to use an act of Will to activate them as they were now always active though dormant while not in actual use.

 

By the time the wizard came to visit them in their sitting room Vallis was much more calm and felt that she had a greater understanding of her predicament. But when the wizard was bid entry, Thranduil choked on his wine, for instead of the old man in brown that he was used to seeing, a youthful Ainu entered the room. Tall and still brown with light sun kissed golden brown hair, merry golden brown eyes and dressed in rich golden brown robes, the maia was revealed in his true form for the first time.

 

Radagast, or rather Aiwendil, smiled mischievously and said, “Now that all the fuss is over I figured, Why Bother?” in a youthful tenor voice.

 

“You are welcome of course, my lord.” Thranduil said deferentially causing the maia to laugh merrily.

 

“Now, Thranduil! We are old friends, you and I. Please call me Aiwendil. Or Wendil. Or Radagast if you prefer.” the maia said as he gracefully seated himself.

 

“I think I’ll try out Aiwendil, for you do not resemble Radagast at all. Except,” Thranduil paused, looking him over, “Your eyes. Your eyes are exactly the same. And I’ve always liked your eyes. They are honest and friendly eyes. Kindly and homey, if I may say so.”

 

“You may indeed. And I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me and I’ll take it as the compliment it was intended, my friend.” the maia exclaimed good naturedly, “Now! I know somewhat of the predicament you find yourselves, though I think your lovely Queen has already made a discovery about her new, eh, abilities. Is that not right, young lady?”

 

“Please! Call me Vallis. It is how I think of myself and I’d like it if at least one person refers to me as such.” and at Thranduil’s hurt look added, “Not you, beloved. You are the only one who refers to me by my given name and I prefer that. But to most others I am either my lady or naneth. I’d just like it if one person calls me Vallis.”

 

“Then I shall be happy to oblige, Vallis. And I am Wendil to my friends and I give leave for both of you to refer to me as such.”

 

Thranduil struggled with that for a moment, trying his best to get past the fact that the wizard was a maia and finally gave it up and nodded, “Alright, then. Wendil it is. Though you probably already know my mind on such matters.”

 

“Yes, and you need to get over that. We are all Children of Eru.” and smiled kindly when Thranduil closed his eyes put his hand over his eyes to rub them as though he had a headache. Which was absurd, of course! Elves didn’t get headaches!

 

“Very well…..Wendil. You say you know what we are facing. What counsel can you give us so my wife doesn’t send someone into oblivion by mistake?”

 

“Beloved, I discovered earlier that the crystals still act as they always did. I just don’t need to activate them anymore. They are always activated and I just need to call upon them now. So, if I wish to be in balance and calm, I am. Just as would happen when I’d use them to meditate.”

 

“Very good, Vallis! That would have been my first bit of advice. Don’t think of it as a new power, rather one that is always active and ready for use. You’ll never need to fear the loss of your crystals again.”

 

“But I’d had already questioned their use in the first place. With the Gift I can’t fathom why we kept using them when they failed to remove the Gift in the first place.”

 

“That was my fault, love. I should never have made you question why you were using something that worked for you.” Thranduil said his voice full of self recrimination.

 

Aiwendil looked thoughtful for a moment before he said slowly, “I don’t think I have all the answers to your questions. I don’t understand the purpose of the Gift. You believed that it kept you from having children, yet you have three. The crystals I think I have a better understanding of. They were part of your technology from your home world, yes?" and at Vallis' nod he continued.

 

"And you wouldn’t have been able to achieve that which you did without them. They were your power source. On a personal level they did more than keep your body healthy. They were attuned to you as a whole. Not just your body, which I believe was the emerald. The others all had specific purposes and none of them physical. Rather metaphysical.” and Vallis gasped as she grasped what he was saying and she felt she had full understanding for the first time in a long time. Those things she’d questioned were answered.

 

Thranduil felt lost, until she shared the concept of metaphysics and understood that the word they used was pretty much the elven reality of Being. That her people understood there was more to their world and reality than what the senses could perceive and this was a line of thought that dealt with the First Principles of Things, such as Being, Knowing, Substance, Cause, Identity, Time, and Space. And Thranduil was impressed because they had come to these conclusion not from millenia of living, but from a finite perspective of a mortal species.

 

“Do you know that metaphysics was something my people pondered for a long time but it was dismissed as fanciful nonsense by the scientific community and it kind of died out for awhile and was only pondered by people as an abstract. Philosophy. Then we discovered different dimensions and worse, dimensional doorways. That set the scientific community back on its heels and several disciplines collapsed overnight. It was about that time we discovered the crystals as a power source and then we concentrated on the light and sound spectrums. We were able to advance by leaps and bounds after that.”

 

“And that willingness to admit error and move on makes your people different than many others. Rather special, in fact. You’d probably be surprised to learn that many would hide the evidence that proved their views were in error and faulty.”

 

“But why would someone do that? It would drive their advancement into the ground. They’d be stuck with an inevitable deterioration on their own environment.” Vallis exclaimed, her eyes wide in horror.

 

“Pride. Pride and power. And most likely personal gain. The future wouldn't matter to them if their present was threatened. Ultimately though, the truth tends to get out. Then those, whether living or dead would be mocked and reviled for their dogged determination to keep the population in the dark. Their reputations ruined and in tatters.”

 

“I would think the benefit of the people would matter over self. I do not understand that sort of short sighted thinking.” Thranduil said disapprovingly.

 

“That’s because you were raised well and think of your position as one of serving the people rather than ruling them. You’d also be surprised by how many think just the opposite of that.” Aiwendil smiled. He knew they were both forces for the Light. And only he could see how pure their Flame Imperishable was.

 

“I have a question for you though I don’t know if you can answer it. The Glittering Caves. They came alive when my wife was inside them. And only when she was inside of them. They lit up as with an inner flame and a great music sounded. She never went back after that first time and I went back several times, even with our children and it never happened again.”

 

Aiwendil looked thoughtful for a moment and then shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know the answer to your question. I am ainu but am not privy to all my Lords and Ladies counsels or plans.”

 

“But you think they may have been involved with what happened, don’t you?” Thranduil asked shrewdly.

 

“It doesn't matter what I think or don’t think. I don’t know the facts and without those I can’t make an assessment no matter how much I may want to or how much you need to know. I do believe that eventually all will be made clear. That I can attest to.”

 

“I’m sorry to hear that, but understand that’s all I can expect at this time.” Thranduil said in disappointment.

 

“Please don’t be so disconsolate, my friend. I am here for now and can at least help your wife in learning how to control that which she’s always used. Even though now it is inherent within herself rather than a physical focal point.”

 

“Personally, that is what would be most helpful to me at the moment. I truly fear that I will do something unpleasant in an unguarded moment.”

 

“I think that highly unlikely given your character, however I understand your concern. It is something you need to learn about in any case. You’ve only ever used the crystals on a surface level. They are capable of so much more but you never found a time or need to explore them on a deeper level. Now is the time to do so.”

 

“Thank you Wendil. That eases my mind. I would that my wife is content with her new, eh, abilities as much as it is possible for her.”

 

“You mean you want me to have control so I don’t disappear you, my love.”

 

“That too. I wouldn’t wish to be in a disagreement with you and find myself flung into the Belegaer.”

 

Aiwendil laughed merrily and smirked, “Well, you’d be halfway to Aman and could very well swim the rest of the way!”

 

“There is that.” Thranduil replied dryly with a lifted brow, not sure he appreciated the maia’s humor.

 

Vallis, on the other hand, decided she liked this Ainu, or what ever he was. And in deciding she liked him she also decided to trust him. She would not regret that decision.

 

Chapter Text

Aiwendil became a permanent fixture at the Halls after that and the elves in the Halls were rather sanguine about having their own resident ainu on site. The maia spent quite a bit of his time out in the forest communing with the wildlife there and all the creatures instinctively knew him. The wildest and most territorial creatures would be tame and gentle in his presence. For this reason the elves who lived in the villages surrounding the area in the North appreciated his presence.

 

On one occasion a hive that had resided for years on a particular branch had come tumbling down when the branch had been weakened during a particularly brutal spring storm. When the branch came down the hive had been destroyed and the bees had swarmed in panic and rage.

 

The hive had been located near a village and no one could go near the swarm that looked to have no signs of abating anytime soon. Of course, Aiwendil happened by and tut-tutted over the bees distress and informed the queen where a good location for their new hive could be built. Within a day the bees were gone and happily occupied with building their new hive. He even brought their old hive and set it near so they wouldn’t lose their supply of honey.

 

But he also took his lessons with Vallis seriously and he taught her how to manage her new abilities. Mostly that entailed teaching her to manage her emotions. Vallis hoped he didn’t expect her to give up her emotions. When she brought that up he was shocked that she should think such a thing.

 

“All emotions are given to us for a reason, friend, Vallis! Therefore they are important. I think dwelling on a negative emotion is perhaps unhealthy. But it could be that you need to dwell to work your way through it. To understand it. If you find yourself ever stuck like that I would focus on why your stuck. There is always a reason. It might not be a good reason, but you need to know that too.”

 

This evening the three of them were in the sitting room, the children already having been put to bed. Thranduil was going over correspondence that he really should have done earlier, but was trying to play catch up now. Aiwendil, noticing his inattention, narrowed his eyes and lifted a brow in annoyance.

 

“That goes for you too, Thranduil.” and then had to smother a grin as the king looked at him bleary eyed, clearly bored out of his skull. Whatever he was reading must be dry, indeed.

 

“What?”

 

“Don’t think this doesn’t apply to you as well, my friend.” the maia said knowing perfectly well the king hadn’t been listening to a word of their conversation. What he didn’t expect was Vallis quickly filling him in. Silently.

 

Staring for a second, Thranduil then said, “Why?’

 

Nonplussed, Aiwendil blinked and said, “Why what?”

 

Impatient now, Thranduil said, “Why do I have to examine my emotions? You are trying to teach my wife how to be aware of her emotional state so she may or may not use her now inherent abilities. What has that to do with me?”

 

“Well, you don’t think you’re any different do you?”

 

“Yes, of course I do. I don’t have any inherent abilities such as my wife.”

 

“Don’t you?”

 

Thranduil put his hand to his eyes, a clear indication he was irritated, “Please Wendil. I’m really not in the mood for puzzles or guessing games. Just out with your point.”

 

“You’re a fire-mage. At the very least. You may not use it to its full potential and I would bet that’s not all you can do, but in a very real sense you are just as powerful as your wife.”

 

Thranduil stared at the maia for a moment and then it was clear he completely dismissed it as preposterous. “That’s not true. I am merely old. All older elves have greater abilities than the young. Look at Lady Galadriel. I’m sure Círdan has amazing abilities.”

 

“No Thranduil. They do not. If such were possible and you were to come to challenge Lady Galadriel I assure you you’d be the victor in that match. Though, knowing her abilities, she would see it in her Mirror and avoid the confrontation altogether. And while Círdan is a worthy ellon, he has no inherent abilities that I am aware of. And I’m aware of most things concerning Ennor. I’ve had to be. You’ll note that I parked myself in your forest and not on the shoreline of Mithlond.”

 

Thranduil opened his mouth to argue then clamped it closed as certain things that he’d wondered about in the past came to the forefront. How Lady Galadriel had queried him on being closed in a new way when he’d gone to get his wife. Had he been closed in a different way before he'd wed? He hadn't even been aware that she made a habit of mining people’s minds on a regular basis. That seemed rather rude to him. As Vallis had pointed out, bad manners.

 

Then there was his awareness of everything that happened within his forest. His sensitivity to the forest and it’s pain. He had assumed it was something that had happened when he became king. Had he felt this connected to it beforehand. He'd always felt connected to it. He had felt more connected to the forests of Doriath, truth be told.

 

And then there was the fire magic. He’d been able to do it in small ways since he was very young. He’d never tried it inside Menegroth, but he’d never forget the time he was no more than an elfling and had thought it would be nice to go wadding in a pond out in the forest. It had been so cold he’d wished it was warmer and before long it had heated up enough that it had prematurely hatched the fish eggs and the ensuing frost that had often happened in the early spring had killed all the fish and they’d not been able to fish from that pond that summer when his father had taken him out to that favorite spot. His father had been disappointed and Thranduil hadn’t dared to tell his adar he thought it might be his fault. But it had frightened him enough that he’d never tried it again.

 

That is until he was much older and on a whim had held a handful of water and was able to conjure a flame from it. And when he’d designed these Halls before he’d moved his people here he’d said a spell he hadn’t known he knew over the Halls and the water in certain areas had been heated ever since. But only in relation to the water sources for the bathing pools and the kitchens as he knew they’d also need cold water. That spell had been said over three millennia ago and still was as strong as the day he’d whispered it.

 

Meeting the eyes of the maia he merely said softly, “I didn’t know.”

 

“I know, elfling. Why would you. You hid most of your abilities and convinced yourself while you were still an elfling that you weren’t anything special. I’m surprised that you didn’t confide in your parent’s though.” Aiwendil mused.

 

“I...I think I was afraid. I always wanted to please them and I was afraid I was doing something wrong. Especially after I heated the pond in the forest and because of me all the fish hatched early and then died in the frost. My adar was so disappointed by the empty fishing pond that I knew I’d done something wrong.”

 

“How old were you when that happened Thranduil?”

 

“I think I was around Dami’s age. Maybe a little younger, though not as young as the twins.”

 

“Oh! My poor love. You were just a little boy!” Vallis exclaimed, her mother’s heart wept for that little boy, so young and scared of the power he’d wielded and afraid to tell his father because he’d just wanted to be a good boy and make his father proud.

 

“Oh, I’m ok now, my love. It was a very long time ago.” he smiled.

 

“Yes, but something like that can leave a scar on a child. The power you had frightened you and you hid it. Buried it. Though I’m not surprised. In fact, it might not have been a bad move. It would have made you stand out and elves who stood out back then didn’t live very long.” Aiwendil mused.

 

“So, you are saying he is like me. In fact, unlike me, he was born this way. What of our children?”

 

“I would just be aware of them. Watch to see if they display any unusual abilities and then we’ll go from there. I would not wish what happened to Thranduil to happen to them. Rather they should be led gently into knowing about them and the wise use of them.”

 

“Oh, I hope they didn’t inherit it.” Thranduil exclaimed worriedly.

 

“It will be fine, Thranduil. They are your children and that means you’ll love them no matter what they are like. I take it your son didn’t display such?”

 

“Legolas? No! Not that I know of, though he’s always been more sensitive to the forest than his friends. I just thought that was because he was the prince, as I was prince to my father. I always assumed my father could do all I could as King.”

 

“Perhaps he could. You had to have gotten it from somewhere. But if you parents didn’t have it and your children don’t then that makes you the lone aberration in your family. And no, I don’t know if that means anything. Perhaps Father Eru had or has a purpose for you alone that is not apparent to us as of yet.”

 

"Wait! What about the light orb? Can all elves do that or is that something unique to Thranduil as well. He could make them very easily and Legolas can conjure the light but can't make the orb yet."

 

"Elves have the glow of the eldar. Their inner light. I'm sure you've noticed they glow in the dark. But I wasn't aware that any could create a light orb. Even the firstborn in Aman created lights that were amazing, but couldn't produce a light from their own person. Show me, would you, please?"

 

And Thranduil brought up his hand, closed it and then opened it to show a perfect blue-white sphere that he sent aloft. Aiwendil got up and touched it as it hovered and found it cool to his touch and not a aspect of flame. It was also something that had form and could be touched. 

 

"Can you direct it?" 

 

"Oh yes!" And Thranduil sent it all over the room higher, lower and could even make it hover over the maia's head.

 

"And you can make go out?"

 

"Of course." And with a flick of his hand if poofed out of existence without a trace it had ever been.

 

"And you say that your son shows the same ability?"

 

"Well, he can bring up the light now, but he can't make the orb yet. But he will. It took me a while before I was able to do it."

 

"How did you know you could?"

 

"My adar could do it and he taught me just like I'm teaching Legolas."

 

"So it does come from your father! Yes! You must explore this much further. It's a shame, really. It seems to run in your family and yet no one thought it a special gift nor explored it further. We will work to see exactly everything you can do. And you must tell me everything you feel as you do it!" Aiwendil enthused, quite excited to have discovered a strain of strong magic in an elven family.

 

“Oh joy.” Thranduil murmured, and then, “So now what? Are you trying to tell me I have to have lessons too?”

 

“Yes, Thranduil. I am. You have a lot of power and it’s a completely natural, wild and untrained power. You are very lucky that no further mishap than spoiling a fishing pond for a season happened in your life.”

 

“It wasn’t just for a season. The adults had to stock the pond to build up the population again. It was left alone for several years so the fish could gain a foothold in their new environment.” Thranduil said sadly.

 

“Thranduil! You were just a little boy. How could you possibly know that wishing for warmer water would do what it did? You must forgive yourself. You never did it again. You didn’t go out and boil all the fish in the waterways just to see if you could or as a prank or to show off to your friends. You felt bad for the fish. For your father’s disappointment.” and then Vallis’ eyes widened, “Beloved! Tell me. You didn’t feel them die did you?”

 

“When they froze? Yes and no? I could feel it when they went to sleep, but I knew they would never wake up again.”

 

“Were you in the forest when that happened?” Aiwendil asked.

 

“No. It was during the night and I was in my bed. It woke me up. I cried myself back to sleep.”

 

“Eru! That is too much for a child to bear. I’m surprised the Queen didn’t feel your distress and address it back then.” Aiwendil exclaimed and Vallis and Thranduil could feel his disapproval.

 

“Wendil, I’m fine. Both of you. I’m fine. I haven’t been that elfling for a long time now. And why would Queen Melian bother with a distressed elfling. I imagine she thought it was up to my parents to comfort me. I think you make too much of this.”

 

“On the contrary. I think not enough was done back then. For powerful magic was used within her realm that she should have felt and she would have known where it originated. She didn’t investigate it nor did she comfort a distressed child who used it unknowingly and was so sensitive to the happenings in the forest that he felt it when a pond of fish he’d enchanted froze to death.” he had to visibly calm himself, “But I’ll honor your wishes and let that go for the moment. Being that it was that strong when you were a child and being that you heat this entire realm without breaking a sweat we need to explore just what the nature of your own gift is.”

 

“I liked this a lot better when all I was afraid of was finding myself in the Belegaer if my wife lost patience with me.” Thranduil grumbled.

 

“Well, there is a saying on my world, ‘Misery loves Company.’ I think it means that our troubles are better if they are shared.” Vallis said only half truthfully. And her husband immediately caught the real origin of the saying.

 

“No it doesn’t! It means that miserable people are made to feel better if they know other people are miserable. You think sharing this misery will make you feel better about it if we are both miserable together. Shame on you, beloved!”

 

“I can’t tell you how wonderful you both make me feel that my teachings are considered by both of you to be a misery.” and then laughed as both looked apologetic, but didn’t contradict him.

 

And deep in Thranduil’s mind in a place that not even the maia was aware of, was the uneasy feeling that Menegroth had come up yet again in his life. Why did reminders of that lost land keep popping up?

 

 

Chapter Text

Later in their bedroom, Vallis and Thranduil lay in each other’s arms silently talking about the events of that evening and everything Aiwendil had said to them especially concerning his thoughts on Thranduil.

 

“I don’t understand all this fuss made over events that happened when I was a child.” and Vallis could hear and feel his irritation though their bond.

 

“He seemed quite upset that your Queen didn’t intervene. If he could feel something from you even from a great distance that he made his way here to your forest, why couldn’t she sense something within the very walls of a city?”

 

“They are Maia. Perhaps their senses are not as finely tuned as that of the Valar.”

 

“What difference does that make? I don’t understand the difference.”

 

Here Thranduil struggled to explain, “Maybe it’s a matter of rank? When my father was king here oaths were sworn and there is a certain magic involved with oaths sworn to the people and land. As a prince I noticed a link formed between myself and the land that wasn’t there before he swore the oath. After he was lost and I was made king and swore the oath myself the link deepened. Perhaps it is the same with them. We know the Valar are much more powerful than the Maia and the maiar serve the valar. I believe Aiwendil serves the vala Yavanna as my former queen served her sister Vána. And those ainu all served the purpose of tending to the growing things of Arda.”

 

“So these, what did you call them? Ainu? Are all deities and they tend to different parts of the physical world? Like elementals?”

 

“Yes, but there are also ones that influence the people here too. There is Mandos, who is also named Námo, and one of the Fëanturi, who sees all and is the keeper of our fëa, our souls, when we die. And all souls pass through his Halls. The souls of men leave the circles of the world, but they go to him first, nonetheless. He has two siblings, Nienna and Irmo. And while their brother manages the souls of those who perish on this world, those two deal with the pain, loss, grief, courage, endurance and healing with those still living. Estë is wed to Irmo and both heal the hurts of the spirit. Vairë the Weaver is wed to Mandos and records the events of the world.”

 

“Husband, this is very strange to me to hear that elementals exist and influence your world. That they also have siblings and spouses is just….odd to me.”

 

“Yet you have met one of them. Aiwendil is a Maia. A deity, if you will. There are fourteen of the Valar. Seven male and seven female. Most are wed to one another and there are only two that are solitary. And there are thousands of Maiar on Arda, maybe more. Not all of them even take a physical form.”

 

“And they’ve been here the whole time and what? Interfere with your people?”

 

“In the time before the elves awoke there was one of their own, a powerful Vala, who had gone rogue. It is said that he caused disharmony even during the Great Music of the Ainur which created this world. It is also said that all the events that have occurred on this world is just the music unfolding. Playing out a song that was sung eons ago. Regardless, it became clear to them that he was only out to commit mischiefs upon the world for he destroyed everything they created. They would raise mountains and he would throw them down. They would create great lamps and he would extinguish them. He was pretty much a contrarian. And by his works they judged him and they greatly feared for us, the firstborn, and that is when they created Aman, a land they hoped to bring us to so as to protect us from the malice of their brother.”

 

“So if it hadn’t been for this rogue, they would have left your people in peace?”

 

“Yes. I believe so. Don’t think it hasn’t occurred to us that a lot of woes would have been prevented if they had just reigned in their wayward brother. They even had him jailed for a time and they released him for he convinced them he had changed. That is when he created his worst mischief which in turn unleashed the worst woes in our history which included the three kinslayings. And he very nearly conquered our entire land before the Valar finally intervened. But in their intervention our land was destroyed and sent beneath the waves.”

 

“And you saw all this?”

 

“Aye. I was there. The foul beasts that were unleashed were terrifying. And the Valar were rather spectacular in their rage. All we could do as a people was to get out of their way lest we be slain.” And he shared with her some of the images from that time and Vallis was appalled at what she saw. It was like some nightmare come to life. She could even feel his youthful terror for his very life and the lives of his family as his father tried to shield his son and wife from monstrous debris being flung about by the behemoths that kicked up boulders the size of hills in their grappling with the glorious beings that themselves were the size of giants.

 

“Good grief, husband. That was monstrous. It is a wonder that any of you survived at all.”

 

“A lot didn’t. But more than I would have thought possible did, only to be wiped out at the battle of the last alliance where two thirds of my people were slaughtered including my beloved adar.”

 

Vallis could feel something was gnawing at him and questioned him about it. She thought at first he would refuse to explain, but then complied, “Beloved, I’m confused with how many times of late my homeland is being brought to my mind. In dreams. In conversations. I swear I’ve gone an Age, easily, without thinking about it or it being brought up in conversations and of late it has almost become a daily occurrence and I am uneasy.”

 

“Dreams? Isn’t one of those deities in charge of dreams? Do you think they are trying to send you a message?”

 

“Irmo, yes. And that only increases my uneasiness. Why now? Why at all? That land is lost!”

 

“Maybe they are trying to help you with what Aiwendil is talking to you about now? Maybe now that all is quiet they are taking notice of you?”

 

“That doesn’t ease my mind, beloved. I have been ignored and dismissed most of my life and while there were times I could have used assistance in fighting the enemy, it has also been a rather uneventful existence and that suits me quite well.”

 

Thinking that over, a thought occurred to Vallis, “Husband. I find it hard to fathom that a maia was able to sense you across the land and so took up residence to keep an eye on you, but one that resided within a city was unable to discern you, especially if these oaths of fealty to the land and people are part of leadership with your people.”

 

“What are you saying, my love?”

 

“I’m not precisely saying anything. Just supposing. Like, just suppose your queen actually did take note of you. Of your family. Do you suppose that perhaps she was able to, I don’t know, hide you? You said she had foresight. Could she have foreseen you’d need to be hidden lest the wrong sort took notice of you?”

 

“Beloved, I just don’t understand all this fuss. I’m nothing special. A leader of a people that the Powers probably don’t even consider eldar. I don’t believe that I rate any notice!” and Vallis detected some real fear in his thoughts now. And she understood. Bad things happened to people the Powers of his world took note of.

 

“Well, I’m here, beloved. They brought me to you - specifically. They said I was your Ring. So they did take note of you. Provided assistance to you.”

 

“Yes, and that’s more interference than I would have thought I rated. But that really wasn’t about me, was it? It was about saving my people. And don’t get me wrong. I have been most happy and content with my life since you’ve entered it. I can’t imagine my life without you. It’s just that now that everything has settled strange things seem to be happening to us both. You with your crystals. Me with, whatever Wendil thinks is going on there.” and he sighed deeply and both decided that such questions would have to wait to be answered later. For now sleep was much more appealing and they snuggled closer and allowed rest to come upon them.

 

~0~

 

Aiwendil had gone out into the forest after the royal couple had gone to their rest for he’d felt a Call that he had to answer. Traveling quickly, he made his way deeply into the bosom of the forest until he came upon a glade that even most of the inhabitants didn’t know about. There he found Yavanna awaiting him and he knelt before his Lady.

 

As he stood the water from the pond rippled and Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, revealed himself, though not in the terrifying form he took while in his usual domain of the vast seas. Here he showed himself in face and form more like his fellow Vala, tall with silver hair, grey eyes and raiment that resembled iridescent silver fish scales. But it was Yavanna who spoke first.

 

“Well, what have you discovered?”

 

“It is as we suspected. The ellon is vastly powerful, though how this went overlooked until now is a mystery to me. Is it possible that Melian concealed him? Indeed his whole family? For it also appears that it is something within the family. He recalls his father being as he is and also his son shows signs that he also has some of the father’s abilities. Though neither has the fire-mage power that this one does.”

 

“And what of his wife? Has she adapted to her new abilities?”

 

“She is clever and discovered she can control them as she did when they were in their inert form and just a focus for her. I believe it comforts her to think of them in the same way and that their uses are mostly are as they were before. She just hasn’t discovered the depth she has changed yet, for she never explored how powerful the crystals were to begin with.”

 

“But you think she will be at ease with the power she has at her fingertips now?”

 

“Yes. And she doesn’t want it. She already wishes it blocked so she has no access to it, which is a good sign.”

 

“Indeed. People who don’t want power are the very ones who should have it. They are less likely to abuse it.” Yavanna smiled in approval.

 

“Speaking of, I don’t know that this ellon will wish what we have in store for him.” Aiwendil frowned for he knew he had a long road ahead of him.

 

“Do you think he will refuse?”

 

“Not if we can offer the right incentive. And I hate the thought of manipulating him, but a gentle nudge may be needed for his cooperation.”

 

“What of this son you spoke of? Can he be moved to our cause?” Yavanna asked.

 

“That is the thing, you see. Right now we do not hold any incentive for him. But the son has the Sea Longing. And the son will not leave until his friend passes from this world. That won’t be long. A century at most. And he’s already been granted permission to bring his dwarf friend when the time comes for him to answer the Call. Once the son is gone the father will strongly begin to think of following. We know that the wife cannot come and what will happen if she does. That will be the time to show our hand. I’m sure we’ll get his assent for that part. And after we get him there…..Then that will be the time we reveal our plans for him.”

 

“I like not this deceit with which you plan to manipulate this ellon, Aiwendil.” Ulmo spoke up for the first time, his tone one of disapproval.

 

But the maia protested, “My Lord! With all due respect, it’s not so much manipulation as a matter of timing when certain things are revealed to him. He is already receiving the dreams from Irmo and I am here to train him in the discovery and use of his power. Timing is essential to get his assent on the other. There is also the matter of the remaining eldar. We know from the Music that the Time of Men is at hand. Once the King of Gondor is gone the memory of the firstborn will begin to fade.

 

“All the remaining eldar must be convinced to leave with their King. The ellon that leads a portion of them in the South already begins to yearn for his wife. He will sail soon and those he leads will either leave with him or they will come North to mix with this last bastion of the eldar on Arda. And those that reside here may love their forest but they love their King even more. Should he choose to sail they will follow him. That must be encouraged for I would not these good people to fade here and be lost.” Aiwendil concluded.

 

“Very well. I can see you are trying to tread carefully with him and are trying to save not only him but all those remaining of the firstborn. But I will not countenance lying to him.” the sea vala warned.

 

“I’ll not lie to him. Just chose my time in revealing all. He’s a good one. I believe he’ll make the decision we hope for. Is a century enough time for you both of you to be ready?”

 

The two Vala exchanged a glance and then looked back at the Maia and nodded. “Is there aught else, My Lady? My Lord?”

 

“Nay! You have our leave to go, Aiwendil.” Yavanna nodded in dismissal and the maia bowed and left the two Vala.

 

“So you approve of his plans, sister?” Ulmo asked with a lifted brow after the maia had made his departure.

 

“We were directed to bring The Damian here by our Father. It will be a cruel thing to take her from the ellon. This is the only solution that doesn’t separate them.”

 

“But it interferes in her destiny.”

 

“Does it? Her destiny was interfered with when Father Eru chose her for this ellon. And time is relative. Eventually we all will return to our Father.”

 

“I see what you are saying and I will agree. It will be done, sister.” And so saying the Lord of Waters returned to the pond and sank beneath its surface. The remaining Vala faded from sight as she called upon the Winds of her brother to carry her back to Aman.

 

Chapter Text

The next few decades passed with very little in the way of upheaval in the Woodland Realm. The only occurrence of note was when Lord Celeborn decided to sail to Aman and join his wife, taking many of the former Galadhrim with him. He had thought to leave the rule to his grandsons, but they refused saying they wished to spend their time in Gondor to be with their sister now that Imladris was gone.

 

Celeborn understood this and left his former captain in charge. Haldir and his brothers took charge of the remaining Galadhrim that now resided in the Southern Reaches of Lasgalen. But as more men began settling in the Anduin Valley, which included clear cutting of trees from that area, the man-shy elves, not used to dealing with any but their own kind, decided to move further North to join with their long sundered kin.

 

However, if they thought to escape dealing with the second-born, they were shocked to discover their northern kin had much more dealings with them then they could have ever thought possible. But from speaking with their Lasgalen counterparts they discovered they could minimize the contact by locating themselves deeply within the forest.

 

The second-born still feared the forest enough they very rarely, if ever, ventured within the woods and stayed on the path. Regardless of their reasons the fact of the matter was that the last elves in Ennor now centralized themself in a single geographical location. And those interested in the elves movements approved of this situation as it eliminated the logistical problem of a scattered population. And the elves had done it on their own.

 

Aiwendil had been pleased at how things had fallen into place all on their own and kept his own counsel with regards to encouraging those of the eldar to sail. He knew all he had to do was bide his time until the King’s eldest son sailed and he foresaw it wouldn’t be but a few more decades and the King of Gondor would decide it was time for him to leave the circles of the world. Perhaps as long as a century or two after that the king would wish to sail and join his son.

 

But that time was not yet and the King’s younger children were themselves older now. Damianiel was just a few years from her coming of age and Mírphen and Mírchil were in their adolescent years and not nearly the handful Vallis had thought they’d be. In everything Thranduil had told her and what she’d observed herself, she’d discovered that besides filling their little heads with practical knowledge, elves pretty much raised themselves.

 

So while Thranduil said they weren’t yet grown, they already could be trusted to many things on their own that Vallis would never have thought possible for children they physically resembled. But it had eased her mind, as well. They were logical and smart enough to realize there just some things they weren’t capable of yet and they didn’t even bother arguing about it.

 

They knew one day they would be allowed to do the things they wished and rather than whine about waiting they spent their time perfecting their knowledge for the time they would be allowed to fend for themselves. Not surprisingly, the brothers wanted to be foresters and their sister wished to be a healer and their parents weren’t surprised at all. They’d all shown the leanings they were choosing while still young.

 

In the meantime, Aiwendil had begun to rethink his original assessment that the King was a fire-mage. Oh, he still wondered about it and he suspected something was there. One didn’t just scoop up a handful of water and set a flame as though lighting a candle wick without there being some talent there. And why water?

 

Aiwendil had never witnessed the King lighting the hearth in any way that wasn’t the usual way. But when asked to show the fire talent he’d used water. Wendil was essentially an earth ainu. That was his talent and purpose. But he’d known the fire ainu and none of them used water to ignite a flame. The two seemed diametrically opposed if he thought about it.

 

But what Thranduil had dismissed so casually was something that had begun to pique his interest. The light-casting. For a light-mage was even more rare than a fire-mage and this ellon had displayed the aspect of both. And he had Vallis’ offhand comment to thank for that.

 

Legolas had come home for Yule one year and had proudly displayed an orb for his father. Thranduil had been duly pleased with his son, “Oh, well done, my son! Now practice until you can do this.” and displaying an orb of his own and as he cast it aloft, he placed his hands together in front of him and then spread them wide and the orb split until it was many obs hanging there like a string of glowing pearls.

 

“Ada!” Legolas exclaimed in reproach, and Thranduil had only chuckled in response. “Fret not, my son. My adar did the same to me as I stood before him with my own orb accomplishment. He was only trying to show me that more could be accomplished than by the mere conjuring. Now you can play with it like I did. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find ways to conjure them that I never thought of.”

 

“Have you ever tried to change their color?” Vallis asked in curiosity, for she saw something no one else did.

 

“What do you mean, my love?” Thranduil asked in confusion.

 

“Well, you know of my crystals. And you know what clear crystals can do with the light. What you are both conjuring is all the colors. I just wondered if you’ve tried to separated the light into its component refractions.”

 

Thranduil looked thoughtful a moment and then grinned, “I know which one I want to try.” And he closed his eyes as though to picture what he wanted and then concentrated on it. Suddenly his chain of blue-white orbs turned violet and the markings on Vallis’ face glowed in response.

 

“Oh, well done, ada! I think the markings on naneth’s face are ever so lovely.” and Vallis, herself, laughed at them both, for that’s not what she would have brought up, but then again, she never thought of her rank insignia as a thing of beauty as they did. But his ability to turn the visible into the infrared spectrum was interesting to her. It seemed they had more in common than she thought.

 

But while she saw this as a powerful manifestation of science and his ability to manipulate and control his surrounded environment, Thranduil merely looked upon it as an amusing and sometimes useful parlour trick. A game. But when Thranduil had changed the light with such apparent ease, Aiwendil had taken notice and had filed this bit of information away with the other bits and pieces he’d gleaned over the years. He had a couple of ideas but he needed verification.

 

“Well, that tells me that your light orbs are more than a way for you to light a cavern if you’re able to separate the light into its separate spectrums. I’d like to work on it with you to see what you can do with it, husband.”

 

But Thranduil suddenly looked uncomfortable with this suggestion and demurred, diverting the conversation back to his son, “So tell me son. How long did you work on your light until you were able to form the orb?”

 

Legolas knew what his father was doing, but decided to play along, “I’ve been able to do it for awhile. Gimli badgered me until I was able to form it after your visit to Aglarond.”

 

“That was thirty years ago, son.”

 

“Oh, I wasn’t able to do it until, what? About five years ago. I honestly almost rode home then to show you, but I was needed in Ithilien then and it just settled down there recently. There was a terrible drought and I thought we’d lose all our work. We had to divert a channel from the Anduin to get some much needed water into some of the areas of the forest that were becoming a fire danger. Luckily were were able to save it.

 

“Well, I’m glad you were able to save the wood. It was coming along very well from what I saw. Do you think you might be coming home anytime soon?”

 

“That’s hard for me to answer, ada. I want to be home now. But I feel better when I’m there. I also see that my friends are aging and won’t be long for this world. Soon they will be no more.”

 

And Thranduil seeing that he was going to lose his son soon was grieved for he wanted him home while his son had the strength to fight the Sea Longing. But he could understand the loyalty and friendship that kept his son close to his mortal friends. They were finite and he wouldn’t get that time back if he tarried too long at home. Thranduil just didn’t know if he’d be ready to sail, if he sailed at all, when the time came for his son leave these shores for good.

 

~0~

 

Several more decades passed and Legolas by now made frequent trips home. His father worried for him as he never seemed to stay in one location for long but was back on the road again. But he was there when Damianiel reached her coming of age and he was there when his brothers, Mírphen and Mírchil reached theirs ten years later. Legolas strongly suspected that by the time they finished their growth his brothers would be taller than he himself.

 

His sister would probably be about his height. Legolas wasn’t small, for the eldar, but he wasn’t as tall as his father. And his father said he hadn’t been as tall as his own adar and Legolas wondered if there was something in Ennor that caused the eldar to diminish if they remained.

 

But whatever thoughts he had weren’t relevant to his siblings and he suspected it was their mother’s offworlder blood that helped them to thrive in ways that many of his own generation didn’t. How every succeeding generation seemed just a bit smaller than their sires.

 

But it was on another visit that had concerned his family, for Legolas was beginning to show the strain of the Sea Longing. But in speaking with him it was more than that. His friends were beginning to succumb to age. King Éomer had passed the previous autumn and his son, Elfwine, had succeeded his father to become King of Rohan. That news had reached them in the Halls. Thranduil had sent his condolences for the passing and his acknowledgement and support of the young King’s Reign, as protocol required.

 

But Legolas had also related that the periannath, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took had come to Gondor for the last time and there they passed beyond the circles of the world. Samwise Gamgee had sailed a couple of years before after the death of his wife, so of the Nine Walkers that had made up their company, only Legolas, Gimli and the King of Gondor remained.

 

Thranduil then understood that once the King of Gondor was gone, his son would leave. Elessar was of the old Númenórean royal line and would be longer lived, but even he would fail one day soon. And Gandalf had informed his son before he’d sailed himself that Legolas would be able to bring his friend Gimli to Aman when it was his time to sail. Thranduil then knew that his son might not be there for the Century Celebrations of his siblings and that thought saddened him.

 

~0~

 

The next thirty years were ones of restlessness and turmoil for Thranduil as he constantly fretted over his eldest son and no one within the family could calm him. Twenty years after the passing of King Éomer and the periannath friends of Legolas, came word of the death of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien. Thranduil did his duty as King by offering his condolences and acknowledging his son,   Elboron as Prince of Ithilien and Steward of the Reunited Kingdom.

 

And while this Son of Gondor had not been of the Nine, still he’d played an important role in the War of the Ring as it was now recalled. Thranduil knew that the days of his son remaining in Ennor were truly numbered for his friend Gimli had given over rule of the Glittering Caves to his named heir as he’d never married. And he had left with his friend to travel the land as they had always promised one another they would do during their travels as members of the Nine Walkers.

 

Aiwendil did his best to soothe the King’s ruffled feathers with regards to his wandering son, but Thranduil was having none of it.

 

“Wendil, with all due respect, you’re not a father. You have no idea what the parent child bond does to a parent when their child is hurting and there’s nothing they can do about it!”

 

“That’s not quite fair. I don’t like see any in pain. And I know that it pains you to know that your son will someday sail, but you wont lose him to death. There is always the possibility of seeing him again.”

 

“Only if I leave these shores myself. And why is that? Why is it that it’s our hand that is being forced? Why is it that the eldar are the ones who have to give up our place in this world? We are bound to it forever and there’s nothing we can do about it. It is we who feel a connection to it, much more than the second born. And I do not discount their place here, I’m only saying they are not bound to it as we are. Their souls leave the circles of the world and yet we are the ones who are forced to leave and sail to Aman. Why is that, Wendil?”

 

“I don’t know, Thranduil. I’m only a maia and not privy to the counsel of my Lords and Ladies.”

 

Thranduil’s brows came down in a mighty frown, because it seemed more and more this was the response of the unhelpful ainu. “Yes. So you’ve said. Many times. You seem remarkably uninformed for one of the wise.”

 

“Please don’t assume it’s because I’m keeping something from you. I’ve been here all these years. And I’m not altogether sure the Sea Longing is something that is within the power of the Valar. It may be something directly from Father Eru and only He knows His reasons for it.”

 

“The enemy we’ve fought for so long is gone and now should be a time of peace to enjoy what we fought for for so long. But my son, who had a direct hand in the ending of that tale is afflicted and finds no peace. How is that fair?”

 

“He’s not the only one who didn’t have a happy ending to his tale. The Ring-Bearer had to leave at the same time as my brother and the other ring bearers. They all had to leave their kin and family. Your son may very well find joy in Aman. It is the last elvenhome, after all. The place were all elves must one day go.”

 

Thranduil knew the maia was trying to make him feel better, but all he’d managed to do was to set a stone of discontent within the King’s heart. As Thranduil got up to leave, the maia rose to go after him, but the Queen shook her head no. This wasn’t a matter for the maia. This was something only she could assist with and she went to follow her husband.

 

When she caught up with him, he was already within their chambers and out on their balcony overlooking his beloved forest. When she approached him she could see from his profile the tears tracing down his cheek. She went and leaned against him to offer him what comfort she could and that he would accept. As it happened, he would accept quite a bit of comfort from her and she proceeded to comfort him the rest of the night.

 

~0~

 

As the King of Gondor became aged Legolas knew his time in Ennor was drawing short. He also knew no matter how hard he tried to resist the Sea Longing, his friend Gimli also had a finite period of time left in this world. And he had made a promise!

 

Still, he had made it home for his sister’s Century Celebration and marveled at the beauty she had become. And as her brother, he’d begun to worry about the ellyn that would glance longingly at her. He didn’t know who she was meant for, but he certainly wouldn’t allow any unwanted attentions towards his beloved sister. And once again he cursed the day he’d heard the gulls at Pelargir, though he would not have changed one of his actions or decisions on that quest close to a Century ago. He firmly believed it had unfolded as should have and any deviation would have sunk the whole and doomed the world to darkness.

 

A decade later he’d also been there for his brother’s Century Celebration and that decade had just given the two another growth spurt. They were actually taller than their adar now and it was whispered they resembled the mighty elf lords of old and even Thranduil couldn’t argue that. Except for those beautiful eyes they had, the color which they alone bore, they were his very image and he was as proud as any father had ever been of his sons. All of his sons. And he was like a proud peacock when he would hear it spoken of the beauty and majesty of the Thranduilionnath. Yes, indeed! Those were his sons they were speaking of!

 

And then word had come to him while he was yet at the Halls that the King of Gondor had taken to his bed and wasn’t expected to rise again from it. Legolas left with hasty goodbyes and made his way with all haste to Gondor to be at the side of his friend. Gimli met him as he entered Gondor and the two made their way to the King’s bedside.

 

Though he still looked hale to Legolas’ eyes he could see how weary the King was. There they spoke for some time, reliving their joys and sorrows. Their triumphs and failures. And the world they would be leaving behind. When it came down to it it was the second-born’s to do with as they would. When they bid him farewell they knew they would not see him again, though it would be several days before he departed the circles of the world.

 

When that time came, the bells of the city peeled in mourning and the two stayed only long enough for the new king to be crowned. Now would begin the reign of King Eldarion. What Legolas took away from that day was seeing the Queen and the light of the eldar had been quenched from her eyes. And Legolas knew it would only be a matter of time before she, too, left the circles of the world. And her brothers knew it as well, which is why they had spent the last century within Gondor.

 

And in a few short months the three would leave the city for the last time and she would lay herself down in what had been Lothlórien on the hill of Cerin Amroth where she and Aragorn had plighted their troth. And it was there her brothers laid her to rest and built a monument to her memory.

 

Then it was that the brothers began to ride North to join Legolas and Gimli and make their way West for the last time to take ship at Mithlond. When they were within the Anduin Valley they espied a large group of elves and with them Legolas and Gimli. King Thranduil, Queen Damiel and their children were there as well and the entire party began the solemn trek to the west.

 

The parting of Legolas and his family was heartbreakingly sad, with promises to see him soon that all knew to be false as none in his family but he felt the Longing. And then it was done and only the family of Thranduil remained upon the shore watching as the ship that carried away their beloved son and brother faded from sight.

 

Chapter Text

The King’s son had been gone for a century and the raw wound it had left on the King didn’t look like it would ever be healed. Neither did it look as though he’d ever be ready to sail. And neither did his people. Those of the Galadhrim and Woodelves of Lasgalen were settled and were well pleased with their home together. Many had made connections of blood and kin through marriage and their people, long sundered, became one again under the rule of King Thranduil.

 

Thranduil still had the joy of his wife and children but there was an ache of pain whenever he thought of his eldest son. For a very long time it had just been the two of them in a lonely world. Vallis tried to comfort her husband by reminding him that his son was now with his grandparents. Thranduil’s own mother and father.

 

“Yes, beloved. I know this in my head. But my heart feels broken, all the same.”

 

“I wish there was some way we could mend your heart, my love. Is there no question in your mind that you don’t wish to sail? We will follow you wherever you go. I hope you know that, husband.”

 

“Yes, I know this. And I don’t want you to think that my joy is somehow tarnished because my son is gone.”

 

“But it is, husband. Your joy would be complete to have your family together.”

 

“No! That’s not what I mean. Of course I’d like my whole family together. But I’ll take what joy I have right before me. In my home. In my family. That is you and the children. You are my family and I couldn’t be happier. You have been my greatest joy in life, my wife. You complete me in a way I never knew was possible.”

 

“I feel the same for you, my husband. It feels like another lifetime ago when I was on my world and all I cared about was severing the ties of our colonies like a mother bird kicking her chicks out of the nest. I felt so strongly they had to grow up on their own. I wonder if that was ever achieved, but find it is truly no longer my concern. I have a life here with you. A real life with a family I never thought would be possible. And I miss him too. That’s why I’m telling you that we will follow if that is where you wish to lead us.”

 

“I know it and I don’t know why I tarry. Every time I think that it’s perhaps time to lay the crown aside and take my family away from here something stops me and I can’t explain it.”

 

“Have you talked to Wendil about this? Perhaps he has some insight as to why you hesitate. He keeps telling you that Aman is the true home of the elves. Surely he would know why. Or if not, perhaps he could tell you what you feel is not what you think it is.”

 

“Wendil is frustrating at times. I sometimes feel he knows more than he is saying. I know he’s an ainu, but I also feel he is staying for a reason, as well. I mean, why hasn’t he sailed. His work was done when the One Ring was destroyed and its master along with it. Why does he tarry?”

 

“That I can’t answer. Have you asked him? Specifically?”

 

“No. I can’t say I have. There is still a part of me that reveres them and feel it isn’t my place to ask them their business. Or perhaps it would be more honest to say I fear the answer. Fear that we are the reason he’s staying.”

 

“Why would that bother you? You know he was curious about our oddities.”

 

“Yes, and he’s been remarkably restrained in asking about them. Yet I feel like one of those poor creatures you study.”

 

“Bacteria is not a creature, my love. It is a lifeform, yes, but they are microorganisms that don’t have feelings and are not sentient. You don’t have to feel sorry for them or fear that I hurt them. Though I have to admit that I kill lots of them.” Vallis said with amusement.

 

~0~

 

Aiwendil made his way out to the forest to meet with his Lady with the answers he hoped to get for the questions he’d had. It was the middle of winter and the snows were deep, but the maia had no trouble making his way into the now familiar glade where he saw two Vala waiting for him. But not the ones he was expecting. The maia knelt to give obeisance and was bid to rise.  With them was another he was familiar with. One of his own rank. He was confused. But this ainu had a story to tell. And tell it he did.

 

And in the telling everything became clear to Aiwendil who had been feeling like he’d been swimming in mud for a while now. When he’d done, the Vala with him told him another tale. This one was shocking to him. This also cleared up a lot of other questions he’d had, but the enormity of this tale staggered him. Frightened him. For both these truths would have to be revealed soon and one of them would not go over well.

 

When they finished Aiwendil bowed his head, “Thank you for telling me. Now what do you propose as our next course of action? For I am assuming you are telling me this now for a reason.”

 

“Yes. We are ready now. All we need is their consent. All of their consent. Most we have access to and have received their approbation. Now we must get the consent of those here. And we believe once that is obtained the rest will follow. The people here have especial love for their Monarch. We view this as an asset.”

 

“May I humbly ask for a boon?”

 

“Of course, and we already know what is in your heart. You have served us well. The answer is Yes. Though there are conditions.” And they outlined their meaning for him.

 

“I understand and accept this. And I thank you.”

 

“You are welcome. Now we must discuss how best to present this to them. And before we do that we need to tell them just what we have told you. Do you have thoughts on this.”

 

“Only that you just speak to the King and Queen first. I will prepare the way without telling them why. Is this acceptable to you?”

 

“Yes. Yes it is. Now we must determine when and where this is to take place.”

 

~0~

 

Wendil had approached the King and Queen and advised them that there were Vala that had arrived and wished an audience. Thranduil was confused, but didn’t feel as though he could refuse. He agreed that he and his wife would meet with them and merely asked when and where. Wendil asked if it would suit if they met within one of the King’s larger audience rooms. The rooms he used to meet personally with dignitaries.

 

Thranduil agreed and both he and Vallis were there at the appointed time. When they entered the room the King was shocked to find none other than Manwë, Varda and Eönwë seated at in the comfortable chairs that adorned the room. Thranduil made to get on his knees and was immediately bade stay. The King stood uncomfortably, unsure of what to do and why they were there. Then it occurred to him they were there to command him to sail and his heart clenched in a reaction he couldn’t explain.

 

Manwë was the first the speak, “You have questions and we are here to provide answers to them. First, I’d like you to listen to my Herald, Eönwë. He has a tale to tell you.”

 

“It is and is not a long story. I’ll just tell you that your grandfather Thraphen, is my son. I am your great grandsire. That is why certain talents have run through your family. Also, the reason you can’t remember certain things in your childhood is because I asked your Queen, Melian, to hide your family and to block certain of your abilities, for you showed particular adept abilities at a very young age. And I am here to remove that block, for you no longer need it.”

 

And so saying the maia waved his hand Thranduil suddenly felt as though his vision and mind clear from a long standing fog that he’d grown accustomed to over the years. The sharpness and clarity of everything frightened him at first and Eönwë told him that he’d get used to his acute senses with very little effort or time. Then the maia approached the King and put a hand on his shoulder, “I greatly look forward to getting to know you, grandson.” and so saying he kissed him upon the brow and vanished.

 

To say Thranduil was stunned would have been an understatement. And he had an unpleasant feeling this was a small drop in a bucket that was about to be dropped over his head. But then he caught the vibrant hostility radiating off his wife and turned to look at her in surprise. She was staring at Manwë with what could only be described as a murderous look. And at his questioning probe through their bond she turned and fled the room. Thranduil didn’t understand his wife’s hostility to the Vala and then he caught her thought through their bond. Eru!

 

“You! You are the ones who poisoned her world? Why would you do such a cruel and heartless thing?’

 

“It wasn’t heartless. It was a gift and it was also a test." Manwë calmly responded, "And they passed. Mostly. When we sent out a distress signal to them that our world was going to die they didn’t, as your wife told you, “Do nothing,” as she and their people were led to believe. And your wife wasn’t alone in her thinking. Their thought of doing nothing wasn’t because they were evil and wanted revenge. None of them felt that way including your wife. They merely thought it well that nothing was done to help an evil species do the same to another world. But the leaders of her world did seek to help us. They found a world for us and the means to get there. They weren’t to know we didn’t need it. So, as a species, they passed. They are worthy. They are ready to ascend to a higher plane of existence.”

 

“And what higher plane of existence is that?”

 

“Why, they will become as we are. Actually, they will become Maia and eventually will become as us. Valar.” Varda smiled serenely.

 

“And what of the worlds they’ve colonized?”

 

“Those will go on as they are. The people there will probably go through the same stages their ancestors went through. But they have started out with all the values their sires taught them were important. They will do fine. And your wife was a major factor in allowing them to progress without interference. And it is also why she cannot be allowed into Aman.” Manwë concluded and smiled sadly.

 

“But why? Do you judge her heart as wicked?” And Thranduil was confused. He had thought them here to command him to sail. Now they were telling him his wife couldn’t gain access to Aman?

 

“Nay. To the contrary, we judge her worthy. Every decision she made after the Gift was given was one of Love. Her chosen field of research. Her work to create a transport device to relocate their unaffected people. Even helping her loved one to leave the world he could no longer live in was made with Love. And she was correct in what she did in cutting the ties of the colonies to their Mother World. For the whole cannot achieve ascension while they cling to their colonies as a replacement for children. Once the ties are cut their world can focus on the spiritual aspect of themselves and then as a whole they will ascend.”

 

“But I don’t understand. Why can my wife not accompany me to Aman. Isn’t that why you are here? To command me to sail? I am her family. She is my true wife and mother to my children.”

 

“The gift given to her people resides within her and if she comes to Aman she will be cured of it, in which case all her years will come to her at once and she will die. Or she will ascend. But she will not be able to continue as she is there. That is outside of our power. And yes, we wish you to sail. No eldar can remain in Ennor. That is not part of the Music and the Music must play out.”

 

Thranduil felt his heart would break because they were telling him he’d lose her no matter what. “Why did you send her to me if you were just going to take her away again?”

 

“We are not here to take her away from you. We are here because we have come to offer another solution. One that we think you will approve of.” and as they told Thranduil what they proposed he was confused and then elated.

 

“Yes! Yes, please. That sounds perfect, especially if they all agree. I would not want this to be against their will.”

 

“Then it will be as you wish, Child of Eru.” and without another word they were gone.

 

~0~

 

Thranduil found his wife in their rooms, weeping. He went to her and took her into his arms and just allowed her to cry herself out. And when she was calm and her mind still he shared with her all they had told him. He could still feel her anger at their interference and he couldn’t say he blamed her. They weren’t asked. But he also told her that the Valar did nothing on their own. They had been directed to do such by the Creator Himself. And really, you couldn’t argue with the One who had made All.

 

“But we never believed in such. How can a Being make such a decision when those he considers his children don’t even believe in him?”

 

“The Valor never cared whether we believed in them or not. But they also didn’t hide themselves from us. Our King was married to one. It is why our Kingdom flourished when those around us lived a far simpler life. I can’t say what was better. We were protected in a way they weren’t for a long time.”

 

“You would think they would protect all of you. It was one of their own who was harming your world.”

 

“That is something that has occurred to a lot of us. Why were they even allowed here in the first place if this was to be our world. Your people on your world weren’t interfered with and as a whole you achieved such enlightenment that Eru deemed you worthy to ascend. With no Valor to teach you. But in the end, I suppose they did interfere with you, but by direction. And I still think it’s rather wondrous that your people will soon be like they are.”

 

“I suppose. But there is something else they said to you isn’t there, husband. You don’t know whether to be excited or not. I mean something other than finding out your grandfather is one of them.”

 

“Yes. They told me that you would not be allowed into Aman because of the very Gift they gave you. They said you would either ascend or you would be cured and all your years would be put onto you at once and you would perish. As you can imagine, my heart was near to breaking at the thought of losing you. And I would stay here…”

 

Vallis interrupted him, exclaiming, “But then you would never be reunited with your son and family! This is hard for me too, beloved, but I think you should go. I would not have you separated from them.”

 

Thranduil drew her close and kissed her brow, “That’s why you wouldn’t have died. You would have ascended. But they offered me another choice and I took it.”

 

“And what is that, husband?” But all he did was give her a mischievous grin.

 

“You are a terrible tease, husband!” she chided.


“Oh you know me better than that. I never tease……” And then he proceeded to show her would indeed, never tease her. At least not too much!

 

Chapter Text

Thranduil knew it would take a few years to get all prepared to leave, but he needed to tell his people that preparations needed to be made, and he wasn’t looking forward to breaking the news to them. They seemed to be quite happy right where they were. Most were those who had abandoned the Great Migration before the Sun had first risen. But the Valar had given him a timeline and he had a finite amount of time to prepare both his people and make his plans.

 

It was shortly after the visit of the Valar that Aiwendil and Damianiel approached the King and asked his blessings for they wished to wed. Thranduil just stared at them as though they had both grown a second head. Stalling for time the King said he would let them know shortly and he went in search of his wife, for Thranduil was like every male ever born, unobservant to the point of distraction and he completely depended on his wife to keep track of their domestic front.

 

When he found his wife he told her what had just occurred and demanded to know if she’d known that the two were canoodling. Vallis stared at her husband in much the same way he’d stared at the lovebirds before she burst into laughter. Thranduil, of course, was not amused.

 

“How long has this been going on?”

 

“Well, I don’t know that it was going on at all. But I have noticed the two have always spent a lot of time together. And then he started avoiding her. I think that must have been the point he realized she wasn’t a little girl anymore. But our Dami is very strong willed. If she decided he was the one for her, well, I’m not sure he stood a chance, deity or not!”

 

“So you’re saying she chose him?”

 

“I’m saying what I observed, beloved. There was a brief time that our Wendil became very uncomfortable around her and would go and hide whenever she was about. It didn’t last long because I believe our daughter tracked him down and informed him how it was going to be.”

 

“She tracked down a maia who was trying to hide? That’s actually rather impressive.” he murmured before he realized what he was saying, causing his wife to giggle.

 

“So what are you going to tell them, husband?” his wife asked and the King knew he had no choice but to give his blessings. There was nothing about Wendil that was objectionable. Plus he was a maia.

 

“How am I supposed to be the father-in-honor to a maia?” he demanded.

 

“The same way you’ll be father-in-honor to the maids our sons will one day choose. Besides, you just found out you’re one too. What’s the big deal?” And giggled again when her husband narrowed his eyes and glared at her. Walking over to kiss him on the nose, she teased, “Oh quit pouting, my love, or your face will stay like that and you’ll scare our people.” Causing him to quirk a smile, showing his dipple. “That’s better, dearest. You’re too pretty to wear a scowl. Now, I’m fine with them getting wed. And so are you. You know you are. So why don’t you tell them you’ll give your blessings. You’ve kept them in suspense long enough.”

 

And duly chastened by his wife Thranduil went to go find his daughter and Wendil who were in the library reading up on whatever it was that had piqued their interest this day. Thranduil wondered if she still wanted to be a Healer. Clearing his throat to get their attention he was briefly amused when they stopped what they were doing and stood to hear his decision.

 

“I’ve spoken with your mother and we are both willing to give our blessings to your nuptials. Do you wish for the usual betrothal ceremony and then the wedding a year after?” Thranduil knew he could insist on this as it was their tradition. But their family hadn’t exactly followed tradition since the Valar had decided to make the decision for them. Plus, they were on a timeline. Some traditions would have to be bypassed.

 

And as it turned out, the two wished to marry right away because they didn’t wish to wait while they knew a lot of work needed to be done over the next couple of seasons. Thranduil agreed and sent out word that there was to be a royal wedding at the Ethuil Celebration in just six weeks time. As expected, this threw the entire Kingdom into a panicked frenzy of activity.

 

When the day came Thranduil decided it was up to him to make sure his soon to be son-in-honor was presentable. He needn't have worried. Wendil was a maia after all and was quite presentable when Thranduil went to his rooms to check on him. The maia was resplendent in a gold trimmed golden brown tunic, olive under shirt and breeches and brown boots. He also appeared to have a magnificent dark amber gold robes embossed with leaves and birds that almost looked ready to sing. He looked a proper earth maia.

 

Looking at the maia in question he looked a bit helpless and said, “These are my dress robes. But I don’t want to take attention away from Dami. Today is her day.”

 

“I understand, but I don’t think you’ll need to worry about upstaging your bride. I assure you she’ll be a vision to behold.” And Thranduil picked up the robes and held them for the maia to shrug himself into them. “Are you nervous, Wendil?” Thranduil asked in some astonishment.

 

“Nervous? I’m terrified. Were you this nervous? All I can think of is that I won’t make her happy and that’s all I really care about.”

 

“Well, if that is what is in your heart then I’m sure you’ll do fine. As to my wedding? Well, the first was an arranged marriage and we’d known about for many years before it took place. It was more of a relief for both of us. To have it all done. As you can imagine there was a lot of pomp and ceremony and very little about the vows and such. As to my second? Well, you’d know about that more than I would. It was some sort of attraction spell put on us and we were, eh, compelled to wed. There was no ceremony for that one, but it turned out to be the more successful marriage.” Thranduil smiled.

 

Aiwendil looked askance when he heard this, for he hadn’t had the least idea. “You’re joking! I knew they had a hand in bringing her here, but I had no idea they, they….Eru!” and the maia put his head in his hands.

 

Thranduil chuckled, “When you say you’re not privy to your Lord’s and Lady’s counsel, you weren’t kidding, were you?”

 

“I’m only a maia. But I promise I’ll do all in my power to make your daughter happy. I swear it.”

 

“Only a….? Now Wendil, I’m about to become your father-in-honor and I won’t stand by and let you speak that way. Now pull yourself together and let us get you married.” and then he sighed, “To my little girl.”

 

~0~

 

In the Great Hall bursting with wedding guests, Thranduil stood at the head of the Halls on a raised dais with Aiwendil by his side awaiting his bride. The doors opened to admit the Queen and Princess Damianiel, followed by the Princes, Mírphen and Mírchil. And many a maiden nearly swooned over the very eligible princes who were immaculate in matching deep green tunics and shirts with deep grey breeches and black boots. Both had matching circlets of mithril with emerald stones at their brows.

 

The Princess wore a gown of deep green with a golden underskirt and sleeves embossed with emeralds in the pattern of the green leaves of Lasgalen. Her long ash blonde hair was pulled back from her face in elaborate braids that had emerald tipped pins woven within and with a golden circlet with an emerald gem at her brow. She was a vision of loveliness and even the elves gasped at her beauty. Suddenly a maia wishing to wed her made sense to them.

 

Thranduil performed the ceremony and pronounced them wed and presented to them to the people of the realm and then the feasting began. And soon enough the couple left to truly become wed and her family mourned a little even as they celebrated her happiness, as things would never be quite the same. Though the Queen reminded them they hadn’t lost her, but gained a son. And hopefully soon there would be grandchildren and her boys, yes even the king was one of her boys, perked up at the thought of little ones running about again.

 

And sure enough, after a week of keeping to themselves, when the newlyweds did finally make an appearance it was clear to all that their Dami was with child. Twins! She and her Wendil were expecting a little boy and a little girl who would make their appearance next Spring! And suddenly change didn’t seem like such a bad thing to them.

 

~0~

 

As Yule approached Thranduil had called for every elf to present themselves at the Halls for the Celebration Feast. Usually this was not a mandatory event for their people. In fact, the denizens of Lasgalen couldn’t recall the last time a Feast had been compulsory and many fretted what this could mean. And they were even more confused when those of the King’s army made a sweep of the forest to “assist” anyone who might have trouble complying for one reason or another.

 

This more than anything informed the inhabitants of Lasgalen that the King had something important to tell them and many were uneasy what this could be. Everybody already knew the princess was expecting and the King had already had a Feast to celebrate that news. And it hadn’t been commanded for all of them to attend. Were they going to war again? Many knew of the increasing encroachments into their forest over the years by the second-born and some wondered if the King was going to announce action against this new threat to their peace.

 

Because of the King’s decree, the Yule Feast was to be held in the Great Hall, the only Hall that could accommodate their population. And as Thranduil entered the Hall he was a bit surprised at their numbers, for with the addition of the Galadhrim their numbers had increased but Thranduil hadn’t realized by how much, for not all had attended his daughter’s wedding though all had been invited.

 

Some couldn’t come for one reason or another. Besides, he’d been distracted by the fact that his little girl was getting married. And he’d really thought their population was much less as people had been steadily sailing since the end of the Second Age and with the end of the Third Age that had only increased.

 

But standing before him was easily over ten thousand people. He sighed and wished he didn’t have to make this announcement, but he also knew it was essential for them to know what the Powers had decreed to him and hoped the compromise they’d offered him would appease them. And it was something he couldn’t put off any longer. They had given him a timeline and now was the time to start preparing for it.

 

He and his family stepped out into the natural balcony that rose high overhead so that he could address them and all could view him. He heard the immediate cheer that rose up to greet them and let them get it out of the systems for the moment. Then he raised his hands to indicate he wished to speak and he could feel his family’s support and was grateful for it.

 

“I bid you greetings and joy, my people. May your Yule Celebrations be joyous.” and he waited a moment while they cheered again before he continued, “I have tidings to convey to you and I hope you will receive them with the same joy that I have. I have recently been visited by the Powers. By Lord Manwë and Lady Varda, themselves.” Now he looked at them and tried to use his most persuasive voice, for now the Hall was so quiet the breath of a butterfly could have been heard had they not been in their winter sleep.

 

“They informed me that it is not Eru’s Will that we stay here any longer and we must away from these lands.” And the room immediately erupted into protests and Thranduil put a stop to it instantly, “SILENCE!” and that one word held such strength and power it immediatly stilled the room as all looked at him in surprise. Never had their Lord King addressed them so and they’d no idea of his power and majesty until that very moment. And only his family, which included a certain maia, knew it was because of the King’s own maia blood that had so recently been unbound by his grandsire.

 

“It is true that just as you I resisted that call to sail to Aman. But the Lord and Lady offered me a compromise that I felt I must accept and I hope that you will likewise accept with the grace I know you all possess.” And as he outlined the proposition that the Valar had explained to him he saw the same confusion and then excitement he himself had expressed when divulged to him.

 

“Know this. If you find that this is not to your Will, the Straight Road will still be open to us and you may pass on to Aman if that be your desire. But know that once that Road is taken there will be no returning. That is all. Now I bid you Celebrate this Yule Time together, for it will be one of the Last Celebrations in Lasgalen. We have three years to get ready and I’ll not have you leave your homes empty handed.”

 

And then he and his family, including a certain maia, retired to celebrate in a quiet and intimate setting. For though they felt a sense of adventure and excitement at the proposed adventure, still there was a measure of sadness that these would be their last days within the only home some of them had ever known. The King, on the other hand, wanted to give his people a chance to digest what he’d told them without his presence there hindering them from speaking freely with one another.

 

They also retired because Dami was in no mood for wild celebrations and just wanted a quiet evening and her family wanted to watch over her. He pregnancy hadn’t been too hard, but she was carrying two babies and tired easily. Her husband was trying very hard not to hover over her but he was always conspicuously close by….just in case. His behaviour as a doting husband and a fretful prospective adar was quite charming to his family and he was adored for it.

 

And the next six months moved quite quickly much to everyone’s relief. This was because they were all busy planning their departure. Or rather planning the planning and that required making several very large orders that only Gondor could fill. Thranduil only hoped trees from Ithilien wouldn’t be used to fill it.

 

But right now what was most on everyone’s mind was the impending addition to their family, for Dami had gone into labour and was about to give birth. She didn’t share the Gift that her mother had which made her near indestructible, but she bore her father’s maia blood and her husband was maia and theirs was a strong marital bond.

 

She also had her mother by her side who had the healing power of the crystals within her and between her mother and her husband the births were easy ones. Leliel resembled her mother and Wénion was his father’s son and the names that Aiwendil chose reflected that, plus being a maia he could see them as they would become and he saw they would do more than look like their parents.

 

“So what will they be like?” Vallis asked in amusement, pulling Wendil’s mesmerized attention away from his children.

 

“Tall.”

 

“Is that all?”

 

“She will be lovely like her mother and he will be like me.”

 

“That’s…...remarkably uninformative, Wendil.”

 

“Naneth?”

 

“Yes, sweetling?”

 

“Just let him be loopy over the babies. He’s not really here right now.”

 

“Ah! I understand. Just like your father when he first saw you.”

 

“I’m sitting right here.” Wendil said reproachfully.

 

“It’s alright, son. And I’m afraid you’ll have to get used to it. Your adar did.”

 

And Aiwendil understood fully for the first time how his life had vastly changed since the Valar had given him leave to wed. When he’d asked for the boon from them over a year ago when he’d met with them in the forest and he’d found out for the first time that his adar-in-honor was actually the scion of the Herald of Manwë.

 

After being sent here to aid the free peoples of Ennor over an Age ago he was finding that life was suddenly exciting and interesting. In a good way. And he smiled because he was very content and happy in ways he never dreamed possible.

 

Chapter Text

When the last great host of elves began their preparations to leave the Rhovanion and their forest home, Thranduil had determined they would travel first south and then cross the Wilderland River, also called Anduin the Great. He had also determined to bring everything that wasn’t bolted down and even some that was. With this in mind he had ordered many large, sturdy wagons from King Elessar II, the son of Eldarion the Fair.

 

One by one the wagons made their way up the King’s Road and into Eryn Lasgalen by way of Esgaroth, now a bustling crossroads city center. No one really marked the wagons at first. Most only thought it a passing curiosity. Perhaps the elves that still remained were having a Feast? Though some of the merchants wondered why no orders had come to them.

 

Or perhaps there was to be a wedding? The old elf king had marriageable children, after all and none had heard tell that they’d wed in all these years. And then they wondered if invitations to an elven wedding would be forthcoming. And still the wagons kept coming and it was noted that the wagons stopped at the forest edge and the men who brought them would ride back the way they’d come. Some would stay the night in Esgaroth and when they were questioned about the wagons none were very forthcoming, saying only they’d been ordered to deliver the wagons.

 

Then it was remarked that none of the wagons ever returned and more speculations began. What was happening in that forest? They hadn’t had any contact with the Woodland Realm for some years now. Some had even speculated that the elves were either gone or had died out. None could even remember the last time they’d seen an elf. And yet the wagons kept entering and never returning. Someone within the forest was taking them! If not elves, then who?

 

Then they wondered if the elves were preparing for war. Would a host of mighty elven warriors come bursting from the forest someday? So it was that speculation turned to worry and fear and that fear spread all the way to Dale. And as all memory had faded of the time when the elves had come to their aid over two centuries ago, the men murmured amongst themselves that they should prepare themselves for war and there were no longer any dwarves there to remind them of the elves service to them. To the men, both elves and dwarves were fading into something of a myth. Except, there were the wagons!

 

By now it had been noted that hundreds of wagons had gone into the forest, never to return. But what they didn’t have was real contact with the mannish villages that had sprung up in the Anduin Valley. It was there that the heavily laden wagons exited the forest, causing much the same speculation that was occurring in Esgaroth, though not the same worry. Most felt it was none of their concern and the elves that accompanied the wagons never stopped nor did they bother anyone. To them it was simply a novelty and most knew they would probably never see another elf again.

 

But for those who had nefarious intentions hoping to liberate whatever was in the wagons found that for some reason when they tried to follow the wagons progress they always lost sight of them, much to their chagrin. It soon became apparent that strong magic was protecting them and speculation ran wild. What was in the wagons?

 

The truth was it was the belongings of the Woodland Realm and they had been carefully cataloged and were escorted by the families they belonged to. And all were heading for the Grey Havens. Their progress slow and unhurried as they made their way South and then west, through a gap in the Misty Mountains south of the Fangorn and then north and west to Mithlond.

 

It was a long journey, but they weren’t in a hurry. They were actually leaving ahead of schedule and this path was one without most of the natural barriers that Thranduil wanted his people to avoid. Plus it gave them one final look at the land they’d be leaving, though for many it was the first and only time they’d ever been out of their forest since the time of their birth.

 

And in the west, the Fairbairn Family, also called the Fairbairn’s of the Towers and Wardens of Westmarch did mark the passage of the wagons and those who accompanied them. There the descendants of Samwise Gamgee carefully marked the numbers and dates in the Red Book of Westmarch and they somehow knew these would be the last such recordings of the exodus of the elves.

 

Almost a year before, and shortly after the birth of his grandchildren, Thranduil had gone to Mithlond to see Círdan to discuss what he had been told by the Valar. As for Círdan, there had been a time when he had longed to go to Aman and stay. But over the years as he had carried out his appointed task he had made many a trek to Aman and tarried there from time to time. What he’d discovered was he preferred the vibrancy of Ulmo’s waters upon Arda to be more to his liking and he really didn't wish to leave to sail upon the placid waters of Aman.

 

And he wasn’t alone in his desires, as those of his Falathrim who had stayed with him over the years all felt as he did and they numbered in the thousands. Those who had wearied of the world had long ago sailed with those who had left at the endings of the Second and Third Ages. So when Thranduil had come to him, Círdan had been ready for him and told the King the Valar had informed him already of their intentions for the remaining elves that had resided within Eryn Lasgalen and that they were already preparing for his people. Then he’d asked a boon of the King which Thranduil eagerly agreed to, though he wondered briefly why the Shipwright felt it was his decision to make.

 

Back in the Greenwood, Thranduil and Aiwendil had gone to the Enchanted River and had Un-enchanted it and Wendil had informed all the animals in the area it was now safe for them to return. The woodlands were all but empty of elves at this point and Thranduil could already feel the sadness of the forest and wondered if there was a parting gift he could impart to it to sustain it without their presence. His son-in-honor smirked and said he thought he had an idea about that and when he shared his idea with Thranduil the soon-to-be former King of Lasgalen grinned in approval.

 

Thranduil then ordered the bridge destroyed and it fell as rubble into the river as it was designed to do when Thranduil first decided on this hillside cavern system as the new home for his people. He recalled well the permanent bridge at Menegroth that the dwarves had used to sack the city and then again when the kinslayers had come to finish off the city once and for all.

 

Then, the very last duty Thranduil had performed as King had been to collapse the hill that had housed them for the last Age. This had been a spell he had set in place long ago and the destruction of the Halls was rather spectacular, first imploding and then when the waters had built up enough pressure they had burst forth from the rubble to form a new waterfall that flowed into the river and looked rather lovely. The King had thought of everything and had wanted to leave the land as untouched as possible and also to leave no trace they had ever been there.

 

As Thranduil and the last of the elves made ready to depart, Thranduil and Vallis decided to ride while Dami, Wendil and the twins would take the carriage Legolas had procured for them so long ago. Only this time it was Mírphen and Mírchil who rode on top for they insisted they wished to drive the carriage and the King agreed.

 

It crossed his mind they may have been traumatized by the ride when they were five but quickly dismissed it. He doubted they even remembered the long ago trip to Aglarond. But when Dami brought out the music box and wound it up he heard the twins groan from atop the carriage, he had to reassess that thought.

 

Looking questionally at his sons they exchanged a long suffering glance and Mírchil said, “Ada, you have no idea how often she played that thing when we were growing up!”

 

“Aye! I can even remember that I used to like it. Now it’s just jarring to me. I strongly believe she used to play it to torture us!” Mírphen agreed and Thranduil could hear his daughter chuckling in response from within.

 

Thranduil looked to Vallis and asked, “Do we still have all the dwarf toys Gimli and his people gifted to us?”

 

But before she could respond, Mírchil answered enthusiastically for her, “Oh yes. And they are made ever so well! When something malfunctioned Mírphen and I were able to repair them quite easily!”

 

“Malfunctioned?” Thranduil queried, and arched a brow at his wife.

 

“Ah! I knew I was in there somewhere! I was afraid our children were too elfie and your little clones and nothing of me passed on to them at all!” Vallis exclaimed, pleased.

 

“Elfie?” and now his second brow joined the first and they were almost into his hairline. And then looking at his sons asked, “How is it you chose to become foresters if you were so interested in metal works?”

 

“We can do more than one thing and have more than one interest, ada!” Mírphen said reproachfully while his mirror image nodded vigorously.

 

“Forever is a long time, beloved. They need to keep busy and learn new things. You’ve been king, but that’s a job that is many things at once. But that also hasn’t stopped you from singing and playing the harp when the fancy strikes you. Plus, you’re the most curious person I’ve ever met in my life. Don’t think you haven’t passed that along to your children.”

 

“Even if they’re too…..elfie?” he smirked.

 

“Especially that!” she unrepentantly replied.

 

Then Thranduil moved to the head of their people and called for them to head out. Those that followed were those of his army and his nobles that had originally followed his father so long ago from the ruin of Beleriand. They numbered close to a thousand, all others having left and were currently residing in Mithlond awaiting the arrival of their King.

 

~0~

 

When the debris from the bridge found its way to the Long Lake it caused enough of a fracus among the citizens there that they finally armed themselves and mounted horses to make their way into the forest to investigate the goings on within that place once and for all.

 

The forest appeared hostile and dark to their eyes and many lost heart and fled back to the safety of their homes. Those that were made of sterner stuff continued on, but the spectral shadows of the forest did much to make them believe it was a haunted and cursed place.

 

When they finally came upon the place where the bridge used to be they wondered if the elves had been attacked, for it appeared to have been ripped from its foundations and the famous and beautiful Halls of the Last Elvenking of Ennor was a smoking pile of rubble. Utterly destroyed.

 

Then fear gripped the hearts of the men and they fled from that accursed place and spread the word far and wide that some new horror had entered the forest and had destroyed the powerful elves that lived there. They also determined they should guard against any going in or out of that place and blocked any passage that would make access possible.

 

And none would ever know that what they had beheld was a powerful enchantment that had been placed upon the entirety of the forest by the Maia Aiwendil. Placed there for the love of the forest to protect it from the encroachments of mankind that would seek to destroy the beauty and wonder of that place.

 

Only pure hearted children would ever see the forest as it really was and the forest would protect those innocents from any harm if they mistakenly wandered in. But if those entered who had ill intent, wishing to use the darkness of the forest to hide their misdeeds, then the forest would awaken and those evildoers would never emerge again.

Chapter Text

The Last ElvenKing of Ennor, indeed all of Arda, led his people out of the forest and into the plains of the Anduin Valley and he could already see the pristine land had been despoiled by the many towns and villages that had sprung up along the shores of the Anduin River. It grieved him and he at last understood that this world no longer had a place for them.

 

He wondered how this land would fare with the second-born and he feared they’d do as much harm to it as the orcs had. They would either have to come to terms with how they were living or the land would turn against them, as it could only repair itself so far before it was poisoned forever.

 

While they had hidden within their forest mankind had steadily increased and had spread across the land like a plague. He didn’t begrudge them a place within the world. But it seemed to him they took what they wanted and let nothing stand in their way. Conquering the land instead of trying to live in harmony with it. The filth around their abodes was a corrosive stain upon the land and he could feel the sadness and dismay from all his people. It was best that they had decided to leave now and had not waited until the last moments of the timeline they’d been given by the Valar.

 

They made their way across the Anduin and the king noted that their passage was not being remarked upon by any of the mannish towns, nor by any stray people they came across and Thranduil strongly suspected he could thank Aiwendil for that. His son-in-honor was turning out to be very handy, indeed!

 

They made their way slowly south and could see the sad remains of Lothlórien, all its mellyrn toppled and gone and Thranduil could feel even his wife’s dismay at the loss of the forest that she had once been forced to remain in as an unwilling guest two centuries before.  While she hadn’t wished to be there after her escape from Dol Guldur, even she had had to admit it had been a beautiful place. Now it just looked….sad.

 

Then they made their way past the Fangorn forest and Thranduil wondered what would become of the Shepherds of the Forest and he felt his heart clench in pain as he had always wished to meet one. They had once traversed the forests of Doriath and he’d caught a glimpse of one or another of them ever so often. But he’d never actually met one. There had always seemed time back then when he’d been an elfling.

 

Then, as they were just about to clear the forest and make their way through the gap, they were met by the Onodrim….all of them. The Ents. One stepped forward and slowly bowed, though he had no waist! Thranduil jumped from his horse and bowed in return. And so deep was his reverence, the ent smiled gently at the elf before him.

 

“Greetings and well met, young King Thranduil of Doriath and Eryn Galen. I am Fangorn and if it wouldn’t trouble you, we’d like to join you. Long have we wished to leave these lands and the Powers have told us to await you. And here you are at last. We’ve been waiting ever so long, even for us.”

 

Thranduil tried not to let his jaw drop and he was also a little star-struck, “Of course, my lord. I...We would welcome your company.” he said, stammering a little and bowing his head again.

 

“Thank you, elfling. I remember you in Doriath. I always meant to stop and chat, but the time never seemed right. And then it wasn’t right at all and the land was gone. Perhaps we can chat a bit now, hmmm?”

 

“Yes! Yes, indeed! I would welcome that very much, my lord!” Thranduil enthused and his wife and children smiled for they were witnessing their husband and father revert to an excited elfling right before their eyes

 

And then they were even more shocked when the ent reached down and plucked the king right off his feet and tucked him in the crook of his arm like he was a small child. Then the Ents began walking with great strides and the elven host followed behind, and the elves were enchanted and filled with awe. Vallis was beside herself. Imagine! Walking, talking trees! This was truly a magical land!

 

~0~

 

With the Ents traveling with the elven host it was like having their own mobile forest. And nobody found it odd that they were not marked as they traveled across Eriador towards Mithlond and the Grey Havens. They weren’t in a particular hurry, but the Ents kept a quick pace and only stopped when they came upon water and then they would stop suddenly and dig their rootlike feet into the soil and in this way they would take nourishment. The elves, of course, would pause with them and time their own rest and meals to that of their Ent escorts.

 

They had just crossed the Baranduin, also called the Brandywine and the Ents had stopped on the far shore before digging in for lunch. Vallis and Damianiel set out cloth on the ground to have a picnic type meal while Leliel and Wénion toddled about enjoying being out of the carriage. Vallis understood that, very well!

 

Aiwendil plopped down as though exhausted and said, “How in the world did you manage to travel all the way to Aglarond with three of them?” Which earned him a pinch from his wife. “What?!! You were fifteen! Don’t even bother trying to tell me you were a properly behaved child the whole way. I’m only surprised your adar didn’t put you all to sleep and be done with you!” the maia said, surprisingly grumpy.

 

Vallis laughed, glad to be out and riding about and not cooped up in the carriage, “Oh, don’t think it didn’t cross his mind. And the way up wasn’t as bad as the way home with all the noisy dwarf toys. Then he wanted to throw them out the windows!”

 

“Oh that would have broken our hearts! We loved those toys. They were the most magical thing about that whole trip. Though I think we drove the nannies crazy when we got home. Sometimes we couldn’t find the toys anywhere and we were just sure the nannies hid them so we couldn’t play with them after our naps.”

 

“Oh, we hid those things from you three all the time. It wouldn’t have been so bad if you also played with your blocks and colored every once in a while, but NoOoo! It was nonstop noise coming from that room all the time. On the other hand, we always knew where you were.”

 

As Mírphen and Mírchil joined them, Mírphen piped up, “Ha! I knew it! Didn’t I tell you they were hiding them, Chil?”

 

“Yes, you did. But that didn’t mean we could go about looking for them, Phen! I told you that if they hid them they wouldn’t appreciate us finding them.” and then looking at his mother, said, “And yes! I knew they were in the wardrobe behind ada’s dress robes.”

 

“Well, I’m just glad you didn’t hide my music box! I think that might have broken my heart.” Dami said, with amusement.

 

“That thing broke everyone’s heart, sister!” Mírphen said wryly.

 

“And to think I used to love that thing. Then it became a torture device.” Mírchil quipped.

 

“I think you both need to meet nice ladies and have your own so you know what it’s like to have little ones that need to be entertained.”

 

“What do you mean, nana? We have to entertain little ones already.” Mírchil said as Leliel and Wénion began climbing into his and his brother’s laps, places both children were familiar with.

 

“It’s different when they are yours, brother.”

 

“This is still good practice, for as you say, there will come a day we must become adar’s ourselves.”

 

“Yes, indeed. Just not today. We have plenty of time, nana!”

 

“Don’t discount your nana’s need to play with grandbabies, son!” Thranduil said with a smirk as he sat down to join his family.

 

“Did you have a nice talk with the tree, dearest?” Vallis asked with real curiosity.

 

“Oh yes! And he’s not a tree! He’s an Onod. One of the Onodrim. The Shepherds of the Trees.” Thranduil said enthusiastically and then he sighed.

 

“What’s wrong beloved?”

 

“Nothing really. He was just speaking of how they hoped their Entwives would be at our destination. I hope so too, for their sake. If they’re not there I’m afraid that will be the last straw for them. They’ll just turn into trees if they have no hope left.”

 

“That’s a sad thought. I hope they’re there too. I have a feeling they will be.”

 

“Why do you think that?”

 

“Well, everything has been falling into place. For you, me, everybody. Why would they tell these Onodrim to come with us if they hadn’t prepared a place for them too?”

 

“She’s right. It feels like great thought has been put into all of this. I can’t see them omitting that very important detail. Can you?” Wendil asked.

 

“No. No I can’t. Thank you Wendil. You’re right. You’re both right. I feel much better about this, though I’ve felt very positive since we crossed the Baranduin River. I can’t explain it but it’s like I can already feel them. Am I wrong?”

 

“No. I don’t think you’re wrong. I can feel them too. They are already on their way. Their journey will be as long as ours, I think.”

 

“Do you know where we will be going?” Vallis asked, hoping the maia had insights he hadn’t shared yet.

 

“I think so? It will be very far from here, I’m sure. They will also make sure we will never be able to come to these lands again. And I don’t know how they would do that, precisely. The Númenóreans of old could traverse the known and unknown seas. There is no reason to think they couldn’t do that again at some point. I get the impression this is a permanent move for us and we’re not to have contact with anyone from these lands again.”

 

“If these Beings, and Wendil tell me if I’m off-base here, are what you say they are, wouldn’t they have natural interdimensional capabilities?”

 

Wendil looked thoughtfully at her a moment before nodding, “Yes, though when we came here we became tied to this world just as the firstborn are. Still, the Straight road and Aman is still connected to this world, though it can only be accessed by the firstborn.”

 

“Are you saying there is a difference in their radiation signatures that allows them access? How is that possible since they are both natural to this world?”

 

“Not their radiation signature. But their Flame Imperishable. But know this, there have been those with the Mortal Flame that have been allowed to pass onto the Straight Road and into Aman. But they need prior permission. If they just try to access it they will never find it.”

 

“Yes, but in those cases there was always an eldar with them when they’ve tried to find it. In days past mortals were able to find it and when the Númenóreans tried to conquer it, that is when Eru Ilúvatar intervened and removed Aman from Arda and formed the Straight Road.” Thranduil offered.

 

“You are from this place, Wendil. What is this Straight Road?” Vallis asked.

 

“I don’t know precisely what it is. But I can tell you it is still water. At least it feels and looks to be water. But you feel as though you are lifted at one point, though the ship still appears to be sailing upon water. But you see stars all around you and it is reflected off the water and it looks as though you are sailing in the Heavens. I imagine it resembles most what Gil-Estel sails through.”

 

“That’s the star you all say is a person, right? Eärendil sailing in his ship, Vingilótë?”

 

“Yes and bearing the Silmaril upon his brow. That is the light you see in the night sky. Gil-Estel.”

 

“This world follows no scientific rules as far as I can see. It seems a world based upon whimsy.”

 

“Perhaps. But we like it.” Thranduil smiled, and then, “Still, I don’t know how this place we are going is going to be protected.”

 

“Well, I can’t see it happening unless there is some spatial-temporal reasoning involved.” Vallis said offhandedly and was surprised when Wendil, startled, snapped his head to star at her in fascination. “What?” she asked in surprise.

 

“I’m just surprised that your people had advance so far, for I feel that it is in this way that the land might be hidden, though still anchored to this world.”

 

“You believe that the spatiotemporal continuity can be adjusted? Or are you suggesting the the land and ourselves will, what? Be phased slightly out of synchronicity?” and was surprised when Wendil grinned and nodded vigorously.

 

“Yes! That precisely!” he said and sighed, “You have no idea how nice it is to have someone here that understands such concepts.”

 

“The elves would understand it just fine, Wendil. They just need it explained to them. Their grasp of concepts and theories I think would surprise you.”

 

“No, it wouldn’t. But I think such was discouraged after one of them took such knowledge and went rogue with it.”

 

“That’s nonsense. That one was suffering from intense grief and I’m afraid it was your Lords and Ladies who didn’t react with the greatest decorum.” Thranduil defended.

 

“I’m surprised you, of all people, would defend him.”

 

“Why? It wasn’t he who destroyed my home. It was his misguided progeny and those who followed them. I strongly suspect that Oath was actually a curse and they were unable to release themselves from it.”

 

“Yes, from what I understand of your world, and granted that is slim, words have a power here that they don’t on other worlds.”

 

“That is true. There are many worlds and they all have their own rules. In yours you had your crystals and the power they had over the color and sound spectrums. That is magic here. And here words are also used in magic. On other worlds it is pure mathematics that is the truth and magic of their reality.”

 

“Oh! And that would explain how music created this world. The sound! The audio waves were transmuted into matter. Ha! I understand that now!”

 

“You worry me sometimes, my love.” Thranduil quipped wryly, noticing for the first time they had bored their children and grandchildren to sleep, and chuckled softly.

 

“Laugh at me all you want, husband, but I now understand that all that needs to be done to hide us from the world is a slight variation in the harmonics of the land, itself. It will make the land, and us, slightly out of sync with the rest of the world and we’ll be to all eyes, invisible. And since we will also be out of phase it means solid objects, such as ships, will pass right through us and the land without either of us being any the wiser.”

 

"I may have knowledge of the things you speak of, honored-mother, but you explain them far better than I." Wendil smiled.

 

"That's because you dress it up in flowery language that obscures the hard science behind it. Say what you will about my people, but we can cut to the chase of a matter."

 

Then there was a stirring of the Ents and Thranduil, Vallis and Wendil roused their drowsing family to get ready for the last leg of their journey. They were close to the Havens now and then all they’d have to do was await for the appointed time. And all their people were there waiting, as well. Soon their homecoming would come upon them.

 

Chapter Text

Even at the great pace they were traveling it took over a month for them to pass beneath the Tower Hills of Westmarch and under the watchful eyes of the Fairbairn family as they noted with astonishment this last multitude of elves….. and trees? that were making their way towards the Havens, surely to leave Middle Earth forever. It would be the very last entry into the Red Book of Westmarch, a copy of which would be sent to Gondor and there entered into their records and stored in their great library of the Histories of Ennor.

 

And when they finally entered the City of Mithlond there was great rejoicing that king and kin had at last arrived, along with their escort. And what an escort! The Onodrim! And then they remarked on all the fine horses, for surely these were the legendary Mearas of Rohan?!! And as Círdan came to meet them even he was impressed by the entourage of the Last ElvenKing of Arda.

 

And then quirking his brow at Thranduil said, “Greetings, King Thranduil and welcome! Long have we awaited your arrival!”

 

“Really? I rather thought we were ahead of schedule. At least according to the Vala who gave us the timeline. And if they keep to that timeline we will all be waiting here at least another year and a half before they are ready for us.”

 

“Well, I have the Elostirion Stone and I sent word that you had arrived when we caught sight of your procession. Though I hadn’t realized you’d brought your Halls with you.”

 

“I didn’t bring the Halls. What nonsense is this?”

 

“Well, it looks to me as though you brought everything but the kitchen sinks.”

 

“Oh, he brought the sinks. And the stoves as well.” Vallis offered with a smirk.

 

“I told you, my beloved wife, we might as well start out with what we already know we’ll need. I’m sure it won’t be furnished nor stocked. So why not start out as we we mean to go on? Besides, there will be no dwarf craftsmen this time around and these are well made.”

 

“Ever thinking ahead, King Thranduil.” Círdan smiled. Vallis just smiled indulgently at her husband and wandered off to join their children and grandchildren who were disembarking from the carriage for a nice stretch.

 

“If you’ve spoken with them have you any news for me? Like, say, how we are to meet them?”

 

“No, nothing specific. I’m hoping for more information. For I know I can’t provide enough ships to transport us all, nor the amount of, uh, baggage, you’ve brought with you.”

 

“I imaging the Onodrim weren’t part of your calculations either.”

 

“No, indeed. That is a most welcome surprise. And your mounts. Those are Mearas, aren’t they? I’ve never seen a Meara before, though I’ve seen Lord Oromë riding upon Nahar which I believe is the forefather of these wondrous steeds.”

 

“You saw….? Exactly how old are you, my lord?” Thranduil asked incredulously and wondered for the first time if Círdan was one of the first born. Not the first awakened, but the first children of those first awoken on the shores of Cuiviénen back in the misty reaches of time.

 

“You know King Thranduil, that’s not generally thought to be a polite question to ask someone.” Círdan said with a smirk.

 

“Please, just call me Thranduil. I am king, no more. And happy that I’m not!”

 

“Are you?” Círdan asked thoughtfully. “If you are not king what do you plan to do with yourself? If I may be so bold as to ask.”

 

“Oh, I’ve always wanted to travel about and just... see the land. I always meant to when I was young, but then the land was no more and I ended up having responsibilities in the Greenwood. I suppose the only adventure I had was when we crossed Eriador, but my parents wouldn’t let me out of their sight, though I was grown. Then the only traveling I did was to wage war. Not my idea of an adventure. Though I did take one when my children were young. I don’t recommend it.” Thranduil concluded ruefully.

 

“Ah yes, I’ve transported young ones plenty of times. Fostered a few, myself. I know exactly what you’re saying.” Círdan chuckled. “But enough of that. Right now we need to get you all settled. Though I’m afraid I don’t know where I’m going to put you all. You’re party is, ah, a lot more than I was expecting.”

 

“No need to fuss. We’ve been out on the road for a while now. I think a few more weeks, or months, won’t harm us any. The only ones I worry for are the Onodrim. Is there a fresh water source nearby?”

 

“Yes, of course. The River Lhûn which feeds into the Bay will do them just fine, I think.”

 

“Then just point the way and we’ll stay with them. We’ve traveled almost the entire way with them, and well, I really enjoy their company.”

 

“I understand. Just head up North a bit and you can’t miss it. Go ahead and leave your nonessentials. We’ll watch over them and I’ll send word when the time comes. Now that you’re here perhaps the timeline will shift a bit.”

 

“We’ll see, Círdan. But I have a feeling that they set the timeline for a reason. As in, they already know how long it’s going to take which is why they gave us the timeline to begin with.”

 

“Yes, but they are the Valar. I imagine they can see many things and adjust things as they go. I can’t imagine they would limit themselves if they saw another way to go about something.”

 

“As you say. They are the Valar.” Thranduil smiled and seeing his wife holding one of their grandchildren, decided he wished to join them, “I thank you for the care you’ve provided for my people. And now, if you’ll excuse me I think we’ll head for that River you spoke of.” And the two Lords bid each other a good day as Thranduil left to inform his people he was going to direct the Onodrim to the River and they could either stay or follow. It was up to them. He wasn’t surprised when most chose to follow. It was the Onodrim after all!

 

What he missed was the look of thoughtful pity Círdan directed at him, for the Shipwright was gifted with foresight and he didn't see Thranduil able to put that crown aside as he so desired. In fact, he didn't see him able to ever lay it aside. But he did see that this King would also get his wish in traveling the land. Just not in the way he thought. But all would be well. That he could see, as well.

 

~0~

 

Círdan’s Falathrim were ready to depart but tarried because they knew there were simply too many for them to transport. So they were left to fret amongst themselves, for they didn’t wish to leave a single elf behind. Even if they could be persuaded to leave all their belongings and were to pack themselves onto the ships with standing room only, they still didn’t have enough ships.

 

This was a matter that bothered Círdan, as well. And so he prayed to the Valar. He even spoke to those who were in The Tower of Avallónë that overlooked the haven of Avallónë on the island of Tol Eressëa. But he did not receive any counsel he could use from those that were there, for they knew not the mind of the Valar in this matter. Only that it was in their hands and for him to trust that they would have seen and thought through every eventuality.

 

And so Círdan waited and tried to be patient. He had been patient for so very long and now that his patience was finally about to be rewarded he felt himself faltering and he had to mentally take himself in hand. He didn’t for a moment believe that the Valar would leave them bereft and wanting. And he believed that some solution would present itself and he would have to content himself in the waiting.

 

And though it felt as though time had slowed to a crawl he only had to amuse himself with the ordinary things in the everyday life that was Mithlond when a faint tremor was felt throughout the Grey Havens. Curious, Círdan climbed the stairs within his home to a balcony and looked out into the Bay of Lhûn and was shocked to discover the bay was gone. Or rather, what appeared as a landbridge had appeared and he just knew this was it. This was the sign he’d been waiting for!

 

Luckily, none of their ships had been in the Bay when the landbridge had arisen, but were all anchored out in the Belegaer, the Great Sea and Círdan would bet that they had received word from one of the Lords of the Deep that it would be wise to move their ships. And far out, even past the distance his keen sight gave him, he could see there was a mist on the Sea, as though it were hiding something.

 

But Círdan knew what it was and he also knew it was time to rouse up the people and begin to head out. He quickly made his way downstairs to send a messenger to Thranduil’s people both in town and at the river when he saw they were already roused and making their way towards the landbridge all on their own. His own people looked to him for guidance and he told them to make ready and depart when they would.

 

He knew it would take a few days for everyone to traverse the landbridge, so he decided against the messenger and chose instead to take his own horse and go to the river himself to roust Thranduil and those he had with him to tell them it was time. He had been riding for about an hour when he saw they were already on the move and he wondered at that. Everyone, it seemed, had known it was time to leave. He saw Thranduil at the head riding and went to join him.

 

“Good morn, my Lord Thranduil. I see you are aware that the time is come upon us.”

 

“Good morn to you, as well, My Lord Círdan. Yes, we all shared the dream and when we awoke we knew it was time to leave.”

 

“You all had a dream. I did not have this dream. It seems I am the only one who didn’t.” Círdan said with a sigh.

 

“Perhaps you didn’t need to have it. For you are here and you came to get us, did you not?”

 

Círdan smiled, “Indeed, I did. A landbridge has appeared in the Bay and those in town have already begun to cross it. I believe it will take several days for everyone to cross, but here we are on our final journey, my friend.”

 

“Yes and though it will be a long journey I have to say that this has been in my heart for as long as I can remember. I just never thought it would be possible.”

 

“I can’t say I thought it possible either, but we should never underestimate the Valar. And I don’t know why, but I feel all this was for you and your people.”

 

“Nay! That has no sense to it." But then he looked to see his wife riding next to the carriage and chatting with their sons and wondered if there wasn't a certain amount of truth in that. And then he saw those of his people that were joyful at being with the Onodrim and knew it most certainly wasn't just about him. "But I can see it having a lot to do with the Nandor. I just don’t know if they would have ever been happy in Aman. Indeed, though my parents and son are in Aman I’m not sure I would have been happy there either.”

 

Círdan chuckled and said, “Well, I’ve been there several thousand times and yet it’s here that I always return and am happy to do so.” And then they both fell silent and enjoyed their last ride in Ennor.

 

By the time they reached Mithlond it was clear that an orderly procession had formed and all were patiently awaiting their turn to begin their trek on the landbridge. The Onodrim, however, didn’t wait in line for it was essential for them to reach their destination quickly for they would need to take nourishment soon and all made way for them to pass quickly. They would be the first to reach the end of the landbridge and no one begrudged them that.

 

People, horses and wagons made their way at a good pace for they knew that many were waiting behind them. And as Círdan predicted, it was several days before the last elves made their way upon the landbridge. The very last were the royal family and Círdan, himself. And he was amused to find they were even bringing the carriage with them. When asked about it, Thranduil merely said it had been a gift from his son and he didn’t wish to part with it.

 

It took another two days to cross the long landbridge and then they were there and stood upon the land. But this wasn’t just any land! It was Beleriand arisen! Well, half of it. It was East Beleriand, from what had once been the River Gelion to the River Sirion and all the land between. And Thranduil heart beat faster because he knew Doriath lay to the Northwest. His first home. Where his heart had always been.

 

When they had all crossed and were safely upon the land the landbridge once again sank beneath the waves and it was as if it never was. Then the land itself began to move. And the land was as an island and like Tol Eressëa of old, East Beleriand began to travel across the sea. Only there would be no Aman to anchor off of this time. This time they were going out to open sea and they would be left there in peace.

Chapter Text

The last elves of Ennor were all gathered upon the shores of East Beleriand and Thranduil thought they were in Ossiriand, but they looked to be walking in the Ascar. The riverbed was dry and had formerly been one of the many tributaries that fed into the Gelion and the border to Thargelion to the North where Lake Helevorn fed the river. They continued on and crossed the dry riverbed that had been the mighty Gelion River and the border to the Estolad, formerly the meadowlands and breadbasket of Beleriand.

 

Mistrustful of his memory, he conferred with Círdan, who confirmed that they were indeed where he thought they were. And when they had all crossed the dry riverbed a great roaring could be heard and then a great rush of water filled the dry riverbed and the Gelion was reborn, as were all its tributaries. And before their eyes a wall of steep mountains rose up as if to fence the land in and no doubt to feed the tributaries.

 

A large Bay had also been created and that is where Círdan had directed all his ships to be dry docked upon the land until they reached their destination. For it seemed the Valar had indeed put great thought into how they were going to repopulate the land and having a functioning river had not been part of those plans. And since the Gelion was a mighty river, it had made it easier for their people to cross it as a dry riverbed. Now that they had crossed it there was no reason not to turn the tap on, so to speak.

 

“Can you feel it, Thranduil? The land! It feels new!” Círdan exclaimed and Thranduil wasn’t quite sure what he meant. But his son-in-honor, Aiwendil did.

 

“He’s right, honored-father. This land has been remade. It does not remember.” he said in relief and then Thranduil understood! For even when his forest had been liberated and freed from the shadow of Dol Guldur it had remembered. Had remembered the pain and darkness that had afflicted it.

 

And terrible, terrible things had happened to Beleriand. The Darkest Lord in all recorded history had dwelt here and had committed unspeakable atrocities upon both the people and the land. And no shadow of that was felt to any who now stood upon the remade land. If anything, it was even more pure than Aman where atrocity had also occurred that the land remembered. The first murder. The first kinslaying. The death of the two trees.

 

With renewed vigor, the multitude began making their way West, even as the continental landmass was moving west across the ocean. Slowly and gently, not even disturbing a blade of grass nor an anthill on the surface. And in the distance they could make out the Ents who had been reunited with their Entwives.

 

And the Entwives were already tending to the meadowlands, planting and tending crops they had seeded and it could be seen that crops were already growing. Waves of wheat, barley and rye. Stalks of corn and maze. Patches of pumpkin, butternut, patty pan and all manner of squash. And trees could be seen bordering the Estolad and making their way to the Gelion and Aros Rivers so that the Ents and the Entwives now had a place where their lands met and Thranduil was glad they were at last reunited.

 

For weeks they traveled as the land traveled and they could begin to see that the Estolad narrowed with the River Aros to their North and the Andram Hills to their South. And still they went East, as if drawn there. Thranduil just rolled with it even though he knew they were passing the Forest Region that lay right across the Aros and where Menegroth lay.

 

They all made their way across the land and eventually came to the western edge which ended in a high ridge and they just sat and watched their progress across the sea. Then they beheld a sight that had them all excited and gasping in wonder. For they were heading towards another vast landmass in the distance that looked to already be anchored in the vast emptiness of the sea.

 

And Thranduil knew it was West Beleriand. He also knew in his heart that upon that land were those elves of Aman who had chosen to leave and settle in the lands that had been theirs in the days of their youth. He and his family stood upon the ridge and just watched as they slowly approached the other half of Beleriand and Vallis could feel the emotion coming off her husband in waves and she wrapped her arms around him and just passed all the love and support she could. And she also felt the love and support from their children who also crowded around them just watching in awe as their traveling continent made its way towards its other half.

 

“Will our brother be there, ada?” Mírphen asked.

 

“I've really missed him.” Mírchil sighed.

 

“We’ve all missed him, brothers. I can’t wait for him to meet these two!” Damianiel said in excitement, snuggling Leliel and kissing Wénion who was being held by his father.

 

“Oh, I can’t wait until he finds out who you wed!” Vallis said with a smirk. And then at Wendil’s hurt look, she added, “I don’t mean that in a bad way, son. You mustn’t be so sensitive. I actually think you’re quite a catch. I mean, have you actually seen yourself in the mirror?” and then chuckled when he colored and stammered his thanks.

 

“I tell him that all the time, nana, but he won’t hear me.” Dami said in disapproval.

 

But that only made her look in confusion to her husband, who sent, “We’ll have to do something about that. He was treated badly by his brothers while he was in Ennor. Throughout the land it was heard, “Radagast the Fool. Radagast the Simple.” He received no respect at all for one of his kind. They didn’t understand him.” This set Vallis’ blood boiling and she suddenly became a mother bear and Wendil her child and Thranduil smiled in approval. Woe to those who disrespected their son-in-honor!

 

It felt like it took an age for the two landmasses to approach one another and long before they were within reach those upon each side began recognizing those on the other and they wept for joy. Thranduil could make out his parents and his son and he heard like gasps of recognition all around him as those in their multitude made the same discoveries he just had.

 

And he strongly suspected there were more on that western side than there was on this eastern one, for more had been killed or left than had remained. Their group only numbered about fifteen thousand. Who knew how many were on the western side just waiting for the land to become whole once more.

 

Then those upon the eastern side could feel their landmass slowing, as if to avoid a collision and it felt an eternity before the landmasses met and all those on the western side crossed to the east to meet with their long sundered kin. Clearly all those on the West side had been given instructions, for as soon as the landmasses touched they began to pool into the eastern side.

 

And they kept coming! Thousands upon thousands of them! And it seemed another Age before they were all on the Eastern side. But once they were all together then a loud groan could be heard deep within the land where it met and it began to pull apart once more, but only to form a deep and wide ravine.

 

Then a loud roaring sound was heard and as the land settled fresh water from the north rushed down and filled the chasm and the Sirion was reborn and made its way to eventually empty into the sea. Beleriand was whole once more! And so East and West Beleriand were reunited and the Gelion, Aros and Sirion ran along with all their old tributaries.

 

Only the Ered Luin was missing, replaced in a way, but the original mountain range was still attached to Ennor and those had been the home of the dwarves. And this land was meant only for the elves and those who chose to remain with them forever. These were the Onodrim, many maiar and various greater and lesser elementals, including the Iarwain that had followed the last elves without their knowing and were even now finding their place upon the land and would keep the land pure and healthy. All the magic had truly left the world of mankind.

 

Then for a while they merged into one people. This would not always be the case. There were just too many of them as they numbered several hundred thousand. But for now they had the joy of being reunited with those they had not seen in at least an Age. Some had not been seen since before the Sun first rose in those years called the Years of the Trees.

 

Thranduil had a joyous and tearful reunion with his parents and son. And he met there for the first time his younger brother, who must have been begotten after his parents were reunited in Aman. Thranor was his name and he was the image of his father, Oropher. And as Legolas had always reminded Thranduil of his father he more resembled his uncle than his own father.

 

And since most of his family seemed complete they all decided by unspoken consent to spread a cloth and picnic by the river and just enjoy each others company. There would be time enough for traveling to Menegroth. Thranduil noticed the absence of a certain dwarf and looked questioningly at his son who looked down, sorrow crossing his face and Thranduil knew that Gimli had passed on and was surprised that this also saddened him.

 

“I’m sorry, son. He was a good one. We still have all the gifts he gave us when we visited Aglarond.” And then he grinned, “Now your sister and Aiwendil have discovered the joys of traveling in that Gondorian torture chamber with bored children and those infernal noise makers!”

 

“You brought the carriage?” Legolas asked in surprise trying to digest that his sister had married one of the Istari. And then looking over at ‘Wendil’ without his old man guise, he could see why his sister might fancy the maia.

 

“Oh, son! Your father brought everything from the Halls. And I mean everything!” Vallis said with a smile.

 

“Define everything.” Legolas asked worriedly, because he knew his father.

 

“I think it would be easier to list what he didn’t bring.” Aiwendil said with a smile. “And I’d like to introduce you to your nephew, Wénion. Your sister has his sister Leliel and I suppose you are my brother now.”

 

“May I?” Legolas asked holding out his arms and taking the little peredhel into his arms. “Oh, he looks just like you, brother. And I welcome you to our family. I am most pleased to see that Dami has found her true love.”

 

“Now if only my sons could say the same!” Thranduil said wistfully.

 

“It’s not like we’ve been avoiding it, ada. It’s just not happened for us yet.” Legolas said with a smirk.

 

“Oh please! If an ellith is anywhere near you and looks at you with interest you disappear faster than Dorwinion at Yule!” Thranduil said wryly.

 

“Ada! Do you say such to Mírphen and Mírchil? Surely such glorious Thranduilions are much sought after?”

 

“Oh no you don’t, brother! No shifting the blame towards us. We are only mindless elflings! Ada says so.” Mírphen said proudly.

 

“Aye! Completely clueless clots!” Mírchil agreed, equally proud.

 

“I never said either of those things. Stop putting words in my mouth. Though comparing you both to elflings sounds about right. And I can only hope that when each of you are caught I am there to see it!” he said in wry exasperation.

 

“Yes! And when Legolas has his own brood we’ll lend him the carriage to travel across the land. Full of dwarf toys!” Vallis said with such evil glee causing Legolas to look vaguely disturbed.

 

“Perhaps we can get Legolas to babysit for you and Dami, eh Wendil?” Mírchil said with such an air of innocence Legolas was immediately suspicious, for he knew his brothers.

 

“Oh! And look what we can do!” and both Mírphen and Mírchil produced their own blue-white orbs causing Legolas to exclaim in outrage.

 

“Oh that is so unfair! I was close to two millennia before I was able to do that!”

 

“So was your father.” Oropher said with a smile, thoroughly enjoying the family interplay.

 

Then there was a commotion and they noticed that people were rising to bow and Thranduil saw King Thingol and Queen Melian approaching with Beleg Strongbow, Mablung and an entourage of notable people he’d known when he was still young.

 

And before the host of their people, Thingol and Melian approached Thranduil and Vallis who rose and then knelt before the monarchs of old, although Vallis had to be prompted by her husband who looked at her with beseeching eyes before she sighed and got to her knees.

 

While both had their heads bowed, Thingol and Melian exchanged a sad glance and removed their crowns and placed them upon the heads of the kneeling couple. Looking up in alarm, Thranduil met Elu Thingol’s eyes who said lowly and for his ears only, “I’m sorry, elfling. It has to be you.” and both bowed to the couple much to their horror and chagrin.

 

Then Thingol addressed the multitude and proclaimed Thranduil his heir and crowned him King of Doriath and High King of Beleriand and all the multitude knelt before him. Then one of the great eagles came and bore Thingol and Melian away to rejoin their family in Aman. Beleg was quick to murmur in an aside, “Don’t think I won’t remind you of your youthful misdeeds if you forget who you are, elfling!” But then smiled kindly on the newly crowned High King as he could see Thranduil was aghast at the whole. “Don’t fret so, My Lord King. We are here for you.”

 

But even with these reassuring words, Thranduil just wished the ground would open up and swallow him. How on Arda had this just happened to him?

Chapter Text

After Elu Thingol and Melian had left the crowd went back to what they were doing before, as it seemed their new king didn’t have any words he wished to impart to them. Taking the crown from his head, Thranduil went to rejoin his parents, Oropher and Annel, who were now standing with one who he did not recognize and his father introduced him to his grandfather.

 

It was then that Thranduil realized he and his brother, Thranor had been named for their grandfather, Thraphen, who had been the beloved adar of Oropher. And his grandmother Raenel was there which he was sure made his father very happy. Thranduil knew he was glad that his parents were there, though he wished he could hand the crown in his hand right over to his father.

 

“What’s the matter son. You don’t look happy.” Oropher smiled at his firstborn.

 

“I had hoped to leave all this behind me, ada. And when I saw King Thingol…..”

 

“You hoped you’d be able to loaf about a bit and play in the trees?”

 

Smiling faintly, Thranduil said, “Something like that. At the very least, I’d hoped to travel about and see this land, like I’d wished to do when I was young.”

 

“Nothing says you can’t do that now, you know. You are High King of the entire land. I imagine you’d want to tour it a bit to make sure it’s all in good order.” Oropher smirked at the look of horror that crossed his son’s face.

 

“Ada? Why did you never tell me that Eonwë was your grandfather? Or that Olwë was your great grandfather?”

 

“Well, I always meant to, but when you were very young you had a mishap with the fishing pond and it scared you badly. I went to the Queen to ask advice because she was maia and might know what to do. I can tell you I certainly never displayed anything like that when I was a child and she said it might have skipped a generation.”

 

“Or you might have had the power to suppress it within yourself?” Thranduil asked shrewdly and felt he’d hit a nail on the head when Oropher colored and looked down.

 

“Perhaps. But really, it wasn’t something to flash around back then. My parents died because the agents of Morgoth were after my father. And when I saw the signs in you, well, I asked the Queen if she could block it because I feared for you. You did it with such ease you didn’t even know you were doing it. And then everything just went to blazes in one way or another and I just thought it best to keep it to myself for a while. I did mean to tell you, but well….”

 

“But you died.” Thranduil sighed, “Ada, you should have told me while we were in the Greenwood. You shouldn’t have let that go. You have no idea the problems it caused.” Thranduil said now knowing why it was that Sauron chose his backdoor to camp in.

 

“I’m sorry, son. Please forgive me. You know how it is when you’re a father. You try to shield your children. But I think you did a better job of that than I did. Just as you were a better king.” And then held up his hand when his very loyal son tried to argue. Then he told his son what he knew.

 

And Thranduil learned his family history. Volwë, the son of Olwë had wed a Vanyar maid, Írenis, and produced a daughter Yvon. The Herald of Manwë, Eonwë had become smitten with the maid and they had wed producing Thraphen who had wed a Telerin maid, Raenel. And Oropher had been their son and Thranduil’s father. And all of this had taken place before Olwë had taken the portion of their people to Aman on the land that would become Tol Eressëa and Olwë would later become lord of Alqualondë.

 

There had been a time when Thranduil would have given everything to know this, but now it just didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. But one thing that did matter to him was his family and he took pride in introducing his daughter and sons to their grandfather, grandmother, uncle and the rest of their kin. Then he was surprised to find his great grandfather there, as well, for Eonwë was there with his wife Yvon and Thranduil got the impression he was the butt of some great cosmic joke.

 

But he simply shrugged and sat back down with his wife and family and began to enjoy a nice repast, until someone mentioned that they might not have enough food for all that were there. Then Thranduil did what he did best. He organized. Grabbing his son-in-honor, sons and wife they began fishing while Thranor and Legolas went hunting for venison since they were near the Falls of Sirion and the Aelin-uial which were rich in game.

 

Wendil proved to be most useful as he would touch a caught fish and it would grow to the size of a deer. And touching a deer would cause it to grow to the size of an oliphant. In this way they were able to catch very little of the fish and game in the area yet had enough to feed the large multitude of people there and then some!

 

Several hundred spits were set up and cooking pots were filled with water so that stews and roasted meats could be cooked. And as the king walked among them and saw that some were having trouble getting fires to light he would lift a hand and fires would blaze up out of nowhere. And though he had tried to be discreet, word quickly spread that their newly crowned High King was a powerful fire-mage.

 

When he joined his family he noticed that both his grandfather and great grandfather were looking at him with speculation while his own father just looked pained and he wondered what was wrong. Eonwë didn’t leave him the dark for very long, “You know, I had thought to leave and set up Vinymar in Nevrast once again, grandson. With your permission, of course.”

 

“Of course! But why do you need my permission?”

 

“Because you are the High King of Beleriand. The entire land is under your control. It is only with your permission that any of us can build anywhere. Surely you know that.”

 

Thranduil just put his head in his hands and moaned, “I don’t want any of this. Why does it have to be me? Surely you would make a better King, grandfather!”

 

“No. Not me. I believe my Lord Manwë visited you specifically, did he not? This offer was made to you. You even made the stipulation that all these people only could be here by their own will and not commanded to come. These all chose to come here knowing that it would be you who would be High King and they came anyway. That should tell you something.”

 

“Right. So I suppose they are all going to petition me for lands. More specifically, the lands they had when they ruled beforehand. I understand that and will grant them that. All I wish is to rebuild Menegroth to what it was before.”

 

“No, don’t do that, son! I don’t know if you recall, but we had no hot water in that drafty city!” Annel said in horror.

 

“That’s no problem, nana! I can heat the water in the whole mountain if I need to, though we need cold water too. I had heated water in the Halls. I’d at least like to get those baths back. Those spoiled me and I’d hate to think of, well, forever without them.”

 

“I’ve missed those baths, ada!” Legolas said with feeling.

 

“Now that is something I think I’ll need to discuss with you, grandson. Your magic needs training. It’s wild and powerful. I’m surprised you went unnoticed in all these years.”

 

“My fault! I had Melian block his powers when he was about eight years old.” Oropher said guiltily.

 

“And yet he was still able to heat these Halls of his. I take it they were large?”

 

“Large enough. We had up to about twenty thousand in them at times. Not as large as Menegroth but they were comfortable. Though we could hold over fifty thousand in the Great Hall during the Yule Feast. But most of those would go home afterwards. You know how the Silvan are, ada. They prefer the forest to any city.”

 

“Comfortable?!! Husband, if that is mere comfort to you I’d hate to see what you consider luxurious!”

 

“Well, it could just be my memory of them, but it seemed to me that Menegroth was luxurious.”

 

“You weren’t even two hundred when we were driven from our home. I imagine your children will have the same romantic memories of the Halls after awhile.”

 

“Well, ada, tell me your memory of Menegroth. What you liked and what you didn’t like. That goes for you too, nana.”

 

“Son, if you can give us warm water that will make me happy.” Annel said with a smile.

 

“That I can do. But I think I need more idea of the architecture of the place. As you say, I was very young at the time. Now that I’m older and have had the experience with designing the Halls I may have a better idea of what I’d like done with them.”

 

“You designed them? Would you let me see them, please?” Eonwë asked and Thranduil shrugged and agreed. The maia laid his hand on his grandson’s face and looked at the Halls from their planning through the years as the practical matter of living in them went and his lips parted in surprise.

 

“Ha! See?!! Even your granddad is impressed!” and Eonwë was surprised that he hadn’t realized that as soon as he touched his grandson’s mind it became a threeway link. He’d forgotten that she was something…. different.

 

“Well, your home was certainly…...well, you know, comfortable is the wrong word. They really were rather luxurious. If you can mesh that with that romantic idea you have of the Halls you’ll have a right fine home in Menegroth. But I must ask you….” and then he hesitated.

 

“Ask me what?”

 

“I’d like to know if you’d allow me and Thraphen to stay with you and help. Help with the city and help you to control this magic you have.”

 

“Well, Wendil was trying to work with me on it. What else do I need to know. I never use it, you know.”

 

But Wendil disagreed, and shaking his head said, “You use it all the time. You just don’t think about it. And I didn’t help you with anything. As soon as I realized you weren’t just a fire-mage but a light-mage I knew I was in over my head.”

 

“Is that why you spent so much time in ada’s library looking at the scrolls from Menegroth?” Dami asked.

 

“Yes. I was hoping to find out if anything was ever written about your father, even if he wasn’t directly mentioned.”

 

“And?”

 

“I’m not sure. But when you said you used a spell to heat the water in the caves you said you didn’t know you knew it, and well, that piqued my curiosity. And when I asked you about it and you recited what you could remember of it I didn’t tell you that you were speaking Valarin.”

 

“How is that possible?” Thranduil asked, confused.

 

“There is only one way I know of. It was planted within your mind. Probably when you were very young. Maybe even at the time of your conception.” Eonwë said thoughtfully.

 

“By who?” Thranduil asked but felt he didn’t want to know.

 

“By Eru, Himself.” Eonwë said.

 

“I knew I didn’t want to know. Nor do I wish to know more, to tell you the truth.”

 

“It seems that you were chosen for certain things probably before your birth.” Eonwë mused, “And I still think you should delve into this a little more. You can’t just go about with wild untrained magic. You could cause some real damage without even realizing it.”

 

“Don’t say that to him. He doesn’t use it as it is. All you’re doing is reminding him of something that happened when he was a child and that’s not fair. If he doesn’t wish to use it or learn about it you shouldn’t force him.” Vallis said firmly, her protective shields up to full force. She didn’t like anyone trying to manipulate her family and this maia was doing just that with his emotional blackmail.

 

“That’s just nonsense. All I’m asking is for the opportunity to train him. He needs to come to his full potential.”

 

“For what? All the wars are done with and nobody here is likely to start one. Why does he need to do anything with it besides heating and lighting up these caves. Though husband, I have a few ideas of how you can use that glow of yours to light up those caves with a real nice radiance. You might even be able to set some of them as heating and cooling elements.”

 

Thranduil smiled at his wife because he was sure she did and he could already see what she had planned within her mind and he approved. Menegroth would be a wonderful place with her to help him with it. She had been an engineer, herself. But for the matter at hand...“Do you see something, grandfather? For I find I agree with my wife. If there are no wars and unlikely to be any I don’t see why I need learn anything.”

 

“It’s not wars I fear, grandson. It is the loss of control. You’ve not used it because it was blocked. I’ve unblocked it and you may find yourself in need of it and you’ll use it without your conscious Will. Your wife has already discovered that, I think. But unlike you, she was also taught great discipline when the use of it was tied to actual gems as a focal point. Since they are now inherent within her she doesn’t use it half as much as she used to because she also fears it. You’ll both need knowledge of it and the discipline for its control. That is all I am saying.”

 

“Alright, grandfather. I will accept your counsel, as will my wife,” and then shot her a warning glance when she would have objected and sent a quick, ‘we need to know this, beloved,’ before continuing, “And I’d like to gather those who wish to go with us to Menegroth and rebuild that realm. I suppose I can count on at least my family?” he asked looking around and saw they were all willing. What could go wrong?

 

Besides, he had two full maia and all manner of half-maia and however the maia bloodline worked, within his own kin. He would also have to convince his father to unlock his own potential. He suspected something happened to his father not unlike what had happened to him only he’d had the power to block his own gifts without having to go to someone else to have it done.

 

But he’d worry about all this on the morrow. Tonight they would spend the night under the stars as the first awoken elves had done so long ago.

Chapter Text

In the morning they all awoke remarkably refreshed, considering, and Thranduil thought they were all getting used to roughing it in the great outdoors. But what he most wanted was to make his way to Menegroth and rebuild his ancient home. And with that in mind, he spread the word that they would leave as soon as they broke their fast and would make their way North, following Sirion until it intersected the Esgalduin River and there they would turn East until they came to where Menegroth had been located.

 

At Thranduil’s direction, they had left their wagons out on the Estolad near where the Aros and Celion Rivers had intersected. Once they made their way to the city’s location they would find a way to bring the wagons through the forest. But for now they needed to get started and they all packed up their meager belongings and enough leftovers they’d smoked to nibble along the way.

 

He, his family, Beleg Strongbow, Mablung and many of the Silvan and Sindarin elves made their way north following the Sirion. Thranduil was glad to have the ancient Iathrim warriors with him for surely they would know the quickest and safest route for them to traverse. He had second thoughts at times because of his daughter and grandchildren, but they all seemed to be weathering the hike just fine.

 

It was perhaps about midday when they reached the Esgalduin River and began following it eastwards. It wasn’t as rugged as Thranduil feared and they made good time and it was just before dusk when they reached the place where the bridge had been that led into the cave entrance far above the Esgalduin. And they knew that because surprisingly, the bridge was still there. As were the towering facades on the cliff face.

 

Truly, it looked like it was ready for habitation already. But Thranduil was sure that much needed to be done before it was habitable. And Eru! He hadn’t remembered it being that large. He’d been a child back then. Surely from his memory it would have been much larger to a child than to an adult. He had been an adult when they’d left, but still! He hadn’t thought it was so big! He’d thought he only grew it in his childhood memory and had been expecting something very much smaller.

 

They found stairs that led up to the bridge and crossed over it to enter into Menegroth, the City of a Thousand Caves. When he entered, Thranduil found it dark but not foul or musty smelling and he made several of his glowing orbs and directed them up to get a better look. And it was as if they had stepped back in time.

 

The carvings and pictorial embellishments were still all there, telling the story of how Elwë Singollo came upon the maia Melian and how both were caught in a spell. Two hundred years passed before he was seen again and in that time his brother Olwë had taken the greater part of the Teleri and had gone to Aman.

 

And then they found a strange sight, indeed. For it was a new depiction which showed Thranduil, Vallis, their family and those that were with them as they entered the cave entrance to reestablish Menegroth anew. And it showed Thranduil throwing out his lighted orbs and the orbs themselves settled themselves into the pictograph were the orbs in the engraving were carved and there they blazed forth to light the entire cavern entrance.

 

Vallis was amazed and said, “Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday.” causing her husband to laugh in agreement.

 

“Indeed, beloved!” Thranduil chuckled, and then, “Well, it looks as though we were expected. Let’s take a look around.”

 

And those with them went to light torches, but Thranduil forestalled them, “Nay! No torches. I don’t know why, but I think we should split up. Take one with you that can make the orbs.” And they did as he bade them, each group taking one who could make the orbs. Thranduil instructed them to be gone no more than an hour and to meet back at the cave entrance.

 

Vallis went with her husband and he made more orbs and sent them aloft and they lit the way for them. He kept making chains of then and they seemed to know where to place themselves for they attached themselves symmetrically and evenly spaced into the ceiling of all the passageways they entered. They found many chambers and public areas and every time they entered one the of the public areas the fountains would begin flowing again and the orbs would find their way into slots into the ceiling that seemed made for them.

 

At one point Thranduil made a chain of them and they formed a ring in the ceiling above one of the exquisite fountains. And Vallis began to worry her husband would become weary from conjuring so many of the orbs. But she also made another discovery. Not only was he not becoming weary, he seemed to become even stronger. Indeed, filled with vigor.

 

And also, whenever they left a chamber where the lights had settled themselves they would go out. And when they stepped back inside then they would light up again as though they had motion detectors. Vallis was impressed. The lights she had dreamed up may not even be necessary. All they had to do was set the lights throughout the city and they would activate whenever they were needed.

 

Eventually, they found themselves in the throne room where all of their party had congregated and they were staring at the thrones. And Thranduil and Vallis looked and saw their own visages engraved upon both the thrones and in bigger than life bas-relief on the wall behind the thrones. Thranduil just face-palmed. Eru! This wasn’t happening!

 

“So, ada, did all your orbs get eaten by the caves?” Mírchil asked cheerfully.

 

“Yes, son. I take it yours became a part of the caves as well?”

 

“Yes, ada. How about everyone else?” And all there nodded who had been creating orbs to light their way.

 

“And no one is getting tired from using too much energy?” Vallis asked and all shook their heads, No!

 

“So what have you all found? I can tell you that every public area we came to seemed to come alive when we entered. And yes, those areas now have my lights and they go on and off when people enter. Also, any chamber I found that used to house guards or families are all clean and empty, just waiting for us to move in. Though they all need doors.”

 

“It’s a good thing you brought them then, isn’t it ada?” Mírphen piped up.

 

“You brought the doors from your Halls?” Beleg asked incredulously.

 

“He brought everything. Including the kitchen sinks and stoves.” Mírchil chimed in.

 

“You’re joking! Why ada?” Legolas asked.

 

“Because they were dwarf made and they are both study and good. Why leave them in a place no one will ever find again when they can be used here?” Thranduil said practically rolling his eyes he felt it was so obvious.

 

“Not only that, he brought the big stone doors.” Vallis smirked.

 

“Ok. How did you do that? Those things are huge.” Legolas asked crossing his arms and lifting a brow at his father.

 

“We broke them down using magic. And we’ll be able to put them back together again using the same magic. It wasn’t as hard as it seems.” Wendil said with a smile.

 

“Well, especially when you have an Earth Maia around to lend a hand.” Thranduil said with a grin. Then he took off his outer coat and as he stood there in just his shirt sleeves, breeches and boots Vallis thought he never looked so hot to her. And she couldn’t wait to get him out of the rest of his clothes and show him how much she liked the way he looked right now to her. Thranduil just threw her a happy smile and she didn’t think she’d ever seen him so carefree either.

 

“Well, we’ll stay here for the night and then make our way through the forest and see how we can get our wagons here.”

 

“Sounds good to me.” Vallis said and they laid out some bedrolls and laid themselves out in the throne room for the night.

 

~0~

 

In the morning they made their way back out through lit passages that turned on as soon as they stepped into them and they made their way out to the open cavern opening and out into the bright sunshine. They were just about to make their way over the bridge when they heard a merry voice singing.

 

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!

Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!

Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

 

Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!

Light goes the weather-wind and the feathered starling.

Down along under Hill, shining in the sunlight,

Elves a-waiting on the doorstep for the bright starlight,

By my side my pretty lady, River-woman's daughter,

Slender as the willow-wand, clearer than the water.

Old Tom Bombadil wagon loads a-bringing

Comes hopping to the elvenhalls. Can you hear him a-singing?

Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! and merry-o,

Goldberry, Goldberry, merry yellow berry-o!

 

Hey! Come derry dol! Hop along, my hearties!

Onodrim and Elven Halls! We are fond of parties.

Now let the fun begin! Let us sing together!

 

Then Goldberry sang,

Now let the song begin! Let us sing together

Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,

Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,

Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,

Reads by the shady pool, lilies on the water:

Old Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

 

Then Tom Bombadil sang,

O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!

O reed by the living pool! Fair river-daughter!

O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!

O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves' laughter!

 

And then into view the two Iarwain, holding hands and skipping down the path that seemed to widen as they skipped towards the bridge, all the trees moving politely to the side and leaving a very nice and tidy road fit for wagons. In fact, that is what followed behind the two! An entire wagon caravan following the two powerful elementals that were as old as Arda itself. The two crossed the bridge hand in hand and skipped right up to King Thranduil and grinned.

 

“Good morn and well met to the High King of Beleriand.” and the two performed a flowery bow and curtsey before the Iarwain spoke again, “The Onodrim have assisted you this day by making a bridge for your wagons. And Goldberry and I assisted by asking your trees if they wouldn’t mind scooching over just a bit. You’ll have a fine road and bridge to get you to the Estolad and trade with the Onod who tend to their gardens! Tis a small boon we would ask you if you would be willing!”

 

“Yes, of course! Name it!” Thranduil said, completely enchanted by the two.

 

“There is a small patch that I believe is called the Dimbar and is between the Mindeb River and mighty Sirion. My Goldberry has her heart set on that small river, you see. For she is the River’s Daughter!”

 

“And in return we’ll tend your trees and be sure your flowers blossom! I’ll fill the dell and water them well and tend them until they’re winsome.” Goldberry smiled with her delicate hands clasped in front of and looking beseechingly at the King.

 

Thranduil believed he knew the place they wanted and it had been a rather barren place. He thought they would be the perfect pair to turn it into a beautiful garden. “Yes, I know the place and you’re welcome to it. And you have my leave to traverse all the forest lands of Doriath at your will. There are many very nice rivers and forests here and I hope you enjoy them all. Please know how glad I am to have you here!” Thranduil replied enthusiastically. And the two performed a very nice bow and curtsey and then skipped off on their way until they were lost to sight.

 

Thranduil turned to Vallis and she had a hard time not laughing in his face because he looked like an excited child in that moment. Apparently the two were another childhood dream. And catching her thought, he just shook his head, “No! I knew of them when we were in Ennor. They lived near the Shire in Eriador. The Iarwain are rare but very ancient Beings. I never thought to meet one in all my days.”

 

“That’s true. They are powerful elementals, but they are usually given to a specific area to guard and nurture. I wonder if any others came along with you. I take it you didn’t notice them following you when you traveled?” Eonwë inquired.

 

“No. But we were traveling with the Onodrim. They could have easily have hidden themselves amongst them and we’d never have known it. There were hundreds of them with us. I’d say they are rather the same, aren’t they. The Onodrim and the Iarwain. Both placed here by Father Eru.”

 

“Well, the Iarwain were already here when we came. The Onodrim were placed here when Lord Aulë created the dwarves and Lady Yavanna saw they would destroy her trees. She wanted something to protect them. Now there is nothing to protect them from the second-born.”

 

“I’m afraid that can no longer be our concern. We had the world for quite a while and now it’s their turn. I hope they manage it well and learn from their mistakes. Because they are certainly making a lot of them right now.” Thranduil said ruefully. Then he noticed that the wagons were making their way over the bridge and he was glad they had a large courtyard. Then Mablung informed him they didn’t need to worry about that as they had a supply entrance and stables large enough for all the horses and wagons Thranduil had brought.

 

“Are you sure? I doubt you know exactly how many wagons my father brought with him!” Mírphen smirked and Mablung looked at him and sighed because he couldn’t tell him from his brother.

 

Deciding to play it safe, he said “No need to fret Your Highness. Doriath was the largest realm that had trade with many kingdoms during its day. We will be able to handle the load.”

 

“Your Highness?” and both Mírphen and Mírchil groaned for they had hoped, like their father, to get away from royal duties and titles. And Thranduil felt for them. He knew just how they felt.

 

But right now he had to direct the wagons and he needed Mablung and Beleg to help him do that. And Thranduil was shocked by some of the faces he saw driving the wagons. Faces he never expected to see away from Aman. Galadriel was there with Celeborn. Celebrian was there with her husband Elrond and their sons, Elladan and Elrohir.

 

Finrod and Amarië were there with their twin daughters Finyanis and Finwien. And Angrod and Eldalótë and their children Orodreth and Cenedel and their children Gil-galad and Finduilas. And all of them were paired up driving the wagons. Thranduil wondered what was going on. Then he thought he understood. Instead of sending their squires they came themselves because they also wished to rebuild their lost kingdoms.

 

Well and good. Best to get everyone settled as quickly as possible. But he also took note of the single ladies and thought that this might be an opportunity. Yes, they were Noldor, but none of that mattered anymore and if they were unattached then Finduilas, Finyanis and Finwien might find some Thranduilions to their liking.

 

And when Thranduil had looked at the twin daughters of Finrod he’d gotten a thoughtful look upon his face and Felagund became disturbed by this new King’s attention to his daughters. Until he saw the kings twin sons and suddenly understood his interest. Ah! The king has single sons! And looking the ellyn over he approved of what he saw.

 

And catching the king’s eye he quirked a grin at him and got an answering smirk in return. Well, it looked like he’d be staying with the king for awhile anyway, so he might as well see if they took to each other and then tried not to yelp as his wife pinched him for his impudence.

 

But he just grinned unrepentantly at her and told her to look at those ellyn and tell him they weren’t worthy. And when Amarië tsked at her mate and looked at the young peredhel she too got a thoughtful look on her face. And luckily for the parents, their children had no clue they were being scrutinized and paired up in their elders minds.

 

All the names in legend were there it seemed. Amdir and his wife Glíhel with their son Amroth with his wife Nimrodel. Turgon and his Elenwë with their daughter Idril and her husband Tuor. Glorfindel was there with his wife Alimiel and their son Almáreano. Aredhel and Eöl were also there as was their daughter Faila.

 

And all of them were there to assist in the restoration of Menegroth, for they all believed that if they got the new High King settled then he’d be more kindly disposed to their requests to settle their old lands upon them once again. Then a veritable army of artisans and helping hands followed and they began unloading the wagons and bringing all into Menegroth.

 

Chapter Text

Thranduil and Vallis, along with Beleg and Wendil had gone down into the depths of the city to see to the water sources which pooled in myriad caverns. Beleg was actually concerned because they were much deeper than he’d remembered them, but Thranduil reassured him.

 

“That’s because no one is using the water currently. As soon as the city is populated again the levels will go back down to something more manageable. Right now I just want to see which ones provide water to the kitchens and I’d like to see if bathing pools can be installed.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because you haven’t lived until you've bathed in one, that’s why.” Wendil said with feeling and Thranduil smirked because even he hadn’t realized how much everyone would miss the bathing pools. Water from the kitchens could be heated on stoves if needed, but the bathing pools? Those had been a treat!

 

“How is the water pumped into the city?” Vallis asked.

 

“Dwarf-works. From what I recall they worked on the premise of pressure and some are steam fed.”

 

“Steam fed? That’s promising. I’d like to see these machines if you recall where they are, please.”

 

And when Beleg looked dubious, Thranduil intervened to lay out the facts on his wife once and for all, “Please do as she asks. My wife is from another world and was brought here by the Valor. She was an engineer on her world and created and built a travel systems that allowed her people to travel across the stars where they relocated vast numbers of their people to colonize new worlds and save their species from extinction.”

 

“Yes, she is very clever and understands concepts only the ainur are aware of. I look forward to having long chats with her.” Wendil said shyly.

 

“I told you the elves would understand such very well. They have very quick and keen minds. You have to learn to trust them again, my dearest son-in-honor.” Vallis said gently.

 

“I know Dami understands when I speak of such. That is what drew us together in the first place. I...We were told not to share, after...well, you know.” he concluded uncomfortably.

 

“You’re talking about the Fëanorionnath, aren’t you? Valor! They are still shaken in Aman about that whole affair.” Beleg exclaimed and then sighed, “That’s one of the reasons most of us came back when they gave us the choice.” then he smiled, “Though I’d have to say most of us came back because this is where our hearts have always lain. And the young ones just wanted the sheer adventure of it all and I certainly can’t blame them for that.”

 

“Well, none of this is to the purpose. We’d really like to see these dwarf-works and beloved? I’d like you to inspect them and see if they can also be incorporated elsewhere. We have no dwarves, but we have at least two sons who have been tinkering with their smaller works for a couple of centuries now.”

 

“It’s actually good that they’ve been tinkering with the smaller workings. They have a basic understanding of the mechanics that will stand them in good stead. Believe it or not, the smaller the object the harder it is to configure them. Those toys are probably more complicated than the larger machines.”

 

“Beloved, recall that I told you of the crystal caves here. I’d like you to take a look at them and see if any of the crystals can be used as a power source as you used them on your world. I know we are barbarians by your standards, but if I am to be king here it is my duty to provide the people here with a good quality of life.”

 

"You're not barbarians. But you rely on magic for a lot of things that could be managed in other ways." Vallis said, but realized that their magic was their technology in a way. Just as her crystals were magic to them.

 

“If anyone can do that it is you, honored-father.” Aiwendil smiled, as he had a very high opinion of Thranduil, not the least being that he was one of a very few that had ever shown him respect and had offered him true friendship when he’d been dismissed by everyone else.

 

And he didn’t know it, but his near hero-worship of his father-in-honor went a long way in convincing Beleg Strongbow that this ellon, who he’d remembered as an impish child would be a worthy ruler. For if a maia thought so highly of him, and the Valar had made a point of bringing him a wife from another world and told them all specifically that he would be their High-King then surely he was someone of quality. He had been loyal to Elu Thingol and his king had placed his crown on this elfling’s head himself. That was good enough for him. Plus, it also helped that his visage was all over the place, evidently placed there by the Valar themselves.

 

So, Beleg showed them the dwarf-works and like everything else within the city, as soon as they entered the machinery began working, pumping water throughout the city. This was not something Thranduil actually wanted and they quickly backed out of the room and then he put a hand to his eyes and groaned. Vallis’ eyes widened and asked, “What is that?”

 

“That, my beloved wife, is a whole lot of people who have just been drenched by water all over the city. I haven’t spoken the oaths of kingship here, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I’m already connected to it and the forests that surround it. And right now there are a lot of very unhappy people!”

 

“Well, this will never do! How can we inspect the machinery if it turns on every time we enter a room.” And then her eyes widened and she stepped back in the room and Thranduil was about to protest when he saw that nothing happened. “It’s you! Husband, I’m afraid you can’t help with this. Perhaps you can make a tour of these Halls and see where the pools can be placed.”

 

“How will I know if they have a water source?” And then wished he hadn’t asked when she answered, “Just look for the puddles!” and he smirked because he’d walked right into that one!

 

~0~

 

Mírphen and Mírchil had been working on one of the pipe outlets that was in the floor of one of the chambers that their parents were going to occupy. They seemed just made for a bathing pool and they’d also noticed there were pipe outlets in the ceiling and wondered if the water had flowed from the ceiling like a waterfall right in the room. Then the two put their heads together and dreamed up something that they thought would truly be wondrous and if it worked out it would make life in the city one of great comfort and luxury.

 

While they were inspecting the pipes a burst of water came come and drenched both of them with icy cold water. Exclaiming loudly in shock and indignation they burst out into the passageway soaking wet. Then they caught each other’s eyes and burst into merry laughter and both exclaimed, “Ada!” and doubled over in laughter for they knew it had been their father who had set off the waterworks.

 

“Do the sons of the King usually go about soaked to the skin back where you come from?” A voice asked and the two stopped their laughing and looked curiously at who had spoken. Being young and not necessarily interested in history, they had no idea who was addressing them. But being well mannered young ellyn, they simply grinned and bowed.

 

“Indeed not, my lord. Our father would be most displeased with us right now. At least in ordinary circumstances.”

 

“Indeed yes! For our current state is of his doing and not to be laid at our door at all. We were merely being dutiful sons and inspecting the pipes.”

 

Lifting a brow Finrod Felagund asked, “And how is your current state the fault of your father?”

 

“Because he walked into the room with the pump and it activated.” Thranduil answered for his sons and stopped to inspect them. “Forgive me, my sons. I didn’t know.”

 

“No harm done. But ada, the water was frightfully cold. We’ll have to do something about that!” Mírphen exclaimed.

 

“But Ada, we have the most marvelous idea! You and nana will simply love it!” Mírchil enthused.

 

“And I’m most interested in hearing it, my sons. But perhaps you should go and change so your not dripping all over the corridors.”

 

“Yes, ada!” they both chimed.

 

“May we come speak with you after?” Mírphen asked.

 

“Of course, but please go now and meet me back here as soon as you’re changed.” And both turned to leave, but before they left, they turned back and in perfect synchronicity, bowed to Felegund and said in unison, “My Lord.” and then they were gone.

 

“You have very polite young ellyn there. You must be very proud. Everyone knows of your eldest and his part in overthrowing the lieutenant of Morgoth.”

 

“My firstborn, yes. I’m very proud of him and I’m glad to have him back with me. I’ve missed him terribly, though I’d rather hoped to find him wed now and perhaps with little ones of his own.” Thranduil smiled and then looking down at the puddle, waved his hand over it and it evaporated before Felegund’s startled eyes.

 

“That’s quite a talent you have there, my King.”

 

Thranduil merely shrugged and said, “I have a feeling I’ll be doing that a lot today. Hmmm…” and he put his hand on the floor and was able to reach out and find all such puddles and dried them all. Standing and making an exclamation of triumph, he said “There! All done. Now I won’t have to wander all over the place looking for puddles.”

 

“I had come to offer my services to you, but I’m afraid my meager talents may be useless to you here.”

 

“Nonsense! You designed and had Nargothrond created. Your help will be invaluable. But tell me. Had you the chance to see if that realm was still there?” Thranduil asked, for he knew it had been located on the western side.

 

“Yes, indeed, my lord! And you’ll never guess? It was as these Halls. As though it had been remade and just waiting for rehabitation.”

 

“That is well, indeed. That means all the old realms are intact. I hope you know that you are welcome to those lands and to take up your crown again.” but Finrod held up his hand to stop the High King.

 

“Nay, sire. I’m not ready yet. We all agreed to make Menegroth as new and get you and yours settled before we even think of going to our old realms.”

 

“And I thank you for it. But don’t you think that some of them should be given leave to go? It will be awful crowded here if we try to house all those in the land.”

 

“Yes, I see what you mean. Many are still out in the forest and some flat out refuse to come inside at all. I don’t know why they bothered to come if they weren’t willing to help.” Finrod said in disapproval but was surprised when Thranduil chuckled and shook his head.

 

“Oh, nay! That is not the way of it. Those that won’t come in are the Silvan and my most beloved subjects. They have ever been children of the woods and are more at home in them. I should go out and give them leave to begin building their villages again. They will settle all around this city and only come in for a Yule Feast. Though there must be a number that will wish to settle elsewhere. I believe the Taur-im-Duinath will suit them much better. I hope Lenwë or Denethor are here with us.” he said thoughtfully.

 

“You would banish them?”

 

“Banish? Never! I love them. And I love them enough to free them. That also means they are free to stay. The lands here are vast and if they wish to remain they may do so. I will care for them as I have for an Age. But I will not hold them against their will if they wish to take their first beloved Lord to themselves again and settle elsewhere.” and he sighed, “Sometimes you have to let the ones you love go and find their own way. Whatever they wish I will make it so.”

 

“Yes, well, you won’t get rid of us so easily, my Lord. Someone has to keep your feet on the ground.” a new voice said.

 

“Galion!” Thranduil exclaimed and embraced the surprised ellon and lifted him off his feet and twirled him around, before he set him back on his feet. “I’m so glad to see you again! Is your wife and son with you?”

 

“Yes, my lord. We are all here.”

 

“I suppose you want your old job back? You should know I’ve remarried and have three more children. Oh, and two grandchildren, who really are children.”

 

“Well, I must say domestic bliss has certainly improved your temper.” and in an aside to the Noldorin Lord, said, “He could be very grumpy in the old days.”

 

“That’s because you insisted upon dressing me up like I was a child’s doll.” and also to the Noldorin Lord, “It was most vexing!”

 

And Galion, looking in disapproval at his Lord’s lack of clothing, for Thranduil was once again in his shirtsleeves, breeches and boots...only. With no crown or circlet upon his head, the former butler tut-tutted at the complete lack of accoutrements to his Lord’s personage and said, “Well, it looks as though you can’t dress yourself without me. Just look at you my Lord!” he exclaimed in disapproval.

 

“Ah-ah! My wife likes me like this. And I find I like it as well. And I’m the King. That should count for something!”

 

“We are back, ada. Oh, hello! Who is this?” Mírphen greeted as he and his brother returned, dressed much like their father, but dry and only slightly damp hair.

 

“This is Galion. I’ve talked about him. Galion these are my youngest, Mírphen and Mírchil. I’ll let you figure out who is who.” he said with a grin and knowing this was his sons favorite game.

 

“Greetings, Galion. We are pleased to meet you. As long as you don’t try to dress us!” Mírphen said.

 

“Indeed, it’s a pleasure, sir. But as my brother said, we prefer to dress ourselves.” Mírchil agreed.

 

Finrod Felegund just watched this play out with a thoughtful look upon his face and tried not to laugh at the pained look on the former butler’s face.

 

Galion did, indeed, looked pained, “I can see that protocol and discipline has lapsed to a woeful degree since my departure.”

 

“Well, you are welcome to our disreputable household whenever you wish to take up your duties again. But I warn you, you’ll never win in a war against my wife. She is indeed formidable and is the true power behind the throne.” Thranduil said with amusement, his sons nodding vigorously and Felegund could no longer contain himself and burst into merry laughter.

 

“Oh, my Lord! I’m not sure I do wish to leave! For I haven’t been this entertained in all my long years! With you here, this city will be….fun!”

 

“Well, you know you’re welcome to stay. But what of Nargothrond?” Thranduil smiled.

 

“I have a brother, Angrod. Perhaps he will wish it. Or my nephew Orodreth. He was king there after I died.” Finrod chuckled.

 

“Well, let’s not be hasty. Your people will perhaps have something to say about the matter. But come, let's see what my sons wish to show me before they fidget themselves to death.”

 

Chapter Text

When the twins had explained what they had in mind Thranduil thought they were definitely their mother’s sons! It was ingenious! And he could tell by the baffled look on Galion’s face and the awe on Finrod’s face that they had at least piqued the Noldor’s interest. Thranduil, himself, was excited.

 

“Do you really think you can do that? And what about the other chambers?”

 

“We’d need to see the original plans for these Halls, ada. But if the pipework is what we think it is? We don’t see that this will be a problem at all and we can have the pools up and running fairly quickly.”

 

“But how would you delve them?” The Noldor asked.

 

“We wouldn’t need to delve them.” Thranduil said and then looked uncomfortable. Finrod held up his hand and said, “No need to explain. We’ll call that realm business, shall we?” and then smiled when Thranduil looked relieved.

 

“My Lord, if I may be dismissed? I’d like to find chambers in the servants area so I can be near when you require my services.”

 

“No, you won’t be doing that. I don’t know where the servants chambers are or if they will remain servants chambers. Perhaps we can knock a few walls out. Or at least put some doors in to enlarge them. I want you and your family to pick out chambers in this quadrant. Has your son found himself a wife yet?”

 

“Uh, yes, my Lord.”

 

“Ah! Congratulations on that! Someday I hope these two will find nice ellyth who’ll knock some sense into them!” Throwing a look at his suddenly uncomfortable sons. “Grandchildren?” he directed the question to his rehired Butler.

 

“One granddaughter, my Lord.” He said proudly.

 

“How old?”

 

“She just turned forty five.”

 

“Oh, then she is babysitting age. Perhaps she can look after my grandchildren sometime? Anyway, I want your family to pick out chambers that suit their need. You aren’t servants. You’re practically family and you’ll provide for your family accordingly. Is that understood.”

 

“Yes, my Lord.”

 

“Good! You may leave so you can express your disapproval to your family in private. As you pick out new quarters.”

 

“Yes, my Lord.” The Butler replied with a smirk and left them. Then Thranduil turned his attention on his sons.

 

“Well, my sons, you have my permission, but I want you to work with Wendil, do you understand?” And the King raised a brow at his sons who assumed the look of utter innocence which caused their father to narrow his eyes in warning, which only intensified the angelic expressions of his sons faces. Faces that looked so much like his own. “Fine. But you heard me. You will go find your brother-in-honor before you do anything. Now go before Eru Himself strikes you down.” and then smiled as they fled the chambers.

 

“Oh, I’ve seen that look before. It’s amazing how they can create a mein of complete innocence when you know very well they’ve been up to no good. So, what do you think they were up to?”

 

“It’s not what they were up to, so much as what they’ve already done. My thought is they’ve already been experimenting with this idea of theirs and they know it’ll work. Which is why they’ve pitched it to me just now. I suspect they only came in here to see if the piping was the same in here as in their own chambers.”

 

“So do you plan to check their chambers?”

 

“Eru, no! Sometimes it’s best not to know everything, otherwise I’d be a bald ellon by now. As long as they haven’t flooded the corridors, which they’ve done back in the Greenwood, then I’m better off not knowing.”

 

“I wonder if it’s a twin thing. My ellyth can do that innocent look very well. And Valar! You should see when they’ve been caught in their mischief! They can bring tears to their eyes and make their bottom lip tremble like they’ve had their honey cakes taken from them. It’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And even more pathetic that it always works on me! Luckily my wife is completely immune to it.”

 

“Well, at least neither of ours are like the unholy terrors that are the sons of Lord Elrond. Oh, eh...I forgot. They’re your nephews. My apologies, my lord!” But Finrod held up a hand to forestall him.

 

“Nay! No need. And yes! I’ve met them. And they haven’t changed, even in Aman.”

 

“Well, they’ve had it rather hard during their lives. They more than any others need to find themselves wives to love them and give them comfort. But who can also put a halt to their headstrong need to try and break their own necks. Thank Eru my sons aren’t that kind of crazy. They have their own brand, make no mistake, but it more involves experiments that blow up in their faces.”

 

“So they are creative?”

 

“Aye! And they’re very good at it. They’re also trained foresters. Thankfully all the wars were over before they were even born. They’ve lived in peaceful times their entire lives.”

 

“The same with my ellyth. They were born in Aman, of course, where there are no wars. But coming here is a great adventure to them and I’m glad they wanted to come. I was born in Aman, but this land always had a vibrancy that the other just lacked. I can’t explain it better than that.”

 

“I’ve never been to Aman, I was born here. Right in this city, as a matter of fact. I think we have an affinity for this land because it was what was specifically created for us by Eru Himself.”

 

“I remember it when Thingol was King. I admired it so much I made Nargothrond in its image. So any help I can give you would be my honor to give.”

 

“And I thank you for it. Right now I’m concerned solely with running water and heating it. I wish everyone to have running hot and cold water and self flushing personal systems in each chamber. I also wish to have public bathing areas and facilities. Once that is accomplished then everyone can move into the chambers that suit their family size and convenience.”

 

“I assume from your conversation with your butler you are not going to assign chambers according to rank?”

 

“What rank? And why does any of that matter now? We are all eldar, after all.” Thranduil said firmly and Finrod decided that he liked this ellon and he would make a fine King.

 

“Can I suppose that you have the same hopes for your sons that I have for my daughters?”

 

“Yes, but don’t even think on it or it will come to naught. But if you wish to stay here for awhile it will give them a chance to run into one another and hopefully…..Well, we’ll just have to hope.”

 

“Hope is all I have. They certainly made no connection in Aman and there were plenty of ellyn there. Perhaps they will find your sons exotic enough to pique their interest.”

 

“I have another I wish to see wed, as well. I also noticed that your nephew, Orodreth has a single daughter as well. Though none of this is my call to make. It was just nice to see so many unattached ellyth that, as you say, seem exotic enough to pique their interest. I guess it’s hard to find a romantic attachment when you’ve grown up with the only eligible ellyth around. I had hopes that Legolas would wed Lord Elrond’s daughter, but that was not to be her fate. She chose her grandmother, Lúthien’s fate. In some ways that poor family was cursed.”

 

“And blessed. It was through them that we were saved from Morgoth at long last.”

 

“Yes, at the cost of the land. But let’s not dwell on that. The land has been gifted back to us and I am well pleased with that. And the scions of Thingol are here as well. It seems strange to me to be chosen King when they are here.”

 

“I’ve met Elrond and while he may wish for his own realm to be Lord of, I can’t see him as High King. Besides, you are one of those scions yourself, if you think about it. Thingol is your uncle. But tell me, besides the realms that were in existence before, how would you divide the land?”

 

“I have no idea, but there is plenty of it. And I’m rather counting on areas that were uninhabitable in the past to be verdant now. My Athney says that depending on the position of the land we could have a very temperate climate which would open up vast areas of the land for cultivation and habitation.. Though, I would still wish for snow in the winter. In any case, I’m sure we’ll have to send out scouts to see the condition of the land. I know I must soon give leave for the Mearas to leave and I had hoped that Ard-galen or Lothlann would be a good place for them. The Onodrim have already claimed the Estolad. And the Iarwain now have Dimbar.”

 

“How is that going to work out? The Shepherds, I mean. And I’m sorry, what are the Mearas?”

 

“The Mearas are horses who are very intelligent and understand speech. They are the descendants of Nahar, Lord Oromë’s steed. As for the Shepherds? I have no idea. But I’m sure everything will work out just fine. It has so far.”

 

“You’re an optimist. And it seems you’ve brought all the exotic life from Ennor. Did you leave anything for the second born to marvel at.”

 

“I’m responsible to bringing the Mearas, that is true. But I didn’t bring all of them. The Shepherds we met on the way and they asked if they could travel with us. It was the Valar that told them of our journey. They agreed to come because they were promised their Entwives. The Iarwain I simply didn’t know about. But again, I would lay all of that at the feet of the Valar. And I wouldn’t say I’m an optimist. I have fought against the shadow for over an Age. But the last two hundred years have been….interesting, to say the least. I have just learned to, roll with it, as my wife would say.”

 

Then Thranduil could feel his wife coming and turned to greet her and saw she wasn’t alone. Eonwë, Wendil and his sons were with her.

 

“Athney, come and meet my new friend, Finrod Felegund. Felegund, this is my wife Athney.” and then was amused when his wife put out her hand to shake his. This had been a gesture of hers that was completely foreign to the elves but she couldn’t break it as it was so ingrained within her former culture.

 

So he grabbed Felegund’s hand and placed it in her grasp and she clasped and shook it once and he saw it was a variation on the warriors grasp and accepted the gesture for what it was intended. A Greeting.

 

“Please to meet you, Sir.” and then turning to her husband she said, “Beloved, we’re going to make the pool if you’re agreeable. I believe the boys told you what they want. Shall we proceed?”

 

“Have at it, my love.” and then took Felegund by the arm to get them out of the way.

 

“Don’t go too far, dearest. We might need you.”

 

“Why would you need me?”

 

“Because, you are the King. You already have a connection to this city and the land. If it will not cooperate you can tell it to do what we want.” Wendil said patiently.

 

And Thranduil looked to Eonwë who only shook his head and said, “I’m only here to observe. I have a theory and want to see it play out, if you don’t mind.” To which Thranduil simply shrugged his acquiescence.

 

Then Vallis took her sons hands so she could see what they wanted and she began to change the molecular structure of the rock and it began to liquify. In this way she was able to shape it into a depression and take the excess liquid stone and form a rocky structure around the shower head in the ceiling that was up against the back wall.

 

When she was done it had the shape of a deep pool with a waterfall in the corner. She’d even shaped steps and benches around the perimeter and depressions for the soaps and shampoos. Basically she’d copied the pools in their chamber back in Eryn Galen with the added feature of the waterfall that could be used as a shower.

 

And then Wendil seeded the face of the waterfall and chanting a valarin spell, wisteria vines grew up the face of it and bloomed into thick and fragrant blossoms of pink, lavender and white. 

 

“Oh nana! Wendil! That is perfect! Just how we saw it! Now we only have, what? About a million more of these to make?” Mírchil grinned, well pleased.

 

“I like it. How long before we can test it out?” Thranduil asked.

 

“Well, you are King, honored father. Can you feel the pipes to their water source? You should be able to turn that pump on and heat the source.” Wendil said.

 

Then Thranduil closed his eyes and did what Wendil suggested and before he knew what he was doing he was mumbling the spell that he’d used so long ago to heat the water in his Halls and Eonwë’s interest was piqued when he heard the valarin spell. And then water started to flow into the pool that also had a natural draining system built into them as the dwarves had designed so long ago.

 

And then the water pressure built until it reached the shower head which filled the basin at the top of the waterfall and then it, too, began to fall into the pool in a perfect facsimile of a natural waterfall and the scent of the wisteria filled the bathing chamber.

 

"Well, now that I know that will work I plan on putting a lot more windows in this place. We'll need sand so I can make some window glass." Vallis said thoughtfully.

 

"Oh that would be wonderful, beloved. I was even thinking we could use skylights to bring in some natural sunlight into this city." Thranduil enthused.

 

It would be several hours before the pool was full and the natural circulating system had a chance to start moving the waters to keep them clean and clear. But it was flowing and Thranduil put his hand under the water and found the temperature perfect. Not too warm and not too chill.

 

“Alright, I’ve just wished for it to fill this one pool. Do you have any others that are ready?”

 

“Yes, we already did the boys chambers, your parents and Wendil and Dami’s. So if you can fill those as well, we can move on to the next set of rooms.” And Thranduil mapped out those chambers mentioned and activated those pathways, as well.

 

“Yes, it is done. Alright then. Felegund! Shall we go do yours next?” The king smiled and the Noldorin Lord thought these people were quite handy. Perhaps he should ask them to come to Nargothrond, for this was wonderful. Not even Aman had these!

 

And so they went, from chamber to chamber creating the bathing pools and if they had a shower head, they got a waterfall. Thranduil also found and heated the water source for the kitchens and his cooks, who already had their sinks and stoves installed, soon found they had both running hot and cold water.

 

And they heaved a sigh of relief that their work had just been cut in half and they now had large kitchens that were even roomier than the ones they found to their liking in the Halls of Thranduil. And really, these were still the Halls of Thranduil, weren’t they? They may be in a new land, but these were their King’s Halls and he was making sure they had all the creature comforts they’d had when they had lived in Greenwood the Great. Just more!

 

Chapter Text

As the months passed Vallis, Thranduil, Wendil and Eonwë went about the city and changed the layout here, enlarged a room there and at Eonwë’s suggestion she stored all the excess rock on the cliff face near where the bridge was. She didn’t understand why at first and then he shared with her what he thought she should do with it and then she had tears in her eyes, for she thought it a grand idea.

 

Thranduil had long since placed his enormous stone doors at the entrance of the cavern and they opened and closed at his Will as they had when they had adorned his Halls in the Greenwood. He had also taken Vallis to one of the crystal caverns he’d remembered as a youth and she was amazed at the size and purity of them.

 

She found three that she thought would be perfect for what she had in mind and Thranduil had them removed and she and Eonwë worked to shape them in the manner she wished. Then she and the two maia set about raising the structures she wished for and she shaped them in the manner that had been reminiscent of her homeworld, but with an elven flair as they would be the new entrance to her husband’s kingdom.

 

Then she set the crystals in large platforms that had been specially crafted to hold them and Thranduil had asked Eöl if he would craft them and the ellon had been delighted to be asked and had worked diligently and hard to get them just right. And when Vallis had seen them she had declared them absolutely perfect and Eöl had beamed with pride.

 

Then she had imbued the chosen and shaped crystals with all the qualities of the crystals that had been used on her world to keep harmony and balance within not only the kingdom, but all of Doriath, as well. And then Thranduil, with the help of Eonwë had also imbued the crystals with the ability to split and diffuse the light spectrum into the infrared, visible and ultraviolet frequencies.

 

In this way they could be used as a light source, a beacon at night or dimmed so none could see them. But more importantly, if there was someone trapped or in danger they could also be used to see body heat in the day or night. They had other applications, as well, but it was to be hoped they’d never need such. For the crystals could also be used as a powerful weapon if it was ever needed. But, for the most part, its use was for healing and maintaining all life forms, and if needed, surveillance.

 

When she was done, Legolas made his approval known as he stood beside her and commented, “Well, it’s not pink, but it is a lovely white and gold tone that shines under Anar. And I’m sure it will shine under the stars and Ithil, as well.” and then kissing her on her cheek, said “It’s beautiful naneth. I hope it reminds you a little bit of your homeworld.”

 

“It does, son. But it’s also elfie enough that it fits in with this city. It was your grandfather’s suggestion.”

 

“Which one?” he asked dimpling at her, for he had a surplus of grandfathers at the moment. “And elfie?”

 

“The maia. And yes! Elfie! You people have your own style, after all.”

 

“That at least narrows it down, a bit. Though, one is half maia. Another is a quarter.”

 

“Yes, but only one is full, so let’s just agree that when I say maia and grandfather in the same sentence, I’m referring to Eonwë.” she said smiling back at him.

 

“Well, I would take that as a high compliment, then. I suppose he wants you to feel at home.” And indicating the spiral tower, “And what better way to make you feel at home than one of those twisted towers with crystals installed within them.”

 

“You’ll stay here, won’t you son?” Vallis asked earnestly, misgiving on her face, “I know your father has missed you terribly. So have your brothers and sister. And so have I. I’ve greatly missed your smiling face and good nature.”

 

“Yes, of course I’ll stay. I may go out after awhile and explore some. But for now I’m content to stay right where I am.”

 

“Oh, that’s good to hear! That will make your father very happy.” And Legolas laughed merrily and escorted his mother back within what was now being called Cŷr-Menegroth. Or Menegroth Renewed.

 

So Menegroth, as it had been in the past, became no more, but was redesigned and even more fair than it had been when Thingol had been king. And Thranduil was now King of Cŷr-Menegroth and many of those who had lived there in the past took up their lives again. Though many found that this King didn’t feel the need for advisers outside a handful that had been his in Eryn Galen and those of his family that had chosen to stay.

 

The former counselors would have to find something else to do with themselves as would the warriors, though Thranduil kept Mablung on as his Captain of the Army, though they had no army to speak of. But because of their long years of fighting against the Shadow of Sauron, Thranduil knew his Silvans were perhaps the finest warriors in the land. Beleg was also counted as an adviser and Thranduil made him the Game Warden to keep a watch on fishing and gaming within the forest. He didn’t want the life within the forest to be disrupted too badly by their presence.

 

And now that all the chambers had some form of bathing pools and the public facilities and pools had been added, one of the most beautiful and functional parts of the city was reborn in the form of the vast waterfall that fell from the recycling water-chamber level and tumbled down into the River Esgalduin. There it was tumbled about the rocks and cleansed yet again by the filtering algae and then sucked up again to flow back into the city to go through yet another filtering system.

 

Through this triple filtration system, improved upon by his wife, the water was always crystal clear and at no point did it ever pollute their environment neither inside nor outside the city. And this was yet another function of the crystals within the towers. To cleanse and purify their water.

 

The Silvan who wished to be near their King had received permission and so they had rebuilt their villages and set up the form of government they had been accustomed to in the Brethil, Neldoreth and Region forests. Each Village chose an Elder to lead them and if they had any disputes they couldn’t reconcil amongst themselves they brought the matter before the King for his Judgement.

 

Thranduil had expected Eöl to approach him to take back lordship of Nan Elmoth, but Eöl merely smiled and said he’d long since outgrown his wish to be back under the stars and asked if he and his wife and daughter might not remain in Menegroth. Thranduil was surprised but was quite happy to grant this request, for Eöl was perhaps the finest smith the eldar had ever produced.

 

“Of course you have my permission and blessings. Please let me know if there is anything you need if you wish to take up smithing once more.”

 

“My Lord, King, I would very much like to begin working at the forge once more. If you could perhaps see your way….”

 

“Absolutely! In fact you’re in charge of the Smithy! Hire anyone you like. Make anything you like! I take it you know where it’s at? And if it’s not in a convenient location or it needs to be modernized or enlarged, let me know and we’ll fix, enlarge or move it for you!”

 

Eöl smiled in spite of himself. He liked this young ellon’s enthusiasm and found it infectious. “I think I’ll just inspect it then let you know if I need anything.”

 

“Splendid! I’ll leave you to it then.”

 

And Thranduil left thinking he would still need governors of Nan Elmoth and Amon Obel. He had other ideas, but it would help if people actually asked. He couldn’t offer in case they felt he was trying to get rid of them. And if they didn’t ask he had to assume they wished to stay here in the city. And the city was running in good order with so many helping hands to make it so. The only problem he saw was it was overcrowded and the only thing that would alleviate that was for the former princes of Beleriand to take up their crowns once again and resettle their kingdoms.

 

Cŷr-Menegroth

 

 

Chapter Text

It was just after their year anniversary of their return to Beleriand and Thranduil had thrown a large feast, declaring that day to be a High Feast Day in Doriath. Thranduil was pleased to see that his sons were chatting up the daughters of Finrod and then pretended he hadn’t noticed. The last thing he wished to convey was his approval on that front.

 

But it was also at this time that some had approached him to request permission to leave and reestablish their own realms. Thranduil was glad, not because he wanted to be shed of them, but because the city was crowded and they needed to ease the burden on both the food supply and the cooks who had to prepare it for everyone. And to a larger degree, the water usage.

 

The dwarf-works had been well made, but even they were straining under the excessive population. At no time in the past had so many people been within the city walls. And it was one of the few times that Thranduil was grateful to the Silvan’s aversion to cities in general, and caves on principle.

 

Círdan approached and explained that he wished to return to the Falas with his Falathrim and Thranduil granted him his land of old in Eglarest. Eglarest was the southern of the two Havens of the Falas that lay at the mouth of the River Nenning on the western coast of Beleriand. The northern haven was called Brithombar and Círdan didn’t wish to be Lord of both Havens and so Thranduil would have to think of who he wished to have as Steward there.

 

His great grandfather, Eonwë had also made known his intention to leave with his wife, Yvon and reestablish Vinymar in Nevrast. And when Thranduil had asked his grandfather about the so-called training he wished to subject Thranduil and Vallis to, Eonwë demurred.

 

“I don’t think it necessary. Aiwendil is right. You use it all the time. You have your whole life, regardless of any block Melian put on you. But you use it for your people and I would bet you always have. Any teaching I would have given would have entailed much the same sort of discipline that you use instinctively.”

 

“And what’s that, grandfather?” Thranduil asked ditifully for he respected his grandfather, but was glad to hear he’d escape the schoolroom even if it was for magical usage.

 

“Not to use it selfishly. To only use it for the good of people and not to make yourself a ruler because you can do things others can’t or because you wish for power over them. And that’s what you’ve done since becoming King. A kingship you didn’t want. So there really isn’t anything more I can teach you. You’ve done all that and more over the course of your life. And I’m proud of you, my grandson. Very proud, indeed.”

 

“Thank you, grandfather. It pleases me to hear you say so. And all I can do is promise I will always look after my people.”

 

“And that is all any of us can promise and do. Their welfare comes before our own.”

 

And then the problem of Brithombar solved itself when his grandfather, Thraphen, asked if he and his wife, Thranduil’s grandmother, Raenel could hold Stewardship of the Haven. Thranduil agreed, as he knew his grandfather wished to be Lord there since it was close to his father, Eonwë. And there were those who would follow him and take him as their Lord since they were those who’d had Olwë as King and they would take his grandson as theirs in this new land.

 

Thranduil had learned over the past year that his grandfather had lived in Tol Eressëa near his grandfather, Olwë and probably liked being near the sea. If nothing else Thranduil thought it would give him a chance to visit the sea every so often with his wife and children. But perhaps not in the carriage. He’d have to make sure there were good roads between all these new realms.

 

Círdan, who held the Elostirion Seeing Stone gave custody of it over to Eonwë who already knew the city of Vinyamar was in the same perfect order as Menegroth had been. And luckily, Thranduil had not been the only one to bring everything including the kitchen sink when they made the trek to West Beleriand when it had come time for the elves of Aman to leave.

 

So, when Círdan, Thraphen and Eonwë made ready to leave, along with the host that would follow them they knew they had plenty of provisions to provide comfort for their people. There Eonwë would keep the Palantir which was still keyed to the Master Stone in Avallónë on the island of Tol Eressëa and in this way they would keep in contact with Aman and vice versa.

 

And Círdan had already sent his Falathrim to sail their ships to the Falas, for he had been hoping the High King would restore those lands to them. And Thranduil had requested that Círdan teach his grandfather and his people the craft of ship building and Círdan agreed. He even went so far as to bestow a gift of ten ships to the High King’s grandfather as the grandson of Olwë shouldn’t be land bound.

 

When the host left, Thranduil and his sons accompanied them as they followed the Esgalduin and then they bore south following the Sirion. They traveled together until they came to the bridge just north of the forest that was at Nivrim and that is where they parted company and Thranduil bid them farewell for now and wished them all safe journey. Then they headed west until the host of Círdan veered South after they had crossed the Talath Dirnen.

 

Then once they had made it past the Taur-en-Faroth they crossed the River Narog and made ever southwards once again until they reach the Falas and Eglarest. There they found the Haven intact and the ships of the Falathrim already docked in the Bay where the River Nenning emptied into the sea. Círdan also found that his Falatrim had been busy during the past year and found there was nothing for him to do but take up his role of Stewardship and Lord of the South Havens.

 

Meanwhile, Thraphen found that when he crossed the river Nenning and made his way west the Haven at Brithombar was also ready for his Stewardship and even found the ships of Lord Círdan awaiting him in the Bay where the River Brithon emptied into the sea. He was tempted to take a ship out right away, but his wife, Raenel let him know in no uncertain terms that he should perhaps rethink that idea. But she did consent to accompany him on a ship so they could travel North to visit Vinymar and Thraphen’s father, Eonwë and his mother Yvon.

 

~0~

Then Turgon approached the King and asked leave to take himself and his family and people and remove themselves North to reestablish Gondolin. And Thranduil told him in response that yes, he was welcome to reestablish Gondolin, but that he wished for him to be Lord over all of Dorthonion.

 

“But, My Lord, King, my cousin Angrod was Lord of Dorthonion.”

 

“Yes, I know, but it’s not like that area is under siege like it was in the past. I had thought to make him Lord of Mithrim. It is very nice there and I think that land would prove well to his liking. I might even go so far as to give him Dor-lómin, as well. I haven’t made up my mind on that yet. But what say you?”

 

“I understand, my Lord, but perhaps you could tell him that? I wouldn’t wish for him to think I usurped his Stewardship.” Turgon said uncomfortably, causing Thranduil to chuckle.

 

“I understand that. Let’s get his blessings, shall we?” And Thranduil sent a messenger to summon Angrod to him while he and Turgon spoke over what he would do with the extra land. Thranduil hoped that several towns and villages might spring up to make the area a major population center. Especially if the land turned out to be as fertile as he was led to believe when his scouts had returned to give their reports. It had been as his wife had hoped and whatever position the land had in the sea they knew they definitely had four seasons and that suited Thranduil well, as he enjoyed them all.

 

When Angrod joined them Thranduil outlined what he wished to offer him and was pleased when it was met with enthusiasm. “Oh I know that land. I stayed there with my cousin, Fingon for awhile. It is most fair, though we called it Lóminórë back then. If you don’t mind, I’ll pass on Mithrim and just ask for Dor-lómin and build my city at Cirith Ninniach. Then the Ered Lómin, Ered Wethrin and Ered Mithrim will be my borders and the Cirith Ninniach the Northern reaches of our borders. Hithlum will have to be the Stewardship of another. Is this agreeable to you, My King?”

 

“Yes, that sounds fine to me, though I don’t think there is a settlement there yet?”

 

“Nay, there never was, but there is a passage through the ridge there. But I’ve always wished to live near that rainbow cleft. And who knows? The Firth of Drengist is there. Perhaps we can establish our own port there. We could direct trade inland from the coastal regions!” he said and Thranduil could see he was excited by the prospects there.

 

“Very well. Turgon, are you content to take Dorthonion and Angrod, you with Dor-lómin?” And at their nods of assent he had his scribes note the Stewardships.

 

Then he went to go find his wife so he could wind down a bit. When he found her she was tinkering with the lighting source in one of the public areas.

 

“Oh good! You’re here. I was going to call you. Those orbs that you placed. Do you think there is a way to get them to change shades?”

 

“Ummm, let’s see, shall we?” And Thranduil closed his eyes and thought about the orbs and pictured what he wished them to do and he thought of the colors of the rainbow, especially since he'd just been reminded of them by Angrod. When he heard his wife gasp in approval he opened his eyes and found they were changing shades gently just as he had pictured and thought it looked quite nice. Especially since the colors were being reflected on the waters of the large central fountain and the smaller ones that were dotted throughout the large public space.

 

It was beautiful and they were alone and Thranduil knew that there was no one in this area of the city. And as the thought crossed his mind he could feel the resistance in his wife. Her fear of being discovered. This just made him even more aroused and he pulled her towards him and bent to give her a lusty kiss as he ran his hands down her body. “Beloved.” he whispered.

 

“Not here!” Vallis whispered back frantically, already under his spell as she ran her hands over his chest without her own volition. The ground they were standing on was covered with a soft pillow moss and Thranduil lowered them both to lay upon it and he soon lost himself in her sweet scent, dropping featherlight kisses on her face and working his way down her throat and lingering there.

 

Unlike elven ears, her throat right at the base where her pulse beat was one of her sweet spots and he worked it knowing he was marking her there. She would be annoyed later, but right now she was reacting just as he wished her to. She was wearing a loose fitting gown, which was unusual for her, and he took full advantage of it and was steadily inching the hem up her legs as he began positioning himself between her thighs. When he entered her they both gasped and he began to moved within her slowly, for he didn’t wish to rush her.

 

Thrusting deeply and slowly he kept the pace going knowing it would drive her wild and soon enough she responded the way he knew she would, for they were a mated pair and knew how to prolong and drive one another mad with pleasure and desire. Then with the strength he knew she possessed, she wrapped her legs around him tightly and flipped them both over until she was on top of him and riding him hard. And from this position she could take him as deeply as she wished. And she wished for all of him.

 

She could feel that her climax was beginning and he took his thumb and began massaging her at her nub taking her all the way over the top and in so doing brought his own upon him and he came undone as they climaxed together. Then she collapsed upon him as the waves of aftershocks pulsed through them. And during it all they had been silent, with only their quickened breathing giving any indication as to their activities.

 

When they had gathered themselves once again, Vallis just looked at her sated and smug husband and asked, “Why, husband? Our chambers were not so far.”

 

“Because, my beloved wife, I was conceived here on this very spot and I just had to have the love of my life in the place where I began.”

 

“You know, you can be very sentimental sometimes, my love. I wouldn’t have wished to lay in the spot my parents created me, but I can see this meant a lot to you. I hope you know how very much I love you.”

 

“I do, my beloved wife. And I hope you know how much I love you in return. Plus I was wishing to express how happy I am that I have all the Dors taken care of.”

 

"Doors?"

 

"No, not doors. Dôrs! As in Dor-lómin, Dorthonion, and of course, Dor-iath!" he chuckled.

 

~0~

 

Turgon, his Elenwë their daughter Idril and her husband Tuor departed Cŷr-Menegroth along with their host and followed the River Mindeb and into the secret pass and found the city of Gondolin as it had been at the height of its beauty and grace. And since that city no longer needed to be hidden they would have great trade with Dor-lómin, Doriath and Nargothrond as their nearest neighbors.

 

Under the direction of Turgon, they enlarged the once secret road into a main thoroughfare that ran through the Dimbar on its eastern edge between the Mindeb River and the Western Edge of the Neldoreth Forest. They were careful not to disturb the Iarwain there and gained their permission to use that place as a trade route. There, the existing road led south and then east along the Esgalduin and right to the doorstep of Cŷr-Menegroth.

 

Glorfindel, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower, had asked leave to remain with Lord Elrond and Turgon gave him leave and passed the Lordship on to his son, Almáreano who took on the mantle of Chief of the House of the Golden Flower in his father’s stead.

 

And many of the Lords took up again the staff of Lordship of their former Houses. Galdor, Chief of the House of the Tree. Penlod, Marshal of the House of the Pillar and the House of the Tower of Snow. Duilin, Master Archer and Chief of the House of the Swallow. Egalmoth, Chief of the House of the Heavenly Arch. Salgant, Chief of the House of the Harp. Ecthelion, Chief of the House of the Fountain. Rog, Chief of the House of the Hammer of Wrath.

 

These Lords were all there and took up their titles as they held them in the past, though many now had to put their thought into a different purpose for the enemy they had faced during the First Age was there no more and they no longer needed to see to the city’s defenses as they once had. And Turgon brought these Lords to him as his Advisors and their meeting hall was the Tower of Light and there they made new plans on the path the city was to take.

 

And Turgon’s thought was to send out scouts out into the plains of Dorthonion to see what grew there and to decide upon which crops to cultivate for their use and for trade. For the inhabitants of the land couldn’t depend upon the Entwives for all their needs. It was also his hope that their population would grow and settle them within the Valley of Dorthonion. And he knew this was also the High King’s wish, as well.

 

Chapter Text

Thranduil was in trouble. And he only had himself to blame for it. Usually he faced his troubles straight on and he had a reputation as a fearless warrior. But this was one battle he feared to face. So he did what any red-blooded ellon did in such circumstances. He went deep into the forest and found the tallest tree he could find and promptly climbed it and figured he could spend the next hundred years up here. Just until matters cooled down a bit.

 

“So this is where you’re hiding? I know you’re king of the woodelves but I hadn’t taken you as one of them. Not really.”

 

“Why not? I’ve lived in the forest my entire life.”

 

“No you haven’t. You’ve lived in one city after another your whole life. You might play out in the woods but even I spend more time in them than you do.”

 

“You’re an earth maia. Of course you spend time out in the forest. Why are you here, Wendil?”

 

“Because you’re the king and the king can’t hide out in a tree no matter how much you might want to. At least not unless it’s scheduled and you leave a regent in charge. And running off and hoping your wife will care for things is not going to mellow her anger towards you.”

 

“So she’s pretty miffed at me, is she?”

 

“You’d know that better than I.”

 

“All I can feel and see from her is a red haze of seething.”

 

“Well, it was rather careless of you, you know. Those sort of things need to be discussed between a husband and wife. Not just unilaterally decided by one or the other. Think how you would feel if she had sprung this on you?”

 

“I wouldn’t have minded. Then again, I’m not the one carrying them. And truly, it wasn’t my intention. I guess I just yearned for the days when we had little ones running about. Believe me, I am content with your and Dami’s little ones and I hadn’t thought to have any more.”

 

“Well, it’s too late for regrets now. Your wife is pregnant and you have to face the music sooner or later. It might as well be now. And besides, there are more people who want to leave and I know you want that more than anything. After all, we’re starting to get some breathing room here and without so many people it’s easy to see how beautiful the city really is.”

 

Thranduil sighed, “I suppose you’re right. But can’t we just sit here and enjoy the quiet and the scents of the forest?”

 

“No, honored-father. We can do that another day. Today you must face your wife before she loses her temper.”

 

“Alright. But it’ll be your fault if she blasts me into atoms.”

 

“You know of atoms?”

 

“Wendil, I’m bonded to Athney. I know all kinds of things because she knows all kinds of things.”

 

And a part of him worried about that because of the Fëanor incident. But he quickly dismissed it because….well, this ellon had just run for his life from his angry wife and hid in a tree, sooooo, probably nothing to worry about there.

 

~0~

 

Thranduil and Wendil made their way back to the city and Thranduil looked as though he were marching to his own execution. Wendil felt for him, but really, how bad could it be? Yes, his mother-in-honor was angry with her husband, for she hadn’t been asked, but she really wasn’t the sort to hold a grudge.

 

The two parted to go to their own chambers and Thranduil entered his with trepidation. He found his wife sitting out on their balcony. These chambers had several, each with their own view. One overlooked the river, one overlooked the forest and one gave a birds eyes view of the city’s interior. This view had given them many ideas on how to change the layout of the city.

 

He found her sitting on the river-view balcony, just watching the rushing water far down below. She didn’t feel as angry as she had earlier, but she was filled with discontent and Thranduil was sorry for that. Feeling her husband, Vallis looked up to meet her husband’s eyes, irritation clearly written across her lovely face.

 

“Husband, you look like I’ve stepped on your puppy. Why carry on so when it is I who will be moody for the next year?”

 

Thranduil knelt before her and looked at her with such a pathetic and sorrowful look upon his face she just wanted to pinch him! “My beloved Athney! I am so sorry! I had no idea this would happen. Truly I didn’t. But I also can’t say I’m altogether sorry. To have little ones about again fills my heart with joy and it saddens me you don’t feel the same joy.”

 

“Thranduil, I know how you and your people view children. And you know I also feel they are a blessing. But I wasn’t ready to become a mother again yet. We still have so much work to do here. People still to resettle. This city is beginning to live again, but it is still so crowded. It seems those Noldor people are all city folk just like you.” causing Thranduil to chuckle, for this was the second time today he’d essentially been called a city-boy by those closest to him.

 

“You know I like being out in the forest more than I care to dwell within a city. But this was the home of my youth. I can’t tell you how much I love being back here. And I love the thought of our daughters being born here and I hope that they will have many children to play with.”

 

“Well, they will at least have an uncle and aunt who will be more like their contemporaries. Leliel and Wénion are still very little. The age difference is less than Dami and the boys and they all played together as children.”

 

“I just don’t want you to be angry with me for them. I really didn’t have that in mind when we….well, you know. Though I find it ironic that our daughters began in the same place I did.”

 

“I get the feeling that you wished this to happen. I just don’t know how. I understand about the others. That was me. Or rather, both of us. We both wanted them and they came to be. You explained it’s an act of Will. I just don’t understand how these came to be when I know I wasn’t involved in the yearning. I was content with those that we had. I was looking forward to more grandchildren, yes, but I was happy with the three of them.”

 

“I can’t say, my love. I don’t even remember specifically wanting them. Like you I was content. I’d like to see my sons wed with little ones of their own, but I don’t remember wishing for our own little blessing. Perhaps it was the spot, itself. That would be most strange, but strange seems to be our default. I would ask my father to see if there was any stories about that spot, for that seems out of character for him, but I fear I would die of mortification.”

 

“A fertility spot? Oh we can’t let that out even if it’s true. We’d have couples…..um, coupling there all the time and that is not something I would encourage even for the most desperate of people wishing for children.”

 

“I would.” and then chuckled at his wife’s aghast look of disapproval. “What? I would! I always wished for siblings when I was a child. It can be most lonely for elfings if they are alone. My poor Legolas was an only child and he was the last child born in the Greenwood for many yeni.” and at his wife’s confused look, explained, “A yen is our measure of time. It’s one hundred and forty four years of Anar. And elves never bear children in times of war and the shadow had already fallen on the forest. No one felt safe enough to bring new life into the world. That’s why I hope being here will bring forth many children. A renewal of our people.”

 

“And I suppose you think leading by example would what? Encourage people to propagate your species?”

 

“An inelegant way of phrasing it, but yes. Why not? It’s not like we have a choice in the matter since the deed is already done.”

 

“You’re very good at making lemonade, my love.”

 

“Nay! Don’t say that beloved. For this is not a bitter event. It is one of joy. I know it is not how we would have planned it, but has anything gone the way we intended?”

 

“No, my love. It has felt as though we are but puppets in a cosmic play and we are not the authors. Do we even have free will, I wonder?”

 

Taking her into his arms, Thranduil murmured, “If we don’t then I am a willing pawn, my beloved.”

 

“I swear, this is your answer for everything. And it’s also how we got into this fix in the first place.”

 

“This isn’t a problem, beloved. It is life. And a blessing.”

 

“It is also a year of mood swings, little feet kicking my kidneys and little bodies pressing against my bladder.”

 

“It is but a year. And then it is nappy changing, 2am feedings and then on to the joys of teething.”

 

“You’re so romantic, my love.” Vallis smirked before her husband covered her lips with his own and showed her if not how romantic he could be, then at least how passionate he was for her.

 

~0~

 

Finrod and Amarië were the acknowledged king and queen of Nargothrond and the High King had already made it plain that the lands were theirs. But they weren’t ready to leave Cŷr-Menegroth yet. They did, however, send their people ahead to make ready fo them. Finrod knew that though he didn’t say so, the High King wished to settle all the people who had decided to make Beleriand their home. And the more he settled the more he could see to the welfare of those who would remain his subjects.

 

And Felagund knew that though the city was currently full of elves, there were easily tens times tens the number of elves out in the forests surrounding the city. He had taken many a ride out in the surrounding forests and they were full of myriad villages of sylvan elves. And these were a people who really did live close to the land, though their living conditions couldn’t be called primitive.

 

He had been impressed that the High King and Queen made frequent forays, themselves, to see to the comfort and ease of their people. And Felagund loved the appearance of their villages which were both ground level with spiral stairs that circled the trunks of the trees and led to platforms and up higher into the boughs that cradled talain. There were even footpaths that were high overhead and spanned from tree to tree. The Silvan may not approve of cities, but their villages were population centers, all the same, even if they were in the forest.

 

And while Finrod and his House did eventually intend to travel to Nargothrond, the reason he and his wife tarried was that even they saw what was happening between their daughters and the sons of Thranduil. They had wished to see their beautiful daughters settled with mates for a long time now but they had never found the ones who made their hearts sing. Until now. They found the handsome princes fascinating and irresistible and it was clear the young ellyn found the daughters of Finrod delightful.

 

Meanwhile, Thranduil had tried to give the great forest of Taur-im-Duinath to Lenwë and his son Denathor and the portion of the Nandor that wished to dwell with their lord of old. They did not, however, wish for this land and asked instead for Ossiriand, as Thingol had given them this land during the First Age. Thranduil agreed and had a feeling the only ones who were going to like Taur-im-Duinath were the Onodrim and they didn’t need his permission to go there. All forests were theirs.   

 

Thranduil knew the Ents enjoyed the many forests of Doriath, as they had in the days of their own youth. The Entwives had settled in the green and fertile meadowlands of Estolad and soon enough there were entings to add to their numbers and they were content at last. Even more so, since there were no dwarves here to hack the trees down and they knew the elves loved the trees almost as much as they did.

 

Then Orodreth and Cenedel had approached the King and had requested the lands that lay next to his father’s lands. Thranduil granted them thinking it a fine idea to for the son being close to his father and he’d wished to have a Steward at Mithrim.

 

And if a lot of work needed to be done in Dor-lómin then Angrod would have a place to stay while he awaited the completion. And Thranduil knew that Fingolfin had had a seat there and so far all the works done by elven hands in the past all seem to have been remade.

 

He was so concerned about this that he called Angrod and Orodreth to him to suggest this very thing and they thanked him for his concern and said they would take his advice. And as they left they commented to each other that here was a worthy High King who had concerns for all his people and not just those who were of his own tribe. Which, to them, was a refreshing change.

 

They had been preparing to leave when Thranor, the brother of the High King asked for the hand of Finduilas, the daughter of Orodreth. But before giving his consent, Orodreth asked Thranduil if he approved the match.

 

“Of course. But why ask me. Shouldn’t you and my adar speak of such matters?”

 

“Yes, of course, my Lord King. But I wished to be sure you approved of the match as well. I know my daughter’s heart is given to your brother and he is a worthy ellon. I just wished to be sure you wouldn’t oppose their joining for I know there was bad blood between your tribe and mine.”

 

“I had hoped after all this time that thoughts of tribes had been dispensed with, for I see us all as eldar. I see no reason to oppose this match and if it is what they both wish then who am I to stand in their way? And if my brother approached you that means he’s already received the blessing from our adar. I hope your daughter has yours as well?”

 

Orodreth smiled, relieved, “Yes, she does and I’m glad to hear your words, my Lord King.”

 

“Very well, I will leave the arrangements up to you and my adar. But if you need me for anything just let me know and I’ll have it seen to.”

 

“Thank you, my lord.” Orodreth smiled and left to find Thranor to give his consent.

 

Thranduil smiled and hoped this would open the door to more matches between houses and tribes. He wished to end once and for all the enmity between their tribes. No more Noldor, Sindar and Sylvan. They were all eldar and needed start acting like it.

 

Chapter Text

It wasn’t long before both Orodreth and Oropher came to see Thranduil. Orodreth had been worried, but Oropher just laughed off his concerns, stating, “He’s my son. If I can’t take advantage of my kinship with him, then no one can, including his own children. Surely your children have access to you as you have access to your own adar?”

 

“Well yes, but neither myself nor my adar were ever High King.”

 

“Yes, but you’ve have been king. You know as well as I do that wearing the crown doesn’t do anything but give you a headache. And it certainly doesn’t change how your family sees you.” Oropher harrumphed.

 

Knowing that Thranduil was in his chambers he rapped smartly on the door and heard the familiar voice bid him entry. He and Orodreth entered and Oropher wasn’t surprised that his son apparently knew it was he and that he wasn’t alone.

 

“Ada! What do you need?”

 

“Straight to the point. You can’t even spare the pleasantries of the day with your old adar?”

 

“We can do that later. Right now you wish to get arrangements made for my brother’s wedding. The sooner you tell me what you want the quicker I can get people on it. What do you need?”

 

“Alright, fine. I’ll play. Orodreth and his adar wish to leave to settle their lands before the weather changes. But both wish to be here for the wedding. How fast can you throw one together that doesn’t look thrown together?”

 

“And I take it the couple are fine with being rushed?”

 

Orodreth smiled, “They have both indicated that waiting would suit no purpose.”

 

“Very well. If you could, send the couple to me so that I can get an idea of what they want. My wife and son-in-honor can grow any flowers they want and I can get Galion to organise the rest. I also brought my wine cellar with me, so we shall have the best Dorwinion to celebrate. Is there anything else?”

 

“You brought your wine cellar, son?”

 

“Ada, I brought the kitchen sinks and stoves! Of course I brought my wine cellar. I also made sure to bring our tailors and their entire stock. So if the bride wishes something in particular we can make sure her needs are met, as well.”

 

“We have tailors, as well, my lord king.”

 

“Then perhaps a larger choice in fabrics. I certainly meant no disrespect to the skills of your personal tailors, my lord.” Thranduil said, not exactly dismissively, but leaving little doubt not to try his patience.

 

But Oropher was more interested in the wine stocks, “So exactly how much of the Dorwinion do you have left, son?”

 

“Oh, I have better than the wine, ada. I have the vines!”

 

“You’re going to grow it here? Oh son! I would love to help you with that.”

 

“Would you? I’d love to have your help, ada!”

 

“So, where are you going to grow them?”

 

“I already have them planted right here within the caverns.”

 

“But how will they thrive without the sun to nourish them?” Orodreth asked and then wondered when Thranduil’s face shuttered right before his eyes.

 

“Son, he’s going to be family.” Oropher said gently, but with no reproof in his voice.

 

Sighing, Thranduil produced an orb and then sent it aloft. Then with a wave of his hand it took on the hue and heat of Anar, though gently as it was a small orb. Orodreth’s eyes had widened when the orb first appeared and then he was astonished when the High King was able to change it.

 

“How…?”

 

“Let’s just say it’s something that runs in the family.” Oropher said meaningfully.

 

“And your other son?”

 

“Yes. Does that change things for you?” Oropher asked.

 

“Please. Tell me how that’s possible?”

 

“We are the scions of Eönwë. Did you not know this?” Oropher was nonplussed, for they hadn’t made it a secret.

 

“Yes, but we never heard of such even from them.”

 

“Yes you have. Arien is maia and guardian of Anar. Even Olórin was given the Flame of Anar. Why would you think it is not something that they already have inherently within them? And in our case, pass it down through the bloodline.”

 

“I...we just never thought they had that sort of power. Even your Lúthien never showed such power.”

 

Thranduil just looked at the Noldo in perplexity. “Are you serious? She defeated Sauron, changed herself into Thuringwethil the Vampire and her mate into Draugluin the Werewolf and then sang Morgoth himself to sleep to steal a Silmaril. Then when her mate died and she faded she sang Mandos into showing a mercy never before or since attained. And all this from a peredhel maia.”

 

Orodreth looked a little shamefaced and said, “To tell you the truth, none of us really ever believed half that tale.”

 

Thranduil merely shrugged and said, “It doesn’t matter now. They are gone and that was all a very long time ago. Morgoth and Sauron are no more. At least they are of no concern to us now.”

 

“At least not until the Dagor Dagorath.”

 

“Even that is none of our concern. If we have any part to play at all it shall be a small part and those who have already been named shall bring about their end for all time and Arda will be remade when the 3rd music is sung. But until that time I suggest we do our part to make this small bit of land we’ve been granted into our own Aman but without any of the Valar overseeing us as they do in Aman.”

 

“Even though your grandsire in here?”

 

“We knew even before we came that my son was going to be the High King and we all accepted that and came anyway. Our grandfather has taken a bit of land to the far west and is content there. Though he will be your nearest neighbor. The point is, Lord Eönwë is not High King. My son is and if you are having these thoughts now is it in your will to allow our children to wed? Because I’d prefer to know now so I can break the news to my son.”

 

This shocked Orodreth and it showed on his face, “No! I wouldn’t do that! Why would you think that?”

 

“Why? Because you’re acting strange over some growing lights, that’s why!” Thranduil said rolling his eyes. “Seriously, if you want to be afraid of anyone it should be my wife!”

 

“The atani?” Orodreth said, confused and then saw both Thranduil and Oropher looking at him strangely.

 

“My lord. It concerns me that you seem to know so little about our family and yet you gave consent to allow your daughter to become a part of it.”

 

“Well, she loves him. How could I refuse? But you’re right. I don’t know anything about you. At all. I know your family is native to this city from the First Age. I was told just like everyone else that you were going to be the High King and I was there when Thingol crowned you. And since this conversation began I’ve learned that your son, both your sons are light mages. And perhaps that I should fear your wife? But then again, don’t all ellyn fear their wives?”

 

“Well, I certainly know not to cross mine. My son still lives, so I’m assuming he’s learned that lesson.” Oropher smirked.

 

“Not really, but she has a lot of patience. The point is she’s not an atani. Her fate was changed long ago by the valar at the behest of Eru, Himself. The truth is she’s an off-worlder and she has gifts that are, well, quite scary.”

 

“An off-worlder? She’s from another world, truly? I find that….marvelous! Well, there is also one thing I’ve heard and I wish you the joy of your blessing, Sire.” Orodreth said, bowing his head.

 

“Thank you. But none of this is to the purpose. We were speaking of my brother’s wedding. I still need them to come to me and talk to my wife and Wendil.”

 

“Ah, yes. The other maia. We’ve heard about him, as well. He is not well respected you know.”

 

“That I’ve known and I do not approve of the things he’s had to suffer at the hands of his own let alone from those who should know better than to treat one of the ainu as though he were less than a nuisance child. He is maia. An earth maia. You have no idea exactly how powerful that makes him when he’s in his element. And this” he raised his arms indicating everything around him, “is his element. And if your daughter wants any kind of flowers then he can make a multitude of them. And who do you think it was that fed us all when we first came together? It was my son-in-honor.” he concluded proudly.

 

“Very well, Sire. I see that I will have to change my thinking and you’re right. I have been influenced by those who should have known better and I’m afraid that includes my aunt. Please forgive me. And yes, I will send my daughter to you so she can tell you herself what she’d like. I expect my lady wife will accompany her.”

 

“That is well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I can hear my wife calling me. And ada? I wish you to accompany me so I can show you my vineyard.”

 

“You have a whole vineyard?” Orodreth asked faintly.

 

“Of course! I’m experimenting. My wife said I could change the flavor by exposing them to different lights, soils, water and even fertilizers. Anyway, I have a fairly large cavern full of plants and I’ve already grafted some to other root stocks. It will be a long term project but I have enough stores that by the time I run low I should have some decent grapes for pressing. Who knows, I might even be able to surpass the Dorwinion one day.”

 

“Nothing could be better than the wine of Aman.” Orodreth said incredulously and then stopped when Oropher smirked at him.

 

“Nothing is better than Dorwinion!” he said smugly. “And I should know. I’ve had both.”

 

“Yes and that’s why I want your help, ada. Between the two of us we should be able to get something really special.” Thranduil grinned at his father.

 

Orodreth looked from one to the other and sighed. Well, he might as well get used to it. They were going to be his family soon and there was no way he was standing in the way of his daughter’s happiness. Her first life had been tragic and since her re-embodiment she had been static. Neither happy nor sad. But since meeting the son of Oropher she had come alive again. Something he hadn’t seen in her since she was young and carefree.

 

“Well, I can see Doriath will be a force to contend with as far as trade is concerned. That commodity will make you much sought after, for we elves do like a good goblet of wine. I can’t wait to taste what you concoct, my liege.”

 

“Yes, and as family you’ll get the best. I’ll see to it. We take care of our own.” Thranduil said proudly, and Orodreth just chuckled in reply. They were eccentric, but all the best elves were, after all.

 

~0~

 

The lands of Thargelion were granted to Lord Elrond and his kin. And he was relieved to find that all his kin were going with him along with those Galadhrim and those of Imladris who wished to go with them. It seemed that Elrond was taking a large host with him, including his mother-in-honor and his kinsmen, Celeborn. That meant he didn’t need to worry about what lands to settle upon his kinsmen because there were precious few left and Thargelion was large enough that several realms could be set up there if that was their Will.

 

But before they left Thranduil had to talk to his kinsman. “Celeborn, my brother is getting married soon. And by soon I mean as soon as I can get it arranged. There will be no betrothal ceremony. They wish to wed at once because her father and grandfather will be leaving quite soon. I’m telling you this because Thranor is your kin too and I wanted to give you the option of attending. Your entire family. For your family is also my family.”

 

“We will stay to attend. I will see to it, if for nothing else than the respect you and your brother are due as High King and kin.” Celeborn said a bit sadly.

 

“Well, we’ve never had the chance for closer bonds of friendship and I regret that at times. But I hope you know that I wish you and yours well in Thargelion.”

 

“Yes, that was most generous of you. You should know my wife is not happy that you are High King. I believe she feels….slighted, yet again.”

 

Thranduil sighed, “Kinsmen, I don’t pretend to understand what motivates your mate, but I wonder why she agreed to come here knowing I would be King. I would have expected her time back in Aman would have healed whatever was in her heart that causes her discontent. And you should know that I have a very close bond with my wife. What you tell me, she now knows.”

 

“You tell me this in warning? Is your wife so volatile?”

 

“I will not have strife here, Celeborn. And recall it was your wife who took mine hostage simply because she felt she could. I will tear this land apart and we'll live as a group of islands before I will allow one drop of elven blood to be spilled. Don’t test me for I do have the power to do such.”

 

Celeborn sighed, “I know. I’ve always known. It has ever been the one thing I’ve kept from my wife. She knows of your lineage, just like we all do, but she doesn’t know, or doesn’t care to know what that really means. She has ever had a very high opinion of herself. She doesn’t understand and I wonder at her blindness in this matter. Perhaps it is sheer envy that eats at her heart, but she should know better. And by that I mean she has seen firsthand what such thoughts ultimately lead to.”

 

“You know, if you feel there is something….ill within your wife, mine can heal her. It is within her power. The technology of her world was ever about harmony and balance. But through an act of the valar that technology now is inherent within her. A part of her Being.”

 

“I watched as she rose the tower with Lord Eönwë.”

 

“My grandfather didn’t raise the tower. My wife did. My grandfather charged the crystals within the towers and I split the light frequencies. You have to understand that my wife is essentially a maia in her own right. At the direction of Eru her people were changed by the valar. Their humanity stripped from them without their consultation or consent. Indeed, when offered immortality they refused. It was a test of Eru and they passed. They will ascend as a species and all become ainu. This is the reason for the gift of this land. It was for her. For had she stepped foot on Aman either her years would have all come to her and she would have perished or she would have ascended immediately. In my view she would have ascended and been taken from me. And that would have been my end, as well. And before you ask I know this because my grandfather and Lord Manwë came to me in Eryn Galen after you left.”

 

“Wait! I have never heard of a group of mortals being turned immortal by the valar. The only ones who came close to the eldar were the Númenóreans and they fell to darkness save the few who escaped before Eru threw them down.”

 

“Celeborn, my wife is not of this world. In fact she would tell you that our world follows no laws of physics and is completely ridiculous, but she accepts the reality of it and us.” And at the look of skepticism on his kinsmans face, “May I?” and Celeborn paused a moment before nodding his assent. And Thranduil laid his hand on his kinsmans face and showed him the same view he had shown his son two hundred years before, for it was his favorite.

 

Of the large ringed red gas-giant of Pentalon, the jewel-toned moons dotting the view and the elegant and completely alien golden-pink spiraling towers on the coastline and the flying machines they used for transportation. So vivid was the view there was no way it could be mistaken for anything other than a crisp and clear memory.

 

And then to nail the point home he gave his own memory of his wife when he’d first beheld her with her closely cropped hair and in that uniform, as she had called it. The body hugging white and grey skin-tight garment that all her people had worn when they had landed in his forest and she alone was taken by his son. And finally he showed how the markings on her face appeared in the light that made them glow.

 

Then he removed his hand and smiled at the look of wonder of his kinsmen’s face. “I didn’t believe her either. I threw her in my dungeon when she tried to tell me she was from another world, even though my son had told me she took a kill shot through the throat and merely pulled the barb out like it was a nuisance when orcs had fallen upon them. Then she killed all of them and healed my patrol including my son and then went quietly with them when my son insisted she come.”

 

“Why would she come when she was obviously so much more superior in her weapons?”

 

“Because she was stranded and my son spoke to her in her own language. To her it was a logical decision to get more information of the world she was on. My wife is very precise in her decisions. Emotion rarely affects her thought processes.”

 

“And yet you put her in your dungeons.”

 

“Yes, but as she’ll tell you she barely noticed. This annoyed me at the time, but since she’d been in there for three days without eating or drinking my guards came to me concerned that they could get no response from her. That’s when I knew I had to try a different tactic with her. She was straightforward so I decided to play along. What did I have to lose, after all? But then she offered to find a cure for the spider poison and so I put her in my Healing Halls. The rest was either Eru or the Valar.”

  

“So the entire time she was with us….?”

 

“She knew I was on my way. If she had been alone and not able to contact me things might have gone differently.”

 

“Eru!” Celeborn murmured recalling the light blazing from a crystal she held in her hand and the enormous boulder splitting asunder with a loud crack! “I was very angry with her when you left. I even spoke harshly to her in front of everyone and I’m not sure she’s ever forgiven me for that.”

 

“Celeborn, do you think there is an illness there? I know she wore the ring and fought a very long time. Could it have wounded her in some way? I assure you my wife could probably heal her. Her discipline on her world was the study of life. She called it Biology and she was a Biologist and hers was the study of harmony and health of the entire entity including mind and fëa.”

 

“Does biology also give her the knowledge in creating those towers that now grace the entrance of this city?” Celeborn smiled, “The entrance to this city is perhaps the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, except perhaps what you showed me of her world. I can see the influence there and yet she also incorporated those elements that make it a part of this city.”

 

“She was also an engineer, hence the ease in which she created the towers and other things that would make you marvel, but what I’m saying is she could help your mate. I know how important that is.”

 

“I am willing for this, but I can’t promise that she is. But I must ask you, cousin. If she refuses, would you...would you allow me to stay here in this city. It was my first true home and I would like to renew my bonds of friendship with your father. We were very close before I wed Galadriel. As you can imagine, there was hostility over her own heritage that caused the rift.”

 

“Of course you are always welcome here, though it would grieve me to see you sundered from your wife. I hope she agrees to see my Athney. And I hope that enough time has passed that this nonsense between clans is put behind us. My brother is to wed a Noldo and I can tell you my adar is completely at peace with it. And by that, I mean all he is concerned with is my brother’s happiness. Her parentage means nothing to him.”

 

“That’s refreshing. And I don’t just mean your father. It has never made a difference to me. My grandsons are probably related to everybody if you think about it. I’ve wondered if their lack of wives was perhaps some bigotry on the parts of ellyth not wishing to wed with peredhel.”

 

“It couldn’t possibly be because they both seem intent on breaking their own necks, even after all these years. Celeborn, something needs to penetrate those thick skulls that they are hurting those that love them.” Thranduil said with some asperity.

 

“You would have us emotionally blackmail them?” Celeborn asked askance.

 

“Absolutely!” Thranduil said firmly, causing Celeborn to stare at his cousin briefly before collapsing into merry laughter. When he got control of himself he looked at his cousin sadly, “I really wish we had not lost so much time, kinsmen. I feel we would have been great friends.”

 

“Well, there is no time like the present. And trust me, I have three sons. Emotional blackmail works wonders on them. They wish to please their fathers. To be dutiful. I’ve yet to meet an ellon who has disrespect and rebellion in his heart.”

 

“Perhaps Maeglin?”

 

“Who is conspicuously absent and didn’t arrive with his parents and sister. He perhaps needed a longer stay in the Halls of Waiting. But I get your point. There is always one, isn’t there?”

 

“There is something you should know. Elrond found Maglor before he sailed. And I believe the Iarwain brought him and hid him among the Onodrim when they accompanied you. I expect you didn’t know this.”

 

“No! I didn’t. But it makes sense. The valar seemed quite determined that none from the old world were to be left as the second-born forge the new age without us.”

 

“It doesn’t bother you?”

 

“No, why would it? Oh, how is he? Does he require healing? The last I heard he wasn’t in very good shape and that was a very long time ago. I don’t think he’s gotten better with age, unless he possesses self-healing qualities that we were all unaware of.”

 

“No. He doesn’t. He’s so moross most of the time he’s almost catatonic. And if he plays his music it is so sad and full of regrets and pain it nearly leads the listeners to send themselves to Mandos.”

 

Thranduil flinched and grimaced at the thought, “Ai! That’s bad. Well, you know that would be a great way to bring my wife into your wife’s orbit, if you know what I mean.”

 

“No I don’t. I’ve also noticed you using a lot of words I’ve never heard of before. I take it they come from your wife.”

 

“You would be correct. And quite frankly, they are so descriptive and accurate, I can’t even think of other words that would fit.”

 

“Well, in words I can understand, what, if anything, do you plan to do about Maglor?”

 

“About him? Nothing. To him? I’m going to sic my wife on him. She can handle anything that might be wrong with him. If anything it might be able to penetrate your wife’s brittle shell that she can be helped too.”

 

“I hope you know what you’re doing.”

 

“Oh goodness, no! But that won’t stop me from trying.” and Thranduil flashed his kinsman a brilliant smile and Celeborn felt his stomach clench in fear. This could either really work out well or end in disaster!

 

Chapter Text

When Vallis heard that her husband wished her to see about helping two elves she was more than willing to try. Though if you were to ask her she thought the cure to the Lady Galadriel could be delivered by a swift kick to her posterior, but her husband’s frown dissuaded her. She sighed as she acknowledged her hormones must already be out of whack.

 

“Don’t worry, beloved. We’ve invited them to tea and you can scan the ellith from your comfortable seat. There is an ellon that is arguably worse off than the lady and that’s who I wish you to heal first. If you can fix him she might be willing to let you heal her.”

 

“Not if she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with her. Did it ever occur to you that she is just stubborn and ambitious.”

 

“Yes, of course I have. That is what most of us thought about her anyway.”

 

“Could it be that she is just discontented about the gender and world she was born into?”

 

“That actually makes a lot of sense. Very few females of any species on this world have ever been allowed to do anything other than traditional roles. Your’s is the only world I’ve ever seen where such was not the case. You were commander of many men and you got that rank because of your mind and talents. Not because of the gender you were born into.”

 

“Our society went through that many thousands of years ago. While the females were the property of their fathers to be married off for socio-political purposes, so were their male children. People only had control of their own lives when the preceding generation died off. But it would be safe to say women weren’t manual laborers simply because they didn’t have the strength the males had. Things didn’t equal out until technology leveled out the playing field, so to speak.”

 

“I don’t know that we ever had that sort of inequality among the eldar. One of our most famous artisans is an ellith. She was the wife of the one who went very wrong and also the mother of the one you are to help. But it was the males who went off to war.”

 

“Would it be safe to say that this one is damaged because of the mistakes his father made?”

 

“Yes, absolutely and you may need to know his whole story in order to understand the malady.” And Thranduil went through the whole sorry tale of their beginnings and the march to Aman. Of Ingwë, Elwë and Finwë. Of Melkor. Of Fëanor and the Silmarils. The slaying of Finwë and the Oath of Fëanor. And bringing the whole mess to Beleriand and the eventual loss of the land.

 

“Yesh. That is quite a tale, Husband. I recall you telling me some of it shortly after we met and I saw some of the terrible things you saw. Of the Valar battling huge things and your father trying to keep you and your mother out of harm's way. So, this elf is one of the ones that went around killing you all because of some shiny gem that his father made. What a waste of life.”

 

“Yes, but I think the Oath was to blame. It was a terrible oath and when we say oaths they are like a magic spell. There are power in the words. Like when I became connected to the land and people when I swore the oaths as king. You know, I didn’t do that here, but just by taking Thingol’s crown it’s as good as having sworn them. I am just as connected here as I was in the Greenwood.”

 

“So, his actions and mental health are in deterioration because of a magic spell. Do you know a way to break it?”

 

“No, beloved. And worse. One of those gems is probably still locked within this land.”

 

“You say words have power. What if he speaks words with greater power. Besides, aren’t these things lost to the elements now?”

 

“Technically, yes. The only one that might have survived would be the one he threw into the sea, but that was on the other side of the world.”

 

“Well, and if this gem went into the lava that could have unmade it just as the volcano unmade the ring of the last maia that created something with magic. I’ll bet the maia’s craft was stronger than the elf’s, so these things are truly lost. So the oath is probably not the problem.” she paused, “Regret. He regrets what he’s done. But you know, everyone who he killed is alive again and most of those are here. It’s too bad those from Gondolin have already left. If we can get some of those people together to forgive him that might go a long way towards his redemption.”

 

“I’d prefer we don’t do that. The last thing I want to do is open old wounds. You deal in wounds, harmony and health. Is there not something you can do to fix him without dragging other people into it?”

 

Vallis thought a moment and then nodded. It wasn't the most optimal but it would work, “Yes. I can block access to those pathways in his mind. They will be deep pathways because he probably thinks about them all the time, but I’ll have to create new ones so he can’t access those memories.”

 

“You’re going to block his memories?” Thranduil asked dubiously.

 

“No. I’m going to destroy them altogether and block off the pathways they are stored in. It is minor surgery, but it is the only way to remove the malignancy. Then he’ll probably need to be removed from here to ensure he doesn’t run into anyone who will recall the events of his life. But only for a while. That way the new pathways can become set and he won’t fret when he tries to access the old pathways and finds a blank.”

 

Thranduil just stared at her and then asked, “How can you destroy memories? I’ve heard about blocking some memories or fading them so they don’t cause pain, but destroying them altogether? I don’t know my love. Can you not just fade them so they no longer cause him pain?”

 

But Vallis had already made up her mind, “No beloved. That won’t work. Time should have faded the memories enough so he could live with what he’s done. Obviously he had a sensitive soul and the wounds are too deep for him to bear. The oath caused him to act in ways that were not part of his character. But I’m also going to start by forcing him to admit the oath is fulfilled. That will act as a spell and then I’ll remove the first one by removing the memories of it. He’ll just have happy memories, but we’ll have to think of a way to fill the gap. Or maybe not. What do you think?”

 

“I think we’ll need to talk to Elrond before we do anything.”

 

“Well, it’s a good thing they’re coming to tea.”

 

~0~

 

Lord Elrond, Lady Celebrian and Celeborn were enjoying their tea, but wondering at the invitation. The High King had made mention of his brother’s wedding to Lady Finduilas and had invited them to attend and only asking they delay their departure until after the event. But also made sure to let them know it wasn't mandatory that they attend. And then Vallis dropped the bomb on them.

 

“I would also like to help your foster father, Maglor. I’ve heard he’s a bit on the, eh, melancholy side, and I think I can fix him. But I need to talk to you about that first.”

 

“How do you think you can...fix him?” Elrond asked, skeptically.

 

“I will start by having him recite an oath that his last oath was completed. That it is fulfilled. Words apparently have power with your people and it will have to be worded in a way that makes it a spell. Once that is done I will destroy his memories of the last one and block off the pathways to those memories. Then I wish you to take him away so he can’t run into people who he may have killed in the past. That means Thargelion is probably a good choice for you. He’s not likely to meet any Iathrim or Gondolindrim he killed. Then you have to decide how you want to fill in the gaps in his memory since the only reason he’s your foster father is because he and his brother stole you from your mother.” And at his wife’s indelicate words Thranduil put his hand to his face and massaged his brow because he didn’t know how to recover from that one.

 

“If you can fix Maglor I think I’d like you to take a look at my naneth. She’s been...off, for a long time. Hasn’t she, ada?”

 

“Eru, yes!” Celeborn said rolling his eyes.

 

“What’s wrong with her, specifically? And for how long?”

 

“When I first met her she was lighthearted and happy, though she was always talking about having her own realm. That’s why she left Aman. She felt constrained by the social construct and I think it all stems from her resentments at being born female.”

 

“Oh, that’s ridiculous. Your society is fairly equal when it comes to gender here. You have no idea how backward other societies are. And I don’t just mean human. Humans are only a small percentage of the galaxy I’m from. There’s no telling how many species there are out in the Universe and so far yours is not bad in my estimation.” Vallis said rolling her eyes. “And from what I’ve seen she did fairly well and chose a husband that allowed her to have her head when it came to running a realm. Though I take issue with how she ran it. But that is none of my business.”

 

“Yes, well, I think a lot of it comes from the household she was born into. He grandfather was the High King and there was strife within that house. Most of her relatives were male which didn’t help because no one allowed her to do anything because she was female. And it only got worse as she got older. Now her father is High King and I swear she is just….jealous.”

 

“Ambition. That is not good. It is something felt and not really learned. It’s a want, not a need. Husband, I don’t know if I can fix that. Her’s is an act of Will that stems from resentments at her own gender. I can speak to her and tell her what an idiot she is,” and then as her husband groaned, “Or say she’s an idiot but in a nice way. Husband, you worry too much.” she said irritably.

 

“Um, beloved? How are you feeling?” and then cringed a bit when his beautiful wife glared at him.

 

“I might have some special tea that could help with those mood swings, my lady.” Elrond offered gently.

 

“Alright, I get the point.” Vallis said rudely and put her hands together and closed her eyes. Then she began to glow and then the shades of green, red and blue, then a clear glow and finally a milky white glow that shimmered with every hue known sparkling within it and Thranduil knew these were her gems. Emerald, ruby, sapphire, diamond and finally the opal and she had been bringing herself into balance. Body, heart, mind, soul and spirit.

 

And a part of him wondered how this change in her would affect the children. All of them had shown signs of having gifts of their own, but so far they had seemed to come from him. This was the first time she had conceived since absorbing the crystals. When the glow had settled she felt well and in good humor again. Completely in balance and her usual self and Thranduil smiled in relief. He liked her like this. Her normal self was a comfort to him. He reached over and took her hand and kissed it in a show that he was glad to have her back and she smiled faintly back at him.

 

“Well, that was different. What was that?” Celebrian asked and ignored her father and husband who tried to shoosh her.

 

“Oh, my hormones were out of balance and I was cranky. So I just brought myself back into balance. I used to have crystals to do that, but when I went to Aglarond the crystals within the cavern interacted with mine and I absorbed them. Now they are always with me.”

 

“I told you both she was an off-worlder. Anyway, I assume this would be how you would heal them?” Celeborn asked.

 

“Somewhat. I would have to see what ailment they had, though I think neither of them is physically ill. I believe what I’d use would involve the soul and spirit crystals as both of them seem injured in their psyche. Though the mind and body might be involved as well. But I wouldn’t know until I spoke with them and they let me examine them. And from the sounds of it you all seem to want what amounts to an intervention since neither is willingly seeking out aid.”

 

“You are very plain spoken.” Lord Elrond said lifting his brow at her.

 

“Oh, well, that’s what this is, isn’t it? A meeting of concerned family members? Were we supposed to dance around the issue or are we going to speak plainly and actually organize this to get the best results possible?”

 

“My Lord?” Lord Elrond directed his raised eyebrow towards Thranduil who almost burst out laughing but decided that might be a bad idea. But he was going to support his wife. But he was saved from having to utter a word when Celeborn intervened.

 

“Elrond, calm yourself. She’s right. We need to talk about how we are going to do this. I suggest Maglor first. He’s really in no shape to fight it if we insist. Who knows, he may even welcome it. What we have to decide is how to explain to him that he’s your foster father, for I assume you will not wish to give that up and you’ll want to care for him no matter how this turns out.”

 

“I’m not going to lobotomize him. I’m just going to take the memories of that horrid Oath from him and all his actions pertaining to it. If it was a magic spell that binds him I need to make sure whatever we use can override it.”

 

“I think we may need Wendil’s help with that.” Thranduil spoke up suddenly and exchanged a knowing look with his wife. If anyone would know how to word a spell that would cancel out the Oath it would be a maia.

 

“Well, perhaps not Radagast. Perhaps you could get your grandsire here to offer assistance instead.” Lord Elrond said uneasily.

 

“This is it isn’t it?” Vallis asked her husband, the beginnings of anger stirring, “This is what you were talking about before.” And she flashed a disapproving look at Lord Elrond who lifted his brows in surprise.

 

“Yes, it is, beloved. You know, Lord Elrond, it was Radagast...Aiwendil, who put his cottage right at Sauron’s doorstep to keep not only an eye on him, but to hinder him. It was Aiwendil who Enchanted my river to protect my southern flank. I know you don’t think he did anything during the shadowed years, but from the point of view of myself and my people, he was the only one who gave me aid when I was assaulted from the East, South and North. And now that he is my son-in-honor, he is our beloved Wendil and I will not tolerate any disrespect towards him.”

 

“Forgive me, my Lord King. You are here to help and I’m acting like a cur.”

 

“Yes you have, son.” Celeborn began while Celebrian exclaimed, “Adar!”

 

“No, daughter, he has, but I wonder how much of that was because your mother also disparaged him. And I wonder if she did so because Curunír went out of his way to do so. For all she didn’t trust him and favored Mithrandir, still I think he influenced her thinking regarding Aiwendil. But I’m glad you had him there with you to keep a lid on it. I know you suffered terribly all those years. The only thing I could do was head them off as they came out of the Misty Mountains.”

 

“Thank you, kinsman. I didn’t know you did that. I appreciate it. It was bad enough as it was.”

 

“I didn’t know you did that, ada. Does naneth know?”

 

“No, she does not. There was a lot of things I did that she doesn’t know about since her attention was directed elsewhere. And I believe I know what you disapprove of, My Queen. You are annoyed that Lothlórien was closed to all save elves, is that not so?”

 

“Yes and so was Imladris from what I hear. Oh you let the occasional Ranger in, but you kept the regular people out. It was only my husband's realm that was open to all. Well, if they had his permission. And those who had evil intentions were kept safely away from doing ill to anyone else they may have waylaid. I’ll just say I didn’t enjoy my one visit to your realm, my lord.”

 

“When did you visit Lothlórien?” Lord Elrond asked.

 

“Let’s save that for another time, shall we?” Thranduil intervened and Vallis gave him a half smile of thanks.

 

“Well, can you call Wendil, beloved? We really need his advice about this.”

 

“I already have. He should be here any moment.” And then he smiled as there was a knock on the door and Thranduil bid him enter.

 

Wendil entered and those sitting there were not used to seeing him without his old man garb and were nonplussed by his radiance and beauty. And when he smiled at Thranduil and Vallis they could see his gentle nature.

 

“Thank you for coming, Wendil. We have a problem and I’m hopeful you can assist us.”

 

“I will help you with anything I can, honored-father.”

 

“Thank you, son. I would like to know if you pondered the problem of Maglor a bit if you could come up with an Oath that would release him from his Oath to his father?”

 

Wendil blinked and then thought it over for a moment. “Well, the Oath is most certainly null and void now that the gems are each within an element. That takes them out of the reach of the oath. May I ask why?”

 

“Your mother-in-honor wishes to try and heal him and believes that she must use another oath to act as a counterspell to the first. Then she is going to take his memories away from him regarding all his deeds while under the influence of the oath.”

 

“Very well, I can’t see how that violates anything the valar might have to say on the matter. Though I could wish to confer with Lord Eönwë.”

 

“Would it make you feel easier if you did?”

 

“Yes and no. More like I need confirmation. Maglor can’t return to Aman because the Oath is unfulfilled. However the Oath can’t be fulfilled because the gems are truly lost, but they aren’t in any hands that would drive the oath. Also, he is living here and this land was gifted to you and all have chosen to remain here. Not in Aman. So, since he doesn’t intend to go to Aman and the Oath is essentially null and void until the unmaking of the world, I see no conflicts in doing as you ask.”

 

“So what would be needed?” Thranduil asked.

 

“The wording doesn’t really matter. That’s the simple part. The hard part is that he has to believe it. It is belief that seals a magical spell.”

 

“So how do we get him to believe what he is saying is as binding as the original oath?” Vallis asked.

 

“Wouldn’t the fact that a maia is having him say it be enough to convince him? His father was powerful, but he was never as powerful as a maia.” Celebrian asked.

 

“Yes, but it was the Doom of Mandos that made it a curse. And Námo is one of the most powerful of all the Valar. That is what we will have to overcome. That is what we must make him believe.”

 

“Well, think on it and go see my grandfather if you feel like you need consultation. But I won’t keep you from your little ones any longer than necessary.”

 

“Thank you, honored-father. They are a joy to be around. There was only that short time when they were teething that was tedious.”

 

“Yes, well, I can see that. It was your hair they liked to chew on best, was it not?” Thranduil smirked.

 

“Yes, honored-father. And you shouldn’t tease me. You will be facing the same in about a year, will you not?” Wendil smirked right back before he left them and Thranduil never felt so tempted to stick his tongue out at a closed door in his life. 

 

Chapter Text

After Wendil left and the door closed, Celebrian exclaimed, “Oh, I can see why you’re fond of him.”

 

“Yes, he was much beloved in our House even before my daughter claimed him as her One.” Thranduil smiled fondly. “Well, until he gets back to us, how shall we address Lady Galadriel. It seems to my wife at least that most of her discontent is a matter of her resenting that she was born female. There is no cure for that. Do you have any ideas, beloved?”

 

“Yes, but I’m not going to like it. I’ll have to spend time with her.” Vallis sighed.

 

“Why would you not wish to spend time with my mother?” Celebrian asked, confused.

 

“Because I don’t like your mother. She did me wrong once and I suppose this is karma biting me in the arse, for I’ll have to forgive her for that and seek to get to know her.”

 

“And how will that help, if I may ask?” Celeborn asked.

 

“Because I’m an off-worlder who was counted as equal among my male counterparts. If she can change her thinking maybe she won’t be so, so...discontented on being born a woman! Ellith. Female….whatever!” Vallis said waving her hand impatiently.

 

“That would be a supreme sacrifice on your part, my love. Are you sure you wish to undertake this?”

 

“I don’t see another way around it. She either needs to change the way she thinks or she’ll never find contentment in her life. Though, she’s a little old for such childish thoughts.” she said disapprovingly.

 

“What would be the first thing you would suggest?”

 

“I’d tell her to ditch the gowns. If she is so set on living the life of a male, then dress like one. You’d be surprised at how a change of clothes can affect an outlook.”

 

“She used to do that. It didn’t seem to help.” Celeborn countered.

 

“Did you complain about it?”

 

“Yes. Yes I did.” Celeborn sighed, “So part of the problem is me?”

 

“Probably if you used to chastise her over such trivial things. My husband never comments on what I wear. He never has.” Vallis said, laying a hand over her husband’s and smiling at him, thinking she had been very lucky to have him as her husband and receiving an answering smile from him as he smiled lovingly back at her.

 

“I notice you do not generally dress as an ellon.” Elrond said stiffly in disapproval.

 

“Yes, she does. Either you haven’t seen her very often or you’ve dismissed what your eyes see because she is dressed in breeches and tunic and you were unaware of her as my wife?”

 

“I’ve seen her dressed as an ellon." Celebrian said, "I will admit to feeling a bit jealous. You cut quite a figure when you dress so. I think I would like that as well, though I might wish to hide some of it with some sort of skirt.” Then she got a light in her eyes and said, “What would you say if we started a new fashion trend, my queen?”

 

“I’m listening. I’m all for compromise if we can satisfy a bunch of stuffy males and allow females the opportunity of more freedom of movement.”

 

“Oh, yes please! I have some ideas that I can draw up and perhaps we can get our tailors together to sew it up for us!” Celebrian said, becoming quite animated over the idea.

 

“I would love to see your ideas. Come see me when you get some samples together. I doubt you would like what I would come up with. My uniform when I first arrived shocked my husband through and through.”

 

“Your uniform? Were you in the military on your former world?” Celeborn asked, recalling what she’d worn from the memory Thranduil had shown him. That more than anything had been quite shocking to him.

 

“No. I was an engineer and a biologist and we had created colonies on several other worlds that we would check on. My uniform was simply one we all wore to identify us and was a garment of utility, not fashion.”

 

“Is there any parts of this uniform something we could use in our designs?” Celebrian asked.

 

“Mmm, probably not. The truth is it was a pain in the arse to put on. It was one piece and that can make, uh, certain needs hard to accomplish without almost completely undressing. Even the males found it difficult to evacuate without having to peel the entire top portion of the garment off. Whoever designed it wasn’t thinking. Or if they were they were in a nasty mood when they did so.”

 

“Yes, I’ve noticed that you’ve not once attempted to wear it again once we had it cleaned for you. Though it seems a self cleaning garment.” Thranduil smirked.

 

“Oh, it was quite clever. It regulated our body temperature and acted as your armour does, in that it prevented sharp barbs from plants and fangs from snakes from penetrating. It also contained censors to allow passage through most of our security systems without a lot of fuss.”

 

“And what of the markings on your face. I assume they had a purpose and are not, uh, decoration?” Celeborn asked.

 

“Yes, they are my specialties and rank. The markings are designed to be read by our technology and for others to know at a glance what my areas of expertise are. For instance, if I met new team members I could see at a glance that their expertise was in computer technology, mechanics, agriculture or animal husbandry. They in turn would know I was a accomplished biologist and engineer. They would also see my rank as commander of the team and treat me with the respect I was due as leader.”      

 

“Yes, and you found some difficulties in dealing with our people when you first arrived because of that.” Thranduil smirked.

 

“Yes, I had to relearn how to say, “Please” especially in the Healing Halls. Your Head Healer is still miffed at me for my demeanor when I first arrived.”

 

“Oh, I think healing an entire squadron of near death elves probably went a long way in softening him up. And finding the cure to the spider venom. And finding the frequency of the Dark Lord’s communications.” Thranduil smirked.

 

“He didn’t care about the last. But maybe creating the locator web helped to lessen his work load.” she smirked back.

 

“Locator web? I don’t understand.” Elrond asked, Celeborn was also interested in hearing about this.

 

“My world’s technology revolved around crystals as a power source. Their hues and corresponding frequencies. Clear crystals contain all the colors of the spectrum. Each color has a frequency or length of travel. Red has the longest wavelength and violet the shortest. With Thranduil’s help I set up a web of crystals within the forest with light waves that all connected and would….ping, when they were disturbed. We had to tune them so that a squirrel or deer wouldn’t set them off. In this way were able to track and locate any orc incursions into the woods and therefore alert the villages in the vicinity and also the King who would send troops to eliminate them.”

 

“So, when you split that rock in Lothlórien?” Celeborn asked, fascinated by what he was hearing.

 

“I used a mining crystal. A mining crystal was essentially a diamond. What you call adamant. Clear crystals like that contain the entire spectrum and can be focused into a narrow beam of light. Light isn’t just illumination. It is also matter and heat radiation. And the more tightly focused a beam is the more force it has. You can cut anything with it. I used them to vivisect the beasts when I first arrived.”

 

“She means the orcs.”

 

“I find this most fascinating, I hope you know. I would love to know more about this form of technology you used in your world. Is this how you raised the towers to form the new entrance to the city?” Celeborn said enthusiastically.

 

"Yes, when we were knocking out walls throughout the city I kept the material and then liquefied it to raise it in the shape I wanted then I solidified it."

 

“I find it disturbing. Those crystals in the towers? Are they actually a weapon?” Elrond asked fretfully.

 

“They can be. Though that is not their purpose.” Thranduil said, thinking it not a bad idea to let that get out if it would save them trouble in the long run, “Mostly they are a beacon for the lost and they can be used to locate people who are missing and perhaps in trouble. The forest is vast and the crystals can register body heat. We would be able to locate a party that has been perhaps swept away by a mudslide or flood and we could send aid to their exact location.”

 

“But they could be used as a weapon, you say?” Elrond pressed.

 

“My lord, is there a reason you are looking for strife? For I am hear to tell you I will not permit it. As I told your father-in-honor, I will tear this land apart and separate us into islands before I allow one drop of eldar blood to be spilled.” Thranduil said succinctly, staring Elrond right in the eye.

 

“You would destroy the land.” Elrond said in horror.

 

“You’re not listening to him, son. He said he would separate us into islands before he allowed anyone to be killed. What’s wrong with you? Daughter, pinch your husband for me.” Celeborn said rolling his eyes. He was beginning to think everyone in his household had lost their marbles. Maybe they’d been too long at war? Then he thought of something….

 

“Elrond? You wore one of those rings, yourself. Do you think perhaps you yourself sustained an injury?”

 

“Ah! You think there was something wrong with the rings, don’t you? I will admit I have oft wondered about that myself.” Thranduil said speculatively.

 

“Yes, why not? It was said that Sauron never touched the rings, but wasn’t the Lore itself from Sauron?”

 

“You think there is something wrong with me?” Elrond asked both incredulous and affronted.

 

“Well, you are certainly going out of your way to pick a fight, my lord.” Vallis said.

 

“And what do you know of the fight we have waged?”

 

“I know it’s over. Yet you wish to act like you are still facing it. You are acting like you should now look at my husband as a new Dark Lord, even though your valar chose him to lead this land, when all he wanted to do was retire and set the crown aside.”

 

“Then why doesn’t he set it aside?” and then yelped when his wife really did pinch him and he looked at her to remonstrate with her until he met her stormy eyes. This paused him in his tracks and he closed his eyes and asked, “If there is something wrong with me, then I beseech you to heal it. For it seems that not only can I not perceive it I am unable to heal it.”

 

“Hmmm.” Vallis looked at him in speculation, and then asked, “What is your view of my husband?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Just what I asked. I’ve never seen you in the Greenwood, though you weren’t all that far away. Is there a reason none of the elven realms socialized. I mean, there weren’t a lot of you left and yet none of you seemed on very good terms. Or was it just my husband that was being ostracized?”

 

“I believe it was just your husband that was being isolated. We had plenty of traffic between Lothlórien and Imladris.” Celeborn offered and his daughter nodded in agreement. Elrond just looked on helplessly because he hadn’t thought of it that way. But apparently they did. To tell the truth, he hadn’t thought of Thranduil or his realm at all. As though they didn’t matter he thought shamefully. And they were by far the largest population of elves in all of Arda.

 

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think of you or your people and that should never have happened. You had the largest population of elves and I didn’t even bother to think of you or your realm once. Please forgive me.” he said brokenly.

 

“No harm done. I’ll admit I was annoyed not to get one of those rings when you were passing them out, but I think I dodged an arrow there. Besides, my Athney was my Ring.” He smiled.

 

“Yes, and she didn’t fail after the One Ring was destroyed.” Celeborn smirked. “But what about Elrond here. Is he harmed or was he just poorly influenced?”

 

“It could be a little of both, but let’s see. My Lord, will you give me your hand, please?” And she took the lord’s hand as he offered it to her. She brought up the healing power of the crystals and did as she always did when checking the health of an individual and she found something right away.

 

It was in that part of him that she called the Spirit and Thranduil called the Fëa and there was a stain on it. It hadn’t hurt him as it might have harmed another, for he was strong because of his mixed blood, not because of it. So she brought forth the power of all five to bring him back into balance and especially used her Spirit gem to cleanse and heal that stain.

 

Once she was done she released his hand and said, “It’s done. There was a small stain on your Spirit that needed to be cleansed and healed. But I used all of the power of the crystals to bring you back into balance for you were compensating to avoid the stain. You should find everything is much easier for you again.”

 

“I feel….good! Strong and healthy again. That is a miracle. Even in Aman I wasn’t healed in such a way.”

 

“Really? Oh, my lady Queen. I was wounded in Ennor long ago and I went to Aman to receive healing and they told me I would always be bothered by the wound. Could you….?”

 

Vallis smiled and offered her hand to the lady and began again. This wound was more basic and it was not only old, it had festered it’s way all through her. She must have been suffering from weakness for a long while. She once again used all five and cleansed the poison out of her system and healed her completely and brought her once again back into balance. When she was done she released her hand and smiled and told her she should feel much better from now on.

 

“Oh, thank you!” Celebrian cried and through her arms around Vallis and hugged her in gratitude.

 

“You are welcome. I’m only glad I could help.”

 

“It seems you can cure anything!” Celeborn said in wonder, thankful that his daughter and son-in-honor were cured of their ailments and he had high hopes now that his wife could also be cured. He hoped.

 

“Not everything. I was unable to cure my son of the sea longing.” she sighed.

 

“Really? That makes me wonder what the sea longing is.” Celeborn said, mystified.

 

“I have had those same thoughts. But since leaving Aman it hasn’t returned, so I am still no closer to understanding than I was before.” Thranduil said darkly.

 

“Well, I think we should all go and contemplate what is to be done next. Especially you, Elrond. For I wouldn’t wish you to lose your foster father if what we plan comes to pass. You must come up with a reason he is your foster father without awaking the memory of how that came to be." Celeborn said.

 

“Perhaps something as simple at a head injury? It wouldn’t be a fib. He has been damaged by his own mind and we will be essentially rewiring his mental pathways.” Vallis said.

 

“That is a thought.” Elrond said slowly, “I will think on it and let you know if I come up with anything else, though something as simple as that may be the best explanation.”

 

“Very well, then. Thank you for everything, kinsman. I will not soon forget the service you are providing to me and my household.” Celeborn said warmly.

 

“Very well, I’ll let you know when I hear back from Wendil.” Thranduil said.

 

“Until then.” And they left to discuss what had occurred.

 

Chapter Text

Thranduil went into the central tower of those raised by his wife and that housed the largest of the crystals. The crystal there didn’t just have the purpose that he’d informed Elrond of. It was also a focus point so he could speak to his grandfather.

 

Concentrating and staring into the crystal it wasn’t long before Eönwë’s face appeared before him. “Hello grandson. Was there something on your mind?”

 

“You sound as though you were expecting my call. Tell me, is there a reason all these have been allowed to come here? Because I seem to coming across a common theme here.”

 

Eönwë chuckled before replying, “It didn’t take you long to figure it out and I must commend you on that. Yes, you can say that. This land is peopled by, how shall I say, the malcontents of Aman. Which, I should point out, includes me.”

 

“Oh great! So I have an entire continent populated by the problem children? Well, I suppose I shall just have to make lemonade. You know, I have already threatened to break the land up into islands. What do you think?”

 

“I’d hold off on that right now. Besides, it’s not everybody who are recalcitrant. Some followed their lords and ladies through love and loyalty. And not all those lords and ladies are the malcontents. Take that Finrod lad, for instance. I think he was just bored. But I’d also have to point out that every land will have them.”

 

“You know, I may have a better idea. Instead of breaking up the land, how about breaking off a piece of it and use it as a threat of banishment?”

 

“What portion would you break off?”

 

“Taur-im-Duinath. Mostly because nobody wants it. Not even the Nandor and I thought they would like it there. But nope. They wouldn’t touch it. Is there something about that wood I don’t know about?”

 

Eönwë burst out laughing over that but then thought it over. “You know, that’s not a bad idea. I don’t know about that wood, specifically, but if everyone avoids it that might be a good threat for banishment. I would have thought Hithlum would be a good place to sever off.”

 

“Well, I don’t want to banish them to a place of certain death. Though the way everyone avoids Taur-im-Duinath you’d think I was talking about Utumno.” Thranduil said acerbically.

 

“Well, let me think on that and I’ll get back to you. You know Aiwendil was here, don’t you? Asking about a spell to free up the scion of Fëanor.” Eönwë remarked with a lifted brow. Thranduil was shocked to see that it was his grandsire who he resembled the most. Why hadn’t he ever noticed that he was so out of place in their family?

 

“Yes, I knew. I’m the one who asked him.”

 

“Why do you care?”

 

“Because he’s so gloomy that when he sings his voice is gaining the power to cause those around him to wish to send themselves to the Halls of Mandos. I can’t have that here.”

 

“Well, that’s not good. I can see how that might be a problem. Have you thought of exile for him?”

 

“I can’t do that. The one he stole as a child has come to love him as a father. And really, that’s the only father he’s ever known. Eärendil was never there for him.”

 

“But why do you think he deserves mercy?”

 

“Grandfather, it was my home that he and his brothers attacked and destroyed. He attacked us again in Sirion. If I can find it within my heart to forgive him when it was my people who were victimized by him, do I not have a say in his rehabilitation?”

 

“I suppose so. You know Aiwendil is right. We can come up with all the spells we like, but unless he believes what he’s saying it won’t have any power over him.”

 

“Too bad there isn’t a spell to make him malleable while he’s speaking the spell.”

 

“There is something in what you say. I’ll have to think on that, as well.”

 

“I wish you weren’t so far away grandfather.”

 

“I might reconsider if you give me Amon Obel in Brethil. I’m not constrained by travel like a lot of people are.”

 

“Done! I’ve been wanting someone there for a while anyway. It’s hard enough getting people to take land I want to unload on them. They have their own ideas about what they want. Some of the larger realms were no problem. I knew Turgon would want Gondolin so I unloaded all of Dorthonion on him. I also know Finrod will have Nargothrond, but he sent his people on ahead because, well, we both hope that his daughters will wed with my sons. They seem to have taken to each other, but they are taking their time about it.”

 

“You should have them go. Nothing makes the heart grow fonder than a separation.”

 

“I’ll have to think that over. I’ll talk to Finrod and see if he is agreeable. Why couldn’t they just wed and get it over with? Making them travel all over the place is inconvenient.” Thranduil huffed.

 

“You’re not much of a romantic are you grandson?”

 

“Well, let’s see. My first marriage was arranged and my second was decided for me by the Powers. So my experience in wooing a female is basically nil.”

 

“Oh dear. Well, I can’t say your life has been the usual. It seems you were set aside for purposes that are unknown even to me.”

 

“Yes, well, and they seem to stem from you, so don’t think you’re off the hook, grandfather. It seems to me our whole family was set aside. I’m just the latest. I certainly hope my children escape, though I find it now suspect that the only male in the world that would suit my daughter happened to be an earth maia.”

 

“Yes, and I’ve heard that your expecting again. I’m joyful at your blessings. That makes, eh, how many?”

 

“Six. Three sons and three daughters.”

 

“Well, that’s a nice round number. Any plans to stop?” he asked with a lifted brow.

 

“I wasn’t planning on these two. But it must be Eru’s Will.”

 

“What do you mean you didn’t plan them?”

 

“Just what I said. And don’t ask me any more than that, grandfather!” Thranduil groused.

 

“Well, you’re in a mood. But from the sounds of it you have plenty on your plate. If you don’t mind I’ll rise a seat on Amon Obel and we’ll see about setting up another crystal there so we can keep communications open.”

 

“That will be well. Thank you for speaking with me grandfather.”

 

“Anytime grandson. I knew I would enjoy getting to know you.”

 

And when the crystal went dark he left the tower to confer with his wife. She would probably find it amusing that they were now essentially an island of misfits with all the joys that went with that.

 

~0~

 

Celebrian came to Vallis and showed her some of her sketches for clothing options for the female portion of their community. What Vallis saw was basically a long tunic that was belted and split up the sides with leggings underneath. It wasn’t bad but Vallis had something else in mind. Taking one of her grandchildrens drawing wax she grabbed a parchment and began drawing.

 

“What would you say if this was a regular bodice and then right at the hips have the skirt split on both sides and then up the center and back. That way when walking it will sway as a regular skirt, but hide the leggings underneath until movements that require the skirt’s split function to become visible. And depending on what occupation a female has then the length of the skirt could be longer or shorter. Though I wouldn’t be so daring as to have the skirt shorter than the knees.”

 

“I like it, though I still like the long tunic, as well. But with your idea it would look more than an ellith taking one of her husbands tunics and belting it.” Celebrian said with speculation.

 

“Well, yes. I think I would like it better if it were made for me rather than my taking one of Thranduil’s tunics, though he has many. You know, I like him best when he just wears his shirt sleeves and a tight pair of breeches. He looks so male and attractive to me that way. He’s quite well made and has those wonderful long legs and the most shapely….well, I’ll just stop there.” Vallis giggled like a schoolgirl.

 

“I know exactly what you mean. Elrond always covers up his form and he’s also very shapely for a male.”

 

“Well, perhaps we can start a new trend and get our males to start showing off a little more of their forms and lose those loose robes they insist on. I mean, I know you elves can regulate your body temperature, but why the need to cover yourselves so completely? You’re also not modest by any measure of the word. When did this start and why keep it up? The woodelves aren’t so fussy. If anything I think I’ll start with them, for they are very level headed and practical. I’ll bet their females would love this design. ”

 

“You know, it very well may have started out as a form of snobbery. The Noldor of Aman came with the textile knowledge of Valinor. But you have your own textile knowledge, don’t you? That might make what you create exotic enough to catch on.”

 

“So the clothing here is another mark to separate you by clan? Thranduil doesn’t like that. If anything he wants to do away with all the clannish ties and merge everyone into one tribe - the eldar.”

 

“My! That is forward thinking of him. Especially him. He is quite special all on his own. He is Sindar, which separates him. He is also grandson of Olwë and nephew to Elu Thingol which makes him royalty two times over. Then he’s descended from Eönwë, which puts him in a special category all by himself. That he wants to throw that by the wayside and be a great equaliser is quite noble, if you think about it.”

 

“He’s not the only one in that category, it’s his whole family which is increasing. And once his children marry and produce children how soon will it be when almost every family has some tie to this one?”

 

“You are assuming that all your children will marry someday. I certainly could wish my own sons would find that joy.” Celebrian said sadly.

 

“Lots of people wish your sons would marry. Even Thranduil wishes them to wed. He said it was the only way they would think before they put their necks on the line. But you never know. I’m carrying twin girls. If they don’t find someone by the time these two grow up perhaps these are the ones meant for your boys.”

 

“I would hope they find someone before then, but you at least hold out hope for me. That you would at least consider them suitable husbands for your daughters. Most wouldn’t allow my sons to approach their daughters.”

 

“Why not? Don’t they have royalty in their lineage as well?”

 

“Yes, but because of Elrond’s parents and mine, they are pretty much of every house there ever was. I’ve heard them referred to as mongrels.” she said sadly.

 

“I don’t approve of that bigotry at all. Well, if they don’t meet their ones your mongrels would be welcome in my family. Then their children would be even more...mongrelly!

 

“Mongrelly? Is that even a word?” Celebrian giggled.

 

“Probably not. But you knew what I meant. Now! Let’s take our sketches to the tailors to get some made up in fabrics that are both pretty and functional, shall we?”

 

“Oh yes! But wait, before we do, let’s make up some for our husbands as well. I’m sure we’d also be able to convince our sons to wear them. The more they are seen the more curiosity it will stir. And perhaps an interest in trying them out?”

 

“That is a fabulous idea! Let's get busy!”

 

Chapter Text

Vallis and Celebrian began wearing their new couture creations about the city and it caused enough attention that ellyth began pestering their husbands for like outfits. Soon enough it gained the attention of Galadriel and she began paying attention to what her daughter was doing. And when she gently tried to remonstrate with her daughter over her choice of clothing she was shocked by the response she received.

 

“All that is over now, naneth. If you don’t believe me ask ada. And besides, if you think this is shocking wait till you see what we have planned for our husbands. I believe the High Queen already has her husband and sons kitted out and I’ve just stopped short of throwing all of Elrond’s clothing away. But I still haven’t been able to talk him into walking around outside our chambers wearing it.”

 

“Why this sudden change in our clothing choices. We’ve dressed thusly for millennia.”

 

“Precisely, naneth! Aren’t you bored out of your skull wearing the same style year after year? The edain changed fashion like the trees their leaves!”

 

“They changed their clothing because they are more sensitive to the elements, daughter!”

 

“So what? I’ll bet you they looked forward to the changing of the seasons more than we do because it meant a change in their clothing styles! I mean, come on, naneth! Haven’t you ever just been in a pink mood? Or perhaps a blue or green mood? Sometimes I just have to wear red and I don’t know why, but I just feel better when I put on the color that suits my mood!”

 

Just then Elrond came in and Galadriel gasped at his clothing. For the Lord was without his robes and tunics and was cutting quite a dashing figure, though he looked a little self conscious. What Celebrian and Vallis had come up with was clothing that would accentuate the male form without hampering their movements but also something that couldn’t be said they were walking about half dressed. They had even talked their husbands into wearing their hair in styles that pulled their hair from their faces and would fastened it in the back with modified cloak clasps. 

 

Both ladies had agreed that from the waist down their males dressed fine. It was the long tunics and robes that hampered movement and obscured their forms that had to have a makeover. Both also had agreed they liked their males in their shirtsleeves and it was just that unfinished look about the hips that needed to cleaner look. Even tucking it in hadn’t satisfied them.

 

And both Thranduil, Elrond and in fact, most of the nobility wore shirts that had dozens of teeny little buttons that frustrated Vallis no end and for more than one reason! But she’d noticed that her sons wore very nice shirts that were quite different. Being skilled foresters also came with a wardrobe that was functional and useful to Vallis’ purposes. She filched several of her son’s shirts and had more created in various fabrics and colors.

 

The shirts fastened with two ties. One side folded over the breast and tied on the inside of the garment and the other side folded to finish covering the chest and tying at the waist. It was an attractive style of shirt and Vallis liked how it created a short V-neckline at the throat and the way it lay at the hips was a clean smooth line. Vallis determined that instead of all the vests, surcoats and leathers that the foresters wore, she would just add a colorful sash to finish off the outfit she wished to see her husband and sons to wear.

 

So Vallis had come up with something she’d seen men wear on her homeworld during their courting rituals when they would take their chosen ladies to a formal event that called for formal clothing and the men would wear a cumberbund about their waist to cover that unfinished look of the shirt being tucked into the waistband of the trousers.

 

This new garment was like a sash, but instead of being tied about the waist it fastened neatly at the back or side, depending on the preference, and could be in a myriad of colors to accentuate and enhance the color choices of the breeches and shirt. And so far, though they would probably rather die than say so, it was a vast improvement over the heavy clothing the males had been weighted down with over the years and the freedom of movement felt like a liberation to them.

 

Today Elrond had allowed himself to be dressed by his wife in brown breeches, tan boots, a yellow shirt and a forest green cumberbund to pull it all together. With his long black hair and pale skin he looked beautiful and striking and his wife devoured him with her approving eyes. Knowing her thoughts he colored and smiled shyly at her, but it was the open stare of his mother-in-honor that caused him to blush beet red.

 

“Ha! See, husband! Even my mother thinks you look striking!”

 

“Well, he is certainly striking something. What is this daughter?”

 

“This is the new fashion of Cŷr-Menegroth. The High Queen and I are going to revolutionize the way the eldar dress and view one another. No more tribes! No more clans! No more male and female only occupations! Only one tribe that is eldar and all within encouraged to be the best of their individual abilities.”

 

“The ellyn will never agree to this, daughter.” Galadriel said with a sigh.

 

“They will have no choice, naneth. Besides, we have the High King on our side.”

 

“Yes, and the High Queen is very much looking forward to incorporating the colors of Firith which will soon be upon us. She has already sent us a sampling.” Elrond smiled.

 

“Yes, and she told me that the King wants an embroidered sash, as well. She is working on one that has some of the symbols he loved from the Greenwood. I could make you one, my love, that has images of Imladris to remind you of the waterfalls there.”

 

“I can see this will fast become a new status symbol. All the ellyn will be showing off their wives needle skills.” Galadriel said with a smile.

 

“You’ll have to put your needle to work and make one for adar. I think a nice dove grey would look nice on him and you could sew the mallorn on them. They would be most beautiful.”

 

“So, your generation wishes to do away with millennia of eldar history, do you?” Galadriel said with a smirk.

 

“Not so much the history. Nor even the traditions. We just want to make this place our own. This is our place now and nothing from the past should mar it. Our people, our fashions, our traditions. Just ours. Is that so wrong, nana?”

 

“No. I can’t say that it is. There was a lot that felt...constrained to me before. It is why I left Aman in the first place. Everything was so set. Nothing could ever be out of place. I know I was odd for an ellyth. Should that have made me an outcast?”

 

“No. And you are not alone now in feeling that way, nana. Everybody who is here feels that way, I would guess. Don’t you think so, husband?”

 

“Yes. I never felt at home in Aman. Oh, Tirion was very nice and I got to meet my parents, but we were strangers and all I did was remind them of the sorrows of the past. I was born here and I wish to live here.” Elrond smiled gently.

 

“So you both believe what I’ve felt all these years is natural and not a form of defiance as the Valar said?”

 

“Does it really matter now, nana? I mean, some of what you all did was a form of defiance. I’m just not sure it was proper to punish you all for it.”

 

“I don’t understand what you mean, daughter.”

 

“Well, I mean that I’m not sure that their rules were just ones. They were acting like overprotective parents, sure, but when one of their own killed one of us and gave the family no recourse but to defy them? I’m not sure how you were supposed to react. The only thing I see that was wrong was the kinslaying at Alqualondë.”

 

“None of our family participated in that.” Galadriel protested.

 

“At that point it didn’t really matter, did it? You all fell under the Doom of Mandos because of it. And in turn everyone who ever had contact with you paid for it.”

 

“Are you blaming us for what befell the Sindar here?” she asked outraged.

 

“Yes, of course I am. Not that it would have changed the outcome had you all turned back at that point and returned for Judgement. Morgoth would still have been loose in the land and they would have had no warning at all. At least with your arrival it gave the Sindar warning enough to arm themselves.”

 

“I don’t understand what you are saying, daughter.”

 

“I’m saying that things played out the way they were meant to. It was the Music unfolding. You all were merely playing your parts in the Song. Instead of being so offended when it is pointed out you should just accept that’s how it was always meant to play out.”

 

“It does take a lot of the burden away, naneth.” Elrond added.

 

Galadriel sighed and said, “It sounds to me like you’re both telling me to let go of the past. But if I do so won’t I lose who I am. What made me? What motivated me?”

 

“Not really, naneth. Suffice it to say that your past has shaped you, yes. But it does not define you now. Nor does it define what you will be in the future. And it is to our future that we are now thinking. In order for us to move on to our next part in the Melody we have to let go of the past.”

 

“You make it sound so easy. I have doubts that you will be able to convince anyone else that this is the way we should go.”

 

“It doesn’t matter what they want. It is what the High King wants. And what he wants is for us all to be one people. No more clans. No more tribes. And he means it!”

 

“It’s all very well for him to say so. He is male and they just gave this land to him. How did he earn it?”

 

“Naneth! You have to let that go. Because that’s another thing he will not tolerate. Strife! He will not tolerate strife between us and those looking for it. He will be the one who makes that yearning in your heart come to fruition because he is wed to a woman who comes from a culture where she was equal to her male counterparts. Don’t you want to be part of building that world?” Celebrian asked earnestly.

 

Galadriel at first wished to take issue with how her daughter framed her response. Who was Thranduil to not tolerate anything? Then she listened to what her daughter was saying. And yes! She did want to be part of making a world where all were equal. She really didn’t wish to lead any longer. That was as much heartache as it had been rewarding for the short time they had thrived.

 

Her husband entered at this time, knowing full well what the topic of conversation had been and he thought to share with her what Thranduil had shown of the Queen’s homeworld. But he saw that she had already been swayed by their daughter’s words. He decided he would support her in any way he could and save that sight for another time when it could be used to sway her if she balked at any point in what would probably be a long process to change her views of the world and her place in it.

 

“I wish to be part of this new world the High King envisions, my love. Won’t you?” he asked holding his hand out to her with a smile. And then added, “And I promise I’ll never comment on what you choose to wear ever again. Wear what makes you happy.”

 

“And will you allow me to dress you in the garb that my daughter is dressing our Elrond?” she smirked thinking she’d get him to balk right away. But to her surprise he nodded and said, “Yes! I will. The king and his sons already sport this look and they are starting quite the fashion trend already. And I must also admit it looks very comfortable. What say you, Elrond?”

 

“I like it. I’m just not so certain of the reception I’ll get if I leave these chambers, adar. I guess I’m not so sure of myself as those Thranduilionnath.”

 

“Well, are we any less brave than a pack of elflings?” Celeborn declared in a challenge and Celebrian and Galadriel exchanged a look and went to kit Celeborn out in the new fashions with the ellyth intending on joining their husbands in the new clothing trend. And those who looked at them askance could all go jump in the Esgalduin!

Chapter Text

Mírphen and Mírchil had a mission in mind and there was only one place they could make that happen. And so they had sought out Eöl in the forges and with their very best manners had requested that he take them both on as apprentices. It could be said that Eöl was taken by surprise and he wondered why the sons of the High King wished to be apprenticed to him?

 

It could also be said that he had a moment of discontent that perhaps the king didn’t trust him as much as he said he did. But when he asked them why they wished to learn smithing they had brought out the dwarf toys and showed him the workings of them and their wish to create more.

 

“Our naneth says that if we master the workings of these toys then we can master the workings of much larger works.” Mírphen said earnestly.

 

“We got these toys as a gift when we were very little. In fact we barely remember the trip, though our parents will tell you it was a misery to them. We were five years of age. Anyway, we essentially grew up with these toys and as we got older we became curious and took them apart to see how they worked.” Mírchil explained.

 

“Yes, and you would think this a bad idea, but it’s was a good thing we did for over the years they would become broken and because we knew how they worked we were able to fix them. Now they are being played with by our niece and nephew, but someday we hope for our own and wish to make sure they can be repaired.” Mírphen added.

 

“And so here we are. We are told you are the best in the land and we wish to learn this lore.” Mírchil concluded and both ellyn beamed at him with hopeful expressions.

 

Eöl looked at both of them and his curiosity got the better of him, for he believed them and wished to see these dwarf works. And what they showed him had him marveling at the intricate workings of them. The tiny gears, springs and metal pieces that were the inner workings of the toys.

 

Eöl took a breathe and said, “I would be delighted to teach you both everything I know. And thank you for showing me these dwarf toys. They are a work of wonder and art.”

 

“They were a wonder to us as children. You know, we should learn how to make a whole bunch of these or their like and give them to all the parents of the city to share their joy.” Mírphen said with enthusiasm.

 

“Yes, especially the noisy ones. Although the parents may riot and complain to ada. Perhaps we should just introduce the more quiet ones that are still clever and bring joy to little ones!” Mírchil added thoughtfully.

 

“And how would you young ellyn go about making the small gears for these toys?” Eöl asked.

 

“Oh a test! Let me see. A mold?” Mírchil ventured.

 

“Yes, but how would we get the dimensions?” Mírphen asked, thinking, and then looking at Eöl, “You know, the gears are very thin. How would we go about making a mold for such a tiny gear?”

 

“You wouldn’t.” Eöl began and then went on about how gears can be manufactured by a variety of processes, including casting, forging, extrusion, powder metallurgy, and blanking and the two began to get the idea that they were in well over their head.

 

“It would appear, brother, that we know absolutely nothing about this craft.” Mírchil said sadly.

 

“Now don’t be so hasty, young ellon. There are those who make the gears and others who know how to assemble them. You have both figured out how to assemble these complicated toys with no instruction. Don’t discount that skill. Not many people can master engineering on that level.”

 

“Our naneth is an engineer. Do you think that might be where our talents lie?” Mírphen asked hopefully, for it seemed that smithing was probably a bit out of their league.

 

“I don’t think you should give up completely on learning how to make the gears and bits you’ll want for your gadgets. But there is also a need for people who know how to design and assemble these things.” Eöl advised the young ellyn.

 

“Well, I don’t know where to start, so that means we’ll have to start at the beginning, eh brother?” Mírphen said and then to Eöl, “That is if you’ll consent to teach us, my lord? I rather like the idea of designing toys that we can perhaps use in trade, but I also believe that we should also know how to make them as well.”

 

“Alright. If you are both willing I will teach you. And in return I also expect you to be creative and build on the designs you learned from the dwarf works. Together we may come up with something that will please everybody.” Eöl said in approval, and then “And I expect you both here first thing in the morning. And morning is before first light.” he concluded with a lifted brow and was pleased when both ellyn nodded enthusiastically and promised they would be there first thing.

 

After they had left Eöl’s daughter, Faila came in to bring her father his afternoon tea, “What was that all about, ada?”

 

“Oh, that was two of the king’s sons asking if I would apprentice them. I decided that I would, though I think their talent may lie in engineering. Still they need to know a little on how things are made if they are going to design and build them as I expect they will.”

 

“That is very kind of you, ada. It sounds a little like they will be wasting your time.”

 

“No, they aren’t wasting my time. They have brought me an idea that I think will be the making of us. It is new and innovated and I would never have thought of it on my own. They had thought to make them themselves, but I think they will be the ones thinking them up and me who will make the parts for them. It will be a very fruitful partnership I think.” he said smiling.

 

“Oh! I’m so glad, ada. You haven’t made anything that excites you in a long time. It’s nice to see you so enthusiastic.”

 

“Yes, it feels nice too. I was so dreadfully bored in Aman. There are only so many hooks and latches you can make before you're sick to death of them.”

 

“Hasn’t the king asked for other things besides hooks and latches?”

 

“Oh yes! Now there is an ellon who has a good imagination. He asks for things like decorative hearth screens and tools and lattice-work frames for windows. I like how he thinks.”

 

“Well, I’m glad ada! I wouldn’t want you to be bored here.”

 

“I’m just glad to be back. I hope you like it here, my darling daughter.”

 

“Oh yes, ada! I love being in the forest here. It just feels so, so….”

 

“Alive? Vibrant?” and at her nod, “Yes, I understand. I feel it too.”

 

“When will naneth be back?”

 

“I don’t know, sweetness. I believe she wanted to ride one of the mearas and then decided to ride to see her brother.”

 

“Doesn’t her long absences bother you at all?”

 

“No. Not anymore. She always finds her way back and I find it nice and quiet while she is gone.”

 

“I hope you know I love you both dearly, but if I ever get married I hope I have more in common with my husband.”

 

“So do I my darling daughter. So do I.”

 

~0~

 

The wedding of Thranor and Finduilas went off without a hitch. And three days later when the wedded couple made their appearance Finduilas bid farewell to her father, brother and grandfather as she would be staying in the city with her husband. She had been born in Nargothrond, so living in an underground city held no fears for her.

 

But after all the years she had spent in Aman she had thought the City of a Thousand Caves would be uncouth to her. She was glad to find it was just the opposite. In fact it felt more like Aman than it did Nargothrond and the chambers she and her husband were given were a luxury she’d never enjoyed even in Aman.

 

Thranduil was glad both had chosen to stay because he really hadn’t had a good chance to get to know his brother. But more importantly, it would have grieved Oropher to be so far from his son, who had been one of the few comforts he had in Aman.

 

Oropher also loved his father dearly, but he’d lived without him for a very long time and he’d had close to an Age to renew his bonds of love and kinship with his father as they were both in Aman. And just knowing he was also here in Beleriand seemed enough to make him content. But having both his sons so close made him happy indeed. And soon there would be more grandchildren. He’d been ecstatic to meet Legolas in Aman.

 

When the Ring Bearers had all come to Aman with the news that Sauron was vanquished there had been celebrations in Tirion. And a century later when Legolas had turned up he had sought out his grandfather and Oropher had been delighted to meet him.

 

He’d also been astonished to learn that his son had remarried and had three more children. A daughter and twin sons. Oropher and his wife Annel thought all they had to do now was to wait for Thranduil and his family to sail.

 

Then word had come that the Valar was rising Beleriand and Thranduil was to be High King there. Then the offer had come to remove to their former home and their entire family had jumped at the opportunity. It was the best decision Oropher felt he had ever made. He would see his son again and Menegroth would be reborn with his son as its king.

 

And he had met his son’s new wife and found her delightful, if a bit on the exotic side. But that wasn’t so strange for their family, after all. And now his youngest son was wed and there would soon be many grandchildren as Thranduil’s wife was also expecting.

 

Thranduil had also shared his hopes that his sons would also soon be announcing their own betrothal and that meant even more grandchildren and that was all Oropher looked forward to.

 

Well, that and making the best wine in all of Beleriand!

Chapter Text

It had been several months since his younger brother had wed and everything had settled down within the realm of Doriath. His Silvans had settled in nicely within the Neldoreth and Region forests. The Dimbar had been turned into a beautiful green valley of some trees but mostly a grassy and flowering garden of surpassing beauty. Thranduil had thought to send the Mearas to Ard-Galen or Lothlann, but the steeds had decided they liked the Dimbar and the Iarwain welcomed them.

 

Now that most of the lands had been more or less settled and vast amounts of people had left to start their lives anew, Thranduil felt he could get down to the business of sorting out Doriath. But really, it seemed to be running just fine. And as he had made trade negotiations in the past with many mannish towns and villages, now those trade negotiations would be with other elven realms. How hard could that be? For none could be so intractable as the second-born. Unless, of course, it was the dwarves. Or himself. But back then all he had to do was wait a few years and they would die out and he could begin negotiations with the next one. That tactic wouldn’t be an option here.

 

He supposed he’d have to compromise. He could do that, couldn’t he? The truth was he didn’t know. He’d perhaps have to put someone else in charge of that. Maybe his children could help with that. They were clever and not likely to give away the realm in negotiations. And now that he was High King he wasn’t sure it was proper for him to be involved in direct negotiations any more. That might be considered a conflict of interest. Galion! His former butler had a quick and keen mind. Beleg and Mablung would also be good candidates for negotiations. Those three, in fact would be perfect! He was also King of Doriath and he had a responsibility to his people here.

 

He’d need to sit down with someone to see how he was supposed to be both King of Doriath and High King of Beleriand. He supposed he’d have to ask his grandfather how that was supposed to work. After all, nobody had given him instructions regarding the job they’d given him. They’d just slapped a crown on his head and told him what his new job was going to be and so far nothing had come up that would be a conflict between the two but he wasn't fooling himself that it would never come up. Even if it didn't blatantly come up and smack him in the face there might come a day that he'd be accused of favoring Doriath's interests over those of another realm in trade or water rights orsomething! 

 

And now that his grandfather had a seat at Amon Obel and was near at hand he’d decided that he was going to work with his grandfather and his wife to raise communication towers in every elven realm. Especially now that he knew the crystals could act like the Palantiri and would open instant communications with the Stewards of the many realms he now was supposed to oversee. He hoped this would at least alleviate some future misunderstanding if he could talk directly with Lords Turgon, Finrod, Orodreth or Angrod.

 

He was still undecided if he’d have two councils instead of just one for the running of the city. He'd been toying with the idea of a second council to be made up of those representatives from the other realms to see to the treaties between realms and perhaps to negotiate trade between them. He thought the communications towers a good idea and he was set on that, but thought they should keep that to themselves. The idea that the interests of each realm could be addressed with a live-in representative of each realm had merits all its own.

 

For now he had to think on what his realm had to offer as far as trade, but besides the natural resources they had within the forests they had nothing to trade here. Yet. His wife had apparently decided to go into the clothing business with Lord Elrond’s wife and what they had come up with was sweeping the city and forests like wildfire. Everybody, both male and female just loved the ideas they had designed and Thranduil had to admit that he liked it too. After centuries of wearing layer upon layer and yards and yards of fabric in his daily life, the lack of it felt decidedly liberating. And he knew that he wouldn't willingly go back to wearing all the trappings now that he'd gotten used to the freedom of not wearing it.

 

At least Lord Elrond had sent most of his household over to Thargelion, with only a handful remaining, which included most of his family. His sons he’d sent off with the rest to set up their seat in their father's name. And Thranduil's own sons were not only training with Eöl they were making those horrid toys for trade purposes. That would be interesting! He hoped it wouldn’t end with an invasion of angry parents beating on his door and complaining about their lack of sleep!

 

But what  he was excited about their wine making. He and his father had just made their first batch of wine and while it wasn’t quite as clear and refreshing as the Dorwinion, it was still better than anything anyone else was making and he had high hopes of being able to actually improve on the original Dorwinion here. Thranduil had thought it would take years, but his father had suggested helping the aging process along a little by magic.

 

Thranduil said he didn’t have that kind of magic, but Oropher had looked a bit self-conscious and said that he did and had picked out one line of vines and had sped up their growth to the point they had been dripping and heavy with dark red and purple grapes. When they had pressed them and had tasted it they knew they were on the right track. It just needed a bit of tweaking and Thranduil had an idea about that as well. It was the water they had to tinker with. And he knew just what he needed for that. Or rather who!

 

His musings were interrupted by his son, Legolas, who looked nervous. This was so unusual in his self assured and confident son that it immediately got his full attention.

 

“What is it, my son? You look….well, not like yourself at all. What’s wrong?”

 

“Um, nothing is wrong. It’s just, well….Ada I’d like to get your permission and blessings to wed an ellith and I don’t know how you will react.”

 

“You wish to wed? Oh Legolas, my beloved son! That makes me so happy you have no idea! Yes, of course you have my permission and my most sincere blessings!” Thranduil exclaimed and embraced his son.

 

Legolas relaxed and chuckled at his father, “Ada! Don’t you even want to know who she is?”

 

“Yes, of course. Though I’m glad she isn’t a dwarf. I’m assuming she’s an ellith that lives here. Please tell me she lives here and you won’t be following after her if she’s one of the ones leaving. So, who is she?”

 

“Um, she is Faila Eöliel.”

 

“I know of her. She is quite fair. Why would you think I wouldn’t approve? She comes from a good family and anything that happened in the past is just that. In the past. I believe they’ve all reconciled with her uncle.”

 

“Oh, yes! As you say, all of that is in the past. I just didn’t know how you regarded her parents.”

 

“Oh, you thought I might be against the match because her mother is a Noldo, didn’t you? Well, none of that matters anymore. Why should it? We are all eldar, after all and all that bad blood needs to stay in the past where it belongs.”

 

“Well, I knew you had conflicting feelings towards the Lady Galadriel.”

 

“That’s different. You know she had your naneth captured and brought to her lands against her Will. And I don’t exactly harbor ill will towards her. But conflicting is a good choice of words. Your mother didn’t like her and didn’t enjoy her stay there. But that has to be put in the past, as well.”

 

“So, you don’t disapprove of my marriage to Faila, then?”

 

“Of course I don’t disapprove. But tell me, how did the two of you even meet?”

 

“Well, the Mírwanûn are apprenticed to her adar and there were times I wanted to see exactly what they were up to. You know they’ve been making something like the dwarf toys don’t you?”

 

Thranduil sighed and rubbed his eyes, “Yes. I know. How ghastly are they?” and then he stopped and looked at his son questioningly, "The Mírwanûn? Twin treasures? When did that become a thing?"

 

“Oh everybody is calling them that. It seems to fit, doesn't it?" Legolas smirked, "Anyway, the toys aren’t ghastly at all. And you know how noisy the dwarf toys were?” And at his father’s nod, “Well, most of theirs aren’t noisy at all. They are quite lovely and cheerful. I think you would approve. As a matter of fact, you should go visit Wendil and Dami because the twins have given them a load of them. I think they test them out on our sister’s little ones to see if the children like them and to test the parent’s patience. So far both Dami and Wendil say they are bearable.”

 

“Really? That’s a relief. I’ll admit that I vaguely feared a mob of angry parents would storm the city in retribution for saddling them with noisy dwarf toys.”

 

Legolas snickered, but said, “Well, that would hardly be fair considering they would be traded in barter and not foisted on anyone. Anyway, the whole point of my mentioning my beloved brothers and their apprenticeship to Lord Eöl is because they are the reason I would drop by ever so often to see how they were progressing and that is where I met Faila. She would bring her father and the twins tea and lunch. After awhile she would talk to me and well, we’d take walks together.” he concluded with a shy smile on his face and his father was so happy to see that his firstborn was finally ready to wed.

 

“I'm so glad that you have finally found your One, son! Truly, I am. I’ll have to speak with her parents, of course and see what their wishes are. Have you spoken to your Lady already? Have you approached her adar?”

 

“Not yet. I wanted to make sure I had your blessings before I approached her father. But yes, I have already spoken to her. I wouldn’t be standing before you if I was unsure of her feelings. We have spoken and we are of a mind in the matter.”

 

“Well, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Go and speak with her father as soon as you may. And let him know you have my blessings and I look forward to welcoming he and his wife to our family.”

 

“You know, I’ve noticed a light in his eyes that I don’t see in any others. Not even the re-embodied have that light. What do you suppose it is?”

 

“Son, Eöl is one of the the First Awakened. There were never many of those to begin with and only those have that light you see in his eyes. And the best clue to that is his name. Eöl. Can you even come up with a meaning for his name in our language? In any language?”

 

“No and now that you point that out I feel rather dim not to have seen it and figured it out myself. Well, that will be strange to have such a one as father-in-honor. That is supposing I get his blessings.”

 

“Think how the mates of Leliel and Wénion will feel in having a maia for a father-in-honor.”

 

“Yes, I see what you mean. I’d much prefer my Lord Eöl over a maia.”

 

~0~

 

Eöl and Aredhel were pleased that their daughter had found her One and everyone who had been in Aman had known Legolas as one of the heroes who had helped to vanquish the minion of Morgoth. It probably also helped that he was a prince, had been born a prince and his father was currently the High King of all of Beleriand. And having two maiar in his family also didn't hurt his cause.

 

But in the end, it was because it was the wish of their daughter that mattered the most. Knowing they would probably never see their son again, their daughter was their only Light and they would welcome grandchildren someday. So they gladly gave their blessings and permission and now it was only formalities and protocols that needed to be seen to.

 

“Well, when your father isn’t too busy I shall have to see if I can’t sit with him a moment and go over when he wishes the betrothal ceremony to take place. I assume you both wish it to happen sooner rather than later?”

 

“Oh yes! And, um, I happen to know he’s not doing anything right now. Are you busy?” Legolas asked hopefully and Aredhel had to smother a giggle behind her hand. He really was adorable!

 

“Well, if you’re sure.”

 

“Oh yes! I’m sure! Shall we?”

 

Eöl exchanged an amused glance with his wife and then shrugged and decided to roll with it. Why not. The sooner they made the arrangements the better. If they played their cards right there could be a grandbaby in as little as two years from now. Give or take a couple of months.

Chapter Text

The time for the new little princesses to make their grand entrance had arrived and as had occurred with her other pregnancies, Vallis brought her daughters into the world with little to no difficulty. Vallis had asked Thranduil if their daughters could be called Soriah and Sophia - names that on her world both meant wisdom. Thranduil thought the names beautiful and agreed.

 

The golden princesses were sunny in nature right from their beginning and a joy to be around, their bubbling laughter infectious and lifted the spirits of all those that heard them. It was also apparent they were both affectionate and loved being around those that wanted to hold and snuggle them. And the ones that loved snuggling their sisters the most were their twin brothers who absolutely adored them.

 

Thranduil had hopes that the arrival of their sisters might prompt his sons into settling down with the daughters of Felegund if that was where their hearts lay. They seemed to have found their path in designing useful and entertaining gadgets and then building them with the help of their mentor, Lord Eöl.

 

They were also children of the forest and loved to play about within the woods they were exploring and becoming acquainted with and with them was their brother Legolas. The three brothers loved to explore the forest and discover all its secrets. And the forests of Doriath, those of Region, Neldoreth and Brethil, seemed to revel in the presence of the eldar within its bosom. The forest also knew its king and that meant it also knew its princes and the forest took care of and obeyed their princes and that included everything that lived within it.

 

It was within this calm and loving embrace that the brothers drew closer than they had ever been before. Legolas hadn’t been around too much after they had been born and shortly after they had come of age he’d left for Aman. Now reunited as adults, they could get to know each other as contemporaries in a way they'd never had the chance to before.

 

Legolas, being very well acquainted with the twin sons of Elrond, had always been glad his brothers were nothing like the rambunctious Elrondionannath. Oh, they had their playful light side, but they were much more thoughtful than Legolas had ever thought possible, but he shouldn’t have been surprised. They were his brothers, after all.

 

And the children of Thranduil all seemed to have been blessed in one form or another. Their sister had captured a maia for her own and it looked as though his brothers had possibly won the hearts of the daughters of Finrod Felegund. He just didn’t believe that frivolous and flippant people could attract those they had. And he knew royal titles had nothing to do with their charm.

 

“Are you looking forward to your wedding day, brother?” Mírphen asked.

 

“Yes. Faila is the sweetest ellith I’ve ever met and I’ve met several who could be called gentle in their natures. But Faila is also fiery and puts up with no nonsense. She will be a welcome life-mate.”

 

“Oh, we know she can pin your ears back and put you in your place. She has done so to myself and Phen many times.” Mírchil exclaimed wryly.

 

“That is only because she thinks we trifle with her adar at times. She doesn’t appreciate our style of conversing. Which is strange since our good Lord Eöl seems to understand us very well. He is most patient with us and gets very excited with our ideas.” Mírphen said with a smile.

 

“She does seem to have little patience with you both and I wonder at that. I’ve always found her most kind. Did you cross her in some way?”

 

“Not that I can think of. We both knew the first time we approached him and he spoke to us of his craft that we were in over our head. But instead of letting us give up he was smart enough to see how he might make use of our own talents without having to train a couple of chuckle heads like us.”

 

“Perhaps we just rub her the wrong way. Which is strange since she seems to like you just fine.”

 

“Mayhap it is just our age that she can’t tolerate. I believe she is close in age as yourself, brother. Maybe she just has little patience with us as she sees us as wayward ignorant children who waste her beloved adar’s time.”

 

“No, I don’t think that is it. At least I hope not. I have hopes of having little ones one day.” Legolas said a little worriedly as he’d also seen that she had little patience for his brothers.

 

“I think you need not worry about that, brother. I think it is rather something within us that bothers her. Is that not correct, Chil?” Mírphen remarked.

 

“She has never been able to tell us apart and I think this annoys her, brother.” Mírchil smiled gently, meeting his brothers eyes.

 

“Aye. I’ve noticed over the years that very few people can distinguish us. And like the Lady, some become annoyed with us because of it.”

 

“Really? People have been unkind to you because they can’t tell which of you they are talking to? I find that intolerable! You must tell me who has treated you so!” Legolas exclaimed hotly, his protective instincts kicking in.

 

“Nay brother. Fear not for us. Those who care to know us don’t seem to have any problem distinguishing us from one another. Your lady doesn’t wish to, so she never took the time to get to know us. Her adar always knows to whom he is addressing. And the ones we care about the most know us and we know them. And in speaking with them we find they share our affliction.” Mírchil said in amusement.

 

“Yes, and while we do not know the sons of Lord Elrond well at all, from the things we’ve heard it seems they have experienced what we have as well and simply decided to capitalize on it for their own amusement. We choose not to do so, but can understand the impulse that has driven it.” Mírphen smirked.

 

“I admit I’ve never understood why they act thusly, but you’ve both given me insight that has never occurred to me before. I simply took it as a mischief they indulged in that they should have outgrown years ago. Their adar is a twin who is so thoughtful I just can’t imagine he ever indulged in such.”

 

“But he lost his twin. I can’t even imagine the pain that must have caused him. If I were to lose my brother I would never be the same for the loss would always be there. And I can say that even though we lost you.” Mírchil said soberly.

 

“Oh, I know losing me would not even compare with losing one another. You started life with each other and your bond is probably as close as a bonded pair must feel. I wonder how your bond will be affected when you finally wed your ladies.” Legolas mused for he knew where his brothers hearts belonged.

 

“We don’t expect it to change at all. We will just have to learn to build new boundaries so we don’t intrude where we don’t belong.”

 

“Do you speak of shielding?”

 

“Nay. More like a colored line we know not to cross. Right now Phen’s line is blue. I expect that to change.”

 

“Aye. And Chil’s line is lavender. I will know the new hue when I see it.”

 

“Ah! You both speak of colors as a line not to cross. I would know more about this. This strikes me as very similar to naneth’s crystals and her insistence that colors have spectrum and frequency.” Legolas spoke with enthusiasm.

 

“The best way to explain is that we can see zones when we mindspeak where we know not to go. We communicate in the warm zones. We speak in the warmth of the reds and oranges. Even golden and yellow zones are safe. Sometimes we can speak in the green places, but the colder areas is where we need to tarry and ask if it is proper to go further. The colder areas are the blues and purple areas and as we have gotten older we have known to give each other more privacy of thought. We place those thoughts in those places and we don’t intrude upon one another there.”

 

“Yes and I can see that we will both have a deeply purple area after we wed that we will know not to approach for that will be the place we have allowed our mates to solely tread. For we will probably not wish to leave anything veiled from our beloveds though that thought is somewhat uncomfortable for me to think on.”

 

“I can’t think that either of you will have dark thoughts that you need feel ashamed of.” Legolas objected.

 

“That is not to the point. I don’t think so either. It is just a matter of privacy we know we will be giving up. That includes you, brother. There will be a point that you will open yourself completely to your Lady. That essentially leaves nothing just for yourself. Even your deepest thoughts will be open to her.”

 

Legolas just looked at his brother with his mouth hanging open as he had never thought of marriage in such terms. But it also made sense. His brothers, so much younger than himself, thought in far deeper terms than he, himself, ever had. That was rather disconcerting. Was he so shallow? He didn’t think so, but he had to admit to himself that it had really never occurred to him that marriage was a lot more than just sharing body and abode.

 

“I see I will have to talk to adar about such. I cannot think that he would share everything with naneth. Some things that are witnessed are too dark to be healthy to share.” he murmured, his brows furrowing.

 

“Don’t think on it in such a manner, brother. Your wife will be your help-mate. She will be there to share your pain and nurture you just as you will be there for her.” Mírchil said earnestly, causing Legolas to look at both his brothers suspiciously.

 

“You are both ready to wed, aren’t you?” he exclaimed, “The only way you know such things is because you must have already spoken to your ladies in very intimate terms!”

 

The twins exchanged a long look, leading Legolas to suspect they were conversing privately, before they looked at him, both nodding slowly. “Aye, we have. We just are not in a hurry, though we suspect that our adars are aware and approve.” Mírphen said with a bit of a smirk causing Legolas to laugh merrily at the implication.

 

“So you believe that both adar and Lord Finrod wish you to wed and that is why you tarry? You are all most cruel to your parents to play with them so!” he quipped wagging his finger at them.

 

“We know it. It became quite obvious when Lord Finrod and Lady Amarië didn’t remove to Nargothrond with the rest of their people, choosing rather to stay in Cŷr-Menegroth instead. We would all have to be simpletons not to figure out their plans for us.” Mírchil returned with amusement of his own. “But we are also not so cruel as to keep our ladies waiting though they are enjoying the game, as well.”

 

“Aye. My Winnie will not enjoy waiting much longer for a mere chance to tease her adar.” Mírphen said with all sincerity.

 

“Nor will Yanni.” Mírchil agreed, “We may approach adar soon. You are already in your betrothal time and we will not affect your wedding. We did not wish to take attention from you and Fair Faila.”

 

“Aye, we were actually ready when Uncle wed, but chose to wait until he was safely wed to Aunt Duilas.” Mírphen offered.

 

“But then you announced that you wished to wed, so we all decided to wait. But now we have no reason to wait any longer. The only thing we were sure of is we four wish to betroth and wed together.” Mírchil concluded.

 

“A double wedding? Ah! That will be the event for the ages, I think. The Houses of Eonwë joining the House of Finwë. Which is already joined to the Houses of Ingwë and Olwë. That makes matters interesting, indeed. It is adar’s wish that we become finally one people. I think that is a fine wish to have.”

 

“Don’t forget we also have the blood of the Damian. That makes us stranger than all of you.” Mírphen laughed.

 

“Indeed. The sons of Elrond will no longer be able to claim they are the mongrels of the eldar world.” Legolas smirked.

 

“I think they say that because people have been unkind enough to say that about them not only behind their backs but right to their faces.” Mírchil said gently.

 

“Really? You think so? I know I have said it myself in jest, but only because they’ve said it so many times that I thought it something they were rather proud of. They are related to just about everybody.” Legolas said thoughtfully, wondering if he’d inadvertently hurt his dear friends with his jest. “If I had thought it something that hurt them I would never have said such a thing. I love them dearly.”

 

“And I’m sure they know that, brother. Have you spoken to them since finding out that Lord Eonwë is our Grandfather? That would seem to be something they would be most interested in since they too are descended from a maia.”

 

“You know, I have seen and spoken to them, but that never came up. I just bade them farewell when they removed to Thargelion. I had hoped they would stay longer, but it was not to be. I will have to go and visit them soon, I think.”

 

“Why not just wait until you wed to see them. I’m sure they will come to the city to view your wedding.”

 

“Or you could send a messenger and invite them to be part of it. Now would be a good time to send such a messenger. You are still eight months till your wedding and it will take time for them to arrive.”

 

“You’re right! You’re both right. I will do as you say. And may I suggest that you speak to your ladies and determine to inform them you are all ready.”

 

“Perhaps we should announce our intentions at your wedding.” Mírphen teased.

 

“Nay! You should become betrothed before I wed, brothers. You should plan to become betrothed within the next three months, I think.”

 

“Why the rush, brother?” Mírchil exclaimed.

 

“It’s not rushed, though is it? Why wait. Teasing your adars is not a good reason to put off your own happiness. Talk to your ladies and then talk to adar. Then you may approach Lord Finrod. I’d like to see you wed. And don’t say I wish you to share my sad fate. I’ve seen you with our sisters. It is time you become adars, yourselves.”

 

Mírchil sighed and shared an amused glance with his twin, “You’re not incorrect, brother. Since our sisters arrived I must admit it is more on my mind than it was before

 

“Mine too, brother. Perhaps we should follow the advice of our brother and speak to our ladies and settle things once and for all. Then we can approach adar and then Lord Finrod.” Mírphen said with a sigh of his own.

 

“Come then brothers. Let us make our way back home and you can seek out your ladies. I find I wish to see my sweet lady myself.”

 

“Well, since you truly are spoken for we shall not tarry and keep you separated from your love.” Mírphen said merrily and the brothers leapt from their perch to make their way back.

 

~0~

 

Once back within the city Legolas went to find his betrothed for he wished to speak to her regarding how she viewed his brothers. He wished to nip any misunderstandings right in the bud before they wed for he didn’t wish for there to be any strife within his House between his wife and his brothers.

 

He found his Faila at her home and asked if he might walk with her to one of the public areas of leisure that were dotted throughout the city so people could enjoy green and growing areas within the city that always had one sort of water feature or another. Seating themselves he took her hand and wondered how he could bring it up to her. He didn’t reckon on her empathy in knowing something was nagging at him.

 

“What troubles you, my lord?”

 

“I’ve just been out with my brothers and something I’ve noticed before caught my attention again when they were teasing me.” and taking a breath he turned to her, “Tell me, my love. What is it about my brothers that causes you to dislike them so?”

 

Sighing, she hesitated before saying, “I don’t dislike them. I will admit that I have been short with them. But my love, tis because I can’t tell them apart. Is there something wrong with me that I can’t see what others see so readily?”

 

Relieved that this was all that was the matter, Legolas smiled, “Oh tis easy to tell them apart. Just look at their fëa. They both have yellow-gold and pink in their fëa. But if you look carefully they are mirror images of the other. Mírchil’s goes from pink and blends to golden yellow and then pure yellow. And Mírphen's goes from pure yellow to golden yellow and into pink. It’s quite beautiful. Like a sunrise and when they stand next to one another it’s like the sunrise is reflected off a clear still lake. A perfect reflection. That is my favorite view of them. It’s quite soothing to look upon them thusly.” Legolas concluded brightly.

 

“And that’s it?” Faila asked nervously.

 

“Well, it’s a start. Once you know to whom you’re speaking then you can begin to notice the small differences in their personalities. They are both very sweet, but Mírchil is the gentler of the two while Mírphen will be more likely to laugh and tease. But they are both thoughtful and kind. They would never play a mean prank. About the only thing they play at is what you are experiencing. They won’t offer to explain which is which. But they are not the only twins I’ve known to do such. The sons of Elrond would often switch places to avoid doing things they didn’t wish to do when young and could even fool their parents. My brothers never do that. They just won’t tell strangers who is who. But if you asked they will introduce themselves. They just won’t do it a second time. Tis their only mischief that I’ve noticed.”

 

“I’m sorry for not asking about them sooner. I know they are your brothers and my adar likes them very much. He doesn’t seem to have a problem distinguishing them at all and neither does anyone else. I was just annoyed because it seemed I was the only one too obtuse to see what was in front of everyone else’s face and it made me annoyed with myself, which made me unkind to them.”

 

“They don’t hold you in ill regard. They know they annoy you and they would not have you uncomfortable around them. And as my wife they will love you as a sister.” Legolas said, gently taking his betrothed into his arms and delivering a chaste kiss upon her brow.

 

“I will promise you that I will do as you say, though I have never closely looked at the fëar of your brothers. I will admit I’ve never thought to look at their fëa. How is it they have such unusual fëar?”

 

“You know our naneth is an off-worlder.” and at her nod, “Well, my adar once showed me a memory of hers from her world. It’s pink and gold. After we are wed I will show you and you will understand why their fëar is such a unique color. Truly, once you see it you will know it suits them perfectly.” he chuckled.

 

“Oh, I don’t wish to wait. Please show me now.” Faila said with excitement and Legolas chuckled again, though he was unsure if such was proper. But, she was to be his wife and he had to show he trusted her as she was showing she trusted him. He nodded with a slight smile and laid his hand on the side of her face and closed his eyes to pull up the memory.

 

It was the only one his adar had showed him and he’d never asked his step-mother to share one of her own. For all he knew this wasn’t a fond memory for her. But it was breathtakingly beautiful and he shared it. He knew she saw it when he heard her gasp in wonder. He took his hand away and ended the contact. He’d think more on how tranquil her mind was, but right now he wished to share her joy in the wonder of his step-mother’s home world.

 

“Beautiful, isn’t it. And completely alien to our world. Adar said that he wasn’t sure he believed her when she informed us she wasn’t from our world. But in seeing that memory he was left with no doubts.”

 

“It was the most beautiful and strange thing I’ve ever seen. But I think I like our world better. Does that make me a bad person?”

 

“No! Of course not! My naneth was part of a team that placed their people on other worlds to make sure their people would live on and she said most of the worlds they created looked more like this one then their own home world. She said it just worked better and I know she loves this world even though she says we violate every rule of physics. Which is her science on how the natural world works.”

 

“How does Arda violate these rules of hers?”

 

“We have magic which they did not have on her world. Though if you saw their flying machines then you know their science looks an awful lot like magic to me.”

 

“Yes, indeed! I did! Maybe what she calls magic is just our science here?”

 

“Yes! That’s very clever of you. You are definitely the child of your parents. That is exactly what she says. She also says that every world seemed to operate upon their own rules, so why not a world that was brought into being with music and where words and thought have power.”

 

“Your naneth seems very wise. I look forward to getting to know her.”

 

“She already adores you. And I know my adar loves you already.” And then chuckling, “He loved you even before I named you. And I know they will wish to welcome your family into ours. We will all share our joys together.”

 

Chuckling herself, Faila said, “It sounds like your father has been wishing you to find a wife for a while now. But, you know I’m glad you waited for me to find you. Otherwise I think my own parents would wait forever for a grandchild.”

 

“Ah! Then you wish for children?” and at her nod, broke into a wide grin, “I’m glad to hear this, for it is in my heart as well. We have not long to wait. A little over a year and a half is my hope.”

 

“I would say that it will fly by, but I think the time will crawl instead.” she said with a sigh.

 

“It will pass before we know it. We will just have to make sure we fill our time and then we will look back and wonder why we were in such a hurry to toss out the peace and quiet of our existence.”

 

“So you are saying that we should enjoy the quiet while it lasts.” she smirked.

 

“Exactly!”

 

Chapter Text

Six months after the birth of Soriah and Sophia, Finduilas gave birth to a daughter, Cévie. Both she and Thranor where proud parents and Vallis was delighted that her girls would have a playmate so closely related as a first cousin and just six months difference in age. If there was one thing that the past year had given Vallis it was the opportunity to get to know her brother and sister-in-honor as she had been the one to monitor Finduilas' condition during her pregnancy.

 

In the city visiting were the kin of Finduilas and this actually saved Thranduil a headache, for he wanted to present them with communication crystals and hadn’t really wished to visit the realms, himself. For all that he had wished to travel the land, now that it was possible for him to do so, he found himself strangely reluctant to leave.

 

He tried to examine his reticence on the matter and found he couldn’t precisely put his finger to the why of his hesitancy to travel. He felt perfectly free to visit the Iarwain and the Onodrim in the lands within and surrounding his own, but when it came to leaving Doriath altogether something clenched within him and he decided that there must be some reason for this. He had felt the same after Legolas had left to sail to Aman and he had wished to follow but found himself unable to do so.

 

Regardless of the reason he decided to take the opportunity presented when both Angrod and Orodreth were back in the city for the birth. Thranduil asked the two to come and join him in his study for he had something for them. Confused, the two followed and Thranduil led them to a wardrobe and flung open the doors. Inside were various crystals, all spherical and as smooth as glass.

 

“Pick one that feels good to you.” Thranduil gestured.

 

“What do you mean, “Feels good?” Angrod asked, confused.

 

“Just what I said. These have properties like the Palantiri. I’ve already tuned them all to the Elostirion stone that my grandfather has in Vinyamar. And that stone is keyed to the master stone in Avallónë. I offer these to you so that we may have communications with one another without the need to traverse the land.”

 

“I see.” Angrod said, and then, “But what do you mean ‘feels good?’ I still don’t understand.”

 

“I do.” Orodreth said and proceeded to pass his hand over the globes. His hand paused over one and then he kept going passing his hand over those lower. But then his hand kept returning to the one that his hand had paused over. Finally, Orodreth reached out and touched the orb and it immediately lit up with an inner light. Pulling his hand back, he turned to Thranduil and smiled, pointing to the orb. “That one. It likes me.” was all he said and Thranduil smiled in understanding and turning to his atar, Orodreth said, “Just reach out with your senses, atta. I’m sure one of them will respond.”

 

Angrod understood and did as his son directed and soon enough he found one that behaved as the other did for his son and he could feel the warmth. Like approval. And he understood what his son meant by the stone liking him. He pointed and Thranduil handed the stone over to him and gave the one Orodreth had chosen to him.

 

“What do you plan to do with these, if I may ask?” Angrod asked.

 

“I don’t plan to do anything with them. They are just what I said they are. They are communications devices and should you find you need to speak to me you can use this rather than riding here or sending a messenger. Or you can just talk to your granddaughter if you wish.”

 

“Oh, I will like that. But tell me. Is there a way that one can be placed in my daughters chambers so we don’t tie this one up?” Orodreth asked hopefully.

 

“You know, I hadn’t thought of that, but that’s a very good idea. And not just for your family. Lord Finrod’s daughters will be wedding my sons soon and this will make communications easier for them as well. Nargothrond isn’t all that far away, but I’m sure it will give comfort to my future daughters-in-honor if they can speak to their parents when they feel the need.” Thranduil said in approval.

 

“Oh! And you think you might be able to supply others to those who have family members in other realms?” Angrod exclaimed, thinking that a fine idea. “What do you think of those left back in Aman?”

 

“I don’t know.” Thranduil said thoughtfully, “I will ask my daeradar. It would be nice to think we could speak to those who are left in Aman. I know you still have a lot of family there. I’m sure it would give you comfort to speak to your parents every so often to let them know how you are doing out here in the wilds.”

 

“I haven’t found the land so wild this time around. It seems to have been blessed by the Valar. I have felt….welcomed here in a way I didn’t feel the last time I was here.” Angrod said.

 

“I agree, atar. I have felt the same.” Orodreth exclaimed. “And I really like the idea of being able to talk to our loved ones who chose to stay in Aman. I don’t know if it will be possible, but it is nice to think it might be.”

 

Thranduil smiled and said, “You know, of course, that my wife is an off-worlder. She had come from a very advance race of humans. Their technology was both impressive and frightening to me. Quite frankly I don’t know how she manages to live in our world with nary a complaint. And as I have complete access to her mind I can tell you she really doesn’t seem to miss that life. But I can also safely say that she would be both amused and approve of our wish to, eh, modernize our communication methods. Though she would also laugh at our use of magic to do so.”

 

“Why?” Angrod asked, bemused, "And why does such normal use of our gifts fall under the category of magic. That is simply a word humans use for things they don't understand."

 

“But she does deem it our technology. When she first came here she was aghast that magic actually worked on our world. When I pointed out that her technology would be deemed magic on this world, she simply shrugged and agreed that she would simply have to become used to the rules on this world. This was easy for her since she’d already been on worlds that operated under different physical laws. So she decided that a world that came into being with music and where magic operates and has things in it like walking and talking trees was not so strange, after all.”

 

“Ah. That is well then. She sounds like she has a level head, after all. But tell me, how are you finding your duties as High King, my lord?” Angrod asked with a smile.

 

“I decided to approach it as a larger version of how I ruled in Eryn Galen. My Silvans mostly ruled themselves. They congregated in villages all throughout the wood and all had Village Elders. Those Elders would rule and they would treat and trade with one another and the only time I was involved is when they had disputes they couldn’t resolve between themselves. The only thing I was truly responsible for was to make sure they didn’t suffer from food shortages and defense. I expect as High King I will not have so much to do here. My main concern will be to continue to take care of my Silvans as they have rebuilt their villages within these forests and seem content to go on as they have in the past.”

 

“So you will not wish to know of our movements within the land? For we were wont to inform our Lords when we intended to travel.” Orodreth asked in curiosity.

 

“I don’t need to know where you are or where you are going.” Thranduil stated, and then, “Unless you would wish to do so in case of a mishap. This land may no longer feel hostile, but it is not without hazard, I think. That would be the only reason I could think of to keep track of people and surely as kings of your own realms you would only become aware that someone was missing when their loved ones would bring it to your attention so you could organize a search. I’m not sure I would wish to keep such close tabs on people’s movements. That is why we put up the beacon in front of the city. It has properties to find people.”

 

“Does it? Everyone thinks it a weapon to protect the city.”

 

“It can be, but that’s not its purpose. My wife’s world used crystals as their technology. Hence these orbs. The crystals she and my grandfather developed were specifically tuned so they could find lost people. To find their body heat and to be able to see them at vast distances and locate them should we be unable to locate them using normal search techniques.”

 

“Will you tell us how it could be used as a weapon?”

 

“Fine. I will tell you since you are family. It can be used as what my wife calls a sonic-weapon. It can use sound waves to make those it is trained upon nauseous and dizzy. My wife says with our ear structure we would be most vulnerable to such a weapon for there would be no way to protect against it as the waves would pass through the body. It wouldn’t be a sound, per se that would affect us. It would be the pitch of the waves.”

 

“But why create such a weapon?” Orodreth asked uneasily.

 

“It is a what my wife calls a by-product of its design. She believes in giving full information when she speaks and that is what she discovered when it was designed. And it was designed as a beacon. It was designed to be a benign help to my people here in the forests.”

 

“But wouldn’t torches act as a beacon?”

 

“Torches are limited in the light they cast. I have imbued this one with different color spectrums so that it can cut through fog. Both yellow and red can cut through fog. But that is not their only qualities. But because we had multiple purposes for them that is how the by-product came into existence.”

 

“Why not just use it for a single purpose. It is unnerving for people to know that you have an unknown weapon you may use on them.”

 

“That is something they will have to examine within themselves, for that is not my purpose. Not being forest dwellers you may not realize how dangerous a forest can be to live in. Besides the dangers of forest fires when a lightning strike occurs when there have been drought years, there is the converse when the rainy season is wetter than usual and mudslides threaten a village. The crystals were designed to seek out heat signatures. Body heat. I would hate to think we searched for people who actually might be beneath our feet and we have a loss of life because we can’t discern them.”

 

“You are saying that there is something within us that fears you will turn into a despot.”

 

“My plan is to leave you alone. To rule yourselves. I expect that we will have trade disagreements that will need to be resolved at some point, but that is the only “conflict” I expect will occur within this land. We were given a rare opportunity here, my friends. To live peacefully on Ennor as Eru intended for us to live. I have to stay here, for I will lose my wife if she steps foot on Aman. The rest of you are not tied here. If you are really that miserable you still have to option of returning to Aman. I will not stop you.”

 

Angrod and Orodreth exchanged a look and Orodreth said, “You should know that there are whisperings against you. I don’t know the source but there is a worry that you were compromised by having the minion of Morgoth in your realm for so long.”

 

Thranduil sighed, “I hate politics. I really wanted to lay the crown aside when I came here. All I want to do is get my sons wed and play with grandbabies.”

 

“And perhaps play with some Onyalie?” Angrod smiled.

 

“How did…? Someone has been talking, I see.” Thranduil said with a smile, “Yes! I have ever loved the Onodrim. I never in my wildest dream thought I would have the chance to speak with one of them and I can’t tell you how Blessed I feel they are so close by. And did you know they have little ones themselves now?” The Elvenking concluded enthusiastically and both Noldo knew they were seeing the real Thranduil in that moment and any misgivings they had to his nature were instantly dispelled.

 

“The Entwives have turned the Estolad into the breadbasket of the realm. Have you thought how you will distribute the food they grow?”

 

“Nay, I have not. I know that is something the Entwives have decided they would dedicate the land to, though they have large swaths that are dedicated to their flowering gardens. I suppose I shall have to actually go and speak to them and ask. I just don’t know what we could have to offer them in return, though I would give them anything they would ask for. Then all I would have to worry about would be the distribution.”

 

“Would you like us to accompany you to seek out their counsel on the matter?” Angrod asked hopefully.

 

“Ah! I see you share my fascination with them. Indeed! Now that the little one has arrived perhaps our ladies will allow us out of the city to take care of important realm business?” Thranduil said mischievously.

 

“Oh, that would be a marvelous thing, I think.” Orodreth said wistfully and Thranduil chuckled in appreciation.

 

“Perhaps we can also convince my kinsman Celeborn and your kinsman Finrod to come with us?” Thranduil asked.

 

“And what about your adar?”

 

“You know, that would be a good idea. Poor adar needs a good outing. He has buried himself deep within the caverns working on our wine. Which, I must say, has not been a wasted effort. You would not believe what he has come up with. Truly the nectar of the gods! But I would not have him turn into one of the Naugrim.”

 

“Indeed. But I think you worry needlessly. He is far too tall to be mistaken for a dwarf.”

 

“Plus he looks too much like his grandfather, Lord Olwë. Strange how there seems to be but two visages within the males of your lineage. You either look like Olwë or Eönwë.” Angrod mused.

 

“Truly, I have never met Lord Olwë, but I was shocked to see that my father resembled his own adar so much. I had thought my Legolas looked like adar, but adar looks like the twin of his own father. Still, how can you point a finger at my family? You, who all look like your foremother, Indis?”

 

“That is indeed strange to us as well. If you look at the rest of grandmother’s children they all look like Grandfather Finwë. Grandfather Finarfin is the only one who takes after Grandmother, but that visage is strong within our family line.”

 

“Yes, and it’s a good thing she is fair or you would all be in dire straits, indeed!” Thranduil teased.

 

“Ah and this coming from you, who is noted as the fairest in the land. How does it feel to be deemed the prettiest elf in all of Arda?”

 

“I was also noted as the greatest warrior in all of Arda! Would you care to match blades with me in a contest. All in good fun, of course.”

 

“I might. But I would note that you are descended from a maia. If I am to lose in that contest at least I have a valid excuse.”

 

“Aye, Lord Eönwë is deemed the mightiest in battle with weapons. I’d say he was the mightiest in battle excepting I believe Lord Tulkas is noted for his brute strength, though he uses no weapon in battle.”

 

“Well, I barely recall him in the War of Wrath. All I remember was my adar trying to shield my naneth and I from the mountain sized debris flung in our direction.” Thranduil said with a haunted look and the two suddenly recalled that this was no elfing before them. They had both died before the War of Wrath and Thranduil had been about his twin sons age when it had all gone to blazes in the First Age.

 

“Forgive us, my lord. We had both been killed by the time that happened. By the time we were re-embodied and heard that the land was gone from that conflict we couldn’t even imagine what that must have been like to be in the midst of such devastation and upheaval.”

 

“I...I sometimes think back on it and wonder how we survived. How any of us survived.”

 

“Perhaps that maiar blood…?”

 

But Thranduil cut him off, “Please! My adar blocked whatever gifts he had when he was young. And I would remind you that he died at Dagorlad. Things happened as they did and I would prefer not to rehash them, nor even think on them. People here seem to be concerned that I will become a despot but if you were to ask me I would ban every weapon in the realm. Keep your hunting knives and bows, but for what use would swords be?” Thranduil concluded much more hotly than he’d intended. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Forgive me. I have seen enough war to last several lifetimes. We have been here less than twenty years and already rumors of strife are reaching me. I would repeat that no one is forced to be here save myself and my wife. Those who don’t wish to dwell here are free to leave.”

 

Angrod and Orodreth exchanged another look and Angrod said, “You need not fear such discontent from us. We can see you. I can promise that if either of us hear any such dissent we will address it immediately. Perhaps we should commission more ships from Lord Círdan and then let it be known that those who sow discord will be banished.”

 

“I appreciate your words, though I would be loathe to implement such. But I will not have strife here. I know the first time your people came here you were all under the Doom of Mandos and Morgoth was running loose about the land, but no such impediments are in place this time. I know there are going to be those who are only happy if they have something to complain about, and such must be tolerated, but if discord is sown so that violence erupts by one brother against the other, well, that I will not tolerate.”

 

“I know this was not your purpose, but I think these globes a fine idea. We will be able to communicate if there is anything we feel you should know about.” Angrod said firmly.

 

“Come, my lord. Let us leave all this behind and get permission from our wives to go and talk to some Onyalie!” Orodreth said soothingly.

 

“Aye! Now you have the right of it. There are important things in the world! And grandchildren and the Onodrim are the most important of them all.”

 

~0~

 

Having gained their wives permission, mostly to get the males out of their hair, the seven lords were riding seven accommodating mearas through Region to the East to make their way across one of the myriad bridges that had been built to span the River Aros. Those in the party were the Lords Thranduil, Angrod, Orodreth, Finrod, Celeborn, Elrond and Oropher. Lord Mablung had wished to send a guard along with the lords, but Thranduil demurred stating that he had no worries for their safety.

 

The mearas were wonderous to ride. Light of gait and easily able to pick their way through the terrain, it was but a few hours before they crossed the bridge and found themselves in the large open plain of the Himlad. Off to their right was some forested land and Thranduil had found the Onodrim dwelling there many times when he'd come out this way. He'd never gone as far as crossing the Celon and into Estolad to see to the crops the Entwives and he briefly wondered if he could espy one of the Onad so he could ask if it was proper to speak to the Entwives. He really didn't have any knowledge of Onad protocol, but they were ancient and sentient and he was sure they had protocols that they considered proper behavior just like any other people. 

 

Almost as if his mind was read, an Onod detached himself from a crop of trees and started making his way over to the riders. Thranduil brought his horse to a stop and bowed, giving the Onod their traditional elven greeting.

 

"Greetings, King Thranduil. What brings you out of your city on this fine day?"

 

"Greetings, to you, my Lord Fangorn. We've come because it occurs to us that we'd like to open trade between our realms and yourselves."

 

"And what do we have to trade?"

 

"We know that your good-wives have been growing many groves of vegetables that would be wholesome and welcome to the eldar. Are they grown simply for your own consumption or do you think there is something we have that you would like to trade for them?"

 

"Some are for us, but we have been waiting for you to approach us, for we have been growing them for you. As to what we'd like in return, it is your water, King Thranduil."

 

"You are welcome to any water you wish. Is it a certain fountain you are talking about?"

 

"Yes. There is within your caverns a deep place where the water is so pure that it is the source of our original ent-draughts. While we are able to nourish ourselves from ent-draughts that we make from the clear waters that are in the Aelin-uial, it is the deep pools at the roots of your caverns that we would trade for our produce."

 

"Is it a place that you can reach yourselves or do you need us to bring it to you?"

 

"It is a pool that only you will be able to reach, King Thranduil. Only you. When you find the hidden staircase you will understand why. When you bring the first barrel we will begin to leave the produce at the foot of your bridge. You in turn will leave the barrel there."

 

"How much will you need?"

 

"You will find that you will only be able to provide us with one barrel a month. But that will be enough for our needs."

 

"I will admit I do not understand what you are telling me and I expect there is some mystery here, but I will do as you say. Thank you, my lord." And Thranduil bowed again to the ancient being who turned and made his way back to the grove of trees with his long strides.

 

Thranduil turned to his companions who all seemed awestruck with the encounter and said brightly, "Well, that was fruitful. At least we now know that they will trade with us. All we have to do now is find a way to transport the food. I have a feeling it will be so wholesome it will not spoil in the normal way regular crops do."

 

"But how will you transport them?" Celeborn asked.

 

"We could use the rivers and their tributaries for transportation. They lace all throughout the land. We could get supplies up the Sirion and so supply both Mithrim and Gondolin at Tol Sirion. We will have to consult a map to set up drop off points so that we can supply all the realms in the land."

 

"Could they feed everyone here? That would be a lot of crops." Orodreth mused.

 

"We have no idea until I find that first barrel of the water they want. Once that is accomplished we will have more information and then we will worry about the logistics." And then with a pleased smile he said, "Come! Let us return. We might return before it's dark if we head back right away." And all agreed that it might be better to return lest they temp the ire of their wives should they tarry and cause them worry.

 

~0~

 

Once arriving back at the city, Thranduil thanked the mearas and let them go about their way which was back in the Dimbar in the realm of the Iarwain. He didn't know how, but every time he wished to take a ride one or more of the equines were at their gates patiently waiting to bear him and whoever he was with to their desired locations. Then once their services were no longer required they would go back to their home. Thranduil always made sure to bring lots of sweet apples with him to thank them for their favour.

 

All the ellyn wished to accompany Thranduil on his kingly quest to find the underground pond. Thranduil couldn't blame them for their enthusiasm and rather appreciated the company if he was going to go down to the roots of the caverns. He rather expected it to be dark and creepy regardless of how many globes he could set to light their way.

 

On this quest both Celeborn and Oropher were invaluable as both had been born in the city and had explored the lower caverns when they had been mischievous elflings. Lower and lower they walked down slopping pathways that Thranduil had had no idea even existed within the caverns and both he and his father would light their blue-white orbs to light their passage. Like had occurred since arriving in this city the orbs attached themselves into the cavern ceiling. Angrod and Orodreth were bringing up the rear carrying a goodly sized barrel while Elrond had a smaller bucket and ladle so Thranduil could fill the barrel once they found the pond.

 

Both Orodreth and Angrod exchanged a surprised glance as they beheld both Thranduil and Oropher conjuring their orbs as they had never seen the like before. No wonder Thranduil's wife thought they used magic. That was an uncanny and useful little talent they both had there! And on and on they kept going until the pressure on their ears began to become uncomfortable. Finally they came to an arch, but it was apparently only an opening to Thranduil's eyes as everybody stopped and both Celeborn and Oropher turned and shrugged apologetically. 

"I'm sorry son. We seem to have come to a dead end." Oropher said with a sigh.

 

"What are you talking about, ada? There is a doorway right there!" Thranduil exclaimed.

 

"No, there isn't, my lord." Orodreth said, clearly seeing a wall before his eyes. And then Thranduil gasped as Celeborn slapped his hand against the wall he could see and Thranduil clearly heard his hand hitting a solid object. 

 

"None of you see the archway right there?" Thranduil asked, bewildered.

 

"Son, there is naught here but a wall." And then he gasped when Thranduil waved his arm through the clearly open entrance, but to the others it appeared that his arm was passing through solid stone. 

 

"Well! This must be what Lord Fangorn meant when he said it was only me who would be able to enter and fetch the water. Let me see that barrel." And then slowly tried to drag the barrel in by backing into the archway. But the barrel halted when it came to the solid wall that everyone else saw. He then asked for the bucket and ladle and carrying those in was able to pass through the archway. Sighing he knew this was probably going to take a long time so he lit a daisy chain of orbs to light his way. When it was lit he saw more murals that decorated the walls of the small circular chamber where a pond lay in the very center.

 

On the walls he saw a mural of himself coming in to gather the water. And he saw himself sitting at the side of the pool to dip the ladle into the pool. Looking at the pool he saw it was bricked around the edge and clearly someone had been down here before to do the work. He had no idea what the original purpose was for, but perhaps it was for this very purpose. To provide the Onodrim with nourishment in return for their guardianship of the surrounding forest of Doriath as they had done in the First Age. Perhaps the pool had been enchanted by Melian and King Thingol had been the one to originally use the pool to provide for the Onodrim.

 

Sitting at the side of the pool Thranduil began to dip the ladle into the pool and found that just one ladle filled the bucket as there seemed to be an enchantment upon the waters. For as he went to pour the ladle into the bucket it kept emptying water into the bucket until it filled the bucket near to the rim. Then he went back out the archway that glowed from this side, startling those on the other side. Then as he began to empty his bucket he found the water did the same thing here as the ladle did at the pool. Those who stood as Thranduil tipped the bucket gasped as the water continued to pour onto the barrel until it was filled. 

 

"Well, I have to say this has been one of the more unusual things that has happened to me in my life and those have been piling up over the years." Thranduil said with amusement.

 

"This whole thing has been strange. Well, I hope we'll be able to carry it all the way back up the way we came." Angrod said with a sigh, thinking the full barrel was going to be very much heavier than it was carrying it to the spot in the first place. But when he and Orodreth lifted the barrel it was no heavier than when they had carried it down in the first place. Exchanging a startled glance with his son the two began to make their way back up towards the ground level of the city. The return trip seemed to go much faster than the trip down and soon enough they all found themselves crossing the bridge and leaving the barrel in the appointed place.

 

"There. We have done what we were appointed to do. Now we just have to wait and see what develops." Thranduil said brightly and then led them all back over the bridge where they all went their separate ways as it was now close to the time for the evening meal. 

 

Angrod and Orodreth went back to their guest chambers in silence before they entered to sit before the hearth and share a glass of wine. Wine that Thranduil had said had been made by his father. His face twisting in surprise at the taste of the wine, Angrod exclaimed that it was the best wine he'd ever had in his life.

 

"It seems that they are good at whatever they turn their hand to. I'll admit that this is the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. This will make them the premier vintner in the entire land. Everyone will pay a king's ransom just to get one barrel of the this vintage." Orodreth agreed.

 

Angrod then sighed and said, "I have to admit that this has been one of the strangest days of my life. Not the least in seeing the High King pass through a solid rock wall and come back with a bucket full of water that filled a barrel."

 

"Aye, a barrel that was no heavier than when we brought it empty down the corridors. Atta, what are we going to do about the discontent of the rabble rousers trying to stir up enmity towards the High King?"

 

"Quash it with extreme prejudice." Angrod said firmly.

 

"You want to quell the peoples discontent?" Orodreth asked worriedly.

 

"The King is right. There are those that are never happy unless they are grousing about something. I will not tolerate them stirring the people up with vile and unfounded accusations. If they are going to be miserable here then they can be miserable in Aman where they can at least get healing for their troubles."

 

"The king didn't say so but I liked your idea of contacting Lord Círdan and commissioning ships to send the discontented back to Amon."

 

"Aye, but we may need to also speak to Lord Eönwë to ensure that those we send will indeed make their way onto the Straight Road." Angrod said firmly.

 

"Well, it's a good thing he lives close to us. Perhaps we should pay him a visit on our way back?"

 

"That sounds like a fine idea, son. Now please pass me that wine bottle over here. I'm afraid I will never be able to get enough of this wondrous nectar."

 

"Aye, we will have to give Lord Oropher our heartfelt approval of his wine making skills." Orodreth said with approval as he passed the bottle over to his father and sighing as he realized he would probably not get another glass of the marvelous wine as his atar seemed intent on finishing the wine all on his own.

 

 

Chapter Text

Vallis was on her way to see Lady Celebrian as she had more ideas for their clothing project. She had been pleased thus far by the enthusiastic response by those living within the city. She also hoped it was something that would catch on outside of the city. When she arrived she was a bit dismayed to find Lady Galadriel was there as well. Then she noted that the lady was dressed as an ellon without even the pretense of a covering skirt. Oh my! Vallis thought.

 

“Greetings, Cele! (kelly) How have you been faring? Have you gotten all your boys properly attired?” Vallis asked impishly.

 

“Yes, indeed! Husband, father and sons all! Though, as you can see, mother has taken our suggestion a little too literally.” Celebrian smirked and rolling her eyes. “But, I’m so glad to have my sons back within the city. They are very excited about the wedding of their dear friend. Legolas has ever been a favorite of theirs.”

 

“Wonderful and don’t tease your mother. I think she looks fine, though I’m not so sure of the color choice. No offense, lady, but your coloring isn’t best highlighted by woodelven garb. My son-in-honor can pull it off with no problems, though he sticks slavishly to his earth tones, but you could perhaps pull off colors that are both in the primary colors of the rainbow, and the pastels that are the pallet of spring. I would take the clothes that are most comfortable to you and have others made in colors that flatter you.”

 

“You don’t think I am trying too much change too quickly?” Galadriel asked wryly.

 

“Change is fine. But if you are going to do it, then do it right. Or are you trying to be outrageous to make a point?” Vallis asked with a lifted brow.

 

“I don’t know. I haven’t heard any murmuring that we are being improper. Everybody seems to find the clothes fun and liberating.” Galadriel conceded.  

 

“And well they should! Clothes should be fun. They shouldn’t feel like chains of oppression for people. People should be able to express themselves. Within reason, but I don’t think elves are exhibitionists. There is such a thing as too much, but I certainly don’t think it’s something to fear here. That’s why I’ve been trying to keep the clothes tasteful while giving people more options. I’m just glad to get Thranduil out of those awful heavy robes he would wear as King of the Greenwood. There is such a thing as making your people proud while not using every bit of fabric in the realm!”

 

“Aye! My Elrond never cared for such trappings, yet still managed to wear entire bolts of fabric with his robes. He has expressed nothing but positive feelings with the new clothing. I think it helps that we aren’t suggesting the banning of robes altogether. I suppose they have their place and I think formal robes at a special function is just fine as is an elaborate frock. But that’s just it. It’s not every day. It’s for feasts and other formal occasions and it makes them special and I think that’s as it should be.”

 

“On my former world that is exactly how we would dress. Every occupation had a special form of dress. We also had clothes for going out to enjoy an evening with friends and other clothes if we were dating.” and at their confused expressions, “Eh, courting. On my world we weren’t as formal in our courting rituals. We would go out on what we called dates. Out to dinner or some other entertainment to see if we had anything in common with the other person. Anyway, depending on the event or function, there were specific clothes for each type of entertainment.”

 

“That sounds like you must have had many different types of clothing.” Galadriel said with a puckered brow causing Vallis to laugh.

 

“Indeed, we did! But they were in categories like, work clothing, casual clothing, evening wear, formal wear and fancy dress. And the shoes! Oh my! You wouldn’t believe how many types of shoes went with each type of clothes. And that is not even to mention the accoutrements that went with them all!”

 

“It sounds like your society was much more complicated than I had thought. I had always assumed that your males and females were the same and so everything about you were the same.” Galadriel said apologetically.

 

“Oh no! We may have educated and trained our people all the same, but we were completely aware of the differences between men and women. And being married to an elf isn’t any different than a marriage I would have had on my world.”

 

“What do you mean by that? Here we ellyth must obey our lords!” Galadriel said almost hotly.

 

“Really? I haven’t found that the case. It’s the same here as it is anywhere. Oh, women may not embarrass their husbands out in public, but once that door to the home closes the rules definitely change. There was a saying on my world that is followed here, “A Happy Wife Means a Happy Life!” Don’t tell me that’s not true here because king or not my husband does all he can to please me because he knows if I’m unhappy he will be unhappy.”

 

“Oh mother! You know she’s right. All you have to do is pout and father becomes very solicitous of you. The same happens in my home as well. Ellyn are not so obtuse to ignore that if their wives are unhappy we can make their lives a misery.”

 

“Indeed. I’ve seen a wife bring down the haughtiest man with just lift of the eyebrow and he would climb on down from his lofty perch knowing that if he stepped out of line with his wife he was going to hear about it as soon as he got home.” Vallis smirked.

 

“I...suppose I never looked at it that way before.” Galadriel said softly.

 

“I’ve found that men and women are different, but we complement one another.”

 

“But ellyn know nothing of the dangers of carrying a child nor of childbirth.”

 

“We couldn’t bear life without them. Besides, don’t think they wouldn’t trade places with us. Childbirth terrifies males. Always they fear they will lose us. And there is always that small part of them that needs our nurturing. My Thranduil treats me as his equal, always. He also cherishes me. But I also know there is a part of him that enjoys it when I mother him. He likes feeling that I take care of him. And there is a part of me that enjoys mothering him.” Vallis said with a gentle smile.

 

“Well, you have given me much food for thought. I suppose I’ve just always been jealous of the freedom the males of our world have enjoyed and I did not.”

 

“Yes, but naneth, you were essentially the Queen of your own realm and ada never interfered with you. Nor did he try and usurp you.”

 

“I know you’re right, daughter. But I can’t help my feelings. I’ve always had them and I can’t put them to rest.” And turning to Vallis she said, “You healed my son-in-honor from an infirmity he didn’t know he had. Something to do with carrying one of the three rings. You know I carried one. Can you see if there is something amiss with me?”

 

“Of course, my lady. Come and sit next to me.” And as Galadriel moved to comply Vallis took her hands as she settled herself. When she had her crystals she would have used the green one but over the years since she’d absorbed them she’d found that she could bring all their qualities into harmony first within herself and to those that she would try and minister to.

 

As she examined the lady she noticed definite injury to the ellith. She filled the lady with her healing energy and at first felt some resistance, but she was easily able to overcome the reticence and poured the warm energy into the lady. When she was done she opened her eyes she was still rather stunned to see the lady with a beatific look upon her face. Then Galadriel clasped her hands and lifted them to place a small kiss upon them. “Thank you, my lady. I have not felt such peace since I was a child. I had no idea how corrosive my thoughts have been to me over the years.”

 

“I imagine you also didn’t feel able to talk to anyone over the years.”

 

“No, and I should have. I’ve kept them to myself and neither spoke to my naneth or husband. Both would have been happy to listen to my concerns, this I know. I don’t know why I never felt able to confide in any who ever wished to help me. I even remember Queen Melian trying to get me to open up and my response was to convince my husband to leave with me. I feel so ashamed.”

 

“Oh don’t feel like that. We all have baggage. That’s how I came to be held at Dol Guldur, because I couldn’t slow down long enough to speak to my brand new husband who had inadvertently caught the one thing that had haunted me for millennia. And no. I won’t share it. It’s personal and still painful, though I’ve finally found some peace over it. That was the one positive thing I can point to in my stay at Dol Guldur.”

 

“And that’s why you were walking away from the forest when I sent my Galadhrim out to ensnare you. I am so very sorry, my dear. I’d been paranoid for so long that when I sensed you I simply knew you needed to be detained.”

 

“I’ve gotten over it. I was very angry with you at the time, but I knew that you were people that I shouldn’t harm. But I also knew that Thranduil was coming. All I had to do was wait you out.” Vallis smiled.

 

“You make me feel so weak. I was captured and could never get over my injuries. I left my husband and children alone in Ennor.” Celebrian said sadly.

 

“Well, I have the Gift which healed me of the wounds they inflicted upon me. I can tell you it annoyed the beasts when they took me out for my daily torture sessions.” Vallis said wryly, “But whatever they used on you was still affecting you when I healed the infection that was still within your body when you asked me to heal you. I don’t understand how those you call your deities could bring me here and not heal you when you went there.”

 

“I don’t know why either. I know I felt better once I was there. But it felt as though there was a shadow on my fëa. It was only when you healed me that it was gone. I’ll always be grateful for that.”

 

“You know, about the only thing I was never able to heal was the Sea Longing that afflicted my son, Legolas. I tell you I tried everything and it just wouldn’t heal. I could feel it afflicting him, but I was never able to isolate it. I never thought of it until now, but it is reminiscent of the Gift itself. Something we knew was there, but could never isolate.”

 

“Why is this important?”

 

“Well, the only reason I can’t go to Aman is because I was told the Gift would be healed and I would either ascend or all my years would hit me at once and I would age and die. And when we became reunited with our loved ones from those that had to sail to Aman because of the Sea Longing we found it cured and as far as I know it has not reafflicted anyone once infected with it.”

 

“Why would you think your off-world Gift is related to the Sea Longing?” Celebrian asked.

 

“Because it was your Lord Manwë who infected my world at the behest of your creator Eru Ilúvatar, an entity my world has never heard of.”

 

Galadriel looked shocked and said, “That’s impossible.”

 

“It is nevertheless the truth. I recognized him when he came to see Thranduil to tell him about this land. And he confirmed it to my husband.”

 

“But why would the Creator do such a thing?”

 

“Your Lord Manwë told Thranduil that our people had progressed to the point that this Creator felt we had earned mass ascension as a species. That once we left off treating our colonies like our children and focused inward we would become like the maiar.”

 

“And then you were brought here. This all seems strange to me. Stranger still that all these occurrences seem to center around Aran Thranduil and his family.” Galadriel mused, and then, “You spoke of your world being very advanced and you have been to other worlds. I would hear more of this.”

 

“There is not so much to tell. My world orbited a failed star. It was a gas-giant and had seventy two moons, one of which was Damia, my home world. As I said, my civilization is much, much older than yours as we have hundreds of thousands of years of history. When we found that our world could no longer support new life we had many people that were off-world on the various moons. That’s when we determined to terra-form distant worlds and seed them with those unaffected by the Gift. We originally started with twenty-five colonies. At the time I was brought here we had twelve remaining that were thriving. I had been in the process of convincing them to disconnect the power source so that they could no longer be interfered with by us. I felt it was time they continued on their own.”

 

“But wouldn’t they perish without your help?”

 

“No, of course not. They were placed there two millennia ago and had been living on their own without our help for centuries. We would only come to check on them about once every decade or so. The last time we were making our rounds I could tell they were barely tolerating our presence. They were more than ready to throw off the yoke of the Mother World.”

 

“I think your level of technology is breathtaking. Imagine! Going to other worlds. And I love that you thought of placing those of your people not affected on those worlds. Your people will live on forever throughout the stars.” Celebrian said with a sigh and Vallis could tell she was seeing it from a purely romantic and adventurous point of view and not from the point of view of those thirteen lost colonies where thousands had perished.

 

“Of course we never had magic on our world. At least the kind of physical laws you exhibit here that never existed on our world. It also seems to me your level of metallurgy is far more advanced than ours was at the same developmental stage. Probably because you were taught by your gods and you are so long lived.” Vallis paused and then said musingly, “You know, there is no telling what you will develop after a hundred thousand years. In that time period we created flying machines and went to other worlds. I believe you don’t have that option, but flying might be of some use to you here. I also don’t see why we can’t look into a transporter system of some kind.”

 

“You think we can develop into a society like the one you left. But your people seemed to know of concepts that are so foreign to us. How do you think we would accomplish this?”

 

“Well, for one thing, you all seem to have near genius IQ. Your minds are able to process complicated concepts and I see no reason to believe you can’t do whatever you set your minds to.”

 

“But I’ve seen how you sift information very rapidly and come to your conclusions quickly and then move on to the very next thing without missing a beat. I’m used to pondering upon a problem for a very long time.” Galadriel protested.

 

“I think that is part of your nature. That is the one thing that is different between mortals and you elves. You think long about things. That might hinder you if you have a mind to develop and invent things. There is nothing wrong with thinking over something before you attempt to build it, but quite another to think over something so long it never comes to fruition.”

 

“So you think we could build our own paradise here?”

 

“You can build whatever kind of society you wish here. If you wish to keep everything as is that is fine too. The one thing about my husband’s realm that I found I could never live without were his bathing pools. You live here. Tell me they aren’t the most luxurious thing you’ve ever experienced in your life.”

 

“They are very nice. I wonder if we can persuade you and your husband to come to Thargelion and make some for us? I admit that life in Imladris wasn’t primitive and it was quite nice, but I’ll have to agree with you about the baths here.” Celebrian agreed.

 

“I think I agree with that. I also think that would be the path to move us forward, if you understand me. Most cling to tradition to the point of stagnation. But if we can introduce such things as the bathing pools to the population I can’t think of a better way to nudge our people forward so they can see that not all things created are the work of Morgoth.” Galadriel said with a smirk.

 

“Well, for one thing, I know my husband is handing out communications crystals to all the Kings of the differing realms so they can communicate over the vast distances rather than relying on written communications relayed by messengers.”

 

“Why would he do that?”

 

And Vallis actually rolled her eyes at the lady, “For the convenience, of course. Lord Eönwë and I went into the crystals caves that are here under the city and you wouldn’t believe all the various crystals down there. Crystals were the main power source on my world. You have absolutely no idea all you can do with them. Plus with your metallurgy knowledge you could do just about anything to improve the quality of life here.”

 

“I’m afraid I still don’t understand.” she said apologetically.

 

“Lord Eönwë wanted to see if the crystals could be used like the Palantiri that one of you invented in Aman. He has the Elostirion stone that is keyed to a master stone in Aman. We are hoping to not only keep in contact with each other but even possibly with those that are still in that land.”

 

“Oh that would be wonderful. I mean, all our family is here, but for you, naneth, you could talk to your parents.”

 

“Yes, that would be nice. Do you think this method of communications would be used in a way that everyone could use it?”

 

“That I don’t know yet, but if we can make the larger crystals work reliably then we can see about setting up local communication hubs and then individual communications can be set up after that. But yes. That is the long term goal.”

 

“I find that I am of two minds on that. If we start to rely on communication devices then we may not be so inclined to leave our homes and visit those people in person. I mean, think about it. Everybody gets these and my sons start talking to Legolas long distance. Will they ever feel the need to leave and go see him in person?”

 

“What you describe is something that all civilizations run up against when they are advancing. The only thing I can tell you is that while that may be true with a small percentage of the population, I think the mental makeup of your people precludes this. But even among us mortals these fears generally never materialized.”

 

“So you believe this is a start to change our society?”

 

“Not really change it. I wouldn’t want to do that. I like your society. I like your people. Well, I have to say those I know of and that’s the Silvan people. I like them very much and I know my husband adores them. I know he goes out all the time to see how they are doing.”

 

“Have you noticed anything strange here since you’ve arrived?” Galadriel asked hesitantly.

 

“Oh, you mean like a ready made city that ate my husbands orbs to light itself and our faces carved and painted everywhere within the city? That kind of strange?” Vallis asked with a smirk.

 

Galadriel laughed merrily and nodded, “I have heard from my grandsons that they found the same in the stronghold in Thargelion. It unsettled them to see themselves on the walls as they entered for the first time.”

 

“I don’t know what’s going on and neither did Lord Eönwë when he came with us. I know that there are more maiar here than at any time in this lands past. I don’t know what it means to have so many of these deities sharing the land with us. Truth is, we don’t know how many are here, nor were they live. The only ones we know of for sure are Lord Eönwë in Nevrast and our beloved Aiwendil who lives right here within the city.”

 

“I wonder if most live in Nevrast with Lord Eönwë. It would make sense for him to have friends and loved ones among them and that some of those would choose to join him here.”

 

“Yes, that seems likely to me too, though we have never asked him. All we know is that he said there were hundreds them here now and that’s all we know. That may or may not mean anything.”

 

“I think it means there were a lot of maiar that were not altogether happy with their lives in Aman. I sincerely hope we don’t end up with another Sauron.” Galadriel said thoughtfully.

 

“From what I know with my stay in Dol Guldur I found I was completely immune to most of their weapons. I don’t know what that means, but I think if a Sauron emerges there are enough maiar here to contain the problem. And I was able to crack their communications code during my stay in the Greenwood. Thranduil and I were able to set up a web throughout the forest to track and trap the beasts that were so tiresomely hunting in the woods. Towards the end before that last invasion, we had pretty much contained the problem and we lost no more villages to their attacks.”

 

“Well, I’m very glad you are here in case such a thing happens again. Though I can’t help but feel optimistic this time around. Everything feels….good here.” Celebrian said happily, not wishing to dwell on those dark days.

 

“Yes, it does. I think the only problems here will be us. The past some of us won’t be able to let go of. Instead of that weapon, you should have used one of those crystals to send out a wave of calm upon the forest.” Galadriel said and then wondered at Vallis’ odd look.

 

“It’s not a weapon. It’s a beacon for those lost. All it does is use light frequencies to find people who are lost and perhaps in need of assistance. It wasn’t created to be a weapon. And while I like the idea of sending out a wave of calm, that smacks of behavior control and I don’t hold with that.”

 

“But everybody on your world used those crystals to monitor your own health, did you not?”

 

“No. Not everybody. We all used crystals, but there were those who didn’t believe in them for personal use. They used them for their day to day convenience, but they didn’t use them for anything other than what they needed for work, travel or communicating.”

 

“So you had people that resisted what others thought and did?”

 

“Of course we did. When you are dealing with people that’s bound to happen. The trick is to let them do their own thing if they aren’t harming anyone else.”

 

“See, I think that has always been the problem with our own society. Our constructs are those that we either accept or shun those who don’t conform.”

 

“Really? Is that how it really is or why you believe you left in the first place? Admittedly, I’ve never been to Aman, but you’ve left it twice now and it’s where you were born. There is obviously something about the place you are not comfortable with.”

 

“I suppose. I suppose this is me still trying to be annoyed about my life there and I really just need to let it go and find what I’m to do in this land. I’ve never thought about it and I don’t think I wish to lead again. But I do know I didn’t wish to remain in Aman, obviously, for when the offer came I was among the first to raise my hand to leave. Though I think Celeborn was enthusiastic about the thought. He never liked Aman. And he was born here in Menegroth. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so relieved as my poor husband when I said I wanted to come here.” Galadriel said with humor.

 

Then Vallis could feel it was time for her to go and she stood to make her excuses and both Celebrian and Galadriel laughed for they knew why Vallis needed to leave. “Oh we understand, my lady. The call of your daughters has reached you I think!”

 

“Yes, they have. Well, it’s been a nice visit, ladies. Let’s do this again.” And Vallis left for she knew her daughters were calling for her.

 

“I must admit that I find myself reluctant to leave here, daughter.”

 

“You know you can do whatever you wish, mother. If you wish to stay here longer I have no protest to make. I just know we are staying because Elrond wants Maglor fixed.”

 

“Perhaps that is something we can help with.”

 

“I don’t know how we can do that, but I know it’s important to him. Of course. He’s the closest thing to a father Elrond has. Which is rather sad.”

 

“I think if anyone can help Maglor it is our High King and Queen. I know I never gave him the respect I should have when we were still in the Rhovanion, but these two seem to have an innate power that they insist on using for good.” Galadriel said with humor, “I think the Valar were for once correct in turning this land over to their stewardship. Even more so because neither wants it.”

 

Chapter Text

While life had settled down somewhat within the city and life outside the walls of Cŷr-Menegroth also settled into its own rhythm, Thranduil now had a new problem. The barrel he and his friends had set out had received almost immediate results - and he had no idea what he was supposed to do with all the food that had been practically left on his doorstep. Oddly, no one within the forest had noticed the Onordrim making their way through the forest with the enormous amount of bounty.

 

Orodreth had gone with him when the message had come to him that there was a large amount of food at the foot of the bridge and what did he want done with it. Thranduil, only nonplussed for a moment, just said, “Show me.” And the ellon had proceeded to lead them across the first bridge and then they went through the tower and right at the base of the tower’s front entrance there was a virtual mountain of food that had been laid that were all in pristine condition. It was so beautiful it looked more like an artist’s rendering than actual food.

 

Orodreth took one look at the food and doubled over and burst into merry laughter. Thranduil quirked his brow and said, “What do you find so amusing about this?” he asked in exasperation.

 

When Orodreth got himself under control he turned and clapped Thranduil on his shoulder and said, “Well, it looks as though you’ve gotten your first delivery. Now what are you going to do?”

 

“I suppose I should have it brought in and separated. Then I’ll worry about how I’m to distribute it.”

 

“When do you need to supply another barrel of water?”

 

“You were there. Lord Fangorn said one per month. I imagine it is a base for what they make as their food. If he wants more I’d be happy to give him more, but I have a feeling the pool has a schedule and one that he was familiar with.”

 

Then turning to the messenger he gave him instructions to go and get help to bring everything into the city and find a cold storage room. There he wanted everything to be separated and placed in barrels and baskets and the man bowed and went to carry out his order.

 

So the problem of how he was to distribute the food had come sooner rather than later and he left Orodreth and went to talk to Wendil about the problem as to how they could get the food to the different realms. For those who lived to their south the problem was easy since they already had communication crystals and he could make arrangements to meet somewhere in the Nargothrond area to pick up the supplies. Orodreth and Angrod were leaving in a couple of days and he decided he would take advantage of that and send them off with not only their own supplies, but those for Turgon as well.

 

When he found Wendil the maia suggested getting in touch with his brothers and sisters who lived within the land in order to be able to transport the food throughout the realm until they were able to make arrangements with all the rulers for developing drop points and schedules. This was new to them and Thranduil knew that kinks would have to worked out.

 

He’d already talked this over with his wife and she, Eöl and their sons were working on a real engine to place on some skiffs they were building. Vallis was quite happy and it could be said that Eöl was beside himself with excitement. One thing he was certain of was he’d have to speak to those of his Silvans who were known as the river elves.

 

They had navigated the rivers in the Greenwood and that was sure to be something they’d wish to take up again now that they had unlimited rivers to navigate throughout Beleriand. He hoped that they would like the contraption his wife was building for them for she said it would send the skiff along the river against the current and he really liked the idea of making their trips easier for them.

 

But until it was built and tested he would send a large amount along with Orodreth and Angrod. But the first delivery he could get together and give to his grandfather for those in his realm and also for his other grandfather, Thraphen and perhaps for Círdan’s people. Then all he had to worry about was those to the East and Nargothrond and that was where Wendil’s folk came in. Thranduil thought it must be nice to be able to travel through thought. Nicer still to be able to take things with you when you went.

 

Of course after he’d dealt with Wendil he went to let Orodreth and Angrod know that he wished them to not only take the food that the Entwives had grown for them, but also for Turgon as well. But as he found them in one of the public areas, so too did a messenger find him to let him know that another mountain of food had been delivered by the Onodrim and it appeared that they weren’t done delivering yet.

 

Thranduil just pinched the bridge of his nose as Orodreth again doubled over to laugh uproariously and Thranduil had to suppress the urge to pinch him. Turning to the messenger he gave orders that there was to be people ready to periodically check and bring in the food so that it could be separated and crated, barrelled or whatever they could find to store the food items until they could be delivered. He then called the messenger back as he was about to leave and told him to start delivering some of the food to the villages in the forest.

 

He then turned to the two Noldo and asked, “How much do you think you can handle to take with you? Five wagons? Ten wagons? Should we start you out with about fifteen wagons? That would be five wagon loads per realm. What do you think?”

 

“You want us to bring fifteen wagon loads with us?” Angrod asked, aghast. “Won’t it spoil?”

 

“Oh nay. Either myself or Aiwendil can put a preservation spell on it, if needed. It will stay fresh for as long as you need. Besides, it’s food from the Entwives. I have a feeling that no such spell will be needed. I think whatever the Entwives grow will have a wholesome quality to it that no food grown by us will ever have. Better even than lembas. My only concern is if we will be giving you enough.”

 

“We have our own crops and the land has produced well, but we would not say no to that grown by the Entwives. That is a gift indeed. We will take the fifteen wagons and deliver five to Turgon. Do you know if there is a way that one of those globes can be chosen for him without him picking one out?”

 

“I think so. I was able to pick one out for Círdan and my grandfather picked one for my grandfather Thraphen. You are kin to him, perhaps as his cousin you can pick one out for him yourself.”

 

“Yes, I will do that and then I can give it to him when I deliver the wagons.”

 

“Very well. I’m glad that’s settled. I’ll have the wagons organized and ready for when you are ready to depart. And as you know I have already given one of the globes to my brother and your granddaughter. You will be able to keep tabs on your new granddaughter without having missed anything like her first steps and all those firsts that are so precious.”

 

“That is well, Aran Thranduil. I have to say so far I like your leadership. You make things much easier wherever you can and I like that. Shall we go so I can pick out a globe for my cousin.”

 

“Yes! I think that will be best. And hopefully the Onodrim won’t bury us with their trade.”

 

“Well, I guess they were happy with that barrel of water you fetched for them.” Orodreth smirked and Thranduil tried not to be too pleased when Angrod did indeed reached over and pinch his son.

 

~0~

 

Wendil had gone to seek out his brothers and sisters and he knew he’d find most of them in Nevrast as it could be said that Eönwë’s realm was the realm of the maiar in Beleriand. Most of those that had come to dwell with Eönwë were both water and earth elementals. There were some air and fire elementals, as well. In Wendil’s previous visits he had shared with them news of the work being done in the forges of Eöl and he knew there were a couple who wished to go to Cŷr-Menegroth to work with Eöl on the many projects that were coming out of that forge.

 

But on this visit Wendil made his way to Eönwë’s Halls as they were now called. Originally built by the Noldor when they came to these shores, it now more resembled something that had come from Vallis’ world with its graceful spiralling towers and pale stone construction. As expected Eönwë was waiting for him as the maia always knew when he had visitors and who that visitor was.

 

“Greetings, my brother. What brings you to our humble halls this day?” Eönwë greeted.

 

“Hello, my brother. I hope you and your lady are well. I’ve come to ask a favor of you.”

 

“And what favor could I grant you today.”

 

“Well, it’s not so much you, though you could be of great assistance, I think. It’s more that I need to borrow the assistance of several of our brethren. Aran Thranduil has struck a bargain with the Onodrim for the crops of the Entwives. His first offering has been rewarded by a mountain of food stuffs that he wishes to share throughout the land.”

 

“How is this a problem that requires our help.”

 

“It’s not so much a problem, it’s more that he was repaid much quicker than he anticipated. He is currently working on a method to set up drop locations where he can deliver the produce to the different realms, but he hasn’t even handed out all the globes yet. And as communications haven’t yet been established he has no way to communicate his intention to make the first delivery. And while we believe that the food probably has a quality to it that will allow us to deliver it before it has a chance to fail, still it needs to be delivered now. I brought the load that we thought you could use for your realm if you’d like to see what we are dealing with.”

 

“You brought me food?”

 

“Yes. I brought a lot of food, actually. Would you care to come and see?” And Eönwë followed Wendil out to the back entrance near where his kitchens were located. There neatly stacked was what looked to be at least six months worth of vegetables. Barrels of tomatoes, apples, berries, grapes, peaches, corn, pumpkins and squash. There were green beans, peas, carrots, celery, lettuce, peppers and cucumbers. There were so many barrels of food that Eönwë’s mouth literally dropped open.

 

“What do you propose I do with all of this?” he asked incredulously.

 

“Keep what you want and give the rest to Thraphen? I can take it to him if you want. But truthfully I had a load about this same size I was going to bring to him. But that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to borrow some our our brethren to help me deliver this stuff. Then when Thranduil gets his logistics taken care of we don’t have to worry about this as drop points will have been scouted out and manned when the food stuffs arrive. I believe the Blacksmith and Thranduil’s wife and sons are working on something that will power the boats so they can traverse the rivers no matter what the current.”

 

“Really, that sounds interesting. I suppose it is more of her crystal technology?”

 

“Aye. Once they have it completed then they can deliver the supplies by water.”

 

“And what does he want in trade for it?”

 

“Nothing. This is the trade deal he made with the Ents and this is their payment to him. So he is sharing it with the entire realm.”

 

“But why doesn’t he want to trade for the food?”

 

“Because he is treating this entire land the way he treated his realm back in the Greenwood. This is exactly what he did there. He leaves them alone to rule themselves but made sure there was no food shortages and he supplied their defense. He doesn’t feel he needs to keep an army to protect the realms as he did in the forest when he shared it with Sauron’s minions, but the food he is supplying is just as he did when he was king in Eryn Galen.”

 

“I see. Well, this is noble of him. I just hope the other realms feel the same way.”

 

“Why would they not welcome a gift of food?”

 

“You must know there is already whisperings against him. Those people will believe his intentions are not honorable. I have no worries about the leaders of those realms. But the malcontents will try and stir up distrust and angst of those around them they feel they can influence. I don’t know where they think that will lead them. Perhaps they feel they can start some uprising so their realms are autonomous. But that wasn’t the offer that was made to them. They knew how this land was to be ruled and they still chose to come.”

 

“I find this strange. Withholding food - yes. But a gift of food? Regardless, I believe the others have let him know that’s what they’ve been hearing as well. Most have assured him they will stand with him. The only ones he hasn’t heard from is Lenwë and Turgon.”

 

“He needs to speak with both of them as soon as possible. For whatever reason there seems to be a concerted effort to sow discontent in the land when there is no need for it. I’d prefer not to become involved, but should he ask me I will of course stand with him. I don’t know if that will help or not.”

 

Aiwendil looked at Eönwë and said, “You think these are discontented people who are angry with us. With those of us of the ainur. And you think the fact that Thranduil is your kin may be the cause of their distrust of him.”

 

“Yes. Precisely.”

 

Wendil blew out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding, “Well, that at least explains the why. We may not know the who but I’m not entirely sure that even matters. What matters is we nip this poison in the bud so it can’t spread any further. You should also know that Thranduil and your neighbors, Lord’s Orodreth and Angrod, have almost firmly decided that if this spreads any further then they will send them back to Aman.”

 

“What do you mean by “Almost firmly decided?”

 

“Meaning Thranduil hasn’t made up his mind, nor made it a decree yet. But Orodreth and Angrod have firmly decided and I believe they plan on approaching Círdan to commission ships they plan to use to banish people back to Aman. I would say only Thranduil ordering them not to would halt these plans.”

 

“Oh dear. I would say they are already convinced that this has spread far enough and they don’t wish to have such venom spoiling their realms just when they are starting them up again.”

 

“Do you think the threat of being sent back might set them off or do you think it could control their behavior?”

 

“I’m not sure. If the threat of being sent back sets them on the path of rebellion then it might be best if they are sent back anyway.” Eönwë stated firmly.

 

“I agree. I will not have anything here that threatens my family, my lord.” Aiwendil said.

 

Eönwë smiled and laid a hand on his shoulder, “I understand, Aiwendil. You love them very much. But you should know that your mother-in-honor may have the power to send them back herself.”

 

“You are speaking of how she sent those brigands off, aren’t you?”

 

“Yes, but I should clarify. As this land is really no longer part of Arda, so Aman is. These two realms are, in a way, connected by the Straight Road. It may be possible that between the two of them they will have the energy and power to banish people to Aman without forcing them to sail. And I believe they can do this by using the energy of the Straight Road itself.”

 

Aiwendil’s jaw dropped for he couldn’t imagine such power save by the Valar, themselves. He wondered if it was the power of the crystals combined with Thranduil’s own maiar blood that would give them this power. Eönwë smiled as he saw his brother reach the proper conclusion.

 

“Aye! Just so. Together they are a formidable power. It is a good thing they are not the despots people think they are, else even we would have a problem containing them.”

 

Aiwendil shook himself for while this was important it could keep. At least for now. “Let us worry about such things when it is time to fret about them. For now I’d like to discuss how we are to distribute this food until Thranduil can deliver it himself. If it were up to me I’d just deliver it myself, but even I can see that moving such a load is draining. I would not stretch myself so far if I can perhaps get some help.”

 

“I will help you and I’m sure we can get some others to help. Between us we can probably get the food delivered within a day or two. And until Thranduil gets his delivery system into place we’ll continue to help. I know my grandson is stubborn and independent and will not wish to rely on us. But I’ll do my best to convince him to accept our help for now.” Eönwë said with amusement. “Come, I know where several are right now. We’ll send half of this,” and he flung an arm out indicating the mountain of food, “to my son. You say there is a lot more in Thranduil’s Halls?”

 

Aiwendil snorted in amusement, “My Brother, you have no idea how much there is! And this even after Thranduil has distributed vast amounts of it to his surrounding villages. And there are a lot of people living within his forests!”

 

“Alright. Let us go see who we can recruit for this task and then we’ll try and sort out this mountain of produce.”

 

“Thank you, my brother!” Wendil said with heartfelt gratitude and relief.

 

~0~

 

With the help of the maiar, Thranduil was able to deliver all the produce the Onodrim had delivered to his door. With the maiar help neither Angrod nor Orodreth were needed to transport the heavily laden wagons of produce over the rugged terrain back to their realms. Much to their relief.

 

At Eönwë's direction all the maiar had dispensed with their hröa and had flittered about to see if they could catch a whisper here or there so as to alert them to the rabble rousers identities and to what they grievances were and what, if anything, they planned to do about their grievances. The purpose wasn't necessarily to expose these people, but to find out what was bothering them and to see if there was a way to ease their concerns without going to the extreme of banishing them. For it was obvious they had been unhappy in Aman and what would be the purpose of sending them back to a place they detested. This land had been their last chance and they all had to realize that this home would be exactly what they made of it.

 

As the food delivery had only taken a little over a day, the intelligence gathering had taken weeks, but by the time they all reported to Eönwë he had a pretty good idea what was driving the angst within pockets of every single realm that had been reestablished. And none had been spared. The people who had exiled themselves from Aman where those who had ever had a distrust of the Valar. They included those of the Noldor who had originally rebelled and had fled when the original kinslaying had taken place, though they hadn't participated.

 

In some ways this annoyed Eönwë as most of those who had a distrust of the Valar were those who had believed the whispering malice of Melkor when he'd been in Aman during the Years of the Trees. Even after all these years the power of those words still created strife and even knowing where the lies had come from hadn't erased them from the hearts of the people repeating them. And that's what these whisperers were spreading. Morgoth's lies. Only this time they were pointing their fingers at his grandson, Thranduil. His lineage made him suspect in their eyes and they all believed him some sort of Valarin spy. Or in some cases, he was presented as a dictator who planned to enslave all of them. 

 

It didn't seem to matter when cooler heads pointed out that they had all been granted lands and leave to reside wherever they chose. That they all had their own kings to see to their needs. And even the delivery of the food grown and provided by the Entwives was suspect. It was all a trick to get them to relax and perhaps even to become dependent upon the good will of the High King so that they ceased to grow their own food and provide for themselves. Since Thranduil had never made any such demands, Eönwë couldn't understand where these sentiments were coming from.

 

Eönwë was also rather annoyed that people were even including the Onodrim in their mutterings. Those most pure creatures certainly didn't deserve to be so maligned and Eönwë found, to his surprise, that he actively had to control his own anger at this injustice. He decided that he needed to go visit his grandson and make him aware of what was happening within his realm and what their fears were. He didn't know if Thranduil would just shrug it off or if he would monitor the situation. He thought the former and in the back of his mind he was determined to keep tabs on this situation. There would not be another kinslaying if he had anything to say about it.

 

He refused to examine his own motives, as he strongly suspected this was why they hadn't been encouraged to join themselves with the eldar. For he knew his own reactions were personal and of a familial origination. Though he hadn't known Thranduil long he cared deeply for his welfare. There was something within Thranduil that he identified with and he supposed it was the ellon's own resemblance to himself, though he knew it was more than the superficial that called to him.

 

~0~

 

"Hello grandson. How do I find you this evening?"

 

"In my sitting room?" Thranduil said startled as the maia had just appeared out of thin air.

 

"He's fine. We are fine. And the little ones are fine, though I wonder they didn't even startle at your arrival." Vallis said with humor.

 

"I whispered to them that I was coming but that it was a surprise for their parents." Eönwë said mischievously.

 

"Why do I feel as though I'm the only grownup in the room with you people?" Vallis asked wryly.

 

Ignoring her, Eönwë asked, "Where are your sons? I would expect them to be here with you."

 

"All three of them are betrothed. Why would you assume that? Oh, and before I forget make sure to present yourself here at the next full moon as Legolas is getting married and I would like you and grandfather to be in attendance. Along with our grandmothers, of course. Can we count on you?"

 

"Yes, of course. It is nice to know they will soon be settled and that there will one day be more grandchildren." he smiled.

 

"Good. I'm glad. And they will be glad to have you here. Well, if they even notice any of us, that is." Thranduil chuckled, "Tell me, grandfather. Was there a specific purpose for your visit. Not that we aren't always glad to see you."

 

"I see I'm going to have to stop by more often so you don't begin to see me as a harbinger of doom."

 

"Isn't that Mandos' job?" causing Eönwë to burst out laughing.

 

"Indeed! I wouldn't wish to usurp his august position! But to tell you the truth when Aiwendil came to deliver that mountain of food he asked if we could deliver it to the several realms. Well, I'm afraid I took it upon myself to have my brethren move about the realms to see first hand what was being said that was causing this confounded malicious whisperings. What they found was that most of it is coming from people who were part of the original rebellion of the Noldor, though there were also quite a few in Lord Lenwë's realm. All of it seems to stem from you being appointed by the Valar to be High King and your unfortunate lineage that includes me."

 

"And that's it?" Vallis asked, incredulous.

 

"Yes. You have to understand that the original rebellion came about because we allowed one of our own to spread malicious rumors among them when they were within our care. Then he killed their High King and stole the treasure that brought about that infamous oath and their terrible deeds after that. Even after all these years and even knowing what they had been told were twisted lies, still, they cling to those lies the fiercest. This, I think, is the reason they all chose to leave Aman in the first and the second place. They have lost their faith in the Valar and they don't distinguish between Vala and maia. And while your own Sindar have very positive feelings about your Queen Melian, and therefore welcome you as both one of their own and one that shares ainu blood, others feel your bloodline is proof of Valar interference once again in their lives. Some even go so far as to accuse you of wishing to enslave them."

 

"Is there anything I can do to assure them I have no such intentions?" Thranduil asked, perplexed.

 

"I would make sure that all of the leaders have the globes so they can speak with you anytime they feel the need. But if all else fails I would call all of them here to the city and lay it out for them. Assure them where you can but also let them know you will not tolerate open rebellion against your rule here. And finally, if the situation deteriorates then let them know that they will not be welcome here if strife is all they are interested in."

 

"I agree that we can't allow this rot to become so toxic that it bleeds into open rebellion. I will not tolerate kinslaying here. I'm not asking for taxes or tributes and will allow them to rule themselves as they see fit, but I draw the line at warfare."

 

"I agree husband. If there is anything you need from me I am at your disposal." Vallis said firmly. She knew her husband was a good ruler, especially considering he didn't want to do it. But having been given the responsibility he took it seriously and she loved him for the great care he took of his people.

 

"I'm glad to hear you say that, granddaughter. For I believe if the two of you start to combine your separate gifts, merging them, and learning to use them in unison, I firmly believe you could access the energy of the Straight Road and could banish them without having to lose Círdan one of his ships." Eönwë replied with a smirk, but both of them knew he was being perfectly serious. And before Thranduil could demur, Vallis popped up with, "I'm in." and Thranduil could see her visage was grim and she was perfectly serious.

 

"I can't tell you how much I dislike this. Even when we faced the enemy we knew we were all on the same side and had to have each others back. I hate the thought that brother is being turned against brother." Thranduil sighed and his wife could see that if something wasn't done this would eventually begin to take a negative toll upon him. This she wouldn't tolerate. She loved his sunny nature. And as he said, even during those darkened days and he was so worried about his son and his people he had still been able smile and enjoy the simple things in his world. And because she wanted to see his smile once more and for him to be carefree in his life, as much as possible, she would do anything to help him.

 

"I know you do, my love. And that is why we are going to do as our grandfather suggests and we are going to work together. I don't know how we could possibly test this out, but perhaps that stone that is keyed to the one in Aman could come into play here. Perhaps you could get one of your friends in Aman to watch out for things we send there."

 

"How would you go about testing this?" Eönwë asked.

 

"Slowly, of course. The one time I was able to move a group of people I was distraught and thought my children were at risk. I know I didn't kill them, but I wanted them gone and they disappeared. If I were to start a controlled experiment I would start with small objects and small distances and then move on to small animals. If mass doesn't matter then I wouldn't fear harming someone we teleported to Aman especially if we find that what we send there arrives in perfect condition."

 

"I really like that you are an off-worlder and had such an advanced society. You approached these sorts of things methodically and dispassionately. I find what you propose a very good idea and I like the methodology you will employ."

 

"I find I like the fact that you used words like methodology, dispassionately and methodically all in ways I understand, from my societies scientific perspective." Vallis smirked.

 

"You like that we are not the barbarians you thought us?" Eönwë teased.

 

"Your people, and by that I mean you ainu-people, brought me here and seem not to be bothered at all by the metaphysical world."

 

"That is because we were created outside of time and space. They are not the separate things most of you believe them to be."

 

"Oh I would love to sit down and have a deep conversation with you some day. I really feel it would be fun. At least, for me it would be fun. I imagine it would be like speaking to a child to you." Vallis smiled.

 

"You should talk to Aiwendil more. He knows all of this."

 

"Yes, but he is married to my daughter and likes to talk about children these days."

 

"I can see why he would. We are old and of all of us there are three that I know of that have wed and become parents. I'm sure there are more. I just don't now of them. And of us three only one bore a child herself. So concepts like marital love and children are novel experiences for us."

 

"Is that why Thranduil seems able to accept and understand all the things I throw at him with no trouble. And in speaking to some of the others his other difference is his lack of resistance to new ideas. The best way I can describe his mind is that it flows. He's not rigid."

 

"Ha! I think that is one of the nicer things you've ever said about me." Thranduil smiled.

 

"I say lots of nice things about you." Vallis smiled.

 

"I know. I'm afraid I don't say as many nice things about you, my love, but I'm jealous. Everything about you is mine and I keep what is mine."

 

"That sounds horrible, husband. Especially since I know what a generous heart you have."

 

"Not where you are concerned."

 

"Aaaand that is my cue to leave. I will be keeping in closer touch with you, grandson. Like your wife I have determined that I will not see you maligned nor rebelled against. For you truly do have a generous heart and you don't deserve what is being bandied about concerning you. And I don't care if that solidifies their beliefs. You are my blood and I also protect what is mine and you are my family. Take care." And with that he was gone.

 

"You know, of all the things the ainu can do, that is what I envy the most." Thranduil said musingly.

 

"If we can learn to do as he suggests I really don't see why we couldn't learn to do ourselves what we plan to do with others." And Thranduil looked at her stunned for he would never have thought of such.

 

"That would be quite an adventure, my love! We could go anywhere we wanted and no one could scold us for being gone weeks on end."

 

"Of course you would think of that. And that is what I love about you. Your sense of adventure and your love of experiencing things new to you."

 

"The day I think I know everything is the day I stop living. And I know I'll never know everything." Thranduil smiled and then decided that it was time for them to retire. Tomorrow was a new day and they would face it together.

 

 

Chapter Text

King Turgon and his family had finally arrived at the city to attend the wedding of their kinswoman, Faila and Thranduil and Vallis had been there to greet them upon their arrival. Coincidentally, King Lenwë also arrived with his family and Thranduil felt this was providence, for now he could hand out the communication crystals to the last of the Elven Lords in his realm. Apparently the one Angrod had picked out for his cousin wasn't very well attuned to him and he was having trouble getting it to work for him. 

 

Later on Thranduil sent messengers to fetch both Lords and have them brought to his study. Once he had them settled, he poured out some of his adar’s wine and they sat for a moment enjoying it. Thranduil was rather proud of his adar’s wine and asked his guests if they found it as pleasing as he did.

 

“Truly, I never thought to taste anything so wonderful since leaving Aman. But I have to say this is better. How is that possible?” Turgon asked.

 

“There was a vintage in the Rhovanion that was famous for their wine. So I made a trip and for quite a hefty sum I purchased many Dorwinion vines from the region while promising I would never make the wine in Ennor. That was the only reason the vintner even considered selling them to me. I imagine that he assumed I was leaving for Aman and he will boast that his is the wine that is being sampled in the Undying Lands. Once brought here my adar asked if he could fiddle with some of them and this is what he came up with. It’s actually better than the Dorwinion I originally enjoyed. And that was wondrous.”

 

“This is very good and I always found the wine in Aman good.” Lenwë agreed, “I’ve been in Aman for a very long time and I have to say I’m glad to be back. Thank you for giving us back the land that Elu Thingol originally granted us.” And Thranduil smiled for he saw he would have to pay very close attention to which words Lenwë used, for he used an economy of words and it seemed he chose each one carefully.

 

“Oh think nothing of it. I was pleased to do so. But I have a question for you. Why doesn’t anyone want to go to Taur-im-Duinath?”

 

“Tis haunted! Surely everyone knows that.”

 

“It can’t be haunted now!” Thranduil exclaimed, “I would think it a woodelf dream. Primal forests never touched. But it seems only the Onodrim will have them and they seem content to play in my woods.”

 

“Well, whatever deal you made with the Onodrim I wish to thank you for the, er, gift of produce you had delivered. I have to admit that like your wine, it was even better than what we were used to in Aman.” Lenwë said with wry amusement.

 

“Yes, what did you have that they wanted?” Turgon asked.

 

“Water. They wanted a specific water and I gave it to them. I really didn’t expect the bounty they provided and if this is to be the norm then we have to set up drop points or couriers to pick it up and deliver it, for it will be a monthly occurrence.” Thranduil said.

 

“Monthly? I don’t know that we could ever consume so much!” Turgon exclaimed, rather dismayed.

 

“Surely you are experiencing a population increase. Or what my wife calls a baby-boom.”

 

“A baby-boom? What an odd term. But I’ve noticed that you have many children here. I haven’t seen the same increase within my own realm.” Turgon sighed.

 

“I have. We have many little ones, as well.” Lenwë said happily.

 

“That is well. I’m glad to hear it, my lord. You, my lord,” he said to Turgon, ”must encourage your people to have children, though I have no idea how you would do that.” Thranduil said with amusement.

 

“I have to admit I would like to see little ones running about once again. The only times I recall that was the case was when I was one of them in my youth and again when Gondolin was first populated. After that, not so much and then the city was no more. It is good to see so many here.”

 

“Perhaps that’s all you’ll need to do when you return home. Bemoan that yours is the only land with no children. They’ll wish to compete to show they can outdo the rest of us.” Lenwë said with overacting drama. Thranduil laughed in appreciation of his humor. He liked this ellon.

 

“That might work.” Turgon said thoughtfully, causing Thranduil to laugh even harder.

 

“So was there a specific reason for calling us here, my lord? Perhaps to give us one of those orbs that my cousin told me about?” Turgon asked with an arched brow.

 

“Yes! They are communication crystals not unlike the Palantiri you used in Aman. I had hoped to use them as a matter of convenience so that couriers and messengers don’t need to ride across the land and any issues that come up can be dealt with immediately rather than taking months to solve.”

 

“Angrod told me about these when he and Orodreth were returning home and gave me the one they picked out. I'm afraid it didn't work so well for me, but it works fine for my daughter. I wonder what they were thinking in returning when they would have to turn right around and come back.”

 

“I haven’t had word that they are returning. They will be missed if they don’t come, but the day is for my son and his betrothed so I’m not so sure they would be missed and Legolas would understand.”

 

“And you have two more sons that will be wedding shortly as well, is that correct?” Lenwë inquired.

 

“Yes. My twin sons are wedding the daughters of Lord Finrod. They finally decided to stop playing with their parents hopes and consented to doing what we all knew they would do in the first place. Lady Amarië is beside herself with her planning and my wife is doing her best to grant her every wish.” Thranduil smirked.

 

“I understand that. I only had the one daughter and I did everything I could to make her day special. I’m sure you felt the same when your eldest daughter wed. How did it feel to have your only daughter wed a maia?” Turgon asked.

 

“Well, she chose him and according to my wife he had no hope to resist her. He adores her and that is all a father can hope for his daughter.”

 

“I wonder what it is about you Teleri that the maiar find so irresistible?” Turgon mused.

 

“It’s got to be the hair. None but them have that hair.” Lenwë nodded sagely, causing Thranduil to burst into merry laughter again.

 

“I really wish you did not live so far away, my lord. I find your fellowship most enjoyable.” Thranduil said heartily, “But come. You both must pick your globes. Just find one that likes you.” And he got up to lead them to his wardrobe.

 

First Turgon passed his hand over the orbs to pick out the one that spoke to him. He soon found one that was so strong it lit up just with his hand passing over it. He didn’t even bother checking the others. He just knew this one was meant for him.

 

“Wow! You have a very strong connection to that one. You should have no problem contacting whoever you want with no energy drain at all.”

 

“What do you mean an energy drain?”

 

“Haven’t you ever done something mentally that required energy to accomplish it?” Thranduil asked, surprised.

 

“Yes, I suppose I have.” Turgon said, “And you’re saying that this will require that sort of energy.”

 

“Yes. Have you never used a palantir before? I’m sorry. I had assumed this was a form of communications in Aman. I had thought there were a lot of these things there.”

 

“Yes I have and you heard correctly. And we use them still. I just didn’t think you’d be able to find their equivalent here in Beleriand using a crystal. I will admit I have no idea how my uncle made those things, but it seems to me he did a lot more than just polishing a crystal.”

 

“Oh we did more than just cut and polish them. Both my wife and I tuned them to be able to use them for this purpose. Though it’s my wife who knows the how of what she does.”

 

“I hear all sorts of strange tales about your wife. That she’s a witch. That she actually one of the ainu. So what is the truth of it, my lord? What is she?” Lenwë asked before he too passed his hand over the globes and found one that seemed to like him. He made a sound of approval and picked it up and it immediately lit up for him and he chuckled good naturedly.

 

“She is from a people that Eru Ilúvatar felt had earned ascension. Her entire race was changed and they are on their way to becoming ainu.”

 

“That is a strange thing to say. I have never heard of the Creator ever changing a people before.” Turgon said doubtfully.

 

“What do you think will ultimately happen to us once the music concludes?” Lenwë said with an arched brow.

 

“I...I hadn’t really thought about it, to tell you the truth.” Turgon said hesitantly.

 

“Perhaps something like what happened to my wife’s people?” Thranduil smiled gently, for really, even he knew that eventually they would all go back to their Creator one day.

 

“Regardless of how we go on and what we’ll ultimately become, I think it’ll be a goodly while before any of that happens. As we had a good run on Arda, so now it is the Second-born’s turn to go it alone and that means it will be a long while before anything happens for Father Eru to call a halt to it all. I don’t know if this is the Second Music playing, but it seems to me that it is. The First music was us and now it’s their turn. The Second Music for the Second Children.” Lenwë said.

 

“You know, I think you might be right. I don’t know why, but it feels right.” Thranduil said, surprised.

 

“And you think the third music will be when we are all with the Creator and we add to the music.” Turgon asked.

 

“I do.” Lenwë nodded, “And then we’ll all live somewhere in peace and harmony on Arda Unmarred.”

 

“So all we have to do is wait. And it probably won’t be all that long of a wait.” Turgon said hopefully.

 

“I don’t care how long it is as long as I’m with my Athney. I can bear a lot of things, but I couldn’t bear being separated from her.”

 

“I feel the same about my Alel. The only reason I kept going during the First Age was for the sake of my son, but I couldn’t wait to be reunited with her. I was actually re-embodied fairly quickly because of that. I just didn’t have all the regrets and fears that kept some there for so long.” Lenwë said.

 

“And did you have any more children once you were reunited?” Thranduil wanted to know.

 

“Yes. We had four more. Two sons and two daughters. Belil, Cannamdir, Enagar and Manel.” Lenwë smiled, and then “And before you ask, yes, they are all married with children and grandchildren of their own. I have a fair clan of my own. Just don’t ask me how many and all their names. I find myself saying things like, “Which one do you belong to?” I know they're mine but I just don’t know where to place them on the family tree.”

 

“Would that I had such trials as trying to determine who was who in my family tree. Alas, I don’t have so many descendants.” Turgon said sadly.

 

“What do you mean? You have a whole line that are the kings of men on Arda. Plus you still have Lord Elrond and his sons living right here.” Thranduil said in surprise.

 

“Yes, I know. I haven’t known them very well. I can’t say why.” Turgon said sadly.

 

“Well, he has a crystal and you can talk to him and his sons long distance if you are uncomfortable talking to him in person. I can tell you he is considered a very wise ellon.” Thranduil said with a smile.

 

“Who says that?” Turgon asked.

 

“His mother-in-honor and your cousin, the lady Galadriel.” Thranduil smirked.

 

“Were you aware there has already been talk of wedding your twin ellyth with my grandson's twins?” Turgon asked and laughed as Thranduil’s face blanched.

 

“Well, thankfully that is at least a century away. Plus they will be in Thargelion. I don’t see how they would have much socialization. Though, if they are like their sister and they decide they are the ones for them I’m not sure those ellyn will have much to say in the matter.” And smiled at Turgon’s appreciative laughter.

 

“So we can use them to talk to each other and not just to you?” Lenwë asked.

 

“Of course. And they are also keyed to the Elostirion Stone which in turn is keyed to the Master Stone in Aman. It is my hope that through that relay we can actually talk to those still in Aman.” Thranduil said.

 

“Any other plans for them?” Turgon asked.

 

“It won’t happen for a while, but I’m hopeful that they can be our main source of communications throughout the land. Perhaps one in every home if they are wanted.” Thranduil said thoughtfully.

 

“Why? Why put them in every home?” Turgon asked.

 

“Well, only if they want them. I’m not going to force them on anybody. But if people have loved ones in Aman or even in another town, village or another realm they have the option of keeping in close contact with them if that is their wish. I don’t plan on limiting other forms of communications. If people prefer to send couriers with written missives or letters that is their prerogative.”

 

“From what I’ve heard, you seem most concerned with giving your people a life of great ease. Don’t you fear that they will lose contact with the land.” Lenwë asked.

 

“Most of my people are Nandor just like you. My Silvan are my most precious subjects and they prefer to live in the woods as they have always done. I’m sure they find their King peculiar, as my son-in-honor has pointed out I’m a city-ellon. I was born in a city and have lived my entire life in one city or another. But while I absolutely will not allow my people to have food shortages or any other of their needs not met, I don’t interfere in how they live. Nor in how they govern themselves.”

 

“Well, I’m convinced." Lenwë declared, "I don’t know about you, King Turgon, but I plan to quell any talk of separatism or rebellion.” and turning to Thranduil, “I think you already know that there is treason talk going on about you. I don’t know the source of it or the why of it, but you’ve become the focus of it. I had thought that moving my people back to the lands we had in the First Age would quell it, but it never seems to end. Even the food was regarded with suspicion.”

 

“He’s right. I don’t understand why this is and you having maia blood just doesn’t seem enough of a reason for all the grousing. But the suspicion regarding the food was nonsensical. There was no logic to it. It’s as though they thought you would order us not to grow our own food.” Turgon agreed.

 

“That is indeed strange. I found fairly quickly that it seemed we'd gotten a fair number of malcontents along with those who just wanted a change in their lives. A little adventure. But all I know is that I was given no choice in becoming High King here. But having no choice does not mean I will not execute my duties to the best of my abilities. I want us to be one people. I want this land to be one of peace.”

 

“There is talk that the new tower you have at the entrance to the city is actually a weapon. Please tell me this is false.” Turgon said worriedly and his eyes widened as Thranduil smiled gently at him.

 

“That was not its purpose, but I suppose it could be used as one. But only for an invading army. I don’t expect it will ever be used for anything other than its original purpose. A beacon for those lost or a way to find those who have become trapped and unable to free themselves.”

 

“But it could be used as a weapon?” Lenwë asked, his own eyes narrowing.

 

“Probably not in the way you think of a weapon. I am Sindar and you must know that I will not allow kinslaying here, my Lord.”

 

“What do you mean you will not allow it?” Turgon asked.

 

“Just that. I don’t know how to be more clear. I will not allow kinslaying here. I would rather tear the land apart and leave us to live on islands before I will allow kinslaying to become an issue again. But I believe my first recourse will be to have those who insist on this to be sent back to Aman.”

 

“And how would you do that?” Lenwë asked.

 

“I have several resources at my disposal. You know my House is scion to Eonwë. But you may not know that my wife has power that is quite frankly frightening. I once saw her disappear a large band of brigands that harassed us on our travels. She was also immune to Sauron’s ring wraiths and weapons. She even found their communication frequency and a way to interfere with it. Everything she did was benign, but I also know she was quite capable of vivisecting large bands of orcs when confronted with them.”

 

“I understand all this and believe you. But can you tell me the nature of the weapon?” Turgon persisted.

 

Thranduil smiled, “Not one that you would ever think of. And wouldn’t be a lethal weapon. Simply one that would ensure that none can approach with ill intent. It is what my wife calls a by-product. Like her weapon when she arrived upon our world was actually part of her healing crystals. The by-product of one of them was they found they could also use it for mining. The other by-product was if it could be used for mining them it could also be used to kill hostile beasts when they found themselves confronted off-world. When she was brought to our world my son captured her, but before he bound her hands they were attacked by orcs. She killed them all and then healed my patrol including my son. I still put her in my dungeon.” he concluded, smirking.

 

“Why would you put her in the dungeon?” Turgon asked, aghast.

 

“Because we were at war with Sauron and she told me she was from another world. Who knew?” he laughed, and then “Would you have believed that?”

 

Chuckling, Turgon had to admit that, No! He wouldn’t have believed it for an instant.

 

“What made you change your mind?” Lenwë asked, curious.

 

“Her sheer strangeness. My guards came to me after three days worried that she just sat there and she neither ate nor drank. Just sat. Didn’t move a muscle. They feared she would expire and they’d be punished for not taking proper care of her. I tell you I went down there and she didn’t respond to any verbal questions or commands. I literally had to shake her roughly to even get her to come back from wherever it is she goes into her mind when she does that. And she still does that.” Shaking his head in fond remembrance, he continued, “Then there was her calm insistence that she would answer whatever questions I put to her, for she had nothing to hide and that I knew very well that she was telling the truth. So I asked to share dinner with me.”

 

“And that is how you came to fall in love?” Turgon asked gently thinking it rather romantic.

 

“Nay. The Valar sprang a forced marital compulsion upon us. We both wed against our will but we were unable to fight it and in the end we simply decided to make the best of it. Then we found that real love had come to us one day.” Then he laughed at Turgon’s look of utter horror.

 

“Valar! You seem to be at the center of many happenings. But that is appalling!” he said aghast.

 

“Indeed.” Lenwë concurred.

 

“So everyone has said, but I have not found it so. I have never been so happy as during our years together. I am here because I couldn’t bear to lose her. This was their alternative to my never going to Aman, for I can assure you I would never have sailed had they told me I would have to leave her behind.”

 

“Why could you not simply bring her with you?”

 

“The Lord Manwë informed me that should she sail Aman would cure the Gift. The Gift is what Father Eru had ordered Lord Manwë to bestow upon her people which changed them and made them immortal. But should she go to Aman she would either ascend or her years would come upon her all at once and she would die. He then made the offer to come back to this land. That’s also when he told me that the offer would be made to you in Aman should you care to come. I didn’t think so many of you would take the offer. All I really wanted to see was my son and parents.”

 

“Most of us were bored in Aman. I know I was born there but I have to say that we never felt so alive as when we lived in this land. But I have also noticed that a lot of the malcontents have chosen to come as well. And while they may not dare to criticize me, they don’t seem to have any problems focusing their bile towards you.” Turgon said, and then, “The news that you have some giant fierce weapon in front of the city has stirred up great fear. And you still haven’t told me what this weapon does, my lord.”

 

“I told you. It wasn’t designed as a weapon. And why would people fear something they will never see unless they come here with ill intent. And before you ask again all it does it cause disorientation and dizziness. The frequency can be used as a deterrent, not really a weapon. Conversely, my wife has been thinking of tuning it so that if a hostile force comes within range, feelings of well being and happiness will envelop them. Of calm serenity. She calls it a happy lamp, for who would attack and harm people if you are happy and at peace with the world?”

 

Turgon just looked at Thranduil a moment and said thoughtfully, “She could do that? Create a light that changes one’s mood?”

 

“No that would be my job. I’m the one who can change the frequency and tint of the light. She has the technical knowledge of crystals. She understands their properties and she has a full spectrum at her disposal and the training on what they can be used for.”

 

“How can you do that?” Lenwë asked.

 

“Oh, I have no clue. I just know that I can.” and then he produced a glowing orb and sent it aloft. Then with a wave of his hand he changed its color from blue-white, to green, gold, red and then back to blue-white as he could already feel the cavern trying to take it and he allowed it to place itself and then he waved his hand again and it went out.

 

“Ah! All the lights in your city! They come from you? I was wondering how you came to have such a wonder to light your caverns so brightly. They reminded me of the Fëanorian lamps, but smaller with a gentler light. I had no idea they came from a person! You are truly a marvel, my lord.” Turgon exclaimed.

 

“Oh they didn’t just come from me. It was me, my adar, my sons, my grandfathers. You know, I have no idea if my daughter can do it but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she can. I’ll have to ask her.” he said as her poured himself another glass and found both Lenwë and Turgon offering theirs for a refill.

 

“I was here during the first age and I don’t recall any of those abilities inherent in the lineage of Melian.” Turgon remarked.

 

“Perhaps it is the type of maia she is? I believe she is an earth maia. Eönwë is a fire maia. Perhaps that is the difference. But truly, I have no idea. I just found out about all of this several decades ago. My son-in-honor is an earth maia and I know more about him then I do about my grandfather.”

 

“And you don’t know why so many maiar are here with us?” Lenwë asked.

 

“No, I do not. But I imagine their reasons are the same as yours. They wanted change. They wanted challenge. And they were most likely bored. But I’m sure after they get their fill of it they will most likely go back to Aman.” Thranduil said offhandedly, unconcerned.

 

“So you don’t think we have anything to worry about?” Lenwë persisted.

 

“No, of course not. I don’t know what you experienced in Aman and why you distrust the Valar so much, but I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with them. I have one as a grandfather and he seems like any other grandfather. I have one as my son-in-honor and he’s the sweetest person I’ve ever met. I mean, I imagine that he’s not someone to trifle with if his family is threatened, but he is an earth maia and loves the land like no other I’ve ever met.”

 

“It wasn’t all of them. It was that rogue and all that followed him. I know that his lieutenant plagued you for two ages, but I just don’t see how his evil could be as bad as his former master.” Turgon said.

 

“He caused us a lot of misery, though he was not as formidable as his master. But you forget that I was here during the First Age, as well. I was born in this city. I was here for both the kinslaying here and again in Sirion. I’m very serious when I say I won’t tolerate such behavior. So please tell me what I can do to alleviate your fears, my lords.”

 

“I hadn’t thought of that and I’m sorry. To you I would suspect that the noldor are more monster than even the evil of Morgoth.” Turgon exclaimed and Thranduil had to recall that he’d originally lost his own home and life to betrayal from his own nephew.

 

“Nay, that’s simply not true. I have Maglor in the city right now and we’re trying to figure out a way to fix him. All those things in the past need to be put behind us. That’s what I mean when I say I want us to be one people. We are all eldar. I don’t want to be a separated people any longer. My daughter wed a maia. My eldest is marrying your niece. My other sons are to wed the daughters of your cousin.”

 

“Well, I have lots of spare grandchildren if you wish to play matchmaker some time.” Lenwë said with wry humor.

 

“Let’s wait until they grow up first. All mine are ankle-biters at the moment.” Thranduil smirked.

 

“Bah! A century will fly by before you know it. But one thing I may not be able to wait for is some more of that wine of yours. I don’t suppose I can get a cask or two for the ride home?” Lenwë asked hopefully and Thranduil laughed and said that he thought that might be arranged.

 

~0~

 

Celeborn and Oropher were walking by a public area and at one point Oropher’s brow creased as he walked by and he actually stopped and peered into the public area for a moment. Then to Celeborn’s chagrin, he went inside and put his hand out to feel what he perceived as strong focused energy over a spot he knew he had conceived his son on.

 

Oddly enough, he also felt his son’s presence in that same spot and his cheeks stained red with a blush as he pulled his hand back and he quickly left the area and continued on his way. Celeborn waited for an explanation but apparently none was going to be forthcoming.

 

“Are you going to tell me what that was all about?” Celeborn asked, slightly amused.

 

“Ah, no.” Oropher muttered.

 

“Oropher, you must explain that. You can’t just stop and scan something without telling me what that was all about.” Celeborn exclaimed.

 

“Nevermind, Celeborn. Just let it go. I’m not going to explain it.” And Oropher abruptly turned and walked away from his friend and soon disappeared through the milling populace going about their business.

 

Staring thoughtfully, Celeborn went back to the area and knelt to scan the spot himself. A thoughtful look crossed his face and then he smiled slightly as he straightened up and walked away towards his own chambers.

 

Chapter Text

Today Vallis was going to Lord Elrond’s suite of rooms to meet this Maglor fellow. She had no idea what she would find but she wouldn’t be able to assess anything nor recommend anything until she met him. Thranduil gave her what backstory on him that he was able to and Elrond filled what holes he could.

 

Apparently this Oath had taken on a life of its own when these Fëanorionnath had descended upon this very city during the First Age and pretty much slaughtered everyone in sight. Vallis didn’t understand that. Instead of presenting themselves and requesting the jewel and seeking legal recourse, they had used an army to just kill everyone inside. Luckily, the caves had been a confusing maze to them and many had escaped and had fled south to the Havens Lord Círdan had established.

 

Once there the only survivor of the royal family, Elrond’s mother, still had possession of this gem. In the meantime, another betrayal had led to the destruction of another city. Gondolin. And the survivors of that city had also made their way south to the same haven. It was here that Elrond’s parents met and wed and produced him and his twin brother, Elros.

 

It was when they were still very young, perhaps five or six years old, when these Oath-slaves once again attacked their own. Forget that the entire land was overrun with things that made the beasts seem like tame pets, No! These Oath-slaves felt all their attentions needed to be utilized to kill their own. And this time it was their own that they were killing.

 

They killed those of their own Noldor clan along with the surviving Iathrim while Elrond’s father had been away trying to make his way to the Valar to beg their assistance in their failing war against Morgoth. In the confusion, two of the brothers had somehow gotten a hold of the surviving Iathrim princess' sons and she was in utter despair, for these same people had killed her older brothers, also twins, when they had been the same age. They demanded the gem or they would kill her sons but they refused to show them to her.

 

Thinking them already dead, she had decided to join her sons in death and had jumped, determined to keep the gem from their hands in revenge. What had happened to her when she jumped is the stuff of legends, but true nonetheless. Turned into a seabird by the Valar, she was directed to her husband’s ship where she collapsed exhausted into his arms where she became herself once more. It was then the ship was allowed to come to the shores of Aman where they made their petition to the Valar and thus the War of Wrath which ultimately caused the sinking of Beleriand.

 

Elrond was able to say this with certainty because he had met his parents when he’d gotten to Aman and sought them out. He was at least able to assure his mother that he and his brother had been treated well by two of the brothers who had came back to themselves after she had jumped. He strongly suspected that the oath released them when the gem left the land. And he told Vallis that he and his brother had been treated well by the brothers who were completely different people when not in the grip of the Oath. They had taught them and had made sure all their needs were met and had even had them removed from Beleriand over the Ered Luin and so had not even been in Beleriand when the War of Wrath had materialized.

 

But after the Valar had thrown down their wayward brother they had taken the remaining two gems and it was then that the last Oath-slaves, Maglor and Maedhros had yet again killed their own to get to them. And it had been Lord Eönwë, himself, who had ordered them not to be killed and had let them go. Vallis didn't understand that. Had she been in charge she probably would have determined their claim to life had been forfeit with so much blood on their hands.

 

But Vallis thought her grandfather-in-honor had realized they were their own worst enemy at that point and it seemed he had been right on that score. For no sooner had they escaped with their long sought for treasure than the elder of the two, Maedhros, had flung himself into a lava flow and the other had flung the last remaining gem into the sea.

 

Now Maglor was the last of seven brothers and Vallis sincerely hoped they weren’t cursed to never be re-embodied, regardless of their crimes. They had all been driven by a curse, for even with her logical brain all she could think of was their poor mother. Abandoned and bereft. She, of all of them, was the true innocent and yet it was her that had probably suffered the most.

 

As a mother, herself, she found this appalling and a part of her thought this last son had gotten what he deserved to treat his poor mother with such disdain. But she dismissed this as an emotional response and therefore not logical. He had suffered for thousands of years and was now becoming a danger to those around him.

 

From a medical standpoint this was unacceptable to her and she would do all she could to fix him so that he was no longer a danger to those around him. For they had made it clear they were not going to abandon him. If he’d had a contagious disease there would have been a time in her world’s past that the solution would have been to isolate him and let him live out his life in solitude.

 

That wasn’t an option here. He was immortal and instead of fading, as a surprised Thranduil had thought had befallen him, he’d had the inner strength to continue on while punishing himself and those around him in unending misery. And he was doing this through song. The pain he was inflicting through his music was damaging people and that couldn’t go on.

 

When she approached the doors to the suite they opened before she could even knock and Celebrian looked relieved to see her.

 

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here! He’s been playing all morning and I’m at my wits end. I don’t know what you can do, but if you can only make him stop I would consider it a personal favor.”

 

“Good day to you, Cele. I’ll take a look at him and see what I can do. I’m afraid I might be rather ruthless with him. Unlike some people I don’t consider him a delicate flower.” Vallis responded grimly.

 

“Elrond isn’t here and he’s the only one who feels that way. I don’t know why he feels such fondness, but my Elrond is no fool. He sees something there and there is no dissuading him.”

 

“That is well. I really don’t want any interference if I deem it appropriate to intervene.” Vallis said as she entered the apartments. She was glad to see that these semi-permanent guest rooms were both spacious and well furnished all with the view of convenience and comfort. But what caught her attention was the melancholy harp music coming from what looked like the sitting room.

 

Good Grief! She hadn’t thought a harp could sound like that! It just sounded so sad she herself almost couldn’t bear it and she realized magic was involved. Apparently this person had power in his music and it was an inherent power. Natural to him. He probably wasn’t even aware of it.

 

She was sure that in his youth he could lift people’s spirits to the clouds in joy or nearly break their hearts with thoughts of the beauty of nature. But this was a parody of what he once was. If she didn’t know better she would believe that his marring had been a deliberate battle strategy to sink the opposition's spirits into despondency.

 

She purposely walked into the sitting room and lifted her hand to still the harp, changing the molecular properties to petrify it, essentially turning the thing into stone. Instantly the music stilled as the fingers could no longer find the melody in the strings. The elf sitting there looked perplexed and held up the harp and cried out in despair, “Alas! Even you, my old friend, have at last abandoned me!”

 

“No! I’ve taken your friend from you because you are driving everybody crazy. What’s wrong with you?” Vallis scolded the startled ellon who looked at her with large beautiful slate-grey eyes. But she had met many of the Noldor including his cousin, Turgon, who also shared the grey eyes of their grandsire Finwë and this ellon’s eyes were too dark a grey and she suspected this was a sign of his own despair. His emotions had clouded and darkened his eyes.

 

“Why would you do such a soulless thing?” Maglor almost wailed. He had a rich voice and Vallis could imagine how beautiful it was in song, but that was part of the problem. He was hurting people with it even if he didn’t realize it.

 

“Because you are hurting people. Don’t you understand that? I would think that if you really loved Lord Elrond you would care that you are not only hurting him but his wife, who is your cousin’s daughter and their sons. You must cease this and you must begin to embrace life again. It’s been over six thousand years since all this came to a head and now you have a chance like everyone else to start over. To truly make amends if that is your wish.”

 

“You don’t understand.” he whispered, haunted.

 

“What do you want?” Vallis asked, curious.

 

“I just wish I could forget. I can't get their faces out of my mind. I’m guilty of so many crimes.”

 

“What if I could make you forget?”

 

“I don’t believe you could do that.”

 

“I believe I can. The only thing I’m unsure of is how much I should erase. I can leave you with memories of who you are - or who you were before you lost your marbles, but then I worry about your relationship with Elrond. He looks on you as his only real father-figure and he doesn’t want to lose you. You’re old. You must be smart. Do you have any suggestions how to go about this?” And she could see she had hit a nerve, for a flicker of hope seemed to briefly cross his face before it was gone. Good! She could work with that.

 

“I’m not sure I should forget. Shouldn’t I suffer for my sins?” he asked in defeat.

 

“Pfffft. What rot. What good has the guilt-trip done for you? Can you be any more sorry than you are now? Have been for millennia? What good are you actually accomplishing? It’s easy to beat yourself up for past mistakes, but what actions have you taken to actually address it? What good have you done in the world to make it a better place for those who live in it?”

 

“I can’t say I’ve done any good. Except isolating myself from descent people.”

 

“All that has done is allow you to wallow in your misery. Again, that doesn’t address the underlying problem - making amends. It is fine to say you are guilty and should be punished, but you’ve punished yourself for long enough. It is time to put your money where your mouth is. Do something! This requires action, not fancy words or platitudes.”

 

“What do you think I should do, then?” he asked, genuinely curious.

 

“I’m still not sure. I would first wish to just talk to you. And by talk I mean a frank discussion. Don’t dress anything up. Just talk to me from your gut and by that I don’t mean your heart or brain. I mean from that place you people call your fëa.”

 

“My fëa is so damaged I don’t know if there is any cure for it.”

 

“Actually, there is, but before I attempt that, we need to have that talk.” she said settling herself in for the long haul.

 

They spoke for several hours and by the time they were concluding their talk she was already feeling much more positive about this than she had been when she’d first spoken to Lord Elrond about it when he’d first made his request. She’d thought she’d have to be ruthless and practically lobotomize him, but it seemed there was still a small part of him that wanted to live. That wanted a life. It was why he’d never died of his grief. It was just his inability to get beyond his past actions that was hindering him. That pondering that was so elvish. That at least meant he had a soul.

 

“Alright, I have an idea of how to go about this. And I mean this only as a starting point. If it works with just this one session, I’ll be very surprised, but let’s improve your outlook so you’re not singing people into such depths of despair they want to fling themselves off a mountain top themselves. You’re just lucky this hilltop probably isn’t high enough to actually kill an elf.” she said wryly and moved to offer up her hands to the ellon. He hesitated and then took her hands and was immediately engulfed in the warm embrace of her own magic, which was her crystals.

 

She healed what she found on his surface that she could heal and he had many little things wrong with him. From broken bones that had healed incorrectly, to some intestinal bacteria that shouldn’t be there, she set all his physical hurts to right. She knew it was causing him pain, but he’d had them for so long that he’d become used to the pain. She was even able to heal a burn to his hand that was ulcerated and seemed unable to heal and caused him great distress. She vaguely wonder how he could have played his harp with his hand like that.

 

Then she moved deeper and found that his spirit was a mess. That spark that her people called spirit, his called fëa, and the Ainur called the Secret Fire or the Flame Imperishable. His was deeply wounded and she went about healing it with her most powerful crystal essence that had once been her fire opal. This is where she began to feel resistance from him, and she ruthlessly drove on, batting away his feeble defenses like she was swatting away an irritating fly.

 

She suspected that at one time he’d been very powerful, but he’d allowed his despair to gnaw away at his soul and spirit to the point that he was weaker than a newborn. Indeed, a healthy newborn would be stronger as they had that brand new burst of life flowing through them.

 

It took what felt like a long time and a lot of energy, but she finally healed his spirit, his fëa, until it was a clean and even color that had the appearance of burnished gold, very much like the color his harp had been.

 

When she was done she opened her eyes and saw that tears were streaming down his face and she wondered if she had done him harm. But when he opened his eyes they were a clear crystal grey that almost had the appearance of clear water. And gratitude shone in their watery depths.

 

“How do you feel?”

 

“Lighter.” he said and his voice was stronger with a clarity and purity to it that hadn’t been there before.

 

“I actually find that uninformative. Can you be more specific? Physically, how do you feel?”

 

Deep intelligence shone in his eyes and he paused before speaking and it was like a different person sat before her, “I feel no pain and I feel strong again. I had felt enfeebled before, as though I lacked strength to even take a breath at times. The bones I had broken, and wounds I had received no longer cause me pain. Also, I had a lot of pain in my stomach, that has been there for a long time. It’s gone. And you healed a cursed wound that I hadn't thought anyone could heal.” He concluded opening and closing the hand that had been burned by the silmaril.

 

“Good. That is what I was looking for as far as information. So you physically feel better. That should improve your outlook. Mind and body are more closely connected than people usually understand. A physical injury can affect the mind and conversely the mind can affect the health of the body. You had both going against you.” She paused before she continued, “Now, tell me how you feel here,” touching her temple, “And here.” touching her heart.

 

Understanding lit his eyes and she saw that the backlighting that all elves had and that had been all but extinguished in him had reignited, “I still know of my sins, but for whatever reason they feel more remote now and I feel hope in my breast. I have not felt such in a very long time. Is that an acceptable response? For I’m not sure I can give a better one. It is how I feel.”

 

“It is acceptable. For now. We’ll know if that is true when you start to play your music again. Try to sing songs of beauty and hope. Nobody needs to hear about unending pain, misery and unyielding despair without hope of a reprieve.” she replied with a smirk. Then she got up and looked as though she would leave until he hesitantly called her back.

 

“My Lady? If you would? Please?” he asked holding up his harp.

 

Chuckling, Vallis waved her hand, restoring the harp to its previous form and smiled at his gasp of amazement. He ran his fingers over it and then plucked at its string in quick succession to check their tone. He smiled and said, “I think you improved it. It sounds better.”

 

“Or maybe you are hearing it differently. It’s possible that your hearing was also affected by your infirmities.”

 

“I suppose that is possible.” he smiled, “I will not argue with you as you seem to know more of this than I.” and then standing to his full height, he bowed deeply to her and said, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will not forget your kindness to me, though I know you were acting at the behest of my daughter-in-honor.”

 

“You’re right. Be sure to thank her by playing something happy for her.” Vallis smiled and went to talk to her friend before she left to go back to her own chambers.

 

“How is he?” Celebrian asked anxiously.

 

“Better. At least I was able to bring his body back into balance, I also isolated and dimmed some of his memories. They are not gone, but I’m hopeful that it’s a start and you’ll find him a bit cheerier. I think you’ll notice a direct difference when simply looking into his eyes. It’s like a new person is in there.”

 

“Oh thank you so much. You have no idea what this will mean to my Elrond.”

 

“Yes, I do. I know how Elrond feels about him. And he feels the same about your husband. And you. To him you are his daughter-in-honor and that is how it should be.” And she smiled as Celebrian gave her a fierce hug of thanks and affection and then she bid her friend good day as she left to go back to her chambers.

 

~0~

 

Celeborn was making his way down to the lower caverns to bother Oropher, who he knew was working on his grape vines. Oropher's little hobby was officially the most coveted product in all of Beleriand. Celeborn knew that would please Thranduil, for he was famous for his imbibing of his Dorwinion and his father had improved upon that vaunted recipe. On his way he saw Elrond and changed direction to whisper a little something into his ear. The look on Elrond's face was worth it and he continued on his way to the lower levels.

 

Once he was down to the level he knew he wanted he went in search of his friend. He had important news for him and he wanted to share it. He made his way along the lit corridors until he found himself in the enormous cavern that housed Thranduil's vineyard treasure trove. 

 

At first he couldn't see him and then he saw Oropher straightened up from whatever it was he had been doing. Making his way over to his friend he hailed him so as to not startle him. At Oropher's confused and rather befuddled look Celeborn knew he'd caught his friend while he had deeply immersed in his project and it would probably take a moment or so before he was completely present to his surroundings.

 

"Oropher! My friend, it's me, Celeborn."

 

"Thank you. I can see that." Oropher said dryly, now fully focused on the here and now. "What brings you here? Nobody comes here except Thranduil."

 

"Checking up on his cash cow?"

 

"What's a cash cow?"

 

"I have no idea. My grandsons picked it up from the humans and I found I liked the sound of it. I don't know if there is indeed a cash cow. But the meaning is an endeavor that is profitable."

 

"Ah. Then yes. I am busy with my son's.....cash cow." 

 

"And for the reason I came. I came to tell you that I now know what you were curious about in the public area. I felt the energy signature and while I couldn't identify it, it gave me the most curious idea. I followed the urging and even talked my wife into joining me there a few nights past. And what do you think happened? We are expecting twins! A boy and a girl! Without either of us yearning for them. What do you think about that?" He said happily.

 

"I rejoice in your joy, my friend." Oropher smiled, though Celeborn could see he was hiding something. But at that moment he found he didn't care.

 

"Have you thought of going there with your lovely Annel?"

 

"Nay! We have two sons and many grandchildren. I am content with the blessings I have, but again I wish you joy in yours."

 

"Ah. I just thought you could tell me a little more of that spot and why it has the properties it displays. My Galadriel couldn't determine the origin of it. But we took advantage of it all the same." 

 

"No, I'm afraid I cannot give you any information, my friend."

 

"Oh, well. I suppose it could be a natural phenomenon. A feature of the area itself. Well, I will bid you good day, then. I think I might go and find something nice for my wife in the merchant quarter. I'll talk to you soon, old friend." And then he was gone, as quickly as he'd come leaving Oropher alone. Or rather, almost alone. Standing to his full height was his son Thranduil who looked at his father with a raised brow. He then smirked when he saw deep color stain his father's cheeks.

 

"Ada, what exactly happened there? If you visited it recently then you know that I was there, though I am grateful that no one else can determine that."

 

"I don't know how it happened. It was very late at night and your mother and I were just sitting beside the fountain and enjoying the sound of the water playing on the stones. Then, well you know how it goes. The mood just came upon both of us and while we were there a great yearning came upon me and I....well, we both wanted you so badly that I think that part of me that is maia sprang forth and made it happen for us. I assume you found the spot when you were touring the Halls. It would have called to you, I'm sure."

 

"Yes and I brought my wife there because, well....ada I have to tell you that the yearning comes upon you very strongly in that spot. That is where our girls were conceived." Thranduil concluded helplessly, for he thought he knew what had happened.

 

Oropher was one quarter maia, being closer in lineage to Eönwë. Thranduil was sure that Oropher had been strong enough to block his own gifts, but they were still so inherent within him that they spilled over all the time. And that spot had contained a large spillage of raw energy and anyone who tapped into it felt a very strong urge to create life in that spot. And new life would always be the result.

 

A blush once again stained Orophers pale face and he gestured helplessly and said, "Son, I don't know what happened. I know it's my fault but I don't know if I can fix it." he said apologetically. 

 

"Don't worry about it. I doubt it will be a problem. I joked to my Athney that it might be a fertility spot and she only worried that people would.....feel the need to utilize it. I'm not so sure that will be a problem. The only reason it called to you is because you made it. The only reason Celeborn found it was because he was with you when you went to investigate. Am I correct?"

 

"Yes. You are. I was with him and we were walking by it when I felt it. It was strong. I've walked by the spot before the girls were born, but it's stronger now. I have a feeling that the more people use it, the stronger it will get. There might come a time when you will have to do something about it. I don't think you want it to get so strong that it will be beyond your ability to fix."

 

"Alright. I see what you are saying. But, ada, I believe since you are the one who made it I will need you to be there to unmake it."

 

"Very well. I understand and I will go with you when you decide to tackle the problem."

 

"Alright. I'll let you know when we can go and fix it. And hopefully Celeborn keeps the knowledge of the place to himself."

 

Chapter Text

The wedding of Legolas Thranduilion was the event of the decade and everybody of importance was there. Every leader from every land and all of any importance was in attendance, including both Angrod and Orodreth and their families, much to Thranduil’s bemusement. He didn’t understand why they hadn’t just stayed and saved themselves the headache of traveling. But that was none of his business. The wedding was fast approaching and Thranduil just needed to make sure he was available if something needed to be taken care of.

 

Meanwhile, he and his father had gone to the spot in the public area and they had found it so active they’d had to call Wendil to help them with it. That poor maia had blushed crimson when he’d scanned it and he’d merely said for them not to be surprised if they had a lot more children within the next year.

 

“Can you do something about it?” Thranduil had asked fretfully.

 

“Yes, but I will need both of your help. Both of you created this. It’s like you created it,” pointing to Oropher, “And you energized and primed it.” he concluded pointing to Thranduil.

 

“Alright, just tell us what you want us to do to fix this. Ada says that it’s getting stronger.”

 

“He’s right. It seems to have been dormant for a really long time and then it was suddenly awoken and it’s been…...fed. A lot. By a lot of people.”

 

“A lot? Can you tell by how many….wait! Forget I said that! I don’t want to know. Just tell us what you need us to do to fix it.” Thranduil exclaimed.

 

“I think I just need to clasp hands with you so I can draw your energy. It knows your energy. You’re like its parents. It will recognize you and I will be able to dissipate the energy and then it will be like any other place.”

 

“Ugh! You make it sound like its alive.” Oropher said, shuddering a little.

 

“Everything has life in one form or another. Even the furniture used to be alive.”

 

“We’ll let that go for now, Wendil. That’s disconcerting on a whole other level.” Thranduil said vaguely disturbed by his son-in-honors esoteric knowledge of life in all its aspects and forms. He was sure it was his part of Eru’s Thought that made him so, but it disturbed the Children of Ilúvatar and Thranduil in particular, who thought such concepts were above his pay grade. Let Wendil speak of such things to his wife. She seemed to enjoy those philosophical conversations with him.

 

“Fine. Please take my hands.” And he closed his eyes as both Thranduil and Oropher complied. This, he knew, would make Vallis smile, as he was matching their harmonic frequencies to that of the energy source that was now part of the living moss and soil under their feet. He then began to interfere with the frequency to not only disrupt the concentration of it, but also to disperse it. He felt like it was rigid and fighting him before it finally just collapsed and dissipated. There! It was done.

 

“It’s gone now. I don’t think you should have any more problems with it. But please, I beg you! Don’t make any more of those. That could have grown in both strength and size and you would have had a real problem.” Wendil said almost sternly - for him. Both Thranduil and Oropher knew he was very close to being annoyed with them, which was really not part of his nature, so they took his warning seriously.

 

“We won’t. We promise, don’t we ada?” And Oropher nodded emphatically. “Tell me, son. What would have happened if we had just left it alone?” Thranduil asked in curiosity.

 

“I’m sure your wife would explain it in better terms than I, but it could have grown to the point that it became a rift that would have tore at the fabric of the dimensional wall the Valar had set up to place this entire land within. This would have destabilize both Beleriand and Aman and that would have been bad.”

 

“Oh good grief! Thank you Wendil. And if you have any spare time, perhaps you can speak to my father about his own gifts. Those that you feared so much within me? Well, perhaps you need to teach him about his own?” Thranduil suggested with a lift of his brow and Wendil looked thoughtfully at Oropher who suddenly looked very uncomfortable.

 

“Oh, I don’t think you need worry about me. I made them go away a long time ago.”

 

“And yet you are the one who created this spot with simple yearning.” Wendil returned. “I think your son is right, honored grandfather. You and I should perhaps get to know one another better. And if this does not suit you then perhaps you can speak of such with your own father and grandfather. I would highly suggest this, for you may not think you have them and you’ve blocked them, but you should not have been able to do that if that were the case. Perhaps you did it incorrectly and that’s why it bleeds out.”

 

“Oh, very well. It can’t hurt, I suppose. Though if you ask me they cause more problems than they are worth. If anything I would want grandfather to seal them away forever. I don’t want them.” Oropher said vehemently.

 

“I’m not sure that is possible. But it’s possible that Lord Eönwë has knowledge that I do not have, having been the Herald of Lord Manwë for so long. I served Lady Yavanna and was only concerned with the growing things.” Wendil smiled. Oropher looked at him closely with narrowed eyes, and then turned to his son.

 

“Does he do that all the time? Pretend to be a simple flower fëa?” Oropher asked with an arched brow causing Thranduil to laugh merrily.

 

“Indeed he does. You’d never know him as ainu from his words. Watch him though. He is much more than he lets on.” Thranduil teased.

 

“Wait! You can see the small elementals?” Wendil asked, perplexed.

 

“Of course. Thranduil could see them too. At least he could when he was young. Now that grandfather has removed the block from him he might start to see them again.”

 

“I remember that! Why haven’t I thought of that in years? I suppose I just forgot about them.” Thranduil exclaimed thoughtfully.

 

“Queen Melian blocked your gifts when you were still a very small elfling, son. As soon as the block was placed you no longer saw them and I fear that those wonders were lost to you. I felt bad about that, because they are a magical thing for a child to see. I remember them from my own youth. They lift the heart with joy to behold them. They are such silly little things, I loved them so. Only children can truly appreciate them, I think.”

 

“I think all my children saw them in the Greenwood when they were small. I recall them talking to nothing when they were very small. I thought it strange, but I never questioned them on it. Are they something that are in every part of nature, Wendil?”

 

“Yes. And it is also possible they followed you when you left Beleriand. They would have known beforehand that the land was doomed. And once they knew it was doomed it would have died faster because they left. It would have been a truly devastated land before it sank beneath the waves.”

 

“So they would have spread throughout Eriador and the Rhovanion when the land died?” Oropher asked.

 

“Yes. And since the Second-born can’t see them they would be allowed to stay to keep the land healthy. So your fear that all the magic leaving the land of the second-born is unfounded. Though it might be possible that those who originally followed you might have returned with you again. But I would have to go out and ask them.”

 

“It seems to me we should all go out more often. The girls need to be exposed to the outside world a lot more than I have had the chance. I need to change that. All my other children I made time to take outside. I’ve been remiss with my daughters.” Thranduil said with a sigh.

 

“Well, you’ve been busy, honored-father.” Wendil soothed.

 

“I know, but that doesn’t stop the clock on their youth. They will only be this age once and I can’t let them miss that. Nor their time with their parents.”

 

“It will be well, son. You have realized this and will take action to rectify it. And who knows. Maybe you’ll find that you recapture a little piece of your own youth again. At least I would like to think so.” Oropher said with a heartfelt sigh.

 

“Now that we have taken care of this spot I think I would like to go home and take my own children out into the woods. I wouldn’t be a very good earth maia if I didn’t expose my own children to the woods.” Wendil smiled, and left them to return to his own chambers. Both Oropher and Thranduil followed suit and grandfather and son took a pair of very excited little ellyth out to explore the woods.

 

~0~

 

Vallis was once again on her way to Lord Elrond’s chambers. Her purpose was to check up on Maglor to see how he was doing. She had been hearing rumors that he would go to different areas within the city and he’d play for the people who were enjoying the public areas. This pleased her for it meant that he was feeling well enough to engage with the public again. He’d been a solitary soul for a very long time and it was good to hear that he was not afraid of going outside of his chambers.

 

When she got there she found that Celebrian had company this day and it was Lady Galadriel. And she seemed to be glowing. Well, whatever the cause, she seemed to be in very high spirits. In fact, so was Celebrian. Vallis was glad they seemed happy, but she was there to see if Maglor was there and soon enough she began to hear the harp start up in the sitting room and she was pleased to hear that it was a happy tune. Beautiful and upbeat. He really was quite gifted!

 

“Have you come to check up on our Maglor?” Celebrian asked.

 

“Yes. Have you noticed a difference in his temperament?”

 

“Yes. While he’s probably not ever going to have a sunny disposition, he is much better than he was before. I’m hopeful that he’ll get better with time.” Galadriel said with relief.

 

“It’s possible that I have to do additional healings on him. He was actually pretty damaged and had been living with a lot of improperly knitted bones and other injuries that have been with him for a very long time.”

 

“Well! Before you go and play healer with our Maglor we have some news for you. Both mother and I are with child! Isn’t that wonderful?” Celebrian exclaimed happily, and then giggled when Vallis’ eyes widened in shock and then a look of happiness lit up her features. These ladies would probably never understand how important children were to her. Their news was genuinely welcome to her.

 

“Oh that’s wonderful. You’ll have to forgive me. I don’t have that sight you elves have were you can all “see” that you have been blessed. So do you both already know the gender of your little bundles of joy?” she smiled.

 

“Gender?” Celebrian asked, confused.

 

“Sex. Are you having a boy or girl. Or should I say ellon or ellith?”

 

“Well, we are both having twins. I am carrying both an ellon and ellith and Celebrian is carrying identical twin ellyth. Which somehow seems fitting to me. Elladan and Elrohir will now have company in their sisters.” Galadriel chuckled.

 

“Oh that is wonderful. Congratulations! Both of you! And yes, my sons especially have been smitten by their little sisters.” and then leaning in conspiratorially, “I think it was their arrival that lit a fire under them to finally become betrothed to Finyanis and Finwien.”

 

“I have to admit that I can no more tell the daughters of Uncle Finrod apart than I can tell your sons apart. They look so much alike.” Celebrian said apologetically.

 

“Hmm. I wonder what it says about me that I’ve always been able to tell them apart. The same with your sons. And I don’t have your elven sight to aid me. But even if you can’t tell them apart I can at least tell you that Mírphen is betrothed to Finwien and Mírchil is betrothed to Finyanis. They will wed in about eight months, so you might as well stay until that wedding as well before you make your move to Thargelion. It will also give me a chance to monitor Magor to be sure he is healing properly.”

 

“They plan to wed at the same time? They don’t want a separate wedding?” Galadriel asked.

 

“Yes. I think it must be a twin-thing since all four of them are adamant about that. I also know they have already picked out their chamber suites and they will