Title: Chance Encounters
Chapter: 1 of 1
Status: 1 completed
Author: Nerwen Telrúnya/Erin
Author’s Email: email@example.com
Pairing: none (Thranduil, Glorfindel, Terrance)
Terrance © Jenn. All characterizations product of authors. Based on the characterizations and story by Tolkien.
Thranduil slipped on his riding attire. His father had just given him permission to travel to Lindon, to formally meet and observe the high King, Gil-Galad, for one cycle of the moon. The time it took to cross the mountains separating both kingdoms, not included. Nevertheless, this would be the farthest he had ever been from his home in Greenwood the Great since their departure from Lindon when his father wished to create a land of his own. It made him eager for the experience and anxious to get the journey west underway.
His father did not permit him to do much traveling, fearing for the safety of his only son and heir, but Thranduil was too much of a free spirit to be contained in such a way. Thranduil asked for this privilege true, but if his father Oropher had said no, he would have left without permission. At least this way, Oropher could send someone with him. Thranduil refused to have a heavy guard placed upon him and insisted that Terrance, his personal guard, to be the only one to accompany him.
They set out early on the first day of the new moon and trekked through the gnarled confines of Greenwood the Great, the loss of its familiarity striking as the sun broke out through the storms battering against the mountainsides. At night they huddled together against the alcoves of broken stone and a small fire for the horses, shielding themselves from the icy breath of Arda.
Passing over the Misty Mountains proved a treat as they broke over to the side where the orange glow of sunlight was beginning to burn at the edges of the snowy gray of early spring. Thranduil had only heard of the sights of Spring on the other side of the mountain, but Terrance had seen the glow of green that could only be appreciated from the top of Mount Gundadad. Leaving the High Pass, they broke out of the Mountain range and began their journey through the tall trees that littered the area but barely shaded their way.
Thranduil was in awe at the sights his eyes now beheld, so different from the dense forest he lived in. The trees among him were tall and there was no thick canopy to shield him from the sun. This forced him to keep his cloak over his vulnerable, pale skin. All his years in Greenwood had made adapting to the brighter half of the mountains, awkward.
Reaching another set of denser trees, Thranduil scratched at his neck and arms where the gray fox fur cloak created a heat that was almost unbearable. It was one thing to wear it out of protection from the cold, but the sun was baking him alive. He almost wished that he were the foxes that made up his coat, so that he could shed his fur for the spring.
Terrance had them stop close to the border, although they could press on, Thranduil was growing weary. It wouldn’t do them well to greet the high king exhausted. So to save the young prince from admitting it, Terrance decided for them to set up camp. Thranduil was still enthralled with the sights, he obviously wanted to see more of the land he was in and was not quite ready to give in to his fatigue as of yet. He gave a slightly impish smile and while Terrance was busying himself with unpacking, he slipped off his fur cloak and ventured away from the campsite. He was naturally curious and intended to see this new land for what it was worth.
He came to a small clearing still shaded by the trees enough to not expose him too much. He gave a contented sigh; he could breath easier without the heavy cloak as he sat unlacing his leather boot’s and removing his tights to allow his feet to feel the cool green grass beneath his toes. He smiled as he took off his embroidered cloak simply leaving him in his green moss colored leggings and white under-tunic he unlaced down the front.
He undid his ceremonial braids and let his hair hang loose, it almost reaching his waist. Thranduil took a deep breath and ran, it all felt so wonderful, the fresh air, the cool ground, the warm sun, so new and exciting - it tantalized his senses. He saw a small stream off in the distance and ran toward it, jumping straight into the water; it’s chill making him gasp although he smiled, enjoying the pleasure of forgetting his status as he played in the water like a child.
Down a ways from Thranduil, another figure was wading in the water, his breeches soaked and torso exposed to the late afternoon sun. He was Glorfindel; sweat soaked and flushed from a day of old habits and silence. Today was a day he left the patrolling of the borders of the home that called him ward, to the elves of Gil-Galad. This time off was full of training, a necessity that had become habit after years of fighting in the Gondolin army – and building. All he had was the circling cottage built up amongst the tall trees. It was his silent company, and it filled a small crater in the hole of what was his obliterated kin.
For such a trained warrior, it took a moment for Glorfindel to notice the unusual splashing from up the river. Being alone, after such a long time, he was in the stage of thinking most of the sounds around him where all natural. The noises made by the animals, weather, and other elves from the city, were barely noticeable now – but the splashing was wilder than anything that usually wandered across it.
This made the elder elf pause to study the figure down the stream, his body steady and careful so that he hardly disturb the water or the world around him, as he went for his sheath and buckled it back around his waist.
With it drawn, he slipped up the bank of the slow river to find it was only a young elf enjoying the sudden return of Spring. He sheathed his sword, and crossed his arms, taking his place amongst the trees.
Glorfindel’s voice was gruff from negligence of using it, the small smirk of amusement heard in every word. “You must be from beyond our borders to be trespassing along my home’s part of the river.”
Thranduil stopped his playful antics and looked up at the owner of the voice. He raised his eyebrow with interest at the foreign elf on the shore. His softly bronzed skin and platinum blonde hair made him unlike anyone from Greenwood. Thranduil caught a splash of blue from the elf’s eyes as the sun broke through the leaves, light showing off his lack of clothes. He was quite the sight for inexperienced eyes.
Thranduil simply gave a smile in return.
“How is it you can own a river – and only a part of it nonetheless? Am I getting that if I move further downstream I am allowed to stay? Do you wish me to leave?” He asked.
Glorfindel frowned in concentration, looking the boy over as he realized he wasn’t from Lindon at all. He stepped out of the shadows and stood out in the full sunshine, getting a better view. He wasn’t used to visitors, especially ones from outside of the city. After the fall of his people, the High king had given him a plot of land close to the border so such incidences were rare. The youth’s sudden presence was welcoming though, and Glorfindel took in a deep breath to calm his nerves to the newness of company.
“No, I will not force you to leave. I am simply an aged elf unused to the sudden company of visitors. Enjoy these calmer waters as long as you like.” He chuckled, his youthful laughter not sounding at all like an elf his age. “You are not from these woods I take it. Your pale skin burning in the summer light, your hair is Golden like man’s wheat, and your azure eyes lack the crinkle of squinting. You are far over the mountain, if I do say so myself.”
Thranduil nodded his head in greeting. “Greenwood The Great…”
He neared the shored and ducked under the branches of a nearby tree to shade himself the best he could. His need for a cloak was even greater now, but the moist, Spring heat still made it even unbearable to think of such things.
“And you? You do not share the darker features of your Noldorian kin from this region. Are you a traveler of Lothlorien, or even Gondoloin…?” Thranduil’s question trailed to a halt at the flinch of guilt that rushed over the other elf’s face. “Kin of Gondoloin, a rarity. My condolences.”
Glorfindel nodded, “I am called Glorfindel. I am ward and warrior to the High King Gil-Galad.”
Thranduil’s eyes went wide. “Lord of the House of the Golden Flower.” He breathed, barely aware that he should bow in honor of a legend – and the elf was just that, a legend. Everyone knew of the great warrior Glorfindel, who bravely faced a Barlog out of retribution for his lost kin and was honored by Mandos with a new life after his sacrifice.
Seeing the elder now relieved a small innocent part of Thranduil that wished that Glorfindel was not the myth many thought him to be - an elven tale. Now he was real. His conquests were real.
Thranduil smiled up at the living legend. “It is good to know, that in this world, heroes exist.”
As if the sun was blotted out of the sky by clouds, Glorfindel’s mood darkened and he turned away from the young elf to head back towards his talan. “I am no hero.”
As Glorfindel headed up the bank, Thranduil hurried after him.
“But you gave your life for your people! What higher price could a person have paid? If Mandos had thought you to not be a hero, then why would he have returned you to the world?” He caught up and caught the other elf’s hand, but only briefly, to slow him.
Glorfindel slowed, glancing back at Thranduil with a blank expression.
Thranduil pressed on. “I am sure it is because a warrior of your heart and spirit still has much to give to this world. You need only to find your place in this world once again.”
The elder was silent for much longer than the younger elf expected him to be, his light blue eyes studying his in such a way that Thranduil could not tell what he might be thinking.
It felt as though the world around them was holding its breath, the quiet wood waiting for the weight on the words between them to lift.
It was sudden, but a smile twitched at the edge of Glorfindel’s lips, causing everything around them to breath out and return to their normality.
“You are wise beyond your years, elfling.” With that, the elder elf started back up towards his talan, but motioned for Thranduil to follow. “Come, you can tell your kin that you were an honored guest in the last House of the Golden Flower.”
Thranduil beamed, his face lighting up, he was obviously honored to be invited as he sped up to stand next to Glorfindel. They walked slowly as they made their way, Thranduil taking in everything around him; this truly was a beautiful spot that Glorfindel lived within. He guessed that it was simply the fact he was the last of Gondoloin and thus he was honored, given this land by the high king so Glorfindel must be held in high esteem as well.
“Enjoying the scenery?” Glorfindel’s voice broke Thranduil’s thoughts.
“It’s beautiful…” Thranduil said taking another glance around. “Greenwood’s forest is so dense it blocks much of the sun, everything here is so bright and vibrant.” Thranduil said.
“Like you.” Glorfindel said before he realized it. “The way you look.” He quickly added. “Your hair is not sun bleached, it’s a bright gold, and your eyes are quite a vivid blue…they contrast quite dramatically with your pale complexion it makes you brilliant.
Thranduil smiled in thanks. “My father says the same thing, he’s told me I am much like my mother in appearance and personality…” Thranduil stopped as he looked up to the large talan in the treetops. “This is your home? You live among the trees?” He asked a childlike wonder in his voice.
Glorfindel nodded as he approached the tree and climbed the ladder that lead up to the talan. Before Thranduil could follow, a small set of stairs, hidden under the first floor landing, quickly came down. It became obvious immediately that the elder elf was still keen on unexpected company having a hard time getting up into his Talan, but when there was a need, guests would not have to suffer a climb. Even with that, the stairs looked well worn from hours of materials and weight moving up and down it. There were still chips of wood and dirt covering its skillfully carved boards.
Thranduil hesitated and Glorfindel noticed.
“I assure you, it is quite safe.” Coming down onto the stairs, the other elf looked up at the first landing, it’s well crafted wood curving and circling around the thickest tree in that part of the wood. “I understand that it might look a bit daunting for one who’s trees hang closer to the ground.”
Glorfindel held out his hand to Thranduil but there was no pity or amusement behind his blue eyes. He genuinely wanted the young elf to feel welcomed and safe.
Thranduil slowly took Glorfindel’s hand as he was lead onto the stairs, he trusted Glorfindel enough but he was not a child who loved climbing trees and such. More or less he feared heights making him grip Glorfindel’s hand tightly, as if he would fall at any given moment should he let go. Even when they were safely upon the landing, Thranduil still held onto Glorfindel’s hand.
Now amusement filled Glorfindel’s features, but there was no malice in his soft chuckle. It had been many, many ages since anyone had held his hand as tightly or as urgently. They continued up to the second landing, and then the third, passing small spaces with various purposes, but Thranduil kept being guided right up to the top of the tree it seemed.
By the time they reached the fourth landing, they could see much of the river cutting through the landscape, and over many of the trees. It was the perfect view to watch both sun set and sun rise.
Glorfindel pulled away from Thranduil, leaving him in the open doorway of the talan to see how easily the outside flowed into and through the elf’s home. It still seemed as though they were standing outside, but in truth, the circle of space before Thranduil could, at any moment, close it’s self off to the world, but still hold its beauty. Everything that had not been brought in from other parts of Arda were made from white wood that had been smoothed and finished with such great care that even the simplest shelf still held some sort of design. Most of the furniture had ends that curved down into spirals, iron periodically showing up whenever certain pieces needed to connect or have strong beams of support. It wasn’t at all the home of just a warrior. It was the home of an elf that had time to spare with detail.
Somewhere off in a space alcove with smoothed wood and formed around the limbs of the tree the talan was built around, a cork popped and goblets clanked just before Glorfindel appeared out of nowhere, welcoming Thranduil in with a cup of red wine.
Motioning towards the chairs closest to where Thranduil stood, Glorfindel waited for him to follow his lead. “Come and sit with me. This wine is only for guests – so I would hate for it to go to waste. You still have not told me your name or why you have come to Lindon.”
Thranduil frowned for a moment before taking the offered cup and sitting down with him. “Thranduil.” He answered simply. It was no wonder that Glorfindel didn’t know who he was. Thranduil was the young son of a King and was often referred to as such so for Glorfindel to not recognize him, or his name, didn’t offend or surprise Thranduil. Honestly he preferred others not to know who he was. “I am here to learn, to travel as well.” Thranduil said. It was true everything thus far was a learning experience as well as meeting the High King, but he could leave that part out.
The older elf nodded, taking a sip of wine. “As all young elves should. To think how wise you have become just by simply crossing over a mountain.” He smiled, a little laugh pulling at the edge of his lips without teasing Thranduil. “When you cross Arda, you will be as wise the great wizard Gandalf.”
Glorfindel stood, circling the chairs with the air of someone trying to think. “Have you met with my lord, King Gil-Galad? If you have not, I believe it wise to do so – as well as acquiring a guide.” He paused, and looked over at the young elf. “I would not usually offer such a favor freely, but if you are willing I could be your guide if you so wish it.”
Thranduil smiled. “I appreciate your offer, but I did not come unescorted. Also I do intend to meet the high king.
Glorfindel’s eyebrows twitched up with interest. “Oh? Who escorts you? Either you are very skillful at sneaking away from him or he is not as good an escort as your charges believe him to be.”
“He is probably looking for me as we speak, and do not doubt, he will be none-to-pleased that I ventured off without him. Consequently, he should be used to it by now.” Said Thranduil. “His name is Terrance.”
The name struck the other elf as familiar, but only momentarily, as he couldn’t place the name. “Ah, I take it you regularly keep your escorts on their toes. Again, as all good, intelligent elves should. One cannot let his peers slack and grow too comfortable.” Glorfindel smiled again, but this time lost in thought. “That name, it has a ring of familiarity to it. Though I cannot place it.”
Thranduil chuckled softly. “I usually delight in torturing my father instead of Terrance. My father believes my time is better spent in study. I disagree. I believe there are only so many things one can learn inside of a room.”
“I agree…” Glorfindel began, but Thranduil continued without notice.
“Take you, for instance. Your legends are pressed between pages, but they do not tell who are, but only of what you’ve done. I would not think you to be solitary, but I understand why you are.”
Any humor that had once been, died and Glorfindel set down his wine to turn his full attention to the younger elf. “I have lived longer than any elf in your kingdom, how is that you can understand why I chose this life of solitude?”
“You lost everyone. You don’t have to be alone, but you choose to be. Getting close to others means possibly losing them again. You killed the barlog, but you still feel as if you lost.” Thranduil paused. “Do you feel as if Mandos denied you? Did you want to die? Do you view the blessing of life more of a curse?”
Glorfindel sighed, his true age briefly showing through his youthful elven features. It was a question few had the courage to ask. It was one that no one, except for himself, had any heart to admit. Dying for Gondoloin had been his goal after losing it and all of his kin, but only if he could take the Balrog with him. Despite all the good he could do while alive, as Mandos had told him, the gift of life had been less of honor and more of a penance. To survive all that he had loved and cared for. To not die in battle as he had planned. Did he really deserve the punishment of living, as it seemed, forever?
“To question Namo of one’s destiny is foolish, but to not grant a battle worn warrior release… It seems cruel. I can only relieve such thoughts with hope that one day there be a task that only I myself must undertake to do great service to Arda and all who live on her soil. There will come a day when I am finally allowed rest, so that I may return to my kin with honor.”
“True…but this honor you speak of has already been won, you have already given Arda her due service and have done so valiantly, has it occurred to you that maybe you were sent back not to give Arda something but possibly to give yourself something. It is possible Mandos thought it cruel to let you leave this world without ever fully experiencing happiness again…” Thranduil gave him a soft smile. “This life is yours to do with as you please, but I do hope you do not waste it in solitude, reflection and time away is one choice…but isolation is another. I would hate to know that you, who has so much yet to give, would prefer such a lonely life.” Thranduil took a sip of his wine before standing up.
Glorfindel looked across the space between them and nodded, ignoring his wine for his thoughts. His face had a strange mixture of realization and confusion in it, as if it had never occurred to him that his destiny might not be for the people of Arda, but for himself. A selfless action for a seemingly selfish reward. It might be that someone so young seeing through him so easily was just as jarring as well.
“Although I would like to stay, I think I have tortured my escort long enough and it’s due time I return to him. I hope you think about what I said Glorfindel, Arda’s honor has been satisfied, I believe you should honor yourself now, there can be no greater praise then for her to know one of her beloved children is happy once more.”
Nodding silently, Glorfindel rose from his seat and rounded the sitting area, as if looking for something. Thranduil eyed him for a moment only to realize his host was trying to find a parting gift. Even with all his previous talk of being selfish, he knew the older man would find it hard to break the habit.
Taking Glorfindel’s shoulder, Thranduil stopped his search and pressed a ring into his palm. “Don’t trouble yourself with a parting gift, you have given me the pleasure of your company and that will do…for now.” Thranduil said with a soft smile. “If you will though help me down I would appreciate that.” He said unsure of how the mechanics of the staircase worked.
A small smile graced Glorfindel’s lips before he tucked the ring into a satchel on his belt and escorted the young elf out onto the stairs. Twilight was meeting the horizon as they slowly descended the stairs, taking their time so Thranduil felt comfortable. As they reached the bottom of the tree, a figure making their way across the clearing caused the elder elf to discreetly place his hand on the hilt of his sword.
“I see my side of the river is teeming with visitors today.” Glorfindel said loudly so that whoever neared could hear him.
Terrance couldn’t suppress a sigh of relief on seeing Thranduil, although he shook his head at him disapprovingly with the smirk the young prince was wearing.
“Quite proud of yourself for eluding me for so long I take it?” Terrance said as he approached them pleased to see that Glorfindel released the hilt of his sword. “I should attach a bell around your neck so you couldn’t run too far from me.” He added.
“Really? Where would the fun in that be? I was just discussing with Glorfindel how it is somewhat of a good training exercise to keep you on your toes.” Thranduil said with a smile.
Terrance turned his eyes to Glorfindel a moment. Almost everyone had heard the legendary story of this elf and few had the pleasure of meeting him although Terrance was not exactly pleased that this was where Thranduil had run off to, if anything he was actually quite irritated at this elf and a slightly threatened by his presence although he kept that to himself.
“We should return to camp, we need to depart early tomorrow if we are to greet the King in due time.” Terrance said. “Say your goodbyes.” He said simply.
“It’s not a habit of mine to invite strangers into my home, but I would be honored to have you stay here if you are visiting with the king.” He gave a small bow out of respect, trying to break the ice he could see forming between them.
Terrance didn’t return the bow, he didn’t feel the need to. “I decline your invitation, we need to return to our camp.” He said turning his attention to Thranduil although shooting a warning glance at Glorfindel before he did.
Thranduil glance warily at Terrance it was odd to see his guard so tense and defensive with someone he had just met, and so openly disrespectful he had never seen Terrance behave in such a way before so Thranduil thought it best he did leave. “We should be taking our leave now, it was a pleasure.” Thranduil said going to stand beside Terrance who placed a protective hand upon his shoulder.
Glorfindel nodded quietly, stepping back and smiling to keep the peace. “I hope you are safe during your journeys and pass by my home again. Thank you for the enlightening conversation, Thranduil. You are wise beyond your years.” Bowing again towards only Thranduil, he started towards his home, eying the darkening sky as if to ask someone beyond a calming question.
Winding up the tree, he pulled the ring from his satchel and palmed it, feeling the smooth mithril surface framing a small square emerald stone. By the time he reached his home in the tallest of branches, his new acquaintance and his keeper were far out of sight, having already disappeared into the forest below.
The wind in the leaves lulled him into a calm that had once been at arms length only moments earlier, a bigger hole where one had already formed. The silence was saddening, causing him to grip the ring tightly. Too small for his fingers he realized, but just right to rest in the hollow of his throat.
Studying the emerald gem, he thought of Lindon and the span of time he had been missing from it. Thranduil’s words inspired in him thoughts that he had long forgotten he had.
It would take time, but he knew that some paths needed reconsideration. Sometimes it took a different pair of eyes to see the answers to questions unsaid.