Glorfindel was having a very bad day.
Actually, he'd been having a very bad month. Which had been preceded by a rather bad year.
See, Glorfindel thought sourly as he sat in the overflowing marketplace, if I ever do you another favor, Elrond Peredhil! This is utterly ridiculous, and I have had my fill!
Of course, he did not truly mean the cruel thoughts, and he was sure, upon reflection, that he would take them back ere the next day. After all, Elrond had asked him to seek out Gandalf the White, and it was not a task to be taken lightly, or lightly to be thrown aside. However, at the moment Glorfindel was not in a particularly charitable mood, and the myriad of dark-skinned, dark-haired faces around him, speaking in a language he only half-understood, and generally making him feel as if he stuck out like a sore thumb, was not helping matters.
He was stranded in a marketplace in the middle of Bangladesh.
Perhaps 'stranded' wasn't the right word; Glorfindel had more than enough assets to travel anywhere in the world and live comfortably for several human lifetimes, and the money was only ever a phone call (although phones were, in Glorfindel's opinion, highly overrated) or a credit card (imagine, a piece of plastic worth more than gold!) away. Better instead to say that he was lost.
And again, maybe 'lost' wasn't the right word either, because Glorfindel knew exactly where he was in relation to his hotel. It would take a lot to trip up an Elf's sense of direction. But he could not, at the moment, think of a single word with which to sum up his situation. He closed his eyes and ran long, lithe fingers through the golden waves of hair and finally gave in to the growing urge to buy an apple to eat.
He was here on information regarding Mithrandir.
This was a rare and precious gift to Glorfindel, who had dedicated the past year of his eternal life to locating the White Wizard. He had, quite literally, traveled the entire world over in his search so far, but much of his work had been virtually blind; Gandalf had carefully hidden his tracks – if he left any in the first place! – and what little Glorfindel found seemed to leave him weeks and even months behind the Istar. The Elf was no longer even certain he was following the right path; today's supposed 'information' had led him to an old fortune-teller who had informed Glorfindel in no uncertain terms he would find love today, and could he please have his fee now? (Purely out of pity, Glorfindel had paid double the fee.)
It did not help that Mithrandir's power was unbarred by higher forces; there were no higher forces to so bar him. The very thought pained the golden-haired Elf, and he was forced to turn his mind away from the matter with a grimace. But still, the effect remained; the Maia called Olórin could choose any form that he so wished, when he wished it, and it made Glorfindel's business doubly hard.
It came down to this: Olórin did not want to be found. Again and again Glorfindel came up against this hard truth until he wanted to be quite un-Elven and scream. Why? Glorfindel again demanded silently as he pushed his way slowly through the crowds, taking a bite of his apple. What reason could Mithrandir have for hiding himself at such a time? He is no fool; he does not play games.
But when the Dark Lord threatened in the Third Age, even those of us counted among the Wise could not see the traitor in our midst; we could not see the nature of the threat that lay upon Mirkwood. Does he truly know how closely the danger presses? And a darker fear pressed at Glorfindel's heart; does Olórin know the depth of this evil? For he could not suppress the terrifying sense that this evil was greater than that which he had once faced alongside his eternal friend Lord Elrond …
"Ai, Mithrandir!" Glorfindel lamented under his breath, fingering his half-eaten apple and offering it to a goat, who happily took the treat. "Come back to us! We have need of your wisdom!"
The possibility that something more sinister lay behind Gandalf's disappearance never crossed his mind at that time.
Indeed, such a prospect did not bear thinking about.
* * *
Legolas was braiding his hair.
It is strange, Legolas decided, to be braiding hair cut off above my mid-back. Always Legolas had kept his hair long, but he let it grow longer at some times than he did others; not long ago he had decided to cut his hair nearly to his shoulders, and even now it barely brushed the middle of his shoulder-blades.
He had not braided his hair for nearly eighty years, as in day to day life there was no need for such formalities; now, going to see Lord Elrond, he felt it only appropriate. But eighty years was no more than a blink in his 17,000 year life span, and his fingers had not yet forgotten the traditional patterns.
Quickly the locks took form; the woodland Elf deftly wove the tiny locks of hair at his ear into a growing, intertwining rope that seemed to disappear into the rest of his fair hair, and then repeated the same effortless procedure on the hair at his other ear. Finally, he swept back his hair from his eyes and drew the topmost of the locks together at the back of his head, before he began a rather more complicated braid that kept the swept-back hair pulled away from his face. He used only one tie to keep the thick and complicated braid from unraveling (incidentally, an elastic band; Legolas and Elladan had spent a good deal of the evening before discussing at length the merits of such elastic products).
He looked at himself in the airplane bathroom's mirror and nearly laughed at the irony he had almost forgotten; the Elf that looked back at him wore a modern dark blue sweater, black dress slacks, dress shoes – and the braids of a ranking warrior of the Greenwood realm.
Some traditions simply never ended.
"Yes?" Not startled at all by the approach of Elladan, Legolas turned to the half-Elf and was somewhat amused to find him with his long hair looped together much as Elrond himself arranged his hair, albeit less complicated; it was as much a signal of his rank as Legolas' braids. Does Lord Elrond take offense at Elrohir's shorn hair because he cannot fashion it in the traditional way? He wondered idly.
"We have to take our seats. They are preparing to land."
Legolas nodded his assent and relinquished the first-class restroom, but he could not help noting that Elladan looked rather pale as half-Elves went … "You are well, Elladan?"
Elladan grinned ruefully at Legolas. "As well as can be expected, considering the excessive drink I consumed last night." He rubbed his temple. "It is only a slight headache as Men would count it, but ai! How long has it been since I consumed so much alcohol?"
"Too long, I am sure," Legolas laughed, unable to find it within himself to properly sympathize. As an Elf heavy drink seemed to only make him drowsy, and Legolas had never suffered through a hangover. But Elladan and Elrohir had never quite shaken off that unfortunate aspect of their mortal blood. "Perhaps you should take some aspirin."
"I have. 'I cannot compete with either of you when it comes to drinking', ha!" Elladan gave Legolas a less than amused look. "You could have kept drinking long into the night, I suspect, and would still be as chipper as you were when you retrieved us in the morning for the trip to the airport!"
"Nay, Elladan, I was nearly to the point of collapse when you and Elrohir finally declared the contest at an end. Although you may not properly recall such," Legolas allowed, taking his seat next to the slumbering Elrohir. "We were all quite tipsy."
"Yes, and some of us more tipsy than others," Elladan grumbled, but he smiled as he spoke. "Are you ready to meet with our father, Legolas?"
"How can I be ready for that which I know nothing about?" Legolas replied soberly, the heavy mantle of approaching danger settling again on his shoulders. "I am afraid, Elladan."
"You do not bear that fear alone," Elladan matched Legolas' somber mood. "We all feel what is to come. But are your affairs in order, 'Lawrence'? You may not come back to Norfolk for some time."
"I expected not," Legolas murmured in acknowledgement. "Yes, all is in order; I quit my job and left the apartment plants in the care of my neighbor. The rent is now paid two years in advance; the landlord was pleasantly surprised!" He smiled slightly. "I left a message with Captain Jason, a man whose boat was under my charge. I suspect poor Jason will be worried at this sudden turn of events. We have known each other now for six years, and for me to leave suddenly without preamble will upset him."
"Does it upset you?" Elladan asked, sensing Legolas' disappointment.
"It does," Legolas nodded. "He is my friend, Elladan, even though he thinks himself thirty years older than me and my mentor." He gazed at his hands in his lap. "It is hard to make friends with Men who pass on so quickly, but they are a different sort of company than Elves. I would miss Men were they gone, even as I still miss Gimli and Aragorn … nay, the whole of the Fellowship."
"Which is why you must leave your friends in Norfolk," Elladan urged. "It is for all Men that we ask you to come with us."
"And it is why I have agreed to come," Legolas returned. "The shadow is darker than it ever was before; I know it just as well as you." And with that, Legolas laid his head back and closed his eyes thoughtfully, while the airline television droned on about the escalating tension in the Middle East.
* * *
The man on the screen was handsome as Men would count it; dark-haired, blue-eyed, tall, and broad-shouldered, his proportions were ideal, and his smile was generous and kind. He had even been called the most eligible bachelor in Washington, D.C., and had he wished it, he could have had a myriad of women on his arm at any moment, such was his charm.
"Sabaoth Molan, advisor to the President, had this to say regarding the continuing threat from Iraq," continued the newscaster before they cut to the handsome man's press conference.
"It is clear that the potential of a chemical or biological attack from Sadaam Hussien grows daily!" he said vehemently. "We must act quickly; we cannot give him the chance to make the first strike. The President will not allow American lives to be put at risk!"
"Them's fightin' words," laughed the newscaster in a poor attempt to lighten the mood of the news.
"Indeed they are," grumbled the man in front of the television from where he lay on his hotel bed in Rome, Italy, stroking his short silver beard. "And cruel, as well! Does he seek to provoke Iraq to attack?"
The silver-haired man could not allow this to happen. Not when he was so close to understanding what had gone wrong all those many millenia before and why the world had not slipped into eternal, peaceful slumber as it had been meant to. Not when so much was at stake; not when such a great evil was about to be unleashed into the world.
"I am sorry, Glorfindel, but your chance to find me must be delayed a little longer," murmured Olórin as he picked up his phone to make the necessary arrangements.
* * *
Author's Notes: Glorfindel really isn't shown in his best light, here, which is why I'm looking forward to a few memories and a few more formal scenes, so we can see why Glorfindel is counted among the Wise. The events he's referencing regarding the Third Age of Middle-Earth are talked about by Gandalf and mentioned in the Appendices; Saruman was a traitor long before Gandalf was locked up in his tower, and Dol Guldur, located in the southern part of Mirkwood/Greenwood/Eryn Lasgalen, was the place where Sauron regenerated and began to regather his forces.
Okay, okay, the braid thing is completely a movie fabrication, but it's one that has a lot of fanfic potential. =P Elves seem to have a sort of conceit regarding their hair (Tolkien makes a point about it several times, not the least of which is Galadriel's locks of hair for Gimli, and her refusal to give even one lock of hair to Feänor). I don't think it's too far a stretch to assume that their hair would be used to indicate roles in life, or rank to some degree. Hence Legolas' braids are a symbol of his warrior status …
And the 'drink makes Elves drowsy' thing is from The Hobbit. When the Elven keeper of the cellars gets into the fine wine, he gets tipsy and falls asleep … but he doesn't seem to suffer any severe aftereffects except affronted pride. =P
Let me quickly reiterate that all political action in this story, while based on actual current events, is NOT a political or religious commentary. It can be attributed to Evil at Work™.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.