Tales from the Great Wood: Blood Brothers: 1. Gwanuriar

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1. Gwanuriar

Author's Note:
This is the first of a collection of short stories. Please enjoy yourself and immerse yourself in the world of the little prince!

Rated PG. Do advise me if you feel it is inappropriate.

*******

"Arise, Your Highness! Wake up!" The little boy was shaken awake by somebody pulling at his duvet.

The little prince opened his eyes. They were still shrouded with sleep. He was not yet old enough to sleep in the manner of his kind, and required a lot of rest. Being roused so early in the morning did not appeal to him.

"Why are you waking me up?" He demanded haughtily of the servant that had interrupted his pleasant dreams.

"My apologies, Your Highness, but His Majesty has called for you!"

"But it is so early!" he grumbled, as he fought to get out from under the luxurious beddings. Little arms and legs flailed helplessly for a moment before the servant rushed forward to attend to him.

He was given a quick and thorough washing-up before fresh clothes were put on. He pulled his favourite tunic. It was a miniature version of a Hunter's garb. Green and brown, it helped him blend in with the surroundings, and served him well in his daily adventures and misdemeanours. He shunned the usual garments that the royals usually wore, preferring to insist that his tastes be catered to, specific as they were.

A breakfast of fruit and wheat bread was hastily eaten. The servant hurried him at every step, and he was whisked out of his chambers, into the corridor, and down along the way to the king's quarters. He was now old enough now to sleep on his own, a transition made recently, and he was happier for it. He did not need to have a minder running after him with every step he took.

The younger boy of King Thranduil was anything but pampered and soft. Being used to getting his own way did not make him a weakling. A demonstration of this very fact had just occurred the night before when he had refused an attempt to get him to discard the Hunter's garments for something more stately. Something worthy of a prince. His shouts rang through the palace, and it was only when allowed to continue as he pleased had he ceased his sobbing.

He was wilful, yes, but there was much love in the little Elf as well, as demonstrated in his close and curious affinity with the amar. Seeds sprang into little saplings at his very touch. Birds landed on his outstretched hands without fear.

Now, as he ventured down the hallways of the palace, with a drag to his feet, his mind had already started churning, planning to take leave of his father and servants as soon as possible. He hated being a prince. It meant that he could not wander around as he liked. He often watched birds flying, admiring their freedom. Being a prince came with its own shackles. Even though he was only eight, he knew in his heart that it was not the life that he wanted.

He entered the throne room, face in a half-scowl. It was early in the morning still, and he had not received much sleep the night before, having been up building yet more birdhouses and playing with his animal friends in the privacy of his own room. Knowing the consequences if found out, he did not complain about the early hour.

Thranduil looked up as the little boy entered in. Frowning as he saw the ordinary clothes his son wore.

"maer aur, adar," the greeting was cheeky and the sulk left his face as he saw his father's displeasure with his outfit.

"Legolas, how many times did I have to tell you to put on your proper garments? A Sindarin prince does not walk around wearing ordinary Hunter's clothes!"

The little prince frowned and started, "Why do I have to dress as somebody I do not want to be? I wish not to be a prince!"

Thranduil sighed. He was fighting a losing battle to tame his son. The boy was deviating from his role in life by the day. Wild horses would not drag him back when he set out to do something.

"How is life now that you have moved out of the nursery?" his voice was now gentle and fatherly, gazing at the determined figure that stood before him.

"I have not had such fun my whole life!"

Thranduil smiled tenderly at the little figure. The boy was standing ramrod straight. Arms slightly bent at the sides of his body. A stance of a hunter. Always ready.

"I have called for you, as it would be your ninth birthday soon. It is usually at this age that an Elf has been considered passed out of infancy."

"I am aware of that, Father. And am looking forward to being left to do whatever I want!" flashing a grin at the ruler, his face lighted up as he contemplated the possibilities.

"Ai, nin hen. Think not that greater freedom comes with age. An understanding of this would come soon enough."

The boy stamped his foot impatiently. "Am I not a prince, and therefore free to do as I please? Is that not so?"

"Nay, my son. Being a Sindarin prince brings with it many responsibilities. Do not be fooled by the splendour and apparent comfort that you see around you. Enough of that however, I did not send for you to lecture on this. I have asked for you, as you will from now on have your own personal servant."

The little prince looked up. His interest was piqued. It was the tradition among the royals to be given a personal servant when they came of age. The servant would shadow him closely, and take care of all his needs. He was unsure if that was a good thing, however, for if given one who reported every misdeed that he did back to his father, would be to get him in a lot of trouble. A servant who did not share his interests would be a bore and burden.

A pout worked his way up to the little Elf's lips.

Thranduil quickly called for his Home Guard to send in the servant before a full-grown tantrum wormed its way into the little prince.

Legolas stopped stewing the instant he saw the other Elf walk in. He was shocked into silence. The Elf was a boy like him!

The servant-boy walked hesitantly up to Legolas. His head was a shock of strawberry-blond hair and wide, grey eyes that were watery and a little clouded stared up at his new master. A look of extreme apprehension was on his face. Thin and wiry, he looked half-starved. His frame was very lean, and was shorter than the Elven prince himself.

"Father!" Legolas began, turning towards the ruler.

"His name is Esendri. His father used to serve me. He shall, from now on, be your personal servant."

"But he is a boy!"

"A very special boy, for he was conceived on the same day as you. An occurrence that happens as rarely as the Valar descend down upon Middle-Earth. It is such that we have decided to let him be your servant."

Legolas looked back at the servant, eyes sweeping across the pathetic figure once more. He sighed exaggeratedly. "Ai, I suppose he would be my servant then! Come with me, Esendri. I would like to show you my room!"

He bowed low and took leave of his father. The little Elf trotted behind him obediently and was led back to the quarters of the little prince. Legolas struck up a single-sided conversation along the way, chattering about everything. The weather, the trees, the moon, the stars.

Once within his chambers, the little prince threw himself onto his bed. The servant stood in the middle of the room, nervously examining his surroundings.

"I am sorry if I sounded rude! I do it to annoy my father. Do not think anything of it!"

To his greatest dismay, the other Elf burst into noisy tears.

Legolas leapt up, and rushed over to the little boy.

"Please, cry not! It was not my intention to be mean!" for the first time this morning, the Elven prince was flustered, and had no idea what to do.

Esendri doubled the volume of his sobs, and was soon brawling at the top of his lungs. Legolas muttered a muted exclamation to himself, and reached out. He embraced the little Elf, and held him close, sending deep, comforting waves into the boy. Magic he had acquired from the forest. Warmth. Love. Courage. The emotions flowed through as he concentrated on sending the feelings into Esendri.

To his amazement, he felt a warm pulsation reverberating back to him. He took a step back, and looked at his new servant with wonder. Nobody else he knew had the same type of magic as he had. One had to be very attuned to the amar and the Beasts to be able to do that. Most were not even aware of its presence when he tried to use the magic on them.

The sobs diminished in volume, and Legolas continued to speak soothingly to Esendri. He stroked the other's hair softly with his small hand, and sang in an undertone to him.

When the servant had stopped his crying, the little prince gently let go. There the little servant stood, puffy-eyed and sniffing, not quite taking in the circumstances yet.

Legolas crossed the room and went over to a beautiful chest and opened it. He took out a little flask. Walking over to Esendri, he offered it to the small Elf, grinning mischievously.

"Something to make you feel better."

A small watery smile escaped from the other's lips as he accepted the bottle gratefully. Pulling open the cap, he took a long draught. Loud and hacking coughs broke, and he spluttered as the burning liquid ran down his throat.

The little prince tinkered cheerfully. "Fine stuff, is it not? I stole it from the kitchens the night before. It is feywine, a favourite of the adults."

"How did you?" Esendri spoke for the first time.

"Do not force me to give all my secrets away when you hide yours! Tell me what is bothering you! It would be my first command as your master!"

Esendri looked miserable yet again, and for a moment, the prince feared he was going to burst into tears yet again.

He finally spoke, however, and in a thin, shaky voice, replied, "It is nothing, Your Highness. I miss my parents so, and I am afraid!"

Legolas reached forward and held the other's hand comfortingly.

"Feel free to let it all out, it would do you good."

His tone was so authoritative and precocious for one for such a tender age that Esendri could not help but stifle a giggle. The smile that appeared on his face lightened the dark, baleful eyes, and for a moment, the little prince could see a spark of joy and laughter in there. His heart warmed to the little boy born on the same day as himself. He felt as if he were an older brother to his servant, for the other seemed so vulnerable and pitiful.

He pried the flask from Esendri's hands, throwing it upon the floor. Grabbing the wrists of his friend, he dragged the little boy out of his room.

"Come on, follow me! I must show you something that I have been working on for so long!"

He did not give the little Elf any time to protest, and dragged him along the passages of the palace, out into the open air.

***

They slipped through the confines of the palace grounds unseen. Being small and quick, it was relatively easy to sneak through the fence made of a dense network of intertwined tree trunks. The prince had skilfully dug a hole, and employed his magic, so that plants would grow over it after they went through.

Legolas found Esendri to be as nimble as he was, and was thankful for that. He knew there would be trouble if they were found out trying to leave the palace. His father was rather sticky about confining him to the so-called safe haven that was the palace.

Having escaped the palace, Legolas led the way, speaking at length about his latest project. He had started building a refuge for the birds he loved dearly. It was ambitious, but he and his friends were determined to do it well.

As they walked along the paths, the clear air and life surrounding them helped to lift the little servant's heart. He started to feel better, asking questions of his master, a lighter tone returning to his heart, much to the relief of the other.

Suddenly, an antelope dashed across the path. It passed close to the two little boys, who, startled by the sudden appearance, took a tumbling, falling down hard on their behinds.

Laughter broke through the forest.

Legolas leapt up and scowled. Another Elf appeared from within the trees. Though slightly winded, his face was working hard to keep from bursting into howling laughter again. Not a full grown Elf, but bigger and taller than the prince, with hair the colour of chestnuts, his face dark and handsome.

"What a priceless sight you are, Legolas! I would stay and amuse myself further, but I have prey to catch!" with a leap and bound, he started in the direction of the antelope.

The prince offered a hand to Esendri and pulled him up. He dusted himself, and explained to the boy. "That was Lithroleah, my best friend. He is not of the Royal Family, and thus is free to roam the woods," the words came out wistfully. "He is older than me, having seen thirty winters, and I can never catch up with him for he is stronger, faster, and beats me in everything! It is just not fair! But I believe I would catch up with him one day, and then he would be sorry for all his teasing!" he shook a little fist in the direction that Lithroleah had gone, and laughed merrily. "But come, we tarry! I must show you my birds!"

They continued on their journey, and presently came across a swollen riverbed. The water was gushing through what had previously been a mere stream. It was a force to be reckoned with, and Esendri was worried when he saw it.

Legolas, however, did not find it in his heart to be afraid. The river was in the way, and he was not going to let it stop him from getting through.

"Master, please, let us find another way around it," Esendri read the look in his master's face. "If you should fall in, the water looks enough to sweep you off your feet! I cannot swim, and I am mortally afraid of water!"

The young prince shrugged. "You could try to find another way, but I am going to cross it here. I would wait for you on the other side. Perhaps there would be a calmer stretch in front!"

He took a tentative step forward. Water rushed and instantly wet his little foot which he had placed on the rock. He giggled, feeling the cool water seep through his shoes. Esendri frowned, but kept quiet. He watched, brow furrowed, as the little prince placed another foot gingerly in front of the other, on the next rock.

Legolas perched there, balanced precariously. He twisted around and waved at Esendri, and took another step. The water was now up to his ankles. It was stronger than ever, and he was shaking from side to side. Soon he was up to his chest in the water, right in the middle of the swollen river.

"Look, I am already in the middle! It is quite alright!" he shouted out happily to his servant.

The little jump he gave at the end of his sentence proved to be his undoing. A large wave swept over that very instant, dousing the entire body of the little Elf. He spluttered angrily, waving his arms madly, trying to shield his body from the force of the water. In the moment of unbalance, his legs gave way as a second gush of water pulsed through the river. One instant he was standing there struggling with the water, the next he had disappeared under the wall of it.

Esendri panicked. He had seen the water wash over his master and the little body get sucked in by the rapids. Rushing forward, he looked about frantically, trying to catch sight of his master. There was nothing.

Something grabbed hold of him. His fear of water dissipated as he remembered the kindness of the little prince and his duty towards him. He threw all caution to the wind, and leapt straight into the water.

The coldness that enveloped him caught him unaware. He gasped and tried to surface. There was water everywhere, and he floundered about in a frenzied manner. The river carried him downstream. Just as he felt he was about to expire from the lack of air, he surfaced with a sudden burst of energy. He swung his head around, the life-giving air that filled his lungs sweet and saturated. His mouth opened like a fish out of water, eyes wide and in shock. A little body clad in brown and green being tossed around by the torrents downriver of him was spotted, contrary to his expectations.

A sudden energy lent itself to his limbs, as he tried to surge forward to his master. A burst of water aided him, and he was propelled forward. He stretched his arms out, ready to grab hold of the little body. He was foiled, however, by the river, as it swept the prince out of his reach. His fingertips barely brushed the body. So close and yet so far.

Another wave of water pushed Esendri under the surface. More currents pulled and dragged at him in all directions as the water hurled him around. He felt an excruciating pain as he was thrown onto a rock. He started to see stars in front of his eyes. He felt his movements grow churlish, as his brain struggled and screamed for air. His lungs were bursting, and he took in gulps of water in his panic. A sharp searing spasm to his head as he was thrown against yet another rock caused him to jolt out of his downward stupor.

Throwing himself in a perceived direction of a rock, he used the momentum to hurl himself upward. It worked, miraculously, and he sucked in the air as he surfaced yet again.

His master, however, was not as fortunate. The limp figure being tossed around was near to him, and he flung himself in that direction. This time round, he managed to catch the prince's body. The current had eased its torrential flow a little, and he held on tightly. Esendri saw through the still surging water that his master was unconscious. A huge, nasty gash had appeared across the little Elf's head, and it was bleeding profusely. Various other cuts, big and small, were also apparent on the little Elf's body. His arm flapped about in a grotesque angle, bent outwards, clearly dislocated at the elbow.

Esendri himself was bleeding and hurting all over. It did not bother him, and he held on to his Master's body. Using a log that was floating by to help keep himself afloat, he somehow managed to stay conscious, and used the last remnants of his strength to paddle to the riverbank. There, he mustered what was left in his body and pushed the limp body up onto the shore. It was his last, conscious thought, as he sank into a dead faint, that he was afraid he had been too late for his master. The water swept his little body away. He had not made it to shore.

***

Pain racked through his body as he opened his eyes gingerly. The light that flooded through the cracks was blinding, penetrating into the dark world that he had become accustomed to. Delirium and fever swept through his body, threatening to overpower him. The loss of blood had greatly weakened the little Elf.

His body convulsed, as he yet again sunk into a state of unconsciousness. He did not feel the tender, loving hands that tended to him. The healing balms that were applied to his wounds. He did not hear the soft, comforting words being spoken to him. The worry of those around him as they feared for his life.

He lay there for a day and a night, fighting with the agents of death and illness that threatened to take him away. His little body twitched every few moments, and from his mouth sprang nonsensical words, fuelled by the onslaught of the fever.

On the second night, however, the temperature subsided, as the healing salves and powerful Elvish medicine, coupled with the innate strength of his body, began to win the battle. The twitching slowly gave way to a peaceful slumber, and the state of delirium tapered off.

He opened his eyes fully for the first time in two days, and was greeted by the sight of a beautiful Elf-maiden staring at him. Her eyes were full of tears, and she was tired and sorrowful.

"Nana!" he breathed. His voice was weak. Powerless. Fearful.

Seeing her little boy open his eyes, the Elf-maiden's tears fell freely down the sides of her cheeks. She thanked the Valar and leaned forward and kissed his forehead tenderly.

"Sleep, nin gur. You have been through much. We feared for you, but it is over, and you are on your way to recovery," her voice was low and musical, as gentle as leaves rustling in the wind. Whimsical and sweet, it brought up memories of walking alone in the forest. The wind. The beeches, the elms.

The little Elf was not convinced, however, and he attempted to get up. Pain coursed through his whole body, as his raw flesh cried out from the abuse. He winced tightly, closing his eyes, and tears sprang to them. Teeth bit the edges of his lips as he tried to refrain from crying out. He noticed that his arm was in a sling and his leg was bandaged in a cast. Other bandages kept the healing herbs in contact with raw wounds, torn muscles screamed in pain. Beads of sweat broke in the fight to control himself.

"Pray, tithen lass, move not, for it would do you more harm than good. The Healers have worked well. Rest is all that is required to restore your strength now," despite the optimism of her words, the Elf-maiden's eyes continued to moisten, as she saw the pain her young boy was suffering. She stroked his wet hair gently, sending little waves of healing energy into him.

"Nana, what happened?" he gasped, mind already churning through the haze of pain and confusion.

"You were found by Hunters upon the banks of the river. Unconscious and still, we feared you lost. It is largely due to the skills of our most celebrated Healers that you have survived."

Intuitively, Legolas knew that he could not have been washed up by the river. Somebody must have saved him.

"Esendri," he croaked, before sinking into unconsciousness again as the truth dawned on him.

The Elf-maiden continued to speak soothingly to the little boy, trying her best to ease his suffering.

***

The little prince slept fitfully that night, tormented by the fact that his friend had not yet been found. His mother would have told him if it were otherwise. He knew in his little heart that his servant had risked his life to save him, and the realisation that he may have lost his in the process weighed him down.

Darkness melted away as the sun slowly made its presence felt in the world again. The Elf-maiden remained by the bedside, speaking to her son, soothing his pain, making sure she was there when he awoke due to the pain, into a world of extreme suffering, to kiss his tears away.

Footsteps brought her attention away from her little boy, and she looked up into the face of an old, almost forgotten friend.

"Milinral!" she whispered, tears of joy replacing that of grief. It had been centuries since they had last met, and it was under unfortunate circumstances that they departed.

He held up a finger to his lips, and stepped aside. She gasped as she saw a badly scratched and cut Elfling standing behind him. There was a huge bandage across his head, not unlike that of her son's and dressings covering various wounds were evident.

Esendri bowed low as he came up to the queen.

"Your Majesty," his eyes, however, had drifted to the limp figure lying on the bed. There was concern reflected in them, as he saw the bandages and furrow upon the prince's face as he slept in dreams that were tormented.

He walked over and stood beside the bed, tip-toeing to get a better view. His master looked so frail and small, swamped in the luxurious bedding. He took in the sight of the arm cast in a sling, and the tight wrappings around his ankle.

"Will he be all right?" He breathed softly, turning to face the Elf-maiden.

"The gash upon his head is not shallow, but it is his shattered ankle that worries us the most. His elbow has begun the healing process, but it is difficult to piece together splintered bones. There is a possibility he may never walk properly again," her words were laboured, eyes never leaving the slumbering boy as she spoke.

As if in response, Legolas stirred. He opened his eyes and moaned softly as the pain threatened to overwhelm him. They fluttered briefly, and flew wide apart as he sensed his friend's presence.

"Esendri!" he cried weakly.

"Yes, Master, I am here!"

"I feared you lost! The river, it was so powerful!" he shivered as he recalled the experience. The slight action sent spasms of pain coursing through his body once more. His face contorted in agony.

"Master, please, speak not, you need the rest."

"No, Esendri, how did you survive?"

Milinral walked up to the bed and surveyed the pair.

"I picked him off the banks of the river further downstream. He had floated out of Lasgalen. His first words were to enquire after you when he came to consciousness. His wounds are superficial. You, however, tithen ernil, would need a lot more to get back to normal. Please do rest and let sleep take over so the healing process be sped up!"

Esendri grinned at the old Elf. He was hugely relieved to see his master alive. Bringing up a hand tentatively, he stroked the little prince's face, sending a strong current through, easing the searing pains that rocked the prince.

Milinral's face registered shock at the strong and strange magic that was being employed.

"Your Highness, luck shines upon you, for you have found yourself a Blood Brother."

"Blood Brother?"

"Ai, a Blood Brother, or gwanuriar, in the ancient Sindarin tongue. It refers to a magical bond that occurs between two kindred when their bloods are mixed while in mortal danger, as was the case when Esendri saved you in the water. Use it well, nin tithen ernil, for it is a rarity, made even stronger by the chance occurrence of your birth dates.

"However, our little hero needs rest, for he has been through much. Do forgive me if I relieve you of your friend, Legolas."

Stretching out and placing his hand over the eyes of the little Elf, he sent out his own magic. Legolas fell asleep instantly. He then took Esendri by the hand and led him out of the room, leaving the Elf-maiden to maintain her silent Virgil over her son.

*******

Sindarin Translations:

amar - earth

maer aur, adar - good morning, father

nin hen - my child

nana - mummy

nin gur - my heart

tithen lass - little leaf

tithen ernil - little prince


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.

Story Information

Author: fael bain

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Kings

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/06/05

Original Post: 08/31/03

Go to Tales from the Great Wood: Blood Brothers overview

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