Chapter 16 – Misfortune
Before Rhavaniel opened her eyes, she knew where she was by the smell of herbs and incense in the air. She was in the healing ward of the palace. She recalled what brought her here. An orc had managed to stick her with its arrow. Her side still hurt, but she could feel the bandages wrapped around her waist. She wanted to move but knew her muscles would not cooperate just yet. She felt the warm hand of someone caressing her heated brow. Fever must have wracked her body, she thought. A familiar sensation flowed from the hand resting on her head and she knew it was Legolas who sat with her. He had probably not left her side. Then she heard voices, one she regrettably recognized as her father's. She heard the concern in his voice. This would not be good. She had gone against his wishes and knew he would be angry.
Quiet whispers could be heard passing between her father and another. Then the other voice spoke up. "Legolas, will you give Gondien and me a moment alone."
Rhavaniel knew the other voice belonged to King Thranduil. She felt Legolas leave her side. She decided to remain as if she still slept and eavesdrop on the conversation. In the back of the room, a door closed.
"My lord, I believe it is time to finalize this relationship. We know they love each other. I think we should arrange for a marriage between them." Gondien said.
"This thought has crossed my mind also. I do not think they would protest, though it might be sooner than either one would want. They are deeply in love though. I do not foresee a problem with this." Thranduil answered.
"Ever has Rhavaniel been aloof and free to make her own choices. Don't get me wrong, I loved her mother dearly, but I cursed the day she encouraged her to train in our armies. This is no life for her. She should be among the other nobles. I thought she was through with this other lifestyle. But now I come to find out she has gone against my wishes and snuck off to fight, and with orcs no less. She could have died and almost did."
Thranduil let out a long sigh. "She was lucky. Not all returned that day."
Rhavaniel felt a chill run through her as she wondered who did not make it. The last she had seen, everyone was still accounted for.
"What possessed them to lead the prisoner out into the open like that? It was a foolish decision." Gondien added his anger evident.
"They could not have known that the enemy would attack as they did. We have never been assailed upon that far into the land. It was clear that they only had one intention and that was to claim the creature. The results may have been more detrimental had the orcs invaded the castle in search of the prisoner. Many more lives may have been taken." Thranduil answered in a cool and calm manner.
There was a quiet knock on the door then she heard a quiet voice of a maiden. "My King, the family of the deceased would like a word with you considering the arrangements for the burial."
"I am on my way." Thranduil answered. The door closed and he turned back to Gondien. "Let's give this a few days. I will speak to Legolas about a marriage. Rhavaniel needs time to heal first." Then she heard footsteps and felt a strong hand upon her forehead. "The fever seems to have broken." She noticed how both of them sighed in relief. "I think I agree with you in this matter Gondien. Rhavaniel is special. I cannot bear the thought of losing her. Legolas would be devastated. It is time she accepted her fate and become a noble. I can think of no one else who would make a better princess for my son. It would gladden my heart greatly to accept Rhavaniel into the royal family."
"Thank you Lord Thranduil." Gondien said with relief in his voice. "She must be tamed of her wild ways. The world is a much more dangerous place now. There is no room for such reckless abandon."
She heard their footsteps as they left the room. Finally alone, she slowly opened her eyes. So, her father was ready to marry her off just to keep her from doing what she loved. Surely Legolas would not agree to this. It was true that they loved each other very much and had promised to one day bind with each other. In her mind, that would not happen for a very long time. She was young yet, barely into her majority. There was so much yet to experience. Up until now, she felt like she had been put in a protective cocoon, safe from the outside world and smothered by Legolas' love. She would not agree to this and banked on Legolas not agreeing either.
After a while, she heard the door to the healing room open. She closed her eyes and lay still. Then she felt his presence and his love. Legolas had come back. Her eyes fluttered open to find the Prince looking down upon her. He smiled and her heart soared higher still. Oh how she loved him. "Legolas." she whispered in a raspy voice.
"Be still meleth nin. You have been in a healing sleep for a few days. Your body will not cooperate just yet as your wounds are still healing." He leaned down and lightly kissed her lips.
She instantly felt something out of place. Though he was glad to see her awake, he was full of sadness also. Then she remembered what she heard about a fallen guard. She reached up and touched the side of Legolas' face. "What is it Legolas? Something has happened. Someone fell to the orcs. Who was it?"
Legolas took her small hand in his and the tear in his eye dropped onto the sheet covering her body. "You do not need to share my grief so soon Rhavaniel." Legolas turned from her gaze almost unable to speak when anger rose in his voice. "Damn this evil." he said in a raised tone.
"Who was it Legolas? Please tell me now." Fear and panic spread throughout her body as she prepared for the answer. "It was not Antien was it?"
"No. No meleth he was injured but is fine." he whispered. "I'm afraid I lost one of my leaders. He fought bravely, but the orcs were too many. I had known him since the first day of training. He will be greatly missed."
Rhavaniel tried to move to sit up. Legolas helped her and then sat next to her on the edge of the bed. She took his hands in hers. "I am so sorry Legolas. I did not mean to… I thought Antien…" Unable to contain her emotions, she started to cry.
Legolas pulled her to him, careful of her wound. He held her in his strong arms and whispered in elvish into her ear. "I thought I lost you meleth. I was so scared that you were gone from me." His own emotions got the best of him. He held back a tear and instead sang a quiet lament to his fallen friend while Rhavaniel wept into his chest. They remained this way until sleep once more took her over. Legolas lowered her back into the pillows. He pulled up a chair and sat next to her bed while she slept. He would not leave her side until she was healed enough to leave the healing room. He loved Rhavaniel and was dedicated to her. Though he was bereaved for the loss of his fellow warrior, he was terrified to think that it might have been Rhavaniel who died. Guilt crept upon him like a cancer as he tried to push aside the relief that it was this other elf and not her, who died that day. It was still a great loss, one that they would both grieve for.
* * *
A few days later, Rhavaniel was well enough to leave the healing house. She had regained most of her strength though she was still quite stiff from being in bed for almost a week. She was ready to get out of there but sad about her first task. Today was the funeral for the fallen warrior. She knew how close Legolas was to him and wanted to be there to support him. The Prince was there when she was released from the healing ward. He brought proper attire for her to wear to the funeral, a dress and slippers. Rhavaniel insisted on wearing her guard uniform. She wanted to stand with her brothers in arms and honor their fellow soldier properly. It was the least she could do. No one would deny her this.
At the funeral, she found Antien and Glandur standing together. She briefly left Legolas' side to join her friends. First she hugged Glandur. "It is good to see you up and about Rhav. We missed you."
She smiled up at his handsome face. Glandur was always a picture of strength. He was tall and broad shouldered. His hair was darker than most Sylvans yet still maintained a golden hue. He was a border guard and a friend of the deceased. They had been stationed together many times.
"I am so sorry for the loss of your friend Glandur." she said, still emotional after all that had happened.
He smiled and touched his hand to his heart, a symbol of sincere thanks.
"We were so worried for you." Antien said taking her hand. "When I saw you lying on the ground and that arrow…"
Rhavaniel brought Antien's hand to her face and cradled it against her cheek. "I am alright mellon nin. It will take more than an orc arrow to bring me down. I learned my lesson and won't be caught off guard again."
Antien looked at Glandur and smiled. "If you don't mind, I'd like a moment alone with Rhav."
"Of course love. Go be with your friend." Glandur answered.
Rhavaniel looked back to where Legolas stood with some of his other guardsmen. He glanced in her direction and nodded his head. She smiled and returned the nod, walking off with Antien. They walked arm in arm to a quiet spot among the trees. They found a fallen log and sat down. Antien took her hand and squeezed it. He looked to her sorrowful face, concern filling his own.
"Rhavaniel, how long will you keep this up? Court life is not where you should be. Your skills are needed. When are you going to take your life back?"
"Antien, I can't. You know my situation. My father would…"
The crease in his brow deepened. "Stop living for other people Rhav. You are living a lie. I watched you fight. You are strong. You are fierce. You have a will and the determination to be a great warrior, but it is going to take you being strong for yourself. Get out of the courts and join the guard again."
Rhavaniel got up from the log and walked a few steps away from Antien. "Don't you think I have tried? Every time I go to face my father I look into his eyes and see the comfort he has knowing I am employed by the court. He is so sure of my future; he is ready to marry me off to the Prince."
Antien was surprised to hear this. "Marriage? Has Legolas asked you to bind to him?"
"No not yet anyways. I heard the King and my father discussing an arrangement for a marriage. He thinks if he marries me off, I will never pursue this lifestyle. I just don't know what to do Antien. I love my father and I do not want to go against his wishes, but the taste for battle is so strong in me now."
Antien went to Rhavaniel walking up behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. "I cannot tell you what to do. I can only tell you what I see and I see a true warrior. You have IT, Rhav. It is in your blood. It is a part of you. You must find a way to pursue it, whatever that might be. Maybe you should leave Mirkwood. It may never happen for you here."
Rhavaniel covered his hands with hers. "Leave Mirkwood? I couldn't imagine that. That would mean leaving the only home I know and leaving Legolas."
"It might be your only chance to be yourself. Listen, whatever you choose you know I will stand by you and support you. I love you Rhavaniel. You are like family to me."
Rhavaniel turned in Antien's arms, facing him and wrapping her arms around him, hugging him tightly. "I love you too Antien. Thank you for believing in me even when I don't believe in myself."
The funeral took place and the body of the fallen warrior was laid to rest in the graveyard where Rhavaniel's mother and Legolas' mother were buried. Afterwards, they each went to their mother's graves to pay a special visit. Rhavaniel stood at Faelwen's grave and said a prayer. Then she knelt down and cried. "So much death. So much despair. I have dishonored you by honoring Ada. I just don't know what to do anymore." she said to the headstone.
Soon, she felt a comforting hand on her shoulder. Legolas had come to her. "It is so unfair Legolas that our mothers were taken from us. More die every day and here I sit a member of the court when it should be my time to fight for and protect our home and its people." She got up and buried her face in Legolas' chest. He wrapped his strong arms around her and held her until she was ready to leave. He knew how sad she was with her life, but a part of him was relieved that she was not a guard anymore. He could not stand to worry about her all the time. Still, he felt her want and her need to become a warrior again.
After the funeral, Legolas walked Rhavaniel home. It was the first time she'd been back since the accident and she was anxious to return to the familiarity of it. They entered her room and she found it to be decorated with flowers of every kind. Legolas had done this for her, wanting her to feel at home and relaxed after her ordeal. The room smelled very fragrant from the sweet flowers. She smiled and kissed him. "It is beautiful. Thank you Legolas."
He helped her to the couch and sat next to her. Legolas gathered her hands in his and brought them to his chest. Suddenly he let go of his emotions and dropping her hands, pulled her into an embrace. "I was so frightened for you. When I saw you lying on the ground and the arrow in your side…"
"It is all behind us now. I am fine. I will make a full recovery. It will take more than some dirty orc arrow to take me from this world. I am strong Legolas, and don't you forget that." She looked away from him. There was something she needed to discuss with him. "Legolas, when I was sleeping and just beginning to come about, I heard our fathers speaking to each other. They want us to go through with marriage. Actually it was my father's idea. The King agreed and…"
"Yes, I know of this. My father spoke to me about their idea." Legolas interrupted.
"And what do you think of all this? Do you agree with their decision?"
Legolas took a deep breath. "I know that I love you and hope that we will one day bind. This is not how I would have done it, but I must admit that I am ready to commit to you. I think I have been ready for a while now."
Rhavaniel lowered her head unable to look Legolas in the eyes. "I think that I want to be with you one day also, but not today. Legolas, I love you very much, but there is so much I want to do yet. If we marry, my visions of becoming a warrior will be stifled. I will become royalty, a princess to Mirkwood. I don't think I can handle such responsibility just yet."
Legolas was taken aback a little. "Are you saying you disagree with this? You would turn down becoming the Princess of Mirkwood?"
Rhavaniel stood up and turned from him. "I am so sorry Legolas, but being known as a princess is not exactly a dream come true for me. Besides, that is not the reason I would bind myself to you. I love you and that is the only reason. But I am not ready yet." Then she turned back and looked straight into his eyes. "So you would agree with our fathers that we should just get married now and not wait until we are both ready for such a responsibility. You do know the reason behind my father's request for this binding don't you? He wants to keep me tied down to the castle. He does not want me to become a guard."
"Maybe your father is right." he said in a whisper. He couldn't help but think that she would be safer this way in the darkening days.
"What?" she said a little perturbed.
Legolas could hold back no more. He had to make her realize how fearful he was for her. "Do you know what I went through out there? When I saw you lying on the ground, a black arrow sticking out of your side, blood oozing from the wound, I thought I had lost you. It was then that I realized how badly I need you in my life."
"It could just as easily have been you that day too." she reminded him. "Yet I am not asking you to stop patrolling the borders. Why should my situation be any different?" When he did not answer, she knew what he was thinking. "It is because I am a female. You do not think I should be allowed to fight. I know it is not common for an elleth to train as such, but it is not forbidden. Have I not proved myself as such?"
"You are a good fighter or at least you could be. But you have not been out there. You have not seen the blood, the death and the rage of war. These creatures care not who they kill. I have seen them run right past me and sink their blade into the elf behind me. Worst of all, I know what they would do to you if they find out you are female. They will not kill you. They have other more terrifying things in mind. It was no mistake where that arrow landed. If they wanted to kill you they would have. Obviously they had a clear enough shot. But they saw your feminine aspects. You were only wounded so they could capture you and take you with them. If I had not seen you fall just then, they might have succeeded with their plan."
Rhavaniel had never thought of this before. No one ever told what happened to the elves that the enemy captured. In her mind they only wanted to kill. "I would not let that happen. I can fend for myself." she said stubbornly.
"Like you did that day?" There was a bit of anger in his voice.
"You would rather I did not fight. Oh wait. You only want me to fight with you, is that it? You think our little competitions will be enough to satisfy me. Oh, and then a roll in the grass will make me forget everything else." she shot back.
"How dare you speak to me that way. That was never my intension. I spar with you to keep you trained. I know how much fighting means to you. I know how much court life irritates you. I only want to see you happy."
"Then why would you agree with my father about marriage right now?" she yelled feeling as though they were going around in circles.
"Because seeing you injured made me realize that this is not a game Rhavaniel. Our lives are at stake here. I never want to see you like that again. I want you to be safe." he admitted.
"And if every trained soldier is not allowed to fight, then how will the city stay safe? In these dark days, you cannot pick and choose who will fight. Every capable warrior is needed now." She got up from the couch and went in the direction of her bedroom. "I am tired Legolas. Stay if you like, but I need my rest. It has been a very trying day." Feeling defeated, she went to her room and closed the door.
Legolas stood there a moment. He was angry with her for not understanding his point of view. He made his way to her door. Just as he was about to leave he paused and looked back in her home. "Stubborn elleth." he murmured and closed the door on his way out.
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.