3. What's In A Name
Chapter 3 – What's in a Name
Rhavaniel was finally old enough to begin training for the royal guard. This was something she wanted more than anything else. She would not be a lady maid, especially with Legolas being one of the royalty she would have to wait on. There would be no end to his gloating.
Her mother gifted her with the very dagger she used to protect her friend, the Queen. This would be the start of her training. Most of the time, the royal guard carried no visible weapon. They were taught more in the ways of hand to hand combat. Any weapons were to remain well hidden on their person, so as not to draw attention to anyone. It was a clever disguise to anyone wanting to do harm to the royal family. Though they may look vulnerable, they were indeed very well protected.
Rhavaniel got ready extra early, making sure to eat a proper and nourishing breakfast before heading out to the training grounds. As she sat in the kitchen with the cooks, Legolas strolled in.
"You are out early this morning." he said as he walked past her. They hadn't seen much of each other in quite a while. Legolas was busy with his own training and other duties.
"As are you." she answered, not even looking up from the plate of delectable fruit before her. "How goes your lessons?"
"I am at the top of my class, of course." he smiled. "And you? How goes court life?"
Rhavaniel smiled suspiciously. "Better than you might think Prince Legolas."
Legolas cocked an eyebrow in her direction. She never called him by his proper name. Maybe she was finally taming her wild ways. "Well, today will be especially trying. We are to escort the royal guard trainees to their grounds."
Rhavaniel became quite curious. "Why do the warriors do this?"
"It is expected of us. It is part of our preparation. We work with this elite group for the first few months before the instructors commence. We help weed out the good from the not so good. Our evaluation will decide which individuals will move on to the next step."
Rhavaniel's heart sunk. Legolas was to be her judge on whether or not she was acceptable for this course. Legolas despised her. What if he purposely sabotaged her to make her fail? Could he actually be so cruel? She felt he definitely had it within him. He and Rhavaniel had always clashed. They were too much alike. They had always tried to outdo the other. Now her future may be in his hands. What a cruel joke the Valar were playing on her, she thought.
She finished eating and stood. "I must be going. I have important business to take care of."
As she left the kitchen, Legolas watched her every movement. She was acting rather suspicious today. He wondered if she was up to something. After all, their birthdays were just around the corner. His mind wandered as he thought about their early years.
In the beginning, being their mothers were so close, they shared birthdays together. Maybe this was part of the reason Legolas cared nothing for Rhavaniel. He knew it was not her fault but young elflings can be selfish. As they got older, their birthdays were celebrated separately but each was expected to attend the other's party. This was when Rhavaniel began making life hard on him. They were always in competition with each other; who had the better party, who had more guests and then who won the most party games. Legolas went head to head every chance they had. Sometimes he came out the winner and sometimes she did, the winner always gloating to the loser. This was just how they were. Their mothers spoke to them many times about the courtesy one should show the other but they did not listen. They always felt the draw of competition between them.
* * *
And so, Legolas made his way to the training grounds with the rest of his troop. This was his first time to participate in such a ritual and he was looking forward to it until his eyes fell upon the last elf he thought he would see here. A single elleth stood out amongst the others. Long blonde hair braided in the style of the warriors, she was dressed in her training tunic and leggings. Legolas narrowed his eyes and glared at her, waiting for her to notice him.
Rhavaniel knew this would happen. She ignored his stare as long as possible. She could feel the tension on the field. She took a deep breath and let her sight fall upon Legolas. He looked very bothered by her attendance. Quickly, she averted her eyes from him as they seemed to burn a hole straight through to her very soul. Normally, she would react in such a way as to challenge him in some sort of duel. This was quite a different situation. She had no power now.
The Captain of Legolas' troop began assigning warriors to their students. When finally he came to Rhavaniel, Legolas stepped forward and spoke up. "I will be in charge of her training, Captain." The other ellyn were surprised to see Legolas speak out of turn. He may be a Prince but out on the field, he was regarded as an equal.
"I cannot blame him." whispered one ellon. "She is quite beautiful and there is such fire in her eyes."
His neighbor whispered back. "Yes, I'm sure she will give him quite a challenge. And he will get his way no doubt. He is the Prince after all."
The Captain looked at Legolas and then to Rhavaniel. He just caught sight of her rolling her eyes and was disturbed by this unorthodox display of disrespect. "Your name." he commanded.
"Rhavaniel, my captain." she responded in her best military voice.
"Your name means 'wild'. May I ask why you were named such?"
"My mother says I have always had an air of aloofness and stubbornness about me. I like to think that I am independent, my captain." she said proudly.
"When you are home, you may behave as such, but when you are on my field and under my command, you are a student. I suggest you reevaluate yourself and leave this 'stubbornness' back in the palace. Understand?"
Rhavaniel felt as if the air was knocked from her as she submitted herself. "Yes, my captain."
Then, the Captain turned to Legolas. "Are you willing to take responsibility for this student?"
Legolas dared to let his eyes wander to Rhavaniel who still stood at attention, staring straight ahead. A slight smile made the corner of his mouth curl. "Yes, my captain." he answered.
"Very well. Rhavaniel, you will be under the command of Legolas." the Captain said and then turned to the Prince. "Though I'm afraid he may not know what he is getting himself into." The Captain continued on down the line.
Legolas went and stood next to his new trainee. While the Captain was busy he nudged her with his elbow. "Finally, a chance to tell you what to do and how to behave, and you have no say in the matter. Are you sure you are willing to go through with this?"
"Nothing, not even you my prince, will change my mind. I have waited many years for this opportunity." she growled. Could this day get any worse, she thought?
* * *
She spoke too soon. This was by far not only the worst day but also the worst week of her life. Legolas was very tough on her. He gave her no room for error. He trained her hard though she could hardly call it such. Most of the time, they would assume their position and he would yell, 'Ready?' Before she had a chance to think, Legolas attacked in their hand to hand combat training.
Finally, tired of being bruised and beaten, she spoke up. "It would help if you would first teach me the moves before you commence to battling with me."
"If you want to learn to be one of the royal guard, you must not anticipate what will happen. Your attacker will give you no such warning. Come now. Let us try this once more." he said holding his hand out to her. With his last move, he managed to flip her to the ground where she remained, trying to catch her breath.
Rhavaniel reached up to take his hand. As he pulled to help her stand, she used her leg to knock his feet out from under him. Legolas fell to the ground. Some of the others close by laughed under their breaths. It seemed they were being watched by quite a few pairs of curious eyes. The Captain noticed too, and came over to them.
"Legolas, may I have a word with you?" he said.
"Yes, my captain." the Prince responded and got up, dusting himself off.
The Captain led them away from the earshot of the others. "You have been quite tough on the elleth, but you are not teaching her anything. This training is not only for her sake. You are being evaluated also. Only one who knows how to teach properly will advance in the ranks. Whatever is going on between the two of you needs to be resolved or I will give you another student. Teach her first Legolas. She cannot learn if she is not shown the proper moves first. Remember, young Prince, she may one day become the royal guardsman of you or your future princess, should you find someone willing to put up with you. Understand?"
This was something Legolas hadn't thought of before. "Yes, my captain." he answered. "I will try to become a better mentor."
"I am not asking you to go easy on her. Just demonstrate first." the Captain finished and he let Legolas get back to his student.
Rhavaniel smiled to herself. It seemed Legolas was still in need of training himself.
And so, Legolas changed tactics and began properly showing Rhavaniel how to fight. After a while, she finally bested him as she was able to incapacitate him, bringing him to the ground and pinning him there. She then reached for her belt and whipped out a small practice dagger, which she held to his throat. She smiled mockingly down at her victim. "Do you surrender?"
Legolas returned her stare as their eyes locked on each other. He was used to sensing her defeat but never before felt her confidence as she had won the battle fair and square. There was a fire in her eyes that he had not seen before and it sparked something within him. Maybe it was a reflection of his own desire to become the best. Deep down he knew she was meant for this kind of work. Her mother had been and it was only natural that Rhavaniel would too.
"I surrender." he whispered to her. Rhavaniel heard something in his voice that sparked her interest. For the first time, they saw each other as equals.
Off to the side, the ellon who spoke earlier commented again. "It seems our Prince has met his match. She has the true spirit of a warrior in her."
The second ellon answered. "What I wouldn't give to be pinned beneath this untamed beauty."
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.