10. Chapter 10
The Woodland Halls
The sweet fragrance of the vine roses wafted through the warm air as Thranduil strolled through his most favoured garden. He was slightly surprised to see Adlanniel there, holding one rose with her delicate hands, taking in its gentle scent. It brought a fond memory into his heart, as he had often watched his own wife do the same. "Those roses were my wife's favourite." Thranduil said warmly after a few moments of watching the young elleth.
Adlanniel looked up sharply, surprised at the Elvenking's sudden appearance before her.
"Heruamin, I apologise. I was not aware of your presence..."
"Nothing to apologise for my dear." He replied, smiling, as he too took up a rose to take in its aroma.
"I can understand how these were your wife's favourite..." Adlanniel began as she gently let the rose she had been holding settle back upon the vine. "They are indeed magnificent and smell so beautiful! Are they a local flower? I don't remember seeing them growing in this garden the last time I was in the Greenwood."
"Oh they have been here a while..." Thranduil chuckled.
"They do not bloom very often, however. Thus perhaps why you did not notice them. They last bloomed while Legolas's mother was still alive. And so I believe they only bloom while there is good in the world. These roses are originally from Doriath from when I had lived there. I have taken them to each place I have moved to and they have only bloomed thrice. Now is the third time, perhaps due to your presence." He smiled kindly.
Adlanniel blushed at the compliment and tried hiding her girlish grin with her hand.
"You honor me, my lord...."
"Which is warranted I believe." Thranduil said as he then, taking out a small knife from under his red velvet cloak, began to gently cut off a few of the pale pink roses to make a small bouquet.
"I shall take these to where my wife rests." Thranduil said as he placed his knife back under the folds of his clothing.
"May I accompany you, heruamin?" Adlanniel asked softly, unsure if the king would allow another to accompany him on such a private, personal pilgrimage.
As he looked down upon her it occurred to him that Adlanniel had never been to his queen's final resting place. He nodded kindly as he placed a gentle hand on her arm. "If you wish, my dear." He answered as he smiled into her Emerald eyes. However, he could not help but feel a sudden pang of sadness as he looked into them; those eyes reminding him of distant memories....memories that burned deep within his soul. He felt suddenly ashamed then for he should have been remembering the memory of his wife; standing beside her most beloved roses as they were, but instead other memories had flooded to mind. Thranduil did not allow what his mind had been thinking to seep into his expression as to not invoke the young elleth's curious nature. He smiled simply then, and taking her courteously by the arm as he always did, he led her out of the garden and to the long winding path through the forest which would lead to the resting queens tomb.
The Forest Paths: Greenwood the Great
As they walked along the forest path, alone, the warm breeze whisping through their long hair, Adlanniel began to think about Thranduil's wife. She did not know how Legolas's mother had died. Perhaps her father did not tell her out of privacy for the Elvenking and the prince. Perhaps Legolas himself did not tell her because it was too painful a memory. But she was curious, for no wars had been fought during the time Legolas's mother had died and Adlanniel knew that she had died tragically. She continued to ponder on it as they walked along in silence, unaware that the Elvenking could sense what she was thinking.
"You wish to know how she died?" Thranduil asked almost solemnly, not looking down to the young elleth who was now staring up at him, wide-eyed, for he had caught her out. The words seemed to choke themselves in her throat as she tried to reply, for she felt ashamed for wanting to know such painful and private knowledge. All she could do was give a simple, doleful, nod.
"It was....indeed an accident, how she had been slain..." Thranduil began as he continued to look forward along their path.
"S..Slain?" Adlanniel stammered, her heart sank at those words.
"Yes." Thranduil replied simply, then looking down at her, her eyes saddened. Thranduil sighed before looking back up along their path.
"You know of the skin-changers which reside in Hithaeglir, do you not?" He asked
"Yes, I know well of them."
"And you know how their kind is often ravaged by orcs from the north?"
"It was during a time, about eight years after Legolas's birth, when she had been visiting the mountainous village of the skin-changers to deliver them food and supplies after yet another orc raid. She had had a soft place in her heart for their people, as at that time they often felt the brunt of the attacks by the orcs. I guess she pitied them, for they often held back the filth from entering the Greenwood thus protecting our realm. I had been very reluctant to allow her to go there, for it was a treacherous journey through the mountain pass and Legolas was still so young. But she had insisted..." Thranduil trailed off for a moment in deep thought.
"She would have gone, with or without my permission, as she was strong-willed...a little like another young elleth I know of." He grinned down at Adlanniel who let out a soft giggle.
"So I sent her with a battalion of soldiers and all of the aid she had requested, whilst she forced me to stay behind with our infant son."
"She forced you?" Adlanniel asked in a playful disbelief.
"She was very good at persuasion..." Thranduil smirked. Adlanniel could not help but giggle again.
"But forever I am made to regret that decision..." He sighed after a moment.
"She had only been in their village a couple of days, when an Orc scout had snuck in and poisoned the village well, poisoning it with such a vile concoction that would turn the skin-changers into their beastly forms, but rabid and crazed. The aim being so that they would turn on our kin and themselves." Thranduil shook his head then in disgust. "Such vile and despicable creatures...." He muttered under his breath. He sighed again and continued.
"I guess it was lucky, for only one of the skin-changers had drunk the tainted water, thus saving the entire village and my men from carnage. But...." He suddenly dropped off and swallowed hard, the memory painful for him to remember. Adlanniel embraced his arm sympathetically and placed a gentle hand on his. With her touch Thranduil felt an intense feeling swell in his heart which made him feel that horrible guilt again. Closing his eyes for moment to clear his thoughts he continued, "The one who had drunk the water, a young man at the time, had turned into a savage beast. He went directly for my wife, a fair and beautiful queen that stood out amongst the rest of their village...This beast in the form of a mountain lion...so crazed was he from this poison that not even the arrows or the swords of my soldiers, who he had swatted away like flies, managed to stop him by the time he had reached her. He had run her down swiftly and had gouged out her shoulder. Before he could continue devouring her another of his kin had changed and pulled him away. Thus he was restrained in chains until our Elven healers could draw the poison out of his body. But they could not save my beloved wife....her injuries were far too severe...and so she had eventually bled to death...."
Adlanniel had turned pale, her heart a mere flutter at the sorrow she felt for the king. She wanted so to embrace him then for she could feel his pain sharpening with each word he had spoken to her about the incident. She suddenly felt warm tears trickle down her soft cheeks to which the Elvenking then turned to her. He felt sorry for making her feel his pain and so stopping, he gently leant down to wipe the tears from her face with his fingers.
"Do not weep, hiril vuin." He said gently as he cupped her face with one of his hands.
"Ni nûr angin." Adlanniel said softly, placing her hands on his as she gazed up into the king's sad eyes. Thranduil smiled at her then and cocked her chin up a little with his thumb.
"Do not feel sad for me hiril vuin. We can not change what has happened in the past. As I have told you before, I have learnt how to deal with loss in both love and death."
"But it is so horrible..." Adlanniel sobbed, thoughts of what she may feel if she were to lose Legolas and even the great king before her, pained her deeply.
"What happened to the skin-changer?" She asked.
"The captain of our army was going to execute him. But on her deathbed my wife had told him to spare the youth, as it was not the fault of the man but of the poison. So the leaders of his village, still frightened of what wrath I would bring upon them on finding out about the ill event, sent him back with the captain to face me."
"What did you do?" Adlanniel asked, almost frightened herself.
"I was in disbelief at first when they had brought him before the throne. It was not until they had brought in the lifeless body of my wife that I believed it....I felt like the whole world had come crashing down around me. Whilst I was mourning over her, I had suddenly felt a white rage fill every crevice of my being. I was upon the skin-changer before he had a chance to draw breath. I had begun beating him Adlanniel....such a rage I was in I wanted to make him suffer greviously for what he had done, despite knowing it was not entirely his fault. I could of simply beheaded him, but I wanted him to feel the pain that my wife must have felt as she bled to death. And so I continued to beat him even when his blood bathed the floor beneath us. It was not until I had beaten him to an inch of his life that a soft hand touched mine, making me stop instantly." Adlanniel's expression turned into one of curiosity. Who had been daring enough to go near the king in such a rage?
"When I looked up I saw my wife, or so I had imagined, and she was gazing at me with such sympathy and sorrow. 'Don't kill him, my love.' She had said to me. 'It is not what I wish, for you well know it was not his fault.'and when I had looked back down at the pitiful creature, and then back up to where she had stood she was gone..."
"Her spirit came to you when you were most in need..."
"Perhaps." Thranduil replied, sighing.
"So I let him live. I had him nursed back to full health, and for sparing his life from his dreadful act he vowed his life to protect mine and so remained a loyal bodyguard until the sad day of his own passing, many years ago."
"I am glad you were able to forgive him." Adlanniel let a small smile cross her face.
"I never did fully. I couldn't. He understood that." Thranduil replied just as they reached an intricately carved stone door in the side of a small ravine that the river flowed through. The carving upon the door reminded Adlanniel very much of the carving upon the doors of the ancient dwarven city of Khazad-dum, but even more precious with Elven design and scripture carved upon it. The scripture was in a very ancient form of Quenya; a language no longer used by the Elves but still held immense power when spoken. Thranduil, bowing his head slightly, spoke a short chant in the ancient language. The doors slid open, a warm rush of trapped air escaping as it did, and as Thranduil stepped forward into the entrance both the ceiling and walls of the domed tomb lit up with a bright illuminating glow. Ancient Elvish designs of vines, flowers and leaves adorned every space. Adlanniel looked up in awe at the detail of the designs until a bright column of light suddenly broke through a skylight. It shone upon the face of Thranduil's wife of which had been carved in exact likeness onto the lid of her sarcophagus.
Thranduil knelt sadly beside it and placing the roses he had picked into the hole that was drilled into the figure's clasped hands, he bowed his head. He began to say an ancient prayer in Quenya, but so ancient was the language, more so than the Quenya inscribed on the entrance, that even Adlanniel did not know it; only the Elves of old being her parents and grandparents and Thranduil himself had knowledge of it.
Adlanniel too bowed her head in respect as she listened to the prayer from a husband to his beloved wife. As she listened intently, she could hear the king's voice become more strained with emotion as he spoke; to the point where she thought he was weeping. Quickly she went to his side and knelt beside him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders in an attempt at being some form of comfort. Thranduil turned his head slightly to look back at her, and placing his hand gently on hers he gave a weak smile. "Thank you for your comfort my dear Adlanniel, but I am fine...."
"You do not need to be strong and show the face of a king in here." Adlanniel sympathised before he could continue. "You are allowed to mourn..."
With those kind words Thranduil turned to face her, embracing her tightly as he did. Adlanniel returned the embrace, though a little surprised by it for she had never heard of the king being overly affectionate. However, she understood he was in a vulnerable state. Despite how strong his age may have made him both physically and mentally, he was in great pain there in his wife's tomb. With Adlanniel's presense, memories of his first love and of his wife conflicted through his mind, threatening to tear him apart from the inside out. He had desperately missed the touch of a lover, and holding Adlanniel, despite holding only paternal feelings towards her, brought out all of those feelings. He let go of her then and bowed his head shamefully.
"Díheno nin." He said regretfully, using a form of speech which placed himself below her.
"There is nothing to forgive, aran vuin." She said softly as she gently touched his hands in sympathy. It was then that she noticed the glistening of tears in his eyes, though they clung to his eyelids and dared not fall. Not wanting her to see him so vulnerable he gave her a soft, gentle kiss on her forehead before standing. The kiss surprised Adlanniel more than the embrace she had received just a moment past. She felt a strange heat fill her body then.
"Thank you for being here, my lady." Thranduil smiled softly, not sensing, or perhaps not acknowledging the sudden feeling within her.
"Please do not tell Legolas of our coming here today."
Adlanniel changed her thoughts then to why, but soon assumed that it was that the king did not want his son to feel the same pain as he did. Legolas, though strong like his father in many ways, was also more sensitive to emotional hurt and pain. She understood Thranduil's wish in not wanting his son to hurt.
"As you wish, aran vuin." She replied kindly.
Thranduil then leant down to place a kiss on the lips of his wife's image, stroking the stone cheek as he did. "Farewell for now, my sweet love. I will visit you again soon." And with that he began to walk to the entrance.
Adlanniel turned to look back at the slight moist mark Thranduil had left from his kiss on his wife's image, and subconsciously, she wished she could have been the receiver of it......
Elvish - English translations
Elleth - Elf maiden (female)
Heruamin - My lord
Hithaeglir - Misty Mountains
Hiril vuin - Beloved lady
Ni nûr angin - I feel sad for you
Díheno nin - Forgive me
Aran vuin - beloved king
Khazad-dum - ancient name for Moria (I think this is in the Dwarvish language Khuzdul)
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.