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A Light in May  by Antigone Q

Gilraen did not sleep well after she left the Halls of Healing, even after Estel finally closed his eyes. She tossed restlessly, and finally, as the first rosy light of dawn crept through the windows she gave up and left her bed to get dressed. She paused as she fastened the outer robe of her gown.

A strong baritone was singing in Elvish from somewhere outside. It confused Gilraen for a moment, for it was very early in the morning for anyone to be singing so loudly. Then she remembered that in past years when the Elves had their festival in May, there was always singing early in the morning. She thought it was usually many Elves at once, but she didn’t know the seasonal customs well enough to say for certain. She strained her ears to hear the words.

“…Curinir a Balan,

Edhel ah Adan:

Linno Egleriol!” 

The song was something about an Elf and a Man singing, she thought, but it was difficult to understand further. She knew enough Sindarin to ask for directions and make polite comments about the weather, but she had never needed to practice the language extensively, since everyone accommodated her by using the Common Tongue.

The voice, so strong in the still morning air, was breathtakingly lovely in it’s richness, but that was not the reason she followed the sound through the winding corridors. Perhaps, she reasoned, the singer might give explanation of the previous night’s trauma.

Gilgalad a menel,

Glawar a môr,” 

Yes, now Gilraen knew it was the same song the Elves sang every year. She could not have recited the words, but the tune was familiar enough. The voice grew louder as she let it guide her up the stairs.

“Ithil ah anor…” 

Gilraen paused as she reached the landing. She could see the singer was on the balcony. He was standing on the in the rose-gold light of the morning sun, still in his shining clothes from the night before – and looking none the worse for wear, of course – typical, for the singer was Glorfindel. Gilraen nearly changed her mind and went back to her rooms.

Of all the Elves in Elrond’s household, Glorfindel seemed to Gilraen the most intimidating for reasons she did not entirely understand herself, and though she spoke to him on occasion he was not someone she would normally have sought out when she needed help. He was tall enough to loom over her, and there was something about him that spoke of great strength. Restrained strength, yet it still made her a little nervous, for Gilraen knew warriors and her instincts told her that this one could be very dangerous. Not that Glorfindel was ever in a foul mood: Gilraen had never even seen him out of sorts, and she knew her son was very fond of him. Whatever it was that her son saw when looking upon the golden warrior, however, Gilraen could not find it.

Glorfindel finished his song and turned, clearly unsurprised to see Gilraen standing there. She had learned long ago there was no sneaking up on an Elf. “My Lady,” he acknowledged, automatically using Westron for her. “Good morning to you.” 

“I-“ Gilraen began, licking her lips nervously. “I did not mean to trouble you, my lord. I was just leaving to go and find Lord Elrond.” She turned to retreat back into the house. 

“Elrond is still abed. It was a long night last eve.” Glorfindel frowned. “The healing of Legolas was some strain, as was the flooding of the ford to block anyone from taking leave of Rivendell. Is there aught I might help you with, Lady?”

Gilraen thought for a moment. Could Glorfindel help her? “I wished to speak to someone about last night. I am a little confused.” 

Glorfindel cocked his head to the side, reminding Gilraen of a large, curious falcon. “There are many unanswered questions, but I will answer what I can.” 

“It is only that – everyone was speaking so fast, and Estel was so frightened at first that I could get nothing from him. And he does not speak Westron well, you see, and there was so much confusion. My son could tell me nothing of what was happening but the word ‘saew,’ which is what everyone else was saying, too. I tried to ask Elrohir and Elladan, but they left the green so quickly, and I hated to disturb Elrond when poor – Legolas? Is that his name? When Legolas seemed so awfully sick.”

Gilraen could not read Glorfindel’s face well, but she thought he seemed surprised by what she was saying. She explained further, “Estel seemed to think someone had tried to make Legolas sick on purpose, but that did not seem right to me.” Gilraen frowned. “And then, after all the trouble I had calming my child, Elrond called for him again. Not a word of explanation or apology, only ‘come now’ and ‘go’. All I needed was a word or two, so that I could give my son some small reassurance.” Feeling she was rambling, she ended inadequately, “I’m afraid I was perhaps a little cold to Elrond last night.”

Gilraen did not tell Glorfindel how panicked she had felt trying to comfort a crying child and put him to bed without any help, or how frustrated she had been that she could not find explanation or understand her own son fully, but she could see Glorfindel was thinking and perhaps he guessed all this.

Glorfindel was quiet for several seconds before he answered, “’Saew’ is the Sindarin word for ‘poison.’ And it was important for Legolas to be treated immediately, for the poison could have been fatal. Elrond needed whatever help he could get from whomever was at hand, and we knew he had the inheritance of the kings of Gondor.”

“But you have healers to do that for you!” Gilraen protested. “You did not need a little boy.” 

Again, Glorfindel was silent before answering. “Lady, I admit that when I came to fetch you I was unaware of your ignorance. I had not thought of how little you would know, and I ask you to forgive me.” Quickly, Glorfindel outlined the events of the previous evening, and included Elrond’s suspicions.

Gilraen felt the color drain from her face. “Are we not safe, even here?” she whispered. She ran one finger along the carving on the balcony rail, turning events over in her mind for a long time. Suddenly, she looked up, startled. “I think I have seen something that may be of use to you.”


Estel, unlike his mother, awoke very late, and when he went to the kitchens to have some breakfast – or lunch – he found the hallways were empty. Puzzled, he decided to find his father to ask if Legolas was any better. He was happy to have been able to help with the healing, but he was still very worried about his friend. Estel noticed that the house was unusually silent. 

At the Hall of Healing Estel stopped in the doorway and looked in. There was no sign of Elrond anywhere, but he could see Legolas sleeping. He was still very pale, but breathing softly. Oddly, he was being attended by one of the housekeepers, rather than a healer. Estel knew that there were good reasons for his foster father’s rule that children not go into the Hall uninvited, but he wished he could go to his friend, perhaps touch his hand and speak to him. Had Legolas awoken at all since last night? Estel could not have said why, but he did not think so.

The Elf who was watching Legolas smiled at Estel, but put his finger to his lips and shook his head. No answers would be forthcoming here, it seemed. With a sigh, Estel left again to search the house for his foster father.

The library proved to be uninhabited, and even Elladan and Elrohir were not in their rooms. In desperation, Estel tried his mother’s door, but there was no answer. Estel walked down the quiet hallways, growing increasingly worried. Where had everyone gone?

Finally, on the lower floors he heard voices. In relief he hastened to the closed door of the Receiving chamber, surprised to see that it was guarded by two Elves. Tavor stopped Estel as he reached for the handle of the door. “Not this time, Estel. Lord Elrond is having a very important meeting with our guests. They cannot be disturbed.” 

Estel was a little irritated. “Are they talking about Legolas? He is my friend, too. I want to know what is happening. Papa says I am old enough to be with him when he has audiences.” 

The other guard smiled at this and said, “I’m sure that is so, but this meeting is not for little boys. Why do you not run along and play? It is a fine day outside.” 

Estel found himself uncharacteristically angered by the guard’s dismissive words. He genuinely felt like stomping his feet, but knew that would gain him little. Instead Estel forced himself to smile.

“You are right. It is a nice day,” he said. Knowing he was about to be naughty but too angry to feel guilty, he turned and walked the way he had come. Instead of going outside, however, he went upstairs and out onto a balcony.

The Receiving chamber did not have wide, arched windows as many of the other rooms did. However, as Elrond was fond of sunlight, the receiving chamber had been built with smaller, glazed windows near the high ceiling. The windows let in the light and air, but gave some measure of privacy. Usually.

Estel went to the edge of the balcony and slipped over the rail onto the other side. He did note with some trepidation that he was farther from the ground than he would have liked, but he soon made himself more secure by winding his legs through the wooden bars on either side of him, so that he hung by bent knees wrapped around carved posts. By hanging on to the posts with his hands, he could lean back till he was nearly upside-down. Probably he would have been able to hear better if he had let go all together and hung by his knees only, but he was hesitant to do so.

With jubilation and a twinge of conscience, Estel found the little windows had been cracked to let in the warm spring air, and he could hear nearly everything. It didn’t hurt that the adults were being quite loud. 

“I want to do my best for my king, and that means taking you back home by force,” a voice that could only belong to Medlin was saying. “Duty to the King demands that you return to Greenwood at once. Your guilt is now certain.”

“How can you say such a thing?” This was Ilothuir. “What proof do you have Laegyrn is guilty?” 

“What more proof do I need than that Legolas has been poisoned? If one was poisoned, why not two?” Medlin said

Estel started and nearly lost his grip. He knew Legolas had been poisoned, but had assumed it was similar to the time when Estel had been small and eaten poisoned white berries from a tree: something bad, but unintentional. He could not conceive of anyone, especially an Elf, poisoning someone deliberately.

“I have not yet come to the crux of the matter, and yet you all still sit arguing. Who was poisoned in Mirkwood?” came the voice of Elrond 

There was a silence. Elrond spoke again. “There was enough arguing and needless prattle from all of you! Can you not now answer a reasonable question? I have reached the limits of my patience in all of this. Perhaps the best thing to be done is to truss you like fowl and send you all back to Thranduil.” 

There was a storm of protests, “My Lord, that would not be wise-“ Lindir began. 

“I did not even come from Mirkwood,” Ilothuir was angry. 

“And I have not finished my apprenticeship here!” came Nestwen’s appalled voice. Estel imagined her giving Elrond a righteous-righteous, reproving glance.

“In any case,” Nordheth said, “you may as well wait at least until Legolas recovers, so that we might have good news for the king.” 

“Do not you pretend to be concerned for the king now!” Medlin said heatedly. “It is your fault that Thranduil –“ He went suddenly silent. 

“Yes?” prompted Elrond. There was no response. He began again, slowly and carefully. “Many of you seem not to want to go to your homes immediately, and indeed one among you made a formal request for sanctuary this morning. Yet a guest of my house nearly died last night and I do not know that the rest of my household is not in grave danger. Each of you must tell me what you know, or by the Valar, none of you will be in this house at the end of this day. Laegyrn, you have been silent through all this. Perhaps you would care to start.” Estel knew that tone. It was not a request. 

The voice that came sounded much like Calen-Glad. “I was out hunting and when I came back my father had been struck by a poisoned arrow just outside the great doors to our home. The guards searched but found no one – and of course, at first they were looking for Orcs or perhaps humans. But later, it was thought I was responsible for the treachery.”

Estel drew in his breath, horrified.

Below, there was a pause. “That is very succinct!” Came Elrond’s voice again. “I need a little more information than that, if you please.”

“Many in the woodland realm had been injured by spiders, and I had come to have a reputation for hunting the largest and most dangerous of them: Shelob’s first children. Thus when it was my own arrow poisoned with spider venom that had nearly killed my father, the evidence seemed to point to me. But I would have no reason to do any such thing!” It was Calen-Glad. So Calen-Glad and Laegyrn were one and the same! This surprised Estel greatly, but if Elrond seemed to think so, then it must be so. He had little time to think on this as the conversation continued.

“There were tracks in the mud that led to your own chambers, and boots in your room were still dark with the same mud,” Medlin pointed out. “Nor could you explain how one of your own arrows had gone missing. And who else would have access to such strong venom? A near-empty vial of that venom was also in your chambers, I have heard. What other conclusion can we make?” 

“The evidence is not enough for condemnation,” Nordheth said. “Those things could easily have been put in place by an enemy, and so say I. When Thranduil recovered he would have released Laegyrn from his cell, but his councilors insisted that to do so would be folly until we had more evidence. Thranduil asked we take every care to find the true perpetrator.” 

“Thranduil locked his son away?” Elrond sounded appalled. 

“All the rooms in Thranduil’s keep are underground,” Lindir explained. “It would not be the same as putting your child in a dungeon. It was only that the lower levels were more secure. Anyway, it was not Thranduil who put his son in the lower rooms, it was the guards. The king was not in any condition to-”

“You are straying from the issue,” Medlin said. “King Thranduil was blinded by love for his son, that much is clear. Yet you yourself searched the halls for evidence. Did you find any that contradicted our first impression?” 

“No, but –“ 

“The king himself did not give his son freedom, but it is plain to me that someone felt that Thranduil must be overruled. Who left the portcullis open; tell me that? And why were the rooms where prisoners are kept left nearly unguarded?” 

“What do you mean?” Elrond said.

Medlin supplied the answer. “Twenty guards are usually in and around the palace at any time. Why were they suddenly removed?” 

“Thranduil ordered it thus!” Lindir protested. “Almost from the moment he was able to communicate again, he became impatient and ordered the grounds to be searched until an answer was found. The guards were looking for signs of a perpetrator, as were those citizens who were best at tracking and scouting. I myself was searching every room for some sign… “ 

“And yet you found none!” Medlin interrupted. 

“I begin to see.” Elrond’s voice came again. “So then, for whatever reason, there were fewer guards near the cells, and the portcullis had been left open. Then, Laegyrn, how did you escape?” 

There was a long silence. Then Laegyrn said softly. “Legolas came to me in the night, in silence, and he had the key to my door. He did not say whence it had come.”

“I knew it!” Medlin said loudly. “They were working together all along! Legolas had argued with his father about confining Laegyrn and had insisted that his brother be set free.” 

“The king had no choice,” protested Lindir heatedly. “He could hardly-“ 

“Enough!” Elrond said sharply. “What then, Laegyrn?” 

“I did not know where I should go, but I wanted to clear myself,” Laegyrn replied. “I thought then of Galadriel. The Lady, as you know, has a measure of foresight, and I thought perhaps she would be able to see the true assailant. Legolas and I devised a plan: he would lead the tracking party one way, and I would go the other.” 

“And why did you simply not tell your father that you wished to be brought to Galadriel so that the truth might be found?” Elrond asked. 

“The Lady has a measure of foresight, but she does not see all things. It might be she would not know the answer, and then what would I do if I were still held prisoner by my father’s men? And I was right to think so, for even after weeks of gazing into her mirror she could not say that she saw the truth of what had happened. She only said she had foreseen I would find my answers here in Imladris. She was already sending Ilothuir to Imladris to learn healing. ‘As well to send two as one,’ the Lady Galadriel said, and I came.” 

“And were you not afraid your father’s scouts would come and ask if you were here?” Estel heard Elrond ask.  Estel thought his foster father was being remarkably calm. 

“I did not know where Legolas had gone. But I thought that if anyone came, they would ask after a fair-haired prince, not a dark-haired Elf and his lady friend.” 

”We dyed his hair before coming.” Ilothuir explained. 

“And after, too, at least once,” added Laegyrn. “The roots were beginning to show. I must apologize for that, Lord Elrond. I’m afraid we took about half a case of walnuts from the cellar for the dye…” 

Glorfindel’s deep laugh echoed softly in the room. Estel was not sure why – Erestor had seemed genuinely upset when he’d discovered those walnuts missing.

“I see,” Elrond said. “Then, when Laegyrn was discovered missing, Thranduil sent a tracking party.”

Nordheth smothered a cough. “More or less, Lord Elrond. In fact he asked Legolas to choose the tracking party, and it was Legolas who told them to scout in the deeper woods first, and then begin to work west if they found nothing there. I think they did not notice he had gone missing by the time they were turned in the right direction.” 

Elrond sighed. “Well, that is as much of the tale as I think I need to hear. Unless someone has more to add?”

No one spoke. “Then you will all go back to your rooms and give me time to think on this matter. Do not attempt to leave – you will not find it easy to do so.” 

There were rustles and Estel thought the Elves were all leaving the room. He began to haul himself back up with a grimace: his legs were beginning to fall asleep. When he heard another voice though, he stopped.

“My Lord, a word,” said Lindir. “I must speak with you.”

“Speak then,” Elrond said. “What have you to say to me?” 

“My Lord, I must tell you that – “ A pause. “That it was I who left the key to Laegyrn’s cell for Legolas to find.”

There was a long silence before Elrond spoke. “Why would you do such a thing? And where would you come by a key to begin with?” 

“As to why, it is because I know King Thranduil himself deeply believed in his son’s innocence. And as to how I would come by the key… my Lord Elrond, it was the king himself who gave me the key, and instructed me to give it to Legolas.” 

Estel was entranced by this turn of events. Unfortunately, he was unable to hear anything more, because at that moment, a cry sounded from below. 

“Estel!” came Elladan’s sharp voice. “What in Arda are you doing?”

With a sinking heart, Estel turned his head to look down.


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