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A Light in May  by Antigone Q

Legolas did not really want to open his eyes. It seemed the only things that did not hurt were his toes. Most especially, it hurt to breathe, and for that reason alone he was fairly certain he was not in Mandos' halls yet.

He had confused recollections of vague dreams, some of which had featured his father, worried and pacing. Those were easy to understand. When he was hurt Legolas often wished for his father.

Other dreams were not so easy to discern. He had dreamed of a broken sword, its shards scattered and useless, and of a ring worn by a Man who was calling his name. The man was a…king? A Man-king calling his name? It seemed unlikely. But those were only dreams, and all kinds of visions came with illness. Legolas was sure he was ill, even if he could not remember why. Why could he not remember what had gone on the night before, and why could he not open his eyes?

With a great effort, he pried his eyes open, and tried to make sense of what he saw. He had a strange feeling that he had been here before, looking up at the same carved beams. Ah, the carvings! Of course, he was in Imladris. He had come because…

“I see you are awake at last.”

He had come because someone was lost…

 “May I bring you anything?” asked the quiet voice beside him.

Legolas turned his head and saw Glorfindel beside him. “New body,” he managed to joke. Belatedly Legolas remembered with whom he was speaking, and that the “joke” might not be so funny to the Balrog-slayer who had perished in a fount of flame. The ghost of a smile that had crossed Legolas’ face faded.

“Hm,” Glorfindel said, looking him over. “I think you are not quite in need of a new body yet. Especially since you have been through such a lot with this one and it has stood you in good stead. Perhaps you are thirsty? Do you need water?”

Legolas nodded. “Thirsty.”

Glorfindel brought him a glass of water and then studied a list on the table near the bed. “I am supposed to ask you if you have any tenderness anywhere.”

Legolas let out a little huff of laughter, and it hurt. “Everywhere.”

Glorfindel smiled. “Oh, come now. Even your hair?”

“Especially th’ braid,” murmured Legolas. He sighed. “Still tired.”

“Then sleep again,” Glorfindel said. “Lord Elrond will be sorry he was not here for you when you awoke. I am sure he will be along later.”

“No,” Legolas protested, grasping at his dreams and bits of memories, “Must remember something.”

Glorfindel waited.

“Dark. I went…” But Legolas could only remember that someone had found him after a storm. He furrowed his brow in concentration.

“Do not worry,” Glorfindel soothed. “It should come to you soon. Any severe trauma of this kind…”

“No!” Insisted Legolas. “I know I – Oh!” And then, to Glorfindel’s amazement and alarm, Legolas tried to sit up.

“You will cease that immediately!” Glorfindel ordered. “You will – stop at once, I said.” He pushed Legolas back onto the bed. It was not difficult to hold Legolas in place, but Glorfindel worried that Legolas would injure himself all over again with his struggles.

“Let me go to my brother,” Legolas bit out, attempting to rise.

“Your brother is fine,” Glorfindel said. “Do you hear me? Your brother is fine. He has gone nowhere. He is uninjured. He is fine!”

Legolas stopped and searched Glorfindel’s face. “He is well?”

“Is that not what I have been saying?” Glorfindel chided, finally able to settle the patient in place. “I tell you, he is unharmed and just down the hall from you.”

The energy drained from Legolas as he heard the truth of Glorfindel’s words. The effort that Legolas had made to rise exhausted him. “Not the dungeon?”

Glorfindel chuckled. “Imladris has never needed a dungeon. Indeed, I do not know how Elrond would fare knowing that any being in his household was held in discomfort by his wishes.” He grew thoughtful. “Though I might wish we had one this day. It seems you have been poisoned by spider venom. One of Elrond’s sons found poisoned Lembas. I do not suppose you noticed who shared bread with you last night…”

Legolas nodded, unsurprised. “Knew it was spider. No feeling in my hands. But I could not speak.”

Legolas closed his eyes and at first Glorfindel thought he had gone to sleep.

Then Legolas spoke. “Shared with…Lindir…Gilraen…Elrohir…Lord Elrond…” Glorfindel brightened. He could safely discount a few of those people as suspects. His face fell again as Legolas furrowed his brow in concentration, then continued… “And Tavor…Laegyrn…Ilothuir…”

“You ate all that?” No wonder he hadn’t noticed the stomach cramps at first. Anyone might have had them from overeating!

“Wanted to be p’lite.” Legolas murmured, looking as if he were about to drift off.

Glorfindel sighed. “Well, that does still help. Thank you.”

“Why’d I dream of a king?” Legolas asked, half-asleep. “It was not my father…”

But Glorfindel was already thinking hard and was too distracted to notice.


Elsewhere in the house, Erestor began to take Estel to the library to read a story.

“No,” said Estel, “I am not in the mood for a story. What did Papa have to look at downstairs? Why can I not see? Is it something to do with Laegyrn?”

Erestor glanced at Estel, startled. “What do you know about Laegyrn? And where did you hear?”

Estel dropped his eyes to the floor.

Erestor blew out an annoyed breath. “I suppose there is no keeping secrets from you, but I will not be the one to explain. Your Papa will decide what to tell you after he is done…after he is done. Something was found near the river.”

Estel pouted. “Well, anyway, I do not want a story. I want to know what is happening.”

“Perhaps you could…hmm…we could go up to the Star Dome,” Erestor bribed.

That was a special treat! Because telescopes were delicate, Estel was only allowed play in the stargazing room under close supervision.

Estel nodded eagerly and a few minutes later Erestor unlocked the door to the topmost room of the highest tower in the house of Lord Elrond.

Stargazing was something that Papa loved very much, and it was a joy he apparently shared with Erestor, who went to the tower nearly every night. The round room had six large balconies where a telescope could be placed, and the domed ceiling, blue-black, was painted with Arda’s constellations. Two tall pillars that looked like stone trees, each with a large pearl at the top, came up from the floor as if they were growing under the dome.

Estel moved to look at all the constellations in the painted sky.

“I know the Butterflynow,” Estel said, pointing. “And Helluin, too.”

“Very good,” Erestor approved. “Last year you didn’t know those.”

Then Erestor sat down at his big book. Estel knew he liked to write things about the stars: strange things he’d seen, like falling stars or comets, or things about the moon, or even things that he was only guessing about.

Estel walked the circumference of the room as he always did, looking at the murals on the walls. Although they were mostly of places that Estel did not know, one was clearly the waterfall in Imladris under a moonless sky. Papa had once said that all he saw that night he arrived were the stars and the waterfall, and so he knew he had come home.

Estel began to twirl slowly around the room, vigilant in avoiding a big metal contraption with copper balls that swung on wires. Then he made another circuit, saying, “Good morning Imladris…” He made another circuit. And another. He stopped, wagging a finger at something unseen. “Go to bed clouds!”

Erestor looked over his shoulder and Estel resumed his path, saying, “No, Clouds! I will not give you your way just because you stomp at me!”

Erestor sighed. “Estel, could you please be a little quiet? I finally have a moment to work on this equation, and I cannot concentrate while you are being a spinning top.”

Estel looked hurt. “I am not a top, Erestor! I am the sun. Remember when we had the storm and we found Legolas? Glorfindel said that…”

“Estel, please? I finally have a few minutes...”

“You do not have to say it all over again. I knew what you meant the first time.”

Estel walked to Erestor and looked over his shoulder at the page. The Elf was doing one of his long mathematical formulas that Estel could not understand at all. At least, Erestor said it was math, though the pages did not even look like they contained very many numbers. He’d asked Erestor about them before, and he asked again now.

“I do not understand. If you are doing math, then why is there a picture of a triangle? Or a pair of squiggles?”

“I think I can safely say that you will not understand any of my explanations until you at least learn long division,” Erestor said dryly.

Estel scowled. That was a no-answer answer. He walked to the small telescope and looked out. What a glorious view! He could see the far side of the valley, right down to the leaves on the ash tree, and even a squirrel going from one branch to another. He slowly swung the telescope to another place and saw the waterfall and the rocks. He moved the telescope again, looking for more animals.

Unexpectedly, he saw his father with the twins and a few other Elves examining something near the banks of the river. As far as he could see, it seemed to be a pile of old clothes and arrows and a few bags.

Something was clearly amiss. Elrond and Elrohir were having an animated discussion while Elladan was shaking his head. Estel looked carefully but the only thing nasty he saw that could have provoked Erestor’s earlier reaction was a leather vest with a dark stain - or perhaps the rope dangling from a slime-filled boot.

Suddenly remembering Elladan’s reaction the last time Estel had spied on his foster father, Estel turned his telescope toward the plateau.


It was late in the day when Elrond and Glorfindel returned to the Last Homely House and retired to the Library. Glorfindel, without being asked, poured them both very full cups of wine.

Elrond drank his in one swallow, and Glorfindel silently poured him another.

“Another killing.” Elrond spoke at last. “That is all we need. Where did the Elf come from? Her clothing was of Mirkwood, but why, if she was from Mirkwood, was she traveling in this direction? She must have been there for a time, else her body would have been…Well. She must have been there for a week, at the least. What could she possibly have to do with all this? And what am I to make of the fact that her knife was from Lorien?”

Glorfindel nursed his wine and said nothing in reply. Indeed, there was little to say. For his part, he was glad that the Elf had joined the earth before they found her trappings. It seemed cold to be relieved that he did not have to see the body, but relieved he was. There was a long silence.

Then Elrond ventured, “If I had not flooded the river, her remains might never have been found.”


 “There was no tear in her clothing, though the blood in her clothes was over her heart. What would cause that, do you think?”

Glorfindel had no answer for this.

“Could she have been shot with an arrow? Or struck with a knife? Surely the stone tied to her boot was meant to keep her body in the river, and not to…”

“Lord Elrond…” Glorfindel did not want to talk about death any longer. “Drink your wine and let us think about all this on the morrow.”

“If her clothes were not torn, but showed the blood of a wound, then it seems likely that someone put clothes on her, or put different clothes on her, after she was dead.”

“Perhaps so.”

Elrond sighed. “Ought we have made a cairn for her there? Or should…”

“Elrond! Please, my friend, I want to sleep tonight.”

Elrond paused and glanced reproachfully at Glorfindel. “I do not like it either. But the longer we do not think of it, the longer the kin-slayer will remain with us.”

Nevertheless, the Lord of Imladris grew silent. As they settled back into their chairs Elrond said, “In all the excitement I did not think to ask if you had learned anything from Legolas.”

“Indeed, I was able to speak with him for a few moments. Much good it does us – Legolas ate more than was strictly good for him, in the name of being a good guest. Half of Imladris seems to have shared Lembas with him. But yes, Legolas gave me a list of those he broke bread with.” Glorfindel repeated the list of names.

Elrond mulled this over for a few minutes and then smiled, relaxing in great relief. “But Glorfindel, this is excellent news!”

Glorfindel frowned, shaking his head. “I do not see.”

Elrond leaned forward. “You do not see because you are not coupling the information from Legolas with the information Gilraen gave you.”

Glorfindel shook his head again. “No, I am tired, friend. You will have to explain it to me.”

“Easily. It is only an assumption, but it is at least a beginning: if we assume that the one who is guilty made the Lembas, and that the same person shared it with Legolas, we can omit several names right away. You see how?”

Glorfindel thought, then growled with exasperation at himself, striking his forehead with his palm. “Of course! Forgive me; I have had so much on my mind that it did not occur to me! Gilraen found the vial of poison in the kitchen as the Lembas was being made, therefore…”

“Therefore it is not certain, but probable, that our culprit is female.”

“I’d stake my life that it was none of our household who did the evil. But did our visitors participate in the baking?”

“Yes, I believe so.” Elrond smiled ruefully. “It was my intention to show our guests the fullest hospitality possible.”

Glorfindel frowned, reviewing the list of names in his mind, crossing off the ones who did not fit. “Wait. What you are thinking is not possible. Or was there a cohort in Laegyrn himself?”

Elrond took a sip of wine and closed his eyes. “I am developing a theory. It hinges on the death of the Elf that was hidden in the river. Would you like to hear it?”

Glorfindel’s eyebrows reached farther and farther aloft as Elrond explained. When Elrond at last finished, Glorfindel cleared his throat.

“My friend,” he said kindly, “Mayhap you should take some rest now. It has been a long and troublesome day.”

Elrond frowned, thinking. “It is the only explanation I can think of that touches on all recent matters.”

“But what would the motive be?” Glorfindel asked reasonably. “And why would she stay in Imladris rather than go elsewhere alone?”

“The motive for harming the king, we must still discover. As for the other - would you not be fearful of discovery, had you just attempted to murder the king and place the blame on his son? An Elf wandering alone without explanation would easily be found…” He was silent for a few minutes. “I believe I can find our culprit, though it will be risky. But first, let us go and speak to Laegyrn.”


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