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Reflections from the Paradise of Elves  by Bodkin

The Paradise of Elves – Part 88:  Peace

‘It is different here,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘Did we really have a choice in what we became?  We were born at a moment of hope, true, but even then those wise elves who had seen Anor rise knew better than to believe that peace was more than a fleeting thing.’

Legolas drew up his long legs and rested his forearms on his knees.  ‘That is right – as far as it goes,’ he said mildly.  ‘We had our obligations, it is true – I could no more have become a potter or a scholar or a blacksmith than you could.  My path from the moment I was born led me to take up weapons – Galenthil knows he need never defend the forests here from evil.  Not by shedding blood – either his own or that of any enemy.  But he is still my son, and Adar’s grandson.  The direct male heir of the line of Oropher.   It puts a burden on him that he cannot escape, any more than Elrin and Ellanthir, as Elladan’s sons, can evade the duty of supporting their house.’

‘My daughters would protest that they share the same heritage,’ Elrohir pointed out. ‘And demand why you were excluding them – in some narrow-minded patrilineal way.’

His friend grinned.  ‘Eleniel would simply look – she can be frighteningly like Adar at times.’

‘No descendant of Galadriel …’

‘Or Lúthien – or Melian – or Elwing …’ Elrohir interrupted. ‘Idril – Celebrían ...’

His brother ignored him, ‘would be so foolhardy as to disregard the female line.  But you know what I mean.’

‘In some ways,’ Legolas said thoughtfully, ‘it makes their paths much more complicated.  Galenthil, I think, would never choose to be a warrior.  He trains because he knows it is expected of him – enjoys it most of the time – and, under different circumstances, he would have done what everyone perceived to be his duty, but here?  Now?  Is it not the rather unnecessary residue of a world that is gone?  Would it not be better for the … the arts of war to disappear into the shadows where they belong?’

‘Do you think that is possible?’ Elrohir asked, rather doubtfully.  ‘Are we not considering something that – once released – cannot be closed away?  Half the history of the elves is the story of warfare – to deny the skills would surely make them more attractive to those who cannot realise the reality.  Does not training the young – teaching them to deal with weapons with respect, in full awareness of their demands – lessen their appeal?  There is nothing like coming back from the training fields dripping with sweat, with arms that ache from overwork, bruised and trembling from the strain put on muscles, to make a young firebrand realise that there is more to fighting than easy glory.’

Elladan leaned back.  ‘There is more behind teaching the young to handle weapons than the need to use them to fight,’ he said.  ‘What of hunting?  What of defending yourself from attacking animals?  And it is not so long since events proved that not all elves are beyond using force against each other.  Being able to defend yourself is surely only sensible.’

‘But when does defence become aggression?  When does the fear of war become the springboard for war?’ 

Elrohir opened his mouth and then closed it again, frowning.  ‘You are not speaking figuratively, are you?’

‘Peace – harmony – a safe life in a guarded land … Those of us who know what it is to live through conflict treasure it.  We prize it so highly that those who come after us have no idea of how easily it can be shattered.’

‘It must not be forgotten,’ Elladan said.  ‘We are elvenkind – our memories do not fade.  Those who were there have a duty to pass on the understanding of the cost of conflict.  The risks of pointless divisions – the dangers of parochialism and blinkered selfishness.  The perils inherent in thoughtless rhetoric.  We have a duty to teach the young the value of what they take for granted.’

‘Yet …’ Legolas sighed.  ‘When did the young ever believe that their elders had something to say that was worth the listening?  Has not experience always proved the best teacher?’

‘But war,’ Elrohir said dryly, ‘is not an experience we would wish on anyone.’

‘Then we must ensure that the education we provide is sufficiently … impressive,’ his brother observed, ‘that it obviates the desire for practical knowledge.’

‘Probably easier said than done.’

‘But worth it.’ Legolas’s words were heartfelt.  ‘Definitely worth it.’

Elrohir tossed a small stick into the busy stream.  ‘I never thought I would care enough about the Blessed Realm to have any urge to preserve its tranquillity,’ he said.  ‘It does not seem long ago that we felt like cuckoos set down in an alien nest.’

‘Not long in years, perhaps,’ his brother agreed.  ‘But an age in everything else.’

‘Only the fact that I had survived my own transition,’ Legolas told them, ‘gave me confidence that you would – if you gave yourselves the chance – find happiness here.  You were …’ he drew a breath as he recalled the shadows of the Elrondionnath who had landed in the Blessed Realm, ‘in a bad way.’

The twins exchanged a glance, half-amused, half-challenging, the bond between them clearly declared.  ‘We never surrender,’ Elladan said.  ‘We will fight every battle to the end.’

‘Even if the battle involves learning to live in peace,’ his twin added, concluding softly, ‘and ensuring that everyone in these lands has the chance to do the same.’

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