Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search

The Tide of Times  by daw the minstrel

I borrow characters and situations from Tolkien but they are his. I draw no profit other than the enriched imaginative life that I assume he intended me to gain.

Many thanks to Nilmandra for beta reading this for me.


4.  Negotiating

Legolas looked straight ahead and tried to ease the strain on his arms by bending them slightly and then straightening them again.  Maldor’s feet passed in front of his face.  “Are your arms shaking already, Tinéldor?” Maldor demanded sharply, stopping by the novice who was next to Legolas.  “An hour is not an excessively long time to hold a handstand, and you will be holding it for a while yet.  Put some muscle into it.”

Legolas looked from the corner of his eye at the four other novices all in a row standing on their hands. They were all stripped to their leggings, both to keep their tunics from falling into their faces and also to allow the unarmed combat master to see how they were faring. When he was satisfied that their arms were exhausted, he would let them up and set them to sparring using only their legs.

They had done this exercise before, and Legolas knew that he would probably be the last one released from the handstand.  As a consequence of years of work with a bow, he was strong through the arms and shoulders, but so were all of his companions.  The length of time he would hold this position was really due to his dislike of Maldor and his reluctance to let the unarmed combat master get the better of him.

Settling in for a long contest, he deliberately tried to make his mind go blank, for he had found that the time passed more easily if he could blur his awareness a little.  Today, however, his mind would not obey him, for he kept thinking of Synia, whom he would see that night and with whom he intended to have matters out.

Elrál’s account of what Synia was apparently claiming about them had caught him by surprise.  Synia was by no means the first maiden he had spent time with in the last few years.  He had found, rather to his embarrassment, that maidens were attracted to him.  He suspected that that was as much because of who he was as of what he was like himself, although that was an idea that Annael discounted.  “I would not have credited it myself,” Annael had recently teased him, “but Beliniel says you are good looking.”

Legolas had watched his older brother Eilian keep maidens at a distance by flirting with many of them and refusing to take any of them seriously, but Legolas had found that he was uncomfortable doing that himself.  Unlike Eilian, he liked being friends with one maiden at a time. He had found that maidens were easier to talk to than most of his male companions, and he could not deny that he enjoyed exchanging kisses with them.  Synia had been more enthusiastic than most about such exchanges, but it had never occurred to him that she might be reading much into them.  He supposed now that it should have.  He had read that Men were able to separate emotional and physical intimacy, but it was not so for Elves.

He sighed, and Maldor walked to stand in front of him.  “Do you find this tedious, Legolas?” he demanded sharply.

“No, master,” he answered woodenly. “I enjoy it.”

Maldor’s lips tightened.  “We will see if you enjoy sparring as well,” he snapped and walked away.

That was stupid of me, Legolas thought with a twinge of regret, knowing without a doubt that when the sparring started he would be facing Maldor and, unpleasant as he was, Maldor could fight.  Ah, well, Legolas mentally shrugged.  Perhaps today would be the day he would defeat the master.  He moved his right hand slightly so that a small stone was no longer digging into his palm.

His thoughts went back to Synia again.  The one thing he had to be grateful for was that his father was away, for Thranduil seemed to know everything that went on in his realm, and if he had caught wind of a rumor of a match between Legolas and Synia, he would have been in a fury.  Like all Elven parents, Thranduil expected his children to seek his approval and permission before becoming betrothed, and he would not be happy if he thought that Legolas had done otherwise.

Moreover, Thranduil was unlikely to be placated by Legolas’s protestation that there was no such match in the offing.  He was unlikely to accept without question the excuse that Synia had misunderstood Legolas’s intentions and would want to know just what had occurred that she could misunderstand. Legolas found that that was an explanation he did not want to have to give.   And in the long run, his relationship with Synia was his own responsibility anyway. He would see her this evening and break it off with her entirely.

“That is enough, Legolas,” Maldor’s voice interrupted his unpleasant thoughts.  Legolas let himself down and then flexed his aching arms.  He looked over to where Annael was already sparring with Elun, and Elrál was kicking at Tinéldor.  It was just as he had anticipated, he thought glumly.  “Come,” Maldor said.  “We will work together.”

Legolas climbed to his feet, saluted his opponent, and then took up his stance. In a blur of motion, Maldor’s bare foot landed squarely in his chest and sent him sprawling.  He dragged air back into his lungs and then stood up again. It was going to be a long afternoon.


Thranduil inhaled deeply.  Lilacs of all shades bloomed in a fragrant mass in this secluded corner of the gardens of Imladris.  Spring wildflowers grew in messy disarray under the flower laden bushes.  A small pond had been built here and benches had been placed in several spots so that a wanderer could seek shade or sun, depending on the weather. On this fine spring afternoon, he seated himself in sunshine and then allowed the life of the garden to calm him a little as he thought about the events of that morning’s council meeting.  Or perhaps, he corrected himself, it would be more accurate to say the non-events of that morning’s council meeting.  He had never had much hope that any action would grow out of this meeting, and he was increasingly sure he had been right.

He was beginning to think it was time for him to go home.  Legolas’s coming-of-age ceremony would take place soon, and he needed to be present for that.  He thought with satisfaction about his youngest son, who was growing into a formidable warrior and a responsible young adult.  He had been lucky in his children, he thought.

A soft step stirred the pebbles in the path, and he stiffened slightly as he became aware of the approach of Elrond, who stopped at the entrance to the little garden, evidently surprised to see Thranduil there.  Then, courteous as always, Elrond asked, “Do I disturb you?”

“Not at all,” Thranduil answered, gesturing for Elrond to join him on the bench.  He might as well take advantage of any opportunity to learn what he could about Elrond’s concerns and perhaps those of Galadriel and Círdan, with whom he seemed to be allied.  There were secrets among these people, he thought, and he had found that things worth keeping secret were usually things worth knowing.

Elrond lowered himself gracefully to the bench and then looked around at the flowering shrubs as if seeking something he could not find.  Thranduil watched him from under lowered lids.  He had had very little contact with Elrond since Dagorlad and had been only too happy for the distance between them.  After the slaughter of his father’s forces, he had had no desire to form friendships with those who had failed to support them.  Thus, he had been unprepared for the sympathy that Elrond’s appearance had called forth in him since his arrival in Imladris.  It seemed to him that Elrond looked weary, as if he carried a burden that was almost more than he could bear.

“All of Imladris’s gardens are beautiful,” Thranduil observed finally, as Elrond continued to contemplate the lilacs, “but I think I like this corner the best.  It has the feel of the woods about it.”

As if coming back to himself with an effort, Elrond turned somber eyes upon him. “Celebrían created this spot,” he said.  “She sometimes found the other gardens too formal.”

Thranduil studied him.  He was a private person himself and did not like to intrude upon the private grief of others, but he had been widowed too recently not to feel Elrond’s pain.  “I was sorry to hear that Celebrían had been hurt and then that she felt she had to sail west. I know what it is like to be parted from a wife.”

“Yes, of course you do,” Elrond answered, evidently distressed by his failure to have mentioned Thranduil’s loss.  “And I was sorry to hear about Lorellin.”  He seemed to hesitate.  “Thranduil, have you ever wondered if perhaps the enemy knew whom they were stalking?”

Thranduil blinked. “You mean that Celebrían and Lorellin were deliberate targets rather than random victims?”

“Yes.” Elrond looked away into the distance, and Thranduil wondered what he saw.

“That would mean that Sauron has spies who are even more effective than I already believe them to be,” Thranduil frowned and then shook his head. “The Shadow is spreading ever more widely, Elrond, and we at this council are doing nothing to stop it.”

Elrond shifted restlessly. “I am afraid that Curunír is right. We must be patient.”

“Is that what your sons think too?” Thranduil asked sharply, all sympathy suddenly gone.

Against every fatherly instinct, he had sent Eilian and another warrior to Dol Guldur.  That it had not been his son who died was a matter of sheer good fortune.  Was that sacrifice to be wasted?

Elrond turned bleak eyes upon him. “My sons are none of your affair,” he said icily and then rose.  “I will see you again at evening meal,” he said and then was gone.

Thranduil looked after him and then leaned back against the bench and blew out an impatient breath.  Elrond was suffering, and that was regrettable.  But he was also unlikely to take action any time soon, and from Thranduil’s point of view, that was even more to be regretted.


“I missed you when you were gone on the novice exercises,” Synia said.

Legolas leaned back against the tree, and she snuggled up next to him.  Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbled.  They would not be able to stay out for long, and once they went to one of their homes, they would have no privacy at all.  He needed to speak up now.

He drew a deep breath. “Synia, there is something I must speak to you about.”

She looked up at him and then stretched up to kiss his cheek. “You are so serious,” she said.  She began to fiddle with the laces on his tunic.  He caught at her hand and held it immobile.

“This is serious,” he said firmly.  Then he paused, uncertain exactly how to begin. When he had been planning this conversation, he had had a vague hope that it could be held without great unpleasantness, but now, with Synia clinging to him, he was beginning to think he might have been overly optimistic.  I must just get it out in the open, he resolved. “Did you tell Elrál that we were going to be betrothed?” he finally blurted out.

She tensed and then sat up a bit straighter.  “No, I did not.”  She sounded indignant.

“Did you imply it then?” he persisted, at the same time thinking that if Elrál had gotten this wrong, he would kill him.

She started to speak and then paused.  “I may have said something that could be taken that way,” she finally admitted.  She looked up at him from under her lashes.  “Perhaps I should have been more discreet.  I am sorry.”

“It is not a question of discretion,” Legolas replied in exasperation. “Well, it is,” he amended, “but it is not only that.  Synia, there is no such agreement between us.”

She froze, staring at him with her lips parted.  “What do you mean?” she said stiffly.

He cringed at her tone, but he could not stop now. “I told you that when I become a warrior in another few weeks, I will be going south to serve under my brother.  I cannot bond with anyone right now.”

She was still so close to him that he could feel her trembling slightly.  “But Annael said that that would not really happen,” she said.  “He said that Ithilden would never allow you to join the Southern Patrol without any experience.”

Now it was Legolas’s turn to stare at her.  Could Annael really have said that?  He felt a moment’s anxiety but then recovered himself with an effort.  “Annael is wrong,” he said firmly. “It is what I have always planned to do. I have spoken to Eilian about it several times.”

“I do not believe it,” she declared.

He stiffened. “I beg your pardon,” he said with as much arrogance as he could manage. He surely had done nothing to merit being called a liar.

She flinched slightly and then drew a deep breath and put her hand on his arm.  “I am sorry,” she apologized, and her voice was coaxing now. “I did not mean that the way it sounded.  But, Legolas, do you really want to go away?”  She leaned toward him, biting her lip. “Think about it. You could join the Home Guard, as Annael says most new warriors do. There would be nothing dishonorable in that, and we could be together.”  She stretched up to kiss him, sliding her tongue along his lips which he involuntarily parted in response.  She touched her tongue to his, sending a jolt through him that seemed to go straight to his groin.

With a desperate effort, he drew back.  “I am a warrior, Synia.  And I am the son of the king.  I have obligations to the realm, and I want to defend it.”

She stared at him for a moment, and then, to his utter astonishment, she took his hand and slid it into the unbuttoned neck of her gown, laying it against her left breast.  “Do you really want to leave?” she asked softly.

Thunder rumbled again, closer this time.  She stirred, and he felt the lace at the edge of her chemise on the back of his hand and the warm softness of her under his fingers.  What am I doing? he thought, and then, unexpectedly, anger swept through him. With an almost violent effort, he snatched his hand away.  “There is no agreement between us, Synia,” he said, struggling for breath, “and there will not be one.”

Disbelief twisted her face, and then, with a cry of rage, she struck him full across the face, snapping his head back, for she was surprisingly strong.  “What is wrong with you?” she cried.  She drew her arm back to slap him again, and he caught her wrist.

“Stop it!” he demanded.  She glared at him for a moment longer, and then suddenly, her face crumpled, and she began to cry.  He wrapped his arms around her and drew her close, stroking her hair.  “I am sorry,” he said simply.

“Leave me alone,” she ordered, pulling away.  She swiped at her eyes with her fingertips.

“It is going to rain,” he said, reluctant to leave her by herself.  “Come. I will see you home.”

“I can get home by myself,” she declared. “Just go away.”

He hesitated for a moment longer and then turned to leave the glade in which they had sheltered and stride up the path toward home.  As he neared the bridge to the palace, lightning forked through the night, a clap of thunder sounded, and the clouds opened.  He broke into a run and raced through the Great Doors as rain began to pour down.

“Nasty night,” commented one of the guards, who stood just inside the doors.

“Indeed,” Legolas agreed, wondering if Synia had gotten home before the rain started.  He grimaced to himself.  What a mess! What had he been thinking that he had not realized what she had been hoping for?  He entered the hallway in which the royal family’s quarters lay.  As he moved along toward his own room, he passed the door to the suite where Ithilden and Alfirin lived and he paused, recalling Synia’s assertion that Ithilden would never agree to send him south.

He had to admit that he had never spoken to Ithilden about his plans for joining the Southern Patrol, but he had talked to Eilian, who captained it, and he had assumed that Eilian would see to it that he was posted there.  That had seemed the better course to take because Ithilden listened to Eilian in a way he never did to Legolas.  He tried to remember exactly what Eilian had said the last time Legolas had talked about his plans, but found that he could recall only vague comments about crossing that bridge when they came to it.

He had a sudden strong urge to talk to Ithilden.  Under ordinary circumstances, he would wait until the next day and ask to see his brother in his office near the training fields.  Ithilden usually declined to talk about such business at home and, indeed, refused to talk to Legolas at all about things that he would not share with any other novice.  But with Thranduil gone, Ithilden was so busy that he was conducting all his affairs from the palace, and the novices were kept busy enough that Legolas would not be able to go home during the day. With the end of his training drawing near, surely he had a right to reassure himself as to where he was going to be posted.  He raised his hand and knocked on the door of Ithilden’s suite.

“Come in,” his brother’s deep voice called.

Legolas entered to find Ithilden seated at a desk to one side of the room, apparently going through dispatches.  He looked up and then smiled, sat back, and stretched.  He looked tired, Legolas thought.  Carrying their father’s responsibilities as well as his own was beginning to wear on him.  Alfirin and Sinnarn were no where to be seen, and Legolas suddenly realized that it was late and they had probably already gone to bed.

“Am I disturbing you?” Legolas asked tentatively.

“Not at all,” Ithilden answered, waving him to a chair near the desk. “Did you have a good evening?”

A sudden vision of Synia’s angry face flashed before him, and he could feel himself flushing.  “Yes,” he said hastily.  He certainly had no intention of telling anyone what had occurred between him and her tonight, and he fervently hoped that she would hold her tongue too.  Ithilden cocked his head and raised an eyebrow.  It was hard to fool him; he had been commanding troops for a long time and was quite good at reading people. Legolas hurried to speak.

“I know you do not like to discuss warrior business here at home,” he began, watching for Ithilden’s reaction, “but I wanted to ask you something.”

Ithilden’s smile fled, and he sighed and ran his hand wearily over his hair.  “What is it?” he asked reluctantly.

Legolas leaned forward eagerly.  “Has Eilian talked to you about my serving under him after I finish my training?”

Ithilden blinked. “No, he has not,” he said emphatically.  “Surely you do not think you are going to the Southern Patrol immediately?”

Legolas felt as if Maldor had just landed a kick to his stomach.  “But I have spoken to him about it, and he has agreed that I can serve there.”

“I doubt that,” Ithilden said dismissively, “and if he has, then he has overstepped his authority.”

Frantically trying to think of just what Eilian had said, Legolas was opening his mouth to protest when a small voice cried “Ada!” and Sinnarn ran into the room and jumped into Ithilden’s lap to bury his distressed face against his father’s chest.  He was wearing a sleep tunic and clutching a multi-colored blanket that Alfirin had woven for him before he was born.  The blanket was beginning to unravel, but Legolas had heard him adamantly refusing to let his mother mend it.

“What is it, iôn-nín?” Ithilden asked, embracing him.  “Did you have a bad dream?”

The elfling shook his head without raising it.  “The thunder woke me up,” he said in a voice muffled by Ithilden’s tunic.  He raised his face then, and they both could see the alarm in it.  “I am not afraid,” he declared stoutly, “but it was too loud.”

Ithilden kissed the top of his dark head.  “Thunder will not hurt you,” he murmured.

“I know,” Sinnarn said, “but I want it to be quiet.”

Ithilden looked up at Legolas, who knew that any discussion of his own future was over, at least for now.  “I could take him if you have work to do,” Legolas offered, stretching his arms out for his nephew.

But Sinnarn dug his fists into his father’s tunic and Ithilden shook his head.  “Go on to bed,” he said.  “Sinnarn and I will go to his room and rock for a while.” With his son in his arms, he rose and Legolas did too.

“May I talk to you about this some more at another time?” Legolas stopped in the doorway to ask.

Ithilden frowned at him. “I always talk to the new warriors about where they will be posted a few days before the ceremony in which they pledge their faith.  I will do the same with you.”

Legolas bit his lip. This was not a satisfactory answer, but he knew he was going to have to accept it.  I will write to Eilian, he thought, as he walked toward his own room.  Perhaps he can convince Ithilden that I belong with him.


As always, I thank everyone who takes the time to read this story and especially those who review it, whether at, at, or via email.  I love hearing from you.

Antigone Q:  Well, the “presumptuous little twit” has been sent on her way.  She was bad for him, but I can sort of understand her point of view.  And you are a good reader because right here in my notes for the last chapter it says I should write about the war games to show Legolas becoming a leader.  So it’s nice to know someone saw that.

Caz baz:  I think Ithilden thinks like you do and intends to have all new warriors start in the Home Guard.

Nelsonia:  I hadn’t planned on doing any more on Eilian scouting near Dol Guldur this time.  But I think he may be going there in my next story too!

Lera:  My goodness, you’re a sharp reader.  The only thing I would add is that Synia is not the only one who apparently heard what she wanted to hear.  Legolas seems to have done that too with regard to his posting.

White Wolf:  I’m glad you like “coming home” to my characters, although maybe that means I need to do something different!

Dot:  I was kind of charmed by the idea of Ithilden and the twins too.  Maybe I’ll write about that someday.  There would be lots of canonical characters after all.  If Galor came across as a little creepy, then I did it wrong. I just meant for him to be too wrapped up in the woods to be a good warrior.

Bryn:  I hadn’t thought much about writing Cirdan, but he and Thranduil would make an amusing little pair.  Radagast is offended: “crazy old bat” indeed!  And I suspect that if you say more unkind things about Elrond, you will be in trouble with more than Glorfindel!  My beta is a BIG Elrond fan.

Legolas4me:  He’s trying to be more responsible. He’s better at doing it in his warrior role than in his personal life right now, but he’s getting better.

Brenda G:  Legolas was good, wasn’t he?  And he move quickly to put a stop to the Synia rumor mill.  Thranduil is smiling benevolently at you.  If he weren’t married, he would come to visit.

French Pony:  I love your assessment of Legolas as a commander. He is good with people, I think, and his loyalty is one of his strongest traits, even in the Fellowship.

LKK:  The council is turning out to be surprisingly fun to write about.  These people are all so complicated and powerful that it’s very tricky to figure out how they would all act with one another.

Lamiel:  I have to admit that I hesitated to write about the novice exercises again.  I had already done it and I was afraid that readers would be bored so I didn’t want to describe them too fully. But then, there are sometimes new readers (I hope) and I needed to say enough that the whole thing made sense to them too.  It’s one of the consequences of a long series of stories, I guess.  I’m glad you find them consistent.

Feanen:  The training is kind of fun to write about too.  I thought it would be a mix of pretty strict discipline with adventuresome fun.

Princessofthelandofgreenleaves:  I think you can cross Synia off your list of worries. But sadly, Legolas has to save Middle-earth before he can come and see you.

Nikki:  It must be nice for Legolas to have people looking up to him.  He’s been the youngest at home for a long time.

Erunyauve:  You always have such interesting background from Tolkien. I think your reasoning is right on.  And while Synia isn’t evil, she’s not good for Legolas either. She’s pretty selfish, I think.

TigerLily:  It was fun to cut back and forth between Thranduil’s strategy at the council and Legolas’s strategy in the war games.  And in this chapter, they’re both trying to negotiate with others who are pretty resistant!

Alice:  Legolas does seem to have gone from elfling to commander over night!  At my house, he actually did because I finished a story of him getting his first big bow and immediately started thinking about this one. I have to keep reminding myself to make him grown up. Eilian will be along eventually.

Frodo3791:  I think love is more complicated for Legolas than for Annael, for instance. As you say, who he is means that he has lots of obligations.

Fadesintothewest:  Oh yes, you are so right about Synia.  She understood what she wanted to understand and I think she was doing what she thought it would take to get what she wanted.

Nilmandra:  I really thank you for your help with this story.  It’s hard to get the tone right with Curunir and also with Legolas (although it seems wrong to put them in the same sentence).

Tapetum Lucidum:  Is Saruman evil yet?  That is an excellent question.  Here’s what we know.   The Wizards show up in the Tale of the Years for the first time around 1100 TA.  Cirdan gave his ring to Gandalf and we are told that Saruman learned about this and was jealous.  We don’t know exactly when he learned but when the White Council formed in

2463, Saruman became head but Galadriel had wanted Gandalf as leader and Saruman resented it.  This all sounds to me as if he is gradually becoming corrupted by his desire for power and jealousy of Gandalf.  So in the year I’m writing about, 2530, he’s probably somewhere on the road to perdition but isn’t there yet.

JustMe:  Legolas acknowledges the fact that you warned him. He is sorry he didn’t listen and promises to do so next time.

Jay of Lasgalen:  I like the “wood-elf” would be warrior too, but I’m not sure he should be a warrior.  Maybe a minstrel!  And thank you for your kind words about Ithilden as his father’s stand in and Annael’s coming-of-age ceremony.  Both of these OCs are close to my heart.

Arbelethiel:  I think that Synia just wants what she wants. I think she likes Legolas more than he likes her. She would like to be married to him and believes she would settle down very happily to be Thranduil’s daughter in law and live in the palace. But it would be a shallow relationship.

The Karenator:  Not to worry!  Ithilden is unlikely to send Legolas into more danger than he thinks he can handle.  It’s a good thing that Thranduil is away so that Legolas can break from Synia before he gets back.

<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List