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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.  Her suggestions made it much better.


6.  In Another Time

“Surely you agree that all signs indicate Sauron has returned to Dol Guldur?”  Galadriel’s voice was calm, but her tone was that of a tutor addressing a singularly slow pupil.

“I do not agree,” Curunír protested in his pleasant, soothing voice.  “We do not yet know what lurks there.”

“I fail to see that it matters whether it is Sauron or some of his minions who inhabit the place,” snapped Thranduil.  He found that Curunír’s reasonable tone set his teeth on edge. “The Shadow over the woods grows with every passing day.  The only question is whether the Council is going to act or continue debating endlessly.”

“We cannot act intelligently until we know what we are acting against,” Curunír argued. “And as I have already said, even then it is not easy to know what action to take.”

For the third time in an hour, Thranduil bit his tongue in order to avoid telling some member of the White Council that he was a fool.  He stirred restlessly.  The endless and to him seemingly pointless arguments were wearing on him even more than usual this afternoon.  He could not shake the feeling that something was amiss at home.  He knew that Ithilden was capable of managing just about anything that could conceivably occur, but he found himself worrying nonetheless.  His tie to his woods felt troubled.

“We know that Orcs are multiplying in the Misty Mountains,” Elrond said with careful restraint.  “Elladan and Elrohir tell me that the High Pass is increasingly dangerous.”

Thranduil looked at him, and his uneasiness grew.  In the last few days, it had become clear to him that the sons of Elrond spent most of their time hunting Orcs and that while Elrond tolerated their actions, unlike Thranduil, he did not send his sons into battle himself.  Elrond and his sons did not appear to be at odds, but they were dealing with their grief over Celebrían in ways that were separating them.  Thranduil disapproved of that.  His own experience had been that the unbreakable ties of family were the strongest basis upon which to build trust and extend one’s might.

With a suddenness that startled him, his uneasiness came to focus on his own youngest son.  He drew in his breath sharply, causing Mithrandir, who was seated next to him, to glance at him in concern.

“We cannot hope to change what is happening over the length of the Misty Mountains,” Curunír said with an elegant shrug, his fingers moving through the air gracefully in tandem with the motion of his shoulders.  “I urge restraint and patience, for only with time can we hope for our watch upon this evil to bear fruit.  A cautious approach will benefit all of Middle-earth as we seek to know the motives of those who would threaten our people, while we attempt to establish peace with all of our neighbors.”

Thranduil blinked, feeling for a moment that it would be foolish to argue with this well-spoken wise one.  He shook himself a little and his animosity returned.

In his seat across from Thranduil, Círdan leaned forward a little.  “Thranduil has told us what his scouts found, Curunír.  What further evidence would you wish to have before you would consider acting?”  His grey eyes rested appraisingly on Curunír, and even in Thranduil’s current preoccupied state, something in them brought him to attention.  Could that possibly have been distrust in the Shipwright’s gaze?

Curunír leaned back in his chair.  “His scouts did not actually see who or what inhabits Dol Guldur,” he said.  “I would have more than the suspicions and imaginings of two frightened scouts before I start a war.”

For a moment, Thranduil stopped breathing and then his last vestige of restraint exploded.  “And how close would you have me send my warriors, Curunír?” he hissed.  “How many more would you have me send to their deaths?  How many times should I send my own son to look in the face of despair?”  He was on his feet now, scanning the whole table, unable to contain his anxiety or his contempt any further.

“You all behave as if you have as much time as you wish to debate these matters and decide what action to take.”  He gaze swept over Elrond and then Galadriel. “In places like Imladris or Lorien,” he said scornfully, “you live as though time stood still, but I tell you that outside these borders, time flies on and evil grows.”

“We are aware of the growth of evil, Thranduil,” Elrond’s voice was sharp.  “You are not the only one who has suffered from it.”

Thranduil turned to look at him, and for a moment pity stopped his tongue.  Elrond’s face was grim and his eyes were shadowed.  But then the increasing alarm he felt for his realm and his youngest son made him speak his mind while he still could, for he knew that he could stay in Imladris no longer.

“You have been touched by evil indeed, Elrond, and I would that it were not so,” Thranduil said.  “But still you shelter here in this protected valley while your sons go out to do battle where time is real.  The land is suffering now.”  Elrond’s face grew pale, but he did not respond. Perhaps he recognized the truth what Thranduil told him, or perhaps he was only too angry to speak. Thranduil did not know and no longer cared.  He raked the assembled council members with angry eyes.  “You may all continue talking until Arda ends for all I care. I will not waste my time any longer.”  He shoved back his chair and strode from the room, followed by his fluttering advisor, who had been seated behind him.

“My lord,” murmured Thrior in distress once they were outside the council chamber, “you have offended them all.”

Thranduil snorted in disdain.  “Go and tell our guards that we will be leaving within the hour,” he commanded, cutting off any further expressions of dismay.  Thrior stood in open-mouthed amazement for only a moment before starting off to do as he was bid.  He had been an advisor to the king for a long time and knew when argument was useless.

Thranduil strode purposefully toward his own room and was throwing his belongings into his packs when a knock sounded at the door.  “Come,” he ordered irritably, assuming that the servant wished to fuss over packing his things.  But it was Mithrandir and not the finicky servant who entered the room.

They regarded one another for a moment, and then Mithrandir asked mildly, “Is all well with you, Thranduil?”

Thranduil grimaced. “No, Mithrandir, all is most decidedly not well with me.” He turned back to his packing.  “These people will sit here and debate for the next age.  I do not have time for that. I am needed at home.”

Mithrandir approached him and began folding tunics and handing them to him.  “You are right, of course,” he said.  “But you are also thinking only of your own realm and people.” Thranduil glanced at him sharply but said nothing and continued with his preparations for departure.  “Galadriel and Elrond both live in sheltered realms,” the wizard acknowledged, “but they pay a price you cannot imagine for the peace they have created.”

Thranduil shrugged.  “You may be right.  You usually are.  But I cannot linger here any longer.”  He closed the last pack and fastened it.

Mithrandir nodded.  “I do not think the council will last much longer,” he said.  “Círdan has announced that he too is leaving.” Thranduil raised an eyebrow at him and Mithrandir smiled dryly.  “He has not much patience for this sort of meeting either,” he observed.

Thranduil suddenly smiled back and picked up his packs just as the horrified servant bustled in and took them from him with exclamations of apology.

“With your permission,” Mithrandir added, “I will come to you when the council is finished and tell you what more has occurred. I would like to visit the Woodland Realm again.”

“You will always be welcome,” Thranduil told him and started toward the door. It would be a long trip home, and with every passing moment, he felt a stronger need to be there.  Something was the matter in his woods.  And even more immediately frightening, something was the matter with Legolas.


Of course Legolas would end up in Celuwen’s cottage, Eilian thought ruefully.  He might have known that he would have to confront both of his personal concerns at the same time.  He drew a deep breath and knocked at the cottage door, noting in passing that while he had washed the grime off his hands, the sleeve of his tunic was still smeared with ash.

The door opened, and Celuwen stood before him with a half smile on her face.  For a moment, he stopped breathing.  She had not allowed him near her for years now, but she still had the power to make him forget everything else at the sight of her.  “Come in,” she said, opening the door wider.  “I have been expecting you.”

At her words, time began to flow again, and his fear for Legolas blotted out all other thoughts, even those of this maiden who held his heart in her hands.  He pushed through the doorway, which opened directly into a small sitting room.  “Where is he?” he demanded.  She led him to one side of the room and opened a door.  Eilian stepped through into a tiny bedchamber and saw Legolas lying on his side, with his eyes still frighteningly closed.  Eilian heard a small dismayed sound, and then realized that he had been the one to make it.

His face deathly pale, Legolas was propped on his side by rolled blankets and covered to the waist by a sheet.  Someone had stripped off his filthy clothes and tried to wipe the worst of the grime from his face and body, but his hair was still darkened with ash and the pillow was smeared with it.

Celuwen stood beside him looking at the motionless figure.  “I knew it had to be Legolas as soon as I saw the blond hair.  And he is the right age, of course.”

Eilian advanced toward the bed, his eyes sweeping over as much of Legolas’s body as he could see.  His brother’s chest was scratched and torn, having probably been scraped by the branches he had fallen on when the tree limb struck him.  Some of the scratches were oozing a little blood, but Eilian could see that they were minor.  He caught his breath, though, at the sight of the large, purple bruise that covered Legolas’s upper back and shoulders.  Eilian had seen warriors crippled by blows to the spine. There was no way to tell how much damage this one had caused until his brother regained consciousness.

Eilian hesitated and then bent to touch the back of Legolas’s head lightly.  He found a raised spot and his fingers came away slightly sticky.  He straightened up and then, with ever increasing concern, he lifted the sheet to see his brother’s foot wrapped with bandaging and tied to a board to keep it straight.  It was propped on another pillow.

Celuwen had left the room and now returned with a straight-backed chair, which she put by the bed.  “Sit down,” she said. “You look tired. When did you last eat?”

He obeyed her and then tried to answer her question. “This morning, I think,” he finally said.

“I will get you some bread and cheese,” she said and left the room again.

Eilian turned his attention back to Legolas.  He reached out tentatively and stroked his brother’s hair with a feathery soft touch.  With the rational part of his mind, Eilian knew that Legolas was almost an adult now, but when it came to his younger brother, he knew that he was not always rational any more than Thranduil or Ithilden were, and that to all of them at times, Legolas was still an elfling who needed their protection.

Celuwen returned and put a plate of food in his lap and a mug of cider on the floor next to his chair.  She regarded him for a moment and when he did not immediately pick up the food, she said, “It is up to you, Eilian, but you know you should eat something.”

He caught at her hand, suddenly acutely aware of and comforted by her nearness.  “How are you, Celuwen?” he asked.

She gently drew her hand free and patted him on the shoulder. “I am the same as I have always been,” she said and then left the room.

He turned back toward the bed and ate some of the bread and cheese while he watched his brother’s chest expand and contract in shallow but steady breathing.  “Wake up, brat,” he murmured softly.  “I do not want to have to explain this to Adar.”

And to his surprise, as if in answer to his demand, Legolas’s eyes fluttered open.  “Legolas!” Eilian breathed.  “Legolas, talk to me.”  But his brother’s eyes slid over him blankly, without registering any recognition, and then closed again.

Eilian leapt to his feet, jerked the door open, and strode out into the sitting room, and then, finding it vacant, went out the front door to find Celuwen and her mother washing clothes in a large tub near the corner of the cottage.  The water was already dark with soot from the garments.  Only years of his mother’s training allowed Eilian to greet Celuwen’s mother before he turned to Celuwen.  “Where is the healer?” he asked sharply.

She blinked at his abrupt tone.  “She went home to have her evening meal.”

“Where?” he demanded.

Celuwen looked as if she were going to protest, but then her face softened.  “Her cottage is the first one west of here.  The path by the side of our cottage leads directly to it.” She pointed to the path she meant.

He charged down the path to the healer’s cottage, where he pounded on the door with his fist.  When it opened, he wasted no time.  “The injured youngling in Celuwen’s cottage is my brother.  I want you to come and see him now.”

She frowned.  “Is something the matter?”

“Yes, something is the matter!” he exploded.  “He opened his eyes but did not recognize me.”

She grimaced sympathetically.  “Just a moment,” she said and disappeared to return wearing a cloak and carrying a healer’s bag.  She walked toward Celuwen’s cottage with him behind her urging her to hurry.

Legolas lay exactly as Eilian had last seen him. The healer lifted his eyelids to inspect his pupils and then began poking and prodding at the rest of his injuries.  Eilian shifted his weight impatiently from one foot to the other.

Finally, the healer straightened and turned to him. “You know that one of the bones in his foot is broken,” she said, and Eilian nodded.  “That should heal cleanly,” she went on, “although he will need to stay off it for a week or so.”

“Staying off his feet does not look as if it will be a problem at the moment,” Eilian said in clipped tones that she ignored.  She had undoubtedly dealt with anxious family members before.

“The scratches on his chest are minor,” the healer went on, “and he moved his leg while I was setting the bone in his foot, so I do not think the blow to his back did serious damage either.”  Eilian sat down abruptly, overwhelmed at the relief that piece of news brought him. The healer smiled and patted his shoulder reassuringly. “We cannot know about the effect of the blow to his head until he awakens,” she said, “but his eyes do react properly to light and that is a very good sign.”

“He opened his eyes and did not recognize me,” Eilian said a little unsteadily.

She nodded.  “That is normal.  He was not really awake, but he is coming closer to being so.  Be hopeful,” she added with another smile and then gathered her cloak and left.

“Eilian,” said Celuwen tentatively, and he turned inquiringly toward where she stood in the doorway.  “Siondel is here for you.”

Eilian drew a deep breath and stood up. He and Siondel needed to speak to the leaders of the settlement about preparing to evacuate if the space the fire fighters had cleared did not stop the fire’s approach tonight.  He took a last look at his oblivious younger brother and then turned to go.  “I will be back later,” he told Celuwen, and she nodded.

“I will take good care of him,” she promised.  He paused for a second to drop a kiss on the top of her head and then he went on his way.


Legolas swam slowly up from the darkness in which he had been drifting.  He was aware first of an agonizing headache and then of soreness over what seemed like his entire body.  Bewildered by the pain, he stared fuzzily at the odd shape a foot or two in front of him.  He tried to lift his head and then grunted at the pain the movement cost him and dropped his head down again. That hurt too.  Indeed, any movement at all seemed to hurt.

He closed his eyes and let himself drift a little, but the pain was still there, and after a moment, he opened his eyes again.  The blurry shape still hovered before his face.  He let his gaze rest on it, and it faded in and out of focus in a most alarming manner, but he still did not know what it was. Strange voices were speaking nearby but he could not make out what they were saying, and he was sure that they were not speaking to him anyway.  Unexpectedly, the shape in front of him resolved itself into the back of a straight chair. He blinked and the chair back blurred and then crystallized again.

With an effort, he focused his eyes to look around him, being careful not to raise his head as he did so.  He was lying on a narrow bed in a small room.  There was a window in the wall at the foot of the bed, but it was closed and the panes were very dirty.  He contemplated that fact.  Someone should wash the window, he thought.  He had not even known he had a window.  He had thought that there were none in the caverns of his father’s stronghold.

He slid his eyes further along the wall and let them come to rest on a chest with a mirror and a set of carved combs on top of it.  Legolas stared stupidly at them for a moment, trying to understand how a set of maiden’s combs could have been left in his room, and it dawned on him only slowly that it was he who had been left in someone else’s chamber. He was not at home then, but where was he?  Next to the chest, a door led to what was presumably the rest of the house.

He lay still for a moment trying to puzzle out where he was.  The fire, he thought. I was cutting trees.  Then he frowned, for he had no memory at all of how he had landed in this strange room.

The voices were talking again, and he realized they came from the other side of the door.  He considered calling out to them but felt that would somehow be undignified, so he tried to sit up, intending to go in search of answers. He found, however, that when he moved, his head spun and his stomach roiled.  With a low groan, he collapsed back on the pillow only to discover that whatever had happened to him had included a bruising blow to his back and a knock to the head that had left a spot sore enough to bring tears to his eyes when he landed on it.  He clamped his mouth tightly shut, fighting to control the wave of nausea that swept over him.

“Thank the Valar.  You are awake,” observed a feminine voice, and he held his head steady and cautiously slid his eyes toward the voice’s source.  A slender, dark-haired maiden stood at the bedside, watching him keenly.  “I expect your head hurts,” she said sympathetically.  “Do you feel sick?”

“Yes,” he answered shortly and then shut his mouth again. He closed his eyes too, for he was having trouble focusing them, and he thought that maybe shutting out the sight of the slightly blurred world would help his stomach.  For reasons that he could not name, he felt an almost instant animosity toward this helpful maiden.  He knew he should be ashamed of such an irrational reaction but he was too sick to care. He could hear her moving about and then she set something on the edge of the bed.

“You can use this basin if you need to vomit,” she said. “You cannot get up and walk around.  Your right foot is broken.”

He frowned and tested the truth of her claim against his various pains.  When he moved his right leg, he found that his foot was bound to what felt like a board. He lay as still as he could for a few minutes, trying once again to recall how he had come to be here while he waited for his stomach to settle a little.  Cautiously, he cracked his eyes open to find that the maiden was sitting in the chair next to the bed watching him appraisingly.

She studied his face, a small smile on her own.  “You do not remember me, I expect.  You were very small when last we met.  I am Celuwen Sólithiell.  I am a friend of your brother Eilian.”

Legolas continued to regard her, saying nothing.  Many maidens were friends of Eilian.  “What happened to me?” he finally asked.

“I was not there, but I am told that a tree branch fell on you and you caught your foot in some branches trying to get out the way.  You are in a cottage in the settlement,” she added, apparently guessing at his further confusion.

He thought about this. What this Celuwen said seemed right, but he could not remember it happening.  A sudden spasm of nausea tightened his stomach, and this time he could not control it.  He clutched the basin to him and leaned over it, emptying his stomach in great, painful heaves.  Celuwen caught at his hair, and when he was done, she wiped his face with a cold, wet cloth, earning his grudging gratitude.  Closing his eyes, he fell weakly back against the pillow and once again learned that his shoulders and head were badly bruised. He rolled onto his side and lay as still as he could, listening to Celuwen moving quietly about the room.

Her footsteps approached the bed, and he cracked his eyes open to see her putting a clean basin beside him.  “You should sleep if you can,” she said.  “Eilian will be back to see you again soon.”

He drew a deep breath.  I hurt too much to sleep, he thought, and then he drifted away.


Thank you, thank you to all readers and especially those who review, whether at,, or via email.  I cannot believe how perceptive you all are!

Dot:  Ithilden really does have a hard job.  No wonder he sometimes feels weighed down with responsibility.  I don’t think informing Thranduil that Legolas is hurt is going to be a problem!  The issue will be whether anyone’s head rolls because of it.

White Wolf 1:  Annael does feel guilty, poor guy, even though he shouldn’t.  And letting Legolas go must indeed have been extremely hard for Eilian in the last chapter. He makes up for it here, I think.

Dragon-of-the-north:  I think Legolas probably needs to prove himself as a warrior and an adult away from his family before he can operate as one near them.  That’s assuming they let him out of their sight.

Fadesintothewest:  I think that Eilian is going to have to learn not to call Legolas “brat” in public but I suspect that he might always do so in private.  We all like to torment our siblings a little.

Brenda G:  “If he is lucky, Legolas may get posted to his own front yard, and even then, he'll have a bodyguard with him at all times.”  Funny you should say that!  PS How are you?

French Pony:  Thank you for the information about fires.  It sounds as though what the Elves would have on their hands is a fire in the underbrush that the break should steer away.  That is, the fire probably would not crown.  At least, that’s what I’m going to go with.  I did research on the Web but that takes me only so far, I find.

Erunyauve:  The settlement elves are a real pain for Thranduil, I think, and this fire is just one example.  Perhaps they are Californians?  ;-)

Nikki1:  It was hard for me to imagine how Wood-elves would cut down trees. I thought that apologizing was the least Legolas could do.

Emjo:  You cannot imagine how happy I am to hear from first time reviewers.  Synia kind of shocked me too.  She is what my grandmother would have called a hussy.  Don’t worry about Eilian. He is safe for a while.

StrangeBlaze:  You know, sick as it is, sweaty, sooty Legolas kind of caught my eye too. So I took his clothes off in this chapter.  Cleanliness is important, don’t you think?

Antigone Q:  Eilian’s clothes are still on, but Legolas is naked. Isn’t that enough?

Tapetum Lucidum:  “I think I know why Ithilden expects Eilian to show up at that settlement. And her name is not Legolas.” This made me laugh.  Ithilden will still have some issues in placing Annael and Legolas but they are not what he thinks they will be.

Nilmandra:  Many thanks for your help with this chapter. I always say that but in this case it’s even truer than usual.  Angst is good!

Frodo3791:  Duty vs. personal desires is a strong theme in this story and I think it is in Tolkien too.  Poor Eilian and Annael. And Celuwen really. And Thranduil and Ithilden. What a way to live.  Where is joy?

JastaElf:  Dealing with friends and relatives in danger had to have been one of the realities of Middle-earth. And it had to have been hard.

Feanen: Trouble seems to follow Legolas around. If it didn’t, where would my plot be? ;)

Arbelethiel:  What a good memory you have!  Yes, Legolas is the Home Guard captain by the time of the quest. He has several hundred years to get there though. Many things can happen between now and then!

The Karenator:  It seems to me that Thranduil and his sons are increasingly caught up in their obligations to Mirkwood. As evil spreads, it squeezes out all space for just living.

JustMe:  Oh, I think that when Ithilden has to deal with Sinnarn as a warrior, his worries about Eilian and Legolas are going to seem trivial.   Can you imagine having to send your son into such dangerous situations? Of course, Thranduil does it now.  These poor people!

Molly:  I think we are still at the hurting stage here, and more comfort will come for some of these folks than for others, I’m afraid.

Meckinock:  So this made sense to you?  You could sort out all the OCs?  That is comforting because I fear that new readers will just wind up wondering who they all are.

Jay of Lasgalen:  As you know, something always has to happen or there is no plot!  Witness, the twists and turns in “The Search.”

Luin: I hope you are feeling better.  Nilmandra was sick for most of a week too. There must be something going around.  Thranduil stayed clothed here, but Legolas is naked. Is that OK?  I amused myself for a while trying to picture what Synia’s life would be like with Thranduil as her father-in-law.  LOL.  She is lucky Legolas dumped her.  It’s really pretty ironic that Annael would probably like to be in the Home Guard because he want to bond, but can’t be.

Naneth:  Multiple readings are good!  I’m glad you enjoyed that chapter and hope this one pleases you too.

Lamiel:  So does a naked Legolas add to this chapter for you?  I appreciate your comments on how I handled the fire.  I did internet research but that’s chancy.  I think that Legolas’s family will eventually see him as a skilled adult warrior, but not yet.  He needs some experience (and so do they!).

Tiger Lily:  I’m glad you liked the fire. I wanted something that would get the novices into the woods and I’ve used so many other devices that I needed a new one.

Legolas4me:  Eilian is a wonderful brother! And you see here just exactly how much it hurt.

Lera:  I know, poor Annael.  It really wasn’t his fault. This is one of those things that just happen.  And it turns out that you and I are not the only ones who liked Celuwen; Eilian does too. ;-)  I have no idea why Legolas would think that Ithilden would make an exception and post him south.  He just let his wishes override his common sense.  And for Ithilden, common sense rules.

Caz-baz:  I broke my foot once too, but in a much less dramatic way than Legolas did.

Camp 6311: Well, Thranduil agreed with you. It was time to go home.  Legolas is gradually growing up. I think he probably needs to be away from his family for a while to really get there and, even more, to have his family realize it.


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