Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search
swiss replica watches replica watches uk Replica Rolex DateJust Watches

When Shadow Touches Home  by daw the minstrel

Disclaimer: I borrow characters and settings from Tolkien but they belong to him. I gain no profit from their use other than the enriched imaginative life that I assume he intended me to gain.

Many thanks to Nilmandra for beta reading this chapter.


8. Forbidden Excursions

Ithilden glanced up from the dispatches he was reading to see Eilian entering the family's dining room. "Good morning," Eilian greeted him, as he seated himself. "I see your messengers have already been here."

"Some of these came last night while I was busy with Adar," Ithilden answered, putting the papers aside. He recalled Thranduil's guess as to where Eilian had disappeared to on the previous evening and smiled inquiringly at his brother. "Adar says that Celuwen is back."

Eilian grinned. "She is," he said, with every appearance of being delighted by that fact.

Ithilden was glad. He liked Celuwen. He thought she was sensible and would probably be good for Eilian, and he took satisfaction from the fact that Eilian was now assigned to a post where a lasting relationship was possible. At least that worked out well, he thought.

Eilian was turning to him now, looking more serious. "She asked me last night about a rumor she had heard of a homestead being destroyed by Orcs. Is that true?"

Ithilden hesitated. He did not ordinarily take Eilian into his confidence about information he had as troop commander, preferring to treat his brother like any other warrior. But Eilian was likely to hear the facts from his captain this morning anyway. "Yes, it is," he answered briefly, turning his attention to his meal to signal that he did not wish to discuss the matter further.

"She is worried," Eilian went on, undeterred by Ithilden's terseness, "because the homestead is in the same area as the settlement where she has been living and where her adar still is. Is the area secure?"

Ithilden felt a flash of annoyance. "No, Eilian, the area is not secure," he snapped and then regretted it when he saw the startled look on his brother's face.

"I only asked," Eilian said defensively. "She is worried."

"I beg your pardon," Ithilden said. "I should not have been so sharp. I suppose I am touchy because I wish I had more information than I do. I am going to be sending scouts into the area soon, and I will know more then."

Eilian blinked. "Then you should send me," he said, as if he were stating an obvious conclusion. "I am probably the best scout you have."

"Do not presume to tell me what to do about this, Eilian," Ithilden retorted, the edge back in his voice.

Eilian was opening his mouth with the plain intent of arguing when Legolas came trotting into the room. "Good morning," he cried happily and scrambled into his chair. "Where is Ada?" he asked. He liked having them all together.

"His horse hurt its foot and Ada went to look," Ithilden told him. "He will be here soon." Next to him, Eilian was taking angry stabs at the butter. Ithilden was exasperated by the seemingly endless thrill that Eilian got from taking risks. He could really be quite childish at times. Legolas eyed them suspiciously.

"How is Celuwen otherwise?" Ithilden hastened to ask, trying to make it clear that he and Eilian were not quarreling.

Eilian made a visible effort. "She is well. She seems to have flourished in the woods."

"She made Eilian dance with her," Legolas scowled from across the table. "And she kissed him." Ithilden suppressed a snort of laughter.

"How do you know that?" Eilian asked him, looking suddenly amused.

"Turgon saw her do it," Legolas responded. "And he says that you - "

"Do you want me to open your egg for you?" Eilian interrupted him hastily.

"Yes, please," Legolas answered. He watched as Eilian reached across the table and neatly sliced the top off his egg. "I did not believe him," he assured his brother and began twirling a piece of toasted bread in the soft egg yolk. This time, Ithilden could not stop himself from laughing out loud, earning disapproving glares from both of his brothers.

The door opened and Thranduil entered, drawing them all to their feet. "Good morning, Legolas," he said, hugging him. He nodded to his older sons, and they all sat down.

"How is the stallion?" Ithilden asked.

"He will be well in a day or two," Thranduil told him. He began tapping on his eggshell. "I know you wanted to meet with some of your captains this morning, Ithilden," he went on, "but the delegation from the settlement has asked to meet with both you and me as soon as possible. Can you put your captains off?"

"If you wish," Ithilden answered.

"Will you think about what I said about scouting?" Eilian asked.

"I will make my own decisions about this," Ithilden said emphatically. Legolas had stopped playing with the bread and was now watching them again.

"Whatever you are talking about will wait until later," Thranduil warned them, glancing at his youngest. "Legolas, eat some of that egg."

Legolas picked up the piece of toast, poked again at the egg yolk, and then ate a tiny bite of the yolk-covered toast. Ithilden watching in queasy fascination as egg yolk dripped slowly from the toast to the child's tunic.

Legolas chewed meditatively and then turned to his father. "Ada," he said, "can I have a sword?"

Thranduil smiled. "Not yet, little one."

Legolas frowned and poked at his egg. "A warrior should have a sword."

"When you are a warrior, you will have one," his father told him.

"Turgon is getting a sword," Legolas said stubbornly. "I should have one too."

To Ithilden, it was obvious that his father's patience was wearing thin. "If Turgon gets a sword, you may not be anywhere near it or him when he has it," Thranduil declared emphatically. "Do you understand?"

Legolas scowled at his plate. "Yes," he muttered.

Ithilden could sense Eilian shifting unhappily next to him. "Why do you want a sword, Legolas?" Eilian asked.

Thranduil let out an exasperated breath. "It does not matter why he wants it, Eilian. He is too young to have one and giving him one would be dangerous."

Legolas was looking back and forth between them, wide-eyed.

There was a moment's silence and then Eilian looked at Legolas and said, "Adar is right, of course, brat. You need to get bigger and then you can have a sword." He stood up. "By your leave, Adar," he said through tight jaws, "I must be going." And at a signal from Thranduil, he left the room.

What was that all about? Ithilden wondered.


Legolas walked slowly down the hallway toward the library, trailing one finger along the wall. Ada had sent him off to his lessons by himself this morning because he and Ithilden needed to talk with some other Elves. Legolas could tell that Ada and Ithilden felt serious today. He thought they were probably going to talk about Orcs.

He slid his finger around the doorjamb of the family's sitting room, along the door, and back out onto the wall again, never losing contact. He wished he had a sword. With a sword, he could scare Orcs away. He came to the door of Ada's study and paused, thinking hard. Then he looked up and down the hallway to make sure that no one was watching him, reached to turn the knob, and slipped into the room. He crossed to Ada's desk and then climbed onto the chair.

There on the desk, just where he had expected it to be, was the jeweled dagger that Ada used to open sealed messages. Legolas paused for a moment to admire it. There were shiny green stones in the hilt and the blade gleamed wickedly. It was true that he was too little to use a big sword like Eilian's very easily, he thought, but this dagger was just the right size for him. He picked it up carefully and then climbed down from the chair.

Once safely on the floor, he examined his prize with satisfaction. Surely Orcs would run away from anyone who had such a weapon, he thought. He grasped the hilt in his right hand and waved the dagger menacingly. Then he examined it closely again. He wondered if the blade was sharp and touched it with his finger to test it the way he had seen his brothers do.

Blood welled out of the cut, and a drop fell to the floor. In horror, he stared at it, and as if in response, his finger began to hurt. He dropped the dagger and it spun around on the floor and then went under Ada's desk. He clutched his bleeding finger, sank to the floor, and started to cry.

"What is the matter, Legolas?" asked an alarmed voice, and he looked up to see Ithilden. He pulled his hurt hand closer into his chest and hunched his shoulders. Ithilden was someone who made you feel safe, but he sometimes got angry like Ada, and Legolas did not like to be bad in front of him.

Ithilden crouched down before him. "Let me see," he commanded, taking Legolas's hand in his. He opened the hand gently and found the cut. "It does not look very deep," he said. "Does it hurt?" His voice was sympathetic.

Legolas nodded. His finger did hurt. "Do I have to go to the healer's?" he asked tearfully.

Ithilden smiled reassuringly. "I do not think so. Come with me." Taking Legolas's uninjured hand, he led him down the hall to his own chamber and then into the bathing chamber beyond, where a boiler hissed softly in the corner. He put warm water in the basin and then grasped Legolas's wrist and put his hand in the water.

The water stung. Legolas tried to pull his hand back but Ithilden held it firmly. "Only for a minute," he said soothingly. "We have to be sure it is clean." He reached for a towel and blotted the hand dry. "We will put a bandage on it," he said. "Would you like that?" Legolas nodded. A bandage would make his finger feel better.

Ithilden led him back into the sleeping chamber and lifted him up to sit on the bed. Then he turned to search in a pack that lay on a chair. Legolas looked around curiously. He liked being in his brothers' rooms, but he was not allowed in them unless they were present, and they were not home much. Ithilden's room was less interesting than Eilian's because he usually put everything away. Not today though. Today the things he had brought home with him yesterday were still in plain sight. His cloak lay over the back of one chair, and the pack he was searching was the one that had been over his horse's back when Legolas rode it yesterday.

Most fascinating of all was what lay on top of the chest along one wall. There were Ithilden's unstrung bow and his sword. Legolas stared at them. The sword was in a brown leather scabbard with gold tracings along its length and what Legolas recognized as magic runes woven around it.

Ithilden was now back in front of him, opening a small pouch and taking out some bandaging. He took his own knife from its sheath on his belt and cut a small strip. "How did you hurt yourself?" he asked, as he bound the strip around the cut. He looked into Legolas's face and waited for an answer.

Legolas wanted to lie, but he flinched away from the ugliness, and told the truth quietly instead. "I cut it on Ada's dagger," he murmured.

Ithilden frowned. His ears were very sharp. "The dagger on Ada's desk? Were you playing with it? You know better than that, Legolas. A dagger is dangerous."

Legolas looked at him wonderingly. Sometimes he did not understand grown ups. Of course a dagger was dangerous. He knew that. That was why he wanted one.

"Please do not tell Ada," he begged. "He will be angry with me."

Ithilden was still frowning as he tied off the bandage. "As well he should be. That was a foolish thing to do." Legolas lowered his gaze away from his brother's serious grey eyes. There was a moment's silence and then Ithilden sighed. "If you promise me you will not touch the dagger again," he said, "I will not tell Ada."

"I promise," Legolas told him reluctantly. He really needed a weapon.

Ithilden nodded. "Very well. Come along then. I will walk you to your lessons." He lifted Legolas down from the bed and led him toward the library where Galeril was undoubtedly waiting for him.


Eilian rode ahead impatiently. Gelmir was really impossibly slow sometimes.

"What is wrong with you today?" his friend asked in exasperation when he finally caught up. "Did you fail to brush all the burrs out of your horse's back?"

Eilian bit his tongue to keep from answering too sharply. "I am sorry," he said with an effort. "I argued with both Ithilden and my adar this morning. I swear that neither one of them ever listens to me. I sometimes think that they both believe any idea I raise is a bad one simply because I raise it." He stared moodily off into the trees.

He and Gelmir were riding through the same distant region in which they had previously found the Orcs while on night patrol. They were unlikely to encounter such trouble during the day, but Eilian kept looking off in the direction he knew Celuwen's settlement lay. For some reason, he was edgy. He suspected he was only feeling the aftereffects of his morning's quarrels, but he was still uneasy.

"Did you ask Ithilden about going back south?" Gelmir inquired.

Eilian rolled his eyes. "I have not even gone near that topic yet. I merely suggested he use me to scout off further in this direction, and he acted as if I were trying to take over his command."

Gelmir shrugged. "It is his loss, then," he said. "You are a good scout. A very bad judge of horseflesh but a good scout."

Eilian turned to him and smiled reluctantly. "That horse should have won," he said.

Gelmir nodded. "But it did not," he said simply. Suddenly they both laughed and were on easy terms again.

Eilian looked off to the southwest again. Was it his imagination, or was there really something menacing there? "Do you sense danger in that direction?" he asked.

Gelmir paused for a moment and then shook his head. "No. Do you?"

"I think so." He murmured to his horse, who pranced lightly in a circle while Eilian thought. "Let us ride a little way further," he said.

Gelmir hesitated. "We are at the edge of the Home Guard territory now. If we go further, we will be in the Border Guard's area."

Eilian grimaced. He knew what Gelmir meant. Their captain, Deler, was conservative and a believer in the chain of command. If they ventured into another captain's area, he would not be happy. "I feel something there," he said stubbornly. "We cannot just ignore it."

Gelmir sighed. "Have I ever told you that my naneth thinks you are a bad influence on me?" he asked.

Eilian grinned at him. "Many times. And so has she. Come on." He rode off toward the southwest, with Gelmir trailing behind him.

They spent the better part of two hours combing the woods and at the end had found nothing. But Eilian was even more uneasy than he had been before. "Something is there," he repeated.

"We will tell Deler to tell the Border Guard to check," Gelmir consoled him. "I do not think we need to mention this little side trip though."

"Probably not," Eilian agreed readily.


"I am finished," Legolas said. Galeril looked up from the book he had been reading while Legolas worked the addition problems.

"Let us see how you did," he said and moved next to Legolas so he could look at the paper on which the child had been working. He checked the answers rapidly and was pleased to find that they were for the most part correct. The fives were all written backwards, of course, but as Galeril recalled, Eilian had done that too at this age and then had simply walked in one day and written them correctly. "Try this one again," he encouraged Legolas, pointing to the one incorrect answer.

Legolas bent over the problem, scrawled a new answer, and looked up hopefully.

"Good," the tutor told him and then studied him thoughtfully. He was not surprised that Legolas could do the problems correctly, but he had to admit that he was a little surprised that he had done them so willingly. The elfling had been profoundly uninterested in his lessons for the last few months. "Have you decided that you like numbers after all?" he asked.

"I do not like them," Legolas answered promptly, "but Eilian says that warriors have to add the number of Orc toes and ears so they know how many arrows to take into battle with them."

Galeril choked back a laugh. He had vivid memories of teaching Eilian. They were not always pleasant memories but they were all lively. "Then you will be an effective warrior," he told his pupil, "for you have added these numbers very well." He smiled fondly at the child. "We are done a few minutes early, but I think you can go now. You have earned the right by working so hard."

Legolas's face brightened. He jumped down from the chair and ran toward the doorway. "See you tomorrow," he called and was gone.


Legolas trotted happily down the hall toward his own chamber. Nimloth would make sure his hands were clean and then he would go and have midday meal with Ada and perhaps Ithilden too. Eilian was on patrol so he would not be there. Ada would be pleased that he had finished his lessons today.

Suddenly, he slowed. The door to Ithilden's chamber was ajar. Perhaps his brother was here and would walk with him. He peeked around the door. "Ithilden?" he called, but his brother did not answer. Legolas edged into the room and then looked through the open door to the bathing chamber. Ithilden was not there. He turned to go, but as he did, his eye was caught by the sword that still rested on top of the chest.

Slowly he walked toward where the polished leather scabbard lay. He stretched one finger forward and ran it along the runes. He could almost feel their magic running up his arm. With a sword like this, a warrior would be very strong even if he were little, Legolas thought. His hand closed on the shiny silver hilt, and he gave an experimental tug but the sword stayed firmly tucked in its scabbard. He dragged the sheathed sword off the chest. It was so long that its sharp end rested on the floor when Legolas held the hilt. He put one foot on the scabbard to hold it down and used both hands to pull on the sword. With a whispery whoosh, the weapon slid free.

He stared at it. The sword too was covered with engravings. Legolas thought he had never seen anything so beautiful. He reached one hand toward the blade and then remembered Ada's dagger and swiftly snatched his hand back. He tried to lift the sword so that he could threaten an imaginary enemy, but even when he used both hands, it was too long and heavy for him to wield. He swung it a little, with its tip just inches from the ground. Then, with two hands on the hilt, he began to spin around, and to his delight, the sword lifted.

"Legolas!" cried someone, startling him. His hands opened and the sword went flying across the room, nicking the loose trouser leg of a white-faced Ithilden, and then clattering to the floor behind him.

They both froze for a second and then, with an incoherent cry, Ithilden strode toward him, seized him by the shoulders, and began to shake him. "You little fool! What do you think you are doing? You could have hurt me! You could have killed yourself!"

Terrified, Legolas began to cry. "I am sorry," he choked out, his teeth rattling from the shaking. "I am sorry!"

With a moan, Ithilden stopped shaking him, picked him up, and then sank into a chair, holding Legolas in a tight embrace. "What were you doing?" he repeated. "Did you not learn your lesson from Ada's dagger?"

It was hard to talk because he was still crying, but he suddenly felt desperate to make someone understand. "I need a sword," he sobbed. "If I had a sword, an Orc would never eat me. And if I had been with Nana and had a sword, the Orcs would have run away and not eaten her either."

Ithilden's grip on him tightened. "Oh, little one," he murmured into Legolas's hair. To Legolas's puzzlement, he sounded as if he might be crying too. He had never seen a grown up cry, and he struggled in his brother's close embrace to turn and see his face. Ithilden was not crying but he was blinking his eyes suspiciously hard, like Annael had done when he had accidentally closed his hand in the doorway and had not wanted to be a baby.

Ithilden drew a deep breath and brushed a loose strand of hair from Legolas's face. "Legolas, you know that I command all of Ada's warriors." Legolas nodded. When Ithilden told the warriors around the palace to do things, they all ran to do them. Legolas had seen it happen. And they did not like to have Ithilden be angry with them any more than Legolas did.

"Those warriors are there to protect you and your friends from Orcs," Ithilden went on. "There are warriors like Eilian guarding you day and night. Do you think that Eilian would let an Orc get near you?" Legolas immediately shook his head. Eilian would never let an Orc eat him.

"In four years, you will be old enough to start using a bow. The weapons masters will teach you and, if you like, Eilian and I will teach you too. And then, when you are twenty, you can start training with a blade. You have seen the dagger I gave Eilian for his twentieth begetting day, and I promise you I will give you one too. If you want to be a warrior, you will be one, and you will have all the weapons you need." Ithilden's face had become grim as he talked. Legolas stopped looking at him and leaned his head against his brother's broad chest.

"But you know that you are not a warrior yet," Ithilden now said, making it sound as if Legolas should listen hard, "and you could not have saved Nana even if you had had a sword. Believe me. I know." They sat for a moment in silence.

"But I will be a warrior some day," Legolas murmured into Ithilden's tunic.

Ithilden's grip tightened again. "Probably you will," he said, and to Legolas's ears, he sounded sad.


Thranduil drank deeply of the warmed wine and then leaned back in his chair. It had been a long day. As he had expected, the delegation from the settlement had refused to see reason. They were furious that he would not send warriors to guard their cottages and only those with children had agreed to say near Thranduil's stronghold. The rest were determined to return to the woods. He understood their desire and even admired them for it. It was their sense of self preservation he despaired of.

The door opened and Ithilden entered. He had been present for most of the discussions and Thranduil knew that he was, if anything, even more exasperated than Thranduil was with the settlers' stubbornness. He seemed to take their deliberate return to danger as a personal affront. "Have some of this excellent wine," Thranduil invited. "I suspect you need it."

Ithilden poured himself a cupful and then sat down. "Before Eilian or Legolas joins us, Adar, I have something I want to talk to you about."

Thranduil sighed. Ithilden undoubtedly wanted to talk about Eilian. His middle son had been unusually argumentative this morning.

"I am worried about Legolas," Ithilden said.

Thranduil blinked. "Legolas?"

"Yes," Ithilden answered. "I think he somehow feels guilty about Naneth's death, as if he should have done something to stop it." He was looking at Thranduil steadily, but there was something lurking in his eyes that his father could not quite put his finger on.

"That makes no sense," Thranduil protested. "He is an elfling."

"No, of course not," Ithilden agreed, "but I think he feels that way nonetheless. Also, I think he is still worried that Orcs will attack him too. I think you said he still has occasional nightmares."

"Yes, but less often," Thranduil agreed. He thought for a moment. "What makes you think he is feeling this way?"

Ithilden hesitated and then smiled slightly. "Something he said. I promised him I would not tell you about something he did, but there was also some - " he paused, "unwise behavior."

Thranduil snorted. "There has been a good deal of that lately," he said dryly.

Ithilden shrugged. "Perhaps it is all connected," he said.

Before Thranduil could answer, the door opened and Legolas came running in. "Ada!" he cried and flung himself into Thranduil's arms.

Thranduil hugged him and pressed his lips to the top of the child's head. "Good evening, my heart," he said and drew his son onto his lap. Over the top of Legolas's head, Ithilden smiled at him and then turned to look at the fire.


Thank you to all reviewers, whether you responded at,, or via email.

Alice: He did play pooh sticks! I thought about Jocelyn's story when I wrote that. I love both "Nudge" and "Places"

Aranel: I think Legolas is having a little "play therapy"! And I too am shocked that I ever considered killing Eilian. What was I thinking?

Bluebonnet: I think Legolas would not like the idea of any of his family members going off to fight Orcs. I have plans!

Brenda G: You know, I think Turgon would be a lot of fun to have for a friend. He would never be dull and he really is affectionate. But he makes Thranduil crazy.

Casualis: Long time, no hear from! I love writing about family dynamics. To me, it's such a central part of the human (and Elven?) experience. We don't all have great adventures, but we all have parents.

Caz-baz: I suspect that elves were less hung up on rank than men sometimes are. They respect their leaders, but they don't get in a snit about who outranks whom.

Coolio02: This story is nearing its end, I'm afraid, but for now, I hope to be updating quickly.

Dot1: Poor Celuwen indeed. But also poor Eilian. I think he needs comfort. He should come to my house. (Wait, that's where he lives already!)

Dragon-of-the-North: I know I update freakishly quickly. I get obsessed and write all the time when I'm on a streak (at meetings, during meals, in the middle of the night in my head). And Legolas seems to have a primitive understanding of why he needs math. I personally have never found any use at all for algebra. None.

Feanen: Thank you. I hope you like this chapter too.

Frodo3791: They're starting to heal, I think. Legolas is a little squirrely in this chapter but at least he's decided to be a warrior rather than an Orc. That's progress!

Gwyn: You make me feel better! Legolas is still struggling here. He's doing better though.

Judy: I was exceptionally pleased to have you say that I have adolescent Legolas down. I'm not always sure. It's very tricky actually. Little Legolas is somewhat easier and quite a lot of fun to write. My beta says I think like a four year old when I'm writing him.

Karen: Thranduil does need some playful time. I think his wife provided him with opportunities for that and Legolas can do it too, if he lets him.

Karri: They're making progress. Now if they can just keep Legolas from impaling someone or slicing an artery, they should do fine!

Legolas4me: I think Thranduil is struggling to be a good father and good king while he's in pain himself from his loss. But his love for his children is central to him.

Levade: Legolas will love going to Annael's cottage for years to come, even when he is an adolescent. Celuwen is not really wearing a red shirt at the moment. I have plans for her, actually.

Naneth: Not so warm and loving this time, but at least Legolas's family is beginning to see what's on his mind.

Nilmandra: Annael is extremely lucky. He has wonderful parents. Thranduil is a good ada too, but this is a tough time for all of them and none of them is at his best.

PokethePenguin: I hope Legolas is cute. He's a pain and not always well behaved, but he has an excuse after all.

Sekhet: You are so right. Healing is starting without their noticing. It's still like a thin skim of ice on a fall pond, but it will get stronger. :: blush :: I am honored to be grouped with Jasta.

StrangeBlaze: Ithilden is hard to capture, but I think you're right: he's serious and stubborn and he's devoted to his family and the realm. He needs to loosen up and have some fun.

Tapetum Lucidum: I'm not sure that Thranduil can be wrapped around anyone's little finger, but he does love his baby. And you can leave reviews anywhere you like. Whatever is easier for you. I'm just grateful to hear from you.

Terryb: I liked that moment with Thranduil and Ithilden too. I'm glad he eventually found Alfirin. And I'm working with Legolas here. Thranduil is the tough one!

TreeHugger: Legolas and Thranduil love one another. They just don't always understand one another! And the moment with Ithilden putting his head on Thranduil's shoulder turned out to be one that readers liked. I never can tell what people will react to.

Xsilicax: Annael's nana is wonderful. I can see why Legolas and Annael wind up hanging out at this cottage when they are older. Although his ada did deliberately make them sick when they were hung over.

<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List