Parting Gift

by Menel

Chapter 3. Revelations


It was well past midnight when Legolas and Haldir were finally able to return to their quarters for some much-deserved rest. The first day of transporting goods had run smoothly for the most part, but an accident on the final trip to the hythe ensured that the Elves had been delayed while the goods had been transferred onto other wagons.

Due to the late hour, most of the Elves had decided to stay aboard the white ships for the night, but Legolas had insisted on returning to Caras Galadhon, having missed his lover's company during the day. It was with great disappointment therefore, that the Elf discovered that the Prince's party had also not returned to the City.

Despondent, Legolas went to Haldir's room to spend some quiet time with the Guardian. It was a habit he had formed since his youth and despite being with Haldir all day, he had yet to speak to his mentor about what was troubling him.

The Guardian was mildly surprised when the Elven Prince slipped into his room, and he arched an eyebrow questioningly.

"Eldarion and the others have not returned to the City," Legolas explained.

"They were undoubtedly so enchanted by the voice of Nimrodel that they could not bear to leave her and thus extended their stay overnight," Haldir answered lightly, sitting down in his favorite carved chair. "I'm sure they are fine."

"Yes, of that I have no doubt," Legolas agreed, walking over to a side table by the bookcase and pouring two crystal glasses of miruvor. "Although I wonder how much rest any of them will get tonight with the Dwarf's snoring keeping them company."

Haldir laughed gently as he accepted his glass from the Prince and took a sip of the refreshing liquor. Legolas settled into the chair opposite the Guardian. The two Elves sat in peaceful silence as they enjoyed their drinks. The Prince began studying the Guardian under the flickering candlelight. Haldir looked very tired and uncharacteristic dark shadows were starting to form under his eyes. Clearly, the responsibilities involved with preparing for their departure over the course of several months was starting to take its toll. Perhaps now was not the best time to trouble him with Legolas' own worries. Thoughtfully, Legolas drank the last drop of miruvor from his glass and placed it on a nearby table.

"You look tired, Haldir," he said as he approached the Guardian and sat at his feet. "You should get some rest. Tomorrow will be another busy day."

The Elven Prince's nimble fingers began undoing the laces on the Guardian's light boots, slowly sliding them off and placing them next to the chair. The skilled hands then began to massage the tired feet, first the left and then the right. Leisurely, they worked their way up the firm legs, following the same pattern, to the Guardian's muscled calves. Haldir's breath caught in his throat as Legolas continued his ministrations, kneading patiently and deliberately across his knees to the inside of his thighs. His grip on his thin-stemmed glass tightened as Legolas kneeled in front of him. When the Elven Prince paused to look into his eyes, they were transported to a time long past when Haldir had been the mentor and Legolas his silveren pupil. When such activities had been commonplace and the young Elf's deceptive submission would quickly lead to other educational activities in the bedroom. Heat flushed now to Haldir's groin at those crystallized memories, and Legolas' hands continued to move up his thighs, coming dangerously close to his desire. Then, just as suddenly, they stopped.

"Legolas," Haldir said breathlessly. "You cannot."

"Yes, Haldir," the Prince replied, "I can." He paused and stood up. "But I *will* not."

A sigh of mixed relief and regret escaped the Guardian as the moment passed. Legolas moved behind him and continued to work his magic on Haldir's tense shoulders. The heat that had pooled in the Guardian's groin dissipated under the Elf's soothing touch.

"Ever the tease," Haldir said quietly as he closed his eyes in contentment.

"And who taught me such skill?" Legolas bent down to whisper into his ear.

Haldir snorted. "I taught you nothing," he said. "I merely refined what was innate."

He could feel Legolas' amusement coursing through the Elf's fingertips. But the playful hands began mapping a different path, traveling lower and deeper, tantalizingly brushing the edge of the Guardian's spine. Haldir involuntarily leaned forward, granting Legolas free roam of his back.

"Do you torture Eldarion so?"

"Eldarion is quite adept in this arena," Legolas replied, glad that the Guardian had brought up the very subject he had in mind. "But there are other things troubling him that I wish to discuss."

"What would those be?" Haldir asked, even though he already had an idea of what his beloved was about to say.

"I have noticed a change in him during the course of our stay here," Legolas began. "Gimli has noticed as well. He says that Eldarion has picked up some of my more 'undesirable' traits."

"The silveren Prince of Greenwood has undesirable traits?"

The Guardian's tone was lightly mocking as he said these words. Then he let out a slight yelp as the Prince roughly kneaded a particularly tight muscle.

"This is a serious matter, Haldir," Legolas chastised the Guardian.

"Yes, it is," the Guardian agreed, "and you wish to know the cause of this change."

"It has been preying on my mind." Legolas paused as he pondered this and the pace of his massage also took on a slower, more reflective quality. "I cannot attribute it solely to the reception he has received among the Galadhrim, for nearly all have been welcoming of him, and he has made some fast friends. Even those who do not understand or approve of our relationship have been respectful towards him, although there are some exceptions."

"There are always exceptions," Haldir commented, knowing full well whom the Prince was referring to.

"There is a deeper cause, Haldir. Have you any idea what it might be?"

"You must truly love him, Legolas, to be so blind."

"I do not understand."

The Guardian laughed gently, not wishing to offend the Elven Prince. "No, I suppose you do not." He shook his head thoughtfully. "What is the most important element in any relationship?" he asked after a moment.


"And do you trust one another?"

"Completely," the Prince answered instantly.

"After trust then," the Guardian continued, "what is an emotion powerful enough to pull apart even the strongest bond?"

The Prince was perplexed.

"Jealousy," he said at last. His hands stopped their ministrations as the Guardian's point sunk in. "You think Eldarion is jealous?" he asked incredulously. "Whom would he be jealous of?"

Haldir shrugged. "Past lovers?"

Legolas walked around the chair until he was facing the other Elf again.

"But we have spoken about this," he told the Guardian. "Eldarion knows that he is the only one in my life, that I have made peace with his father. He is wise beyond his years, Haldir. He understands my history with Aragorn and he accepts it."

"Does he understand our history?"

A look of frustration crossed the fair features of the Elven Prince.

"You speak in riddles. Say plainly what you mean."

"What I mean," Haldir said, taking hold of the Prince's hand and pulling him down so that they were eye level, "is that we share a long, complicated past. Perhaps one even more finely woven than that between you and Aragorn. You are my greatest companion, Legolas. You are my friend, my pupil, my lover." The Guardian shook his head. "If other Elves cannot understand your relationship with Eldarion, then their bafflement is but a shadow compared to Eldarion's own confusion. He does not understand how things lie between us. And how can we expect him to when we have never stayed within the boundaries of convention? He sees me as the greatest threat to your happiness with him, much more than his father could ever have been. For while Aragorn is now part of your past, I am still in your present, and perhaps, I shall be in your future as well."

Legolas sank down onto the floor and let out a long sigh.

"Thank you, Haldir," he said softly. "You have opened my eyes. Never would it have occurred to me that such thoughts would pass through Eldarion's mind. For what has he to fear? What may seem gray and murky to his eyes has always been as clear as day to me. I know my own heart as surely as you know yours. There has never been any deception between us."

Then he let out a harsh laugh. "You have revealed perhaps more than you desired by telling me this. For by allowing me to understand how Eldarion views my relationship with you, I understand the extent of my own selfishness."

"Now it is you who is speaking in riddles."

"Haldir, I have wronged you," the Prince whispered, "for countless years."

"Never say that!" the Guardian said fiercely, grabbing the younger Elf by the chin and forcing him to look into the older Elf's eyes. "Have you toyed with my heart as though it were a mere plaything? Do you not love me?"

"We both know that it is not the same and you deserve far better than that."

Legolas eyes had become misty pools in the flickering candlelit room. If Elves could cry, tears would surely have spilled from their indigo depths.

The Guardian shook his head. "If you insist on seeing our relationship in this light, then am I not guilty of selfishness too? For have we not come to each other time and again to satisfy our own needs, whatever they may be, knowing to what extent the other is willing to give and how much one is free to take?"

"Do not twist my words," Legolas said severely. "You have never been the selfish one, Haldir. You are selfless to a fault; you give completely without ever expecting anything in return. And I have given you nothing."

"On the contrary, beautiful one," Haldir said gently, stroking Legolas' smooth cheek, "you have given me all that your heart is capable of giving. Do you wish to know how I see us?"

The Prince did not respond, and so the Guardian continued in his soothing voice.

"I remember a time during the Watchful Peace, when a young Elven Prince came to visit a neighboring land, and fell in love with my beautiful city. And as I watched this youth, full of life and wonder, my heart, which had grown still in my solitude, began to beat again, and I knew that I was hopelessly lost. This Prince was forced to stay with us longer than he intended, for the paths between Mirkwood and Lórien grew dark and were soon infested with Orcs, making them too dangerous to pass. During this time, I took him under my wing and he became my most prized pupil. But I kept my love for a him a secret, believing it to be inappropriate given our teacher-pupil relationship and for a deeper reason - the fear that this most beautiful of creatures, who could have any that he desired, would surely reject me."

Legolas, who had been intently studying the grain of the wooden floor, now looked up and gave the Guardian a tender smile, clasping the other Elf's hand and resting it on Haldir's knee.

"But our time together ended too soon for me, for the roads between our lands were eventually cleared and the young Prince returned to his anxious family. Centuries passed and I did not see him, though his image burned like a brand in my mind, and the sound of his tinkling laugh lightened my heart. Until, one day, he rode into Lothlórien again with his royal guard on behalf of his father.

"How my heart leaped to see him, and how much he had changed! The inexperienced youth had matured into an experienced Captain and valiant warrior, the tales of his archery skills well known among his people. And I found that it was I, who now bowed in his company. But the Prince would have none of this formality, and I discovered that though he had changed, he still remained the same and for that, I loved him even more. He still called me 'teacher' and it was not long before we fell into old habits again.

"One night, as we walked under the mallorn trees and the star of Eärendil was high in the sky, my heart could remain silent no longer and I confessed my love to him. He accepted this confession with the grace and gentleness that was in his nature, but still he said the words that my heart feared to hear - he did not feel the same. Yet, he could not bear to turn me away, nor be the cause of my pain and so he opened his arms to me, and we laid together for the first time under a starry sky."

Haldir's words were soft and comforting, and Legolas could feel them caressing him, lulling him, drawing him deeply into this tale that he was an intricate part of. With a sigh, he rested his head on the Guardian's knee, but did not release the Elf's hand. Haldir smiled and tenderly stroked the Prince's silveren mane.

"We came to an understanding that night, he and I," the Guardian continued. "There was an unbreakable bond between us, first and foremost, one of friendship and companionship. But there was love too, in its myriad forms, and we had opened another door by exploring the possibilities of physical love. The years passed, though they seemed but the blink of an eye to me, and I thought, 'perhaps, perhaps in time, he will feel the same'."

"Yes, Haldir," Legolas murmured. "I thought so too."

"But it was not to be."

The Guardian paused thoughtfully and lifted the Prince's chin.

"That is how I see us, Legolas," he said, "and I cherish every moment that we have spent together. Do not be sad. You have never been selfish. And have we both not learned that the ways of the heart are often beyond our choosing and comprehension? Is Eldarion not learning this lesson now?"

"I came to you tonight to share my concerns about Eldarion and seek your counsel," Legolas answered. "Instead, you have unraveled for me our own tangled past."

"History is a never-ending process," Haldir replied. "It is both the curse and the blessing of the Eldar to ebb and flow with time. But our histories - yours, Eldarion's, and mine - are all intertwined. To understand one is to understand the other. Surely, you must see that?"

The Prince smiled ruefully.

"You are still my teacher, Haldir," he said, standing up. "I will go now."

"Be safe, Legolas," the Guardian replied, giving the Prince's hand one final squeeze before releasing it. He knew what Legolas would do.

"I will," the Prince reassured him.

When Legolas left his chambers at last, Haldir remained seated in quiet contemplation. He had told Legolas the truth, as he saw it, regarding Eldarion. But there was more he had left unsaid. It would be best to let Legolas discover this for himself. Like any good mentor, Haldir had pointed his pupil in the right direction.


Eldarion awoke to the smell of brewing coffee. He opened his eyes, wondering who among their party had the foresight to bring coffee with them. He certainly had not anticipated spending the night by the falls. As the fuzziness cleared from his mind, he became aware that someone was sitting next to him.

"Breakfast?" this someone asked in a lovely, melodic voice.

The Man quickly sat up and turned around. His eyes focused on the small plate filled with sweet fruits and lembas that was being offered to him. Then they traveled upwards until they met the smiling eyes of the owner of that lovely, melodic voice.

"I am no ghost," Legolas assured him, taking a red grape from the plate and putting it into his mouth.

"But how did you get here?" Eldarion asked. He also took a grape from the plate and placed it in his mouth.

The Elf nodded in the direction of a magnificent white stallion, which was drinking from the waters of Nimrodel.

"Fainrîn was in the mood for a midnight ride," he explained.

"By yourself?" the Man questioned. "Was that wise?"

"Probably not," the Elf laughed. "But we are safer in Lothlórien than we are in most places in Middle Earth. At any rate, I felt the need for your company."

The Prince smiled warmly and felt himself flush with happiness at the Elf's words. To have Legolas with him was a welcome surprise after the excitement of the day before. His thoughts clouded for a moment as he wondered where Rúmil was. Then he looked at Legolas, realizing that the Elf probably had not rested at all.

"You look tired," he said, his words echoing Legolas' own concern to the Guardian the night before. "I doubt that you have had any time to rest," he reprimanded the Elf. "And don't tell me that Elves require less rest than Men. You still require rest."

"I will not argue with your flawless logic," Legolas replied good- naturedly. "And you are correct. I have not had time to rest."

"Then you should rest now," the Man encouraged, moving aside to allow the Elf to lie down on his bedroll. "I doubt that we shall be leaving soon. There is time for you to rest."

Legolas looked down at the comfortable bedroll. It had suddenly become quite inviting to him. Handing over the plate of food to the Prince, he stretched himself out on its warm folds.

"I think I could do with a short nap," he murmured, smiling contentedly as his lover brushed the loose strands of hair from his face. In a matter of moments the Elven Prince had fallen sound asleep.


When Legolas woke many hours later, only the sound of Nimrodel's voice greeted him. Puzzled, he sat up and discovered that the campsite had been cleared. There were no traces of the party's presence by the bank of Nimrodel. A quick look to his right determined that Eldarion's belongings were still there and the Elf was sure that Fainrîn was frolicking nearby. He stood up and stretched, wondering how long he had slept for.

"Just a short nap?" a voice chided him.

Legolas turned around and saw Eldarion emerging from the woods behind him.

"What time is it?" the Elf asked him. "I feel as though I have slept all day."

"You have," the Prince replied. "It is almost four o'clock."

"Eldarion! How could you let me sleep so long?"

The Man shrugged. "I did not have the heart to wake you." Then he smiled mischievously. "And I enjoy watching you sleep."

"Do you?" the Elf asked coyly. Then he grew serious. "And the others?"

"They left a little after lunch," the Prince said. "I assured them that we could take care of ourselves and that we would be back at the City before dark."

"So, we are alone?"

"Quite alone."

For a moment, the two lovers stood perfectly still and watched one another. Then the Elf began to undress, his clothes easily slipping off his slender frame like water. The Man relished the sight of his lover's body, slowly being revealed to him in this titillating display. But to the Prince's great surprise, when the Elf had finished undressing, he did not approach the Man. Instead, he turned around and began heading towards the water's edge.

"Legolas?" Eldarion called. "Where are you going?"

"I am going to bathe," the Elf replied.

"I know you are addicted to bathing," the Man said as he followed the Elf, "but the water is too cold. Even for Elves," he added.

Legolas cast a fey smile across his shoulder as he looked at the Prince.

"It is cold by the bank," he said. "But I assure you, it is quite warm underneath the waterfall, particularly in the secluded space between the falls and its rock wall. And if you disagree, I will warm you myself."

Without waiting for a response from the Prince, the Elf dived into the water and swam to the heart of the falls. Once he reached the cascading water, he turned around and beckoned to the Man to join him. Then he disappeared through the curtain of shimmering water.

Eldarion stood by the bank at a loss for words. Tentatively, he bent down and dipped his hand into the water. Freezing. The Elf has gone mad, he told himself. But this thought did not prevent him from undressing until he was standing naked and shivering by the shore. The Prince was wondering which was worse, to catch his death of cold by the bank of Nimrodel, or to freeze to death in her icy waters. Neither thought was terribly appealing to him as he dived into the pool.

The water was as sharp as a knife as it cut into his skin. With great effort he swam to the center of the falls, each stroke causing his body to protest at this inhuman temperature. But as he drew nearer to his destination, the Prince noticed that his body did not protest as much, nor did the water cut so deeply to the bone. Indeed, unless he was dreaming, the water was ever so slightly rising in temperature. It had become tolerable by the time he reached the cascading water. With a deep breath he passed through the falling water as Legolas had done.

The Elf was waiting for him on the other side, casually leaning against the face of the rock wall, waist-deep in water.

"How is this possible?" he asked in amazement, noticing that the temperature of the water was steadily rising as he neared the Elf. While it did not approach the pleasures of a steaming hot bath, welcoming warmth still infused his bones.

"The rock," Legolas explained, tapping the stone behind him, "has rather unusual properties. No one quite knows why it generates the warmth it does, but there are several theories."

The Elf watched as the Man swam to the rock surface, curiously running his hand across the stone. Legolas came to stand behind him, pushing him against the warm face.

"Are you really interested in hearing these theories?" the Elf asked, running his hand up and down the Man's side, "or would you rather do something else?"

"What are the options?"

"I could take you right now," Legolas whispered seductively, his lips brushing the Man's tender neck, "up against this rock wall. Would you like that?"

"Very much," the Prince breathed.

The Elf laughed lightly and stepped away.

"Then you shall have to wait," he told the eager Prince as he began rubbing the Man's back.

Eldarion turned around, a look of mock annoyance on his face. He had grown used to the Elf's games and knew that the longer waited, the greater his reward. He leaned leisurely against the rock wall as Legolas continued to bathe his chest and torso.

"Who would have guessed that you had such motherly instincts?" he asked the Elf.

Legolas arched a silveren eyebrow and leaned forward, placing his arms on either side of the Prince.

"Perhaps I only 'mother' those who need it," the Elf replied, nipping the Man's earlobe.

"That was not very motherly," Eldarion chastised, even though he could feel himself becoming aroused by the Elf's actions. He shifted his hips suggestively against the Elf.

Legolas responded by capturing the Prince's lips in a kiss, tasting every inch of this mouth he knew so well. Eldarion matched the slow tempo of the kiss, savoring the sweetness that belonged to Legolas alone.

"Wrap your legs around me," the Elf whispered in his ear when the kiss ended.

The Man obliged and leaned forward to kiss the Elf again. Distracted by their kiss, the Prince did not notice that Legolas had grabbed hold of his wrists, until he found them pinned high above his head.

"Sneaky Elf," he said, though his vulnerable position only served to arouse him more.

Legolas smiled and rocked his hips against the Man. Eldarion tried to reciprocate, but found his movement inhibited by his position. The Elf shook his head, still smiling, and the Prince knew that he would be at his lover's mercy on this occasion. Deliberately, Legolas placed his hardened member at the entrance of the Man's tight opening. Eldarion's breathing grew shallow as he anticipated the Elf's slide into him and he closed his eyes. When it did not take place, he opened his gray eyes and looked at the Elf questioningly.

"What are you waiting for?"

"I wish to speak to you."

"Now?" the Prince asked incredulously.

"I can think of no better time."

Eldarion sighed, knowing that he would have to submit to the Elf's will in order to have his pleasure fulfilled. He had neither Legolas' patience, nor self-control, though he was working hard to achieve both.

"What do you wish to speak of?"

"Tell me what happened yesterday."

"What do you mean?" the Prince asked, though tension laced his question.

"You know what I mean," the Elf answered, slowly pushing himself inside. "Hrethil declined to speak of it when I arrived this morning. He thought it would be best if I heard it from you."

"There was an incident," Eldarion breathed, as Legolas continued his agonizingly slow slide, "yesterday afternoon."

The Man glared balefully at the Elf, who stilled the moment he was fully sheathed. Feeling Legolas inside him and not moving was a torture greater than that of anticipation. But once again, Eldarion had to marvel at his lover's self-control.

Legolas bent down to kiss the Prince's neck, holding the Man's wrists in one hand as the other traveled down the Man's body until it curved around his waist, drawing his lover closer and providing better support. The Elf's keen eyes fixed on the small gash on his lover's neck and he deliberately ran his tongue over the healing wound. Eldarion let out a moan at the pleasurable sting caused by the action.

"Is this a souvenir from yesterday's incident?"

"Yes," the Prince gasped, trying to shift his position to goad Legolas into moving. But the Elf's grip around his waist tightened, stilling him further. Defeated, the Man let his head rest on the rock wall behind him.

Aware of his lover's condition, Legolas suddenly withdrew and then slammed back into the Prince. Eldarion let out a cry as his pleasure spot was hit with practiced ease, but his cry faded to a moan of anguish as the Elf stilled again.

"You torture me," he said raggedly.

"You torture yourself," the Elf replied. "What happened yesterday?"

The blood was rushing to Eldarion's head. He could feel it throbbing in his temples. Conscious thought had become too difficult and the words spilled from his lips in a jumbled mess. He told Legolas of Rúmil's challenge after lunch, how he could not refuse, and his wish to put this arrogant Elf in his place. Legolas had begun to rock into him, making speech and thought near impossible, but somehow the Prince managed to recount the match and Rúmil's wound, the Elf's subsequent reaction, and the interference of Narwarán and the others. His moans were starting to echo around him as he neared his peak. Then, quite suddenly, Legolas stilled again.

"You cannot stop now!" the Prince cried.

"There is something else we must discuss."

"Surely it can wait," Eldarion pleaded.

"No, meleth-nin1, it cannot."

The Man threw his head back on the rock in despair. The pain caused by the action was nothing compared to the frenzy he was already in. What could be so important?

"What do you wish to speak of now?"


The Prince was knocked to his senses at the mention of the Guardian's name. His body grew rigid and the supreme tightness that suddenly surrounded Legolas almost made the Elf lose control. With a deep breath, he looked into his lover's sea gray eyes.

"How do you feel about Haldir?"

"I do not understand the question."

"I think you do."

Eldarion looked away, as though he were searching for some means of escape. But escape was futile. He knew that. The hand that had pinned his wrists now released them as Legolas turned his chin to face the Elf.

"You have nothing to fear from Haldir," he said gently, marking the confusion and turbulence he saw in those gray depths. "He is no threat to you. I forget Eldarion," he explained, "how very young you are, and I am so consumed by my love for you, that such thoughts as jealousy or insecurity would never occur to me. Forgive me for my ignorance."

Eldarion's eyes had grown moist, though whether they were caused by tears or from the spray of the falls, he could not say. He wrapped his arms around the Elf and pulled Legolas close, resting his head on the Elf's chest.

"I admire Haldir," he said softly. "And I often wonder how you could choose someone like me over a being so perfect. I watch the two of you and I believe that you belong together. Though he does not intend it, he makes me feel unworthy of your love. I am crude and coarse compared to him. And, Legolas?" The Prince's voice had dropped to barely a whisper.


"I am mortal."

The three simple words cut straight to the Elven Prince's heart. He often strove to forget this fact, for the Elf was painfully aware that their time together was short. The Man's whole life still lay before them, and though Eldarion was of Númenor descent, ensuring that his lifespan was longer than that of lesser Men, it was but a few seasons compared to the eternity that would face Legolas once he was gone. The Elf took a deep breath before speaking.

"Many of my kin would say that it is folly to love the firiath2, for their time is too short upon this earth. But it is a mistake I gladly make," Legolas continued, gently stroking the Man's damp hair, "for I have found among the Edain, beings more worthy of my love than among my own kin. Do not doubt your worth, Eldarion. No being is perfect. Our one lifetime together shall burn more brightly than all my years without you."

The Prince lifted his head and there was no mistaking the tears that glistened in his eyes. The Elf kissed the salty tears away and his hand traveled down the Man's chest until it grasped the firm shaft that lay nestled between their bodies. Stroking the shaft in time to his rhythmic thrusts, the Elf set out to finish what he had started.

Later, as the two lovers dressed and packed their belongings by the bank, Eldarion noticed that darkness had come upon them quickly. It was not yet five o'clock, but the sun's rays had completely disappeared and the clouds were dark and menacing above them. A strong wind blew through the trees, causing the branches to sway.

"It appears a storm is brewing," Eldarion said. He noticed for the first time that Legolas had stopped packing and was standing completely still, as though listening to something.

"Nay," the Elf answered. "There is more than a storm brewing." He turned to face the Prince. "We must leave," he said urgently. "Now."

Hastily, he threw the rest of his belongings into his satchel and motioned for Eldarion to do the same.

"Tolo3, Fainrîn!" he called. "Tolo!"

The white stallion appeared by the bank of Nimrodel, further down the fair stream. It cantered towards them and Legolas easily mounted the steed, bending down to assist Eldarion. When the Prince was seated behind him, Legolas urged his mount forward. Fainrîn was skittish, as though he too could sense danger.

The two lovers raced through the darkening woods. Eldarion could not remember ever having seen the great trees look so threatening. The wind howled through their branches, carrying voices warning them of danger. The Prince shivered. Although he could not understand the language of the trees, he knew that an ancient evil was following them.

1. "meleth-nin" - my love
2. "firiath" - mortal beings
3. "tolo!" - come!


Chapter 2