Published: December 4, 2015
Chapter One: Unexpected Helper
Narthriel never felt comfortable with leaving her daughter alone in their hut, but she needed more herbs and didn't want to wake Elia, she had taught her daughter to never wander far from their hut; if she were to even lose her bearings, sing to the birds so they would carry a tune back.
The silence in the woods barely settled Narthriel though, something within her told her something was very wrong and she practically ran back to her hut; she dumped her basket of herbs onto the table then rushed into her daughter's room. The covers were thrown back, Narthriel's note seemingly forgotten on the side, "No," Her voice was quiet, mentally pleading for Elia's safety before she fled from the hut, hoping to find her daughter close-by.
Slowly, the sky began to grow dark and Narthriel found herself further away from her hut, still no sight of her daughter or even a trace of small footsteps in the foliage; the noise of hooves caught her ears and she spun in their direction, soon noticing what looked like royal colours. She hadn't seen them since she left Mirkwood, abandoned by her husband with a young child to care for, Narthriel would rather flee than be pushed away by everyone else, it wasn't normal for her to be alone with a child.
They approached closer and she noticed the royal crown, "Hîr vuin." Narthriel bowed, all the times she had never come across her king and it would have to be today, when her daughter had wandered off into the woods.
Thranduil gracefully climbed down from his elk, he gently placed a hand on Narthriel's shoulder and she looked up at him, "A young woman like you should not wander these woods."
"Iellig! She wandered from our home..."
Thranduil was about to speak again when the rush of hooves approached them, "Ada," Narthriel turned her attention to the younger-elf, politely giving a small bow; it was bad enough to bump into her king but for the prince to be by his side, surely she would be thrown from these woods, she never had permission to live in them. He clambered from his horse then walked over to his father, whispering something that even Narthriel had a hard time hearing, it was in Elvish too and she barely knew the language any longer, "You should not be here."
"Legolas! I'm dealing with this. Tog i hên," Legolas nodded and went back to his horse; Narthriel had a hard time seeing what was going on from where she was stood, "These woods are dangerous and the hour is late. May I escort you home?"
"Hîr vuin, I will not allow you to trouble yourself."
"It would not be trouble."
Legolas soon returned and Narthriel nearly jumped when she saw her daughter in his arms; she slowly walked over and carefully took her, Elia woke slowly, her bright green eyes soothing Narthriel, "Nana."
"Nín bein iell,, rest," Elia closed her eyes again, snuggling into the warmth of Narthriel, "Le fael."
Thranduil raised his hand, brushing off her thanks, "I will escort you home. Legolas, follow on your horse." Narthriel could only manage a nod, she knew she wouldn't be able to protect herself while Elia slept in her arms; she began the walk back to her hut, neither of the Elves speaking. Legolas kept his eyes and ears trained for any threatening noises, following behind his father and the unknown woman; it didn't take them long to arrive back, Narthriel headed straight to Elia's room and laid her to sleep, pressing a sweet kiss to her forehead before heading to where her king waited outside.
"You should not be living here."
"I'm sorry. I had nowhere else to go, it wasn't safe to stay in Mirkwood."
Thranduil rose his brow at that, "I will let you and your daughter to rest for the night. We will return tomorrow. Na lû e-govaned vîn."
"N'i lû tôl."
"Come, Legolas." Thranduil smiled towards Narthriel and then turned to leave, Legolas following shortly after; Narthriel headed back into the hut, closing the door and sliding the make-shift lock over before heading to bed for some rest. She was sure she would need it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A knock at Narthrie's door startled her, even though she had been expecting it all morning, "Just a moment," She placed down the dish she had been washing then dried her hands and went to the door, sighing softly before opening it, "Maer aur, hîr vuin." She was about to bow when a wave of Thranduil's hand stopped her.
"Av-'osto. Gi nathlam hí," Thranduil smiled, from where he was stood, he could see Narthriel's daughter playing, "It's good to see she is well."
Narthriel nodded, "Le fael. I have warned her not to run off again."
"We did not have time to introduce ourselves properly. My name is Thranduil, it is lovely to meet you."
"I'm Narthriel. My daughter is named Elia."
Thranduil nodded at that then looked towards Legolas, "You met my son, Legolas," Legolas nodded his head curtly and Narthriel gave a small bow, "I would like to make you an offer," Thranduil turned back to Narthriel, "These woods aren't safe and if anyone other than me were to find you here, I'm afraid I would be forced to act in the best interests of my people. I know you said you are from Mirkwood, but they will tell me it is easy for Elves to lie. You could be anyone, a spy even. I would like to offer a way out of all that trouble and a place for Elia to be safe, in my Kingdom, you would work for me, Elia can learn our ways and you will both be safe. It's the only other choice I have."
"I--Hîr vuin, that's very kind of you. Thank you very much."
"So you would be willing to take the offer?"
"Of course, I'd do anything to keep Elia safe...I'm not sure if her father is still in Mirkwood and if he is--"
"You tell me, I will deal with him. May I ask, what happened?"
Narthriel sighed softly, she didn't mind telling the story, but this was her king and the prince, would they even understand? "She was unplanned, we were going to get married and one day, our excitement overcame us, we laid together. I began to get ill a few weeks later and visited a healer, she told me I was expecting a child and I could see her judging me, I had no proof of being married...When I arrived home, I told him and he went out of control, started breaking everything. I thought he would be happy, we could have got married and she would have been born after the wedding. He threw something at me and told me to leave, to never return. I have been living here since...It's been nearly seven years since that happened, I've been to scared to even try to return, not only because of him but because I have no-one else but me to care for my daughter, I know how I would be looked at. I didn't want to face it." After letting all that out, she was starting to get upset, tears pricking the corner of her eyes.
"It will be alright, I will keep you safe," Thranduil spoke softly, he knew exactly of the judgement elves gave, even as a widowed king, some still expected him to re-marry, give Legolas a new mother and his kingdom a new queen. But he couldn't move on so easily, his heart was attached to his wife and he lost that love the moment she died, "We shall take our leave, I will send my must trusted men to get your belongings."
"May I still grab a few things now?"
"Of course. We will wait here." Narthriel gave a kind smile and a small node before heading back inside, she went to her room and grabbed her travel bag, she put a few things away that would keep Elia busy until they had all their things and she also made sure to grab a few of her clothes; she didn't really want anyone going through her drawers.
She headed into Elia's little room and packed some of her clothing too, once she was sure she had the essentials, she closed the bag and headed over to her daughter, "Sweetheart, we're going on a trip with the kind man who found you yesterday."
"Yes, nana," Elia held her toys close and Narthriel placed the bag down; Elia opened it and dropped her toys inside. Narthriel then closed it and hung it over her shoulders before picking up her daughter, "Bye, bye housey."
Narthriel kissed her daughter's cheek, she headed over to Legolas' horse and handed Elia up to him; Narthriel smiled at how careful he was with her daughter, "You can ride with me."
"Hîr vuin, are you certain that would be okay?"
Thranduil nodded his head and hinted for Legolas to begin heading back, "There is no other horse for you to ride, and I am king, I may ride with whomever I want."
"Yes hîr vuin." Narthriel bowed her head for a moment before heading over to Thranduil's horse with him; he got on then helped her up, making sure she was holding on before he headed back to his kingdom. He ignored the few stares he got and soon they were arriving at the stairs for the palace; he climbed down carefully then gave Narthriel a hand.
They headed into the palace together, Elia sticking closer to her mother but eyeing up the new surroundings, amazed by the beauty of it all; when Thranduil reached his throne, he sat down, "I will have one of my servants show you around and to your room. Elia can stay with you until she is used to this place then get her own room once she's ready. I expect you to report to me first thing in the morning, Legolas will keep Elia busy, teach her about our kingdom," The large doors opened to reveal a servant who had their head bowed in respect, "Ah, please show our guests around. I hope you enjoy your tour."
"La fael, hîr vuin." Narthriel gave a small bow and headed over to the servant, Elia in tow; the male elf led them out of the throne room to begin their tour.
"Ada," Legolas only spoke once he was sure that their guests were far enough away, "Is this such a good idea? You do not know that woman, as you said, she could easily be a spy. Who told you she was out there?"
"It matters not Legolas, she is with us now, if she is a spy, we will notice. In that forest, she has too much freedom, I want you to keep an eye on her, discreetly, please."
"Yes, father." Legolas bowed and left the room; Thranduil sighed and leaned back in his throne, he was positive that Narthriel wasn't a spy but he had to listen to his advisor's and keep an eye on anyone acting suspicious. To them, having her roam freely in the forest was very suspicious and keeping her close was a better idea to ensure she wasn't there to endanger the kingdom.