Mellonath Legolas


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Of Thranduil and Elerrian

Elerrian, King Thranduils wife, was of the Noldor. Her father, Hilindil, was of the people of Maedhros, son of Feanor. Although the deeds of malice and injustice that his lord had committed repulsed him, he was long loath to abandon the sons of Feanor because of love and loyalty he still bore. Yet at the horror of the third Kinslaying by the mouths of Sirion his heart revolted at last and he was one of those few Noldor who turned their swords against the sons of Feanor in defence of Elwing, Diors daughter, and her people.

After the War of Wrath he chose not to return to Valinor, and stayed in Middle-earth. He was indeed repentant of his former deeds, yet his heart was heavy with shame and grief, and he deemed himself unworthy of the pardon of the Valar. He also came to love Middle-earth and he hoped that his labours would help to heal its wounds and make it fair again.

So at the beginning of the Second Age he joined Celeborn, Galadriel and Celebrimbor when Eregion was founded. Hilindil was himself a silversmith of great skills and talent and he soon won renown among Gwaith-i-Mirdain and became one of their chiefs. At that time he wedded Mirwen, a Noldorin maiden, and soon their daughter Elerrian was borne.

Unhappily he was one of those most eager for the words and teaching of Sauron-Annatar, and his part in fashioning of the rings of Power was great, although the Three Rings were made by Celebrimbor alone. So it passed that he fell on the steps of the House of Mirdain, defending Celebrimbor from the Orcs of Sauron. Mirwen, his wife, was lost fighting beside him. Yet Elerrian, their daughter, survived, and through Moria reached Lórinand and was welcomed there, together with a few others.

At that time the Silvan Elves of Lórinand were ruled by the Sindarin princes. Amdir was the king of that land, and his son Amroth was a friend of Thranduil son of Oropher.  Orophers realm was in Greenwood the Great, across Anduin, and his people were akin to the Elves of Lórinand. Thus Thranduil would often cross the river and visit Amroth, his friend and kinsman, and so it befell that he met Elerrian.

Thranduil and Oropher, his father, were both of high Sindarin nobility of Doriath, survivors of the Kinslayings of Doriath and of Arvernien, and their grudge against the Noldor was great. Yet when Thranduil first met Elerrian, his heart was moved in admiration of her beauty and in pity for her sufferings, and so he fell in love with her. She loved him, too, for he was indeed fair and valiant, and her heart longed for consolation that his love brought her.

For the love of Elerrian Thranduil was ready to forget his bitterness against the Exiles, and he would wed her immediately despite that Oropher, his father was loath to hear about this marriage. He proposed to her, but she declined, for she did not wish to become the source of discord between father and son, and she was too proud to join a family that would scorn her and her kin. So, despite their great love they remained unwed, but Thranduil would come to Lórinand himself as often as he could, and he would send messages should he become hindered.

As the time went Elerrian became weary of her life in Lórinand. She was a Noldo, fostered among Gwaith-i-Mirdain, and her heart longed for the great designs and labours of these people. The quiet life of the Silvan Elves she deemed unworthy and boring, and the sea-longing grew steadily in her heart. Her love to Thranduil was strong, but a union between them she deemed impossible, and so, with a small company of Silvan Elves, whom she persuaded, she sailed down Anduin to Belfalas.

Galadriel and Celeborn dwelt there at that time, and Galadriel welcomed Elerrian, whom she had known as a child, and her companions. Elerrian, for her part, delayed gladly her departure from Middle-earth and stayed in Galadriels following, delighted in her teaching. Galadriel herself was glad of the company of Elerrian, for in daughter of Hilindil she would recognise the desires of her own youth. Elerrian was indeed bright and steadfast, but she lacked Galadriels wisdom and tolerance, and at times when she was gainsaid the fiery temper of the Noldor might awake in her. Then she would heed no counsel and was prone to rash deeds.

When the tidings of the mustering of the host of the Last Alliance had reached Elerrian, she was troubled. Much as she desired to see Sauron defeated (and her own family avenged) she was anxious about the fate of Thranduil, for she knew that he followed his father to the war, leading the army of the Wood-elves. She would have returned to Lórinand to await the news there but the roads from Belfalas back to the North had become impassable. So she had to stay and wait on the coast in great anguish.

The victory of the Last Alliance was paid for dearly. Oropher was slain, and nearly two thirds of his army perished with him. Thranduil became king of the Wood-elves, but his mind was troubled and his heart heavy: he had seen the power and horror of Mordor and the shadow of fear had never left him since then.

Having received tidings of his return (and his great loss) Elerrian could not abide being sundered from him any longer. She knew in her heart that now it was he who would need solace, and she hastened to his realm heedless of the dangers in empty and war-ravaged lands that lied between.

And so they met again, and their meeting brought joy and consolation to Thranduil in his grief. The love that they bore to each other was rekindled, and when Thranduil once again proposed to her, Elerrian accepted it gladly. Her heart was proud, and she deemed herself the best queen the Wood-elves might desire. It must be said, though, that she never sought to dominate others, but the life of the Wood-elves (and of Silvan, as she knew from her time in Lórinand) she deemed idle and rustic and she wished to teach the ways of the Noldor to her people.

Unhappily, her designs went amiss. Thranduil firmly opposed most of her decisions, for indeed, he and Oropher, his father, had fled Beleriand and forsook its mode of life. Their desire was to return to the simple life, natural for the Elves as they said. That was, of course, impossible for them that had spent many a long year at the court of Thingol under teaching of Melian. Enough to say that Oropher and Thranduil, and their chief counsellors (those who survived the perils) spoke but the tongue of Doriath among themselves, and that language Thranduil later taught to his son.

Yet anything that would come from the Exiles they scorned, and they resented the teaching of the queen. Elerrian became dismayed. Much as she loved her husband, she would not abide being constantly gainsaid, and all her plans being opposed. The darker her mood became, the more her heart longed for the sea. Yet at one she had a victory when Thranduils people moved over beyond the mountains of Mirkwood, and the king wished to make a stronghold after the fashion of Menegroth, Elerrian was able to persuade him to use the help of the Dwarves of Erebor.

Elerrian greatly desired a child and during the Watchful Peace she overcame Thranduils fear and reluctance, and Legolas, their son, was borne. Yet his birth did not lessen the estrangement of his parents (that Elerrian had secretly hoped for), moreover, further quarrels aroused. Thranduil named his son Greenleaf in the tongue of the Wood-elves that Elerrian found unsophisticated and almost distasteful. She gave her son amilesse tercenye, Hiromentieno, he that finds a way of meeting, for the foresight came on her and she perceived that it would be her sons destiny to bring the estranged races of Elves, Men and Dwarves together, briefly as it might be. Yet Thranduil resented his sons mother-name, all the more that it was given in Quenya, and he never spoke to Legolas about it. 

When Legolas was but a few months old, Elerrian finally despaired. She was unloved by the Wood-elves and the kings counsellors alike; Thranduil loved her, despite their quarrels, and his love grew stronger as she had borne him a son, but he gave no heed to her counsels. The burden of childbearing and birth was heavy on her, and her spirit weakened, and she became weary of Middle-earth. She desired indeed to sail West, yet she knew that her son must stay in Middle-earth and she had not the heart to forsake him.

One night as she was sitting in her chamber with a baby in her lap, Thranduil came in and heard Elerrian sing in Quenya. She had always known that this tongue Thingol had banished and that it was deemed among many Sindar a tongue of Kinslayers and of those faithless; and she believed that Thranduil was loath to hear it. Yet she gave little heed to his coming and went on singing. What she knew not was that Thranduil, because of his love to her, had learned Quenya (though not as a tongue spoken), and that he understood it perfectly.  

And hearing Elerrians song the king became bitter, for it was Noldolantë, The Fall of the Noldor, that Maglor had made and that told of the Kinslaying in Alqualonde, and other deeds unjust and terrible. So he spoke to the queen in harsh words, and he called the Exiles murderers unrepentant and a disgrace to all Quendi. This Elerrian could not bear, and many words regrettable they said. For so it may befall in Arda Marred that the two love each other and yet hurt each other with words that bring pain and are hard to forget.

At last Elerrian became beside herself and sprang to her feet and rushed to the door crying that she would not any longer abide among the Dark Elves, rustic and uncouth. Swift was she in her anger, as a mountain spring that floods in white foam over its shores, and her eyes were smouldering; yet Thranduil was swifter and stepped in her way and barred the door.

You have my leave to depart, lady, he said and bowed mockingly to her, and small will be my grief at your going, but my son you will not take. Yet his heart was bleeding, for his love to her was great and ever it strove with his pride and bitterness; and he would ever forgive, should she have asked him.

And hearing these words Elerrian swayed and recovered her wits for a moment, and she perceived that if she departed, she must forsake her child; and she became dismayed. And she looked at the face of the king, distorted in anguish, but to her eyes it seemed that Thranduil was leering at her. And so confused became her senses, and so great her anger that she seized a knife and raised it at the king. Yet Thranduil stood steady and undismayed, and he looked in her eyes, and he laughed bitterly.

Strike then, he said, and he opened up his arms before her, Do as is your kins wont. Slay me and be accursed!

This Elerrian could not bear. The knife fell from her lifeless hand, and she sank onto the floor, weeping bitterly. At length she spoke:

So weary am I, and spent, and unloved. And alone I must depart, for my only son is predestined to stay in Middle-earth, and I may not take him with me. So, fear not! You will have him.

And saying that, she rose to her feet, and went to the door, swaying in her distraction, and tears blinded her, but Thranduil took her hand and led her back to the chair.

You are free to go, as I have told you, he said, Yet you are the queen of the Wood-elves and my wife. Alone you may not travel in these perilous lands. Tomorrow an escort will be gathered for you and the Elves will follow you whither you wish to go.

I wish to go to the Havens, she said only, for all strength had left her.

So be it, said Thranduil, and he turned away and went without a word or a glance.

Next morning he ordered indeed a company of the Wood-elves to follow the queen whither she might wish; and he set his chief counsellor, Celemmir, in charge of it. And so they took the road, and arrived safely to the Havens and there Elerrian stayed ere she departed over Sea, and the Elves came back to Mirkwood.

Upon returning Celemmir found the king in great sorrow and bitterness. This was of the wounds that never heal; yet Celemmir was able to soothe Thranduils grief a little. Together they decided to conceal these sorrowful events from the young prince; and Thranduil hoped in his heart that without his mothers teaching his son would become a likeness of a Wood-elf, and that hope his counsellor shared, for he it was that hated the Exiles most. No words he had for them save the Kinslayers; and all the plans of the queen he would oppose.  

So Legolas grew motherless, and small was tenderness that his father showed him (though Thranduil loved his son dearly), for now the king was ever afraid to become tender to someone. Yet the boy was intelligent, and eager to learn, and very fair, fairer even than was common for Elf-children. He was quiet, and had learned early to keep his feelings hidden, as can be with children that feel unloved.

Under the teaching of the Wood-elves, already in his early youth he acquired surpassing woodcraft. The speech of plant and stone was clear to him, and he perceived the course of wind and water, and all the good beasts, whether wild or tame, would heed his command. Also as an archer he soon won renown, for his eyes were even keener than was the Elves wont and he was night-sighted; and since he was calm, his hand was strong and steady.

As was foretold, he could easily find his way with other peoples. When he came of age, Thranduil would take his son with him to Dale or Esgaroth, and there Legolas was able to learn the ways of Men and their speech. Thranduil had little dealings with other elf-lords, save Elrond of Rivendell, and he delighted not in his sons travelling beyond their Wood-realm. Yet to Rivendell Legolas was permitted to go. Thither his father sent him that autumn when the great Quest began. Loath was Thranduil to permit his sons going, but since his folk had failed in the trust of Mithrandir, no other way he saw to make amends though his heart spoke darkly against this journey