Thranduil felt like a child again. He was of course younger than everyone but Elrond, Thorin, and Bard. though he supposed three out of six was not a bad score. He sat in his chair facing them with his arms crossed. "Well?" he asked.
"Is that all? After all the trouble you have been causing is that all you have to say?" Thorin asked. Thranduil was doing his best to ignore what appeared to be notes in the dwarf king's hands.
"Yes." He replied stubbornly. "I have done nothing wrong. Unless you consider trying to rescue my son a crime."
"A crime perhaps not. But pure foolishness." Gandalf spoke up, giving Thranduil a hard look. "Though my understanding is that there is a lot of the story we are missing."
"Do not patronize me, Mithrandir." Thranduil snapped. "If Galadriel has not told you by now that is on her." He glared at his cousin angrily, ignoring the sympathetic look she gave him.
"Until now I had little reason to believe it was relevant." Galadriel spoke with a soft sigh. 'But now it is. Though They already have a good idea from the notes compiled by Tauriel and her husband."
Thranduil went quiet and sat back in his chair. He could not bring himself to be angry with Tauriel for looking for answers. "And what would that be?" He asked in a bitter voice.
"...Primarily that you were failed so terribly." Elrond answered. "And about Legolas. Where he came from." he looked far more confused about that fact. "Galadriel tells that you bore Legolas yourself?" he nodded at Thorin who to his surprise pulled out the diagram of baby Legolas.
"These… seem to imply Legolas was not created in.. normal means." Thorin looked as confused as everyone else and Thranduil laughed, shaking his head.
"Yes you are correct on both counts. We were.. Unable and perhaps he was unwilling at my age." he paused thinking about what to say next. "He offered me a ring. I think he intended it to be unconnected to the others, but I refused the offer. I did not wish for power. I asked instead for a child, it was a joke at first. After all he had come claiming to be the greatest crafter in Arda. But he took it seriously and began his project." He paused and sighed. "He was still Sauron of course… but now I loved him, after the attack and capture of Celebrimbor. I went to seek him out, before the battle. I had hoped to prevent it, to see him, maybe spare Cel."
"Obviously that didn't work, what happened? I remember you told us, warned us that you had seen Celebrimbor's body." Elrond said, frowning hard at the memory.
"... He was already dead.. I came atop a hill, and I saw the army, I saw cel's body." Thranduil closed his eyes trying not to remember how terrified he had been. "I just collapsed, hid under some brush, scared to move. Until he came for me, he must have felt me because he came and took me into the camp. I wondered if he was going to kill me too and it broke my heart. But he didn't, he said he loved me and he would never harm me. And he presented to me a box, it was tiny, and held within it was an even smaller but beautiful child. Or a statue of one. He had finished him for me." Thranduil sighed. "He had taught me, in greenwood, shapeshifting, to help ease another pain I had." He did not elaborate on that but continued. "So I shifted again to a maiden's form when he asked and he took that figure and laid it within me, Promising that when the time was right I would bear a son. He told the truth, clearly. He let me go, told me to return to the elves and tell them, if I wished, what I had seen of Celebrimbor. I did as you recall, and I was sent home, everyone said I was clearly shaken by it." he laughed bitterly. "They were right, I haven't forgiven it, him or myself. The only comfort is that it was war, and I have a duty to my people first."
"Which is why you fought him." Galadriel spoke. "No one can deny that you love your people. So why this? Why go to him now?"
"Even if I love him it doesn't mean I want Legolas to know him while he is still young and impressionable. That's why I sent him to meet Strider. I figured if he wished to explore it was best to do it with someone I know would be a good example." Thranduil frowned. "He has shown to be willing to speak to me, I had hoped to convince him to let me bring Legolas home."
"A fool's errand, did you consider if he would take you as well?" Sauruman gave him an intense look, making Thranduil feel wary.
"...No, but I had to try. None of you want Legolas left in Mordor either." He protested.
Bard spoke up for the first time in Thranduil's defense. "He is right, If his son is alive, don't we want to rescue him? I am not saying we let thranduil go but.."
"Well we may not have to." A new voice spoke up and the group turned to see Bilbo and Tauriel had entered. Bilbo was holding three letters and looked troubled. "These just arrived via white crows." Bilbo continued and strode over offering one to Elrond and then to Thorin. Elrond frowned at the wax seal imprinted with the eye of Sauron.
Thorin did not bother to stare and just opened his and began to read a scowl forming on his face. "Does he think I am a fool?" He scoffed.
"What does it say?" Gandalf asked, concerned.
Thorin gave him a look over the paper before reading out loud. "King Thorin, I have been patient enough with you for the loss of my General, Azog, and the decimation of his armies. But this injustice against the person of my.. Wife." He paused and glanced at Thranduil before continuing. "Is too far, and I will not stand for it to continue. I have one offer for you and no other. Release Thranduil , my beloved, and let him go in peace as he will. In return I am prepared and willing to vacate the mine of Moria, yours to take and do with as you will. A fair trade I am sure you will agree, and an asset you would not have otherwise. Regards, Lord Sauron of Mordor." He finished with a scowl. "Forgive me Thranduil, but this is not an offer I can accept. Dain has warned me that something terrible dwells there, and I will not be fooled again and sacrifice my people in pursuit of what is lost."
"A wise decision..I doubt he would make such an offer in good faith." Elrond agreed and it seemed so did Thranduil.
"Indeed, I admit I cannot see him giving up Moria any easier than I see him giving up Legolas." Thranduil looked pained still at the words. "Was the last letter for me? Am I permitted to have it?"
"I don't know." Bilbo replied.
"Let me read mine first." Elrond sighed as he opened his and began to read. " Lord Elrond. I am sure you are aware by now of the missing prince. Perhaps even more than that. But allow me to assure you of his good health here under my care, under his father and creators' care. For as wise and long sighted as you may be, somehow this eluded you. That such a perfect elfling was my greatest craft, my most precious. While I have little to entice you perhaps you will better understand how futile it is to keep my wife from me. I doubt you are foolish enough to attempt to take her to the sea, my rescue would reach you before you got close. So make it easy, convince the dwarf king to free Thranduil, and maybe I will be willing to arrange a meeting so you can see for yourself of my son's health and happiness in my lands." He finished a look of annoyance growing on his face and Thranduil groaned softly with his face in his hands.
"Well then, should we?" Bilbo asked.
"Go ahead." Galadriel nodded at him and Bilbo handed Thranduil his letter.
Thranduil sat in his chair and quietly read the letter to himself, his face softening as he did so. "Am I allowed to keep this private?" he asked after he finished.
"That depends on what he wrote?" Galadriel replied.
"Simply that he is sorry to have taken Legolas so suddenly and violently. He could not stand being unable to see him, he had waited long enough and being chased from Dol goldor made up his mind." Thranduil got up and handed the letter to her.
Galadriel looked it over, noting the change in tone. Like the letters Kili and Tauriel had found, this one was full of affection. Though with the added confirmation of what she already expected, he was unwilling to give up Legolas if Thranduil came. "He asks specifically that you join him as his queen in Mordor." she said.
"I have no intention too until such time as he draws a surrender from my lips. I will fight for greenwood until I can no longer. He knows this." Thranduil assured them and it seemed that most of the others believed him.
"I will let you out if you promise not to leave. And we can start discussing a plan." Thorin spoke finally with a sigh.
"...Very well, I agree to your terms. Though who will we find willing to try." Thranduil's face fell again, as if he had finally realized how impossible the situation was and Thorin unlocked the cell door and allowed him to slip out to join them.
Galadriel moved to embrace him before turning back to the others. "I think we have all had enough excitement for today, knowing Legolas is at least not in physical danger, I think we can rest easy while we discuss a plan. King Thorin if you will be willing to continue your hosting?"
"I feel I must, I do not think it wise for any of you to leave with Thranduil. Better he think that you are still locked up, rather than that you are staying of your own will." Thorin replied. "And we also do not want anyone to be attacked, if he thinks you have Thranduil."
Thranduil nodded. "And I suppose you all think writing him back is a bad idea?"
"You are not writing him back." Galadriel said firmly as she took his arm. "Come, there are things we need to talk about in private. Thranduil nodded and went with her pausing only to address Tauriel.
"Later if you are up to it… may we talk?" he asked.
Tauriel was taken aback but nodded. Learning for certain that her beloved brother was at the very least, alive, had been a comfort. Though after everything she had learned, she couldn't help but pity Thranduill. He had been through so much, given up and put aside his own wants and love for the sake of his people. She had been wrong and they were more alike than she had ever thought possible. She followed the rest of the group up the stairs but broke off to go find Kili, to tell him what had happened. And discuss something else. Galadriel, she felt, was a bit overhyped, everyone there was at their core politicians, they had their own people to worry about. And the wizards were as far as she had seen almost completely useless when it came to most things. They could debate for months about a rescue plan, or even just if they should send a rescue party at all. Which meant if anything was going to get done, Tauriel would have to do it herself, or at least with Kili at her side. There was no way he would let her go alone. Of course there was one other obstacle to all of this, but if she told anyone, Legolas would definitely be stuck in Mordor for longer than she would like. She pushed open the door to the shared office, glad to find Kili alone. "Love." She said
"Oh Tauriel, how did it go?" He asked, looking up from some papers he was reading.
"Well, I hate being right. Thranduil confirmed that Legolas is… Annatars son. And.. They are going to discuss a rescue attempt. But, I think, they will take a long time, only to decide to do nothing." she said sitting in the elf sized chair next to him.
Kili sat quietly for a minute clearly thinking. "So then, what are we going to do? If we can't rely on our older kin to solve this."
"Kili, I can't ask you to.." Tauriel bit her lip and looked away.
"Then don't. I would go anyways, for you, for your brother, we survived a dragon and the orcs. How much harder could this be?" He asked. "If you want to go, let's go. We can get to… mordor. We will bring all this, maybe he will be willing to talk?"
Tauriel looked up at him, feeling completely humbled by how much he loved her. "Oh, Kili my love" she leaned over and kissed his cheek before laying her head on his shoulder. "You are better than I deserved."
"No. You deserved so much more. I can never make up for what you lost for me." Kili ran his hand through her hair touching her marriage braids with a soft smile. "So wherever you go, I will go too."
Tauriel sat back up and smiled. "We'll have to be careful, I imagine your family will try to stop us if they find out."
"Then we won't leave through the front gate. I will bring some gold and we can buy supplies in Dale, since the king is still here." Kili said, getting out of his chair. "Go get your horse and my pony?"
Tauriel nodded, getting up as well and giving him another kiss before heading out the door feeling more confident in her choice. They would bring Legolas home.
Kili felt like he only started breathing again when they were out of Dale traveling south, they had been able to secure supplies quickly and quietly avoiding the elves Elrond had brought with him. He didn't really have much of a plan on how to rescue Legolas, but then they had not had a plan on how to kill a dragon either. So really this couldn't be that different. Rather than stop and camp as the light began to fade they pressed on, hoping to put distance between themselves and Erebor before anyone noticed they were gone. "Love?" He said as he pulled his pony up next to Tauriels horse.
"Mm yes?" She asked, shaking her head from staring so far ahead of them.
"What are you thinking?" He asked.
"Just about Legolas. The letters implied he was well. But it's still Mordor, and his captor he's still… Sauron." She looked tired. "How is he going to recover from that? And Thranduil."
"What about Thranduil?" Kili felt for the first time that he would rather be talking about Thranduil.
"I have so many questions for him, Why he cared for me, why he stopped. My parents, who they were and why I lost them."
"I thought, the journal said that his father, let them get killed?" Kili was confused, with everything they had learned that seemed like the answer.
"Yes, but that gives little reason for Thranduil to care, I was just a sylvan elf. And while I was thinking about it, my parents, I realized something else was off. Neither of them looked like me. I don't know what that means." She frowned harder as she spoke.
"I mean.. Fili doesn't look like our parents?" kili offered.
"He looks like your uncle Frerin, yes? I looked once and could not find a red head in my family. All distant relatives had brown hair. So I don't know, maybe I was just born strange."
"Well if it helps. I'm a little weird too, I love an elf after all." He grinned up at her.
"Then I am certainly weird, because I love you too." Her frown was quickly replaced by a light blush and shy smile.
"Perhaps one day we can combine that weirdness? Have a little dwelfing running around?" Kili said though he couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness, they had been trying for six years after all. The general consensus had been that it was impossible, That Lord Mahal had not made it possible for his creations to have children with the elves.
"One day, we have time." Tauriel assured him, smiling a little more as they fell back into their comfortable silence. A few hours passed before Tauriel spoke again. "We have company." she said, pulling her horse to a stop and readying her bow. It was not long before killi saw the company she had spotted. Three riders all clad in hoods approached. Two of them also baring bows. The third, a human man frowned at both of them.
"Hail friends." the stranger said. "Who are you, out at such a late hour, a dwarf traveling with an elf maid no less?"
"I could ask you the same." Tauriel replied. "If you must know, he is my husband."
"Your," one of the other riders spoke up and removed his hood. "Lady Tauriel and Prince kili?"
Kili almost fell off his pony in surprise. "Oh! You are one of Elrond's sons."
"We are both here." the other rider said, following his brother in kind. "What are you two doing out here though?"
"Well given that you three are past Erebor, I suppose you aren't going there. So." Kili frowned. "We are going to rescue Legolas."
"What a coincidence. So are we." The Stranger nodded. "We will go together. My name is Strider, I am a friend of the prince."