Authoprs note: As with my other chapters this is currently unbetad and will be replaced when Terri has seen to it for me. Thank you Terri and hugs to Barb please get better soon? Miss you lots

Tomorrow's Destiny

By MCross

Disclaimer: I do not own anything pertaining to Lord of the Rings. I write for pleasure and I am earning no money from this endeavour.

My heartfelt thanks to both Barbara and Katy for beta-reading this chapter. You two are the greatest Mellyn and Gwethil-nin I could ever hope for.

Reviews are most welcome, even encouraged.

Author's note: Any reference to the Blue Wizards refers to a story I have in the works.

Sindarin vocabulary

Gon … Captain

Hannon le … Thank you

Heniach Nin? ... Do you understand me?

Henion ... I understand.

Hennad … Thanks

Hír, Hír-nin … Lord, my Lord

Iaur … old

Ion-nin … my son

Laes … babe

Mellon-iaur … Old friend

Mellon-nin, mellyn-nin … My friend, my friends

Námo … True name of the Valar Mandos

Penneth, pennyth … Young one, young ones

Saes … Please

Sîdh … Peace

Tithen pen … little one


Chapter Twenty Eight


"See to your Adar!" Meleana called out. He was already running to Legolas side and met Thranduil there at the same time.

"Legolas?" It was an urgent demand from Thranduil.

There was unfortunately no answer.

"Let me look, Thranduil." Meleana's voice was filled with worry.

"What do you think it is?" Fear filled blue eyes turned to meet his.

"I would not presume to even make a diagnosis having not even looked at him. Sidh, I will check him now." Meleana went ahead and did just that.

Thranduil was once more torn. Torn between wanting to be with his son and also wanting to be with his best friend. His son won. There were far too many hovering over Elrond as it was, he would only be in the way.

He watched though as Elrond was lifted with infinite care as if he were the most precious thing in the whole of Arda. Thranduil almost had to smile at that, to his friends and family Elrond was the most important thing on Middle-earth… after Legolas of course.

As Elrond was placed on the bed just as carefully he moaned. Thranduil almost groaned along with him in utter relief, at least one of two of his worries seemed to be recovering!

"Ada?" Elladan reached out to stop his father from sitting up, which seemed to be his father's first inclination.

"Elladan?" Thranduil could tell that his friend was utterly confused as to what had happened.

"Aye, Ada we are all here." He glanced around as if reassuring himself.

"What happened?" Elrond was blinking at him.

"You fainted, Adar." Elrond was told in no uncertain terms by his eldest son. Thranduil did smile then all though you would have to look long and hard to see it. Elladan sounded just like his father, it was totally uncanny.

"Faint? I would not faint!" Elrond exclaimed.

"Believe us, Elrond you fainted." Glorfindel was just pleased to be speaking with him and having him awake.

"I did?" Grey eyes widened as they all nodded. "Why?"

"Your body is still catching up on the healing that Legolas gave you…" Glorfindel started to explain, he did not get very far.

"Legolas!" Elrond was once more trying to sit up as memory flooded back.

"Meleana is tending to Legolas. You need to rest and stay calm." Glorfindel would not let him stand until Meleana was happy with him doing so. He also wanted him to eat and have some Miruvor as well as sleep. Now if only Elrond would co-operate with that!

"Rest and stay calm?!" Elrond turned astonished eyes to his friend "How can I stay calm when Legolas has need of me?!" He succeeded in evading the hands that were insisting he stay lying down.

Unfortunately the minute he sat up his vision was assailed by black spots as the dizziness returned full force.

"And what are you going to do to help him, Ada if you cannot sit upright?" Estel was fretting over his father, seeing both his father and Legolas collapse like that had been terrifying.

"I just need a moment." Elrond stated stubbornly.

"Ada, there is no way you can move from that bed!" Elrohir cried, he was about ready to knock his father out with one of his own teas, he was getting that desperate. Did they cause their father this much aggravation? Surely not.

"Legolas needs me." Elrond told them, his arms crossed and the glare deadly.

"Even if you make it over to his bed, and I doubt it very much!" Glorfindel knew he was going to interrupt and held up a finger and glared at his friend. "Ah! You will listen to me!"

The glare from Elrond was if anything even darker than it had been before this, but he shut his mouth with a snap and then just continued to glower.

"Good. If and I mean if you make it to Legolas' side and it is doubtful you could make it to the side of the bed, you would be exhausted and of no use to him at all." Glorfindel was getting into his stride nicely. "It would be better for both of you if you rested and got better so that you can be of help to Legolas."

Elrond watched his friend angrily. How dare Glorfindel treat him like an Elfling and making him stay in bed? If Legolas was hurting and needed him he should… then Glorfindel's words began to make sense. He was tired. More tired than he could recall for some time. The fact that he had felt so faint sitting up had scared him. That had never happened before to him.

"What is causing this?" There was acceptance now that he had recognised the sense of what his friend was telling him.

"You recall you were attacked and Legolas healed you?" Glorfindel and the others relaxed as they realised that he would not fight them.

"Yes I can recall the pain." Not much else though, he admitted silently.

"You punctured a lung not once but twice, you lost a lot of blood. Although Legolas has healed you and we must thank the Valar totally for that, you are still suffering the loss of the blood. I thought you were dead when we found you." Glorfindel finally admitted.

"I am sorry I have worried you so much, it was not my intention." Elrond let himself be lowered back onto the bed. He could tell that all of them were still in shock over everything that had happened and that he had not helped them with it at all. He could begin to rectify that right now.

"No, it was not and yet you have worried us. All of us." Glorfindel softened all the more as he saw the guilt that flooded Elrond's face. "We can talk about that another time. And trust me Elrond we will talk about why you thought that you would be untouchable after warning everyone about walking the Palace on their own, you knew the chance of attack was huge. So when you feel better we will discuss that."

"And we will all be with him when he does, Adar." Elrond blinked at the fact that Elladan had once again used the formal honorific of Father. It was rare that they used it, yes, his children had been terrified. More than he could recall them being before… disregarding what had happened with Celebrian if course. That was a part of their lives that they would all wish to have wiped from their memory. Even he had been terrified and Glorfindel… well it had been the first time that they had ever seen him cry. In public as well.

It was this fact more than anything that caused him to settle back completely. He would not cause them any more distress if it was possible. Having Legolas in this state and all that was happening around them was enough for all of them.

"I am sorry, all of you. I will rest. I am very shaky." Elrond admitted.

"At last the truth!" Glorfindel smiled down at him.

"Very funny." Elrond scowled at him.

Elladan had to laugh, relaxing for the first time since his Father had collapsed. He had never been as scared… well apart from seeing him after they had brought him up from the attack, that would haunt him for the rest of his life. He had thought he had lost his beloved Adar as well as his friend. He was unsure as to what was going to happen with Legolas, would he even recover from this and the grabbing of his leg… Valar that could mean that the clot…

Elrond had been watching each of his son's in turn and so was watching Elladan as his face seemed to quite literally drain of colour, the healing mark of the poisoned scratch was standing out in stark relief.

"Glorfindel, I think that Elladan should sit down. Before he falls down."

Glorfindel shot him a look and then glanced at Elladan before quickly grabbing the eldest of the ellon he thought of as Son's. Just as Elladan's legs gave way.

"Elladan!" Elrohir was at his side in seconds. For once he had been concentrating so hard on his Father that he had blocked out all signs of distress from his twin. It had never happened before. But then normally his family and friend's did not collapse around him in such vast numbers and all so close to each other.

"He will be alright, Elrohir, see he is coming too already." Glorfindel encouraged him.

It was true. Elladan was already opening his eyes, although he was still quite dazed.

"What happened?" Elladan tried to sit up and made Elrond smile; he had tried to do what his father had. It was so instinctive in them all. To look for the care of the others around them. It was what he had drummed into them, this was all his fault.

Elrond found himself blinking as his eyes suddenly blurred and seemed to burn.

"Easy, Ada he will be alright." Estel had stayed with his father, wanting to continue to help him.

"What have I done? How could I have done this to you all?" Bright grey eyes turned to him.

Elrohir shared a worried glance with Estel before speaking once more. "What do you mean, Ada? You have done nothing to us." He was confused as to what his father was referring to.

"I have made you all into smaller versions of myself!" Elrond could not believe what he had done.

"If that is true then I am very proud that it is so." Elrohir told him with a proud tone.

"Proud?" Elrond blinked at him.

"Aye, proud, very proud. You are the greatest heart in all of Middle-earth, Ada you have treated some of the most important people in Arda. How could I not be proud that you think that we are smaller versions of yourself?" Elrohir told him, a smile on his face. Elladan seemed to be more with it now and aware of where he was.

"I agree. I am sorry I do not know what happened then." Elladan still sounded a little shaky.

"I think that it all caught up with you. A lot has happened recently without a real break, a really long break between crises. I know you are also very worried about Legolas." Elbereth, they all were.

Elladan sighed. "Aye, that is very true. How is Legolas?"

"We have not heard. Sit there and stay there. I will get you some Miruvor that will help you. I do not want you moving until you have stopped shaking. I will find out about Legolas while I get the cordial." Glorfindel told him gently, but sternly. He knew how stubborn the Peredhil family could be.

"I am not shaking…" Elladan began only to stop when he realised that Glorfindel was right he was shaking gently, but steadily. A fine tremble that seemed to be like that of a new leaf in a slight spring breeze. "I am shaking!"

Glorfindel had to smile at the surprise in his tone. For once Elladan had been caught by surprise. He shook his head in amusement as he stood. Really! He could not resist the next comment hoping above hope it would be answered in the way that he wanted it to be answered. "Sit!"

Elladan pulled a disgusted face. "Woof! I am not one of Elorhir's puppies!"

Estel stifled a snigger with his hand and somehow managed to turn it to a cough.

"I will miss the birth!" Elrohir almost wailed, but his eyes shone with his own mirth at his brother's reaction.

"I am sure Erestor will write to give you all the details." Elrond answered back.

"It is not the same as being there to see the birth." Elrohir hated missing them. He loved his hunting dogs that they sometimes took out into the fields around Imladris. Even Legolas loved to hunt with them, running through the grass with them. The Dog's never got to see the prey first of course, but that was not what Legolas wanted from the hunt with the dogs.

Elrohir closed his eyes, how he longed for those days back.

"They will be well, you will see." The colour was already returning to Elladan's face, thank the Valar.

"It is not they that I am worried about." He admitted looking over to where both Meleana and Thranduil were bent over Legolas hiding them from view. Red was sat at the end of the bed her eyes watching worriedly as they spoke in hushed tones. Nutty was once again perched on Thranduil's shoulder. Out of the way but watching silently.

It was then that they realised there was not a sound from outside. The whole of Arda seemed to be holding its breath as they waited for news of the Prince.

Not even the trees seemed to be stirring.

Then Thranduil sat on the bed with a slump, his head in his hands as Meleana gently touched his shoulder before moving away to the herb table where Glorfindel stood watching just as silently, the skin of Miruvor forgotten in his hands.

"Meleana?" There was a quiver of fear in Estel's voice as he broke the silence.

"Sidh, Estel. Legolas will recover, this is just a little set back." Meleana tried to reassure them.

"What was it?" Elrohir asked. They had all been so worried when Legolas had cried out and clutched at his leg. So worried that the clot had moved, that Legolas had died before their very eyes.

"It was cramp. Not surprising really when he has not really used his leg muscles in some time. I think the pain was just too much on top of everything else." Meleana explained to them.

"It was not the clot?" Glorfindel was the one who asked the next question.

"No it was not the clot." Meleana assured him with a smile.

"You are certain?" Estel asked hesitantly as he stood and looked at his so very pale and thin friend.

"Yes, I am certain, Estel." If Meleana was angered at the Young Ranger's words he did not show it.

"His leg is still hard?" Elrond asked himself as he watched them all as well.

"Yes, hard and hot." Meleana emphasised both of those.

"For once I am very glad that you have said that." Elrond sighed with relief as he settled back against the pillows. He could relax now knowing that Legolas was alright, or as alright as he could be with the current situation.

"Why is that, Ada?" Estel asked once more as he turned to face his father.

"Because it means that the clot has not moved at all. If it had the leg would still be swollen, but it would not be hard and we would have other signs by now." That was also a relief for both of the Elven Healers.

"That is good then." Estel felt happier knowing that. "But would cramp do that to an Elf?" He was still worried about the pain that Legolas had been in though.

"Yes, if it is bad enough and you must remember that at this moment in time, Legolas is still recovering from a great many problems and no matter how hard he is trying to make us pretend to be feeling better than he is, it is just that an attempt to fool us." Elrond almost sighed with frustration.

"It is always the same. No matter how or when Legolas is injured he always tries to fool us all into thinking that there is nothing wrong." Meleana sounded as frustrated about that as Elrond did. "If there is one thing I could change about him it is that."

"I know, I have pleaded with Legolas to tell me when he is injured. Begged him as well, he seems to think he is being weak admitting it." Thranduil spoke up from his son's side.

"When do you think it started?" Glorfindel asked. It was something that he had always wondered but never liked to ask.

"I would have to think." Thranduil told them. "But if I were to say off the top of my head without thinking it would be after Fornost and the damage that the two witches caused there."

They all grimaced at the anger that rang out in Thranduil's voice at the memory of the two Elleth that had caused so much anguish for them all.

"Yes, that would actually make sense." Elrond sounded thoughtful. "After the very last attempt?"

"Aye." Thranduil captured a limp, thin hand in his. Legolas' left hand at that. "I will never forgive them. I doubt that Mandos will ever release them, they are too wicked."

"True, but can you really blame Ruthwen for being so easily led?" Elrond was watching him closely. Some wounds had not healed even know all these years, nay millennia later.

"Easily led? Nay, she was not easily led. She agreed with Imles every step of the way. Look at what she did to you. And she almost set Glorfindel and Erestor against each other. If it had not been for Celeborn I would have lost Legolas with that last attempt." Thranduil shuddered just at the memory.

Nutty chattered softly into his ear and Thranduil seemed to calm. "Yes you are right, Nutty that is in the past and did not happen."

"It will still not happen if I have anything to say about it." Elrond told him sternly, he turned towards Meleana. "They may not let me out of bed, but that does not mean I cannot use my brain. How is his pulse?"

"Surprisingly good. It misses a few beats every know and again, but I will admit that I am not too worried." Meleana told him.

"That is good and his temperature?" Elrond wanted to know how stable he really was. He had a feeling that Legolas had been lying to them before, he was more certain of it now.

"Still high, but nothing like it has been." There was relief in the other healer's voice.

"Do you really think he saw her die?" Thranduil's voice was amazingly small. He hated to think what the Wraith might have done to his old childhood friend. He had just forgiven her all that had happened with Polinas, had known it was only loyalty to her Bonded and their son that made Sabinella go with them into exile and he could understand. He had felt the same about Minerella.

But to have die just when he would have welcomed her back to Mirkwood with open arms…

"It would appear so." Mithrandir spoke suddenly from where he had been silently observing all this with quite eyes. He really wanted a smoke, but was unwilling to leave the chamber.

"I was hoping it was just a dream." Rithlin spoke from his bed and they all jumped, they had been so focused on Legolas and Elrond that they had forgotten that he and Haldir were also recovering.

"I was too, Mellon-nin." Bremoline sounded tired.

Thranduil sighed; they would all need a long rest when this was finally over.

He felt his hope rise. It would be over. He would make sure of it one way or another. No matter what Legolas thought on the matter. He would not let his son walk into danger alone. It was not right. His Father should and would be with him.

"I wonder where Brolinth has got to. He was bringing Simnella to us so that he was not with Selothe and his brother." Haldir sounded suddenly concerned as he realised that some time had passed and there was no sign of the pair.

"That is true, they should have been here by now." Bremoline felt sudden fear flood through him and for one sickening moment, truly thought it was his son then realised that he could feel his son through their bond, as all parents could. Brolinth was calm and happy. Well as happy as you could be with someone who had just lost their only child.

He was also very close. Bremoline relaxed back.

"They will soon be here, there is nothing to worry about." He told them all.

"Good." It was actually Mithrandir that spoke.

Rithlin turned to the Mirkwood Gon a hint of mischief in his eyes.

"And pray tell when will Palanwen get here?"

Bremoline actually paled at the very thought. "Once I have left hopefully!"

They all laughed at that. Small and delicate she might be, but she more than made up for stance in her personality!

"Come now, she is not that bad!" Rithlin was doing his best not to laugh, but all joking aside he was pleased that he would not be lying abed as Legolas was, once more, when she arrived.

The fact that it was due to Legolas that he was not lying there was neither here nor there!

He for once would be upright and able to meet her eye to eye. It made for a rather pleasant change and one he could only hope would continue.

"Rithlin!" Bremoline protested. "How can you say that? She is the one that always lambastes you when she sees you!"

"Normally because you are injured." Haldir could not help the comment that seemed to slide passed his lips. It was just such a pleasure to have none of the pain that he had had the last time he had woken.

"That is not funny!" Rithlin protested. Although even to his own ears it sounded false.

"But it is very true." Meleana could not help that after all either. Besides it was the simple truth. After Legolas the next most frequent visitor to his Healing Wing was Rithlin. Even if Palanwen hated it.

"When was the last time I was here as a patient?" Rithlin shot back without thinking.

"Oh I do not know…" There was an evil glint to Meleana's eye even as the other tried to hide their amusement at his words, they all knew what the healer was going to say… "How about a few hours ago before Legolas healed you?"

Rithlin opened his mouth to reply and then rather promptly shut it as he paled when the meaning of his words sank in.

Then he groaned. "She will kill me."

That did send every single one of them into paroxysms of laughter.

"It is not funny!" He glowered at each and every one of them. He was decidedly not amused. They after all did not have to deal with her on a daily basis.

"You mean to tell me, that an elf as wise and as old as yourself is scared of his bonded?" Elrohir actually had to wipe his eyes he was crying that much.

"Would you like to meet her when she is in one of her 'moods'?" Rithlin glowered at him.

That stopped them all from laughing. Small she may be but she was no delicate Court Lady. Oh no. She may have been an only child but that did not stop her from doing and learning what she wanted.

As such she was competent with bow and arrow and could hold her own in a sword fight, at least long enough until aid arrived. On top of that she had a punch that could lay an Orc out cold on the floor. Rithlin knew he had witnessed it!

But, and there was always a but, she had also been gravely injured millennia ago and still suffered from problems. He wished she was here and not out in the forest with the Wraith prowling around.

Yes, she would be well protected and yes he knew his friend's would give their life for her, but he should be there protecting her!

A soothing, calm feeling flooded down their link and he relaxed. It was handy having such a deep Bond at times.

"Do you will think that she will be very mad?" Estel asked, wide eyed. He did not know why they were so scared of her, she was only an Elleth after all and she had always been so kind to him in the past.

"Can we talk to the trees?" Was his only reply.

That made them all laugh once more.

"Legolas said they would be here by dawns early light." There was a wistful tone to his voice, even though he was dreading the telling off he would undoubtedly get he was also looking forward to seeing her. Ai, what a state to be in.

"Aye, he did." Haldir reached out to gently touch his arm in reassurance. "You know she will get here in one piece and if I am not mistaken, likely early."

When something threatened one of those that she loved Palanwen would pull out all the stops to get there. Normally the group she was with would be exhausted!

"So what are we going to do until Legolas wakens once more?" Estel asked.

"Aside from be patient?" Meleana asked right back.

"Aye." Estel normally had the patience of the Valar, but when it came to injured family or friends, well that was a totally different story. Then he had no patience at all.

"We can begin to plan a back up plan for what ever Legolas is planning. He need never know." Thranduil spoke from where he sat with his son. He had been thinking about this since Legolas first mentioned that he would face the Wraith alone and that he wanted his Father and Estel to be kept safe in the palace.

Well that was just not going to be what happened. It did not matter that Legolas would be upset with them as long as he was alive enough to be upset.

"A back up plan?" Glorfindel was sitting up and listening intently.

"Indeed, I will not let Legolas face the Wraith alone." Thranduil was watching Legolas sleep once more.

"Good, I would have shadowed him." Thranduil looked up startled at that. "Come, Thranduil did you expect me to just go and let him leave alone? I could not do that." Glorfindel's voice was quite at the last.

"I am lucky to have such understanding friends as you all are." Thranduil relaxed back again, Legolas would not be alone, no matter what he thought and that comforted him.

"We are the lucky ones. All the things that Legolas has done for each of us in the past. We only have one way of saying thanks and this is it. Who is willing to help with this?" Glorfindel asked the chamber in question, knowing he already knew the answer. He was not mistaken.

Every one present either nodded or raised hands. Then to their great surprise Reed yipped and Nutty chattered.

Thranduil looked at the small Squirrel where he was perched on his shoulder in his now customary place. The look of surprise deepened as he 'spoke' with the animal.

"They are willing to help as well." There was awe in the King's voice at this show of loyalty.

"That I did not doubt for one second." Elrond had to smile. So like Legolas to inspire this loyalty.

"So what will we do?" Estel was eager to hear the plan and help his friend.

"We make sure that he thinks we are staying here as he asks and then we follow him at a distance. We need to keep this quiet and let Legolas think we are doing his wishes." Thranduil told then quietly.

"Legolas will not be happy about that!" Haldir was smiling, a true smile that they had all missed.

"Legolas can live with that!" Thranduil would not budge from his position on this one. "He can shout and scream at me all he wants as long as long as he can scream and shout."

"Spoken like a true Father." There was approval in Elrond's voice as he looked over at his friend.

Thranduil smiled back. "Now may be the time to ready our weapons so that they are as you wish them to be for when Legolas wakens. He will not be suspicious then." Glorfindel looked towards Elrond. "I will see to Hadafang for you."

"Hannon le, I would be lost without her by my side." Elrond admitted. He had used the sword for a long time and the thought of going into battle without her was inconceivable.

"I know. Leave it with me." Glorfindel had to smile, his old friend was so predictable.

"I will walk with you." Estel had risen and was making his way towards them. "I will collect them and make sure that Legolas' sword and knives are honed."

Estel had no doubts that Legolas would want them.

Thranduil sighed tiredly once again. "I know he will want them, even though I do not think he is well enough. But you are right, Estel he will be wanting them."

"It made sense. We all know that Legolas will not be able to sit and do nothing while there is danger about." It was just practical and made sense.

"Again you are very right. Get going, I do not want Legolas to wake to seeing us preparing like this." Thranduil's tone made it an order.

"You plan on keeping this from him?" Elrond sounded thoughtful as he asked the question.

"Aye, what he does not know about he need not worry about." Thranduil admitted, even though he hated to do this.

"Very true, but I would not wish to be in your shoes when he does realise what is going on." Perversely he could see both sides to the reasoning. And yes they were both right to a certain extent. But they were also wrong as well.

"Do not worry about that. When the time comes I will speak with Legolas and make him see sense." Thranduil waved away his worries.

"You will try, but when Legolas is like this he is intractable. He will not change his mind." Elrond knew that all too well from bitter past experience.

"Ah, but you forget one very important point here, Elrond." Thranduil was smiling smugly.

"And what is that?" Elrond hated that look and the smug tone, he too knew them all too well, and it meant that he would be loosing this fight as well.

"I am his Adar he has to listen to me. If not as his kin then as his Aran." Thranduil spoke as if it was fate accomplished.

"Mellon-nin I have three sons and not one of them will listen to my good advice. What makes you think that Legolas is different?" He could not stop the laugh that thought, did Thranduil really think he could make Legolas see sense?

"I will make him listen." The voice was flat and determined.

"We shall see, Thranduil we shall see." Was all that he said and then the chamber burst into a hive of activity as they gathered up the various weapons and began to ready them.


The Wraith smelt the air, trying to gauge where would be the best place to go next. He was ravenous, so hungry. Why was it that every time he was having a good feed he was interrupted?

The first time had been with that young girl in the Palace. That stupid guard had come in on him and he had lost his food. Still the Elf that interrupted them had paid dearly for it. It would have been too late by the time they found him.

The second had been the last time really, the Elleth in the village. While he might have felt guilty at taking the first ones life, she was a pure innocent after all, he blood had seared into him with its glow of good, and the last one had not.

She had been touched by the darkness. Tainted and her blood had tasted so good.

He found himself drooling just at the thought. He needed more blood. He needed more food.

But where to go? All would be aware that he was here now. The Royal Brat would have seen to that. So he had to stay away from villages, stay away from the places he would normally have hunted.

No, he would need to stick to the Orcs and Spiders. At least for the time being. And if he came across any travellers. Well more fool them.

He turned towards the direction of the Palace. A feral grin graced his face. Soon it would be the Prince's blood on his lips, the Prince's pulse that slowed and died beneath him…

He sniffed. Then he frowned.

How could this be? The last time he had seen the Prince he had been too weak to even lift his head up, let alone anything else.

How could he be stronger? This should not be possible! There was no way he could get better.

Not that it mattered one way or the other really. The Prince would die n

Beneath him crying for his Mother as they always did. Even the big brave ones.

Oh yes, it would wonderful to feel his life drain away beneath him, so wonderful.

He shook himself. That was in the future, but for the moment he needed food of another kind. Food that was more accessible.

"Soon, Princling. Very soon and then we will see who the winner will be."

With one long lingering look he turned and in the blink of an eye had vanished into the trees above him.


The group was moving at quite a pace as they made their way through the eerily silent forest. They were wasting no time as they travelled, their horses almost as silent as the forest around them.

The group was only small a matter of ten Elves all grouped around a horse that bore a rider in the middle. It was as if this one person was the most precious thing alive on Middle-earth. They would give their all to protect her.

"Brolinth, how did you say he was when you last saw him?" The voice was soft and full of worry.

"He was unconscious, Meleana was helping him. I am sure he will be awake now, Palanwen." He tried to reassure her, but he was just as worried.

"I hope so. It felt so bad." She unconsciously rubbed at her chest, she had felt her Bonded's pain when he had been attacked, and it had been terrifying.

"It was bad, I will admit." Brolinth's voice was grim, he would never forget that sight, and he knew his father certainly would not.

"And that poor young Elleth." She could only shake her head her heart was filled with that much sadness.

"Aye, but at least it was quick. She would not have suffered." That was one blessing in disguise.

"Do you think the Elfling's will be alright?" She had hated leaving her three children, but she did not feel it was safe for them out here with the Wraith about. She at least could fight alongside the warriors, but they would have been helpless. Still it was a wrench leaving them with her friends like that.

"I am sure they will. Nana will look after them for you as if they were her own." it was the truth as well, she loved the three little Elfling's with a passion.

"It was kind of her to look after them for me. Oh I just have to get to Rithlin!" She had tears in her eyes once more.

"You will, it will not be long now. The sooner we are at the Palace the happier I will be." He looked around uneasily. There was something about to happen, he could feel it, and he was not sure what exactly.

He could also see that the others could feel it as well. The unease, the tingle down the spine. Something was watching them, something with decidedly unfriendly eyes…

They were all alert as they moved forward, intent on getting those under their protection safely to the Palace as soon as they could.


It had picked up the scent of Orcs, faint yes, but they had passed by sometime within the last day and knowing that the foul creatures hated daylight they would still be within his ability to reach. Soon he would rejoice as they struggled their last beneath him…

If a part of him still felt sorrow, even after the long, long millennia he had existed, he ruthless pushed it back deep within himself. Sorrow was for weaklings like the Princeling. And one thing he was not was weak.

He made his way through the trees. Glorying in the movement of his long limbs, rejoicing that he was free once more after so long in the dark and cold.

Then he stopped. Frozen to the spot as another scent, quickly followed by sounds caught his attention. He sniffed once more and grinned, his fangs showing in the half light of the dark forest.

His luck had changed it would seem. Some fool was abroad and testing him.

Well tonight he would not be making do with Orc or Spider blood. Tonight he would feast on Elf or Edain blood. Still not as good as Royal blood, but a better substitute.

He grinned as he changed his route, flying through the air with an ease that would have been astonishing to watch. His hunger giving his haste away.

Soon though he realised that the scent had been hidden. It was not just one person but a group. That did not deter him. If it were the humans he could over power them all and feast so well he would not need to feed until he had the Princeling in his hands.

Slowly he moved forward ahead of the group, to the only path that could be taken and hiding himself in shadow once more he waited, mouth watering as they came nearer.

And then the overwhelming knowledge that they were Elf kind hit him. Elf kind that would be armed to the teeth. A group, a large group at that and mounted on steeds.

He hissed his displeasure to the skies. He was confident that he could take three or four with him, he would in all possibility take some injury in the fight and that would mean he would need time to heal and that would put his plans back somewhat.

No it was better to be sensible then despite what his heart and stomach was telling him. He could only watch as they drew nearer regret filling every pore as they came into view.

But he knew he was right with his decision the minute that he saw them. These were seasoned Elves and not Novices out on practice. They all moved like a cohesive group. Their moves so smooth that had to have been together for millennia.

He growled deep in his throat with frustration, what should have been a quick delightful meal was no more.

He watched as they sensed him in the Song, already alert they became battle ready, willing to fight him with all their worth.

They would be worthy adversaries. But he could not take the risk. He watched with anger as they passed by him.

As soon as they were out of sight he vanished another feral grin on his face. It was time to go Orc and Spider hunting. That would be fun.

Little did he realise he was actually aiding those who he wished to crush. That by feeding on the fell creatures the patrols did not have to work as hard as usual and so could protect the Palace…


Palanwen could feel the danger around them, could almost taste it and none of her friend's even realised that she had the short sword her beloved had given her in her hand. She would not go from this world without fighting what ever it was that was threatening them.

Her anger was deep, and she hoped in some small measure that it was the Wraith, they had a score to settle after all. It had injured Rithlin and was threatening the King and Caun all of whom were her friends. No if it attacked she was ready.

So it was a mixture of relief and frustration when the feeling vanished and the small bird song began again. What ever the danger had been it was passed and although they could not totally relax, one never could when out in the forest after all, they were not battle ready any longer.

"We should continue to make haste. The sooner we are within the strong hold the happier I will be." Brolinth still had his bow at the ready, arrow still knocked. For some reason he could not relax.

"I agree." Palanwen admitted, the sooner she got to Rilthlin's side the better she would feel. At least for once he had not hidden the injury! He could be as bad as Legolas when it came to doing that. Indeed they had both felt the sharp edge of her tongue before now because of this. No doubt they would again. At least she hoped so.

"Come then." The smile Brolinth gave her told her he understood her reasoning and to some degree agreed with her.

The rest of the trip was made in silence. A wary watchful silence as they made their way.

Soon enough they could see the large stone doorway that was shut against intruders. As they were spied by the guards coming closer, the doors slowly opened so they could enter. Only Thranduil and Legolas could open the doors on their own from the outside. Some said it was ancient magic sent by the Maia all those millennia ago. But Brolinth was not that sure. Still they kept Mirkwood's Palace safe and that was what mattered.

Well, normally safe, for the moment nothing was out of reach for the Wraith, it had already been in the palace once, how could they prevent it happening again?

They greeted the guards as they rode through the large gates. Even here they could not relax any more. The Wraith had seen to that.

They continued on down the tree laden road, nodding to the Elves going about their business. They had all at one point been given the choice to move their Flets into the Palace grounds for safety, but that had just felt like they were giving up, letting the Darkness win.

Even his Adar had decided that they would stay where they were unless the danger became to bad.

He sighed, perhaps now was the time to admit that they were no longer safe in their home. He would need to speak with his Ada at some point about this.

They had reached the Palace door while he had been lost in his thoughts and he blinked in surprise. He did not think that he had been thinking that long.

He swiftly dismounted and hurried to help Bethany. She may be a fighter and never give in, he had seen her when she was angry, but she was also an Elleth. An Elleth who had been badly injured in the past and still suffered effects, lasting effects from her injuries.

She was having none of it.

"I can manage, hennad, Brolinth but I not a weakling that needs to be carried." There was still a spark of anger in her eyes and her tone was icy.

"I know you are not, Palanwen but equally it will save time and will mean that you are with Rithlin sooner." He told her.

"That is true, very well." She allowed herself to be helped from her horse, even though she hated the attention.

No sooner had her feet reached the ground and she had gently patted her Mares nose than she was hurrying inside.

She took no notice of any one as she headed towards the Healing Wing. And although she was aware of someone calling her name, she had more important things to do, like seeing her Bonded with her own eyes.

"Palanwen!" The shout and a hand pulling her up short finally stopped her flight.

"What?!" She demanded. "I am going to see Rithlin." The glower would have melted the snow upon the top of the Misty Mountains and made him wince.

"I can see that." Brolinth was smiling a little. "But he is not in the healing wing."

"What do you mean?" She was suddenly white and shaking. "What happened? Namo can't have taken him!"

Brolinth's smile vanished in an agonised instant when he realised what she thought he had meant by those words.

"No, he is still with us, Palanwen!" Ai Valar how could he have been so stupid! He berated himself. "Rithlin was in the King's chamber with the rest of the injured and not in the healing wing! I was trying to take you to him."

"He is in the King's chambers?" Her eyes were beginning to loose their sudden panic, although she was still breathing hard.

"Aye, it was decided that they would all be safer staying together." He excplained.

Her relief was utter and then she became furious. "If you ever scare me like that again there will be nothing left for the Spiders to feast on! You terrified me!"

"I am sorry, I did not mean to." There was real regret in his voice.

"I know." She rubbed her forehead tiredly. "I am just stressed, I should not be taking it out on you."

"That is what friends are for, Palanwen." He smiled once more at her. "Come, I will show you where he is."

Within minutes they were outside the large ornate oak door that led into the King's private chamber. She found herself suddenly nervous. She had never been in this chamber before and she was not sure it was right to do so now.

"He will not bite you, you know. Thranduil is not like that and you should know that by know." Brolinth spoke quietly.

"I know that, but what if there is something wrong and I do not know about it? What if Namo really has taken him." There was a hint of panic in her voice.

"There is only one way that you are going to find that out, I am afraid and that is to enter." he raised his fist and knocked on the door. A series of intricate knocks that made a pattern she realised.

The door opened a crack and then was open wider. Brolinth gestured for her to preceed him.

No sooner had she entered the chamber that a voice cried out.

"Palanwen! You are safe." Rithlin's voice held so much relief it was untrue.

"Aye, we had a swift journey. But you! Let me see." There was command in her voice.

She held him at arms lemgth to get a good look at him, but at the same time not letting him go.

"How can this be? I heard you were injured and yet there is not a scratch upon you! I felt your pain!" Palanwen did not know what to think.

"It is a long story and will take some time to tell. But as you can see I am well and in no pain." Rithlin pulled her to him and held her as if he would never let her go again. "I was so worried about you coming through the forest."

"I had my sword with me the entire time and Brolinth looked after me." She hugged him back more relieved than she would have thought possible at seeing him so well.

"I will have to thank them." he kissed her gently.

She returned it and then spoke again. "How is Legolas?" She looked over to where he was sleeping and her mouth dropped open in shock. He looked so bad!

"Aye, he is still very ill even if he will not admit it. Come I want to hear Brolinth's report." He led her further into the chamber.

"Ada." Brolinth greeted his father with relief.

"Brolinth, Ion-nin I am so glad to see you. Uninjured I hope?" His keen eyes had already swept over him for signs of injury.

"Uninjured indeed, Ada. We met nothing in the forest." he was aware that every one was listening in even as Rithlin and Palanwen joined them.

"There was no sign of the Wraith?" Bremoline relaxed a little.

"No, but the forest is in a state of unease and I am sure that we were watched at one point and it was not friendly." His voice was grim.

"It is what I would have expected." Thranduil had joined them although he had not moved far from Legolas' side.

"How is Legolas? He looks worse than when I left." Brolinth could have bitten on his tongue. He should not have said that!

"That is because he is worse and stubborn to boot!" Thranduil sighed.

"I could have told you that, Aran Nin!" Was the cheeky reply.

It had the desired effect though, for Thranduil gave him a small appreciative smile.

"Come you must all be tired and hungry." Thranduil turned to Haldir who nodded and left the chamber. "Come and sit down. Palanwen, My dear it has been too long since I last saw you. How do you fare?" He caught her in a hug, catching her totally by surprise.

"I am well, Sire. Worried about Rithlin but I am well." She told him gently.

If anything his hug tightened. After she had first come to Mirkwood upon Bonding with Rithlin she had worked as his personal scribe, they had had many years together in that working relationship. They had never lost the closeness that they had found.

"He is much better than he was. He will be fine." He let her go gently.

"But he was so badly injured! How could he have recovered like that?" She needed to know what had happened.

"Yes, he was injured I will not say that he was not, but he is healed and back to the Rithlin we all know and love." Thranduil tried to explain. It was not easy, he could hardly say that Legolas had been the one to heal him. Although there was something he could use. "We had help, by the Valar's grace."

Her eyes widened all the more. "The Valar?"

"Aye the Valar." He was glad he had thought of that as she relaxed.

"Then they have my undying thanks and gratitude." She was smiling once more.

"Palanwen, come and have some wine. You too, Thranduil." Glorfindel was already holding out the goblets for them.

"I think that we are being summoned." There was laughter in Thranduil's voice.

"It would seem so my liege. Come I think they are becoming suspicious of us dallying here, I would not want my Bonded to come at you with his sword." There was laughter and relief in her voice. It dropped almost at once. "You can also tell me what has brought Legolas so low."

"That Palanwen is a long and painful story and one I am not sure I could speak of at the moment, it hurts so much." Thranduil sighed. Then smiled as a small warm paw stroked his neck as if to give him comfort.

"Thranduil your hair moved!" She seemed a little shocked, there was no breeze in the chamber.

"Aye I know. Nutty why not come out and greet another of Legolas' friend's?"

Palanwen was sure that he had lost his mind. The King was talking to his hair?!

She was just about to call Meleana over when the hair seemed to part and out came a… Squirrel? Thranduil had a Squirrel in his hair?

"This is Nutty, he is one of Legolas' friend's, he has found that he likes to sit on my shoulder and hide in my hair." He told her with a smile.

She could see that. For to her surprise the Squirrel was sitting on its haunches and resting with his paw on Thranduil's ear. Happy as you please.

"Where did he come from?" There was a hint of awe in her voice. They all knew how close to the forest creatures Legolas was, but Thranduil? That was a new one.

"Nutty has been with us a few days now, since all of this with the Wraith started, have you not, Penneth." It appeared to her that Thranduil actually was talking to the small creature.

"But why?" She was puzzled about that she would admit.

"It is not safe for anyone in the Forest at present and Legolas offered his friends a safe haven here until it is finished. I have offered them a safe haven for as long as they wish in thanks for their service. If not for our friends, neither Legolas nor Estel would be with us now." Thranduil glanced over to Estel and then looked at his son, he was so grateful that had not happened.

"In what way?" Why did Palanwen feel that she was so far behind in this conversation?

"The Wraith attacked Legolas and Estel. Red stopped him." Rithlin told her quietly, he had been filled in by the others with what had happened.

"Red?" She asked turning to the love of her life.

"Aye, Red." he nodded towards the bed and she gasped when she saw the red head lift from Legolas and turn to look at them with startlingly intelligent eyes. "Is that…" She had to stop and prevent herself from taking a step backwards. "Is that a Fox?"

"Yes, Melleth that is indeed a fox." Rithlin was smiling.

"But you need to get it away from Legolas it could bite him!" There was unusal fear in his beauties voice, something he was not used to with her.

"Nay, she will not hurt him. Watch." He held her close enjoying having her in his arms once more.

Red had lost interest. They were no danger to her Prince after all and that was all she cared about, keeping her Prince safe and with her. She turned to check him once more, pleased that she could no longer sense or smell his pain as she could.

She gave an impatient huff. She wanted him to wake so she could see that he was alright. She gently nudged at a limp hand with her snout and then so gently she knew it would not hurt him, she licked the hand, as she would one of her kits. Then she settled back down her head resting lightly on the hand. She could and would be patient, as he had been with her when she was hurt. As long as his people did not make him leave and she knew from Nutty that the King would not make her leave, then she was very happy.

"That is incredible." Palanwen could not believe what she had just seen. The Fox had almost mothered Legolas. She was so gentle, it was like watching a mother with her babe.

"See, I told you she would not harm him." Rithlin would never tire of seeing Legolas with his animal friends.

"It is incredible to see." Palanwen could not keep the shock from her voice.

"Aye, it is. From what I can gather Legolas has turned Estel's chamber into a menagerie!" Rithlin was grinning at the Adan as he said that.

"Not even my pack is safe from the mice!" Estel shot back without hesitation.

That made her laugh. And then she took a really good look at Legolas and her heart dropped.

"He looks so ill."

"He has been. But he is better than he was." Thranduil had joined them, Brolinth at his side.

"I am sad and glad at the same time." Palanwen reached to brush some stray hair from Legolas' face. That one strand always seemed to come free and cause him trouble when he slept.

"I know what you mean." Thranduil was watching his son with a mixture of tenderness and worry.

Then he turned back to her.

"Brolinth tells me that something was watching you in the forest?"

"Aye it was an awful feeling. Made me cold and shivery. I knew the minute it had gone, the forest seemed to come alive again." She shivered just at the memory.

Rithlin looked up sharply at her words and pulled her gently into a hug. "I am glad that you are safe. I was so worried for you."

"Worried for me when you are the one that was injured?" Her voice was a mixture of both tart and relieved. An odd mixture to be sure but the truth.

"I was at least being looked after and safe in this chamber. You though." He shivered. Then he turned to Thranduil. "You think it was the Wraith?"

"I am sure that it was." Thranduil's voice was cold. If he had his way this would stop this day. Too many had already been injured and killed because of all of this and he would not have it anymore. "Rithlin, aside from Legolas you are the only one who has seen this Wraith. I want you to sit and tell us all what you saw. I want to know everything that you can think of. Every detail no matter how trivial you may think it is."

Of course, Aran nin." With his urging they all moved over to the bed and chairs. Thranduil could still sit beside Legolas.

"Good, now back into bed with you, Penneth. You may be acting as if you took no harm because you have been healed by the Valar's grace, but your body is still recovering and you lost an awful amount of blood." Thranduil gently chided him.

Palanwen was immediately alert. "Too much blood lost? What do you mean too much blood loss? Sit!" She was pushing him so that he was sitting on the bed.

He did not fight her. He knew her too well for that.

"You did not tell her?" Thranduil was amused.

"No, I knew I would be fussed." Rithlin admitted.

"And rightly too! Really and you expect our Elfling's to be sensible?" she shook her head as she made certain he was comfortable, then she stood back. "I want to hear what happened and I want the truth."

"Yes, Palanwen. I would have told you, just not right away, not when you have been so worried." He reassured her.

She relaxed somewhat. "Just tell me?"

"Of course." So he did.

"I have never seen anything move that fast. One minute it was on the floor with her and then it was attacking me. From one side of the chamber to the other in less time that it took to blink." He finished his tale and by this time he was hugging Palanwen to him.

"That poor Elleth, her Ada will be devastated." She was crying silently.

"You are right, of course Palanwen that is why I have asked him to be moved nearer so that we can keep an eye on him." Thranduil reassured her.

"And her Bonded?" It was an innocent enough question for someone who did not know what was happening fully.

"We are watching him as well." Thranduil's voice was dark and angry.

Palanwen looked up at that. Having worked with Thranduil for so long she was attuned to his moods. This was Thranduil who was deeply angry about something. Or someone.

She cast a look at her Beloved who shook his head, advising her to say nothing.

They had all been listening to his tale, all of them asking questions and making comments, at least those who were awake.

Mithrandir looked thoughtful as he sat by the fire stroking his beard.

"Can you describe what it looked like?" It would be helpful to see if the descriptions matched.

"Aye, it was thin, almost cadaverous and its hair was long. Well I assume it was long, it was matted like an animal's pelt that it was not taking care of." They nodded at that, so far it matched Legolas' description perfectly. "It had long pointed teeth, sharp as well and its eyes were a deep red. Eerie." Just remembering those eyes made him shiver.

Palanwen suddenly shivering against him caught his attention. "Melleth?"

"You faced it? Alone?" her face was pale and scared as she turned to him.

"Yes, and look, I am still here with you." He tried to reassure her, although if he were honest he did not know exactly how it was that he came to still be here and so well. Apart from… his eyes widened. He turned to his beloved…

"What? What is wrong?" She was suddenly frantic.

"Palanwen, Legolas called me back. I was leaving, I was leaving you and he stopped me." How could he explain to her what he had felt?

"Rithlin, Melleth you are scaring Me." her voice sounded it as well.

Mithrandir shared a glance with Thranduil, they knew what had happened, but Rithlin had not seemed to be aware of it, but now?

Rithlin took a deep breath, he needed to be calm, to explain what it was that Legolas had used to bring him back to them.

"I am sorry, I did not mean to scare you." he gently kissed her once more.

Thranduil reached out and patted her leg gently in reassurance.

"I know, but when you spoke of leaving us." Her voice quavered.

"It would not have been through my choosing." he assured her.

Mithrandir spoke then, very gently. "You must realise, Palanwen that Rithlin was targeted by great Evil. An evil that wanted him dead. If Legolas had not found the means of giving him the hope and need for returning…"

"What was the hope?" Her eyes shone with tears.

"Your little blip." The voice was both croaky and very weak.

"Legolas!" Thranduil was on his feet immediately and crossing to his side.

"Ada." Legolas had moved only his head against his pillow and that was very weakly.

"How are you feeling, Ion-nin?" Thranduil was fussing over him, unable to stop himself.

"A little better. My leg is sore." it was a weak admission.

"We need to have you drink some Miruvor and then some hot tea." Meleana was gently taking his pulse. "Some pain herbs may be an idea as well."

"What happened?" Legolas turned to face him.

"You over taxed yourself." Meleana's lips were thin with displeasure as he looked down at his Prince.

"How did I do that?" Legolas sounded so puzzled that Palanwen had to smile. He sounded just like the sweet little Elfling that she had once known. Talking of Elfling's…

"What do you mean our little Blip?" She could not stop from blurting out.

"You healed everyone and then tried to heal your self when you have been so very ill yourself. You simply over taxed yourself and when the cramp hit it was too much. Way too much." Meleana spoke sternly to his Godson. "I will be making sure that it does not happen again. You will not be leaving that bed until I say that you can!"

"Meleana that is just not possible. I have too…" Legolas glowered back at him.

"If you say you have too much to do, I will drug you senseless then I will tie you to that blasted bed and make sure that you cannot leave it!" The healer was stern with his charge.

"You would not!" There was a mixture of worry and awe in Legolas' voice.

"I would and I will!" Meleana could take the challenge.

"If necessary I will join him." The voice was the least that Legolas expected and he turned to his father with a look of betrayal on his face.


"Legolas, I have never been so scared as when you collapsed. I thought you had stopped breathing." Thranduil had to stop. Shaking his head, he roughly cleared his throat. "I thought the clot had moved."

Palanwen looked at them shocked and them turned to Rithlin mouthing: "clot?"

Rithlin shook his head and she understood now was neither the time or the place.

"I am sorry, Ada I did not mean to worry you. I will rest, but I can still make my plans and we can have things ready so that when I am allowed up I can move swiftly." Legolas was already once more thinking ahead, making plans. Plans that he would keep, and when he did the Wraith would be no more.

"Good, but we will be making those plans together, Legolas not just you alone." There was utter conviction in Thranduil's voice. "Otherwise I will not let you do this."

"Ada." There was pleading in Legolas' tone.

"No, Legolas, it is either this way or no way."

"I agree with him, Mellon-nin." Estel spoke from where he had been standing with his brother's watching them.

"You would all turn against me?" There was deep pain in Legolas' voice.

"Legolas, Mellon-nin I would never turn against you and you know it!" Estel was shocked at the very idea of it. "I am trying to help you. It is that simple. How can you think that?!"

Legolas looked embarrassed as he looked away from his old friend.

"I am sorry, I did not mean to say that. I know you would not. Forgive me?" He looked back up at Estel. "Estel?"

"There is nothing to forgive, Legolas. Just as long as you help us with this. We are willing to help you. But first you have to help yourself!" Estel was still a little hurt truth be told.

"You are right. But I am so scared that you will get hurt on my behalf and I do not wish that ever." There was a deep sadness in the Prince's voice.

"We will not be hurt because of you, Mellon-nin. That is the whole point. You could hurt no one. If any one is hurt it is because of others." Estel told him earnestly.

"He is right, Legolas." Elladan spoke up finally, looking at his foster brother with something akin to shock. "I hate to say this, but Estel is right in this."

"When did you get so intelligent?" Legolas was frowning at Estel as if trying to work something out in his mind.

"Me? Intelligent?" He returned the look of shock. "I am just me. Simply Estel!"

"There is more to you than simply Estel and well you know it!" Legolas had relaxed back against his pillows once more. "No, Mellon-nin there is far more to you and your being simply Estel and I for one am very glad about it!"

"Legolas is right about that, Ion-nin." Elrond was looking at his son proudly. "Simply Estel is not all that you are. I am so proud of you."

Estel blushed at the praise and turned back to Legolas. "Will you rest and recover and let us help you?"

Thranduil was watching this with amusement. It was rare that anyone could get his stubborn son to change his mind when it was made up about something. But he had a feeling he had just seen it happen. Wonders would never cease.

"Aye, I will rest and I will let you help." Legolas smiled at him. "Hennad, Mellon-nin."

"You are more than welcome. I thought I was going to have to knock some sense into that thick head of yours!" Estel grinned cheekily.

"I would like to see you try!" Legolas joked right back.

"That can be arranged." Thranduil told him sternly.

"Ada, not you as well!" Legolas threw his hands up in exasperation.

That made them all laugh. "Someone has to keep you in check, Legolas." Thranduil was pleased to see his son laughing. He had missed that wonderful sound.

"Very funny, Ada. Very funny indeed." Legolas pretended to pout. Then he grew serious. "I imagine that there was another incident with the Wraith?"

"Yes, Ion-nin that was what caused you to collapse." Thranduil spoke gently.

"I know, he killed her. He killed her and he enjoyed it so much. I could feel him laughing as he did so." Legolas could only shudder.

"Try not to think about it, Legolas. Try not to brood on it." They all knew that Legolas would do that, it was a part of who his son was. He would in all probability hold himself responsible for the death even though he had not even been there. At least not physically.

"How can I not?" Haunted blue eyes lifted to look at his Father. "He showed me what he was doing with her, Ada as he did with Cwaerlion. It is something that I will never be able to forget."

It was one of the worst things about being Immortal, elves had perfect memory. So Legolas was not lying when he said he would never forget what he had seen, he would recall every detail for the length of his days.

"We will make sure that he pays for what he has done. We will make him pay." It was a promise.

"Yes, Ada we will." Thranduil wished he could wipe away the pain that was in his son's eyes and voice. He would give anything in his Kingdom to achieve that, something that he could never actually do.

"Do you want something to eat? It has been a while and you need to have some tea." The warmth would do him some good, it would also help dissipate some of the lingering shock that he was sure his Son was still feeling.

"I would like that. I am hungry. Perhaps something more than porridge though?" Legolas asked.

"You are hungry?" Thranduil was pleased he had heard that.

"Aye and I think something more filling will help." Legolas admitted.

"That is good news, Legolas. Good news indeed. Some stew with bread? That would be filling." Meleana told them.

"It will be good to see you eating solids once more." Mithrandir spoke from his perch by the fire.

"It will feel good to do so." Legolas agreed.

"I will make you some stew, Legolas." Palanwen stood from where she had been sitting. "I am sure the kitchen would have been cleared?" She had turned to Bremoline.

"Yes, it has. We could not leave it like that and some of the Elfling's could have walked in on the ness." Bremoline admitted.

"Then I will organise some food for us all." She smiled at Legolas sweetly before turning to leave.

"Palanwen I am not happy with the idea that you walk the corridors alone. I will come with you." Rithlin was ready to push himself up from the cushions that he had sunk into.

"You will not!" She had her hands on her hips and was glowering at him. "Thranduil said that you had lost too much blood. You set one foot out of that chair and you will regret it for the rest of your life!"

"I do not want you being alone!" He glowered back at her.

"Rithlin is right about that, Palanwen I would not be happy with anyone walking alone at this point in time." Thranduil spoke, aware that he was heading off what could become a blazing argument with the two Elves in front of him.

"I will accompany Palanwen. That is if you do not mind, Mellon-nin?" Brolinth turned to Rithlin.

"I do not mind, as long as she is not left alone!" There was a challenge in his voice as he watched his beloved.

"Rithlin how could I be alone? I am in the Palace surrounded by friends and guards. What could possibly happen?" She made her voice calmer. The last thing they needed was for him to become agitated.

"What could happen? Palanwen an Elleth was killed in front of me by something that looked as if it had been made by Morgoth and you say that?!" Rithlin looked at her in open astonishment.

"You are right, I am sorry. Forgive me? I should not have spoken so hastily. She was horrified that she could have caused her Beloved more pain.

"There is nothing to forgive, Melleth I just want to keep you safe. I have never been so scared as when we knew there was another attack and you were on your way here. What would I do if anything happened to you?" Rithlin could see how upset she was over her hasty actions.

"You would be strong and carry on for the sake of our little ones. They would have need of you. Not that anything would happen to me. I would not let it." Her voice was sure as she spoke.

"I will hold you to that!" Rithlin had relaxed back once more.

"Come, Brolinth the sooner we leave the sooner we can return with food for the Ellon who seem to have a permanent hole where his stomach should be!" This was all said with a smile for Rithlin to show that she did not mean anything with her words, it was after all an old joke.

"I will be here and resting when you get back." Rithlin promised.

Legolas and the others all watched this with amusement. But nothing was said until the door to Thranduil's chamber had been closed for some time.

"Rithlin, she has you right where she wants you, Mellon-nin." Legolas was practically sniggering.

"What would you do if you were in my shoes?" Rithlin shot the question right back.

"Run for the hills!" Legolas was gently shaking his head. "Ai but she is scary when she is in a mood!"

"Yes, she is." Rithlin broke out into a wide smile. "But she is brilliant with it!"

"I am glad about that. I think personally that she could scare off a Troll of Balrog!" Legolas sighed as he lent his head back against the pillow.

"Legolas?" Thranduil was immediately worried about his son.

"I am well, Ada." He looked up at the snigger that sounded in the chamber.

"If you are well then I am a water sprite!" Estel was laughing silently.

"Show me your wings then!" Legolas was not amused.

"Estel, enough." Elrond finally spoke up to put an end to the debacle.

"Sorry, Ada." The voice might be contrite but his eyes were dancing with amusement.

"But Estel is right, Legolas you are not well. Your leg is paining you more than you will admit to. Elladan some pain herbs for Legolas?" He looked over at his eldest.

"Of course, Ada." Elladan crossed at once to the herb table.

"I do not need any tea!" Legolas tried to protest.

Elrond just calmly sat there, arms crossed with eyebrow, the right eyebrow raised as he watched him.

"You have done it now, Legolas. The eyebrow of Doom!"

Two eyebrows were raised as Elrond turned to his youngest natural son. Elrohir gulped and looked away. That had not meant to come out!

Glorfindel moved so that he was standing at his friend's right shoulder. Thranduil and Mithrandir were close enough to hear what he was saying. "Eyebrow of Doom? I will have to remember that." He was smiling, this was too funny.

"You do and the next time I get you in one of my beds tending an injury you will live to regret it!" Elrond told him. "And we know that there will be a next time, really you are as bad as my son's and Legolas for getting injured."

"I am not." Glorfindel glowered back, how could he put him on a par with those four, he at least did not seem to go out hunting trouble.

"Yes you are!" Four voices called out in unison and four faces all laughed as they realised what had happened.

"It is not funny!" Glorfindel's glower was even darker than it had been previously.

"It is." Estel was laughing silently tears running down his face. Legolas had joined him laughing his pale face alight for once with happiness.

It was then and there that Glorfindel realised that he did not care that they were laughing at him, just as long as Legolas joined them. He had missed that tinkling laughter, missed seeing the expression of delight that shone from his eyes.

"Very well, I agree yes it is." There that would take the wind out of their sails for a time.

Estel could only gape at him and that caused Legolas to laugh all the harder… Until he started to cough violently.

It sobered them all up instantly.

"Ion-nin, are you well?" Worry once more thrummed through Thranduil. Would coughing dislodge the clot in his Son's leg.

Legolas held up a hand and the other reached out to grasp the water goblet. Estel rushed to aid him. Once he had taken a few sips and his breathing was back under control he was finally able to answer.

"Yes, Ada I am well and you know the old saying. Laughter makes the day brighter and the nights happier. I am with my beloved family, how could I be anything less than alright?" He was smiling at his Father as he finished speaking.

"Would that that was so!" Thranduil sighed. "It is good to see you laugh, Legolas. More than you could ever know."

"Here is your tea, Mellon-nin that pain will soon be gone." Elladan held out the tea to his friend and Legolas smiled back.

"Hannon-le, Mellon-nin how are you feeling now?"

"I am much better. Much, much better now that Ada is well and resting." He shot his father a grin.

"Good, but I did not mean that. How are you feeling?" This time he emphasised the you.

I am much better. That awful tiredness I had has vanished. It is good to have my mind back to normal." Elladan admited.

"Good, I am glad that we realised you had been poisoned." Legolas could only feel relief. He did not think he would ever forget the pull of the poison as he got near to it and dreaded to think what would have happened to his friend as the poison had literally been made for him.

"I am too. Hennad, Legolas." He had to smile as Legolas gave a shy smile.

"I did nothing." He said quietly.

"You do more than you realise." Elrohir told him sternly.

Legolas said nothing more, he just sipped at the tea, welcoming its warmth.

Mithrandir hated to have to do this but it needed to be asked and there was really only one person they could ask this question of.

"Legolas, where is the Wraith?"

"It is waiting. Just short of the South. I.. well it… It feels as if it is being followed and it is trying to get away. He is trying to hide from them." Blue eyes looked up full of confusion.

"From whom, Legolas? Do you know?" Thranduil exchanged worried looks, it seemed the bond that Legolas shared with this creature was growing stronger. He did not like that idea.

"Elves. Elves I have never seen before." He admitted.

"It must be Polinas and his men. I know I would wish to find the one who had done this to my beloved." Thranduil sighed.

"Do you think they will catch it?" Haldir spoke up from where he had been sitting quietly taking all of this in.

"Nay, he is already too far away and is leaving few tracks. He will hunt more Orcs and Spiders to feed his hunger." Legolas finished the tea and handed the goblet back to Elladan with a grateful smile.

"At least then he is not killing innocent Elleth." Bremoline muttered darkly.

"That is the one thing that I do not understand at all."

"What is that, Ion-nin." Legolas' words had interested them all.

"He said that Sabinella was good to kill as she was dark. The trees said the same. How can this be? She was not dark at all." Legolas was very confused about that.

"I do not know. I would imagine it was because of past deeds. I know she was trying to put them behind her and make up for them. It seems exceptionally cruel to know this has happened after she aided us like that." Thranduil admitted.

"Why did he target her though, even for all she may have done in the past I would not class her as dark." In fact the only one person he thought of as dark was the Wraith and he classed him in the same light as Sauron and Morgoth.

"We may never find the answer to that I am afraid, Ion-nin. For the only two that will not." he truly did not think that he could expect the Wraith to sit down to tea with them and answer their questions. As nice as that might be, he would strangle him with his bare hands the minute they were alone for all he had put Legolas through.

"Very true. It would be nice to know though." Legolas sighed and then looked up as the chamber door opened to reveal Palanwen with the guards helping her carry the food.

"I have brought enough for all of you. I am sure that you would not have been taking care of yourselves while all this is going on. So I brought plenty. Even for Nutty and Red." The two looked up at their names. "Over there, Brolinth if you would please."

Rithlin hid a smile at the voice his beloved used. They were all in for mothering. Palanwen style.

"Good, hennad." She smiled at him sweetly her temper from earlier seemingly vanished. "Now that bowl is for Legolas." She turned to her Prince. "You are to eat every scrap, so you hear? I want that bowl to be spotless. Then you can have some Miruvor that will put some colour back into those cheeks. Then a little nap will do you the world of good I think. I am surprised that Doroniel is not here."

"She is in the Healing Wing taking care of…" Thranduil stopped that train of thought, he did not wish to think on what she was doing to prepare the body for Simnella to see.

"I understand." there were tears in her bright eyes. "You are to have this plate, Thranduil." It was laden with fruits and cheeses. "I wish that to be clear and then you can have some stew as well, I swear you get thinner every time I see you. Both of you." She glared at father and son. "If I did not know any better I would say you were starving yourselves!"

Rithlin tried to smother the snort of laughter that brought forth. His beloved was like a one Elleth wave of purpose when something ruffled her mothering instinct. It made her a wonder mother to their Elfling's. But when it was turned to others, even himself he would admit that it could be a trifle smothering.

"And you!" She rounded on him a finger in the air. "You have not been forgiven for getting yourself injured like that!"

"I did not get myself injured!" Rithlin sat up full of indignation and it was only when the chamber span around in time with his head that he realised that it really was not a good idea to have done that.

"For once!" Her voice had softened and he knew that it was she who was helping him. He knew her touch to well. "I would wish that you never get injured." A gentle kiss on his forehead and the love he felt through their bond was more than enough to calm him.

"You make it sound as if I go out of my way to get injured!" There was an aggrieved tone and he looked over to find Legolas grinning as he was sipping the stew.

"You mean you do not?" There was astonishment in Palanwen's tone.

He turned to her, shock clear on his face, she was smiling. Such a sweet, innocent smile. He did not trust it for one second.

He was right not to.

"Thranduil if you do not sit and eat I will make you eat it. Really, grown Ellon should not be allowed out into the world on their own!" She was shaking her head as she spoke.

Rithlin just groaned and lowered his head into his hands. His beloved was treating their King like a child! This could not end well. Friends they may be but he had feeling she was going a little too far…

"Sidh, Rithlin." There was amusement in Thranduil's voice.

Rithlin looked up somewhat reluctantly. To find Thranduil smiling at him as he ate the plate of food he had been given.

"I am sorry." It was all he could say.

"What for?" Thranduil looked confused.

"If my Beloved has offended you." Perhaps he could stop any punishment from being too bad.

He looked astonished when Thranduil laughed once more.

"How could she offend me by telling the simple truth?" The King asked.

"T… truth?" Rithlin realised that he was stuttering.

"Yes, the truth, she is just a little less forceful about it than Minerella was." He finished a chunck of cheese, only then realising how hungry he truly was.

"She is?" He had thought his beloved could be the most forcefull woman in the whole of Arda without any one coming close to her. But the Queen?

"Yes, she is. Minerella said that no ellon should be left in charge of a household. That under no circumstances should they feed or clothe themselves. It would end up in disaster." Thranduil gave a small sad smile. "Alas, she was very right. I never would have imagined it was so, I found I had to learn what matched in my wardrobe. I had to start from nothing and work out what foods Legolas liked, what helped settle him to sleep. Which toy he liked near to him at all times. Seemingly silly little things, but they made the day pass by more smoothly. It was only after she had gone that I realised how much she did for us."

"You are right." There was awe in Rithlin's voice.

"I know I am, trust me. Do not leave it too late to show her you know it either as I did, I will be able to tell Minerella one day, but not for some time to come." Thranduil sounded a little sad.

Legolas looked up from his stew at the sound of his Ada's voice. "Now, Ada you know we will all meet again. It has been promised."

"I know you are right, Ion-nin but it just seems so far away and so hard at times. When I think we could be together now…"

"Ada, if you sail now you do not know that Naneth will be there waiting for you. Do you wish to pre-empt the valar?" Legolas asked wisely.

"I know you are right, Legolas but when do we know when the right time would be?" There was almost a begging need in Mithrandir's voice.

"You will know." Elrond spoke up from where he had been resting with his sons. "You will know when the time is right. You have been told that. I was there. I witnessed what was said. You will know, Mellon-nin as we all will know when it is our time to leave."

"You are right and as Legolas is here and getting better we have much to rejoice over." Thranduil gave Legolas a beaming smile and received a slighter smaller more pained beam back from his son.

"And that stew will not taste as nice once it is cold Thranduil Oropherion!" Palanwen was glaring at him.

"Who made you my Naneth?" Thranduil was trying his best to sound cross when all he wanted was to laugh aloud. Trust his Darling friend to find a way to cheer him up when all he wanted was to wallow in self pity.

"I am not your Naneth if I was your… Oh!" Suddenly Palanwen was snow white, the colour had fled from her face that fast as she realised that she had been chastising her King.

Rithlin looked terrified and horrified all at the same time. He had his mouth open and was looking from his Bonded to his King, for once not at all sure what he should be saying to either.

"Forgive me, Your Majesty I did not…" She sounded as if at any moment she would faint dead to the floor.

"Palanwen, how long have we know each other?" Thranduil was smiling and his voice was infinitely gentle as he spoke, almost as if he expected her to dash for the door.

"S… Since Legolas was twenty seven." She answered hesitantly.

"Good and how old is he know?" There was a gleam in his eyes and all of the others got what he was doing.

"Almost three thousand."

"Not long then." Thranduil said dryly.

"No it seems like it was only yesterday… Oh!" She glared at him her embarrasement gone.

"Exactly. If I did not think I could take the teasing and Mothering that you give us all." He lifted a finger to gently stop her protests. "Ah! I would have told you then and what is this 'Your Majesty'? When have you called me that? If I never hear that leave your lips again I will be the happiest Ellon alive am I understood, Hiril Palanwen?"

"I do not like you calling me that." Palanwen admittedly quietly. "I am just Palanwen and do I really mother you all?"

"If you are just Palanwen then I am just Thranduil, your friend." Thranduil had set his bowl to one side and had pulled her to him in a hug. "I will always be your friend. There may be times when I have to be Aran Thranduil but they will and have been few and far between. As for you mothering us, we would not wish it any other way. Although I think Rithlin can be forgiven for being worried." He cast a cheeky grin to his friend.

"Funny, very funny. I had visions of you shutting Palanwen away like you did Bilbo Baggins and those awful Dwarves." He wrinkled his nose at that.

"Yes but remember he and those 'awful Dwarves' escaped. I would love to find out how they did that." Thranduil sighed.

"Mayhap you will find out one day, Ada." Legolas told him gently as he finished the last of his meal. He was feeling surprisingly tired again, but did not want to show it, he knew he would be made to rest and it seemed as if he had only just woken once more.

"You are right, Legolas." Mithrandir agreed. "There will be more to come from that little Hobbit. He will continue to surprise us more still."

"You have contact with him?" Legolas asked him eagerly. He had liked the littler fellow.

"Yes and I know that he is planning on having a grand party shortly for his milestone birthday. Valar permitting I shall be in the Shire to see it. It will be nice to be in the company of he and his nephew once more." Mithrandir told him.

"Oh and you would not want to miss up the chance of getting some of their leaf to smoke!" Estel teased him.

"No, I would not and I also happen to know you would not either!" Mithrandir shot back.

"Horrible habit." Legolas muttered and then turned to the pair of them. "I do hope you have not been indulging?"

They looked every where but at him. He sighed.

"You do not know the damage that it does to you." He shook his head.

"And what damage would that be, Legolas?" Mithrandir asked him.

"The smell that lingers for hours, foul as it is." The Prince scowled at him.

"So you do not like itr because?" Estel teased.

"It smells disgusting and something that smells that bad cannot be good for you!" Legolas was certain of that.

"Do you have proof?" Mithrandir was enjoying being able to tease Legolas about this once more, only know realising how much he had missed it.

"No." The glare was back in full force.

"Then until you can show me the proof I will continue to indulge, it relaxes me after a long and stressful day." The Maia told him with a twinkle of his eye.

He could have sworn that as Legolas turned away he heard a quite. "Not if I have my way…"

Hope blossomed within him. It would seem that Legolas was recovering in more ways than one! Then another thought stopped the Wizard. He looked up at his staff to where he kept his beloved pipe. Perhaps it would be better to hide his best pipe and put another in its place, perhaps he would not loose it then. Yes, that would be an excellent idea.

"I really do not know what you have against the pipe and weed, Legolas it really would help you to relax." Estel told him gently.

The looks he got from the Elves was enough to make them both laugh.

"Have you lost your mind, Estel?" Elladan could not believe what he was hearing.

"Not that I am aware of." Estel looked up at his brother. "Why do you think that I am?"

"At this moment in time I would say that yes you have!" Elladan shot back.

"Sidh, Elladan Estel was not around hen it happened, he does not know." There was a knowing glint in Elrohir's eyes.

"Ah, but of course. I had forgotten that. Forgive me, Estel?" There was a look in Elaldan's eyes that Estel was sure he did not like. It was a look that spoke of troublew ahead.

"For what?" he asked somewhat uneasily, not sure that this was some kind of trap.

"For expecting you to have knowledge of things that happened before even your Grand, grandsire was born." Elrohir answered honestly.

"Oh, alright then I forgive you, but only on one condition." The young Edain countered.

"And what would that be, Penenth?" Elladan's eyes were twinkling and he knew that they had the attention of everyone in the chamber.

"You tell me what happened!" Estel's eyes were twinkling like mad.

Thranduil laughed at that, Elrond soon joined in as did Mithrandir. The younger Elves all looked a little bewildered.

"What? What did I say?" Estel was looking around confused until he met Glorfindel.

Thranduil was too busy laughing and it was only made worse when he saw the look on Glorfindel's face.

"It is not funny!" Glorfindel pulled himself upright with dignity.

"Oh yes it was!" Elrond was shaking his head.

"Will someone tell us what you are all laughing at?" Legolas was looking amused to see them all with an amused grin.

"No!" Glorfindel glared once more.

"It was a time before you were even thought of." Elrond began but was interrupted once more.

"If you tell them I will have to reveal some hideous past event that you have had." he knew just the right one as well!

"Then perhaps I should tell you." Mithrandir told the others.

"Mithrandir you would not!" Glorfindel was horrified.

"And why not? It was after all my weed that was used." The Maia told him calmly.

"Please what happens when an Elf uses pipe weed?" Estel asked once again and he noticed that the others were as interested as he was.

"It makes them drunk. You will never catch an Elf using pipe weed for just that reason" Mithrandir settled back in the chair.

Estel's eyes were wide as he listened and then grew wider as understanding dawned. "You mean to tell me…" He began laughing. "You mean to tell me that Elves can drink any mortal under the table and yet pipe weed makes them drunk?!"

He was laughing almost uncontrollably by the time hre had finished.

"How did you find out?" Legolas asked watching Glorfindel closely he had a very rough idea that the Elf in question…

"I was attending a meeting in Imladris when one of the Elves there decided to try my pipe." Mithrandir was enjoying this greatly.

"If I recall correctly he might have had some aid in doing that." There was a wicked grin on Elrond's face.

"Yes, yes indeed he did. If my memory serves me well I do believe that a friend, and I use the term lightly, persuaded him to try it." Mithrandir was getting far too much pleasure from this.

"Who were they?"Estel could see that Glorfindel was more than a little unhappy with the discussion taking place.

"They are two very old friends although one almost did not make it to seeing the sun rising the next morning!" Elrond was chortling as quietly as he could given the circumstances.

"It is not that amusing." Glorfindel stood with arms crossed glowering at all of those who were laughing. They just happened to be almost all of the 'adults' in the chamber.

"Oh, but it is!" Mithrandir and Elrond spoke at the same time while Thranduil could only shake his head, he was laughing too much to do anything other than that.

"What happens when an Elf partakes of Pipe Weed?" Estel was more eager than ever to find out what happened. "You say it makes them drunk? Why is that?"

Glorfindel sighed and then decided it would be better to get this over with.

"I was the Elf who took the weed, it seemed a good idea at the time." He told them quietly, sure that he would not be heard over the laughter that was rininging out in the chamber.

"Y… You?" Estel was laughing all the more. "I should have relaised when you tried to stopped them from trying to talk about it."

"It is not something that I am proud of." He admitted with great reluctance.

"Did you know that it was going to make you ill?" The young human asked.

"No, as far as I am aware no elf has ever tried to use the weed before." Glorfindel would not look at him.

"Who egged you on?" Bright grey eyes was watching him full of interest.

Glorfindel muttered something, no one could hear what he had said.

"I am sorry, Glorfindel I did not quite catch that. What were you saying?" Estel asked once more.

"Yes, Glorfindel none of us heard what you said." Elladan was wearing such an innocent expression that it alarmed Glorfindel right away. It was just too… inncoent. They were planning something, he was sure of it.

"I said that it was Erestor!" He through his hands up in despair causing all the others to laugh once more.

"Erestor? Erestor made you take the weed?" Estel was too stunned to believe what he was hearing. The scholar that saw to his teaching and looked after Imladris' paperwork? The one who had always seemed to have a love hate relationship with the mighty Balrog Slayer.

"Yes, he convinced me to try it and as we had been talking about it for some time it seemed like a good idea to do so." Looking back, he relaised that he should have known better, should have thought before acting, as he so often told the trainees to do.

"What happened?" Estel really was all a gog to hear, and Glorfindel realised that he would not be getting any help from his 'friends'. Oh yes when this was all over he would be getting his own back on the people he called the ones he loved and friends.

"He found out pretty rapidly that an Elf and Pipe weed do not match at all." Elrond was the one who spoke.

"What does it do?" Estel pushed, knowing full well that all Glorfindel wanted was for them to drop it.

"Well, let me just say that Erestor's robes and boots were never the same." His father told him gently.

"Oh!" Estel looked over at the other Elf with understanding, Glorfindel would not meet his eyes and Estel suddenly felt very bad for his tutor and beloved friend.

"I am sorry to hear that, Mellon-nin it is not nice to be ill like that." His voice held tender compassion.

"I know and I am over it. I did get my revenge on Erestor though." There was that small smile that made you want to run for the hills and hide.

"What did you do?" This was much better for Estel to see.

"That was you?!" Elrond was watching him with wide eyes.

"Did you think that I would leave it at that after the way that he egged me on?" Oh yes the unholy twinkle was there for all of them to see.

"No, but it has also not stopped either of you from doing this war again." Elrond sighed. If anything the two over grown Elfling's were worse than his Son's. Simply because of their age and the fact that they should really have known better.

"I fear it will never stop, Mellon-iaur even when we reach Valinor!" It helped having a friend like that, as with Elrond when his nightmares of his past became too much. Friend's that would sit with you and talk with you, make you laugh until you could cope once more. That was why he loved these Elves, he even classed Estel in that. They were his family as simple as that.

"That is what worries me!" Elrond told him tiredly.

"Ah, it keeps me young." Glorfindel brushed that off.

"What did you do to Eerestor?" They were all focused on Glorfindel as Estel asked the question.

None of them noticed that Legolas had stopped, his head on one side almost as if he was listening to something.

"I crushed some of the weed into a very fine powder and added it to his tea. I just wanted him to have a taste of his own medicine!" Glofrindel was laughing at the memory.

"You did not!" Estel was properly scandalised.

"Yes I did, although I think he has an idea it was me he has never worked out who it was who did it!" Glorfindel chortled happily, pleased that he had got his friend back in such a devious way.

"What happened to him?" Even the twins were laughing.

"He was very ill. I have never seen an Elf be so ill in all my life!" Elrond answered. "We never did realise what had happened at the time and I was worried that he might have been poisoned. So I did the only thing I could."

"And that was?" Thranduil was as caught up in this as the others were.

"I treated him for posion, it made him very sick. Almost as sick as he was originally." Elrond all too clearly recalled that awful day. He had been sure that his friend would die in front of him without him being able to do a single thing.

And then Glorfindel had come to him looking both terrified and guilty and admitted what he had done.

At first Elrond had been furious. His temper almost getting the better of him until Celebrian had calmed him down and then he began to see the humor in it. The pair of them were like over grown Elfling's! You would find them biting and snapping at each other as if they were the worst of enemies. But, and it was a huge but, if you threatened one the other would have been at his side in an instant to champion and even fight for the other if needs be.

They had kept it from Erestor as well. The last thing he needed was an out and out prank war between his Seneschal and his Advisor. They were bad enough as it was!

"Oh no!" Estel's eyes were wide. "That must have been as bad as the original problem!"

"As you say, the treatment was as bad as original illness. I felt bad for him I will amdit. And Glorfindel. Well you would not leave his side, would you, Mellon-iaur?" Elrond looked over to his friend.

"I would have liked to have seen that would you not, Legolas?" Estel was laughing with his brother's.

When there was no answer from the Prince they all turned to look at him. Legolas had his head bent to one side as if listening to something that only he could hear. They all realised that this was probably so.

"Legolas? Ion-nin?" Thranduil was as yet not too worried, his son was sitting up and was awake, his wide alert eyes told him that.

Again there was no answer.

"Legolas, what is it?" Elrond asked.

Finally after what seemed to be a life time to them he lifted his head to look at them. His eyes were cold and not the usualy warm blues that they were used to. It was enough to make them all shiver.

"He is moving." His voice was as cold as his eyes.

"Who? The Wraith?" Thranduil asked trying to keep calm.

""Aye, he is being chased." A feral smile crossed the pale, thin face.

"Who is chasing him?" All the thoughts of the jokes and Erestor had fled at those few words and Glorfindel was ready to help.

"Ploinas' men. They think they can catch him!" Legolas gave a cold amused laugh at that. "They have no chance, no chance at all."

"What do you mean? Has he attacked them?" Thranduil was puzzled if the Wraith was attacking he would have expected him to be as upset as he had been previously.

"Nay they just want to catch him and kill him. They have no hope of that he is too fast, and once he…" Legolas stopped and was once more listening to the trees or the wind they would have to hazard a guess. "Yes, I was right, he has taken to the trees. They have lost him, but they have not given up hope."

"They are still searching for him?" Elladan asked his voice sharp.

"Aye, but he has long gone. Well long gone." Legolas turned back to them.

"Can you see where they are?" Bremoline asked the what seemed to him to be the most obvious question.

"Aye, I can. Polinias and his men are in one of the abandoned villages in the South, near to Dol Guldor. They seem to have thought it was the perfect base as we do not normally patrol there." Legolas told them.

"We will have to remedy that." The cold promise in Thranduil's voice made them all shudder aside from Legolas that was.

"They have been incredibly cunning." Legolas was reluctant to admit.

"In what way?" As much as Thranduil hated to do this to his Son he needed, nay they needed the information.

"They have kept the village looking dilapidated so that even should apatrol get through, which was unlikely, they would have been none the wiser." Legolas told them.

"They wanted to hide their tracks." Glorfindel observed.

"Yes, they did and they have until know." Legolas agreed.

"The Wraith found them." It was not a question from Haldir.

"Yes, he found them and killed an innocent. I hate him for that." It was hatred pure and simple. It was not something that he felt often. Normally Legolas only felt it for the Orcs and Spiders that plagued his home. "But his doing that exposed their hiding place, so I suppose I need to thank him for that."

Legolas shook his head in confusion at that feeling before deciding that he could deal with these conflicting feelings later when they had the time. For now he did not have the time for such leisure.

"I agree. Where are they now?" Thranduil asked his gently gripping his son's shoulder to offer his support.

"They are running through the forest and trying to find the Wraith he is well gone by now." Legolas answered with sureness.

"They are in Mirkwood itself now?" They were all even more alert at that news.

"Yes, and moving deeper by the minute." Then Legolas' eyes widened. "There is a patrol nearby."

"Will they find them?" Thranduil could not be sure if he was pleased or concerned.

"They are on the same path so unless they stop and turn back yes they will." Legolas frowned again.

"What is it?" Thranduil was beginning to hate that particular look.

"They are out numbered badly." Legolas told him.

"The patrol?" That was worrying.

"No, the others. What would they hope to gain? There are so few of them. The Wraith could have taken them down easily without even thinking about it." There was utter confusion in Legoals' voice.

"Then why did it run?" They all exchanged confused looks.

"I do not…." Then he stopped and listened once more. Before speaking aloud once more, but not to any in the chamber. "Tell them not to continue down that path, make them take the opposite direction!" There was urgency in his voice.

"Legolas?" They were all alarmed at the urgency in Legolas' voice. It sounded incredible but it was true.

"Make them go the other way! They must not find him!" Then Legolas blinked at looked up once again.

"What has happened?" Thranduil demanded once more.

"There is one in Polinas' group who is not all that he seems. He appears to be an old and loyal supporter but he is not. If they find his group they will force his hand and we do not want that trust me." Legolas sighed.

"What do you mean they will force his hand?" Estel was as puzzled as the others.

"He is working against Polinas." Legolas turned to his Father. "You should expect another missive soon. He will not leave this now. He has been awoken from his sleep by Polina' attitude and no longer believes his claim to be King. The Wraith's words have caused him to think long and hard."

"That has to be good. If his own people are turning against him and realising that he is not what he says that he is, we are beginning to win this war that we did not realise that we were even fighting." Thrnaduil was pleased with that idea. "If he helps us he will be pardoned as well."

"Hennad, Ada he is very worried about what will happen when this is all over." Legolas sighed slightly. "The Wraith is currently hunting once more. He is so dark."

"Where is he, Ion-nin?" It worried him that Legolas had this connection with such a creature. If he could change places with his only child he would do so in an instant.

"Deep in the forest." A feral grin appeared once more on his son's face. "Currently it is hunting Orcs and spiders. I will let it do that."

That was when they all realised something surprising. Somewhere along the way Legolas had stopped refering to the Wraith as he and was calling it just that It.

"I like the fact that it does that. Hunts our enemies." Bremoline sounded smug.

"I agree." Thranduil tried to relax his tense shoulders.

"It will be sooner rather than later." Legolas warned them and turned to his two healer's. "When will I be able to move from the bed?"

"When we say so and not until then." Elrond and Meleana had shared a worried look before Elrond spoke.

"I want to know as soon as I can move. Saes?" Guileless blue eyes turned to them and they found themselves nodding reluctantly.

"Hennad." Legolas turned back to the window and pursed his lips. He did not have the luxury of waiting. But he would not be letting the others know that. The time to end this, one way or another, was fast approaching.

He could feel and sense it. Valar he could almost taste it!

Noe before the end if this day one way or another it would be over. He could only hope that he could carry through what he needed to do. He could only hope he did not dissapoint his Father.

"Soon, very soon we will meet and if I have my way you will not live to see another dawn!"

Thranduil looked at his Son with a worried frown. Something was going on here and he just wished he was more aware of what was truly going on here…

To be continued very soon….