The world passes slowly, yet it passes in the blink of an eye. I was of the opinion that the world would forever remain the same – until the day my father’s army assailed the realm of Angmar. Until the day Ada came home without Naneth. I was too young to march with the army, but I will never forget the way Ada changed.
A falcon brought word that I was to travel to Imladris with Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond. My nurse fretted as she prepared me for travel. “Why did your parents send no word of how the battle went?” She asked herself, handing me a pack that would fit neatly on a horse.
I was too excited to listen to her worries. I had met the twins on several occasions and I adored them. They were my idols, second only to my father. When they finally arrived, I ran out to greet them. “Mae govannanen!” I called cheerfully, tugging at their bridles.
“Mae govannanen, Legolas Thranduilion!” The brothers answered, faces lighting as they ruffled my hair and I ducked good-naturedly. I wished for my hair to be perfect, as Ada’s was. One of the twins – I was not sure whether it was Elladan or Elrohir – hoisted me up behind him. “Tolo, we will see if your nurse thinks it is time for you to leave.”
At that moment, Nurse came hurrying out with two packs, which I surveyed with dismay. Elladan and Elrohir would think I was a pampered elfling. Casting an agonized glance at Nurse, I slipped down from the horse and tugged at the one I thought was Elladan. “Surely I will not have need of all these clothes?”
He paused in loading the horses, running quick fingers of one of the packs. “One of these should be sufficient for the journey, and we will provide you with garments while you are in Imladris.”
Nurse looked put out, but she brightened when Elrohir spoke. “I know that you are devoted to your prince when you take such pains for him, híril nín,” the handsome elf spoke consolingly, handing her one of the packs.
“Le hannon, hír nín. Buion na ‘ell.” Nurse looked up at Elrohir from beneath her eyelashes, speaking in a voice that sounded as sweet as any cordial I had ever tasted. Father would only allow me to have cordial, no wine. I snickered as I listened and watched the two elves – Nurse did not always serve with joy.
Elrohir’s mouth twitched and he mounted his horse in a fluid motion, ignoring his brother’s grin. “Bid your nurse farewell, Legolas.”
I gave Nurse a smile and kissed her hand as I had seen Ada do. “Navaer, Nurse!” Before I could climb behind one of the twins, my companion Maidros rushed out of the walls.
“Mellon nín!” He called to me, fingers twirling his coppery braids as he did when he was nervous. “I have not been to Imladris yet, Legolas.”
With a smile that had grown as I listened, I turned to the twins. “Maidros is my size. Could he travel with us?”
The brothers looked at each other for a moment, then nodded. “He may come. Maidros, take Legolas’s other pack. You will have new garments when we arrive.”
Maidros and I grinned at each other as we swung ourselves up behind the twins, who wheeled their horses, and our journey began.
Nurse called after us, “No i Melain na le!” I lifted a hand in farewell as we rode away, not guessing how long it would be until I would see her again.
We rode well together, in a sense of companionship that made the differences in our ages seem small. Some times we talked, other times we rode in a contented silence. Elladan and Elrohir kept their horses at a fast pace for as long as the road would allow. Even when the stones became uneven beneath the hooves of our mounts, still they kept to a trot. I observed this, and asked why.
Neither of the twins answered for a moment, then Elladan turned his head. “Your father and Lord Elrond wish for you to arrive with all possible speed.”
I pondered this for a time. I loved Ada, and I believed he loved me, but I could not see why he wanted me so soon after a battle. The battle! I asked the twins how our armies had fared.
Elrohir spoke this time. “The host of Angmar was scattered. Our people had the victory, but not without loss of life.”
I knew that wars were not won without loss of life, even at my age. Elrohir was watching me closely and Elladan was watching Maidros. Why, I could not fathom, but I paid no heed to their gazes.
We talked no more of war, but of trivial things such as the mountains, and whether we would come upon Imladris from the north, or the south. After deciding upon the south, we sped up once more. When we camped near the edge of the forest, Maidros and I gathered wood for a fire while Elladan and Elrohir scouted with their weapons at the ready to assure that no fell things were near. Satisfied, they returned to find us attempting to build a fire. Their grave faces lightened and Elrohir knelt to help us while Elladan began to dress a deer he had shot. Elrohir was adept in the art of building a fire, and I learned many things from him that would be useful in times to come.
I had never slept outside the realm before, and Maidros and I lay talking and watching the stars for many hours before we slept. The twins wakened us early and soon we began our journey again. The horses were rested and ran willingly over the forest paths, giving the twins no cause to push them. By noon the edge of the forest came into view.
Peering around Elladan’s back, I stared with large eyes at the flat, open ground that I had never seen before. It was green with an occasional tree or shrub springing from the earth. “Is this Eriador?” I asked in awe.
“Nay, prince. You are still in Rhovianon,” was the answer.
I fell silent, feeling my cheeks heat. I should have realized we had not traveled far enough yet. We had not even crossed the Hithlaegir, nor the Anduin. The brothers paused to let their horses graze, and Maidros and I slid off to chase each other about.
Elladan and Elrohir dismounted as well, speaking to one another in low voices. My ears caught the words, “Ford south, easier, mountains,” and – these mystified me – “Little time; hurry.”
I ran up to them, which caused them to cease talking abruptly. “Where will we cross the Anduin?”
“The Old Ford to the south,” Elladan answered for both of them. “It will bring us closer to Imladris. Maidros! We ride!”
My friend was by my side in an instant, climbing up behind Elladan. We had agreed the first night to change whom we rode with each time we rested. I mounted behind Elrohir, who led the way over the flat land.
The next morning, we woke and immediately set out again. One did not have to listen closely to hear birds singing, for they were everywhere: winging their way through the sky, perched in trees and on boulders, and hopping through the grass. I mimicked the songs that I heard, and Maidros soon joined in, our voices mingling with the birds’.
Soon the land began to descend, giving way to lush thickets and clear streams. The brothers guided their horses into the crystal water, startling many rainbow-colored fish, which leapt into the air, narrowly missing my face. Maidros and I laughed with delight and I reached out to snare one with my hands. The fish were too slippery and quick, however, and they darted out of my grasp.