Arwen peered through the archway, and frowned in frustration. Legolas was nowhere in sight, yet it was obvious from the partially weeded garden bed that he had been there recently. However, just as her brothers had done earlier that morning, her friend had apparently disappeared without a trace.
“I wonder where they are?” she asked herself out loud after a small sigh of exasperation escaped her lips.
“Who do you seek, my lady?’ enquired Lindir, who had just entered the garden from the gateway at the other end of the path.
“Legolas, Elladan, Elrohir, Glorfindel, Erestor, not to mention Adar and Grandada,” she replied with increasing frustration as she counted each name on her fingers. “Have you seen any of them of late or are you the only male Elf left in the city?” Lindir smiled sympathetically, knowing full well that his Lord’s daughter did not realise how demanding she had become as her long awaited wedding day approached.
“Nay I am not. As it happens, I just passed Legolas as he left the palace grounds. He is in the company of Glorfindel and Erestor and I was informed that our esteemed seneschal and advisor require his assistance on a matter of some urgency. As for your brothers, the last time I saw them was possibly an hour ago. They were in the kitchens, flirting with one of the maids.” Arwen made no comment, but merely rolled her eyes at her brothers’ predictable behaviour; neither could resist a pretty maid or freshly baked pastries that would cost them nothing but a kiss. “Lord Elrond is in a meeting with the King and Mithrandir, but as for Lord Celeborn, I have not seen him this day. However, it is not only your brothers who prove to be elusive. I bring a message fro the Lady Galadriel, reminding you that she is expecting you in her chambers… something about choosing a hair style to suit your veil, or so I believe,” he teased, smiling indulgently at the delicate colour that rose in Arwen’s cheeks as her thoughts turned to Aragorn and their upcoming wedding.
“Thank you, Lindir, I had almost forgotten. I will go there at once. It would certainly not be wise to incur grandnana’s displeasure,” she said, her voice filled with affection for the minstrel.
“Indeed not,” agreed Lindir. “Arwen, please do not hesitate to ask if there is anything else I can do for you,” he offered gallantly, not realising the consequences of his generosity.
“As a matter of fact, there is something…” replied Arwen sweetly as she wrapped her arm about the minstrel’s waist and led him to the sewing room.
“I say he is merely delayed,” said Elrohir as he leaned casually against the rail of his horse’s stall. He and Elladan had been waiting almost an hour for Glorfindel, and were becoming concerned that he had changed his plans or, even worse, had had them changed for him by their sweet, but determined sister.
“I still say he did not manage to avoid Arwen, and is now at the mercy of the seamstress, who is besotted with him, I might add,” responded Elladan almost choking with laughter as an image of the fearsome Balrog slayer being forced to wear Arwen’s veil filled his mind. Elrohir caught a glimpse of the picture from his brother’s mind and was quickly forced into a similar state of mirth, but managed to calm himself enough to defend his favoured tutor.
“Nay, Glorfindel would never permit anyone, even Grandnana, to place him in such an embarrassing situation, although it would indeed be an amusing sight.” Laughter engulfed the brethren again.
“It would also be a just punishment since he was willing to allow one of us to be subjected to such an unseemly position,” declared Elladan with a hint of anger.
“I was not! How was I to know that Arwen would take me seriously?” declared the subject of their discussion as he and his companions entered the stables.
“I certainly do not, at least not most of the time,” interjected Erestor with a wink at the three younger Elves who barely managed to withhold their laughter. “We were further delayed when our renowned scout could not find his way to the stables,” added Erestor, smiling wickedly.
“That is hardly surprising since this is my first time in Minas Tirith. I would expect, my dear Advisor, that with the amount of time you spent in the library, you would have known the way,” retorted Glorfindel with more than a little sarcasm. “Besides, we would have been here sooner had Legolas not stopped to collect his bow and quiver.”
“Even in defeat there are minions of Sauron who are still loyal to the darkness, especially away from the confines of the city.” Legolas spoke with quiet seriousness that sent a chill through the others as they realised the truth of his words. There was still a struggle for acceptance and strife with dissenters ahead for the King of Gondor, of that there was no doubt.
“Exactly why we are also armed,” replied Elladan, indicating the swords he and his brother wore, as did Glorfindel. Erestor did not wear a sword, but carried his weapon of choice, a knife, in a specially crated pocket in the side of his knee length riding boots. He was skilled in its use, but hoped that there would be no unexpected attacks.
“It seems we are not the only Elves seeking refuge from the wedding preparations. The stable boy mentioned that Haldir and the Galadhrim who accompanied the Lord and Lady from Lothlorien have also left the city for the day,” said Elrohir eliciting surprised looks from his companions. Apparently even the march warden and his warriors, who were steadfastly loyal to their Lady, had had their fill of performing menial tasks.
“Then perhaps we should seek them out, I believe Haldir also took several skins of Aragorn’s best wines,” added Elladan with a meaningful glance at Elrohir. Between them they had many fond memories of nights of merrymaking beneath the mellryn in the entertaining company of the Galadhrim.
“Which will no doubt go well with the cheeses and dried fruits we obtained from the kitchen,” added his brother as they mounted their steeds. The Elves rode slowly and silently through the streets, ignoring equally the looks of adoration, as well as the occasional glare of distrust. On passing through the gates, the horses broke into a gallop, relishing the freedom of the open space, just as their riders delighted in the warmth of Anor’s light and the sweetly scented wind that whipped through their hair.
The trail left by the Galadhrim, who had left the city at dawn, would not have been noticed by the men of Gondor, but to the sharp eyes of the experienced Elves, a slightly bent blade of grass, or a bloom that had lost a petal was as a beacon in the dark. Even Erestor, who had not tracked anything other than missing scrolls or rare texts for centuries, soon recalled his old skills and found the experience to be exhilarating.
When the horses finally slowed to a steady walk, Erestor urged his mount closer to Asfaloth so that he could speak with Glorfindel who had been strangely silent since they left Minas Tirith.
“I hope I did not offend you earlier with my jest about being unable to find your way,” he said apologetically.
“Nay, but I am insulted to think you do not take me seriously,” replied the seneschal, voicing the cause of his less than friendly silence.
“How can I when I see mischief in your demeanour? Please rest assured that in matters of importance I find your counsel is always well considered and your advice sound, as this little adventure proves. I am grateful that you insisted I accompany you, mellon nin. I feel as if a shadow has been lifted from my heart,” he said as he reached to give Glorfindel’s hand a friendly squeeze.
“Then can I interest you in a race and a small wager on the outcome?” challenged Glorfindel, raising his eyebrow in query. The other three moved closer, waiting to hear the reply. Legolas did not know the advisor well, but he understood from the astonished faces of his friends that this was uncharacteristic behaviour of the Erestor they knew.
“What would you wager?” asked the advisor with a hint of challenge in his voice, almost as if daring Glorfindel to select something outrageous as the stakes as he usually did. It was not common knowledge, but the seneschal and the advisor often indulged in small wagers, each enjoying the challenge and the camaraderie borne of a shared secret indulgence.
“The loser must face Arwen’s ire when we return to the city. Undoubtedly she will not be very pleased that none of us are available to assist her today, and we both know how fiery her temper can be.” Glorfindel’s smile was grim.
“Very well, I accept your terms,” agreed Erestor who knew that even his expertise at diplomacy and tact would be sorely strained when speaking to an angry Arwen.
“Then do you see that tall tree in the distance? The one towards where the trail of the Galadhrim leads?” Erestor nodded. “That is our destination. We begin on the count of three. One…two…three.”
The two riders were equally matched in skill, but to the minds of those left behind to watch the race Asfaloth was a far superior horse. Legolas, Elladan and Elrohir rode swiftly, but kept their distance from their elders, but none of the three were surprised when Glorfindel won, albeit by the barest of margins.
The victor was proudly accepting congratulations on his fine effort when the sound of metallic sound of clashinfg blades reached their ears. Glorfindel, suddenly no longer the playful elf lord but the serious warrior silenced the others with a wave of his hand. Taking their lead from the Balrog slayer, swords and bow were held at the ready as they dismounted and moved stealthily towards the battle. Once they were within sight of the fighting, their faces lit with relief as they discovered their ‘enemy’ was none other than the Elves of Lothlorien.