Knight Takes King: Part II
Chapter 3 - Similar Destinies
Consciousness was slow in returning but when it did, Akasha’s surroundings didn’t match her last memory. The last clear thing she remembered was lying on the ground, looking into the face of an angel. She vaguely recalled riding a horse, and elvish-speaking people hovering over her. These felt more like hallucinations than memories.
Now she found herself lying on a soft bed in a bright room. Akasha opened her eyes and stared at a ceiling painted the color of sky with its own cloud patterns captured and immobile, never drifting. The walls were a bright yellow, which magnified the invading sunlight shining directly above her. The sun’s beams filtered through six, wide, floor-to-ceiling windows that ran the perimeter of the room; all of them were open. A gentle breeze played with the curtains, repeatedly pulling them back and forth.
The bed in which she rested was huge; it could have easily slept four people. There was a wardrobe at the opposite end of the bed carved from dark wood, as was the headboard. There were also three benches from the same wood covered with soft yellow cushion, and sitting at every other window. Next to the bed was very comfortable-looking chair, which bore a young elf-maiden.
She smiled at Akasha when her eyes fell on her; the look was meant to put her at ease, and did just that.
“Where am I?” Akasha asked.
“You are in the house of Lord Thranduil, ruler of the Northern Mirkwood Elves,” her companion answered.
“Elves?” Akasha repeated. “Then I am not dead.”
Grinning, she affirmed, “No, my dear, you are far from dead.”
Akasha released a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “I thought it was an angel that brought me here.”
“Prince Legolas,” Salorien stated softly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“It was no angel, but prince Legolas that brought you here…although there are those that would refer to him as an angel gladly,” informed the elf-maiden.
Akasha frowned. She didn’t have a clear memory of prince Legolas. She had just seen this being suddenly appear from no where. All she remembered was the long blond hair, much like that of the elf sitting there now.
“Who are you?”
“Forgive me, milady, I have forgotten my manners. I am Salorien.”
“Akasha,” she introduced herself, then realized chances were Salorien knew who she was. “Where is my sis-” the question turned into a hiss when Akasha tried to push herself up in the bed. Bolts of pain shot from her right shoulder all the way down to her hand, which began to spasm uncontrollably.
“It is but a side effect of the troll’s venom. There is still much in your system, but it will eventually work its way out. You will regain complete usage of your arm in time,” Salorien assured.
“And my sister? Is she well?” Worry crept in her voice, fearing the worst.
“Jamila was uninjured in the encounter.”
Akasha sighed in relief and leaned back against the pillow.
“Your other sister, Laistlin, is here as well. When we discovered who you were, Lord Thranduil sent word to your mother.”
“She is not here?” Akasha asked.
“No, your sister came and has been sitting with you while you slept, as have I and Legolas.”
“How long have I been here?”
Akasha didn’t know why she was disappointed that her mother wasn’t there. Part of her was glad; whatever lecture she had coming would be postponed. But it still hurt her knowing her mother cared that little. Maybe Lord Thranduil didn’t explain what all happened and made it sound less life-threatening.
“You must be hungry. I shall have food brought to you,” Salorien stood. “I am sure your sisters will want to know you have awaken. Lord Thranduil wishes to speak with you, as well.”
Akasha nodded. “Would you… I would very much like to thank Prince Legolas in person.”
Salorien nodded and gave a shallow curtsy before leaving the room.
After alerting King Thranduil and Akasha’s sisters that she was now conscious, and instructing the cook to prepare a pleasing meal for the wounded princess, Salorien went in search for Legolas. She checked the stables first, but neither he nor GrayStar were there, which could only mean he was in the fields. Normally, the absence of GrayStar would mean that he was in the woods on patrol or just seeking solitude, but he had not been in the woods since he brought the two girls from Heedor. During the nights, he would watch over Akasha, allowing Salorien and Laistlin a chance to sleep. Often when she would come in the morning to relieve him, Jamila would be curled up next to her sister sleeping soundly.
She spotted GrayStar grazing peacefully in the fields, which meant Legolas, was not far away. Salorien found him, lounging under the shade of the only tree in the grassy fields, a tall, ancient weeping willow with branches that held its leaves almost to the ground. Legolas was hidden from view, lying under the shade. His head rested comfortably on the ground while his feet were propped against the trunk. In his hands was a dagger he twirled over and over, examining it from every angle. It was completely black save the silver threaded throughout it in a very un-elf like pattern.
Salorien brushed the leaves aside and came to a halt next to her friend.
“What is that?” she asked, leaning down and tucking her hair behind her ears to get a better look at the weapon.
“A dagger,” he answered simply. “I found it in the back of a troll. I believe it belongs to Akasha.”
Legolas handed the dagger up to her and waited patiently as she looked over the weapon, handing it back several seconds later. He was not surprised she did not share the same awe for it as he did. Salorien was a healer through and through, and thought nothing of weapons other than understanding they were needed.
“She is awake and asks to see you.”
“Akasha?” Legolas questioned.
Salorien grinned and nodded. “Barely conscious she was when you reached her, but yet she remembers you as the angel that saved her,” she teased.
Legolas held a hand out to Salorien, but instead of allowing her to help him to his feet, he pulled her down. She landed ungracefully atop her friend and gave his chest a hard slap before pushing herself upright and sitting on her heels.
“How does she fair?”
“Well, in light of all that has happened. Her arm still has much mending before she will regain the full control of it, but I believe you brought her here in time before the venom could have a lasting affect. Had it not been for you, they would both surely be dead.”
“Or begging for it,” Legolas amended.
Salorien gave a sly smile. “All the maidens are a buzz about the Heedorian princess the great prince Legolas saved in the woods. I shall not be surprised if songs were created for your bravery.”
Legolas rolled his eyes before twisting his body into a maneuver that brought him to his feet. He reached a hand out to Salorien and helped her up as well.
“Have they nothing else to do but gossip?”
“It is not gossip, and I should think you would be flattered to be thought of so highly,” she slightly admonished.
“Yes,” Legolas sighed. “It is a blessing to be thought of so highly by silly little girls who know little of me other than I am the prince of Northern Mirkwood, and that I have a fair face.”
“Mock not Legolas, soon you will have to choose one of those silly little girls as your wife.”
Legolas knew in his heart that his friend was right, but save Salorien there was no female elf in his village that interested him; and he had learned centuries ago he and Salorien would never survive marriage to each other. But soon his father would begin to pressure him for it. Three thousand years was closely approaching, but at least he had a few more decades to stave off the inevitable.
“Come, let me not keep lady Akasha waiting.”
“Lord Thranduil says you will not be ready to travel for at least two more weeks.” Laistlin spoke as she pushed a stray braid from her sister’s face.
“I know, it was one of the many things we spoke of.”
Akasha had been awake for less than three hours and was already exhausted. Not long after Salorien departed, Lord Thranduil entered her room with numerous questions concerning the location of the attack, picking for any small detail she might have to offer. After him came two handmaidens who brought her a broth to eat; the taste was foreign to her tongue, yet it soothed her stomach and spread warmth throughout her body.
They had barely gotten past the door when the bundle of energy that was Jamila burst into the room and onto the bed, followed closely by Laistlin. The youngest sister had only left but a few moments ago to play with the elf children who seemed to have become her best friends over the past three days. Laistlin assumed the little girl’s position on the bed next to her sister.
“You are looking much better; your color is returning nicely,” she observed.
“Was Mother that upset that she could not come, or did my health mean that little after all?” Akasha finally asked.
“Akasha, how could you think she cares that little for you?”
“Word is sent to her that her child lies near death and instead of coming, she sends her other daughter…not that I am not pleased you came.” Akasha added the last part after seeing the hurt look in Laistlin’s eyes.
“The messenger only said that you were attacked by trolls-”
“Which carry venom,” Akasha interjected.
“He spoke as if you were already on the mend.”
Akasha was silent as she turned to look out the closest window. The pillows had been arranged to prop her up in the bed, and she had a clear view of the trees in the distant woods.
“She wanted to come,” Laistlin added.
“It matters not,” quipped her sister.
“Aunt Alegria thought it best if she did not. With the treaty with Gondor in process and Eriador threatening war, she thought it too dangerous for Mother to travel. The eyes of the enemy are always looking for an opportunity to strike, Akasha, you know that,” the other sibling tried to explain.
“I understand the dangers, but I know Mother’s feelings toward me. I know well that she would have heeded no warning of travel had it been you or Jamila that was injured. Let us not pretend that she cares for me anymore than what we know to be real,” Akasha rebutted, sounding hurt.
Laistlin sighed. Her mother and Akasha had never seen eye to eye. Her sister had always favored their aunt Alegria, and she grew more and more like her everyday. She knew well that Akasha would make a fine warrior one-day, especially under Alegria’s tutelage; but if the duty of running Heedor ever fell upon her, their land may well be in peril. She believed that was why after years of turning Gondor down, Relgan was finally willing to ally with them.
“Gondor will attend the festivals this year,” said Laistlin, changing the subject. “We have word that the steward himself is coming.”
“And that means what to me? I have never cared for the festivals. It is only done so the men of our village can show their strength or what is left of it. If any of them were needed for battle, Heedor would indeed be in dire straights.”
“Be careful how bad you paint them to be, for one day you will have to marry one of them, little sister,” Laistlin warned.
“Why? Alegria never married.”
“Alegria is the sworn protector of Heedor and therefore did not have to marry, but you know as well as I that as princess and possible heir to the throne, you will have to marry and you will have to produce and heir.”
Akasha took in a breath and exhaled slowly. “Perhaps I shall become the protector of Heedor when Alegria steps down, or even better by her side.”
Laistlin smiled and shook her head, but her reply was interrupted by a soft knock on the door.
Both girls turned to watch the door open enough for the elf on the other side to slip inside. The long blonde hair put Akasha in mind of Salorien, but while the features of the face where delicate--perhaps even for a woman--they were completely male. She wasn’t sure what saved his face from being completely feminine: perhaps it was the ever so slight hook to his nose, or the lips that were full but not too full.
There was something strangely familiar about this elf that regarded her with deep blue eyes. His hair was braided on the sides, styled to keep it from his face, making it and his eyes even more prominent. She felt a peaceful ease flowing inside, replacing the fatigue. It was so familiar, yet she knew she did not know him. The only elves she had ever actually met had been the one visiting her room for the past three hours.
He walked halfway into the room, stopping at the foot of the bed.
“Milord,” Laistlin bowed her head slightly to him.
“Lady Laistlin. How fairs the patient?”
Laistlin turned her gaze back to Akasha and noticed how the little sister that was so disinterested in men a minute ago now stared at the elf before them. She gave her a quick nudge to get her attention and was rewarded with a scowl. She was sure Akasha would have folded her arms over her chest, had she the use of her right arm.
“Careful milord, she seems to have awaken in a foul mood,” Laistlin smirked.
“Odd, I was in a pleasant enough mood before you came,” Akasha fired back.
Standing, Laistlin bent forward and placed a kiss on Akasha’s forehead. “I will be back to check on you later, little sister. Do try to behave yourself,” she instructed before turning.
She and Legolas gave courteous bows to each other before she left the room.
“It pleases me that you are finally awake,” said the elf.
Akasha stared at him, trying to figure out why he seemed so familiar yet so completely strange to her.
“Have we met?” she finally asked.
“Forgive me, milady. I am Legolas,” he answered, bowing slightly.
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