Knight Takes King: Part II
Chapter 4 - A Friendship Begins
The longer Legolas gazed at Akasha from the foot of the bed, the more he decided he should not had been so hasty with his preliminary opinion about her. When he first brought her there, and through the many nights he sat up watching over her, he had concluded that while she was an extraordinary fighter, there seemed to be nothing extraordinary about this woman’s looks…at least not compared to an elf- maiden.
Her skin was much darker then theirs, closer to the color of the brown honey cakes made for birthdays or other special occasions. Her hair was black and arranged in many fine braids, and her lips were fuller then any elf’s would ever be, as if there were something stuffed inside to make them swell. Even her hands had tiny calluses across the ridge of the palm. They were extremely small, but his sensitive fingers had brushed across them one night when the air had turned cool and he was adjusting the covers around her. What kind of princess did manual work to the point where it marked their skin? His own sister, Andruila, had handmaidens for everything, including dressing her.
But there was something about her that could capture the attention of anyone or thing, something hidden the three days she had been unconscious: two golden coins stared at him from the face of this odd princess. They shined brightly, as if there was a light heating them from behind. Never, not even on her sisters, had he even seen such a color of eyes before.
He forgot himself but a moment, for Legolas had never been one to be captured by the outward beauty of a woman. And there were maidens there that he’d seen daily that were far more beautiful. He told himself it was simply the uniqueness of her eyes that caused the momentary lapse and nothing more.
“How is your arm, milady?”
Akasha glanced down at the limb that had been resting on the bed next to her. She pulled it onto her lap and tried to make a fist, but could barely curl her fingers. It did not hurt, but she winced nonetheless. Akasha lead with her right hand; the thought she might never have full control of it again was more painful then the bite on her shoulder.
“Are you in pain?”
Akasha looked up at the prince. “Only with the thought that I may never use it again.”
“As the venom leaves, your control shall return,” he assured her.
“So everyone keeps telling me,” Akasha muttered.
She would be accused of many things in her life, but patience would never be one of them.
“May I?” Legolas gestured to the chair by her bed.
“It is your room, please… I am the guest here.”
She watched him move to the chair with a grace she’d never seen displayed anywhere, certainly not in a man. He moved like an upright cat, fluid and graceful. His movements did not end but paused, like at any point he would just move again yet it would all be as one continuous effort.
He looked at her in a strange way, with his head barely tilted to the side, lips slightly parted as if she were a puzzle or a strange object he was trying to figure out. She felt that if he stared at her long enough, he might be able to read her mind without her verbally addressing him. His eyes danced over her face, and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to have him sitting there staring at her.
“May I?” he asked again, this time gesturing to the wound on her shoulder.
“By all means, milord. Had you not arrived when you did, I and my sister would have faired much worse.”
“Please, you do not have to address me so formally, Legolas will suffice.”
Akasha nodded slightly. “Only if you address me as Akasha. I have never cared for formal titles either.”
“Agreed,” Legolas stated with a slight smile.
Moving from the chair, Legolas curled a leg under him as he seated himself on the bed next to Akasha. Although he had seen trolls before, he had never seen the resulting work of their bites, and he was curious to see the difference that had taken place from the time they had first arrived.
Akasha reached up and untied the string at the neck of the gown in which the healers had dressed her. She rose from the pillow, wincing slightly as she pushed the clothing down over her shoulder to expose the white bandage and the bare skin of her shoulder. His fingers reached out and began to work the knotting of the bandage free as delicately as possible, but he still heard the slightest quick intake of breath.
“Sorry,” he offered.
“It’s…nothing,” she finally finished.
If he thought her gasp was due to his touching the bandage, Akasha was going to say nothing to the contrary, but it hadn’t been from his touch…at least not from him touching the injury. His slender fingers were so nimble and gentle she barely felt them undoing the knots at all. But his right pinky finger had strayed and brushed along the line of her throat while the others worked on their task. She told herself it was the surprise of the touch and coolness of his fingers that had caused her to gasp, not the softness of his skin touching her sensitive flesh. She told herself it was simply because he was the first man to every touch her, let alone be that close to her, that made her heart to beat just a little faster.
Once the bandage was untied, Legolas pulled the square cloth covering the wound away. It looked much different than it had when she lay on the ground in the woods. He could no longer see the definition of the teeth marks, but then Toluene, the chief healer had told him and his father the wound had to be cut to remove the flesh that was already too far decayed to bring back, lest it infect the other healthy tissue or retard the healing process. The wound was no longer black either. Instead it was now a deep, reddish brown color. It still had the look of freshness to it, but no longer raw and angry like before. It would heal and she would most likely regain total control of her arm, but it was an ugly scar, and one she would bare to the end of her days.
“Does it hurt much?” he asked as he began to replace the coverings.
“Only a dull pain, but…”
Akasha’s thoughts and speech faltered. She had turned to look at Legolas as she address him, but was not prepared for the closeness between them, nor the intensity from having his eyes so close to her. It was like looking into the depths of the ocean and all thoughts were lost at the bottom of those deep blue pools. Again, she had the distinct feeling that she had met this creature before, or knew him on some level. She quickly turned away, staring at the bedroom door, mentally shaking herself. It was bad enough she had to be rescued by this elf; there was no need for her to act a fool in front of him as well.
“…it is a bearable pain,” she finished in a soft voice.
Legolas re-knotted the bandage and pulled the silk gown back over her shoulder, dismissing whatever moment had passed between them. He was used to having women stare at him so, although it still bothered him from time to time. He knew he was considered beautiful among his people, even though he himself never gave his looks much consideration. Often it would annoy him to catch some maiden mooning at him, especially one that only knew him as the Prince of Mirkwood. But there was something about Akasha. There was a connection or something, almost like recognition of some sort behind her eyes. As soon as he felt the inkling of it, she turned away and the moment had passed. He tied the string of the gown loosely at her throat then moved back to the chair.
Akasha licked her lips and glanced at the prince from the corner of her eyes, before turning her attention to her hands in her lap.
“I wanted to thank you for saving my life and that of my sister. It was a foolish mistake for me to let them surprise me like that.”
That one confession hurt more than any damage the troll had inflicted on her. Akasha had prided herself on her ability to fight, to take care of herself and those around her; in one fell swoop, that had been taken away. She was the one that rescued people, not the other way round.
Legolas studied her for a moment, observing her body language and the way she seemed almost ashamed to look at him.
“It is nothing you would not have done for me, had the positions been reversed.”
Akasha looked up at him then. “I do not believe you would have been taken by surprise in that manner.”
“Trolls are creatures of the woods, it is believed they are to the vegetation as orcs are to elves, a mutation of sorts. Surprising riders is what they do.”
“Not to me,” she said with conviction. “I should have known they were there, or sensed something. I should have been able to defeat five bloody trolls, instead I nearly…” Akasha turned away, not wanting to think about what would have happened had Legolas not been there. “Perhaps Mother is right,” she pondered.
Legolas lowered his eyes not sure how, or if, there was a response to the statement. Instead he pulled the black daggers from his belt where they had been safely sheathed.
“I retrieved these from the body of the two trolls you killed.”
The dark cloud that had settled over Akasha didn’t just lift but disappeared when her eyes fell on the daggers.
“I was sure I would never see these again.”
She took one from his hands and flicked her finger over the edge of the blade testing its sharpness.
“Then they are yours?”
“Yes, I thought they would be lost forever.” She looked up into his eyes. “I can not thank you enough. These daggers are very precious to me. This was the first weapon I ever made on my own, and that one belonged to Alegria, my aunt.” She gestured to the dagger still in his hands. “She gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday.”
“You made this?”
Akasha nodded. “I make all my own weapons,” she stated with pride.
“I have never seen its equal,” he observed.
“Nor are you likely to, for it is made of mithril.”
Legolas’ eyes widened. “But mithril is a silver color.”
“As was this before a special coating was applied to give it the black shading.”
“What kind of coating?” Legolas pressed, eager to learn as much about the dagger as possible.
“I can not tell, for it was my aunt’s secret entrusted into me…a family legacy as it were, that cannot be shared even with the man that saved my life and returned the daggers to me.”
Legolas smiled softly as he looked at the girl before him. Never would he have imagined she was the one that created at least one of the weapons. It would go to help explain the calluses on her palms, for mithril would not have been easy to shape, and it would have taken many swings to form the knife.
“I shall forge you a weapon,” Akasha announced, grinning. “…something worthy of being wielded by the hands of a prince.”
“That is not necessary, my… Akasha.”
“It is the least I can do,” she dismissed his refusal. “It shall not be as the one you hold, for I am hoping they will be passed to my niece and so on as a sign of our bloodline, but I promise you shall not be disappointed.”
Legolas stared at her, his delicate pink lips slightly parted and curled in a smile, as a look between awe and appreciation played upon his features. His eyes regarded her as if she were something he had never seen before and must be studied closely. Akasha felt her face begin to heat and was sure the elf’s keen sight would be able to detect the color change even through her dark complexion.
“Why do you stare at me so?” she finally asked, no longer able to take the unwavering penetrating gaze.
His grin widened, showing the first hints of a dimple that seemed to be hiding in the flesh of his right cheek. It was small and unnoticeable until forced from its hiding place by the deepening smile.
“Forgive me, I have never met a girl that forges her own weapons and turns out to be a princess.”
Akasha cocked her left eyebrow at him scowling slightly. “I am not a girl, I will be seventeen in two months time.”
Akasha loathed being called a child or a girl even though it was exactly what she was, for she was not yet a woman. The remark was uttered with all the indignation she could summon, but it only seemed to make Legolas’ smile brighten.
“A whole seventeen,” he teased. “You are correct, you are not a girl. For an elf you would still be considered a babe.”
She pressed her lips tightly together, but due to the fullness of them the gesture looked more like a pout than the angry glare she was attempting. It was a very adorable look on her, and Legolas had to press his own lips together to keep the laughter from bubbling up. He was sure she would not take to kindly to his laughter at this point, especially since it was directed at her.
“I see nothing amusing,” Akasha snapped.
But the longer she glared at the elf the more she found her anger slipping away until it was replaced by mirth, and she too found herself trying to hold it in.
“This is not funny,” she reprimanded even as the laughter flowed from her lips.
The two of them were still laughing when three handmaidens entered the room. They looked from the laughing prince to the girl sitting on the bed. All of them had seen the prince smile before, even chuckle on an occasion or two, but Legolas was not known for his merriment. It was a rare sight indeed to see the prince engaged in the abandon of laughter, as he was now.
“Excuse us milord, but we are here to bathe Lady Akasha,” one of them spoke softly.
Akasha’s laughter faded as she regarded the women before her. “Bathe me?” she repeated. “I have been bathing myself since I was five.”
“A week has not yet passed since the arrow has been removed from your thigh, and for the time being, your right arm has no usage,” Legolas reminded her.
“Perhaps, but I am not helpless.”
The prince gave her a soft smile. “I do not think anyone shall ever think of you as helpless, milady.”
“Very well,” Akasha submitted with a resigned sigh. She was tired, anyway; perhaps a relaxing bath was what she needed. “Will you come back and visit with me later? I have enjoyed your company thus far,” she inquired.
“I will check on you later this evening,” Legolas assured her.
Standing, he bowed his head slightly to Akasha before leaving her to the handmaiden’s care.
| Part V |
| Index |