Knight Takes King: Part V
Chapter 5 - Wild Flowers
Three weeks had passed since Akasha was brought to the home of the northern elves. It was originally believed she would be heading home a week prior, but the healers were not satisfied that neither her leg nor her arm had healed enough for travel. During the first two weeks, she was on strict bed rest and hardly allowed to leave the room. For the past week, Akasha had been given a crutch and her arm was secured in a sling; she was even allowed to roam Thranduil’s house and garden for short periods.
For most of these intervals Legolas accompanied her, pointing out things of interest as they came across them. Sometimes Salorien would join them, when her duties and studies permitted, but it was Legolas that kept Akasha company most of her stay.
“You’re dressed,” Laistlin observed upon entering Akasha’s room.
“Yes, I am,” Akasha confirmed, looking at her sister’s reflection.
“Why are you dressed?”
“I’m going out.”
“To the garden?” Laistlin questioned even though she was sure the answer would be no.
Even when Akasha had been going out to the garden, she remained in the gown the elves had clothed her in and simply wrapped a heavy robe around her body. Now she dressed in her brown suede pants and a silver tunic that was obviously of elvish creation. The top was not only flattering to the curves of Akasha’s body, but the light color enhanced her complexion considerably more than the dark greens, browns and blacks her sister usually wore.
Her thick black hair, which Laistlin had taken down a few days ago from the numerous small braids, was melded into one long braid reaching midway to the middle of her back. One of the handmaidens must have helped her dress and braid her hair, for the sling was still securely cradling Akasha’s right arm against her body.
“Legolas is taking me for a ride to the south of his father’s kingdom. He says there is a field filled with over a dozen different kinds of flowers.”
“We set out for home tomorrow,” Laistlin pointed out.
“And who knows when I might be here again. Mother will probably ground me to the end of time as it is. This could be my last bid for freedom,” Akasha stated, only partially joking. She was sure that because Jamila’s life was endangered, some form of punishment would accompany the normal tongue-lashing.
“I meant is it wise that you go riding today.”
“You said yourself we leave tomorrow,” Akasha repeated her sister’s words.
“Yes, but perhaps you should conserve your energies. You are not yet completely healed,” the older sibling tried to advise.
“I am going for a ride to a flower field, Laistlin, not to war. I think I shall be well enough to still head home tomorrow.”
Akasha turned from the mirror to look at her sister who was now sitting on the edge of the bed. “Your eagerness to get home has nothing to do with missing Alexandor, does it?” she asked with a sly smile.
“Are you not eager to return home?” Laistlin countered, choosing to ignore the question.
“I am eager to get out of this room. For the last three weeks it has been my prison. I want to get out to the fresh air and feel the sun on my face.”
“And lord Thranduil’s garden does not offer enough fresh air and sunlight?”
Akasha sighed. “It is not the same.”
This time it was Laistlin’s turn to sigh softly. “Had you not our father’s eyes…” she let the remainder of the sentence go. “You will be careful won’t you?”
“Of course I will, dear sister. The field remains inside the kingdom, and there is nothing to fear here…save possibly boredom.”
There was a soft knock on the door.
“Enter,” Akasha called.
One of the handmaidens Akasha had come to know as Eldriel stepped inside the room. “Lord Legolas has requested you meet him in the stables. I shall show you the way, if you like.”
“Yes, thank you,” Akasha offered with a smile.
“Do you not need your crutch?”
As Akasha stood to head for the door, she retained a small limp when pressure was applied to her right leg.
“I shall be alright. The horse’s legs will be working more than mine.”
“Akasha…” Again Laistlin stilled her tongue, for what she wanted to tell Akasha was not hers to reveal. “Enjoy your ride,” she finished.
Akasha gave her sister a smile before following the elf-maiden out the door.
Salorien stood on the other side of GrayStar, softly stroking the horse’s neck and cheek. In front of the horse was Legolas, holding a pail of oats for the horse to munch before they began the afternoon’s ride. He spoke softly to the animal as a father would to his child, giving it praise and encouragement.
“You shall make a good father,” Salorien observed.
“I suppose, when the time is right,” Legolas answered before cutting his eyes to his friend. “This is not the beginnings of another conversation on how I will have to pick a mate soon, is it? For it is far too lovely a day for such a dark discussion.”
“You view marriage as a chore?”
“Only when it is forced upon me.”
Salorien stared at her friend, hesitating about the topic on her mind, but knowing it was something Legolas should be aware of no matter what his feelings on the subject.
“There is talk among the handmaidens,” she began.
“When is there not talk among them?” he quipped.
“Yes, but this is not mere common gossip. At first it was about the girls you rescued from the trolls, but it has changed.”
“Oh,” Legolas stated.
“Would you care to know what they speak of now?”
Lowering the now empty pail, Legolas led the horse to the water trough and encouraged him to drink before focusing on Salorien.
“Tell me, Salorien, what is it that has the handmaidens in a tussle now?”
“They are noticing that the Prince of Northern Mirkwood seems to spend every waking hour with lady Akasha.”
Legolas studied Salorien for several long moments before speaking. “And what do you think?”
“At first I dismissed the gossip as jealous simpering, but now, I find myself wondering what your intentions are towards Akasha.”
“My intentions are friendship, Salorien,” Legolas assured her.
*Are you sure?* she asked, switching from the common tongue to that of the Sylvan elves.
*What else would it be?*
*There are those that believe your heart strays in her direction,* she informed.
*And what do you believe?* Legolas asked.
*I do not know, although I am inclined to agree. I have never known you to desire the company of another for so long and so often. Even my company you will only keep for short periods of time, yet you have not been apart from Akasha for even a day.*
Salorien waited patiently, staring into the eyes of her best friend. Her head told her Legolas would never be as foolish as to place his heart in the hands of a mortal woman, but her heart was speaking differently. Ever since the strange foreign lady awoke, Legolas had been by her side. Even before then, he would sit with her all through the night, like a guard on post. If it was not the beginnings of love, she knew not what it was. His answer however, she never received, for Akasha entered the stables and the topic was dropped.
“Salorien, will you be joining us?” Akasha asked, giving the elf-maiden she had come to like a smile.
“Sadly no, my lady. But I am please you are able to move about so freely.”
“Indeed it is through you and your fellow healers that I have had such a swift recovery. I am in your debt,” said the human with gratitude.
“I shall be on my way then. Come, Eldriel.” Salorien had to physically turn the maiden around and lead her from the stables.
Akasha walked down the line of holding pens until she came to the familiar snout sticking out of one. The horse recognized her as well and began nuzzling her happily.
“I have missed you too, Brontus.”
“I have tended to him personally,” Legolas informed. “He is a magnificent animal.”
Petting the horse and giving him scratches behind his ears, Akasha turn to regard the elf. “If you have been treating him half as well as you have treated me, he is a very fortunate horse. I fear both of us shall be slightly spoiled.”
Legolas said nothing, but instead mounted GrayStar before walking the horse to where Akasha stood. Reaching out his hand he helped pull her up so she sat securely behind him before gently digging his heels. Akasha gripped his waist tightly with her left hand in an effort to compensate not being able to hold on with her right. Alegria had taught her to ride when she was half as old as Jamila and as a result, she was not used to being on a horse and not controlling it.
If GrayStar was not used to the extra weight with which he was burdened, he did not show it. He moved across the land at a swift pace, blurring the scenery around them.
As they rode, Legolas pondered what Salorien had just told him. It was true he was intrigued by Akasha, there was no denying that. Everything about her was different than any other woman he had ever known. Most elf-maidens could hold their own to some degree, but this Heedorian girl seemed a force to be reckoned with. She forged her own weapons and she spoke her mind freely, being awarded with more than one surprised look from his father on more than one occasion, when her strength had returned enough so she could dine with them.
She definitely felt different then any elf-maiden sitting behind him. Her hand was pressed against his stomach, with the palm open. Her long fingers splayed wide, almost covering his entire abdomen. Against his back he could feel her right arm resting secure between his lower back and her stomach, but he could also feel her breasts pressed against him…breasts that were more prominent, fuller, and probably softer than the elf-maidens.
He had been curious about the feel of them, as he had become curious about the feel of her full lips. Would they feel the same as kissing Salorien, or would it feel like he was kissing some rare juice filled fruit? Would they be softer and yielding, bruising if pressed to hard?
Curiosity, that was all it was.
So why then was he not looking forward to her leaving tomorrow? And why was he taking such pleasure in the closeness of her body to his? Why was he urging GrayStar on just a little faster so she would clutch on to him just a little tighter?
Akasha loved riding, the feel of the horse moving beneath her, the wind blowing against her face. It made her feel alive. The landscape rushed past her, alternating between gentle hills and flat lands. They had been riding at slow and fast gallops for quite some time, when the horse finally came to a complete stop at the top of a steep hill. What lay before her forced a gasp from her throat, for she had never seen a vision to equal it. Below, spread as far as her eyes could see, was a field with nothing but flowers: pink, purple, blue, yellow, white, red, orange, and almost every color imaginable. Some she recognized, but the majority of them were unknown to her. Legolas had told her of the flower field the previous night while she lay on the verge of sleep, but never could she have imagined it would look as splendid as the landscape below.
“It pleases you?” Legolas asked, half-turning so he could see her eyes.
“Very much. I have never seen its equal.”
“Would you like to ride down?”
“I would hope you have not brought me all this way to simple gaze from afar,” was Akasha’s answer.
Legolas needed no more encouragement and urged GrayStar down into the flowers at a slow walk. Once they moved far enough into the field Legolas dismounted, sliding from the horse in a fluid movement before reaching his arms up to Akasha and helping her down. She moved from him almost immediately, walking apiece away before dropping and stretching her body against the ground.
Her eyes turned to the heavens above, not even looking up when a shadow fell over her. She felt at peace there, as if nothing in the world could cause her harm. Part of this feeling was the field. But she knew another part was Legolas; he had this strange, calming affect on her, like a sedative. No matter how hyper she felt, he had but to enter the room to calm her nerves, like a soothing balm on a painful burn.
She turned her head as Legolas settled down next to her, his elbow bent, propping his head up on his hand and his dark blue eyes on her. His pale hair fell over his shoulders and against the ground like a golden waterfall. The sun played with the color, causing it to almost blaze like it was on fire. He was, by far, the most beautiful creature she’d ever laid eyes on, and it thrilled her to no end that in the past three weeks she had been there, they had become good friends.
He had taught her things about elven culture that she had not known, like the fact they sleep with their eyes open, or millenniums ago they were allied with dwarves. He also began to teach her elvish beyond what she knew. Akasha had learned enough from her tutors to get by, but it was still difficult for her to converse in their language, or to understand it when it was spoken quickly.
Legolas had also told her a great deal about himself. He shared so much that she feared the minor crush that was developing for him was on the verge of turning into something more. She looked forward to his visits everyday, and the sound of his voice was so soothing to her ears. It reminded her of the time the traveling carnival passed through Indolien. There was a woman that played the lute, and it was perhaps the most beautiful sound she had ever heard. It became the second most beautiful when Legolas sang her to sleep three nights ago. She had trouble understanding some of the words, as the song was in elvish, but the words were secondary next to his voice.
Akasha hadn’t meant to stare at him, but she often became lost when looking into Legolas’ eyes. From her peripheral vision she saw something moving and jumped before she realized it was but his hand, passing her a fully bloomed violet flower with a yellow center.
“It is a mere flower,” he teased tapping it against the tip of her nose. “You should have a care though, for elves can hypnotize with our eyes.”
“Can not,” she replied, shoving him.
“How would you know? You think we would let all of our secrets become common knowledge?”
“You think me that gullible?”
He grinned at her. “No, I just adore the look of your mouth when you pout.”
“I most certainly do not pout,” she denied.
Legolas tapped the flower against her bottom lip only to have her swat at his hand. “Had I a mirror, you could see for yourself.”
“You can be so tiresome at times Legolas, I have no idea why I continue to put up with you,” Akasha stated, doing a bit teasing of her own.
“Because your curiosity demands it…and that surely you find me irresistible.”
It was meant as a jest, but hit a little too close to home for Akasha to find it amusing.
“Tell me more about your people,” she inquired, changing the subject.
“You have heard of nothing else the entire time you have been here. You leave tomorrow and I wish to take this time to learn about your people.”
Akasha raised her eyebrows. “As you are so fond of pointing out, you are but a few decades shy of living for two millenniums. Surely someone as ancient as yourself would know the history of my people even better than me.”
“Perhaps, but I do not know the history of Akasha,” he pointed out. “I know that Heedor is a land governed and protected by women, but has it always been a princess job to do so?”
“No, it has only been that way for the past two centuries. The steward of Heedor bore no children, so the second child of my great-great grandmother Laurien became the sworn protector. Every since then, the duty has been passed on from the aunts to the second child of the queen.”
“So that means one day you will become the sworn protector,” said Legolas
Akasha gave an audible sigh. “Perhaps, unless my mother has her way. She wishes the duty to fall once again to the Steward’s daughter should she have one.”
“And what do you wish?”
Akasha turned to once again stare into Legolas’ eyes. “My heart has always known it would only be happiest following in Alegria’s footsteps. She has trained me as far back as I can remember, about the responsibilities I would undertake. For years my mother allowed Alegria to mold me as she saw fit without obstructions, but now everything has changed.”
Akasha shook her head. “I do not know, but until recent months her and Alegria never fought a day in their lives and now they bicker constantly about me, about my future and I do not know why. All I know is that suddenly after being trained to be a fighter the whole of my life, my mother now wants me to be trained as a ruler.”
“Perhaps she is just being cautious. If something were to happen to Laistlin, the duty of ruling your country would fall upon your shoulders, much as it would fall upon mine should Tehran meet with an ill fate.”
“I believe it would be for the good of my people if that task never befell me,” Akasha reflected. “I long for nothing more than to fight bravely by my aunt’s side. Even though I was born a princess, all I have ever wanted to be was a warrior. All I have ever wanted to do was make my mother and aunt proud. I have learned that the task, while impossible for my mother, is very obtainable for my aunt.”
“You have a great love for her, don’t you?”
Akasha didn’t just smile she beamed. “In many ways she is more a mother to me than the lady that gave birth. I would fancy she were my mother, save my eyes are the same eyes as my father. He adored my mother until the day he died. I don’t think she has ever gotten over his loss.”
“And you? Have you gotten over his loss?”
He tilted his head, like he could get a better look at her from a different angle. She was torn between a self-consciousness that was building in her under the unwavering scrutiny, and a warm feeling spreading throughout her body. Maybe elves really could hypnotize people with their eyes, for she felt like she was being pulled under the depths of his.
There was such knowledge there, but there was also this innocence that she never would have suspected in one as old as Legolas. Sadness there as well. She didn’t know why she hadn’t realized it sooner, but it occurred to her that Legolas’ mother was not around. She wondered if elves felt loss stronger than humans because of the extended time they lived, or if they learned to accept it.
“You were a baby when your mother died, weren’t you?” she finally asked.
“How did you know that?” Legolas demanded. “Have you been talking to Salorien about me?”
Akasha shook her head, not sure herself. It was like a door had opened inside her mind and the knowledge was there, like something she had forgotten.
“Yes, I mean no, not about that. I don’t know how I know… I just…do. It’s like I’ve always known.”
“She died while giving birth to me,” revealed the elf. “Father has loved other women, but he has never re-married. I, too, think he still mourns her loss…as do I.”
“I am sorry,” she reached out placing her hand to his face, catching a tear as it left his eye. “I did not mean to cause you grief.”
Legolas caught her wrist. His first thought had been to yank it away. He had not asked for her pity nor did he want it, but as his slender pale fingers encircled her wrist his movement stilled. Something was happening, although what it was he knew not. He could feel energy in his fingers and against his cheek where her hand remained. The longer they touched the further it spread, down his arm and neck to the whole of his body. He finally pulled away, confused at what had just happened. He had heard about this happening with other elves, but never between an elf and a human. It couldn’t be possible, but how else could she have known about his mother?
“Come,” he stated softly standing. “It is late and the shadows grow long.”
The feeling slowly dissipated the further from her he moved, and after mounting GrayStar, it was completely gone. He was almost able to convince himself it had never happened, but as soon as Akasha climbed up behind him the feeling returned. There had to be a reasonable explanation for what was going on, all he had to do was find it.
| Part VI |
| Index |