Knight Takes King: Part VI
Chapter 6 - Son of Gondor
By the time they reached the stables, Legolas’ entire body was tingling as if every nerve cell was completely alert and registering activity. It wasn’t a painful feeling; on the contrary it was more pleasant than anything he had ever experienced. His skin seemed to hum, a feeling that lessened once he slid from the horse and was no longer touching Akasha, a sensation that returned the moment he pulled her down from the horse and into his arms.
She had grown oddly quiet since that moment in the field. He wondered if she felt it too, but dared not ask for fearing the answer would be yes.
He lowered her slower than the last time, keeping her body cradled against his for a far longer period of time than would be considered appropriate. He wasn’t sure how long he might have continued to touch her or what might have become of his longing glances at her mouth, had the sound of voices not brought him back to the present.
There were two of them, male, and they were most certainly not elves.
“I want you to tend to Lady Akasha’s horse and make sure it is prepared for departure tomorrow,” one of the voices ordered.
“Aye milord,” the other once answered.
“You’ll know my sister’s horse. It’s the prettiest one, other than GrayStar, but that’s Legolas’ horse. He lets me play with him sometimes.” That chipper sweet voice undeniably belonged to Jamila.
Two men marched into the stable following the young child who slightly skipped ahead of them.
“That’s GrayStar,” Jamila exclaimed running over to where the horse, Legolas and Akasha were standing.”
The first man was tall, with dark brown hair reaching almost to his shoulders. His eyes were narrowed, as if he had a natural distrust of people, or was used to squinting to see things in the far off distance. Their coloring was pale, but it was hard for Akasha to tell what color they were. He sported a partial beard that sprouted from his mustache and came down to enclose him mouth. Legolas always marveled at the sight of creatures with beards. Elves did not grow facial hair save their eyebrows, and he always wondered if having all that hair on one’s face would tickle.
He wore a burgundy tunic, which appeared crafted from silk, adorned with tiny gold studs. This covered a chain mail shirt and brown leather guards that crept from his wrists to his forearms. At his side hung a long sword and a dark red cape covered his back.
The second man was shorter in stature to the one he followed, and not as regally dressed. He too wore a tunic over a chain mail suit, but his was neither made from silk nor did it have the golden studs as the first. His hair was as black as the wings of a raven and fell past his shoulders, but was pulled away from his face and held back by a leather strap. A sword too was at his side, but no cape graced his back.
The first man halted upon entering the stables and spotting the couple standing before him. He stared at the two, wondering what it was he had just interrupted. The elf’s body was almost pinning the girl against the horse, and her left arm rested upon his shoulder.
“Begging your pardon, we meant not to interrupt anything,” the man spoke.
“You interrupted nothing,” Legolas stated.
“You must be Lady Akasha.” The man shifted his gaze to the woman.
At that point, Legolas looked back to Akasha and realized not only his closeness to her, but also her hand resting on his shoulder, her fingertips touching his flesh. He moved back from her, but remained close enough so she could continue to lean on him for the support that her injured leg did not offer.
“Who are you, and why do you feel the need to attend Brontus?” Akasha demanded.
“I am Boromir,” he replied. “My father is Steward of Gondor and I am here to escort you and your sisters to Indolien tomorrow.”
“You concern is appreciated, but King Thranduil has already offered us an escort home. You should not have troubled yourself,” informed Akasha.
“We were to arrive in a week’s time for the festivals; it was no trouble to leave a day or two early to ensure the safety of such lovely young ladies.”
Akasha glanced down at Jamila who now stood in front of her sister. The child stared up at her with a bright grin upon her face. Something didn’t sit right with Akasha, but she could not put her finger on what it was. She just knew she did not like this man standing before her, taking liberties with her horse.
“The preparation of my horse is my responsibility and mine alone.”
“Surely in your present condition you can not-”
“I advise you, Lord Boromir, do not assume what I can and cannot do in my present or any other condition. Just as you would do well not to assume that I am helpless because I am a woman. No one, save a select few, are allowed near Brontus…and neither you nor your men are among the few. Is that clear?” she spoke a little harshly.
Boromir opened his mouth to reply but could not find suitable words. He had been warned that Akasha was headstrong and formidable, but that description did little justice for the willful young lady before him.
“That is clear milady,” he acknowledged.
“Then good day to you sir.” Dropping her hand from Legolas’ shoulder, she offered it to Jamila before marching the girl out of the stables with her. She gritted her teeth against the pain, putting full pressure on the injured thigh. It was bearable, though, compared to the damage her pride would suffer at showing weakness in front of Boromir.
“That was bracing,” Boromir stated once he was sure Akasha had left for good.
“Should I see to princess Akasha’s horse milord?” inquired his younger companion.
“I would suggest you heed Akasha’s words,” Legolas advised.
“And who are you to make such suggestions or address the princess so commonly?” Boromir asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I am Legolas, second son of King Thranduil, and a friend to the princess.”
There was no challenge in Legolas’ voice, no bid for authority or seniority over the man…just a mere statement of fact.
“And what exactly is the nature of your friendship with the princess?” Boromir pressed.
“The nature of my relationship with Akasha is not of your business,” Legolas replied.
He turned from the Steward’s son as he led GrayStar to the trough for another drink of water before leaving to ready some hay for the horse.
“Milord?” the young man pressed.
Boromir looked down at the man as if he had forgotten he was there. “Hold for now. I shall speak with princess Akasha later,” he instructed.
The young man gave a slight nod of his head before turning on his heels and heading back out the stable. Boromir cast one more glance to the elven prince, who continued his duties as if the man were not there, before departing from the stables himself.
“He’s nice,” Jamila chatted as she walked next to Akasha, swinging her hand. “And he’s got a pretty horse. Not as pretty as Brontus or GrayStar, but his horse is all black with this-”
“Jamila,” Akasha interrupted. “We leave tomorrow morning. Why don’t you go play with your friends once last time?” she suggested.
“Alright,” the young girl smiled before squeezing her older sister’s hand and bounding away.
Akasha sighed. She cherished Jamila with all her heart, but the child could prattle non-stop, and she was not in the mood to hear how sweet Boromir was at the moment. The man had ruined the most life-altering thing to happen to her since turning sixteen. She wasn’t positive Legolas was going to kiss her--she had never been kissed, so she couldn’t be sure that was his intention--but from what Laistlin used to tell her, all the signs were there. The lingering touches, the proximity of his body, the way his eyes kept diverting to her mouth: he had done everything but tilt her head back and crush her body to his.
Her first kiss, and it would never be all because Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor, picked that moment to ruin everything. She was leaving tomorrow, and uncertain if she and Legolas would be alone before that time. If they were, and his intents had been to kiss her, would they change now that he had time to think about it?
“For goodness’ sake, he probably wasn’t going to kiss you anyway, girl,” she muttered to herself as she entered her room.
“Who wasn’t going to kiss you?”
Akasha let out a gasp and turned to face Laistlin walking in from the terrace. “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you.”
“To tell you that the arrangement for tomorrow have been changed,” Laistlin informed.
“I already know King Thranduil has been relieved of the responsibility to bear us home,” offered Akasha, making her way to the bed.
A dull throbbing had begun in her thigh were the arrow wound was still healing, and the pressure from walking on the wound only succeeded in angering it.
“I met Lord Boromir in the stables upon my return.”
“I see,” Laistlin studied her sister closely. “And what did you think of the son of Gondor?”
“Truth be told, I found him pompous and arrogant
. Can you believe he was actually appointing another to ready my horse? My horse.”
“Honestly Akasha, do try to calm yourself. You act as if he committed treason upon the royal crown.” Laistlin sat on the bed across from her sister. “I am sure our customs are strange to him, as his customs would be strange to you should you be in his land. Gondor is not ruled by women as Heedor.”
“Woe for Gondor. Why must he escort us? Why can we not do as was planned and let Le- the elves--accompany us?”
Laistlin raised an eyebrow as she regarded her sister. She caught the beginning of her word and was fairly certain she knew where the “Le” was meant to lead. Part of her was thrilled that Akasha finally seemed to find a man that peaked her interest, but another part of her thought it ironic and cruel that it should happen now…and with someone like an elf. Surely even Akasha knew that her and Legolas could never be.
“And who would you have escort us?”
Akasha didn’t say anything. Instead, she busied herself with removing her boots as best she could with one hand.
“Akasha, lord Boromir has come all this way. It would be rude to refuse his more than generous offer. And, we should not burden King Thranduil and his people anymore then we already have. Besides, is lord Boromir really that bad?”
“No… he’s worse. He looks scruffy and sinister and I find myself wondering if his last bath has been within a month’s time.”
Laistlin laughed softly. “You are a fine one to talk, you who used to view bathing with the same fondness as a cat.”
“That was when I was a child,” Akasha pointed out.
“Yes, you where a child then, but as you are so fond of declaring, you are no longer a child, so do not act as one now. Lord Boromir has offered to escort us home, and we shall accept this graciously. And might I add, we are lucky to have such a noble and brave man put himself into our services.”
“I don’t see why we should concern him,” Akasha muttered, leaning back on against the pillows, her left arm gripping her right elbow. “He’s only doing this to get into mother’s good graces so she will be more inclined to unite our kingdoms.”
“Perhaps,” Laistlin stated. “Or perhaps he has other reasons. Perhaps he feels it is his duty.”
“I am no one’s duty.”
“I know. The great Akasha can take care of herself and everyone else as well.” Laistlin stood and headed for the door. “I must prepare for dinner. King Thranduil has promised to mark the occasion of our last meal with a special celebration. The handmaidens have left a gown for you to wear, but I suggest you wait for the handmaidens to come before dressing. Lord Boromir is not the only one in need of a bath.”
Laistlin gave her sister a smirk before heading out the door.
Legolas stood on the terrace that had become his home while Akasha occupied his room. Leaning against the railing, he stared at the violet and yellow flower he twirled between his index finger and thumb. He could still hear her soft laughter as he brushed the flower against her lips and the smile that resided there. His thoughts were cluttered, trying to piece together the events of the day…trying to figure out what it was that the Heedorian princess meant to him, and why his thoughts had not strayed far from her the entire day, even before their ride.
Salorien had been right; his time of late had mostly been spent in the company of the young girl. His father was certainly pleased, for he had not ventured into the woods for days on end. The past three weeks, he hardly spent more than an hour in the woods outside the kingdom each day, leaving the patroling more to the sentries on duty.
He knew Akasha had been attracted to him, even though she tried to hide it. Still, he would catch her eyes straying towards him during dinner. On the many occasions he explained his people to her, he got the distinct feeling she was not listening to a word he spoke as he eyes stared at him. He did not mind as he normally did; in fact, he felt strangely honored to be this peculiar girl’s first crush. He hadn’t realized that he too was developing feelings for her.
He tried telling himself it was mere curiosity. Never before had he come across any creature as she. He knew Heedor was a land full of female warriors, but he had never actually known one, even though he ritually went to the spring festival in Indolien. She was a mystery to him, and the more he learned about her, the more he wanted to know. But it had been upon their return from the wild flower field that he admitted it was more than curiosity.
*Legolas, does something trouble your mind, son?*
Legolas turned to see his father standing in the doorway of the terrace. He hadn’t heard him knock or enter the room. He was tempted to bring up what happened that afternoon with his father, but was not sure how to broach the topic. If he began speaking of destined loves to him, the older elf would only ask what elven maiden had captured his attention…and that was a conversation Legolas wished not to have.
*We shall all miss the young princesses when they leave,* Thranduil stated, as if he could almost read his son’s thoughts. *They brought a certain liveliness to these walls that will be loss upon the morrow, but we shall celebrate tonight.*
Legolas turned to his father, tucking the flower into a pocket in his tunic. *What news from the south?*
*Baraldil has sent reports that trolls have been seen wandering the woods there as well. They have yet to claim any victims but their numbers seem to be increasing. He will arrive in a day or two for further conferences. I would like you to be there as well.*
*I thought Tehran returned tomorrow,* said Legolas.
*He does, and of course he will attend the meeting. But I feel you have stepped into your responsibilities these past weeks while he has been gone. When your brother becomes ruler of these woods he will need your guidance.*
*If you wish me there, Father, I will be,* Legolas responded.
*He will be bringing his daughter, Calarhen. I thought they could accompany us when we depart for the spring festivals.*
*I am sure they will enjoy the festivals. Heedor does not lack for entertainment or hospitality,* his young son commented.
Thranduil smiled. *No, they do not. Are you sure there is nothing that you would like to talk about?*
*It is nothing of importance,* Legolas stated plainly. *Simply pondering the events to come.*
*Then I shall leave you to your thoughts.* Thranduil offered before departing.
He knew his son well enough to know something was on the young elf’s mind. He also knew that if Legolas did not wish to reveal his thoughts, there was nothing the king could do to make him. Legolas was nothing if not strong willed. That he got from his mother. It never ceased to amaze Thranduil how similar Legolas was to the female elf he never knew.
Legolas turned back, casting his eyes to the trees and mountains in the distance…to Heedor. This would be his last night with Akasha. He would see her again in a week’s time at the festivals, but it would not be the same as the past three weeks she spent in Mirkwood. It would not be the same as whatever moment they shared while in the wild flower field.
With a heavy sigh, he exited the terrace and entered his room to prepare for the night’s dinner. If he was going to act upon his feelings, time was of the essence. Something would have to be done tonight or not at all.
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