Categories > Books > Lord of the Rings > Butterfly- Cocoon

Chapter Three

by Rous 0 Reviews

Usual story about a girl among the elves. Or maybe not.

Category: Lord of the Rings - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Characters: Elrond, Other - Published: 2006/04/26 - Updated: 2006/04/26 - 6407 words

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Not Enough Dwarves In The Bureau




"Did you hear that?" Erestor said to Elrond as he entered the library.

"Every word. I can understand why you have a headache. Is she usually so disjointed?"

"Only if she is asking the questions. If I ask them, she stays on subject. This was the worse one yet. What do you think of this drawing?"

Elrond took it and studied it.

"This is most unsettling. This is her father?"

"That is what she said."

"It seems her da was most unhappy with her father."

"Are you still planning on sending her to Benerd?"

"I still think it is best. She needs to be with her own kind."

"What if you find men are not her own kind?"

"That is a bridge I will cross if it appears."



**



Within another two months, Erestor was pleased to tell Elrond that Elrénia was reading and writing at a level consistent with an Elven child of the same apparent age. He had decided to take her to the village down the valley. She would do well with the experience.

When he came to get her, he found her waiting. She had on her best dress and new shoes. She had found someone to braid her hair. Except for the freckles and the ears, she looked Elven. She took the hand he offered. They went down the road.

"Did you look at my papers this morning?" she asked.

"There is to be no discussion of schooling today. It is a holiday. We are going to look around and see what others are doing."

"Yes, Lord Erestor."

They walked quietly. When they reached the town, she looked around.

"Do people live like this? Bunched up?"

"Some do. Where did you live?"

"In the forest. Just us."

"Then it is time you saw how others live. In Gondor, they live much closer. Sometimes even in houses above each other."

"Do they like it?"

"I suppose some do. Others may have no choice."

"I would not like it. I would miss the trees."

"As would I. Here, wait for me. I will be right back." He turned into a shop and left her standing by the door. She looked at the different people around her. She saw mostly elves with a few men. There were even a couple of Halflings, but no Dwarves.

"What are you looking for, sell?" She jumped slightly at Erestor's question. She had not heard him behind her.

"I wanted to see a Dwarf. I know there are some here, but I do not see any."

"Nor will you. There are only a few right now, and they tend to stay in their own part of the village. They are accepted here, but not necessarily welcomed by all. Come with me."

He had a small package he put in his left hand and took her hand with his right. He led her on down the street. There were a few who turned and stared at them. The farther they went, the less elves they saw. Erestor stopped before a small dark house. Knocking on the door, he stepped back. When the door opened, Ela was delighted to see that it was a Dwarf standing in the doorway.

"Lord Erestor. What a surprise!"

"Dorga. I have a request."

"You have a request of me? Certainly. Anything I can do."

"My young student has a desire to meet a Dwarf. I thought you might be inclined to speak with her."

"I had heard you had a new pupil. I would be happy to meet her. Come in."

They entered the dwelling, Erestor ducking to clear the lintel. When inside, he stood up, but still had to watch his head on the rafters. Dorga immediately pulled a chair from beside the wall and placed it near the table. The Elf gracefully sat down, relieved. Ela was amused, but knew better than to laugh.

"Ela, this is Master Dorga. He is here to handle the trade arrangements between his people and Imladris. Dorga, this is Elrénia. She is staying at Lord Elrond's for a while."

"I am honored," she said in a soft voice. "I have wanted to meet a Dwarf for so long."

"Well, I am honored, also," he replied, managing to hide the laugh that threatened to explode at her formality.

"Do you live here all the time?"

"Yes. This is my home for now. When my time is up, I may just stay. This is a very good place to live."

"Yes it is. I hope Misty Havens is as nice."

"Misty Havens?" he asked.

"That is where I am going. I do not know why, but I must live with my own kind. Do you not live away from your own kind? I do not see the difference, but I am just a child, and..."

"Ela," Erestor said, forestalling one of her question tirades.

"I am sorry, Lord Erestor."

"No apology is needed. I just do not think it polite to take up much of Master Dorga's time the first visit."

"I can come back?" she asked, excitedly.

"Certainly. I have no objections."

"Thank you. This is the best day ever. Well, except when I got my cat. Do you like cats? Do you have one? What color do you think is best?" She stopped at the touch on her shoulder.

"I think we have taken enough of Master Dorga's time. We will come again."

"Yes, Lord Erestor."

"Thank you, Dorga. You have no idea how much this means to her."

"Anytime."

They left the house, Erestor rolling his neck to relieve the catch caused by ducking the doorway.

"That was very exciting. He was nothing like the Dwarves in the books."

"That is because you have only read books written by elves. I assure you history from their point of view will differ greatly. I will see if I can find a book written by a Dwarf."

"Is it a lesson, or for fun?"

"You would read it either way, so what is the difference?"

She thought on that for a moment.

"You are right. There is no difference."

They walked back to Lord Elrond's residence in silence.

"Did you enjoy your trip?" Lord Elrond was sitting on the terrace.

"Very much. I met a Dwarf. He said I may come back."

"Who was it?"

"Dorga. He was most gracious." The words rolled slowly from her tongue. Elrond had to cough back the laugh. She was beginning to sound too much like Erestor.

"You should go to the kitchen. I think the cook has something for you."

"Yes, Lord Elrond." She bowed her head and walked sedately from the room. They could hear her light footsteps running down the hall. Elrond smiled.

"It is good to have a child in the house again."

"It is good to have such a bright pupil." Erestor replied.

"We have something to discuss."

"I thought as much."

"I have heard again from Benerd. His brother's wife has died, leaving him with a newborn baby. Mares is bringing the child back with them. I do not think it a good time to burden them with another. I would like to keep her here."

"Are you asking me as your advisor, or her teacher?"

"Both."

Erestor put his hands behind his back and walked to the railing. Turning, he looked at his lord.

"There would be difficulties. You have not taken in a child of men for many years. Do you remember the problems relative to their upbringing? The aging differences will be hard enough. There are no other children her age or race here now. How will she learn the things she will need later? I do not doubt our abilities to raise her, just prepare her for the outside world. Others had difficulties adapting. Some returned, never to leave again. Others drifted, never fitting in with their own. As for her, she would receive one of the best educations available, but what good will it do her out there? She is already far past the normal intelligence for one of her age and race ."

"You have already thought this through."

"I have foreseen the possibilities. That is what you expect from me."

"Yes, it is. I agree with all you have said. But I think she is already too advanced to just put her into the outside world. She would not fit into the lifestyle of a rural farmer."

"That is true. So, the best thing for now is to leave her here. She will not be disappointed."

"Good then. I will inform her at lunch. Will you stay?"

"I have several things that need my attention. I will come back this evening." He bowed and walked back down the steps.




II
A Sticky Mess And A Funeral




Elrénia thought hard on how to best torment Caldelen today. It was her favorite pastime. She never forgave him for calling her Orc-spawn. She knew what that was. She was not stupid. In fact, she was very intelligent. Most of her adopted people took her size as an indication of her age and abilities. That was their problem.

She had lived in Imladris for five years. She was small and looked to be twelve. Her long copper hair was now gold and kept at shoulder length. It was braided at the sides and pulled back, just like Elrohir's. She wore only breeches and a tunic, gotten for her from one of the Edain villages by Elrohir. Only a blind man could not see she emulated him at every turn.

It did not help that he spoiled her whenever he was home. He brought her hair clips from places he had visited. He brought books he thought would interest her.

Seldala, Elrond's housekeeper despaired of her ever using the gentle graces she had been taught. She could sew and had learned to entertain guests. She knew how to behave in a social setting. She could not cook. That seemed beyond her capabilities for now. She would wear a dress only if Elrond or Erestor required it of her.

On the other hand, she could use a child's practice bow and had a small knife. She could ride a pony well enough to stay on it. When her schooling did not require her presence, she would be out with Caldelen, an Elf child near her age.

Only Erestor could command her attention for more than necessary to learn a new skill. She still had the maddening habit of questioning a person to death.
She had been working on a special present for her adoptive father, Elrond. She had finally learned to stop saying Lord Elrond. She even sometimes referred to him as Ada. Erestor had helped with part of the surprise and Seldala had aided with the hard part.

But, first, to take care of Caldelen. He had put her cat in a box again. She knew that there was only one thing he treasured as much as she did her cat. His bow.

She had crept down to his father's house when she thought no one was looking. She went to the window that opened into his room. Jumping up, she grabbed the ledge and pulled herself up. Carefully looking to make sure the room was empty, she dropped to the floor. Going to the cupboard where he kept his weapons, she slowly opened the door. She lifted his bow. It was a work of art. Carved with stags and horses. She did not have the heart to destroy something so beautiful, so she took all of his arrows and broke them into small pieces. Leaving them in the middle of the floor where he would be sure to see them, she climbed back out the window. As she turned, she ran into Elrohir. He had seen her sneaking off and followed.

"Ela, what were you doing up there?" he asked. He knew she had done something in Caldelen's room. "I hope you do not get into too much trouble."

"Not near as much as he will be in if they find out what he did."

"What did he do?"

"I cannot tell you. I swore to secrecy, but if it comes out, I will give you every detail." She took his hand and led him away from the house. He followed her back up to his father's house. She sat on a bench on the terrace.

"Elf, can I leave here?"

"Where would you want to go?"

"Anywhere. I want to see the places I have read about. I want to visit Rosa. We write, but it is not the same. I want to see Lórien. I want to see the crowded houses of Gondor. I want to see flat land."

"Is there anywhere you do not want to go?" he laughed.

"Mordor. But even that would be different."

"What has Ada said?"

"I have not asked him. Lord Erestor said it was foolish and I should not bother him."

"If I could talk him into it, where would you like to go first?"

"Lórien. I would like to see Arwen. And the trees. Lord Erestor says they live up in the trees. I want to see that. He says it is very beautiful."

"It is.

"You will ask?"

"Yes, sell, I will ask. Come now, it is time to eat. I would like to be gone when Caldelen comes home."

"He deserves it. He put my cat in a box again. If we were not such good friends, I would not like him."

Her twisted logic made him laugh.

"Besides, when Ada goes into the lib..." She slapped her hand over her mouth.

"Ela, what about the library?"

"I cannot tell you. I did not do anything. Caldelen did it."

Elrohir almost ran through the house to the library. He looked around, not seeing anything amiss, at first. When he went behind the desk found a small pile of books strewn about and covered with oil. They were Ela's books and Ela's perfume oil that he had brought her.

"Oh, Ela. What happened?"

"We were talking and started arguing about something. He became angry and said he would get even with me. I tried to stop him, but he pushed me down."

"What were you arguing about?"

She hung her head. "Nothing."

"Apparently it was something."

"He called me an orc-spawn. He said I was just a human. I told him I was as good as any Elf, and better than some. I did not kill my kin. He turned white and I thought he was going to hit me. Then he stomped off to the library."

"You have to tell Ada."

"Not me. I swore. An oath is binding. I would never break an oath. Not for anything."

"Elrohir, Ela. Come it is time...What happened?" They both swung around at Elrond's demand. Ela was annoyed to see Caldelen standing behind
Elrond. He had a smirk on his face. Erestor came in behind them.

"Did you do this?"

"No, Ada."

"Then who did?"

She glanced at Caldelen. "I cannot tell you."

"You will tell me."

"I cannot." She looked Elrond in the eyes.

"Then go to your room until you decide to tell me."

She looked at Caldelen. He stood silent with a small smile on his lips. Not so small that Elrohir missed it. He would have a talk with the boy later. Meanwhile, he turned to his father.

"She did not do this."

"Then who did?"

"I do not know, but surely the one who did it will be honest enough to admit it."

There was no response. Elrohir chanced a look at Caldelen. He was smiling even more.

Stooping down to her level, Elrohir said softly, "Ela, you must tell him. It is not right for you to take the blame for this."

"I cannot. I gave my word. Lord Erestor says that if you do not keep your word, you have nothing. It is alright. I have already dealt with him." The smirk left Caldelen's mouth. He reached for her, but met Elrohir's arm.

"You have caused enough damage. Go home, little boy."

Stung by the words, Caldelen turned and sulked off.

"I will go to my room now, but I will probably starve to death before the guilty one confesses. So I will tell you now. Thank you for letting me live here, Lord Elrond. Thank you for teaching me, although it appears it is to be a wasted effort, Lord Erestor. And thank you, Elf, for all you have done for me. Please make it a grand funeral. Lots of flowers and cats. Do not forget the cats. And find a home for mine. She will be very lonely. And do not forget the snake under the stables. And I have not been near the stallion in the end stall. Please explain to Dorga why I cannot visit him anymore. Do not disturb me. I wish to die in peace and silence." With that she tossed her head, turned and walked regally to her room.

"I think it is safe to say she did not do it." Erestor commented, when he could do so with a straight face.

"I am inclined to agree, however, I would not have missed that for anything. She has a flair for the dramatic."

"Are you still going to punish her?" Elrohir asked his father.

"Only until supper. I do not want to ruin her preparations for her death. She is so looking forward to it."

"I know who did it." He looked at his father.

"As do I. She would never damage a book. And your gifts are precious to her. I will send for him later and handle it. And he will know she did not tell on him."




Is An Oath Binding If It Strangles?




Caldelen was furious. Not only had she broken all of his arrows, but now he had to answer to his father. He did not see what the great deal was. They were just some books. He did not see the use in teaching a human, anyway. It was not like she would live long enough to benefit. Stupid waste of time.

He picked up the shards of arrows and put them in a box. He had paid dearly for those arrows. He had taken on extra chores in the stables in exchange for them. He thought about all the hours spent mucking out stalls, and walking horses, and the grooming. She had destroyed them in minutes. Over some stupid books. And then to tattle. How human of her. She did not even know to keep an oath. He was just finishing up when his father came to his room.

"Lord Elrond wants to see you. You will change and be ready in ten minutes." Delandor said.

"Yes, Ada."

He washed himself and changed into more suitable clothing to meet with the ruler of Imladris. His only happy thought came from the fact he knew she would be in her room. He went out into the living area. His father was waiting.

"We will go now."

Caldelen nodded.

As they walked up to the large home at the end of the small valley, Delandor tried to explain why what he had done was wrong. He thought he was getting through, when Caldelan spoke.

"I do not understand. They were just books. She is just a girl and human, at that. Why all the fuss?"

"Do you really not know?" asked his father, astounded.

"No, I do not. A hundred years from now, she will be dead and I will still be wondering why everyone is upset."

"I thought you were friends."

"We are!" he sounded surprised that his father thought otherwise.

"Then why would you do something so destructive to her?"

"She made me angry. She told me that she was as good as I am. That she did not kill her kin. Humans do that all the time. All they do is have babies, then kill each other."

"Where did you hear this?"

"From some of the visiting elves. The ones from farther north. They said humans will not survive because they cannot stop killing. Then she says we kill our own kind. I could not let that go."

"You were wrong. That is not what humans do. They are a very kind and generous people, for the most part. There are some bad, but then there are some not so good elves."

By this time they had reached Elrond's home. He welcomed them and led them to the terrace. He sat in one chair and motioned Delandor into the
other, leaving Caldelen standing.

"How are you?" Lord Elrond asked the boy.

"I am well, Lord Elrond."

"I am glad to hear that. Do you know what happened to my library?"

Caldelen squirmed a few moments, but could not see a way out without lying.

"I ruined some of Ela's things."

"Yes, you did. She is very upset."

"She will get over it. She is just a..."

"Do not finish that sentence!" Elrond thundered.

Caldelen stepped back. He had never seen Lord Elrond anything but gracious. Elrond angry scared him.

"Whatever you may think of a person, destruction of their property to hurt them is wrong. The books did not belong to you. They and the oil were gifts to her. They were cherished. Not unlike your bow, which according to my son was her target. Knowing how much it meant to you, and how beautiful it is, she could not destroy it. Who is the bigger person here? And so you understand, she did not tell who did it. Elrohir told me. It did not take one of great intellect to figure it out. She would never destroy those things. You were the only one with anything to gain."

"It was just some books! I will replace them."

"And where will you find books written in Dwarfish and the language of the Shire? Those were gifts from Elrohir and Rosa. They cannot be replaced. The oil alone was worth more than several horses. But that is not what matters. They were worth much more to Ela. They were from friends. Real friends. The kind that are thoughtful and think of her. I think a time apart will do you much good. I have spoken to your parents and Lord Erestor." Caldelen flinched at the advisor's name. "In one week, you will return and begin studies with Ela. Maybe a little education will help you understand."

"Studies? With Lord Erestor?" Ela had filled him in on how hard he was on her.

"Yes. Now you may go."

Caldelen looked at his father, begging with his eyes.

"I am honored, Lord Elrond, that Lord Erestor would agree to take my son as a pupil. I am sure he will not embarrass me or himself."

Caldelen's shoulders sagged as he turned to leave.

"Will you stay for supper?"

"No, thank you. I do not want to add insult to injury. He is smarting enough already."

"I understand. She is in her room preparing to die because she knows he will never confess. It is so good to have children here again."

"I hope we survive it."

"I, too, friend. I, too."



**



Ela moped around for the next week. Her impending death had been staved off by the invitation to dinner. Her stomach saved her from eternal sleep. She did not ask what Caldelen had said. She just graciously accepted the offer and showed up.

The first day Caldelen was to join her, she was in the library when her appointed time for studies arrived. Lord Erestor entered shortly after she did, with the boy following. She smiled and nodded to her friend. She then turned to Lord Erestor and sat expectantly with her hands folded in her lap.

"What did you learn last week?"

Without missing a beat she said, "Mordor is not the most dangerous place."

"How so?"

"A friend is a friend only as long as you can trust them. Then they will turn on you and stab you in the back." She heard Caldelen gasp from his end of the table.

"No, sell. That was not the lesson."

"Well, that was the message."

"Why did you not tell Lord Elrond who ruined your books?"

"I made an oath. You said that a man who does not keep his oath is a man with nothing. Ada said I must always keep my word."

"Today we will discuss when it is wrong to keep an oath."

"That is a contradiction. If you break your oath, it is not an oath."

"Fëanor made an oath. It was binding on him and all of his sons, who also took the oath. Was it just?"

"To whom?"

"To Fëanor and his sons."

"Yes, to Fëanor . No, to some of his sons."

"How was it just?"

"Melkor killed his father. He was angry and wanted to avenge the deed. He vowed to destroy Melkor. That was a good thing."

"What of his sons?"

"He had no right to force them to follow him. The path they chose led to pain and suffering for those in no way involved."

"Very good. Now, was the oath just to the Teleri?"

"No. They had every right to decline selling ships to them. Anger is no excuse for what they did. Neither is grief. Most of his followers only left because they were unhappy. The oath was only a reason."

"Was the oath just to the Valar?"

"It was their fault."

"How so, sell?"

"If they had not called the Eldar in the first place, it might never have happened."

"A valid point, but it does not answer the question."

"No, it was not. The Eldar could have left at any time. They were not forced to stay. They only used the death as an excuse."

"Now, take all of that and tell me, should Fëanor and his sons have kept the oath?"

"The oath was binding. They felt they could not break it. Fëanor did himself and his descendants much harm. Melkor was destroyed, but at the needless cost of many innocent lives. It also destroyed the equality of the Eldar. It caused some to think they were better than others. It took a classless society and created a hierarchy. It damaged the relationships between the different elves beyond repair."

"So, is it wrong to break an oath?"

Caldelen watched her closely.

"Yes, it is."

She smiled slightly as she saw Erestor reach up to rub his temple.

"How so, sell?"

"An oath is an oath. However..." He glanced at her, hesitant to hear what she may have twisted from the lesson this time. She glanced slyly back at him. "It must be heavily weighed from all sides what an oath would entail. Only then can it be determined whether or not you should swear it. It should not be made lightly or in the heat of emotion. If the oath will cause undue harm to any, it must not be sworn.

"Very good, sell," he said, softly.


**


"Why did you not tell on me?" They were laying in the grass down by the river. They had ridden their ponies through the meadow and eaten their lunch.

"You are my friend. I knew that sooner or later you would tell them. Do not ever make me swear an oath again. I do not appreciate lessons based on my mistakes."

"Do you not ever want to be with your own kind?"

"What are my own kind? I am lost. I feel I do not belong in either world. Not good enough for you and too good for them. Dorga knows how I feel. I think that is why we are good friends."

"The Dwarf? He is stupid."

"Caldelen, do you really want to make me angry, just when we have made up? You do not know him. He is very intelligent. He knows things you could not possibly learn in even your lifetime."

"Yeah, like what?"

"For starters, he has manners. Yours are sorely lacking. You have no idea who you may offend. It would stand you well to acquire some."

"I do not need manners. I will be a warrior. My bow and knives will be all the manners I need."

"You should speak to Haldir the next time he is here. Or better yet, his brother, Rúmil. He could tell you how far no manners can get you."

"You know the March Warden? How?"

"I threw my boots at him and he very graciously caught one of them with his forehead."

"You did not! You threw shoes at the March Warden?"

"Well, he had insulted me. It was the least I could do."

"I cannot believe your nerve."

"Well, I was only ten at the time."

"You are still only ten."

"Joke if you will, you will not get a rise out of me today."

"Why not?"

"Because Elrohir is supposed to be back. He said he would only be gone a week."

"So what?" He still had not forgiven him for the dressing down he got before he left.

"So what? I will tell you what." She jumped up and grabbed her pony. Jumping on, she was halfway to the stables before he caught her.

"Tell me what?"

She ignored him. Kicking her pony, she rode off at a gallop. Caldelen saw what had spurred her on. Elrohir's horse was in the paddock. By the time he reached the stables, she had unsaddled and quickly brushed off her pony. She carefully avoided the large stalls in the end of the stables. He saw her bend over the hole in the floor. He shook his head. Stupid snake.

Without a backward glance, Ela ran to the house, Caldelen following. She went in the back and hurried to her room. Washing up and changing her clothes, she ran a brush through her hair. Deciding that she was presentable, she hurried through the house. She finally found them on the terrace. Waiting at the door to be noticed, she came out at Elrond's nod. She formally bowed to Elrond and Erestor. She nodded her head at Elrohir. She pointedly ignored Caldelen, who was standing to the side.

"Hello, Elf. Have you come to rescue me?"

"Not yet. I have gained permission for you to go to Lórien this summer."

"I suppose that will do."

"I did bring a friend for you."

She turned to the figure coming up the steps. From the corner of her eye, she saw Caldelen straighten up in surprise.

"March Warden. How good to see you." Her tone was neutral.

"Lady." His was likewise cool.

"How fares your cloistered realm?"

"The fringes do not sear as does the center."

The others looked at each other.

"Then may I inquire of your brother? I do miss his smile."

"He is well. He sends greetings. He could not come this time."

"Would you convey my disappointment? May I get you some refreshments?"

"Only if you are not making or serving them. My forehead still hurts."

"I will inform a server that they are required more than I."

She went into the house. Caldelen went after her.

"That was cheeky. How could you speak to him that way?"

"What way?"

"So disrespectful. I know you. You only get so polite when you are getting ready to insult someone. There was one coming. I could feel it."

"My, you are a ellon of many talents. First you have impeccable manners. Now you are able to divine the future. Where ever would we be without you?"

"Bah! I am done talking with you! I am going out where the ellyn are."

"Be sure to tell them you are there. I would not want them to mistake you for a child."


**

"Tell me again that she is not an Elf. How old did you say she is?" Haldir asked Elrond, with a grin.

"Yes, would you care to explain that little exchange?"

"Long story. An apology not very graciously accepted. I bring word from Lady Arwen and my Lord and Lady."

"What does my daughter have to say?"

"That she would like to come for a visit."

"She does not need to ask."

"She thought it best to ask this time. Her grandparents are bringing her. They plan on leaving Lórien in four months. Lady Arwen thought you might want advance notice."

"That was most thoughtful of her. Does Celeborn have a reason for coming?"

"I was told to inform you that he wishes to discuss the growing problem in Mirkwood."

"What of Thranduil?"

"You know their history. That is all I can say."

"Yes, unfortunately, I do know. Well, we shall be ready."

"Elendil, will you see to the March Warden's needs. He will join us for lunch."

Elendil nodded and waited for Haldir to follow him.

Elendil returned to the terrace.

"Lunch is ready, Lord Elrond."

"Thank you. We will be right in." He and Erestor went inside, leaving Caldelen sitting alone. They stopped at the library.

"A visit concerning Mirkwood, without Thranduil. Is that wise?" asked Erestor.

"Not wise, but it may be necessary. If we can help stem the flow of evil spreading out from the south of Mirkwood, then we must offer our aid. Whether Thranduil will accept is another matter."

"He still will not be happy to hear of it."

"I suppose not, but he will not come here and I truly believe that Mirkwood will fall before he will step foot in Lórien."

"He is stubborn."

"He feels he has reason. We must respect that. But if he asks, help will be given."


**


When they entered the dining room, Elladan, Elrohir and Ela were already seated. Haldir waited by his chair. They waited until their elders had sat down, then began eating.

"Did you enjoy your ride this morning, Ela?" Elrond asked her.

"Not especially. I do not think Caldelen likes me anymore."

"Why is that, Iell?"

"He makes fun of me and calls my friends stupid."

"Who does he call stupid?"

"Dorga. He says Dwarves and men are stupid. I know that Dorga is not, am I? If I am not an Elf, does that make me stupid?"

"No, you are not, and I think that is enough about stupidity. I think I know what Caldelen's problem is. Are you ahead in your studies?"

She glanced at Erestor. He nodded to her.

"Yes. And it makes him angry that I ask for more work. He cannot wait to get out of the library. I can ride better, also. He does not pay close enough attention to his pony. I wish I had more friends. Then it would not always be just me and Caldelen."

"There is nothing to be done for that. However, I would say that Caldelen's problem is that he is jealous. You are further along in your studies and have fallen off your pony enough that you pay more attention to what he is doing. Do you not think this is true?"

"I suppose it could be. I do not care. I am tired of his pettiness. May I go to the village tomorrow?"

"Why do you want to go?"

"To see Dorga. He said he has something for me."

"How are your studies?"

She waited for Erestor to reply.

"If you get everything done in the morning, I see no reason you may not go."

"Who will go with you?"

"I will ask Caldelen." She looked at Elrohir. "Unless you would like to go, Elf."

"I would be honored. When would you like to leave?"

"I think after lunch."

"Very well. Go finish your lessons." Lord Elrond's tone was clearly a dismissal.

"Do not let her stray too far," he said to his son, after she had left the room. "For some reason, I feel uneasy."

Elrohir laughed. "You always said that when one of us wanted to exercise a little freedom. She is no different. How old is she, anyway?"

"According to her, fifteen. If I had to guess by her level of maturity, I would say about ten or so," Erestor replied. "She is not aging as a human. That again brings up the question of her parentage."

"We still have no answers on that subject. I suspect, though, that she knew what she was talking about when she said her father was old enough to at least remember the Last Alliance. Her mother is a question. She clearly is not full Elven, if any. I will put out feelers again for information. It could be something will surface. Meanwhile, keep an eye on her. I am not at all pleased with the turn her relationship with Caldelen is taking. I had hoped one her own age would be of benefit. I do not want to see her hurt."

"You cannot protect her from the world. No matter how hard you try, she must eventually go out on her own. We did. And we were prepared, because of you and the others here who saw to our upbringing. She will be fine." Elrohir placed his hand over his father's.

"You are right. I worry overmuch. Go. Enjoy the day. When do you leave?"

"I must be gone by the day after tomorrow. Elladan is meeting me in Bree. He will have finished his assignment by then."

"See if you cannot both be back in five months. Arwen would like to see you."

"I think we can arrange that."

"Go now. Leave old men to their work."

"I will do that, when I see some old men." Elrohir laughed as he went through the door.

"I will send letters to my contacts tomorrow," said Erestor. "It will be difficult to decide what to do with her unless we can find out who her parents were."

"I know. See what you can find. I will check my sources. Maybe someone will have remembered something by now."

"I will take my leave now. I am sure that I have an anxious student waiting."

"Do not keep her waiting."

Erestor nodded and left. Elrond sat at the table and pondered the troubles that came with raising children. He decided that they were well worth them.
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