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Far Beyond Mirkwood, Chapter 24/?

Authors: Mary A and Malinornë
Pairings: Mainly Thranduil/OFCs
Warnings: Adult sexual content, some nudity
Disclaimer: This is a work of amateur fanfiction of the parody type and is meant solely for entertainment purposes, no profit is made.
Chapter summary: Mary and Faramir tour Ithilien and Mal and Thranduil tour Mordor, while Thaladir keeps an eye on everything.

~ Mary ~

How could a ride in the moonlight, aboard a majestic eagle, with a handsome, virile Lord of the realm beside me, have been anything but exceptionally pleasant? After the plan to tour Ithilien with Faramir later that evening was settled, I was hopping with excitement for the rest of that day. Instead of wasting any time following the elves around the ruined city of Osgiliath, I spent most of the afternoon spinning fantasies about seducing mighty Ithilien rangers left and right, with one hand tied behind my back.

Having my way with Lord Faramir would be like taking candy from an elfling, if their mothers had allowed them to eat candy.

To that end, beneath my traveling cloak, I was nearly naked. I was wearing only a skimpy, silky sleeveless tunic, which was meant to be worn with an ankle-length gown beneath it, but Lord Faramir barely noticed. My head had been filled with images of cuddling up with him on the eagle's back. I had imagined his two sturdy arms holding me close to him for safety, while I clung to him. It would only have been a matter of time before nature took its course.

Instead, when the time to leave finally came, after seating me next to him on the broad back of the eagle, Faramir linked one of his arms through mine, and gestured with his other hand at the scenery below us. The bird flew too smoothly to give me any excuse to clutch onto his arm tightly, but I did it anyway. With an agonizing thoroughness that would have made the seneschal proud, he recited the entire history of Ithilien to me, while we flew, For the first hour, this was the most excitement I had as we traveled over the low hills and forested parts of his territory.

In all of my travels through Middle earth, I had never met a more tediously dull mortal man than this Faramir; he could make elves yawn. I kept in mind the fact that he was very young, compared to the other royals in his world, with the exception of Eomer. Having the responsibility of ruling over Ithilien gifted to him must have been a sobering experience, not that Faramir struck me as having a trace of light-heartedness beneath his unbending exterior.

From Thaladir, I had previously learned how Denethor had raised his eldest son, Boromir, to inherit the Stewardship of Minas Tirith, but the younger brother, Faramir, was treated as a disposable 'younger son', and he was not expected to inherit anything. As a young man, he had spent most of his time in the great library of the White City, studying.

The aloof and superior attitude Lord Faramir projected now had to be a form of overcompensation, a trait rarely witnessed among the elves that I traveled with. The lectures he was giving me were, however, very familiar and reminiscent of a certain seneschal's. I came to the realization that the biggest difference between Faramir and Thaladir was the old elf was wise to me, and the poor mortal man was not.

Every once in a while, I would pretend to actually be interested in something we were flying over and would point at it, while letting my cloak flap open to display a view of a bare calf, or thigh, and the man never blinked. Since it was too chilly to perform this little trick very often, I kept my focus on his eyes, and barely heard a word he said. For a tragically long-winded tour guide, he certainly had beautiful eyes.

Of course, I fully understood that Faramir was betrothed to a tall, blond, sword-wielding warrior woman, one with so much royal blood in her veins that every child they would have together was bound to be born with a crown on its baby head. I was not deterred, however, by the thought, precisely because I was none of those things that Eowyn was. Being as different as I could be from her, and any other woman in Middle earth, made me a novelty.

Men can not resist a novelty when it is handed to them with no strings attached, but we had far to go before any strings could be mentioned, let alone undone.

There was also the outside chance, barely to be thought about really, that Thranduil knew what he was talking about when he told me to take some time to study Lord Faramir carefully, before attempting any seduction. I dismissed that idea immediately.

Despite my ears being battered with the never ending wonders of Ithilien's landscape, I rallied with a plan of attack. There are forms of expression that never fail to get a response, from even the most repressed forms of mankind, which I still had at my disposal. During one brief period of silence, I locked eyes with Faramir, smiled, and licked my lips, slowly.

"Lady Mary," said the sadly proper Prince of Ithilien, "I can not help but notice that you are most inadequately dressed for this form of travel."

"Do you know how much you sound like old Thaladir?" I asked him, with an exaggerated sigh of disappointment, and not expecting an answer. "It is uncanny, really," I added, shaking my head.

"If I understand your words correctly," he replied carefully, "I am given to believe that Lord Thaladir also, and wisely so, expressed disapproval with your travel garb before our departure." If Faramir only knew how much trouble I had to go through to escape the seneschal's notice, while dressing for our eagle-back trip, he would have been a lot more grateful for the occasional peek at the results, I thought.

"His Excellency disapproves of my very existence," I answered, with a sigh. A pitiful sigh. "I am sure that he is hoping that Thranduil will abandon me, once we reach the White City and His Majesty finally has the chance to meet Aragorn. I miss Mirkwood, er, Eryn Lasgalen, but I am afraid I may never see it again."

"I must admit," Faramir replied, "that I had not previously been made aware of any mortal women being allowed to visit in Thranduil's caves, let alone any mortal at all being made a subject of his royal house. You are fortunate, indeed, to have such an honor bestowed upon you. I vow that I envy you, and that I am much mystified."

At last we were no longer talking about any other subject besides me. With a sigh of relief, I leaned even closer to him, now that I felt a bit more comfortable beside the stiff man. I whispered in his ear.

"Would you like me to tell you how I did it?" I asked him, seductively, with much promise in my voice about forthcoming salacious details. "Would you like to know exactly what I had to do in order to earn such an honor?"

~ Mal ~

Later in the evening, in a rosy sunset that foreboded a chilly night, we set off to Mordor on the broad back of the largest eagle I had seen since my arrival in Middle-earth. It was only one, not two like Thranduil had initially ordered. Legolas had spoken the truth when he said that the great birds could not be commissioned in limitless numbers to satisfy each and every wish the elves may have for travel. In this matter, being the king changed nothing.

The Elvenking and his son took the front 'seats', with myself and the seneschal behind. The feeling of safety it gave me to be able to hold onto Thranduil, rather than having only feathers and thin air in front of me, was full compensation for the inconvenience of not being able to see over his shoulder. Soon enough our host found a stream of air going in our direction; this way she could spread her mighty wings and ride on it, silently and with much less effort than it would take to constantly flap them.

Our flight being smoother, I eventually mustered enough courage to look down for more than a couple of terrifying seconds at a time, and saw the central parts of Ithilien spread out before my eyes much like it looked on the seneschal's map.

"There is the Anduin," he explained, pointing at the broad blue ribbon below and behind. I nodded. That much I understood, as well as the fact that the lights even farther behind came from Minas Tirith, the city that had until recently been the ultimate destination on our journey outside of Mirkwood.

As we passed another landmark on Thaladir's map, the ghastly remains of Minas Morgul, and then flew over the jagged teeth of the mountain range that separated Gondor from the black land of Mordor, I thought back on the last couple of days and how they had changed my interpretation of things.

The wild wood-elf had crossed our path a little bit too conveniently, and wasn't it a strange coincidence that Legolas happened to be in Osgiliath precisely when his father was passing through? Were not in fact both elves going to the new colony in Ithilien, perhaps both to be rulers there now that Galadriel and Celeborn held claims to Greenwood? What if Legolas' journey had been planned from the start, with Thranduil taking Mary and me away from his realm merely a manner of hiding the younger elf's departure from us?

Thranduil chuckled, and his seneschal remarked sourly that although it was indeed a blessing that the brood of Ungoliant no longer haunted the caves at Cirith Ungol, it was hardly a laughing matter.

"Indeed not, my friend," the king told his faithful servant. "My mind was wandering to something quite amusing." He winked at me, over his shoulder.

"And?" I asked. "My king?" If he must peep at my thoughts, he could as well tell me what he found so funny with them.

"Is it not the duty of a concubine to amuse her lord?" He chuckled again and turned his attention back to the view. It was silly of me to think I would get an answer out of him, even less so if it was as I suspected, that deception was at the very heart of his soul. "Refusal to answer a direct question from a king is most rude, my lady, and, in addition, a crime against the throne, the seriousness of which I trust you need no reminder."

Now it was Legolas' time to chuckle, and looking at Thaladir's grave expression made me want to do the same.

"It is," I said loudly, to answer both questions. And asking an elf anything at all is an exercise in futility. The Elvenking patted my hands that were around his waist. The sudden warmth I felt made me realize how cold they had become from the combined effect of the night air and the wind. Involuntarily I gave a shiver, which, naturally, did not go unnoticed by the seneschal.

"My lady," he said gravely, "it appears that the current temperature conditions are unsatisfactory for your organism, wherefore reconsideration of your participation in the present activity may be advisable."

"What? Your Excellency?"

"Malinorne, would you like to return to Osgiliath?” asked Legolas. "If you would rather stay on the ground, I am sure that could be arranged, and Thaladir could keep you company."

"No, thank you. It's ok." As if getting a little cold would make me back out from an opportunity like this!

"Allow me to protest," said Thaladir. "Your well-being is my duty, and, furthermore, although the precise meaning of 'ok' is unknown to me, I have reason to believe that you are not speaking the truth. Doubtlessly, this is yet another effect of lacking weather conditions and may not be held against your person. I do, however, insist upon the wearing of additional clothing, none of which is currently available. May I therefore suggest, Your Majesty," he continued, now speaking into Thranduil's ear, "that we return with the purpose of procuring such an item?"

"You may not," stated the king, and his seneschal made one of his famous sour lemon expressions. Then Thranduil covered my hands with one of his and kept it there for the remainder of the trip.

~ Mary ~

Even though I had hinted at revealing possible naughty secrets, once Faramir indicated that he would appreciate hearing how I earned my place in Thranduil's caves, I ended up not knowing how to begin the story. Merely bringing back to mind those first few awkward weeks with my king, and his chosen concubine, Malinorne, who was also my best friend, made me feel jealous all over again.

Why did I want to be with Faramir? I cleared my throat, stalling, while I tried to remember, although visions of Thranduil were swimming in my head. What had I been thinking to leave him to Mal tonight?

For a few moments, I could do no more than stare blankly at Faramir, while I desperately tried to recall what I was supposed to be about on that eagle with him, and to what purpose, and why. I could be kissing the king at that moment, that very moment.

With an encouraging smile on his face, Faramir was very patiently waiting for me to proceed. Mentally, I reached out to Thranduil for assistance, but I felt no immediate response, which only made me feel more jealous. What was he and Mal doing? I knew that the king would not care if Thaladir was there to witness his heated caresses. At last, it came back to me what I was supposed to be doing.

"I am a bridge for Thranduil," I said out loud, finally, although I do not think I meant to do it. Perhaps I said it because I believed Faramir to be the first human I had met in Middle earth that would not be frightened about my peculiar relationship with the elvenking? Either that, or the king had mentally prodded me to just spit it out.

In response to that, Faramir just stared right back at me, unblinking, the way I had been doing to him earlier. Then his mouth jerked into what appeared to be an involuntary smile. He chuckled.

"A bridge?" He repeated the word back to me quietly and thoughtfully, but seemed more confused. "Will you explain?"

"Certainly," I said. "Um, well, see, Thranduil feels obligated to share his magnificently vast store of knowledge and elven wisdom with all of the new kings in Middle-earth, and with you, as well. That is why the king was finally coaxed beyond the boundaries of his forest, you know, for any other reason beside buying wine, of course, or chasing dwarves."

I hated bringing up this last part of Mirkwood history, it was unflattering to my king, but I felt it lent an air of authenticity to my explanation.

"The king needs human women to help him do this," I continued. "Any human women would have done," I admitted, even though it hurt to say it out loud. "But Mal and I were invited. And we both agreed to be a bridge, even though Mal isn't sure what it means, and that is why we are subjects and it is also why we are here with Thranduil." With a sigh of relief to get it all out, the whole truth, I smiled at him.

Faramir's eyes were still glazed with confusion. I thought I had been very clear.

Previously, I had felt restrained from telling Eomer the truth about being a bridge because I was worried about causing political problems. At least I had tried to tell Anborn, but he had stubbornly refused to understand. I could tell that Faramir was not as dense, or fearful, as either of them. When it came right down to being completely clear, however, I was worried about how any man would react if he was to learn that Thranduil was 'watching' him, through my eyes.

"Lord Faramir, I feel a bit air-sick," I lied. "Maybe it would be easier for me to explain what I am if we were to land this bird and I could walk around on the solid ground for a little while."

We had already reached the end of our tour over Ithilien and had turned back to Osgiliath, flying above the Anduin, following the gleaming ribbon of water as if it was a flight path. Before the stupid man could suggest returning me all the way back to the ruined city, I said, "Now would be a good time to show me your waterfall fort."

We had seen the waterfall from a distance earlier, but he did not invite me to see the cave behind it. "You could tell me all about how it was made and I promise that I will pay attention this time."

There was little that the man could tell me that I had not already learned from Thaladir, but I did a credible job of listening attentively. When Faramir explained how the name 'Henneth Annun' was a Sindarin term, meaning either 'Window of the Sunset', or 'Window of the West', depending on how one wished to interpret it, I snorted.

"Typical of the elves," I said. "They can never settle on just one meaning to any word." I was surprised when Faramir laughed at that, but I was also encouraged. Just as suddenly, he quieted and grimaced at me.

"It has occurred to me, Lady Mary," he said, with great reluctance, "that your skimpy gown will not be adequate to the task of visiting my hidden refuge."

"Oh, but I disagree, my lord. I am sure that I am dressed well enough for some dark old cave."

"There will be some difficult climbing," he warned me. "The eagle will not have enough room to land any closer than at the very bottom of the secret path; it is steep and made of stone." Now it was my turn to laugh. While the great bird touched down, I patted Faramir's arm, as if to reassure him that I had everything under control.

"Do you think that I was not aware of how we have to get up to that waterfall cave?" I asked him, after we disembarked. "In fact," I assured him, "I have been looking forward to this part all day."

"This part?" He repeated my words back to me, again. I circled him once, and found myself impressed with how tall he was. The moonlight was brilliant, and I was able to admire how nice and broad his shoulders were. From clutching onto his arm during the eagle ride, I already knew he had well-developed muscles, for a scholar.

"Yes, this part," I said quietly, after I stood in front of him again, facing him. Then I shrieked, "Help! Help! Something furry just ran over the top of my foot!" I hopped up and grabbed onto his shoulders, wrapping my legs around his waist, in an effort to escape the non-existent creature. Reflexively, he captured me in his arms, juggled me until I was sideways, and held me up off of the ground.

"I guess you will just have to carry me up to your cave," I said. "Because I refuse to put my feet back down on the ground."

"Ah," he said. "I see what you meant now when you said, 'this part'."

"You are very perceptive, for a mortal," I replied.

~ Mal ~

The central plains of Mordor were a welcome contrast to the menacing mountains. Or, at least until our eagle flew closer to the ground, allowing us to see every crack in the parched soil, every thorny bush, and occasionally a ragged mass that Thaladir said was dry grass. Legolas insisted that he could see rabbit tracks between the bushes, but it seemed incredible that any creature would be able to stay alive here.

A pillar of smoke rose in the distance to our left, and as the night sky grew darker it was as if parts of the ground there were lit with a warm, but eerie, yellow glow.

"Mount Doom?" I whispered to Thaladir, who had told me earlier about the molten lava that had issued from its sides at the end of the last war. He nodded.

"It smoulders still," said the Elvenking. "There is no reason to scare you with such a sight," he continued. "We will not go there. Turn south," he told our carrier.

The eagle shrieked; a loud, screechy sound that hurt my ears, but I had a strange feeling that it was meant as a specific commentary to what Thranduil had said, rather than being a general bird noise.

"Wise, you say?" Legolas addressed the eagle. "Yes, sometimes my father is that."

"Drraaaaaah-goooooooonnh-rrrr-yaaah!" This time I was sure the eagle had spoken an actual word.

"Is there a dragon?" I asked nobody in particular, but it was Thaladir who answered.

"Indeed, it is not unheard of that the great worm seeks out locations of mighty fires due to its love for heat to warm its cold body. Therefore, the conclusion that such a creature has taken residence in the remains of Orodruin is entirely expected."

"And much dreaded," said Thranduil with a sigh. "I had hoped never again to cross paths with one of Smaug's kin."

"Maybe you need not to," replied Legolas, equally gravely. "My scouts have reported that it is very young yet, small enough to satisfy its hunger with rabbits for many years. It will likely not cross the mountain barrier until..." His voice faltered.

"Until what?" barked the Elvenking, uncharacteristically harsh for addressing his son.

"Do not ask," said the younger elf mildly. I felt the king tense, as if he was going to insist, but then he relaxed and sighed.

"Indeed, there is no need to talk about that now. The world changes whether we will it or not, and the passing of time is beyond control of Edhil. But," he continued, "the idea of a dragon pestering human settlements is not much to my liking either. You may have to do something about it."

"Oh, there will never be any human villages here." Legolas sounded very sure, and a little sad. His father patted his shoulder.

"The land may look parched now, but the greenery will return, and man will wish to conquer it."

"There are villages here already, father, or so goes the hearsay in Minas Tirith. But the inhabitants are not of the Edain."

"Haradrim, this far north?"

"No, but if it were, I might feel tempted to let the dragon have a few of them, too. The food available is harder to chew, I expect." He made a grimace.

"Your Highness," said the seneschal, "do I understand correctly that the alleged villages of which you speak, are inhabited by yrch?" He spat out the last word like a piece of bad food, and the other two elves shrugged as if they wanted to cast off something revolting. Thranduil cursed.

"Legolas! This means war! You cannot allow this vermin to continue to spread their filth in Ennorath! I will send bowmen, and, if he is a man, the king in Minas Tirith must aid you when you march upon... "


"These sorry remains of that cursed race must be eradicated...."


"They must be wiped off the surface of the earth, or Sauron's spirit will live on in their nefarious deeds. I want to see them bleed." He gestured angrily with his fist.

"I thought I wanted that, too," said Legolas quietly. "But Mithrandir has made me see things differently."

"What?! Orcs and elves can never live together."

"Humans and orcs could. Says the wizard, and I am prone to believe him. The orcs have changed, dad."

"Lies!" bellowed the Elvenking.

"Seeeeeeee-ooooorrrrrrrch?" shrieked the eagle, making herself heard over the enraged elf. As far as I could understand, she was offering a trip to one of said villages.

"No!" shouted Thranduil and I at the same time.

~ Mary ~

For the most part during the climb, Faramir told me about how the stairs were built, and by whom, and in what year, and at whose orders, some old Gondorian, while I memorized his noble profile in the moonlight. The only piece of information I gathered from him, which was of any importance, was the fact he had never brought Eowyn here to visit, yet.

The closer we were to the waterfall, the harder it was to hear him, and he fell silent. It was not until we were behind the wall of water, and inside of the hidden cave, that he reminded me of my promise to tell him about myself, and being a 'bridge' for Thranduil.

"First things first," I said, as he lowered me to stand on the rocky ground beside him. "I need to give you Eowyn's message, remember?" It was very chilly and gloomy now that most of the moonlight had been cut off, with only the glow of its reflection lighting the interior through the watery curtain in front of us. I shivered a bit without having to pretend anything. "Is there someplace warmer in this place, than right here, where we can sit and talk?"

"Lady Mary," Faramir said, his voice indicating a level of distress. "Are you aware of how many people would find it an honor and privilege to view the full moon shining through this particular waterfall? The fairest of all the falls in Ithilien?"

It seemed fairly important to him that I look at the waterfall, so I did. "It's very nice," I said at last. "The air is a bit dampish, however. Are you planning on bringing Lady Eowyn here after you are wed?"

"Well, I had thought..." he began.

"No, don't say it!" I cried. "You aren't planning on bringing her here for your wedding night?" Judging from the startled expression on Faramir's face, I had guessed right. "Forget I asked you that," I added. "I have no right to intrude on your private life, my lord." I walked a few steps away from him, scanned the dripping walls, and shook my head. In a quiet voice, but still loud enough for him to hear, I said, as if to myself, "Poor Eowyn, she was right to be worried." He was at my side in an instant.

"Eowyn is worried?"

"She asked me to inspect the entire area and then tell you that if you expect her to lie with you on top of wet rocks, then the wedding is off." Of course she had said no such thing, but I would have said it, if I was her. To my surprise, Faramir actually grinned.

"Naturally a woman would be concerned about such things," he said, extending his elbow. "Follow me, and I will put both of your fears to rest." We paused at a doorway that was hidden in the shadows, unnoticeable until we stood in front of it. He released my arm in order to pick up and light a torch from a pile of them stacked beside the wall.

The cave was much larger than I had imagined, although not as enormous as Thranduil's. A honeycomb of corridors carved from stone led deeper into the mountain, through warmer, drier areas. Some of rooms we walked past had straw mats on the floors for added comfort. At last we reached a set of cozier rooms, with actual carpets on the floors and tapestries hung from the walls. I knew we were in Faramir's private chambers when I peeked through a dark doorway and saw a large bed. It was perfect, high off of the chilly floor and covered with fur pelts. Before he was done lighting a few candles for us, in the connected sitting room, I had a plan.

"Lady Eowyn had one other concern, my lord," I said, ignoring the chair Faramir was gesturing at, for me to sit in. For the first time, he had a skeptical expression on his face, and a knowing look in his eyes.

"Would I be correct in assuming," he asked, in a slow drawl, "that this new concern has to do with my bed?"

"In general you are correct," I said. "Specifically, Lady Eowyn mentioned fleas. All that fur, you know."

"Fleas?" That caught him by surprise, I could tell by his stunned voice. "Lady Eowyn specifically mentioned..."

"Lord Faramir," I interrupted. "You have a most annoying habit of repeating my words back to me, and yes, I said fleas, and I meant fleas." I stepped over to him, took his hand, and pulled him toward the bed chamber. "Fortunately for you, both of us could find out if there are any fleas in your bed, before you let them ruin your wedding night." He tugged back, and we stood still.

"Perhaps," he suggested, "if we are going to be inspecting my bed for fleas, we should bring candles?" He took a pair of them from a table, and handed one to me.

"Your brilliant mind never ceases to amaze me, my lord," I said. At last, we were moving in the right direction. With candles in hand, we approached the furry bed and climbed on top. Now, all I had to do was get his clothes off, but I had a plan for that. As we ran our hands through the thick pelts, not finding any fleas, I finally brought up a subject he had been curious about earlier.

"Being a bridge for Thranduil just happens to be a natural talent I possess," I bragged.

"Did you not tell me a short time ago that every mortal woman possesses this talent?"

"How very rude of you to remind me, my lord," I teased. "As a proper gentleman, you should indicate how impressed you are with my uniqueness."

"Forgive me, my lady," he said, with a wry smile, which I appreciated seeing on his normally dour face. "You are indeed quite unique."

"Would you call me a novelty?"

"Hmm, let me think on it," he said, and then was quiet for a few moments, his fingers moved slower through the fur. "A novelty might be just what you are," he murmured. "Although the word 'cheeky' comes to mind as well."

"Aha! I have a great idea. Fleas are attracted to body heat," I said. "If we take our clothes off and get under the pelts, then we will see if we can find any on our bodies." While I talked, I removed my cloak and tunic, and then, bare naked, I slipped under the furry covers. "After a few minutes, you can check my body, and I will check yours."

Faramir did not make a move, until he started to open his mouth to reply to me, but I cut him off.

"Don't you dare repeat anything back to me that I just said to you. Just take off your boots and tunic, leave your pants on if you must, get under the fur pelts, close your eyes, and think of Eowyn. I promise it won't hurt you."

"Very well," he sighed. "If you are sure that this will work?"

"It always works," I said.

~ Mal ~

I learnt again that night that sometimes, even kings don't get their will. Legolas, who had heard of the remaining orcs' peaceful ways now that the evil that had influenced them was gone, very much wanted to see one of their settlements with his own eyes.

There was one thing the eagle forgot to say, or rather two. Firstly, the orcs were settled not on the main plateau of Mordor, but rather on the northern shore of the Sea of Nurnen in the southern part of the country. It was a very long flight from where we had started out, almost as far as Edoras would be if we had gone west instead of south-east. Secondly, eagles don't usually fly in the dark. She had agreed to take us on a tour in the sunset, and possibly during the twilight hour, but when it was near complete darkness, she landed.

"My... eh... lady, good bird," said Thaladir as soon as he had firm ground beneath his feet, "you may find it noteworthy for the future to inform passengers of the unsuitability of night time flights, thereby avoiding to cause highly inconvenient, most unpleasant, and, furthermore, wholly unseemly situations, such as depositing the greatest king of the elves in Middle-earth on the edge of a cliff." He glared at the eagle, who, apparently unimpressed, began to clean her feathers with her enormous yellow beak. It looked sharp, too, and although I was pretty sure that the eagle hadn't quite understood what he said, I couldn't help admiring the seneschal for having the nerve to lecture her.

"The fault is mine," said Legolas. "I ought to have asked how long it would take to get there, before agreeing to her offer."

"Indeed," muttered Thaladir. "Your Highness", he added.

"We will blame it on youth," said the king and then addressed the eagle. "Thank you," he said to her, more reverently than I had heard him speak before. "We continue tomorrow, as soon as you can fly." He bowed, and the bird reciprocated by lowering her head. Then she spread her wings and jumped into nothingness. After just a few seconds she was gone, swallowed by the night. I cried out.

"Worry not," said the king. "She will return when she has fed." He put my hand under his elbow and took a few steps away from the edge of the cliff. I realized I had been trembling.

"Whew. I thought for a while that she was going to leave us here."

"I know, remember?" he replied with a smile that was more of a smirk. And then he kissed me.

I allowed myself to melt into his arms, to breathe his scent of wood and home, to become calm, and then feel the first signs of arousal. I hugged him harder, until I almost forgot that we were stranded on a rock. At least I didn't care about it anymore. The king put his leg between my thighs and I began to sense a familiar tingle. I pressed myself against him.

"Later," he whispered. I withdrew with a disappointed whimper, but the warm smile on his lips and the eagerness in his eyes were at least some sort of compensation. "What do you say, old friend?" he said, looking left.

Only then I noticed the seneschal standing at a small distance from us and looking as if he very much wanted to say something.

"Sire, there is indeed very little to report. The mountainous outpost upon which we are currently, and most unfortunately, situated is of insignificant size, offering little in the way of protection or resources. A possible enemy is, naturally, equally disadvantaged, wherefore the amount of scouting carried out by His Highness and myself in this short period of time must be deemed satisfactory, and no threat imminent."

"Except that of falling over the edge of the cliff," added Legolas. "Mal should stay where she is."

I nodded, glad that it was now too dark for me to clearly make out the edges of the abyss. For safety's sake, I took a step closer to the Elvenking. Thaladir nodded his approval and then disappeared out of my limited sight. I could hear someone fussing behind me, in the direction towards the middle of the cliff. I vaguely remembered seeing some larger boulders there.

Suddenly, a couple of thing happened nearly at once. The light breeze picked up with an incredible speed, and a horrible cry echoed through the night, followed by the soft thud of something being dropped just a few feet from where I was standing. Or rather, had been. By the time the thudding sound was heard, the king had already pulled me out of harm's way. I didn't even have the time to panic, and I was glad for it. Even if it was my first time hearing an eagle return with its prey, and any kind of reaction thus justified, I wouldn't have wanted the elves to see me behave like some silly girl. I had spent too much time with the seneschal not to consider the issue of dignity.

Talons clattered against rock, the eagle muttered something in her shriek voice, and then came a series of sounds of something soft being torn and stretched, then ripping apart. The eagle gulped, and then the tearing began again. Strange to say, I was fascinated rather than disgusted. I couldn’t see a thing, but couldn’t help listening for every action of the great bird.

"Come with me, now," spoke Thranduil into my ear, his voice wrapping me in velvet. "Or would you rather share a raw rabbit with our feathered friend?"

I shook my head, shuddering at the idea of actually partaking in the eagle’s meal. With my arm tucked safely under the Elvenking’s, I did my best to follow him wherever he was going. Even with support, it was difficult because of the uneven ground. Luckily, he stopped after only a dozen or so steps. Another rush of warmth washed over me as I felt his lips nipping at my earlobe, but I couldn’t give myself over to the sensation completely.

“Here?” I asked in a whisper. The answer was a kiss, and eager hands gripping my bottom. “Not here,” I tried again, “the others... so close... they will hear.” There were more gropes, quite insisting fingers finding their way between my legs, stroking upon fabric that soon began to feel wet. I tried to hold back a moan, to protest even, but when the king’s lips brushed mine, I kissed him instead, using his mouth as a means to stay silent.

“And what about the others?” asked the king in an annoyingly calm voice that contradicted the ardour of his motions. A particularly delicious series of strokes on my most sensitive spot made me whimper out loud. “They know what we are doing,” he continued – I swear there was a smirk on his face – “and do not suffer from listening. To the contrary.”

I groaned, imagining the seneschal with a stern expression on his face jotting down every unseemly utterance in his infamous notebook – a mistake, as these thoughts had an erotic effect on me and only made me moan loader under the Elvenking’s ministrations. He chuckled, but stopped when I reached for his sceptre and began to run my hand up and down along as much as I could feel through his leggings.

“No more talking, now,” he said raggedly after only a minute. He took hold of my wrists, placing my hands on what felt like one of the boulders I had seen earlier. It wasn’t that high, which meant that this position made my posterior jut out in a way I knew he liked. But, I doubt he could see it even with his elven eyesight.

With or without help of his eyes, he made short work of our clothes, or at least the few adjustments required to allow skin-to-skin contact. I eagerly spread my thighs to allow him entrance, and after that was too occupied receiving and giving pleasure to care about anything else. But, I was glad when we rejoined the other elves that it was too dark for them to see how badly I was blushing.

~*~ From Thaladir's Notebook ~*~

Status of daily schedule: Most unsatisfactory

Remarks: What promised to become a highly beneficial day, commencing with a humble lecture by myself, followed by a midday meal in the presence of His Highness Faramir, the prince of Ithilien, and to be concluded with a sunset excursion to Mordor, has, due to the unpredictability and lack of discipline inherent in a certain individual of the eagle species, deteriorated to a most depressing, regrettable, and wholly unsuitable situation. It is, however, of some comfort to notice the force, ardour and diligence with which His Majesty utilizes time otherwise spent in enforced idleness, thereby selflessly seeing to the recreational needs of his subjects. Long live Eryn Lasgalen!

To be continued...

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Chapter posted: September 1, 2008

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"Long live Thranduil, great Elf-king of Greenwood!"