Joker 2018

Curiosity

Picture Challenge III

Honour

Consequences

Five Ingredients II

Songs

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Expectation

Picture Challenge II

Night

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Joker theme

Fear

Hunt

Five Senses

picture challenge

Ideas

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Walls

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First

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Alphabet Story

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No Time

Yes, I do

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Mmmmmmmm...

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In the Name of Love

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The Student Surpasses the Teacher

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Family

Drabbles

What If ...?

One Title: Your Story

A Fairy Tale, Middle-Earth style

Games People Play

Friends in Small Places

Hide and Seek by Rowena


Games People Play
Rating: G
 
Summary: While playing an old game of Rivendell Estel& Legolas end up playing 
more than just a little game of hide and seek.
 
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters or the worlds they live in. 
These belong to Prof J.R.R. Tolkien.
 
The line "In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn" belongs to Phil
Collins.




Chapter 1
 
"Come on, it'll be fun," Estel, the adopted son of Elrond, Lord of 
Imladris, urged. "You want to see more of this part of Arda, don't you? Well, here's  the perfect opportunity."
 
Sitting next to him under one of the more shady trees in Rivendell, 
Legolas, son of Thranduil, sat considering the question.
 
It was true that he did want to see more of this part of Arda. With the 
restrictions on travelling in this part of Middle Earth now lifted by 
his father, he had no fear of being banished, and spending some time getting  to know his new friend in the relatively safe surroundings of Rivendell  sounded ideal.
 
It was the second day of the prince's visit. The first had been spent 
with Estel, and his adopted brothers, Elrond's twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir. They had explored the immediate area around the Last Homely House, from the  foothills of the Misty Mountains, to the banks of the Brunien.
 
Now Estel was proposing a small trip to the Trollshaws area. The 
Trollshaws were an area of forests to the west of Rivendell.
 
"What of the trolls, Estel?" Legolas asked. "It is called the Trollshaws 
for a reason, and I, for one, have no desire to be eaten by the three that 
live there."
 
"You worry to much, mellon." Estel shook his head. "Mithrandir turned 
them to stone ages ago. My brothers did this with me, and I would 
really like to share this with you. We'll be gone three, maybe four days."
 
When he had turned twenty-one, the twins had taken him out into the 
wilds for a brother to brother (or in the case of the twins) brothers, 
bonding session.
 
While out in the wilds, they had also introduced him to a little game they 
had called 'Hide and Seek, Rivendell style.' It was basically a hunting 
game. The twins had been the hunted while he had been the hunter. The  hunted won the game by getting home before the hunter. The hunter won  by catching the hunted outside the gates of Rivendell.
 
There were also a few questions he wanted to the ask the elf. 
Matters  that had arisen during and after their first meeting. Matters that had  been  put on hold due to the prince returning to his own realm with his  father.
 
 
"Agreed, ranger,' the prince nodded.
 
After all, it did sound like fun.
 
"What has been agreed, and by whom?" the voice of Elrond, Lord of 
Imladris, inquired from somewhere above the seated pair.
 
"By us, Ada," Estel replied, jumping to his feet and turning to face his 
adopted father. "I'm taking Legolas out for a little hike. A three or 
four day trip to the Trollshaws, nothing more. Just to show him around this part of  Middle Earth, the ruins within the 'shaws, the statues...nothing too  dangerous."
 
"Prince Legolas?" Elrond now turned his attention to the Mirkwood 
Prince.
 
"I agree with the idea, my Lord Elron." Legolas bowed his head to the 
Elf Lord. "It sounds like a good plan, and as Estel says, fun. It is my wish 
to learn more about this part of Arda."
 
"And I'm more than willing to teach him, Ada."
 
"I'll allow it, young ones. Just be careful, and Estel, remember what 
Philicollinith said."
 
Legolas looked at his friend in confusion.
 
"My music teacher," Estel enlightened him. "And a philosopher on the 
side."
 
"What did he say Estel?"
 
" His favourite lesson was, "
 
"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn," Father and 
Son said in unison.
 
"As long as you are both extremely vigilant."
 
Estel and Legolas nodded, and both hurried away to start their 
respective packing.
 
"You both may learn more then either of you dare to imagine," Elrond 
whispered to their retreating backs.
 
Chapter  2
 
"You do know that your brothers are following us? Legolas asked as the 
pair cantered gently along the trail.
 
"I do," Estel acknowledged with a smile. "They'll stay behind us until we 
cross the Bruinen. That's where we'll leave the horses and continue on 
by  foot. Dan and Ro'll wait there until we return."
 
A flock of screeching birds of many different colours flew overhead, 
and  began to circle a tree bursting with yellow and white blooms.
 
Legolas smiled as he watched them fighting to get to the biggest 
flower,  the one that obviously contained the most amount of nectar.
 
"Is it so very different?" Estel asked. "Your home, I mean"
 
"Yes," Legolas replied wistfully. "I remember when Mirkwood was like 
this. Birds similar to those could be found all throughout our woods." 
He reached up and snagged a low hanging flower. He twisted slowly in 
his hand admiring its shape, its colour, and its scent. "We had many 
different types of flowers also. The aroma of my woods in 
spring was indescribable, as was the colour palette. Of course, that was before..."
 
"Dol Guldur and its vile inhabitants."
 
Legolas nodded.
 
"Now the southern half of my wood is a virtual no-go zone. Not many 
travel south of the Old Forest Road. We do what we can to keep the 
paths  clear for travellers but it is a never-ending struggle. Just when our 
warriors  clean up one area, the spiders, wolves, and orcs take over another."
 
"And north of the road?"
 
"Is still safe. The darkness has yet to successfully make it across. We 
get a  lot of help from the men of Carrock, and other smaller human 
settlements."
 
Estel looked surprised. He had not even imagined that the prince had 
had  contact with other men.
 
"Do not look so shocked, Estel. I have had limited dealings with other 
mortals. Though not as prolonged as with you," Legolas laughed. "I have  fought alongside men before, but that is all. Once the fighting is done,  we  go our separate ways. They go back to their settlements, and we go back  to  the palace."
 
"So you've never really been friends with a mortal?" Estel asked 
cautiously 
 
"No. Apart from when we fight together, the men keep to themselves. 
Sometimes I think they are even afraid of us. I have even heard stories 
of  men capturing my kind." The prince bit his lip, unsure as to whether to  proceed or not. "They say that men torture and abuse our kind sometimes  just for sport."
 
Estel bowed his head. He too had heard those stories. He hoped that 
they  would in no way affect Legolas' friendship with him.
 
"Fear not Estel." 
 
The words made the human quickly look up. Could the prince read his 
mind?
 
"Those stories will in no way affect my friendship with you. I trust 
you,"  Leoglas said in reassuring tone. "And before you ask, your expression  gave you away."
Legolas quickly had to rein in his horse's head as the young ranger 
halted  his own horse directly in the Elf's path.
 
"This is where we leave the horses," Estel announced. "We continue on by  foot." He proceeded to shrug his pack across his back.
 
Legolas did the same as Elladan and Elrohir caught up to them.
 
"Have fun!" Dan called to the pair as they started out.
 
"And be gentle, Estel," Ro added.
 
Wide eyed, Legolas looked between the elf twins and the human ranger in  alarm.
 
"Don't worry," Estel said, giving the elf prince's arm a reassuring pat. 
"I'll  explain later."
 
 
Chapter.3
 
"Impressive," Estel remarked as the pair stood before the three stone 
troll  statues.
 
"When Mithrandir does something, he does it in a big way." Legolas 
smiled, memories of the wizard coming into his head.
 
The ranger and the prince were standing before three giant statues, 
each  one of a troll.
 
Years earlier, one of the Istari, Gandalf the Grey, or Mithrandir, as he was known  to the elves, had, in a contest of wits, changed the three into stone. Now  the  only threat the three presented were to the grasses and trees unlucky 
enough to sprout within the shadows they now cast.
 
"Come on." Estel indicated to the north. "There's an ideal spot to camp 
just over there."
 
The spot Estel had chosen was the ruins of an ancient Dunedain castle, 
one of many that dotted the area.
 
"There's a bigger one just to the west, but it's in a much more decaying 
state," Estel explained. "This area really must've been something once."
 
"The Witch King was responsible for much of this, was he not?"
 
"It was the war with him that led to the destruction here and the 
trolls  taking over, yes," Estel answered.
 
"Any idea which family lived here?" Legolas asked as he ran his hand 
over the half-standing wall the two had decided looked like a good spot 
to  set up their camp.
 
Estel shook his head.
 
"There's a set of statues in the other one that is a family group," 
Estel  replied shaking out his blanket. "I'll take you to it tomorrow, but for 
now,  are you up for a little dinner hunting?"
 
Legolas' eyes lit up. The ranger was challenging him, and he loved 
nothing more than a good challenge.
 
"Last one back prepares the meal?" he asked.
 
"Of course," Estel laughed. "And cleans up."
 
"Naturally."
 
The pair raced out of the ruins, both in a different direction, both 
determined  not to be the one doing the cooking and cleaning.
 
Two hours later, as he turned the spit on which a brace of rabbits were 
slowly roasting, Legolas smiled to himself.
 
The race to catch the evening meal had ended in a draw. Both of them 
had  returned to the ruins at the same time. A friendly wrestling match had  determined which of them would be doing the cooking, and which the  cleaning.
 
He had won the match, and was now preparing the meal. Estel had the job  of cleaning up the mess and washing their plates.
 
"I'll have mine just slightly pink, Chef," Estel teased from their 
sleeping  area.
 
"You will get it as I see fit, and no other way," Legolas replied. 
"Or  you will be eating Lembas bread and fruit." 
 
Estel made a face at his friend.
 
"Can I ask you something, mellon nin?" Estel asked.
 
"Certainly, Estel," Legolas looked up concerned by the seriousness of the  ranger's tone.
 
"Back in the Misty Mountains, why did you help me? I mean you must've 
seen the symbol in my jacket; the symbol of the land forbidden to you."
 
"You were injured, Estel," Legolas answered as he poked the fire with a 
stick. "What was I supposed to do? Leave you there? I admit, finding 
the  symbol in you jacket was a surprise, but I did not make the connection  between Imladris and yourself until you told me your names."
 
"I don't understand. Mirkwood cut itself off from Rivendell long before 
I was born."
 
"Ties may have been cut, Estel, but that does not mean that information 
regarding Imladris was not passed on within the Woodland realm. 
Emissaries do talk, you know. I myself escorted many an emissary to our  border or back from it."
 
"And you spoke of..."
 
"I heard many things: that Lord Elrond had adopted the son of Arathorn, 
and that he had given the child the name of Estel. I just never thought 
to  meet you, that is all. I was surprised."
 
Estel nodded.
 
"You yourself jumped in to help me, you deliberately endangered 
yourself  for me. How could I just leave you there? You saved me. It was my debt  to pay and I, my friend, am so very glad I did." Leoglas beamed a smile  at  the ranger. "For I met someone totally unique in this land of Arda."
 
He handed the ranger a plate of rabbit.
 
"Now eat, and let me eat mine."
 
"And then rest, old one," Estel replied cheekily. "It's a fair hike from 
here  to our destination tomorrow."
 
"You said it was not very far, child," Legolas retorted.
 
"It isn't far, but there is lots of uneven ground, which is
something  ancient ones should be careful of." Estel smirked, enjoying the conversation he was having with the Elf Prince.
 
"Then how does an infant such as yourself manage?" Legolas' blue eyes  shone. He too was enjoying the barbing.
 
With nothing to come back with, the only thing Estel could do was laugh. 
The infectious nature of his laughter soon caught up with Legolas, and 
he  too joined in.
 
"Dishes," Legolas finally said, wiping the tears of laughter from his 
face.
 
"And to you too," Estle continued to laugh.
 
That was, until a wet cloth hit him in the face.
 
"Alright, alright." He rose to his feet, swiped up the two plates and 
the  fallen cloth, and headed toward the stream. 
 
The breeze caught the laughter and carried far into the night.
 
 
Chapter 4
 
Legolas looked about him and was impressed.
Even though the building was, as Estel had said, a ruin, it must have 
been  something special in its day.
 
The pair were standing in what could've been the entrance, or maybe the 
meeting hall, of a once magnificent palace. Two of the stone walls  were 
now gone, and a third was on the verge of collapsing. The stone floor 
was  still intact, even though weeds and grasses where poking their way 
through  the cracks.
 
"This way," Estel called as he led Leoglas to the corner where the 
undamaged wall met the crumbling way. "The family I told you of is over here."
 
In the alcove that the ranger had led him to, Legolas could see a statue 
of a  family of three. It was remarkably still intact, given the devastation around  it.
 
The King stood tall and proud on the right hand side, one hand draped 
lovingly around the shoulders of the sole female figure of the trio, and 
other resting on the right shoulder of a child that stood in the 
foreground.  The stone crown still sat nobly on his head. His gaze was forward,  looking  out over the hall.
 
To his left was a female figure, and even though carved out of stone, the 
beauty of the lady was still very evident. Standing less than half a 
head  shorter then the king, she, nevertheless, was no less proud than her lord  and  king. Her left hand also rested on the shoulder of her son. In her  right,was  carved a flower of no lesser beauty. The stonemason had captured in  her  eyes the love she obviously had for both her husband and her son.
 
An innocent smile was carved into the face of the male child statue. In 
his  hand was what must have been his favourite toy at the time, a small drum.
 
Drawn to the piece of stone Leoglas could only gaze up at it and feel 
the  love the family had for each other. The love the parents had for the 
child  and the love the child had for his parents.
 
"Who are they?" he asked, turning to face his human friend.
 
"Nobody knows," Estel replied sadly. "The names, if they ever existed, 
have long been eroded now. " He pointed to the smooth surface of a 
plaque at the base of the statue. "Time and the trolls have seen to 
that."
 
Legolas nodded, and continued to gaze up at the unknown family.
<><>
 
Estel tossed in his sleep. 
 
Something was wrong, he could feel it. It was almost like something was  gone, or was misplaced, but he just couldn't put his finger on it.
 
Opening one eye, he gazed around himself. Nothing seemed out of place. 
 
He and Legolas had decided to spend the night there in the ruin palace, 
rather then track back to their campsite of the previous night.  Anyway, 
this fell neatly into place with his plans for the game of "hide and 
seek,  Rivendell style" he planned to share with his friend. 
 
They would start the game first thing in the morning, after they had 
broken  their morning fast.
 
Looking out over the crumbling wall he had set his bedroll against, 
Estel  could see that there was nothing stirring within the forest.
 
His concern rose when he looked across to where Leoglas had set up his  sleeping area and found it empty. Reaching for his knife, he rose to his  feet  and crept toward the door less doorway.
 
Peering out into the hall, he could see nothing moving, nor could he see 
any signs of a struggle. So, wherever the elf prince was, he had gone 
willingly.
 
He finally saw something moving deeper with in the palace. As quietly 
as  possible, he crept towards the movement.  
 
As he stood in the door way of the meeting hall, Estel witnessed a sight 
that  took his breath away.
 
Standing before the family statue, bathed in the glow of the full moon, 
was Legolas.
 
The moonbeam that bathed the elf prince in its light turned his skin 
to an  almost ethereal blue. His silver–blonde hair was now more silver than  blonde, and his eyes had gone from their normal bright blue to analmost  midnight blue colour.
 
In his hands, he held a small bouquet of the wild white roses that grew 
around the ruins.
 
As Estel watched, Legolas reverently placed the small bouquet at the 
feet  of the female statue, and then carefully climbed the crumbling stones  that  had fallen in an almost staircase like structure. Once level with the  statue, he reached out and gently stroked the face of the stone queen.
 
Not wishing to either be noticed, or to in any way disturb the prince, 
Estel  retreated to his bed roll, his mind buzzing with unanswered questions.
 
 
Chapter 5
 
"Now you understand the rules don't you?" Estel asked for the third 
time.
 
"You have already explained them to me three times, Estel," Legolas 
answered, piqued. "I wait here for the count of two hundred. I then 
proceed to track you until I catch you."
 
"If you can," Estle taunted.
 
Legolas nodded.
 
"If I catch you, I win."
 
"And if I reach my brothers before you catch me, I win."
 
Again the elf prince nodded.
 
"No fast counting, no skipping numbers, and no peeking," Estel 
reiterated. 
 
"Agreed."
 
"Ready?"
 
"If you are, ranger," Leogas replied. "But you are making it far too easy 
for  me to catch you."
 
Estel raised an eyebrow.
 
"The pack it weighs you down," Legolas nodded to Estel's pack. 
"And do not forget you do not have our abilites, Estel. We leave no 
tracks  that can be followed...at least not by those who do not know what to  look  for. You on the other hand, do."
 
"Let me worry about it," Estel smiled wickedly. "Now close your eyes 
and start counting"
 
"I will still be able to hear you, Estel."
 
"Just start counting."
 
Doing as he was instructed, Legolas closed his eyes and began to count.
 
**********************************************************
 
Rustling sounds to his right caught the attention of the Elf Prince. 
The  noise was clearly feet running, or at least quickly moving over  
leaves,  twigs and other forest floor debris. What was Estel up to now?
 
Cautiously, he crept toward the sound. It seemed to be coming from the 
direction of the three Troll statues they had passed a day or two ago. 
Using  the same hunting techniques that he had employed for years in his own  realm while hunting spiders and other things of darkness, he moved towards the noise.
 
Eyes constantly on the look out, this time not for spiders, but for his 
friendly 'prey,' he let his ears be his guide. 
 
He was getting closer. He could tell the sounds were getting louder and 
louder. Then, all at once they stopped. The forest went quiet for a 
second,  and then a blood curling howl echoed around the area. The voice was  human, and it was Estel's voice.
 
Chapter 6
 
Estel grinned to himself as set up the shroud-covered rocks and leaves. 
His brothers had done the same thing to him only a year ago, and now he  was going to pull the same trick on Legolas. For his version of it, he 
added  one addition item. With the sheet now out of his pack and covering the  decoy, his pack was empty. He would not longer be needing it, so he left it  along side the body.
 
While he had been busy examining the fallen "body," the twins had jumped  down from the overhanging branch startled him and then tore off through  the forest back towards Rivendell.
 
As a diversion tactic, it had worked brilliantly, and now he wanted to see 
if he  could pull it off against an elf. Of course he did not have his 
brothers' speed, so he needed to make the "body" look as convincing as possible.  The surprise of finding the "body," combined with the shock of being  pushed onto the soft mossy ground (Estel made sure he had chosen  somewhere soft for the prince to land) would just about give him enough  time to get a good head start.
 
With the decoy in place, he prepared the next part of his plan; getting the 
prince to come.
 
Carefully and quietly, he laid out on firmer, harder ground, dry leaves 
and  twigs. It would not do for the prince to hear the noise and arrive 
ahead of  time.
 
Estel nodded confidently. Everything was complete.
 
Quickly and as heavily as possible he ran across the forest floor 
debris, and satisfied with volume of noise he was creating, he repeated the exercise two or  three times. That would get the prince's attention.  To be sure Legolas  heard and came to investigate he let out a blood curdling scream.
 
Quietly he retreat to his chosen hiding place and waited.
 
He did not have long to wait.
 
Chapter 7
 
Not even brothering to hide his presence, Legolas crashed through the 
bushes and the undergrowth. His senses were locked in on the direction that  the  scream came from. Why had not he been more careful? Why had he even  agreed to this game in the first place? His instinct had told him that  this  was an unsafe location. Now Estel had paid the price for his lack of  judgement.
 
His heart went to his mouth as he entered the clearing in which the 
three  troll statues stood. There in front of the middle statue, lay a shroud 
covered  body. Next to it, lay the pack his friend had brought with him on this ill  fated 
journey.
 
His mind went back to another time, a time long since past, when his 
father had returned to the palace with the bodies of his mother, aunt, 
and 
uncle all wrapped the same way. Their journey also had been ill fated.
 
Hesitantly he crept closer to the body, afraid of what he would see. 
This 
was too much like the time with his mother. Would he find the body of 
Estel torn and ripped the same way? With a slightly trembling hand he 
reached not for the shroud, but for the pack. Turning it over in his 
hands, he 
did not know whether to feel relieved or concerned about state of the 
bag. 
Was the lack of blood on it a good thing, or a bad?
 
Shrugging off his bow and quiver, he knelt by the body. The hand that 
reached for the shroud that covered the facial area trembled even more 
than when it had picked up the bag.
 
Images of his mother, Alariathia, came unbidden to his mind In his mind he saw  her
laying on the grass outside the royal palace. In deaths sleep her face was; so beautiful,
so peaceful, and so cold.. He could still here his father 
yelling at him to stop as he pulled the shroud further down reviling 
the 
blood red slash that had opened her up and stolen her life.
 
"Naneth." 
 
The word so gently spoken was accompanied by falling tears.
 
Now he faced finding another whom he cared about in the same situation.
 
"Estel." His tone was unchanged.
 
Rustling and sudden movement drew his attention to a large tree. 
Running on nothing but pure instinct he quickly picked up his bow, 
fitted  an arrow and fired, all in one fluid movement.
 
It was only once the arrow had been released, that Legolas realized 
just  who it was the projectile was aimed at. Almost in slow motion, he 
watched   the arrow fly straight at Estel's head. 
 
Confusion, fear, and horror played across his fair face as realization 
of  what it was he had just done sunk in. He opened his mouth to speak, but  no words emerged. Panic set in, and with it came the urge to run. To 
where  he was unsure of but the urge was too strong. Without even thinking he  dropped his bow and quiver to the ground and took off.
 
So swift was his departure that he did not even wait to see where his 
arrow landed or to hear Estel's bewildered cry .
 
 
 
 
Chapter 8
 
'Something is wrong! Something is desperately wrong!' Estel's mind 
screamed as he watched his friend from his overhead perch.
 
From the moment the prince had entered the glade, the whole atmosphere  had changed. The air, that up until that point had felt light and  carefree,  now had a feel of heaviness and fear about it. As he watched Legolas, he  was able to see that the prince was visibly shaking. The hand that  reached  for his empty pack trembled.
 
Whatever memories his little stunt had caused to resurface were 
obviously  disturbing to his friend. He could not let this go on. His only 
intention was  to have a little fun with Legolas, not cause him pain.
 
The quietly whispered word "Naneth" gave him a clue.
 
His father had told him of the death of Legolas' mother all those 
years  ago, how it had happened and who had caused it. What Elrond was never  able to tell him was how the young prince had reacted. The rift between 
the two realms had seen to that.
 
Now he was seeing for the first time just how the elf prince had 
reacted  and just how much about her death Legolas had kept buried deep within  himself.
 
Although he had started this game with Legolas in order to teach the 
prince more about the area west of his Mirkwood home, and as a way to 
test his own survival skills in a non-lethal manner, Estel decided that 
it was  time to put an end to it all. Fun was one thing, but seeing his friend  in his  current state was another.
 
His feet had barely touched the ground when an arrow flew through the 
air in his direction. Luck, his own reflexes and, for once, Legolas' 
poor  aim saved him.
 
Looking at the elf prince's face he saw a wide variety of emotions flit 
across it. Fear, anger, shame, and hurt all danced across Legolas' face in  that  one moment of time. And there was something else. Something he could  not put a name to.
 
"Legolas, wait!" He called, but before the last syllable had left his 
lips, the  prince had dropped his bow and quiver and had disappeared into the  trees.
 
Chapter 9
 
Estel paused and wiped the blood off his face from where yet another 
tree  branch had scratched him. The roles in the game had now changed.  Instead of being the hunted, he was now the hunter.
 
He had been perusing Legolas for a good hour or more, and still he had 
found no trace of the prince. What worried him even more was what 
traces he had so far found of Legolas's movements told him that instead  of heading back toward Rivendell, the elf had heading deeper into the  Trollshaws.
 
But just where was Legolas heading?
 
As he adjusted the elf's quiver which he had hurriedly slung across his 
back a thought struck him.
 
The ruins!
 
Yes, the ruins, and more importantly, the statue.
 
Changing direction, he headed for a path he knew would get him to the old  ruins quicker than the current one. He only hoped that he would beat 
the  elf prince there.
 
"Do you remember your mother, Estel?" Leoglas' voice rang through the 
ruins as Estel entered them.
 
He had reached the ruins quickly, but even with the short cut he hadn't 
beaten Legolas.
 
As he expected, Legolas was in the old meeting hall near the statute of 
the  royal family.
 
As he entered he saw the elf prince standing in front of the broken and 
crumbling alcove staring up the family. More particularly his gaze was 
on  the queen, still standing proud and erect.
"Do you remember the last time you ever saw your mother?" Legolas 
lifted his right hand and stroked the stone cold cheek of the queen  
Tears  streaming down his own.
 
 
Creeping in as silently as possible, Estel joined his friend in front of 
the  stone family.
 
"Yes," Estel answered, coming to stand next to the elf. "I was young, but 
yes, I do remember."
 
"So do I, Estel."
 
"I know my friend. I know." Estel gripped the elf shoulder. "And I'm 
sorry for that trick I pulled. I would never, never, knowingly do 
anything  to hurt you. I' m such a fool. I never knew that, until now, the last 
time  you saw her it was like that."
 
A silence fell over the hall.
 
"Please, my friend, say something, anything," Estel begged the silence, 
hurting even more than if the prince was yelling and hitting him. "I 
would  never have done anything like that if I'd known."
 
"When I saw it I thought I had lost you the same way." Legolas said as 
he  slumped down in front of the statue. "I made a promise that day, Estel,  a  promise to never again allow anybody I cared about be taken like that  again. I thought I had failed you."
 
"Oh Valar no Legolas, you didn't fail me. It was I that failed you. My 
brothers pulled the same thing on me last time we were here. All I 
wanted  to do was see if I could do the same thing, that's all. And what did I  do? I  raised some memories that should've stayed long buried and hurt you in  the process."
 
"it was not your fault, Estel. You could not have known. I have just 
held  the grief inside for so long. I suppose sooner or later it had to come  out.  This was the nudge it needed."
 
"Have you spoken to no one about what happened?" Estel was astounded.
 
 
"No. My father was coming to terms with his own losses. So was my 
cousin, and so was the kingdom as a whole. There really was nowhere I 
could go. By the time we had laid my mother to rest I had to assume the 
duties of the heir to the throne. As you also know by now, Dol Guldur 
was  built, and the darkness from it had started to spread. Our energies were  taken up combating the evil Sauron threw at us from that vile place."
 
"Then let it out now, my brother, here in this place with me." Estel 
moved  closer in an effort to offer what comfort and support he could. "Talk  to me,  please, tell me about it, and between the two of us we might just be  able to  start the healing process."
 
He made himself more comfortable as Legolas began to describe the day  nearly two thousand years earlier that he had last seen his mother. How  her body had arrived in Greenwood, covered much the same as the  fake body by the troll statue was. How his father had tried to stop him  removing the shroud, to prevent him from seeing just what the orcs had  done.
 
"I just wish I had had the chance to say goodbye..." Legolas lamented. 
"To say I loved her just one last time."
 
"I know, mellon nin, I know."
 
As they sat in silence, Legolas realized that the young ranger was 
crying  right along with him.
 
"Speak to me now, Estel. Please let your own grief out also."
 
"My own grief is not as long held as yours, mellon. And I had my 
adoptive  father and brothers to help me."
 
"Tell me anyway, please so that I can understand you, my brother, just 
as  you are trying to understand me."
 
"I was two, maybe three," Estel began. "I don't remember much, just 
that  there was a battle. My father, mother, and I were caught up in it. Father  I  think, told Mother to get me to Rivendell, to safety.  I remember 
arriving, and Lord Elrond waiting for us, saying that we would be safe for as long  as it  was necessary. My mother left, to get my father I think. They never  came  back. I remember being taken into the garden and Adar explaining to me  how brave my parents were, and how I now had to be brave, that they  were not coming back. I still remember mother saying how much she  loved me just before she left."
 
And under the gaze of the long dead royal family, two princes from 
totally  different worlds shared their common grief, and a bond was formed.
 
"You called me brother," Estel said after a considerable amount of time 
had gone by.
 
"As did you, Estel," Legolas responded.  "And know this ranger, I am not 
sorry I did."
 
"Neither am I.  When I was adopted by Ada, Dan and Ro became my 
brothers and I have never, never regretted that . They were there for 
me  through thick and thin, I gave them the devil's own time. I would not 
have  chosen any different. Now I can chose a brother, and the brother I 
chose is  you." Estel looked shyly as the elf prince wondering if his speech had in any way spooked Legolas.
 
"I would be honoured to be called your brother, Estel, just as I hope 
you  would be equally honoured to be called mine. I never had a brother, and  secretly wondered what is was like to have one. I can think of none  better  to chose than you."
 
"Chosen brothers?" Estel said holding out his right hand.
 
"Chosen brothers," Legolas confirmed grasping the offered hand in his 
own.
 
     
Epilogue
 
"Well?" Lord Elrond asked as the pair climbed the stairs to the front 
door  of the Last Homely House. "Who won?"
 
"Won what, Adar?" Estel asked surprised.
 
As far as he knew, Elrond knew nothing of the family game of hide and 
seek.
 
"Why, the game of 'hide and seek Rivendell style,'" Elrond said, and 
laughed at the expression his adopted son gave him. "What else?"
 
"You know about that?" Estel asked incredulously.
 
"Who do you think taught it to your brothers, Estel?" Elrond smiled 
"Call  it family tradition. I taught it to my sons, who then taught it to their 
new  brother who, if I am not mistaken, has now taught it to his new 
brother."
 
Estel continued to stare, mouth open, for a few moments more.
 
"Am I right, Estel?" Elrond prompted closing the rangers still gaping 
mouth.
 
"Yes, Ada."
 
"About all of it?"
 
"Yes, Ada." 
 
"Yes, my lord." 
 
"You don't mind do you, Ada?" Estel asked nervously.
 
"Not at all, my son." Elrond smiled affectingly at the pair. "And neither 
will your brothers ,I think you will find. In fact, I think you will find 
that the twins will enjoy having another young one around to pull their 
pranks on."
 
 
Estle and Legolas smiled at each other. At least they had the blessing 
of  one of their respective fathers.
 
"So how did the game come out?"
 
"We called it a draw my lord." Legolas replied when the ranger still 
didn't  answer his father, "Something else came up. Another game if you will."
 
"Such as?" Elrond questioned. 
 
By the body language coming form the pair before him he could tell that 
the  visions he had had recently about the young ones had come to pass.  They had moved beyond friendship and into the realm of brotherhood.
 
"The game of life, Adar." Estel finally said. "The game of life."
 
 
The End
 
 
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