The Secret Pool|
Summary: The Crown
Prince of Mirkwood gives his youngest brother, Legolas, lessons in the
fine art of fishing.
Disclaimer: I own
Balardoron. Tolkien owns Legolas. I really like Balardoron,
but I could be persuaded to swap.
A/N: Legolas is
ten in human years.
Legolas sat beside the
Forest River, leaning against a tree trunk. The air was warm,
the breeze gentle and white, fluffy clouds floated lazily across the
Watching the river flow
past him, Legolas saw a fish suddenly jump out of the water. It
arched in the air, flipping its tail several times, and then it hit
the water with a splash that sent a large spray of water upward.
They sank together until it had blended with the river’s current,
and the fish was lost to sight.
The scene made the elf
smile. He leaned his head back against the tree and closed his
eyes, thinking back to a day when he was an elfling, and he was taken
on a fishing trip by his oldest brother, Balardoron. The two had gone
far down the Forest River to a special fishing hole that the elder elf
and his friends had long ago claimed as their own, referring it The
Balardoron was the Crown
Prince of Mirkwood and Thranduil’s second-in-command, both politically
and militarily. He was also married with two sons and a daughter, all
older than Legolas. As a result, he had less and less time to spend
alone with his youngest brother. It had been far too long, since they
had been able to engage in such a completely carefree activity together.
Balardoron felt very guilty about his perceived neglect of his little
Legolas had been fishing
before, of course, though he was soon to learn that what he called fishing
was primitive compared to the way his brother practiced the sport, which
in his hands had become an art.
Legolas’s own endeavor
consisted of putting a worm on a hook tied to a line that was in turn
tied to a pole made from a sapling and then throwing the hooked worm
in the water and waiting. He had caught fish doing it this way, but
he had always envied the large string of fish Balardoron usually returned
Legolas attributed the
difference in location rather than the difference in technique combined
with knowledge of the fish for the huge discrepancy in the amount of
fish caught by each brother. It also seemed to the elfling that experience
due to Balardoron’s age had something to do with it, as well. Unfortunately,
that’s one thing he could do nothing about.
Balardoron had promised
Legolas that he would take him fishing one day when he was older and
show him the finer points of how to secure a haul to be proud of. Legolas
was growing. The time to go never seemed to arrive, however, as family
and duty claimed more and more of his time. The Crown Prince’s fishing
forays slowed to a few treasured trips now and then.
He was not all work, by
any means. He made the time to get out of the palace for picnics and
horseback rides with his wife, his children and his father.
He also spent time with his friends. Thranduil insisted on that. He
knew that to be a good ruler, husband and father, his son needed to
have a well-balanced life, as a whole. In fact, the king insisted that
all of his children balance work for the realm, studious education
and family obligations with the pursuit of hobbies and activities totally
outside the confines of the palace and having nothing to do with it.
For Balardoron that was primarily fishing, as often as he could manage
The two brothers were so
far apart in age, Balardoron being 652 years old, as mortals count.
Yet, the two were close, as were all of Thranduil’s children.
Balardoron’s wife and
children were visiting some of her relatives in Lorien for a while.
With obligations for his immediate family at a standstill, and matters
involving the realm also at a rare momentary lull, Balardoron thought
of fishing. He was about to contact some of his friends for a day at
the river, when he spotted Legolas in the hallway and decided that now
was the perfect time to take his little brother with him instead. They
would leave in the morning.
The elder prince did not
find it the least bit strange that on one of his coveted days of freedom,
he would want to spend it with a small, inquisitive and very
Legolas was so excited,
he hardly slept at all that night. His anticipation was growing with
each passing moment.
The elfling was dressed
and knocking on Balardoron’s door before the sun rose. The elder prince,
used to the excitement of his own children, when they were younger and
were looking forward to some special activity, was not the least surprised.
He would have been amazed, if he had needed to go and fetch Legolas.
As he dressed, Balardoron
found himself anxious to be taking his little brother to The Secret
Pool. He fervently hoped that none of his friends would take that day
to go there, as well. He wanted it to be just him and Legolas enjoying
this special place together.
The oldest and youngest
of Mirkwood’s princes stopped by the kitchen on their way out and
obtained some fruit, cheese and bread to go with the fish they would
catch for their mid-day meal.
The brothers walked, rather
than rode, to the river and then made their way downstream, enjoying
the beauty of the sparkling water, as it flowed beside them. The sky
was cloudless, and the bright sunshine kissed the land with its golden
warmth. Being wood-elves, they loved the natural world in all its forms
and moods. However, this day was so glorious that neither could imagine
Ilúvatar creating one any more perfect.
It took almost an hour
for the brothers to arrive at Balardoron‘s special spot. Legolas was
happily impressed, when they finally arrived. He stood and stared, as
the wind played with his silken hair that fell just below his shoulders.
A pool had been formed
by large rocks at the edge of the river, catching and gently holding
the water outside of the main current. The fact the water in the pool
moved slowly in and out allowed fish to come in and eat, rest or hide
before moving back out into the main body of flowing water. At least,
that is what Balardoron explained to his curious little brother, who
had wanted to know why fish traveling out in the river would come to
this small sheltered pool that led nowhere.
Balardoron had pointed
out that the overhanging branches of several trees kept the pool shaded
and relatively cool even on the hottest of days. The rocks provided
shelter, as well as places for the kind of creatures that the fish ate
to flourish. The fish loved that, the older elf explained.
Balardoron had brought
two poles much more sophisticated than the simple sapling pole Legolas
normally used. So after Legolas had dug up a number of worms and put
them in a small container of dirt, Balardoron patiently showed his young
brother the correct way to put a worm on the hook and how to use the
Sitting side by side on
the bank, watching the water intently, the two brothers spoke quietly
with each other. The conversation started with a lesson on the nature
of fish and how to outsmart them. Balardoron told Legolas how to anticipate
and then exploit their natural tendencies. “Think like a fish,”
he told the raptly-attentive elfling.
Legolas sat with his face
screwed up in an expression that Balardoron could only guess was an
attempt to follow that advice. He held back a laugh, not wanting to
discourage his brother or to make it appear he was making fun of him.
He wasn’t. It was just that the look on Legolas’s face was so funny.
The Crown Prince smiled, thoroughly enjoying the moment. Legolas was
basically a happy child, and despite the growing Shadow in the woodland
realm, Balardoron found much happiness in his own life.
Just as he had not found
it a strange idea to spend time with a young child, he was happy to
note that this child did not find it strange to spend time with him,
a much older adult sibling.
After a few moments of
Legolas’s attempt to think like a fish, he frowned. “I do not think
I am doing this right. They do not seem to understand me, and I certainly
do not understand them.”
Balardoron couldn’t hold
back a laugh at that. Using his pet name for Legolas, he said, “Keep
trying, little Greenleaf. Think about being a fish, who has come to
this pool. What would you want to do here? Answer that, and you will
know what they are thinking.”
Legolas continued to scrunch
his face up in total concentration. Then, a few moments later, he smiled
and moved his pole. There was a large rock that itself hung over a smaller
one, forming a small hollow beneath it. Legolas dangled the line, so
that the worm hung right beside the dark hollow. But to his consternation,
doing that did not seem to be working. The worm just hung there untouched.
Then, it dawned on the
young elf that worms wiggled. So he jerked the line up and down several
times. It took only a few seconds before the elfling felt a pull on
his pole. “I have one!” he shouted in glee, turning a huge grin
on his brother.
Balardoron’s smile matched
that of Legolas’s. He reached out and gently pulled the fish up out
of the water. Noting that the scaly creature was securely on the hook,
he pulled it toward him, grasping the line firmly.
The fish dangled quietly
for a moment, as if in shock at finding itself out of the water, and
then it began to flip its tail back and forth franticly, sending sprays
of water over both elves.
Legolas giggled and then
grabbed the fish, holding tight to it while it tried to get loose. Once
the fish’s movements slowed, Legolas carefully took the hook out of
its mouth. With one hand holding the fish’s head and the other holding
its tail, he held it up to see for himself and also to show his brother
exactly what he had caught. The silver-blue fish was clearly a good
foot long. Seeing the huge smile on Leoglas’s face from this one small
achievement alone was worth the whole trip to Balardoron. “It is the
largest fish I have ever caught!” Legolas declared triumphantly. “Ada
will be proud of me.”
“Yes, he will.
Just as I am.”
Legolas set the fish down
in a bucket that Balardoron had brought and filled with river water.
He had explained that they would need to keep the fish they caught alive
until they returned home, insuring they would be the freshest they could
The young wood-elf turned
to his oldest brother, sitting on the grassy bank, and hugged his neck.
“Thank you, Bal.” Legolas had not been able to pronounce the name
Balardoron, when he was much younger, and so just shortened it to Bal.
He used that term less and less, as he grew and wanted to use his brother‘s
proper name. However, there were times, like this very private one and
times when he got excited, that the abbreviated version slipped out.
The Crown Prince returned
the hug, squeezing his brother affectionately. “You are quite welcome,
“I did just as you said
and thought just like that fish did. I knew that it would want something
to eat, and I thought it would want to keep my worm a secret from the
other fish, so I put the worm close to the bottom of the rock for just
that fish to see. And when I wiggled it up and down, the fish did see
it and grabbed it.”
“You are a very smart
elfling, Legolas. Not everyone would have thought of that.”
Balardoron’s praise was
worth more to Legolas than a whole river full of fish. He was smiling
broadly, as he hugged his brother again and then sat back down to put
another worm on his hook just the way Balardoron had taught him.
Both of these sons of Thranduil
continued to fish.
When the sun rode high
overhead, Balardoron pulled his pole out of the water and set it down
beside him. By that time, Legolas had caught three more fish. “Would
you like for us to prepare one of your fish for our mid-day meal?”
Legolas looked horrified.
“Oh no! I have to take all of my fish home to show Ada.”
Balardoron smiled. “Then
we can cook one of mine.”
“No,” Legolas wailed
again. “I want to show Ada that I caught the most fish. We must take
them all back.” He knew exactly which fish were his and which
were his brother’s.
The elder elf smirked.
“Oh. So you think the student can catch more fish than the teacher,
“I do,” Legolas replied
smugly. “You taught me very well.”
“All right then. Let
us eat the fruit, cheese and bread we brought, and then we will see
who can catch the most fish,” Balardoron suggested, accepting the
The young elfling nodded,
and the brothers happily shared their small but delicious meal.
By the time the sun was
dropping low in the sky, the two princes together had caught fourteen
fish. Only two of them were not large enough to keep and eat and were
thus released back into the river to continue their journey toward the
Both of the small fish
had been Legolas’s, so it was that he ended up with only five in the
bucket while Balardoron had seven. However, the elder elf quickly pointed
out that Legolas had really caught the same number of fish as he had.
That notion pleased the elfling, because no matter where the fish ended
up, bucket or river, he had actually caught seven fish on his hook.
As Legolas had thought,
his father had been extremely proud of his youngest child for becoming
such an ‘expert’ fisherman so quickly. He also took a moment to
thank his eldest son for what he had done for Legolas. “He will not
soon forget this day.”
“Nor will I. I loved
every moment of it,” Balardoron admitted. “He is an amazing child,
Adar, and I truly believe that one day he will do great things.”
The evening meal that night
had consisted of both fried and baked fish, and Legolas, sampling both,
thought it was the best meal he had ever eaten in all his life.
The young elf was grinning
broadly, when he went off to bed an hour later, his family‘s praise
still ringing in his ears.
Legolas was smiling at
the memory of that day so long ago. It was still as vivid as when
he and his brother had caught those fish. One day soon, he thought,
he and Balardoron would have to go back to that secret spot onthe river
together and have another go at the fish there. He was sure that
this time, he would win the fish-catching contest.
Th young warrior was still
smiling when he stood up and headed back to the stronghold. Realm
business was becoming. Legolas looked back over his shoulder at
the river and sighed wistfully. The fish would have to wait a
little while longer.
Ada - Dad or Daddy
Adar - Father