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Pen Your Pride

I was awoken the next day by the sound of footsteps marching in sync with one another. Raising an eyebrow, I rose from the floor with grace, wasting no time I turned my attention to my appearance. I smoothed down the simple red dress I was currently wearing before slipping on my leather armour and boots. With that done I quickly turned my attention to arming myself with the numerous weapons I regularly carried. Once my bow and quiver were securely placed on my back, I fastened my sword to my hip and began hiding numerous daggers on my person. Without wasting any more time, I rolled up my blankets and placed them in the corner of the alcove before taking off down the corridor, braiding my hair as I walked.

It wasn’t long before I found Bard and regrettably, Alfrid was cowering at his side. I followed their gaze and found an army of Mirkwood elves standing before them. I had doubted Alfrid’s lookout abilities but I didn’t imagine they would be useless enough to allow an entire army to pass him. Wiping the emotion from my face, I approached Bard and stood at his side.

“It would appear the lookout did not do his job.” The words came out soft, almost sincere but I was sure Bard was able to pick up the mocking undertones by the brief smirk that flashed across his lips. A brief side glace instructed me to follow before the man began making his way through the sea of elves. With my defences high, I followed behind the dragon slayer, keeping my composure as the elves behind my reformed their ranks and cut off my retreat.

When we eventually broke through, we were faced with elves steering wagons containing fresh food and water. I caught the relieved look that flashed upon Bard’s features before his attention was captured by a certain elf king I had unfinished business with. Thranduil rode up to us, his elf having little difficulty on the cobbled streets below. The king’s cold eyes regarded Bard briefly before shifting over to me, a look of recognition forming on his face. I remained quiet as the pair conversed, Bard thanking the elven king while Thranduil talked about attacked the mountain in order to retrieve his gems.

Of course I had heard stories of Thranduil however I underestimated just how cold and greedy he could be. He cared not of the lives that would be lost but simply desired the gems he had longed for throughout the years. I managed to keep my emotions from reaching my face however I couldn’t help but loathe the king in front of me. I continued to listen as Bard and Thranduil disagreed about the fate of the dwarves but I knew one thing for sure, I would not let him kill them.

It wasn’t long before Bard and Thranduil came to an agreement, Thranduil would allow Bard to talk to the dwarves before he attacked them. I hoped that Thorin would listen to reason but something deep inside me told me that would not be the case. My thoughts were captured by the condescending voice of the elven king directed at me.

“And how did the Teleri Princess who escaped my dungeon manage to end up here on the front lines on the eve of battle?” His tone was harsh, like he thought himself too high to talk to someone like me. It was definitely something that was beginning to irk me. I noticed Bard had become rigid at his comment, he knew nothing of my other than my name so it may have come as a shock to realise that I wasn’t just a common elleth. I pushed the thought from my mind and turned my attention back to the king, raising my gaze to allow my chestnut coloured eyes to fall upon the arrogant king, his state causing my posture to straighten slightly.

“A mere coincidence Lord Thranduil.” I kept my distaste for the man from my voice and simply responded as I would if anyone else had asked me the same question. It was obvious tensions were high, both man and elf knew what was coming tomorrow. Dwarves were greedy and thick-headed, there would be no way Thorin would give what he owed, especially as Erebor was such a defensible city.

“I’m sure. The dwarves saw fit to abandon you, what a pity, I would have liked you in that mountain while I seized it.” The king’s words were dripping in malice however he spoke so softly it was as if he were reciting poetry. I couldn’t help but let an amused look form on my face, it seemed we loved to hate each other regardless of the fact I had given him no reason to. His words did not affect me however I was aware of Bard’s body going rigid at my side.

“On the contrary, she chose to stay and help out my kin after the dragon laid waste to Laketown. Something you would not understand.” Bard’s voice was harsh, as if the comment had been directed at him. Without a thought, I raised my hand and placed it on his shoulder lightly, reassuring him that he did not need to protect me from the sadistic king. The man’s body visibly relaxed under my touch, something that I was thankful of. It would do no good if Bard and Thranduil were at each other’s throats as well.

“You’re right, I do not understand. The lives of men are nothing compared to that of elves.” Thranduil’s words were steady, collected, he really believed what he was saying. While he spoke, his piercing eyes zeroed in on my pale hand that was still resting on top of Bard’s shoulder. I knew the contact was reassuring to the man however I allowed my hand to fall gracefully back to my side. With a new resolve, I looked back at the king with fire in my eyes. The way he thought himself to be above everyone else was too much for me.

“That is where you are wrong Lord Thranduil.” My words were strong and sincere, I meant them from the bottom of my heart. It mattered not to me that man’s life was considerably shorter than ours, what mattered was the way they could band together in difficult times, offer comfort and refuge to all who needed it. There was nothing more worthwhile than a strong human heart. Despite their short life span, they dedicated more of their lives to others than we elves did. It was almost shameful.

I watched as the elf raised his eyebrow, beckoning me to continue however I chose to hold my tongue. I knew this would be something we would disagree on so it seemed fruitless explaining my thoughts. Upon noticing I wouldn’t elaborate, a look of both irritation and amusement crossed the king’s face before he pushed forwards causing his elk to walk right up to me.  I stood my ground, keeping my head high as the elk came to a halt, its enormous face almost directly above my head.

Despite the stories I had heard, I couldn’t help but raise my hand slightly in an attempt to gain favour with the magnificent entity. It seemed that I had a way with animals, even as a young elf I found myself surrounded by animals of different species. They seemed to be attracted to me in a way that even I didn’t understand. The elk exhaled warningly at the action however I kept my hand raised and my resolve absolute. Time seemed to stop while the elk regarded my gesture. I didn’t even realise I was holding my breath until the elk edged forwards, allowing my hand to come in to contact with its neck.

A peaceful smile appeared on my lips and for a minute I forgot about everything happening around me. My thin fingers brushed the great elk’s coat for a moment before I allowed my hand to fall back down to my side. Lifting my gaze, I allowed my eyes to fall upon Thranduil who seemed to be regarding me quizzically. Without a word, I made my over to the wagons and began helping the elves hand out supplies.

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