Chapter 1: Denied

A lacy white moon trailed after the westerning sun. It was a little past first quarter, sliding over the treeline in the southeast. Legolas followed its movement with his eyes, making out the grey motionless seas not in shadow. He had sat there since noon, by the river where it was cooler, though still hot with the buzzing of flies and pluming of dust on the shores, waiting for the moon to rise. But, after a while, his eyes lost focus, no longer watching Ithil. He was thinking fiercely that in a week the moon would be full. Which meant he had little time left. Maybe he would ask tonight… After all, he had been procrastinating all summer. He had tried hinting at it rather than actually asking outright because – there was no denying it though he hated to admit it – he feared a “no.”

Tonight, he grit his teeth, I will do it. Suddenly he felt his heart lighten. He could not have felt more confident if he had already done the deed.

At the very moment of his decision, his friends called for him. They paddled down the Forest River, made low and mild from the dry summer, in small rafts. They took every chance to capsize, and by the time the sun burnt red behind the trees, Legolas had been five times submerged under his boat. He panicked at the day’s lateness and swam to the other shore. Standing on the bank as a cool breeze ruffled him, he realized he had a problem: it would be close to impossible to pass back home unmolested by a servant, dripping as he was. But no time to dry now! He wrung his clothes, and head held high, marched through the gate. The sentinels did not stir beyond the usual greeting.

Once clear of the gate, he took off his squishing shoes to hold them underarm and fled down a lesser-used, though more lengthy, route to his family’s halls. So few came that way that any water trail he left would never be seen – or heard of – by any caretaker.

In fact, he saw not a single person as he want on and by the time he was nearly home, he had let up entirely on his caution, so that he almost rounded a corner into an occupied passage. Only within a second he heard the approaching voices and sunk back to a wall. He held his breath. But as it appeared no one was heading toward him, he let it out and relaxed from the wall. The conversation floated into some enjoining hallway. He caught the name of someone, and, curious, crept into the passage to hear better.

“The upstart! I will go this year only to see if he can do so well as Carnil…”

“I care not who’s the head. It is a change of pace. I haven’t had time to ride since spring.”

Snort. “Still, Luinil is not Carnil. I look to something going awry.”

“Ha, that is so?” An upset lamp rattled amidst laughing and one fellow’s cursing.

Legolas stifled a snicker. Their chatter faded, and still he stood, a frown dimming the mirth on his face. He knew what they were talking about and was gloomily reminded of the task he had appointed himself. Every day now the guards and servants talked only of the Hunt, and it was no less on his mind.

And it continued to weigh on his mind as he changed for dinner, all through the meal, and the quiet time after. He had thought it would be easiest to make his request then. But standing by his family’s sitting room, on the verge of entering, he grew unsure. How much simpler it had seemed by the riverbank! Teetering on the balls of his feet, he prepared a speech in his mind: he would be confident and compliant. Father would be moved beyond refusal.

He crushed his fists and squeezed his eyes. Then in a warm gush of resolve, he tread gently into the room. He studied the layout, willing a plan to come to him. Mother was on her loom, weaving some festive pattern with varied hues of purples, flying the shuttle through the vertical threads before tamping them firmly in place. Father was looking over a document, one from a stack of many that lay on the table next to his chair. His steps slowed. All his strategy depended on some point to break into, and if they were unaware of his purpose… how would he begin?

Neither able to think nor turn back, he approached his father and stood silently before him, waiting to be noticed. After a moment, Father looked up and bade him to sit in the nearby chair. He remained standing. As he hoped, Father took that as a sign of gravity. But when he opened his mouth to answer Father’s silent query, he did not make a convincing speech. Instead, a queer umm was all that emerged. All his prepared words had vanished!

“What is it, son?” Suddenly prompted, his request spilled out in an inelegant rush.

“I… that is… please, may I ride in the Hunt?”

Everything he had meant to say had gone wrong – too quick and foolish. All was dread and doom. But then, Father smiled! He did not breathe as he awaited the answer. Mother, however, spoke first.

“Legolas, you may ride when you are older.” The loom stopped dead. She stood and took his hand, which at other times would please him, though in this instance he knew it portended nothing good. “You are still too young. The ride can be dangerous. Is that not so, Husband?”

Father said softly, “Lassiel, perhaps…”

“He is too young.” Her voice was crisp and final.

He fought back his urge to argue. The wiser thing was to let Father reassure Mother to change her mind. He waited, and yet Father said nothing and seemed to turn distant. “No” was the dreaded answer and so it would remain.


While others might have spent their evening relaxing under the stars or with friends, Legolas sat on his bed, glaring at the ceiling, counting the stars etched on it. He felt exhausted, like he had run from one end of the Halls to the other; too exhausted to be angry or disappointed. When he heard a familiar footfall in the open doorway, he did not bother to look up at his visitor.

“I searched everywhere! I wondered if you wanted to walk while the night remains cloudless, but you are… occupied?” It was Thindorn, Legolas’ closest sibling by age. He had Father’s same face, though more whimsical, and Mother’s silky dark hair. Seldom was he solemn, which, at the moment, chaffed Legolas’s nerves.

He sighed. “I may not ride in the Hunt.” Saying it made it horribly real: he would once more wait in the clearing with the cooks and the chatting ladies and little children until the hunters returned laughing and talking of their exciting adventures.


“Yes,” he mumbled, irritated that Thindorn’s voice held a grin.

He looked at his brother, expecting him to fashion some joke to ease his plight. Thindorn, however, stayed silent for a moment, chewing the joint of his thumb thoughtfully. “I think I may be able to help.”

“How?” He sat up and gave Thindorn a hopeless grimace. “Nana said – ”

“Quiet, you’ll have the entire household hurrying in,” he gestured to the open door. And offering no further explanation, he gave him a wink and left.

Legolas dropped again onto his back and decided it was just another of his brother’s odd larks. After all, Thindorn knew as well as he that they had less sway than Father over Mother’s will. Yet for all the odds against it, a spark of hope had been lit by his brother’s offer of help: Thindorn could be rather… creative.


Nothing more did Legolas hear from his brother that night. He could not rest, falling again into doubt over what he had thought for a little while irretrievably lost. So before dawn he left his bed for a cushioned seat under his protruding window, made just so one could gaze at the stars. He knelt and looked out, but clouds blanketed the predawn sky, and naught was to be seen except a blue haze that seemed to envelop his whole mind. He sat down, falling into an old but comforting ritual of unconsciously running his fingers along the carved ivy that twined over the surrounding wooden paneling. Yet he was not comforted.

He grew angry – how unfair it was. He punched the paneling, and shook his hand from the smarting that resulted. Really, he would be of age in only a score of years! He could ride and shoot! Yes, he had a claim to go! Many of his friends had hinted at having gotten permission, and he surely had just as much skill at horsemanship as they. All summer he had practiced jumping with his mare and had mingled her with the hounds. Father, he remembered with a small smile, had praised him on his progress. Yet in spite of all his preparation, he was not to ride in the Hunt. He at last acknowledged that Thindorn could not have had any luck. He rose back to his knees and looked again out the window. The clouds were brushing by. He caught a wink of a star, though now morning was swallowing them.

Truth was, he had been only on a handful of outings, but this one was the Hunt. Not at all everyday! The moon had to be full and travel the right path though Huthil, the constellation of the silver hound. This occurred only about every eighteen years and in late summer. The event was significant and not just for the notion that more deer were about beneath a full moon.

The tradition of an occasional great hunt had begun ages ago, to be enlarged with Ithil’s arrival and firmly established with the arrival of the Sindar. His grandfather set its present form of celebration to coincide with Ithil’s eighteen-year cycle. In its origins, the Hunt was a commemoration of the hunter Vala, Tauron, and it also came to include a tribute to a Silvan huntsman and his hound. Feredir, as he was now called, had been a great hunter and protector of the early people against Morgoth’s creatures. This was when Oromë still rode about the lands, and had befriended Feredir and even given him one of his own hounds. The chief of that hound’s descendants was Huthil; his fur gleamed with the light of the stars. It was said by one story that before Huthil’s death, Tauron placed him in the sky to continue his watch on the dark creatures he had hunted. Of Feredir’s fate, Legolas had never heard tell. And Tauron himself, well, no one born of the present Age had ever seen.

Legolas mulled for some time over the old stories, wondering which were more credible, what Tauron had looked like, how it would be to live before the sun…

He jerked himself awake. He stood and stretched with a cleansing sigh, careful to keep his apprehension buried under his lingering tiredness. In the early morning he might be able to exercise with his mare before the stables crowded. And he could, out in the open air, think of other things to look forward to. Let what was gone be forgotten. Donning fresh clothes and jamming one foot into a shoe, he hurried out his door and straight into someone.

He mumbled an apology before he saw who it was.

“Thind! Could you do anything?”


Legolas’ face fell, smashed by one devastating word. Thindorn abruptly laughed.

“Nana has relented – you may ride.”

He whooped and hugged his brother at the waist, since he could reach no higher. Thindorn cleared his throat. “As I said, I accomplished nothing.”

“Ada, then?”

Thindorn ran his hand self-consciously through his hair. “No.”



“Luinil?” That was strange, almost unbelievable. Luinil was the head huntsman; strong, tall, and usually smelling like his hounds. He often came to talk to Father, though he also seemed to talk with Derneth, Legolas’ grown sister, as much. He was always polite and had Mother’s deep respect. Legolas liked him, for he knew everything from horses, to bows, to tracking. Still, Luinil and he were not friends. Why would the huntsman bother on his behalf?

“He was here last night, and after I told him of your difficulty, he argued your case to Nana. She seemed to listen to him better than I.” He looked baffled by this, though Legolas was not in the least. “He pledged you will be safe, and Ada affirmed that. In truth, I came here to warn you – Ada and Nana plan on giving you a long talk on restrictions. The short version of which is that you must ride only and carry no bow.” That was fine with him! The thrill was to gallop and leap through the wild! “Also, you must keep with me.”

“Thank you, Thindorn!”

Thindorn threw up his hands, saying again that he had nothing to do with it.

“Then thank Luinil for me.”

You thank him, sluggish one. He’s always about.” His eyes twinkled as he announced with a theatrical whisper, “And there is a final detail: Borgil and Tipher are to ride with us. It will be amusing.” He left and Legolas stood alone again, still clutching a single shoe.

Tipher and Borgil? He bit his lip; oh… Stars! Ride with those two together? Well, he had been given too much already to ask for any more and to complain would be very boorish. At least he would be with Thindorn. He could not be happier, light-headedly, and nothing seemed so unpleasant that it could not be laughed at.


Elvish terms
Ada – dad
Ithil – moon
Nana – mom
Tauron – a name for Oromë, the hunter Vala

Notes:Thanks to Redheredh for amazing beta work! This story would not have gotten far without her guidance. *hugs*

I read the word scatterlings in the Glossary of Book of Lost Tales 2, and, well, in some way or another the story flowed from there.

The moon does go through a cycle of about 18 years, in which it dances between one extreme of its path through the sky to another. That is an oversimplification of but one of the moon’s orbital nuances. *headachy*

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