Legolas gazed down from the balcony of his room in Imladris into the garden below him. It had been nearly two hundred years since he had come here as a young cadet. Things had changed and down below in the garden was something very unusual. A man was sitting in the garden.

The fact that there was a man in the elven realm was not what was unusual. What was unusual was how elven this man was.

He was tall and warrior built. He was a little broader than an elf but no less firm and strong. In fact, the man radiated strength and vitality.

He had mannish length wavy chestnut colored hair that was braided warrior fashion at the temples. When he raised his face up from the book he was reading, Legolas saw intense grey-blue eyes underneath long dark lashes that curled at the very tips. The man had an elf’s ivory bisque complexion that he hid underneath a full beard and mustache. The man was beautiful!

A puzzled look crossed Legolas’ mind. Braids. Warrior braids. On a human! The only beings in the elven world, allowed to wear warrior braids, were those who had been through the warrior- training program of the being’s native realm.

Each warrior, upon graduation of the six levels of training received the right to wear a braid to represent that level. The best received, upon graduation from the academy, special clasps to wear to hold their braids together on the back of their head.

This man wore the clasp of the Warriors of Imladris! A human had graduated from Imladris! The toughest of all the elven training courses, it had been formed and established under the supervision of not only the Herald of Gil-Galad, Lord Elrond himself, but also Glorfindel of Gondolin.

For over an age of this world, the Balrog-slayer had been the headmaster of training in Imladris and demanded the best all day, everyday of cadets under his command.

The clasp was earned by a final test of a warrior’s skill that no one outside of the warriors of Imladris knew about…and they weren’t talking. Glorfindel administered it personally. The secrecy around the final challenge was considered part of the warrior’s code of honor.

Legolas, being a Prince had not only been through the course of his realm but also the courses for all three realms. He knew what the earning of the clasp meant. He was stunned that the human had even been able to complete the course let alone earn the right to try for the clasp. This one had tried for it…and won it!

Not all who tried for it earned it. Those that did were considered the future captains of the guard of the realm and served as members of the personal guard of Lord Elrond and his family.

Legolas had been through the course with both the twin sons of the great lord and they had earned their clasps together. Neither twin had mentioned a human having taken the course.

The blond elf watched as other six-braided warriors passed the man and saluted him as they would their captain or one of the Imladris twins…or himself even. This puzzled Legolas even more.

Who was this man?

Just then, Lord Elrond came down the path toward the human. “Estel. I was looking for you.”

‘His name is Estel…means Hope…’

At the approach of the great lord, the young man swiftly rose to his feet and smiled. “Ada, I was just finishing a great book I found in the library.”


“Which one?” The young human suddenly lowered his gaze, blushed, and said, “Oh, just a book.”

Lord Elrond noticed the blush and smiled. He came up and put his arm around the man and, while taking the book said, “I bet I can guess. ” Nodding as he read the title, he chuckled and gave the book back. Then the great lord completely astounded Prince Legolas. He hugged the man and kissed his temple.

“I should have named you star gazer instead of hope. You can learn about the stars and navigation next month when you go to spend the summer with Cirdan. Right now, I need you to do me a favor. Prince Legolas has arrived and I would like for you to meet him and see if he needs anything.”

“Yes, Ada.”

“I’ll see you tonight before dinner. Why don’t you escort the Prince into the great hall?”

“Of course, I will be honored to but shouldn’t Elladan or Elrohir be doing it? I mean…he is a prince of the Firstborn.”

Elrond had started walking back inside but stopped and turned to face the man. On his face was a very stern expression and in a very low voice he replied, “So are you. You are both a Prince of Men AND a Prince of the Firstborn, Aragorn. Do not let me hear you belittle yourself again. You are descended from all three royal houses, Vanya, Noldor, and Teleri. You are royalty. You are worthy to escort him.”

The elf lord had been stern. Too stern it seemed, for Elrond (and Legolas) noted the tear that rolled down the man’s cheek. Elrond returned to the man placed a hand under his chin and raised his eyes up. He gently stroked his cheek and said softly, “Ion-nin, I love you. I cannot stand anyone belittling my children, not even they themselves. Never forget, you are very precious to me, my Estel.”

With this, the elf lord embraced the man and kissed him again on the temple.

“Prince Legolas is in the suite next to mine.”

“Yes Ada…”

Once again, Elrond turned to leave but stopped as Estel said after pausing a second or two, “…I love you too.”

Elrond smiled and quickly returned to the house as a tear went unnoticed down his cheek.

The man watched and sighed as Elrond walked away. Then he too turned to go into the house by a different route.

Legolas had stepped back into the doorway of his room when he heard his name mentioned but not so far that he could not see the two below him.

The prince thought about all that he had learned of the man that Elrond obviously was anxious for him to meet. He was royalty. He was both elven royalty and human royalty. Human royalty? There were no royal houses of the humans left…unless… Yes! Human and elven royalty…reared as a son of Elrond…elven trained…Aragorn…Isildur’s heir! Royal indeed! A king to be precise not just a prince.

The man has been a king from the age of two years when his father Arathorn, Chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor was killed. Moreover, as the king of Arnor that means he is a descendant of Elros Minyatur, the twin brother of Lord Elrond and first king of Numenor and a direct descendant of King Elwe Thingol of the Teleri!

Legolas was beginning to wonder if he should bow when the two met. Then he remembered the man’s hesitancy about his heritage. No. Legolas decided he would greet the man with a warrior’s salute of one clasp wearer to another and let the Valar take matters from there.

Just as the prince thought that, there was a knock on his door. Legolas called a greeting and the door opened to reveal the man.
Bowing a warrior’s greeting, the man spoke. “Your Royal Highness, I am Estel Elrondion. Welcome to Imladris.”

“Legolas Thranduilion, at your service my lord.” Legolas then returned the greeting.

The prince noticed the slight smile that was quickly checked, when the prince did not use his royal title in his return greeting. “Please come in. It has been many years since I have been to Imladris and I would love a complete warrior’s update.”

With this secret coded statement from the Prince, Estel beamed a full knowing smile and suggested they take a walk in the gardens if the prince was rested enough.

For the next two hours, the two exchanged stories on the ladies of the various places they had been in the past year or so. They walked further from the house and sat down near the waterfall. They looked at each other and then, Legolas grinned and said, “You know what I am dying to know don’t you?”

Estel chuckled. “Yes, how did a human get to be the son of an elf lord?”

“No. I know your identity. What I want to know is how you talked Elrond into letting you have a whole summer with Cirdan? Cirdan’s court is the dream of every male this side of the undying lands. My father STILL won’t allow me to go and I’m nearly two thousand years old already!”

Estel laughed. “That’s easy. Lord Elrond’s daughter is coming home for the summer and there is a prophecy, that she is doomed to marry a king. I made an off-handed comment within hearing distance of Ada that I was a king and maybe I was the one she was to marry. Ada sent a letter to Cirdan the very next day.”

“Estel! You didn’t!”

The smile on the man’s face told him he most definitely had. Legolas wondered why he hadn’t thought of something like that. Here was a man after his own heart.

The two princes swapped “father stories” until time to return for dinner. By that time they had began a friendship that would go down in the annals of time as deep, true, and ever cherished by both men and elves.


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