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Behind The Mask by L8Bleumr

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Chapter 1 – Three Brothers

Lanterns hung from the branches of the trees. Garland made of flowers and leaves were carefully draped around the grand talan. The smell of fresh baked sweet rolls filled the air. The golden city of Lothlorien was alive with anticipation of tonight’s festivities. It was once again time for the Harvest Festival. This was one of the elves most beloved times of the year. The first part of the evening was a huge feast. Everyone would attend this part of the gathering. Next was a kind of social time when all joined in conversations with each other. Some liked to catch up on old times. Others searched for someone to start up a new friendship or romance. Then there was the final part of the evening, a Masquerade Ball.

What made this dance unique was that everyone attending had to wear a mask. All masks were the same, so that no one could be easily identified. It was a plain white mask that covered the top half of the face from the nose to the forehead.

This was no mere dance, though. Tonight the air would be filled with magic. If two souls were meant to find each other, they would. It is well known that the eyes are the windows to the soul. This is why everyone wears a mask this night. The elves would take turns dancing with one another. If a connection was made, they could go off on their own. The only rule of the night was that the mask must be worn at all times.

Tonight was a night of mystery, a time for old love to be rekindled and for new love to blossom. Then there were some who did not look for love but something a little less committed. Whatever they were looking for, this was the night for dreams, wishes and deep desires to come true.

Not everyone joined in this event. Most of the elves that attended the Masquerade were unattached, though a few bonded couples liked to join in on the fun. They usually liked the challenge of having to find one another in the crowd.

Three Lorien brothers would attend tonight’s dance and each one sought something different. They had been on patrol at the borders for the past six months and had just returned from their long journey back to the city. As tired as they were, they would not miss their chance to join in on the fun of the Masquerade. Each one hoped to experience the magic of the dance tonight.

* * *

Orophin, the middle brother, was hoping to rekindle some magic with Gliriel (Gleer-ee-ell). They had been a couple for quite some time now, but lately they seemed to be drifting apart. He hoped that the magic of the night would ignite the passion they once had for each other. He loved her and wanted to grow closer with her. Orophin hoped she wanted the same thing. If it was meant to be, it would happen this evening at the ball.

* * *

Haldir, the oldest, was not looking for love or companionship. He was not at a point in his life where he could even think about settling down with one elleth. His position as Marchwarden of Lothlorien was very demanding and he spent much time at the borders. He would not involve himself with someone at this time in his life. Still, he had a veracious appetite when it came to the ellith of Caras Galadhon. Being away from the beauties of the city could be hard on him sometimes. When he came home, he had needs that demanded to be satisfied. Tonight, he looked for someone who would not want any attachments. If he picked the right one, she would be his plaything as long as he was home, before leaving to do another tour of duty at the borders. There was one elleth that he thought would agree to this arrangement. Aranel (Are-ahn-nell) was amongst some of the most beautiful ellith in the city. Haldir had his eye on her for quite some time now. She was very shapely and seductive. He was sure she would agree to his game plan and looked forward to meeting her tonight.

* * *

Rumil was the youngest brother. As a warrior, his aim was deadly and his face was stone cold. This was not truly who he was. Rumil was a quiet and somewhat shy elf. He had not yet met his true love but hoped tonight would change that. He wanted to meet the elleth of his dreams, fall in love and eventually start his own family. He did not care about beauty as Haldir did. And he certainly would not waste his time with someone who did not return his feelings as Orophin’s situation seemed to be. His true love was out there and he hoped she would attend tonight’s dance. There was one elleth that came to mind that he thought might fit his requirements. Laerwen (Lyre-wehn) was a young elleth, quiet and shy just like him. He had not talked to her yet and only saw her from a distance, but his heart skipped a beat when she was in view. He had been too shy to introduce himself to her yet and hoped tonight would be his chance. Hiding behind a mask gave him a sense of security. If Laerwen turned down his advances, at least she would not know it was him and save him the humility of some strange awkwardness. Still, he felt strongly about his chances tonight. To him, it seemed the magic was already in the air.

* * *

All three brothers met with each other before the Harvest Festival began. They were ready to get the night started, beginning with the Feast. This would be their first chance to look for the ellith they wished to eventually join with at the Masquerade. They would look for certain traits that could help them identify them later, after the masks were in place.

Haldir, Orophin and Rumil walked side by side on their way to the feast, laughing and joking with each other, making bets on who would make the first connection tonight. It was the best any of them had felt in months. They were free of worry and war. Tonight was about them. Tonight, anything could happen.
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