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The Apprentice by Alpha Ori

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Story notes:
To fully understand this story, you should first read The Protégé and Arcane Land. However, I believe it does stand alone, with a little stretch of the imagination.

Beta reader: Mindirith

Warnings: mature MM content and drug use.
The Apprentice


One month – just one month. They were capable warriors, the best the Greenwood had to offer - nothing would happen, aside from the usual, that is, for Dimaethor would lead them well and he - he needed to detach himself from them and the darkness they fought – just for a month, mind you, for if he was to succeed in his endeavour, he knew that his mind needed to be fully trained on the task. The recent dip in enemy activity would not last for long, indeed, it was a rare gift that Legolas would seize, for he had put this trip off for too long now.

A promise was a promise, and even had he not made it, he would have sought out the Brown Wizard anyway, for the magic that Yavanna had bestowed upon him had an uncanny ability of manifesting itself spontaneously, usually when there was some unsuspecting elf around. It was enough to frighten the daylights out of the unwitting, he knew, and when just recently, his hair had gained a life of its own and floated unnaturally slowly around him, as weeds do beneath the water’s surface - well, enough was enough. Indeed, had it happened in the company of dwarves or humans, he would surely have lost his life, skewered upon their swords and axes, thinking him an agent of evil, that his natural magic was in fact some kind of vile devilry from the deepest pits of Dol Guldûr. He needed help, and Radagast was the one to give it.

He had said goodbye to The Company, his own elite patrol, assigning Dimaethor to captain them in his absence - that had been four days ago. He had travelled on foot towards the South and then West, yet he was still close enough to know should they run into any trouble, he deemed … and then he berated himself once more – he needed to collect his thoughts, concentrate and stop fretting over military matters and the welfare of his warriors.

As he walked, he pondered on why it was, that late summer had always struck Legolas as a sad time of year. The natural cycle of plant life was drawing to a close, insects taking their last opportunities with the ripe, straining fruits that sat heavily upon branches and bushes, soon to either wither away, or fall victim to avid jaws. It was the decadence, he supposed, the end of endurance and then death, sleep. His mind wandered once more to the devastation his brothers now traversed, for there was no fruit there, no living thing to be trusted or admired… ‘stop’, he beseeched himself in exasperation, ‘stop it.’

Yet with this season came the most stunning array of smells – the fragrance of flowers and resins, dry bark and hay – petals and twigs, leaves and herbs, old and fresh grass, all layered one upon the other, it made him want to lie down, roll in it, impregnate himself with it.


It was hot, and he was hungry. A quick glance at the sky told him that the sun was high above him now, and so he sat in a shady area below a handsome beech tree, placing his palm upon its thick trunk in greeting. Smiling, he leant back into its embrace and then dipped into his satchel in search of food. The bread he carried was still edible, and he had found fruit along the way – that would go with a little of that tangy cheese he still had left, the one Elrond was so partial to. The mental image of the Master Healer came to him then, his august face set in an expression of heavenly bliss as his jaw worked purposefully on the cheese, his brow furrowed in delight as he slid his favorite pickles into his mouth, crunching down on them before rolling his eyes back and then closing them. It brought another fond smile to his own chewing mouth as a wave of nostalgia rolled over him.

He was suddenly nudged out of his mental wanderings by the beech behind him, as it casually informed him of the nearness of a friend, and true to its word, a wizened old man appeared from between the trees, surprisingly silent and almost invisible in his rough robes of brown. His face had always captivated Legolas, made him want to take the Maia into his arms and squeeze, for goodness, empathy and love seemed to emanate from the very pores of his skin. There was, however, that perpetual expression of one who is not entirely – present, as if his mind were constantly upon some other issue, imagining some other elf that was not the one before him.

He was so very different from Mithrandir, whom he considered a friend, a shrewd and cunning one at that – Radagast the Brown, however, was the grandfather that all elves wanted to have, the dear one that doted on his friends and family, incapable of swatting a fly…

It made Legolas smile fondly as he moved to stand, and then sat once more as the wizard lowered himself to the forest floor with nary a word. A simple yet heartfelt smile was all the welcome Legolas received, or indeed, could possibly want.

Offering his own food, the wrinkled hand plucked at a chunk of cheese and whipped it into his mouth. The wizard’s eyes anchored on those of Legolas as he rolled the cheese around in his mouth until his eyebrows shot up to the brim of his pointed hat and his mouth formed the perfect ‘ooohh’, drawing a chuckle from the Forest Lord.

“That is what I thought the first time I tried it – tangy, is it not?”

“It is splendid, child – you should visit more often!” he said jovially as he sidled up closer to Legolas and plucked at another piece of cheese and hooked a handful of plump pink raspberries, glad that the warrior had not brought any meat with him.

“Well then,” he said, his words somewhat muffled by the food in his mouth, “how much time do you have, young warrior?” he asked, his eyes glancing sideways at the elf for a brief moment.

“A month, if there are no complications,” he said carefully, wondering if that would be enough.

“That is not long at all, Legolas. Learning to harness your talent will take much longer – yet I suppose we can cover the basics. However, I will need your full attention, boy. I cannot have you fretting over your warriors and orcs and such…” he trailed off, his face now completely serious, his eyes unwaveringly fixed on Legolas’.

“I know, and I am – trying,” he said ruefully, for the wizard had read him surprisingly well, for one that is perpetually distracted, that is.

The wizard’s upper pocket moved then, catching Legolas’ attention as something squirmed beneath the rough fabric. A minute, wet black nose emerged from the edge, wiggling from side to side as it strained to catch the scent of the one who sat beside its friend, or perhaps it was the cheese...

Legolas smiled then, as a sense of childish delight ran through him. He cocked his head to the side as he contemplated the small rodent, wondering how it was that anyone, or anything, would wish harm upon it – there were none of this species where his brothers rode… he closed his eyes in frustrated defeat, for however much he tried to detach himself, he simply could not, and the wizard saw it.

“Come,” he said simply, as he rose and began to walk into the woods with Legolas a few paces behind.

“Why do you not walk abreast of me, child? There is no danger here…” he said softly, for the question had, indeed, been rhetorical.

“I seem to have lost the capacity to enjoy things as they are, without comparing or protecting them, lamenting their scarcity, or ruing the lack of time in which to try to delight in them…”

“You have not lost it, my boy – tell me, when you train, or fight, you prepare your mind, do you not? You clear it, you centre on those things you need – and discard those that you don’t – this is just the same, there is no difference – ‘tis simply the level of awareness that is different – it will not hinder your ability to feel danger – for that is what you fear, is it not? That you will be caught unawares…?”

Legolas looked at the wizard now, as if he had grown another head, ‘could he read his mind?’ he suddenly fretted, and the wizard laughed heartily.

“Nay, I did not read your mind, just as Gwaihir did not that day in Imladris, you had been horrified at the prospect then, too,” he chuckled merrily. “‘Tis simply a capacity you too will learn and hone, for there is much to be read from the face and body of a companion, whatever the race or species.”

Legolas wondered how he could ever have believed Radagast to be ‘distracted’, for he had certainly read Legolas like an open book. It was a little disconcerting, but not enough to destroy his pre-conceived idea of the wizard, it was simply a technique, one he hoped he would come to dominate as well as his teacher obviously did.

They walked the rest of the way in silence, until they stepped into a small, shady glade where a small stone cottage stood. Its walls were covered in creeping plants and vines, almost resembling a large bush, mused Legolas, except that there were windows, and a chimney peeking out from the top. ‘Inordinately beautiful’, he thought to himself, for there were flowers in full bloom of every color here in this - enchanted garden, and a stunning variety of animal life that was simply unnatural in such a reduced area. Legolas supposed it had to do with the wizard’s nurturing ways and his ability with natural magic. Whatever it was, he was struck dumb at the beauty of it, and Radagast smiled enigmatically, pulling his apprentice out of his awed silence with a question.

“Legolas,” he paused, waiting until he was sure he had the elf’s full attention, “do you trust me?” asked the wizard, his tone almost conversational.

“I trust you,” said Legolas, worry starting to gnaw at his stomach, for he was beginning to realize that there was a little more than met the eye here - nay, that fooled the eye – and specifically, to this apparently gentle, somewhat puerile Maia. He was not what he seemed, thought Legolas, not that any Maia he had made acquaintances with ever was, yet Radagast was surprising him, and Legolas found himself irked at the idea. ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ he moaned to himself.

“I will ask you to perform deeds that you may find – strange, and perhaps uncomfortable – at first at least. You will become accustomed to it, however, and the skills you will learn will be more than justification for it, and paramount to the path before you.”

“I understand,” said Legolas levelly, his eyes lingering on those of the wizard as he desperately tried to read his intentions, and failed – again.

The wizard held his ground under that, legendary, hereditary gaze as best he could, wondering if his apprentice really did understand, before slapping him on the shoulder and slipping back into the gentle, easy-going persona that Legolas both recognized and seemed more comfortable with, deciding that if he didn’t understand – well, he soon would.

“Go around the back of the house, strip and bathe – I will join you anon,” said the wizard, walking purposefully into the cottage, under the calculating eye of an exasperated Forest Lord, for Radagast had just totally and irreversibly changed Legolas’ perception of the goodly Maia that carried mice in his pockets, with not a care for the worries of the world outside his own enchanted garden – he was no such thing!! Now, if only Legolas could decide what he was

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As Legolas bathed in the cool, transparent woodland stream, the wizard approached the shore, stripped himself without the slightest hesitation, and slipped into the cool water. His body seemed strange to Legolas, for he had never seen a naked and old human. The wizard was surprisingly lean and well-muscled – his heavily tanned skin a testimony to his life in the open, and his utter lack of modesty. Curiously, there was no hair on him at all, something that puzzled Legolas, because Henian had told him that humans were bear-like. He wondered then, if his friend had been having him on, and tucked that little question away for future use.

The wizard hummed a merry tune as he began scrubbing himself vigorously with a bar of coarse, herbal soap, before flipping it deftly to his friend, whose eyes lit up at the rare luxury he now grasped in his own hand, looking almost as if he would bow to it.

“For what we two shall start today, it is important to cleanse the body, as well as the mind, rid it of all that is impure, render it as close to perfection as you can…,” explained the master to the apprentice, now observing his pupil as surreptitiously as possible. What he saw took him back immediately, wondering if his words had been completely fortunate, for Legolas’ body, although truly magnificent, was covered in bruises both old and new, and the heavy scaring just below his right breast and his back was simply too severe to miss – indeed this must have been the result of that silent night some time ago, when nature had become mute, and Radagast had shuddered under the brutal onslaught of nature’s frantic lament, for the Forest Lord had almost been lost to them.

Legolas himself was indeed pondering his master’s words. How he could possibly carry out the wizard’s instructions? For here was the body of an assassin, bruised and disfigured, trained and honed to kill, and however justified that may be when considering the greater good, could he really cleanse it as the Radagast suggested? And what of his mind? Could he shed himself of lingering doubt and guilt? Feel no evil, no contempt, no anger or grief? He seriously doubted it, he realized.

The wizard interrupted his musings, however, as he waded to the shore and gestured to Legolas to follow.

“Come, I have something for those bruises that will ease you a little,” he said as he dried himself off, waiting for his apprentice to catch up with him.

“They do not bother me, Radagast,” he replied automatically, following the wizard inside.

“They are bruises, and bruises hurt – I do not doubt you can endure, for I know you can,” said the wizard lightly, yet with a logic that was both clinical and a little – embarrassing, for he was right, of course.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

A short while later, master and apprentice sat in the glade they had crossed earlier, a small fire crackling before them, and an earthen bowl of water heating over it.

“Fire soothes the soul, comforts and relaxes, and this is what you must do now, that I may first teach you how to align yourself with the forces of nature,” began the master as he instructed his apprentice. “Clear your mind, centre only on the sensations of the body, not the mind – no thoughts, Legolas, only feelings.”

As he sat there before the fire, he brought to the fore his considerable warrior’s discipline, banning the thought patterns and channeling all his attention to his arms, legs, hands and feet, back and stomach… still listening to his master’s guiding words.

“Nature lives in our world but perceives us on a different level. In order for you to wield and control your magic, you must first find this level of consciousness and learn to move from one to the other. In order to do this, at first we will – force the issue, so to speak, yet as you hone the skill, there will come a moment in which you will find the key that unlocks the door, and once you are through it, you will need no other stimulus save the discipline of your own mind…”

Legolas listened attentively, spying a column of blue smoke which snaked into his peripheral vision, before a strangely exotic herbal smell tickled his nose so that he fought to contain the sneeze that threatened to burst forth. He forced himself to stay seated, yet he had never been this close to someone who smoked, albeit it was not tobacco. He was puzzled that Radagast would subject an elf to it, knowing as he did, their aversion to it – it seemed almost as if he wanted Legolas to smell it, inhale it even.

“Do not allow your mind to side-track you, Legolas …remember, feel only your body, the sensations, not the emotions they provoke.”

Breathing deeply once more, he sent himself into that state of determined concentration and took stock of his body. He startled though, as a hand appeared before his face, pipe in hand, gesturing for him to take it, ‘he wants me to smoke’ his centred mind told him, and he was distracted once more as he turned incredulous eyes to the wizard.

“You cannot be serious…”

But the look on his face told Legolas that he was.

“Take a shallow puff, inhale slowly, hold it and then expel it,” he instructed, watching his student closely, “‘tis not tobacco, Legolas.”

Hesitantly, he did so, and when the hot, herbal smoke entered his body, his eyes widened as the overwhelming need to cough sent him spluttering and wheezing, holding his chest until it finally passed.

“Again,” said the wizard simply, unsympathetically.

And Legolas did, although he did not cough the second time, he simply grimaced as he tried to accustom himself to the heavy weight that had settled in his upper body, watching in stupefied wonder as smoke streamed from his own mouth.

“Again.”

And so it was, that Legolas Thranduilion smoked a pipe for the first time, taking one, then two, and then three puffs, until he could do it with relative ease.

“Centre yourself, remember, feel only your body, the sensations, not what they evoke…

The pipe was all but consumed and Legolas sat cross-legged upon the grass, his face sickly white and his eyes half-closed, until they opened in alarm and he doubled over, retching miserably, his stomach protesting the incessant whirling of his head, which would not stop spinning.

Radagast looked on impassively as he continued to instruct his disciple.

“It has passed. Sit, and feel – only feel…”

Indeed it had passed, leaving his head in a strange state of heightened awareness. He could feel the blood pumping in his veins, and then the sap as it circulated around the trees, through their branches and twigs and then back again. He could hear the gentle hum of existence, deep from the trees, lighter from other plants, more strident from insects and animals…

“Can you hear it?”

“Yes,” he whispered.

“Describe it.”

“’Tis a steady hum,” he murmured softly, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly prickle and his scalp crawl strangely, his eyes burned hot yet not unpleasantly so, and then he heard a sudden intake of breath at his side – yet he could not bring himself to care – there was no danger, of that he was certain, and his mind floated so pleasantly now that even the incessant whirling had stopped.

The wizard schooled himself as he watched the spectacle unfold before him. His apprentice was transformed and the wizard found himself struggling to master his breathing.

“You are tapping into their level, for that is the sound of life – each life form has its own, particular sound – trees, plants, flowers, insects, birds, even certain individuals can be identified within the collective sound, powerful individuals. Try – tell me of the trees…” he coaxed, his eyes riveted on the strange spectacle of writhing blonde hair and luminous green eyes.

“’Tis deep so that it vibrates – yet the tone is not steady, there is a variation in it, as if they were singing…”

“Not singing, talking – you have spoken to them many times, yet you never understood how,” he trailed off, letting his apprentice think for himself now.

Quite suddenly, Legolas felt himself physically propelled through the woods at a speed so great he was sure he would die, plastered against the trunk of an unyielding oak, yet he seemed to traverse them, speed through them - it was vertiginous and his head swam once more and his neck creaked strangely, until he felt his cheek resting against the cool grass.

“Legolas?” called the wizard, an undertone of concern seeping into the apprentice’s spinning mind, but speech would not come to him. He forced himself to roll onto his back and found himself looking up into a star-studded sky, the brown wizard bending over him.

“What did you hear?” asked the master, a little calmer now that his apprentice seemed unharmed.

“Not hear,” he whispered, his lips hardly moving, “see, touch, move…”

The wizard’s eyes flickered a little, shielding the surprise he felt from his apprentice. “That is enough for today, child. Rest now, and I will make tea.”

The words hardly registered on his now stupefied brain as he lay there, feeling the solid ground beneath his back, and not the weightless transparency that had just startled the wits out of his own strangely floating psyche. His mind was adrift and the humming was still there, mixed with other sounds he could not identify. His fingers spread themselves of their own accord until they lay flat on the ground on either side of his prostrate body, each digit searching, feeling as a separate entity, and the wizard watched his apprentice as he prepared the tea over their small fire.

The magic was strong in Legolas, and Radagast had not expected him to make such progress on their first session together. His apprentice had not only heard but had, spontaneously and uncontrollably propelled himself into nature’s dimension, startling the poor boy so much he had promptly keened sideways, losing all sense of balance. He would be wise to administer the tea and bring him out of his altered state, for too much too soon could well traumatize his apprentice.

Yet Legolas was lost to the novel sensations assailing his paradoxically hazy, yet heightened state of awareness. “I am earth,” he ‘heard’, the tone steady and mellow – “I am grass,” squeeled the next voice, “flower – thistle – worm – bulb – stone –“ it went on and on, and Legolas’s slack face smiled slightly as drops of moisture escaped the corners of his eyes, his fingers questing until they dug below the surface, forcing the soil under his nails, feeling the irrepressible urge to sink his whole body into it…

“Welcome, Forest Lord,” he had heard it, in his mind as clearly as if the words had been spoken into his ear and he startled so that he jumped up and then scurried away, eyes round in fright, breathing labored as he frantically searched his surroundings for the source of it. He wanted to run yet his body would not obey, and then he wondered at this irrational panic – he had been deeply scared as he had not been since his now distant childhood nightmares, it had startled him so that he was disorientated, momentarily losing all sense of where he was.

“Do not be frightened, Lord. Calm yourself…” said the voice, soothing now, empathic, caring.

Breathing deeply, he closed his eyes, trying to straighten himself up - and then opened them once more, and he saw it – his knees wobbled and his backside hit the ground painfully, the impact shuddering through his strangely sensitive nerves for there, standing before him, was a shining angel.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

He was warm, lying as he was upon something soft and soothing. Turning his head into it, he felt a hand as it smoothed over his hair, and then his cheek. He was lying in someone’s arms, but he had no recollection of having taken a lover…

His eyes focused on the comforting hand. It was sun-kissed and worn, lined yet strong – Radagast …

“Good morning, Apprentice,” said the wizard, helping him into a sitting position and grinning as Legolas’ face screwed up in a grimace of discomfort.

“Here,” he said, “drink this, for the Weed leaves you with a headache until your body becomes accustomed to it.”

Legolas nodded as he accepted the steaming cup, now sitting up on his own as his mind desperately struggled to recall the events of the previous evening, under his master’s surreptitious scrutiny.

He remembered smoking! Yes, he had smoked and then retched before his mind and his body had entered a strange, altered state, one in which he had heard nature, had been propelled through it – and then, he had seen a vision…

“We will talk, later, Legolas. For now, eat, and then bathe and rest, for this evening we must persist.”

Legolas grimaced at the prospect of smoking that strange pointy-leaved weed again, but it promptly dropped away at the possibility of seeing the angel once more, and then he simply forgot all about it as the wizard handed him a chunk of hot toast, gesturing to a pot of oozing honey that he had laid between them both.

As he dipped and ate, he was aware that he was taking very large bites – not large, massive. He opened his jaw as wide as he could and shoveled as much of the sweet, dripping toast as he could into his mouth – he was ravenous, could never remember eating so unbecomingly – yet he could not help it – what was wrong with him?! This strange weed was wreaking havoc on his carefully honed warrior’s body.

He finished eating only because there was no more toast to be had, and then promptly rose to his somewhat unsteady feet, for his bladder was so full he knew there was no time to waste – and so he walked to the nearest tree and began to pee. And then it struck him that he had never peed for so long in his life, and the mental image of a wild donkey came to mind, making him chuckle as he waited for the endless stream to peter out. However, he was suddenly aware of a presence at his shoulder, and so he turned his head to find the wizard, straining a little to look over his shoulder at the source of Legolas’ mirth. The Forest Lord simply raised one impervious eyebrow and was rewarded as the Maia walked away, “Thranduilion,” he muttered irritably, as if to himself.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

A dip in the forest river had scared away the last vestiges of lethargy, and Legolas now sat in the enchanted garden together with his master, conversing on what last night had brought in the way of wisdom. Yet Legolas was intrigued by Radagast and why it was that Lady Yavanna had chosen an elf to carry out the Valar’s plan, when there was already one such as Radagast here in Middle-earth – surely a Maia would be more suited to Lady Yavanna’s purpose…

“Radagast, why did Lady Yavanna send you, with the power you have to communicate with nature, if not to lord over it – why – why did she need me to do that, for you are a Maia … I confess I have been struck with this idea for some time now.”

The wizard studied his apprentice before answering him as best he could, for he was unsure that Legolas would understand – and to him, it was vital that he did.

“First, you must promise to call me by my true name, Aiwendil. I do not like Radagast – it is a far too solemn and serious name for one such as I,” he said playfully. “You see,” he continued slowly and purposefully, “Lady Yavanna indeed sent me forth, together with my colleagues, yet her expectations for me were simply – unacceptable. She then chose you because both she and I knew why I had defied her – it was because I would have failed in that task, the one now entrusted to you,” he said simply, contemplating the puzzled look on the Forest Lord’s inexplicably beauteous face.

“How so? Why did you defy her?” asked the Forest Lord carefully, for he was treading delicate territory, he knew.

“I cannot fight, Legolas. It is a concept I simply cannot fathom. I do not censure those that do fight, for I know it is for the greater good, to protect, and because it is the only way against Him. Yet I cannot. Whether that is a flaw or a blessing, I know not, only that it incapacitates me to help my brother Olorin, who has no such qualms on the matter. I am a spirit of peace, Legolas, I cannot betray my own nature, nor should I.”

Legolas understood, and the revelation was eye-opening.

“Is that why she did it, then? That I should replace you? Is that why I have this capacity for magic that I do not understand, because the task was originally meant for a Maia?”

“That is correct, child, it is exactly so. And now, who better to teach you than I?” he smiled kindly, making Legolas want to hug him again, yet he simply returned the smile, nodding as he did. Aiwendil, however, had one further comment to add.

“Now that you know, the wherewithal of this, know that I believe my Lady chose well in you, child. You can be sure that when the time comes, although I will not lift my hand in battle, I will aid you in all that you do – and if we are successful in this task you have come to fulfill, all you will have to do is enter nature’s dimension and seek me there – you will always find me, and my council.”

Legolas’ smile widened then, for he now had one more ally to add to his yet small group of extraordinary beings who would follow him on this path to destiny – how comforting it was to know that he could seek Aiwendil from afar and take council with this, most valorous and wise being.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Afternoon turned to evening and master and apprentice found themselves seated once more upon the ground in the glade, the small fire before them and the rustling, crunching sound of dry leaves being rubbed together, releasing that unmistakable herbal aroma that already had Legolas’ stomach on guard and his mouth full of saliva.

He grimaced as he arranged his summer skirt around his thighs, for he wore nothing below it – it was too hot for confinement, besides, it was only he and the wizard here, there were no potential lovers to wreak havoc with his sexual impulses – indeed Aiwendil himself wore a thin linen shirt that reached to his knobbly knees, and which was quite transparent when standing before the light, he mused, and then snickered to himself.

And then the time came and the wizard reached out and passed him the pipe – and Legolas Thranduilion smoked once more.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Welcome – hello – very pretty – smells nice – frightening – very big – ‘

He picked up the words and identified their source from their tone, pitch and intonation – he was finally able to tell what element spoke and who to, for sometimes they did not speak to him directly but amongst themselves – there was really no difference between listening to nature and the advisors of his lord father’s court, he realized.

From time to time, he was propelled here and there without having willed it, until slowly but surely, he began to direct his own movements more skillfully. He was not walking or running though, rather floating, he thought, yet neither was he spirit, for he could feel his body stand here and then there, or hover over a tree and look down upon it in awe, and all the while he was aware that his body sat before the flames of the small hearth, watching himself. He was unnerved by it, for he suspected he could will his body to do more, yet he simply did not dare to, for fear of frightening the wits out of himself.

He began to play, addressing this or that tree, bending to caress a leaf or stone, concentrating on each individual sound and interpreting it into language. It was amazing, and he was enthralled, addicted to the sensation, for he felt like a child whose eyes had opened to the word for the first time, but with the advantage of being able to interpret – understand.

Turning around in search of his next challenge, he stopped short, his eyes riveted on the vision that had once more embodied before him.

‘Welcome, Forest Lord,’ said the shining angel. His face was so beautiful it made him cry and he dropped to his knees, yet he could not wrench his eyes away. The body was white and supple, muscled yet lean, and perfectly proportioned. His hair was a fiery red river of silk that cloaked his body reverently, reaching down to the backs of his shapely knees and his eyes – Gods, his eyes of turquoise light …

Legolas whimpered, he could not help it, for his body was doing just what his master had told it to do – feel – and how could it not, before such a vision of male perfection.

His eyes closed momentarily, before opening once more and startling, for the angel now stood but inches away from him – yet Legolas could not remember having stood – as last he remembered, he had been rendered a fool, on his knees with an aching erection.

The light-filled figure bent forward and took his quivering lips in a kiss so tender yet so utterly sensuous he felt that he would come right there. And then, to his all-encompassing bliss, he took flight, hovering above the ground as his skirt disappeared, and he was engulfed.

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Bright light filtered through his half-lidded eyes and consciousness was slow in returning. He was, once more, encircled in the arms of his master. It suddenly came back to him then and his eyes shot down to his middle, realizing he still wore his skirt and that there was, at least no outward evidence of the incredible orgasm he had experienced during the night, for the angel had pleasured him upon the wings of a summer breeze. The simple memory of it had him impossibly stiff, and so he sat up and groaned, earning himself a chuckle from the wizened Maia now beside him.

“You are progressing well, I think. Tell me, what you learned then,” prompted the wizard as he handed Legolas a mug of tea, his shrewd eyes fixed on his apprentice.

After a first, soothing sip of the brew, Legolas explained how he had been able to control his own movements this time, at least some of them, and that he had been able to identify specific elements. He also told him of how he had had the sensation of being able to do more, and yet not daring to do so, for the strange anxiety it provoked in his gut.

Aiwendil seemed to understand him, although he offered no explanation for it.

“There is more…” he hesitated, wondering how much he should tell his master, supposing he did not already know.

“Tell me,” answered the wizard simply, as he placed another dead twig onto the crackling hearth and poking the bread he was toasting further inside.

“There is a – being – I have seen him twice now. He welcomes me and then I – fall asleep.”

The wizard looked pensive for a moment, before turning his gaze to the lovely green eyes.

“There are guides – within nature, spirits – perhaps he is one – you must ask him,” he suggested, completely serious.

“Aiwendil,” said Legolas with intent now, for he had decided that honesty was his best bet right now. He wanted answers, and besides, he was not ashamed, “he – pleasured me,” he said, holding the wizard’s gaze.

“Did he now?” exclaimed the wizard, somewhat nonchalantly, “Well, lucky you, my boy!”

Legolas was taken aback by Aiwendil’s apparent lack of concern over the fact that his apprentice had been sucked mercilessly by a spirit of nature – he had expected concern, words of caution perhaps, and yet nothing.

“That is one of the greatest pleasures of nature, Legolas, as you well know,” he said, stabbing a playful finger into the Forest Lord’s chest. “If the mood takes you, then I will not be the one to interfere!”

Legolas opened and closed his mouth several times, deciding to speak and then hesitating, until he finally asked a question of his own.

“Did you not… see anything? I mean, surely I…”

“Legolas, while you sit and practice your skill, I wonder my own paths of nature. If I select your presence then I can share in what you experience, but to do so, I must consciously do so – fear not – your privacy is assured my friend,” he smiled kindly, turning back to his tea.

Well the possibilities were simply intriguing, for in that place, one could adopt postures that in everyday life were simply impossible – just last night he had floated above the ground as the angel had worked his cock most exquisitely… he breathed deeply, feeling his groin stiffen once more.

A chuckle brought him back to the present.

“Legolas, go and take a cool dip, I think you need it, my boy,” he smirked – for the first time that morning, and Legolas, rather than feeling offended, simply smiled ruefully, nodded, and disappeared, for Aiwendil no longer seemed a grandfather figure at all, it was just one more pre-conceived idea that had just been irreversibly shattered.

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Time passed in the blink of an eye and Legolas learned how to talk and move inside the dimension of nature, with the help of the weed, of course. The angel had visited him frequently, although he would always appear at the end of his sessions, as if not wanting to interfere with his task.

Now, his final challenge was to achieve this altered state without help – by simply clearing his mind and finding the correct level, as Aiwendil had described it.

His first attempt had been fruitless, hearing only the trees as he always had done. On the second day, he had heard and identified the grass and the weeds, yet little more. It was on the third day that it finally began to come together and he heard them all, identifying them one by one. He tried to move himself as he did so, project his body as he had been able to do with the weed, but this last skill would not come to him, that would have to wait for the fourth day.

Aiwendil had explained to him that the centre of his power emanated from the base of his skull, above the nape of his neck. It made sense to Legolas, for on the few occasions that he had moved through nature, he had felt a prickling, cracking and sometimes a disturbing popping sound. Armed with this knowledge and the final lessons from his master, Legolas sat in the twilight and closed his eyes…

The harmony was exquisite, more complicated than any piece of music he had ever heard, for the counterpoint and descants were impossible to keep track of. The notes were not confined to the standard seven, do to ti – but a sequence of twelve notes, accommodating all the flats and sharps and combining them into a strangely hypnotic yet utterly moving sensorial experience.

He singled each element out, identified it, and then returned it to the dodecaphony, and smiled, for this skill he had perfected.

Breathing deeply, he concentrated on the nape of his own neck, searching for the sensations he knew would herald his ability to move. ‘Patience’ his master had said, ‘once you feel it, focus on it, nurture it – the rest will come after, but you must initiate it.’

He spent hours, sitting silently, patiently as the symphony hummed around him, through him, comforting him, coaxing him almost as all his senses anchored on his centre of power. Slowly at first, he felt a faint tingling that was almost an itch, but the point he wished to scratch seemed to elongate then, traversing his spine from neck to coccyx and he knew he had it, feeling as his body lifted itself from where it still sat, and began its nocturnal wandering.

At first he felt himself losing focus, only to find it once more and continue to move. He even managed to lift himself from the ground, yet he had not been able to hold it for long – he would though, now that he knew how.

This dimension in which nature moved, the one they perceived but that neither the first nor second born could sense, was a marvel. The colours were different, the smells were more acute, the brush of breeze over semi-solid flesh was as a lover’s reverent caress – the physical forms that made it up were simply outlined, and it was their light, colour, temperature and the sensations they emanated that told him what was what, yet the angel’s form had been perceived as if he were seeing it in his own, native dimension. He wondered at that, and tucked the question away for later.

He smiled in joy as he opened his arms and span around, feeling his semi-solid hair swishing around him, watching the lights as they blurred around him and he laughed, and rejoiced.

Finally coming to a halt, he turned to gaze upon himself, something he had tried not to do since that first, weed-invoked journey that had so unbalanced him. Yet now he was emboldened, for he knew there was nothing to fear save the strangeness of it.

Indeed there he sat, cross-legged, his forearms resting over his naked knees, his eyes closed, yet light from the corner of his eye drew his attention and he turned his head to Aiwendil, and yet his master was not there, but another – for there, sitting peacefully before their small fire, was the angel, looking straight at him and setting his skin to tingling in painful realization, for he wore a simple, knee-length linen shirt, one that was transparent if you stood before the light – this was no angel, but an Ainur...


He woke slowly, once more in the caring embrace of an old man who smoothed his hair away from his face and brushed his cheek in silent greeting. This time, Legolas had no trouble recalling the evening’s events, and as he felt the worn skin brush against his own, youthful cheek, he turned his face and kissed the wrinkled palm of his master.

Gone now, were his pre-conceived ideas of a scatter-brained yet goodly old wizard. No longer did he seem naïve - a playful yet insignificant being that lived his self-centred, bucolic life amongst plants and animals – serving no purpose yet in himself, harmless. Aiwendil had, in Legolas’ mind, become the powerful Maia he truly was, an Ainur of great strength and beauty, coherent to a fault with his natural magic. He had defied a Vala – for he simply refused to fight, and that – that was courageous indeed.

That night was the last he would spend together with the Ainur, and as they sat in the enchanted garden once more, Legolas raised his voice and sang, much to the delight of the Maia, who gathered the creatures of the forest to him in silent invitation to listen to the spell-binding beauty of Legolas’ hommage. He sang of beauty and diversity, of nature and its bountiful fruits. He sang of goodness and the need to protect it. And he sang of Yavanna and of her guiding spirits. He poured his very soul into the song, for his apprenticeship had touched him deeply, changed him profoundly, had given him a wise councilor and friend in Aiwendil that he would never forsake, and he wept for the joy he felt, for this and for what the Lady had created – this fascinating new world that Legolas was so privileged to have come to know so intimately.

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It took Legolas five days on foot until he finally found The Company. He had needed that solitary trek through this still healthy part of his father’s realm, for the experienced he had lived together with Aiwendil had transported him, left his frame of mind totally unsuitable to the one he would need to guide his brothers. Now, Aiwendil’s instructions must be reversed, for here, he could not feel, only do – and accept.

On that first night back in The Company, they had lit a fire and roasted the game that Rhrawthir and Pengon had hunted – the first meat Legolas had eaten for over a month. It was paradise to his bereft palate and he ate with relish, much to the amusement of his warriors who watched him fondly, wondering what Aiwendil had been offering their lord in the way of provisions.

It was Nanern who broke the comforting silence, his voice slow and purposeful, as a bard speaks the words of a poem and suddenly, they were all reminded of Lindohtar, their lost Bard Warrior.

“’Tis six nights ago now, that we heard it, my Lord…” he began, watching his commander as the flames danced over his noble face.

“Six nights ago that we heard the Song. It was sung with such skill, the singer moving from low tenor to high, contralto notes so soft and pure that it melted our hearts and we stopped to listen, sitting together and absorbing it as if a balm to our aching souls, to the troubled hearts of these hardened warriors,” he gestured with his hand to his brothers.

“It wove its magic and set our hearts soaring high above the mundane, infusing us with a joy so complete it brought a tear to our eyes,” he whispered finally, the spell of his skillful story telling working on the warriors as their minds cast back to that strange event, for Nanern, curiously, did not exaggerate.

“It is a shame you missed it, my Lord…”said the Teller of Tales, holding Legolas’ eyes before casting his own back towards the flickering fire before him.

However, Dimaethor spoke then, for he had been observing his commander through Nanern’s recounting of the Song.

“I do not think he missed it, Brother…” he said softly, “I do not think he was absent.”