Disclaimer: Joss and J.R.R. won't let me have them. Meanies.
Legolas glanced at the red-haired witch with a small smile. The white city had that affect on many travelers. Xander and Dawn held the same awe that Willow had. Legolas glanced to his other side. Oz’s face was unreadable.
“Hn,” the warg-man finally said and started walking forward. The others wryly exchanged looks and followed him.
There were times in their traveling that Oz seemed so open, and other times it was as though he had no emotions at all. Legolas was no fool. The non-emotion occurred only when they were near the others. He seemed to like the others well enough, but was unable to relax around them. It was just one of the many mysteries that Legolas wouldn’t ask about.
He quickly caught up to Oz and then shortened his strides again to pace the much shorter man.
“Nice city?” Oz asked finally.
“It is,” Legolas confirmed. “The capital of all the men of middle-earth.”
“Has a small amount of human blood on her father’s side. She fell in love with Aragorn more than sixty years ago, much to her father’s dismay.” Legolas smiled bitterly. “As though the worse fate an elf could suffer was being wed to a human.”
“Among other things. Lord Elrond lost faith in humanity around two-and-a-half thousand years ago. Aragorn was one of the few humans he liked, but that didn’t mean he wanted his only daughter to marry one.”
“Hn. But they can send us home?”
Legolas looked over. Oz’s face was still unnervingly blank. Looking around, he saw that the other three were close to them, listening in.
“I don’t know. But if anyone can, we’ll find them here. Mithrandir, the white wizard, is a frequent guest of these halls. Of all the Istari, he is most powerful, and he is a good friend. Arwen has a good deal of knowledge in such matters as well.”
“So they practice some heavy magic, huh?” Dawn asked, flicking her hair out of her face.
Not looking at her so she would not see his frown of annoyance, Legolas answered, “I don’t know what you mean by that. My kin do not practice the evil arts, neither does Mithrandir, and yet I’ve heard humans refer to such as magic. And I do not know what you mean by heavy.”
“Magic is what we call most supernatural doings by humans or other intelligent beings,” Xander explained, though to Legolas it didn’t explain much. He shook his head.
“I expect it is something no elf would understand. To us it is simply doing as we do. And what is ‘supernatural’?” he asked, curiously.
“I am,” Oz said. “You are.”
There might have been a hint of bitterness to his voice, but Legolas wasn’t sure. The whole conversation was confusing him.
“There is nothing super about me. I am an elf. We are among the most natural things in the world,” the prince replied, bewildered at this human logic.
Oz actually smiled at that.
“I don’t know if our world has elves,” he said. “We have tales of them, but with all we’ve seen… the supernatural is anything that isn’t a normal, oblivious human that has no clue about the natural power of the world, doesn’t know about demons, vampires, werewolves, fey.” Oz bit off, glancing at the other three. They were observing him with surprise.
Xander was the one to break the awkward silence. “It’s true. Where we are from, most humans have no clue. People just don’t believe in much anymore.”
“Sounds dreadful,” Legolas replied with a shudder. He had a horrible glimpse of what Elrond’s parting words were. The Age of Man. Is that what his world will become someday?
Dawn smiled, not unsympathetically. “We get by.”
They reached the gate then, cutting off that disturbing conversation. Fortunately it was mid-day so they were wide open. The market was full of bustle and good cheer. A few people recognized him, and so the group was greeted with bows and a few people called out greetings.
Legolas pasted on his royal smile for the people and noted a few small children running ahead. The palace would be aware of their approach.
Oz moved closer.
“Not now, please,” Legolas whispered back.
Oz nodded slightly, for which Legolas was grateful. He did not wish to discuss his place among a people that no longer walked Middle Earth anyway.
The great door was open, and they were not questioned has they came in. In fact they were met in the grand hall by the queen, herself.
“Cousin,” Lady Arwen cried, rising from her intricately crafted thrown to throw herself into Legolas’s arms. He caught her easily and happily returned her embrace. While he was never comfortable with Elrond or his twin sons because of their family’s minor feud, he and Arwen spent time together in the Golden Wood when they were younger and had grown to enjoy each other’s company.
Arwen drew back to look him in the face, smiling brightly.
“I’ve sent an aide to retrieve Aragorn from his meeting with Faramir and a few others. Nothing that can’t wait,” she said. “Now, present your new friends to me.”
With a mock regal bow, Legolas did so.
“Queen Arwen, I present to you Xander Harris, Dawn Summers, Willow Rosenberg and Oz.” He was certain Oz had a more formal name, but the changeling had never said it and neither had the others. “They have traveled very far indeed and are in need of assistance that I feel could only be found here.”
“And so you are here.”
They all turned to see the stately figure of Aragorn enter the hall, followed by the just as stately Faramir. Aragorn and Legolas quickly embraced as brothers.
Legolas finished his introductions.
“Travelers, these are Queen Arwen Undómiel, King Elessar, called Aragorn by those that know him best, and Faramir, Steward of Gondor.”
Aragorn nodded to the visitors.
“Well met. You may present your request for aide after we eat. The visit of Legolas to our fair city is an occasion for celebration,” the king declared, winking at Legolas. “We don’t see him often enough.”
“There is still much of Middle Earth to see, Aragorn,” he replied, smiling wanly. It was good to be there, yet painful in a way he could not define. Everything he did felt painful these days. If only he knew what he seeked!
“Indeed,” Aragorn agreed, shrewed eyes passing over Legolas’ thin form. “Come, the food is nearly ready, then we will discuss the issue you bring. No doubt you are tired and hungry from your travels.”
To Be Continued.......