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Subject: Journey

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Date Posted: 22:29:08 05/01/03 Thu

note: If you haven't read the post before this (everybody setting out), please scroll up until you find it. It's kinda purple).

The road winds ever on and on...
Harion couldn't remember where he'd heard that, but it fitted the situation perfectly.
The track stretched ahead, the end far out of sight. They rode through a calm, green tunnel of trees, the filigree of leaves intertwining overhead. They allowed only glimpses of the pale winter sunlight to shine through, casting dancing shadows on the track and the figures passing by.
The gentle breeze ruffled Harion's hair and stirred Seima's mane. She shook her head and snorted, rattling her reins. The steady clip clop of horses hooves echoed through the trees and blended in with the birds singing overhead.
A week had passed since they'd left Minas Tirith. 7 days of solid riding, broken only by the occasional stop to water the horses and serve food. The landscape was growing familiar, they would soon be entering land belonging to neighbouring farms. Harion couldn't help wishing he was be able to stop off home for a moment. However, he knew it was impossible.

Harion sat up straight on the horse, wriggled his shoulders and stretched his arms out trying to relieve the stiffness. He wasn't used to riding for this long - but there was no way he'd ever complain. He'd realized by now that there was no way he could beat his companions in hardships or physical stamina. It was impossible - he was human. But he was not going to appear weaker than he could help. And that meant keeping his mouth shut.
His archery was improving very slightly. He had managed to hit a few similar trees, but most of his arrows had sped past the target. He tried to clear his mind and relax, the image of movement-of-water kept reoccurring. However, it was impossible not to tense up when Legolas was watching. He could feel his muscles contracting as Legolas turned to watch, then saw the arrow speed into the undergrowth. Legolas would turn away then, without saying anything. Later he might murmur something to Lady Aryante - sometimes in elvish, never audible. She would look at him, smile encouragingly, then continue with her previous task. Harion would stomp through the foliage, red faced, searching for the lost arrow and vowing to himself that he would not give up until he could hit the target every time.

Up ahead, Legolas shifted his position to glance back at the others. Lady Aryante met his eyes wearily, whilst the boy fidgeted uncomfortably in his saddle. The packhorses heads drooped and occasionally a hoof scuffed the dirt where a foot hadn't been picked up properly. His brows drew together in a frown. Much as he would wish to keep moving, it was becoming clear that they would have to stop soon to rest, or they would not be able to keep going at all.

The light was already beginning to dim when the trees began to thin and the path to widen into a clearing large enough to be used by travellers. Alalme whickered softly and drew to a halt.
"We'll stop here for the night." Unable to conceal his surprise and relief, Harion blurted out
"The night?" The elf's eyes were inscrutable.
"The horses are tired. Lady Aryante is tired. You're tired, and you need to rest. We stay here." He dropped his eyes and nodded, angry that his failings had been noticed. He could feel Legolas' eyes on him still, but couldn't make himself look up.When Lady Aryante murmured something about finding somewhere to bathe he wanted to ask her not to go, not to leave him alone with this strange creature, but he didn't dare. Aryante may have elven blood, but she was mostly human, and behaved like one. The Prince of Mirkwood was still an enigma. At least the piercing blue eyes had left him now though, to speak to the healer instead.

"Be careful, I don't know what's in these woods. If you hear or see anything, call for me at once. I will not risk hurt to you."
Another smile - she had spoken very little so far, to either of them - and she was gone, leaving the two of them alone together. He immediately busied himself with starting a fire. Legolas sat down on a nearby log and undid his hair, combing it through with long fingers before deftly replaiting the golden strands. Harion watched curiously, while trying not to seem to be. When the elf had finished and reached for his bow he quickly looked down again, concentrating on the food he was cooking.

Legolas examined the weapon carefully, checking it for any weaknesses that may have worked their way into the wood. There were none of course - the bows of the Galadhrim were made to last for centuries. It was ready to be fired at any moment because, unlike normal longbows, those of the elves were strung with their own hair. It would not slacken over time, so it could be kept strung. Satisfied that it would not fail him, he laid it aside and watched the human at his work. Sensing his gaze, Harion shifted awkwardly, but did not look up. Fervently, he wished he would stop. There was something unnerving about a person who's face gave nothing away about what they were thinking.
"What is it about me that makes you so uncomfortable?

Harion looked up, startled.
"Your highness?" Legolas pressed on.
"It is hard not to see it. You do not wish to speak to me, or look at me, and you grow nervous when I am near. Yet at other times you stare, and think I do not notice. Have I offended you in some way?"

"No...no of course not." Harion ducked his head hurridly. Was he that transparent?
"Then what is it?" Legolas continued. "We cannot continue like this. Whatever the problem is, get it out in the open. Why can you not rest around me?"
Harion glanced nervously behind, hoping Aryante would suddenly appear and stop this questioning. He gazed intently down at the food, as if believing Legolas would go away if he wished hard enough.
"Nothing...really...your majesty" he mumbled. Legolas' sharp ears caught the slight difference in tone
"It is my title, is it not?" he asked with a hint of triumph. Harion couldn't help jerking slightly in surprise. Was the elf a mind reader as well

"Well?" Legolas was still waiting for an answer. Harion sighed and nodded slightly, his cheeks beginning to burn again.
"You are uncomfortable because I am royalty. Is there anything else? Tell me now, do not let it fester and grow." Legolas' piercing gaze caught Harion's eye and refused to break contact. Harion flushed an ever brighter red and bit his lip until it bled. He took a deep breath and wondered how best to phrase this.

"I had never seen an elf before I came to the city" he gabbled in a rush. "I believed them only to be figments of childish stories. I'm sorry, I don't know.... anything.." he tailed off. He stole a glance at Legolas who was sitting calmly. His face gave nothing away as usual. Harion longed for a hole to open in the ground and swallow him up. Why was the elf still silent? Had he mortally offended him
"These stories" Legolas said slowly at last. "Tell me about them. I'll tell you how much is true." Harion kept his eyes on the floor, thankful for the cool breeze on his burning cheeks.
"Some say elves can fly, others say they can become invisible" Harion started reluctantly.
"Neither are true." Legolas replied. "If we wish to we can blend ourselves in with the natural foliage, but we cannot make ourselves disappear. What else have you heard?" His face was still unreadable.
"Some say you can turn stones into gold nuggets" Harion continued "Or that you never need to sleep." Legolas picked up a stone from the ground next to him, closed his fingers around it and squeezed tightly. He held his hand out and opened his fingers.

"Does that look like gold to you?" he asked.
"No" Harion admitted shamefully.
"Nor me" Legolas continued thoughtfully. "Much as it might come in useful, that story is also untrue. As for sleep, we can relax our minds and rest whilst still moving, we can pass many hours before collapsing from exhaustion, but all living things need to sleep eventually. Was there anything else worrying you?"
Harion swallowed. There was one more, the only one he'd ever really wondered whether it was true. Legolas' eyes were still on him. If this rumour was true, he was probably about to die.

"In one story, the elf could kill people... Just by staring at them..."

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