A Fathers Pledge by Cassie Hughes

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A Fathers Pledge.



I stand, fixed in place. The parchment leaves my nerveless fingers and rustles down to nestle upon the thick woollen rug beneath my feet. I can not move. Suspended in disbelief, the sense of betrayal burning like a tarred torch within my chest. Minutes, hours, days may have passed whilst I am rooted here within my uncomprehending mind.


How could he do this?


Bending down to retrieve the short document I stumble slightly as the room tilts and I almost fall. Graceless with a warring mixture of fear and fury I manage to scramble to the easy chair beside the fireplace and fold myself into its comforting embrace.


How could he do this to me?


My eyes scan the elegant script once more as I fervently will the words to change, to say anything other than this, most dreadful message but they stubbornly refuse my plea and remain unchanged, starkly staring out from the page as if mocking my inability to believe.


How could he do this to my son?


Closing my eyes I watch unbidden scenes flash across the canvas of my memory. A tiny bundle wrapped in swaddling, laying upon a bed of soft moss, gurgling happily up at the tree waving its branches gently above him, a small fuzzy haired elfling pulling himself up on the stump of a fallen oak to take his first tottering steps towards my waiting outstretched arms. A coltish young elf frowning with concentration as he squints down the length of a carefully blunted arrow, arms shaking with the effort of drawing his new bow for the first time. The youthful warrior newly promoted to Captain leading his patrol into the forest, proudly confident in himself and those who follow him with love and respect. Shining blue eyes filled with mirth and mischief. Golden hair and slender frame whirling in joyful abandon as the crown prince dances the night away at his coming of age celebration.


Faster and faster the pictures come until I can bear no more and I finally throw my head back, open my mouth and allow my rage out in a long mourning keen that tears at both my throat and my heart. My son. My beautiful, strong, passionate son. My vision blurs in twin rivers of tears which course down cheeks unchecked to drip onto the fabric of my tunic, turning the pale blue silk darker than night.


He has two of his own. Why could he not send one of them? Why take my only child and leave me here, bereft? He knows how the shadow grows, how strong I need to be, my people need to be and yet he will take away the staunchest rock of our foundation. Our bright symbol of life and re growth.. The green leaf of future springs to come. My Legolas.


I will my legs to support me as I rise and walk the few steps between hearth and table to stand, leaning on its comforting, wooden bulk until the shaking of my limbs has passed. A crystal decanter filled with wine the colour of deep, rich rubies smiles and offers up oblivion. I accept its call and reaching for a finely wrought silver goblet pour myself a generous dose of the heady liquid that will ease my pain.  Without stopping for breath I drain the vessel dry, relishing the fruity balm as it caresses my throat, warming as it travels down into my chest. Another and another follow in quick succession before I pick up both goblet and depleted decanter and carry them back to the comfort of my chair.


I lost my father and so many of my kith and kin when last I saw the lord of Imladris and bitter bile rises when I recall that fateful day. Was that not enough for him? Does he really have to take more? My hand clenches tight around the goblet and I feel the delicate silver begin to give under the force. Relaxing my grip I stare at the crease now marring its simple lines. Another fragile beauty spoiled by the machinations of the noldo!


But no. I correct my furious mind. My son is not fragile. he will not crush as easily as that. Whatever path his feet now take I know he will be strong enough to endure. A smile comes unbidden to turn up my lips as I recall just how implacable my son can be and this eases my heart. He will not be swayed by aught he does not wish. He will survive and therefore so must I. I must ensure we do not succumb to the encroaching dark of Sauron, must purge this once great forest and make it green once more so that when he returns, as I know deep within my fea he shall, his home will still be here, and all it was, and more.


I raise my glass in silent toast to pledge this oath to Greenwood, to our people and to Legolas then take a final draught. Oblivion will not find me yet. Not until this last great task is over and I can relax once more in the knowledge that my son is safe and sound back here where he belongs.


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