Through the Stone Wall of Self
He had always looked forward to this day of personal celebration, of closeness with his kin, for they would lavish him with presents, kisses and tokens of friendship. He, however, would not, for he was far, far away, fighting somewhere off to the East.
Why he had ever thought to take a warrior love escaped him for but seconds, until the vivid mental image of a glorious body ripped through him and made his groin jolt so very pleasantly. Yes, that was why he had done it, for he was beautiful, and beauty had always been Maedor’s downfall.
And yet his affection for the warrior came with a price, for they were hardly ever together, and when they were, his lover was often too tired to spend any quality time with him. When they did, though, the Earth and the Moon would shake in the aftermath of their passion, and thus was their relationship saved for one more cycle, one more foray into the Mirkwood.
He had once suggested that Beldir leave the ranks of the Eastern Detachment and find a posting in the Greenwood proper ... that way, they could, perhaps, strive towards a normal relationship in which they would show each other their devotion, accompany each other to the markets, take leisurely strolls through the woods, share birthdays and heartfelt gifts. He had none of those things - jealous of his friends and their partners - for what they had and that he could never hope for, not with Beldir.
Breathing deeply and shaking off the feelings of hurt and resignation, he looked around in interest and fascination, for this was the first time he had been to Finlond, thanks to his friends and their generous birthday gift. They had told him that after the day he would spend in the mountain spa of the woodland king, he would never be the same.
He had arrived after the morning meal, standing clueless upon the rocky threshold, waiting for someone to tell him what to do, where to go. Indeed a beautiful female had floated towards him, smiled disarmingly as she beckoned with her hand for him to follow.
She had then helped him out of his clothes and scrubbed his skin, only to dip him in the thermal pools and then dry him off, before laying him down upon an exquisitely wrought stone bed and massaging every muscle in his body.
It had been glorious, for her hands were strong and skilled, and with but a brush of a finger over his groin, she had asked and he had given permission for her to send him into bliss, and as he came, Beldir slipped into his mind’s eye once more, fighting with his sword and pulling on his bow. ‘Damn him, damn him for wanting to fight and neglecting the one that would love him eternally, if only he were given the chance’.
After that initial cleansing, he had been brought here, to this open chamber where dozens of elves sat in the soothing light of what seemed like a thousand candles, reclining or laying back on comfortable beds and sofas as they were subjected to the many and varied treatments on offer at Finlond.
Most were wealthy, of course - politicians, high ranking officers in the army that their prince commanded, personal friends of the monarchy and so on. Oh, there were a few exceptions of course ... you could pick them out as easily as he knew he himself could be, for their faces reflected his own - shining in wonder and amazement as they drunk in the cream of Greenwood society, becoming one with them for just one day.
He felt wonderfully relaxed and his body tingled and pulsed in health, naked under the sheer white robes they had fitted him with for the day. He wondered what would come next as he watched. A manicure, a pedicure, a facial treatment or a body painting, perhaps a piercing..., Beldir would like that – warrior that he was - yet he would not do it, for when would they be able to enjoy it? His pain would be for but a fleeting moment and he would be alone again.
A strange silence descended upon the open cavern and he looked around curiously for the source of it. Legolas, Prince of the Greenwood, commander of her forces, most beautiful of all her long-suffering citizens, and yet today, now, it did not seem that way to Maedor, for he walked slowly and stiffly, his bountiful hair wet and bedraggled, his face pale and sunken, his eyes under shadowed by who knew what unspeakable horrors from the Mirkwood. They had arrived but hours earlier, with three fallen or so he had been told. It was the fall of beauty, he mused, the decadence of it, its nature fleeting and teasing, subjugated as it was in the Greenwood, to the frivolities of darkness, and the forest prince was the very portrait of their plight.
He too, wore the white robes of Finlond, open and gauzy, soft against the skin as it brushed against it so lovingly, powdery, almost, and yet upon this warrior of warriors, they seemed to him at that moment to be oddly misplaced. They barely covered the freshly scrubbed skin of this, weapon of battle, its flesh white and muscles taught, bulging with power and strength, mottled by scars both old and new, pink and white, faint and stark. Thin lines and rounded punctures, ragged, star shaped wounds that could only be from arrows, he thought ... Yet what would he know, musician that he was?
As the prince sat back into the reclining sofa he had been escorted to, Maedor watched, his curious eyes incapable of wrenching themselves away from the sight before him, for he was strangely moved by what he saw, and yet his mind had yet to process and reasons.
He was staring, he knew, yet a quick, self-conscious glance around him told him that only he and one other did so. The other clients went about their own preening and pampering, apparently having seen this before, for had they not, they would surely be staring as well.
One female took the prince’s bare feet and lifted them onto a soft low foot stool, reverently, as if she handled the queen’s jewels, well she did in a sense, he laughed to himself, yet the mental smile disappeared soon enough as the soft linen robe was parted by a male attendant, and the warrior’s chest was revealed in all its glory – and all its horror.
He felt the hot surge of tears fill his eyes, the eyes of an artist that were beginning to see, for the prince lay there, his body surrendered into the hands of his people in utter trust and humility, and they in turn, touched him, soothed him with hands as skilled as any of his own colleagues.
His eyes strayed momentarily to a powerful looking lord who walked past the couch on which the prince lay, one hand reaching out compassionately to lie on his shoulder, squeezing the hard flesh below, as if drawing something from it, for the touch, however delicate, had been desperate almost, and yet the lord had not looked once upon his leige’s son – he gave strength even as he drew it, yet he had not the courage to look upon the portrait of the Greenwood.
Maedor’s brow furrowed once more as his own mind nudged him, not for the first time since the prince had arrived, yet he still could not synthesize what he felt – what did he feel?
Three attendants now moved around the prostrate warrior as they treated his skin and embellished his wounds, repaired his cracked nails and his lackluster hair with oils and resins, creams and gels, and slowly, under their reverent care, beauty shone once more as darkness faded, its battle lost, for it was love that prevailed now, and once more, their warrior prince was restored...
‘Warrior prince’, he mused as his eyes dropped to the floor for a moment. Where was his own warrior prince now? What sacrifices did he endure, had he endured but yet never confided to him? What horrors had his lovely eyes seen and not spoken of? Had it been for the love Beldir held for Maedor?
He squeezed his eyes shut then as the truth slammed into him with the force of a thousand steeds. Love... It was love that kept his lover away, that left him lonely and wanting, jealous. It was not selfishness or thoughtlessness, it was love, and Maedor had been wrong – all this time he had erred in pointless, hurtful skepticism.
Love had kept his lover away, love for him and for his fellow citizens. Love had kept him from speaking of his activities whilst abroad, not indifference, not lack of esteem. Damn his stupid pride and unfounded suspisions, damn his infantile pouting and moaning that he was to be left alone once more, damn it all to the void but he had been so blind, for he was loved and he had not seen…
In his mnd’s eye, he was before a cold stone wall in the basement of the king’s mountain palace, and as his mind continued to tell him how wrong he had been, how skeptical and egotistical he had been with the one he now knew he loved, he stepped forward until his body sunk into the frigid blocks, traversing them slowly, with difficulty, for they clung to his flesh and held him back, yet his eyes had already gleaned what lay on the other side. It was the paradise of the Evergreen wood. White-tipped mountains heralded by the greenest evergreen wood known to Elvendom. Sapphire blue skies and puffy white clouds and the smell of infinite woodland aromas ... It was their essence, their Silvan world of goodness, and Beldir fought for that, for to fight for this piece of paradise was to fight for everything – for him. What greater love could there be?
His body finally emerged on the other side and he felt naked, as if the stones had ripped the cloth from his body, yet the fresh mountain breeze swirled around him, bringing him to life. No longer would he moan and complain that he had been left alone on such an important date, no matter that his friends had their partners with them to share in life and love. It was no longer relevant that they did not speak of his lover’s duty, or that he had but a few fleeting moments to rejoice together with his lover – for Maedor had something that they did not, he had the love of Beldir. He had stepped through the stone wall of self, and into the light of understanding. No longer trapped inside his own subjective world, but in the world of everyone, where suddenly, everything made such simple sense.
His eyes finally refocused onto the startling blue eyes of an elven prince, now crouched before him. He had lost himself in his own mental imagery, unaware that he wept a river of regret, yet his upturned lips spoke of change, of determination and hope.
A strong hand tilted his chin upwards, until Maedor looked into the mesmerizing eyes that looked back at him in what seemed to be understanding, but there was something else, and Maedor’s heart leapt in his chest.
“Were you a friend to Beldir?” asked the prince softly.
Maedor’s brow furrowed in confusion, yet he answered, softly, tentatively, for how could Legolas have known his thoughts? His heart continued to sink as his mind registered the use of past tense and the compassionate eyes of the Greenwood commander. Only now did he understand what his mind had wanted to tell him…
“I am sorry, my friend – I am truly sorry.”
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