Clouds of deep iris drifted lazily across the horizon, no competition for the strength of the rising sun.
Tirion greeted the Elven Rangers guarding the entrance to Tavrobel as he headed out under the cover of the surrounding forest, guiding his horse towards the archery range, sure of finding Gilfanon at practice there. His gaze followed the sure path of the dawning light orb, straining his elvish sight to try catch a glimpse of Arien, the radiant Maian handmaiden chosen by the Valar to guide the sun from her fiery chariot. Even as a child, riding out among the hills with Gilfanon, his closest friend, they had often earnestly discussed the unfathomable majesty and unyielding silence of the Valar. Tirion had never wavered in nurturing goodwill and faith towards the Valar, yet he was not deaf to the rising frustration of Gilfanon and many younger Elves whether the Valar had truly abandoned the Elves who had remained in these Lands.
Heated conversations on this topic were not uncommon and more frequently would mar lighthearted gatherings under the stars and only the presence of Elbereth Elentari seemed to soothe the forlorn hearts and heal the wounded souls of his friends.
It crossed his mind once again that he had known of Elbereth before he could walk. Her name was spoken by older Elves with reverence, although her visits to Tavrobel had been scarce and only in the last few moons had she remained within the Haven. Still, there were many days that passed without anyone knowing of her whereabouts. She was the oldest Elf hereabouts, having seen the last Ages and experienced the legendary Wars that united the races, yet ravaged the Lands. But strangely, few could tell of her kin and she never spoke of her place of birth. Her wisdom and foresight had become sustainance to them all, but she remained a riddle.
He approached Gilfanon quietly, sliding off his mount and admiring the perfection of each arrow fired rapidly into a distant target.
"Suilad mellon!" (Greetings Friend), he called, a smile lighting his features as the Commander of his Rangers turned and gracefully slid his bow onto his back.
Gilfanon's answer was cool, his posture tense, "Mae govannen, brannon (Well met, my Lord),," accompanied by a slight bow.
Tirion arched an eyebrow. "Ah, you remain unconvinced as to the prudence of strengthening ties with our neighbours. And your hesitation is shared by quite a few of your fellow Elves."
The Ranger sighed and his shoulders relaxed, but the shadow of concern marred his brow as he nodded towards his childhood friend. "Aye, Tirion. Our seclusion these many years has served us well. We have seen no incursions since the Drow were driven back into Blackmoor in the days when the forest hereabouts was no more than a gathering of saplings."
Gilfanon's ever watchful eyes screened the surrounding countryside, before he added in a desultory tone, "And the death of a Mer Queen is little consideration for us Elves. We have had no contact with the merfolk since our kin journeyed to the West in their swan ships. I doubt that the crowning of a new Regent in Sirenia will provide great cause for our concern!"
Tirion's horse paused from grassing and whinnied lightly. Both Elves turned to see a Ranger troop cantering towards the archery range.
"Yet, you have increased the Watch and intensified weapons practice, friend," Tirion sighed and laid a hand on Gilfanon's shoulder. "You may not agree with the necessity for outside alliances, yet you can not disregard the Lady Elbereth's warning of possible danger and unrest arising from the Queen's passing!"
Gilfanon shrugged, clasping his hand over his friends, a grin tugging at the corner of his lips, "Aye, Tirion, I may be over cautious, but only a fool of an Elf would not trust the insight of the wisest being in all of Lisianthus!"
He retreated a step, breaking their contact, just as the Rangers reached them and stood attentively waiting for his orders. His next words were more formal and were accompanied by a low bow, "My Lord, I am committed to pursuing the Path chosen by the Elders and yourself. I will return to the Haven before the sun is well set and seek you out to discuss further action."
Tirion inclined his head, as much in greeting of the new arrivals as in acquiescence at Gilfanon's words. "So be it, Gwador (my sworn brother). We shall yet speak at length about your concerns and then decide upon our course of action."
He beckoned his horse and mounted in one fluid movement, his parting words directed at all the Elves gathered. "May all your arrows reach their mark swiftly and without detour, my Rangers!"
The assembled Elves smiled and raised their arms in salute as the Lord of Tavrobel galloped off towards the path to the Haven.