Jibril soon left and I was at a loss what to do next; I need not have worried, I should have anticipated that I would have to been seen by our lords for my acts. There was a loud rapping on my bedroom door so I called out.
"Queen Millani wishes to see you, Theron Elvin." By our standards, this was a young elf who had back hair and green eyes.
"Messenger, I carry that title no longer. And thank you." I indicated that he was dismissed.
"Human-friend," I turned at the strange, new title I had been given, "We have been sent to accompany you." He eyed the doorway behind him, through which I could see several armed elfin guards wielding swords or bows.
Ever so slightly I inclined my head to myself, so this was the life I must now accept, this was the life I had thrust my son into. I should have stayed in Eitan. Reluctantly, I nodded and strode out of the door.
Elendil hung onto my hand at my side, whimpering whenever a guard moved to change their weapon hands. His discomfort made the guards unhappy too, we hate to see a young one upset, so I pulled my son into my arms where he buried his head in the base of my neck. Six guards surrounded me with the messenger leading the pack. We walked briskly through the forest villages, elves staring at us all the way, to catch a glimpse of the young one or the condemned I did not know or wish to find out.
Our destination was The Palace of the Branches, named thus because it was literally a palace grown out of the surrounding trees; birch, yew and willow. Fabulous arched window decorated the front above the domed doorway, the slanting roof dotted with forget-me-nots and snowdrops. I had not seen our races' most glorious structure in many moons, the sight of it again was truly breath taking.
I was marched over the bridge, up the steps and in through the wooden doors. Hand maidens and servants, there by choice not employment for no one was forced into work in our land, scattered as we approached, or else kneeling before the young one in my arms.
"Get up, scoundrels!" Lorcan barked, joining us by one of the stairwells and taking the messenger's place, "Well, well Elvin, it seems your son has attracted some attention. Moral is exactly what we need in these times of trial, would you permit me to hold your son so everyone may see his glory?" I could picture the false sneer across his pinched face, the way his cold, bony fingers would curl as if laughing; I could hear the daring in his voice to contradict him. If I did not hand my son over to his clutches, my endurance would not last what he could throw at me.
"As you wish, Theron Lorcan."
I prized Elendil from my chest, his eyes wide in panic as I handed him past the weapons he was terrified of. He screamed and all the elves shuddered at the pain.
"Please!" I gasped at the intensity of the need to protect him, "Please, do not take him!" The guards nodded in agreement with me.
Loracn, however, was immune to the suffering of others. He merely parted the ranks of the soldiers, fixed his greedy eyes on my son and growled, "Boy, if you scream one more time I swear you will be growing up in exile in the mountains!" His voice increased in volume. I could feel the threat of another scream grinding in my son's chest. With all I had, I begged him to remain quiet.
"Forgive me, Theron Lorcan." Elendil replied lightly and held his arms out, allowing himself to be taken by Lorcan.
Now it was my turn to stifle my own screams of protest; I was surrounded by guards, Lorcan was not. Should he wish to run and part me from my kin he could easily. Tension knotted in my limbs as I forced myself to keep pace with the guards; only a few more rooms until we were before the Queen and she would not let a young one be parted from a parent. Just a few more rooms.