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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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Strangers
Submitter: Date: 2006/5/28 Views: 158 Rate: 8.00/1
Summary: Rating: G

Disclaimer: Aragorn and Legolas belong to Tolkien. The character of Princess Sun Lian and the world she lives in are the property of Bioware and from the game "Jade Empire".

Notes: It was not intended to be a crossover as such, but I wondered if such a world could easily fit into Middle-earth. I don't know if I have succeeded, but it has been fun trying *grins*

Also, I have included some Japanese in here. My knowledge of it is rudimentry at best, retained from when I used to follow anime to a higher degree than I do now. So any mistakes in the language, I apologise for, and all mistakes are my own.

So... to memory, here are the translations:

Legolas-san - affixing "-san" at the end of the name is our equivilent of saying "Sir," or another form of respect.
Silk Fox-chan - whereas "-chan" is a more informal addition to the end of a name, signifiying the friendship between two people.
Arigato - Thank you.
Hime - Princess.

Summary: Extending diplomatic relations in a far away city...

"Can I ask," Aragorn said quietly to Legolas as they walked through the ornate streets, "why exactly your father wishes to open diplomatic relations with these people?"

"Strengthening diplomatic ties. Getting to know the others that share this world. Charting new areas for the cartograohers. Trade and commerce." Legolas answered, "look and learn, Estel. Soon you shall be in my place."

"I should have known it would have something to do with treasure and gold," Aragorn teased, ignoring Legolas' glare. The sun was shining brightly down onto the buildings, the like of which the pair had never seen before. But there was something beautiful about them. In the distance voices could be heard. It reminded Aragorn in some respects of Bree. Even the amount of people wandering around with weapons were the same. The only thing that struck him as different were the women. In all the human cities and villages the ranger had walked through the women remained at home, caring for things until the men would return. Here it looked like they actively went out to fight alongside their husbands and brothers.

Behind a circle of cheering people, two people fought within the confined space. Two women, each with something to prove, danced around each other, looking for a weakness. Both women stopped fighting for a moment, eyes closed, one chanting words under her breath. The panels of her skirt at the front and at the side shifted with the wind, revealling her legs and the straps attached to them. A slim dagger rested against the pale leg while the other was empty.

Aragorn watched with wide eyes as her hand suddenly sparked and glowed and flames seemed to seep out from her skin. Legolas called him away just as the other womans' arm glowed blue in return and the two colours clashed brightly.

"I have never seen apparal such as this," Aragorn whispered once they walked around the corner and into what looked like a busy market place. A woman dressed in burgendy clothing strolled past them, the sash affixed to her waist blowing behind her in the breeze. Her midriff and upper thighs were exposed to the air and boots the same colour as her clothing hugged her legs closely. Aragorn reminded himself that even though he'd never seen women walking around in so little, their culture and his own pride, respected that he didn't stare for long.

"Come, come closer," a man beckoned to the pair. They exchanged a look before slowly walking forwards. "Take a look at this," the trader prompted, holding up a green statue, "the finest jade to come out of the Jade Empire. And this," the statue was placed down and a small dagger was lifted. The hilt was covered in something irridecent and it sparkled brightly in the sunlight, "said to be the dagger wielded by Princess Lian, the Heavenly Lily when she aided the outsider against the former emperor." The trader peered at them over his glasses, "ordinarily I would charge 500 yen for this stunning weapon, but for you..." the trader paused and glanced them up and down. His brow knitted as though he was not favourable over what he saw. "I can see you are perhaps poorer than most, fair travellers, so 300 yen."

Legolas' eyebrow arched in response to the traders words but said nothing. In this field Aragorn's expertise at dealing with humans far surpassed his own. Until they met up with the emmisary from this strange land, Legolas would remain a silent observer in the proceedings.

"Legolas-san, Ellessar-san" a voice called from the crowd, "come this way, please. She will see you now."

With an apologetic nod to the trader Aragorn and Legolas quickly left the market behind. Although they did not understand a single word he had just spoken - aside from their names - Legolas had been given a description of the man, one he had shared with Strider, so was content to follow him for now.

The aide waited patiently by a cherry-blossom tree for the pair to approach and then started walking quickly through the crowds. Eventually they reached what looked like a Tavern of some kind and both feared for who was waiting behind those doors. No ruler they had met had staged the first meeting within a social setting such as this.

The wooden doors were opened and the man gestured them forwards. "The lady resides in here. She will decide whether you will stay long enough to seek an audience with the leader." A set of screen doors barred their way and the man stopped before them. "Silk Fox-chan," he spoke softly, "the outsiders are here."

"Arigato," called a voice and Legolas wished he'd had a chance to better learn the language of these people before engaging in diplomatic talks. He only hoped this "Silk Fox" spoke the common tongue otherwise negotiations would be... problematic at best.

They entered the room and were encouraged to sit cross-legged on the floor. Legolas did so and quietly studied the woman before them. She was covered nearly entirely with a black fabric, with only her eyes and elbows clear. Yellow markings stood out starkly against the black canvas. Her jet black hair was tied into a bun atop her head and a few strands escaped to frame her face. A veil obscured her face and brown eyes studied him just as closely over it.

The silence stretched and Legolas felt he should make some kind of greeting.

"Ah," he tried to recall the words spoken by the man moments before, "Silk Fox-chan...-"

The amber eyes flashed above the veil. "I have not given you leave to call me so familarly," she chided in heavily accented common. The thickness of her accent made it difficult for Legolas to understand. He hoped, if she gave them a chance, to learn to ignore the accent and hear her words. She steepled her fingers together, staring at the prince.

"Forgive me," Legolas murmured, tipping his head down in the sign of respect amongst his people.

She returned the gesture but her eyes were still hard. "So, the King of the Outland Realm sees fit to send his son to negotiate with our leaders. I wonder if he should have sent someone else."

Her words sparked a wave of anger in him and the next words spilled out without thinking. "I assure you, lady, as the son of the King I am well suited for this mission. I ask who are you to detain us here, when it is someone of a higher position surely that we are to speak to."

Beside him, Aragorn froze, expecting guards to pour out of somewhere because of Legolas' words. Legolas did the same, fearing his sudden wave of anger towards this woman had cost them the treaty before it had started. Maybe she was right. Maybe he should have declined his fathers' request and asked that someone else be sent in his place.

The elven prince risked a glance at the silent woman before them and was confused at the spark of amusement he saw there. The confusion was soon swept away by anger. Was she playing with them?

"You have fire, spirit," she commented, a smile spreading beneath the veil that they could not see. "It is a trait admired amongst the people here. But be warned, outsider, there are just as many that would kill you for it than admire it."

"Like you?" Legolas couldn't help but ask. He had the impression now that this woman would favour boldness over placidity.

The smile spread under the veil. "You are brave. Some would even say foolish for asking such a thing." She rose to her feet, gesturing for them to do the same. "Fortunately, or perhaps not, for you, I am not one of those people." Silk Fox turned to face the screen at her back. "Follow me. I shall take you to meet those who you wish to see."

"Don't you wish to know who we are?" Aragorn asked as they increased their speed to catch up with the darkly-clad native.

She turned her head long enough to stare hard into their eyes. "I had known of you long before you stepped foot into the tea-house."

She lead them back outside, her gaze fixed on the building rising high above all the others. Legolas' eyes widened when he realised it was actually floating. "What kind of devilry is this?" he whispered under his breath.

"Not devilry," Silk Fox returned, "just magic of an ancient kind." They walked in silence for the next few minutes, heading further and further away from the crowded city-scape. Legolas half feared how they would get up there.

"This is a Flyer," she said, stopping before a strange thing the two travellers had never seen before. It looked almost like an insect, but Legolas had never seen one this big. "She is called the "Marvelous Dragonfly" and will be our method of travel."

"To there?" Legolas tipped his gaze upwards, thankful he wasn't afraid of heights. But at the same time, he feared for Aragorn. The young man had a dislike of heights after falling from many of the taller trees in his youth. Like he was expecting, Aragorn's face was slightly pale and he eyed the machine with distrust.

"You are certain this will get us safely up there?"

"I am," Silk Fox nodded, getting into the machine. "The Dragonfly has aided me many times in the past and will do so again today." And then she looked at them expectantly. Legolas gripped Aragorn's arm and turned to look his friend in his eyes. The look said Legolas would think nothing of him if he chose to wait for him on the ground. Aragorn swallowed and smiled slightly in thanks. But he would not leave Legolas to go up there alone. If anything happened to his friend and he was stuck down here because of his stupid fear...

Aragorn jumped into the Flyer before he changed his mind. Legolas smiled and stepped in behind Aragorn, his hand curling around Aragorn's arm in thanks and also in reassurance. The hand tightened when the Flyer shuddered and began to rise from the ground.

"Easy, Estel. Close your eyes and imagine we are standing on your balcony." Legolas leaned forwards so his mouth was next to Aragorn's ear. "Imagine the winds rushing through the valley, threading through your hair. The noise you can hear is the rushing of the falls in the distance and you are safe."

Aragorn relaxed as Legolas' words did their job. In his minds' eye he was standing in the idyllic haven that was Imladris, with his friend standing at his side. He could almost feel the warmth from the many torches warming his skin, could almost hear the voices of his family echoing across the hallways.

"Your customs are different from our own. Or perhaps, not so different, if I have judged your relationship correctly." Legolas looked up to see Silk Fox glance at them before looking back at where she was flying. "Here men do not touch unless they are family. Unless they have travelled long together and forged a warriors bond. I assume then that you are brothers in arms rather than brothers of blood?"

"He and I are brothers of the battlefield and of the heart. In my world it does not take ties of blood to form bonds of brotherhood," Legolas said, not removing his hand from Aragorn's arm.

"Indeed." She did not turn her head around to look at them this time, instead nodded at the approaching building. The Flyer landed with a small thump and shudder on the runway. "We are here."

"Open your eyes, Estel, we have arrived," Legolas murmured in sindarin. Estel opened his eyes and seemed relieved they were back on solid ground.

"This way," Silk Fox prompted, leading them through a large opening in the wall. They ascended two flights of stairs and then entered a circular room. Both started when there was sudden whirring sound and the floor slowly began to rise upwards. "Do not fear," Silk Fox said, smirking at their surprise, "this is what we call an elevator. It traverses the length of the spire, allowing easy access to the palace without having to walk up thousands of stairs."

The only door to leave by was one on the left and they followed the woman through it. The small walkway branched out into a beautiful wooded pathway and birdsong could be heard above them. "This is where the physical shells of the departed royals are kept until their soul returns to the Great Wheel." Legolas and Aragorn both turned to look at it. It looked more like the entrance to a temple than a house for the dead.

They entered into the main building the travellers could see at the end of the walkway. "This is the Audience Chamber," Silk Fox stopped before an ornate wooden door. She pointed to a divan that rested against one wall. "Wait there. I shall present your names before the leader. If the sun sets and you recieve no word, it would be in your best interests to abandon this venture and return to where you came from." Before either could say anything she walked through a side door. The pair watched it snick shut.

"She is... different. I wonder if the leaders will be like her." Aragorn mused as he sat down.

"That could have gone a little better," Legolas admitted quietly, sitting down next to the young human.

"It could also have gone a little worse! I can't believe you said that to her," Aragorn said with a smile on his face. Now they were removed from that tea-house, as she had called it, he couldn't help but see the humour to the situation. "By rights we should be thrown out of the city by now."

"Fortunately for us, this one favours boldness in a person," Legolas commented with a small smile of his own, remembering the natives words, "I am sorry, Estel."

"Think nothing of it," Aragorn returned, waving his hands dismissively in the air, "you didn't get us thrown into jail this time."

Legolas' eyes widened. "I? I, human? I was the one that got us out of that jail! And I wasn't the one who was caught rooting through this persons garbage because you heard-"

Their argument in sindarin was halted when the doors to the side opened. Legolas started to rise to his feet as another woman walked out. But when she paid no more attention to them than a curious glance and a cursory nod, Legolas sat back down. Aragorn followed the womans progress across the room, noting the deadly sword strapped to her clothed leg. He caught sight of a dragon embroidered down the length of the other leg before she disappeared from view.

A few hours later Aragorn shifted from where he'd been lying across the divan in his boredom. At least outside there was always something to happen that would capture his interest. Here, there was nothing. Aside from the occasional servant wandering around, they'd seen no-one. And certainly not this mysterious leader they were waiting for.

Legolas looked up at the window from where he was checking the fletchlings on his arrows. His eyes narrowed slightly as he scrutinised the waning light. "The sun is nearly cresting the horizon." His brow knitted further as he remembered the natives words.

"If the sun sets and you recieve no word, it would be in your best interests to abandon this venture and return to where you came from."

"Should we go? Return again to try another day?" Aragorn asked hesitantly.

Legolas shook his head. "No. Even if I did not wish to gain some kind of diplomatic relations with these people for my father before heading home, we cannot leave anyway."

Aragorn paled slightly, remembering how they got up here in the first place. "I'd almost forgotten," Aragorn admitted.

"What say you Aragorn?" Legolas asked when he saw the rapidly fading light through the window, "shall we find Silk Fox and try for her help again?"

"I'm not sure if I want any kind of help she can give," Aragorn snorted as he stood up, watching Legolas do the same. "If it involves that machine again I'll-"

"I do apologise for my delay." A melodic voice, no less heavily accented than those they'd heard before drifted over to them. Legolas frowned slightly. He'd never met this woman, but her voice was familiar. He shook the sense of familiarity off and bowed in the manner of the elves, and with all the grace of a woodland prince.

She returned the gesture in kind and slowly walked down the stairs. The same man from before was by her side.

The long garment she was wearing was the colour of the setting sun they had just witnessed moments ago. Dipped in red at the hem, fading to orange and then the warmest yellow to the top. As seemed the style with most of the women here, her midriff was bare. Her sleeves were long and trailed near her feet when her arms were dropped. Her long black hair cascaded down from a bun atop her head to rest just below her shoulders. A yellow flower to match her raiment was affixed to her hair.

In short, she was stunning, an exotic beauty unlike anything they had ever seen. But for the two men who were waiting to see her, had they not been already uninterested in the fairer sex for the time, they would not risk this negotiation by dallying with this woman.

"I dislike talking for the first time in the Throne Room. Would you care to join me in the main hall for the evening meal? I did keep you waiting a long time."

Legolas nodded his agreement after consulting with Aragorn. "That would be welcome, your Highness."

A small smile flitted over the princess' face before the mask settled back over again. The man appeared back at her side from wherever he had vanished to. "Hime, the meal is served and ready."

"Arigato, Kang," the princess inclined her head and the one called Kang disappeared through the open doorway. Seconds later, she followed him in leaving Aragorn and Legolas no choice but to do the same.

Princess Sun Lian waited until the two travellers were seated before gesturing them to eat. They soon found that the food, although colourful looking and strange, was actually fairly nice to taste.

"My compliments to your chef," Aragorn said quietly as Legolas voiced his agreement.

The princess inclined her head in thanks as she steepled her fingers together. Legolas had a sudden flashback to Silk Fox doing the same and the sense of familiarity struck him again. "In my language, my name is Sun Lian-hime. That would translate to Princess Lian Sun in the common tongue, I believe." She spread her fingers over the table before wrapping them around a goblet and taking a drink. "And you are outsiders wishing to open diplomatic relations. So then, travellers from distant lands, let us talk. Perhaps this meeting will go better than the first." A slight smile tugged again at her lips, hidden behind the goblet.

Legolas watched as the goblet was placed back on the table. He forced himself not to dwell on the niggling sense that he was still getting and instead on making a good impression this time around, like he had been unable to do during their meeting with Silk Fox.

For Legolas was not only doing this for his father and for the the kingdom of Mirkwood, he was also doing this for himself. To prove that he could walk into a strange land and get to know the people and its rulers. To say that he had been able to forge ties with someone other than an errant dunadan who had wandered into his woods one day.

"My name is Legolas Greenleaf, your highness, and I hail from the forest realm known as Mirkwood. I come with the ranger, Strider, seeking to form ties between our two races..."

Fin...

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