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The Bird Princes

Rating: PG
Characters: Elured, Elurin.
Beta: None.
Disclaimer: No characters in this belong to me, nor am I making any profit from the writing of this story.
Author's Note:This story was written as a belated birthday present for Enis. It is one of the hardest stories I have written as I, at least attempted to, break my normal style of writing and do something completely different. The idea was inspired by a qoute from "The War Of The Jewels" in which the birds succoured Elured and Elurin and led them to safety.
Summary: A fairy tale retelling of the story about the Doriath twins.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a far away land, there lived a King. The world was still young in those days, the sun and moon were young and far more beautiful than they are today and Man was not the only being walking the fields and mountains or living in the deep forest. This was a time when stories were born and heroes were greater than they are today, a world where Men and Elves lived side by side, and this particular King, was a King of Elves.

He was the most beautiful man of his kindred, for not only elvish blood flowed in his veins. His grandmother was Melian the angel and his father was a simple Man but of great courage and wisdom and his mother, his mother, was Lúthien Tinúviel , who was so beautiful that flowers sprung at her feet and stars paled to her beauty, her story is long and beautiful and very sad and for an entire different occasion and time.

Dior, for that was the name of the King, was highly loved by his subjects for he ruled wisely and fairly and his Queen, Nimloth, was one of the noblest women in the Kingdom of Doriath. The realm prospered, at least partly due to the magical Gem that hung around Dior’s neck, for this Gem held the light created by the gods themselves, of which the sun and moon are nothing but pale images.

It was there, in the beautiful caves of Doriath, that the Queen bore two beautiful twin sons and everyone rejoiced at the realm receiving not only one, but two boy children that could one day grow to take the crown, For even though elves are immune to the passage of time and ravages of illness they can be slain, and too many elves had met their ends by sword or arrow in the years that had passed. The King loved his children and proudly named them Eluréd and Elurín, echoing the name of his own famed grandfather Elu Thingol, greatest of all the Elven kings of old.

The joy of Doriath was complete when, three years later, Nimloth bore another child, a girl whose face even from birth mirrored the beauty of Lúthien. Her they named Elwing and she was highly loved.

But just as the world had greater beauty than it does today it also held darker foes and more dangerous creatures than any we know today, creatures that linger in our r memories only as half forgotten nightmares. The Gem which Dior carried was both blessed and cursed for once it had been made in the Holy lands together with its two sisters by the greatest master of Jewel craft that ever was. But the Lord of Darkness stole them and in despair and rage the Smith who made them swore a terrible oath, calling down a curse on all who held the Jewels save were it himself or any of his seven sons.

Lúthien, mother of Dior, had once managed to win a Jewel back from the Evil One but it cost her and her husband highly and eventually the curse fell upon her father to whom the Gem was given and Doriath suffered for his greed.

The Smith was dead since many long years but his sons still lived and still coveted the Jewel and so one night, when Eluréd and Elurín were still small children, the sons of the Smith fell upon Doriath with drawn swords and slaughtered all who stood in their way of the Gem. Elwing was carefully taken away to safety at the first sign of the attack, the necklace holding the Gem now resting around her small neck but in the ensuring chaos Eluréd and Elurín could not be found and was left behind.

Dior fell that night in Doriath as did Nimloth his wife and most of Doriath and Eluréd and Elurín were found and taken out in the forest by servants of the foulest of the Smith’s sons and were left under the trees to die.

Eluréd and Elurín hid in the hollows under the big roots of the great trees, seeking shelter from the snow and wind and huddled together for what little warmth that they could share. In the distance they still heard the screams from their home and the skies were lit by the fires from the caves and the trees that sheltered them. The forest was burning and the fires were spreading.

But the grandmother of Eluréd and Elurín was Melian the angel, lady of the forest, and her servants were the nightingales which she had loved. The brothers had not been hiding long before a small bird landed on one of the great roots under which they hid and tilted its head as it looked at them before it spread its wings and flew away.

Soon the bird returned with several of her brothers and sisters, each carrying nuts or berries in their claws and beaks which they dropped over the great roots under which the children hid.

Eluréd and Elurín gratefully gathered up the meagre offerings, filling stomachs that already ached with hunger, while the birds waited and watched, with their heads tilted. Only when the boys had stopped their eating did the birds take wing again, flying away in the deep night.

The boys once more curled up in their thin cloaks and waited for the dawn and the fighting to stop.

Soon the birds returned again, with several of their larger cousins, carrying twigs and branches and dry grasses in their claws and beaks which they dropped over the great roots of the tree, making a nest around the hollow to keep out snow and wind.

The two small elves thanked the birds graciously for the shelter, feeling some of their fear fade away with the the coldness and soon the small nest was warm and cosy, for no one knows better than the birds how to build a nest that stays warm during the cold nights.

The birds waited and watched the young ones as they sank into a fitful sleep, their heads tilted thoughtfully and their song soft and soothing, only when both the children slept deep and safe did the birds yet again take flight.

The bird returned at the first light of dawn, with her brothers and sisters and cousins and wise uncles and aunts. They landed on the branches and ground around the great tree, their voices filling the air as they watched the nest, their heads tilted to a side as they held their council.

Eluréd and Elurín woke to the sound of birdsong, finding ore nuts and berries and fruits waiting for them outside the nest.

Hungrily they ate the tart winter apples and frozen blueberries while the birds watched them. Only once they had filled their stomachs did the birds spread their wings, surrounding the children in a cloud of feathers and wings, giving them no choice but to follow where the birds led.

And follow they did, for the entire morning did they walk, their hands clasped hard together, driven forward urgently by the birds and when noon came they walked and still when evening fell did their journey continue, their feet bleeding from their long walk and their stomachs aching with hunger. Only once night fell did the birds settle into branches of the trees, leaving the little ones to find cover between two large stones.

As the night before the birds left them, bringing back what foods they could find and once again did they bring branches and dried grasses which they shaped into a nest around the stones.

Exhausted from the previous night and a day of walking, and hurting from bruises and scratches and aching legs the boys fell fast into sleep, trusting the birds to keep them safe. The song of the nightingales and the cawing of the crows woke them at dawn. Once again they found offerings of winter foods outside the nest and ate hungrily and gratefully and yet again a cloud of wings and feathers descended on them after they had had their fill,driving them forward and leading them to safety.

Eluréd and Elurín walked all morning with their aching legs and bleeding feet and once noon came and passed they all but stumbled forward but still when night fell they remained on their feet,collapsing into a small hollow in the ground as the birds settled into the trees. Both boys were asleep when the frozen blackberries were left by they side and as the nest was built around them, they still slept.

Not until dawn did they wake, to find themselves in a cosy nest with food waiting in the snow outside. Despite their bruised legs and bleeding feet the little ones stumbled outside to eat, the hunger in their bellies gnawing at their spine. Yet again, this morning as those past, the birds descended once the food was eaten, forcing them onward away from the shelter they had found at night.

All the morning they stumbled forwards on their bleeding feet and aching legs and once noon came and passed their feet were too numb to walk on and instead they crept, scratching their knees and hands raw on the sharp snow and hidden stones and once evening came and night descended they fell forwards in the snow, to tired to move from where they fell and were promptly asleep.

For another night the birds gathered food and built a nest for the sleeping elves and for another night they watched over the exhausted children as they waited.

The boys woke to the sound of heavy wings, beating in the air and once they crawled outside the nest they found one of the Royal line of all birds, one of the great Eagles, perched on one of the cliffs close by.

In awe the children stared at the magnificent bird, for Eagles in those days were larger than they are today, large enough to dwarf a grown man.

The Eagle titled his head slightly as he watched the children carefully.

"My little sister, the nightingale, told me of your plight," he said eventually, for the Royal line of Eagles all had the power of speech."Our Sire listened to the tales she bore and called a council, not often do we mind the affairs of the Elder races but in this he took an interest."

The boys swallowed nervously before sketching small bows.

"Thank you, Lord Eagle," Eluréd finally said, knowing it was his duty as the oldest to speak. "We are deeply in debt to your Lord King and all of his subjects that has aided us in our escape."

The Eagle opened his beak in a soundless laugh as he watched the small boy, offering such polite words. "Our mountains are no place for the Elder races," he admitted to the small children," but there is yet another solution to your plight. Climb up on my back and hold on tightly, keep your eyes closed and cling to my feathers no matter what you hear."

Seriously the children promised to heed him before they with great care, and difficulties because their arms ached almost as much as their legs and their hands were almost numb from scratches and bruises, they climbed upon the back of the great Eagle and closed their eyes.

The world around them seemed to lurch as the Eagle launched into flight, his mighty wings beating heavily in the cold air as they rose, higher and higher over the frozen world.

They flew all morning, cleaning to feathers and with their eyes closed and it was noon before the Eagle spoke again, only to repeat his warning. "Keep your eyes closed and hold on tightly no matter what your ears may hear."

Once again the children promised to heed his words and the flight continued throughout the afternoon.

The air grew colder as the light departed and evening fell and once again the Eagle repeated his warning to the tired brothers."Keep your eyes closed and hold on tightly no matter what your ears may hear."

Sleepily they promised, yet again, to heed his warning.

As night fell Eluréd and Elurín found their tiredness fading as it seemed that voices were carried in the wind, most unfamiliar but some sounding like elves they had heard when they still lived in peace in Doriath.

Curiously Elurín raised his voice. "Pray tell, Lord Eagle, whose voices we can hear in the wind,for many sounds like voices of elves we believed had fallen."

"They are the voices of the refugees of Doriath, on their flight to safety," the Eagle answered, his deep voice echoing in the night.

After they had flown yet another while the voices changed into the harder accents spoken by the Smith's sons.

Curiously Eluréd could not help but ask his question."pray tell, Lord Eagle, are our attackers following the refugees?"

Once again the Eagle answered them. "You can hear the voices of the damned and lost, searching for the right path. They will offer no threat to the remains of Doriath."

The night darkened further around them before the children jerked in surprise, for they could clearly hear their mother's voice, calling their names. Sitting up straighter they loosened their hold on the feathers, torn between keeping their promise to the Eagle and opening their eyes.

beneath them the Eagle quickened his pace, his great wings struggling in the wind.

"Pray tell, Lord Eagle," Eluréd finally said, "I can hear my mother's voice calling for me, would this not be a safe place to leave us?"

The Eagle's voice was louder than before as he answered them. "There is nothing but air around us and sea below," he rumbled. "The voices you hear are walking the path of the dead."

Shivering the children closed their eyes harder, burying faces wet with tears in the rough feathers.

The dawn that night was long in coming but when it came it arrived with a warmth, unknown to the brothers until now.

The Eagle slowed his wings as he descended and the scent of fresh grass and tangy sea came up to meet them before the Eagle landed, ruffling his feathers slightly.

"You can open your eyes now," he said."The lost and the damned cannot find you and the dead hold no sway here. And if you would be so kind, the ground will be more comfortable than my back."

Eagerly the children opened their eyes and slid of the Eagle's back, gasping at the beauty of the land that surrounded them. The beach behind them seemed an endless stretch of white sand until it met the green waves and before them laid field after field of soft grass and rolling hills.

"Welcome to my home," a gentle voice called out, from the other side of the Eagle. "I have waited for your arrival."

Eluréd and Elurín curiously turned towards the sweet voice, finding it belonging to a tall woman with soft curling, black hair falling to pale shoulders.

"I am Melian," she said with a smile. "And you are at home."

That is the end of the tale of the bird princes and how they came to be known by that name, for their friendship with the birds that had aided them and kept them safe never waned and the Eagles happily carried them where they wanted to go during their long and happy lives.