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Part 1: There is Something About Gliadin

Beleg wrapped the leather around his wrist, tying it as tight as he can without cutting off the circulation to his arm. He picked up his great bow and sat down by the small fire and started rubbing some wax into the wood to keep the bow supple and strong. Beleg's head turned sharply at the small rustle in the bushes as a tall, beautiful Elf maiden made her way to his fire, Beleg rolled his eyes at the new comer and motioned for 'her' to sit down.
Gliadin let out a deep baritone laugh and sat down opposite Beleg with a rueful grin.
"There is no fooling you is their cousin?" Gliadin observed and threw a stick onto the fire.
Beleg ignored his cousin and continued rubbing wax into his bow as the other took off some of his 'disguise', revealing a very feminine looking man underneath all the frills and folds. Gliadin slouched back, putting his bare feet to the fire with a satisfied groan.
Annoyed that he had been interrupted, Beleg put down his bow and leaned forward, "What do you want Gliadin?"
The other's right eye opened and glimmered before closing again, "Want? I don't want anything, I'm quite happy."
Beleg shook his head and went back to his bow, at first it had seemed unnerving for him to hear such a deep voice come out of such a feminine mouth, but he had gotten used to it. Beleg knew that he was the only one that Gliadin ever spoke to in 'that voice' the rest getting treated with a husky in between voice that could belong to either a man or a woman. The voice that Gliadin deemed necessary to create ever since he was a young man.
Whilst Beleg grew into a strapping youth, all muscles with a sharp wit, his cousin seemed never to grow at all, staying the same boy-girl shape well into adult hood that he exploited when posing as the opposite sex. Beleg never understood Gliadin's obsession with dressing as a woman, but neither did he ridicule it, there was many a time when they had used it to their advantage when visiting other Elven nations. Beleg will never forget the day when they had travelled north on a hunting expedition and 'bumped' into Finrod Felagund and a couple of Feanorian sons. Finrod had seen through the deception instantly, having been at the receiving end of one of the young men's 'pranks' when he had last been to Doriath but he had not told the Feanorian sons a thing, letting them believe that Gliadin was an Elf maiden that was being escorted rather than a hunting party stealing into lands that weren't their own. Beleg shook his head.
"What were you thinking about cousin?" Gliadin asked, his pretty eyes searching Beleg's own.
Beleg smiled at him, "That day when we were hunting and bumped into Finrod and the Feanorian Princes."
Gliadin's eyes sparkled, "Oh yeah, I'm surprised Finrod played along, after what we did to him and all."
"Finrod is a fine Elf, if Thingol ever put me under his command I would be more than happy to comply."
Gliadin shifted and sat up, his face all serious, "So would I."
Beleg eyed his cousin whilst still polishing his bow, "Glia, I have to know why do you like dressing as a woman? Somehow I just can't see your fascination with it, plus you have to spend all that time dressing your hair, clothes, all of it."
Gliadin shrugged his delicate shoulders, "Its fun."
Beleg laughed, "It's fun? I've got to hand it to you cousin, you're a lot braver than I am."
Beleg leant his now perfectly polished bow against the nearest tree and drew a water skin out of his things, taking a deep drink, draining the skin completely. One of the bushes rustled as another Elf in uniform came out of the brush.
"Captain, the King sends for you at once," the Elf announced, looking down his nose at the lounging Gliadin.
Gliadin winked at the newcomer, who looked away in disgust, not noticing Beleg's own amusement, Gliadin had that way with people and if Beleg knew Gliadin well enough he knew that the young Elf would now become the brunt of Gliadin's latest joke.
"Thank you, inform the King I will come at once," Beleg replied. The Elf nodded and spun around heading back the way he had come at great speed, barely making a sound as he passed.
Beleg spun around back to Gliadin, "Now you behave yourself." He gathered his things, strapping his large bow to his back.
Gliadin said not a word, his face full of innocence that Beleg knew preluded one of his more cunning jokes, King Thingol tolerated Gliadin on the account of his cousin. Beleg shook his head, nothing he could do about it, Gliadin was far more intelligent than he let on, Beleg gave his cousin one last warning glance before disappearing in the direction the messenger had went.

Beleg watched wearily as the Elf maiden's came through the great hall's doors, carefully studying the faces of the maidens. In the corner Luthien laughed as one of her maids told her something funny, her sweet laughter filling the room. Thingol glanced at his wife and smiled at the sound, not noticing Beleg's eyes narrowing on the 'Elf maid', the 'Elf maid' caught Beleg's eye and winked slyly. Gliadin looked beautiful in a deep blue gown, his dark hair wavy, following down his back, his oddly shaped eyes open wide with innocence, making him look extremely feminine. Beleg choked on his drink as the young Elf messenger that had fetched him earlier, approached Luthien and her 'companion'. Thingol looked sharply at Beleg.
"Captain."
Beleg swallowed, "Sorry My Lord, must have drunk too fast." Beleg's face paled as he saw out of the corner of his eye, the messenger talking enthusiastically to Gliadin.
Melian smiled at the large Elf, "It would be a shame to miss the rest of the feast if you are feeling unwell, Beleg."
Beleg's eyes shifted towards the beautiful Queen and he managed a weak smile, "Nay My Lady, I am feeling quite fine now."
She smiled at him again as her daughter made her way up to the royal couple, Luthien bent to kiss her mother then father's cheek before kissing Beleg's cheek as well and siting down next to him, taking his hand her own.
Another Elf Lord came to greet the royal couple and Beleg leant to whisper into Luthien's ear, "What are you and Gliadin up to?"
Luthien chuckled and patted his large hand in her own, "Never you mind, just enjoy the meal."
Inwardly Beleg groaned, knowing that what ever they were up to, it would be no good.

As the night wore on, Gliadin took the young Elf out onto the balcony area to look over the beautiful city, pleased that the elf 'maiden' had shown him preference, the Elf messenger who's name was Amaldeth, never even considered that the beautiful maid was the same man he had scoffed not a few hours earlier. Amaldeth whispered something into Gliadin's ear to cause him to laugh, neither noticing Beleg creeping up on them.
"Nice night for a stroll isn't it," Beleg remarked, looking severely at Gliadin.
"Busted," Gliadin whispered then smiled prettily at Beleg, ignoring the utterly confused Amaldeth.
Beleg raised an eyebrow at his cousin, "You had enough fun yet?"
"Spoil-sport," Gliadin replied.
Amaldeth's gaze flickered between the two, "Is there something I'm missing here?"
Beleg chucked, "Amaldeth, look closely at your companion here, see anything familiar?"
Amaldeth looked Gliadin up and down and when he reached Gliadin's face, Gliadin winked, in his distinctive way and Amaldeth jumped back in horror, "You!"
Gliadin chuckled again and held out his perfect hands.
"I'm afraid so, he is quite convincing isn't he?" Beleg remarked trying his best to lighten the situation.
Amaldeth shook his head in wonder, "I didn't even have the slightest clue."
Beleg laughed, "When you don't see my cousin in attendance, you can be sure he is posing as one of the maidens."
"But, Lady Luthien, she introduced me, oh she's in on it to, isn't she."
"In a way, she just helped me demonstrate something. I am a master of disguises, young Amaldeth, just because I am a little less conventional than usual doesn't mean that I am a lesser person."
Amaldeth swallowed and looked to Beleg for help, who's face had also hardened causing Amaldeth to realise that he had just been taught a very important lesson.
Beleg turned to his cousin, "I have orders for you, you are to travel to Nargothonrod to give Finrod a message, I know that it is a hidden city, but you must try, Orcs have been spotted wandering around the reaches of the Girdle and the King fears that it could be something more serious. Whilst we are surely safe inside Melian's enchantment, Thingol fears that Morgoth might raise another army and he believes that you might be able to find out what messengers do not."
Gliadin nodded, "Am I to go alone?"
Beleg offered his cousin one of his rare bright smiles, "No, I'm sending Amaldeth along with you, two eyes are better than one they say, plus I think you might be able to pass him off as an Elf Maiden too."
Amaldeth's eye's widened in terror at the thought until both Beleg and Gliadin burst out laughing.
"He is kidding, Amaldeth, plus you are the wrong build," Gliadin turned back to his cousin, "When are we to leave?"
"Tomorrow morning, I will be doing a border check."
Gliadin nodded at his cousin and gave Amaldeth a quick grin, "Better get some beauty sleep then," he winked at the young Elf and walked away.

Amaldeth and Beleg stood for a few moments in silence until Beleg turned to the young Elf, "Don't question him, he is much smarter than anyone thinks. Everyone thinks he is a little mad, but they are all wrong, everything Gliadin does has purpose. And whatever you do, don't get one of his dresses dirty and don't let on that he is who he is when he is in disguise."
Amaldeth nodded his head, feeling a little light headed at not only being sent on a 'mission' but also by accompanying one of the most remarkable elves that he had ever met.

>> Continue to Part 2: A Little Trip Through the Forest

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