Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Third Age of the Sun
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure (“AU”)
Rating: T / FRT
Characters: Legolas, Thranduil (, OCs)
Summary: Soon after Legolas’ birth, there was a bodyguard chosen for him, as had been the custom in the royal family. But how was Rafél chosen to this task, and did he accept his new duty immediately and without hesitating? How did the young Prince of Mirkwood receive his guardian? And most of all, how did they befriend and grew inseparable…
Part of the history of “The Last Journey”. Complete.
Warnings: Violence, mentioning of death.
Rafél knocked again at Legolas’ door, waiting patiently for an answer. Maybe he is still asleep, he pondered, but he deserted that idea immediately. Legolas never slept late, and it was nearly breakfast time already. Knocking yet again, Rafél wondered if Legolas was merely playing with him. Deciding that he had waited enough, he left the knocking, instead opening the unlocked door.
The room was empty. Rafél knew it as soon as he entered. Feeling a cold rush of fear grab him, Rafél crossed the room, making sure that his protégé wasn’t hiding anywhere. But Legolas wasn’t. Many signs told Rafél that the room had been empty for some time already.
Leaving the room, his face grim, Rafél tried to think where Legolas could be. The Prince would only have his lessons with Thrénandu today, and it seemed unlikely that Legolas would have gone to the training fields this early…
Shannai. The idea fitted Rafél’s problem perfectly. Most likely, he would find Legolas playing with his friend. Wasting no more time with useless searching, Rafél headed to the area around the palace where Shannai lived. He arrived there a few moments later, finding Shannai sitting alone outside his home, playing with a peace of wood.
Shannai raised his head when he heard Rafél approach – hearing the other far too late on his opinion – and glanced alarmed at the door, wondering if his parents had noticed Rafél’s arrival. Rafél didn’t look pleased. All but that. And Shannai definitely had no desire to be as a target of Rafél’s bad mood. “Good morning,” he said shakily, knowing there was little else he could do.
“Where is he?” Rafél demanded, stopping before the youth impatiently.
“Who is?” Shannai asked, puzzled.
Rafél rolled his eyes, taking a deep, mental breath. “Legolas. Is he hiding somewhere? In the case he is, you had better to go and tell him I am waiting.”
“Legolas is not here,” Shannai started carefully. Seeing Rafél lifting his eyebrow in disbelief, he continued. “I haven’t seen him since yesterday’s practices on the field. Is something wrong?” he finally dared to voice out.
“No…” Rafél said, his mind elsewhere. If Legolas is not here, then where is he? “Do you think some of the other novices could have seen him after the practices?” To his horror, Rafél realised that he himself hadn’t seen Legolas after he had escorted him to Thrénandu’s care yesterday
Shannai thought for a while, and then shook his head. “Nay, I don’t think anyone saw him. We really don’t have other friends there…” Seeing Rafél’s rather downcast look, Shannai hurried to continue. “But you may always ask. I cannot be sure. I didn’t see him, after all.”
Rafél nodded, thanked Shannai quickly and then headed to the training fields. He met Thrénandu there, preparing for a new day. “Rafél, what brings you here at this hour?” the captain asked, meeting the other.
“You wouldn’t have seen Legolas this morning?” Rafél asked hopefully.
“No, I have not,” Thrénandu replied, his face immediately serious. “You are looking for him?”
Rafél merely nodded, eyeing the field. “May I speak with the novices when they arrive?”
“Of course, they should be here in an hour,” Thrénandu said. “Have you asked from the King? Maybe he knows of his son’s whereabouts.”
“I do not wish to worry our King and Queen for nothing,” Rafél said, turning back to Thrénandu. “I asked some guards, and they said that none has seen Legolas, nor was he in the breakfast table when I passed it.”
Thrénandu stayed quiet, his thoughts sorting out any kind of useful information. “Legolas seemed somewhat thoughtful during the end of the practice yesterday. His focus wasn’t completely on place.”
“Do you have any idea why?” Rafél asked, wondering if this had something to do with Legolas’ disappearance.
“No, I am afraid. But the other novices may know something.”
Rafél walked back to the direction of the palace, his steps angry and frustrated. He had wasted two hours while speaking to the novices. All of them knew even less than Shannai, and it seemed that Rafél would be finally forced to tell Legolas’ parents. It definitely wasn’t a task he was looking forward to.
He found both King and Queen of Mirkwood together in a small private garden, and he stopped, standing nervously on the end of the path. He had no desire at all to admit he had lost the one given to his care. But he had little choice. Legolas’ parents had a right to know that their son was missing.
“Rafél, what brings you here? Weren’t you supposed to join to Legolas on his training today?” Galenrosiel’s clear voice called out, making Rafél wince.
“My Lady, my Lord,” he bowed to the two, halting with his words. “It is of Legolas that I am wishing to speak off.”
“Is something wrong?” Thranduil asked, not daring to guess what Legolas had done this time.
“It seems that Legolas is missing. I have searched his room, palace and the training fields, but none had seen him. I also spoke with the novices, but they have no idea where he could have gone.”
Galenrosiel gasped, turning her head to look at Thranduil, who was faring a little better in hiding his emotions.
“You have asked the guards?” Thranduil asked, forcing his rising temper down.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“We must find him,” Galenrosiel said, grasping her husband’s arm into a strong grip, silently begging Thranduil not to release his anger on Rafél.
Thranduil took a deep breath and nodded. “We shall inform the warriors, and send searching parties…”
“What has happened?” came another voice from behind Rafél, and all three turned to look at Tirifëa who stood with Aduifan close by his side.
“Legolas is missing,” Thranduil said softly.
“Missing?” Aduifan said, shocked, swiftly glancing at Rafél. “How could that happen?”
“I wish I knew,” Rafél muttered, lowering his eyes to the grass on his feet.
“He is not supposed to watch Legolas during every second, Aduifan,” Tirifëa hissed at his own guardian.
“I know, and I am not blaming him, either,” Aduifan answered with equal fire, and the two glared at each other for a moment.
“Enough, both of you. You are not helping anyone like that. If you wish to continue your argument, please do it somewhere else,” Galenrosiel said, her voice shaking slightly.
“I am sorry, Naneth,” Tirifëa said, crossing the distance between them and closing his arms around his mother. “We shall find Legolas.”
“But where is he?” she wailed, despair in her voice.
Tirifëa frowned, stepping back slightly. Thranduil spoke then, caressing his wife’s hair gently. “We shall organise searchers as soon as possible. But first we must make sure that our Little leaf is not in the caves, or anywhere else near.”
“He is not.” All eyes turned to Tirifëa.
“How do you know?” Aduifan asked, glancing at his Prince carefully.
“Because I do.” Tirifëa lifted his eyes, strange emotions glowing in them. “We must go to the library.”
“To the library…” Aduifan echoed, rising an eyebrow in confusion.
“Yes, I shall explain there.” Without waiting for answers, Tirifëa crossed the garden and made a swift way back to the caves. The others followed, uncertain of what to expect. When they entered the library, the Elf sitting there bounced up from his seat, visibly startled by their sudden entry. The company paid little heed at him as they followed Tirifëa, who was already gathering maps from the shelves.
“Tirifëa, if it isn’t too much to ask, what are you doing?” Aduifan asked.
“I am looking for a map I gave Legolas last evening…” Tirifëa said absently, opening scrolls and throwing wrong ones to a side.
“Evening? You saw him last evening?” Rafél exclaimed.
“Hmm… yes, I did. Ah, here!” Tirifëa finally shouted, throwing the other maps aside and spreading the right one across the table. All the others gathered around him to look at it.
“So, you gave him a map of…” Aduifan frowned, running his eyes over the drawings.
“ Mountains of Mirkwood,” Tirifëa corrected. “But as where he was planning to go, I have no idea. He asked me if I have been there…”
“There? Then he gave you a location?” Thranduil put in.
“Nay, father. He merely asked if I could give him a map of the mountains, and then asked if I have been there. I think he meant have I been near the mountains. He said it wasn’t important…” Tirifëa went silent, gazing at the map with sudden sadness. “I think it was important, then.”
Thranduil grasped his oldest son’s shoulder firmly, giving him his support. “We shall find him. We do not know when he left, but now we have some idea as to where he is going.”
“It is still a large area to search…” Aduifan said, his fingers following paths on the map. “We cannot know which path Legolas chose, or if he is travelling through the forest. And he is good at hiding his tracks,” he glanced at Rafél. “You taught him too well.”
“Well, we shall not find him while standing here,” Thranduil said grimly, his other arm pulling Galenrosiel closer.
“Maybe we should speak with the other novices before planning anything more,” Rafél said slowly, his eyes on the map.
“Why?” Thranduil asked, puzzled. “Didn’t you already speak with them?”
“Yes. And I wish to speak with them again because Legolas appeared to be very much in thought on the end of the training.”
“Which is little before I saw him in the library,” Tirifëa stated, nodding. “Let us go, then.”
“I hope we do not bother your training?” Thranduil asked from Thrénandu.
“Of course not, my Lord,” Thrénandu said quickly. He had known his Lord long enough to know when he was on a bad mood. This was one of those moments, seemingly.
Thranduil nodded, turning to look at the novices. The youths stared at their King in both awe and fear, sensing the uneasiness of their ruler. They were smart enough to know that this was a serious place: something was wrong. And the ones that had spoken with Rafél earlier had a vague idea what the cause of this distraction might be.
“Did something unusual happen during the yesterday’s training?” Thranduil asked from his captain, without turning to look at him, the King’s eyes still upon the novices.
“Not as far as I can tell,” Thrénandu said carefully, running the events through his mind once again.
“You said something about Legolas being less focused than usually,” Rafél stated, his brown eyes meeting Thrénandu’s light blue ones.
“Yes, that is true.”
“When did this change occur?” Thranduil asked, his voice low.
“Some time after the last break. Or actually right after it,” Thrénandu replied after some thinking.
“And what did Legolas do during the break?” the King pressed, finally turning back to the captain.
“I am afraid I cannot say,” Thrénandu answered, “he was with the other novices.”
Thranduil frowned slightly, and then turned back to the novices. Then he walked to the youths, stopping right in front of the tightly gathered group.
“What happened during the last break yesterday?” Thranduil asked, his voice as careful as he could put it. He knew that scaring the children would aid him no way, but at the moment he only wished to be on his way finding his youngest son. His incapability to find Legolas ate him from the inside.
“Nothing happened, my Lord,” one of the novices spoke up, his voice shivering. “We just rested and spoke…”
“Spoke of what?” the King demanded.
“I am not sure… We were not all together…” the youth was seeking help from his friends, visibly afraid.
“With whom Legolas was speaking?” came in another voice, and Tirifëa kneeled to the ground beside his father, trying to look less threatening.
“With me and some others,” a familiar voice said after a pause, and Shannai stepped forward, his face more worried than afraid. “You haven’t found Legolas, then?” the youth glanced at Rafél, who shook his head. “We do not know where he is,” Shannai said finally, cautiously looking at Thranduil, as if being afraid to be thrown into the dungeons when given such an answer.
“Of what were you speaking? It may be important, and help us to find him,” Tirifëa pressed gently.
“We… we spoke of nothing important,” Shannai said. “At least of nothing that could have caused him to disappear like this.”
“It may have something to do with Mountains of Mirkwood,” Aduifan stated, and all were startled by his sudden presence. He had stood quietly on the edge of the group, listening rather than taking a part to the events. It seemed he had grown weary of waiting.
“The old dark tree in the valley!” one of the youngest Elflings piped up, pointing at one of the oldest. “Tinrod told us a story of a such place near the Mountains.” The older Elf glanced darkly at the youth, making him shut his mouth.
“What story?” Tirifëa and Thranduil asked as one, their gazes boring themselves at the novice.
“Just a story,” Tinrod answered uneasily. “And Legolas didn’t believe it, anyway…”
“You said it was true!” Shannai shouted, looking from his fellow novice to the King and Prince. “He told us a story of an old cursed tree in a dark valley, where no warrior dares to enter. We were supposed to go there today, but it seems that Tinrod forgot we all have lessons…” Shannai grew quiet, sadness and disappointment on his young face.
“You were never meant to do that trip, were you?” Tirifëa smiled coldly, and Tinrod nodded, shame colouring his face as his lie was caught.
Shannai gasped, and then turned back to Tirifëa as if remembering something. “Tinrod promised I could go with him and his friends,” at this point Tinrod received an accusing look. “I was very excited. But Tinrod also said that Legolas could not come because…” Shannai halted, lowering his eyes from those of Tirifëa. “Because he is a Prince. And Princes cannot go anywhere without an escort. I think I was too excited to notice that Legolas was being hurt.”
Tirifëa put a gentle hand upon Shannai’s shoulder, squeezing it. “It is all right, little one. I am sure you were very excited. Now can you tell me more of this valley?”
“But it is all a story,” Shannai sniffed.
“No it isn’t,” Tinrod argued, earning everyone stare at him. “It is a true story, but I swear I do not know the exact location of the valley. I only know it lays in a roots of the Mountains…” Tinrod glanced carefully at Thranduil, fear on his features.
“Thank you, all of you,” Thranduil said quickly, turning away from the youths. He strode across the field, forcing the others to run after him.
“What now?” Tirifëa asked, worry in his voice.
“We go and organise a search. We must try to track Legolas down as fast as possible. And send for Lossaurion: I am sure your brother would like to hear of this.”
Grimacing, Tirifëa nodded, his face darkening. He feared the worst. One glance beside him told that Rafél was thinking the same. They would have to find Legolas and soon.
to be continued…