Title: Prince of Dol Guldur
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Third Age of the Sun
Genre: Action/Adventure, AU
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Legolas, Thrandui (, OCs)
Summary: Mirkwood Elves live constantly under an influence of a shadow, and it isn’t too hard to cross the line to the side of darkness... Legolas learns this as he meets a stranger in the woods, who desires to show him a new way to see the world.
Part of the history of “The Last Journey”. Complete.
Warnings: Death, evil, darkness, violence, etc.
“¤…¤” = Westron
It was dark everywhere: so dark you could actually feel it touching your skin, caressing you with your every movement. There was no light, only a world of shadows and even darker shadows. Dark blacker than the darkness itself loomed in the distance, hiding the surrounding world from view.
Legolas blinked, taking a tentative step forward. He had no idea where he was, the dark hiding everything. As he took another step the lesser darkness seemed to move with him, showing a path before him. His feet stepped onto the trail without further command, giving him no choice but to follow the only road visible. The darkness seemed to reach out and touch him as he passed, like a gentle stroke of spider-webs against his arms.
The shadows stopped retreating, closing him into a circle of dark. Legolas looked around, desperate to find a way to go on. He stepped forward, guessing it was the way the path would continue. A splash of water echoed through the silence, and the darkness narrowed, revealing a river running past his feet. He could have sworn it hadn’t been there a moment ago. Looking down to the black water he saw his own hollow reflection, twisted by the ripples running across the water’s surface. He looked deeper, wondering if he could see the bottom of the river and wade across it.
A firm hold caught him by the shoulder, and on the reflection he was able to see a rotten, tall body behind him. Behind the first dead appeared more, their boned hands reaching for him. His scream was swallowed by water as he was pushed forward into the river. The thick liquid seemed to swallow him, tasting of death and blood. It pulled him deeper, away from the shadowed world above.
Then the world seemed to change, the water disappearing. He saw ground swimming below him, dark shadows devouring the forests and plains. He flew like a bird, without body or form, miles passing below him. Suddenly he stopped, the dark mist below revealing a marching army of dark creatures, line after line passing below him. He did not see their faces, but the dark gleam of their armour and their twisted weapons told him it was an army of the Enemy. The terror they spread assaulted his spirit, making him shiver.
And then he was dragged forward again, a dark object rising up to the sky before him. It reached towards the black sky, its surface shining with dark light. Its shape grew before him, filling his vision completely, and at last he saw its true form. It was a citadel, sharp towers reaching up like sharp-clawed fingers, twisted but yet so beautiful in their cruel glory.
And it shone.
It was the only light in this world, dark as it was, but yet there was light. He wanted to be next to that light, devour it in the middle of all this darkness. Right then, as if hearing his silent wish, a new wave of shadows met him as he got nearer the towers, beckoning him forward, trying to draw him to their embrace…
Legolas woke up with a jerk, bouncing up from his bed and crashing to the floor, crawling away before he realised he was indeed awake, back in his room. Panting, his entire body shaking like after a maddening run, he got to his knees, sitting. After a long time he looked up, letting the pale rays of the moon comfort his eyes. There was light, here. No darkness. No such darkness…
Sighing Legolas got to his feet, unwillingly noticing that he was still shivering. He muttered a silent curse to himself, reaching for his tunic. He put it on quickly, taking a small knife from its place upon his desk and belted it around his waist as he left his room. He headed out from the caves by the swiftest road he knew, desiring to feel the wind upon his face.
He stepped to a lesser gate, halting for a moment to check the guards’ positions. As he located the other Elves’ he stepped out, avoiding all eyes and melted into the shadows of the forest. Taking a path through the woods, he wandered for a long time with no thoughts, no direction. After an hour or so he halted, gazing around to locate his whereabouts. He knew the place, of course, not many miles away from the caves.
What am I doing out here, wandering aimlessly? I thought that fresh air and the song of the trees would help me to sort out my thoughts, but the air is still and wood silent. Legolas looked back towards his home, considering about turning back. I could go to Rafél and speak with him. I need to get this out of my head. But then again, do I want to tell him? Do I want to tell anyone at all? It was only a dream, after all, nothing more. Only a nightmare that would scare a child.
But as much as Legolas wished to ignore it, he was worried. Would it been an after-effect of the dream or something else, he wished to speak with someone. Hear someone else tell him that is was nothing to worry about. I haven’t seen nightmares since my mother’s death, so why does such a dream come to me now? Is it a foreboding of something? Shaking his head, Legolas looked to another direction. A small smile appeared to his face and he continued forward, sprinting up to the trees. He travelled swiftly through the familiar forest, making as little sound as possible.
As he drew nearer his destiny he let out a low whistle, and then continued. He knew that an Elven patrol was nearby, and he had no intentions to be shot by one of his kinsmen – or let them tell Rafél that he had carelessly approaching a guarding group of warriors.
When Legolas made out a shape of another Elf in the darkness he slowed down, jumping into another tree to share it with the other Elf. He climbed further up, stopping as he reached the silent figure sitting comfortably on a thick branch. His hair was long and smooth, its silvery surface reflecting the rays of the clear moon. The upper layer of his hair was bound into many small braids with blue bands, an unusual style for an Elf. His tunic matched his choice of colour, blue and emerald green mingling together. A long bow leaned against his upraised knee, a quiver hanging from his hip. Powder blue eyes gazed up at Legolas as the younger Elf arrived, a warm smile appearing to his face. From his appearance it was easy to tell that he was a seasoned warrior, and despite his youthful appearance that was typical to Elves, Legolas knew this Elf to be old – possibly even older than his own father, King Thranduil of Mirkwood. “You are up late, Legolas,” the older Elf greeted, his eyes narrowing slightly as he noticed Legolas’ harassed expression.
“I needed to speak with someone,” Legolas admitted. “I am sorry to trouble you on your watch, Thalión, but –”
“Forget about it,” Thalión snorted. “Sit down and speak. I was feeling bored anyway.”
Legolas sat down gingerly, feeling the other’s eyes follow his every movement. There was no way he would have been able to back away from Thalión now, anyway, so it didn’t matter how he would tell his story. “I saw a dream,” he said quietly, his eyes tracing the shadows of the trees, far below them on the forest floor.
“And I assume that this dream was not a pleasing one,” Thalión encouraged him on softly, knowing how tender topic this was for Legolas. The young Prince seldom gave out any of his weaknesses – except perhaps to Rafél, and even that was under a lot of pressure.
“It was not,” Legolas agreed, lifting his eyes from the darkness as a shudder ran through him. “I was walking in complete darkness, a dark path appearing before me now and then. It was so dark around me that I was able to feel it touching me. Then I came to a shore of a river, and when I looked down, I saw dead ones reaching for me from behind. I fell into water, and…” he halted, looking uncertainly at Thalión. The older one nodded, encouraging Legolas to go on. “The next thing I knew was that all that had been there before disappeared, and I flew through the air. I had no body, and I saw a dark army march underneath me. And then I saw a citadel of some kind. Long, sharp towers like claws reached to the air, its dark surface so smooth that it seemed to glow itself. Somehow, it was beautiful, filling me with desire to go closer. And then shadows reached from it, trying to draw me in, and then I woke.”
Legolas looked carefully at Thalión, trying to read the other’s thoughts through his expression. He didn’t gain much information that way, and he soon gave in, waiting for Thalión to say something. But the elder one was strangely quiet, gazing at the distance. This worried Legolas, making him regret that he had come in the first place.
“Have you seen dreams like this before? Of this tower?” Thalión asked suddenly.
Legolas opened his mouth to answer, but a rustle of leaves from the tree beside them made him halt and look around. The tension that had appeared into his body vanished as he recognised another Elf in the tree nearby, the other’s interest on the ground. Not that Legolas believed for a moment that the other was not listening: he knew Thalión’s older cousin, Dínnor, far too well to be fooled this easily. “This was the first time,” he finally said, turning reluctantly back at Thalión. “What do you think this means?”
“I cannot guess,” Thalión said slowly. “But if you see such a dream again, come and tell me. Maybe we can solve its meaning together. It can be a symbol of something you are unconsciously worrying about, and nothing to be afraid of.”
Legolas nodded, giving the other a brief smile. “It may be the truth, indeed. Thank you, for this helped me already. I feel better,” the Prince smiled, rising from his place. “I think I should go back and let you continue your work – and me to show up before Rafél begins to worry,” he added, grimacing.
“Sleep well,” Thalión said, watching the young Elf disappear to the dark forest. As soon as Legolas was out of sight, all serenity disappeared from his face, his eyes darkening with worry.
Dínnor climbed to stand beside Thalión, his eyes flashing in the faint light of the moon reflecting through the leaves. “¤He just described Dol Guldur,¤” Dínnor whispered harshly in Westron, using the language he preferred with his cousins. He earned a nod from his cousin, the worry in his eyes now matching Thalión’s. “¤As far as I can tell, he has never seen it,¤” he added, shuddering. “¤And Valar willing it won’t ever happen.¤”
“¤Should we tell Rafél? This might be something to worry about,¤” Thalión asked, gazing up to his relative.
“¤If he sees another dream, then yes,¤” Dínnor decided after a moment. “One dream might be an accident, and nothing to worry about, as you said.”
Thalión nodded, his eyes shifting at the darkness below them. What had Legolas seen there? And most of all, what did this all mean?
to be continued…