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.
Legolas had never waited for the nightfall as eagerly. He had told his father he was tired and would not join for the supper, eating in his room instead. He had also avoided Rafél the rest of the day, even if the other had been looking for him. He felt bad for Rafél, but he refused to let his pity take better of him. He needed the answers his guardian couldn’t give to him. And he knew exactly where he would find them.
As the sun set behind the western mountains, the moon taking its place to light the night, Legolas slipped out of his room, making his way through the corridors. He drew the hood of his simple cloak cover his face, covering himself from the Elves who came across him. There was a small celebration in one of the biggest halls tonight, and Elves were on the move. Slipping into a smaller corridor, Legolas sought out a smaller door, rushing into the cool night air.
Kneeling down, Legolas listened the soft words of the guards, sitting on a rock some distance away from the door. Tilting his head, Legolas saw the pair, cursing his bad luck. If he would leave like this, those two would inform his father and Rafél, sooner or later. Glancing around to form a plan, Legolas seized a small rock, and with a careful aim, he threw it to the bushes some dozen yards away.
The guards shot up, running to check the noise immediately. Legolas dashed into the opposite direction, moving as quickly as possible. Behind him the guards returned to their post, ignoring the entire thing as an animal of some sort passing them by.
Legolas dove into the forest, taking a quick path away from the caverns. He thought to head out to the same place where he had met the stranger on the night before, and with his mind set, he climbed to the trees, beginning his short journey.
When Legolas reached his destination, there was no-one there. He sat on a branch for a moment, weighing his options. He could wait here, or search blindly, hoping to find some kind of clue of the other’s presence. He could also try to track the other down, but somehow he knew that would lead him nowhere. Wind swayed his pale hair, making the leaves dance around him. Its soft whisper brought him no news, and he sighed, leaning his chin to his hands.
“What makes one green leaf be stronger than another?” a voice called from below. “There are leaves that go with the wind, and those which struggle until the winter takes them.”
Legolas looked down, finding the stranger standing below him. “Who knows,” he answered. “Maybe it is the making of the tree.”
“Or then the leaf itself,” the other smiled as Legolas dropped beside him. “You came, I see.”
“I need to know something,” Legolas said slowly. But there was no reason to hide the reason why he had come.
“Ah, we all want answers, do we? But some of us never get them.” The figure turned to walk again, indicating Legolas to follow. “You may count yourself lucky, for you will get answers. But they will not come easily to you, that I promise.”
Legolas didn’t comment, his eyes watching the other, trying to remember. He was so near to the answer, but just when he grasped it… it slipped away. He frowned unhappily, his eyes narrowing as he fought against the mist in his mind. He needed to remember. He knew it was important. Who is he?
“Such struggles hurt you, young one,” the stranger stated, looking at Legolas almost amused. “Some things are not meant to be remembered, and when our minds set barriers before our memories, there is fairly good reason for it: they protect us from something that might harm us.”
“Yet if that information is important…” Legolas mused, suddenly being afraid that the other was able to read thoughts. It seemed quite possible, when he thought about it. “You seem to know a lot of the things I do not remember,” he stated coolly, glaring at the tall figure beside him.
“I know a lot about you – things that you will never understand. And I can read a lot from you, too. It is fairly easy when you know the trick.”
“Read thoughts?” Legolas asked, his curiosity taking hold again.
“You don’t need to read the minds to know the other. Minds deceive us.”
“I do not think I understand…”
“When you learn to know yourself perfectly, then you will understand,” the other said almost fondly. “But it will take time and efforts from you. And patience. You must understand that achieving something great doesn’t happen in an instant.”
“Yes,” Legolas agreed. “What is your name?” he asked suddenly, willing to learn something new of his companion.
“My name does not matter – call me what you like.”
“But you do have a name, don’t you?” Legolas insisted. “What is the danger in knowing it? You think I am going to return to my people and tell everything I have learned of you – which is practically nothing? And after all you have told me by far, I know my people wouldn’t listen to me, anyway,” he admitted somewhat unhappily.
“I do not fear revealing my name to you, child, or to anyone else. It is just… personal. In time, you will know it, I promise.”
The way the other one said it made Legolas halt. He had never heard such a menacing promise before. He didn’t know why such a slight thing arose his fear, but it did. Or maybe it is something else in his voice. The undertone… The way he said that he is not afraid of giving me his name… He looked after the cloaked figure, deciding that the name was not indeed important. The person behind it was.
“You may call me Dark One if it eases your mind,” the other gave in, throwing Legolas a quick smile. In the light of the moon, Legolas saw the other’s face, but this time there was no actual shock: he had known the other to be an Elf long before this moment.
“We call only the Lord of Dol Guldur with that name,” Legolas said slowly.
“So you know who lingers in Dol Guldur, then?” Legolas nodded, unwilling to say the word. “Good. Never call him aloud, and spare your thoughts from him. He is nothing.”
“Nothing? You dare to say that!?” Legolas exclaimed, shocked.
The stranger laughed, the sound low and yet somehow comforting. “I dare to say that, and with a reason. But we do not speak of that reason tonight: tonight, I will give you some of the answers you seek, and if you are still willing after it, we may meet tomorrow. Now come, we have a meeting.”
“A meeting?” Legolas asked, hesitation in his voice.
“Yes,” the dark one said, walking forward. Legolas sprang after him, unwilling to give up this easily. There were indeed questions that needed to be answered.
They walked through the dark forest, the older one being quiet for a long time. Then he spoke again, driving Legolas from his dark musings. “There are many things I could show you and teach you, if you are willing. You know by far only the customs of Elves: how they travel, fight, live. I can teach you how your enemies think, and why they think as they think. When you understand those against you, you can win. Otherwise it is just merely a good fortune, or a show of insurmountable power: not a real victory, of course. If your enemies fear you, you have the keys of victory in your hands. Orcs, for example, do not usually fear Elves. If they would, would they attack your people constantly? No.”
Legolas didn’t say anything, his mind a whirlwind of thoughts. Such things he offers, but with what cost? And am I strong enough to learn such things?
At that moment the stranger halted, making Legolas stop with him. They stood on an edge of an opening, and in the shadows from the moon’s rays stood a group of Orcs gathered. Legolas’ eyes widened, but the other’s hand upon his shoulder told him to be silent.
The Orcs stood on the far side of the opening, snarling at each other and preparing their weapons – for what, Legolas didn’t dare to guess. The beasts hadn’t noticed their arrival, and they stood watching them for a long time.
“Such brutal, stupid creatures,” the older Elf stated, venom in his voice. “When Morgoth made the Orcs, he could have saved some of the reason of Elves in them. But I am sure he had his reasons to make them as they are. And these are far from the first, true Orcs.”
“Have you seen the true ones?” Legolas gasped wide-eyes. “Those who were once…”
“Elves. Yes. And they had power in them. Such hate for life and everything pure and unmarred. They suited Morgoth’s plans perfectly. These here are only weak rats. They should fear us, but we don’t give them a reason to.”
“But we kill them,” Legolas insisted.
“Fear of death is a lesser fear for an Orc: they do not value life, not even their own. And at times, death is mercy, not punishment. Remember that, Legolas.”
The Prince jumped, hearing his name for the first time from the other’s lips. It sounded different. Not as his friends said it, or his father. Not even Rafél sounded near to that. It was not harsh, threatening, or bitter, as one could have expected: it was as if adoring, caring.
“They should fear us in their life, and thank us in their death,” the dark one continued, glancing at Legolas with an almost fond smile. “Now, watch what I do.”
Legolas shifted, watching the other carefully. Something changed in the air around them, though it was nothing that could be seen by eyes. The wind changed, and suddenly Legolas understood who had saved him yesterday. The cloaked Elf beside him did not even raise his hand. He said nothing. One could have thought he did nothing. But Legolas sensed it, and when he saw the other’s eyes, they shone with inner light, and had such concentration in them that it made even Legolas pull back.
The Orcs raised their heads, falling silent: Orcs were never silent. But now they listened, eyes wide and heads turning this way and that. And then they ran away, fear upon their faces. Legolas decided then that he had only once seen fear upon an Orc’s ugly face before – the day before when the strange shadows had driven the Orcs away – and it rose questions in his mind: what had the other done, and how? And would the Orcs start avoiding Elves if they were afraid of them?
“Fear is only a part of control you can extend over others,” the dark one said, turning to Legolas. “Respect is one way, loyalty also. Fear of death works only to cowards.”
“I do not fear death,” Legolas said.
The other only smiled, a secret smile. “But you fear many things. We will work on that, if you decide to heed my request and come to me tomorrow. It is time for you to learn of true life, not of the day-dreams that the Elves keep living. Now go, or you will be late for breakfast. I am sure your father would enjoy of your company.”
Legolas said nothing, but merely nodded hesitantly, turning back towards home. He did not know what to do, or to say. He still hadn’t got all the answers he desired, but the things that the other said… They made him fear.
As the young Elf disappeared into the darkness, the older Elf smiled, leaning against a tree-trunk behind him. “He is mine,” he whispered, shadows appearing to dance around him. “Soon, we will begin your real training, dear Legolas. And then there is no turning back from the path you have chosen”
to be continued…