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.
Rafél arrived to the training field little after Thrénandu had started his lesson. A swift look over the field told a surprising but cruel truth to the Sinda: Legolas was not here. He had thought the youth would arrive on his own as he had been avoiding him since yesterday, but that hadn’t happened. Sighing, Rafél looked back at the direction of the caves, hoping his protégé would appear. He had hoped to solve their argument today, but it seemed that Legolas was keeping his distance.
“Lord Rafél,” came a hesitant call, making the guardian look around. Shannai stood before him, looking uncertain. “Where is Legolas?” the youth asked, visibly more afraid of his elder than when he was in Legolas’ company.
“I wish I knew,” Rafél smiled slightly, though the expression didn’t reach his eyes. “I hoped he would show up here on his own, but seemingly he did not. Worry not, I will go and find him,” he promised, seeing Shannai’s frightened look.
“He hasn’t arrived,” Shannai confirmed. “Did you have a fight or something?” he asked quietly, looking up at the tall Elf hesitantly.
“Kind of,” Rafél admitted. “But it is nothing serious.”
“Good, because I still remember that one time he was away from classes, trying to get into the cursed valley to prove to the other novices… Though he reached the cursed tree, too, as he had promised,” the novice mumbled, knowing that Rafél remembered those events well enough himself.
“I will find him,” Rafél promised, leaving the field. He felt Shannai’s stare for a long time, but finally the youth returned to his duties, making Rafél let out a relieved breathe. If Shannai began to worry over Legolas, there was nothing that Elf wouldn’t do for his friend. But as Rafél thought about it, he wasn’t any better than Shannai: his attachment to Legolas was deep, and if protecting the Prince would cause him his life, so be it.
Heading out to the caves, Rafél walked a familiar path to Legolas’ room, deciding that it was a good place as any to begin his search. He pushed the door open, stepping lightly in. His eyes blinked twice before he understood that Legolas was indeed in his room, beyond all his expectations. Lying on his bed, back towards the door, the Prince lay silent, not reacting any way when his guardian entered.
Rafél walked to the bed, halting at its side. He was still uncertain what to do – or to say. Yesterday, he had had no right to shout Legolas such a way when the other had merely asked a question. But Rafél had long ago decided that it was the nature of that question that had thrown him off-guard. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Rafél watched Legolas for a moment, the other staring at the wall with a distant look. “You are late for Thrénandu’s lesson,” Rafél said softly, trying to coax the youth into reaction.
Legolas didn’t say anything, his eyes keeping their expression. For a while Rafél thought the other to be asleep, but he abandoned that idea soon enough, recognising that is was not a distant look of dreams Legolas had in his eyes.
“We should speak,” Rafél began again, “about yesterday.” When he gained no reply, he fell silent, not being sure if Legolas wanted an apology, after all. “I was wrong to lose my temper. There is nothing bad in asking, but I think your question… shocked me a little. It is not normal for you to ask such things,” he confessed.
Finally, Legolas blinked, turning his head to look up to his guardian. “It’s all right. I don’t know what kind of answer I wanted, anyway. It doesn’t matter.” His quiet voice made Rafél frown, the undertone in the youth’s voice absolutely not belonging there.
“Is everything all right, Legolas? You have been acting quite strangely at late.” ‘Unnaturally’ was what Rafél wished to say, but he didn’t dare just yet. “Have you fought with some of the older novices?”
“No,” came a hollow answer. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he told the other firmly, turning towards the wall again.
Rafél felt like disagreeing, but if Legolas was not willing to speak with him, there was no way he could force the other to do so, either. “Well, if you change your mind –”
“But you could –”
Rafél halted, feeling quite dismissed at the moment. “Thrénandu is waiting for you,” he told the Prince firmly. “Even if you wish to be angry with me, you should join your group on their lesson.” With that, Rafél stood up, walking out of the room. The door closed with a small thud, speaking of barely restrained anger.
“I am not angry with you…” Legolas whispered with a small voice. He closed his eyes, drawing his blanket closer around him, and before he noticed, tears were in his eyes. He wiped them away, irritated. He knew he was behaving like a child, but Rafél’s temper was also wearing thin, it seemed. His guardian wasn’t usually this tempered. And I provoke him all the time, pushing him away when he wants to help. Maybe I should tell him, tell him everything of the shadows and that odd, dark stranger. But he knew he wasn’t going to do it. He needed answers. And only the strange Elf could give them to him. Sighing deeply he opened his eyes and stared at the wall again, eyes unseeing to the world around him.
In the hallway, Rafél leaned against the cold wall, letting out a tortured breathe. Now that he was out of Legolas’ room, his thoughts seemed to be clear again. Maybe it is just me, but it feels like every time I have been around him lately, a strange shadow fills my mind. The words I am going to say twist in my head into something… darker. Rafél looked back along the corridor, considering returning to Legolas.
“Good morning Rafél,” a deep voice called, and Rafél turned to meet his Lord.
“King Thranduil,” Rafél bowed, hand upon his heart.
“You haven’t happened to see my son? I was searching for him as he did not join me for breakfast,” the King told, his smile vanishing almost immediately.
“I just spoke with him,” Rafél said hesitantly. Thranduil noticed the change immediately, his expression telling Rafél that he had better continue. “He seems to be on a low mood. He didn’t wish to join to the training today.”
“How odd. I thought he has been more than happy with the lessons you and Thrénandu are giving him.”
“Perhaps he only has a bad day,” Rafél said with small chances to convince the worried father.
“And what of yesterday? You didn’t attend to the supper,” Thranduil questioned, his tone telling Rafél that is was time to tell the whole truth.
Rafél sighed, bowing his head slightly. “Legolas has been acting quite unusually during the last few days. We had a fight yesterday, and as he kept avoiding me the rest of the day, I thought to leave him alone during the supper. Though I heard he did not appear there, either.”
Thranduil nodded. “What did you argue about?” he asked. He was well aware that there was some disagreement between the two at times, but this seemed to be something else…
“He asked me a question, and I couldn’t give him a proper answer,” Rafél spoke out hesitantly. “I got annoyed by his attitude, and I think I said something to him… I am not very sure.”
“He asked you about what?” Thranduil pressed, alarms beginning to ring on the back of his mind.
“About evil. How we define it.”
Thranduil went utterly speechless for a moment, his eyes narrowing. “Why would he ask such a thing? He has seen enough evil during his life to know exactly what it is.”
“So I thought as well, my Lord,” Rafél agreed.
Thranduil sighed, nodding wearily. “I will speak with him. It is not indeed normal behaviour for him to ask such things.”
“I would appreciate that,” Rafél said. “But it might be my own doing, as well. I should watch my temper more carefully in the future.”
“If something flares your temper, my friend, then something is seriously wrong,” Thranduil said quietly, clasping the other’s shoulder. “Now go and find something useful for yourself to do. I will sent Legolas to you when I am done with him – in the case he doesn’t wish to join into his training.”
Rafél nodded, giving his Lord a one final bow, and then took his leave, disappearing down the next corridor. Thranduil looked after the other Elf, pondering his situation. Could he just go and ask Legolas straight for what was going on? It would be a way that was the best – and the easiest. But this… Thranduil sighed, turning to the direction of his youngest son’s room. At times, Legolas’ mind was just as adamant as his, and then there was no might in the world to make him speak of something he did not desire to speak of.
Thranduil reached Legolas’ door, giving it a quick knock. As there was no answer he entered, closing the door firmly behind himself. He spotted his son immediately, lying on his bed as if asleep. Walking through the room, Thranduil sat onto a chair next to the bed, leaning back. He didn’t say anything, waiting for Legolas to acknowledge him. As nothing happened for several minutes, Thranduil gave in. Leaning forward, he placed a hand upon his son’s shoulder, trying to draw Legolas’ attention. “Son, I would have a word with you.”
“If it is about what happened between me and Rafél yesterday, let it be. I see my error now, and I have learned from it,” Legolas mumbled, not turning to his father.
Thranduil sighed, turning Legolas to face him. “It is not only yesterday, and at the moment I would say it is even today that worries me. What is wrong with you, son?”
“Nothing. I’m in a bad mood, that’s all. It will pass, I promise,” Legolas said, finally raising his eyes to meet his father’s worried gaze. “Do not worry, Adar. It will be gone soon, and I will… speak with Rafél. But now I would like to be alone.”
Thranduil watched his son for a long time, but finally he nodded, knowing that this was all he was going to get from Legolas. “Speak with Rafél. He is uncertain how to approach you after your argument.” Legolas nodded, giving his father a small smile. Thranduil leaned forward, kissing Legolas’ forehead, and then he got up, leaving the room. I should have done more, said something else. Something to make him understand. Like this, I do not think I improved the situation any. I just hope that Legolas is as well as he tells to everyone else. But I cannot ignore the feeling that something is awfully wrong…
It was just after the door closed when the shadows shifted in the corner of the Prince’s room. They seemed to watch the door, and after they were sure that the door was indeed staying closed, they faded. Legolas’ eyes shifted to the darkness, and even if he didn’t see the shadows themselves, he felt them. “It will pass…” Legolas whispered, staring at the dark corner. “It will be all gone, soon, all the evil. When I understand it…” He fell back to the bed, preparing himself for the wait of long hours before the sunset.
to be continued…
Author’s note: To those who haven’t read all my previous stories: when Shannai refers into Legolas’ adventure in the past (finding the cursed valley etc.), it refers into my other story, Guardian.
Sindarin: - English: Adar - Father