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.
The feel of cold, uncontrolled fear was not a particular favourite of Rafél’s. He loathed it, to be honest, and therefor tried to avoid such situations – or push himself over such fears. But this morning seemed to be beyond his own skills to overcome.
Legolas was gone.
There were very few places which Rafél hadn’t checked yet, and even less people he hadn’t asked about the Prince, and on the top of the cake, his senses told him that Legolas wasn’t around. I think the only reason why I am still hoping to find him is that I haven’t spoken to Shannai, Cousins, or to the King. If nothing else, some of them should know where Legolas is.
Even if Legolas at times wished to be alone, Rafél always knew where to find him. But today he couldn’t. It was possible that Legolas was hiding from him in particular, but he should have heard something of him by now. And the way his senses kept telling him that the Prince was nowhere near… It was driving him insane.
“I should go and tell Thranduil,” he muttered, halting on a path outside the caves.
“What have you done now?” a humoured voice asked, making Rafél jump. The guardian spun around, meeting Dínnor’s laughing eyes. “My apologies, Rafél. I just couldn’t resist. You seemed so out of it…”
“Keep your fun, I have other things to do,” Rafél snapped, turning to leave.
“Wait, Rafél! Is something wrong?” the eldest Cousin asked, grabbing Rafél’s arm to stop him.
The guardian turned partially back, glancing at Dínnor’s now serious face. “I cannot find Legolas,” he said, voice low and emotionless.
“Where is he, then?” Dínnor frowned. “Hasn’t anyone seen him?”
“None of those whom I have asked. Last who saw him, by my best guess, is the King,” Rafél counted. “I should speak with Shannai first, too, before going to Thranduil. As well as to you and your cousins.”
“We haven’t seen him,” Dínnor told with an apology. “We were on a patrol last night, all three of us. And as far as I know, Shannai was with the patrol some miles away from us.”
Rafél cursed softly, shaking his head. “Then I have to tell to the King,” he said with defeat.
“Indeed. And it is not that he is a King: he is a father. I wouldn’t worry half as much if it would be any other of his sons. But Legolas is his youngest, so he may do something… surprising,” Dínnor mused. “But first we must make sure that Legolas is not anywhere around Woodland Realm. Yet I think we should tell Thranduil as soon as possible: he may know something.”
Rafél nodded, and together they headed back towards the caves. Silently Rafél was happy that Dínnor had come with him: the other’s unspoken authority made him feel more reassured and reasonable. And now he wouldn’t be forced to meet Thranduil alone.
“My liege,” Dínnor greeted suddenly, making Rafél wake from his thoughts. Both Elves halted, meeting their King near the main-gates.
“Dínnor, Rafél,” Thranduil nodded. “Can I help you?” he asked, seeing Rafél’s rather bothered expression and the way Dínnor was glancing between the two of them.
“Actually, you can, my Lord,” Dínnor answered for the other Elf. “We are looking for Legolas. Have you seen him lately?”
“Not since the last evening,” Thranduil told, his cool eyes shifting to Rafél. “Is something wrong with my son?” he inquired.
“He seems to be lost. I have searched for him all morning, my Lord, but I haven’t found him,” Rafél said quietly.
Thranduil froze, worry blazing in his eyes. “How could that be? Certainly someone has seen him.”
“As far as I have asked, none,” Rafél confessed.
Thranduil went very silent for a while, his eyes taking that look when someone is looking deep inside, not out. After a moment the King snapped out of his inner debate, his eyes locking to Rafél’s. “I assume Legolas did not come to speak with you yesterday.”
“Nay, my Lord,” Rafél replied.
“And he did not attend to the training either?” Thranduil asked again.
Thranduil sighed, drawing a hand over his face. “I should have guessed that. The way he behaved yesterday was… alarming. I should have made him talk, instead of leaving him alone as he requested.”
“You couldn’t know he was going to disappear like this,” Dínnor stated. “And we do not even know yet if he has ‘disappeared’. We just search for him a while longer, and then start worrying.”
The King and his son’s guardian didn’t look as convinced as Dínnor, but they did not speak against him either: both knew that rushing things was the very last thing they should do. “Let us go, then,” Thranduil said, surprising the gathered Elves around him. “I wish to find my son as soon as possible. Spread a word around that his presence is required in the palace, but do not tell people too much: it would be rather unwise.” All the Elves around him nodded, and with a final look to the warriors around him, he set out along a narrow path, an air of determination surrounding the King of Mirkwood.
Shannai was still trying to recover from the news when Asthaldo dragged him away from his lesson, telling the youth that he would be helping him on his search for the missing Prince. Running after the older warrior, he wondered if this was merely the past repeating itself. Legolas had once left like this, but something told Shannai that this was far more serious than Legolas’ previous runaway years ago: the signs of the Prince’s ill well-being had been in the air for some time now, but none of them had taken time to notice them, nor read them properly. And now something evil had happened.
“Thalión, is there any news?” Asthaldo called out to the trees above, and a moment later the silver-haired Elf appeared, dropping low enough for the two younger Elves to see him.
“Nothing,” Thalión sighed, shaking his head. His eyes searched the forest around them, moving steadily towards the south. “I must speak with Rafél,” he finally mumbled, visibly unhappy.
“Do you know something we do not?” Asthaldo requested as his cousin joined him and Shannai on the ground.
“I am not sure, but I have a strange feeling this has something to go with the nightmares Legolas was seeing days ago.”
“Nightmares?” Asthaldo and Shannai asked together, exchanging looks.
“He spoke to me of it once, but not after. Though I do not doubt a moment that he saw such dreams again - and possibly before he came to speak with me.”
“What did those dreams concern?” Asthaldo asked, dread in his voice.
“Darkness. Dol Guldur,” Thalión answered with a voice colder than any winter night.
An audible gasp rang out, and when the cousins turned to look, it was not Shannai who had made the sound – even if he wore a mask of fear – but Rafél who stood behind the novice, eyes wide with shock and disbelief.
to be continued…