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 day was falling into evening, and yet there was no sign of the youngest Prince of Mirkwood. All searchers gathered to the caves, ready to spread out again at their Lord’s order. They all knew that Thranduil would not give up before his son was found, and there were few to disagree with the King: everyone loved Legolas, and youths of his age were rare on these shores. Every lost young life was a grievous cost to all Elven kin still remaining on Middle-earth. And a youth of a Sindarin blood…
Thalión tried not to look uneasy, but the way Rafél was staring at him didn’t give him much chance for such a display, and with a weary sigh, Thalión glanced at Dínnor standing beside him. His cousin wasn’t much help for him, however, and with another forced breath, Thalión submitted to his fate. It was not like he would have thought such glances unjustified: quite the contrary. Rafél had a perfect right to be mad with him, for he had not spoken of Legolas’ words before it was too late. If Rafél would have known the source of all Legolas’ troubles, this might not have ever happened.
“Do not blame yourself. As soon as we head out, Rafél will concentrate on the mission, not fuelling his anger at you. This waiting eats him away even worse than us,” Dínnor said quietly, his eyes speaking of such impatience that it was reaching dangerous limits.
“Easy, both of you,” Asthaldo whispered, eyeing his cousins carefully. “Do not lose your tempers now. Knowing Thranduil, we will head out soon enough. He is not one known of wasting time.”
“I hope you are right,” Thalión hissed, his eyes searching Rafél again. “I truly wish that things would have turned out differently.”
“It cannot be helped now,” Asthaldo pointed out, following his elder’s gaze. “He can take it. For Legolas, we all can.” Of what Asthaldo spoke about, none of them knew, but it was not important. The next few hours were.
The King reached the meeting-place soon after the Cousins had fallen silent, gathering the latest news with a stoned expression. This informed those closest to him that nothing new had been found. After a moment of silence, Thranduil turned to his waiting people, his face unreadable. “Captains will gather their patrols and head out as the orders are given later. We all move out before sunset.” With that, Thranduil departed to another room, captains of the patrols following the King to receive further orders.
As Thalión followed his cousins to join with the others, his eyes shifted into Rafél’s direction. The guardian made no move to follow his King, brown eyes dark and downcast. Thalión halted, turning to walk to the other Elf, but Dínnor’s hand upon his shoulder halted him.
“Let him be. He will go with the King, anyway,” the eldest Cousin whispered, pulling Thalión into another room along with the others. “Our post is still unsure, however,” the other continued, visibly not too happy of the way the things were moving.
Rafél stood alone on the edge of the caves, his eyes staring at the darkness before him. Night was falling, and it made him feel even more afraid than before. In the dark, many evil things would move out to hunt. He did not wish to think of his Legolas out there, alone. Where are you? he asked silently, closing his eyes. His fëa reached out, trying to find Legolas’, but after a few moments he gave in. He had tried this several times today, but it seemed that the shadows were hiding everything from him.
Something evil was on the move.
The forces of Woodland Realm were going to move out at any moment, but a fear kept gnawing in Rafél’s mind. What if Thranduil would order him to stay behind? It would be a logical decision, but one he would certainly disobey. Maybe I should leave at once. Others may take their own paths. What matters to me is for Legolas to be found. Nothing else. He sighed, lowering his head. How did I let it come to this? All these years with him, and I couldn’t see something this obvious… He clenched his fists in frustration, trying to make the physical pain wash over the anguish in his mind. Though what obvious is there in this whole scenario? Maybe I will understand when we find him. And when I see him again, I will make sure to take a long, thorough discussion about this matter. I need him to trust me, so I can trust in him…
“We are moving out, Rafél.”
The guardian turned around, meeting Thranduil’s cool gaze. In the ageless eyes shone an irony determination, but Rafél was able to see the worry there, buried deep beneath all else. “You join into my company,” the King stated, giving the other Elf a small smile. “Your company would honour me.”
Rafél bowed, his words sincere. “I thank you for letting me to join you, my King.”
Thranduil nodded, turning to walk at the opening where the horses were held. “You didn’t think I would try to leave you behind?” the Lord of Mirkwood Elves asked, amusement in his voice, though it died away quickly.
“I couldn’t decide either way, to be honest,” Rafél answered.
“I am wise enough to know you by now,” Thranduil snorted. “I could have left you behind, which would have only meant that you would have gone after my son on your own. I have more use for you among my warriors, not wandering alone.”
Rafél smiled, the expression hollow but truthful. “Yet I am thankful,” he replied, and then fell silent as they reached their group. His eyes met Thalión’s, and for a moment he wondered if he would be able to travel alongside with the Elf who had kept such a secret from him. But finally reason won out of emotions, and Rafél nodded at the Cousins, mounting his own horse.
“Can we move out now?” came a young, impatient voice, and the King turned to look at Shannai who sat upon his smaller horse beside Thrénandu. The captain looked ready to tell the youth to be silent and go back home, but a smile from Thranduil stopped him.
“Yes, we are moving out now,” the King stated, and then raised his hand, telling his group to move forward. They had a long way to go, he feared, and in the darkness of Mirkwood, much evil lay hidden.
to be continued…