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.
So innocent. He still has it in him: the uncorrupted, naive side. Though in their sleep, even those who behold great evil look less threatening. But it is merely an illusion. An image of past. What they were long before turning to their dark path… A dark smile curved the thin lips, the fair face cocking to the side as the black eyes ran over the sleeping figure of the Mirkwood Prince. It was a strange sign of trust from the youth that he indeed slept in his company, the dark stranger mused. But maybe he understands that whatever he does, he could not stop me from doing what I want. A smart child indeed. Maybe too so.
A strange howl assaulted the peace of the sleeping forest, scaring a flock of birds into the air. The dark Elf gazed into the darkness, his steady eyes reading the shadows like no creature of light could have. Shadows shifted on the edge of the small clearing, finger-like tendrils creeping closer to the sleeping Elf. The dark one raised his hand and the shadows halted, circling around Legolas without moving closer.
The dark Elf leaned back against a tree, his narrowed eyes watching the Prince. My plan is working better than I hoped: he is easy to sway, and open for new ideas. Yet I have to be careful. This youth is no fool, and he is playing a game on his own. Watching me when he thinks I do not know. A small chuckle broke the silence. Let him think I do not know about his innocent play. After all, he has already fallen into my net. All I have to do it close him inside and complete a task I began years ago…
Something moved on the edge of the clearing, yellow eyes flashing in the darkness. A low, growling sound came from the woods, and a shape of a Warg emerged from the shadows, its eyes glued to the slumbering Elf. Giant jaws opened, nose sniffing the air. It took a step closer, eyes shifting warily to the sitting Elf. Another step followed, its gaze dropping back to the easy victim.
The dark Elf said one word, its harsh syllables making the Warg jerk back. The animal continued forward after a moment, seemingly deciding to try its luck. The Elf said another word, making the Warg snarl back at him.
A smile crossed the fair features, an elegant hand rising to the air. The Warg practically bounced back, throwing the Elf a baleful look. A growl rippled from its chest, but with flattened ears it turned around and returned to the forest.
The Elf settled back, smiling to himself. His eyes fell upon Legolas again, watching the other sleep peacefully, oblivious to the commotion around him. The shadows kept dancing around the prone form, caressing the pale skin. “Soon you may have him, but not just yet,” the dark one told the shadows, his voice smooth, as if speaking to an adored child. The shadows almost purred, continuing their play. They could wait…
Shannai shivered involuntarily in the night, wrapping his cloak around him. As an Elf, the changes of the atmosphere did not affect him, but the dark feeling of the night… It made him feel frozen alive.
“Shadows are active tonight,” a voice commented from the trees above, and Thalión emerged from the natural shelter.
“So you feel it, too,” Shannai sighed, somewhat less worried when someone shared his sensations.
“Trust Thalión to feel it,” another voice laughed, Asthaldo appearing to stand beside his cousin. “The forest is awfully silent,” he continued, giving Thalión a quick glance.
“It has been so for days,” Thalión commented, his voice distant. “At night, I can feel it plainly: something dark moves among the trees, and they sense his malice… That is all that I can tell.”
“Him? And what of Legolas?” Shannai demanded, suddenly having a feeling that they might actually find his friend like this.
“I cannot sense him. He is hiding, or his presence is… extinguished.”
Shannai’s face fell and he gave out a small sigh. “Can we find him? He has at least one day’s head-start.”
“Do not abandon all hope,” Asthaldo comforted the youth. “Legolas will appear when he wishes to, if that is the case. Or then we will find him.”
“And if we do not find him?” Shannai questioned darkly.
“Then…” Asthaldo breathed, falling silent as Rafél rode to them, joining Shannai on the ground. “We will find him,” he finally finished, not meeting the brown eyes that stared up at him.
Rafél snorted, commanding his horse forward again. A silence followed him, not even Shannai daring to speak. It was certain that Rafél didn’t wish to mull over the dozens of possibilities they had in front of them: his only task was to find Legolas and bring him home, safe.
“Well, I suppose we keep searching,” Asthaldo said with a defeated voice, and after he received nods from his companions, he vanished into the trees, Thalión right behind him.
Shannai stared after the two for a while, seeing a breeze sway the leaves of the canopy. He shivered again, and then summoned his own horse, preparing to join to the others. He definitely didn’t want to be left behind in this dark, hostile forest. For once, he did not feel like home in Mirkwood.
Legolas blinked, trying to get rid of the haze in his mind. He didn’t feel this disoriented after sleep normally, but this morning proved to be different in many ways. For one, he was not in his bed. He was not camping with his companions from patrol, either, but with an Elf he barely knew. The other was sitting on the other side of the opening, black eyes staring at him.
The Prince sat up slowly, blinking again. The haze was slowly fading away, but he still felt slightly confused. Almost… dizzy. He stared at the forest around them, trying to gather his senses. The trees spoke to him, their voices worried, begging him to leave the shadows that followed him. Follows me? But I haven’t felt anything... He halted, glancing at the dark figure on the other edge of the clearing. Oh yes, darkness. Am I already getting ignorant at his presence? The idea scared him, but he decided that there was little for him to do. If he wished to stay and observe this enemy, he would be forced to endure the shadows – and the danger that lay within them.
“If you are ready, eat something and then we shall continue,” the stranger called out, getting to his feet and walking into the forest.
Legolas did not dare to ask what the other was talking about, deciding that he would not like to hear the answer, whatever it was. Finding a piece of lembas from a pouch on his belt, he munched the bread slowly, deep in thought. When he was finished with his simple breakfast, he got up, heading out to the forest.
It did not take long until the dark Elf appeared from the forest, dropping before Legolas without a sound. “Our next lesson,” he smiled, “will be of fear. And control. They are the one and the same, even if you cannot imagine that at first.”
Legolas halted, readying himself for any kind of attack possible. But instead of physical contact, he felt cold power reach out towards him. Perfect, pure evil. He tried to fight it off as it assaulted his fëa, but the darkness was relentless, circling around to find another way to hit.
“Your first reaction to defeat the darkness is to use the light in you. But what happens when your fëa burns out? You die,” the dark one answered to himself with a menacing voice, stepping around Legolas like the shadows he sent forward. “Forget light. With it, you can never defeat the shadows of this world. Darkness consumes light far more easily than the light fights it off,” he kept explaining, watching as the youth before him struggled against his assault. “Abandon light,” he whispered fervently.
Legolas moaned in pain, the world spinning around him as the darkness reached inside, burning his soul. He fell on his knees, hands tight around his body, trying to protect it from the unseen attack. I cannot lose! Not like this! Not this easily… he thought desperately. But his fëa was giving in, his defences crumbling down.
“Fight,” the other Elf ordered, eyes narrowed in their focus. “Use the weapon of the enemy. Counter dark with darkness, evil with greater, deeper evil.”
Legolas gasped, pressing his forehead to the ground, his entire body shivering violently. The burning pain was passing away, giving way to the cold void. It felt calming, soothing the inferno inside him, but at the same time came the terror. Walls of darkness closed around him, and with a scream, Legolas reached out mentally, grasping the waiting darkness. With a violent push of his mind he unleashed the darkness against itself, and after a moment of terrible struggle the evil around him gave in.
Cool hands caressed Legolas’ head, soothing his hair and damp skin, strange words reaching his ears. Then the words turned back to Elvish, speaking softly to him. “That’s it. You did good. Do you see it now, how easy it is?” the other’s voice praised, the firm hands forcing him up from the ground. “We will practice some fineness next time, but for now, this is fine enough,” the other continued. “Such power as this the Orcs are truly afraid of. You master it, you master them.”
Legolas nodded weakly, letting himself collapse against the strong body as a new, different wave of darkness engulfed him, sending him into oblivion. He was too tired to resist, and after a moment of rest he could try and solve this all.
With a smile the older Elf gathered the youth in his arms, watching the other’s eyes close in unnatural sleep. “Rest well, young Prince. And when you wake, we shall see what you are truly capable of.”
to be continued…