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.
Thalión knew he was drawing too far ahead of the other Elves, but now that he had caught a scent of Rafél, he didn’t dare to halt. He had searched for hours in vain, and finally returned to his group. He was soon sent out to scout again, and this had proved more than successful.
The day was falling into night, shadows growing longer on the ground. But what worried the hunting Elf more was the darkness that seemed to increase with each passing minute. He knew that southern Mirkwood was nowadays perfectly under Dol Guldur’s influence, but this was not the same. Something else was also on the move.
A crack from below attracted Thalión’s attention and he halted, crouching on the branch he was currently using. His eyes scanned the dark forest floor, and soon he noticed movement. After another moment of inspecting he had counted at least seventy Orcs moving towards the group he had left behind.
Cursing colourfully in Westron, the silver haired Elf gazed back at the direction he had came from. He could not let his kinsmen go unwarned. This large group of Orcs would be easily noticed by the Elves, yes, but in this unnatural darkness, evil creatures hid themselves better than the Elves. He could not risk it.
Letting out a high whistle, Thalión waited for a moment, then let out a series of other high sounds. Additional to that, he closed his eyes, reaching out with his bond to his cousins. Even if the others would not hear his warning, Dínnor and Asthaldo would know something was wrong.
The Orcs were passing by, only a few of them giving the trees a suspicious glance. They did not expect Elves this far south in the forest, and therefor continued their journey. Dark snarls echoed in the darkening forest, cling of weapons speaking of the restless mood.
Thalión watched them pass, and after he was certain they were all gone, he moved forward again, taking his original direction to the south. It took a moment for him before he understood that he felt Rafél’s presence clearer than before. “He is close,” he whispered, hope rising in him. Soon, he would find the missing Elf, and they could search for Legolas together.
Dínnor halted suddenly, making both Asthaldo and Shannai run into him. “What is it?” Shannai questioned, drawing away from the collided bodies.
Asthaldo also opened his mouth to protest, but then closed it again, his eyes turning distant. “Thalión has…” he began, frowning.
“Spotted a large force of Orcs, coming this way,” Dínnor finished. “He warned us about it.”
“Well I didn’t hear anything,” Shannai mumbled. “How do you know?”
“He told us,” Asthaldo told matter-of-factly, turning to signal the other warriors.
“Oh,” Shannai mumbled. “How?” he inquired, unwilling to let the matter fall before he knew.
“It is the kind of communication that Rafél uses with Legolas sometimes,” Dínnor replied.
“Are you sure they are that far already?” Asthaldo asked doubtingly, turning back to his cousin.
“At times, I would say. I am not sure if it is a conscious act, yet,” Dínnor shrugged.
Shannai glanced between the two unhappily, deciding he had to ask Legolas of the matter: he could not fish out any more information of the Cousins.
“What is it?” came a new voice, Thranduil dropping next to the trio.
“A group of Orcs is closing up with us, coming from the south,” Dínnor replied.
“Seventy at least,” Asthaldo corrected, fingering his knives eagerly.
“Is there any sign of Legolas?” the King asked, face thoughtful.
“Nay, my Lord,” Dínnor answered. “But as far as I can tell, Thalión is tracking Rafél at the moment.”
“Then we have no time to engage into a fight,” Thranduil decided, his voice loud enough to reach the warriors that were milling around.
“We are forced to leave the trees soon, for the path up here is getting too hard to travel,” Asthaldo interrupted. “It seems that the darkness makes the trees even more… hostile,” he finished, eyeing the forest around them.
“Can we circle the Orcs?” Thranduil requested, watching the trees himself. He had known this was coming, but he was determined to stay in the trees as long as possible.
“Plus the darkness makes their senses sharper, unlike ours,” Asthaldo announced unhappily.
“First scouts have also confirmed that they are only a mile and a half away,” another warrior added carefully.
“Does that mean we fight?” Shannai asked with a small voice, glancing at his King.
“I am afraid so,” Thranduil sighed. “But we must avoid confrontation if possible. Try to stay in the trees, and circle around the main group,” he called out to the warriors, gaining answering nods.
The Elves spread out slightly, staying closer together than before. Many of them had their bows drawn, weapons ready to be used. Shannai watched this with wide eyes, unused to such behaviour. He had been in battles before, yes, but this all seemed so different. The air around them was thick and menacing, darkness creeping into their minds, torturing their souls and senses. If it would come down to a battle, he was not sure which side would win. The Elves were a lesser force, anyway.
“Don’t worry, young one,” Asthaldo laughed, patting Shannai’s shoulder. “We do not engage into the battle, and shall be on our way to find Legolas before you notice.”
“We have to get lower,” Dínnor called from ahead, and automatically the Elves went closer to the ground. Wary eyes were directed to the shadows below, everyone waiting for the enemy to approach.
They didn’t have to wait long.
When the first lines of the Orcs came into the view, most of the Elves froze, knowing that they were low enough to be seen. A few tried to get higher, but soon came to the level where moving forward was impossible. Shannai kept a careful eye upon the enemy as he went forward between Dínnor and Asthaldo. He had never moved so carefully, but right now it was maybe the only reason why he was still alive. One wrong movement and the Orcs would spot them, dozens of poisoned arrows shot to their direction.
“Easy,” Asthaldo whispered, sensing the youth’s nervousness.
Shannai glanced back at the other, giving a short nod. Then he looked back forwards again, leaning ahead and pulling himself to another branch, Asthaldo taking one on his right. An ominous crack broke the silence, and Shannai yelped, the branch giving away beneath him. He fell several feet before a hand caught his, Asthaldo holding him still.
The rotten branch dropped in the middle of stunned Orcs, making the foul creatures raise their heads. Yellow eyes widened, noses sniffing the air. Snarls and strange words filled the air, arms pointing up at the Elves
“Whoops,” Shannai gulped, looking down with equally shocked look. Asthaldo swore above him, and then yanked him up as a first set of arrows rose into the sky. Shannai was actually able to say “I’m sorry” before he was yanked forward, all hiding forgotten. Elven arrows answered to the ones of Orcs, shouts filling the air. Some of the Orcs attempted to climb to the trees, in hopes of catching the Elves.
“Not good,” Asthaldo shouted to his cousin, but Dínnor merely ran on, keeping an eye upon the ground at the same time. Most of the Elves moved forward, some of them keeping the Orcs busy to give the others an opportunity to advance. After the main-force of the Elves had passed, those on the back went forward, protected by the others ahead. It was a slow retreat, but the only one that worked.
The Orcs kept following the Elves, driving them onward like a pack of animals. More arrows went up than came down as the Firstborns tried to increase the distance between themselves and the villains. But the branches were getting more mingled, and the Elves were forced to drop even lower, risking both the arrows of their enemies and the weaker limbs.
“Thrénandu´s group is just a few miles west from us!” a warrior shouted, making his kinsmen glance at him in surprise. “We sent them a word a few hours back,” he added, glancing down. “They should be aware of the fight in some moments: I sent two warriors of my own patrol to inform them.”
“Good,” Dínnor sighed. “They shall distract the Orcs long enough so we may take a safe distance.”
“But first they must arrive,” Asthaldo reminded, jumping aside from a path of an arrow. “Our luck is running out!”
“Could you be any more optimistic?” Shannai asked, glancing at the youngest Cousin.
“He is the optimistic one,” Dínnor answered, dodging down as another arrow whirled past him.
A shock jarred through Rafél’s arms as he raised his own sword to meet Legolas’ strike. That one hit told him that he had no reason to hold back: his protege wasn’t doing so either. As Legolas drew slightly back and attacked again, Rafél had to use all his balance to keep himself still. “Legolas, please! Listen to me! You don’t want to do this!” he cried out in desperation, blocking another strike that would have cut his head off. What is he doing? Visibly he is not himself, something else controlling him… The way he fights is different too, more aggressive. Dodging aside he backed away, keeping his sword between them. "Legolas, I beg you, listen to me!” he tried again. I cannot fight him. I must just take him down without hurting him…
Legolas attacked again, using his Elven speed as he cut low, aiming to his opponent’s feet. Rafél pulled aside, his own sword sliding the other’s away, giving him some time before the next strike. The Prince moved forward, but halted then, taunting his rival. Circling to the side he attacked again, but Rafél blocked him easily, backing off even further.
“I am not going to fight you,” the guardian ground out, lowering his sword.
“Then die,” Legolas hissed, a smile playing upon his lips. Black eyes narrowed, dark sword coming up to next blow.
Reflexes saved Rafél’s life, but the impact sent him to the ground, force behind the other’s blow surprising him. He rolled to the side, avoiding the next hit, and then got to his feet again. His eyes met Legolas’ and finally he was forced to understand that Legolas wasn’t really seeing him. Shadows dances in the other’s eyes, the smile still lingering upon his lips, cold and promising death.
“Don’t do this,” Rafél begged, raising his sword as Legolas attacked again. It was taking all his skill to keep the other’s strikes away, his arms shaking with effort. Legolas pushed him away, circling slowly around, cold stare freezing his heart. “You are not yourself,” Rafél tried again, panting slightly. “But whatever happens, I will not hurt you.”
Legolas halted, his sword lowering. He seemed to ponder the words, and Rafél sent a quick prayer to the Gods. Maybe his Prince was finally breaking through the darkness that played him…
Legolas attacked, slicing Rafél’s right arm before the other was able to move away. Another strike was blocked, the guardian shifting his sword into his left hand. Legolas spun around, forcing Rafél to turn slightly as he hit again. Dropping lower, keeping their blades locked, Legolas drew his knife free, slashing out.
Rafél didn’t cry out as he jumped back, pain flaring in his right leg. He raised his sword, forcing Legolas to keep his distance, biting his jaws together to keep a pained moan inside. His free hand slipped lower, testing the deep wound. His leg was able to support him, but it would not hold long. Drawing a deep breath he drew into his full height, readying himself.
“Time to die,” Legolas said, his voice darker than before. He shot forward, sword high, and Rafél rose his own to meet the blow, agreeing to the other’s words fully: he would die rather than hurt Legolas, sane or not.
to be continued…