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Del Rion [userpic]

The Last Journey; Chapter 15: Short Counsel

Story Info



Title: The Last Journey
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Fourth Age of the Sun
Genre: AU, Action/Adventure
Rating: M / FRM
Main characters: Aragorn, Celeborn, Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond, Éomer, Erestor, Faramir, Gandalf, Gimli, Glorfindel, Haldir, Legolas, Meriadoc, Nazgûl, Pippin, Thranduil (, OCs).
Pairings: Legolas/OMC (brief Aragorn/Arwen, Éowyn/Faramir)
Summary: After many peaceful years that have followed the war against Sauron, everything changes. Evil returns, striking without warning, and it is stronger than ever before. It is time for the final fight, but who shall achieve victory?
Work in Process.
Warnings: Characters’ death (major, OC), violence, torture, slash, mild sexual content (het and slash), plenty of evil, etc.



~ ~ ~






Chapter 15: Short Counsel



A Few days later,

Rivendell


Aragorn stood on the doorway of Legolas’ current bedroom. The Elven Prince was asleep at the moment, and Aragorn found himself reluctant to enter, for that would most likely rouse Legolas from his much needed rest. So instead of entering just yet, Aragorn leaned against the doorframe, letting his gaze rest upon his friend.

Legolas was healing nicely. Most of the bruises and wounds were already vanishing, and Legolas seemed to fare better when it came to Gimli. Even if Legolas still felt guilty about his friend’s death, it seemed that at some level, Legolas was beginning to accept that Gimli was gone. Yet Aragorn worried for his friend. As an Elf, it wasn’t necessary for Legolas to understand death. Elves didn’t die like mortals. They could die to a broken heart or be slain, but their fëa would still live on. So in truth, Elves never died: their spirits merely went elsewhere.

His thoughts drawn to Gimli, Aragorn glanced down at the beautiful necklace he was holding in his hand. It had been taken from its place around Legolas’ neck when he was brought to healers’ care, but now Aragorn thought it was time to return it to its owner. What reaction this would create in Legolas, he wasn’t able to guess.

And there was also another thing that worried Aragorn: the long gashes in Legolas’ back didn’t heal as he would have liked them to. They visibly pained Legolas, and the evil feeling in them made Aragorn’s skin crawl. Once again the King of Gondor found himself cursing the dark creations of Arda.

And yet this raised new questions: what might on earth could have summoned a Balrog? After all, they all had thought that the last one of that kin had perished in Moria. But seemingly they had been wrong. But if there was one Balrog in Moria, who knows how many others there is in the dark places of the earth? Aragorn reasoned. But surely there was a reason why the Balrog had attacked the Elves of Woodland Realm. And such a number of Orcs in one place…

“Your thoughts seem dark, my Lord.”

A voice coming from behind Aragorn made him startle slightly, again causing him to wonder how his skills had lessened after becoming a King. Nowadays, people were even able to creep up on him. Turning his head, he met pair of brown eyes squarely. “Rafél,” he said evenly, bowing slightly.

Rafél stepped beside him, his eyes softening as he also watched the Prince. A slight smile curved his lips, and Aragorn wondered what kind of memories were running through the guardian’s mind. But the smile soon disappeared, and Rafél turned his head to look at the necklace in Aragorn’s hands. “I may give that to him if you wish,” he stated softly, his eyes lifting themselves to look deeply at Aragorn.

“Thank you, but it is not this jewel that bothers my mind,” Aragorn replied, his eyes glancing swiftly at his sleeping friend before returning to the Elf beside him. “Though I am not the only one in these fair halls that has dark thoughts.”

Rafél nodded, agreeing in this. Without further words, he entered the room, taking his place in a chair beside the bed. Aragorn followed him swiftly, taking his own place. Neither of them spoke, both in their own gloomy thoughts.

As if disturbed by the silent tension in the room, Legolas sighed softly, his eyes blinking few times to get rid of their sleep-hazy state. Smiling up to his guardian and friend, Legolas stretched, shifting slightly in discomfort. Aragorn looked like if he wished to tell the Elf to stay still, but one annoyed look from Legolas kept him silent.

The Man had been truly amazed that Legolas had been willing to stay in bed for this long, though Aragorn knew that all the credit of that went to Rafél. A few stern words from his guardian kept Legolas – sulking – in his bed without further objections. Silently, Aragorn admired the older Elf’s skill to control Legolas: after all, the youngest Prince of former Mirkwood was a stubborn and a proud creature. But most likely Rafél and Legolas had settled these matters centuries before…

“How do you feel?” Rafél asked quietly.

“Better,” Legolas smiled, glancing at Aragorn, then back to his bodyguard. “You came here for a reason?”

Aragorn chuckled, nodding. “At least I did,” he said courtly, glancing meaningfully at Rafél. “But I think he doesn’t require a reason to be here.”

Legolas opened his mouth and snapped it shut again, deciding that he had better to stay quiet. “And you are here, why?”

It was Aragorn’s turn to shift in discomfort, and Legolas frowned, sensing the Man’s uneasiness. “I brought you something,” the King of Men finally said, sounding all but a Lord of his people. When Legolas merely waited in silence, Aragorn collected his courage, presenting the necklace in his hands. “I thought you would like to have this back,” he said barely audibly.

Legolas eyes didn’t even blink as he reached carefully for the jewel, gently taking it to his hands, folding his fingers around the bird, almost like protecting something fragile. His eyes glued to his hands, the Prince refused to meet his companions’ eyes. “Would you leave me alone for a moment?” he finally asked, his voice pure of emotions, though Aragorn knew that Legolas was in the middle of an inner struggle to keep a calm face.

With a nod from Rafél, Aragorn rose, quickly squeezing Legolas’ shoulder before leaving the room. He was able to hear small ‘thank you’ from Legolas before Rafél guided him out, closing the door after them. In the corridor Aragorn stood, fighting over a feel of dread. Maybe he had been too quick in returning the necklace. After all, did any of them know how Legolas was coping with the truth that his best friend was dead…

A comforting arm on Aragorn’s shoulder indicated that Rafél was aware of his thoughts’ current paths. “He just wishes to be alone with his thoughts. You would be the same: joy is to be shared, but grief is to be grieved alone. Though not all tears are those to feel shame about…” Rafél fell quiet, glancing remorsefully at the closed door.

Aragorn saw that, grim smile spreading upon his face. “And yet even if we know we would act the same in his position, we cannot accept that we are not allowed to comfort him.”

Rafél opened his mouth to answer, but closed it again, bowing slightly. Aragorn frowned, then looked behind himself, nearly jumping out of his skin when he realised that Elladan was standing behind him.

“My forgiveness,” Elladan said little less convincingly than he could have. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. Thought on the past days you would have easily –”

“You came here for a reason?” Aragorn asked with an irritated voice, for his own surprise repeating Legolas’ earlier words.

His fair face shining with mock hurt, Elladan answered, “Glorfindel wished to meet all of us in the Hall of Fire. Or actually it was Celeborn, but he sent the word through Glorfindel, who in turn told me to seek out you both,” he grinned, making Aragorn shake his head.

Rafél looked at the two of them, amused, and nodded. “Then we had better not keep our Lords waiting.”

Aragorn glared at Elladan, who smiled back at him, and together they headed to the meeting place. When they entered the Hall of Fire, the others were already seemingly there. Elrohir stood in a small group, speaking with the three Cousins. Celeborn and Glorfindel were conferring silently in another place, Erestor standing nearby, listening rather that taking part to the discussion. Faramir stood a little distance away from everyone else, looking like as if he thought himself too less of a being to be in the same room with so many Firstborns. The Steward looked relieved when Aragorn entered, quickly approaching his King. “My Lord,” the younger Man saluted.

“Steward,” Aragorn returned, guiding himself closer to Celeborn. At the sight of the last ones’ arrival, all discussion ended, and everyone drifted closer to the Lord of Lothlórien.

“Aragorn,” Celeborn greeted with a deep voice. The grey eyes searched Rafél quickly, a silent message passing between them. “Now as we are all here,” Celeborn began, “I would wish to say a few words.” A steady gaze swept over all in the Hall. “We all have been concerned about Legolas’ state and healing during these days, and now I may comfort you that the Prince will survive.”

A chorus of relieved sighs passed through the room, some of the group already knowing this fact. But it seemed that Celeborn wasn’t finished. Glorfindel cleared his throat, silencing the started voices. “What worries me more is his recovering,” Celeborn said, his voice low and quiet, yet all the ears in the rooms were able to hear his voice without trouble. “The wounds caused by the Balrog have slowly began to heal, but one thing is sure: they will leave an everlasting mark upon his skin. As for the rest of his injuries, I have high hopes. It will take time,” he said, his gaze mainly upon Rafél now, “and we must be patient both with him and ourselves. I would counsel that he remains here in Rivendell as long as his recovering is taking place.”

There were approving nods from the crowd, and Celeborn nodded finally, ending the debate. “Estel, I would wish to speak with you,” he said, and after gaining an answering motion from the Man, he walked out of the door, Aragorn following him suite. They walked slowly through the gardens, mist playing around them in the fresh morning air. A bird sang somewhere in the distance, its lonely voice drifting through the air.

“Your grief will age you before your time if you do not guard it,” Celeborn said finally, his gaze resting upon the Man walking beside him.

“I have many reasons to grieve at the moment,” Aragorn said sullenly.

“Arwen’s death brings pain for us all,” Celeborn said, his thoughts pulled to the day when his own daughter ¬– Arwen’s mother – had been attacked by the Orcs: an attack that had caused Celebrían to sail over to the West. “But as I heard the Cousins say to the Twins earlier: ‘Our sorrow never fades, nor it is forgotten, but it dulls. What first seems impossible shall by the due of time turn out to be on our reach.’”

Aragorn nodded, accepting his elder’s words, seeing the wisdom in them. They walked for another moment in silence, until Celeborn halted, turning to face Aragorn.

“Long you have been away from your people, Elessar. No more can you do here, but in Gondor, many things lay at waiting for you.” Celeborn paused, meeting Aragorn’s eyes with his own. “I portend bad, though I do not know why. Ride back home, as soon as possible.”

Aragorn nodded, his eyes filling with dread. Celeborn was one of the oldest of his kin on these shores, and his skill for foreknowledge was not to be questioned. “I shall ride tomorrow, for right you are: too far I have escaped my duties into a cloak of sorrow and self-hatred. It is time to go home.”

Eyeing Aragorn carefully, Celeborn smiled vainly, raising his hand to rest it upon Man’s shoulder, and again they walked together in the cool morning.

- - -


“I wish I could come with you.”

Aragorn sighed, but didn’t interrupt his packing as a silent voice broke the silence. “I know, but you need time to rest,” he finally stated.

A soft whisper of silk indicated that Legolas moved, and soon the Prince appeared to Aragorn’s line of sight. “I know, and I am not here to beg you to take me with you. I merely stated that…”

Aragorn halted the other with a raised hand. “We both know your yearning to return to your people. But I assure you that I will make sure that your people will know you are well. Though it is much possible that they already know: news travel fast between Elves.”

Legolas nodded absently, his eyes not meeting those of the Man. Finally, with a ragged sigh, Legolas closed his eyes, turning towards a door of the balcony. “Much sorrow has befallen to you, and yet you wasted your time with me and my people.” As Aragorn took a step forward to argue, Legolas turned around, indicating the Man to stay quiet. “I thank you for everything you have done. And Éomer.” The blue eyes turned distant. “I hope all went well with him.”

“I do not doubt that a moment,” Aragorn stated softly, stepping to the Prince, his hands resting upon the archer’s shoulders. “And do not thank me: I did all I could, yet not enough. I am merely trying to repay the deeds I owe you.”

Legolas looked up to the Man, smile curving his lips. “And of what deeds you owe me, I wonder, my good Ranger?”

Aragorn didn’t answer, nor did it matter. Turning back to the bed, Aragorn swiftly finished his packing, then turned around to look at Legolas again. “Well, it is time. Hopefully my journey back home will not bring more unwanted surprises.” Smiling, the pair exited the room, walking through the hallways to the courtyard.

“About time. We already thought that you wouldn’t be leaving at all,” a cleat voice rang out, and Aragorn grinned at Elrohir.

“I considered that. But then I remembered that staying here would force me to endure you and your twin longer, and that gave me new speed in packing.”

There was a muffled laugh from Asthaldo who was standing beside Elrohir, and Elladan glared at Aragorn playfully. “We shall remember that…” the elder twin stated quietly.

Glorfindel shook his head, amused, and led Roheryn to Aragorn, handing the reins to the Man. “Safe journey,” the Elf said, and Aragorn nodded, clasping hands with him. Glorfindel stepped back, glancing at Legolas who stood silently beside him. “He will be well,” the Noldo whispered to the Sinda. Legolas only nodded, his eyes never leaving Aragorn.

Celeborn also appeared, stroking Roheryn’s neck. “May your way prove swift and safe, King of Gondor,” he finally said, letting Aragorn mount. With a serial of other farewells, Aragorn guided Roheryn to the place where Faramir was already waiting with the rest of the Gondorians.

“Fare well, Estel. Hopefully the next time we meet, it will be on a better conditions,” Elladan finally said, standing beside Roheryn.

“Aye, this kind of evil events cannot do good for your old heart,” Elrohir continued, earning a sharp elbow from his brother.

Aragorn raised an eyebrow at Elladan, and then glanced at the younger twin. “Try to behave yourselves. After all you are in great company,” he said, glancing at the Three Cousins standing near them. “And after all, it was me who brought them here in the first place,” he finally whispered, making both of the half-elves scowl.

The Cousins laughed, raising their hands to their hearts as a sign of a salute and honouring. Returning the gesture, Aragorn spurred Roheryn forward, hearing his men following him. “Time to go home,” Faramir said by his side, and Aragorn thought the same – even if a little more grimly. Turning to look back at the walls of Rivendell, he saw some of the Elves still standing on the courtyard, looking after them, Legolas among them. Until we meet again, my friend, be well, Aragorn thought, and turned his head back to the direction of Gondor.

- - -


The night had fallen upon the valley of Rivendell. Only a few softly twinkling lights broke the darkness, shining warmly from the forest-hidden buildings. Legolas remembered the days when those lights had been numerous, and happy voices and laugher were filling the halls of the Last Homely House, but that was no more. Elrond and most of his people had departed over the Sea, only few of them lingered behind, waiting for their own calling to awake. Like me, Legolas thought. But my yearning has already awoken, so what am I waiting for? But he knew the answer too well to voice it. He had too much here to live for. It wasn’t yet his time. But now that Gimli was gone, his reasons were growing short. But there is still Aragorn. In any case, I would have waited until the end of his days before sailing over myself. These thoughts sent a wave of sadness through him, and the Sinda Prince decided that he would not think this matter again. He didn’t need to remind himself of his companions’ mortality.

Unconsciously, Legolas fingered the jewel around his neck. The hours he had spent alone in his room after Aragorn had returned Gimli’s gift to him had passed in little thought. His sadness was too great to be forgotten, and it would take a long time to heal the wounds he had gained from this adventure. A dark voice on the back of his mind laughed at this, telling him that he would never recover. The loss of his friend’s life would haunt him forever – Gimli had died defending him, and for his eternal shame, Legolas had done nothing to aid Gimli when he needed help. Sighing, Legolas gazed at the trees before him, seeking consolation. He knew that blaming himself of the Dwarf’s death helped him no further, but at the moment, he had no other to blame. In the due of time, he would avenge his friend’s death, but for now, he had to wait and heal.

A slight change in the whisper of the trees alarmed Legolas that something was amiss. Redirecting his attention, he focused upon the forest around him. Nothing unusual could be heard, but Legolas was growing even more aware of the fact that something or someone was approaching. Taking a slow step forward, Legolas closed his eyes, reaching out with his fëa, trying to identify the intruder. A swift rush of cold ran across his back, as if cold fingers touching his skin, making him shudder.

On the edge of the forest a shape moved, unnoticed by the Elf, moving silently closer. Black cloak hid the creature’s form perfectly, making it melt to the shadows of the night. With a silent swiftness, the approaching form jumped over the low railing of the balcony, head turning towards the Elf who currently had his back turned towards it.

Legolas frowned, trying to focus even more. The presence of whatever approaching kept playing on the edge of his awareness, and every time he was near to catch it, it leaped aside, leaving a trail of darkness behind it. Or is it just the coldness in me? Celeborn said that my wounds will take time to heal, but he could have warned me that they would be affecting to my senses as well… As much as he hated to admit it, Legolas knew that the evil that had bored itself to him through Balrog’s weapon still affected him, as much as he tried to fight it. And he was already beginning to hate his current state of weakness. Taking a deep breath, Legolas reached out again, too stubborn to give up. And then he felt it, closer than before. Too close.

Before Legolas was able to move, he felt a touch upon his shoulder. Attempting to spin around with the unnatural speed of Elves, Legolas twisted away. But whatever creature had approached him was faster. A firm grip around Legolas neck stopped any movement the Elf might had in mind. Legolas felt the darkness of another’s presence, a feeling somehow familiar to him but he did not stop to wonder this. He was just about to move again when a soft touch of lips against the side of his neck made him froze.

“Please, my Prince, I think we have played enough,” a low, raspy voice came from behind Legolas, ending up in a chuckle. “My forgiveness for startling you,” the other continued, releasing his gradually loosening hold around the Elf’s neck.

“There is no need for forgiveness of such deeds that should have not happened,” Legolas said somewhat bitterly, turning around as he was released. “Thaíly, where on Arda have you been?”

The creature that was no more a Man than an Elf smiled in the shadows of his hood, his dark eyes watching the Prince closely. “My business is my own.”

Legolas raised an eyebrow, and then shook his head. “You still do not trust,” he said remorsefully.

“It is not a matter of trust, young Prince, but merely that that you do not need to know of my comings and goings as long as they have nothing to do with your affairs.” Another dark glance was directed at Legolas. “Yet I begin to regret that I was away from the woods for this long: seemingly all of your own people weren’t able to save you from harm.” Legolas took a deep breath, earning a dark laugh from Thaíly. “Shannai sent me.” The dark voice indicated perfectly that the Elf’s request had had no affect on him. “He asked me to look after you. Seems like he was smart enough to see that you need some real protecting.”

“Ah, and as usual – and well it goes for your own benefits – you come when no more protection is needed,” Legolas shot out, his eyes narrowing slightly.

Thaíly merely glanced at the Prince before him, seemingly amused by this. “I should have known that creeping upon you was a bad idea. But I couldn’t resist. And it seems that you are not so well as you pretend to be: if you couldn’t feel and identify my presence, I would say you should go to bed and stay there until you are able.”

Legolas was about to argue, but then thought otherwise, knowing it would be pointless. Any insult he would come up with would be only poor humour to Thaíly. Instead, he changed the topic, turning away from the other to stare at the direction of east. “What news from home?”

Thaíly stepped beside Legolas, his eyes never leaving the Prince. “Your father returned soon after the battle ended. As you know, many of your people have headed for Havens. The others had been gathered together in the Woodland Realm. As far as I know, there is not much left of your home.”

“What of Éomer?” Legolas said, trying to hide the sadness he felt arising inside of him when the destruction of his home was mentioned.

“Thranduil told him to go back home,” the half-vampire stated flatly.

“What?!” Legolas exclaimed, turning to face the other, shock upon his face.

“Well, not in so many words, and not himself,” Thaíly said as if to himself. “He sent others to meet the King of Horsemen, and ordered them to send him away.”

“You could speak a little more respectfully of the King of Mark,” Legolas hissed.

Thaíly gave him a strange look. “I have respect for few, as you know, and how I speak of those that do not hold it is entirely my own business.”

“As usual…” Legolas muttered. “But it would do good to you to remember that Éomer happens to be my friend. I wish you could honour that.”

To Legolas’ surprise, Thaíly bowed slightly. “Your wish has a great value for me. I shall heed your words.”

Legolas nodded, not entirely convinced. “What of the enemy?” he finally asked.

“Vanished. A wondrous act from such a great number of Orcs, but they did it. And as for the Balrog… no sign.” It seemed to the other man that Legolas was very happy of the latter, though a shadow of worry passed over his face. One didn’t hide an ancient monster and an army of raging Orcs and Goblins easily.

“Surely you know something of the enemy’s movements,” Legolas pressed.

Thaíly smiled darkly, cocking his head slightly. “Darkness of Moria holds many secrets. And in the deep caverns many of the enemy now hides. Waiting for what, I do not dare to guess. As for the rest of the army, they moved south, some north.”

Legolas gave the other a smile of his own. He had known that Thaíly knew more than he had told: after all, Thaíly’s knowledge of the enemies’ movements never failed to surprise Legolas. As for how Thaíly knew what he knew, the Prince didn’t wish to know. It seemed better that he was at least partially ignorant. “So, what next?” he whispered, partly to himself.

“I though you would tell me,” came a rough answer, making Legolas glance at his companion. Thaíly’s dark gaze was serious, free of mockery. “I know you cannot leave Rivendell for a while, but I assume you have things for me to run for you.”

“When you put it like that…” Legolas said cautiously. “I would wish you to go back to east and make out all you can of the movements of the enemy.” The Prince was quiet for a while, his gaze turning more south. “There is shadow rising from Mordor. I felt it when I left Ithilien, but now I understand it more perfectly. It was not only a shadow of my own mind.”

“Dol Guldur is dark again. It seems that the enemy has fondness of its old dwelling places – whatever this new darkness is,” Thaíly agreed.

Legolas turned to face the other, nodding. “Keep haste. I wish to have news as quickly as possible. Speed is our best ally.”

Thaíly, smiling at this, bowed slightly. Then he took a step forward, taking Legolas’ hands into his own and rising both in turn to his mouth, he kissed the wrists just below the arteries, where a strong beat of Elven heart could be easily felt. This was a show of respect from Thaíly, a sign that marked Legolas’ blood sacred to him – a simple gesture of loyalty – as had been the kiss to Legolas’ neck earlier.

Without further words, Thaíly retreated, quickly disappearing to the dark forest. Legolas’ eyes followed him as he stood alone again, and a slow smile curved his lips. I didn’t even say ‘good luck’ to him. Maybe I am slowly beginning to understand him. After all these years we have known each other, that would be most suitable. He can take care of himself, and his knowledge of the enemy will help him to deliver me any information I wish to have. Though at times I wonder why I trust him. He had no reason at all to trust me, nor serve me. Frowning, Legolas shook his head. This was a fact he had struggled with over hundreds of years: he had no clear memory as to why Thaíly was shoving respect and servitude to him. Legolas knew, deep inside, that there was a reason, but as usual, he couldn’t bring himself to remember it. With a sigh, Legolas threw a one more glance at the forest, and then entered his rooms. Maybe sleep would bring him answers, though he doubted it.

- - -


Thaíly crossed the silent forest like a ghost, no sound marking his passing, no sign appearing at his wake. Grim smile passed over his face as he though his previous meeting with Legolas. Even if he never would say it aloud, he had been relieved that Legolas had been alive and well. As for why he thought so, no other knew. Partly, he didn’t know himself. And it seemed clear to him that Legolas himself was puzzled by their rather odd relationship.

Thaíly arrived to the small clearing where he had left the horses, his thought running through things he would need to do before heading after the enemies. When realising that the horses weren’t alone, Thaíly came to a jerky stop. His eyes narrowed as he spotted the Elf next to Arod, his smooth hands stroking he horse’s long nose.

Thaíly sniffed the air, his upper lip rising up to reveal the sharp eye-teeth. “Rafél,” he nearly hissed, not even trying to hide his annoyance.

“About time for you to appear,” the Elven warrior stated, letting go of Arod and circling around the horse so he could face Thaíly. “I would have expected some kind of more polite welcome from you, Blood-sucker,” Rafél continued, his brown eyes locking with Thaíly’s.

Thaíly snorted, his tongue darting across the edge of his teeth. “To be honest, I am quite disappointed with you, Rafél. You let me down,” the low voice said menacingly as Thaíly slowly moved to the side, all the while keeping his eyes locked with the guardian. His movement brought him slowly closer to another, but Rafél held his ground, his gaze never leaving the other’s. “You were supposed to watch over Legolas, but what did you do when an attack came?” Thaíly spat out with disgust. “You left him on his own. Of such a crime, I should rip your heart out of your chest, still beating.” It seemed to Rafél that Thaíly clearly enjoyed the idea.

“It is easy for you to judge my actions,” Rafél said far to calmly, making Thaíly stop his slow approach. “But where were you? Surely you were aware of this kind of a massive attack taking place. Or have you lost your skill to read the enemy’s movements?”

“It is not the point of this discussion,” Thaíly said, smiling darkly. “You failed your Prince. And moreover, you violated our contract of protecting the youth.”

Rafél actually laughed at this, taking a step forward. “When you decide to tell that to Legolas, let me know: I surely wish to witness his reaction to it.”

Thaíly stopped, sniffing the air yet again. Then he cocked his head to the side, smiling. “His opinion has no affect to mine. But if he wishes to keep you, fine. Just make sure such failures won’t take place again. At the moment, I have other tasks to fulfil. I won’t be able to be in two places at once.”

Rafél raised an eyebrow, folding his hands over his chest. “He sent you out to scout? That is interesting.”

“Maybe you should speak with your protege. He is well aware of the situation revolving around him, and his mind has begun to work as it should be. He will be a fine leader when needed,” Thaíly said more to himself that to the other while he approached Morisûl and mounted. “Take care, for if you fail this time, I will make sure that your death will be one to be remembered far into future,” Thaíly stated, his eyes full of promise as he turned to look at Rafél. Then he rode away, heading towards north with a speed that few could have maintained in the darkness of the night.

Arod neighed, pushing his muzzle against Rafél’s back, as if asking the Elf was he alright. Rafél soothed the animal absently, still staring after Thaíly. He didn’t doubt a moment that the half-vampire would keep his promise. After all, Thaíly had wished to kill him for years, or so it seemed for those who had seen them together. Around Legolas, they kept civil manners, but most likely Legolas was aware of the tension between them.

As for why Thaíly hated Rafél so bitterly, the guardian didn’t know. Clearly Thaíly thought he would be more capable in protecting Legolas, but most likely there was something more behind it. Legolas had said to his guardian once that Thaíly was testing him: to see if Rafél was worthy of his respect. That was possibly very near the truth. Or then as far as any of his other guesses.

Snorting, Rafél took a soft hold of Arod’s mane and started to lead the horse towards the stables. He would have to talk with Legolas later. He didn’t like the idea that his Prince was already sending scouts forward for information – this soon after his own recovering. Keeping one’s thoughts turned into dark things easily gave one’s inner darkness an easier way to take control.




to be continued…



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