His eyes in the color of honey sparkled like small stars on its own when he acknowledged his loyal servant.
“Master.” The servant bowed, “I bring news.”
“Spill them.” He smacked his lips.
“The crown prince of the Woodland Realm is dying. Soon the kingdom will not have any heir. And I doubt that the Elvenking would remarry.”
“Indeed. He is fading from grief.”
“Grief.” He smacked his lips again, “how pathetic. These elves are like flies. And I am not even talking about Men. Ridiculous! I will never understand the purpose of this.”
The servant didn`t say anything. He was one of the few who could reach out to his master and inform him. He was one of the few his master valued but still, he was just a servant.
“But we can prosper from it…” He continued, talking to himself more than to his servant, “good news you brought, indeed. Now off you go. I believe you have a battle strategy to solve. I want you back on the front lines. We cannot lose another inch.”
“As you wish, master.”
“And General,” He called for him once again, “how we stand with that little elven bitch? Did she took the offer?”
“Lady Lilithiel accepted the Eresiel`s throne.”
“Really? Nice job, general. What convinced her? Fear?”
“I promised her an equality.”
The Master laughed.
“You are worse than gods!”
The night was dark and without the Moon and stars which would reveal his cover. He walked through the silent corridors of the famous Elvenking Halls. Unrecognized. Unseen. He walked by the guards, standing next to various doors and falling asleep during their duty. He walked by the massive throne with antlers. There he stopped for a while and shook his head. It impressed him for a little moment but he quickly tossed the thought away.
This is so ridiculous.
He continued, passing by the beautifully carved Halls and tunnels, corridors and bridges, only with the soft humming of the river underneath the solid rock the stronghold was built from. He had to admit it was rare for elves to live underground but he also knew that Thranduil Oropherion was quite rare as well.
And there he found the chamber he was looking for. The sight of the small elfling and his father sleeping in one big bed in King`s chambers would touch him if he wasn`t him. But the scene in front of him brought him just a light joy. He knew that he can profit from this situation. And he was prepared to use it for his own good. Because he wasn`t used to not achieve his goals. He will just need to convince his old friend to help him. Or rather blackmail her…
The soft morning light touched the innocent pale cheek of the crown prince of the Woodland Realm. But he didn`t move, he didn`t notice how much time was gone in his unconsciousness.
The Elvenking himself was watching the face of his own son and the game of the morning sun on his skin. He sighed and placed his troubled head back on the pillow. The only comfort he had was the shallow breath of the small body he felt next to him. Every breath the elfling took he felt like a light press against his own chest.
He embraced Legolas carefully and buried nose into his blond hair. He has never realised before how much he missed this intimacy with his child. How comfortable he felt when the warmth and the familiar scent filled his senses. He was his family. His only family.
And soon he will be alone if his son will give up on him.
I am giving up on you.
The sentence ringed in his head like it was yesterday. He could clearly see the scene in front of his eyes. Eleniel`s eyes full of disappointment and hurt, how she turned to the door and left saying this. He knew back then that she was serious. And he knew back then that if she really gave up he would never survive it.
“Please, do not give up on me…” He whispered with pain coloring the deep voice. He sniffled.
“I love you. I love you more than anything in this world, Legolas…Please, come back to me…Please.”
But the child in his arms didn`t respond. Nothing changed after his silent plea.
Thranduil sniffled again. His heart was bleeding.
How idiotic he was. It was his own doing. It was his fault.
Like everything else.
Are the gods making him pay? But for what?
The King suddenly changed the flow of his thoughts. He remembered the strange feeling of fear from his dreams. He remembered how he woke up in the middle of the night, gasping for an air and his hand was searching the dagger from under his mattress. But no one was there. Just the strong feeling of fear was still overwhelming him.
He had a similar feeling once. Just the night his Eleniel disappeared. That night when someone stole the body of his beloved, dead, wife. It wasn`t a fear. He didn`t know how to name it. But it was a strong feeling, which was overwhelming him for a good while after he woke up. The sense of power. Yes, he felt an incredible power.
Was it the forest? Sometimes he had strange dreams and vision thanks to his bond with the ancient Greenwood.
Thranduil lowered his eyes back to Legolas`s face.
He would do anything to save his son. Anything.
Tavarille smoothed her dress and knocked on the door of Thranduil`s bedroom. It looked different. It was new. The battle and the fire. It had to swallow a great deal of the Elvenking`s Halls as well, she thought quickly. She entered the bedchamber and couldn`t fight a smile when she spotted Thranduil in the bed together with his son. The small elfling was lying in the middle of the huge bed and the King held him close to his chest, protecting him.
“Good morning, Thranduil.” She tilted her head in respect.
“You can stay in the bed. I don`t mind.” She raised her hand to stop him from getting up, “I just wanted to check on Legolas, how is he?”
“Please, sit down.” He pointed to the chair next to the bed, “Nothing changed, really…”
Tavarille seated herself, still full of grace like it would never wash out from her highborn blood.
“You have to believe. He will not leave you. He loves you, Thranduil. It was obvious the whole time.”
“Obvious to all just not to me.” He whispered with a broken heart. Tavarille averted her eyes from Legolas to Thranduil. She was staring at him for a short moment and realising just now that his chest was bare and he was skinnier than the last time she saw him.
“Do not torture yourself, Thranduil. It is a truth that you ignored him for a very long time. You had your reasons. I understand them. But the world of living should be more important for you.”
Thranduil was silent and she could sense very well, that he was trying hard not to spill a single tear in front of her. How strong he was trying to be even now after all that happened between them.
“You can talk to me, Thranduil…I had to go through this too…” She whispered. Their eyes met and she didn`t move them away even though his icy eyes were like he was able to see her naked soul. They always had been like this. Tavarille has never been sure if she hated it or liked it.
“You said Mardil died in the battle as well…”
“Yes, he did…He fought to protect his family and his village.”
“Did you see him…? To fall?”
“No…I was running away with my daughter.”
Tavarille`s voice shook a little.
“How did you know that he is dead?”
This time she lowered her brown eyes. It was still hard to reveal those memories. But she knew that Thranduil needed it for his recovery. For Legolas`s sake.
“He did not meet me where he should. I returned and found him. He…He was dead already. I…It took me a long time and Lady Vanya had to help me to not blame myself for running away and that I did not help him. Did not die with him. If I would, my daughter would die as well.”
Tavarille wiped off a single tear running down her high cheekbone.
“I wish I could bury her at least…With all the glory…To have a place where I could go and talk to her…”
The King wiped his eyes as well.
“I felt ashamed too…I am blaming myself for my brother`s, father`s, wife`s death and now is also my son`s death on my hands as well.”
“He did not die yet!!” She yelled suddenly. Thranduil flinched and widened his eyes. Instinctively he drew Legolas closer to him.
The moment of silence filled the room.
“I am glad that you are here.” He said afterwards. Tavarille smiled a little. She looked at Legolas again.
“At first I saw just Eleniel in his face…But now I can see that he has your nose and lips. And I observed that he is kind and clever just like you are.”
“I fear he has his mother`s kindness. The never-ending one…” He smiled as well and caressed the prince`s hair.
He looked at her. The exhaustion and pain were visible now more than ever in his face.
“Let her go…Your son needs you more.”
He was opening his mouth to answer, to argue maybe, but she was faster.
“I know that death brings many questions but there is not always an answer…And grief…I have learned, is really just love. It is all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go…”
The smell of the fire and flesh was still lingering in the crispy air. The camp was quiet. Everyone who could, slept. Just the soldiers on night duty were walking through the camp. Also, the tents of the highest commanders and generals were still lightened up.
Lord Daeron entered one of the tents. The commander he was about to visit turned to him.
“Lord Daeron.” He tilted his head and put the armor aside.
“Cleaning your own armor by yourself?”
“It`s calming me down a little. Good moment to think, actually.” Deteghor admitted and offered an empty chair to the Lord. He filled a deformed goblet with water and handed it to him.
“Thank you. “
“Is there something on your mind, my Lord?”
“Oh, there always is. But I also bring some news.” Lord Daeron sighed and swallowed the cold water. It tasted strangely bitter. This land was cursed already. But it was all they had. Daeron placed the goblet back on the table and put out a scroll. Deteghor frowned as soon as he spotted the seal. Oak with a crown above. Daeron handed it to Deteghor and gave him a minute to read it.
“The Elvenking wants his troops back.” Deteghor said as matter of fact.
“I wondered if he forgot about them…”
“He would never. However…I am torn now. We cannot say no to him. He is our sovereign King and he has right to do it. With his way of international politics lately, it sounds logical. But…”
“You need us here. Woodland`s troops have saved three battles already. We are moving forward after an year of constant losing.” Deteghor continued.
“Indeed, my friend…But you are free to go as well. The Elvenking offered you a home.”
Deteghor looked back at the scroll and frowned again.
“I cannot abandon you.”
“I would be forever grateful to you…” Daeron said quietly. Deteghor watched him. The old elven Lord, very respected among all races and a wise protector of this world was languishing in front of his eyes.
“Why did you really come, Lord Daeron?”
“To give you this. I have to admit it is not the first scroll from the Elvenking. I have tried to avoid it. But not he really urges and I cannot keep it from you anymore. It is not fair. Not to you, not to the fighting soldiers. Please, forgive me. I will wait for your decision.”
“I will give you my decision during the morning war meeting, my Lord.”
“Of course, Deteghor. Think about it.” Daeron nodded and left his tent. The grace he once held was gone a long time ago.
Thranduil rolled on his side. His fingers found the small body next to him and he pulled it closer to him. He was deep asleep but he registered the breathing of his son anyway. It was still. But yet, something was making him uneasy. That feeling. That feeling was here again. He rolled on his back, pressing his eyes shut. He sighed when he acknowledged that he was more and more awake. The feeling inside him was stronger. Power.
He opened his eyes and the view shocked him, that he flinched and hit his head. His usually blue eyes were green and wide open.
The woman in front of him was smiling. Her skin was glowing as well as her very light eyes. Her dark hair, so dark like night itself, were flying around her despite there was no breeze in the room. She was dressed in the white gown, which was glowing and moving as well. She looked like she would swim underwater. Until he realised one, very significant, fact – she was floating above the bed.
He closed his eyes and opened them again, thinking it was just a nightmare, but it wasn`t. She was still there, looking at him with curious very light eyes. And that smile.
She is floating god damn it.
He covered Legolas with his own body, unable to speak or unable to decide what to do. She looked like a ghost! Can he fight her?
He frowned and reached for her but she moved away. He waved his arm again and at least she moved higher away from him.
Thranduil I will not hurt you.
Is he dreaming?
His heart was beating rapidly. The feeling of power was captivating.
Calm down, child.
She reached her delicate hand to his cheek and caressed it. It was soft and it tickled. He gasped. It was so long ago when someone touched him like this.
No, my child. Listen Thranduil. Listen to me. I came to help you.
She wasn`t moving her mouth and yet he heard her voice. Feminine, soft, yet strong.
There is a great evil. Bigger than you thought. Unstoppable. Only you can stop him, Thranduil. It was him. It was him who harmed you so greatly. Who took everything from you. Only you, Thranduil Oropherion, can-
She turned her head abruptly. Her smile disappeared. Another kind of power surged through his body and a great fear seized his guts. Eyes in the color of honey, angered, met his right away.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!! Ringed in his head so strong that it hurt.
And then he fell into the darkness.
The entrance of the tent smacked loudly and Daeron turned to see the visitor. It was Deteghor in his armor, ready for the new day.
“Deteghor, the war meeting will start just in a few minutes.”
“Will you attend?” Daeron asked carefully. He prayed for a good answer. Good answer for him and his army.
“Of course.” Deteghor nodded with a serious face, “I`ve spoken to Woodlanders in my command. I have made an offer to stay or to go home.”
Lord Daeron inhaled sharply, his heart skipped a beat.
“Every soldier in the Elvenking`s units decided to stay. We continue in this war, my Lord. And the Elvenking cannot do anything about it. His own people decided by a free will.”
“But who would be so mad and stay here willingly?” Daeron gasped.
“The elves with an honor and those who knows how dangerous the evil is and that we must defeat it.”
Lord Daeron frowned with a gratitude. He squeezed Deteghor`s shoulder.
“Thank you, Deteghor. Your help will not be forgotten.”