after a long time I managed to come up with a one-shot again! I wanted to try something…so I tried. I hope you will like it!
The horizon above the forest was getting lighter and lighter with the sun coming up in the sky. So discussed morning was here.
He closed his eyes and breathed in the fresh cold air. He knew what was coming. Everyone knew what was coming. The sounds from the Main courtyard was a proof of it.
Rushed voices – nervous and stressed ones, the clang of a steel, the sound of horse’s hoofs, the cry of wooden wheels of carriages on the stone floor. That all together meant just one thing – the elves were getting ready for a war.
It had been just a few weeks ago when the letter from Dareon from Locien arrived. But they were ready much sooner. The King knew that they need to support their soldiers and the weaponry more than education and celebrations past year. But it still wasn’t enough. The Dark Lord was able to breed his monsters three times faster than expected. His armies were huge. Dull, but huge. Now they were marching towards his lands meanwhile the rest of the elven alliance was fighting them back on the southeast.
The sound if door opening made him wake up from his thoughts.
The guest didn’t think that it was necessary to announce himself to the King who was standing on the balcony with his back to the door.
“Graven.” He acknowledged the intruder.
“Thranduil, this is insane. We will have better chances if we stay hidden in the Halls!”
His father-in-law and the advisor in one person repeated his opinion again. Most of the Council was against the King’s decision.
Thranduil didn’t say anything.
“Thranduil! It is a sure lost!”
The Elvenking inhaled deeply and gave him an annoyed look.
“Yeah, I forgot you even believe you can walk on water. Do you really think you can win this fight? Times are changing!”
He left angrily, leaving the sighing King behind again.
Thranduil didn’t believe he could walk on water. He was scared they will not be able to win this. He was scared that the previous night with Eleniel with one bed was his last one. He was scared to lose his kingdom, his people, his family. The King didn’t want to fight, to risk his life when his son was born just months ago.
But can he admit it aloud?
The only thing Thranduil could do was to march out there to meet this insane army in front of his borders, trying to save the lives of women and children who are going to be hidden in the Halls underground. Nobody could say they will win. But they can kill as many orcs as possible so the Halls will gain more time to endure the attack until the allies from mountains arrive.
Eleniel’s voice was a soothing warmth to his cold scared soul. But even in front of her, he had to remain calm and brave.
Thranduil turned and opened his arms to her. She always matched into them perfectly.
“It is going to be okay, my love.” He kissed her forehead.
“I believe in you.” She whispered. Her voice was serious and brave but he recognized the shaking edge in it.
“Thank you. I need your trust and hope. I will think of it every day.”
“I will.” He lied. He wasn’t sure anymore. The reports were a pure horror.
He pressed her body against his harder and inhaled her scent.
Graven frowned and folded back the scroll with the King`s seal. It was then when he noticed that his only daughter, now the Queen of the elves, was standing in the room, staring at him.
“He is still alive, do not worry, Elie.”
“I know.” She nodded without a hesitation. Her posture, well-taught during the years in her role, was unbreakable. Graven felt a short shot of pride. How great Queen she has become from just a young girl, not even born with an aristocratic blood!
“You`ve got a letter too?”
Now the royal posture was off. Eleniel broke the eye contact.
“No…The last time was two weeks ago. Just a pure…love.” She whispered the last word like it was hurting her.
Graven wanted to open his mouth to perhaps ensure her that her husband will write her again but she was faster. She looked at him again, pain all over her face.
“He is loosing, isn`t he?”
“Elie, I do not think that it is the reason why he-“
“No lies, dad.” She hissed. A tear already escaped her eye.
Graven sighed and looked at the scroll in front of him.
“Yes. He is loosing. They will not endure much longer…”
The King was staring at the map in front of him for hours already, but he couldn`t come up with a solution. The strategy, which he and his two generals created during the Council and for which they fought so hard against the advisors didn`t work. He lost more than half of the elven army in three battles already. Even his oldest soldiers who experienced and won so many battles against the Dark Lord were hopeless. The moral was getting worse and everyone was tired. Exhausted.
The wounded knee reminded him the exhaustion immediately. Shot of pain made him hiss. He took the goblet with a warm wine and sipped, standing up to stretch the knee before it will be stiff and he won`t be able to move properly in the battle tomorrow.
I am loosing.
He closed his eyes and finished the wine. He heard it many times before from lips of those who didn`t believe his ideas. This is the first time he had to admit it to himself. It sounded strange and Thranduil realized that this is the end. The end of the era of success. The end of the era of his life. The end of his kingdom. The end of the world as they knew it. The Darkness is going to swallow everything.
I will never see my family again…
It was much worse than the idea of loosing. So much worse than the world falling into the hands of the Dark Lord.
The King sighed. He couldn`t blame the soldiers for losing their attitude. They are scared. Their King is scared as well.
They are defeated already.
Thranduil opened his eyes and turned to the general who just entered his tent.
“I am sorry to interrupt.” The best general the elven army could have tilted his head in respect, “we have no messages about the movement. They seem to stay still during the night. Fortunately.”
Thranduil nodded in acknowledgment and handed him a goblet of the warm wine.
“Although, I fear if the heavy rain won`t stop, it will be our downfall.”
Both of them sipped the wine and listened the constant drum-beat of the rain.
“May I be honest, my King?”
“Speak free, Sorontur.”
“We should retreat back to the Halls. Maybe even during the night. The orcs stay still because they don`t know the wild forest as we do. We have good chances to retreat before they will notice.”
“I would agree, Sorontur. But I don`t want to lead them to the Halls. They still have hope even though we may not.”
Sorontur looked at the King and nodded.
“Maybe, at least, you should retreat. We need our King to stay alive.”
“That would be a great motivation for a fight.”
“I am serious, Thranduil. You are the last living royal blood.”
Thranduil pierced him with the cold blue eyes he was so famous for. Sorontur was much older than him. He used to serve his father and the King valued him. When he called him by his name, he was always serious and caring. But what Sorontur suggested was unthinkable despite the fact he wished to go home more than anything.
“I am not.” He cut him off.
“I am not going anywhere, Sorontur. I have to lead my soldiers tomorrow. Even though it may be our last fight…”
There it was again. The ugly truth he had to admit to himself first and to his most trusted advisors…
Graven had to hate him now. The stubborn King who though he can walk on water is going to lose everything dear to him.
Thranduil rose to fill more wine into his goblet.
“Well, then I hope the gods will listen to my prayers and stop the rain.” Sorontur sighed and stood up as well.
Thranduil chuckled sadly.
“Do you really pray for a weather instead of survival?”
“I am a soldier, my King. To die in the fight is an honor. But who wants to fight in a fucking swamp. Like the muddy hell would not be lining the battlefield anyway…”
Thranduil smiled. He never thought that there is honor in dying. He never thought that being a soldier means to be at peace with death either. It meant to be able to face the fear. It meant that when the devil whispers in one`s ear: You are not strong enough to withstand the storm, one must respond back: I am the storm…
But the King didn`t say anything aloud. Everyone had to believe in something.
Storm. Rain. Mud…
Sorontur looked at the monarch surprised.
Thranduil rushed to the table with the map of the forest.
“You said swamps?”
Eleniel grasped the armrests a little bit stronger. She swallowed hard and looked around. The fact alone that she was sitting in her husband’s throne was already enough but saying the actual news about him, the news she never believed she will have to say, was throwing her over the edge.
The crowd of the highborn elves stared at her when she said it and soon the rushed voices filled the room.
Eleniel watched them intently. She knew exactly what they think now.
The Queen is giving up on her husband. The King never lost but now they say he is losing the war. They need to evacuate all elves deep into the cave of the Halls. The orders were clear. All elves will have to help, they have to move quickly. No one is leaving. No one is entering. Not even the King. The Queen already buried him.
They didn`t care how she felt when she was saying her husband`s orders from the last letter to Graven.
It was the clear sign he will never come back to her. But her hope was dying last.
Do monsters make war…
Hit and turn. Scream and a hot blood on the back of his neck. Concentration. A swish of the steel and right after that another. Clang. Step back.
…or does war make monsters?
It was like a dance. A well-taught move. The muscle memory of his arms and legs. A Pain from the knee and an exhaustion from the fight was slowly creeping and poisoning his mind. The pointy ears started to listen to the screams and cries and madness instead of shutting off those sounds. Soon he will make a mistake. A deadly one.
He pushed his borders a little bit more and swung the swords faster. As soon as he cleared his closest surroundings the King looked around the battlefield.
Like if the general was reading his mind he blew the horn for a retreat like his life would depend on it. Well, it kind of depended.
The army of elves started retreating backward step by step, fighting off the ugly monsters of the Darkness who know smelled their chance for an easy victory. They pushed just like Thranduil expected.
Another sound of the horn, this time it sounded like a desperate cry for help.
It was a risky plan but plan it was. He might lose lives on their side, but if everything will work at least a little bit as it was expected, then the orcs will lose more. The elves will have to depend on their instincts and knowledge of the forest.
Of the swamps to be exact.
When the generals of the orcs saw that the elves were retreating and half of the army was more running away than actually retreating, they gave up trying to regroup the orcs who never had the right attitude to listen and to be precise but their value was in number, and let them chase the elves to have some fun from the losing enemy.
And this short hope for an easy win was their downfall. The swamps weren`t an easy battlefield for sure. Even for the elves. But the army of the Woodland Realm knew their forest very good. The Woodland creatures were able to recognize where the swamp is deep and where is not. Where is safe to step and where one can drown.
But the Orcs knew nothing.
Soon this disadvantage caused huge losses on the side of the Dark Lord`s army. A lot of Orcs drowned in the swamps before they could reach the elves. And the rest, who managed to fight, was too surprised and too clumsy anyway. The power of both armies was equal now.
The King shouted a command for a quick attack again.
The battle on the swamps was won. When almost half of the army drowned in the swamps the Orcs ran away in retreat, scared and unable to fight.
The King was glad but he couldn`t bring himself to look away from bodies of the elves in the swamps as well.
The adrenaline from the battle was still running through his veins but joyful shouting of the fellow soldiers made his head spinning anyway. The pain slowly reminded him, that he was wounded and when he concentrated enough he even felt the hot blood running down under his armor. What he didn`t notice was the piece of a lance in his side.
And then…everything went black.
Sun was shining in the sky. It was a beautiful day. It almost looked like gods were sarcastic.
Eleniel was staring at nothing in front of her. Her whole body was a cramp so she wouldn`t cry in front of everyone. But, gods, she cried, screamed and cursed everything and everyone. He was supposed to come back. He wasn`t supposed to leave her here alone…
The whole kingdom was mourning. The King was dead and now the Queen was in charge until her little son, the crown prince, will be old and wise enough to rule.
Graven, her father, was standing next to her and watching the ceremonial.
“They say the elves walked on water that day…” He whispered with tears in his eyes.
Eleniel didn`t understand but she didn`t care. Her husband was gone and she wished to be gone too. Her sanity stayed just because of their son. But her heart was shattered into million pieces.
The battle in swamps itself became famous. And people through all kingdoms truly say that the elves walked on water that day because they were the only ones who didn`t lose soldiers to the swamps, only in a fight. The Orcs believe the forest is possessed and they refused the Dark Lords orders to destroy the elves completely and rather ran away after that.
The battle was won even though the King died and it dramatically changed the war and Dark Lord started losing. The alliance pushed him back into his lands and weakened him enough to live in watchful peace for next years.
Inspiration – Thirty seconds to mars – Walk on water