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The Shadow Within
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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[Index]

1
The Shadow Within

Thranduil looked up from the documents he was studying as there was a knock on the door and a messenger entered.

“A letter, my Lord. The courier said it was most urgent.”

Curiously, for the seal was unfamiliar, Thranduil opened the message and read it swiftly. Then he read it again, more slowly, and looked at the messenger in silence for a moment before responding.


“Has Maethor reported in today?”

The messenger hesitated a moment before answering, “I believe so, sire.”

“Good. Go and find him. Tell him I need to speak with him, and make haste. I will be departing shortly and I need to set things in order before I go.”

“Sire?”

Thranduil began to grow impatient at the elf’s delay. His requests were not often questioned, no matter how unexpected they were. “Is there a problem?”

“No, sire, no problem,” the messenger answered quickly before departing the room. Thranduil looked down at the parchment on his desk. The trade agreement with Dale he had been working on would have to wait. It was not nearly as important as this. He reread the letter for a third time:

Thranduil, Elf King of Eryn Lasgalen-

I hope this letter finds you well. Oh, I will just dispense with the pleasantries. You and I both know there is no love lost between you and my father, however, I felt compelled to put family disputes aside in order to inform you of a situation that I thought you should be aware of. It is regarding your son (who would be terribly upset with me if he knew I was doing this).

I know not how to describe it, but something is amiss, and I do not just speak of his inclination to become sullen and cheerless every time one of those blasted gulls flies overhead. When I last saw him, he made several remarks that trouble me. My intent is not to instruct you on how to handle your son, but as his father and only living relative it is my hope that perhaps you would have a better result getting through his thick head than I.

I hope you know that I hold your son in the highest regard and wouldn’t interfere in matters that are not my concern (as you are surely thinking) if I was not concerned for his welfare.

Cordially,
Gimli son of Glóin
Lord of the Glittering Caves


Thranduil folded the letter and pushed it into a pouch on his belt. Just like a Dwarf to be so vague and unforthcoming. But he had to admit, there was no one closer to his son than this Dwarf. If he said something was wrong, Thranduil had to grudgingly allow that he probably knew better than anyone else. And for the Dwarf to actually write to him, it would have to be something fairly serious. Still, it would have been helpful if the little boor had said what remarks were made, or what he though was the matter.

Thranduil’s internal rant about Dwarves was cut short by Maethor coming into the study at top speed. “I am here, my liege. Amanel told me to make all haste.”

Thranduil smiled at the Elf’s effort to comply with his wishes, a sharp contrast to Amanel’s earlier manner. Maethor was always excessively eager to please Thranduil. Perhaps one day he would find a happy medium between the two Elves. “I will be traveling to Ithilien to visit Legolas. I leave the realm in your very capable hands. I should not be gone for too long.”

“Of course, sire.” Maethor nodded respectfully. “When will you be leaving? In a week or so?”

“No, Maethor. I depart tonight.”

Maethor stood where he was and opened his mouth before shutting it quickly. Looking embarrassed at what he probably viewed as a breach of respect, Maethor cast his eyes downward and stared at the floor. Thranduil realized the Elf wished to speak, but Maethor would never find it in his nature to question his king.

“You have something to say?” He tried to inject as much encouragement in his tone as he could.

After a brief pause, Maethor looked up and spoke tentatively. “Tonight, sire? Is aught amiss?”

The concern in Maethor’s voice touched Thranduil’s own worry, and he was more candid than he might have been otherwise. He placed his hand on the pouch that contained the letter and spoke softly, almost to himself. “That is what I intend to find out.” He focused back on Maethor. “Go. Make whatever preparations you need to find coverage for your other duties, and quickly. I wish to leave immediately.”

“Yes sire,” Maethor said and with a slight bow, walked out of the room. Thranduil stood where he was, willing his thoughts not to turn to his son. Inevitably, they did, and he patted the letter again, regretfully this time.

“Ai, Legolas,” he thought aloud, “if aught troubled you, could you not have come to me.” No matter how hard he fought, the next thought came unbidden into his mind. Was I such a bad father that you feel you could not?

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Thranduil arrived at the borders of Ithilien mid morning. It was a beautiful crisp day at the beginning of Narbeleth. The air had that almost-harvest smell to it and the leaves in the forest were just beginning to turn. The trees proudly displayed their rich autumn colors as they slowly covered the forest floor in a multicolored blanket. He had little time to appreciate the beauty of this, the “Garden of Gondor” before a familiar Elf dropped out of a tree off the side of his path.

“Tirithel! Mae Govannen!” Thranduil dismounted and thanked his horse, Baran, for the swift journey. As he started towards Tirithel, another Elf with the golden hair of the Galadhrim, walked on to the path as well.

Mae Govannen, Thranduil! It is a joy to see you, but you were not expected.” Both elves were now on the path before him. Thranduil looked from one to the other for they were blocking his way.

“I am glad to be here, but if you would kindly let me pass, I wish to see my son.” The elves exchanged a glance and the one Thranduil did not know leapt back up into the trees. Tirithel stayed where he was.

“I am not sure I can give you leave to wander around in our realm, my lord.” He reached out to rub Baran’s nose. “After all, we are a sovereign land, and our lord is not aware of your presence. He may not grant you right of entry.”

Although Thranduil could see in the younger Elf’s eyes that he was teasing, he was not in the mood for such banter. He had ridden on a horse for almost a fortnight and wished for the comforts he deserved, if not as the father of the ruler of this land, and incidentally also the king of another Elven realm, then at least as a visiting Elf from another land. The fact Tirithel had been a close childhood friend of Legolas was no excuse for cheek.

Thranduil crossed his arms but before he could voice his displeasure, Tirithel laughed. “I jest with you, sire.” He spoke the last word with a jaunty bow. “I saw you getting ready to hand me my head for denying you entry.” He laughed again, “Aearon went to fetch Legolas. He should be here shortly.”

As if on cue, Legolas came up the path at that moment, all smiles, to greet them. “Ada! I had not expected a visit!” He must then have noticed Thranduil’s frown and posture because the smile left his face as he asked, “Does something trouble you?”

Thranduil quickly unfolded his arms and eased his expression. He smiled at Tirithel to indicate that despite what the Elf had said, there were no hard feelings. Tirithel smiled back, gave a quick bow to Legolas and walked into the forest with Baran following. Thranduil watched the Elf disappear into the trees with his horse and then turned to his son. “You tell me, Legolas.”

Legolas furrowed his brows for a moment before smiling. He put his hand on Thranduil’s shoulder to turn him and guide him down the path into the forest. “No, no, things are well, as you will see. Ithilien prospers. We have just restored a clearing in the center of our settlement. We closed it in so the young ones can play there and their parents need not worry about them. They call it “safe haven.” You should see it before you leave. The way the vines on the perimeter are interwoven is truly amazing.”

Listening to his son talk about Ithilien, his running commentary on things they passed along the path, caused Thranduil to swell with pride. When they reached the intricately carved entrance to what appeared to be underground caverns, Legolas stopped walking. Thranduil noticed the unmistakably Dwarven-made doors. Carved into them was both the white tree of Gondor and a leaf crossed with an arrow; the symbol the founders of Ithilien, both former archers, had agreed upon to represent their new realm. Thranduil looked at Legolas, who was smiling back at him. “Ada, you’re practically beaming.”

“I’m proud of you Legolas. You’ve done well here, and I don’t often say it, but I’m proud of you.”

A smile spread across Legolas’s face and Thranduil knew that his words meant a great deal to his son. He ought to have praised him more as a child, but there was a reason he raised him as he did. He could not afford to have Legolas grow up as anything other than a warrior, and young warriors were not to be coddled. It was unfortunate that their relationship had to suffer as a result. A shadow crossed his mind and he felt for the letter at his side, a reminder of why he was here. Hating to break this moment, he grasped Legolas’s shoulder, but could not bring himself to speak of it yet.

“Perhaps we can go inside and sit and have some wine.” He grinned broadly and added, “I brought Dorwinion…”

“It must be an important matter that brings you here if you brought Dorwinion.” Legolas laughed. “Come, Ada, let us have some of that wine.”

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“So, how fares your Dwarf friend, Gimli?” Thranduil attempted a casual attitude as he placed two glasses at the small table and poured the wine.

Legolas raised an eyebrow, a slightly puzzled look on his face. “He is well.” He narrowed his eyes and Thranduil recognized an all too familiar look of suspicion. “Why do you ask?”

Thranduil placed the bottle on the table and crossed his hands on his chest, feigning insult. “I am merely asking after your friend. After all, you and I have not spoken for a while. Surely you don’t suspect ulterior motives while we exchange pleasantries?” Legolas continued to eye him warily, but pulled out a chair and sat down, indicating that Thranduil should do the same.

“I suppose not.”

Given that small concession, Thranduil sat opposite his son. So different he had become, Thranduil thought; so unlike the boisterous elfling he had known. He pushed those thoughts away, intent on continuing their conversation. “So, you have seen him recently?” he asked, steering the discussion back in the direction he wanted it to take.

“Not too long ago. He visits Ithilien often – as frequently as his duties permit.”

Thranduil felt his body tense. Was that a veiled dig at him? Surely Legolas understood that ruling an entire realm was more demanding of his time then being Dwarf lord over some cave system. He looked intently at his son, but could not see any malice in his eyes. Either it was an innocent comment… or he has learned well the art of deception from his father, Thranduil thought bitterly.

In the interest of his purpose of coming here, he chose to ignore the comment. Besides, his son was not the type of Elf to make such underhanded jabs at others. This was Legolas, who knew every Elf in the realm by name, and minute details about their life, because he valued each and every one of them and took the time to get to know them.

“Surely you did not travel all this way to ask after a dwarf, Ada.”

The statement startled Thranduil out of his thoughts. He looked at Legolas and saw the raised eyebrow; the pursed lips. He is far more like his father than should be allowed.

“No, of course not.” He sipped idly at his wine and quietly repeated, “of course not.” Not sure how to breach the question he wanted to ask, Thranduil continued to stall, “I know you are close, and was just attempting to make polite conversation.”

Legolas folded his arms across his chest. “The only time I’ve known you to ‘attempt to make polite conversation’ is when there is an issue you want to discuss and don’t know how to bring it up.”

Now it was Thranduil’s turn to raise a brow. How well his son knew him. And how little he felt he knew his son at the moment. “Very well, you are right, you know.” Legolas smiled, looking very pleased with himself, as he reached for his glass to take a drink. Thranduil ignored the smirk and took a deep breath before continuing. “I don’t know how else to do this but to just say it. I’m concerned about you, Legolas. I’m concerned about your happiness, about your well-being; about your life.”

The laugh that burst from his son lips startled Thranduil more than anything else Legolas could have done. “Concerned? About me? Oh, Ada, you sound so serious. I assure you, all is well. Ithilien prospers; the hint of shadow has all but been completely removed.”

He seemed his old self, but Thranduil knew as well as anyone that appearances could be deceiving. “I do not speak of Ithilien. Ithilien does not concern me. It is you I worry about.”

The laughter was gone from Legolas’s eyes, but he still wore a smile. “I assure you, everything is well. I am well.”

Thranduil looked briefly at the table before meeting his son’s eyes. “I have reason to believe otherwise.”

Legolas laughed again, but, Thranduil noticed, it was not reflected in his eyes this time. “I suppose I should have expected that.” He made a show of composing himself and stopping his laughter, but it was clearly not as difficult as he tried to make it seem. “Do you feel obligated to carry on the reputation of the vaunted foresight of the Elves, now that Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel have departed this world?”

His manner was teasing, but Thranduil saw a hint of sadness flash across his eyes. Everything about this conversation was only causing him more worry. Not only was something bothering Legolas, but it was bothering him so much he felt the need to hide it. The lighthearted joking that was such a part of his personality was so forced that it pained Thranduil to see it.

Ignoring the question his son had posed, Thranduil got up, walked around the table to where Legolas sat and knelt down beside him. “If something is bothering you, ion nín, please, talk to me.”

Legolas did not answer or look at his father, but stared straight ahead, tracing circles around the rim of his wine glass with his finger. Thranduil sighed and stood up, not sure how to proceed. Frustrated, he began to pace the room.

He had only walked a few steps when he heard Legolas’s voice behind him, quiet and strained. “How long has it been since you’ve seen Gimli?”

Thranduil stopped walking and slowly turned to face his son, formulating a response as he did. “Why, I haven’t seen him since the celebration right after the founding of this realm.” he answered truthfully. “The one that was held in honor of you and Faramir.” He thought he may have imagined it, but he could have sworn that Legolas’s eyes saddened, only briefly, at the mention of Faramir. Was he the trouble?

Legolas stilled his finger, but continued to avoid his father’s gaze. “I understand that Gimli is under the impression that I am out of sorts, but he is mistaken.” All of a sudden, Legolas’s manner changed and his face was the perfect image of serene calm. He looked at Thranduil and smiled. “Really, I am well. Gimli just needs to get that through his thick head.”

Shocked at the similar mannerisms his son shared with a Dwarf, a Dwarf! Thranduil couldn’t help but chuckle. Legolas’s smile dissolved and he tilted his head and frowned, causing Thranduil to feel the need to explain. “I find it amusing that my son uses the same phrase as a Dwarf.” He laughed again. “Not that I disagree that either of you is thick headed.”

“Gimli called me thick headed?”

Too late, Thranduil realized his mistake. “No, no. You just said, just now, that he had a thick head.”

Legolas’s finger began its travel around the rim of the glass again. “No, you said that ‘either of us is thick headed’.”

“Did I?” Thranduil had always been able to feign innocence. Long years of dealing with dishonest men taught you many things. They weren’t all good lessons, but there was much you learned. However, Legolas knew his father too well.

“I know you spoke to Gimli.” He stood up and walked over to Thranduil. “What did he say? Did he tell you I was mad? Distraught? Grief-stricken?” He looked Thranduil right in the eyes. “What did he say that was so terrible as to get you to leave your precious halls and come all the way to Ithilien?”

Stung by his son’s words, and the barely hidden accusation behind them, Thranduil crossed the room and sunk back into his chair. Without a word, he pulled the letter from his belt and placed it on the table. They both remained silent and motionless; Legolas standing with his arms folded glaring at his father and Thranduil sitting at the table, gazing dismally into his wine glass. Finally Legolas spoke.

“What is that?”

“It is a letter.” Thranduil said emotionlessly, still feeling the sting from the slap in the face he had just received. “From your friend Gimli.” He looked to his son. “Come, read it if you must.”

Legolas hesitated and then slowly walked to the table. He sat down as he opened the letter. Thranduil watched him read it, seeing his frustrated expression turn slowly into anger. When he had finished with the letter, he practically threw it back at Thranduil and leaned back in his chair, looking at a point on the floor next to the table.

“So, do you want to discuss it?” Thranduil began.

Placing his hands on the table, Legolas took a deep breath and spoke in a dangerously quiet, even voice, never looking up from the ground. “Just because Gimli feels the need to play nursemaid does not mean I need looking after.”

“I am not trying to look after you.” Thranduil felt frustration begin to build inside him. “I only wish to help.” He sighed as he reached over and grabbed one of his son’s hands. Legolas pulled it away and looked at Thranduil.

“I realize,” Thranduil continued softly, “that for much of your life, I was caught up, battling the shadow over the Wood.” Legolas looked back down, irritating Thranduil further. “No, Legolas, look at me,” he demanded. Legolas met his father’s gaze again and Thranduil was appalled at the haunted look in his eyes. In one so young

He calmed his tone again, troubled even further by what he had just seen. “We may not be as close as I would have liked, but you are my son.” He waved a hand at what looked like a protest being formed. “No, Legolas, even though you are ruler of this realm, you are still my son, and I care more about you than anything else in all of Arda. If something is upsetting you, stop being stubborn and talk to me about it.”

Legolas exhaled in an amused chuckle and took a sip of wine, eyeing Thranduil over the top of the glass. “I wonder where I could have gotten a stubborn streak from.” He raised his eyebrow and curled half his mouth into a smile as he placed the glass back down on the table.

Now, that was more like his son. But still, he was not going to be so easily dissuaded. “Do not change the subject, Legolas.”

The smile left Legolas’s face and he looked back down into his glass. He didn’t speak for a moment but when he did, he looked up and Thranduil could see immense pain in his eyes. “Very well, Ada, you want to know? I will tell you, but do not say afterwards that you wish you had not heard.”

Thranduil stood and pulled his chair over so he was seated next to his son. “I will say no such thing, ion nín. I came here to help; to listen.” And, by the Valar that’s what I intend to do.

Legolas nodded in acknowledgement before his eyes got a faraway look in them and he began speaking. “You realize we changed the course of history, do you not?”

Frowning at what he thought to be another attempt at digression, Thranduil started to say something to steer his son back on track, but he noticed that Legolas seemed barely aware of him. This was not a diversion. This was somehow related to what was unsettling his son. Thranduil sat back and grew more and more disturbed with every word his son spoke.

“Yes, we changed the course of history, but I can’t slow the effect of time. No, not on me,” he laughed bitterly, “never on me. I see people aging around me while I stay the same. Exactly the same. Yes, there are Elves here, but that does not disguise the fact that the world is dying around us.”

He took a sip of his wine before continuing. “I am alone, Ada, standing in a world that no longer believes in our kind; a world that no longer cares about me.” His eyes focused and he glared at Thranduil. “I have been discarded, and yet I am still here.”

Thranduil folded his arms across his chest. “There are many who care about you, who look to you to lead them. The world has not forgotten you, Legolas of the Nine Walkers.”

Legolas looked away again and would not meet his gaze, but studied a random location on the ground. “The Nine Walkers…” He echoed sullenly. “Their number grows fewer year by year.” Before Thranduil had a chance to respond, Legolas continued in the same listless manner. “Sam has long departed. It has been over a decade since Merry and Pippin passed beyond the circles of the world. And our allies? Éomer is long gone and now Faramir grows ill…”

Thranduil was not sure what upset him more; the fact that Legolas had become so painfully aware of the passage of time – to measure things in decades – or how upset his son was over these, these…

“Mortals, Legolas! You speak of mortals!”

That caught Legolas’s attention and he looked up to glare angrily at Thranduil. “They are my friends, father. Nay, that is not a strong enough word. They are my brothers.” His eyes were suddenly filled with sadness and he dropped them to once again look at the ground. “Or rather, they were…”

Thranduil placed a hand on Legolas’s shoulder but Legolas shrugged it off. “You could not possibly understand.”

“Oh, could I not?” Thranduil’s felt his fists clench as anger and frustration began to churn within him. Legolas was not the only one who had ever lost somebody. At the onset of painful memories, a familiar ache began in Thranduil’s chest. “I understand what it is like to lose someone that you love. I held my father in my arms as his fëa departed for the Halls of Mandos.”

Taking a breath, he dove head first into a subject that he had rarely ever brought up. “And how do you think I felt when your mother sailed West and I could not?” He saw hurt and shock in Legolas’s eyes and briefly regretted bringing up his long departed wife. He decided to press on, spurred on by the growing worry that this ailment of his son’s was far more serious than he would be able to help with and intent on showing Legolas that you could move past your hurt and continue. “You can live every day regretting what you no longer have, or you can be thankful for what you were lucky enough to have at all.”

Legolas appeared deep in thought for some time before responding, Thranduil’s last speech having apparently no effect on him.

“Why are we cursed, father?”

The question took Thranduil by surprise. “Cursed, Legolas? Have you listened to nothing I have said?”

Standing up, Legolas faced his father. “I have heard everything you have said,” he answered forcefully. “But none of it explains why we have to endure to watch everything die around us. Why do we stay the same while the world changes?”

Legolas paced and made gestures that Thranduil knew indicated the depth of his son’s turmoil. Thranduil watched and listened as Legolas continued his tirade.

“Why are mortals the favored of the Eruhíni that they, when weary, can leave the world and do not have to endure?

Thranduil wished fervently for the ability to find words that would soothe his overly distraught son, but found himself lacking. He stood up and walked over to where Legolas was standing, wringing his hands.

“I do not know what to say to ease your grief, but I am sure there are mortals who ask similar questions.” Legolas looked at him, disbelief written all over his face. “Did you ever think that perhaps there are mortals that are in love with Arda; who wonder why they must leave it after so short of a life?” He saw Legolas grimace at that and look away. “Did you?”

Legolas’s next words were spoken so quietly that for a brief moment Thranduil believed he had imagined them.

“I wish I was born mortal.”

Thranduil did not move. He did not speak. He stared at his son until a shake of his head restored him to his usual senses. “What did you just say?”

Legolas opened his mouth, possibly to repeat the heresy that had just come out of it, but Thranduil had no intention of letting that fell sentiment echo in the chamber a second time. “No, Legolas. I heard it clearly. I just can not believe that a son of mine would speak such profanity.”

With his insides churning, Thranduil turned and walked over to the table to take a seat, no longer sure he had the strength or the inclination to continue this conversation. After what seemed like an eternity of silence he glanced over at his son, who had not moved from the position he had been in. It took all of Thranduil’s strength to utter his next words in any volume lower than a bellow. “Why, Legolas? Why would you say such a thing?”

Legolas walked over to the table but did not sit down. “I have grown weary of this world, Ada. I wish to sail West.”

Thoroughly frustrated, and more angry with his son than he had ever remembered being, Thranduil stood up and slammed both his hands against the table. “So sail West, Legolas!” he shouted. “For the love of the Valar, sail West and be done with this world that has given you so much grief that you would wish away your very being.”

“Nay, father,” Legolas answered blandly, as if it were every day that his only parent told him to sail across the sea, forsaking the land of his birth. “I cannot, for I have sworn to Aragorn that I would remain as long as he lives.” He laughed bitterly and crossed his arms. “No, I must stay and watch everyone die around me until the last of my friends are gone. That is my fate. That is my reward for the part I have played in this history of Men.”

Thranduil folded his arms across his chest and shook his head. “You believe it to be that easy, then? You swear you will remain?” He felt frustrated anger whirling inside him and he heard his voice rise in pitch and volume. “Do you think mortal deaths occur at the most opportune times, Legolas? NO!” He banged his hand on the back of the chair for emphasis, “Had you been mortal, do you think you could have promised Aragorn to stay until his death? NO!” Legolas turned away, but Thranduil grabbed his shoulders so they were still facing each other. “Mortals can not make such promises, Legolas. They are taken from this world without rhyme or reason.”

He guided Legolas, who no longer resisted him, over to the other chair and sat him back down before coming to rest next to him. “Had you been mortal,” he continued, “you would not have even known these men that you call brothers. You would have passed from this world long ago, forgotten, since there were no great deeds in that time, not like you were a part of. Another elf would have gone with the Nine Walkers, perhaps one that was grateful for the gifts Ilúvatar had given him!”

The last part came out more vehemently than Thranduil had intended. He came here to comfort and help his son and instead he found himself scolding and yelling at him. At this point in his life he understood that loss was an inescapable part of life, but he knew all too well how Legolas was feeling. He had too often experienced the painful loss of someone close to him. To wish to be mortal was something Thranduil could not understand or ever approve of, but if that was how Legolas was dealing with his grief, Thranduil resigned himself to accept it; for the time being at least.

“I will one day sail West, but what good will it do?” Legolas picked up the wine glass in front of him and studied it. He frowned at the glass as if it were the cause of his problems. As he placed it back down on the table, he looked up at Thranduil. “It is not as if I would be reunited with those I have lost. I am still bound to the world as they are not.”

Thranduil’s heart broke at how weary and hopeless his son sounded, but he knew not what to say or do. He should not have been surprised that Legolas had befriended mortals, or that their loss had affected him so greatly. Back when Legolas was but a child, he cried for days when his first horse had died. Elves were not callous as Men about their animals, but Legolas was even more caring than most.

He reached out and draped an arm around Legolas’s shoulders. “I know not what comfort I can give you, ion nín, save to say that when you finally do heed the call of the sea and sail West, your spirit will be renewed and healed and you will no longer feel the pain you are obviously experiencing.”

Legolas looked up at his father and gave Thranduil a small smile, though his eyes were still filled with sadness. “I hope so, Ada. If not, I shall spend all my days in the Utmost West hoping that Dagor Dagorath is not too long in coming.”

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After the first day of Thranduil’s visit, they never spoke of that conversation again. Thranduil spent a little over a week in Ithilien and when he left, he was in slightly better spirits than when he arrived. He spent most of his time with Legolas observing that, for the most part, his son seemed to be happy in Ithilien. But there was always that underlying shadow in his eyes, a painful reminder of what he had lost and what he was knew he would inevitably lose.

Thranduil would have stayed longer but due to Faramir’s illness, Legolas had double his usual work to do. He insisted Thranduil stay, but Thranduil knew well the pressures and time demands of ruling a realm. They bid each other farewell, and Thranduil promised himself that he would try to visit more often.

As he rode north, he wondered what had happened to his carefree son. Legolas was light of spirit and had always been the only one who could cheer Thranduil when he was down. There was little that would put Legolas in bad spirits as a child, and from the tales he had heard, even during the dark times of the Quest of the Ring, he had made light of things and cheered others with his wit and humor.

These blasted mortals that he had come to befriend were the problem. It was always dangerous for an elf to befriend a mortal, for when the mortal died, the elf would suffer greatly for ages. And his son had befriended not one mortal, but several; not to mention that blasted dwarf.

And Aragorn! That particular mortal caused Elrond to be parted forever from his only daughter, knowing that she would one day die. And now, this very same mortal was causing anguish to Legolas. Rightful king or not, this Man was more bother than he was worth.

Eventually, Aragorn would die, as would that Dwarf. All Thranduil could do was hope that Legolas had sense enough to hang on until then when he could sail West where his spirit would be healed.

Thranduil halted his horse and his thoughts and turned back once to look at the forest. Ithilien had always been beautiful, even when it housed followers of the Shadow. Unlike his own Wood, the appearance of Ithilien had never been tainted. It was fitting that his son had chosen to live here. So alike, they were; their outside appearances never betraying the shadow within. He hoped that Legolas, too, would one day be able to be cleansed of his shadows as the forest had been.

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Elvish Translations:

Narbeleth an Elvish name for autumn
Mae Govannen Well met
Ada father
ion nín my son
Fëa spirit
Eruhíni Elvish word for Children of Ilúvatar, (Elves and Men)

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