Field of Battle, The: 9. Chapter Eight: The Storm

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9. Chapter Eight: The Storm



It was no easy feat to reach Legolas after he set out from Lossarnach, in
distance or in thought.

Aragorn and Gimli left Lossarnach shortly after the former prince of Mirkwood
had read the contents of that ominous message, determined to be at his side no
matter how terrible the outcome he faced when he arrived home. The king had
paused long enough to tell Faramir to follow and it was almost a day later when
the contingent of Rohirrim cavalry finally ended their pursuit to join them.
Upon departing from Lossarnach, Legolas and his elves kept up a relentless pace
to reach Eden Ardhon. Despite Aragorn and Gimli leaving only a short time after
the elves had set out, it took man and dwarf, the better part of the night to
finally close the distance between them.

Legolas spoke little during their journey to Eden Ardhon and Aragorn who had
known the elf for the better part of his life, grew increasingly fearful at how
Legolas would be if they arrived at the colony and found the worst had
transpired. He knew what Legolas feared even more than the destruction of the
colony and could not blame the elf for his selfishness because in his place,
Aragorn would feel the same. Legolas feared for Melia and the possibility of her
death. Aragorn knew no matter how much Legolas tried, the elf could not
reconcile himself with the fact that in a shorter time than he could imagine, he
would lose his wife. Despite the joy of their togetherness in the present,
Aragorn could see the sliver of sadness in Legolas’ eyes that dreaded the day
when he and Melia would be parted.

Aragorn dared not imagine his wrath if they returned to Eden Ardhon and found
Melia harmed in any way.

They could see the storm gaining momentum behind his eyes. It grew with greater
intensity each league closer they journeyed towards Eden Ardhon. All that held
it in restraint was the desperate hope that they would not arrive there too
late, that Eden Ardhon could be saved before the Easterlings fell upon it. The
hope was in vain, they all knew it. In some capacity, Aragorn was certain that
Legolas knew too but his heart and soul was too terrified to admit it. Aragorn
prayed for his sake that they were all wrong, that they would arrive at Eden
Ardhon and find it, as it always was, the growing elven heart of South Ithilien.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

Even before they arrived at the community, the evidence of the calamity that had
befallen it was evidenced in the charred remains of many great trees. The
forest had survived the scourging by fire, thanks to the timely rainstorm that
had occurred during the course of the battle. However, the damage was
considerable and would take years to restore completely to its former glory,
more rapidly still if the elves would lend their considerable skills to the
task. The Rohirrim who have never travelled this far south but were familiar
with the great wood of South Ithilien were similarly horrified by what they saw,
while Faramir who considered Legolas a neighbour, grieved at the destruction.

Legolas said nothing as they rode through the paths that led to Eden Ardhon
although the effect of the destruction upon Nunaur and the others was evident by
the grief in their expression. No one attempted to speak as they crossed the
distance to Eden Ardhon. Their breaths had been stilled into abated silence,
heavy with anticipation of what they would find when they reached their
destination. Aragorn and Gimli flanked Legolas during the final leg of this
journey, certain in their hearts that they would be needed to tame the storm
that would erupt once they arrived at the colony.

The colony still stood but its ordeal was visible in the charred remnants of
some buildings and the others that had been despoiled by ash and smoke. There
was a grey pall over everything that could have been the lingering mist of the
rain but felt as if the starlight had been driven from the realm of the elves.
The gloom that greeted the new arrivals was so thick that it could be sliced
through with a knife. Even at the return of their lord, the elves did not appear
very animated. Their shoulders still sagged with the burden of what transpired
and their gaze bore the look of haunted sorrow.

When the travellers finally dismounted their horses, it fell to Elendurfinë,
another of Eden Ardhon march wardens to inform his lord of the tragedy that had
befallen them. The tall, fair-haired elf was still covered in ash and dirt. If
it was possible for an elf to lose his lustre, Elendurfinë certainly proved it
for he looked exhausted and shaken. It was a fact that did not escape Legolas
any more than it had the rest of the company who were hiding their shock by how
worn this beautiful and ideal raced appeared to be. Many of them had been raised
from childhood to look upon the elves as a magical race personifying the wonder
of Middle earth. To see them in this manner was almost desecration.

“What happened?” Legolas asked quietly as he strode towards his home, with
Aragorn, Faramir, Gimli and Nunaur in tow, determined to see Melia first.

“The Easterlings, my lord,” Elendurfinë replied softly. “They invaded the wood
armed with mumakils and fire.”

Elendurfinë then proceeded to explain the passage of the Easterling attack, the
actions taken by Eden Ardhon’s warriors to defend their homes and the rain that
had quelled the blistering fires that had almost consumed the entire forest. Yet
it was plain that something remained hidden in the guarded manner of his words,
something so terrible he could not bring himself to meet the eyes of his lord
and speak its words to all hearing.

“How many have died?” Legolas’ asked in the same, low voice.

“We are uncertain yet,” Elendurfinë answered truthfully. “Some of the bodies
have become lost in the wood where they had fallen. I have sent parties out to
seek our missing warriors. We were able to evacuate a good number of women down
the river before the Easterlings arrived. Áyatiruva has gone to retrieve them,
I believe they will return before nightfall.”

“And my wife?” Legolas forced himself to ask because Melia had not come out to
meet him and that alone struck cold fear in his heart.

Elendurfinë lowered his eyes; unable to meet Legolas gaze at the mention of
Melia’s name.

“Tell me,” Legolas demanded, his voice but a hoarse whisper. “Does she live?”

“Yes,” Elendurfinë nodded grimly. “She lives, my lord.”

Legolas let out a sigh of relief at this news but it was a short lived feeling
for he sensed there was more to it than that and braced himself to hear it.

“My lord,” Elendurfinë swallowed, preferring to battle Morgoth himself then have
to reveal to Legolas what had happened to Melia and the other women of Eden
Ardhon. “The Easterlings managed to breach Eden Ardhon itself. We were still
battling them in the eastern quadrant of the forests and not all the women were
able to get away to safety.”

“What does that mean?” Nunaur demanded of his subordinate, his patience having
reached its limits. “Explain yourself!”

“How many?” Legolas asked through gritted teeth. His eyes were closed because he
could no longer bear the strained expression of Elendurfinë was trying to hide
from him. Even without hearing the words, he instinctively knew what
Elendurfinë was trying with such great difficulty, to tell him. A feeling of
numbness suffused his being; his emotions became trapped behind a wall of iron
restraint because for the moment, he needed control. The damn would burst soon
enough but for now, he needed composure to hear Elendurfinë’s answer.

“Twenty,” the elven warrior revealed. “Including your wife.”

“Oh Legolas, I am sorry,” Gimli managed to say but no other consolation would
follow. There were simply no words to console a husband whose wife had been
profaned in such a manner, no comfort that could ease his terrible outrage.
Gimli himself considered Melia family and to know that this terrible thing had
been done to her was enough to make his stoke his own anger into white-hot fury.

“Was she hurt badly?” Legolas forced himself to ask, his voice starting to
crack, his face a mask of sorrow.

“She remains now in the house of healing. She was pierced with an arrow and her
arm was broken. There are other injuries but any more than that I cannot say.”

”Thank you,” Legolas answered with surprisingly calm considering what he had
just been told.

“My lord,” Elendurfinë hated to add more to his lord’s burden but the entire
colony knew how Melia had felt about the child and Legolas had a right to know
what had happened in this respect as well. “The child Anna was killed. I am told
the Lady Melia saw her die.”

Legolas swallowed the lump in his throat and nodded slightly. “Nunaur, please
see to the comfort of our guests and the Rohirrim. Elendurfinë, you will take me
to the Lady Melia.”

“Yes my lord,” Nunaur replied promptly but it was evident the leader of Legolas’
warriors was terribly reluctant to leave his lord in such a precarious state of
mind.

“Legolas, I will come with you,” Aragorn brushed past Nunaur, determined to stay
close to the elf. He knew Legolas well enough to know how close to the edge he
was skirting at the moment. Legolas was a creature of high moral character for
most part but even he had demonstrated savagery in battle that would make any
enemy cringe. Still, that savagery was laced with elven control but Aragorn
feared that this was one situation where Legolas might abandon his reason and
embrace wholly the fury he so deserved to feel.

“As you wish,” Legolas retorted, barely hearing his words.

Gimli hurried forward, determined not to be left behind even though Legolas
registered his presence as much as he noticed Aragorn’s, which was to say not at
all. The dwarf could sense the approach of the storm almost as potently as
Aragorn and like the king of Gondor, was uncertain what shape Legolas’
undoubtedly formidable fury would take. In the years since the formation of
the Fellowship and all the trials that had put them to the test after it,
Legolas had always been the paragon of elvish serenity. No matter what, he had
always managed to keep control. Even when he was angered; there was restraint
and thoughtfulness. His expressions of anger were obligatory for the moment, not
instinctive as most emotional outbursts tended to be. They had become
accustomed to his composure and his aloof manner, knowing that it was the elven
way to be perceived as enigmas. They had never seen him the way he was now.

They had never seen him enraged.

**************

Legolas paused in the doorway when the sound of the door creaking open made
Melia turn to him.

She was cushioned against pillows in an upright position on her bed, her gaze
formerly upon the window and the day outside. Upon seeing him, there was a
sparkle of pleasure in her eyes but its light was difficult to see through the
devastation. He froze a moment, feeling another lump in his throat at the sight
of her. The swelling around her eyes had diminished a little but the ugly
bruises were still there as well as upon her jaw, her cheek and her lips split
cruelly in a gash that would tear open if she smiled. From her waist down, she
was covered with a sheet but her broken arm, held in place with splints, rested
to her side. He could see the swathing over the wound of her shoulder beneath
her clothing.

“I missed you,” she said softy, her end of lips curling but a little.

“I should not have gone,” Legolas answered crossing the space between them and
lowering himself next to her on the bed. “I should never have left you,” he
whispered, his voice choking.

“You did what had to be done,” Melia answered compassionately in this matter.
She did not blame him as much as she blamed herself and it pained her to think
that he would hold himself responsible for what happened. “You could not have
foreseen any of this.”

“I should have been here,” Legolas declared, his face contorting with a gamut of
emotions he no longer bothered to hide. To see her beauty so marred, to know
that the bruises and the broken bones were only the barest fraction of her true
injuries was more than he could bear. Her face showed her despair, it radiated
from every corner of her and yet diminish the light that she was to him.

“I should have been here to protect you. I should have stopped them from hurting
you…” he broke off almost unable to continue.

“Please,” she turned away, tears running down her cheeks because the ordeal was
making itself felt with fresh pain. “I do not wish to speak of it but I cannot
hide that I am soiled and tainted. I have been defiled and I am no longer worthy
of you.”

“Don’t you say that!” Legolas cried out with such vehemence that it startled
Melia as he took the hand of her uninjured arm. Tears had escaped his eyes as he
looked at her with such pain that Melia could barely stand it. “It is I who is
unworthy. You did nothing to deserve this and I did everything to cause it! You
are my love! Nothing will ever change that, not even the foul act of Easterling
animals! Do you think their cruelty could ever change the fact that my heart has
been yours, will be yours even to the grave?” He was crying now, a thing he had
not done in a long time but his guilt was almost complete and she was the one
person to whom he could bare his soul without shame.

“Oh Prince!” She burst into tears, unable to stand his grief any more than she
was able to cope with hers. “I couldn’t save her! She needed me and I couldn’t
save her! What they did to this body was nowhere as terrible as killing her
because I could do nothing to stop it!”

Legolas drew his wife into his arms as she sobbed pitifully in his embrace,
purging herself of the terrible pain she felt at Anna’s death, stroking her
hair, whispering in her ears that it was not her fault even though he knew that
it was a futile effort. How could he exonerate her of her guilt when he could
not convince himself that this was not his fault? Aragorn had warned him! He had
thought the king had been too proud to accept his help but it had been Legolas
who had been proud, too proud to acknowledge the fact that Aragorn could be
right and he was.

When she had stopped crying, unaware that every sob had broke his heart anew as
if it were of a Promethean design, Legolas took her face in his hands and made
her look at him. Forcing himself to remain strong because she needed his
strength more than his sorrow at this moment, Legolas stared into her eyes and
spoke with all the conviction he could muster.

“I love you more than anything in this world but I will not allow you to believe
that this was your fault! This was an act of barbarism, upon your flesh and upon
that poor child who had suffered greatly already! You could never be anything
but absolute in my eyes and there is not a fibre of my being that will believe
for an instant that you did not do everything in your power to save her. The
tragedy or the blame of this is not yours to bear. It belongs to the Easterlings
murderers who took away her life before her time. I swear to you my love, on
everything that I am that they will pay for this. Her life will be answered for,
hers and that of everyone who was defiled in Eden Ardhon. I love you Mia, I will
see them pay for they have done to you!”

Melia saw the fury in his eyes and knew that he meant what he had spoken. The
rage that burned behind his deep blue eyes struck cold fear in her life for it
was like a dragon had been prodded into awakening. She had thought the fate of
Lebethron had incited his rage, she had been wrong. That was pale in comparison
to the fury blazing in his eyes at the crime upon her and his people. A part of
her was gladdened by his desire to avenge the crime but another was afraid for
his life. Vengeance tainted the soul far more profanely then even a violent
rape, she would not see him blighted, not even for her.

“Prince,” Melia said quickly. “I will survive this but I will do so with you at
my side. I need you now to be with me, not to embark upon a course that will
drive us apart.”

“I am with you,” he declared pulling himself away, his hand still on her cheek.
“Someday that will change but until that time I will always be yours but this
cannot go unanswered, I could not live with myself if I were to look at you and
know that those who forced themselves upon you still breathed the same air as I.
In that respect, elves are no different than men. They will pay!”

And with that, he swept out of the room before any of her protestations were
capable of changing his mind.

***************

Aragorn saw Legolas storming out of the room and knew that there was murder in
his eyes. The elf barely registered the presence of his close friends as he
strode past them, with a fury so dark that it almost created shadows along the
hallway as he moved. Aragorn and Gimli exchanged fearful looks, aware that the
storm that they had feared had finally broken. Without needing to correspond in
words what needed to be done, Aragorn immediately fell into pursuit certain that
in his rage Legolas was about to embark upon some foolish act of vengeance.
Gimli held back, thinking that it was best that Aragorn dealt with this alone
for it needed subtlety and that was something the dwarf lacked.

“Legolas!” Aragorn called out as he hurried out the house of healing into the
outdoors of Eden Ardhon once more. “Stop!”

Legolas did not answer and made his way to where the horses were stabled,
confirming Aragorn’s worse fears that the elf did intend to do something
foolish. Legolas was certainly justified in doing so despite how hazardous the
action might be. If Aragorn were in his place, he doubted if anyone could deter
him from his course any more than he was attempting to do to Legolas at this
moment. However, he had to try. He had to try because Legolas was his friend and
if their positions were indeed reversed, it would be Legolas who would be making
this impassioned plea instead of him.

“Leave me be Aragorn,” Legolas paused briefly when they reached the entrance to
the stables. It was one of the few buildings that fortunately remained untouched
by the fire.

“I will know where you intend to go first,” Aragorn returned insistently.

“It is none of your affair,” Legolas glared at him.

“It is if you intend upon embarking on utter suicide,” the king declared,
wrapping his fist around Legolas’ arm and preventing him from going any further
into the stable.

“Release me immediately,” Legolas ordered, his eyes meeting Aragorn’s in cold
fury.

“No,” Aragorn shook his head. “Not whilst you are in this state. I know what
burns you and though I cannot fault you for it, I will not allow you to do what
is in your mind. It is folly and it will cost you your life!”

“I will not allow this violation go unpunished,” Legolas snapped, tearing his
arm out of Aragorn’s grasp.

“It will not,” Aragorn tried to reason with him but was beginning to see that
reason may not be possible, not with the fury that was coursing through Legolas
at this time. “However, you would best serve your people by being there for
them.”

“If I had the best consideration of my people in my head, I would not have
interfered in this war of yours to begin with and my wife’s body and soul would
not be ripped asunder!” The elf shouted before turning on his heels and resuming
the journey into the stable.

“Legolas, I will not allow you to leave here.” Aragorn said firmly with enough
steel in his voice to halt the lord of Eden Ardhon in his steps.

“Who do you think you are that you presume to tell me what I can and cannot do
in my own realm, Aragorn?” Legolas demanded after he had turned around and faced
Aragorn once again.

“I am your friend,” the king of Gondor said sincerely, “and I will not let you
do this thing.”

“How do you propose to stop me?” Legolas glared at him, eyes filled with
challenge and outrage at the man’s presumption.

“By any means necessary,” Aragorn declared firmly, not about to stand aside.

“I would like to see you try,” Legolas hissed under his breath and turned his
back upon Aragorn. There was a rage burning inside of him that would know no
rest until he had tasted vengeance. Never in his life had Legolas been provoked
to such a state of burning fury and now that the flame had been stoked into such
heat, it was difficult to think of anything else but satisfying the demand for
justice. He did not care if others called it by a different name, that to them
it was vengeance. He did not care for anything except righting the wrong that
had been inflicted his wife and his people.

Aragorn took a deep breath and decided that he would have no choice but to make
good on his threat. He broke into a run in order to catch up with Legolas,
determined that the elf would not leave Eden Ardhon in his present condition.
Legolas was just angry enough to try to mount a lone assault upon the Easterling
army and he had skill enough to track them to do so. Unfortunately, elven
senses were more than prepared for him. Before Aragorn could reach for Legolas’
shoulder, the elf spun around and grabbed his wrist.

“Do not interfere with me, Aragorn,” Legolas warned, too swept away by anger to
recognise that his friend was trying to help.

“I will not let you go,” Aragorn repeated himself.

Legolas shoved his hand away and started to turn but Aragorn was just as
determined as Legolas in this matter. The former Ranger reached for him again
and this time Legolas’ reaction was more violent. He grasped Aragorn’s tunic and
slammed him hard against the wall, pinning him there with elven strength,
heightened by guilt and anger.

“Leave me be!” Legolas demanded.

Aragorn broke free easily and pushed Legolas away from him. “I will not! I
cannot! This is folly and you know it! Your people need you here at this moment
and that is far more important thing than your need for vengeance!”

Legolas lashed out so swiftly that Aragorn did not even see the fist that
connected with his jaw and sent him sprawling against the wall. The strike was
hard and sharp but not enough to harm his seriously. In his time Aragorn had
weathered worse and if it required that he bore the brunt of his trusted
companion’s rage to keep him from doing something foolish, then so be it.

“You will not change what has happened,” Aragorn replied, rubbing his chin as he
faced Legolas after a moment. “And your death will not comfort your wife who has
suffered enough. Do not force her to endure your loss as well as her violation!”

“How dare you?” Legolas demanded as he took a step closer towards Aragorn, until
they were inches part from each other and Aragorn could see how enraged the
prince truly was. “How dare you presume to tell me anything? If it were the
Evenstar, not even Iluvutar could stop you from what I am intending to do now!
Your hypocrisy sickens me!”

“Legolas, I know how you feel…” Aragorn started to say.

“NO YOU DO NOT!” Legolas shouted in turn, his voice starting to break. “How
could you possibly know what I feel at this moment? It was not your wife that
was brutalised! Not your people who have been subjected to this humiliation and
degradation. It was not you who gambled their safety and lost! It was I Aragorn!
I!”

“It was not your fault,” Aragorn replied earnestly, feeling his heartache as he
watched Legolas recoiled with that terrible outburst, losing all control of his
emotions in a devastating admission of guilt. “You could not have prevented
this.”

“I did everything to provoke it!” Legolas cried with anguish. “You warned me and
I did not listen. I did not believe that they would dare to do this! Not even
after the destruction of Lebethron. I bore the conceit of all elves, that we are
untouchable, that we are the blessed and the protected of the Valar that we
cannot be harmed in such a fashion! You warned me that this would happen and I
did not see it! I did not see it and now she lies there, like so many others,
violated and shamed, because of me!”

Legolas dropped to his knees, his strength giving out at last under the weight
of the terrible burden in his heart, unable to maintain composure or control as
he started to weep. “I failed her Aragorn, I failed her and now she is broken
inside and seeing her in this manner, knowing I am the cause is a knife if my
heart I cannot bear! I should have listened to you but I did not and she has
paid for my arrogance! She and the rest of my people!”

“You did not fail anyone,” Aragorn replied, feeling his own emotion well up
inside of him seeing his friend so completely desolate. It was quite something
to witness the deconstruction of one of the strongest people he would ever know
and it was not a sight he wanted to see again. “You did what you thought was
best. You wished only to help and there is no shame in that. Your people
understand it as will your wife. She is a Ranger of the North with enough steel
in her character to ensure that even this terrible deed will not break her. Do
not let it break you.”

Legolas fell back on his legs, continuing to weep in despair, releasing the
torrent of emotion and grief that had been dammed up since their departure from
Lossarnach. Aragorn made no effort to approach him and remained in silence,
allowing the elf to purge himself of his grief. Legolas was one who kept his
emotions to himself for most part and to release it in this manner was no easy
thing, particularly in full view of someone else. There were moments when the
best comfort one man could offer another was to simply remain silent.

“You told me that this could happen and I refused to believe it, I refused to
believe at the risk of everything I hold dear. I thought you were too proud to
accept my help now that you were king of Gondor but it was I who was filled with
pride Aragorn. I was too proud to believe that this outcome was possible, that
the Easterlings would dare to attack an elven colony. I have made such grave
mistakes because of that pride and now there is wound upon my Melia’s heart that
no amount of time can erase and she has no Undying Lands to go to in order to be
rid of it.”

“She is not an elf,” Aragorn finally answered, “she is human and she will endure
because you will be at her side.”

“I cannot be for the moment,” Legolas looked up at Aragorn, his cheeks still wet
from tears and his eyes glistening, but he was no longer weeping and the grief
that Aragorn had been privy to a short time ago was finally diminishing,
replaced by his regaining composure. “I need to go.”

“Where?” Aragorn asked suspiciously, wondering if Legolas still had vengeance in
his mind.

“I have a journey to make and it is not to kill the Easterlings, though they
will know my wrath. I will ask that in my absence you convey to Nunaur that all
our women and our injured be sent to Minas Tirith until I give word that it is
safe for our return. I trust that you will not mind housing my people for a
time?”

“You know better than to ask that but what do you intend to do?” Aragorn
inquired again.

Legolas ignored the question and continued speaking, “once that is done and my
people are safely housed in the White City, you will tell him to proceed to Emyn
Arnen with our warriors to join your armies. Leave no one behind in Eden Ardhon,
until this war is done I cannot guarantee their safety. We will compensate
Gondor for any resources that are expended during our stay.”

“That is not necessary…” Aragorn started to stay, realising that the fury that
had almost driven Legolas to folly was now abated, though the storm in his eyes
was far from finished.

“Do not be so quick to say that,” Legolas retorted. “You told us that you
believe this conflict would last far longer than a matter of months. If that is
so, you cannot afford to be magnanimous.”

“And you?” Aragorn stared at him. “What do you intend to do?”

Legolas rose to his feet and took a deep breath, wiping the tears from his eyes
and slipping that aloof mask over his face once again. “I have a journey to make
and it is one I must travel alone.”

He saw Aragorn opening his mouth to protest the idea and quickly silenced him by
adding a further explanation. “Do not concern yourself that I am riding to take
on the Easterling army single-handedly. While I think that I would take many of
them before my death, you are probably correct in believing that I would not
survive the engagement but I mean to hurt them Aragorn, I mean to make them
pay.”

“How?” The king of Gondor asked, shuddering inwardly at the ice in Legolas’
closing statement.

“By going to see my father.”

**************


“Hello lass,” Gimli greeted Melia when he entered her room.

“Gimli,” the Lady of Eden Ardhon said with a surge of warmth in her otherwise
despairing eyes. “Where is Legolas?”

The dwarf did not answer her at first, pulling himself a chair next to her bed.
Gimli could feel empathize with Legolas’ fury and his subsequent actions when he
cast his gaze upon the lady. He too felt a surge of anger at seeing her wound
and the sadness in her eyes. If he could feel this way, Gimli could not even
begin to imagine the hurt that Legolas must be enduring at this moment. It made
it easier to understand why Legolas had set out on his lone quest, why he was
determine to extract his pound of flesh from every Easterling in Middle earth.

“He’s gone lass,” Gimli admitted after he had seated himself beside her.

“Gone?” Melia’s eyes widened with alarm. “Where?”

“To Mirkwood.”

“To Mirkwood?” Melia sat up straighter. “Why?”

“To show the Easterlings that if what they intended here was to frighten the
elves out of participating in the war, then they were very much mistaken,” Gimli
replied.

“Thranduil will not commit his people to war,” Melia answered, knowing her
father in law well enough now to be certain of this.

Thranduil was a king very much concerned with his own realm. Unlike Elrond and
Galadriel who had never deign to call themselves monarchs, Thranduil had
relished the title as the Woodland king and he took his oath to protect his
people seriously. Melia could not blame him for this because more than any other
elven kingdom in Middle earth, Thranduil’s elves had been forced to endure
Sauron’s presence on a daily basis.

With Dol Guldur reeking out its evil in the woods of Mirkwood, turning the
forests of Eryn Lasgalen into a treacherous haven for all manner of vile
creatures, the elves had been forced to co-exist with this darkness for
countless years. The burden of this had taken its toll upon Thranduil who had
become somewhat insular. In a reign where every day might produce a new threat
from the nearby enemy, Thranduil had been forced to think only of his own people
and leave the concerns of Middle earth to those who had the time to expend in
its care.

During the treaty ceremony that would have seen a new peace forged between the
Easterling Confederacy and the Council of Middle earth, Thranduil had been
invited to take part but the king had refused, citing that it was not his
concern. Melia knew that Legolas had been disappointed by this disinterest but
he was unsurprised by his father’s lack of concern. He knew his father better
than anyone and while Thranduil had consented enough to send him to Imladris
during the quest of the ring, any more than was beyond Thranduil’s capacity.

“I think you will make a compelling reason,” Gimli answered looking upon her
with sympathy.

“I do not wish him to beg his father for my sake,” Melia declared aggrieved by
this.

“I do not think it is merely your sake,” the dwarf replied but could not sound
truly convincing. “I think this attack upon Eden Ardhon has awakened all the
elves to some painful realisations, particularly for those who have chosen to
remain in Middle earth for a time. I think they were of the belief that the
affairs of men did not concern them and that as long as that they could remain
untouched by violence and still go about as they pleased. This has been a swift
kick in their complacency I’m afraid.” Gimli did not mention that the worst
victim of this belief was Legolas himself. The lord of Eden Ardhon blamed
himself completely for what had transpired. Try as Gimli might to think of some
answer that would exonerate this guilt, the dwarf could not.

This had come about because of Legolas’ involvement in the siege of Lossarnach.

“The Prince blames himself,” Melia whispered softly. “He thinks that it is his
fault that Eden Ardhon has suffered.”

“I am afraid so,” Gimli could not bring himself to lie. “I do not think anyone
else blames him. They understood that he had to help, that it was not in the
nature of elves to sit by and allow innocents to be murdered. The price is high
no doubt, higher than anyone perceived it to be but I do not think the people of
Eden Ardhon hold the elf responsible for what has happened.”

“They love him too much,” Melia said with a faint smile, an exertion that made
her wince because of her split lip. “He is Legolas Greenleaf, one of the nine
walkers and a legend himself. He could nothing that would lower their esteem of
him. Unfortunately, my Prince will be capable of blaming himself quite
sufficiently nevertheless.”

“You should not be worrying about this,” Gimli said squeezing her uninjured hand
tighter. “You should be resting. You should save your strength for yourself and
let that fool elf you married do what he needs to. This is a road he must travel
alone, lass. You cannot do it for him and you need to rest. You have been
through an ordeal, one I might add was not your fault, because he will need you
to be strong in the days to come.”

“You are true friend Master Dwarf,” Melia looked upon him with great affection.
Though her heart was heavy and the pain of Anna’s death still lingered in her
heart, his words did offer her some comfort. “Does your wife know how fortunate
she is?”

”Probably not,” he said full of devilish charm. “So if you enlighten her the
next time you see her, I should be most grateful.”

Melia uttered a small laugh before her expression melted into longing once more,
“I wish he was here. I miss him.”

“He will not be gone long,” Gimli assured her. “What he had to do could not
wait.”

“I know,” Melia sighed. “I have a premonition that for much my existence during
and after this life, will be spent waiting for his arrival.”

************

He rode as if he were being chased by all the demons of the world.

With his eye set firmly upon the road ahead, Legolas and his mount Arod, took
the Harad Road and travelled northwards at best speed. Elf and horse maintained
a swift pace with the mountains of Ephel Duath following his eastern flank.
Arod carried him with far greater speed now that the beast was required to bear
only one rider. For much of its service to Legolas, it had been required to
carry elf and dwarf to many adventures. However, when saddled with only one
passenger, the horse’s speed was very impressive indeed. The duo followed the
Harad Road until they arrived at the island fortress of Cair Andros where Galain
the Steward of this ancient stronghold was good enough to provide them with a
means to travel the next leg of their journey.

For a many days, Legolas sailed the sizeable vessel up the length of the Anduin,
avoiding all together the harsh terrain of Emyn Muil and the ruined terrain of
the Brown Lands. Speed was of the essence because the reason for his journey to
important. With the armies of the Confederacy on the move across lands of the
Reunified Kingdom and its allies with little or no hindrance, it was only a
matter of time before they struck at a target that would not be able to repel
them the way Lossarnach had done. Eden Ardhon could not claim that victory
because the Easterlings had only remained long enough to inflict their lesson.
They had no interest in acquiring elven territory.

Legolas spent his time on the river thinking hard about what he would say to his
father when their eyes beheld one another again. It was no small thing he was
asking of his father but the crime against Eden Ardhon had proved one thing most
conclusively. No elf remaining in Middle earth could choose to ignore the threat
represented by the Easterlings should the war with the Reunified Kingdom fall in
their favour. Imlardis was protected by the Ford of Bruinen and too far from
the Confederacy to be of threat but the same could not be said of either Eryn
Lasgalen or Lorien. It was only the forests that protected these realms from
invading armies and the sacking of Eden Ardhon had proved that the enemy was not
above burning it down around their ears to secure a victory.

They travelled up the Anduin until they reached Gladden Fields before Legolas
resumed the journey on horseback. Within a matter of days, he was riding up the
familiar paths of the Woodland Realm, a place he had last beheld when he had
left to establish his colony in South Ithilien. There so many memories pressing
against him as he travelled through the land of his youth and so much of it
remained the same while much had changed. Until Legolas felt the life of the
forests soaking into his skin once more, he had not realised how much he had
missed his home.

His arrival was met with great joy and if the circumstances were anything but
what they were, Legolas would have shared their happiness but he could not. When
he thought of Melia, Miriel and all those other maidens who had been defiled to
make some barbaric point about their interference in matters supposedly not
their own, Legolas felt his blood surge with the fury anew. The kind of animals
that would commit such a foul act upon women could not be allowed to gain
ascendancy over Middle earth. It would akin to allowing Sauron or Morgoth
dominion over the world again. It could not be permitted.

When Legolas was found himself before Thranduil in the court of the Woodland
Realm, he was somewhat surprised by how much older Thranduil appeared. Elves
did not age in the same manner and they certainly did it at a far slower pace
but it appeared to Legolas that his father had changed a little since his
presence at Eden Ardhon some months ago when he and Melia were wed. Was
Thranduil perhaps ready to leave Middle earth at last?

“This is an unexpected surprise,” Thranduil said with warmth as he embraced his
first and only son with great affection. “Is Melia with you?”

“No father,” Legolas shook his head as he stepped back wondering if he should
wait for a day to tell his father his reason for making this journey. It was odd
because he had thought up all the words to say during the journey here but now
that the moment was upon him, he felt like he was once again a boy trying to
explain himself to his father. However, his memory shifted back to Melia, the
desolation on her face, the tears she had wept as she told him of her ordeal at
the hands of the Easterling and fury he felt returned with sharp intensity and
gave him the courage he needed.

“Eden Ardhon has been attacked father,” Legolas announced.

“Attacked?” The Woodland king exclaimed with genuine shock. “By whom?”

“Easterlings,” Legolas answered as he saw Thranduil returning to his throne.
“You know that during the treaty negotiations they had allied themselves with
the Haradrim so that they could speak to the Council of Middle earth with one
voice.”

“Yes, yes,” Thranduil said impatiently, more concerned about Eden Ardhon then
the politics of the Easterlings and Southrons.

“It appears that they are gathering more allies than we first believed. They
have enlisted the aid of the Dunlendings, the goblins of Moria and all the
former agents that served Sauron. They call themselves the Easterling
Confederacy and their strength and numbers may be the largest army of their kind
we have seen since the War of Ring.”

“I told you that a treaty with them was a waste of time,” Thranduil replied,
appreciating the scope of the threat, even if the conflict was a matter for men.

Legolas ignored his father and continued with his commentary of events so that
Thranduil could understand how Eden Ardhon had fallen prey to the Easterling
hordes. “They destroyed the village of Lebethron as a warning to elves that the
same would befall Eden Ardhon if we attempted to become involved.”

“I take it you did not oblige them this request,” Thranduil stared at him.

“I tried,” Legolas said softly, his eyes lowering to the floor. “Aragorn had
told me that it was unwise to provoke them, lest they were to retaliate against
Eden Ardhon.”

“That was good advice,” Thranduil responded, offering his son no solace because
he was now listening to Legolas as the king of the Woodland Realm, not his
father. “The king of Gondor is wise. He seeks to save you from yourself.”

“I had every intention of doing what he asked but he is my friend and when the
Haradrim were discovered marching towards Lossarnach, I rode with him with
Nunaur and a few others to aid in its defense. It was not my intention to
embroil Eden Ardhon in the conflict.”

“The Easterlings are hardly reasonable,” Thranduil said sympathetically. “They
would not make the distinction. You are the lord of your realm and when you
stand beside the king of Gondor, you do not stand as his friend, you stand there
as a representative of your people. Your friendship with the Elfstone committed
Eden Ardhon to war.”

“Do you think I do not know that?” Legolas hissed. “I have paid the price for
that father. They fell upon Eden Ardhon while I was still in Lossarnach. They
set the forest ablaze and killed a good many of my people and very nearly
destroyed the colony completely. Eden Ardhon stands but our heart has been torn
open.”

“I am sorry,” Thranduil rose from the throne and returned to his son. “The court
of the Woodland Realm will provide any aid Eden Ardhon requires to recover from
this terrible ordeal. You have my promise on that, my son.”

“It is not your aid I wish father,” Legolas met Thranduil’s eyes. “It is your
support in arms.”

Thranduil blinked as if he had been mistaken in his hearing. “What did you say?”

“You heard me,” Legolas replied, seeing no reason to repeat himself when it was
clear Thranduil had understood his words. “I am committing Eden Ardhon to war.
This insult against my people will be answered for. I am asking you to do the
same. If you were to join the forces of the Reunified Kingdom then I am certain
that Celeborn of Lorien will do the same.”

“Have you taken leave of your senses?” Thranduil stared at Legolas in
astonishment, unable to believe that his very sensible son had made such a
preposterous request. “You wish for the elves to go war?”

“War will come if we do nothing!” Legolas returned sharply. “They butchered an
entire village as a message to me that they will harm anyone who stands in their
way and when I refused, they attacked my realm and defiled it! If they win this
war and gain dominion over the lands of the Reunified Kingdom, how long do you
think it will be before they turn their attention to their most ancient of
enemies, the elves?”

“We have been able to defend ourselves from Sauron and far worst things than a
collection of human rabble, I do not think we will be in terrible danger,”
Thranduil insisted.

“Then you are a fool father,” Legolas answered. “Their leader has forged
together an alliance the likes of which has not been seen since Sauron! If it
were not for the One Ring and Sauron’s destruction, they could have won the war!
Now they are no longer hindered by either and spurred on by a leader they will
die to protect. If we do not take a stand in this, we will find ourselves
surrounded on all sides!”

“You are assuming the Reunified Kingdom will not win,” Thranduil retaliated but
Legolas could see that the obdurate refusal had been weakened slightly.
Thranduil was in no hurry to return to the Undying Lands. He liked being the
Woodland king and hoped to remain so for quite some time; however, the world
around Eryn Lasgalen would change irrevocably if he did not take a stand.

“I have faith in my friends and in their courage but we dare not risk the chance
that they may lose. If we were to join them in this, we will give them the
strength to not only protect our borders but to push the enemy back to their
territories and ensure that they will never rise again.” Legolas answered
sincerely.

Thranduil stared at his son for a moment because in the last few minutes he had
noticed something in Legolas’ manner that he had not seen for a very long time.
As a child, his son was everything a father could ask for. Fiercely loyal and
brave beyond words and sometimes, Thranduil thought secretly, beyond sense.
Legolas had always been the paragon of elven behaviour; he was everything that a
son who was greatly loved by a father should be. However, Thranduil was aware
that the boy had something of a temper. It did not rise often but when it did,
even Thranduil knew to beware. As he looked upon his son, standing before him
with a storm raging behind his eyes, the Woodland king wondered what had
inspired his fury.

“Legolas, what has happened?” Thranduil asked quietly.

Legolas looked at his father, wishing he could lie but the truth wanted to come,
no matter how ashamed he was of himself at his responsibility at what had
transpired at Eden Ardhon because of him. Three thousand years old he may be,
but there was still a tiny part of the Mirkwood’s prince that was a little boy
needing his father’s comfort.

“They raped Melia.”

It escaped him in a small voice with tears welling in his eyes that shocked his
father to no end because it had been years since Thranduil had seen his child so
vulnerable and whether or not the boy was three years old or three thousand
years old mattered little to his father. It still pierced the heart of the old
man who immediately wrapped his arms around his son in an embrace of comfort.
Finally, Thranduil understood Legolas’ insistence for the elves to join the
conflict as well as the terrible, terrible guilt that he could see in his eyes.

“I am so sorry my son,” Thranduil said gently. “How badly have they harmed her?”

“Her spirit is in pieces,” Legolas answered, barely able to maintain his
composure and not weep like a child. “She fought bravely to protect others and
herself but there were too many of them and she was overcome. She grieves not
for the violence of it but for her failure to save the others.”

“She is an exceptional woman,” Thranduil replied sincerely, “a credit to her
race.”

“She was not alone father,” Legolas continued his speech, this time spoken from
the heart rather than the heated tirade full of bluster. “The Easterlings raped
many of our women as a lesson to the elves of what they would do if we stand
against them. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated this way. They think
that we are complacent and weak because we do not involve ourselves in the
affairs of men and that they can inflict a lesson like this upon us without fear
of reprisals. Father, if we do nothing then we deserve nothing but scorn for
they have turned us into a race of cowards.”

Thranduil flinched at the slight but he could not deny that his son’s words did
not ring with truth. Rape was the most heinous crime that could be inflicted
upon any elf, male or female. Some were willing to die rather than live with the
shame and these Easterlings had blithely committed this atrocity under the guise
of some deserved lesson that his son was required to learn. It infuriated him to
think a member of his family, even if she was human, had been subjected to this
humiliation. Many of the elves at Eden Ardhon had been of Eryn Lasgalen and
though they were removed from his realm, Thranduil still felt some
responsibility to them.

“You ask a great deal my son,” Thranduil met Legolas’ gaze.

The prince’s breath held because he could see that he had touched his father’s
heart with his words and might have actually succeeded in convincing Thranduil
to join him in this war. Choosing his next words carefully, Legolas spoke once
more.

“Father, I have never asked you anything in my life as important as this and I
know that for you to agree would set our people on a perilous road but it is a
road we must take. I do not deny that Melia’s treatment by the Easterlings
influences my demand but my fury is also for my people and the fear that if we
allow them this concession, they will commit the same atrocity again if we do
not bend to their will.”

Thranduil let out a heavy sigh, absorbing all of Legolas’ words and being unable
to deny that he disliked the notion of the Easterling Confederacy believing that
the elves were a diminished race that would suffer any humiliation to avoid
combat. He wondered if they had any idea the storm they had provoked because of
Eden Ardhon. Thranduil rather doubted it.

Humans were never really far sighted.

“I suppose that you had better get some rest,” Thandruil looked at his son. “It
will be a long ride to East Lorien and we should make haste. Elbereth knows I
will need all the strength I can get, trying to convince Celeborn to join us but
no fear we will. If the Easterlings want a war, we will give them one that will
send them scurrying back to their lands like the dogs they are. Complacent are
we? We will show them that they know nothing about us at all and will pay in
blood for that mistake.”

Legolas smiled gratefully and felt utterly satisfied with his audience with the
king of the Woodland Realm.

The Easterlings wanted to teach the elves a lesson.

Now it was time for them to learn a lesson of their own and what it means to
wake a sleeping dragon.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Scribe

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 04/07/03

Original Post: 04/03/03

Go to Field of Battle, The overview

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