Disclaimer: How ever much we would like to own Lord of the Ring and its characters we do not.

A/N: Hi, this is Sara. I would just like to say I have changed the horse's name from Marinara to Cúbeth, which is Elvish for Moonbeam. It was brought to my attention that Marinara didn't fit with the context of the story and I thank you for your concern and desire to help make the story more appealing.

Chapter One

The forest in this part of Mirkwood was dark, even the trees around about seemed to give off an air of eerie darkness. Instead of being the tall brown and greens that was the normal hue for trees, these were black. Completely and utterly black; from the withered twisted roots to the blackened split bark. If one were to be foolish enough to take the time to stop and look, you would see that even the leaves that hung from the twisted and tortured boughs and limbs were black, a deeper black than even the trees themselves; if that were at all possible. Silence was all that could be heard, no birds only the very distant chattering of squirrels somewhere in the distance.

The sun shone brightly through the trees, where it could. It only seemed to make the forest seem even gloomier. Amongst the trees were the remains of old torn and tattered webbing. This was the only signs so far of the giant predators that inhabited the forest. But then looks can be deceiving, just because a creature cannot be seen it does not mean that they are not there - waiting out of sight for any unfortunate stray animal that walked into their traps.

Black squirrels chattered from the tops of the trees, sounding angry to all who could hear. Other animals, also black scurried around the forest, adding to the surreal feeling that permeated the air.

The peace was shattered by the sudden sounds of hoof beats. Once more all sound ceased as the sounds drew nearer. From out of the trees came a white horse. It was large and very beautiful. It carried no bridle or tack, the passenger it carried had no need of them.

If the horse was beautiful, it paled into insignificance next to its rider. He was in fact nothing less than perfection. Tall and lean he carried himself with an air of quiet majesty. Long blond hair fell in a shimmering cascade down his back. The hair was drawn back at the sides and plaited before joining into one long braid that sat on top of the loose hair.

The face itself was nothing less than truly a picture of perfection, porcelain white and completely flawless it was completed by eyes that were of the deepest sapphire blue.

At present his beauty was marred slightly due to the deep, troubled frown that he wore. "Noro lim, Cúbeth. I want to be on the other side of Mirkwood by this evening."

Cúbeth gave a neigh to show her agreement to that. It caused her rider to give a laugh. It sounded as if soft, tinkling bells had just rung aloud in the still air. They continued on their way, although for once the rider's attention was not fully on the forest around him. He knew the trees would warn him of any nearby danger and Cúbeth was trained to acknowledge it too. That was without his Elven senses, and while they were warning him that the forest around him was not totally safe, his internal warning system was not yet sounding.

No, instead his mind was on the 'conversation' he had had with his father just the day before. It had not been pleasant, not pleasant at all. His father was initially pleased with the invitation that he had received from Imladris. But in the weeks that had preceded his receiving it, the darkness that surrounded his home had deepened.

He himself had been injured three weeks previously, when his patrol had been attacked by Orcs. That was what had caused the most hurt, when his father said that he thought only of himself and nothing for the realm. How his own father could say that to him was beyond him, especially as he had spent the better part of four months out with two different patrols.

The last patrol had ended with him arguing with his father in the Healing Halls. Luckily the Head Healer, Robitol had stepped into stop the rapidly escalating 'discussion' that was brewing between father and son, both of whom had legendary tempers. He, a very old friend of his father's, had tried to ease the growing atmosphere in the healing wing. Robitol had pointed out that he had been out on patrol for twice the normal length of time and that he was more than deserving of a break from the hardships that always came from being out on patrol.

While he had been speaking, the healer had been treating the patrols wounds. Luckily they all seemed to have been minor. At least that was how it seemed, until he reached Legolas, who at this point was still deep within his discussion with his father, the King. Legolas could not hide the hiss that left his lips as the bloodied temporary bandage was removed from his arm. It had taken his attention away from his father and so he missed his father's face paling rather dramatically.

The wound was deep and very, very long. The cut itself was vertical and had sliced through down into the muscle. Even as Thranduil watched, unable to take his eyes away, it still bled freely. How his son had been able to move his arm the King did not know. It had to hurt and hurt a lot.

Robitol muttered under his breath and uttered a few choice words at the prince about what exactly a 'minor' injury entailed and what did not, before preparing an herb tea. He offered the tea to Legolas with a raised eyebrow that the blond had seen many times before and was a perfect imitation of the one that the Lord of Imladris could produce.

Legolas could only smile ruefully; it was obvious that he had no choice in the matter. He took the tea.

It had taken forty-two external stitches to close the wound that was without the internal ones that had been used to close the muscle. Legolas thank the Valar that blade had not been poisoned as was usually the case with Orc scimitars.

When he had regained consciousness it was to find his father sitting beside his pallet deep in thought. It had taken very little persuasion for the King to remove his son from duty, but also to allow him to visit his friend's.

The wound on his arm had healed quickly thanks to his Elven healing ability and Legolas had to admit that it was a relief to sleep on a comfortable mattress rather than the hard ground. It had also been nice to spend some time with his father. For almost two weeks peace had reigned. Then it began.

Suddenly the attacks on the patrols and outlying villages had increased. The Orc attacks seemed to be more select, almost as if they had a plan and were working to it. Usually when they attacked they liked to take prisoners. The evil beasts hated all Elven kind, loathed them because they had once been like them. There was only one way for an Elf to become like an Orc and that was through relentless, unending torture. Why then had they taken to killing, nay slaughtering, all the Elves that they had come into contact with? There had been several attacks per day over the last week and the patrols were spread over Mirkwood were thinner than ever.

Then, as they were beginning to get used to this new style of attack, the spiders changed their tactics. Instead of attacking smaller parties and stragglers they began to attack larger groups. Even the spiders themselves seemed to be larger, their poison and stings more difficult to treat. They had lost several Elves in those first initial days. Ai, even their webbing seemed to be stronger, it was much thicker and could only be cut with either sword or the elegant knifes that the prince himself favored.

Legolas sighed at the thought of those last two weeks. It had been harder than he had ever thought possible to watch as his friends and patrol mates left, knowing full well that they were riding into danger not knowing if they would return alive and well. He had tried to convince both his father and Robitol that he was recovered enough to join them - but to no avail.

His father's temper, never easy to cope with normally had been very unpredictable. Anything and everything would set it to boiling point. Usually Legolas could defuse it and bring Thranduil back into a better frame of mind and sweeter temper. But not at the moment, for the minute it seemed as if his presence in the chamber was enough to begin the slow boil. Legolas hated it when they argued. It was a rarity, but when they did it was wise to stay away from either of them.

Their arguing over that last week had reached such a proportion that Legolas had begun to withdraw from his father. He would only see and speak with Thranduil when he absolutely had to. The morning meal he ate in the food preparation chamber either well before or long after his father had eaten. He would conveniently be too busy to eat either the noon or evening meal. The one that he did eat or was forced to take would be taken on the run so that he would not have to sit with his father.

Robitol had given him several seemingly interminable lectures on eating a good, balanced diet of three meals a day, lectures that he conveniently forgot. His father had never once mentioned his behavior.

That had all changed four days ago. Those last four days numbered amongst some of the worst in the young Elven Prince's long life. It had also taken his relationship with his father to an all time low, something he would never have thought possible.

There had been an attack on two patrols. The spiders and the Orcs had seemingly joined forces. Their attacks seemed to be even more meticulously planned. They knew what they were after and how to achieve their goal. Once more Legolas had begged to be allowed to re-join a patrol. As their Captain it was his right, again his father had refused. This state of affairs had carried on until yesterday. He had again asked to be released to a patrol, once again this was refused. He then mentioned traveling to Rivendell.

It had been a little like watching Mount Doom erupting, or at least how he envisaged Mount Doom to look as it erupted. The argument had been long and loud; Legolas had walked out when his father had insulted first Lord Elrond, something that had surprised Legolas as they were old friends. Then he had carried on saying some rather nasty and nasty things about Estel and his heritage. Legolas had tried to defend his friends only for Thranduil to turn on him. It was then that Thranduil had said the words that Legolas would never be able to forget. Forgive yes with the passage of time - forget? Definitely not, he hurt just thinking about the fact that his father could think that of him.

He had left the palace long before dawn had even broken a note for his father on his pillow. It explained why he was leaving and how he really believed that some space between them would be best, with things they way that they currently were they would say things that both would regret and be unable to retract. Possibly he should have arranged for some guards to travel with him, he could hear his father saying just that very thing, but in the end he had just wanted to leave and begin the long journey ahead of him.

And so here he was riding through one of the darkest parts of Mirkwood; fleeing like an Elfling who had just runaway from home, which in a sense he was, running away from home that is. At least it was not raining, that really would have been the icing on the cake!

He gave another disconsolate sigh. It was at times like this he missed his mother all the more. She would have known how to deal with his father. It did not matter how ever many millennia had passed since her death he still felt the black hole that her loss had created within him.

He shook himself; he needed to be more aware of this part of the mighty forest. Continuing to brood would only get him self killed.

Legolas checked the suns progress in the sky, it was now mid afternoon. He urged Cúbeth on; he really wanted to be away from this part of the forest before darkness fell.

As they traveled the trees around them became darker and more like skeletons. More webbing was in evidence and it made the hackles on the back of his neck raise. How he hated what his home had become. One day they would beat the Necromancer at his own game and beat the darkness back.

Suddenly Cúbeth became very skittish, stopping and pawing the ground in alarm. She had not needed to warn him, he could sense the evil as it drew near to him. He drew his bow in one swift move and had an arrow knocked. The noise came again. He dismounted and senses alert he moved towards the area the sound had come from.

There was nothing there, no sound nor sight of what had caused the noise. Puzzled he pulled himself up from the half crouch that he had subconsciously fallen into. He was not aware of the figure moving swiftly behind him, he had just a small warning from Cúbeth and by then it was too late. As he swung around to face what ever it was that was behind him, he felt the heavy blow that hit him on the side of his head.

He saw stars before darkness descended...

To be continued

Hi, everyone. This is a little collaboration with a friend Sara. It was her idea and she has asked that I put pen to paper and write it for her. We hope that you all like it. Please let us know what you think?


Sara and Shell