Man on Fire

By Evenstar606

Disclaimer: Tolkien owns all.

Note: I thought I'd better post this since it's been over a week since I last posted, and the reviews have slowed down. Enjoy my quirky take on Legolas's family history.

Elrond sat at his desk, and took out a sheet of blank parchment. Beams of sunlight wafted through the open windows, and cast horizontal shadows across the creamy white paper. He dipped his pen into the inkwell, and began to compose a frightful letter to King Thranduil in Mirkwood, informing him of Legolas's feeble condition.

Normally, Elrond would not alarm the already busy King with such dire news, not wanting to cause him further worry or heartache, but the matters surrounding Legolas's attack concerned Elrond more than he wished to admit.

His pen flowed effortlessly, forming each word with mounting fear. Legolas had still not woken, and probably would remain unconscious for some time due to his severe head injury. At last Elrond finished the letter, slipping it into and envelope. He sealed the message closed with hot wax, and walked to the window. Birds sang merrily in the trees, and he signaled them with a low whistle.

A dove drifted into the room, and perched on the windowsill. Elrond tied the letter to its delicate foot. "Fly, Mellonin," he whispered, and released the bird into the air. It soared out of sight in the endless sky, disappearing beyond the mountains toward Mirkwood.

Aragorn shifted in his chair and snorted loudly. He jumped awake with a start, and glanced around the room. Legolas was still unconscious, and his breathing sounded shallow, his head lolled weakly to one side. Aragorn realized that he had been awakened by none other than his own snoring. "Honestly, Aragorn, you snore loud enough to wake the dead" he could almost hear Legolas now, and laughed to himself.

He glanced around the darkened room. A thin sliver of light peeked shyly around a window ledge. Aragorn rose from his chair, and moved the billowing curtain aside. The skies spread before him, a great black vault that twinkled faintly with pale starlight. The moon was but a mere crescent in the gloom, and cast moving shadows, dancing a silent ballet for a blind audience. Dropping the curtain, Aragorn turned, and was surprised to see Elrond standing in the doorway.

"You're awake," Elrond said, and quickly scanned Aragorn for signs of discomfort. The human looked disheveled; dark circles smudged under his eyelids, and his forehead was creased with worry. "Did you have a good sleep?"

Aragorn rubbed his eyes, and shook his head. His dreams had been troubled, his rest uneasy until exhaustion finally claimed him. "How long was I asleep?" he wondered.

"Since yesterday afternoon," Elrond smiled. "I didn't have the heart to wake you."

"How's Legolas?" Aragorn demanded anxiously.

"The same as he was when you brought him in, Aragorn," Elrond said, bending over Legolas and feeling his pulse. "I've sent a letter to Thranduil. He's probably worried sick—"

"He'll be furious," Aragorn said flatly. He knew too well that the Elvenking's temper was not merely a myth. Legolas had often recount tales of when unfortunate servants, travelers who strayed into their realm, even at times— Legolas himself—had come to face the wrath of Thranduil. Sometimes—only sometimes, Legolas had told him, his father had been drove to such anger that he had slapped Legolas.

"Would you blame him?" Elrond asked gently.

Aragorn cringed. "You're right; I should have been more careful," he sighed, remembering that they had forgotten to pack any healing supplies in case of an accident Aragorn was an accomplished healer, taught in House of Elrond from a young age. If he had used Athelas in those meager hours after Legolas was injured, maybe he wouldn't be in this condition!

"Go get something to eat, Estel," Elrond commanded. Aragorn groaned, but nodded and left. He knew Elrond meant business when he called him by his elvish name.

Elrond made sure Aragorn was escorted to the kitchens by Elrohir, and then he busied himself with tending to Legolas. He soaked a clean cloth in icy water, and placed it on Legolas's forehead, smoothing his hair away from the bandages. The head wounds were starting to bleed through, but not enough to fuss over.

Finally Elrond pulled up a chair and sat down to wait out the night.

At this very moment, King Thranduil was lost in the paths of elvish dreams, fingering jewels in his mind. Suddenly he found himself standing amid tall, black oaks that were unfamiliar to him, for they were menacing and stood like sentinels in the night, pointed stiff, emaciated fingers into an impenetrable fog. Thranduil did not know how he had come to this place. He didn't know where he was, or why he was there, only that he had been here, many, many times.

He strained to hear. Nothing. Tried to see. He could not discern certain objects; everything was blurred, out of focus, like the reflection in a mirror of polished silver. A presence hung in the fog, a presence that had only just appeared.

Out of the fog, he could hear the shrill, terrified screams of his son—Legolas! He was too young to wander the forest alone. Thranduil began to run, clawed his way through the thick growth of branches that threatened to engulf his precious child and trap him forever.

Thranduil jolted awake, sweating profusely. "My Lord?" Galion's face swam into focus. He handed a letter to the King. Thranduil grabbed it, tearing the envelope open without a second thought. The moonlight glittered off the sapphire ring on his finger; he dipped his head and his golden hair cascaded over his shoulders as he read silently.

Elrond's bold print seemed to glare at him from the page, and immediately his eyes overflowed with tears. My Dear Lord Thranduil…I regret to inform you that Legolas was attacked while hunting with Estel…he is gravely wounded…The letter fluttered from Thranduil's trembling fingers. His face paled, and Galion looked at him, concerned for his well-being.

"My Lord, are you alright?" Galion persisted, and moved to aid the King as he rose from his bed; the silken sheets and embroidered bedcovers hit the floor, and Thranduil swatted Galion's hands away.

"Send for my horse," Thranduil mumbled. "I must leave for Rivendell at once."

He offered no explanation. Galion bowed and quickly left the room to prepare the King's escort.

Thranduil's heart raced, his mind whirling with a thousand questions. Who would attack his son? He struggled to shake off the memory of his nightmare, but it clung to him like frost on a sapling in the bitter days of winter. He dressed hurriedly, and walked out of his bedchamber on wooden legs it seemed, a puppet held taut by the strings of parental fears. Deep they delved in the corners of his subconscious; and one thought, a heart wrenching realization, loomed above all, an ominous black shadow that threatened to destroy his entire world in a single sweep.

His son was dying.

The ride to Rivendell could not have been any slower for Thranduil. Although his horse sped toward the High Pass with an urgency that was admirable among the guards in the King's escort, the miles went by in a wretched flow of hours, and the road seemed to stretch even longer as time wore on. Thranduil closed his eyes in silent prayer, seeing before his eyes the day of Legolas's birth.

The Queen had collapsed one morning, the agonizing labor pains tearing at her like knives into her flesh. Lord Elrond had been called immediately, for something about Celebrinöme's labor didn't seem right to the healers in Thranduil's household. Sure enough she was bleeding heavily, and survival of both mother and child was uncertain.

But the Queen was strong, and lived to see the beautiful face of her child as he came into the world. She was a Silvan Elf, raised in a noble house of Princes in the Golden Wood of Lothlorien. But before the Last Alliance, her family had been deemed Dark Elves and cast out of their home in Lindon, their strange practices of magic unseemly. Celebrinöme and her family were outlaws, and wandered the lands of Middle-Earth in search of a home. When Lothlorien was established, they were taken in by the Galadrim, and dwelt under the fair trees for thousands of years.

Celebrinöme became a sorceress of small magic, gifted with powers that only High Elves possessed. She was Silvan, and therefore, special. Her marriage to Thranduil brought her jubilation, and the birth of their child was a blessing.

Legolas was born prematurely; his tiny lungs struggled to breathe and Elrond feared for his life. But he lived, thanks to Elrond's skills and the loving care of his parents, and although his mother was murdered by orcs only a year later, Thranduil was there to see him grow up. Because of his Wood Elf heritage, Legolas was very intuitive even at a young age, and a trace of his mother's magical ability remained in his heart. He shared a deeper bond with nature than most of his kind.

Thranduil paused in his reminiscing to guide his horse along the rocky path into the mountains. He saw Legolas as a toddler; learning to walk on his unsteady legs like a fawn in the secluded glades of the forest, encouraged by his father's outstretched arms. His white-blonde hair barely brushed his collar, and his big blue eyes were wide with joy as he attempted to close the distance between him and his Ada. A smile graced Thranduil's lips as in his memory, Legolas fell and he ran to comfort him, wiping away the tears that slid down his face.

"'Las love Ada," Legolas said, and buried his face in Thranduil's cloak. The King swept Legolas up into his arms and swung him around.

The vision faded, and Thranduil stared ahead into the gloom. Only the sound of the horses' hooves on the ground filled the silence. At last the valley of Rivendell came into view. The company spurred their mounts and hastened to Elrond's gates.

That's the end of chapter 4!

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