A Thranduil fic, because it needed to be done. Why is Thranduil so obsessed with gold? This is my reason.
Surrounded by Gold
The first time Elrond ever saw Prince Thranduil of Greenwood was at the last alliance of Elves and Men. Standing regally behind his father, the only son and heir of the Greenwood royal throne. He wore only the light armour of a tracker and carried both a bow and a sword, he wore no helm as his kin folk around him did, but allowed his long golden hair to flow freely down his back. He was beautiful, a flower among thorns, as his kinsfolk seemed when around him.
Elrond studied the young prince, for he was young, only one thousand and eight years old. He had an almost innocent look about him, as if he had been sheltered most of his life from real battles. Elrond envied him greatly his youthful cast, he himself having lost his many thousands of years before this great battle.
He hoped no evil would befall this child, but just looking at him brought foreboding to Elronds mind, the child would not remained untouched in this war.
But though he saw the prince he did not speak to him, nor even meet him formally for the duration of the war, though he heard many tails of the great leadership this child showed, in leading his men into and out of battle, it was something Elrond was only know learning to do with the grace of Thranduil.
Four months before the end of the war, a battalion of Greenwood elves returned from battle, leaderless. Thranduil had fallen, slain by an orc blade.
All the elves, and most of the humans were saddened by this loss, Thranduil had often turned up with his warriors to beat back the seemingly unstoppable hoards of orcs and other such foul beings, when all hope seemed lost.
And he was gone, cut down in the prime of his life.
His father took it hard, and his own leadership skills left him as he grieved for his lost son, he was killed himself less than two weeks later and was found, pierced by the spears of four dead rock trolls who had attacked the camp in the dead of night, a brave death, he had saved a lot of men from death that night.
And so ended the royal house of Greenwood.
Or did it?
Thranduil opened his eyes against the harsh glare of the sun, his mouth was filled with a coppery taste-blood. He hazily wondered where he was, the last he remembered was falling under the feet of thousands of advancing orcs.
As if on que his wounds screamed with pain, he could not repress the small cry of pain that escaped him. He tried to move, to ease the discomfort, but found he could not. His arms were pinned behind him, bound with strong rope and leather, as were his legs. What made the bindings worse was the fact that his left wrist was broken, he could feel it move beneath the skin as he tried the ropes.
He willed his elvish healing abilities to concentrate on his worse wounds, the huge gaping hole in his shoulder where an orc sword had taken him down.
He cried out again in pain as he was lifted bodily from the ground and shaken roughly. He struggled to focus his eyes on the attacker-an orc!
"So you wake." it spat, flinging him back to the ground.
All his broken bones jarred, he gasped.
"You are too pretty elf!" it growled, "We must remedy that!" It kicked him in the face, breaking his nose. It picked him up again by the hair, he spat the blood in his mouth at it.
"You will pay elf!" it slammed him back to the ground, kicking him repeatedly, before stopping. Thranduil did not like the smile he could see on the orcs face. It took what looked like a mace from it's belt, Thrandul could not tell through the blood in his eyes. The orc rolled him over until he was face down in the churned up mud.
Thranduil screamed as the mace slammed down again and again on his back, breaking his spine, his arms and then his legs.
The orc laughed at his pain. His head was telling him not to give the foul creature the satisfaction of seeing him in pain, but the breaking of every bone in his body did much to over shout the warrior part of his brain.
Unconsciousness would not come, he could not escape it.
The orc once again lifted him up. "Still to pretty." it hissed, it removed a knife from it's belt and sawed off the length of Thranduils golden hair, leaving it short and uneven. "Still to pretty." the orc repeated. "But we shall cure that, I will take you to my master, he will change that, you will become like me..." the creature laughed.
Thranduil slipped away finally.
When Thranduil awoke again it was night, he could not see the stars as he would have wished, his body ached from the beating he had received-how long ago? It couldn't have been more than two days, his healing had only just come into effect, he could feel the muscles of his torn shoulder knitting back together and the smaller bones were repairing themselves, slowly but they were mending.
He still could not move, and it disturbed him deeply to be bound, as he was one used to freedom, to being able to go and do as he pleased.
The orc was there again, standing above him, the mace dangling from it's foul claws. "You heal fast elf, a human would have died from the beating I gave you, yet you heal, this annoys me elf."
Thranduil closed his eyes and waited for the torturous punishment, but none came. He opened his eyes to find the Orc squatting down beside him. "I will test steel on you my pretty one." it smiled a gruesome smile, showing it's blackened teeth.
The prince watched with growing fear as the Orc removed the knife it had used to take off his hair from it's belt. It ran the blade down his face, leaving a shallow cut from the forehead to the chin. Then to the shoulder, where it dug to point deep into the flesh, turning it this way and that.
Thranduil cried out as the steel knocked bone.
Grinning the Orc took another knife from it's belt and with a quick motion pushed it through Thranduils elbow, the blade sawed through the bone easily. The Orc removed the blade and licked the blood from it, still grinning.
Thranduil swallowed and prayed to the Valor to let the Orc end this, but the Valour were not listening to his plea, for death did not come, the Orc continued to jab the dagger into his arms and legs, making cuts of various depth and width along his face and torso.
"We will be there soon pretty one, and you shall be turned into a thing of the night, into a shadow, all your beauty will be gone." the Orc hissed softly, and muttered something to it's self in it's own guttural language, before looking back down at the elf. "Soon, very soon..."
It laughed, and Thranduil closed his eyes. There was no hope, everyone believed him dead, he knew, because he could remember the shouts of 'the leader has fallen retreat'. No one would come after him.
Now Thranduil wished he had died in that battle, he had never experienced such pain in his life. He was to sheltered in youth to be able to fight back against the Orc, he was too weak...
They were there, as the Orc had said, at the gates to the dark city.
Thranduil was barely conscience after the beating he had received earlier at the hands of the Orc, the last, the Or had said, he would receive from it, once they passed the gates he would be taken deep in to the dungeons of Saurons tower and be changed. Undergo intense torture given by the privileged Orcs of the army, and the Ring Wraith's, they would poisoning his mind, destroy him mentally
The Orc spoke of it like it was a great honour.
To an Orc maybe it was, but to Thranduil it was going to be be hell on Middle Earth. He knew the stories of where Orc's originated from, and though he hated to admit it they were of his kindred, not perhaps of his people but of the elven kindred, though it was hard to believe that anything so disgusting could have possibly been an elf, but that was how the stories went.
He was taken roughly from the Orc who had carried him here, into darkness, and carted unceremoniously down dark and empty streets towards an even darker tower.
He didn't know how long he had been with the Orc, but he knew for a fact that he had received twelve beatings in his time with it, but in between times he had been unconscious. He was hungry also, he had been given no food, nor water. He was stained with blood, inside as well as out, he could feel the blood swirling in places of his body they should not have been, and had done after the Orc had kicked him extremely hard in the stomach about four beatings back.
He could barely breath as they threw him into a dark cell, his hands and feet still bound, left him, locking the door as they went-one couldn't be too careful with elves.
He was left alone, in the dark, with his pain, waiting for the unenviable that was to come.
For the first time in eight hundred years he wept...
He could feel his body twisting into a withered, disgusting shape, his bones reforming to match those of the Orc kin. The clamped iron chains held him tightly as the Orc's bent and broke his body over and over again until he screamed in agony, and until the bone reset in the way which they wanted.
"Stop!" he screamed, over and over, but it never stopped, for too long was he treated thus, he could not remember anything beyond the pain, the agony, the torture. He did not know how many days had passed, but it felt like weeks...
"Still too pretty." he could hear the Orc's spit above him, it had been said so many times that he knew what it meant in Elvish, in common. "Still too pretty."
He didn't feel pretty-he felt dirty, used, ill treated, sore from the constant abuse he was receiving.
"Take him back to his cell, we are done, tell the changers that they shall have their go now."
Thranduil had gone beyond screaming now, he passed in and out through darkness, and prayed to the Valor to have mercy and to let him die.
But the Valor did not take away the pain. So Thranduil suffered-for what?
He had tried many times to reach that inner calm that would allow him to take his own life if he so wished, where he could pass on peacefully-but the Orc's seemed to know about this, and made sure he could never reach it, they always brought him back to reality to early, laughing at him, calling him weak.
But he didn't care, he wanted to die, to leave the pain behind him.
But they wouldn't let him.
And soon he would never be able to reach that inner calm ever again.
They had come, the 'changers', not that Thranduil cared, he hurt to much to care, what could they do that had not already been done?
He was well aware that they never physically touched him, which concerned the elf no end, as Orc's relished hurting those they capture, as he had found out.
Then he noticed the smell, like rotting meat somewhere in the cell, his stomach churned, he wasn't a great fan of meat fresh or otherwise, and never touched it unless it was a very special occasion. So he felt the need to know from where this smell was coming. He turned from the wall, and immediately wished he hadn't.
It was a corpse, lying just front of him, and he was aware that more were being thrown into the cell. It was rotting away, the eyes staring blankly at him.
He trembled, this was a new experience to him.
He never saw the 'changers', just what they left behind-rotting corpses, wild animals that killed each other (which frightened the elf, as animals never fight unless provoked, and there were many animals in Greenwood), and he could vaguely remember, though he really didn't want to, someone feeding him the remains of one of the corpses, laughing while he choked and gagged.
But they too left him, curled up and afraid, with the bodies of the animals in the corner, both turned in such a way that he could see there eyes, and it was like they were blaming him for their death.
He whimpered in the darkness, he was terrified, he knew that now the Ring Wraiths would have their turn.
He searched his memory for something that was not overshadowed by evil. The tree's of his homeland, they were not touched by darkness.
He was dragged from his cell and carried down many hallways until he was taken into a room. There was, what looked a lot like a rack in the middle of the room, onto which Thranduil was placed, the chain's about his wrists and ankles were attached to the four corners.
Then he was left, and he grew more fearful the longer nothing happened. He was not even aware when the Ring Wraiths began to appear until one came to stand, towering over him.
Without warning it drove it's long sword through his gut, and darkness washed through him, destroying every thought he had, his family, his friends, his beloved wood!
More Ring Wraiths gathered round the rack, touching him, pouring their negative energy into him, making him see what they wanted him to see.
He couldn't breath.
His family murdered by his hand, his mother, his father, his sister!
He killed them all!
All it took was one 'session' with the Ring Wraiths and he was shattered, his whole defense gone, the only thing that could possibly have let him reach that inner calm, destroyed.
He was left as he was, alone, trembling and crying by turns, he would be left to wallow in his misery until they came to take him to the breeding grounds, where they would put him in a pool of something, with would turn him completely.
The war was over, Sauron had been killed, the ring of power cut from his finger by Isildur.
But Thranduil didn't know that, he was still chained to the rack, his mind broken from the evil thoughts the Ring Wraiths put there-or were they his own? He couldn't tell anymore.
It was on one of those rare occasions that he was aware of reality that he heard musical voices talking in the corridors out side the door.
"I fear for what we should find, all we found in others were corpses, so many dead." one said.
"Yes, but that Orc did say that there was one alive at least, we've tried every where else, this is the last place."
The door was opened and two elves came in, stopping in horror when they saw him. Thranduil turned away, he was one of the dark ones minions now, he knew why they looked on him as such.
"Prince Thranduil!" on elf cried, running to him. The two elves quickly un did the chains. They left, carrying the prince-now king-with them.
They took him directly to Lothlorien, home of the Lady Gladriel, who, with the help of Elrond, saved Thranduils life, of his former beauty there was nothing to save, as he had not changed much physically in appearance-which had greatly confused the Orc's.
His life was spared, but what of his soul?
Elrond went to Lady Gladriel, he was worried, the young King was not recovering very well, he continued to limp, long after the broken bones had healed, and his screams woke many in this fair place up when he dreamed.
"It has only been a year." Gladriel told him when he confided in her, "he will not heal in such a short length of time, his mind is too twisted with the darkness of Sauron, but he will heal one day."
She bade him look in her mirror, which he did, he had looked into the swirling waters only once before, when he was young. What he saw there concerned him greatly, he thanked the white lady and went to find Thranduil.
He found him in his chambers, positioning an ornament just right, so that it was in perfect alignment with everything else in the room. "Thranduil." he announced himself.
Thranduil jumped and turned. "Elrond," he gave the half elf a rebalance of his old smile, "what brings you here?"
"I have looked in Gladreils mirror, and I saw something concerning you which concerns me."
"What?" Thranduil asked softly, he always spoke softly now, his voice had been harsh with screaming after they found him, and he had not yet raised his voice to speak, as if he were afraid to.
"Thranduil, why are surrounding yourself with gold?" Elrond questioned.
Thranduil sighed. "When you have undergone the torture I under went Elrond, then you can tell me why I surround myself with gold and jewels.
"Thranduil why?" Elrond persisted.
"Because I need beauty!" Thranduil shouted. "Because I need to be surrounded by pretty things that make the darkness, the ugliness and the pain go away!"
"But it won't go away by those means Thranduil, and well you know it."
"They will." Thranduil grated. He spun on his heel and left the room. "I leave for Greenwood immediately, I have left my people leaderless for too long."
Elrond watched him go. "Don't miss the true beauty in your life Thranduil, do not become so wrapped up in fake beauty that you do not see true, natural beauty."
Elrond sighed now as he had done then, looking over the balcony of his chambers down at his son's, Elladan and Elorhir, and Thranduils young son Legolas.
Thranduil did not miss his real beauty, thankful, and his son was beautiful, the mirror image of his father in his younger days, carefree and happy.
He smiled as his son's argument reached his ears.
"Elorhir, if your going to shoot at least shoot straight."
"Well I would have if you hadn't knocked my arm!"
"I did not!"
Legolas smiled-yes the mirror of his father in all ways but one- lifted his bow, aimed quickly and sent a shot, perfectly aimed, between the twins, drawing their attention to him. "We're meant to be shooting arrows at the target, not insults at each other." he said softly.
Elladan smiled. "Of course, it's your shot anyway Legolas."
Legolas turned to take his shot.
"That was your fault." Elorhir laughed.
"Your one to talk big nose!"
"Look at your self in the mirror lately?"
The arrow of Thranduils son flew true, and buried it's self in a tree between the twins again. "I can't concentrate, the next one who talks gets an arrow trough their head-I'll apologize to your father later." He turned back to the target and fired, it hit bull's eye.
"Now why can't you shoot like that?" Elladan asked of his brother.
Elorhir shook his head. "I'd love to see you try!"
"Fine then I will, I could beat you any day!"
"You could not!"
Legolas smiled again, he glanced up and saw Elrond watching him, and waved. Elrond smiled in return and waved back.