We who are left, how shall we look again

Happily on the sun or feel the rain,

Without remembering how they who went

Ungrudgingly and spent

Their all for us, loved too the sun and rain?

A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings

-But we, how shall we turn to little things,

And listen to the birds and wind and streams,

Made holy by their dreams,

Nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things?

"Find the King's son" the call came, cutting through the sound of the rain upon the rocks, echoing off the surrounding mountains. The rain ran over the bodies, washing away the blood, creating crimson rivers which mixed with the earth, staining it red. The searchers were soaked through, their clothes still torn and battle-stained. But they were swift and took to their task quickly, turning over the bodies of the dead, searching for their prince. Their going was hard, for there were many bodies, all clad alike in green and brown, and stained with battle-gore and blood. Suddenly, from the centre of the battlefield, there came a cry of greatest sorrow. All froze, as if turned to ice by the completion of their mission.

He lay there in the mud, golden hair fanned out behind him, soaked in blood. His face was peaceful, akin to sleep, but his skin was waxen-pale. Out of his chest there protruded three goblin arrows, and one side of his chest was bloodied also. All about him lay bodies, those of goblins and wargs, but also those of elves, who had given their lives to protect him.

One elf went down on his knees and felt for a pulse, desperately calling out "My Prince, Legolas, please"

A wail went up amongst the surrounding elves, as they realised what had happened. The Elves of Mirkwood respected their king, as loyal subjects, but he had a swift temper, and was sometimes quick to anger. But his only child, Prince Legolas, they loved, for he was kind and graceful and yet in a way more ordinary than the other Lords. He was swift to laughter and had many an elleth entranced by his clear blue eyes, and quick smile.

Himhîth, the elf who had found him, was one of Legolas's close friends, but he soon realised the gravity of the situation and after sending one warrior to find the King, he and three others made a stretcher from spears and cloaks, and placing the Prince's body upon it, hurried back to the camp.

When they arrived, there were many elves waiting, the King in front. The four warriors laid down Legolas and bowed swiftly. Himhîth went down on one knee before the King, but words failed him and he began to weep.

It was then that the King realised his son was truly dead, and so, white-faced, he bade four elves bear the body to his tent.

Once there, his master healer, who had accompanied them in case of a battle, confirmed that the Prince of Mirkwood lived no more.

"He died because of this wound" the healer pointed to Legolas's side. "This was made by a poisoned blade. The wounds were deep, but not fatal; we have never seen this kind of poison before."

On hearing this, the King seemed to shrink into himself and sank down onto a chair, his head in his hands. He remained that way whilst the healers removed the arrows, and stitched up the wounds, whilst they washed his son's body andlaid it out again, dressed in formal robes. However, as an elf took up a comb and was about to comb Legolas's hair, Thranduil rose, and in a voice which sounded desperate, asked to brush his hair, one last time. The Elf complied, shocked at how old his King sounded. Then the tent was empty, apart from the King, who sat upon a stool by his son and combed his golden hair. Upon the Prince's head he placed a circlet of twisted leaves, made from mithril. Then he took Legolas's cold hand and began to sing, softly, his voice filling with tears. The song was strange; he had heard it sung one as a lullaby, but its words were of a different nature and he wondered why it sprang unbidden to his lips, for the song was about stars and his son had looked only to the treetops.

"Underneath the stars I'll meet you
Underneath the stars I'll greet you
There beneath the stars I'll leave you
Before you go of your own free will

Go gently

Underneath the stars you met me
Underneath the stars you left me
I wonder if the stars regret me
At least you'll go of your own free will

Go gently

Here beneath the stars I'm landing
And here beneath the stars not ending
Why on earth am I pretending?
I'm here again, the stars befriending
They come and go of their own free will

Go gently
Go gently

Underneath the stars you met me
And Underneath the stars you left me
I wonder if the stars regret me
I'm sure they'd like me if they only met me
They come and go of their own free will

Go gently
Go gently
Go gently"

And throughout the camp Elven voices echoed in sorrow.

It was so that Mithrandir found them, as dawn was breaking. He had come to deliver news of Thorin's passing, but knew instantly that something was wrong. Although he had heard the songs of mourning the previous night, he had not thought it was anything more than grief at the many elves that should have lived yet long ages of the world, under the trees.

He had been taken straight to the King's tent, but before he entered, his mind registered something different about the layout of the Royal tents, although he couldn't be sure what.

The answer struck him full in the face however, when he entered and saw the still body of the Prince laid out upon his father's bed, and the Elvenking looking, if it was possible, all his many years.

Mithrandir shook his head in shock, "What happened?" he murmured.

"He fell." was the King's quiet answer. "I begged him to stay, if not in Mirkwood, then in the camp, but he would not hear of it. He said that if one was to be a proper Prince of the realm, then one had to act like it; he couldn't let the warriors go and fight whilst he trembled in a corner, like a coward."

"He knew the cost, as we all did." Even as Mithrandir spoke he realised his words seemed heartless, but the King merely closed his eyes for a second. When he opened them, they still had a blank look, and Mithrandir knew that it would take the King yenî to overcome his sorrow, if he did ever overcome it.

"I have sent word to Elrond of Imladris" the King spoke, and his voice was as blank as his eyes. Mithrandir nodded.

"His sons, they and...: the King trailed off, as if he couldn't say his son's name." And" he sighed; "there was once even talk of his daughter, Arwen, and my son" he swallowed slightly, trying to stay composed. "They could have married, made a tie between the three Elven- kingdoms, but..." again he trailed off. "Now that will never be."

"I soon must take my leave of you, Thranduil, for I bring news only of loss, and I know you grieve already for your son. He was a fine Prince, and not only shall the Elves of the Greenwood mourn him."

The King nodded, then rose, so that he stood level with Mithrandir. "Nay" he said "Tell me your news. I would not fail my duty, as I have my son."

Mithrandir looked sharply at the Elvenking, and then nodded. "Very well" he said "the Dwarves have suffered a great loss."

To be continued...