Disclaimer: Those you recognize belong to Tolkien. I do not own them. Everyone you do not recognize belong to me.
Summary: He was warned to never go to the cursed hill. But when Thranduil disobeys his father's orders to see if the stories are true, a single event from Oropher's past threatens the life of his young son.
Author's Note: Hey, so here we are with the last chapter, what I like to affectionately call, "the epilogue." Thanks so much to The Pearl Maiden, Elven Warrior Princess, gginsc, Gwedhiel0117, and Doreen for all the support of this story! You guys are amazing, and I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much. Before I continue, however, an extra special and deserved shout-out goes to Gwedhiel0117 and her fantastic Oropher and Thranduil piece, "Torn Asunder," which was inspired by something in this update that you'll see later on. It also features a few other characters, one of which being Aearion from this story! So, if you're an Oropher and/or Thranduil fan, go swing by and see what you think! And now, here's the last update! It might not exactly be what you think ;) Lol, enjoy!
ernil-nín- my prince
penneth- young one
ion-nín- my son
mellon-nín- my friend
hannon le- thank you
"It was once used as a military outpost for our guards. One night, they were ambushed. A violent struggle broke out, costing many lives. The guards finally took their attackers captive and tortured them."
Thranduil paused for effect, a slight smile appearing on his face when he saw his rich, tenor voice had captured the attention of the Elflings listening to him intently. "Then one night, the prisoners escaped," he continued, causing a couple of the children in the front row to jump slightly. "They slaughtered the guards in their sleep and fled, never to be seen again. No one knows what attacked the guards at Amon Sereg, though the stories say the spirits of all those killed there still linger behind, seeking revenge for their unjust deaths."
A stunned silence followed his story. Then, a young boy near the back boldly cleared his throat. "That is just a tale, is it not, ernil-nín?" he asked.
The prince of Greenwood shrugged a bit. "I believed that once," he answered. "Until I ventured there myself to see if it was true when I was your age."
The group of Elflings collectively leaned closer to him. "What happened?" one of the girls wondered.
"Is it cursed?" another added. "Did you see a spirit?"
Thranduil smirked. "All I am able to tell you is I saw a figure in black," he addressed the entire group. "One moment, it was there. The next, it was gone."
The Elflings all gasped.
"Amon Sereg is a dangerous place," Thranduil concluded, reflecting on his own experiences at the alleged cursed hill. "I was fortunate to have escaped." He scanned the young Elves' captivated faces, nodding slightly. "Run along now. Play safely."
Thranduil chuckled as the children thanked him for the story before they hurried off to play, rising off the rock he had been sitting on in the gardens. By what he could tell from their reactions, the story had accomplished what he had wanted it to. He ensured his sword was secure in its place on his hip, still having not grown accustomed to the feel of it, as he walked along the path, almost unable to believe how much had changed since he had journeyed to Amon Sereg. The outpost was now guarded at all times to ensure what had happened to him was not repeated, though he doubted it would be.
A small smile graced his fair features as he thought about the figure in black he had added to the story every time he had told it since the incident. Thranduil had long since figured out that it truly had been his father he saw that night on the ledge and not some spirit, but it was a suitable touch to the tale nonetheless. He chuckled quietly to himself, remembering when he had approached Oropher for the second time with the matter.
"It was you that night!"
Oropher looked up from the paperwork he was filling out, surprise crossing his fair features as his son hurriedly approached his desk. "What do you speak of, penneth?" he wondered. Normally, he would have been slightly more irritated at the intrusion, but the Elfling's abrupt appearance was a welcome reprieve from that season's financial report.
Thranduil crossed his arms confidently as he met the king's eyes. "At Amon Sereg," he explained with a smile. "The black-cloaked figure was you."
A moment passed before Oropher chuckled, shaking his head slightly as he lowered his gaze back to the paper before him. It had been two years since that fateful night, and this was the first time his son had come to him with this accusation. That it was still on his mind surprised him. "Now is not the time to discuss this, Thranduil," he told him as he continued to write.
However, the prince was not dissuaded as he leaned forward on the desk, watching as Oropher's hand paused before he raised his eyes from the parchment to meet his determined ones. "Amon Sereg is truly not cursed at all, is it?" he pressed. "The figure I saw had to be you."
Oropher sighed, setting his quill aside before he leaned forward on his desk as well until his and Thranduil's faces were not far apart. Two pairs of light, intent eyes met, neither relenting as they willed the other to bend. This continued for a few long moments before the king finally smirked.
"I must finish this report before the lunch hour, ion-nín," he said quietly.
Thranduil sighed, his shoulders noticeably slumping. "But, Ada..." However, his protest trailed off when Oropher raised a challenging eyebrow. "All right."
Oropher smiled, sitting back in his chair as he picked up his quill once more and continued to write. Thranduil lingered in front of his desk and watched his father carefully until the king stopped and raised his gaze from the report once more. "Aye, ion-nín?"
"I know it was you," Thranduil muttered, a triumphant gleam in his eye as he turned on his heel and headed for the door of the study. A smile appeared on his face when he heard Oropher chuckling quietly from behind him before he stepped out into the hallway, shutting the door behind him.
Thranduil's smile lingered as he shook his head slightly. Though his father had never admitted that it truly had been him he had seen on the ledge at Amon Sereg, it was Oropher's lack of denial that had him convinced it had not been some spirit.
"Reminds you of when we were that age, does it not?"
Thranduil stopped and glanced to his right, his smile broadening when he saw Helinniel was sitting on a bench near a patch of white wildflowers. Her light eyes moved to the empty spot beside her, and the prince covered the space between them in a few strides before he sat on the bench as well.
"It does," he said with a quiet laugh. "Hopefully this will dissuade any Elflings from venturing to that outpost." He paused for a moment. "I still do not believe we went there. It was so foolish."
Helinniel leaned toward him a little. "It may have been fortunate we did," she muttered thoughtfully. "If we had not, those Dwarves would not have been apprehended."
Thranduil met her gaze before nodding once in agreement. He had not told anyone, even his closest friends, the true intentions Galin, Throri, Drorin, and Dworin had for him that night. He did not tell him his father's history with them. "Aye," he said quietly, lowering his gaze from hers to his folded hands.
Concerned, Helinniel reached forward and lightly set her hand on his arm. "Are you all right?" she asked. "Your face is a bit pale."
A slight smirk appeared on Thranduil's face. "You truly are learning from your mother," he muttered, evading the question. His friend had been studying the healing arts under Beriana while her brother, Erynion, was with him and Calanon in weapon training.
Helinniel lightly hit the prince's arm, causing him to laugh, before she brushed some loose strands of her fair hair behind her ear, a smile gracing her features as well. "Am I not allowed to be concerned for you, mellon-nín?"
Thranduil chuckled before glancing back at the wildflowers behind them. He gently took one before holding it out to her. "I meant no offense," he told her sincerely.
"Hannon le." Helinniel's smile broadened at the playful banter before she took the white flower from him. When Thranduil looked away again, she could not help but gaze at him curiously. She had known him nearly her entire life, but the sword he wore on his hip was still foreign to her, as was the simple silver circlet he now nearly always wore. She was not accustomed to Thranduil, prince of Greenwood. She was familiar with simply Thranduil.
Then, approaching footsteps caused them both to look up as they watched Erynion and Calanon appear from between the trees. "Ada has called us for training," the latter announced, slowly drawing his sword.
Thranduil grinned, briefly glancing at Helinniel. "We will have to continue this another time," he said before he rose to his feet, quickly drawing his own blade to meet his friend's.
Helinniel shook her head as a slight smile appeared on her face while she watched them continue to exchange sword hits. "Be careful," she warned when Calanon's blade nearly swiped Thranduil's cheek as he avoided the weapon.
"Peace, muinthel." Erynion smiled at his younger sister as the other two Elves continued to spar. "'Tis all in fun."
"Aye, until someone is injured," Helinniel muttered, crossing her arms. "You take care also, muindor."
Erynion nodded once. "Always, Helinniel."
Thranduil and Calanon soon stopped their sword practice, both grinning as they sheathed their blades as the latter turned and began to walk in the direction of the training grounds. The prince started to follow but paused, glancing over his shoulder to ensure Erynion was coming. His light eyes then met Helinniel's, and he smiled slightly before he continued after Calanon. Erynion noticed the silent exchange, and his eyes narrowed slightly as he briefly looked at his sister before he followed the other Elves.
Helinniel sighed as she slowly rose to her feet, watching their retreating backs until they were out of sight. She missed the days when the four of them were young, not having a single care as they played together until the sun set. Those days were almost gone, for soon, her friends and brother would earn their plaits as they became true warriors of Greenwood while she followed her mother's instruction to become a healer. They would soon have to face their separate paths. She only hoped they would not be disconnected completely. Helinniel then moved her light gaze down to the flower she still delicately held in her hand given to her by the prince, and a small smile appeared on her face.
She still may not have been too familiar with the warrior Thranduil was becoming, but she knew he was someone she could grow accustomed to.
Oropher stood at the top of the steps that led up to the palace doors with his arms crossed over his chest, his light eyes on his son, Calanon, and Erynion as they laughed while they made their way to the training grounds where Thalion held their sessions. A slight smile graced his fair features, remembering back to when Thranduil had first begun his training, an occurrence that had made him both proud and disheartened. The days of innocence for the high-spirited Elfling who had used to command his attention were nearly gone. Thranduil was maturing into a warrior, the prince of Greenwood, he could not deny that.
He glanced behind him when he heard light footsteps, nodding once to acknowledge Aearion when he stopped beside him. "He is continuing his training this day, I see," the advisor said, a proud smile on his face as well while he shook his head slightly. "Astounding how time passes."
"Indeed," Oropher agreed, moving his light eyes back to Thranduil in time to watch him and his friends disappear from sight.
Aearion moved his gaze to the king, and his eyes narrowed slightly. "Are you all right, Oropher?" he wondered. It had not escaped his notice that his friend had been quieter as of late, and he suspected it involved Thranduil's training.
Oropher took a long moment to respond, carefully deliberating his answer. It was difficult for him to watch his son developing into an able warrior with his own sword that had been forged for him at his side. He often found himself missing his small child coming to him for the most trivial of reasons, no matter what the hour. But he remembered when he had first begun his training as well, knowing how hard it had been for his father to watch him do the same, but also the pride it had given him. A slight smile appeared on his face. There was no doubt he was proud of Thranduil as he watched him now.
"Aye," the king finally muttered, smiling at Aearion. "I am more than all right."
Aearion nodded as his smile broadened, though it was bittersweet. "He will be just fine, Oropher," he attempted to assure him.
Oropher nodded once as well, his smile faltering slightly. "I know," he said, mainly to himself. "He is my son." Then, he cleared his throat as he turned to make his way back into the palace. He could not hold Thranduil's hand and guide him through his training. It was something he had to discover on his own, and the king had to trust he would be all right. "Come, Aearion. I believe there are some trade agreements that must be seen to."
Ending Author's Note: I know what you're thinking. Tori left you all with unanswered questions, right? Such as why Oropher was delayed that night he promised his aid to Galin. It's not missing because it's not an important detail. On the contrary, it's very important! So, why was it left out, you ask? Because it is not crucial for Thranduil to know in this current point in the timeline. Or, in other words, it was intentional. Why? No, I'm not one of those evil authors who doesn't answer all the questions, lol. The real reason is because this is only part one. Check out part two, "Riptide," to see what other trouble I get Oropher and Thranduil into. *innocent smile* With school, I can't promise the most rapid of updates, but it'll be out as soon as it's ready! Until then, here's a bit of a sneak peek. Enjoy!
Oropher quickly looked up when he heard the young, familiar voice, his eyes narrowing slightly as he looked at the darkness around him. But from what he saw in the faint light coming from the dying fire at his feet, he was alone on the rocky cliff. He strained his ears for the voice again, but all he heard was the raging rapids of the Duilwen.
"Thranduil!" he called, dread filling his heart. "Ion-nín!"
Oropher quickly turned around when the fearful voice came from behind him now, and his eyes widened slightly with worry when he saw Thranduil standing at the edge of the cliff, clear panic in his youthful features. The prince then anxiously reached a hand out toward his father.
"Help, Ada!" he repeated.
"Hold on, Thranduil!" Oropher hurried toward the Elfling, reaching his hand out as well. His heart sped up a little when his fingers brushed against his son's, but then it nearly stopped when they slipped out of his hold as he began to fall.
"No!" Oropher watched in horror as Thranduil plummeted into the darkness below, his panicked scream being swallowed by the nearly overwhelming sound of the rapids. He tried to go after him, to save his son from the darkness that threatened to claim him, but his limbs refused to work properly. He was unable to move as the roar of the river grew to a deafening level, engulfing him completely.
Oropher gasped as he quickly sat up on his bed, anxiously looking around the dark room before sighing and closing his eyes as he ran a hand over his sweat-drenched face. It had been years since that night at Amon Sereg when Galin, who he had at one time believed he would never see again, had leapt off the cliff into the Duilwen River with Thranduil. The king leaned forward and put his head into his hands, his loose, fair hair spilling over his shoulders. He could still clearly see the image of his son's lifeless form and pale face, his lips tinted blue, even after all this time. He had been so close to losing him that night.
Must it still haunt him now?