Title: A Porcelain Doll
Author: Sivan Shemesh
Beta: Aranel
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warning: AU, Horror, Tragedy.
Rate: T
Summary: There is a murderer around Mirkwood, who is looking to complete his collection…

A/T: Written for Horror Card Bingo 2012 – Back to Middle Earth, Prompt#G55: Puppets, Dolls, and Nursery Rhymes

At first, it looked like magic, the way the dolls lay on the ground, so serene in various positions. One lay against the trunk of a tree, head leaning to one side; the other lay at the fork of several branches as though nesting.

When the guards moved closer to check for any sign of life, they found none.

The elves were dead, pale as the moonlight, as though someone had drained the blood from their bodies.

"Prince Legolas, we need your help," Galdor called urgently as soon as he entered the hall.

"Galdor, what is it?" Legolas asked glancing toward his father who watched silently.

"You should see it for yourself. You will not believe me if I speak of it," Galdor replied, bowing to the king before leaving the room with haste.

Legolas turned to seek guidance from his father.

"Find out what is going on, and return safe," Thranduil told his son.

"I will." Legolas nodded and with that he followed the guard.

Indeed he would not have believed Galdor even if he tried to tell him about it. Legolas was stunned speechless when he saw them.

They looked like dolls. And they were dead.

"Who did this?" Legolas asked his guards.

"We do not know, my prince. We have just found them, and we do hope that they are the only ones," one of the guards replied worriedly.

"Search the forests and let me know if there are any missing elves," Legolas commanded at once. "Meanwhile, I will inform the king that there is a murderer in our homeland." Legolas waited for their affirmation, then leaving alone, he headed toward the caverns.

By nightfall…

Galdor and Saelbeth entered the hall, seeing only King Thranduil. They bowed in greeting but the concern in their eyes was evident.

"My king, where is Prince Legolas?" Galdor asked.

"I was hoping you two could tell me," Thranduil rose from his chair and walked toward them, looking straight at Galdor. "You were the last to see him."

"Aye, I am, but all I know is that he gave us orders, said that he would inform you and left," Galdor replied.

"What should I be informed about?" Thranduil asked.

"That there is a murderer in our homeland, killing our brothers and leaving them like dolls, mere puppets in the meadows," Saelbeth replied.

"Find my son!" Thranduil ordered urgently, his heart ached at the painful thought that his son might be the next doll. He could not lose his son, just like that, to such a perverse creature.

Somewhere… deep inside the forest where evil crept…

Legolas lay, limpid, both hands tied. His mind kept drifting off but he vaguely saw something in his arms, the blood flowing away from his body. Some part in him screamed of danger but he was too tired to resist.

"Soon," A voice echoed. Legolas refocused and saw a figure clasping his hands together. The voice continued, "Soon I will complete my collection and then on to more beautiful dolls."

Legolas found it impossible to speak. His face felt foreign, all at once like rubber and snake skin.

"Oh, I should have told you that you cannot speak, but it won't matter. Soon you will be dead just like the others." The figure laughed at how clearly the elf's eyes betrayed his fear.

It took two hours for the elf to collapse into the blanket that had been prepared.

His job in Mirkwood – done!

Time to move to another land for more exotic dolls.

Five days later, under the bridge…

By the moonlight…

"There's something in the water." One of the guards pointed, having spotted a shadow.

Arrows were quietly poised, and the king peered cautiously from his entourage, hoping to see his son alive.

As shadow moved to the rhythm of the tides, they recognized their prince at once, looking as though he was swimming.

"Oh Valar… not my son…" Thranduil cried out at the sight of his lifeless body, lying in the water like a porcelain doll.

The prince's eyes were wide open and the king could not bear the reproach of that gaze; Legolas had needed him and he had not been there.

And he had lost his own son to a murderer.

The End…Or would Thranduil find his revenge?