Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings, nor anything associated with that which are mentioned herein belong to me. I am simply a very poor, rather stressed high school student who hopes to be able to afford to go to college. Moral of the story - nothing is mine, and please don't sue me, because you'll get nothing but a lot of wasted time.

Rating/Warnings: Teen. Rated Teen for Violence.

Category: Adventure/Angst

Time frame: 2052 Third Age. Sauron first rose to power as the Necromancer in Dol Guldor in what became known as Mirkwood in 1000 Third Age, and Gandalf forced him from Dol Guldor (for the first time) in 2063 Third Age.

A/N: This is an EXTREMELY short chapter, so I shall have a very short A/N... Anyway. My plan is to update daily, but because of that, these chapters will likely all be much shorter than what mine normally are. Yes, this is because of a specific reason (please see dedication). I would absolutely love it if you would take the time to leave a few words on what you thought about this - whether you liked it, whether you didn't, or if you want me to continue to post the following chapters. In any case though, please enjoy!

Dedication: This is written for my best friend, Mirnava, as a birthday present. It's a little (and by little, I mean a LOT) late, but here you have it nonetheless. Happy birthday, mellon nin.

Darkness in the Forest

Mirkwood felt muted and pensive that afternoon, wrapped in a shifting veil of thin, pearlescent mist and trapped beneath a thick layer of storm clouds. Water dripped from the thick, richly hued leaves, rolling viscously from leaf tip to leaf tip, before finally plummeting to the sodden earth below.

The air was still amongst the trees, with nary a breath of wind to rustle the thinnest of branches. All sound that wound between the massive trunks felt suppressed; as if the had been swallowed whole by the thick, humid air, and only the faintest echo could still be heard from the belly of the great beast that had devoured it.

Elrohir kneed his gelding forward, urging him alongside his twin's pacing mount. Something troubling niggled at the back of his thoughts, causing him to fidget and glance about at the looming trees nervously. He could not place his finger on what it was that bothered him so and, in truth, he could not even be sure that what he sensed was a warning or even a true misgiving. He only knew that something was bothering him, and he wished to see if his brother felt the same.

Sensing Elrohir's approach, Elladan turned away from where he had been intently watching the path ahead. "What ails you, brother?" he asked softly. Somehow, he felt as if he should not attempt to disturb the quiet pall that had settled over the normally life-filled forest.

Elrohir was silent for a moment, gathering his wits. Now that he had finally decided to actually voice the feeling that had wormed its way into his thoughts and his heart, he found that he was having a difficult time describing what it was that he felt.

"Does the forest seem oddly…silent to you?" Elrohir finally asked, speaking just as quietly as his brother had. In truth, that was not exactly what it was that was bothering him, Elrohir knew, yet it seemed to be the only thing that he could associate with the odd feeling.

Legolas, who was riding a few paces ahead of them at the head of the column, looked back, his attention drawn by his friends' voices. Before Elladan could open his mouth to reply, Legolas smiled reassuringly and, slowing his own mare for a moment, fell in between the twins.

"The forest always is still just before a storm," the Silvan prince told his friends, "Especially if it is but a lull between two strong storm fronts. Do not let her silence bother you, for she is merely sleeping, waiting out the fury of the tempest." Still Elrohir looked uneasy, his gray eyes clouded. "Stop worrying so," Legolas added, laughing lightly, "Or else you'll start looking and sounding like Erestor."

This drew a short, sudden bark of laughter from the younger twin. While not precisely a "worrier," Erestor was well known for his ability to find each and every possible thing that could go wrong in any given moment. The tension dissolved from the trio, retreating back into the mist-wreathed shadows between the trees.

It was as if some sort of spell had been broken with Elrohir's laugh. The oppressive silence lifted away from the small company of elves that rode down the forest path, and soon the air was filled with the cheerful banter of the twins and their Woodland friend.

Behind them, and unnoticed by the three, Lord Elrond shifted in his saddle, his hand instinctively inching toward his sword hilt. None caught the slight flickering of the elf lord's eyes to the imposing trees encroaching on either side of the narrow, winding path, nor did any see the perturbed glint in his normally unreadable silver gaze. For just an instant – barely more than the space of a heartbeat – he sensed something move deep within the shadows of the forest. Then it was gone, and silence fell over the group once more.