Between the Shadows- Chapter 1 - Loss

"Legolas, that is not fair! You are taller than me, you have a greater advantage." pouted Lindale as her older brother's arrow easily hit the target, a gnarled knot in a withered oak tree. Lindale's arrow had not even come close, preferring rather to land in a thorny bush of undergrowth. Legolas burst out laughing when he compared the distance between the two arrows. Lindale grumbled to herself and muttered "lucky shot". Legolas heard this and laughed even harder. It seemed like he would never stop, much to Lindale's humiliation. Finally he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes and came to stand beside her. "Lucky shot? I think not." He said. "You are holding your bow incorrectly. You must pull back on the bowstring, not the arrow along with it." She tried this, and much to her surprise, when she pulled back and let go of the arrow, it struck true. Joyfully, she called out to her brother who was retreating back to the Woodland Hall for the evening meal. "Next, I will be beating you, Legolas!" Legolas did not turn back but threw back his head in laughter. Lindale was slightly hurt, but brushed it aside. It was probably true anyway. Legolas was one of the best archers in Mirkwood. Retrieving her arrows along the way, Lindale headed back on the same path that Legolas had followed.
An ill sense of foreboding swept around her. Something was wrong. Breaking into a run, she flew past the heavy wooden doors that guarded the system of caves of her home and found Legolas, her father, King of Mirkwood, and a person she did not recognize in her fathers study. Their heads were bowed in grief.
"Is something wrong?" she asked, her voice strangely high pitched. Taking a closer look at the stranger, she realized he was covered in burns of the worst sort. "Dearest daughter," began her father, his voice ragged and nearly to the point of sobbing. Lindale was confused. Her father never cried. Something was surely wrong. King Thranduil continued. "You remember how your mother left, last week to greet the new Woodmen who have settled in Mirkwood?" Lindale nodded faintly. Thranduil was now on the verge of tears. "The village she visited it was - it was attacked by orcs yesterday. Lindale swayed, and clutched a wooden beam for support. "Are you sure?" she asked a moment later, her voice cracked and almost inaudible. The tears were now streaming freely down her father's face. He nodded glumly. Lindale still did not believe it. "How?" she whispered. The stranger at his side spoke up. "Your lovely mother was visiting the newly built healing house in the village when the orcs surrounded the town, took the guards prisoner, and burned everything in sight. Including the healing house." He added. "I managed to escape with my life, but it was a near thing, as you can see" He gestured towards the scars and burns that etched across his face and arms. Lindale barely paid attention, still not believing the fate of her mother. She stumbled through the doors and ran to her room, her once fine features now blended in a look of pain, disbelief, and grief.
Her mother was dead. Her mother was dead. She repeated it to herself over and over again, and yet she could not believe it. She lay sprawled on her mahogany bed for what seemed like days, crying. Finally, she heard a knock her door. "Lindale?" It was Legolas. "Are you alright?" he asked. Lindale thought that that was a silly thing to ask. Of course she was not alright. Her mother had just been killed. Her mother had just been murdered by orcs. Her hatred of the vile creatures intensified. She felt like running away and killing them all in revenge. But another emotion came over her. Sadness, and also, hunger. So maybe she could not cleanse the world of the vermin, but she could not remain here either. Legolas kept pounding on her door. He relented later. Lindale got up and washed her tear streaked face. She silently gathered up her most precious belongings, each one reminding her of her mother. A crown of autumn berries she had woven with her mother the day before she had left to greet the Woodmen. A bracelet that had been given to her by her mother when she was forty. A tunic that her mother had told her endlessly to get rid of, because it was so faded. She silently placed each possession in a worn leather bag and climbed out of her window-she was lucky to have a window in Mirkwood, as most rooms were underground and windows were not available in them. She crept as noiselessly as possible through the trees following a faint path that lead to the edge of the forest. She had a scarce supply of food in her pack, taking only what store she had found in her room. How long would it last? She wondered. Well, from now on, she would have to tighten her belt, and not think of the gnawing hunger in her stomach.Not heeding the beauty of the trees of Mirkwood, Lindale went with all speed possible to the edge of the forest, and reached it by nightfall. Time for a new life, she thought. She was wong.

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