Struggle To Live - Chapter 4: Dream, Thought, and Flashback
Overall Summary: An ancient evil rises two years after War of the Ring. Legolas is cursed and is dying. The fellowship is regrouped to search for the cure before Legolas needs to choose between death and becoming the next Dark Lord.
Summary for last chapter: Aragorn and Faramir are going to Mirkwood from Gondor; Gimli from Lonely Mountain; Arail, Elrond, Gandalf, and the four hobbits from Riverdell; Rean from Lorien
Chapter 4: Dream, Thought, and Flashback
(Mirkwood, in Thranduil's palace)
*Greeting, the grandson of Oropher, and the son of Thranduil.*
Legolas tries to find the origin of the malicious voice, but failed as the surrounding area around him was covered by the veil of darkness. He didn't know where he was, or how he got here, *Who are you? Where am I? How do you know about me? What business you have with my grandfather and adar?*
*This is not important, we shall meet again in the reality, then you will find out.*
Realization hit Legolas when he figured out that his arm wasn't hurting, which meant it was a dream.
The voice laughed, *No, no, my little prince. Although we are in your dream now, I am real, and we are having a real conversation now, just not in our physical forms.*
*What do you want?*
*Isn't it obvious?*
Legolas couldn't help but flinched at the coldness of the voice, but he spoke defiantly, *You will not win.*
*We'll see. However, I won't be easy on you; you shall suffer until your life ends. Wake up now, and taste your misery.*
Darkness faded and light shined brightly like the afternoon sun that forced Legolas to close his eyes.
"Ada?" Legolas opened his eyes again slowly, and saw he was back to his room. Thranduil sitting next to him, wiping his face with great care.
As he was regaining his conscious, he tried to remember what happened before the dream. All the flashes were faded. He could only remember Tekrir. . . and then pain. The pain was unbearable, but strangely, he found peace as darkness swallowed him. How much he longed for peace: peace for himself and peace for the others. Did he have to wake up every time and see his father or Tekrir worry over him?
Thranduil smiled to see his son was waking up. He helped him sit up and held him a glass of water. Legolas felt as if he hadn't had a drink for days, so he accepted the water and drank it slowly.
"How are you?" Thranduil asked, even if he knew Legolas wouldn't tell him the truth. Legolas simply nodded, and didn't say anything.
This worried Thranduil. From what he heard from Tekrir, he knew Legolas had lost his will to live. This was the worst thing that could happen now. He couldn't remember a single time that Legolas would back down from a fight, but now, he gave up.
He simply gave up.
As the king of Mirkwood, Thranduil was frustrated the fact that he could do nothing except watching his son in torment and hoping once Elrond and Mithrandir could help Legolas to find the will. "Do you want to eat something?" Thranduil tried to make Legolas to eat something; he needed his strength to fight.
Legolas couldn't find the appetite, even though he felt very weak and he knew his body needed food, so he just gently rejected it, "No, I am not hungry Ada, but you should eat something, and have some sleep also. Did you sleep last couple nights at all?"
"Maybe just a little?" Thranduil asked if he was cooing a little child, knowing his son was trying to change the subject. He picked up a bowl of chicken broth from the tray, filled in a spoon full of soup, and held it to Legolas' mouth.
As much as Legolas didn't want to be treated as a child, he complied and ate some soup, knowing there was no way he could get out of the situation.
He was tired, and felt his energy was draining from his body every second. He didn't want to die this way. As a Mirkwood elf, he should die in battlefield in glory, not killed by some poison slowly like a mere mortal.
"No more," Legolas said before he finished the third spoon, "sick. . ." Then, he threw up all the little broth he just ate on the bowl.
Thranduil rubbed his back gently and gave him a glass of water. A frown appeared on his ageless yet sophisticated face when he found Legolas tried to grasp for air desperately.
Sweats started to form on his forehead and he let out a cry, "Ada!"
The king brushed away strands of hair and touched his son's burning face. He quickly discarded his garments and picked up the weightless body to the bathroom. He put Legolas in the icy bath, trying to cool down his body.
Legolas writhed in the coldness, "No! It's cold, Ada!" His half-opened eyes were clouded over by pain and fever.
"You have a high fever, Legolas. It's going to be alright."
The prince stopped struggling as he fell unconscious.
Satisfied at his son's temperature, Thranduil raised him from the bath and wrapped his shivering body in a towel. He dried Legolas carefully and put him back on the bed.
"You are going to be fine, child. I won't let anything happens to you," he caressed his son's face and kissed his cheek, then put a wet cloth on his forehead.
He sang softly the lullaby that his queen used to sing to their children. He expressed in sorrow, "What should I do, Lalierel? What should I do?"
(Mirkwood, on the boundary)
Gimli stopped quickly when he heard the voice. Being with an elf for the past years, he knew that wood-elves' warning was something that anyone, especially a dwarf, should listen to immediately. Then, he found himself surrounded by twenty elves that dressed in green and brown colors; all had their arrows pointing at him.
He put down his axe and raised his arms above his head, thinking of why elves would point their arrows every time to people before they knew they were friends or enemies. He was very angry, but he knew he had to keep it down, if he wanted to see his elf-friend as soon as possible, "Don't shoot! I am Gimli, friends of Le . . . Prince Legolas." He felt compel to call Legolas 'prince.' He had never called him by his title, even during his last stay in Mirkwood; but Legolas wasn't with him now, so it would be the best to show some respect to the wood elves.
Gimli turned his head and recognized a particular elf, "Yes! It's good to see you Roltelo."
Roltelo gave a sign to order the rest of the elves put down their arrows, "Sorry to offend you, Master Gimli, but our defense has increased due to the unknown monsters that appeared a week ago. Although there aren't anymore of
their traces around, we want to make sure everything is fine."
"Even if there aren't any monsters around, you would still point your arrows at everything that moves," Gimli murmured quietly to himself under his breath.
If it was quiet for a dwarf, it was definitely not quiet for an elf. All the elves heard what he said.
Roltelo smiled and nodded to the other elves, still wondering how the prince could endure this dwarf, "Please, this way, Master Gimli. Prince Tekrir told me to expect you already."
Gimli followed Roltelo to the palace, while other elves stayed to guide the boundary.
As they went near the center of Mirkwood, the surrounding landscape became more beautiful. Shinning lights were flowing around the trees and the houses like stars, pleasant floral smells hit people's sense, different kinds of animals
and birds running around the place, and waterfall's sound could be heard from afar.
"Mirkwood always amazes me," Gimli couldn't help but commented.
Roltelo looked around, "Yes, but it was even more amazing before Sauron conquered the South."
In Gimli's opinion, even if Mirkwood was threatened by many foul creatures on the South, its beauty could still match other elven kingdoms.
They came to the palace, which was the most glorious place in Mirkwood. The elves had an underground palace before, but after the fall of Sauron, they constructed a new palace on the ground and used the old palace as a fortress.
They walked swiftly through the palace's hall. Gimli couldn't take his eyes off the decoration. The hall was made of shiny marbles and gems, undying candles were lighted along the path, and the patterns on the ceiling and ground were complexly drawn with legendary creatures. It gave people a mysterious feeling. Gimli's attention focused on Roltelo when he stopped in front of a huge room. The wooden door was craved with the shapes of falling leaves and vines.
Roltelo knocked the door.
Gimli entered the room after Roltelo. The room was decorated in a fashion different from the hall. This room was more ordinary and was mostly made out of wood. The sunlight shined through the curtain to every corner of the room. It was more cheery and more comfortable for Gimli.
He saw a figure smiled gently at him behind the desk. It had to be Tekrir.
Tekrir rose from his chair, "Thanks for traveling all the way to here, Master Gimli," he greeted with a bow. Then he dismissed Roltelo to his duty. He was wearing the traditional Mirkwood color clothing, but always with dark-bluish tunic as Gimli remembered.
Light shined on Tekrir's pale face, and his crystal blue eyes had an unusual shade of dark. Seeing those mountains of paper works on the desk, Gimli knew Tekrir had been taken care of the kingdom for Thranduil. It didn't surprise,
since Thranduil loved Legolas the most and wouldn't leave his side, and Arail and Rean were not in Mirkwood.
"Don't mention it, Prince Tekrir. Legolas is my best friend, and I will go to him even if he were in Mordor," he tone changed from a proud to an uncertain voice, "So. . . how is Legolas?"
Tekrir turned to the window and stared at the horizon, as if he wanted to get away as far as he could. He sighed sadly, "I am afraid he doesn't have much time left."
The dwarf tried to calm himself, "Of course he won't die! He is very strong, maybe the strongest person I have met in my whole life."
The prince didn't turn around, "The torment made him lost his will to live already. Try to understand what he is going through, Master Gimli. Although the idea of dying isn't new to us the immortals, it is still strange to us. He has to continue living in pain and doesn't know if he will wake up every time he closes his eyes. The chance that Elrond and Mithrandir can save him is still very grim. He doesn't want us to worry about him. He is trying to accept the truth and comfort us now so that it won't be a huge disappointment if he can't be saved."
Glancing down the floor, Gimli didn't want to believe the elf he knew would die, he had to see for himself, "Can I go see him now?"
"Yes, of course. He will be very glad to see you," Tekrir tried to smile to lighten the mood, leading Gimli to see the dying prince.
(Meanwhile. . .)
Arail rode as fast as he could. He needed to catch up on Elrond and return to his youngest brother. His heart couldn't stop worrying that he might be too late. Suddenly, a band of orcs ran came out from the trees and attacked him.
*Damn! Why didn't I sense the orcs nearby!* Arail cursed and took out his arrows, prepared to kill any orc that stood between his way to Mirkwood.
With the experiences he had on the battlefields, ten Uruk-hai weren't too hard to kill. He spoke in elvish to lead the horse while he was shooting.
He killed half of the Uruk-hai with ease, but was unaware of an arrow coming his way. He finally realized it and tried to dodge, it hit his right shoulder.
He held down a cry as he pulled out the arrow. He aimed his arrows again, determined to end this fight now.
"Arail of Mirkwood!" Arail slowed down and turned around, he saw two humans riding toward his way; one of them looked strangely familiar.
The two humans drew their swords and slain the Uruk-hai, covering their swords with black blood.
After Arail killed the last Uruk-hai, he looked at the two carefully, and realized one of them was Aragorn.
Faramir eyed at the elf with great interest. He looked very much like Legolas; but unlike him, this elf had all his shorter golden hair tied up in a pony-tail fashion, his face was much sterner than the lighthearted Legolas.
As soon as Arail got down from his horse, Aragorn embraced him.
"Long time no see, little Estel. . . no wait, you are now Aragorn, King Elessar of Gondor." chuckled Arail, who remembered the way Aragorn used to be when he was young. This Estel would be the same Estel he knew, no matter
what other names he had.
Aragorn raised his eyebrows when he found out the prince was injured, he pulled away and searched for some herbs in his bags, "Let me look at the wound, Arail."
The crown prince protested, "We don't have time. I believe the reason you left Gondor and come this way is to see Legolas. Then we need to keep moving now." He got on his horse, but was pulled back down by Aragorn.
"Stop this. You are not going anywhere before your wound is treated."
With Faramir's help, Aragorn barely managed to bandage the wound. "Elves and their stubbornness," Aragorn grumbled under his breath.
They released Arail at once, who struggled the entire time while they were trying to help him. But deep down, he was pleased the job Aragorn did, although he didn't show it outside.
He glared at Faramir questionably with his aqua eyes. He didn't trust any man except Aragorn.
Aragorn sensed the tension and introduced his companion, "This is Faramir, Lord of Emyn Arnen and Prince of Ithilien. He is my most trusted man and a friend of Legolas also."
"Any friend of my brother is a friend of mine, Faramir. I am Arail, the Prince of Mirkwood, and the oldest brother of Legolas," Arail dropped his guard and extended his hand to Faramir.
The former steward gladly accepted it and shook his hand. They broke off when Aragorn inquired, "Why are you here, Arail? Aren't you supposed to be with Elrond and Gandalf?"
Arail's face turned dark and his eyes glittered with anger, "They drugged me and knocked me out for two straight days."
The foster son of Elrond knew immediately what the half-elven lord's intension was. Even in the time of dismay, he burst out waves of laughter while he was holding his stomach, trying to control himself. He couldn't remember the last time he was drugged by his foster father. Those who didn't listen to Elrond's advice would be drugged for sure, but usually they were little children who whined too much that even the most patient healer in the entire Middle Earth couldn't stand.
Faramir didn't know why his king had such a reaction, but he assumed something must be very funny to make him laughed like this.
"If you are done, Estel, I would love to continue our journey, or I shall leave you behind to die laughing," Arail tried to suppressed his temper as he petted his horse.
Finally got a hold of himself, Aragorn said, "We need some rest before we continue. It is too dark to walk now, let's rest for a few hours and waited for the moon to come out."
The elf understood the ranger's reasoning and didn't object. It was hard to see even for an elf.
They ate small ration of food, then mounted on their horses and kept going under the guardian of the moonlight.
"Don't worry. Legolas is strong, he will make it," Aragorn tried to comfort his companions, while he saved some doubts to himself. He didn't want to lose his best friend. His life would become meaningless without him.
When he used to think that he would die first, then Legolas would sail to the Grey Havean with the memory of him for the rest of his immortal life.
Life wasn't fair.
Gimli followed Tekrir to the hall way. He remembered this was the way to Legolas' room.
He remembered the time when they visited each other's home. It was the summer after the year of War before they came to Mirkwood. They promised each other that they would go places together. Legolas agreed to come to Lonely Mountain after visiting Fangorn. Although Legolas wasn't fond of caves, he complimented on the dwarves' crafting skills.
It was quite a disaster when Legolas first came to the Lonely Mountain. Of course, he wasn't welcomed at first by other dwarves, and most of all by Gimli's father Gloin, considered the fact that he was imprisoned by Legolas' father, King Thranduil, before. The dwarves openly threatened his life if he wouldn't leave, despite the fact that he was Gimli's friend.
However, it didn't take much effort for Legolas to get along with them, especially with the children, since he acted as a child himself sometimes. Those children didn't find Legolas hostile, like what their parents told them. Legolas was gentle and laughed in a wonderful voice. They were shy at first, but after they were invited by Legolas to listen to his songs, they would circle around Legolas and listened to his tales when their parents were not around. He gave out the candies to the children that the wood elves made. Everyone could receive many pieces everyday, which made Gimli wondered how and why the elf would actually carry this large amount of candies around. The children loved him, and were even willing to risk the chance that their parents might find out.
He was willing to help out in the caves, even though he was a prince and he was only visiting. And when he was working, he sang. The adult dwarves weren't used to this at first, and they demanded Gimli to make Legolas stop; but Legolas still hummed some songs quietly to himself, then the dwarves started to like hearing the beautiful melodies when they were exhausted from the work. Seeing how their children loved him so much and how polite he was, they stopped being overly antagonistic toward him, although their attitudes weren't nearly friendly.
Then one day, a child accidentally fell down the cliff while running, after being scorned by her parents about how she spent too much time listening to Legolas' songs and how Legolas had bad influence on her. She fell on an abandon path on the cliff. The child's parents were anxious to death when the dwarves decided it was too dangerous to save her.
Legolas volunteered to go down, claiming that climbing a cliff was similar to climbing a tree. Of course, everyone saw the difference between the two. Gimli was against the idea and he insisted that he would go down instead, since he was a dwarf, but Legolas argued that an elf moved faster and lighter, so it would be easier to pull him back up. Legolas tied himself to a rope and lowered himself down.
Once he reached the child, he soothed her with a smile, ensuring her that she would be fine. He tied the rope around her and carried her, then he signaled the dwarves to pull them up. However, the dwarves watched in terror when the rope broke on the half way and they both fell down from the cliff to the river.
All dwarves ran down quickly to the bottom of the cliff from the mine tunnel.
Legolas shielded the child the whole time. His head hit a huge border on the river and his skins were cut deeply by the sharp stones. He managed to swim on the shore before he passed out from the lost of blood.
When the dwarves arrived, they found the girl was alright and was crying and trying to wake Legolas, who was lying unmoving.
Gimli feared the elf was dead, and quickly ran to his side. He tried to find the pulse, but found none. He calmed himself and put his ear on the elf's chest, holding his breath to try to hear the slightest sound of heartbeats.
None. He couldn't hear any heartbeat.
The children were crying loudly, and feared they could never hear the elf's voice again. The adults were heavy-hearted. They regretted the way they treated him after seeing how he saved the child of their kind.
The elf-friend blew some air to Legolas and pushed his chest, trying to get the heart pumped again. He continued repeating the routine after several unsuccessful tries. He kept telling himself the next time it would work.
This scene pained the dwarves very much. They believed the elf couldn't be saved. Gloin went up to his son and put a hand on his shoulder, trying to tell Gimli that there was no hope for the elf.
Ignoring it, Gimli tried one more time, and Legolas opened his eyes weakly and coughed the water out of his lungs.
The dwarves cheered in joy to see Legolas wasn't dead. Children swarmed toward him, but were stopped by Gimli, because the elf was injured badly.
Legolas spent the next few weeks on the extra-long bed that the dwarves could find, and was unable to move around. However, the dwarves were very nice to him after the incident, and they constantly asked if he needed anything or if he was comfortable in one minute or two. They kept stuffing the slender elf with the best food that he was afraid he would become fat.
Children always tried to creep into the room and play with Legolas, but most of them were pushed outside because the room was too crowded. They had some self-made candies and chocolates for Legolas, which the elf was glad to test those for them. They didn't taste too bad, but he was a little afraid he couldn't digest them.
The elf joked to his dwarf friend that he was the first elf ever in this world to experience such a great hospitality from the dwarves, and that the treatment was better than the royal treatment he had as a prince from his people.
Soon, Legolas was fully healed, and he longed for home. Even though the dwarves in Lonely Mountain were extremely nice to him, he missed his people and the trees.
The dwarves were too kind that they tried to give him all those precious stones and weapons as gifts, but he gently declined the offer, telling them he couldn't carry anymore after he accepted all the candies the children gave him.
Gimli went to Mirkwood with Legolas to fulfill his promise of visiting the elf's homeland. The wood-elves were happy to see their prince came back from the war, but were shocked that he was with a dwarf. However, they respected the prince and didn't act badly toward Gimli.
Thranduil was enraged to know his son befriended with the son of Gloin, and immediately ordered to imprison Gimli. After numerous of explanations, persuasions, and threats to end their father and son relationship, Thranduil finally agreed to let Gimli stayed and treat him as a guest.
The other three princes all treated the dwarf differently: Arail was not very pleased, but didn't express it because of Legolas; Rean was completely hostile to Gimli, and used the their friendship to put Legolas down, claiming his youngest brother should had born as a dwarf instead; Tekrir was friendly as always, didn't judge Gimli because he was a dwarf.
The dwarf got along with the other elves after they discovered the humor he had. The elves needed some merriment while they spent countless hours protecting their kingdom.
It was winter and Mirkwood was covered with snow. Gimli couldn't remember how he was persuaded by the elf, but he ended up climbing a tall tree with him.
He hated trees, and he couldn't see where the elf went to. Then suddenly, a voice surprised him behind his back, and he lost his balance and fell down from the trees onto the snow flat on his face. His hair and beard were covered with snow. Then Legolas jumped on the tree branches, causing all the snow on the tree fell and covered up the dwarf.
Gimli was beyond angry, and his anger was triple when he found his friend was laughing next to him. He saw glitter in the elf's bright eyes, the elf was obviously amused.
The dwarf got up and threw a snowball at Legolas, who dodged it easily; but the snowball hit Roltelo, who didn't see the snowball because he was standing behind the prince. Roltelo was not pleased of being a victim of a dwarf, so he threw the snowball back, but it missed and hit one of his guards. . . than another one.
Soon, the whole Mirkwood involved in a huge snowball fight, but nobody knew who the target was exactly, they just threw at anyone in their sight.
Laughter could be heard all over the kingdom, and it lured the king and other princes to come out to see what was happening. Once they came out from the palace, they were greeted by snowballs flying toward their direction.
Everyone stopped when they noticed the king's presence, who glared at his people and the dwarf dangerously. They dropped their snowballs at their hands and quickly kneeled down to greet the king. They were all praying to all fourteen Valars that their heads would not be cut off. Everyone did, except for Legolas.
Legolas ran toward his father and gave him a warm hug. He knew how to soften his father's heart. But to everyone's horror, he asked Thranduil to join the snowball fight also.
They knew their prince had just signed a contract with death for them. If the king wasn't mad, he would be now. The worst part was when Legolas whined like a child about how the king had never been spending time with him. The king hated this weakness.
They knew the king had wanted to wear himself out with works and spent the rest of his time on collecting vualable jewelries and wines since the queen's dead. They used to hear the youngest prince's sobbing sound everyday when the king claimed he was too busy to play; sometimes the king would even strike him when he wouldn't stop bothering him, but then he would regret hitting his son and made his son cry that he would let the child sleep in his room at night. Even after the prince grew up, he hadn't stopped this habit, but his cries were rarely heard anymore.
Without anyone's knowledge, Legolas put some snows inside Thranduil's shirt, making the elf-king shrieked in surprise. He started to laugh as he went away and challenged his father in a snowball fight, knowing his father wouldn't to back down from a challenge after being humiliated.
Thranduil became irrational and grabbed the nearest thing he could reach, which were snows. With the authority from the king, another round of snowball fight began.
Arail, Tekrir, Roltelo and Gimli were relief to find Thranduil didn't explode; Rean was angry at the luck of his youngest brother, and left without a word.
Few hours later, everyone was tired from the fight. The gracefulness of elves was gone, they all looked comical with all the snow covering their long golden hair and fair faces; Gimli's situation was worse, sense he was a dwarf and was an easy target for the elves.
Thranduil laughed heartily. He had never been so happy since Lalierel was dead. He turned and saw his youngest son smiled brightly at him, "I love you, Ada!"
(End of Flashback)
Gimli's thought was ended when he stopped in front of Legolas' room. He looked up to Tekrir, who tried to hide his emotion under his mask. He grasped when the prince knocked on the door and opened the door softly.
End of chapter 4
Information on the original characters that have appeared or mentioned in this chapter so far:
Arail: Legolas' oldest brother and the crown prince of Mirkwood. He was a millennia year older than Leoglas.
Tekrir: Legolas' third oldest brother and was about 800 years older than Legolas.
Rean: Legolas' second oldest brother.
Roltelo: Guardian of Mirkwood.
Lalierel: Queen of Mirkwood.
Chapter 1: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11154.html
Chapter 2: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11167.html
Chapter 3: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11203.html
If you want to read more (well... up to chapter 11 ,_,), go to:
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