The Light of Elbereth - Chapter 4
Legolas soon returned to Caras Galadhon. He gathered his pack for the homeward journey and joined his companions, for they were gathered around the Lord and Lady to receive their last instructions and farewell. Galadriel was the first to address them. "Lords of the Woodland Realm, do not be dismayed at you fight against the evils in Mirkwood. Continue with hope at the coming of Mithrandir. I foresee that his path is crossed with yours in the fight against the darkening shadow. Receive the Grey Pilgrim well, for soon he will come unto you" She looked into the eyes of the companions, as if giving each a silent warning or instruction. When she reached Legolas, he thought he heard her words in his mind. "Son of Thranduil, allow the light to guide your soul. Be merciful to the creature that Mithrandir will bring to you, lest it fall into greater darkness."
After final words of parting, the companions took their leave of the city, each armed with bow and knives. They also took with them lembas, the Elven waybread. For not only would one bite sustain a grown man for a day's journey, but it would last for many days and remain fresh in its leaf wrapping. Prepared for the long journey home, they left Lorien.
Legolas wondered at what Galadriel said. A creature brought by the Grey Pilgrim? His thoughts were shifted, though, when the other Elves around him started chanting and singing as they walked through the woods. He joined in their songs. These were his kinsmen, his brothers. He had spent the long years of his life with them. Together, they talked and sang all day until they reached the end of the forest.
Thanduin, a great lord of the Woodland Realm and leader of their party, called for a halt. He sniffed the air and looked around cautiously. Each Elf fitted an arrow to their bow, quicker than a word could be spoken. "Yrch!" said Thanduin, using the Elvish name for orcs. Legolas looked around, his eyes scanning the countryside. "There," He said softly to Thanduin, pointing over the plains in the direction that he had spotted the orc camp. "Shall we attack?" Thanduin peered in the direction he pointed. "Indeed your eyesight is good, Legolas. Tell me how many of them are there?" Legolas took another look. "Twenty-five, but they may have scouts nearby." he answered. Thanduin thought carefully, there were only 7 Elves with him, would that be enough? Three orcs to each Elf, yes, they would attack, but first, they must get closer. He whispered instructions to the group. Quietly, they crept along the edge of the woods, almost invisible, their cloaks blending in with the trees, making no sound at all.
As they approached the camp, Thanduin sent a couple of elves ahead to find the orc watchmen. Within a few moments, they returned. They reported back that they had circled the camp and killed all the watchmen. Their presence had been wholly unnoticed, and by the time the orcs would realize what had happened, it would all be over. Thanduin nodded approvingly. He motioned orders to each of the Elves, instructing them to circle the camp and shoot from a distance.
When the Elves began to fire into the camp, the orcs fell into complete disarray. Their captain yelled orders for them to grab their bows and return fire, but it was too late. Legolas hit him in the back with an arrow, and he fell to the ground, dead. With their leader gone, the orcs ran screaming around the camp, each falling dead from an arrow shot by a skilled Elf. Within two minutes, the Elves had killed every orc in the camp. Thanduin went over and examined the body of the dead captain. He was from Moria, the best that Thanduin could tell. He sent a scout to search the area around the camp, to ensure that they had killed every orc. He sent another Elf, his second in command, Dunethien, to consult the rest of the party and count the bodies of the dead. While he was gone Thanduin praised Legolas for his shot into the captain. "A fine mark" he said.
Dunethien returned with a worried look on his face. "We have counted all, yet we are missing one!" An orc had slipped through the circle. Dunethien continued. "The scouts have reported back, they have searched the area and have found traces of nothing. No tracks, no sign of anything." Thanduin listened thoughtfully. "Set a man on the lookout at once," he said. "If this was just a scouting party, then the one who escaped may bring a whole army down upon us. Why a small band of orcs is on this side of Lorien is troubling me."
As Dunethien left to carry out his instructions, Thanduin leaned against a tree thoughtfully. He spoke in a low, quiet voice to Legolas. Something else was troubling him, his heart gave him a warning. Something was not right. How could an orc have escaped the keen eyes of an Elf. Not only were orcs easy to spot, but they leave prints that even a blind Elf could find. He questioned Legolas about the number, was he sure there was 25? Perhaps he had counted one twice. No, Legolas was sure he had counted 25 figures. Someone or something was definitely gone. Thanduin remained in the grove of trees, deciding what to do next.
Legolas went out into the camp of the orcs. There was merely a crude fireplace and bits of bread and dried meat strewed about on the ground. Legolas looked in disgust on the area. The orcs had seated themselves around the fire, and their filthy bodies left prints of defiled ground. Their dark blood was on the grass, and their bodies lay about the area. The stench rising from the abhorrent carcasses made his stomach turn. Even the earth seemed reviled at their presence. Though he had seen battle before, he heart was grave at the gruesome sight of the corpses. He loathed to stay in this place one more minute. He turned and gathered with the other Elves around Thanduin, in the little grove of trees, waiting to see what their leader would have them do.
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