The Scarred One - Chapter One
However, as time went by, there was soon no doubt that Alakolas was Legolas's son. By the age of sixteen summers, Alak was the spittin' image of his father but with jet black hair and midnight eyes. He was barely more than an elfling, an infant though he was already 6'3" with an athletic build and a sweet, melodious voice.
Alak was not pampered just because he was the Last Heir of Wood-Elves, so he never developed a spoiled, conceited attitude. He was a good boy, obeying his mother's wishes without complaint. And he wasn't totally deprived of a father. He found such an image in his grandfather, Thranduil. It had been Thranduil who had informed Alak the story of Legolas and Aurora and how that now the Great Prince of Mirkwood lay in Middle Earth in a deep sleep.
Father? Asleep in Mirkwood? Where the heck is that? Alak often wondered. At the age of ten, Alak understood that it would be his responsibility to give his people back their prince. He waited with a rather excited impatience for the day to come.
Alak's real name meant "Scarred", the -olas added at the end in honor of his father. He was a painful reminder to all the elves of their foolishness and treachery. The Wood-Elves and Sea-Elves made a tight and successful peace because of Alak's birth.
It seemed fate wanted to play a cruel joke for Alak had a birthmark that looked very much like a scar located one inch below his left eye as long as his eyebrow. Humans probably wouldn't find the scar totally unattractive for the mark did not diminish his beauty in the least bit. But elves considered the face the reflection of the soul. To have such a mark meant darkness roamed in the heart.
"A hideous mark, that is."
"Darkness slithers across his heart like the scar slithers across his face."
"Aye, the child bears his parents' pain."
"He will bring us all to dark times."
"No, he is the son of Legolas Greenleaf. He will bring our prince back to us."
"But the scar still plays a role. You cannot ignore the scar."
Most of the elves meant well. Still, Aurora and Thranduil did their best to shelter Alak from most of the whispers, but Alakolas was his father's son and therefore smarter than his age allowed. Plenty of whispers had reached his sharp and delicately pointed ears. He began to doubt his people respected him as an elf, much less a young prince.
Well, he would show them! He would go to Mirkwood and bring back his father and prove himself to his people.
Problem was, how was he going to get there? He did not know the way.
His chance arrived on a clear autumn day in the form of a red dragon when Alakolas was just sixteen. He sat on a boulder by one of the streams that ran through the palace grounds, polishing a bow to shiny perfection, when he happened to look up as the shadow of the great beast passed overhead. Alak was paralyzed with awe. He had never seen a dragon before but he had heard of them by the stories Thranduil would tell to him at bedtime.
Despite what legends may say, he recalled the old elven king saying, not all dragons were evil. There was at least one good great dragon named Razul Goldenstar who lived before Mirkwood had became such a place of darkness. Razul held a tight allegiance to the Wood-Elves. But Men feared dragons and that fear didn't take long to bore its way into the hearts of the elves, not the Wood-Elves, but the elves in other areas. Razul and his people fled to the far West disguised as a large herd of horses.
Before Alak knew what he was doing, he was off the boulder and racing after the dragon, bow in one hand, determined to keep the creature in sight. It was no difficulty staying in the dragon's shadow for the dragon did not fly very fast, and Alak enjoyed running long distances. For a moment, he thought the dragon looked at him. Ecstatic, Alak urged his legs to run faster, his muscles not aching in pain, but singing with the thrill of the race.
Aurora and Thranduil sat on the marble verdana by the garden, involved in casual conversation. But talk was cut off as Aurora stood to her feet, slightly alarmed at her son racing toward her. She had not yet seen the dragon.
"Alak!" she called. "What's wrong?"
"A dragon, Mother!" Alak called back breathless with ecstasy. "A beautiful dragon!" He jumped onto the verdana in a sudden graceful stop. Before Aurora could react, the dragon swooped down and landed delicately on the grass. Alak was shocked to see that the dragon was wounded. Its forearm was twisted at an odd angle, its left ear was ripped, and it had a deep gash running from its right eye down its elegant neck. Add this to the many deep cuts and dried blood on its fluorescent ruby-red scales now slightly diminished with mud and scabs.
"Rynn!" Aurora cried, recognizing the dragon at once. "Rynn, who did this you?"
"Men, out of fear," Rynn replied. The voice was deep and gruff, but was also clearly female. "They saw me flying above and attacked me out of fear believing I had come to plunder their fields."
"Why didn't you shift to travel?" Aurora exclaimed.
"I had to reach you fast, my queen, and none fly faster than a dragon. The prince is in danger. Grave danger!"
Alak had never seen his mother look whiter than she already did. Thranduil placed a steady hand on her shoulder, ready to catch her should she faint. "Legolas?" Aurora squeaked breathlessly. "Legolas is in...danger?"
Knowing his father was asleep, Alak began to wonder what danger would Legolas possibly be in.
Rynn shook her head, her scales shimmering in the light with the movement. "No, Legolas is safe. He lies within a shield that surrounds the palace only his son can enter. It is the Scarred One who is in danger."
Aurora looked over at Alak and, as if it were possible, the fear grew even more in her azure eyes. She wrapped her arms around Alakolas as if protecting him from Rynn, and Alak shifted his weight, rather embarrassed. "How is Alak in danger?" his mother demanded.
Rynn hissed, low and angry. "The Elders you have banished, the three who did not ask forgiveness, have sealed treaties with orcs, goblins, and dark dragons. Something has possessed them. They are no longer elves. They come for Alakolas. And they mean to kill him."
Aurora held Alak tighter. "What must be done?" she whispered.
This time it was Thranduil who answered. "He must go to Mirkwood Forest and awaken his father," the king said softly. "The ex-Elders attack because Laegolas is no longer around to defeat them. Alak must return to Middle Earth-now-so Laegolas can bring back order to the elves."
"I have messengers sent to Lothlorion," the voice of Galadriel announced as she and Lord Elrond joined the other elves on the verdana. "They will be anticipating Alakolas's arrival and will provide protection if necessary."
Aurora gawked at Galadriel. "How did you...?"
"She was once the Lady of the Wood," Elrond interjected. "She knows many things, often before we ourselves know."
"You're not saying Alak is to go to Middle Earth NOW!" Aurora nearly shouted. "He is only sixteen years old, a child!"
Alak wasn't sure he appreciated being called a child.
"Aurora, your people need your husband to lead them into a new age," Elrond explained.
"But, surly Thranduil..."
"My people are scattered and confused, Daughter," Thranduil interrupted gently. "We are in a new world, a new beginning. The Old Ways are gone forever. The Wood-Elves have left everything they've ever known behind. They don't need a leader who is linked to the Old Ways. They need a leader who has experienced the rest of the world and changes with it."
"A leader like your husband Legolas," Elrond added with soft respect.
The Queen of Sea-Elves looked completely torn. For sixteen torturously long years, she waited for Alakolas to grow up so he could awaken her beloved husband. But now faced with the prospect of parting with her only son...
"Alak has never wielded a sword," she said in a hushed whisper, her final, desperate argument. "He has never even used a bow. I've kept him from all that, so he could have a peaceful childhood without worrying how to defend himself."
Alak glanced down at the polished bow in his hand. It was true. He never used a weapon such as this before.
But he could learn.
"Mother, I believe they're right," he spoke up, breaking the tense silence. All eyes turned to him and Alak became even more uncomfortable, but he continued. "I have heard some of the whispers of my people about me. Most mean well, I know, but the truth remains. They need my father, and they need me to go bring him back."
Aurora finally smiled, a tiny sad smile, and cupped Alak's face with her hands. He found himself staring into her fathomless azure eyes, and there he saw his reflection. It shimmered and shifted and became his father.
"I believe in you, my son. You are the very heart and image of Legolas. If you must go now, you must go."