Thud. Thud. Thud. Time after time, day after day Legolas Greenleaf practiced shooting his bow. Moving shots, long shots, quick shots, he perfected them all through repetition. Driven in part by his need to prove himself, and partly by the growing notion that someday it may be imperitive that he defend himself.
Elves are born into the world as one with nature. Thranduil is Legolas’ father. Thranduil is King of the Woodland Elves of Mirkwood. Thranduil’s people, living in the wood, are especially in tune with trees and all of the creatures they house.
These woods are where Legolas improves his warrior skills. He goes day after day into the forests surrounding the elven settlement to practice. He ventures further every day, and by the time he is 15 he is up to 25 miles a day.
He has a set of knives to go along with his bow and arrows. These knives were forged by the talented elves of old. They are long for knives, but short for swords, and have a slightly curved blade and wooden handles. They are extremely light, and have no guard. His bow he made himself. He picked the straightest yew tree he could find, and the best osage tree, and joined the wood with acacia sap and fish glue. It gave him a stout bow which he steamed to shape and stained with a black dye. Gold leaf overlayed onto it give it a regal look.
He goes almost every day into the wood to use these weapons on the foul creatures that inhabit Mirkwood. The reason any foul thing would dare taint Mirkwood is that the Dark Lord Sauron once used a tower in Mirkwood for his forsaken fortress. It was no Black Gate, but still he managed to bring almost every foul beast in middle earth to the elven doorstep.
Legolas kills many of these demonic death minions every day, but they seem to reproduce at a constant rate. No many how many he kills they just keep coming. His deeds may save the lives of some of his people, but they still regard him as a child. A rash and hot-tempered little boy they say, yet he is still the Prince of Elves in Mirkwood.
One of his favorite spots is the spiders lair where the legendary Bilbo Baggins and his Dwarven companions were held prisoner. He makes most of his kills here, and the ground is littered with huge arachnid skeletons.
The spiders however, aren’t stupid. Even though Legolas decimates their ranks every day, and they rarely escape his arrow shaft, they aren’t stupid. They have came close, many times, to capturing him. They gather in groups of three or four and flank him from both sides. Legolas’ senses are too keen, and every time he looses four speeding arrows into one group, then runs toward them and cuts down the other groups and repeats the action.
One day on a regular trip to this place, which he calls Bilbo’s lair, he encounters a large group of roving spiders. There are thirteen spiders in all. He climbs a large cedar tree and watches them approach. Bowstring taut, and an arrow nocked, he prepares for battle. Crouched low, he nocks another arrow and fires both at the same time. They split in mid-air and plunge deep into two spiders who simultaneously emit a gut wrenching screech. He fingers two more arrows and quickly fires at the panicking group. Two more drop screaming, nine left. The other spiders see that the shafts come from behind the thick cedar boughs and storm the tree.
Legolas looses two more arrows, seven left. The spiders are at the base of the tree now, and four are beginning the climb up the four sides. Quickly and efficiently he fires one arrow after another and three fall to the forest floor with a cry, crushing another on the ground. One is coming up directly behind him and there are two starting up behind it.
He hangs the bow from a small branch and unsheaths his daggers. He waits, flattened up against the tree. He hears one on a thick branch directly behind him, and leaps to a bough on the left side of the tree. The spider has no time to react as Legolas buries his knives in its body. He slides them out and sheaths them, then swings on an overhead branch and kicks the spider off. It is dead before it hits the ground.
The other two are now nearing him, and he leans over and grabs his bow. He sees the first one directly below him and makes a downward jab with his bow and knocks it off. The second one is caught up in the flailing legs of the first, and they are killed with a scream after falling almost fifty feet. Another battle fought and another won.
Legolas returns home to find his mother pacing the smooth stone floor of the Great Hall, biting her nails nervously. She is a beautiful woman of medium height with long, flowing silver hair and vivacious blue eyes. She sees him and runs up to embrace him. ‘It is dark, Legolas. You said no later than dusk.’
‘Sorry mother, I lost track of the time.’ He said not wanting to worry her by telling her of his adventures. ‘I got caught up in what I was doing.’
‘Okay, but you know how much I worry when you’re out there. I hate it when you put yourself in danger carelessly without thinking first. Do you ever think of what would happen if you were to be hurt or killed? What it would do to your father and I? I don’t know if I could take it my son. You are our lives.’
‘I’ll be careful mother. And I can take care of myself, I’m fifteen years old, I’m not a baby anymore. I wish you and father would recognize me as a young man, instead of treating me like a toddler.’
‘We only do this because we worry for you and we love you so much. As I said before, you are our lives.’
Legolas noted her and embraced her again. He then told her he would go find his father, because he wished a word with him. He walked out of the Great Hall and down a large stone corridor towards the atrium. He met the end of the hall and pushed open a set of great oak doors with intricate carvings on them. His father was in the garden in the center of the atrium. Legolas called out to him and walked over to him. ‘Hello father, I’m sorry I am so late. I met a group of spiders in the forest and had to dispatch them.’
‘Legolas, I know you can handle yourself, I’ve seen you with your bow. However, your mother worries too much when you are gone. You know how it must be on her.’ Thranduil looks lovingly yet sternly at him. He lays his hand on Legolas’ shoulder. ‘Come with me son.’
Legolas follows Thranduil out of the atrium and through a door on the far side of it. Thranduil leads the way down an open corridor and into a wide and tall-ceilinged room. Statues line the sides of the room. Statues of legends of old, elves that fought in the wars against Sauron, heroes of the light. ‘I’ve never seen been in this room before father. Why is that?’
‘You are out in the woods so much that you don’t even know your way around your home. This room has been here for a while now, about a year or so. It is where we meet with people from the outside world. A council room of sorts. Someone is here now who requests your presence. You’ve kept him waiting quite a while.’
‘Who? Is it someone I know? Well who?’
‘You’ll see.’ About that time Legolas notices that there is a door on the far side of the room. They walk briskly over to it and Thranduil opens it. A smaller chamber of the same design. There is a large round table with many chairs around it. At one of them sits a tall old man with long grey hair and a long grey beard. He is dressed in a dark grey robe. A long staff is resting on the table, along with a tall pointy hat.
‘Legolas Greenleaf, and an hour late too. I had hoped you to be prompt, but things happen that cannot be helped. Come sit with me young Legolas, let us talk for awhile. You may join us if you like Thranduil.’
‘No thank you Gandalf, I must go see to some things of importance elsewhere.’
Thranduil leaves, and Legolas is left with an old wizard who he know not but has heard much about. Gandalf tells Legolas who he is and why he is there. His explanation is that he was traveling from the Lonely Mountain to Rivendell and had stopped to stay with the elves for a couple of days. ‘You probably still are wondering why I wanted to speak with you right? Well my answer to that is that I believe you are ready to undertake a small quest. Not only will this task train you for whatever may come in the future, but it will strengthen your character and sense of responsibility.’
‘What is this quest you speak of, will I go alone?
‘Patience young elf, sit with me awhile and I will tell you all you desire to know.’ With that Legolas takes his seat next to the old wizard and begins to listen intently. Gandalf tells him of the goings on at the Lonely Mountain, of the workings of the dwarves and the people of Laketown. He tells Legolas that he is to undertake a journey to the mountain accompanied by a young man by the name of Aragorn. He is the Dunedain in the north. He is a young ranger, yet is very wise and strong and knows his way around.
‘When do we leave? What do we do when we get there? Are we going to ride there?’
‘Once again, patience young one. You may use whichever means you like to get to the mountain. You must hold council with Aragorn, he is resting in one of the guest rooms. He knows what your objective is, and he will tell you when you speak later. Now I must leave you, I have some business to attend to in Isengard and it is a long and arduous ride. I must rest for awhile, good night.’ With that Gandalf gets up and walks out of the room.
‘He leaves quickly without any explanation, and expects me to wait. I can’t believe I get to leave on an actual quest. I wonder why we are going to the Lonely Mountain? Huh, I guess I should try to get some rest, just in case I don’t get to sleep on our way.’ Legolas thinks these thoughts as he too exits the room and heads for his bedchamber. He gets there, and lays his weapons against the wall before undressing, and slides under his top sheet.
Legolas falls into a light and troubled sleep. He dreams of adventures out of books and of dragons long gone. He wakes when it is yet dark, starting quickly up and throwing off the sheet. He dresses and runs down a hall to the dining chamber. People are already there eating and conversing. Gandalf, Thranduil, Jaroen who is captain of the elven army, and a young rough shaven boy who could only be Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur and heir to the throne of Gondor.
‘Early to rise young elf, are those soonest to bed. And it is my guess that you slept little last night,’ said gandalf matter of factly. Gandalf pulled a chair out from the table between himself and Aragorn. ‘Here you may take your seat if you wish, and eat a bit. Aragorn rose from the table as he approached.
‘Greetings elf prince, I am Aragorn. I assume Gandalf has left you in the dark as well, being secretive and aloof as usual.’
Legolas shook his hand firmly and stated that he was also completely in the dark. Gandalf took the hint and proceded to tell the two of their soon to be quest. They were to travel to the Lonely Mountain then follow the River Running south to the Sea of Rhun in the east. When they got to their destinations they were to just explore and check out the whole scene. The reason for their going to the sea was undisclosed.
‘So we are just going for no reason? I thought we would have a mission, an objective.’ Legolas says with apparent disappointment.
‘Of course you are going for a reason, why else would I send you away from your father and your people. And why would I bring Aragorn forth from his training as a ranger if your journey had no purpose.’ Gandalf bluntly and heatedly said.
He then explained that they had to be on their way soon, so they had better eat and Legolas should get whatever he needed for the trip. They proceded to eat breakfast, and talked only lightly of things going on outside Mirkwood. The main topic of the discussion was of the banishing of the Dark Lord Sauron from the wood. The elves and rangers had defeated the growing numbers of nasty creatures inhabiting Mirkwood. No one else would lend a hand in these doings. Some races were separated and their royalty failing. The elves maintained themselves, as did the rangers. The dwarves had some order and sovereignty among themselves, but Men were weakened and kingless.
After breakfast Legolas goes back to his bedchamber to gather his things and to prepare for his journey. He sets out his bow and quiver of arrows, his knives, and dresses himself in the traveling garb of his people. He wears a long brown cloak with a dark green shirt underneath, and dark green breeches. He also wears a leather belt with silver finishings and light running boots. He fastens his weapons on and heads out of his room.
He doesn’t even look back. He is so excited he even forgets to shut the door to his chamber. He jogs briskly down the hall back to the dining chamber only to find it deserted. He turns down another corridor and walks quickly down it, checking this way and that for signs of his companion or his father. Gandalf appears at the other end of one of his glances and Legolas calls out to him. ‘Gandalf, I am ready to leave. Where is Aragorn?’
‘I am here and ready also,’ Aragorn states from a chair facing away from the door. He gets up and Legolas sees that he is well equiped for the journey also. He has a sword as tall as himself, a horn hanging from his belt, and a long black traveling cloak.
‘You may depart whenever you wish, but Legolas don’t you want to say farewell to your parents?’ Gandalf asks.
‘Absolutely. Aragorn, I’ll meet you next to the main gate in ten minutes. There are horses in the stables out back if you wish. I will ride my horse Raemnos.’ With that Legolas exits and turns down the hall towards his parent’s room.
He enters to find his mother crying, face buried in her hands on her bed. Thranduil is at a window looking out with sad eyes at the world into which his son will be thrown into. He turns when Legolas greets him. Legolas’ mother looks up through red, wet, and tragic eyes. She gets up and runs to him, then squeezes him and tells him to be careful and not to be too long. Thranduil glides slowly over and throws his lean arms around both of them.
At last Legolas breaks apart from them and says his farewells with a tear on his cheek. Then he tuns sharply and walks quickly out and towards the main gate. He meets Aragorn at the gate, and they go to the stable together. ‘They’re your horses, I thought I should let you pick me one.’
Legolas picks a common looking brown stallion with silver fittings and a black leather saddle. ‘I call this one Tarehil. He is a fine beast, and one of my own mounts. I would be honored if you would ride him as your own steed.’
‘I will, and I thank you greatly. Surely I could take a lesser animal, this is a too fine a specimen.’ Legolas insists on the deal and mounts his own horse, Raemnos. Raemnos is still young, and is a radiant white. The pair ride out the gate alone and begin the long ride to the Lonely Mountain in the East.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.