Chapter 6- An Evil Shadow Awakens
It was early in the morning and as Legolas finished the last hours of his watch, the other Elves began to waken. When his relief came, Thanduin summoned him to his tent. There was gathered Thanduin, Dunethien, and Berinous, steward of the Woodland Realm and the son of his aunt Uleerniel. Legolas hailed them as he entered. Thanduin drew them in, to the very center of the tent. He spoke in a low quiet voice, as if fearing invisible ears.
“Last night, a dark shadow came into our camp. The spirit of Sauron himself came, seeking to poison the heart of Elves.” Legolas knew that Thanduin was a great lord, and that he was able to perceive beings in the shadow world. ” I saw his mind, he came to each of you. You know of what I speak.” The faces of the Elves were grave. “I have used the light of the Valinor and the Eldar, and banished him from our midst. Yet I fear his return with a greater force. Let us not tarry here, but hasten towards Woodland Realm. Be on the watch for his evil work, I will send messages of warning to Lorien.”
Thanduin dismissed the other Elves, but held up his hand for Legolas to stay. “The dark shadow came to you, I saw his thoughts, but he dwells not in you. Though he could hide himself from me, your heart would be troubled, yet it is not so, your soul is at peace. You have no power in the shadow world, though your spirit is keen in its sensing, and you would not have been able to resist his dark call, and ultimate doom.” Thanduin knitted his brows and looked solemnly at Legolas. ” There is something in you that I do not perceive.” He looked at Legolas from the corner of his eyes, as if searching his being. Finally he dropped his eyes with a relieved look on his face. “Yet, it is not dark.” Thanduin gave Legolas leave.
Sauron, the dark lord, had returned. Legolas’ thoughts were heavy. He began to understand the words spoken at the Alliance and Galadriel’s warning of a great darkness coming. He wondered if this was all the darkness he would see. Was his light given only to help him overcome this dark shadow’s siren call, or were there greater things for him to be tested against? Somehow he feared that this was only the beginning. There was more yet to come. He sighed as he went to go help his companions gather the camp and prepare to leave.
They set off in the early rays of dawn, walking along the edge of the river and the plains, searching for the ford at which they would cross the Anduin. It was soon located and they crossed the great water without incident. Long they journeyed across the plains, with bow in hand, walking as quietly as a bird on wing. Legolas kept alert as he went, his eyes darting back and forth, searching for any sight of the dark enemy. The companions neared the southernmost edge of Mirkwood.
Legolas heard a strange sound in the distance. He strained his ears, yet he could hear no more than before. He went over to Thanduin. The party halted. They all stood listing to the wind, yet none could discern what it might be. They proceed with the utmost caution, each having an arrow fitted to the string. The rumbling sound grew louder still, Dunethien called to stop. His heart had grown more and more troubled as he walked on. Perhaps they were walking into a trap, he did not know, only that his spirit had felt a quiet yet unfaltering warning. They withdrew into the cover of the trees.
Legolas was worried, soon they must leave the safety of the forest and make for the Old Path; they could not hide here forever. Important news had to be delivered and they must reach the Woodland Realm. They talked of what they were going to do. Finally it was decided that a scout must go out, and discover the source of the strange sound, but who? Legolas searched the depth of his heart, he had no fear; he would go.
He made his way back along they edge of the forest, weaving his way in and out of the trees. He came the end of the woods. He could see only a little in every direction, and the source of the noise was hidden from his view. To the northwest were great fields, and at the very horizon, a small town of men. To the south a spring came up, and wound its way to meet the Great River, the Anduin. To the north, the land there was sloping and became the western edge of the forest, and led to the foothills of a mountain. Which way was he to go? He stood for a moment, his eyes closed, trying to determine the direction of the noise, but the winds whipped the sound around so that even the sharpest Elven ears could make no sense of it.
Toward the mountain he would go, hoping to find a high point from which he could look out, and discover the source of the sounds. Yet to reach it, he would have to journey through the dark evils of southern Mirkwood. Though all wood Elves knew the tricks of the forest, the darkness there could not be controlled, for long ago Sauron had come and dwelt at the tower Dol Guldur. Though the White Council had driven him out long ago, his shadow still haunted the woods.
As he reached the hills, he heard another sound, a shrill screeching, and so close that it made him turn around. With an arrow fitted to his bow, he looked around him, expecting to see some new evil force, yet there was nothing. The cry seemed to be answered by another. He sprang up onto a high rock, settled on the top of the small peak. His eyes scanned the area, and at the sight, his heart sank.
The land on the mountain was charred, covered with black ash and soot. The trees had been ripped out and the stumps burned. The once dark and abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur was awake. Smoke came from the tower. He now knew the great noise they had heard: orc works, the spawning of a huge force. He could also hear the faint sounds of metal hammering metal. A great army would be gathering at the old fortress of the dark lord. Dol Guldur was re-occupied.
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