The Return of the Shadow – Part 5–Failed Quest

by Apr 13, 2003Stories

The fire was everywhere. All around her. But it couldn’t possibly be
REAL fire, there was no fuel in the cave beside the torches and there was no way they could produce that much fire. Also there was the small fact that she wasn’t burning. She looked down at her shirt and breeches, maybe it WAS real fire. Her shirt and breeches were crumbling into ash as the fire burned around her. Maybe, she thought, I am immune to real fire. She wasn’t sure, she had never tested the theory. Grenya had warned her not to touch the torches in the cave and told her gruesome stories of people being burned to death, the lesson had stuck. No, she thought, it can’t possibly be real fire, it’s not even warm.
“Cairnth,” the shadow commanded. It felt as if an icy fist was crushing the cave. Her frozen breath floated before her on the air, now clear of fire.
“We will try that again, this time only want it to burn on the torches and No Where Else,” he commanded forcefully. She took a deep breath of the cold air.
“Neirth,” she commanded. This time she gestured only at the torches, not around the whole cave. She wanted only small balls of fire. Now that she knew what the fire felt like she could call it easily, and mold it into whatever shape she wanted. The torches all around the cave burst into flame. She felt better with the light and warmth.
“Now you must learn to stop fire, and extinguish it. The command word is Cairnth. Make the fire into a ball and crush it in your mind.” He explained.
“Cairnth,” she said. The word was clumsy on her tongue. She thought of rolling the fire into tiny balls and crushing it with ice. All of the torches went out and the air was once again cold. She wished she could light the torches again but she did not wish to provoke the shadows anger.
“Now you must command wind, the word is Nansethc.” She imagined the gentle summer breeze that had blown across her hair when she was out in the field hunting.
“Nansethc,” she murmured. A playful breeze swept across the cave pulling at random strands of her hair.
“Very good,” he said. But it didn’t sound like praise, it was far too sarcastic to be a compliment.
“We will work more tomorrow.” She turned and left the cave.

When he had tested the child to see if she could hold magic he had been right, she could. What the child didn’t know was that he had imparted some of his magic to her when he searched. Just enough to make it easier to handle the command words. He hadn’t given her enough to light the whole cave on fire. He hadn’t bargained on her having magic of her own. Anyone could use the command words, but few were powerful enough to be able to get a result. She had to have used her own magic when handling the elements because that was how the command words worked. They used whatever magic was present to strengthen themselves. She was powerful if she could light the whole cave without any fuel. If she had her own magic that was all the better for him. He could use her own magic in front of other people. No one would be able to see his evil presence behind her magic. It took a powerful sorceress to control the elements, but they seemed to bow under her command. She did not even have to command them, she only had to ask and they fulfilled her every whim. She would be very precious to him when the time came.
He had come back from his quest far later than anyone had expected. The members of his father’s court had taken bets on how long he would be gone. There was no doubt he would come back empty-handed.

He charged into his father’s throne room.
“My son,” Thranduil said cheerfully,”How did your quest go?”
“I would think you know,” Legolas accused,”You knew my search was fruitless, why did you let me go?”
“It is a rite of passage my son,” Thranduil intoned,” Every young elf goes on a quest sooner or later. It marks the passage into adulthood.” Legolas’s anger dissipated.
“And am I an adult now?” He asked.
“That is for you to decide, are you the same person you were when you started your quest, or have you changed in the last three years?”
Legolas thought back on what he had learned. He had learned how to hunt, and care for himself in the wilderness. He had learned how to lead a group of men and get along with them. He was an excellent tracker and he was more experienced with the lands outside of his father’s domain. He was far more mature than he had been when he started. Maybe he had grown up.
“Legolas,” his father’s voice brought him out of his memories,”It was not about finding your sister, it was about finding yourself, and I think you have most definitely found that. I would say your quest was far more successful than you think.”
“Yes, I suppose I did find myself,” Legolas said distractedly, “Thank you father.”
“Your welcome my son,” Thranduil replied. Legolas went up to his chambers to contemplate what his father had said, and to relive the quest in his mind. He was most certainly an adult now.

That night as he lay in bed he dreamed of fire,wind,ice,magic, and power. There was a shadow in his dream. It was terrifying, it radiated evil, but in his dream he was not afraid. He dreamed of fields, a great golden field stretching to the edge of Mirkwood. He dreamed of a cave, dark and solemn, full of evil. He felt the sky above him and the earth below him, and he felt all of earth turning on its axis. He felt the wind sweep through the plains, and he saw a woman standing a few yards away from him. She looked exactly like him except her eyes and hair were black. She turned to look at him and it felt as if she could see down to his very soul, she knew all of his thoughts and dreams. There was no emotion in her, just coldness, she was measuring him. But when he looked in her eyes they were shutters, keeping him out. He walked toward her but as soon as he reached her a shadow arose from the grass and enveloped her in its grip, and dragged her down into a black pit.


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