9. Darkness Falls
Chapter 9 - Darkness Falls
Rhavaniel and Legolas entered the palace and made their way to the King's throne room. They stopped as soon as they burst through the doors. Thranduil sat on his throne, bent forward with his head in his hands. The head healer and his chief advisor stood on either side. Legolas could see by the way his father's body convulsed that he was weeping. A wave of panic swept across Legolas' entire being. Something had happened. Then he noticed who was not there to console him.
"Adar?" he said in a soft voice.
Thranduil slowly looked up to where his son stood. His eyes were bloodshot and his face was lifelessly pale.
"Go to him." Rhavaniel whispered as she pushed gently on Legolas' back. He approached his father and kneeled down on one knee before the mighty King. Nothing was said for a long while until Thranduil finally managed to find his voice.
"It is your naneth. She is… she has been…" The Woodland King could not bring himself to admit such a thing and put his head back into his hands.
It was the head healer who finished what Thranduil was trying to say. "Prince Legolas, I am so sorry to have to tell you this. We tried all that we could but we…" A tear escaped the healer's eye. "The Queen has died."
Legolas got up and stood, looking around the hall as if searching for his mother. "No. NO!" He yelled in a heart wrenching voice. His attention came back to the healer. "What happened? Where is she?"
The chief advisor spoke up at this point. "She had gone on a outing with Faelwen when they must have been ambushed. Orcs we think. Our guards rushed to their aid as soon as the borders were threatened but it was too late."
Rhavaniel moved forward at the mention of her mother's name. "And my mother? Where is she?" She knew she would never have left the Queen's side. It was her job, her only purpose… to protect the Queen, her best friend. If the Queen was dead, then that could only mean one thing. Her mother's words came back to haunt her. 'I would die first before letting any harm come to her.' Still, she held out hope that this was not the case.
Rhavaniel looked at the head healer, searching for her answer. He merely shook his head as his eyes searched the floor for the right words. "I am sorry my dear. She did not survive." His words rammed through her heart like a dagger.
"You must be mistaken. My mother was…" she started.
"It is the truth Rhavaniel." Thranduil said, shocking everyone. "Faelwen fought bravely against the enemy. In a last attempt to save my wife, she took an arrow in the heart. But alas, the Orcs were too many and both perished."
"How do you know this Adar." Legolas spoke up.
"Gondien was first to arrive. He witnessed the final scene but was too late to help. He and his company found the Orcs and destroyed them. Their body's burn as we speak. He sent a messenger with the news." Thranduil said.
Rhavaniel suddenly felt very lightheaded. Legolas saw her swoon and caught her before she hit the floor. He carried her limp body to a divan on the other side of the hall. He looked down upon her fair beautiful face. What started out to be the most wonderful day of their lives had ended in tragedy. Both Legolas and Rhavaniel lost their mothers that day.
* * *
Rhavaniel and Legolas grieved separately for their losses. It proved to be too much for them. Rhavaniel's duties were put on hold in order for her to grieve properly. Legolas was allowed back to the borders but only briefly. King Thranduil finally called the order to have his son at the palace to fulfill his princely duties. Neither one was happy with their orders. Neither one sought out the other for comfort. Whatever happened on the archery field that day was forgotten. Their lives had changed forever and for a time they lost touch.
Rhavaniel's grief was unbearable for a while. Her mother meant everything to her. She kept herself hidden away, taking no visitors, not even Antien. She wondered why her mother and the Queen went so far out. Why did they venture to the south with the threat of attacks in that area? She went through all the different emotions; fear, sadness, hate, confusion. When Rhavaniel had cried her last tear, she finally found the strength to get herself together. She had not trained all of these years to hide away in her room, a babbling mess. There was strength in her yet. She would fulfill her duties as a palace guard. She had worked much too hard to let it slip away from her. Besides, she felt she owed it to her mother. Faelwen would have wanted her to continue along this path.
Rhavaniel was dressed in her guard uniform, ready to go to her Captain and tell him she was reporting for duty. As she made her way down the hall, she passed her father who stopped her before she could leave. "Where are you headed off to?" he said in a stern voice.
"I cannot sit around any longer and let others do the job I was trained for. It is time for me to contribute my services to my woodland home." she answered in a determined voice.
Gondien shook his head. "That is not your life now. I will not have you risking your life as your mother did."
"But Ada." she argued with Gondien. "I know what it is I must do. Let me go on with my decision. I want to be able to protect Greenwood."
"Absolutely not sell nin." he said, pacing the floor of their palace home. "I have never agreed with the decision to let you become a royal guard. Your mother insisted I let you find your own way. You should not be involved in this, especially now in these dire times. It is far too dangerous." He took Rhavaniel by the hand and led her to a couch. "Come now hennen [my child], you should pursue a life in the palace. King Thranduil regards you as if you were his own. You would not be a servant, but would train in the ways of the court. Maybe you will find a noble to settle down with."
Rhavaniel seemed offended. "No Ada. Not even if the Prince himself proposed marriage would I want this life. I am a warrior. I have always wanted this." She snatched her hand from his. "Mother saw it in me. She encouraged me. I want to fight. I want to honor my mother by following in her footsteps."
"And die as she did?" Gondien said in a raised voice. He instantly saw tears form in his daughters eyes and pulled her close, bringing her head to his chest. "Don't you understand? I have lost one of the only things that have ever mattered to me. I cannot bear the thought of losing you too." he admitted. "I am afraid to lose you my beautiful daughter. I will surely fade if I am left alone."
Rhavaniel felt her father's sorrow and worry, but she was determined to make him understand. "Mother's death will not be in vain. She died doing what she loved. It was in her blood and it is within me too. Please Ada, do not deny me this chance. I cannot be what you want me to be."
Gondien released his daughter and looked at her. He hoped it wouldn't come to this. He hoped she would see things his way. Unfortunately, she was every bit as stubborn as her mother. Knowing this, he already put things in motion. "Rhavaniel, I am sorry to have to do this. I wished you would see things my way."
"What are you saying Ada? What have you done?" she said worriedly.
"You no longer hold a position with the palace guard. Your training is to cease and your position at the gate has been revoked. You are to begin training as a lady of the court now. This is the life you must lead. This is what you were meant to be. You are much too refined to be a warrior. I wish it did not have to come to this but it is my decision to make. You must meet your Captain and relinquish your weapons at once."
Rhavaniel was in disbelief. She felt as if the wind had been knocked from her. "What? But father, you can't do this." she argued.
"I can and I have. I am sorry hennen, but it is for the best." he answered. Gondien's heart was breaking. He knew how badly she wanted to become a guard but he just couldn't let her risk her life, not after losing his wife. It was for the best. He hoped that one day she would understand.
Rhavaniel's eyes turned to slits. "You have made a mistake Adar. This was never the life I wanted. It is what you want. I will never accept this fate. I hate everything about court life. But you have forced it upon me. I have no choice for I will not disobey my father. One day I will become a warrior. One day you will have no say in my future." She stormed off to find her Captain and do the one thing she never thought possible. She would step down from her duties as a guardsman.
* * *
Legolas was having a similarly awkward time with the King. Thranduil did not want him on the borders. He feared for his safety. Not that he was unable to fulfill his duties, but because of his standing. He was a Prince, another target to further cripple Greenwood. It was determined that the attack on the Queen was intentional, a way to weaken Greenwood. While the elves and their King grieved their loss, the Orcs thought they could infiltrate the borders. More attacks came, but the Orcs were surprised to find that the elvish armies were increased. Soon, the elves became aware of a greater foe who organized the Orcs and these attacks. For some time now, the southern forest was being swallowed by a dark evil shadow, going unchecked for many years. It was now at a staggering level. Word went out quickly of the darkness spreading throughout Greenwood the Great. None would travel to those parts any longer. The elves became leery of any outsiders and chose to live well within the protected borders. What was once lush and green was now dark and perilous. Soon the elven home was renamed Mirkwood.
Legolas argued the point many times with his father. He was one of their best archers and he felt his talents were being wasted as long as he was in the palace. Thranduil would not hear of it.
"If the Orcs find out who you are, you will surely become a target for their plans to destroy Mirkwood. Don't you understand ion nin. With your mother gone, you are my only link to this world. I could not survive knowing my only son was slain. I love you too much to ever see this happen." Thranduil said as Legolas once again confronted him. "If evil has its way, I should be slain as your grandfather was. If this were to happen, you must go on my son. You must take up your duties and lead our people to victory. There is too much at stake. I will not risk it."
"But I will keep my identity hidden. I will send forth orders to never use my proper title. I will be naught more than a warrior. They will never kill me. I am much too smart for their clouded evil minds. Please Adar. Let me fight. Let me fight for you, for our people, for our home."
Thranduil ached for Legolas. He knew of his talents. No one was better to fight for their Woodland home. Legolas was strong and brave. He was quick and could outmaneuver any Orc, goblin or troll. Still, he would not risk it. "I'm sorry ion nin. I cannot let you do this."
Legolas knew there was no more to be said. Thranduil, though very loving, was the most stubborn of all the elves. His word was final. His laws were not broken. Legolas had great respect for his King. He would not go against his wishes. And so it was palace life for the Prince, no matter how much he loathed it.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.