Chapter One: The Things We Fear

It was almost midmorning in Rivendell and yet the Last Homely House of Lord Elrond could be found submerged in complete silence. Despite how many elves and other guests occupied the house, it seemed for the first time in many years that no one dwelled in its halls any longer; yet it wasn’t entirely true. Through the multiple halls and rooms of the house, a mortal, dressed in a silver and black tunic with long curling black hair could be found sleeping in the quiet of one of the libraries in the Last Homely House. The mortal himself had not gotten much sleep the night before; actually he doubted he had even slept at all, save for the horrors and memories that swam in his head freely. He had recently returned from a long journey far in the east, a journey that required more of his strength than he had originally calculated, and what he had seen and experience left him without any doubt that this journey too, would leave some kind of imprint on his life – again. Just like all the others had. The mortal had clearly no intention of waking anytime soon or conversing with anyone no matter who it was. And seeing that when he had returned home on a night that his adoptive father’s house was once again full of visitors, he hid away in that last place anyone would ever think to look for him – Lord Elrond’s private library. Suddenly feeling a slight poke to his rib rage, the mortal stirred in his sleep, taking no notice of the light touch. He felt it again, and this time, a lot harder.

“Ego!” cried the mortal, turning on his side in an attempt to ignore whatever or whoever it was that was poking him.

“Maer aur, Estel.” At the soft sounding voice did then the mortal turn to face the voice and open one eye to glare at him.

“Legolas…” he growled. “Do you not understand your own tongue? Go away means exactly that – go away!”

“Of course I understand, though one does not have to share in the same attitude as a sleeping and unwelcoming ranger.” The elf named Legolas laughed as he helped his friend up out of the chair in which he was slumped in.

“What do you want?” Aragorn grumbled as he straightened out his clothes.

“I wanted to see how you were faring.” Legolas smiled at him. “It has been a year or more since we have last seen each other and I am only here as a messenger for my father – again. Though, Lord Elrond told me of your arrival this morning when I arrived myself, so naturally I’ve been looking for you.”

Aragorn, though happy to see his old friend again, frowned at the aspect of the elven prince being used as some sort of herald for his father. A herald Legolas certainly was not. “Then you are only here for a short while?” Aragorn said.

“Ay,” Legolas frowned. “Though, I do have a favor to ask of you. That is if you are well enough and are willing to, of course,” Legolas said slowly. Aragorn’s head snapped quickly to look suspiciously at his long time friend. Legolas’ favors tended to be… well, they usually turned into interesting adventures to say the least. Adventures that had them crawling back to Imladris in search of some kind of medical aid. More than once did they return to Imladris from an adventure that had at least one of them in scrapes and the other nearly at death’s door, but now that seemed so long ago to Aragorn; a year was nothing to an elf but to human’s it certainly left an impact on one’s life and surroundings. Not having any other response than a suspicious glare to his friend, Aragorn sat down again with a sigh.

“Where am I going and how long will it take this time?” Aragorn said, rubbing his hands along his neck and chin. “Need I remind you Legolas, I am weary and my last adventure is still taking its toll on me. If we are to take any journey it will be slow for a day or two, for I do not fancy falling off my horse out of lack of strength and rest nor do I want to suffer from your remarks in my doing so.” The elf’s light laughter filled the room, putting a grim smile on the young rangers face.

“I know naught of what a year does to mortals, but it has done nothing to you mellon-nin.” Legolas laughed. “I return to Mirkwood in two weeks for the Mid Autumn’s day celebration that my father demands I attend. Once my business is done here, I was hoping you would accompany me to Lothlorien on the way home…” Legolas trailed off when Aragorn broke out into a fit of laughter.

“Mellon-nin,” Aragorn laughed, his eyes suddenly filled with amusement. “Please, please, do not tell me this has to do with your father’s first general’s daughter!” Aragorn pinned Legolas with a knowing look.

Legolas sank into the seat across from Aragorn without looking at him. “It… might…”

“Legolas!” the ranger groaned.

“Elladan and Elrohir are going as well, they wish to visit Arwen!” Legolas added hurriedly. “I never said you had to go with me, I have only suggested it!”

“But you ask knowing that I will agree to your proposal, as I always do,” Aragorn answered, slightly annoyed at his friend.

“So you will go then?” Legolas seemed only too eager for the ranger to respond. Aragorn could not keep himself from laughing.

“Someone needs to make sure you go back to Mirkwood in one piece. And with your habit of making a mess of things, I might as well. Besides, I have not seen the Lady Eleniel for quite some time, her or Arwen. Perhaps things might have changed.” Aragorn answered thoughtfully. “When did say you planned to leave again?”

It was then that Legolas’ face fell and all traces of amusement left him. “In a few days I believe. I must attend a conference with Lord Elrond first before any decisions are truly made.”

“What is this message you carry to Ada? I hope it is better news than what I have to report to him, for it is grave indeed,” Aragorn said, and his expression too changed quickly. Legolas looked up at his friend with fear. It was the first time in his life that the young mortal had witnessed such a thing from Legolas, who was generally good at hiding his emotions when he did not wish for them to be seen. Now it seemed Legolas was losing the battle with himself.

“Orcs, Aragorn, it is orcs. A message was sent to my father a year ago by Gandalf and Lord Elrond to send out a patrol in search of such creatures. At first we found this to be a joke, an unnecessary precaution and riddle that we did not understand, but soon strange things began to happen in our wood and so my father sent out a small patrol and with it, he sent me to lead them along with his general, Lord Teneth and his eldest son Debiis,” Legolas said quietly. “We found that Elrond’s request had not been in vain, for we found a small party of orcs at the edge of Mirkwood. We slaughtered them within the dead of the night.” Legolas frowned. “Something suspicious is happening Aragorn, and I fear we will be caught in the middle of it. I fear the worst for Middle Earth, times are changing to quickly and I wonder what malaise is now arising.”

“Aye,” Aragorn agreed. “Then you have seen what I was sent out to look for. Northern boarders are being patrolled by hundreds of orcs at a time. I was sent out seven months ago by Gandalf to the lands in the east, close to the land of the Shire, but that land thankfully remains untouched by orc filth and its people still remain undiscovered.”

“We are grateful then.” Legolas nodded in agreement.

“Come, Lord Elrond returns tonight with his guests, and we shall explain our plans after dinner.” Aragorn stood up and walked to the door of the study with Legolas following him out. “But for now, I wish to rest. As I said, I do not wish to fall from my horse and have you make me part of your jests.”

“Not I Estel, but perhaps your brothers might.” Legolas laughed and bid his friend farewell for the time being. He watched as Aragorn faded from his sight as he turned a corner and disappeared, leaving him to think and wander Imladris alone with nothing but his thoughts and curiosity to guide him. Legolas turned towards an open terrace door and smiled as he walked out into the open. Leaning against the pillared railing in front of him, Legolas sighed.

“A year has changed you little mellon-nin, but I doubt your heart remains so unaffected by your travels.” Legolas sighed. “What ever happened to the days where laughter was not held in chains? I feel those days are bitterly leaving us…”

Ego: Be off
Mauer Aur: Good morning
Mellon-nin: My friend
Ada: Father

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