It was in the middle of the night and the fire in the hearth of the quiet room had burned down to mere embers. The bit of light that emanated from the fireplace didn't reach the bed that stood against one wall of the room. The sleeper who rested there was barely visible.
The door opened silently and a tall figure stepped through, closing it quietly behind him. He stopped for a moment and let his gaze roam around, then, noticing the nearly extinguished fire, he moved to the hearth and knelt down in front of the fireplace. Stirring the embers and adding a few logs, he soon had the fire burning brightly again. The sleeper didn't seem to have noticed the visitor, he didn't stir, even as the other stepped closer to the bed. Now, that the flames in the hearth once again lighted the room, he was bathed in a warm glow. He was lying on his back, breathing gently. His blond hair was loose and a light blanket covered him up to his chest. His right arm rested in a sling on his chest and if one looked closely, the bandages beneath his shirt could not be missed.
Thranduil studied his sleeping son silently. Legolas' face was pale and there were dark circles beneath his eyes. He had been leading a patrol in the southern part of the wood to clear out some spider nests before the vile creatures could cause more trouble. They had successfully battled the spiders and were just on their way back home when the patrol ran into a large group of orcs. In the ensuing battle there were luckily no fatalities but four other warriors were injured and Legolas was hit by an arrow in the back of his right shoulder. The wound had been bad and the arrow had broken his shoulder blade. Since the injury could only be treated hastily on the way back to the palace, Legolas spend the trek in considerable pain. Only at their arrival home could the injured warriors be treated properly. Thranduil had been there when Celairdir, the head healer, tended to Legolas' wound. The arrowhead had buried itself deep into the shoulder and it hadn't been easy to remove it.
His son had already been fatigued before he went on patrol and it pained the King to see him so worn out and injured. Lines of pain and fatigue were etched into his face. The fact that he hadn't woken at his father's presence was a silent testimony to his exhaustion. Legolas had a strong sense of duty and did everything in his might to protect his people. Since the shadow had begun to grow and the spiders and orcs grew bolder he spend more and more time on patrols, fighting to keep the wood clear of the creatures of the dark. Even when he wasn't on patrol, his duties kept him quite busy so it was a rare occurrence when he took some time for himself.
Thranduil sighed. He wished his son could live in peaceful times, where he wouldn't be forced to constantly be on alert and ready to fight. If he thought Legolas would go along with it, he would send him to Imladris or Lothlórien, where he would be safe and could live without the constant pressure of the shadow. But he knew his son would never agree to something like that. Besides, how could he ask his people to send their loved ones into battle when he wasn't willing to do the same? As hard as it was to watch his son leave the palace, never knowing if he would return alive, he couldn't do anything against it. Sometimes he just wanted to take Legolas and leave for Valinor but that would mean to abandon his people and to let the shadow win. So they were forced to endure and keep fighting against the ever growing darkness.
Legolas shifted slightly in his sleep and a soft moan escaped him, pulling Thranduil out of his musings. His son had moved onto his broken shoulder. Careful not to wake him, the King lifted Legolas gently, propping his right side up with pillows to take the pressure off the injury. The younger elf relaxed back into the mattress and Thranduil brushed a stray strand of hair from his face. He frowned as he touched his son's cheek. Legolas seemed a bit cold to his touch. Normally his son wasn't bothered by the cold, not even in the midst of winter, but in his current condition he seemed more vulnerable to the elements. Thranduil took a soft blanket from Legolas' closet and spread it carefully over his son. The Prince sighed and nestled deeper beneath the warmth.
Thranduil sat down in a chair next to the bed and watched his son silently. Legolas was weary in body and spirit, he knew that. The constant fighting and the spreading darkness had exhausted him. Thranduil couldn't remember when his son had last laughed or used some time to relax. While his duty as King confined him more or less to the stronghold, his son was spending most of his time outside in the forest, fighting desperately to preserve what he could.
He decided that a longer period of rest and recovery was in order and since Legolas would want to return to duty as soon as he was sufficiently recovered from his wound, Thranduil would have to resort to a more cunning plan.
For some time now he intended to send a delegation to Imladris to negotiate the purchase of some of Elrond's horses. The Mirkwood Elves didn't have so much use of horses as Imladris or Lothlórien since they often moved through the forest where horses would only hinder their movements. But for traveling they required horses and Elrond of Imladris hat the finest horses available. He would ask Legolas to lead the negotiations and to stay in Imladris as long as it took to chose the horses and to conclude the trade. He would write a letter to Elrond, letting him know that he wouldn't mind too much if that took long and Legolas would have to spend the winter. Traveling through the Misty Mountains during winter was far too dangerous.
He would miss his son, especially during Winter Solstice, but that was a small price to pay if Legolas could finally find peace of mind and rest, at least for a while.
You must login () to review.