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Encroaching Darkness

By Megan Wilding

Fantasy

Encroaching Darkness

Legolas sighed softly, glancing over his sleeping companions before moving away from the group to get a clear view of the night sky. Too much of their time seemed to be spent in hiding, though he knew it was necessary; they could not afford to be spotted by the wrong people or creatures if they were to succeed.

Currently there was nothing he wanted more than to look at the stars while he tried to sort through his concerns and as it was highly unlikely he would be caught unawares, he saw no harm in it. As long as he paid enough attention to what was around him, the watch would be covered and no ill would befall them.

Earlier a decision had been made as to the path they would follow and it left him feeling greatly unnerved. He hoped that the peace the stars brought would help work through his thoughts him settle before his watch was over or he would not be resting. Looking up at the heavens, he was pleased to see little cloud cover, meaning he had a good view of the many beautiful lights.

They had been crossing Caradhras but the path had proven too dangerous for the others and eventually they had to turn back and decide on a different route. Unfortunately, there were few options available and the one that had been chosen was the one he was the least at ease with.

Going through Moria seemed a suicidal choice to him, given it was held in fell hands and all who had entered since its fall had not been seen again. While he understood their errand was different to the Dwarves who had been lost, that did not mean they would be any safer or more likely to escape with their lives.

Of course, he held no care for the underground dwellings, far away from the nature he loved but that was not what concerned him. While greatly different from the Dwarven realms, his father's stronghold was within a cave, so it was not as though he was entirely unused to them. The cave in his father's kingdom was not without life however, the forest river ran through it and there was much nature that existed within.

It was purely the nagging feeling of dread and the knowledge that it was infested with Orcs and other unknown evil that troubled him so much, not that he imagined his Dwarven companion would accept that as truth. He would hear nothing of it however, for the Elven Prince refused to undermine the decision made or the authority of those behind it.

He wasn't convinced Mithrandir was any more pleased with their path than he was but the choice had been made and it was theirs to follow, unless they chose to abandon the quest, which he would not do. It was too important to risk failure and he knew that as the only representative of the Elven people, it was important for him to remain.

His father might not care for him to be putting himself at such risk, but unlike the Hobbits, he was an experienced warrior and his naturally heightened senses, as well as his skills, could prove invaluable in keeping everyone safe. Of course, after losing Gollum, he also felt it his duty to make amends, which was why he had offered his services in the first place.

Honestly he hoped that by some miracle the door to Moria would be lost and they would have to take a different route but he knew that was far from likely. Hopefully either Mithrandir knew his way through the maze that Dwarven cities seemed to be, or that they were all built by the same basic design and Gimli would know where to go because of that.

Finding a way through in the pitch-black while trying to avoid detection was going to be difficult enough without them getting hopelessly lost. He didn't care to imagine how long it would take to pass through the darkness under the earth before they found their way back to the light.

Sighing again, he focused more on the light above him, hoping to ease the ill-content his thoughts were causing. He could not help but fear something was going to happen, that some ill would come in that place. That didn't mean the quest would fail however and it was down to them all to ensure it didn't.

It was unlikely they would pass freely from start to finish, even if that was the ideal, but they could and would make it through and ensure the One did not return to the hand of its master. He held enough certainty of that and it was something they had to make sure of, otherwise all of their homes and people would be lost to the Dark Lord's power.

That was something he would never allow to pass, he could not cope with the loss of even his father, let alone the entire kingdom and the people within it. He would not fail them, he would see the quest fulfilled no matter how dark and difficult the path became. That was something he had determined before he had even offered his aid to them, he did not consider any of it lightly and was certainly not a coward.

Still, the thought of home made him miss it deeply given what was to come and he wondered absently what the King would make of the path he had chosen. No doubt he would rather he was safely home and protecting the kingdom, but would he be proud nonetheless that his son was part of something so important?

He hoped so, for he never cared to displease his father. Thranduil was a good and kind king, though perhaps a little too weary of the outside world at times. He kept his people safe and happy and his lands were beautiful and as peaceful as they could be so close to the fell shadow, so one could hardly deny he fulfilled his role well.

Hearing movement he quickly realised it was Aragorn and that it was about time the watch swapped over, not that he was ready to rest or leave the beauty of the stars just yet. He absently wondered if ranger would reprimand him for not waking him, not that it worried him, the future King was a good man and it would only be from concern for the blond Elf's well-being if he did.

Sure enough he soon felt the other man's hand on his shoulder. "Is all well Legolas?"

He smiled slightly at the expected worry lightly lacing Aragorn's tone. "Yes Aragorn, all is quiet and safe, so I sought the stars that are too often hidden from sight before we shall be without them and the sun."

Moving to stand so he could see his face, the dark-haired man looked him over before continuing the conversation. "Moria troubles you I take?"

"We are walking into what is likely an enemy stronghold; yes, it troubles me but I will not abandon the quest nor fail any of you, if that concerns you."

"I do not doubt your courage or reliability and I know there is much risk involved but hopefully, while the darkness undoubtedly holds power there, it will not be organised. Nor can I imagine they would expect anyone to attempt to pass through there, so we shall have surprise on our side at least."

"Perhaps, but it is children, not warriors, that make up much of our company, mistakes will likely be made that may well cost us. Still, I understand that walking abreast under the sun in open lands is just as likely to bring such risk to us. Provided we all understand the danger and are ready for whatever comes, I am sure we will endure the trials this quest will bring."

"Your words ring true and despite your concerns, I find comfort in them. We are of like mind and your faith that we shall not fail is reassuring."

"All will fall to darkness if we do Aragorn; I hold no doubt that we will all do what is necessary to ensure such end is not met. I also believe that the darkness is doomed to fail for it is not the fate designed by Iluvitar for the evil Morgoth created to rule Arda."

"I hope you are right, though we must do everything in our power to keep all the free people safe regardless. Thank you Legolas, your honesty and faith is much needed, as are your skills. You do much to lighten the mood and keep our spirits raised, especially for the Hobbits."

"You mean to suggest that playing with them is unbefitting for one of royalty." The blond-haired Elf stated in mock offence.

The ranger smiled, bowing playfully before responding. "I would never dare to claim such of Mirkwood's Prince. You are truly gracious to grant them so much of your time."

Legolas smiled himself, glad that Aragorn had so easily accepted the change of subject. The dark conversation had lasted for too long and there was little more to be said without going over the same things again. He act did of course prove Aragorn right about him trying to keep the spirits of everyone raised, but that was not an association he held issue with.

"Thank you Aragorn." He said seriously, wanting the other to know that the conversation had helped him as well.

"Do you intend to remain awake for a while still?" Aragorn asked, brushing casually over the comment.

Legolas titled his head questioningly, not sure what reason the dark-haired man would have to ask him such. "Yes, I am not ready to settle yet."

"Then perhaps, if you hold no issues, you might tell me more of yourself and your home? Your people are quite different from those in Imladris and Lorien and I am interested to know more if I might."

Legolas smiled again, genuinely pleased with the curiosity. "I'm sure I have many tales I could tell, though some I must have your word will not be repeated."

Aragorn nodded, grinning slightly. The best stories were always the ones you weren't meant to tell. "Of course my friend, my lips shall be sealed on whatever matters they need to be."

Legolas gave one last look at the stars before he returned to the camp with Aragorn. It would be nice to talk about less important matters for a while and he would like to learn some of Aragorn's adventures with the Dunedain rangers as well. Life was relatively isolated in his father's kingdom and it was rare he ever left their borders, so there was much still to learn, especially from so diverse a group.

He always enjoyed Mithrandir's tales when the Istari would visit and he held little doubt the future King of Men would hold many interesting and amusing tales as well. He had much from the Hobbits about the Shire already and Pippin especially was always happy to talk. Though Boromir and Gimli had shared some of their own on occasion as well.

Casual discussion would also help to ease his concerns and aid in him relaxing before he attempted to sleep. It would be nice to learn more of the dark-haired ranger however, as he was far more likely to sit quietly off to the side than he was to partake in the conversations and antics of the group.

Smiling to himself, Legolas sat with Aragorn, ready to spend an hour or so talking about many different things. However it may have started, it would end in strengthened bonds and better moods for the tests to come.

Better knowing one another would also increase their chances, as they were more likely to know how the other would respond to situations. That was how people worked best together and he was happy to encourage it while the opportunity was available. Darkness too soon would encroach upon them, so he would take what light he could, wherever it may come.

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