The Other Side of Light
Chapter 8: The Other Side of Light
Searing cries rang among the elves as a lone figure appeared among the trees. The whole of Mirkwood had been on watch, eyes and ears alert, hearts scorching with prayers. And they rushed to meet their weary king as he appeared, haggard and horseless, but relatively unharmed.
Thranduil smiled tiredly as elves galloped toward him. A mare trotted up close, led by one elf, and he mounted with light grace despite the fatigue that permeated from his body. His eyes were shining with weariness and a new knowledge that the other elves had not been allowed to see.
As they trotted toward the castle, his eyes swept the ground, where a thin blanket of black covered the grass.
"We managed to keep it out," explained a sentinel, following the king's gaze. "But I'm afraid we will have to re-clear the path. This magic is fouler than we had imagined."
While the elf gave a detailed report of what had happened during the king's three-day absence, Thranduil remained silent.
He had seen the black river. It did indeed seem like a river once it was squelched. But he had seen the fury of the tidal waves, and he had experienced the doom it carried within its magic-dripping depths. This was no flood, nor an ordinary pollution. No elf, man or dwarf could pollute a pure river to such an extent. And there had been magic.
The white Istar.
The foul black shadow.
Thranduil shook his head. There was a connection somewhere. But he could not grasp it. It was inconceivable to imagine that the wizard would summon the shadow. Perhaps he was the one who squelched the roaring darkness. But he was an enigma; try as he might, the elvenking could not understand why the white being had been standing in the forest, why he had smiled so, why he had pointed to the human village. Why was he there? What connection did he have with this? Did he have a connection at all?
A dark chill went up his spine, and Thranduil shuddered involuntarily.
He had followed the instructions of the old sage, and the human. And he had been led out of the forest, only to search in vain for days, without food or rest, and to return again, exhausted and dispirited. There was no trace of his child anywhere. He had been going in circles. How many days had it been since his child had been lost? The full moon had waned, and was waxing again.
Thranduil gritted his teeth, slowly bowing his head. He shut his eyes. Despair washed over his weary body, fresh and bitter. His heart burned.
Where are you, my little Greenleaf?
Knuckles whitened as they trembled against the steady sway of the horse's neck. His soul was being smothered under the suffocating venom of despair.
As the darkness of the king's spirit became apparent, the elf beside him stopped talking, and rode on in silence. Grieve not, my king, he whispered silently. He gripped his reins tight, gently urging his horse to move faster. We will find him.
His eyes raised themselves to rest upon the welcoming gates, and the overjoyed elves spilling out of the castle. His eyes narrowed as he breathed a prayer.
Valar, let him be safe...
As the band of elves surrounding the king trotted to the havens, the sun began to cast its first rays upon the soft tinge of dawn.
"Did I tell you that I love you as my own?"
Legolas glanced at the man, and lowered his lashes once again. "Yes."
Roloth looked up from his canvas, and lovingly scanned the child up and down. "You are such a kind boy..."
The child flinched, itching to scratch his ear. It had been itching all day. And Roloth was spending more time staring at him than drawing him. He wanted stretch his limbs and give his ear a good scratch. Sighing in frustration, he bit his lip, concentrating on the scratching sound on the canvas. Patience, he told himself.
Finally, Roloth put his coal and canvas down with a satisfied smile. Legolas' hand shot up to his ear and eagerly began to scratch. The child tilted his head, eyeing the approaching man absentmindedly, as he idly moved his hand further down and rubbed his neck.
Roloth stood by the bed, looking down with a glimmer in his eyes. The elf-child was lying on his stomach, lazily propped up on his elbows, with nothing but a thin blanket thrown casually across his bare body. The blanket trailed down from his right shoulder and ended in a slant atop the back of his left knee, faithfully following every curve of the tender young body breathing underneath.
Legolas looked up, wide eyes blinking with curiosity, as the man slowly sank his weight upon the bed. He scrambled to his knees and, picking up his discarded tunic from the floor, began to dress himself.
"Why dress yourself if you are going to sleep?" The man's husky voice slid into his ear from surprisingly close. The child pulled away, smiling slightly at the tickling sensation. He opened his tunic, and threaded his head and arms in.
"Have I ever shown you how much I love you?" The breath was hotter, huskier. With a squirm he pulled away, and the man grabbed his arm with a mischievous grunt. He blew playfully into the elfling's ear, and Legolas burst into a giggle.
"This?" Roloth blew harder into his ear, and continued his torment while pinning the struggling elfling onto the bed. Legolas laughed and squealed, his supple body wiggling under the weight of the man, tossing up the bedcovers. With a grin, Roloth pulled the tunic off of the elfling's smooth skin, and assaulted the sensitive body with his fingers. Legolas squealed and tried to pull away, but the man had him firmly in his grip.
"Fine, fine!" panted the elfling, in between breaths of laughter, "I yield!"
Roloth halted his attack, and looked down at the elfling. The child was breathing hard, smiling bright as he squirmed. His eyes were twinkling, and his pale face was slightly flushed. And his soft body was bare underneath him, tantalizingly covered only by the wrinkled bedcovers.
Legolas watched in anticipation as Roloth seemed to consider his next move. "What do you want?" he giggled breathlessly. And he held his breath as the man above him looked down with a somber expression. There it was, that strange light again. Legolas wondered briefly if that strange glint in his eyes was only a reflection of the candlelight.
"Let me show you how much I love you."
The child smiled. "You don't have to show me." He began to slip out from under the man.
"Oh, but I do." Strong hands suddenly pressed down upon his chest. Legolas gasped softly as he was pinned in place, breathless.
"You see, little one," breathed Roloth, as his hands slowly roamed over the child's chest, "your father has lots of time to show his love...so he does not need to demonstrate..." His hands traveled around the limber waist, encircling the bare torso. "But I do not have that kind of time...so I must show you..."
Large blue eyes stared up, confused, as the hands continued to roam his body. Over his chest, his collarbone, his shoulders, and back down to his stomach, and around his back...
Suddenly, he sat up. Eying the man uncertainly, he slowly inched backwards toward the wall.
"What are you doing?"
Something was strange. Something strange about the way the man touched him. So close, so intimate, so personal. It was...unnerving.
Roloth cocked his head, raising his eyebrows innocently. "I am only showing you love...did you not say I can pretend that you are my son?"
Eyes warily rooted on the man, the elfling slowly nodded. Roloth moved closer, a faint smile on his lips. The candlelight threw an oblique shadow unto the walls.
"People who love each other always touch like this...this is the strongest love...see...?"
Hands were roaming over the body again, gaining in speed and pressure, as they snaked around the small figure possessively. Legolas sat still, unblinking, lost.
"Yes..." Roloth closed his eyes, edging closer to the motionless child. "You are beautiful...I love you...I worship you...my beautiful child..."
The bright golden flame danced through the night, while on the other side of the light danced a greater shadow.