The Strength of One Green Leaf

Perchance to Dream

Chapter 8: Perchance to Dream

Legolas gasped, struggling feebly as his captor dragged him through the bushes. The arm around his neck was nearly suffocating him. He blinked and coughed; tears stung his eyes. His vision was blurry. Why was it still so dark? As strength left the body, so did courage; Legolas wanted to cry. Why wasn't morning coming? I hate the dark, he muttered silently. I hate this evil fog. The night had dragged on too long for the elfling.

The orc was walking backwards, glancing back occasionally to make sure he was going the right way. His gaze was upon Thranduil, who was following barehanded, his graceful movements slick with menace.

"How much further do you plan to go?" the elf asked in a low voice, even gaze never leaving Legolas. A blue tint of dawn had begun to touch the thick fog. It would be daybreak soon.

The orc grunted, tightening his grip on the black blade pressed against the elfling's neck. "Far enough for me to be safe from your conniving kind."

Thranduil's brief glance coldly flitted across the orc's features. "Elves do not lie, orc."

The orc snorted, and continued to wade backwards through the entanglement of branches and bushes. Black blood was oozing down from his leg, leaving a foul stench along the way. It was mingling with a thin trail of red blood, trickling down from the elfling's slumped shoulder. The threesome was beginning to enter a small clearing when Thranduil noticed that the elfling's eyelids were drooping, pupils slowly beginning to dilate.

"Legolas." Thranduil's voice became commanding, urgent. "Legolas, stay awake. Do you hear me, Legolas? Ada is here. Stay awake!"

The child struggled to clear his hazy vision, but to no avail. The blue eyes remained misty and glazed. The pale face showed no movement, as his small chest rose in irregular intervals. The body was limp; his breaths were coming in short, ragged gasps. Thranduil realized with alarm that he was going into shock.

"Stop!" cried the king, halting dead in his tracks. His gaze smoldered with icy fire. "We've come far enough; return him to me!"

The orc glanced behind him, scouring the clearing. Then he smirked. "You're right. We have come far enough."

He suddenly pushed the elfling violently toward the edge of the clearing, where a small outcropping overlooked a foreboding chasm. The child stumbled and fell to his knees; crushing down the small back with a huge hand, the orc yanked the child's braid. Legolas gasped, eyes slowly coming back into focus. The orc tilted the elfling's head, forcing him to face the dark abyss beyond the jutting land. Small pieces of dirt and pebbles went tumbling down into the darkness.

"Look carefully, elfling," snickered the dark creature. "This is where you left your Nana to die."


The king had almost reached them in a burst of rage when the orc pressed the blade against Legolas' skin. He stopped, eyes seething with anger. "Don't believe what he says, Legolas. He lies."

"What does he know?" snickered the orc, pushing the shaking elfling closer to the edge. The king flinched, body taut with anticipation. "He wasn't here, elfling. Only you were."

"Nana...?" Legolas choked, still halfway conscious. He stared at the darkness that opened beneath the small sodden cliff, ragged gasps catching in his throat.

Thranduil growled. The chasm was quite deep; it was laced with a dense blanket of shrubbery and gnarled branches. The open mouth of the cavernous darkness was threatening, awaiting innocent creatures' fall to their doom. It was clearly a perfect dwelling for a giant spider.

"No, Legolas. Nana is not there. Don't believe this beast." The king's voice was strong; yet the edge of agitation failed to escape the orc's senses. The captor grunted, and roughly shoved the elfling's head down over the cliff. Thranduil jumped forward.

"What are you doing?" he cried, eyes flashing with unconstrained wrath. The orc chuckled.

"Maybe he would like to see his Nana."

The king stood still, as if frozen. The orc cocked his head to one side, and stood. Legolas lay motionless on his stomach, head hanging over the outcropping. His eyes were glazed and out of focus, but Thranduil could see the small lips moving inaudibly. Barely hanging onto consciousness.

The orc cocked his head, and glanced at the elfling behind him. He turned to Thranduil with a smirk. "Come here," he ordered with a growl.

He watched in triumph as the king slowly moved toward him, refusing to take his eyes off of his son. Thranduil finally came to a stop when he was but an arm's length away. He slowly raised his eyes from the body behind the orc and looked at the creature straight in the eye. His blue eyes were vacant. The orc smiled broadly, baring his teeth in delight. He raised his black blade high into the air.

"Hail King Thranduil."

The sword sliced the silence of dawn.

Gandalf raised his head, squinting at the dawning sky. The mist was thickening amid the blue tinge of daybreak. He impatiently tapped the wet ground with his staff. "What is your plan?" he demanded, scanning the dark-haired elven warriors standing around him.

There was silence.

Gandalf scowled, turning his head to look at the path through which they had retreated. "We must be quite far by now." He turned his head back and looked at the elves expectantly. They still did not move. They resembled beautifully carved marble statues, enveloped in the embrace of the mist. Gandalf threw up his hands in exasperation.

"For Valar's sake, do you all just plan to stand around?"

The elves were yet silent. One of the warriors raised his eyes and met Gandalf's fuming gaze. "They are moving," he said quietly.

Gandalf blinked. The elves suddenly stirred into motion, as if broken out of a trance. Each warrior pulled out an arrow and, holding his bow ready for kill, began to swiftly tread back the way through which they had retreated.

The wizard grunted as he moved to catch up with them. They had been listening all this time; that was why they had not moved or answered to Gandalf's urges. He sighed. You're a fool, Gandalf, he muttered to himself. To be so faithless of elves, of all creatures. He should have remembered the keen elven senses that always succeeded in leaving him feeling useless and foolish.

No matter, he thought, hurrying to match the pace of the silent elves. The fact that he was now joined by a squad of elven warriors was an immense relief. Now he could rely on their superior senses as well as their deadly abilities; there was nothing to fear. Gandalf relaxed, daring to give his heightened nerves a long-desired rest, as his feet blindly followed the company surrounding him.

The party slowed visibly. Gandalf started, his senses jumping to their edge again. Was there something amiss?

"What is it, my friends?" asked the wizard, as the warriors came to a languid halt. They looked at each other knowingly, dark dread settling upon their fair features. Gandalf looked from one elf to another, his heart scorching with burning fear. What was it that haunted these fearless warriors?

One of the elves finally met his questioning eyes. "The orc is leading them to the western bank," he said quietly. He looked around, and motioned for the party to keep moving.

The squad began to move forward again, but this time their movements were strangely urgent. "What is in the western bank?" asked the wizard, quickening his pace to almost a run to keep pace. The elf by his side looked at him grimly.

"It is a path to Rivendell."

The orc fell forward, utter shock imprinted upon his face.

Thranduil's cold eyes were staring beyond the fallen creature. Behind the body crouched a giant black spider, slowly cocking its head and inspecting the two limp bodies before its eyes. Then it raised its head and looked straight at Thranduil. Their gazes locked.

The elf tensed. The spider hissed. It seemed uncertain as to what to do. Slowly moving one leg up and down, it was cocking its head and studying the standing elf. Silence filled the crackle of dawn.

A stir broke the tension in the air. The elfling was slowly moving; he mumbled something in a soft moan and lifted his head stiffly. Thranduil's eyes flashed with panic.

The spider quickly shifted its gaze toward the elfling. Realizing that the small creature was not yet subdued, it turned toward the squirming body on the ground. Time froze in the chill of blue dawn. Thranduil gave a terrified cry.


The elfling turned his head. For the first time, there was recognition in the dimming blue eyes. "Ada...?" he choked feebly.

In a blinding motion, Thranduil launched himself. When he skidded to a halt between the child and the spider, merely a breath away from the latter, the fallen orc's sword gleamed in his hand. The spider struck.

Cool breeze caressed Legolas' hair. The elfling looked up and saw – to his confusion and following joy – his father's familiar broad back. The dark cloak wavered gently over the elfling's face, whispering silent comfort. Beyond his father's figure stood a monstrous black spider, slowly pulling out a blood-smeared black sting from the king's stomach.

When the spider pulled its torso away triumphantly, Thranduil's body swayed – and slowly lurched forward. His feet began to slide on the black dirt, giving way to the wave of poison rushing in his veins. Legolas' eyes widened in horror.


Abruptly, the king's feet gritted viciously into the soil. Holding up the failing body with glittering ice in his eyes, Thranduil lifted his gaze to the surprised spider. He slowly raised the black blade.

The spider wildly struck again, the poison hitting the elf once more in the stomach. The king did not flinch as he drove his blade deep into the petrified black monster, the poisonous needle still embedded in his body. Slowly, painfully – fulfilling the promise that sang from the blade and seethed from the cold gaze piercing those a breath away from his face. As a rich fountain of spurting blood drew a deadly rainbow against the sky, both creatures remained still, locked in a mortal embrace of death.

The silver-tinged dawn hushed into silence.

The last sight beheld by the elfling's dimming eyes was that of his father; the blood-soaked body, dropping limply onto a sword embedded to the hilt in the spider. The cloak sweeping the ground with a gentle flutter. The body hitting the soft ground noiselessly.

And then, Legolas' vision faded into complete darkness.

"Nana! Ada! Look what I found!"

The couple looked back from their leisurely walk in the garden, and watched with amused smiles as their elfling ran toward them as fast as his little legs could carry him. His face was flushed, and a single braid of hair trailed behind him, bouncing and casting brilliant golden shimmers in the setting sun. He stopped in front of his parents, huffing from the run. The royal couple could see that the child was holding something protectively in his hands.

The queen laughed melodiously and knelt down before the child. "What is it, my little Greenleaf?" she asked, eyes twinkling with mirth.

Legolas held his breath, and carefully opened his cupped hands. Nestled in the small cave of warmth was a small clump of feathers, from which a pair of black eyes blinked drowsily.

"Why, a bird!" The queen laughed delightfully, and the king leaned in for a closer look. The bird was clearly drugged; it kept yawning and snuggling close the elfling's palm.

The king smiled. This child had a way with animals. Rascal that he was, he was so careful and gentle with them.

The bird squeaked feebly when it realized that it was surrounded by strangers. It did not even look old enough to fly.

"It fell from its nest," explained the elfling, still breathless and glowing with excitement. "I took it to the healer, and she made it all better! I'm taking it back to its home, so its nana and ada won't be worried."

The parents looked at each other, discreet smiles creeping into the corners of their lips. The king turned to the child, and stroked his golden head with a chuckle. "How thoughtful of you, Legolas. I am sure its parents are worried by now. Let us take it back to its home."

The short walk to the large tree was full of chatter. Legolas, who would normally be dancing and running around them in ceaseless excitement, was walking slowly and gently as not to startle the small bird. He would occasionally look down at the sleepy creature, and look up at his smiling parents. His eyes shone with delight and unsuppressed youth and life as he chatted on about the wonders of healing and how he would someday become a healer. When Mirkwood patrols and warriors get hurt, they would go to Legolas and he would make them all better. He was so sure.

Every day had been like that evening, full of laughter and blessing. Everyone had believed that the happiness would last.

Perhaps it had all been a dream.

The sun caressed pale cheeks gently, draping long shadows of the lashes hovering halfway over hazy blue orbs. Slowly, a crystalline tear slid down.


The huffing voice of Gandalf boomed from the doorway. Thranduil turned his gaze to meet those of the wizard, eyes shimmering in a vast sea of sadness.

The wizard stood grasping the doorframe with an infuriated look, his hair a tangle of silver threads hanging over the wrinkled folds of his robe. He did not look very refreshed at all. How long had he been unconscious? Thranduil began to pull himself up groggily.

"Do not move, you foolish elf," snarled the wizard, crossing the distance between them and pushing him firmly down onto the bed. Thranduil gasped, wide eyes suddenly flashing with a light of fear.


Gandalf raised his hand to silence the elf. "Ease your panicking. He is retrieved."

The wizard nodded toward the bed next to Thranduil's. The king followed Gandalf's gaze, anxiously devouring the sight of his son. The elfling lay there, still as death, eyes closed. The king jolted upright from his bed.


"He lives, Thranduil." The wizard pushed the elf down again. Thranduil's brows knitted tight, stifling a groan. He slowly fingered the white bandages wrapped around his bare abdomen. Gandalf shook his head disapprovingly, clucking his tongue. "Reckless fool."

Panting, Thranduil scowled, more from intense annoyance at the cumbrance of the wound than the pure agony it presented. His eyes were still rooted on the motionless form of the elfling. "Please," he muttered, reaching out a weakened hand. "Bring him to me."

Gandalf complied, turning to gently lift the small body of the elfling in his arms. Thranduil saw that Legolas was washed clean and dressed in a loose garb, which revealed white bandages underneath. There were other cuts and scrapes all over the body, but they had been left exposed; the healer had obviously left them to the powers of ointment, for an elven skin mended quickly when allowed to breathe the air.

Thranduil moved slightly to the side as the wizard lowered his child next to him. Pale arms reached out to secure the elfling close to his body. Thranduil lay there, holding his unconscious child close, tired hands ceaselessly stroking the face and tucking away baby hair with utmost tenderness. Gandalf watched with sympathy as the father's eyes glazed with overwhelming emotion, lips moving to whisper silent words of comfort and gratitude.

Gandalf reached out and touched his friend gently on the shoulder. "Rest, Thranduil. The nightmare is over."

Thranduil closed his eyes, a shaky sigh escaping his dry lips, as he slowly wrapped his arms tighter around the limp body of his child. My little bird...His mind blurred with chaotic and colorful emotions, and yet it was blank, for he could grasp none of them. All he could do was bask in the golden dream that he had come so close to losing – and had finally won back into his arms.


The whisper was a thick, trembling stream of emotion. The father pressed his lips on his child's forehead and cheeks, murmuring the babe's name as he rained kisses onto the child, his hands continuing to caress the smooth skin of the motionless face.

"My lord."

A soft voice slowly brought colors back into his vision. The king opened his eyes and dazedly stared at the dark-haired healer, who stood behind Gandalf with unbearable guilt etched on her fair face. Thranduil slightly relaxed his hold on Legolas, but did not release him as he nodded at the healer, prompting her to continue.

The healer swallowed. Her expression became even more saddened and guilt-ridden, as she bowed her head deeply. Her voice was but a whisper.

"The prince does not awaken, My Liege."

The sun lost its golden luster as the king's heart dropped with a leaden coldness. The world whirled dizzily.

Dreams were not meant to last.

To Be Continued

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