I wrote "Building Ithilien" to showcase Legolas as a character with a great heart, a warrior with this great capacity to love and be loyal, but one who struggles with his role in this world.
This is an adventure story, a romance, a story of grief and angst, but mostly it's just a story about finding yourself (and more importantly being okay with what you find!)
From one fan to another- Welcome, to my Middle Earth.
Legolas knew darkness. He had faced down evil deep in the bowels of Moria and had proven himself at the Black Gate of Mordor. He was a known hero of the War of the Ring…
But those victories had been achieved with the company of the Fellowship.
Tonight, he was utterly alone. And the darkness drowned him. This night, foul with a pitch so black—it fought to consume him, and if it did not, then his enemy would. He knew not who or what he faced, but he had seen firsthand its grim trail.
His ears pricked to the low rumble of someone, some creature breathing, followed by a sharp crack, like wood being snapped. He dared not move from his position. He checked his peripheral vision. All seemed still, save his heart pounding in his chest. Panic and fear chased through his veins, raking his body with self-doubt and loathing. 'Fool! You should not have come alone!'
Crack! An enormous pine slapped the earth. The ground shook as if lightning had struck down from the sky. Crack! Another tree whipped down, this time grazing Legolas' side. The trees and the night thrummed in the rhythm of torture. The breathing grew louder, and the elf could hear the beast drawing each distinct thunderous breath.
Legolas tightened his fingers on his bow, steady he told himself, and briefly rolled his shoulders back, a habit he used to calm his nerves before battle. He lightly released his fingers and squeezed the bow again. Calm returned, and the archer was ready.
He swung out from behind the tree, fitting an arrow to his bow and firing toward the breathing. Legolas pulled himself against another tree, edging his way closer to the smell and the rustling sounds. In the inky night, he could see no more than his hand and bow in front of him. The ground pulsed beneath his feet. The horses whinnied, followed by the pounding of many hooves. They had stampeded. Legolas heard a muffled thump from the trees, and then silence. The rank odor had vanished, and only the hot scent of fresh blood lingered. He felt his body sag involuntarily and then checked himself. He could not be sure the threat was gone until he had swept the area.
Legolas stepped into the clearing, weapon still in hand. All of the horses were gone, hopefully of their own volition. He could not blame them. He knelt to the ground and then stood. It was too dark to check for any tracks of predators. That would have to wait until morning light. He moved steadily back to the tree line and the river where he had first heard the breathing. Legolas was sure of one thing; the creature he encountered tonight was no ordinary wolf, bear, troll, orc, or anything thinkable.
The elf kept his guard up and stole back toward the river and trees. His eyes busily scanned the close-knit woods for any sign of movement. Scarcely looking at the ground before him, he stumbled over a fallen log. Legolas scrambled toward his feet in disbelief that he had not seen it before. He looked toward the base and ran his fingers along the scratchy bark until he reached the breaking point of the tree. Almost as if someone had snapped the tree like a twig, the trunk broke off in jagged ends two feet above the ground. At that moment, he noticed four other trees, fallen in the same manner. Deep gouges marked the trunks. Legolas bent down to study them and then swallowed hard. The choking smell had returned.
His arms darted out to grab his bow when a hard jerk toward his chest sent him reeling toward the river. As he tumbled over the bank and fell, he drew his long, white knife, frantically slicing the open space before him. He struck something hard. It was too dark to tell what. Before he hit the river below, Legolas found himself wondering if it was such a good idea to fall blindly into a ravine with a blade in one's hand…
Plunging into the Anduin, Legolas lost all sense of direction and flailed in the murky water. He had fallen into the river from great height, and his right shoulder had slammed into a boulder, knocking his knife from his hand. The swift current of the Anduin rushed over him as he frantically searched for his weapon. The clouds still blotted out the moon. With his bow still on the riverbank above and his knife somewhere in the river, the elf was unarmed and alone.
A breeze gathered, parting the clouds, and a thin strip of moonlight reflected off the river. His knife! Legolas grabbed for it, only an arm's length away. The handle felt warm and sticky. He held it up in the moonlight only to see that the blade dripped in gore.
When the clouds lifted completely from the moon, Legolas saw red everywhere. Blood streaked his chest, torso, and his hands. He felt the back of his throat burn and knew he was going to be sick. His chest still throbbed from the hit he had taken, and his shoulder felt on fire. He tumbled toward the edge of the river, fighting the push of the current.
Suddenly as before, a thick acrid odor assailed his nostrils. His enemy had returned. The prince pushed himself against a large outcropping of stones in the riverbed. He longed for his bow but praised the Valar that he had found his knife in time. The smell and the sound of the creature's breathing grew stronger.
From behind the rock, Legolas heard a guttural snarl, followed by ripping, flesh being torn from the bone. The water thrashed and swelled against his hiding place. Flecks of bone and flesh floated past him. The splashing stopped. Legolas waited. He knew the fell beast still lingered. He could hear and smell its breath. He wondered if this was how it would all end for him. He rolled his shoulders back and gripped his knife.
How did it come to this?
He closed his eyes and tried to remember...