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WARNING: This is a much Darker and more serious work than my last one. If you want something happier and lighthearted, look elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I do not know any of the recognizable characters, nor the location, I am just borrowing them for a little fun on the side.

An Early Frost
Chapter 1

“LEGOLAS” the loud cry rang throughout the garden. The voice of Allaryia, the Queen of the Greenwood was full of worry for her missing child. “Legolas, please,” this cry escaped as more of a loudly whispered plea coming past the mother’s lips. Her voice gained strength once more as she approached a large oak tree, one of the true ancients of the forest, and a well known favorite hiding place of the young crown prince of the Greenwood. “Legolas, it is time for this game of hide and seek to be over,” she commanded more forcefully as she peered into the well hidden branches of the ancient oak, looking for her wayward son. “Allow some time for both you and your father to cool off from your argument and then talk to him once more. You are still young, and in training. Please, please consider what he is saying. I understand your wish to help protect Greenwood, but please, at least wait until you have reached your majority to join the guard. Your father understands. Every time there is a skirmish he fights with himself in order to stay here, safe with you and me, for the good of the kingdom. Please, just come down and come back to the closer gardens at least.”

The more she pleaded, the more panic joined in with her voice. Truly, Queen Allaryia knew that being so close to the edge of the forest was becoming more of a danger as time went on. The secluded garden that had once been a safe haven for the royal family to get away from the stresses of the court, now was a fairly risky place to visit without an escort due to the rising number of orcs that could have gotten past even their most elite guards. Beyond that she had heard the conversation that had taken place directly before the argument that had been held between her husband and son which caused her son’s disappearance, and her worry was justified. A large number of orcs had been spotted headed towards the palace. In fact a debate had been being held between the King and his advisors on whether or not to move the family from the treetop palace into the safety of the forest stronghold until the newest threat had passed. Thranduil’s main reason for his resistance was his son’s intense claustrophobia no matter the size of the cave. Legolas had unfortunately missed this argument in his eagerness to convince his father to allow him to join the guard as he had heard the muster to protect the heart of the Greenwood. The two of them were so alike each other, that all it took was the slightest comment against what he wished for the prince’s temper, which he hadn’t learned to control very well yet, to flare to life sending them both into a rage that was so characteristic of their ‘discussions’. In truth the Prince and the King loved each other fiercely, caring to the point that it was almost painful at times.

“Please, Little Leaf. Come back with me,” she said softly, tears springing to her eyes, “Come home with me. Let us go find your father. He is sure to have fallen into melancholy after your fight. The only thing that will make him smile once more is the possibility that you will be able to forgive him.”

A soft rustle of leaves coming from the bushes behind her resulted in a quick intake of air and a startled jump and turn. She then saw the lithe figure of her son standing in the bushes holding his bow with his twin long knives strapped to his back along with a full quiver of arrows, and dressed in durable clothing made out of thick leather that could double as light armor. A grim look crossed his pale features and determination flashed through his jewel green eyes. Allaryia shook her head in denial and whispered, “No, no, dear Valar, no.” She stepped forward, quickly closing the space between herself and her son, taking his young, angular face, that looked so much like her own between her hands. “Legolas, please, do not do this. Listen to the wisdom of your father for at least a few more years. Wait to join the guard, please, for me at least. I can’t loose you.” Tears came into her generally warm chocolate colored eyes as her son remained stiff in her embrace.

“Naneth, I must. It is my duty as prince to protect Greenwood. I have to help the guard in any way possible to help stop the threat to the wood. I know that neither you nor father understand that, but I really can help. I can outshoot all the novice archers as well as most of those that are centuries older than I, at least that is what everyone tells me. If I cannot trust those in the command chain of the guard to evaluate my skills, than whom may I trust?” His voice remained distant, but his true feelings were expressed through his eyes that had caught those of his mother and were pleading beyond what the eloquence of his words had the ability. “Please, Nana, allow me to do this.”

Allaryia lowered her hands slowly from their position on her son’s face and shook her head slowly, before saying, “I am sorry, my son, but I cannot allow you to do this. If you leave this garden, I will follow, it does not matter where you are headed, I will go along.” She smiled bitterly at the look of disappointment that flashed through his expressive eyes even though his face remained impassive. “If you are confident enough in your skills to protect the both of us, continue as you wish. However, if you show any of the good sense that is required to be part of the guard, you will turn around and head back to the palace, return your weapons to your room, and then we both shall visit your adar in his study for the evening meal.”

Legolas’s face finally showed some emotion as it fell, pain and disappointment creating a heartbreaking expression upon his noble features. “I am sorry, Nana, but I cannot do that.” His eyes then sprung to the side of the garden that was farthest from the palace compound proper before he grabbed his mother’s arm and pulled her behind him without a word. He drew an arrow from his quiver and prepared his weapon. “Naneth, please, return to the palace and send guards. I will guard your path and hold them off for as long as I can.”

Just as Allaryia was turning towards her son to question his words, when she too heard the loud crashing coming from the underbrush surrounding the peaceful garden. Worry lit her eyes and she slipped one of Legolas’s knives out of its sheathe and stood just slightly to the side and yet still behind him with the weapon at the ready. “I am afraid that I cannot allow you to stay here making a stand on your own. I will assist you in fighting them off. The guard knows that I was on my way here, they should be here shortly, we must only last that long.”

Legolas nodded glumly, his mouth fixed in a serious line as his sharp eyes caught sight of his first target, which was then brought down without question, the only reaction shown in the prince was a paling of his features. “As you wish Naneth. I fear that it is too late to make any changes in our plans as of this moment.”

The time for talk was then over as Legolas’ attention was stolen by many more dark targets revealing themselves from the dense cover of the forest underbrush. His arrows, distinctly fletched in brown with gold veins, flew through the air in a thick cloud, each finding its mark and successfully bringing it down. Unfortunately, he felt his quiver quickly growing ever lighter as the bodies of the enemy piled under the eaves of the forest while no sign of reinforcements came from the direction of the palace. His face grew grim as he felt but five more arrows in what was once a completely full quiver and as he continued his seemingly endless assault on the invading orcs he spoke once more, “Nana, I am afraid that these monsters shall have to fall to knife work. I love you.” His last arrow then flew through the air at one last target taking it victoriously through the eye, dropping the dark skinned orc with its sharp barb invading the cranial cavity. He quickly set his bow upon its harness at his back and with a practiced flick of his wrist unsheathed his second ivory handled, sharp knife, the bright blade shinning in the dappled sunlight of the once perfect garden.

Behind the young prince he heard the worried voice of his mother whisper, barely above the noise of the seemingly endless incoming party of orcs, “Valar protect us,” just before he met his first enemies in hand to hand combat. Legolas felt his fear rising when he heard the rough, throaty laughs of the orcs as they approached, accompanied by what he could only assume where taunting statements being shouted in their own black tongue. He fought to contain his fear in order to do what he knew he must: protect his mother at all costs, he didn’t think that his father could bear if he lost his wife, his light and hope in the world. This passed through his mind in the smallest of moments before he was forced to move quickly to parry an orc sword, sliding in the enemies guard just far enough to be able to slit the unprotected throat of the monster. In the midst of the battle, his nose crinkled in response to the rank smell of the gore that now coated his bright knife. This apparent discomfort lasted but for a moment as his attention was forced once more to survival as another enemy stepped in to take the place of the one that he had already felled. He felt himself fall into a sort of trance, reacting to the actions of the enemy, parrying each thrust, taking opportunities as they were presented to him, and making opportunities to bring down the monsters as quickly as possible. He was vaguely aware of several blows that were successfully landed, but as they were not serious in any way, he shrugged them off and did not allow them to affect him as the adrenaline rushing through his veins acted as a natural pain killer. After the several of the orcs fell in front of him, they began to mill about, preventing him from protecting his mother anymore, no matter how he tried. They came from all sides, but after the battle had been drawn out for what seemed like ages to the prince he realized, novice though he was, that they were not taking the opportunities presented by holes in his guard from having only one of his twinned blades. His mind quickly put two and two together, these orcs weren’t trying to kill him, they were trying to capture him.

He heard his mother cry out in pain, and it stole his concentration away from the battle, and as he glanced back, he saw that Allaryia had taken a serious blow to her shoulder, and had sunk down to her knees, appearing to be fighting valiantly just to remain conscious. As his attention was broken, he felt an impact on his left shoulder that had enough force behind it that he stumbled forward momentarily, and when he straightened once more he felt a stabbing pain. In response, he forced his grip on his knife to tighten, thankful only for the fact that he was holding it with his right hand. He turned back to his foes and continued his fight just as he started to hear that first signs of the guards arriving to aid their royals in their battle. He heard his mother’s exclamation of recognition of the guard captain, Tiercel, just as his vision of the battle field began to grow blurry, darkness beginning to encroach on the edges as he felt his consciousness beginning to stray. His actions began to take a more frantic note as his enemies began to land more debilitating blows, including a deep wound to his right forearm that cut all the way to the bone and resulted in him dropping his knife, his only protection. He gasped at the sudden burning pain and against all his drilled instincts, he dropped to his knees and cradled the newly injured limb as well as he could with the limited range of motion in his left arm. As he moved his left arm, he felt whatever was embedded in his shoulder grate against his shoulder blade, pulling a pained moan past his lips against his will. “Legolas!” he heard his mother’s voice cry out behind him as he felt a sharp pain in the side of his head and sank into darkness.

Alaryia’s eyes widened in fear as she saw her son distracted by her own injury, and then his frantic fighting after he stumbled forward. Dismay rose in her heart as he turned back to their foes as she saw a nasty black arrow protruding from his back. Her sharp ears then picked up the sounds of battle being joined, and hope began to override the fear in her heart when she recognized the figure of Tiercel, the captain of the royal family’s personal guard fighting his way fiercely towards the surrounded mother and son. “Tiercel!” she cried out and saw recognition shine in his piercing blue eyes as her cry alerted him to the exact location of those he was searching for. Her attention then turned back to her son, whom she was alarmed to see dropping to his knees, following the action of his newly fallen knife into the blood soaked dirt at his feet, cradling a freely bleeding wound on the arm of his primary hand. He was in trouble. After a cursory glance, she could not see where the knife she had been using had fallen, but her effort turned out to be in vain, as she saw a particularly large orc raise his sword and strike her son in the temple with the pommel, effectively sending him to the realm of unconsciousness.

“Legolas!” she cried out to him once more as she saw his limp form slump directly into the arms of the large orc that had dealt the last blow to her son. She desperately tried to gain her feet, grabbing any blade that came to her hand and rush the direction the orc was disappearing through the rest of the thinning crowd of the enemy. She was dismayed when she was forced to the ground by the iron-shod foot of a fleeing orc, an exclamation of surprise leaving her lips and forcing the air out of her lungs at the same time. Only a moment later, she felt strong hands turn her over onto her back, and she found herself looking into the clear blue eyes of Tiercel.

“Milady,” he said in his clear tenor voice, not even breathless from the exertion he had just put forth in the course of the battle. “Breathe easy for a moment. As soon as we have these orcs finished off, we will get you to the healing halls.”

“I am fine, Captain,” she asserted only somewhat breathlessly, still regaining her breath from not only the trampling she had received, but also from the extended battle that she had been fighting before aid had come to their rescue. “If need be, I can take myself to the Healing Halls, it is far more important that party of orcs is followed. They have my son, and your crown prince. This cannot be allowed.”

“Milady, please calm yourself,” the guard captain said soothingly while his sharp eyes took in the queen’s wound, assessing its seriousness, “As soon as possible, we will go after Prince Legolas. I never meant that all of the guard would accompany you to the Healing Halls, that would be folly.” A small smile found its way to his lips at the small jest, trying to chase away, at least in part, the tension of the battle from his queen, who never should have found her way to the battle field in the first place in his opinion. “Tathan will accompany you while I lead the rest to follow the orcs’ trail. Have no fear, we will find the prince, and bring him back as safely as possible.” He then helped Allaryia to her feet and provided a steadying hand before calling Tathan over and giving his specific instructions as well as his message to the king that should be delivered as soon as the queen had been delivered to the capable hands of the healers in the Healing Halls. After being answered in the affirmative that the novice guard understood his orders, he watched as the queen was led back towards the forest stronghold.

After walking only a few feet from where she had begun she turned back to the trusted guard captain, her chocolate eyes large and tear filled, “Bring my Little Leaf back to me Captain. Please.”

He nodded briefly answering, “Fear not milady, he will be home as quickly as we can manage,” before motioning for the rest of the guard to gather near him for their orders. When they had gathered near he began quick and concise, “We follow the yrch. They have taken Prince Legolas, and it is imperative he is returned. Last I saw he had been wounded severely in several places so time is of the essence more so than usual so he may be healed.” He then sent two of his company ahead to scout their path while the rest, including him, formed up into a marching order, giving the scouts enough time to get ahead of them. The clock was running, and it certainly was not in their favor, it was their duty to race against the odds to catch up.
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