The new shadow over the forest, the boldness of the spiders and their barely repelled attack – there was nothing coincidental about this. His kingdom was certainly not how he left it and all was far from well.
Thranduil was more tense than he’d been in centuries. Even when the orc incursions had started, he had not been this worried….but then the forest had not been as anxious then either. It’s distress was palpable to him and it was getting harder for him to hide that from his companions. He was certain they could sense his anger already, but that was an entirely appropriate response for a King given the circumstances.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have left. Should’ve sent Legolas to Imladris as his representative. But that could’ve been fatal to the cause they now followed. While he had every confidence in his son and his ability to hold his own in a fight, he had not as much experience outside of this realm as would likely be required.
And this realm, his home – had his leaving reduced the strength of its borders? Legolas knew what to do – he had taught him the old ways as he had learnt them long ago, but perhaps he was yet too young to fully use the talents Eru granted them. Whilst the times of the Elves might be passing and the call of the sea growing stronger, he still had all his natural abilities and he expected Legolas would be no less able.
Thranduil swallowed a weary sigh and ruffled the hair on Moose’s neck. He was sure his son had done all within his power to protect their kingdom. He trusted him and if there was an error, then it was his own, for he had ultimate responsibility. He just had to hope that his people were still well and that the forest could recover, whatever had been happening. They should soon be within sight of the palace – there there would be answers and hopefully some respite before they travelled onward.
He was feeling unusually morose, though the usual forest tricks couldn’t touch him as they did others. If only he could tell what time of day it was, it would be less unnerving. It was like his senses were being muffled or maybe overwhelmed by the deluge of distress from the forest. The after effects of the spider’s bites were certainly not helping. Ridding the forest of those foul creatures could not happen soon enough!
Suddenly a large, black serpent snaked through the trees, across the path and disappeared. He started, horrified. No such creature had been seen here before. His ire raised, he moved Moose forward more keenly. As the path curved round to give him the first glimpse of his palace in many months he halted dismayed – the palace was besieged by an army of foul creatures. A familiar signal sounded and from the doors streamed some of his cavalry. Enough was enough…!
Face taught, he turned to his companions, pointed along the path forking off away from the palace and urged commandingly, “That is the way out of the forest. Follow it and don’t leave the path!”
Turning back to the palace he spurred Moose on, charging towards the fray and his Elven warriors. This was his kingdom, he was responsible for it and he would defend it to the death if Eru wished. He certainly wasn’t going to let it fall without a hell of a fight!