Heart of the Storm can best be described as Lord of the Rings meets Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. . .
Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood, had been making slow but steady progress from Mirkwood to Lothlorien. If pressed, Legolas would have had to admit that he had not been in any real hurry to arrive at the City of Galadrium. To be sure, he had heard that the heart of Elvendom on earth was a place of unsurpassed beauty- he had always longed to walk its forests and sleep in the leafy branches of the Malloren trees.
It was the nature of his errand that slowed his feet. His father had been dropping hints for some years that it was time that Legolas take a bride. The hints had evolved into something more persistent over the last few months and King Thrandruil finally had told his son in no uncertain terms that his patience was worn thin and that it was time for action. King Thandruil made his desires clear– Legolas was to travel with haste to the elven city of Galadrium to court one of Queen Galadriel’s numerous nieces.
King Thandruil didn’t care which niece— Thandruil assumed all of them would be equally beautiful and equally silly— as long as Legolas returned from his trip betrothed and prepared for a marriage advantageous to Mirkwood. King Thandruil did not believe that Queen Galadrial deliberately raised pretty, vacuous court baubles, but he did assume that he would have long ago known if any of them had a hint of the transcendent powers of their aunt, or their cousins, the children of Elrond of Rivendell. As Arwyn, Elrond’s only daughter, had already pledged her heart elsewhere, King Thandruil would have to content himself with a lesser relative of Galadrial’s to bear his grandchildren. King Thandruil had great empathy for his son’s reservations about a political marriage but was unusually firm on this occasion. Like many of his kind, he felt that the time of the elves was starting to pass. The world was changing. He felt an urgency to continue his bloodline that he had never felt before, in either his own or his eldest son’s long lifetime.
As the miles passed, Legolas thought often of his dilemma. He clearly understood his responsibility to his father and his kingdom but could muster little enthusiasm for courting a complete stranger. He had enjoyed romances over the years, but never with women his father considered appropriate for the throne of Mirkwood. He did appreciate that his father was allowing him some choice now, rather than just arranging the marriage as King Thandruil saw fit, and was certainly within his rights as monarch. But a stranger! It pained Legolas to contemplate passing the ages with an unknown woman who would undoubtedly be more interested in his title as Prince, than Legolas himself. When Legolas contemplated marriage, he longed in his very soul to feel real passion, real compassion, to share the kind of deep and trusting love that could span the lifetimes. However, Legolas was not so naïve as to think he would arrive in Lothlorien and find true love among the small pool of suitable candidates. He merely hoped one of them would be good-hearted and wise and capable of learning to care for him and the kingdom of Mirkwood. Despite his great love for his father and his kingdom, Legolas found such a compromise bitter.
Legolas also worried about the changing state of the world. Dark things had been afoot in the forests of Mirkwood for some time and he felt his place was there, defending his homeland, not here courting a bride. A Princess for the throne of Mirkwood would matter little if the things Legolas feared came to pass.
He had done most of his traveling in the full light of day, but this night he had found it impossible to rest on the open plains. The closer he came to Lothlorien, the more unease filled his breast. Unable to sleep further, he mounted his horse an hour or so before dawn and let the fading light of the stars and the moon guide him. He was nearing the outer forests surrounding Lothlorien when he began to sense menace in the air. He rode with determination toward the forest, more and more convinced he was in imminent danger.
The trees were in reassuring relief when his usually fleet-footed horse stumbled in a depression. Legolas calmed his horse as quickly he could and took off at a canter as soon as his horse had regained its footing. He spared a quick glance behind him to find a group of Orcs bearing down on him, souls full of malice, bellies hungry. He briefly debated making his stand on the open ground but was unsure whether he would be able to slay the whole party before others could be alerted. The Orcs continued to approach him at a hard pace. He could almost touch the outside row of trees of the forest when an Orc arrow caught him by surprise in the side. It was not a fatal wound, but forceful enough to knock him from his saddle onto the hard ground. As his horse ran in terror, Legolas pulled out his bow and managed to kill seven of the ten Orcs in quick succession before they realized what had hit them. He took off at a run while the remaining Orcs screamed their fury and began to frantically fire arrows in his direction.
Legolas managed to find cover behind a large tree and successfully brought down two more of the Orcs. Blood was now freely running down his side and his breath was starting to become labored. The final Orc was getting dangerously close, and Legolas chose to make a sprint for it while he still had the strength. At first, it seemed a good ploy- he was quicker and more agile than the Orc. However, the blood flow from his side remained steady and Legolas was concerned about getting lost in these unfamiliar woods with such an injury. He was leaning briefly against a tree trying to get his bearings when another Orc arrow whizzed past his ear and embedded itself into the tree trunk. Legolas silently apologized to the tree for its injury before taking off again at a run. He made it many yards before a second Orc arrow joined the first in his side. Legolas frantically looked for a place to make a last stand. Spotting a grove up ahead, he staggered ahead, ducking behind one tree after another before he could get another arrow from his quiver and take a clear shot at the Orc. The Orc went down with a satisfying thud.
Legolas cursed himself for his predicament. A band of ten Orcs should not have been enough to overwhelm him so. He was acutely aware of how badly injured he was and how far he still was from Lothlorien. The throbbing pain of the arrows, the loss of blood, and the pungent smell of Orc made his head swim. He stumbled some distance from the dead Orc until he saw what looked like a protected nest in the roots of a massive oak. If he could just make it there and get some rest. . . His knees buckled as he reached his target and he was oddly surprised as blackness claimed him.
Read Chapter Three
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