Friendship Amidst Loss by KimicThranduilion
Summary: When Legolas and his troop become targets for slave traders tragedy strikes and the Prince suffers a devastating loss after a series of savage attacks. Longstanding rivals put feuds to bed, old friendships stand strong and new ones are forged but can friends reconciled, old and new help Legolas in the aftermath?

Disclaimer: I own nothing besides my OCs.
Categories: Fiction Characters: Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond, Legolas, OFC, OMC, Orc, Thranduil
Content: Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Challenges: None
Series: Tales of Friendship
Chapters: 17 Completed: No Word count: 48813 Read: 8617 Published: December 27, 2015 Updated: June 05, 2016
Chapter 1 by KimicThranduilion
Celegil whistled short, quick and sharp as she mimicked the call of a crow. Legolas gave a small smile of relief and whistled his answer in return also mimicking the sound of the crow – for the calls of these birds would not arouse suspicions of anything unfriendly hiding in the woods – as crows were long known to be spies of the Dark One.

Satisfied now Legolas turned to face those of his warriors who remained with him, "Celegil has given us the go ahead, the path is clear – let us move out."

It did not take long for the troop to mount their horses and make for the small path out of the clearing for they were anxious to be on the move and leave this place behind. Legolas could hardly blame them – they had been on Mirkwood's most demanding patrols for just over two months and it had certainly felt longer.

The Southern Patrol was like no other patrol embarked upon by the warriors of Mirkwood. It was hard, harsh and demanding and as such each troop only did it for two months at a time compared to the standard three months for all other patrols in the Kingdom. The warriors of Mirkwood were tough and faced deadly peril on nearly all their patrols but not nearly as much as they did when on the Southern Patrol.

Orcs, wargs and the spawn of Ungoliant were especially numerous in this part of the woods and the elves faced daily battle and skirmishes with these fell creatures doing their utmost to keep them from taking over anymore of the lands than they already had. The Southern patrols were usually based in an area called the Narrows of the Forest – a grim and gloomy part of the woods where the trees were asleep and deaf to the calls of the elves. It was as far as they could get to the dread dungeons of Dol Guldur without placing themselves in mortal danger. Nonetheless despite this area being relatively safe no elf was ever sad to leave and Legolas and his dírnaith were no exception.

Legolas watched with satisfaction and no small amount of relief as the last of his elves left the clearing that had been home for the past two months – though no one would think that to look at it now. For the troop had been careful to leave no trace that they had been here at all. They would meet the next troop to take up the Southern Patrol the next day somewhere along the road on the way back to Thranduil's stronghold. This was unusual as usually one troop arrived before the other left but their replacements had been delayed by first a skirmish with a cluster of spiders and then by a freak lightning storm which had set fire to a few trees around one of the outer elvish villages and the troop had stopped to help the inhabitants put out the fires and repair the damage.

Therefore Legolas and his troop had stayed in place for an extra two weeks and were by now itching to leave. In the end Legolas himself had made the call for them to leave before the other group of warriors showed up. He had seen the despair on the faces of his maethyr when the message came via carrier hawk with news of the other troop's further delays. He had said they would give them another two days and if they were still not here then they would leave and meet and de-brief the other troop on the road. Legolas was tired and he knew his warriors were too.

For that was another thing that came with doing the Southern Patrol – the bone aching weariness and slowly crushing despair. Enchantments of the Dark One and his minions hung heavy in the air in this area and it slowly worked its poison into the minds of the elves on patrol here – it was another reason patrols here were relatively short – elves could easily slip and give into the mind numbing despair when faced with the foul, darkly enchanted air for too long a period of time.

Legolas glanced round him once more and satisfied he leapt up and perched himself upon the back of Morchant.

"Come boy we leave this place now. Let us catch up to the others." Legolas gave his horse a fond pat on his midnight black rump and Morchant started after the others at a trot.

Legolas gave into a sigh and gave a small smile – finally they were on the way home. He touched his left shoulder briefly before dropping his hand to his side. He had another reason for leaving early besides his troops happiness but he was not about to discuss it with anyone. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy the gentle swaying rhythm of being upon horse back. Legolas trusted Morchant and knew he could rest his eyes as his animal was smart – he did not need Legolas' guidance – he knew the way home and was as keen to get there as his master.

"Sleeping already my prince? Will you not wait for your soft warm bed back at the palace?"

Legolas merely grunted too tired to rise to his friends bait. He kept his eyes closed and upturned his face in a vain attempt to feel the early morning sun upon it. He had no luck of course for they were still in a far too gloomy part of the Kingdom, where the canopy grew so densely the sun hardly ever penetrated, or any other element for that matter – even the rain simply trickled down the bark of the trees to form small pools at their feet. Legolas suppressed a shiver at the thought and kept his eyes closed determined to have a moment's peace.

Faervel was not so easily put off by his friends supposed indifference though and he continued chattering to Legolas about this, that and nothing at all as they made their way to where Celegil and Thoron had scouted ahead and now awaited the rest of the troop.

After another jibe at his friends expense fell on deaf ears Faervel took a closer look at his friend. Legolas looked pale – well paler than was his wont – and tired. Faint dark circles could be seen under his eyes. He had lost weight (which was not uncommon for warriors on the Southern Patrol) but the thing that had Faervel most worried was the way Legolas was sitting upon Morchant.

Legolas had fine and proper posture as a rule due to Thranduil's strict training, however now Legolas sat slightly slouched and leaned towards the left, crouching in on himself ever so slightly. Faervel frowned, he knew Legolas was not as hale as he was making out but his friend was stubborn and could be as unmovable as a mountain range when he wanted to be. Legolas had insisted that he was fine to make the long trip back home and there had been no convincing him otherwise.

Faervel continued to study his friend and Legolas continued to ignore the scrutiny – yes he was a bit tired but so was everyone else. Faervel could be such a mother hen. Could he not just leave him in peace? Legolas knew that his friend knew there was more to it than mere fatigue but he would not give in. Legolas kept his eyes closed and willed himself to think of pleasant things in order to distract himself from Faervel's heavy gaze.

He had been imagining eating the heavenly blueberry pie Thanniel always made him upon his returns whilst in the tub (something Thranduil strongly disapproved of but Legolas found relaxing) when Morchant suddenly slipped on a slick of mud. The horse quickly regained his balance and righted his steps but it was enough to unbalance Legolas whose eyes flew open and his right hand shot out in a vain attempt to grab at Morchant's neck, mane or anything at all. He missed and found himself on the cold ground with a thud landing on his left shoulder. Damn why that shoulder?

Morchant reared up sharply at the lack of master on his back and turned round to look at Legolas who was currently wishing the ground would open up and swallow him whole. For it was not just the curious eyes of his horse upon him but that of all his maethyr. Ai Elbereth why? Legolas sprung up quickly but not quickly enough to stop half his warriors leaping off their own mounts and rushing over to him concern clear upon their faces.

"Captain are you ok?"

"Hest Legolas manen le?"

"Legolas are you well – what is wrong?" This last from Faervel who was now rather annoyingly close and attempting to check him over.

Legolas brushed him off and waved away the concerns of his warriors, "Avaro naeth im maer."

His warriors reluctantly mounted again with one or two still throwing him concerned looks. Legolas waited until they had started moving again before he whispered for Morchant to kneel so he could mount. He was annoyed he had to do this but the fall had hurt him more than he wanted to admit. Of course Faervel was there strong hands steadying him as he perched himself back upon Morchant. His horse whickered softly checking his master was ok before moving off again.

Faervel drew up alongside Legolas on his own horse, "Legolas please tell me are you hurt?"

Legolas breathed out slowly trying to ignore the throbbing in his left shoulder. He longed to cradle it to his chest to keep it from being jostled but he refrained – Faervel would nag him to death if he knew how much his shoulder hurt. He also needed to be strong for his maethyr – he wanted to show no further weakness in front of them.

"Las please" Faervel drew his horse to a stop forcing Legolas to either stop as well or ignore him and carry on.

Legolas gave in with a sigh – he could not ignore Faervel when he was like this.

"What is it Faervel?"

"Tell me the truth if you will tell no one else. Your shoulder pains you still does it not? It was not as healed as you made out and this fall has just made it worse hasn't it?"

Legolas looked at his friend but despite his accusatory tone Legolas could see only worry in his eyes. He sighed again, "It was still a bit tender yes but we could not stay there any longer. Now come we are falling too far behind."

With that Legolas gave Morchant a light tap and the horse cantered off down the gloomy path eager to catch up to the others. Faervel followed with a frown still firmly in place upon his fair face.

~o~

The troop carried on, meeting with Celegil and Thoron who had gone ahead and scouted out the path that would lead to a clearing where they would camp for the night. They continued chattering softly amongst themselves, more than a few still throwing their Captain worried looks. Legolas rode on oblivious, eyes closed again but his right hand had a firm grip upon Morchant whilst he and Faervel brought up the rear. They were all so pre-occupied either with worried thoughts of their Captain or thoughts of getting to their camp site before dark, and with their senses still slightly dulled by the foul enchanted air none noticed the unfriendly eyes watching them from the brush.

~o~

Elias held his breath and waited until the last elf passed him by. He waited a few more minutes once they were out of sight before he gingerly left his hiding place amongst the bushes. He hadn't meant to get as close as he did to the elves but their path had taken them very close to his hiding place, very close indeed.

Elias half felt as if he ought to give a quick prayer of thanks to the Valar for spearing him from the wrath of those pointy eared freaks – 'twas a shame he didn't believe the Valar existed. Nonetheless he was still quite surprised none of the elves had noticed him. They had unnaturally sharp senses and when he had seen them coming so near to his hiding spot he had made his peace with the world in anticipation of his death.

The elves here were feral – or so tales were told – and Elias was certain they would cut his neck when they laid hands upon him. Yet they had passed by without giving the merest sign that they knew he was there. His near brush with the elves really was a blessing – for he now knew exactly where they were headed thanks to their whisperings about the camp they were to set up for the night. Elias grinned in glee, all was going to plan and he could not wait to give the good news to the Captain. Maybe that would mellow out the sour old so and so.

Deciding he was safe Elias begun to make his way back to give his report to his Captain being careful to disturb the forest as little as possible – it would not do to be careless now. The last thing he wanted was for those elves to hear him stumbling through the woods and chase after him. Elias picked his way near silently through the forest feeling very glad for once he had been taken in and raised a Ranger of the North.

TBC.
End Notes:
Dirnaith – Military (Troop/Guard)

Maethyr – (plural) warriors

Hest – Captain

Manen le? – How are you

Avaro naeth Im maer – Don't worry I'm fine/well

Morchant – Legolas' horse- Sindarin name meaning Shadow
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