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A light from the shadows

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Legolas looked around his room steadily, trying to see if he had missed something. Outside the room, at the house, the sounds of revelry were clearly heard. The wood-elf didn't want to join, and he didn't think that anyone out there would wish for him to join them, or event expect him to. That suit him just fine, the party would last for three days, and the after-effects would last even longer. With luck, and he was due to some of it, it would be at least four of five days until someone would miss him. By then, he would have left the valley and be lost into the wilderness.

Walking towards the room's balcony, he left the bag of his belongings nearby and took a look around. His room faced towards the back of the house, to the rocky wall of the cliffs behind and the small summer house in the back. It was supposed to be a slight to have been housed here, instead of the front rooms, but Legolas had found it one of the few bright things in all this mess. To have a place to retreat and be separated from the family was a true gift. Now it would be a blessing, because it gave him a discrete path to slip away through the back cliffs and the cascade's hidden paths, which would take him unseen outside the borders of Imladris to the Trollshaws. It wasn't his planned destination, but it would make a good place to disappear and shake any possible pursuits. Legolas wasn't so foolish to think he would be able to leave unchallenged. They didn't want him here, but he fulfilled a role, to moor the Lord of the Valley to Middle Earth and help him to stand the strain of his ring after the departing of the Lady of the Valley.

Legolas had found himself in this situation against his will and obviously against the wishes of the Perendhil family. Despite all their hopes, when the Lady Celebrian abruptly decided to sail after the grief of her attack, Lord Elrond had found himself injured. Although the Elvish Rings had been created to help the elves to keep the evil away, and they were wonderful tools, they took part of their wearer’s strength. As the days grew darker because of the orcs, trolls and other evil creatures growing in numbers and strength, the rings took more and more from their owners, and they had to pour more of themselves into it. Of the three rings's wearers, one was a Maia, one an Eldar born in Aman back in the Years of the Trees, and the last was Elrond, a half-elf. While Elrond did have the blood of the Maia Melian in his ancestry, it was greatly diluted and mixed with mortal blood. This did bind him tightly to Middle Earth, but the mortal blood wasn't fully compatible with his ring, which tried, among other things, to stop the wear of time.

And then, the situation with Celebrian. It was well known that an Elven marriage bond was far more than a ring and a party. In Elrond's case, with his mixed blood and the choice put before him by the Valar, the bond had also been a way to reinforce his ties to the Elven race. When Galadriel had pushed her daughter to marry the then heir-apparent of the High King, they both had expected for her eventually become consort Queen to the Noldor in Middle Earth. However, when the time came, a grieving Elrond had rejected the Crown and declared Gil-galad the last High King in Middle Earth, before retreating to Rivendell. Celebrian had felt cheated of her dreams. She wasn't a bad person, but she had been the late and only daughter of her parent’s marriage, and had been utterly spoiled by her doting father. Her mother, although wise and powerful, still felt the sting of the restricting Noldor's rules which impeded her from being a potential candidate to the Crown. Never mind that the Crown belonged to Fingolfin's line. So Celebrain’s mother had tried to live her dream through her daughter, as it happens with many parents.

The combination of being spoiled and pushed into her mother’s aspirations had made Celebrain a sheltered elleth. Marrying a very special elf, as Elrond was, had been outside of her experience. Elrond, with his mannish blood, was broader and heavier set than an elf, and his Maiar blood gave him visions and wisdom beyond his age. Celebrian couldn't cope with it. The marriage was a failure and she was constantly leaving for months or years to visit her parents homeland, which she still considered her home as well. Until tragedy struck, and she was attacked on the way. With so little to tie her to her husband, she didn't wish to stay in Middle Earth or be married to him. So she announced her decision to sail, and when her family tried to convince her to stay, she recklessly broke off the ties of marriage to Elrond. Wearing the ring to defend Imladris was a huge pressure on Elrond, and the breaking of their bond that, while weak, still acted as an anchor, was too much for him. Elrond had immediately collapsed and had begun to fade. The residents of Imladris had all to panicked, and when Legolas, who had been there in that moment to deliver a message of his father the King, had touched the half-elf to help him up, he had been pulled into a bond. Elrond, instinctively trying to save himself, connected to the first elf that touched him. That was the start of his grief. Legolas had found himself in an unwilling bond with an elf that was an age older than him, literally, and who had just been rejected by the wife he had been married to throughout that age. A wife who had thrown into his face all the things she found lacking in him.
Elrond had closed himself off, unwilling to trust this new bond and used it only as an anchor. That suited Legolas perfectly fine, and he would have been happy to depart for home and leave it as it was, at least for the meantime. But it wasn't to be. At first he had been impeded to depart because they had felt that he couldn't put himself at risk, his home was dangerous, and exposing Elrond to another broken connection so close to the other could be fatal . Secondly, with the emotions being so high and the family so broken, those whom Legolas had considered his best friends and near brothers, had started to treat him poorly without any rational reason. They had dealt with their grief and their anger towards their mother's actions by blaming an easier target: Legolas. They started to make it sound as if he was some gold digger trying to insert himself into their family. And Elrond, who usually could be counted to be the wise and rational one, had retreated into himself and done nothing to stop it. With Arwen gone back to their grandparents, and the collusion of the young heirs of the family and the Lord of the Valley doing nothing to stop it, some of the residents of the House had started to misbehave and they made Legolas' life difficult.

Legolas had been trying to stay calm and wait for it all to blow over. He had kept his father from doing anything foolish by not telling anyone in his home of how he was being treated. He did not want his father to start a war against Imladris. But after three years, and the last bit of bitterness done towards him, he had lost all patience and started to plan his departure. He didn't want a war or more bad blood between their realms, but he couldn't stand the atmosphere of the Valley anymore. He would leave the place and take the long way back home to avoid being taken back. Once there, he would tell his father that He and Elrond couldn't make it work and they were only waiting for a short time to break it off, once Elrond could stand the rift and a better candidate could be found for the bond. He had left a note in that regard for Elrond to read, once his escape was found. He expected that, with the distance, the wise elf Lord would see sense and accept the offer.

But for now, it was time to leave. The occupants of Imladris would have had time to get to the Hall of Fire and start to drink and be merry for a while now and wouldn't be around the grounds. He would only need to be careful of the few guards standing around. Imladris, as opposed to his home, had other things to guard it than elves. Since the goal of those standing guard was avoiding danger from coming inside, not to prevent people from leaving, it should be possible to avoid them in his way out.

Legolas picked his bag of belongings, strapped his weapons on his back and waist respectively, and left through the balcony, using a convenient tree next to it to drop off to the ground. Once there, he went into the small forest to the path near the cliff and started to encircle the house from the north. From there he only needed to go into the northern hidden path which had been shown to him long ago behind one of the north waterfalls. He avoided a patrol at the path by taking to the trees and dropped again to the ground at the base of the cliff to take the narrow path into the rocky heights. This pass was a deep cut into the earth, narrow and serpentine, which went through the cliffs behind the valley and went Northwest to a small clear near the Trollshaws. He didn't want to enter this area, only exit Imladris by it and then turn Northeast towards the Misty Mountains. He couldn't take the pass of Caradhras because it was too well known and he would probably be tracked there. He also didn't wish to cross it alone, as it was a favored pass for the elves. Orcs occasionally made ambushes in it. He expected to find a less travelled pass further north, used by animals, which he could use to cross the Mountains to his home. It was a dangerous way, but he judged it better than going to the more unprotected lands south or being taken back to Imladris at Caradhras.

Finally reaching the waterfall, he took a last look towards the Last Homely House, not expecting to see it again in a long time, if ever. That place had been a home away from home, and the family there were dear friends to him. Legolas had befriended the twins and had become friendly with the elf Lord against his father's wishes. Now he left them, secretly, as if he was an enemy, and his heart felt sore and grieved. He turned his back on the Valley and started on the path home, saying a final farewell in his heart.