Pain crushes my heart when I look around the battlefield. Too many lives were lost today. Their faces now lay still forever, their eyes will seek the sky nevermore, my forest will never again light up with their laughter.
It is a strange thing that we immortals die so easily.
But I am not allowed to mourn their passing for long. I have to get up and do what my duty demands of me. The night is for orc-fighting, the days are needed to bury the dead.
Since before the days of the Last Alliance there has not been a single sunrise above Greenwood that was not red.
We have celebrated no victory since then, as no victory was final and more orcs will ever come. Their numbers are always greater, no matter how many we killed the night before.
I get up, though my wounded leg is begging me not to. Today’s battle is over. My task now is to inform the wives and mothers of the ones that will not return.
Life in Mirkwood has ever been like that; dear friends die every day. It is sad to say, but my people are used to it by now. It was our choice to remain here. It was our choice to set up an elven sanctuary in this forest. It was our choice to defend our realm with blood rather than rings.
We have been called proud.
We have been called insane.
And maybe I am both.
I have been to Lothlorien once, where evil is kept at bay with magic and only five marchwardens are needed to keep the borders safe. I have seen the Mallorn trees and marvelled at their beauty. I have seen the children there, running barefooted over the forest floor without fear of orc or spider.
I have seen the life I refuse to have.
Celeborn tried talking reason into me. He asked me if it was really necessary that I follow my father’s proud footpath into doom. If I, like Oropher, was stubborn enough to lead my people to certain death.
He offered us a place inside his woods.
But we all refused.
For with all their magic, with all their powers of foresight they cannot see the beauty we see when we look at the trees of Mirkwood.
They never looked at it as home.
I stumble through the hallways of my palace, dragging my wounded leg along.
"Where is he?" I ask the first elf I run into.
"My liege, your leg! It needs tending, you need to lie dow-"
"Where is he?" I demand once more and the elf points the way.
He lies asleep in his cradle when I find him, blissfully unaware of the danger all around. Though war is surrounding him he is peacefully sucking his thumb. His eyes are lit up by something that has happened in his dreams.
"Hello." I speak softly as I pick him up. "Hello, heart of mine. Ada is back. Ada is here."
Today’s despair is forgotten as he blinks and looks at me, curling his mouth in something that could be a smile.
I can do nothing but smile back and kiss his tiny nose and his perfect little pointed ears.
This little one is everything to me. He is my heart, my hope and my future.
And though he will grow up under threat of both spiders and orcs, though he may never run barefooted through this forest, and though it may take many years for him to even see his first bit of daylight, right here, under these dark trees he will be happy.
His happiness will not depend on the power of a small piece of jewellery on someone’s finger.
That is my gift to him, that is why we fight every night, giving our lives if we must; not for pride, but for freedom.
Celeborn tried to tell me that my battle was already lost, that there were no green leaves left in Mirkwood to fight for.
I rock Legolas and laugh at such foolish a thought.