When Sorrow Sang Softly
Prologue – The Elvenking
‘Whispers dance through the enchanted forest whilst strange voices sing, accompanied by the roaring laughter of the wind catching itself in the branches. Tales tell that he wanders the forest on bare feet, clad in white robes that dance about his body in the blowing winds, a crown of ivory upon his head. They call the forest enchanted, and it truly is. However, few know the truth about its king, though tales of him were wide-spread; a beard-less giant who lures little children into the vastness of his realm to satisfy his lust for revenge – or worse: to quench his unnatural desires, before he sacrifices them on wooden stakes. Lies, each one. None of it is true, and no matter how often you encounter any of these, you must not listen to such ridiculousness. Never.”
‘Good. I must bid you caution, though: a strong magic prevails in Greenwood the Great, ancient as the forest itself. The streams and rivers that run through the forest like veins nurture the earth and its people.’
‘So this is no fictional tale, then? About the king and his land I mean?’
‘Indeed it is not. No other being alive is as connected with the earth as King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm is. The forest is him, and he is the forest – they one, inseparable as long as Arda prevails. If either dies, the other has to follow, one way or the other. Once, long ago, malice spread through the enchanted forest, poisoning its rivers and streams and forcing the Elves to migrate further into the forest.
‘The malice grew and cast its shadow upon the face of the Elvenking, weakening him so grievously that his son led their people towards the Black Mountains. Magic concealed the state of his mind whenever one of us spoke to him, casting an illusion of beauty upon his features, where in truth sorrow reigned. It was not blindness that made him tarry, it was memory, dreadful and threatening, the sickening forest draining all energy from its king. In the hostility of Mordor, Thranduil had lost everything that was dear to him, except his only son. His father was assaulted and slain, his wife captured, never to return. He was young then, a prince who had never seen the horrors of war, growing up in luxury at King Thingol’s court, and later in Amon Lanc, living a relatively carefree life. Ash was the only crown he wore the day when he took up his father’s rule, a crown Thranduil had never wanted, though many say it was not so. They mistook, and still mistake his heart’s wish to not let the past repeat itself, the will to protect his people seen as arrogance, the illusion he dons as unhealthy pride when in truth he protects himself with it.’
‘What do you advise me?’
The answer was cryptic. ‘Apart from not listening to those tales told in taverns and ale-houses? Not much. Some things are more familiar than others. Be yourself and not overly nosey – a contradiction in itself, I know - but keep out of business that is not your own. The forest has its secrets and so does its king.’
During all the years he wandered the earth striving for a better future he did, but he never stopped wondering why.