Written for the 'A Time To…' challenge at the  Royal Mirkwood Home Yahoo group. Each participant was asked to write a fic based in Mirkwood on one of the phrases from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  I chose: 'a time to break down, and a time to build up', but you may find several others that work too.


Free To Live

By Nieriel Raina


Dol Guldur

Late April

Year 3019, Third Age


Thranduil stared at what remained of the fortress that had been a symbol of evil for half an Age. The tower of Dol Guldur had been reduced to a heap of rubble, its crumbled stone littering the ground on the hill of Amon Lanc, Thranduil's face reflected none of the ire he felt. He eyed the hilltop disdainfully. Though it was cleansed, it was no longer the home Oropher had settled when the land had been beautiful and full of hope. No elf would ever reside here again.


Here, in the southern reaches of that which men called Mirkwood, evil had run rampant; and for too many years, his people had retreated from it, fighting it, and holding it off as best they could. Now, the evil was banished. Sauron was defeated and the symbol of his power in the wood was destroyed.


But Thranduil felt no relief. This was his wood; it should have been his place to destroy the hideous reminder of so much Shadow! Yet… Could he have done what Galadriel had accomplished? Did he have the power to lay the evil to waste as she had? He did not know and cared not to examine his heart too closely for the truth.


Cloaking his dark emotions in dignity, Thranduil turned from the wreckage feeling hard, cold and very old. Numbness settled over him, seeing the tower destroyed being not quite enough to dissipate the dark emotions that had lingered for so long. And yet…


It was over. Evil was defeated. It was enough.


He took a step and then paused, his gaze taken by a tiny pair of leaves pushing up through the ground. A spark of joy kindled in his heart, a sudden surge of relief pushing away the resentment and anger that festered inside him. He stooped and touched the small leaves. Here was the proof that the Shadow was gone. Life sprouted and lifted its head towards the sun, unfettered by darkness, untwisted, and growing straight and true.


Victory at last.


The thought resonated within him as he glanced again at the razed tower. When he had met Celeborn in the heart of the wood on the day of the New Year and he had been told of the assaults on Lórien and the attack on the tower, Thranduil had known he would need to see it, to make certain that it was done, that Amon Lanc was free of the Shadow. His meeting with Celeborn had gone much better than Thranduil expected, and he had been overjoyed to learn that his son yet lived and would be home before the first frost. That news alone had been enough to temper his ire when he was informed his son had befriended a dwarf. He even managed to ignore the mirth in Celeborn's eyes as he quickly scanned a letter from Legolas, confirming what he had been told.


Rising to his feet, Thranduil looked around him. Eryn Lasgalen they had named it — the Wood of Green Leaves. He stepped over the tiny sapling and avoided the joyful wood-elves in their frivolity at the foot of the hill. They deserved their celebrations and did not need a moody king to dampen their light hearted spirits.


Thranduil slipped beneath the diseased trees surrounding the hill, finding more and more evidence that the Shadow had lifted. Here and there spring flowers sprouted. The new growth on the twisted trees was straight and true.


It was truly over.


Tears unheeded fell from his eyes as all the suppressed emotion poured out of him and the darkness inside himself was shed at long last. As the cleansing tears fell, he realized it did not matter who had banished the final evil in the wood. The Lady would be leaving, sailing West; her work over. It was time for restoration. The time of destruction was past; the time to rebuild had come. And that was something Thranduil did have the power to achieve!


Touching the trees as he walked, he whispered comfort to the twisted boughs, and as he walked, Thranduil began to look to the future. He would not abandon this wood that he loved so deeply, nor his people who had fought so long and hard to see this done. These trees would be healed, all traces of darkness would be driven from the wood, and the wood-elves would once again be free to live their lives in peace.




Yes, it would be a time of peace and joy, and he was one who planned to enjoy it.


Thranduil strode back into the midst of the singing and dancing warriors that had accompanied him south. He pretended not to notice the looks of amazement on the faces of his men as he beamed, joy written plainly in his countenance. He lifted a wine skin, taking a huge swallow, before setting it down and clapping and singing with the others.




A time of cleansing, laughter and joy — a time to start over and begin anew after evil had destroyed so much. A time to build up, not just the land, but each other.


Slipping into the circle of twirling and leaping elves, Thranduil joined the victory dance.


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