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"They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed. In the North, also there had been war and evil. The realm of Thranduil was invaded, and there was long battle under the trees, and great ruin of fire; but in the end Thranduil had the victory."
(Lord of the Rings: Appendix B)
Tents were set up to heal the injured and provide shrouds to bury the dead. The dead were buried far from Dol Guldur, where the soil was soft and the trees were friends. The Elves worked quickly, bringing down what was left of Dol Guldur till it lay in nothing but a pile of disfigured stones.
No one but the Silvan Elves living in the forest of Mirkwood looked in the direction of Dol Guldur with more regret and sorrow. It was stain on their forest, on their memory. Here the imprisoned Elves spent long and dark years of imprisonment, and the Elves living in the safety of Thranduil's Halls felt the wretched helplessness.
No doubt their king felt the same, though none could say for sure. Men often described him like kings of old, terrible yet splendid, with a heart that softened in a cry of help yet hardened when a threat crashed against his forest like a storm at Sea crashed against the shores. He had seen terrible things at war, so little fazed him but he was loyal and many of his people seen him laugh when he was merry.
There was no merriment by the broken city of Dol Guldur, only grief and sorrow as they pulled more and more Elves from the pits Galadriel laid bare. Thranduil ran his eyes over the plain.
"Where is the Lady Galadriel?" Thranduil asked the guard accompanying him.
"Resting, Sire," he answered. "The battle took a heavy toll on her."
"I am sure." Thranduil said. "How many dead?"
"They are still counting, Sire."
Dol Guldur; it was the first capital of Greenwood the Great. Oropher built it as a fortress of safety, but after problems with Lothlórien, Oropher moved away to keep the peace between the two peoples. Sauron took the fortress and claimed it as his own. The greenery on the hill shrivelled away, the ground became dry and cracked. Darkness lay over Dol Guldur and any Elf that looked upon the city looked upon it with a curse. Thranduil felt the same. He went up to the uncovered pits and looked below. Bloody water gathered in small puddles on the broken ground. Chains lay broken and scattered over the stones. He saw whips as well and broken cells to hold prisoners.
"It seems Sauron looked for the secret of Morgoth on the making of orcs." Thranduil said. "Did you find any?"
"Where are they?"
"Sire," the guard was visibly uncomfortable. "Your advisor mentioned it best for not to see them."
"Where?" Thranduil repeated, his words brooking no argument. The guard bowed his head and led him to a nearby tent.
As soon as the flap closed behind him, Thranduil noted with a pang in his heart the stretchers on which breathing, living but mutilated Elves lay. Healers moved about. Some of the Elves were horribly mutilated, their nails torn away, their hair hanging in clumps and a part of their head naked of skin. Many showed ribs and wasted limbs that were nothing but skin on bones. Thranduil reached the one closest to him and tenderly brushed his fingers on his forehead. The Elf was unconscious but his body twitched in response. Some of these may survive with the proper care and love. He got up and moved to the further into the tent, noting with each stretcher he passed, the conditioned worsened steadily.
The Elves furthest from the tent entrance were barely recognizable. They seemed more orc than Elf. One of the healers looked up, recognized him and hurried up to him.
"How are they?" Thranduil said before the healer had the chance to speak.
"Those with the least torture may survive. Many will set sail. Those who choose to stay behind will need care and attention. As for the ones lying here," he looked about. "These are more orcs than Elves."
Thranduil lowered himself beside a nearby stretcher. The freed prisoner that lay before him was covered by a blanket, visible skin dark and bruised, the face was scarred, disfigured, the lip caught in a permanent sneer. His hair was thin and in clumps, the tips of the ears mutilated.
"And what will be their fate?"
"We have prepared a concoction to let them drift to eternal sleep." Thranduil looked up silently.
"It is the only way, my lord. I assure you it is completely painless." The healer nodded at the prisoner. "He was next."
"I will do it."
The healer did not waste his breath to argue and left. Thranduil was firm when he came on a decision and none can move him from it. When the healer returned, he passed the cup in his hands to Thranduil. The king placed his hand behind the half-orc's neck and raised its head lightly and brought the cup closer.
But it knocked away his hand. The cup dropped with a dull thud on the ground, spilling its contents on the soil that eagerly drank the concoction. It sat up, glaring at Thranduil with dark eyes. His guards immediately went for their swords but Thranduil remained calm and gestured at them to stand their ground. He searched the half-orc's eyes. There was no malice, no fury or hostility. Instead it pointed at the dagger hanging from Thranduil's belt. It wanted to die by a blade; warrior's death rather than a coward's. Still, a dagger was no weapon of battle, but Thranduil refused to use his sword to end the life of an Elf, even if it were consumed by an orc's.
He pulled the dagger free from his sheath and looked at the half-orc for confirmation. It didn't move, but lay there, neck stretched to receive the blade, satisfaction and relief in its eyes. Strange, for something so unattractive to be their kin. Thranduil pressed the blade along the neck, his guards moving to hold down the half-orc. The dagger was sharp, and Thranduil would make sure it would not suffer.
"We will meet again," Thranduil murmured to the half-orc. The dagger moved, slicing, deep enough for the blood to gush forth in fierce spurts. The half-orc gave a brief squeal of pain before it lay limp, the life dying from its eyes within a matter of moments.
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