While the madness grows in Thorin, with his only focus on finding the Arkenstone in the treasure hoard, the people of Lake-town who would benefit from the gold the most, are packing what the Long Lake had washed ashore, carry their wounded, and hope to find someplace they could start again.
A long march ahead
Man: “I’ve got you.”
Bard: “Take only what you need. We have a long march ahead.”
Legolas: “Where will you go?”
Bard: “There is only one place.”
Legolas, as Bard’s only ally, is concerned about the people of Lake-town. There are no places in the proximity of the Long Lake that could offer them refuge. The Woodland Realm has closed its doors to the world encasing themselves into their own kingdom, waiting for the evil to strike the rest of the world and when it is defeated by someone other than themselves, they will emerge.
The only place the people of Lake-town can now take refuge in is the same place where the Dwarves finished their quest. There isn’t anything but wetlands and desolation between them and the mountain, and though the road might be long and arduous, there is nothing for them at the Long Lake anymore. They have to settle permanently somewhere else.
Refuge in the mountain
Alfrid: “The Mountain. You are a genius, sire. We can take refuge inside the Mountain. It might smell a bit of dragon, but the women can clean that up. It’ll be safe and warm and dry and full of stores bedding, clothing, the odd bit of gold.”
Bard: “What gold is in that Mountain is cursed. We will take only what was promised to us. Only what we need to rebuild our lives.”
Alfrid: “Here. Pull your weight.”
Alfrid, as per his usual sleazy and greedy way, thinks only of the benefits of the place they are about to settle in. The discomfort the smell of dragon brings does bother him some, but then again, the women are there to clean it up. Everything else, as far as he is concerned is up for grabs: the stores, the bedding, the clothing, and especially the gold.
As Alfrid says this, he looks over at Bard with a greedy look on his face as well as one of hidden joy. He sees his place beside Bard as the safest way of gaining access to the gold in the Lonely Mountain. The only thing left to do is to bring Bard about the importance of that gold.
Greed and fairness
Bard, on the other hand, does not think in greedy ways as Alfrid does. He holds to fairness. The gold upon which a dragon has brooded for so long might have the same effect upon him as it has on Thorin. Therefore, the barest necessity of that gold will do for them to rebuild their lives, given that it was the Dwarves who woke the beast and caused destruction and mayhem in Lake-town.
Alfrid is not one to help the community, but rather help himself instead. It is unappealing to see him handing weight over to an older woman to carry rather than take it himself and be of any assistance in these hard times. His mind is only concentrated on the gold in the Mountain.
A fear of what may come
Legolas: “News of the death of Smaug will have spread through the lands.”
Legolas: “Others will now look to the Mountain for its wealth, for its position.”
Bard: “What is it you know?”
Legolas: “Nothing for certain. It’s what I fear may come.”
There is fear in Bard’s eyes as Legolas points to the consequences of Smaug’s death. Though he himself supposes that not only the people of Lake-town will need the gold, but that other races might also swoop in and demand their share as well. It means that their refuge, their next home away from home, could possibly become a battlefield in which they would again be the victims of someone else’s greed and want of power.
Legolas points to a very pragmatic opinion of the Mountain. Its position on the map coupled with the wealth inside it equals a perfect storm for those who might exploit it. If the Orcs took hold of Erebor, they would have no barriers left to cross to revive the ancient kingdom of Angmar. And with the Witchking resurrected, the power of evil, therefore the power of Sauron, can only grow and establish itself even more than it already has.
Bolg: “Woodland Elves! The King’s son and a She-Elf they tracked us to Lake-town.”
Azog: “And you killed them?”
Bolg: “They fled squealing like cowards.”
Azog: “You fool! They will return with an Army of Elves at their backs! Ride to Gundabad. Let the Legions come forth. Elves! Men! Dwarves! The Mountain will be their tomb! To war!”
As Legolas utters his concerns about the near future, an army of Orcs led by Azog is marching toward Erebor. The pits of Dol Guldur have been emptied as Sauron commanded Azog to prepare and lead his army to Erebor. The one snafu Azog did not consider is Bolg’s failure at killing the Woodelves that have been following them since their realm.
Bolg tries to cushion the blow by painting a picture of Tauriel and Legolas as running away from them in fear, when in fact the opposite is true.
Azog, for all his cunningness and maliciousness, understands what this failure might bring upon his single army. Therefore, he orders Bolg to lead the army of Gundabad Orcs that will complement and strengthen their defenses against the armies of the Elves he fears may be waiting for them at their destination.
The mark of Gundabad
Tauriel: “You saw something out there.”
Legolas: “The Orc I pursued out of Lake-town. I know who he is. Bolg, spawn of Azog the Defiler. A Warg pack was waiting for him on the outskirts of Esgaroth. They fled into the North. These Orcs were different from the others. They bore a mark I have not seen for a long time. The mark of Gundabad.”
Legolas: “An Orc stronghold in the far North of the Misty Mountains.”
What Legolas does not share with Bard, he shares with Tauriel. She is his only Elven army at this point, and the one Elf he can count on to assist him in his scouting mission. The stronghold of Gundabad is precisely where Bolg has been sent to mobilize the armies of Orcs to strengthen the Orc ranks that Azog is leading to Erebor. However, this particular stronghold has a much deeper meaning for Legolas than just being a door into the former kingdom of Angmar.
Feren: “My Lord Legolas, I bring word from your Father. You are to return to him immediately.”
Legolas: “Come, Tauriel.”
Feren: “My Lord, Tauriel is banished.”
Legolas: “Banished? You may tell my father if there is no place for Tauriel, there is no place for me.”
Feren brings word from the Woodland Realm and his king’s decision to bring Legolas back to his father’s kingdom. Thranduil, though lacking in any loving feelings toward his son, wants him back in his own kingdom as the evil is spreading across the world. Legolas is eager to follow his father’s word and moves to return to the Woodland realm without a second thought.
It is only natural for him to think that Tauriel should go back with him. To hear that she has been banished from her own home for having a different world view to that of her king stops Legolas dead in his tracks.
In an act of chivalry, he stands with Tauriel and places himself between her and his king. For all intents and purposes Legolas is banished now as well.
Tauriel is shocked to hear of her own banishment. She may have thought it would anger the king, not following his rule, but to be prevented from ever stepping foot into her own home, is something else altogether. It would seem that Thranduil only cared for her well-being as long as she did exactly as he commanded her, not having her own will or opinion of changing anything. As she has done so, he sees no other remedy to the situation but to banish her.
The ways of the heart
Tauriel: “Legolas. It is your king’s command.”
Legolas: “Yes, he is my King but he does not command my heart. I ride North. Will you come with me?”
Tauriel: “To where?”
Legolas: “To Gundabad.”
Without looking into her eyes, Legolas confesses his true feelings behind his decision to stand by her. Out of love for Tauriel he refuses his king’s command and goes on a quest himself with the only other Elf that is free to choose her own path. Tauriel does not utter a word about his love for her, given that she had given her love to Kili and Legolas was a witness of it.
However, despite that scene, Legolas expresses his feelings towards her, knowing very well that her heart is engaged elsewhere. Nevertheless, he cannot stop his heart from feeling how it does. And expressing love for someone, knowing it would remain unrequited is the most unselfish kind of love one can feel.
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