There is a statue at the entrance to Mirkwood.

An Elvin woman, standing tall with hands cupped, gazes down at the path. Her hands and body, conquered by robes, a hood, lichen, moss and vine covering all but her face and her outstretched hands.

Some say that if you place a offering in her hands, you will be guaranteed a safe trip through the forest - but that's not true. Not in this age, at least. Nothing short of an Elvin warrior (or two) to guide you through would keep you safe.

And even those were a little short at this time. For many miles away, a great battle was taking place.

A Battle of Five Armies.

And, many miles away in a foreign city, an old elf king stood among the corpse of his people and the prince watched the elf he loved hold the cooling body of the only creature she would ever love in such a way.

Her husband and her son and her people were sent to war - to destroy the creatures where she had failed.

As the battle continued, no one - not a breathing creature save the groaning trees and the shifting grass (but they would never tell. Not a soul.) - would bear witness to the tears of pure blood streaking down her cold, stone gray face to collect in her cupped hands.

(It would wash away in the next rain.)

(Like blood on a battle field.)

(As if it was never there in the start.)