|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
Chapter 14 – “I am not alone”
The Elven party and the Ranger troop joined forces as planned and began again in earnest their stint of patrolling the northern portion of Rhudaur toward the Ettenmoors in what was in times past the eastern stretches of the kingdom of Arnor. Erithain relished the opportunity of getting to know his nephew and Estel seemed to blossom under the attentions of a Man he was coming to respect and admire.
Elladan kept a watchful eye on the two. Not because he was wary that in some way Erithain would let slip the secret that was yet to be told. The Ranger had given his word and Elladan knew that once given he would never break his promise. Rather he watched because it gave him a secret joy to see the two reunited if only for a short time. These were Estel’s people; he belonged to them and although the words were spoken in anger Erithain had been right, for however necessary a reason Elrond had stolen Erithain’s family. Over the many centuries that Elladan had ridden with the Dunedain of the North he had developed a deep love and respect for the Rangers and their devotion to what will be and he regretted the pain that had been caused to such good and noble people. Through the years they remained unchanged, steadfastly working and hoping for the days that would see the return of the king. As he sat at the campfire along the path towards the Ettenmoors sharpening one of his white knives he looked at Estel across the fire and whether it was a trick of the light or it was truly a vision of the future he could never be quite sure but he thought he saw a crown of starlight and eagles’ wings descend upon his young brother’s brow. Elladan blinked and the vision was gone, only firelight remained and the Elf thought upon the expectation that sat on those young, unknowing shoulders and sighed.
“What are you thinking muindor nin?” His brother’s words interrupted his musings. Elladan looked at his brother who had silently seated himself next to his older sibling.
“He is so young, ‘Roh, for all that is expected of him,” he said sadly.
Elrohir looked at his older brother ready to tease, but something in Elladan’s eyes stopped him, “You’ve seen something, haven’t you?”
“Yes, but it is not foreboding, it has only caused me remember how much depends upon him.”
Elrohir confidently, “He will learn.” He added, “And succeed, he can do nothing other. Now eat your stew. It is actually quite good. You did not make it.” A mischievous glint crossed his eye and a smile lit his face.
Elladan first flashed a look of annoyance at his younger brother, but then in a mercurial shift, shared a laugh. “Just for that. Next time…Double helpings.”
Erithain sat on his horse and looked beyond the plains to the far away hills that protected Fornost from the harsh winter winds that buffeted the plains of Arnor.
“You have a far away look in your eye,” came a voice at his side. Estel cast a concerned eye out in the direction of his uncle’s gaze, “What do you look at? Are there Orcs on the horizon?” Erithain turned and saw his nephew sitting on Gilgilath and his heart swelled with love and pride for the boy.
“No, there are not,” he said looking back across the plains afraid that Estel might see too much in his eyes. Estel had grown so tall and strong, he would do the Dunedain proud when he came back to reclaim the Chieftaincy of his people. Erithain looked forward to that day when he could pass on the responsibility for the tribes to his nephew. He had never sought to rule; never thought the burden would ever fall to him being the youngest of three sons. Memories of his two older brothers nudged their way into Erithain’s thoughts. He could see their faces as clear as they were standing in front of him, Elassen looking very serious and Alarael always laughing. He had accepted their deaths many years ago but he still missed them and rued the twists of fortune that saw him sitting atop his horse, Steward to his people and their ashes spread to the winds of Manwe twenty years past. Erithain sighed and continue to look west towards home.
“If not Orcs, then what do you look at so wistfully, my friend.” Erithain smiled at the use of the word “friend” and looked back toward his nephew.
“Was I wistful?” he asked, not realizing that he had let so much feeling show on his face.
“I look toward home. It has been a long journey.” Erithain gazed at his nephew almost mournfully. “And I wish to go home.”
Estel had the feeling as he looked into the Ranger’s eyes that he was talking about more than the current tour of the Ettenmoors, but he could not fathom what that might be. It reminded him of the look of longing he would see on his mother’s face watching him when she thought he was not looking. Likewise, it gave him the most curious feeling, like he should know something, but he did not know what.
Erithain, noticing the pensive look on his nephew’s face, realized that he had let too much emotion slip and said more robustly, “Never mind. We will be home soon enough and I can rest these old bones in front of a warm fire.” Estel smiled. The mood had past; but the feeling of knowledge lost lingered on.
The time had come for the two companies to part. The Rangers would turn toward Fornost and their homes but the Elven band would continue on, cutting through a small northern pass in the Misty Mountains and enter Mirkwood from the north. Estel was very sad to be parting company with the Dunedain Rangers. He had come to respect and admire these men of the West for their dedication to their cause and their humour in the face of adversity. He would especially miss Captain Erithain. Estel could see by their reactions towards their captain that all held Erithain in high respect. In battle he was fierce, but at rest he was a man who enjoyed a laugh as much as any in his company. He had a quiet strength about him and a way of giving confidence and comfort to his people. Estel felt drawn towards him and they had talked much over the weeks the two parties patrolled together.
On the morning of the parting Estel went over to bid farewell to his friend. Erithain did not look up from cinching his saddlebags at the sound of light footfalls. “Elladan and Elrohir will not be pleased. I could hear your approach many steps away!” he finished with a chuckle.
“I was not trying approach silently, if I had I would have been up on the horse before you’d even known I was around.” Estel added with a proper touch of Elven superiority.
Erithain laughed and ruffled the boy’s long, dark partially plaited hair, “You have most definitely been raised in Rivendell with that Elven attitude!”
“And just what attitude would that be, Master Ranger.” Erithain jumped and turned at the breath of a spoken word brushing past his ear. Elrohir stood less than a foot behind him, an impish grin on his fair face.
“A Elbereth! Must you do that! Every time you do it takes five years off my life!” Erithain glared at Elrohir and then laughed, “All right, point proven! Enough of this Elven mischief. Let us break camp.”
Elrohir laughed and moved toward his own bedroll and camp pack, “Yes, let us. We must make ready to reach the mountain pass by nightfall. There we will camp and get a start early on the morrow.”
Estel hung back to say a few private words to his friend before they all departed. He did not where to start and looked at his foot scuffling the ground when he felt Erithain’s hand lift up his chin to look into his nephew’s earnest grey eyes, “I am sorry that the camps must part, but that is a warrior’s life. We hold all that are dear to us in our hearts. That way we are never truly parted.”
Estel chewed his lower lip, “I know all that. But I will miss you all the same.” A stray tear slipped the slight boundaries of his eye only to be brushed away impatiently. Erithain saw the youth’s face colour slightly in embarrassment and put his hands on his nephew’s shoulders. “Estel, look at me. There is no shame in tears, not when shed for those you hold in respect and affection.” Erithain had wanted to say “love” but he did not trust himself to use the word for fear that his emotions might break through his restraints and show much more than could be explained at this time. “It does not make you less of a man. In fact it shows that you are man enough to have emotions and unafraid to express them.” Erithain thought of his words and of all the emotions he was unable to express and smiled mirthlessly. His heart was bursting, unable to show the boy the love that he had for him. He tucked away in a small portion of his heart the knowledge that Estel shared at least a portion of his affection. That thought filled his heart and perhaps a little selfishly, he was happy.
Estel sniffed and nodded wiping his nose on his sleeve, “Maybe you can come to Rivendell and visit! Adar would welcome you, I’m sure.”
Erithain closed his eyes against the flare of pain in his heart and prayed to for the strength to turn down the invitation in a dignified fashion. “I would love that, but I-I’m afraid that will not be possible.” It broke his heart to see the refusal darken his nephew’s grey eyes with disappointment as he tried to shrug it off as if it really did not matter.
“T-That’s all right. I realize you are busy being a Ranger and do not have time to pay visits. It’s not important.” Estel tried to turn away quickly, to escape before he really shamed himself with tears.
Erithain was not proof against such obvious disappointment and caught the boy up in a great bear hug. Estel, at first, resisted, but then hugged his uncle with all his might. “It’s not that I do not want to visit you,” He started in a voice far strong than he felt at the moment. “It’s just that I cannot for reasons I cannot explain right now." He pulled away a little to look his nephew in the face. “Do you understand.” The boy nodded, his face tear-stained. “We will see each other,” he said fervently. “That much I can promise you. Never be afraid of that. We will join together and fight the good fight once more. Now go, and make ready to depart.” Estel smiled and left to tend to his pack and horse. Erithain leaned against his horse, weakened by the full force of restrained emotions now raging through him. He had kept his word; it was all he had left to him. Still it was cold comfort as his eyes followed his nephew across the camp.
“Hannon le, muindor nin,” said a quiet voice from behind him, “Sorry, but I heard a portion of your conversation.” Elladan approached his friend from the opposite direction than Estel’s departure. “I sense the great pain that caused you.”
“Yes, well. Where does my loyalty lie, except here?*” Erithain stated in a embittered, care-worn voice. He looked at the reflected pain in the Sindarin Elf’s eyes and relented, “Be safe, my friend. And take care of my nephew.”
“Always, Mellon nin. Always. Namarie.
The pass through the Misty Mountains was narrow and the incline dangerous for mounted riders so Estel slipped off Gilgilath’s back and walked him through the steep narrow passage. He now understood why Elrohir wanted to attempt this crossing in full daylight because a nighttime passing would have been treacherous indeed.
At a portion of the pass that had widen enough for two Elves to walk abreast leading their horses, Elladan walked along side his young foster brother. “You are so quiet, muindoreg nin. Does something weigh so heavily on your mind?”
Estel looked briefly at his older brother and shrugged, “No, not really. Just thinking.”
“About the Dunedain Rangers we’ve left behind, I should think.”
Estel stopped short briefly and then continued on, “How did you know?”
Elladan chuckled, “Because I know you far too well muindoreg nin. You miss them?”
Estel nodded, and then tried to excuse his feelings, only to be interrupted by Elladan, “It is right that you should miss them. They are a fine, honourable people, worthy of admiration and affection.”
Estel smiled and then sobered, “Do you think they will ever restore their kingdom?”
His older brother looked at him somberly and then said, “I think they will. It is what they live for and I think it will happen someday.”
Estel returned the look, “I hope so.”
“I know so,” his brother replied and under his breath Estel heard him utter, “Or we are all lost.” This muttered statement frightened Estel and filled him with a sense of foreboding, but he did not mention it anymore to his Elven brother. He did not wish to worry him needlessly. He was still pondering his conversation with Elladan when the attack came half an hour later. And because of this slight delay in reaction he was slow to draw his sword and the Orc blade caught him off guard, he barely parried it away before the next blade came slashing across the area of space where his mid-drift had been seconds before. He was able to bring his blade swishing in a downward arc separating the Orc’s head from his body. He saw Vivelle to his left disembowel an Orc and continue moving toward him. No sooner had he noticed that when a light exploded before his eyes and all went black.
Elladan had been keeping one eye on Estel during the battle, Elrohir and Vivelle had manage to form some sort of perimeter around Estel and yet to his horror he saw an Orc come up from the rear and strike a glancing blow across the back of Estel’s head and the boy crumpled as the Orc swept him up and deposited him none too gently over his shoulder. Giving a long roar he ran up a small mountain pass toward a cave in the middle distance. Immediately the Orcs broke off the attack and followed their leader up the mountain pass. Elladan saw this unfold and shouted, “NOOOO!!!!!!!!” and quick drew his bow picking off the trailing Orcs one by one. Elrohir ran up to him just as he taking aim at the Orc carrying the unconscious Estel, “Stop, Elladan, he’s out of range you will hit Estel. Elladan turned crazed eyes upon his brother and shook off his hand to resight the running Orc, only realize that his brother was right. The filth carrying Estel had shifted the unconscious boy’s limp body to use him as a body shield for his back foiling even an Elf’s deadly accuracy in using a bow. “A Elbereth!!!!” the older Elf twin screamed as he stormed up the mountain path after the Orcs that taken his young foster brother. Elrohir shouted to the stunned Elves around him, “Diovan, Cefzil guard the horses! Tilade, Amaryl, Vivelle follow me!” He ran up the path after his twin. They caught up to a perfect still Elladan standing at the entrance of a cave amid the rubble and floating dust of a recent cave-in. So still was he standing that had it not been for the wind blowing through his hair and rustling his crimson cape, Elrohir might have mistaken him for a statue. Until he looked into his eyes. There he saw abject misery, pain and a growing rage. Elrohir had seen that look in his brother’s eye only once before. When he had seen what the Orcs had done to Celebrian, his beloved mother. “Brother, what shall we do?” Elladan looked at him, blue eyes darkly intense, then past him to where many an Orc lay impaled by his arrows. He shifted his gaze further down the hill. Elrohir followed his gaze and saw slight motion; one of the Orcs moaned in pain, nearing death. Elladan wordlessly stormed down to where the Orc lay writhing, Elrohir following close upon. The older Elf grabbed the Orc by the throat mindless of the further pain he was causing. “Where have they taken the boy,” Elladan snarled in a low, intense voice through clenched teeth.
“I do not know what you speak of,” spat the Orc in a contemptuous voice. “One Elf looks just like another to me!”
Elladan tightened his grip around the Orc’s neck, his voice louder and more frenzied, “DO NOT PLAY WITH ME, FILTH. I MUST KNOW!”
“I know nothing,” the Orc whispered in the same contemptuous voice.
“You will tell me or I will squeeze the life out of your pathetic, disgusting body,” Elladan snarled, his beautiful face a contorted mask of rage and helplessness; his hand slowly tightening its grip on the Orc’s throat.
“I am already dead and I will tell you noth--” the Orc gave a short gasp of breath and went limp in Elladan’s hand. Behind him was Elrohir withdrawing his knife and cleaning it of Orc blood; his eyes wide with anger and concern. Elladan threw the limp Orc body aside and wheeled on his brother. “You have two seconds to explain why you did that--” he said in a threatening voice.
Elrohir drew himself up to his full height and defiantly stood his ground, “Or you will what?” he stated intensely, “Squeeze the life out of me also! He would have told us NOTHING! And you scar your very soul with such vile thoughts and actions. Do you remember nothing of the oath we took at the Coming of Age? You heard those very same words at Estel’s Coming of Age. ‘You were born to fight against evil, but never with evil in your heart.’ Can you honestly say evil had not entered your heart at that moment? Can you?”
“You overstep yourself, Muindor.” Elladan said, his eyes still blazing with barely contained rage.
“Do I? Do I?” Elrohir said, “Well should I just step aside and watch you grow into a distorted shadow of yourself.” He finished, showing no signs of relenting. “We will find Estel and we will mete out the punishment this filth so richly deserves. But not like this. Not at the expense of your soul. I will not allow it.”
The twins stood three feet apart, eyes locked in a battle of wills. Slowly, Elladan’s mask of rage and helplessness began to crumble and with it his resolve, “I am sorry, muindor nin,” he said in a whisper, “I am sorry.” Elrohir bridged the gap of three feet and in a voice filled with emotion, “Think nothing of it” Elrohir smiled as he placed a brotherly kiss upon his older brother’s sweaty and begrimed brow. Inside his mind Elrohir’s voice spoke gently, I will always be here to protect you, even from yourself if need be! You must forgive yourself for we have much work to do! With a kiss upon his inner senses Elrohir departed his mind. Elladan turned apologetic eyes onto the crew of assembled Elves, “We will clear the passage and follow along the last known direction they have taken Estel.”
The harsh bouncing eventually brought Estel to consciousness. In total darkness he could sense nothing beyond the exacerbated pounding in his head and the oppressive smell of Orcs. Orcs! The thought brought him around quickly enough. The last thing he remembered was beheading an Orc and watching Vivelle run towards him. Afterwards nothing until he came to in this black stinking hole that could only be a cave. He tried to listen for clues to his whereabouts, but could discern nothing. He knew only a few rudimentary words in Orcish, not enough to really determine anything of value. He thought he felt the air become less oppressive indicating that they may be near their intended destination. He was right as they entered into a dimly lit area. The dim light seared through his optic nerve coming as he had from total darkness. He moved a little and that small motion expended the last of his energy and he again knew nothing.
He came around again to dim light and feeling harsh cloth underneath him; and a smooth hand touching his forehead. He moved only slightly and again all the muscles in his body protested, “Shh-shh! Lie still” came a lyrical voice in Sindarin accented Westron, “I do not believe you are injured but I have not finished my examination yet.”
“Where am I?” Estel answered in Sindarin as he tried to get up.
Two strong yet smooth hands held him in place as the surprised voice said, “You speak Sindarin? And you wear the garb of an Elf and yet as I see by your ears you are not an Elf. Curious, my friend. Who are you?”
Opening his eyes, Estel focused upon a gleam of blond, plaited hair falling over a shoulder and a concerned, slightly confused countenance surveying him. He struggled into a semi-sitting position and looked around with great effort. “I am called Estel, foster son to Lord Elrond of Rivendell.”
“Foster-son you say? I did not know that Lord Elrond took in those were not Elves.” The elf said with a slightly dismissive tone.
“Lord Elrond is a good, kind Elf, who would help all who came in his path.” Estel shouted in defence of his Adar to this unthinking Elf and paid for it with a searing pain starting at his eyes and ripping its way through to the back of his head.
“Steady on, Master Estel. I meant no offence,” said the blond Elf.
Estel glared at this strange Elf, and then relented, “I am sorry Master Elf. I am not feeling my best.”
The blond Elf smiled, “Do not think on it. Neither of us is quite at his best at the moment,” as he brushed his hands on his dirty surcoat sighing as he surveyed his surroundings.
Estel wished to continue cordial relations with this strange Elf and asked, “And who might you be? And why are we both here?”
“I am Legolas Thrandulion, youngest son to King Thranduil of Mirkwood. At your service,” he said, touching his heart in welcome. “As to why we are here, I can only answer for me. The Orcs wish to gain my Adar’s acquiescence. They think to do this by keeping me here.” Here he lowered his voice, “What they do not realize is that nothing is more important to my Adar than Mirkwood. He will not bow and I will be left here, unless I can make my own way out.”
“That is terrible. My Adar would never do that.”
“That is the way of things in Mirkwood.” Legolas shrugged, trying to sound casual and matter of fact, but even through the dingy light and his aching head Estel could still tell that Legolas was far more bothered than he wanted let on. Elven pride, he mused, would appear to be universal.
“I do not wish to imply that my Adar does not care for me. That would be untrue. He loves me very much," Sometimes too much, Legolas thought though he quickly squelched that disloyal thought. His father had his reasons for his decisions, Legolas understood this. He continued out loud. "But he is driven by his desire to do what is right for his kingdom. Having any dealing with Orcs is something that he would never do.”
Estel nodded. In truth his head hurt a little too much to fully comprehend what Legolas was saying. Although he completely understood one thing. Legolas’ Adar was right. One did not make treaties with Orcs. Orcs were Orcs; they were good for only one thing: killing. An unpleasant truth, but a truth all the same.
“How long have you been here?” Estel asked changing the course of the conversation.
“It is hard to tell down here.” Legolas shuddered a little, and tried to warm himself by folding his arms across his body. “It is so dark and enclosed. My Adar’s halls are partially submerged so I am no stranger to living underground, but his halls have an air of beauty and spaciousness where this cave is nothing more than bare rock. But guessing I would say no more than two days.”
Estel wanted to ask how Legolas had been captured, but he could not think of anyway to ask the question without insulting his newfound friend, and that was something he did not wish to do. He ventured in a low voice, “How do we get out of here? There must be a way.” He had to get out here and back to his brothers. He did not like to think of the worry that he was causing them at this point.
Legolas looked at him in the dim light. “There must be a way, but I have yet to find it. I was shot by what must have been a poison arrow and had not been conscious for more than a few hours when they tossed you in here. In truth I do not think they know I am yet awake. I prefer it that way.” For a few seconds Estel saw a haunted look inhabit the blond Elf’s blue eyes, but it fled as quickly as it came and Legolas looked away quickly, as if he had inadvertently let Estel see a little more than he had meant the boy to see. The blond Elf got up from his sitting position and walked towards the entrance. “How are you feeling? Could you start walking now?” asked the Elf looking back toward Estel.
Estel got gingerly to his feet and immediately felt his headache redouble its efforts to pound its way out of his skull. “I could try.”
The blond Elf looked at Estel concern furrowing his brow, “I would not ask,” he said as he noticed Estel’s greenish tinge, “But the doorway is unguarded. Perhaps they still think we are unconscious. I would rather that they did not find us awake,” Again that haunted look crossed Legolas’ fair, but begrimed face, Estel noted through his own discomfiture.
“I think I can make it,” Estel ventured in an attempt to be bold and brave.
“You should not say such things if you are not sure. Foolhardiness in the face of danger can lead to further danger.”
Estel just looked at him, “You sound like Adar.”
“Do I?” The blond Elf looked surprised and then bemused, he laughed softly, “In fact I shock myself as I realize that I sound like my own Adar.” He looked at Estel, mirth in his eyes, “Who knew I was listening.”
Estel smiled and carefully walked over towards the door, “Shall we try?”
“I think so,” Legolas said quietly and then looked into the dim light extending beyond their rooms and into the rough-hewn passage. Motioning Estel to follow him the Elf slipped beyond the doorway’s borders. Estel followed, stepping as quietly as Elladan and Elrohir had taught him. The path Legolas had chosen looked much the same as the others, rough hewn and slightly damp to the touch, but with one small difference; it had a slight incline, perhaps leading to a way out.
After walking for about five or so minutes in silence Estel felt the blood rushing to his ears as he heard a faint rumbling sound. Legolas recognized the sound a few seconds earlier and whispered, “Orcs!” Muttering an unintelligible curse word in Sindarin, he hissed, “They are coming this way!” he motioned to Estel. Following, Estel looked up the path and noticed a slightly dark spot along the rough wall that probably indicated another tunnel. Reaching the spot, Estel noticed that this particular tunnel had more of a downward slope. Legolas started down the slope until Estel reached out a hand to stop him. “It’s going down.” He fervently whispered. Legolas answered, “Yes, but in a very few minutes, anyplace will be better than here. We must disappear and quickly.” Estel nodded at this sage advice and followed Legolas down the tunnel. As they were heading down the side passage, Estel looked behind him and saw about six or seven tall brutish figures lumber past the opening. The boy shuddered as he realized what might have happened and what could still happen at a moment’s notice. He thought about the weaponry he carried. He still had his boot daggers; he knew as he could feel the warm leather sheaths sitting against his skin. He realized belatedly, however that he did not have his sword. He wondered what might have become of the blade, given to him by his Adar at his Coming of Age. He thought of an Orc touching, much less possessing his beautiful giftsword and the thought made him physically ill.
He need not have worried. His sword and his bow were safe in the hands of his foster brothers. Elladan had found it lying on the befouled ground not far from where Estel had been pole axed by the Orc.
The cave-in was proving difficult to shift. They had been removing rocks and debris for hours and every time some small bit had been cleared away another portion collapsed under the shifting weight of the cave. Elladan had left the digging to return the area of the fight in the hopes that it would yield any clues. They were quickly dashed. The dark-haired Elf crouched on the ground, absentmindedly trying to clean off the dried Orc blood from the golden-etched blade and did not hear his brother’s approach.
“Did you find anything?” Elladan started just a little at the sound of the voice. He looked up, anger suddenly evident on his fair features.
“Nothing!” He said in disgust. Rubbing his eyes, he said, “It grows late. It is not safe to dig in such conditions. We will make camp here as best we can and start again on the morrow.”
Elrohir nodded his agreement and then took a closer look at his older brother. There was exhaustion in his eyes coupled with a sadness and anger. “We will find him, muindor nin.” He said in a tone more confident than he felt. His brother turned his eyes upon him.
“Of course. We must.” And there it lay. The unadorned truth. They had no choice but to find him. On this all depended. Elrohir simply could not face any other alternative.
Resignation settled in his brother’s eyes. “Yes, we will.” Bow and blade in hand he headed back up the path to tell the others to stop for the night.
The preparations for departure buzzed around King Thranduil and questions remained unasked for it was dangerous to approach him when this mood was full upon him. The King of Mirkwood sat his horse completely motionless, emanating an anger that was palpable to all. “They’ve taken my son.” The phrase repeated itself over and over in his mind. He had been overcome by an anger so profound when he had received word of Legolas’ capture that it had taken the better part of a day for his oldest son, Celebren, to convince him not to take a full force of arms to scour the mountains from the Ettenmoors to the Gap of Rohan looking for his youngest and killing all in his wake. Celebren had finally convinced him that efficiency lay with a few smallish parties could move quickly and cover more likely areas than a full scale assault upon all Middle Earth.
So he sat his horse staring at the stars seeking the solace they had always offered him in the past. Eventually the stars’ cool light found their way into his soul and managed to soothe away the blood lust that was raging through his veins. He could think once again. His eye fell upon the nearest Elf and demanded, “Where is Celebren!” The Elf jumped at the booming voice of his king, but managed to respond in a strong enough voice for he knew his king hated any signs of weakness. Given the towering mood that Thranduil was exhibiting it was wise not to try his patience. “He is speaking with Sadron, he said that there were a few last minute details that merited discussion before the southern party departed.”
“I see, then we are ready to depart, then.”
“I believe we are, My Lord. We now only wait upon your son.”
“I am impatient to be off! Every second is precious!” Thranduil said, his anger igniting once again.
“Then let us be off!” said a voice from behind him. Thranduil turned and saw Celebren, his oldest son ride up in full battle gear. Thranduil saw the anger that was slow to kindle in his eldest son’s eyes and he was satisfied. They were ready to do battle with verminous forces that dared capture Legolas, youngest and most beloved.
Legolas slowly crept back toward the ascending passage that they had traveled upon before the small troop of Orcs had lumbered past. Estel crept after him, and wondered out loud, “Is it safe to return to that path.”
Legolas looked back, “No, nowhere is safe as long as we are within these Orc caves. But at least this path leads upwards and a chance of escape.” Estel was forced to agree with this logic.
A slight movement caught the boy’s eye. Legolas was unsheathing his white knives. Alarmed, he reached down and pulled both daggers from his boots and with knives in hand, he calmed his mind for battle in the way his foster brothers had schooled into him. His breathing slowed and he felt his senses sharpen in the dim light. It happened so fast; no sooner had they reached the intersection of the two passages than they sprung upon two unsuspecting Orcs. A flash of a bone handled knife and Estel quickly slit the throat of the first Orc so that he could not cry out. Legolas held his knife hard against the second Orc’s throat. “You will tell us the way out of this stinking hole or you will meet the same fate as the filth that lay upon the ground at this moment.”
“I will tell you nothing,” came the snarl.
“Very well. You die!” Legolas said as he summarily cut the Orc’s throat and dropping him where he stood. “We should hide the carcasses so they are not so easily detected.” Estel nodded as he attempted to wipe the foul, dark Orcish blood from his dagger.
Dragging the two bodies into a more out of the way spot spent the last of Estel’s energy. With the battle rage gone, the pain of his head injury returned with re-doubled energy and Estel felt unsteady on his feet.
“Are you all right?” Legolas asked, noticing the pallor of Estel’s face even in the dim light.
“Just a bit light-headed. That is all.” He took one step and crumpled to the ground.
As he came around at first he wondered why it was so dark and then the stench hit him and he remembered. He moved quickly, “Sh-sh! We are safe for the moment.” It was pitch-black but Estel recognized Legolas’ voice and calmed somewhat. “You are almost as heavy as one of those Orcs,” softly sang the lyrical voice of the Elf, albeit in a slightly teasing tenor.
Estel chuckled and then said, “Don’t make me laugh. It hurts!” He sobered, asking, “Where are we?”
“We are hidden for the moment,” said the lyrical voice in the dark. “I picked you up and dashed towards the passage we had just left and found this small cavern. I think it is not much more than a large hole in the wall. I slipped back into the passage to retrieve a light and looked around for a bit before it burnt itself out.”
Estel looked at him, “How long have I been unconscious.”
“For about two hours. And I think that you only passed out from exhaustion and stress.”
Estel was glad Legolas could not see the embarrassment written on his face. Elladan and Elrohir would never let him live it down. Just thinking about them brought pain. Physical pain he could deal with, but imagining the torment that his brothers were enduring at this very moment was almost beyond what he could bear. “I will return to them. I must,” he muttered.
Silence. And then he heard, “You will and so will I.” Determination sounded strongly in Legolas’ voice. The blond Elf thought upon his own father and his reaction to the news of his youngest son’s abduction. It did not make for pleasant musing.
“The darkness is so complete, Legolas. Keep whispering so that I may know that I am not alone.”
Something in that voice, so young, so plaintive and yet so embarrassed to admit such need reached into Legolas’ soul and touched him. A bond had been formed this day and in this dark place between this boy and him. Somehow he knew that it would never be broken.
* ROTK screenplay: It's Faramir's line to Gandalf when they are riding out to retake Osgiliath. The line spoke to Erithain's feelings also, so I borrowed it. :-)
Celebren: Legolas’ oldest brother.
Sadron: Legolas’ second oldest brother.
|<< Back||Next >>|
|Home Search Chapter List|