The Manyan series continued…

SUMMARY : The two princes of Mirkwood had been captured by a group of marauders. The two brothers refused to disclose a secret they vowed to keep…no matter how painful, no matter how self-destructing the tortures would be.

WARNING : This is angst. Pure, pure angst. R-rated work for reasons you'll find out later. Something that I rarely did and quite different from the stories that I've done before. This is the time when Legolas goes through a very serious character development. Something is going to happen to him that will change him forever. What would it be? I think some of you already got the idea. This story also has one character death. Who? I think you know. That's right. That character. Hehe…

The beautiful garden of Rivendell was filled with the wonderful laughter of a small boy. "Catch me, Legolas! Catch me!"

The younger prince of Mirkwood grinned down at the boy. "What? You think I can't catch you? You think you're too fast for me? Not a chance, human!"

The ten-year-old boy shrieked when the elf lunged at him. They dropped to the ground, with Legolas twisting onto his back to take the full brunt of the fall.

Laughing hysterically, the boy tried to break away. "No! Stop tickling me! Ha! Ha! Ha! You're bad, Legolas!"

Keldarion, the Mirkwood crown prince, stared happily at his brother who was rolling around on the grass with the young human. It was nice to hear Legolas laughing again. Ever since Tiger's death several months ago, his younger brother rarely smiled, so devastated he was to lose his pet which was also his best friend.

Tiger, who was really a white tiger adopted by Legolas since it was a tiny cub, had died of natural causes at the age of seventy-five. Quite a long age for an extinct animal like him. Legolas had woken up one morning only to find Tiger lying unmoving beside his bed, no longer breathing.

Tiger had died in his sleep.

Keldarion and his father had started to get very concerned over Legolas' depression. More often than not, he was found brooding at the top of the highest tree, or spending the whole day in the royal graveyard, or venting all his pent up emotion by shooting arrows in the practice field, non-stop. There was also a time when he went missing for a week that his family was afraid he had fallen into troubles yet again.

Thranduil, the Mirkwood king, had suggested that Keldarion take his brother to spend the summer in Rivendell. The three children of Lord Elrond and the Mirkwood princes had always been such good friends. The king had thought that Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen might know how to cheer Legolas up.

And what a good suggestion that had been. The Rivendell siblings managed to create smiles upon Legolas's face with their many antics and foolishness. After spending several weeks with them, Legolas was finally pulled out of his gloominess and despair, much to Keldarion's great relief.

But it was the boy who had brought the real laughter out of Legolas. The prince's distress dissipated after he was introduced to Elrond's adopted human son, Estel—whose actual name was Aragorn son of Arathorn, the only heir to Isildur. His mother had come to Rivendell to seek shelter and protection for her baby several years ago, just before she died of a broken heart due to the death of her husband. The boy's identity was kept secret from everyone else as Lord Elrond felt that the re-arising dark forces would surely try to eliminate him if his identity were discovered.

The first time the two met, Legolas and Aragorn had instantly liked each other. The prince was most entertained by the boy's cheerful and joyous disposition—always curious and playful. Aragorn on the other hand, was in awe with Legolas's aloofness and his magnificent features. At first, the boy had been quite intimidated by the prince's stiff countenance and apparent sadness, but he vowed to make Legolas happy again with his ingenious plan—by pushing Elladan into the stagnant pond before mounting onto Elrohir's back and riding it like he would a horse when the younger twin was bending down to pull Elladan out. After that, Aragorn had hastily climbed down as Elrohir also toppled into the pond, and rushed to the nearby Arwen to pull up her skirt and expose her creamy white legs up to her thighs for Keldarion's appreciative glance, making her shriek in return, before the boy ran smack into Lord Elrond as Arwen chased him, agilely climbing up the lord's body like he would a tree.

Then he had the nerve to stick his tongue out towards his three miffed siblings. Arwen and the twins advanced menacingly towards their little human brother but stopped in their tracks when they heard Legolas' burst of laughter. The prince was already on his back on the ground, deep in mirth. Aragorn had grinned widely. His plan had worked! The prince was laughing at last!

Hence, the friendship between the pair of mortal and immortal began.

"They look adorable, aren't they?" Keldarion heard Arwen's soft voice as she came beside him.

He clasped her hand, smiling. "Yes, they certainly are. Estel is a total genius."

"Genius? A prankster is more like it! I can't believe he actually pulled up my skirt like that."

"And what a wonderful sight it was." Keldarion stared into Arwen's beautiful eyes, drinking up her beauty intensely.

She blushed. "You had better memorize that sight, your highness, because you're not going to see that again!"

Keldarion chuckled. He placed his lips closer to Arwen's. "Want to bet?"

Their lips were almost touching when Legolas interrupted, "Come on, you two! Enough smooching around! You both are making us sick!"

"Not just sick! You are killing us! Arghh!" Aragorn playfully grabbed his own neck, rolled his eyes, and dropped to the ground in a mock faint. The elves burst up laughing.

"You little devil!" Arwen rushed to the boy and started to tickle him in the tummy. He screamed and begged for mercy, giggling all the while.

"When will I see you again?" Aragorn asked, looking up at Legolas with his big dark eyes, almost tearful.

Legolas knelt down and stared at the boy, eye to eye. "Why? Miss me already?"

"Oh, Legolas. I hope you would stay here. You are so much fun compared to these two pea-brained monsters!" Aragorn indicated the twins behind him.

"Pea-brained?" Elladan cried out.

"Monsters?" Elrohir echoed.

Aragorn danced away as the twins simultaneously made a move to grab him.

Smiling fondly at the snickering boy, Legolas straightened up and faced Lord Elrond once more. "Thank you for your hospitality during the whole summer of us being here, my lord. You have been very kind."

Elrond smiled in return. "You and your brother are like my own sons, Legolas. You are welcome here anytime."

He then turned to Keldarion and looked straight at the elder prince. He has recovered back to his own self, his eyes seemed to say.

Keldarion nodded comprehendingly.

"Have a safe journey home," Elrond added. "Be extra cautious, though. There have been some reports about missing elves from Lothlorien and Narlwen. Stay alert at all time. And don't forget to send my regards to your father."

The two Mirkwood brothers with their escorts of five guards departed then. Elrond's family waved them farewell until the troop disappeared behind the bend. The twins once again turned towards their little brother.

"Okay, now. Where were we?" Elladan stalked closer to Aragorn.

Elrohir grinned evilly. "I believe we were about to…"

Shrieking, Aragorn ran and hid behind Lord Elrond's cloak. Picking up the boy into his arms, Elrond glanced once more at the direction the Mirkwood elves had taken. Involuntarily, a sliver of foreboding ran down his spine. Something was about to happen, but he couldn't tell what it was.


Yes, I killed Tiger. But, hey, he's a mortal and can't live forever! Anyway, start sending death threats to me. I'm waiting! Hahaha!