Title: Into the Labyrinth
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters, J.R.R. Tolkein does. I'm just having some fun with them.
*Chapter 1: Setting Out*
A warm breeze brushed through a small open room in Rivendell, bringing with it the sound of rustling leaves and the constant rush of nearby waterfalls. Elrond stood and looked at the faces sitting about him. Elves from both Mirkwood and Lothlorien were here with some from his own realm as well. His grey eyes passed over his twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, and his foster son, Aragorn, with pride. He saw that for Mirkwood, the king's own son had arrived with a few others.
Elrond was not surprised to see Prince Legolas here. He guessed that Legolas had become slightly restless and had come to get away for a while, which was many times the case. He was glad for it though, for he knew the strong bond that the Mirkwood Elf held with his sons.
The Lord of Rivendell broke out of his thoughts and sighed. It was time to begin.
"Representatives of Lothlorien and Mirkwood, you have been called to be informed of a situation that has arisen." He began, continuing to pass his gaze over all who were present, locking eyes with each one in turn. "I will not waste your time with pleasantries, for the morning is waning. There is a village called Rahma, located just east of the Misty Mountains. Maybe you have heard of it, maybe not. Elves rarely pass there anymore; it is a place run primarily by Men. However, I have been alerted that there may be some foul happenings there. Not long ago Rivendell received an anonymous tip that there is a secret and very illegal organization running a fighting ring somewhere within the village. Watchmen and guards from the village have tried to investigate but they either come to a dead end, or they don't come back at all."
Aragorn, who happened to be the only human present, glanced at his brother Elladan who sat next to him. Elladan gave a small shrug.
"We have no further information, however, I am sending my sons to investigate. This does not pose a direct threat to any of us, but it may if it is allowed to develop. The only thing I ask of you is to inform King Thranduil and Lady Galadriel of this and to keep your eyes and ears open. If anything at all is heard on this matter, send someone to contact me."
He paused for a moment, and then dismissed them with a nod of his head. Standing, a few began to disperse while others stayed and mingled. Elrohir, he saw, went to see the Lothlorien Elves on their way. Elrond turned to leave but was stopped by a soft voice behind him.
"Lord Elrond." Prince Legolas stood there with another Mirkwood Elf, only this Elf had golden-brown hair as compared to Legolas's pale blonde. Behind them, he could see Aragorn eagerly making his way over to them. Elrond raised his eyebrows.
"By your leave, Isorfinduil and I should like to stay and help with the investigation." Legolas said politely, indicating the Elf beside him. "Our lives have been less than thrilling of late, and we are both in need of an excursion. The third of our party has agreed to return to my father with the message. With your consent, that is."
"I see no reason why not," Elrond replied as Aragorn came to stand with them. "As long as you do not get into any trouble, for I will have your father to answer to. After all, I suppose I will need someone to keep an eye on Estel."
"I'm quite capable of taking care of myself." Aragorn muttered, but they could plainly see he was smiling.
"Aragorn, meet Isorfinduil. He is a close friend of mine in Mirkwood." Legolas introduced. The two nodded in greeting, as was customary.
"I have heard much about you, Aragorn." Isorfinduil told the young man. "It is nice to finally meet you."
"You as well." Aragorn replied respectfully.
Elladan appeared just then, but hesitated when he saw Isorfinduil. Isorfinduil looked up and they froze. They stared at each other with fire in their eyes. After a long moment, Isorfinduil pulled his deep blue eyes away and turned to Legolas.
"We should prepare our things, my Lord." He said shortly. Legolas' eyebrows furrowed but he nodded and they went out of the open room and down to their horses. Elrond and Aragorn turned questioning eyes on Elladan.
"Has he wronged you, my son?" Elrond asked.
"Not directly, Father."
"Then what was that?" Aragorn asked curiously. The Mirkwood Elf had seemed nice enough to him, in the little time that he'd had to meet him.
"We have had our differences in the past, that is all." Elladan replied vaguely. "I haven't seen him in years."
"This will not get in the way of the investigation, I hope." Elrond said pointedly. "He and Prince Legolas will be accompanying you."
"I will not let it. It is not a big matter at any rate."
"Very well." Elrond let the matter drop. "You two should go prepare as well. It would be best if you set out for Rahma while it is still morning. Remember all I have told you of that town. The more you know, the better."
Isorfinduil looked up at the mountains that loomed above him. The Misty Mountains had surely been given a proper name, he thought as his eyes flitted over the clouds that ringed their high peaks. He ran a hand down the neck of his tall grey horse, Merencil, who nickered in return. The five companions had left Rivendell the day before and were starting up into the mountains as the sun began to set. If the weather permitted, they should reach the other side in three days. The path they were taking was old and now unused, but it theory should lead directly to Rahma.
Isorfinduil was glad for this change of scenery. The past month had been particularly dull, which was unusual for Mirkwood. He looked to his right to where Legolas rode on his white mare, Lydiel, and saw that the Prince was enjoying the outing as well. The Prince glanced at him and smiled, his more adventurous streak shining through.
The only setback of this trip for Isorfinduil was Elladan. After some prying from Legolas, Isorfinduil had told him of their short history. It was nothing especially big, but for some reason they both had a knack for rubbing each other the wrong way. He couldn't even remember how it had started, but they'd never fully seen eye to eye. So far, the two had kept their disagreements in check, much to the relief of their companions.
Perhaps there was another setback: Elrohir. He looked exactly like his brother, both having long, dark hair and stormy grey eyes. Isorfinduil had never met Elrohir before and it was impossible for him to tell them apart. To make matters worse, it seemed he was the only one on this trip without that skill. For Aragorn, it was not a matter of difficulty at all, since he'd spent a good part of his childhood growing up with them. And even Legolas seemed to tell them apart with ease. Isorfinduil tried to simply avoid calling them by their names, but that was becoming difficult, seeing as how he had nothing against Elrohir and didn't want to come off as being rude.
One of the twins suddenly turned in his saddle and looked back to where the others were riding. The setting sun lit his face in a deep orange. "Be looking for a place to stop for the night. The sun sets quickly in the mountains, and it will be dark soon."
"To your right, Elrohir." Aragorn pointed. "Under that ledge."
The same twin nodded and began to lead his red horse off the path towards a small cliff. The trees that were scattered about the bottom of the cliff face should provide sufficient cover.
Aha,Thought Isorfinduil. So Elrohir rides the chestnut horse. He made a mental note to remember that as he pulled Merencil off the path behind Legolas and Lydiel.
Aragorn, atop a shiny brown horse followed and behind him rode Elladan on his grey mare. They pushed through some trees and into a small clearing.
"I suppose this will do." Elladan announced, gazing about.
Isorfinduil rolled his eyes, easily recognizing Elladan's attitude of assumed leadership.
They tied their horses in the trees nearby and Isorfinduil looked to where the red sun was dipping below the mountains and out of sight. He heard the others beginning to make camp.
"We will need a fire." Elladan looked around and his grey eyes came to rest on the Elf. "Isorfinduil, you should go in search of firewood."
"You seem to think I am the best for this job." Isorfinduil said, turning around. "I thank you for your confidence in my wood-gathering skills."
"You seemed at loss as to how to make a camp. I am merely helping you along." Elladan answered, unable to resist the verbal jab at the younger Elf. Legolas looked up.
"Perhaps you could show me then how to gather firewood?" Isorfinduil asked with a mask of innocence. "I am afraid I learn best visually."
"I never thought I'd see the day when a Wood-Elf was unable to find a few logs in a valley filled with trees." Elladan shook his head in mock wonder.
Isorfinduil's fists were clenched at his sides. Aragorn and Elrohir glanced at each other. Legolas was watching with slight displeasure from the other side of the clearing, his eyebrows beginning to furrow.
"I never thought I'd see the day when you would think it allowable to order me around."
"Apparently it is necessary, my friend."
"You are imagining things, friend."
"Am I? I'm sure the others here could see your idleness as well as I."
"One glance at the setting sun can hardly be considered idleness! You are simply looking for an excuse to find fault in me!" Isorfinduil was getting quite angry now. He couldn't believe Elladan would look to pick a fight with him so early in their journey.
"I was merely making a suggestion."
"I suggestion to do something which you could have easily done yourself."
"I was busy in more important matters and you seemed quite available for the job."
"What could you have possibly been doing that would – "
"Stop it!" Aragorn said sharply, unable to put up with it any longer. "You are arguing over firewood!"
"Aragorn is right." Legolas added. "It is quite unnecessary to argue over such things. I will gather firewood." He turned and strode off into the surrounding trees without a glance back.
There was a moment of stillness, and then Elrohir broke the silence with a sigh.
"Let us continue to unpack. It will be dark soon, dusk is already setting in." He said and walked over to the horses. "We must stay alert. Elves have not passed this way for a long while and we are unaware of what may live here now."
The other three continued with their business, but Aragorn noticed how Elladan and Isorfinduil avoided each other's eyes. He sighed inwardly and wondered just how long the next few days would be.
Alright, well there's chapter one. I have most of chapter two done, but I thought I'd see what people think of this first. This story takes place several years before my short story "In the End", but you don't need to have read that for this to make sense. I'm not sure exactly how long this story will turn out to be, but I know it'll be long. Let's see… I don't think there's anything else you need to know. Chapter two will have more action in it, for all you action lovers out there! It should be coming out within the next week or so. Let me know what you think!