Disclaimer: not mine,
never will be. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.
A/N: hi there! We've finally come to the last chapter of this story! Bright point though: it's twice the size of my usual chappies and I didn't decide to split it up so you could avoid a cliffy! LOL :) You know I'm not a doctor and that the rest is just fictional, so forgive me if things seem off. Anyways - enjoy!
'Replies' to reviewers:
Mornflower: Well, sorry I didn't do it sooner, but on the bright side – neither did I do it later! LOL :) Thanks for the review!
jacquelinestel: your review actually helped me over-bridge some of the last part you know – I love people giving me ideas – thanks! I had originally planned something like you said, but then it'd grow out too big and with my attention span that would just not do; that and it seemed to me like too off (sigh – I miss those stars as well – even if I didn't use them all that much!). Hope you like what became of it though…
Nietta: yeah – I did check you out. I usually do than when people are signed in… Hmm, I think that was how I found Nili's stories! Lucky me! Now that I think about it, I think I saw you there as well. It's just plain fun reading the reviews sometimes. LOL You're lucky elves heal fast – I needed that elf – he makes a good mule! ROTFL! And alas – 'tis the last chapter, but I hope I finished it to your liking…
Elven Kitten: Cool – I've never heard scary before. huge smile Thank you!
lindahoyland: smiles it's so very nice to hear that you'll miss this story! Luckily there will always be other stories…
grumpy: well, it was about time I took this one up again… No matter where they are, Legolas and Estel can have strange humour – glad you liked it!
Elrohir smiled and quickly slipped through the door, hearing a 'be careful' and a 'good luck' coming softly from his family and friends. The others soon moved from the study as well, but went in a different direction. Glorfindel and Elrond would escort the three youngsters for a while until their paths lead away from each other.
It was several minutes later when the five encountered a troop of orcs. The older two skilfully took them on. The youngsters looked in wonder at Elrond – knowing the elf lord was a warrior and realizing it were two different things and only now it crept up on them that the older elf was a very capable warrior from the looks of it.
"Go!" Elrond hissed as he blocked an angry swipe before spinning on his heels and thrusting his own sword in the orc's abdomen. Glorfindel was just in time to block another blow aimed at his friend before kicking at the legs of a sneaky beast that had aimed a stroke at his own back.
"Ada, let me help!" Elladan implored.
"Elladan, no! I will not budge on this!" the worried father exclaimed while ducking another swing. "To them, you are of no importance, but you are to me! Go, please! Legolas cannot carry Estel and hold off orcs at the same time. They need your help. Glorfindel and I can manage them for now and help is on the way. Do not dwell on dark thoughts – we will fight them as they come!"
To reassure the young ones, Glorfindel quickly nodded before needing his attention on the fight again. "I promise you that if we think we will lose the fight, I will send your father down as well."
Elrond shot his friend a dark look for making such a promise – he would not flee the place he had build while there was still breath in him! And what about yourself then? If the ancient elf planned to fight to the end, why was he not allowed? Ignoring this look, Glorfindel shouted: "GO!"
Not happy with this arrangement, they did as they were ordered. Again Estel saw in his mind's eye the body of his father lying still with a sword piercing it. He hoped Glorfindel's words would prove true and that that possible future would never come to pass…
Elrohir was quickly making his way to the woods where he could hear the battle going on. It was dark outside as the orcs had attacked deep in the night, but the moon shone brightly and the stars twinkled. The younger twin quickly jumped back when he felt the floor underneath him give away. Looking down, his eyes grew big and he quickly thanked the Valar that he had evaded this trap – if he had fallen he would have been pierced by huge spikes. The young elf shuddered as he knew that an elf could suffer an incredible amount of time on them if they were unlucky.
Hearing a heavy footfall behind him that he knew could only belong to one of the violent creatures, he quickly spun around and released his arrow – striking the orc in the eye. Luckily he had not encountered many so far. Elrohir hurried to the elves, barely escaping with his head on his shoulders when another orc standing behind a tree held out its scimitar. If Elladan ever heard of him being so careless he would never let him out of his sight again – order from Ada or not! Quickly ducking and taking out his long knives in the same movement, he rolled away from the orc and threw them – one piercing the beast's neck and the other its heart. Being more careful after that and wary for traps he retrieved the blades and hurried to the others to do as his father and mentor had told him.
Elrond and Glorfindel had managed to kill the oncoming orcs and were on their way to help the guards. Screaming was heard in the distance and the two elves feared what they would find – it had not been orcs that had made that sound! Upon arriving at the first post, both elves wished they could have closed their eyes for only a moment as to block out the sight. Guilt crept up them that they hadn't arrived quick enough to warn them. Wanting this to be finished as quickly as possible, Glorfindel took out his bow and aimed at the orcs who were feasting on several of Imladris' inhabitants, rapidly releasing arrow after arrow. Every hit was true and the beasts fell to the floor – dead. Elrond used his blade to dispose of the remaining orcs and was glad when help arrived in the form of half a dozen of elves that came running up from the other direction. Glorfindel hurriedly took the time to retrieve his arrows and stuffed them in his quiver.
All elves were breathing heavily and were adorned by cuts and bruises. One tightly pressed his hand against a bleeding gash over his ribs while another quickly bound a piece of cloth around his own arm. Black blood covered them and though they loathed the smell there was nothing they could do right. "My lords," one of the newcomers said, "all of a sudden they were there! Many on our side have fallen already. There are a score of elves fighting on the other side of this building, but how long they will last I have no idea. The orcs keep coming!"
Glorfindel nodded at the warrior. "Help is on its way, though I fear that the losses will be great."
Going over to the bodies of the
fallen elves, Elrond was ready to lay his hand on their foreheads and say a
small prayer that their souls would reach Mandos
safely. Yet before he could do that, the shrieks of dozens of orcs were heard
and the weary warriors had to run for now – going to a place that was better
defendable. Fear crept in their hearts that if help did not arrive soon, they
would soon join their fellow elves in the Halls.
Legolas, Estel and Elladan were making their way to the cellars, but it was not easy. Elladan had to fend of many an orc that had strayed behind. Legolas badly wanted to help the twin, but there was nothing he could do. The human in his arms seemed to have all faith in his brother and appeared to have problems keeping his eyes open in spite of the adrenaline rushing through him.
"Estel!" Legolas said fiercely, not really sure how to continue. The human knew that now was not the time to give in and the prince hoped that a snap would waken him up some.
Estel looked at him with pained eyes, sweat beading his forehead and his face a sickly pale. "Am awake L'glas," he breathed, "J-jostling… a bit too much…" and he closed his eyes.
Legolas snorted, "A bit huh? Try to block it, little one."
This gained the response he wanted: Aragorn scowled at him. "H-how many t-times… have to t-tell you… notLITTLE!" He panted before muttering several choice words under his breath and Legolas could detect words as 'stubborn', 'infuriating elf' and 'show him!' The blond archer smiled at that – if Estel was grumbling about something then things might be bad, but he would be alright again. At least the Man was too upset with him now to fall asleep.
He was confused however when all of a sudden, Estel's eyes widened – looking at something behind him. "Orc," was all he said. And that was all he needed to say. Legolas quickly moved forward – out of reach of the huge beast. Looking back he saw that it was a huge orc covered in red blood. This one had hurt his fellow elves!
Estel gasped as he recognized this one. It was the lead orc that had ordered his legs broken! His body jerked in Legolas' arms as it seemed to remember the creature that had hurt him, wanting to be as far away from it as possible yet in trying so only bringing more pain onto itself.
"Easy, Estel," Legolas soothed before shouting: "Elladan!" The twin was fighting the last two orcs. "We could really use your help right now!" If the elf had looked, he would have seen the Noldor elf roll his eyes as he was caught in his deadly dance. Like he had nothing to do right now!
Duzbak sneered at them – recognizing the name, "So that maggot is the lord's son, aye? I know just what to do with him and I could make him enjoy it as well! Just surrender yourself and I might give you swift deaths." Turning his gaze on Estel, the beast licked off his blade that was still stained with elven blood before moving towards the youngsters. "But not you, little one. There are none to help you and we've killed nearly all elves. Soon you'll be the only one left and then we can play again like we did before. You would like that, wouldn't you?"
Legolas instinctively took a step back before looking at Estel. The human had an odd glint to his eyes – a fire burned in them. He did not fear these creatures any more and with a move none had foreseen, he quickly threw the hidden blade at the creature – hitting it in the neck. Gasping from the painful moves, Aragorn laid his hand on his stomach and shot the orc a look so foul that it would have made any evil creature feel envious of it. Then he slowly spoke as if to make certain he got his point across, anger pouring off his words: "How… many… times… do I have… to tell people… NOT… to call me… LITTLE!"
Duzbak grabbed his neck in order to try and stop the bleeding, surprised that the human had done this. It was a fool not to have seen this coming! He hadn't seen him as a threat since the human was injured and the other two elves were occupied – one with fighting his comrade and the other having his hands full. Looking at the fair haired elf, it saw a shocked look on his face. The dark haired elf seemed not to have noticed them as he quickly finished off the last of his fellow beasts and turned to him. "This will be merciful to you," was all he said before swiping at the orc's head. The elf wasn't looking for revenge, only doing what he had to as quickly as possible and be done with it. The creature tried to evade the blow, half raising himself and moving backwards, but it was not fast enough and with a dull thud its head fell on the floor – the sightless eyes forever fixed in surprise.
"I am glad that I am on your side," Legolas said to Estel as all three continued on their way to the cellar.
The human just smiled evilly at him, "Consider that a warning."
Legolas couldn't help it – he laughed, leaving Estel with thunderclouds in his mind and looking at him with a wry look that said 'I was serious!'
The elf quickly stopped laughing…
Elrond and the other elves had quickly retreated to a place where they could easily defend themselves from the attacking orcs while not having the chance of danger coming from a third side. Several warriors were positioned with their back to the other elves to make sure no one attacked them from behind. If they did, the others would quickly jump in.
It seemed to the poor elves that for every orc they killed four were taking its place, but they managed to hold on. But even though the elves were capable warriors, not all swipes could be blocked resulting in nasty injuries. In the distance they could hear the fight going on at the second post and from the sounds of it, it was apparent that they too had a difficult time in holding off the monsters.
"Elrond!" Glorfindel shouted, seeing an orc's blade hitting the elf lord in the chest. Quickly grabbing his small knife, he threw it at the creature, hitting it in the neck. He watched as the beast fell down, bumping into Elrond on its way down and slashing at the elf's arm with its claw as if in a desperate attempt to stop its fall.
Elrond's eyes widened in shock as the pain hit him, pressing his hand against his ribs to stop the blood flow. The orc falling against him caused the elf to hit the ground with a loud thud, smacking his head hard against the floor. Stars swam in his vision and he was starting to feel dizzy. He could hardly keep his eyes open, thinking all of a sudden that Estel's vision would come true after all. The last thing he saw before darkness took him was a glowing figure moving in his line of sight, speaking to him.
Glorfindel watched as if things happened in slow motion. Elrond was hurt! Quickly moving towards his friend, everything seemed to dim for the ancient elf. The sounds of the battle seemed to come from far away and though the elf knew he should pay attention to his surroundings, he was unable to tear his attention from his fallen lord. Pushing the cursed creature away from the other elf, Glorfindel looked at the glassy grey eyes, begging for him to confirm that he would be all right.
"Elrond?" he questioned, carefully placing one slender finger against the Noldor's throat and feeling for a heartbeat. The blonde sighed in relief and looked at his lord's injuries. Glorfindel grimaced, "Hold on, you will be all right," he soothed, pressing the wounds to stop the bleeding and seeing the lines of pain still present on the elf's face even though no longer awake. He needed to get his friend to the healer's ward, but the creatures were everywhere! Coming to a sad conclusion, Glorfindel started to tear up his shirt to press it over the wound. He would not give up on his friend! Help was on its way and once it had arrived Elrond could be aided properly!
All of a sudden, Glorfindel was shook out of his folly as they were joined by another. How long he had sat there the ancient elf was unsure, but he was lucky that the remaining elves had protected the two even though they themselves were tired and hurt. Elrohir had entered some time ago with the other elves and together they had defeated the orcs. They had moved swiftly and were surprised to see so many of the beasts inside. Outside the last sounds of the battle could be heard and inside the beasts were quickly taken care of. The younger twin saw many dead bodies – both orcs and elves and he cringed thinking of the lives lost this day. If it hadn't been for the Mirkwood and Lothlorien parties the elf wasn't so sure that they could have managed the number of foes.
Coming upon Glorfindel leaning over his father his heart was in his throat as he noticed all the blood. "Ada?" he called in a small voice as he knelt next to the two elves. Elrohir quickly laid one hand on the other elf's brow. "I am here, Ada. Please come back to us!" he pleaded, sounding like a distraught young child.
Glorfindel spared one hand to gently squeeze the twin's shoulder, "He will be all right, young one. Once his wounds have been taken care of…"
Seeing his old mentor, Elrohir would have smiled if he hadn't been so worried. "How fare you yourself?"
Glorfindel shook his head, "I am fine. Do not worry." Looking around himself he noticed that the fighting had stopped.
Seeing the blonde elf looking puzzled, Elrohir realized he had no idea what the situation was. "The fight is over, Glorfindel. Though the losses are great, the orcs are dead," he informed.
Glorfindel looked at him and smiled slightly. He sounded so grown up right now, as if seeing his father like this made him more serious. Scooping Elrond into his arms, the blonde warrior stood – ready to get his friend the needed attention. He hoped Elladan and the others had made it safely to the cellars. The others!
Since there was nothing the younger elf could do besides worrying, Glorfindel decided to send him away to fetch them. "Elrohir, go to the cellars and get Legolas and your brothers. I am sure they would rather be up here and know it is over…" Seeing the hesitance in leaving his father behind, Glorfindel assured, "Your father will be all right. He just needs some care, but he will heal. Now it is better to go downstairs before the others decide to take to the water."
Elrohir grimaced – Estel would not appreciate that at all! With a kiss to his father's forehead, the youngster left. "I will hurry back, Ada. Be there when we return…"
After several more orc encounters the trio had finally arrived in the cellars. Legolas carefully put Estel down so that he was leaning against one of the wine barrels – though he was strong, carrying a grown up human for so long proved to be too much for him!
Elladan eyed the door warily, "Be prepared to use the hatch," he said before moving one of the huge wine barrels in front of the door. If any orcs decided to return via this passage, it would prove difficult to open the door again. At least difficult enough to allow for a hasty retreat.
Aragorn looked at the hatch and shuddered – he could hear the water streaming underneath it and the hairs on his neck rose. "I am not sure leaving in this manner is wise," he spoke quietly. He had no intentions of going into the water! "Surely we can fight off any orcs that come in here?"
All that gained him were two stares that clearly asked whether he had been hit on his head one time too many. Elladan shook his head, seeing this evasive behaviour for what it was, "Estel, Ada told us we should use it if we have no choice and I dare not go against him."
"Besides," Legolas supplied, "whether you like it or not it is the best course of action. You cannot die here – you are too important. I could not suffer it if anything were to happen to you – again – because I failed to protect you."
Estel raised his hand to stop his friend and his feelings of guilt. Adopting a sad, pleading look with huge puppy eyes that had always worked on his family when he wanted something, he whispered: "Water, Legolas! I… I cannot… I will not!" His gaze turned to his hands moving restless in his lap.
Bending down to his friend's level, the prince laid one hand on his shoulder. "I know it is difficult for you, but be reasonable!" Changing his grip so that he held the man's chin, he forced Estel to look at him once again, "The water will not hurt you – I will make sure of this! – but the orcs will… Trust me!"
Sighing deeply, the young human nodded in defeat.
Elladan's ears perked up when he heard something outside. He was nearly prepared to take Estel and go outside with Legolas when he recognized the soft footfall – he had known those distinct steps his entire life! His suspicion was confirmed when someone tried to push the door open and a familiar voice called out.
"I know you three are in there, so you had better let me in!" he called, having heard Legolas' last words.
Quickly, the door was opened and relief was seen on all faces and the younger twin told them the news, "The orcs are dead."
Apparently his twin could detect the concern on his face, for he asked him, "What happened?"
Walking over to his brother Elrohir's eyes filled with tears, but they did not fall. "Ada got hurt," he quietly said before being engulfed in a short hug.
Estel's own eyes started tearing up as he feared for his father, "El'hir?"
Pulling out of his twins' comforting embrace, Elrohir walked to his little brother and hugged him, soothing his fears. "Glorfindel says he will be all right, but he looked so terrible! An orc had cut him with a sword!"
"Glorfindel would not lie about such things just to ease your mind," Legolas spoke, "If he says your father will be all right, then it is so…"
No longer able to keep the darkness at bay now that he knew his loved ones would be all right, Estel finally surrendered himself to it.
Feeling the body in his arms grow slack, Elrohir carefully picked up his little brother and without speaking any further words the four made their way upstairs to check for themselves that the older elf would be all right…
Once they had all seen Elrond and Glorfindel upstairs they were convinced by both the healers and the Noldor elf himself that he would be all right. He had lost a lot of blood and would feel weak for some time, but thanks to Glorfindel he would live. Grief and guilt over the ones fallen in battle ate at his mind, but he would not let that destroy him.
Though the remaining elves were relieved that the orcs had been killed, it had come at a high price – far too many elves had died that day and even more had needed the attention of a healer. Plus as if to rub it into their noses, the poor elves were forced to gather and burn the bodies of their foe as well as burying their own. Some were making plans to depart West after having been abused by the orcs or after seeing their loved ones being killed and their bodies desecrated. If this was victory it was indeed a bitter one.
The elves from Mirkwood and Lothlorien had been offered to stay for as long as they liked or needed and all hoped that they would be able to pick up their lives again. It didn't seem possible in those first days that the world continued without them, but slowly the elves seemed to come to terms with what had happened. Elrond was grateful of the warriors, both living and dead and silently thanked them for their bravery…
In the first few days the lord of the house had been nearly as snappy as his mortal son (who was once again restricted to his bed) because of the slight concussion he had suffered and he had just hated that he was not strong enough to leave the bed. None save for Glorfindel dared to stay for any long period of time with him – not even his children or Legolas, but luckily after a few days the elven lord declared himself well enough to leave for his own rooms and check up with the elves under his roof.
Legolas had written a letter as soon as he was able to inform his father of the situation while Elladan wrote a letter to his grandmother, thanking them for their aid and bringing them the bad news. Their foe had been defeated and, as unlikely as it seemed for them right now, life would continue…
Angry and upset, the twins had followed the way out of the cellar and had been surprised at the patience of the orcs when they saw the huge tunnel. No wonder no one had spotted anything wrong until it was too late! From now on, the tunnel would be watched as well and the hatch in the cellar was closed permanently. The enemy would not succeed to come upon them unawares ever again! That the two brothers swore.
Two months later…
"Uhm, Legolas, can we not do this another time?" Estel begged as he was dragged along by his friend. It had taken several weeks for his legs to heal, but after a lot of exercise and some pain he had regained their full use. Those weeks had been nothing short of torture for both the ranger and his family – Legolas included. For the man because of the time idly spent with nothing to do but stare, talk and read; for the others because Estel had become snappier and grumpier as time passed even though he tried his best to hold it in. All had heaved a relieved sigh when finally after a lot of work, the young Man could walk again. Earlier this day Legolas had asked him to come with him, but when Aragorn noticed the direction they were heading he had started to lay back, hoping his friend would not notice if he decided to disappear. Unluckily for him, the elf did and had grabbed his hand, continuing to walk.
"No, Estel. Now is the time. You have been putting it off for far too long!" Legolas replied, continuing to drag his friend with him.
"Glorfindel set you up to this, did he not? You have been speaking with him, have you not?" Aragorn asked, a note of suspicion dripping into his voice.
Truly surprised, Legolas looked at the human. "I have no idea what you are talking about, but I can assure you I have not spoken to him about my plans. Today is a good day and it is time; remember what we have been talking about?"
Estel blinked and looked askance, "Well, I know… but I was hoping we could do this another ti-"
Legolas looked at his friend with a smile on his face, "You promised, young one. Have you no faith in me? I will let nothing happen to you!"
Cornered by the elf's words, Estel had to admit that he did trust him and with a defeated sigh started to follow the elf of his own will.
When they reached the water's side, Aragorn looked at the still surface. It looked so innocent right now, but the human knew how deceptive it could be. "I was here with the twins then…" he softly spoke.
Legolas looked at him, squeezing his shoulder in encouragement. "I will be right by your side…"
Breathing deeply, Estel steeled himself for what he was about to do. This will be similar to bathing he told himself – with the exception that this time there will not be a small layer on the bottom, but actually enough to cover you entirely! the darker side of his mind whispered. Quickly taking off his tunic lest he lose his resolve Aragorn stripped to his breeches, seeing Legolas do the same.
The Mirkwood elf nodded at his friend and waited for him to slowly walk forward, stepping into the water himself and holding out his hand. Patiently he waited for Estel to take it. When he did he slowly started to lead the young ranger deeper and deeper into the water – keeping eye contact with Estel. Then the elf broke it all of a sudden and gestured with his eyes for Estel to look where he was.
Estel's eyes turned huge when he realized he was up to his chest in the water! He had been so focused on his friend that he hadn't noticed how far they had come. He breathed deeply several times, taking in that he was actually in the water. "Well… this is not so bad," he said – a hesitant smile creeping on his face.
Legolas and he spent several hours in the water – going even further in it and enjoying the sunshine. Legolas instructed him how to stay afloat and how to swim and finally – after years of being afraid of water, Estel was happily playing in it. The memories were still there, but they and the dreams would dwindle, the youngster was sure of it.
When they were lying on the grass later to dry up, Estel looked up at the sky with a smile on his face – his family would be glad for him as soon as he told them. It felt as if a huge weight he hadn't known was there had been lifted from his shoulders. He turned his head to look at his friend. "Legolas?"
At the questioning sound from the elf, Aragorn continued, "You know what I fear, I mean feared, but I was wondering… Are you afraid of anything?"
Legolas looked at his friend and smiled as he could see the new twinkle in Estel's eyes. The boy had trusted him to help with his well guarded secret, now it was his turn. Turning serious, he started: "What I fear most…"