Author's note:  This is a prologue, the rest of the story will be coming as I find time in my busy life to write. Lemme know what you think!!

Summary:  When Rivendell is awakened one night by screams, Legolas, Aragorn, and the twins are plunged into an adventure that very may well cost them their souls as well as their lives and prove how much their willing to sacrifice for friendship.

Rating:  PG-13—for blood and intense moments…do not say I didn't warn you

Warnings: not for the faint of heart

Disclaimer:  Do I look dead to you? Didn't think so. Therefore I don't own the dudes in this story.

The Pursued

     By eck

The rain hampered his vision and his steps yet he was grateful for it.  It washed away the blood that was even now flowing from the arrow wound in his shoulder.  It would make it more difficult for his pursuers to tack him.

A flash of lightening lit up the forest silhouetting the dark figure stumbling along the muddy ground. Soaked dark hair was plastered in his face and streaks of watery blood hung around his cheeks. The short sleeved tunic he was wearing was heavy with water from the gushing rain.

He choked slightly as the rain water ran into his open mouth.  A groan was uttered as he lost his balance and almost toppled to the hard ground.

Elbereth, forgive me for I have sinned against you…

He stumbled again and his hands scraped roughly against an old, weathered tree as he grabbed for support.

Another scream echoed behind him and he sobbed aloud.  His halting pace quickened to a staggered run as his lips formed the words to a prayer he had thought long forgotten.

In his mind's eye he saw those that had been left behind, left to fend for themselves against an unbeatable enemy.

He saw the blood, heard the screams, and smelled the death.  And he ran faster.

Elbereth, forgive me for I have sinned against…

Lightning flashed again and he cried out against the barrenness of the forest before him.  He should have reached it by now.

A few more yards. He forced himself to smile at hope that he knew were false.  A few more minutes of running through this dreary forest and he would be there.  He would be safe.

His breath was coming in ragged gasps now and there was a sharp pain in his side.  But it was nothing compared to the pain that was stabbing through his mind and heart; the pain of his guilt would last him a lifetime.

Elbereth, forgive me for I have sinned…

A shout came from behind him.

He gasped in surprise and fear.  They couldn't catch him! He wouldn't let them!  Not when he was so close to reaching his goal! Not so close to freedom!

Footsteps pounded on the through the darkened trees and he could almost sense the eyes burning with hatred that were hunting for him.

Despair came over him.  It wasn't a few yards away.  He would never reach it in time.  He was being hunted down like a dog and he would most likely die like a dog, shot in the back then left there until all his vital fluids had been washed down into the ground by the pouring rain.

Elbereth, forgive me for I have…

The shouts grew louder and fear spurred him to run faster even when his body screamed in protest.

Lightening lit up the trees and he cursed it.  Now his pursuers would see him.  Sure enough, the shouts came closer and the pounding steps had more purpose to them, they were on his tail.

Then, against every instinct of his panicked mind, his body began to slow.  Too much had been blood had been lost and too much energy had been exerted.  It could go no further.

Elbereth, forgive me for I…

An arrow whizzed by his shoulder, shattering a few feet ahead on the on a gray stone.  Then another.

"Shoot him!"  A voice screamed. "Kill him!"

Forcing his body continue the fast pace, he strained his eyes through the storm looking for the destination of his frantic race.

He saw it.

Dark, blurry, but it was there, looming above the horizon like a black wall it was.  Intricate spires tilted up to the sky, speaking of the craftsmanship of those who resided in those walls.

A relieved sob burst past his lips.  Safety.  So close. So far.  Bullets were exploding around him.  It was only a matter of time.

Elbereth, forgive me for…

Another silent cry came past his lips as he saw the gentle light a few of the windows were admitting.  If only their aim would falter a few more times, he could make it.  And mayhap by doing that one good deed, he could atone for the lives, the mistakes, of tonight.

Thunder rolled and rain pounded, but all that existed was the gate and his increasingly ragged breaths.

It was only a matter of time.

Elbereth, forgive me…

Then came the blow and for a moment he thought he would fall but grace kept him on his feet.

Had an arrow hit him at last? But he felt no pain.  What then had hit him?

He wanted to reach back and touch the spot but his frantic mind would not let him slow for anything.

Pain hit him in a wave and he stumbled, gasping against the torrent.  So it had been an arrow.

A strange warmness was running down his back and numbness was seeping into his tired limbs.

His legs would no longer support him, so he fell, landing in a puddle of freezing rain water.  The cold water was a strange contrast to the warm blood coating his back and falling down his sides.

Elbereth, forgive…

He gasped down a shuddering breath that ended in a raspy cough and raised his eyes to look at the towering gate. It was not more than 15 yards away but in his current condition it could've been a thousand miles for all the difference that it made.

Blood was spat from his lips as his lungs filled with fluids.  He could no longer hear the shouts of men; they had left him to die alone on the forest floor.

His heart fluttered weakly in his chest as if fought to keep beating despite the lack of oxygen and blood.  Even as his eyes began to glaze over in eternal sleep, he kept them fixed on his safety that was 15 yards to far away.

As he watched, the gate opened and excited voices sounded from within.  Too late.  Figures began to run towards him.  Too late.

There would be no atonement for him this night.  He would bear the blood of the innocents for all of time. Mayhap, it was better that he died now so he would not have to live with the guilt.

It became too hard breathe so he stopped and felt his faithful heart finally surrender in its weary fight.

Elbereth

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