*Is sitting here munching on celery* Ok, here we are again! Getting sick of me yet? I don't think that I have ever kept an updating timeline so well before...it is odd...I think I need to see a doctor or something. All right, there is a little bit of fun this chapter, but most of it is made up of a fair bit of talking... couldn't be helped... but I hope you like it anyway. Also, things happen pretty quick in this chapter, so be prepared for a number of things - especially emotions - to linger on next chapter and be better explored.

Oh, and the alternate title for this chapter is 'The shit has hit the Fan' but I didn't think that that was all that appropriate!

*****

The Thrill of the Chase

Chapter Nine

Let the Game Commence

*****

"You are so beautiful, Legolas, but you are just *so* bitter!" Verdox mocked, showing just how long he had been waiting out in the hallway.

At the use of his name, Legolas could not stop the small flare of fear from exploding in his eyes and his jaw from tightening even more.

"Oh yes, your identity is blown, *Legolas*," Verdox emphasized the name to better prove his point. "Perhaps someone in your line of work should watch what other people say even behind closed doors." Leaning forward and raising an eyebrow, he added with a great smile, "Never know who's listening!"

"How did you get in here?" Legolas demanded, trying to keep his heart from racing. They knew his name. From there it was only one small step to finding his home, his father, friends; his important status. If that knowledge fell into their hands, all bets were off and this entire situation would become a whole lot worse. The scenarios were a horror to even consider. Ransom, extortion of Mirkwood's defenses and secrets, and, what's more, they had a way to get such a thing from him.

Estel.

At the thought, Legolas risked a small glance at the restrained human. He was slowly coming around, whether that was a good thing or not, Legolas did not know. All he knew was that, as much as the young man annoyed him and got under his skin, he was the innocent in all of this and thus every part of Legolas screamed out to protect him just as he had Gruthfrid in Larnfield. And at the moment, the best way to protect him was to ignore him and hope that none of the intruders could see past the barrier of hate which still boiled away at the surface of the Elf.

Returning his steady gaze to Verdox - after all, it would do neither of them any good if it appeared as if he were planning something in regards to Estel - Legolas just waited for the crazed human to reply.

Verdox merely clicked his tongue at the young Elf, shaking his head as if in disappointment. "That was not the first question that I expected from you..." Verdox reprimanded while sounding slightly frustrated, "'What do you want?' was what I actually expected. Why I am here, in my opinion, is much more important as to how I got here."

"Quite playing games, Verdox," Legolas snarled. He did not have the patience for this. With each passing moment he was getting a little more frantic inside, though he would never allow even the slightest hint of his desperation to show. He would rather die before giving them that satisfaction. He just wanted this all over and done with. To fight and leave the outcome up to his skills and chance to decided. But first, first he had to suffer through his small talk and play along. Besides, he had no weapon and even though he prided himself on his abilities, there were just a few too many, with too many swords and they were all far too close to Estel.

His mind racing, Legolas thought back to when he had been packing his bag. The clothes he had piled on the bed or stuffed into the knapsack, medical supplies and a few rations had gone into the small pouch at the front of his bag and...his twin knives had been thrown unceremoniously onto the far end of the bed.

He did not look there, but as clearly as he was able to predict an opponent's next move, he saw his past actions like a play in his head. They should be under one of his tunics that he had thrown to the bed at the last minute. To the far side, upper left corner and blades facing into the middle of the bed.

Now all he had to do was make sure that neither Verdox or any of his men noticed them. That in mind, he made sure to listen to everything that Verdox said, to respond as he should be expected and to keep his eyes forward at all times. He could not even risk a glance in that direction.

"Oh, but I like playing games." The human almost pouted, a look which proved to be both alien to his face and rather off-putting. "So come now Legolas, play civil and humor me."

"Fine," Legolas growled, his upper lip curling up ever so slightly as he went along with the banter for the human's amusement. "Why are you here, Verdox?"

At that the man just laughed, his smile stretching almost unnaturally across his face. "You do not honestly think that I am going to tell you that so easily...it takes all the fun from drawing it out."

With a wave of his hand, Verdox summoned three men forward, two which headed towards Legolas and circled behind him and the other which hurried to the end of the bed, snatching up the two Elven blades.

Legolas' hope plummeted, sank like a small ship with a broken hull. Actually allowing his eyes to flutter closed in defeat for the briefest of moments he found, much to his eternal horror, that he had no other plans of escape. If he had made it to his weapons he would have stood a chance of getting both himself and Estel out and, hopefully, with both of them alive.

Now? Now he was once again lost only this time on a completely different scale. Even to him, he who would try anything at least once, there were logically far too many armed men to even attempt to take on single-handedly and weaponless. Plus, all they had to do was threaten Estel and he would be effectively stopped in his tracks. If the human had not been there then he would have tried it, he knew that. It was better that he tried to escape or die in the process then allow those men the time to find out his true identity and social position. But he could not do that with Estel there, and he cold not leave him behind.

Once again he cursed both the foolish human and that aggravating little voice in his head that would not allow him to make a break for it and abandon that reckless man.

"We do not want you to try anything stupid now, do we?" Verdox said as if he were talking to a small child as he passed the blades to his biggest assistant. The tone of his voice was the closest thing that Legolas had ever heard to someone that had more issues of the mind then he. Verdox was utterly psychotic; his eyes wide and filled with madness as they flared when he smiled that unnatural grin of his.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, the side of him that was almost as insane as Verdox pondered the thought of whether or not the man also had an annoying little voice in his head...

A loud groan filled the room and automatically Legolas knew that Estel had come back to the land of the wakeful - sadly enough for him. It would have been better if Estel had just stayed unconscious; it would have been better for both of them.

"Ah," Verdox sung out slightly as he looked to the blinking human, "It seems that we have a new player in this little game. Fun, is it not?"

"Legolas...?" Estel groaned out, trying to remember what had happened. He could recall waking up with the Elf, following him to his room and then...then there had been an argument and he had left. The rest was a blur and all he knew what that it hurt his already pounding head even more to try and think on the subject. He also vaguely wondered why it was that he was not lying down as he so wished he could be.

"Shh," Legolas hushed him quickly. The less attention Estel brought upon himself, the better.

Estel forced his head to rise only to find that the room was spinning strangely. Blinking rapidly again, he tried to clear his vision as he wondered why there was a large number of people were in Legolas' room and why two of them were holding him from the floor. Feeling his head grow heavy and feel as if it were three sizes too big, Estel allowed his neck to slacken and his head to drop once again as he concentrated on trying to regain his bearings.

"See, this is where the really fun begins," Verdox smiled as, with a nod of his head, Legolas sensed the men behind him closing in. Having no other choice, Legolas stayed were he was and resisted the urge to attempt anything that someone like Rolf would deem 'reckless'.

The two men grabbed his shoulders and roughly pushed him to the floor by sweeping his legs out from underneath him. Not wishing to put Estel in any more danger then he already was, Legolas complied if only a little reluctantly, and landed hard on his knees on the floor. The men stayed by his sides, their hands locked around his shoulder and the junction to his throat to best keep him in his kneeling position and be able to angle his head up.

"Ah, finally," Verdox exclaimed with a triumphant smile. "The great and powerful Legolas brought to his knees before me." His voice was scolding and patronizing as he looked down at the restrained Elf with contempt. "And all due to some stupid human - ironic, do you not think?"

Sparing a quick glance to the confused Estel, Legolas quickly turned his heated gaze back on the man that leered above him.

"Let him go-" Legolas began, knowing that he had absolutely nothing to lose.

"It is me that you want..." Verdox mocked with a cruel grin and a quick smile to his now snickering men. "Do you honestly think that I have not heard that before? Or that I have ever given into such a pathetic plea? Now, be silent for a moment."

Legolas would have given anything to have a weapon, or at least the smallest inkling of a plan that could possibly work. He hated being so helpless, hated needing to have to submit so that did not risk Estel's life - a life that he was not all that fussed on in the first place.

"Verdox," Legolas began again while ignoring the vicious tugging at his hair which told him to keep quiet. "He knows nothing! He can do you no harm. So just let him-"

At this, a cruel and inhuman smile swept across Verdox's face, his eyes glinting with unconcealed malice.

"He knows nothing?" he asked while crouching down next to the prince. "Nothing, you say?" Shooting a look back at the glaring human, a small laugh escaped his lips as he saw the faint hints of questioning within the young man's eyes.

"He does not know what you are." Verdox stated with a self-assured sense of glee. "What you do?" his hand moved up to cup the restrained Elf's cheek, running his fingers over the smooth, flawless surface while brushing his thumb against Legolas' lower lip.

"Whatever you want, Verdox," Legolas sighed out, resisting the urge to pull away and bite that thumb. "Whatever you want, I will give you. Just let him go."

The Elf did his best to sound submissive and pleading through the repulsion that he felt with the man's thumb circling his cheek. He wanted to sound self-sacrificing though it was hardly sincere. All he wanted to do was keep the attention on him as long as possible and, if his plea and promise worked, Estel would be out of the picture so that Legolas could attempt something. *Anything*.

"And keep quiet about what you really are...?" Verdox finished as he trailed his fingers over the point of the Elf's ear. At this Legolas put on the show of his life. Breathing deeper and quicker as he arched his neck, he made sure that Verdox was well aware of the way that his chest rose and fell, and the pumping of his blood in this long neck. Looking up at the man through slightly fluttering eyelashes, Legolas forced a small flush to his cheeks in a desperate attempt to seduce the man.

Verdox's hand moved further around his head, the fingers burying themselves in the Elf's blond hair as his thumb continued to explore the planes of Legolas' face with small, roaming circles. He leaned closer as his eyes studied every aspect of the Elf before him; his eyes, his lips and those slightly flushed cheeks. One more tiny movement and his lips were almost brushing against Legolas' as his warm breath tickled the Elf's skin.

"No deal!" he said maliciously before applying a lightening quick lick to Legolas' lips.

Instantaneously Legolas' façade crumbled as he pulled his face away with a snarl of disgust. It was high time that he admitted defeat in getting Estel set free; Estel who was currently glaring at Verdox as is he were the embodiment of Sauron himself.

The look in Estel's eyes was both murderous and rather possessive, and, for a mere moment, Legolas allowed himself to be slightly flattered by the fact. The human looked as if he wanted to rip Verdox's tongue out of his head and Legolas was quite sure that Estel would have tried if he had not been restrained so successfully by the group of men.

It was then that Estel turned to look towards Legolas, the emotions in his eyes changing almost instantly. Legolas wanted to look away, and yet for the life of him he could not bring himself to just ignore the human in such a way, especially at such a time.

'You all right?' Estel mouthed to the rather shocked Elf who found that all he could do was nod his assent. With an arched eyebrow, Legolas implied the same query, his eyes moving to the blood that ran down the man's face to better express his silent question.

'Been bett...'

Any further attempts at communicating were put on hold as Verdox came and stood right between them, blocking each other from sight and drawing Legolas' eyes up.

"You are good, Legolas," Verdox admitted, "You almost had me going there! But then again, you are good at whatever you do. Not playing the part of a whore as well as an assassin, are you?"

"What? You lie!"

Legolas shuddered at the sound of Estel's protests, his eyes falling closed as if he believed that he could shut it all out if he could not see anything. He had never thought about telling Estel what it was that he actually did - what was actually wrong with him as, in his opinion, Estel was still that annoying, aggravating human that had cornered him in the garden and taken far too much for granted. He was still a liability, someone that could be used against him just as he was now. Granted that Legolas was worried for him and would protect him, it did not mean that his opinion had changed from the argument that had only just transpired. Estel still meant nothing and last night had been a grave mistake on Legolas' part. It was not a commitment, not some declaration of feelings that Legolas felt for the human as those emotions did not exist within Legolas. They were the things that would get him killed, someone hurt and cause situations just like this, meaning that they had rightly been cast out years ago. Yet despite all that and the fact that he did not want Estel to know about him at all, he had no wish for Estel to find out like this.

"His is an assassin; he kills people for money." Verdox turned towards Estel with a smirk as he answered the human's question.

"I do not believe it..."

"I kill people for money, yes," Legolas protested, his eyes still closed as he tried to get his side of the story into the light before Verdox had the chance to continue. "But I kill people like you, Verdox. People that steal innocent lives."

"Innocent? No such creature!" Verdox spat with disgust, moving back to Legolas. "But is that really what you tell yourself?" he asked with a frown and a slight hint of curiosity, "Is that what enables you to sleep at night after you just slaughtered someone in that vicious, bloodthirsty way that you seem to favor?"

"It is not like that Verdox, and you know it."

"Little one," the man chided with a wiggle of his finger and a small click of his tongue, "Tell him the truth."

"I have," the Elf snarled. "It is you who stretches the truth, you who-"

"What about that rush you get?" Verdox interrupted, torn between looking at the confused and devastated human and looking at the fuming, protesting Elf. "That thrill that tingles up your spine whenever you finish a job," he continued as he decided to just watch Legolas. It was far more fun that way. "Tell him how you merely smile at the pleas and tearful begging of your targets; that is if you actually allow them the chance. Tell him how your primal instincts soar if they run, if they struggle and how you enjoy killing them all the more afterwards. Be truthful and tell him that you were born to kill and that you live for it."

Legolas dropped his head, refusing to look at either Verdox or Estel. After all, how could he fight against something that he knew was true in his head. Yes, he killed criminals, and yes, he collected money for it, but at the same time and to his shame, he did enjoy the chase. That was what it was all about. The hunt, the thrill and the knowledge that what he was doing was beyond dangerous.

"You are just a cold blooded killer looking for an excuse to justify your disgusting actions. That is all. You are no noble righter of wrongs, just a murderer like all of us."

"No." The protest was weak even to Legolas. But why deny it? Why cover his lies with more? There was no point, the truth was out - at least to Estel - and, chances were that they would all be dead before long anyway. Why bother?

"'No'?" Verdox mocked with a dramatic sigh. "Is that all you have, Legolas. All the fight that I am going to get out of you? A pathetic 'no'?"

Silence was the only thing that answered him. Estel was still too absorbed within his thoughts to say anything; lost and confused and Legolas seemed to have just given up; no longer participating in Verdox's so called 'game'.

"You see, you really brought this upon yourself," Verdox went on, seeing that he was not likely to get another response. "You and you little friend here. I send assassins, mercenaries - anyone and everyone that I could get my hands on - even the Order of Tercutkus but what happens? You just wouldn't die! You just waltzed right in and picked them off one by one while they were still trying to find you. So you see, I have learnt my lesson, I want a liability eliminated, I do it myself."

Picked them off? Trying to hide the questions that flooded his mind, Legolas pressed his lips together in an attempt to decipher the true meaning of Verdox's words. He had only encountered the Order of Tercutkus, that was all he had had time to come across. Then what was all this about the others? He knew that there would be more, but he had not found any more, or been faced with anyone else out to claim the reward.

For once he found that there was just too much all at once. He could hardly hear himself think, let alone have the clarity of mind to even contemplate thinking. He felt as if his head was about to implode. There was a thudding pressure in his ears and it felt as if there was a tiny dwarf in his head, chipping away at the section behind his eyes with a pickaxe. He wanted to yell, wanted to press his hands to the sides of his head and speed up the unavoidable explosion yet the hands on both he and Estel were more then enough to stop him from making any silly movement over such a trivial thing. He would just have to bear with it.

Finally forcing his mind to stop thinking on the pain in his head, he focused all his thoughts on getting Estel out and finding an escape route.

"Just let him go," Legolas once again demanded though with hardly as much vigor as before. Play the part of the submissive fool - let them think that they have won and pounce as soon as they grow too arrogant. That was one of the first things he had been taught; a survival strategy for any assassin that happened to get caught in the act. Play on their complacency and fake capitulation until the right moment. But what if he was not really playing at it anymore? "He means nothing to you."

Verdox merely looked to the glaring young man, a small smile playing dangerously across his lips. "Oh I know," he started, his eyes once again searching out Legolas', "Nothing at all. But you see the fun is in the fact that he means something to you!"

"Then you were obviously not standing by the door for any great length of time," Legolas replied coldly and with no emotion. Even his eyes seemed cold, frozen like the waters of the Bay of Forochel in the long, harsh winter.

"Words, words, words. Who needs them?" Verdox asked a shrug and a sigh. "The way that you look at him - or the way that you refuse to look at him now - speaks more then the lies that you hide behind.

"So," he exclaimed happily, "this is what is going to happen. You are going to be a good little Elf and do exactly as you are told or else Cardise here," he motioned to the man that stood behind Estel. Nodding his head, Cardise reached to his belt and pulled out his small dagger, positioning it over Estel's throat. "Might feel inclined to have a little fun of his own.

"We are going to play a little game," Verdox went on, pacing back and forth before the Elf and with his hands folded behind his back. "Although you eluding the men that I sent after you was frustrating, it was slightly entertaining. So we are going to up the stakes, see just how good you really are. That is where your little human comes into it, and, well, this," he said, holding up a small vial that Legolas quickly identified as a poison flask. "Sound fun?"

*****

Something was not right.

That was the first thought that came to Erestor's mind as he dressed for the day. He felt slightly dizzy, something that he was only familiar with due to Estel's occasional sickness and his stomach felt empty and yet he knew that if he were to eat anything he would find that he could not hold it down. The whether felt hotter then it should; something that, given both the position of the city within the waterfall dotted valley and the fact that he was an Elf he should never have picked up on.

It was such a horrible feeling that he could not push it from his mind, even as he wandered through the halls in the direction of the gardens that he so loved.

Deciding to take the back way and hopefully avoid everyone else - namely the twins who had returned late last night - Erestor quietly turned a corner in the halls only to find himself reaching out for the wall, seeking support as his balance was thrown. He had tripped over something and, looking down, he came eye to eye with one of the house guards who lay sprawled out on the floor, his eyes open as if he were in sleep. Cursing himself for not seeing the pale limb before he almost fell over it, Erestor moved around the Elf and knelt next to him, lightly tapping the other on the cheek.

He was cold; stone cold.

Brow knotting in confusion, Erestor lent closer, peering into the eyes. They were slightly glazy as was the way with all Elven eyes when asleep. But there was something else which worried him. The slightest tint of white covered the entire eye, as if a thin white cloud had fallen from the sky and landed in the Elf's eyes.

The adviser was about to check the Elf's vitals when he saw something that made his blood run cold. Under the head, well hidden by the large spray of black hair was a small pool of dark liquid. He knew what it was even before he looked; could tell by the thick edges of the splash and the fact that even in the shadows it held a slight crimson tinge.

Gently lifting the Elf's head, his suspicions were confirmed. Underneath the dark hair was mattered together with blood and the floor was stained red. The smallest feeling of panic crept over him as he beheld the dead Elf in his arms. Who would have been able to sneak up on an Elven guard and take him down, and more importantly, how did they do it and where were they now?

Following the trail of blood up the Elf's throat, Erestor sort out the location of the death stroke. Had he not been so thorough, he would have missed the tiny hole in the Elf's head, just behind the lobe of his ear.

A small pin or needle would have done it. Applied with enough force and pointing in a slightly upwards direction, it would have slipped through the soft skin and pierced the brain all before the Elf even knew what was happening.

Lips purged, Erestor lay the Elf down and closed his eyes. He knew that it was disrespectful to leave him in the middle of the hallway, but at the moment he was a little more worried about where the killers were in Rivendell.

Again he had that sickly feeling in his stomach; that moment in which pure fear rose within him and threatened to override his usually rational mind.

"I beg forgiveness," he said to the dead guard as he stood to his feet and took the Elf's sword. After finding the dead Elf, he was convinced that he knew for certain what this nauseated feeling was. Ever since he had woken up that morning it had been playing at the back of his mind, telling him to admit to the fact that he did actually know what it was that he sort to work out. It was merely a higher degree of what he felt every time the Prince of Mirkwood came waltzing into the city unexpectedly.

Legolas was back in Rivendell and wherever he was, he was in trouble.

*****

"You never told me why you are here," Legolas said quickly, stalling for time in desperate hope that he would come to some miraculous course of action.

"Do not seek to stall for time, Legolas. It will prove to be fut-" Verdox was cut off by the creaking of the door, alerting all to a new presence in the room and, as all heads turned, all hell broke loose.

It started with a head flying free from the body's shoulders and a spray of arterial blood. A choked scream and someone yelling out that there was another Elf in the room. Legolas could just see another man that had been standing by the door crumple in on himself and fall to the floor before a welcomed face appeared in the crowd.

"Erestor!" both Legolas and Estel called out, letting the other know that they were in the room.

Seeing the chance that he had been praying for since the moment Verdox walked in the door, Legolas braced his knees against the floor and made sure that his balance was perfect before he dived face first towards the floor, sending one of the two men sprawling.

"Subdue him!" Verdox yelled as Legolas went to throw his second captor off his arm. Before he could, the hilt of the man's swords smashed down on the side of his head, pitching him forward and sending him crashing to the ground. Starting to panic, Legolas found that he could not see, his eyes seemed as if they had been covered with black cloth and yet bright flashes of white assaulted him. Already the other man was back on his feet and once again standing over the Elf, showing no signs of wounds or pains. A rough hand in his hair tugged him back to his knees and Legolas knew that he did not need his vision to confirm that the room was spinning at a dangerous speed. Unprepared for the attack, Legolas gasped out in pain and alarm when a solid boot smashed into his ribs, letting out a crack that even the human's could hear.

Pain raced through his ribs and caused the strange white spots to flash before his eyes with a brighter intensity and at a quicker rate. His breath started to catch in his throat as he tried to breathe a little shallower but even that caused jolts of pain to spark deep within his chest.

Unable to breathe properly or to see, Legolas experienced his first real taste of pure panic and fear. The pain and terror made his other senses unstable to the point that he could no longer tell if someone was ripping at his hair or if the sensation was just a manifestation of trepidation.

A sudden, vicious tug to his hair took away all doubt about the men's positions and with his limited air, Legolas found himself gasping out yet again. As soon as his mouth opened, a thumb and index finger shoved their way between the joints of his jaw, locking his mouth open as a hand wrapped around his throat from behind, holding him frozen in place. The cool kiss of glass was the next thing that he felt and, with even more dread, he realized that it was the vial of poison that Verdox had been taunting him with only moments before.

"Stop!" Verdox's voice resounded in Legolas' head. It was as if the man was right next to him, screaming at the top of his lungs directly into his ear although he was almost sure that Verdox was the one standing with the bottle...almost sure.

"Erestor!" It was Estel who yelled to the other Elf, bringing his attention whirling around and to the predicament that Legolas was in.

Blinking rapidly and repetitively, Legolas was able to slowly start to make out the forms of the men in the room. Light started to collect and darkness molded itself into shapes and figures and, thankfully after only a few moments, Legolas was about to see most of the proceedings around him in a shadowy cloak - as if he were watching a shadow puppet play.

"Drop the sword or I give the little Elf here a nice long sleep with no hope of waking!" Verdox threatened with another vicious tug of Legolas hair and a warning tip of the bottle over his mouth.

Four bodies lay on the floor, all killed with skill that only an Elf could possess and all covered in blood. Searching through the room almost painfully, Legolas found Erestor and sort out his eyes. The Elf was standing still, his sword grasped within his hand and his eyes locked onto Verdox, the bottle and Legolas' mouth. Legolas knew that the advisor was planning something - or at least trying to - and so he never once broke his gaze with Erestor, willing the older Elf to see deep into his soul and find the thoughts that Legolas so desperately wanted to scream. He could not surrender now! Surly Erestor knew that they would kill them all no matter what he did.

Another warning tip of the vial and Erestor's sword clattered to the ground.

Legolas wanted to scream! How could Erestor not see that he was their only chance of getting out of this mess?

"Get the poison away!" Erestor snarled, his eyes narrowing as he glared Verdox down. Verdox complied with a false smile and a small bow. A single nod to Cardise saw the man walking towards Erestor, and grabbing his shoulder as if he were about to push him to the ground. Only instead, he turned the proud Elf to face him, his hand clamped so tightly against the others arm that he had no choice but to turn and look the other in the eyes.

A single flash caught Legolas' attention, a small glimmer of light that did not quite fit into his shadowy view of the world. By the time he realized what it was, his cry was far too late, "NO!"

The blade flicked out from behind Cardise's wrist and swung upwards between the two bodies, driving deep within the Elf's stomach. Everything but the crosspiece and hilt disappeared into the elf and from the moment that the blade breached the skin, a small river of blood spewed from the wound, covering the Elf's tunic and the human's hand.

Erestor's eyes widened in shock and pain as his mouth fell open in a silent scream. With a deadly and skillful twist and another small up thrust, Cardise had Erestor standing on the tips of his toes, his back straight as the knife cut further and deeper into the Elf's midsection. A cruel tug saw the blade slip free and the Elf left to stand on his own two feet as Cardise stood back to admire his handiwork.

Swaying slightly on the spot, Erestor tried to turn and face Legolas but never made it. His knees buckled and he crumpled to the ground, his hands folded protectively over the surging wound. Blood had slipped through and latticed his fingers before he even fell to his knees, his eyes looking out towards the back of the room although they appeared unseeing. Within another moment, he toppled backwards, landing on his back with a thud which caused his arms to fail out about him and his head to loll to the side.

Legolas thought that he was frozen in shock and yet the brutal blows and tearing tugs at his hair told him otherwise. He could not break free of the strong grips of the men, not while his head throbbed and spun and his broken rib lacerated him deep within.

"Silly Elf," Verdox spat at Erestor as he turned back towards Legolas who still struggled vainly with his captors. "Hold him tight!" he commanded his men as he handed the poison over to Cardise and reached down to wrench Legolas right arm up by the wrist. "You see, the thing about this poison is that it is nigh on harmless if ingested..." he explained while violently ripping the bandage off Legolas' cut hand. "But being adding straight to the bloodstream is another story entirely!" Once again he smiled as he snatched the bottle from his follower and, without even a second's hesitation, poured the entire content into the middle of the Elf's palm and into his cut.

Legolas gasped out in agony as the poison mixed with his blood and seeped into the slowly healing cut. Hardly aware of Estel calling out for him, Legolas squeezed his eyes tightly shut as Verdox took his hand in his. With a sadistic smile, he fisted Legolas' hand, using the Elf's own nails to dig further into the cut flesh and thus allow the poison a more direct, fresh route into the Elf's system.

"Burns, does it not?" Verdox hissed as he gave the Elf's hand once last forceful squeeze. Again Estel yelled out for the Elf, and this time Verdox did not ignore it. "Shut that human up!' he yelled. At his command one of the still living men sent a well aimed blow to the same side of Estel's temple as before, effectively knocking the human unconscious as his holders allowed him to fall to the floor.

"I will kill you!" Legolas grit out as he heard Estel slump to the floor. A mixture of blood and poison ran down Legolas' arm, soaking into his sleeve as the prince clenched his teeth against the pain. It felt as if he had buried his hand in burning hot coals and left it there. Heat radiated off his hand as his skin bubbled and blistered to the point were he was almost certain that his hand was about to spontaneously combust.

"Oh, I look forward to it!" Verdox smiled before dropping the Elf's arm and kicking him backwards to the floor.

Legolas' first instinct was to curl in on himself. He cradled his scorching hand to his chest and tried to support his broken rib while concentrating on keeping his breathing steady to both slow the poison and stop the stabbing pain in his chest.

"Take the human!" Verdox commanded. "He will be our ticket out of here and insurance against him if he keeps to his habit and does not die."

Cardise pulled Estel from the floor as another man bound the young human's hands. Passing Estel off to another to carry, Cardise looked over at the blond that lay convulsing on the floor - a sure sign that the toxin was already starting to work.

"He'll die!"

They were the last words that Legolas heard before the door slammed closed. His body was plagued by violent shivers, each and every convulsion causing more and more pain to pierce his chest. Between his need to breathe shallow and his constantly chattering teeth, he felt his head become oxygen starved and dizzy while causing a sickly feeling to churn in his stomach.

Forcing himself to stop with the self-evaluation, Legolas told himself over and over that he had to move, that he had to get to Erestor and get them both help. Their lives and Estel's relied on it. Now as not the time for him to give in, no matter how wretched he felt and so, with his resolve set, he started to slowly uncurl himself from his fetal position.

Legolas crawled across the floor on his elbows while dragging his legs behind him. His joints were starting to freeze and even this small amount of movement made him think that it would be less painful to be decapitated then to keep his head attached to his shoulders.

Reaching the dark-haired Elf, Legolas tugged on the others tunic with as much strength as he could possibly muster. Erestor did not stir. As it was, Legolas was half kneeling, half lying in a pool of the other's blood and more of the vital liquid oozed from the wound before Legolas' eyes.

"Erestor...I need you to wake up," Legolas tried to say, his words sounding more like strange sobs and exhales of breath more so then a voice saying a formulated sentence. He kept prodding at his friend, careful to keep his poison covered arm as far away from the others wound as possible and yet Erestor still remained unresponsive. "Please. Please, I need you to... I can't...can't stay..."

Legolas' voice slowly stopped as his body slackened and his eyes rolled back in his head. He collapsed with a soft thud, his head landing lightly upon the other Elf's arm and his upper body falling into the quickly spreading pool of blood that furiously gushed from Erestor.

*****

To be continued...

Hehehe, and you all complained about the cliffhanger last chapter...

Anyway, for the sake of keeping up a hint of suspense, I am not going to give you any previews either! *pokes out tongue before running for her life* Anyway, if you really want to kill me, take a number and get in line *points to the ever growing line of angry Elf fans*

On other news, for any of you who have been reading 'Everything in Me' I have some good news. I am back working on that story and shall hopefully have a new chapter up in about two weeks - that is allowing time to have this story still updated weekly. If you are really desperate to know a bit about it, I have put up a small preview on my livejournal. Oh, that reminds me, if anyone here is interested, I also have a RPS Halloween story up on there that promises to be fun and a really short exclusive Elladan angst fic. Feel free to check them out or feel free not to - it is up to you. The link is on my bio page.

*****

Response to reviews: (again cutting them short though all are GREATLY appreciated and very much loved!)

Eddie Uwnhai: LOL! The thing with my emotional places is that I don't like re-reading over them too much as I am likely the change the whole bloody thing so yes, I think you may be right about the 'pattern'. Sorry about this cliffhanger as well... and as always, thank you very much for your help!

Iara: No, no, NOW things are getting interesting! Lol!

3nvy: Icky, who wants fluffy love crap when you can hurt them greatly! Lol. Glad you are enjoying it!

Angelchil32: thank you very much for your review! And yes, I try to keep my slash stories a little different as I hate the effeminate Legolas and the 'I love you' line appearing at least three times a chapter. That is not me at all! Lol.

Rabbit of Iron: Smart-arse Legolas in TTT ROCKED!!!!!!! He was so great and yes, the bit where he completely showed up Arafuck was great! Oh, and the bit where he has a go at Arafuck about the hobbits growing wings was bloody brilliant. And in FotR when he runs off to find the sun... classic!

Keithan: Ok, I shall admit something...i really don't know where to start with your review...I mean, are you aware that it is over two pages long? LOL. Not that that is a bad thing - it is a GREAT thing - but I just means that I feel a little daunted and unsure of where to begin, especially while trying to be short. So let me see what I can do...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, seems to be as good a place as any to start. I received this after a shitty day and in the middle of exams so you really brightened my mood! So thank you! The plot. Lol, well, it just gives you a taste of the weird crap that goes on in my head... Oh, may I ask what fandom it is that you are talking about? With the assassins? I have never read anything with assassins so I am making this up as I go along - lol, scary thought! Oh, I know what you mean about running out of adjectives...I sadly do it all the time. I LIKE LEGOLAS WHEN HE KICKS ARSE! Lol. so yes, action and making him slightly high and mighty is always top of the 'to happen' list. Oh, the split personality - that was not planned, but it sorta just happened and I went with it. it will prove to be interesting later on... Oh, my Aragorns' are always awkward, partly because I don't like him at all and partly due to the fact that I hate him I try to alter him slightly. Bad move really... so yes, I do rely greatly on the 'this is Aragorn when he was a child' tactic, which is flawed to say the least, but we all change. And no offence taken! Lol, I love the word 'yield' - I have this strange obsession with it so I was overly happy to get it into the fic! 'Blood lust and physical desire' - I really like that! Have you ever thought of writing blurbs or something? Lol. ok, now I am really stuck. *blushes greatly* once again, thank you for all that you have said. You said that you did not want to say too much for fear of leaving something out, now I don't want to say too much due to the fear that I shall never be able to tell you how much what you said meant to me. Oh, I always have flaws. No matter how many times I read it I shall always leave behind a whole bunch of mistakes. I think it is because I wrote it, so I know what it is meant to say and thus I just repeat it in my head instead of really reading the words. It is an evil habit that I am trying desperately to break out of. To quote movie Aragorn, 'There is nothing to forgive.' As I said, it lifted my mood (it even did so now for the second time) and it is wonderful to have a review of such length every now and then. So once again, thank you so much - you truly touched my heart!

leggylover: Very long... oh, Estel now knows though he hardly had time to take it all in. That will happen later...fun fun fun!

StellaPen: Hello! Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts - I live for them...I know it sounds cliché, but I really do! Legolas as a ruthless killer is kind fun, hey? And overly sexy - but that could just be me strange thoughts... Hope you are still enjoying it!

Ivorybrowneyes: yeah, you do kinda feel bad for Estel - and then other times you feel bad for Legolas...it is kinda confusing! Back off from my Haldir!!!! You can have the original Elladan and that is my final offer! LOL!

Ihni: Ok, I am going to be short with you - sorry, - but you can get anything and everything answered over MSN... Yes, Elves sleep with their eyes open - I love that. I think it is so cool... tried to do it but my eyes got really dry and hurt like hell... Oh, another keeper line, hey? How many does that make it now? You recognized it from somewhere...let me think...the only think that I can think of was something that I wrote AGES ago - 'Restoring Hope' I think it was called (you know my memory) and Legolas was all iffy about Galadriel's 'death' message...is that it? Oh, Legolas is not the weak one! They just all have their moments, but I will go into that better with you next time I talk to you. I have always wondered about aliens being in love... as it stands, I am using the excuse of there being a lot of men and Estel being in a bit of a daze (you know how you are when you have an argument - you are either blinded by hatred and rage or utterly withdrawn into yourself) he also wasn't armed, so I am saying that he kinda walked around the corner and 'FUCK' gets a sword smashed into his head... LMAO! You are like me in the way that you think things through on paper - well, screen - instead of deleting, you just keep going... talk to you soon (or be talking to you when you read this...)

CareLess: Well, once again the product was well worth the wait (I say this while slowly shaking off the last of my violent withdrawl spasms). You are truly evil! The screws turn tighter and the anxiety level increases as the plot takes yet another unexpected turn. Our stoic Prince is really coming apart at the seams. I fear that I know the ultimate outcome of this tale, but just like Legolas, I cannot stop myself from wanting more of the torture. It is delicious and I say bring it on! My compliments to the Mistress of Darkness and Torture!

Analia: sorry about the wait last week, but I am back on track! Lol, lets just say that Aragorn is not all that observant and that he was otherwise preoccupied elsewhere... ;) and you can wait to find out where the marks came from - that happens way near the end... ;) *beats Legolas away from Aragorn* neither do I, but do you seriously think that these characters listen to me??? Lol, maybe I a not as subtle in my Aragorn hating as I say that I try to be...maybe it rubs off or something... humm...Elf sex... *falls off her chair lauging* You think that last chapter was the worst place that I could have possible ended it? HA!

Silvertoekee: cute? *ponders how it is that anyone could call anything that I write 'cute'* LOL! Yeah, I wanted him to run but the muses had other ideas... more cliffhangers are on their way LOL. Only one more exam to go and then I never have to go back to that evil, evil place! YAY!!! *starts counting down to what Kill Bill comes on dvd...* I could be here for awhile...LOL. Once again, thank you for your review!

Exrated: I am glad that you like the way I write them - takes a fair bit of stress off my shoulders. But yes, Legolas is a bit of a jerk, but he will eventually get better...or maybe not. Lol, you hate me for the ending of last chapter? What about this one? Should I build myself a bomb shelter and hide?? Oh, 'Queen of Suspense' I like that! 'Queen of Sadism and Suspense' - has a nice ring to it, don't you think? ;) Nine chapters and yes, am going for a record! And don't worry, this story keeps me awake at night (or day as I sleep better during the day) so I am in a bit of a rush to finish it so I can be left in peace! Lol. *jumps up and down excitedly* Legolas torture is here and more is coming, trust me, more is coming! Thank you and bye bye!

*****

And I am finally done! ...and I just broke a nail...damnit!

Thank you to everyone that reviewed but I shall leave you until next time.

Minka