Into the Mines

By: Max Pilote

Chapter Twelve: Released

Ryldor smirked as he stood over the helpless elf, staring down at him with an icy glare.

"Look at you," he said in an icy and mocking tone. "The great warrior of Mirkwood, Legolas Greenleaf, nearly cut down by the simple blade of an orc. How is it that you defeated me those many years ago? Was it simply luck? Are you some kind of miracle worker?"

He smirked as the prince groaned slightly. Legolas's eyes remained closed, but he knew Ryldor was there.

"Ah, but Eru must have turned his head this time, Greenleaf. As much as I enjoy watching you suffer, a larger part of me wants you dead. Good night, sweet angel."

Legolas's eyes opened abruptly as Ryldor's hands wrapped tightly around his throat. The prince was far too weak to fight him off. Without air, he couldn't cry out and warn anyone. Desperately, Legolas tried to breathe, but could not.

The wicked smirk on Ryldor's face show he had no intention of stopping until his victim had drawn his last breath. Legolas grabbed Ryldor's wrists and tried with all the strength in him to push the elf off. Finally, his grip was loosened and Legolas called out the first name he could think of:

"RYMIR!"

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Rymir turned as he heard his name. It was late at night and he was tired. Could it just be his mind playing tricks on him? He turned back and continued to prepare the healing supplies.

Then, he came to a horrible realization. He had not seen hide nor hair of his brother since the bastard had abandoned him in the mine. He turned from the room and started running back to Legolas.

Legolas's hands fell limp at his side and he began slipping into unconsciousness, which would no doubt be followed by the eternal darkness of death. Rymir crossed the room in seconds and struck his brother in his temple with an angered fist. Ryldor let go of Legolas and stumbled sideways. As he hit the wall, he turned to face his brother.

"So the orcs didn't claim my pathetic little brother after all," he said with a frown, disappointed that Rymir had failed to die.

The younger brother growled and picked up a knife, which had been used to cut the bandages, from where it lay on the bedside table. By this time, Elladan and Elrohir had come rushing into the room, each with their own weapons drawn.

Ryldor smirked as the three walked around the bed and attempted to corner him against the wall. In his mind, their little strategies were pathetic. He noticed the quick glances they gave to each other. The three were unsure of who was going to do what next. They had no real plan. It was as if they were hoping he would mess up. One thing they forgot, though: Ryldor doesn't mess up.

As Elrohir looked over to Elladan, Ryldor rushed at him and threw him to the ground. He jumped clear over the bed. Then, he grabbed Legolas and pulled the injured elf off the bed.

"Leave him be, Ryldor!" said Elladan angrily as he helped his brother to his feet. "Can you not see he is already in pain?"

"I am not blind," stated Ryldor angrily as he pulled a knife from his belt and put it to the prince's throat. "For ten years I have prepared for this day. I never imagined it would be so easily reached."

Before he could pull the knife across his throat, Legolas reached his hand up and placed it on Ryldor's where it rested on his chest. His voice was so soft, no one save Ryldor could hear it.

"If my death settles the ache of your heart, so be it," he said. "I have always believed that there is some good in you, Ryldor, as there was in me. I will forgive you..."

Silence filled the room for several seconds as Ryldor stood trembling before them. Why is it that every time he came so close to getting his revenge, Legolas found a way to rip it from his hands? Simply with words, the prince had caused Ryldor's world to come crashing down around him. He frowned and came to a decision.

With a heavy sigh, he laid Legolas on the bed. "Good night, sweet angel. I will return to finish this another day," he whispered gently. Ryldor turned to walk out of the room when Elladan grabbed him.

"You're not going anywhere!" he said angrily.

"Let him go," said Legolas.

Elladan turned, "What are you saying? He just tried to kill you! He is the one that threw you into the mine!"

"I believe that people can change.

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A soft and soothing song reached the human's ears as he woke from his long sleep. His eyes fluttered open, bringing joy to his father's heart. It had been at least a day since Estel had been brought back to Rivendell. He was still running a high fever, though, which worried Elrond.

"How are you feeling?" asked the elf-lord gently.

"My head hurts and it's hot," responded Estel with a small groan.

Elrond gently brushed a few strands of hair from his adoptive son's face. "I am just glad you are alive, Estel. Let me get you a cool rag and something to help you sleep," he responded.

"Is Legolas all right?" asked the boy just before his father left the room.

The elf turned to Estel and smiled. "Legolas is doing just fine. If you are feeling better later tonight, you can go see him," he answered. "Until then, stay in bed. You need your rest."

He smiled, glad he was not going to lose his son to the foul beasts he had lost his beloved to so many years ago. It gladdened his heart to know that Estel would not meet the same horrible fate as his parents.

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At long last, the dinner table had all of its usual occupants and one other. The happiness in the room was obviously the source of the cheerfulness that had spread throughout the elf haven in the past few days. After a month or so of healing and recovery, Legolas had been able to move about without the assistance of one of his friends. Estel had been up long before that, his wounds not being far too grievous to start with.

After much convincing on Legolas's part, Rymir had agreed to stay. It seemed as though a new troublemaker was added to the already expert pranksters of Imladris.

Elrond laughed as Elladan and Elrohir did their usual bickering, most commonly on who had better skills in a certain area. The remaining three listened with intent, laughing at the many different insults that were thrown between the twins. Glorfindel, sitting at the far end of the table, gave Elrond a joking look of sympathy. Things were finally back to normal in Imladris...

Well, what could possibly be considered normal.