Author: Mirrordance

Title: Exile

Summary: An elf is exiled as a suspect to his own brother's murder.  A young king goes out into the Wild.  Two warriors cross paths and embark on a common adventure as one seeks to escape his past and the other to reclaim it.  How Aragorn and Legolas met.

* * *

PART 20

      Elrohir saw Legardo take the knife as well.  He drew his bow, but glanced at the King before releasing his arrow in a moment of hesitation that in hindsight, he could not afford after all.

      The dagger was already deep into Legolas' back when Elrohir let loose his arrow against Legardo's arm.  The first, Legardo scarcely noticed.  He was muttering things to Legolas that only the two of them could possibly know.  The second arrow struck home again, and this time, it did what it had to.

      Legardo cried out in pain, and dimly, Legolas realized someone must have been aiding him.  With the last of his waning strength, he elbowed Legardo and sent him stumbling back.

      Estel shot forward, and so did Thranduil, Elladan and Elrohir.  The guards kept the rest of the onlookers at bay.

      Legolas stubbornly remained on his shaking feet, gasping as he tried to catch his breath.  The pain on his back was sharp and throbbing, and the sticky wetness of his own blood was rolling against his skin.  Estel got to him first, taking him by the arms and trying to lower him to the ground.

      ~They will not see me so incapacitated,~ he gasped out determinedly, to Estel's consternation.

      ~You will get yourself killed one of these days!~ Estel muttered, though did not push him, taking his arm and carrying some of his weight instead.

      ~Legolas, lie still!~ his father exclaimed.

      ~Not here,~ the prince insisted, his fingers trying to grasp the hilt upon his back, determined to pull it out himself.

      ~Oh for the Valar's sake, Legolas!~ sighed Estel, batting the elf's hands away.

      ~It has to come off,~ Legolas argued through grit teeth.

      ~You are deluded if you think you can do it on your own,~ scolded Thranduil, looking at Estel, ~We must get him inside.  The fool will not be treated here with everyone looking.~

      Estel nodded and stepped forward, bearing most of Legolas' weight now.  He headed towards the nearest enclosed room he could find, a breakfast room.  Behind him, he heard Thranduil coordinating with his troops and asking them to get him the best of healers.  Elladan and Elrohir were making sure Legardo was completely disarmed and his wounds properly tended to.

      ~You caused a wild stir, Legolas,~ Estel teased as he sat the elf down upon the long, wooden table in the middle of the room.  It will definitely do as a bed for now.  ~Did you not say you wanted to arrive in secret?~

      ~Ha,~ Legolas said, not finding much strength or inclination to say anything else.  He clenched his eyes shut, grit his teeth and fisted his hands, as if trying to control and contain the ferocious, fiery pain of his back.  He could not breathe, he could barely even think.  His entire body trembled with hurt and a strange, spreading, bone-deep coldness.

      ~Stay with me, mellon,~ Estel told him softly, holding his face and willing for the elf to look at him.

      Glassy blue eyes fought to open and focus upon Estel.

      ~Rally to me,~ Estel said in his most Kingly way.

      It suffers no defiance, Legolas thought inanely, recognizing the tone that was so much like his regal father's.

      Legolas' chest heaved, but he nodded before closing his eyes shut again.  His body shook as he tried to just breathe.  To just… stay.

      A flurry of movement caught the edges of his waning attention.  His father arrived, bearing a host of roused healers.  He also heard Elladan and Elrohir.

      ~Do you have athelas?~ Estel asked someone urgently.

      ~They have everything in this forest,~ Elrohir said, ~Even in the heart of winter.  We will find them.~

      ~Go, quickly,~ Estel said, and Elrohir headed for the door, to be trailed by a company of Thranduil's soldiers after the King nodded his hesitant approval.

      ~The man offers to tend to my son?~ Thranduil asked, showing more of his skepticism as the occupants of the room thinned.

      ~If you trust in the hands of Lord Elrond, my lord,~ said Elladan, ~Estel's are just as good.  And we shall assist him.  We were all trained by ada, not to mention the athelas work miracles in the hands of this human King.~

      Legolas opened one eye, and then the other.  He looked at Estel sourly, but the man was already occupied with examining the wound and the dagger hilt that still protruded from it.

      ~It has to come off,~ he said.  Estel shifted from behind Legolas, took his hand and squeezed it to ensure he had the elf's attention.  ~This will hurt.~

      ~I know,~ the elf whispered raggedly, ~But I have no plans,~ he gasped, ~of keeping it there.~

      Estel pursed his lips to keep from smiling, ~You really are an idiot.~

      Legolas braced his hands against the edges of the table.  Thranduil held his shoulders as Estel's hands closed upon the hilt of Legardo's dagger.  Even the slightest touch upon it was sending waves of agony through Legolas, and he bit his lip to keep from crying out.  Sweat beaded against his furrowed brows as he struggled with the burning and all at once frigid cold of his injury.  He gasped as Estel began to draw the blade out slowly, following its old path.  His breathing hitched, and each inhale was a ragged, futile battle.  He felt his father's intent, worried eyes on him, felt Thranduil's warm hands shift from his shoulders to the back of his head, the King pushing his son's face close to his chest, warming him, reminding him he was not alone.  Legolas could hear his father's heart beating, and he tied his own heart to it, letting it guide him, letting it keep him rooted to life.

      Estel drew the blade out completely, and Legolas' blood started to flow in a furious rush that promised to end his life if it were not hastily controlled.  He took some white linen the other healers handed him and he pressed it against the wound to staunch the floor of blood.  They drenched quickly, and the longer he held the cloths against Legolas back, the less he felt of the elf's stirring as he struggled to breathe.

      ~Fight it,~ he muttered to the elf, ~You've gone this far.~

      The elf was by now completely slumped against his father, not carrying any of his weight at all.  His eyes however, remained open, retaining some dull, dimming awareness in them, and that was one relief despite the fact that they were narrow slits and dark-rimmed and sunken.

      With the help of the King, Estel lowered Legolas slowly to the table, lying him on his side.  His head lolled in a most unnatural fashion, and the very limpness of him was sending a serious blight upon Estel's hopes.  But his spirit will not be dimmed.

      He was never one to despair.  He was never one to fear.  And tonight would not be the first time for him to have either of the two. 

      When had he last thought of that? It sounded wildly familiar…

      Ah, he realized.  That was days ago, though it could have been a lifetime ago, seeming so far away.  He was alone in Mirkwood, traveling on foot back to where he left Mithrandir.  He lost his tracks, the falling snow making everything so cold and gray.  And then Legolas came out of the woods and aided him.

      Come out of the woods, mellon, he begged, Come out of the woods.

* * *

      Legolas woke upon his own bed, knowing the exact smell and feel of it, even if the last of its memory had come from centuries ago.  He opened his eyes, and noticed that except for the burly human asleep on an old chair next to his bed, nothing was changed about his room at all.

      He smiled sleepily, the dull pain of his back, the dull pain of his past behind him, now a distant echo of what it once had been.  He has survived.  He was here.  He was home, under the strangest of circumstances (and companions!) that he could not have imagined.  Life was funny.

      He drifted back to sleep.

* * *

      In a few days, Legolas was once again on his feet and bounding around the palace, aided by an ornate cane he used only because it was either that or to stay in bed.  Estel accompanied him in his walks, and he would tell all these wild childhood stories, almost every artifact in the house reminding him of some misadventure.  Some parts of the palace he did not recognize at all, like new wings and remodeled rooms.  He would say with a little kind of sadness that 'this was not here before,' or perhaps 'this is new,' even if it were hundreds of years old. 

      He initially set out, finding joy in the smallest of recognizable things.  But the more new, changed things he found, the more new and changed people… he began to realize that this was no longer his world as much as he used to think it was.

      On one of these such walks along the same courtyard which he had fought his brother in nights before, he voiced out his worries to Estel, who had long since felt it coming by the thoughtful look of the elf.

      ~Everything is different,~ he said, pensive, ~And they are all looking at me differently.~

      ~Things change,~ Estel said wistfully, ~People change.~

      ~We are elves,~ argued Legolas, ~Things are supposed to be constant, strong and reliable and for ever.~

      ~Perhaps you just need some time,~ Estel suggested, ~You will come to know this place, and your people again.  And they will come to know you.~

      ~They are wary of me,~ Legolas said distastefully, ~As if my name was not already cleared in the most public of ways!~ he sighed, ~And yet I cannot fault them.  For all these ages I was their sole kinslayer.  Their one elf-villain.  This name is stained.  This entire crown is stained.  A dead mother, a murdered brother, a murderer brother, an exile.  They do not know to trust us, except for ada.  They do not know to trust me.  I am no King of theirs, Estel.  They will never take me.~

      ~Such is your right by birth,~ said Estel, ~They will take you, and follow you.~

      ~But I want to be their King,~ Legolas pointed out, ~Not their tyrant.~

      They walked quietly for some moments.

      ~I want to return to them a conquering hero,~ chuckled Legolas, ~Is that not a strange, ridiculous dream?~

      Estel's brows rose.  ~I've been told it is a path I might have to take.~

      Legolas smiled.  ~Of course.  It's because you are a strange, ridiculous man.~

      Estel laughed.  ~Well then perhaps you should start dreaming so as well, strange, ridiculous elf.~

      ~Perhaps I will,~ Legolas resolved, pausing, ~Your name suits you.~

      "I wish they called me 'Intelligence' instead," Estel laughed, switching tongues, "I suppose 'Hope' is best.  But 'Lucky' would have been even better."

      Legolas chuckled, "No, no.  Hope is good.  All those are nothing without 'Hope.'  They did well by you, mellon.  You certainly lent me hope."

      Estel shook his head, embarrassed and touched and smiling, not really knowing what to say. 

      ~So you seek to reclaim your throne?~ Legolas asked.

      ~I am not certain what I seek,~ Estel admitted, ~I left Rivendell to be one among my own kind, for awhile.  To hone my skills, to distinguish myself on the field.  I'm not sure what I will ultimately be.  I only know to give what this land demands of us.  And with the gathering evil… it demands a lot.~

      ~It's a changing world,~ Legolas agreed.

      They walked in silence for a short while.

      ~I must be leaving soon,~ Estel said, ~I must return to Rivendell for awhile.~

      ~I know,~ said Legolas, ~I apologize.  I've waylaid you enough as it is.  Yet I find I wish you wouldn't leave.  You are my only brother left.~

      ~I'll lend you mine,~ Estel winked at him, wanting to take the downcast look from his eyes, ~You know, there's two much of them to go around.~

      ~I heard that!~ Elrohir suddenly called out to them as the elf passed them by on his way to his quarters, ~Why don't you stay with Prince Legolas, Estel? At least here, you are actually wanted.~

      ~You can be rather mean,~ Estel said, pretending to be stung, ~Good thing I do not take your harsh words to heart.  Why, I only think of how your eyes welled up the last time I was leaving for my journeys and my spirit swells.~

      Elrohir mumbled something inaudible, before vanishing into the halls.  Estel and Legolas laughed.

      ~You know,~ Estel said to Legolas, ~I set out towards Rivendell for a respite.  Instead I found you.  Curious, isn't it? How life unfolds?~

      Legolas smiled.  ~For whatever reason, I am glad I stole your horse, Estel.  You gave me back things I thought I lost completely.  Do not ever forget.  My life is yours.~

      ~I'll hold you to that,~ Estel chuckled.

      ~I am serious,~ Legolas insisted, ~Your cause is my own.~

      Estel smiled, shook his head at him in amusement.  ~I demand no such payment from you.~

      ~It is no payment,~ argued Legolas, ~It is my duty, for what you have given me.~

      ~Then consider it a gift,~ Estel said, ~And hence requires no returns.~

      ~Then consider this my gift,~ said Legolas, ~Your cause is my own.  I will stand by you, Estel.  Wherever your road may take you.~

      Estel paused, trying to find something clever to say.  ~You are entirely too wily for your own good.~

      Legolas laughed, ~So you have met your match.~

      ~My cause is ridiculously long and nearly impossible,~ Estel confessed, ~I will not hold you to your word, for you do not know of what it is that you speak.~

      ~Mellon,~ said Legolas, ~You are right.  You speak in riddles.  I do not know what fate lies in wait of you.  But as you said, it is not a burden if more of us carry its weight.~

      Estel stared at him, marveling, and said nothing for a long while.  It was fine by Legolas, for he knew they both found meaning and pleasure in each other's company, even in silence.

      ~Well,~ said Estel, after a moment, ~I must be off.~

      ~No farewells,~ Legolas warned him quickly, ~I detest being left behind.~

      Estel laughed.  ~All right.  I will see you soon?~

      ~Stay out of trouble,~ Legolas said.

      ~I'm sure that would be easy to do,~ laughed Estel, ~It being that you are here and we are going in the opposite direction.~

* * *

      He did very much hate farewells.  His father found him in his room, looking out of the window.  It was such an old scene that reminded Thranduil of the most hurtful of days, but this was also different in a lot of ways.  Strange how they were all back to where it was from which they left, and yet nothing was the same.

      Thranduil stepped forward, and Legolas looked up at him, smiling slightly.

      ~You really must get off your feet,~ the King told him gruffly, ~You are pushing it.  You look tired.~

      ~I'm fine, ada,~ insisted Legolas, ~Even happy.~

      ~You did not see your friends off,~ Thranduil said disapprovingly, looking out the window even as he knew that the three Rivendell brothers have long since passed from sight,  ~Impolite.~

      ~I'm sure they understand,~ said Legolas evenly, pausing in thought, before he asked, ~You have visited Legardo in his prison?~

      ~Yes,~ Thranduil replied.

      ~Did he say anything about me?~ Legolas asked softly, the idea of his brother a distinct pang in his heart.  To say Legardo was dead to him was far different than making it into reality. 

      Thranduil shook his head, ~I am sorry.~

      ~What will happen to him?~ Legolas asked.

      ~Imprisonment, most likely,~ replied Thranduil, ~Lesandro's death was an accident, after all, and he did not succeed in slaying you.~

      Legolas exhaled, slightly relieved.  He feared his brother would be executed.  But he actually wasn't sure which punishment was kinder.

      ~Are you all right?~ he asked his father.

      ~I always am,~ the King replied evasively.

      ~Truly,~ Legolas pressed.

      A moment of thought.

      ~I will be,~ Thranduil amended.

      Legolas nodded.  ~Good.~

      ~What else weighs upon your mind, my son?~ Thranduil asked after a brief moment.

      ~There are things that I wish to do,~ replied Legolas, ~when I get well.  You are doing well here, I can and must leave soon.  I have battles to fight, ada.  Debts to pay.  My word to redeem.  Blood to make worthy of the King's own.  A name to be made a credit to yours.~

      ~You have only just been restored to me,~ Thranduil said softly, ~I will not see you leave.~

      ~Yet I must,~ Legolas insisted.

      ~You are my heir,~ argued Thranduil, ~I will not allow you to plunge headfirst into danger.  Or if you must then do so here, within our own borders where your skills are needed.~  And where you will not be too far from me.

      ~And yet I cannot stay,~ said Legolas, ~I cannot, ada.  Our people are not ready for me.  I am not ready for them.  Mirkwood already has enough problems without having to deal with me.  I can best serve us elsewhere.  This is something I must do, independent of being your son.  But as this land's prince, I must make myself worthy of her.~

      ~You are worthy,~ said Thranduil, ~it is not your fault your name was dragged through the mud.~

      ~I cannot rule properly without the people's trust,~ Legolas said, shaking his head.  ~I must leave, ada.  This is my choice to make.~

      The King looked at his son dispassionately.

      ~That is a sign of defeat,~ Legolas teased him.

      ~We will need you back, eventually,~ Thranduil pointed out, ~I will not be a King here forever.~

      ~You won't?~ Legolas teased, willing to coax a smile out of his father, knowing he would bend, because he almost always did.

      ~Legolas,~ his father sighed, not quite knowing what else to say, ~curse your honor.  And curse your stubborn, stubborn head.~

      Legolas laughed, stepped forward to embrace his father.  He will leave soon.  His road will be long and arduous.  But he will not be alone, anymore.  And he will leave bearing his father's blessings (even if it did come in the form of a curse).  There were things to do.  Places to go. 

      Battles to fight.  Debts to pay.  Promises to make truth.  Blood to make worthy of the King's own.  A name to be made a credit to yours.

      "I'm not sure what I will ultimately be," Legolas said to his father, quoting Estel, "I only know to give what this land demands of us."

      "Then give we must," the King said softly.     

      Legolas buried his face against his father's robes, savoring the nearness of him.  And so Mirkwood had once again become for him a place that he must leave, but no longer just to escape.  He was headed places, and headed towards his own person.  It was ironic, how he had to leave so that he could return.  It was a looming future, yes, but for now, in his father's arms, he was home. 

January 13, 2004

AN ENDING.

SOME IMPIRTANT NOTES

On this story as the beginning of a trilogy.  I was working on two plots for LOTR that went one right after the other.  Since I'm a very uptight writer, I like a kind of 'round' feeling and decided to make it a trilogy instead of a pair of sequels.  So I went and wrote a 'how Aragorn and Legolas met' story, my second one, the first being "Allies (which was also the first of a trilogy)."  Before "Exile", I was already working on the stories that would happen after it, called "Escape" and the one after that, "Return."  Below are their respective plots:

"Escape" Estel struggles with his identity and his family when the elf Sayuno of Lothlorien, Arwen's long-lost bethrothed, returns after years of captivity. Escaping to his duties to avoid the pain of his lost love, Aragorn is fallen during a tour with the Rangers, and Legolas later finds him 'playing house' with a lonely widow from Bree-- without his memories and very much happily relieved of his noble burdens, making the elf hesitate to bring him back to who he truly was.

"Return" After the War of the Ring.  Legolas, still distinctly out of place in Mirkwood after his years of Exile, raises his own elven realm in Ithilien.  All is settled there until duty calls for the return of him and his soldiers to defend his old home from a rising new evil.  In Mirkwood, he finds himself finding the need to fight side by side with an old enemy… his murderous brother.

They may or may not ever be posted, it depends on how much time I have in my hands.  School can be pretty tough so hopefully I'll find the time :) not in the near future though :)

On "Exile" I wrote it because I felt it was a feasible beginning of Aragorn and Legolas' friendship, and would give us an idea of the kind of loyalty that Legolas has for Aragorn, especially as we know it in the Lord of the Rings.  I also wanted to play with a quirky kind of circumstance, Legolas stealing Aragorn's horse.  I also thought it may be visually interesting to see this lonely elf in a forest, looking like a ghost. 

On Legolas.  Hands down, obviously my favorite character.  I like depicting him as a warrior, intelligent, skilled, with a fierce pride but also great charm.  I also noticed that he was really just different from the other elves.  Not as complacent.  Almost as petty and impulsive as a human.  "Exile" is trying to explore why.  He's been alone so long, he grew to respect and depend upon Aragorn, etc. 

On Estel.  A lot more youthful here than I wish, but like I always say, he's like a rock.  Steady, reliable Aragorn, king more than his blood.  Just a powerful character, I think, but also very clever.  I hope he came out that way.

The twins.  My first stories never used to feature them because it was a territory that I feared.  I did not know that much about them at all, but after awhile, the concept fascinated me.  So here they are, and they have been gracing my fics for quite some time now.  I think I've somehow made Elrohir out to be more impulsive.  I'm not sure.  I guess this is in keeping with my wanting to create distinct identities between them.  I hope it's not unimaginable. 

On Legolas and Aragorn.  I have a soft spot for depicting their friendship.  There's just a dynamic here that I can't easily put my finger on; I'm just helplessly dazzled by it.  I mean, there's great contrast between them, but they are also very much alike.  There's great camaraderie here, a brotherhood, kindred-thing going.  I hope this rubs off on my fics too.  I love writing fics about their friendship, and of my works I have a soft spot for "Estel."  It's not my most popular fic, but there's a quiet intimacy about it, an understanding.  I don't know.  It's a mystery, haha.  I wanted "Exile" to create a believable foundation for that great friendship that we've read in the books and have seen in the movies.  I slipped in a movie line there too, "Your friends are with you," except of course in my fic, it is in the singular and Estel said it to Legolas, not the other way around, just a kind of reminder of this objective of my fic.  Notice also how, when Legolas allows Estel into his life, from that point of the fic onwards, he is called 'Estel' and not 'Strider' as he was in the first few parts.

On Thranduil.  Stern, but also loving.  I figured if Legolas was such a well-raised elf, then his ada should not be too far off.  Throughout this fic, I kept making a distinction between Thranduil as a King and as a father and how he juggles both.  He is a strong character, a very prideful one.  I wanted him to appear as having strength with all his passions and convictions; his work, his loves, etc.

On Gandalf.  He did not play a very big role here, but I always saw him as a kind of 'mover' of events, just like an Istari is supposed to be.  I also thought it would be fun to show an earlier version of him pretending to be an old man, as he did in "The Two Towers."

On Legolas' Family.  I've long since had an interest in writing about this.  Mirkwood is such a mysterious, intriguing place and its royal family more so.  What kind of people could they have been to have given us an elf of Legolas' caliber? I decided on a mix of the bad and the good, and I also decided not to give everything outright.  His mother is dead but all we know of her (from my fic, I mean) is that she was beautiful and extremely well-mannered, the dead Lesandro like her.  And then there's the mighty Thranduil.  And like most families, the black sheep Legardo, whom I could not resist but want to get back in "Return (which may or may not come out)."  Of course, I do not know enough of elvish to give them names that actually have meanings, so I just tried to come up with names that invoked this certain 'feeling.' 

On the Murder plot.  I hope it wasn't too confusing or that there aren't any great massive holes.  I guess I'm fascinated by the idea of crime and its place in ME, where it could possibly fit.  I also played with the idea of pride and jealousy and just mad desire.  I figured there had to be a little of those in everybody.

On the Ending.  And so once again Legolas had to leave.  Did it make sense why? He felt he would only be in the way in Mirkwood, for they were already having enough trouble without having to deal with a group of royals trying to wrest a kingdom from each other.  I figured also this would be why he goes off with the fellowship and along his other quests with Estel; out of the word he made to be by his side, and out of wanting to give his service to ME, and also to redeem his name so that he can return to his home as a hero.

On my reviewers.  I'm so sorry for not replying to your questions and comments after each chapter.  I hope this doesn't imply that your support has no weight to me because on the contrary, this actually means that I value it more; I know it may seem like neglect but really, there's a reason for it.  As you may have seen from my other works, I've never had this much reviews before.  My old practice was to just answer everything at the end, since there really wasn't that much to have to answer to.  I never thought I'd get 300 reviews.  I never thought I'd get 100! So I'm just really overwhelmed and trying to adjust my habits.  So I'm sorry for the inconvenience of you guys having to wait so long for answers and getting them all in this big rush! Lesson learned, I promise, and will be rectified if I should write more in the future :) So.  Reviewer responses :) Here goes:

Thanks to the following who sent such great encouraging remarks: caunoiech, mirrowa, korie, goofy, amazon, angelbird12241, astievia, aurienia, darkangel36, faceless stalker, grumpy, hebe, jayda, jessie, jinx, jo, kurafoxgirl, ladylanet, legolaslover 2004, maiden of imladris, me, mellowyellow36, merowen,miss attitude, MJ, moonshadowed, obsidian wingrider, rings of Saturn, rogue souls, samantha, sammy3, silent cobra, snitch, the serious pad-foot, theodered prince, the vampire resika, justeenh, aelan, cowgoddess, marauder-luver4ever, tmelange, arayelle lynn, maria Christina, mj rosemary, randomramblings, silvertoekee, konzen, Vanessa, riva van dyk, dragonfly32, joee1, michelle, wadeva, wondertross, miss maru, jkay, eboni, pua lahi lahi, :D, lady light, silv3rrang3l, drew'sgirl and gwyn :) You guys, you just gimme so much joy.  I love working for these reviews.  THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!! :) I hope you'll look out for my other works next time and that they won't disappoint.  THANK YOU!!!

To ainu laire: you reviewed practically all my chapters!!! THANK YOU!!! And you're right, there are no original elvish names in my fic because I don't know any :) sorry :) I guess I just settled with names that 'feel' they can belong in the world created by Tolkien :) I hope it wasn't too bad! :) btw, belated happy birthday and I'm sorry my fun jailbreak scene confused you :) 

To alexa: I have a fan?! Wow! THANKS! So kind of you to say so! Thanks for giving my fic your time and attention :)

To bballstar42: I really do work on the characterizations and I'm so happy you like how they turned out :) thanks also for appreciating my quick updates cos I certainly try to make 'em quick! :)

To blackraven1: thanks for the review! Actually, though, I try to go for a mix of the book and movie version of Legolas :)

To cosmic castaway: I'm not cruel to Legolas, really! ;)

To crystal rose 15: glad you like my interpretation of the characters.  I really try my hardest to develop them without straying too far from how they are generally perceived :)

To deana: thank you for always reviewing.  I'm glad you like my stuff :) THANK YOU SO MUCH and I hope I never disappoint you :)

To devie saves: I'm glad you appreciate the characterization because I work really hard on it :)

To dragonfly: you're right, I do wish ppl post faster but I guess sometimes my quality suffers too.  Oh well.  To each his own, as long as we all end up having nice fics :)

To elessar* lover: thank you for reviewing almost all my chapters.  I'm glad you liked my story :)

To elvendancer: haha, I get the same feeling! (that whenever I start reading a fic ppl take longer to finish it).  I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long :)

To emeraldwolf: thanks! I actually enjoy portraying a very strong, warrior-like, passionate Legolas.  I write what I love and I'm glad my interpretations agree with yours :)

To farflung: my most diligent reviewer! THANK YOU!!! thank you for your fun summaries of my chapters :) makes me wonder if you have like a word program on every time you read :) thank you for the effort! I'm glad you like my fic :) btw, you guessed the murderer early on! :)

To icemage1014: I guess you found out by now it isn't a slash.  I don't write about things that I am not sure I can give a fair representation of (out of respect and fairness) so I'm staying my ground on non-slash until I find the courage and the capability to do otherwise.  My older fics from other 'realms' started out this way too before I could write slash.  I don't want to misrepresent them, see.  maybe one of these days :)

To jenzy: thanks for reading and reviewing.  Every single review counts :) especially since I never used to get very many.  I'm extremely overwhelmed by the support.  Thanks for putting in yours :)

To keithan: wow, thank you! I'd love to think characterization was my strong point too.  I work very hard on not making them veer away from how they are perceived but also to develop them in my own way.  Thanks! :)

To kit cloudkicker: you guessed the guilty murderer very early on! :)

To lani lalaith: thanks for reading :) and yup, your guess was very much correct :)

To Lucien tanbik: sorry I haven't had the chance to email you when I update.  I'll certainly do so soon if you haven't read this by now :) elswenlucas@hotmail.com

To lulu bell: THANK YOU for always reviewing and sorry if I was incredibly lax at answering to them.  I believe I gave the reason why before this flurry of responses :) To answer your question from before, actually, there's no big secret :) I often post parts when I've written at least a chapter or two after it already, so i can always post and work shortly afterwards.  I never post unless I think I can finish because I'm a fic reader and I guess I always think about how frustrated I am to keep waiting for updates, etc. so you know, do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you thing, i always post quickly and i always, always finsish :) i'll never post a fic i don't think i can finish :) that's my only rule :) and yes, i do love to write :)  Thank you for calling me a posting author machine, haha! I certainly try :)

To lyn: I'm glad you like the humor.  While I can hardly claim to be witty or funny, I certainly try to infuse what wit I think a character has :)

To minka: thanks for reading and am happy you find the fic ok :) your guesses and reasons are right on the money! :)

To mirovour: thanks, haha! Your glowing words really, really do inspire :)

To nav: wow, thank you :) I certainly try my best to give a fair characterization :)

To nerfenherder: I hope I got you all the whole story in good time :) I'm glad you appreciate the characters, I really work to keep them developed but also still distinctly recognizable :)

To nickole: I'll email you how to post in a few days J sorry to keep you waiting.  I just have tons to do J

To nightshade3: and more it is! I hope you liked it :) I did very much try to get Estel's charm out in this one.  What a fun, strong character to write :) and I'm sorry to keep ending with cliffhangers.  I guess it just feels kind of… well, 'right' to have 'em as 'cuts' between parts :)

To pie: oh, did your guesses come out right.  And you picked up practically all my cues! :)

To pigborn: glad the last few parts redeemed the seemingly disappointing ones! :) and wow, you read my other stuff? Thank you! :)

To platy: no, I haven't died :) my review counter!!! Well I certainly took your advice pacing this one :) and I hope you are not as dissatisfied with the length of this one as you were with my other short pieces :) yup, I think ppl do write about this plot 'cos of the tons of possibilities.  hope you found mine feasible and fun :)

To port: we're alike, I hate waiting! I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long! :) and yes, your guess was correct :)

To rainydayz: wow, thanks! I really do work on the characterization so I'm glad you appreciate it :)

To rhonnie: thanks! Glad you did find fanfiction and that are having a great time :)

To roper: I did check your story out but I did not have as much time with it as I would want.  I liked what I've seen so far, and will definitely make a more coherent review after I get to sit down with it at length.  I'm glad my fic inspired you :) I never thought i'd get to inspire anyone! thanks for taking the time for my fic! :)

To ryoko lasgalen: I want a coat that smells like Legolas too, haha!

To snuffles 2: a master of dialogue? Wow! Thank you! I certainly try to do justice by the characters we borrow :)

To sorrow: haha, thank you for getting my reviews up to 200++.  I never even thought I'd get to 100! Thank you :)

To starre1: ur right, no one writes like tolkien.  But I guess what I'm trying to do is at least try my best to be worthy of borrowing his fantastic creations.  I'm glad you think that I'm doing reasonably well.  Thank you so much :) it means a lot! :)

To stoneage woman: I thought "Exile" would get to be compared to 'allies' eventually :) thanks, I do hope to get better at each post :)  and yes, the deathlike sleep is drawn from the very fascinating idea of the great Shakespeare.  And thank you so incredibly much for your helpful criticism and your time :) I know my work is far from perfect but I certainly took the extra time to proof-read with you in mind :)

To twnlakeshgrl: I think you're the second to guess who was the actual murderer :) aren't whodunnits lots of fun? :) and I do reply to reviewers, I do! Just a bit late this time 'cos I never used to get so much reviews.  So sorry! I'll be more diligent next time, i just hope my laxness this time doesn't discourage reviewers :)

To tychen: I do kind of pride myself on the quick posting bit.  My last few parts lagged a bit, but I hope it was not too bad! :)

To yegods!: haha, I did update eventually :)

To YBR: glad to see you are no longer having much trouble reviewing :) Thanks for the encouragement and support!!! :)

So just a big, gigantic massive THANKS!!! To everyone who read and to everyone who reviewed.  I'm really very overwhelmed because I've never had such a response before.  As a matter of fact, I was really fearing posting anything after I wrote "Tempus Edax Rerum" because I thought I'll never be able to write something that can reach so many people again (and back then I had less than a hundred reviews).  So THANK YOU.  It was really encouraging.  When I began "Exile" I thought it would take me forever to finish it.  But everyone's been so encouraging and everytime I finish a part I'm just so excited for people to read it.  so THANK YOU.  I can't say it enough! THANK YOU!!! I hope you weren't disappointed with the ending :)