DREAM'S DEADLY ALLURE by Shadowfaxgal
This is a sequel to Sacrificed Hope, but you don't have to read it to understand this. There is no slash, just brotherly and friendship love. It is A/U because, as many young Aragorn stories, there is no Gilraen.
Constructive criticism, comments, and suggestions are extremely welcome. Flames are not. If you don't like angst stories, why in the world are you in the angst genre section? And if you are upset that you wasted your time on (in your opinion) a poor story, why waste even more time by flaming it? But if you want to tell me something that you think would help me improve my writing, that'd be great. The main reason I'm on this site is to become a better author. Feel free to point out any typos, but don't hold it against me, please. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while. Hope you enjoy. Peace and Love.
Legolas stared intently into the flickering flames of the dying campfire. The orange and yellow colors swirled around erratically, the embers beneath the log glowing brightly. A pleasantly cool autumn wind tossed errant strands of blonde hair into his face as he watched the fire's light fade in the breeze. He continued staring, never blinking.
"Legolas?" A soft, tired voice murmured.
The prince turned abruptly to face the human boy. Estel was laying comfortably on his bedroll a few yards away, his dark hair already tousled from the few hours of sleep he'd had. His wide, blue-grey eyes regarded the prince slowly, showing interest and confusion. His slightly tan yet fair and childlike face still held the dirt smudges from his wrestling with the twins that evening.
"Yes, Estel?" he responded calmly.
The boy yawned and ran his hand through his wavy hair, uselessly trying to get the tresses out of his eyes. "Why aren't you sleeping?"
"I am just keeping watch." Legolas told him simply. His eyes drifted over to the logs. The fire was gone.
Estel took no notice of his friend's wandering gaze. "Why? This is a safe area, isn't it?"
"Yes, but one can never be sure." The elf dismissed, looking back at him. "These years, orcs have been known to go beyond their previously believed range. It's never wise to have everyone asleep in the dead of night, especially with how far away we are from a town."
"Oh." The child mumbled only half-coherently. Yawning again, he rested his head back down against his crossed arms. "Goodnight, anyway." His eyelids fluttered and drooped as he once again fell into peaceful dreaming.
The prince watched the boy for a moment, his even breathing and occasional inaudible mumbling. Then his gaze lifted and he looked around the campsite, which was really only an imprecise area, as the ground he sat upon did not change for many miles, barren land as far as the eyes could see. There were few trees around, something Legolas disliked greatly. He dearly anticipated the following morning, when they could continue south towards the rivers.
Two forms lay on the other side of the campfire, long dark hair covering most of their faces. Legolas noticed Elrohir's arm sprawled out, palm up. He could just faintly see the scars where the flesh had been so mutilated half a decade ago. Being a Firstborn, they would eventually disappear, but not from memory.
Legolas sighed slowly, absently fingering the corner of his bedroll and taking deep breaths.
It is over.
Let it go.
He closed his eyes momentarily as he lay down, opening them again to stare up at the stars that beautifully adorned the night sky. In the distance, he could ever so slightly make out the sound of water lapping against a riverbed. Insects chirped softly, skittering about the ground, and nocturnal birds called out to each other from somewhere far away.
He couldn't fall asleep.
He felt so tense and worried. Anxious, his heart pounded faster whenever he thought about whom he was with and where they were. While he tried to tell himself that he was just being paranoid, it didn't help.
Five years ago, Legolas went through some of the hardest months in his life. While the twins had been healed, it would be a long time before they'd be as healthy as they had been before. And while Estel assured the prince that he forgave him for all the mistakes and the trauma that had been caused, Legolas had his doubts. He found it impossible to believe that the boy could just forget everything that happened. He felt awkward around the human, afraid that he'd somehow cause him more pain. He was constantly frightened of doing something wrong. While he didn't show it, he was often frantically afraid of being a failure as a friend. Something that had once been so easy and brought him great joy was now like an impossible job. Even around Elladan and Elrohir, his best friends for many years, he felt like they harbored ill feelings towards him. When the Peredhils rode back to Rivendell, Legolas stayed in Mirkwood.
After over four years, a messenger came for Legolas. The prince was greatly urged to come to Imladris to celebrate the thirteenth anniversary of Estel's birth day. While he was nervous, the prince decided to come, bringing a beautiful Mirkwood bow and quiver of arrows as gifts. He found himself quite surprised at how much the boy had changed. He was much stronger, and had clearly been working on archery and swordsmanship daily. His curly mop of hair was straighter, easier to keep in the delicate braids like the Firstborn. Much taller now, though not enough to measure up to elves, he held the air of an older, more serious and wise person. But he didn't act like one. His eyes shone even brighter, if that was possible, and he had grown so much more like his brothers. He knew many more pranks, he had the twins' mischievous cleverness.
And he was so kind; so friendly. Legolas suddenly felt like the four of them had been friends forever and that nothing had ever come between them. When he woke up in the horse barn in the middle of the night and found the door to his room locked securely, he had never felt so relieved (much to the brothers' disappointment, as their prank didn't have their desired affect of annoying the sometimes overly-serious prince). Everything seemed right.
But after a couple of months, Estel wanted to leave. It was hot, summertime, and he suggested that they go to a river the twins had told him about. Elladan and Elrohir, bothered at how long they had stayed at home to heal, instantly agreed with him. And Legolas found himself petrified. Something felt very wrong. When Elrond reluctantly agreed, (with many rules for them to follow and a lot of medical aids he insisted they bring), Legolas suddenly had nightmares. He didn't want to go.
But he couldn't bring himself to stop the brothers from going, as it really seemed like just an irrational fear. He went with them and pretended that nothing was wrong. And for the past couple of days, everything did seem fine. They had crossed the Old South Road and were somewhere near Enedwaith.
As Legolas drifted to sleep again, he would have another nightmare, the worst yet.
Estel awoke to a soft noise nearby and blinked tiredly, sitting up and stretching his arms. Elladan was kneeling next to their sacks and smiled brightly when he saw him awake.
"Good morning, little one." He greeted happily. He handed the boy a piece of lembas, knowing how much human children ate.
"Thank you," Estel took it gratefully and was just about to ask why the older twin was up so early when Elrohir stirred nearby.
Estel stared as Elladan tried not to snicker. As the younger twin woke up and raised his head, he was suddenly was jerked back. Wide awake, he began to curse as he found his hair tied to a root in the ground.
Elrohir grabbed a nearby rock and chucked it at his twin before painfully untying his braids from the ground. Elladan almost fell over laughing.
Estel giggled in amusement as he ate his breakfast, taking a long sip from his water flask before looking over to where Legolas was still sleeping. He walked over to his friend and sat down, gently shaking his shoulders.
"Legolas," he beckoned. "Legolas, wake up. The sun is rising, we'll be leaving soon." He was sure that the prince would find Elladan's prank amusing.
The elf mumbled something as his eyes unclouded, looking up at the child for a moment of bewilderment before remembering where they were.
"Are you alright?" the mortal asked. The prince's eyes seemed wild and frightened. "Did you have a bad dream?"
"No," Legolas assured quickly, sitting up. "I am fine." He saw the twins wrestling nearby and smiled, deciding to not even ask.
It was mid-afternoon when they reached the particular river that the twins had read about many years ago and once told Estel about in a story. They had decided to ride to now it because it was relatively unheard of and in a desolate area, so it would be relaxing and safe. It was supposed to be a very deep stream, stretching for many miles.
Perhaps it had been deep, many years ago. Now, however, it was much less than they had expected.
Elrohir glanced uncomfortably at Estel. "I'm sorry," he apologized softly. "I guess it is not quite what you expected, huh?"
Estel was staring at the canyon. "Not really," he admitted. He looked over the edge. "We can't even go swimming, can we?"
Elladan shook his head. "It looks like what's left of it is only a couple feet deep. And it must be more than a hundred foot climb down."
Legolas shifted on his horse, dearly wanting to step away from the edge. Something felt awfully wrong there. It was so far down, a dry and crumbling canyon with a thin little stream going down the center and a wide, hardened dirt bank.
"Let's go to the river we passed this morning." He suggested. "It was small, but certainly deeper than this."
The younger twin looked at him incredulously. "Of course not, Legolas!" he laughed. "It is just a river, certainly not the only reason we left Rivendell. Perhaps it is the only reason that we told our Ada," he grinned. "We told him that we just wanted a little ride and a little swim… But it is going to be much more than that, Legolas. We have barely started."
"Where is your sense of adventure?" Elladan added cheerfully. "We haven't had any fun yet!"
Estel smiled and nodded eagerly. "Yes, let's go!" He patted Hyalma's neck affectionately and beamed.
Any disappointment of the river disappeared as the brothers turned their horses southward. Legolas fumbled for his horse's mane and urged it to follow the others, a horrid feeling of foreboding still coming from the cliff side.
After only ten minutes or so of riding, Elladan glanced over his shoulder at the prince. "Are you alright?" he asked. "You've seemed so distant these days, Legolas."
Sighing, the blonde elf shook his head. "I'm fine," he repeated, noticing how unsure he sounded. He lamented on how poor of a liar he was.
Estel slowed his mare down. "But you don't look alright," he noted. He knew that the blonde elf could be just as wild, reckless, and carefree as the twins, but occasionally could also reach long points of silence and dejection.
Just as Elrohir also stopped his horse and began to say something as well, he froze. "Valar…" he whispered. "Look at the sky."
The horizon that was a bright blue just minutes earlier was now growing ominously darker as the clouds covered the sun. A raindrop fell.
"A storm is coming." Legolas said softly, his voice eerily even and bleak.
The first raindrop was followed by many more, and Estel scrambled to flip up his cloak hood as they were quickly soaked.
"That is really odd." Elrohir commented, narrowing his eyes. "The weather does not just change like that."
Elladan was staring silently into the distance, his face grim.
"There are orcs coming." He announced softly. "Less than a quarter hour away."
There was a soft gasp, barely audible, from Estel. His face betrayed many emotions; a flicker of fear, but also a spark of desire for battle, for the thrill of fighting and the chance for revenge. Though he was nervous, his hand lightly touched the hilt of his sword. He had practiced almost daily for many years with his brothers and some of Rivendell's most skilled soldiers. He was ready.
Legolas was motionless. Was this what he had been dreading? Had he been foreseeing the orc attack?
But how could a few orcs be detrimental?
The twins didn't seem very worried, they were confident in their skills. They simultaneously picked up their bows.
"Estel," Elladan said sternly, turning to face his brother. "You and Legolas, head back north to where we camped last. Wait there, and if we are not back by nightfall, head home-"
Legolas was jerked out of his stupor. "What?" he cried.
"I'm not running away!" Estel protested.
"I doubt that there are more than a dozen of them," Elrohir told them. "Just a rogue group from the mountains, leaving their territory because of the weather's darkness. Elladan and I can take care of them ourselves, and then we will get back to you."
"Estel, we know that you are very good fighter, but there's no need to risk getting hurt when it's not absolutely necessary. And Legolas, we are not sending him back home all by himself during a storm." Elladan finished.
"I can fight just as well as you two can!" The human boy said desperately, unsheathing his sword. "I have been practicing, I can do it!"
"I agree that Estel should not fight," Legolas told his friends. "But I will not leave you to fight the monsters by yourself!"
"Monsters?" Elrohir laughed. "True, mellon nin, they are horrible beasts, but you make them sound so extremely dangerous. My brother and I are fully capable of handling them, I am sure. They are nothing but small, dense creatures."
Legolas could tell that the only way Estel would be kept from fighting was if he accompanied him back to their campsite. And he was not going to risk the child getting hurt again by the orcs.
"Come, Estel." He said finally, motioning for the boy and turning his horse around.
The mortal's eyes grew wide and he shook his head. But after glancing at his brothers demanding expressions, he sighed in defeat. There was no way he was going to convince the elves to let him fight. Grumbling in terrible annoyance, he put his blade away. "Fine." He hissed.
"We will see you soon." The twins said as the pair began to leave.
Lightning suddenly illuminated the dark sky, showing a diminutive group of orcs in the distance.
And the two friends rode off, never looking back.
Elladan and Elrohir notched their bows, staring through the pouring rain at the targets.
After a short time, a horribly loud crack of thunder reverberated through the air and Legolas' horse balked, planting its feet firm and snorting loudly as Estel's ran even faster.
"Estel!" Legolas screamed as he saw where the horse was running. He slid off of his stubborn mount and sprinted forward. "Estel, no!"
Estel's eyes widened in horror as the ground suddenly disappeared in front of him.
He pulled sharply on Hyalma's mane and she slid to a halt on the edge, the ground crumbling under her weight. As the earth cracked, she shrieked, rearing up onto her hind legs. The boy's hands slipped uselessly on her drenched fur as he tumbled off her back to the ground, almost directly under her flailing hooves.
"Estel!!" Legolas cried in panic. He was still many yards from the child, it would be too late…
Blindly scrambling away from the horse's legs, Estel shrank backwards. The ground crunched sickeningly and he screamed as it crumbled and he plummeted downward.
Legolas threw himself for the edge, grabbing one of Estel's hands and almost being pulled over by his momentum. Before he could say or do anything, the ground cracked again. He heard Hyalma come back down on four legs next to him and turn around, running. The mud broke apart.
The prince felt himself falling and heard Estel cry out next to him. Mud and debris clouded his vision and rocks painfully pelted him, but he held tightly to his friend's hand.
He suddenly came to a painful halt. His free arm had managed to grab an outcropped rock. But with the force of the fall and the pelting rain, Estel slipped from his grasp.
"ESTEL!" Legolas screamed in horror. He would never forget watching the young human slam on his back into the ground.
His heart pounding so fast it felt like it would burst, his mind hysterical, the prince scrambled to fully grab hold of the stone and climb down hastily. He didn't know where the twins were, he didn't know what had happened with the orcs, but he didn't care at the moment. All that mattered was Estel. It seemed impossible that anyone would be able to survive a fall like that.
No, Estel! Oh Valar, this can not be happening! Everything was going so well! Oh, please…
It felt like hours until he was ten feet from the ground, where he simply let go and dropped lightly to his feet.
He immediately raced forward, the image of the child falling imprinted in his head.
The motionless body lay in front of him on the hard ground, puddles of rainwater scattered around the otherwise empty riverbank.
"Estel? Estel?!" he cried, kneeling beside the mortal.
Estel's eyes were tightly closed, his limbs spread out awkwardly. His face seemed only slightly pained.
It should have hurt more, Legolas thought fearfully to himself, he shouldn't look like he's merely asleep.
Trembling with panic, the prince lifted the limp hand and felt the wrist for a pulse.
"No…" Legolas choked, shaking his head fervently, "No."
Oh Valar no, this isn't happening!
He lowered his head and listened desperately for breath.
"Estel…" he whispered tearfully, shaking his shoulders. "Estel, come on. No…"
Tears rolling freely down his fast, disbelief surging through him, Legolas lifted his friend into his arms and turned him over.
When he saw the back of Estel's head, where it had hit the ground at a fall of over a hundred feet, Legolas let out a loud sob. Grief overwhelmed him and everything went dark.