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Chapter One


A lone rider raced towards the gates of Minas Tirith, his horse straining to go faster and faster, the rider on his back bouncing ungracefully up and down as he tilted to the left dangerously, head down, arms dropping from the main to the side of the horse's neck.

"Asca." the figure whispered in elvish, "Hurry." but the horse could go no faster, though it desperately tried. The gates were getting closer, only a few minutes away.

The guards on the top of the wall had seen the horse and rider long ago, but even they were surprised at the speed of its approach. Only ill and desperate news traveled that fast and they prepared the gates to be open.

When the horse had reached the gate, the guard called down for the rider to state his name and business but, before even a sound had escaped the rider's mouth, he fell from his horse and hit the ground with a sickening thud.

"Help, we need help!" The guard called, leaving the wall and moving down the stairs to the bottom. The heavy wood gates were thrown wide and the man ran across the short stretch of grassy land to the figure on the ground. Three men followed, holding bows and arrows at the ready in case this was a trick.

The guard turned the figure over and pulled the green cloak from his face. The figure was an elf, clad in a silver white shirt that was ripped and bloody. His brown leggings were also ripped and one of his boots was half off. Beside him lay a bow and quiver of arrows which had spilled it's contents long ago and lay empty.

His fair face was dirt streaked and sweat prickled his forehead. Tangled white blond hair clung to his wet cheeks and his eyes were half closed. The guard slapped him lightly on the face and the elf opened his eyes.

"I am Legolas of the Woodland realm. My father, our kingdom…" He trailed off and gasped as the man's hand met his side. Pulling back the cloak, the guard found a long gash and the broken shaft of an arrow sticking out through the silver shirt's ragged material. "We were surprised…I must see King Elessar."

"Alright, can you walk?" The guard asked. Legolas nodded and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. Wavering, he made his way forward.

"I need someone to take my horse." He said. The guard at his side nodded and motioned for another.

"If you can, it would be faster to ride." The guard answered. Legolas looked up blearily and eyes the white city high above him, seeming to stretch forever, His Elven eyes scanned the tall tower above him and he nodded, turning back to his horse. "I'll ride with you." The guard answered. The elf shook his head and, with help, got back on his steed who puffed warily with exhaustion.

"I've made it this far." The elf answered. He made a strange whistling noise and the horse took off in a flash of white, speeding the elf away up the streets.

The guard took the stairs to the wall three at a time and pulled out his sword, flashing it to the watch on the next wall above him. He messaged the guard above him that a rider was there for the king and it was urgent. A flash of recognition met him and then the guard turned back to the land beyond his wall, watching.

The captain of the guards, a burly man named Kelser glanced at one of his men who now rushed across the courtyard. Kelser listened to the urgent news of a rider to see the king and then walked swiftly up the steps and into the tower.

Lord Elessar was deep in thought, standing in front of a wide window over looking the west side of the city. His left arm was held close to his chest while his other traced the line of his mouth with his index finger. He didn't look up at the Capitan until the man was right at his side.

"My Lord, I have news." Kelser whispered, peering over his shoulder in case of listeners. The king turned to him somberly. "There is a rider approaching, he seeks your council. He has news, of Mirkwood." Lord Elessar stiffened.

"News of Mirkwood? What happened?" Kelser shook his head. "What rider?"

"One Legolas." Lord Elessar left the window swiftly and began crossing the throne room at a trot. Kelser, stunned by his abrupt leave, followed after. The King threw the doors open and was halfway down the steps before the rider crested the hill.

Aragorn saw the horse and rider enter the courtyard and slow down to a walk before the familiar figure slipped to the left, dangerously close to falling. Racing forward, he bounded down the stairs and across the courtyard, catching Legolas and pulling him gently from the mount.

Legolas wavered where he stood and then fell forward. Aragorn grabbed him and held him close as they sunk to the ground. Cradling his friend in his arms, he pulled back Legolas' hood and stared at his pale face.

"Legolas?" Aragorn whispered. Legolas stared blankly at the blue sky above them and made no reply. Kelser knelt beside them and ran a hand over the elf's mouth as thought checking for breath. By now, a few other guards had run over and were hovering above them, staring at their King and this stranger. "Legolas, can you hear me?" Still Legolas didn't move.

Getting to his feet, Aragorn swept the feather light elf into his arms and made his way as quickly as he could back to the tower. He didn't know what was wrong but he hoped he'd soon find out.