Lord of the Rings belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. I am not being paid for writing this fan fiction. Celebalda belongs to me and Celebdil-Galad, and please ask before using him. Rothinzil is Celeb's, but she lets me use him. Ancú is both of ours as well.
This is a birthday fan fic for Celebdil-Galad. It will be late, as her birthday was June 8. Sorry, Celeb!
Also, this is basically an Aragorn and Legolas fan fic. THIS IS NOT SLASH!
The bad guy in this story will not be revealed until the last chapter/ last part.
The memories and thoughts are in italics.
This is AU only because of the Mouth of Sauron.
'Celeb Gurth-Silver Death'
'Deceptions in Blood' and 'What was Left Behind', co-authored with Celebdil-Galad.
Missing. Captured. Death. All of these words Aragorn was unprepared for when he received news from his best friend. Now, it's a desperate race against time as the heir of Isildur must fight with everything he has for the prince of Mirkwood's life. Risking anything and everything, Aragorn is determined to save his friend.
20 years before FOTR
PG-13 for Violence
The sun set, the mounting colors of orange, purple, and yellow showed clearly in the skies. It was a remarkable sight, one that filled a being with instant calm and serenity. However, appearances were often deceiving.
A shivering silence filled the air and the atmosphere around Amon Hen held danger and warning. The despair and helplessness permeate every atom of the milieu, and the trees trembled with the feelings penetrating their sensitive souls.
Save the immortal one. Save our prince. The trees' quiet murmurs resonated throughout the wood and their branches shook with fright. Help the firstborn to live.
The reason for their distress was evident as a staggering form ran awkwardly across the uneven ground. Urgent and evil footsteps followed as the human attempted to keep him and the form he carried up and moving. Recapture would mean death for the two, as the one cradled in the man's arms was near death as it was.
"Please, Legolas, hold on, mellon nín! You have to hold on!" whispered words drifted from the man's lips, and Aragorn, son of Arathorn, finally reached the ruins he sought. Carrying his motionless friend more into the shelter of the forgotten ruins of Amon Hen, the ranger moved to the darkest corner, and gently sat down.
Leaning up against the wall, he nearly halted his breathing as he waited for the sounds of their pursuers to fade away. Instead, a strong voice broke through the coming darkness, causing a shiver to run down Aragorn's spine.
"Forget the elf and the ranger. They will die within days. We must move for Imladris whilst they are unprepared. Move out!" the being who had spoken merely sat on top of his dark mount, staring unblinkingly into the fading light. A slight smile drew across young features, and a knowing nod began.
"You will never be able to save him." A parting sentence and the black clothed being was gone, seemingly swallowed in the gathering gloom.
Sighing in short lived relief, the ranger leaned his head back against the wall, his eyes searching the sky for the Light of Eärendil. Finding the star provided little comfort, and his eyes fell back down to the broken figure held within his strong arms.
Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of the woodland realm of Mirkwood, lay lifeless within his grasp. The fair being's features were drawn tightly in pain, and nearly dried blood gathered at his right temple. Gashes and abrasions covered every part of his body that could be seen, and even those that could not be. His blonde hair was stained with his own blood, and his clothes hung off his tattered frame. The poor elf was so pale it was almost as if the firstborn had already surrendered his soul to the Halls of Mandos.
Gently holding his friend in his arms, Aragorn leaned forward to place his chin on top of Legolas' head. Tears streamed down his tanned face, and sobs began to shake his form.
"I'm sorry, mellon nín. None of this was supposed to happen. I tried everything, but no matter what I did, it wasn't enough."
The letter had come as any other from Mirkwood. A messenger had brought it, but the suspicious thing was that he did not rest, but gave the letter and then rode off through the gates.
Aragorn and his brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, had merely laughed at the skittish elf's motions, and the young human had taken the letter to the garden to read on his friend's news.
Breaking the seal, he had been horrified to read the contents and the hidden warnings held within.
Heir of Isildur,
You are at fault. The prince of Mirkwood is within our grasp, and no type of rescue plan will succeed. We have left nothing, and no one knows where we have taken him. There is only one way you can save him. Bring yourself forward, Heir of Isildur, unless you want your friend to pay the price for your secrecy.
Racing to his elven father, the human stopped at the entranceway. The author of the note had been very straight forward, and was most likely telling the truth. Since no one seemed distressed, and no word had been sent from Mirkwood, he assumed that no one knew just what to do. Perhaps, his mind concluded, no one realized that the prince was missing.
Turning on his heel, the ranger raced to his room to prepare his traveling pack. Rushing around the room, Aragorn grabbed his herbs and bandages he always kept ready for travel, and then quickly changed his clothing to his ranger garb. Grabbing his sword and quiver from the corner, the human closed the belt around his lean waist.
Looking through his pack for any missing item, he swung the bag onto his back, and turned to face the door. There, his gray eyes were forced to look upon the form of his father, Lord Elrond Peredhil.
Not giving the elf any time to question, Aragorn breezed past Elrond with no explanation. The elven lord followed his foster son to the stables, only beginning to speak when they had reached the stall that held Aragorn's horse, Linteer.
"Ion nín /my son, how fares Prince Legolas?" Elrond's simple questioning caused the young human to spin around in alarm.
"I would not know, for Legolas appears to have been taken." He spit out the words, but only because they held the awful truth of the consequences of a friendship between an elven prince and the heir of Isildur.
Elrond did not seem disturbed by his son's words, but by the pain and anguish they contained. Stepping forward into the stall, he placed a slightly weathered hand upon Aragorn's shoulder.
"Estel, what has happened? Must you fly from Rivendell now?" his words brought neither comfort, nor assistance to the ranger. Pulling away from his father, Aragorn continued to tack his horse and to pile on the traveling gear.
Not answering the elven lord, the human brushed past him again, leading his horse outside of the stables. Elrond followed his distressed son, and grabbed at his arm before he could mount. Turning Aragorn around to face him, the elf stared intently into the all-telling eyes.
"Have they truly threatened Legolas? You have absolute proof?" a fire lit in Aragorn's eyes.
"Yes, I have indisputable proof! These beings have Legolas, and it is because of me!" his last few words came out as a barely breathed whisper. "They have Legolas because someone discovered what I am." The pain and anguish flowed from every word, and the sorrow filled his gaze and face.
Elrond took a step back. "You have no idea who took him." Aragorn's looking to the ground told his father everything. "You cannot leave here alone! Not when you are this distressed, and this being knows your identity!" he grabbed his son, making sure Aragorn understood every word he said.
"Legolas' life is not worth all those that would be lost at your passing." The ranger jerked his arm away as if the elven lord's touch had burned into his skin.
"No, it never should have been Legolas! He never should have been involved in this!" He turned back to his horse, nearly burying his face in the animal's mane. "Who could have found out who I am? I've been careful! No one even uttered who I was. No one suspected." He grew almost quiet, deep in thought, but still did not look to his father.
"I will not leave him to torture and death, not when it is within my power to stop it."
"You do not comprehend your actions! It will not only be Legolas' suffering you must endure, but the people of Middle Earth. This person, this monster, knows who and what you are, what you will do and whom you care most for. He will use all this, and he knows far more about you than you do about him. It would be suicide and a death sentence for the prince if you go in alone and blind!" his patience was running out, and his worry was almost getting the best of him.
"The shadow is rising, Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You must be prepared. If it means that we must sacrifice the prince's life for your safety, then I am afraid it must be done." Elrond's voice began to shake with the remorse and pain he was feeling.
"I love Legolas just as much as you do, Estel, but there is nothing you can do. This is beyond anything we can do." Aragorn's shoulders were rock solid with tension, but practically fell away as he sank to the ground next to his horse.
"This was what I feared most, even above becoming king; that my identity and the importance of my life would come before someone else's. I never thought it would be someone I loved." He looked to the heavens, almost as if he were seeking guidance.
"Why do people love me so, Ada? All I ever bring is pain." Elrond slowly sat behind his son, putting his arms around the dúnadan's neck, and placed his head on the back of Aragorn's neck.
"There are sacrifices we all must make, my son. Even the safety of those we love. It is not a choice we are given but something we must go along with, even if the circumstances are beyond what we expect. Right now, we must accept that there is nothing we can do to help Legolas. He is past our aid."
Aragorn looked down from the heavens, a steel look within his gray eyes. "Never."
The evil horde passed through the woods with no compassion for the wildlife it crushed. All the animals and innocent beings that came across it trembled with uncontained fear and yet sympathy for the elf within its midst.
The pure being was staggering under the ropes it was bound by, and a blindfold kept it from seeing trees and fallen logs in the path. The orcs around it merely laughed as once more, the woodland elf fell to its knees amongst the leaves of the path.
Men followed close behind, laughing and jeering at the sight the mighty warrior presented. Pushing and prodding, the younger race took enjoyment in the pain that sometimes fluttered over the abused and mostly hidden face.
"Not feeling so high and mighty now, are we?" one or two exclaimed in delight as the blonde elf fell. Pushing him fully to the ground, a man stood over the bound being.
"Not much of a fighter, now, huh?" kicking the innocent being in front of him in the ribs, the elf's bound hands could do nothing to stop the abuse. No cry escaped his split lips, and the agony he was experiencing was not displayed. He merely endured the pain.
Legolas Thrandulion only let the exploitation continue because he had no choice in the matter. Blast it all! He thought with little emotion. Why do they want me! the men and orcs had answered no questions he had yelled in the beginning, and the prince had been unable to see who was the leader of this sad group. Legolas had no idea who his captor was, and why he was wanted.
Finally, a hand stopped the man from continuing, and he bowed away from the elf in fright. "Forgive me, my lord. I was only..." the newcomer cut him off abruptly with a wave of his hand.
"You were simply attempting to kill the elf, were you?" the evilness in the voice caused Legolas to shiver in spite of himself. Never before had he felt such evil intent in a being, and not once had he felt an unstoppable coldness. This... man was nothing like the elf had encountered previous, and that fact startled him more than he cared to admit.
"What am I doing here?" another kick to the side silenced him, but he did receive an answer this time around.
"You, Prince Legolas Greenleaf, are bait. Expendable bait. You had better behave yourself, for truly, I do not require you to be alive. I am being generous with you. Do not forget that." The voice answered with such coldness that it cause Legolas to visibly start with confusion and fear. Who was this being? What did he want!
Wanting to comment, but realizing the futility in such an act, Legolas kept silent. He had no ideas to what this being had planned for him, but he considered no reason to antagonize any evil actions that would lead to torture for himself. So, the elf made no remarks.
Smiling, even though the fair being could not see it, his captor knelt beside the bound elf.
"You are smarter than I thought, Your Majesty. Keep your silence, and you may not get punishment as harshly as my men want to give." Legolas kept a stony look on his face, giving no indication as to his feelings on the comment. Inside, he was raging.
"Keep your men tame, and you may not have the wrath of my father over your heads." Legolas could not help responding, but was only smug for a few minutes. Grabbing the elf's long, blonde hair, the evil one yanked Legolas' head close until it seemed the elf's face was right next to his mouth.
"I had not wanted to give you an example so soon, Prince Legolas. But, it appears I have no choice." The being looked to his followers behind him. "Prepare him!" Legolas felt a pang of fear course through his body, and went tense. Feeling ungentle hands upon his body, Legolas was unprepared for the blindfold to be ripped from his eyes.
Pulled unsteadily to his feet, the prince looked around the camp anxiously, and his eyes came upon a human standing not even fifteen feet away from him. The human looked to be only twenty-five years of age, if that. But, this was the evilest looking being the prince had ever come across.
Corruption shone in the young face, and no type of feeling was embedded within the blue eyes. He was donned all in black, and even his hair blended in with his wardrobe. He was tall, and it was plain that he held great power within his form. Now, his eyes met those of the elven prince.
"Bring me the dagger." He spoke, but still held the gaze of Legolas. The prince was dragged over to a nearby stump, the only such kind in the clearing they were camped within. He was forced to kneel near the stump, and he was held down by many strong hands. His struggles went unheeded as the leader came closer.
But, he surprised the elf by turning to the leader of the hill men. "You may do the honors, but make sure he lives." A silent warning passed from the younger man to his follower, and the hill man gulped as he nodded.
"Yes, sir. The elf will live...tonight." The leader nodded, and with a last look to Legolas, turned back to the edge of the camp. The leader of the men turned to Legolas, and the look within his eyes sent a ball of fear throughout the prince's body. Walking closer, he knelt down across from the captured being.
"I will enjoy watching you squirm, Elf." He bit out baneful as he lowered the small dagger. Legolas' wrists were held down firmly against the rough bark of the amputation of a former tree. His left wrist was held down more than his right, and a dawning horror began to overcome Legolas. His struggles ceased for a moment as the realization came to him, but then he fought his captors even more.
"NO!" he shouted indignantly as he threw his body backwards. The men around him laughed, and shoved his chest into the side of the forgotten tree.
"Not feeling so high and mighty now, are we?" they jeered at seeing the elf's distress. Legolas kept fighting, but knew what they were planning. Oh, Elbereth, no! Not this! Please, oh, gracious Valar, not this! The prince cried out in his mind, and closed his eyes against the inevitable.
However, a man grabbed his head, and held it back against his chest. "No, Elfy, you're gonna watch every minute of it!" So, Legolas was forced to watch with fear as the dagger was carefully placed over the center of his left wrist.
"Don't want im to bleed to death yet." Was the men's explanation as to the placement of the knife's blade. Very slowly, the dagger touched Legolas' skin above his wrist bone. His heart thudding with uncontained fear, the elf tensely waited for the knife to slide into his arm.
Looking to the elf's face, the leader of the men smiled, and slowly pushed the dagger into the wrist to the hilt. Legolas' eyes closed with the torment, and his breathing increased as he attempted to withhold the cries of pain his body so desperately wanted to let loose.
The leader merely grinned more as he savored in the elf's pain. Twisting the blade slightly, the man grabbed Legolas' upper arm. He didn't look to his men or Legolas, but wordlessly began to push the knife up the archer's arm. Legolas arched in silent agony in his captors' arms, and his breathing labored even more in his distress. Moving his eyes to Gil-Estel high in the sky, he begged for help.
Please, help me! He thought as he felt the knife slide all the way to stop at his elbow. Even in his pain-filled state, the elven archer knew what they were doing. Not only were the men injuring him physically, but also, without the use of his left arm, Legolas would be unable to continue as one of the best archers in Middle Earth. These men knew what would hurt him most, and they were using every single bit they could to wound him in the flesh and within the recesses of his mind.
Finally, the blade touched the bones of his elbow, and Legolas could hold it in no longer. Howling his agony, the prince arched even more as it seemed the blade was attempting to cut through the thick bones of his arm. Hearing the evil laughter around him, Legolas gave no notice to their enjoyment in his pain. Right now, he fought not to let another cry sound.
Twisting around so that he could somewhat control his pain, he discovered something. The bonds around his left wrist were gone, and the leader seemed to be enjoying himself a little too much. His grasp was becoming even more lax as he joined in his men's jovial laughs. Looking around subtlety, Legolas found that the men around him had started to slap hands and shoulders, and none were paying much attention to the actual elf. They were only taking pleasure in his torture.
Now, he had a plan. A one time chance that he could not ruin. Renewing his struggles so he appeared desperate, he gave a real cry as the leader pulled the blade viciously from his arm. Sagging for a moment, he gave a last glance around to get his bearings. This was it!
Tensing his muscles, Legolas threw himself backward into the man holding him. The man gave a loud "oof!" and released the elf. Legolas vaulted to his feet, and tore his arm away from the leader. Looking around to the men rushing at him, the elf looked upwards, but saw no low branches hanging down near him.
Turning away from the men, Legolas took off towards the other edge of the camp, where he knew the trail led to the snowy mountain paths of Caradhras.
Nearly reaching the other side, the elf was not prepared as a figure suddenly leapt from the darkness and caught the prince in a flying tackle. Landing hard on the ground, Legolas struggled valiantly with his assailant. But, he was too late.
The men came up to the two fighters at that moment, and grabbed the elf from all sides. Twisting his arms behind his back, the leader of the men approached the recaptured elf. "You will pay for that one, Elfy." But, a cold voice stopped him.
"No, he was not the one that allowed a gap to form for his escape." All slowly turned to see the black form approach. It had been his own guard that had tackled Legolas, and now, the guard stood next to his master. He glared at the man with a look close to pity.
"The elf will not be unbound from this moment forth. He is too have a guard at all times, and the next man that allows him to escape will answer to me." The black figure looked to the leader of the men. "Am I understood?"
The man could only nod his cognition, but then turned to his own men. "You heard!" he then walked right to the elf and glared at him with all the hatred and contempt he could muster.
"You will pay, Elf. Of that, you can be sure." With those last words, his fist came up, and crashed upon Legolas' temple.
The elf last saw his face, and then all went black.
Aragorn had set out from Rivendell as soon as he was done talking with his father, and right now he had no idea where to go. He sat atop his mount next to the river Bruinen, and was contemplating his destination. Legolas' captor had given no clues, no indication as to where his elven friend was being held, and so the young human had no idea where to look.
Kicking his horse slightly, the dúnadan decided to head for his friend's home of Mirkwood.
"I'm telling you, ranger! The prince is with his father at the palace. Prince Legolas is in no danger!" Aragorn's frustration was mounting as he faced down Legolas' friend.
"Listen to me, Celebalda. I would not make false claims such as this unless I was sure. Legolas is gone! Let me talk to Thranduil!" the fair haired elf's anger grew at the human's insistence and the casual use of his lord's name. This ranger had just intruded upon the woods and was now demanding to see the king about tidings that any elf in Mirkwood would have known about once it had occurred. This upstart was implying that the Mirkwood guard was not doing their job correctly!
"You, human, are treading on a very thin line! If you do not..."
"Estel! What are you doing here?" a dark haired elf had just dropped out of the trees, having heard the raised voices.
"Thank the Valar! Rothinzil, someone has taken Legolas!" Aragorn's worried words brought Rothinzil's good mood to an abrupt halt. The ranger rushed past the captain of the guard in Mirkwood, and ran to Legolas' oldest friend. "Please, Roth. I have no idea where to go next. Someone has taken Legolas because they found out who I am. They are trying to use him against me! They will kill him unless I act quickly."
Rothinzil held up a hand to halt the ramblings of the ranger, and put a reassuring hand upon Aragorn's shoulder. "You are mistaken, young one, for Prince Legolas is at the palace with his father." Aragorn's frustration was evident.
"Why does no one believe my words!" here, he thrust the letter he received from Legolas' captors to Rothinzil, and waited for the trained eyes to read the words. He could tell his words came back full force to the elf's mind as he read the threatening letter.
Looking back up to Aragorn, the warrior almost could not form words. "But, Estel, this cannot be true! I just came from the palace, and Legolas was there! I speak the truth!" Aragorn's face paled, and he looked to Celebalda for confirmation. The fair haired elf merely nodded.
Not bothering to take the letter back from Rothinzil, the ranger walked quickly back to his horse, mounting quicker than either elf could follow. Turning back to Rothinzil and Celebalda, his expression looked grim.
"Then this means that letter was sent before they had captured Legolas. Right now, it matters not, for they have him now." Spurring his horse onward, he raced past the two elves to the palace of King Thranduil, son of Orophor.
Stopping his horse within the courtyard of the mighty King Thranduil, Aragorn dismounted quickly, letting his horse find its way to the stables. Racing up the courtyard steps to the entrance hall, Aragorn breezed past the surprised elves that looked to him, and walked straight to the throne room of Thranduil.
Readying himself for the explosion that was bound to accompany his entrance, Aragorn brushed past the guards on the outside of the doors, and could immediately see that he had interrupted a state meeting.
The looks of surprise went past his noticing, and his eyes locked with those of King Thranduil. From the connection, the king could finally see what had happened to his son. As exclamations erupted around them, Aragorn could vaguely feel the guards behind him grab his upper arms in a steely grasp. He also noticed the way Thranduil sagged in his seat.
"Aran nín /my king," he addressed loudly, standing perfectly still in the guards' presence. "I have come to you with ill tidings. Your son, the crown prince of Mirkwood, has been taken by an unknown enemy." The room went silent, and Thranduil stood.
"When did this occur, young ranger?" he asked, barely able to control his voice. He may have been in the atmosphere of his counselors and advisors, but that did not mean he would not allow the father in him to come out when his son was in danger.
Aragorn looked uncomfortable for a moment. "I'm not sure, Your Highness, but I received a letter from Legolas' captors, and I also talked with Captain Rothinzil of one of the regiments. He told me that Prince Legolas was just seen here at the palace." Thranduil's face paled somewhat, but he regained his composure quickly.
"Strider, my son received a letter telling of your capture and he raced from here a total of three days ago. He went after you." Now, it was Aragorn that looked sick, and he raised a hand to his forehead, mentally cursing himself.
His questions had finally been answered. No wonder no one from Mirkwood had sent word! No one suspected that Legolas had been the one taken, not Aragorn.
Aragorn turned away from the king, and rested his hands upon his hips. He sighed quietly.
"Forgive me, my lord, for I was not aware that these designs were in place. I received word from an unknown source that revealed to me that Prince Legolas was taken to lure me out of hiding. His captors want me." With these words, he glanced back at the king.
"Did Legolas leave the letter behind? Did it say where he was supposed to meet the captors?" Thranduil stepped down from the dais where his throne was located and stepped down to stand next to Aragorn. Placing a reassuring hand upon the ranger's shoulder, Thranduil sighed.
"I know not whether Legolas took the letter, but if he did not, I suspect he left it in his room. You have my permission to look." Aragorn nodded, and began to walk towards the door. Thranduil's tightening hand on his shoulder stopped any more movement.
"Estel, do not blame yourself. My son will survive this, and I am glad that you are not in any danger. If both of you were taken, I'm not sure what would happen." The king's sincere gaze surprised the human. Before, Thranduil had always seemed to despise the ranger, but now it appeared that the initial emotions had been a defense mechanism. The king had only feared for his only child.
"Be careful, Estel. If anything were to happen to you, that would cause more harm to my son than any deed done to him by his captors." Aragorn stared the king straight in the eyes. The blue orbs that reminded him so much of Legolas'...
There was a wish, though, shining through to the ranger. Save my son. The plea was evident, and Aragorn placed a comforting hand on Thranduil's shoulder, ignoring the looks and gasps that echoed throughout the room.
"I will do everything within my power to bring Legolas back to you, my lord. He will be fine." Thranduil smiled sadly.
"The fine part is the one that scares me, peneth er /young one/. I remember the last time you and Legolas came back here fine." A small smile fluttered across the man's face, but it quickly faded.
"I will find him." He then turned swiftly, and headed right for the royal chambers of Legolas Greenleaf.
"I'm so sick and tired of listening to a little man that is half my age!" a displeased voice whispered softly to his comrades. "I want to go back to the hills. My daughter's done and had her baby right now, and I want to see my grandchild."
"Shush, Ceorl!" the leader hissed, finally fed up with his men's complaining. "I'm just as tired of this job as you are, but what can we do? Sauron himself could have ordered us to help this guy, and we don't know! All I know is that we had better finish this job and kill the heir, or else it will be us that is just as bad off as the elf!" the men settled down with only a few muttered complaints, but went on about their business around the camp. Finally, it was just the leader still sitting at the fire.
"You did very well talking your men down." The leader known only as Dúnhere jumped to his feet in surprise. Behind him, the man that came from Mordor smirked.
"You showed wisdom. For, if you allow your men to desert, it will come out of your hide." Dúnhere swallowed noticeably, and nodded.
"Yes, my lord." The younger man walked over to sit on the other edge of the campfire.
"It won't be long now. The heir of Isildur isn't ignorant. He will first go to Mirkwood, and discover that his friend hasn't been missing that long. No, he will find the letter and come right to us." Dúnhere sat down, somewhat confused, but too scared to say anything. The man from Mordor acknowledged, and smiled.
"Go ahead and ask. I will not punish for questions." Dúnhere bowed his head to show he was no threat.
"My lord, I thought we were to move again at first light. How will the heir know where we will be?" the evil man's sinister smile grew.
"We will just have to leave something to show him what way we're going."
This is no trivial letter. The message it holds is of greatest importance. I am a barkeep of the town of Bree, and I know of your friend, Strider. We spoke, and as I recalled having seen you with him before, I thought that you should know.
Around a fortnight ago, men broke into my tavern, and violently took Strider. I have not heard from him since. I'm sorry that I had not informed you earlier, and for as much as I know, he could be with you as you read this. I thought it imperative that I send this as soon as I could.
Again, I apologize for my tardiness in sending this.
Proprietor of the Prancing Pony
Legolas looked up at the messenger before him, and grabbed the young one's arm.
"Do you know the contents of this letter?" the young man nodded silently, and looked to the elf with an expression close to fear. "Has Strider truly been taken captive?" again, only a nod was given.
Legolas turned from the human, and looked worriedly to the sky. Was this letter telling him of his friend? Glancing back to the young human, Legolas gently padded his shoulder.
"Thank you for bringing me this news. You may go." With a manner of relief, the human turned and ran to his horse. Legolas paid little more attention to the messenger, but quickly sped to his father's study.
Knocking forcefully, Legolas waited for his father's acknowledgment, and then walked into the darkened room.
"Adar father, I need your advice." He then showed the letter to Thranduil, and sat down across from the king at his desk. "Please, I don't know what to do. I don't know if the letter is authentic." The king looked to his only child, and sat back, contemplating the words within the note.
"I do not know what you want to hear from me, ion nín my son ." Legolas shot to his feet, and began to pace the room.
"Ada, what if I do not act? I know I must, even though it be fake. Strider's life may hang in the balance. I will not sacrifice the time needed to save him by thinking through all the what ifs. The only one I want to think about is, What if the letter speaks true? My best friend's life is in danger! I know that whether the letter be true or false." He moved to the front of his father's desk, looking Thranduil full in the face.
"Ada, may I have your blessing to pursue this?" the king looked to his son, and realized he could not deny this to his only child. Sighing inwardly in resignation, he nodded.
"Go, and bring Strider back safely." Legolas grinned, and strode to stand next to his father's chair. Putting a hand on Thranduil's shoulder, he squeezed affectionately.
"Hannon lle, Adar Thank you, Father ." He then took the note from his father's grasp, and hurried from the room. He needed to prepare.
Waking slowly from his memories, Legolas barely held in a groan. His arm throbbed like nothing else he could remember, and he could still feel the blood gently oozing down his forearm. He was bound but the blindfold was still off. Moving around as minimally as possible, Legolas looked around the camp.
The hill men appeared to be dismantling their camp, and did not even look in his direction. It seemed as if the group was moving yet again.
Four days. Four of the longest days of my life. His thoughts turned to his best friend, and a sickening feeling embedded itself back into his stomach. Aragorn was still in danger, he just knew it. What he feared was that he knew what the leader had meant by bait. These men were using him against his best friend.
But, why? Looking up as feet crashed near his head, the prince of Mirkwood struggled to not look startled. Seeing Dúnhere, Legolas tried to remain and not scoot away.
The leader of the hill men sneered down at the captive elf, and bent over to yank Legolas to his feet. Swaying from loss of blood, the wood-elf's eyes opened and closed with dizziness. Moving awkwardly after being pushed by the man, Legolas attempted to watch where they were headed.
Hearing heavy footsteps, the prince was surprised beyond reason when he came face to face with one of the largest orcs he had ever seen. Nearly jumping back, Legolas was grabbed and held up right in the foul being's face.
It sniffed him coldly, and then its rubbery lips drew back into a disgusted grimace. "You had better watch it, Elf. Our master has given us leave to tend to you if you chose not to behave." It leaned closer, evil amusement shining in its face. "My men are looking forward to it, Elfy."
Legolas shied away as much as he could, but the strong grasp of the orc leader's hand in his tunic and the arm of the hill man kept him in place. The blonde elf then wanted to make sure to tell these things that he was not intimidated.
"They'll just have to wait, now won't they?" he managed out in a confident tone. The fist that impacted with his left ribs was no surprise, but Legolas still doubled over coughing. The orc grabbed the back of his hair, and forced the elf prince to look him fully in the face.
"The master gave me permission to discipline you, Elfy. You and I will have a fun time. But," at this, he began to look around with a displeased frown. "We are leaving now." He looked back to Legolas.
"You just wait until we camp."
Legolas groaned silently with untold agony, and he moved very, very cautiously. His whole body ached and throbbed, and he half wished his captors would chop off his left arm.
Looking around the heavily wooded area he was being held in, he quietly thanked the Valar for having not been blindfolded on the way to their new camping stop. Legolas now knew where he was, and understood where his captors planned on taking him.
As of now, the group was bordering the dwarven mines of Moria, located just southwest of Mirkwood. The outfit had trekked through the Misty Mountains, and had now arrived at the dwarven haven. But, the elven prince had noticed quite early that the path they were taking would take them far from Caras Galadon, the elven city home to the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn. The orcs and men were hoping that by straying from the woods of Lórien, the wise Lady of the Wood would not take notice of their company.
Not being blindfolded, Legolas was free to acknowledge these facts. However, he still was unbelieving to where he knew his captors were taking him.
After the Mines of Moria, Legolas was certain that the group would head for Caradhras, for a troupe filled with orcs and hill men would not be welcome in any place occupied by the second people of Middle Earth. Plus, this group was unusually secretive, only fixated on one goal. To keep the capture of the elf secret.
So, with this in mind, Legolas could only think of one place far enough that a company with orcs, hill men, and a captured elf could go. The ruins of Tharbad. It was the only sensible place for these servants of Mordor to take their captive bait. Amon Sûl was too close to Rivendell, and all the other places were heavily populated with human settlements. Tharbad was the only place that no one could report to having seen the evil group.
But, even knowing where he was being taken was no comfort to the captive prince.
Groaning again with the agony awoken once more in his body, the elf closed his eyes against the torment in his being, and his mind.
Why am I bait? Why can't any of them give me a straight answer! No answers were given to his struggling mind, and Legolas sighed as he leaned his head back against the ground. Does anyone even know I'm captured?
Leaning over his horse's haunches, Aragorn's mind was a flurry of thought and anger. They had used Aragorn against his best friend, knowing the elven prince would go after the human. The ones that had captured Legolas were clever, but not clever enough.
Bree, huh? I wonder if they left that in there on purpose! And, the Prancing Pony? I probably have to talk to the barkeep for that.
Now, the young ranger was on his way to the human town of Bree. If Legolas' captors wanted to meet Aragorn there, then the human was bound to get there as fast as he could push his horse to go. He only wished that he had known they were heading to Bree so that he would not have gone in completely the other direction!
Hearing his horse's labored breathing, Aragorn allowed the pace to slow. He realized that they had been traveling hard, and were nearly to the Old Forest Road and out of Mirkwood. But, now that the sounds of the pounding hooves had faded, Aragorn's thoughts became more centered.
Realizing that the kidnappers had planned on Aragorn going to Mirkwood, they had used the time it had taken him to get to the woodland realm to their advantage. They only had a three or four day head start on the ranger, but it was enough. Enough to get out of Mirkwood before anyone realized, and enough time for a lead.
Another thought intruded on his mind. The abductors had known to use Aragorn to lure Legolas away from the palace and Mirkwood. Stopping his horse at a small glen, Aragorn slid from its back, thinking the whole time.
If they had known to use Legolas against him, and vice versa, then maybe the two friends had been spied upon.
Slipping down to the ground in his shock, the young human could only let his jaw drop. How had anyone known! The only places it was true, common knowledge that Aragorn and Legolas were friends, was elven. If one of the elves had turned dark and told...
But, Aragorn banished those thoughts from his mind. No elf would give another elf to enemies willingly. Would they?
Rubbing a hand across his eyes, Aragorn felt tears stab at his center. His best friend was being used against him. What was the use of even having a best friend, if evil people out wanting to kill you only used them in plots?
The answer was obvious. He loved Legolas like the elf was one of his brothers. By Elbereth, the elven prince was probably closer to Aragorn than either Elladan or Elrohir! And, he knew Legolas had felt the same despair and confusion at more than one time or another when Aragorn's life was in danger. It was still hard to accept that Legolas' life was only in danger this time because of Aragorn.
Feeling helplessness wash over him, the ranger could only sit still for a time. He knew, no matter what, that Legolas would always be his best friend. The elf, hopefully, would realize that this was no reason to end their friendship, and remain friends with the ranger. No, what Aragorn feared was more intangible.
He was scared that Legolas would be too afraid to be near him. What if Legolas was so effected by this incident that he was too frightened to be around Aragorn alone or otherwise?
Leaning his head back so he could look at the cloudy sky, the ranger could feel sobs gather within him. He never wanted Legolas to be scared around him, and he had never thought that something like this would ever happen. With Thranduil, Elrond, the twins, even Glorfindel, but never had he thought Legolas would be used against him.
Taking a minute to gather his composure, Aragorn wiped away the tears that had fallen, and moved to stand next to his horse.
Thinking of Legolas was becoming difficult, but a last thought intruded upon his mind that made him stagger. What would the prince's captors do to him? He was only needed as bait, and there wasn't even a reason to keep Legolas alive. There was no way Aragorn knew that they even had the elven prince.
Cursing in dwarvish and elvish, Aragorn swung angrily onto his horse. Reining the animal around, Aragorn urged his horse to continue onwards towards Bree.
He knew not the what ifs or what kinds of danger his closest friend was in, but he was set and determined to rescue Legolas at any and all costs.
The orc leader looked to his master, and could not help but growl. "When can I take a lesson with the elf, huh? I have a few ideas that won't kill him." Stepping closer, for it knew the evil being next to him wouldn't be bothered by its insistence. "Please, Master?" it practically pleaded with the human in front of it.
The leader glared at it from the corner of his eye, but said nothing. Finally, he nodded, but put a restraining hand on the arm of his soldier. "Don't kill the elf. Do you understand me? We need him alive for now."
The leader of the orcs eagerly nodded, and it quickly stepped away from the dangerous human. It didn't want to take the chance that it had ticked off the younger being.
Slowing its pace as it got to his men, it looked pointedly at the wearied elf on the ground. Stopping, its sinister smile sending shivers down the elf's back, it spoke to his men.
"Grab the elf!" the orcs nearest started to howl and scream their approval and eagerness, and looked to the bound elf lying behind them. Two closest ran over and ripped the bonds around Legolas' ankles, and then dragged the poor elf to his feet.
Legolas valiantly struggled as the orcs' claws dug into his arms, injuring his left one even more. He fought to get away, but then his eyes came to see the rope being thrown over one of the lower branches of a particular tree.
The tree in itself looked evil, for it had barbed sticks protruded from the bark and the trunk, and the branches looked dead but strong. Pines littered the ground, and the branches drooped towards the earth, creating an eerie look about the place. The branch in which the rope had been thrown over appeared the only straight limb on the strange looking tree.
Legolas looked around wildly, but seeing more of the evil spawn coming closer, he bucked, and struggled with all the strength he could muster. Unfortunately for the pure being, no amount of force could dislodge him from his captors' grasp.
Being dragged so he was standing right next to the length of rope, Legolas could not understand what the orcs was going to do to him.
Still struggling, Legolas did not make it easy as the orcs twisted his bound arms and wrapped the end of the rope around his wrists. Tying a knot at the end, the orcs on the other side of the rope pulled the line until the prince's arms were suspended above his head. Fastening the other end of the cord around the trunk of the tree, the orcs stepped back for a moment, laughing.
Legolas strove to get loose of the bonds, but the orcs' knots only tightened the more he fought. Finally settling down enough to just stand there, he looked the Mordor spawn over as they laughed and jeered at him from all sides.
Seeing the orc leader motion to one of its men, Legolas stiffened as he saw the thick chain appear in its enormous claws. Mounting dread filled his stomach, and a nervous sweat began on his forehead.
All around the area, orcs started to light small fires in a circle so that the wooded area was filled with flickering flames. From behind, the hill men filed in and joined the orcs in their laughter.
Closing his eyes to prepare himself against the inevitable beating ahead, Legolas' thoughts were filled with confusion and apprehension. Why would any living being honestly enjoy another's suffering? What have they to gain by my pain?
Ignoring the snide remarks of his captors, he took consolation in one fact: At least it was he and not Aragorn. If this was the dúnadan, Legolas was sure he would be in even greater pain having to watch the torment of his dearest friend. Please, mellon nín /my friend, be safe for once.
Opening his blue eyes to look around at the gathered crowd, Legolas fixed his eyes straight ahead as the leader of the orcs slowly approached.
Smiling in a cruel, calculating way, the orc wrapped the chain three times around each of its hands hand, putting one up next to Legolas' fair face.
"This will be fun, Elfy. Just wait and see." It then lowered its fist, and seemed to be considering where to strike first. Then, the smile grew. Looking right into Legolas' expressive eyes, the orcs struck with its right fist into the left side of the elf.
Legolas and the orc leader could hear the sounds of ribs breaking, and the orc laughed as the elven prince let loose a gasp. Shuddering from the blow, he involuntarily tried to shrug to his left side, but his arms over his head prevented very much movement.
The orc gestured to the elf as if hurting the being was easy, and then turned back to its prisoner. Its smile grew even more, and then blow after blow commenced. Blows rained down on the unprotected abdomen of the elf, and then up to the chest area and back.
When the orc finally paused for a moment, it was breathing heavily, but was overjoyed. The elf still hadn't cried out in pain. This was about to get even better.
Legolas was also breathing heavily, but he was trying desperately not to cry out. He could feel wave after wave of agony wash over him, and every single rib that felt broken and/ or cracked. The organs inside his stomach sent out distress signals, and he knew his collarbone was compromised as well. Legolas stood up as straight as he could to take off the pressure, but he knew he had to have internal bleeding from the pain he was experiencing.
While straightening, the orc leader could identify what the elf was doing, and took advantage of Legolas' position. Striking Legolas near the hip, the orc felt pleasure at hearing a bone snap and the elf's surprised cry of anguish.
Watching the elf sag, the orc joined in with his men and most of the hill men in their laughter at the elf's pain. This was the orcs' first time truly torturing a member of the firstborn, and they were enjoying the spectacle.
Also hearing the hipbone snap, Legolas did not care for once as his suffering cry was released. He could only concentrate on the endless currents of pain rushing through his body. Feeling himself dropping as well as the growing pressure on his chest, Legolas started to see black dots on the edge of his vision. Beginning to pass out, the prince could not help sighing in relief as his consciousness attempted to flee.
But, his release was long in coming, for all of a sudden, a black water flask was shoved into his face, and before Legolas fully realized what was happening, a watery substance ran down his throat. Gagging and coughing, Legolas' chin was held up as the toxin ran down into his stomach.
Hearing laughing around him, Legolas' head was dropped, and he was left to wonder what it was he had been forced to swallow. After a moment, the orc leader's angry face swam into view.
"I won't have you pass out until we're done with you, elf." Legolas almost sobbed at the implication of more pain, but stopped himself in time. He would not give these foul creatures any more satisfaction than he already had.
The orc leader then walked around the elf, seemingly examining him, as a buyer would survey a product. It seemed that the orc leader was considering something.
Stopping behind the elf, Legolas could hear as the orc shook the chain from around his fists. Detecting the sound of chain hitting the ground, the fair being wondered what the foul thing was up too.
All of a sudden, the sound of an object flying through the air ended with an impromptu whack upon the elf's back. Arching silently against the unexpected pain, Legolas' eyes closed as his body swung back to his standing position.
So, the orc leader intended to break him with whipping his back, huh? Well, Legolas decided, I won't give him the gratification. Enduring the whipping for a time, Legolas still could not help crying out as the chain began to catch on his back, and then being ripped away.
Already, Legolas could feel the welts rising on his skin.
After a while, blood ran down the elf's normally flawless back as the chain hit some places repeatedly. Legolas had taken only as much as his elven body could take, and even exceeded what he thought was its limit, but even an elven warrior could only take so much.
Crying out now at every strike, the elf screamed as the chain inched around his sides, catching his injured ribs. From his hanging position, the chain was having an easier time wounding parts of his body, and the elf certainly was feeling the pain. Now, even though the toxin was in his blood, Legolas could feel himself loosing consciousness.
And yet, the blows still fell.
All of a sudden, an authoritative voice rang out above the laughing of the orcs and hill men.
"HALT!" the orc leader's smile fell and silence ensued among the crowd. Now, looking at the elf body in front of it, the orc leader feared it had ended up killing Legolas against the orders of its master. Right now, only the telltale signs of breathing showed that the prince was still alive.
Through the crowd came a cloaked figure and the leader from Mordor approached the leader of the spawn.
Staring down the leader, the human's coldness was even more intimidating than any of his anger. Looking down to the ground, the orc dropped the chain, and shuffled to stand in front of the beaten elf. Not glancing upward, the orc waited for its leader's words.
Keeping silent for a moment, the human spoke. "I believe I expressly said that the elf was not to be killed." Giving a terse glance over the motionless form of the elf, the leader looked back to the orc, but then spoke to them all.
"I do not want the elf killed as of yet. When I do, I will take care of the matter myself." Making sure they call understood, his mouth formed a disgusted frown. "Dúnhere, you stay. Everyone else had better leave." As he finished, the orcs and hill men fled. The orc leader looked around, and realizing that it would get its punishment later, shuffled off with its men.
Dúnhere stayed where he was until all the others had left, and then walked over to stand next to his leader. Looking the elf over, he could not help but recoil at the state the fair being was in.
The younger man also looked to the elf, and his disapproval was evident. Not second-guessing himself in front of the leader of the hill men, the leader from Mordor moved to stand in front of the elf.
Legolas tiredly looked up at the man from Mordor, but did not say anything. He was too wearied, and he knew he was in a critical state.
Only looking to the leader for a moment, Legolas fixated his gaze to the ground. Showing plainly that he was waiting for the young being to talk, the elf was desperately attempting to hide his pain from his captor.
The leader only waited a little more, but then slowly began to talk. "I'm guessing by now you know why you are with us." The sentence was only a statement, not really demanding any type of response.
Legolas took a breath, but did reply. "I know who you want to come after me, but I do not know why you want my friend." The leader smiled.
"Ah, then he hasn't told you who he is?" Legolas looked up, his puzzlement evident. The leader continued.
"The Heir of Isildur. That is the why. I want to be able to deliver the living Heir of Isildur to my master." The elf's horror was easily identifiable, and his breathing quickened.
This man wanted Aragorn because he was a descendant of Isildur? Then, the real horror dawned. He found out! He discovered that Aragorn's the heir!
The leader laughed. "Yes, the Heir of Isildur. Don't you feel special, Elf?" Legolas did not respond for several seconds, in case the human was bluffing. He was considering what he could say that wouldn't give Aragorn away just in case, but the leader beat him to it.
"Aragorn, son of Arathorn. Of course he'd be taken in by the elves, considering he is of the line of Elros Tar-Minyatur. It was a surprise when I found that for sixty years, the key to the salvation of the free peoples of Middle Earth was living among the elves." The leader shook his head, but then looked to Legolas. "I hope Aragorn doesn't take too long, for I am not too sure I want to keep the orcs' blood lust at bay." He then laughed, and looked to Dúnhere.
"Cut him down." The leader of the hill men did not acknowledge the younger man, but removed a dagger from his side, and swiftly cut the bonds holding the wounded elf in the air.
Released, Legolas crashed to the ground, landing heavily on his stomach. Curling into himself as much as he could, he still fought to hide his pain.
"Why haven't you gone to Sauron? What have you to prove by killing the Heir of Isildur?" the leader didn't look down to the elf, but only looked to Dúnhere with an amused look on his face.
"It would be suicide to go to Lord Sauron without absolute proof, such as Aragorn's head, and everything. Anyone who could kill the Heir of Isildur would be considered the best in Mordor. I bring in the body of the heir, and no one would dispute me again." Legolas struggled away from the image of this man dragging his friend's body through Mordor, and realized that this man's hatred of Aragorn and the Heir of Isildur stemmed from something else.
The leader, seeing that he had wounded the elf, smiled and turned to leave. But, Legolas' haunted voice stopped him for a moment. "Why are you doing this to me? What has he done?" the leader's happiness faded, and a steel look came to his face.
Turning back to the elf, he glared down at Legolas, and spoke one simple sentence.
"He was born."
Aragorn pushed his horse as far as the animal could go the first day, anxious to reach Bree as fast as was possible. He had felt some fleeting emotions of pain, those of which he could only guess as Legolas'. He was so afraid for his friend at this point, and was eager to push the horse as far as they could go.
Finally, the two reached the bottom slopes of the Misty Mountains as the sun set. The horse and its rider had been traveling with only a few stops through the whole day, and had gone over fifty miles.
The poor horse was exhausted, and nearly collapsed as Aragorn allowed stopping for the night. He recognized the need for rest, but was still reluctant to stop. He feared for his elven friend greatly, and hoped that he would be able to reach Bree in a week's time.
Dismounting, he took his saddle from the horse, and gently rubbed the animal's sweating back. Taking off the bridle and then setting those aside, Aragorn allowed for his mare to graze, knowing that the mount would return when called. She was an elven horse, after all.
"I'm sorry, Linteer, but you know how worried I am for Legolas." The horse gently nudged her master as a sign that she held no ill feelings, and then wandered off for the good grass.
Watching her go, Aragorn searched the land for firewood, and gathered some for a small fire. Carrying it over, he laid it down and started a fire for his dinner. Having only some berries and cakes, Aragorn kept himself warm against the chill of the night, and stretched out.
Looking to the sky, he took out his pipe, and worriedly began to smoke some of the pipeweed he had stored among his pack. Taking a puff, he watched the clear heavens for a sign.
Please, oh, Mighty Valar. You returned me from the dead, but that never would have happened without Legolas. Please, watch over him and allow him to remain with me. Please. Closing his eyes, he expanded his senses around him, and rested.
Unbeknownst to Aragorn, figures were wandering the Misty Mountains, watching for the lonely ranger. They scoured the land, waiting for any sign of the human heading for the human settlement of Bree. The hill men had strict orders to alert their leader to the comings of the young human.
Now, the hill men had spotted their quarry on the slopes of the mountain. Using their calling signs, they signaled to one another until the sign got to the camp of the leader from Mordor where Legolas was being kept.
Listening, Dúnhere realized the call, and rushed to the tent holding the leader of the group. Waiting at the entrance, he waited for acknowledgment, but then ran in.
"The men have located the ranger." The leader casually looked up to Dúnhere, and then nodded.
"Very well. Tell your men to bring him here, but don't kill him. I get that pleasure myself." The leader of the hill men nodded, and then rushed from the tent. Running to the edge of their camp, he signaled the approval of the capture, and then decided to visit the elf.
Walking over to where the orcs and humans had left the fair being, Dúnhere saw the bound elf unconscious near the tree. The bleeding from his back had stopped, but the human recognized the swelling of his stomach and sides, and knew for a fact that the elf was set to have internal bleeding.
Standing over the elf, he knelt down beside Legolas, and whispered in his ear, "This will all be over soon, elf. Your friend will be here soon, and then we'll kill the both of ya." Legolas remained motionless, and the human could tell that the elf was really out of it.
Smiling, he just grinned, and then stood. "The ranger had better be worth all of this."
When the men got the signal from camp, the headman smiled ruthlessly. Finally, they would get to act. Motioning over to his quietest man, the hill man watched as the skilled human scaled down the tree the ranger was under. Seeing the dúnadan's sword, bow, and quiver, the headman knew they had to get the weapons away from the ranger.
The quietest man slipped down until he was sitting just over the ranger. Positioning himself so he could hang over the younger man, he readied himself to grab the other warrior's weapons.
Aragorn, unknown to the hill men, already knew the presence of the man in the tree. Tightening his grip on his pipe, the ranger waited until the other man's legs suspended him down, and latched onto the branch to act.
Grabbing the man's arms and yanking, the older man crashed heavily to the ground, landing on a rock. Seeing that man down for the count, Aragorn lunged for his sword and unsheathed the dangerous steel.
Spinning around, looking for any men who were thinking of ambushing him, Aragorn quieted his breathing so he could listen. Not hearing anything for the moment, Aragorn still did not relax his guard.
Not hearing until the last moment, the young ranger spun around too late. The dagger embedded itself up to the hilt in his shoulder, causing the nerves in his right hand to drop his sword. Clanging to the ground, the metal hit a rock and lie still.
Aragorn grabbed for his shoulder, but then went for his weapon with his left hand. He wasn't as good with his blade with his left hand, but he wasn't going to let these men overpower him easily.
Seeing men rush at him from the brush, Aragorn prepared himself for the onslaught. Holding himself high, he waited as the men came closer.
But, he was unsuspecting to the men from behind until he heard their rapid footsteps nearly right next to him. Turning slowly, Aragorn was spun around as a club came into contact with his left temple.
Unable to move, the ranger just laid on the ground, dazed. Looking up, he watched as his abductors looked around the camp, grabbing his weapons and supplies, and then finally looking to him.
"So, the poor bastard's still awake, huh?" the headman growled. Giving a slight nod to the man nearest the fallen ranger, the hill man kicked Aragorn full in the face, dropping the dúnadan into immediate oblivion.