Strange Guides

ch2

Imladris General Series

Sinister Sindar Sisters (M. Cross and B. Kennedy)

Summary: This series of tales follows the trials and tribulations of the healers and patients in Middle-earth's premier health care centre. Starring all the LotR characters we love!

Warning: This series of scenes and stories is an unapologetic excuse for placing our favorite Middle-earth characters in hurt/care situations (mingled with our odd sense of humor). In other words, this is just for fun. It may possibly link to any of our other stories.

Disclaimer: They all belong to Tolkien and New Line Cinema and anyone they sell the rights to. We get no pay for this.

Feedback/Reviews: please. michelemichelecross. or on list

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Strange Guides

Chapter Two – Can We Believe What We See?

"No!" Estel tried to prevent Legolas from arching off the bed with the force of the convulsion that shook him.

Elladan did not stop to think. All he knew was that his friend was in trouble and needed help. It was logical then, that, rather than wait for the order from Elrond, he went directly to the herb table and began mixing the herbs he knew that Legolas needed.

He heard Elrohir exclaim "Valar, he has bitten his tongue!" and winced. That would hurt.

There was urgency in Elrond's voice. "Herbs, Elladan?"

"Coming… in paste!" He did not need to be told.

"Hennad. On his side, careful with his back!" Elrond was pleased that they had already removed the prince's clothing.

"Ada?" Estel assisted all he could, but the wound on Legolas' leg had begun to bleed once more, caused by the flexing of the muscles with the force of the contractions.

"Put pressure on it, Estel. It will hold until we can stop the convulsion. Tarias, get warmed water ready. We must get the fever down. Glorfindel, Elrohir, roll him, on three. I need those herbs right now, Elladan!" Elrond's voice was sharp with worry.

All of their attention was on Legolas, even Gailarphen's. He stood poised over Rithlin, his charge all but forgotten in his horror at seeing the Prince of Mirkwood convulsing, just as he had so long ago when Legolas was an elfling under his care.

So it was hardly a surprise, or rather it was a huge surprise when he did drag his attention away from Legolas to see the chair beside him empty. Looking down, he saw a lump of clothing that should have resembled an elf crumpled on the floor.

"Rithlin!" He bent in one smooth move.

Elladan froze as he handed over the pot of herbal paste. He should be checking Rithlin. It had just been natural to go to Legolas' aid.

"Help Gailarphen." Elrond spoke kindly, knowing it would be the last thing his eldest son would really want to do.

"Yes, Ada." Elladan felt incredibly guilty as he turned aside to aid Rithlin.

"I need to get him on a bed." Gailarphen was already in the process of lifting the ellon as Elladan joined him. "I think there is a lot more going on here than we realise."

"I agree." Elladan kept his voice calm though he was close to panic, never had he known Rithlin to collapse before, ever.

They soon had him laid safely on the bed and Gailarphen checked him over thoroughly.

"What can I do?" Elladan felt suddenly useless. He was the only one seemingly not doing something to help their friends.

"Take his pulse." Gailarphen understood his feelings.

Elladan did with a sigh of relief, only to freeze as Gailarphen spoke once more.

"He is not drawing air into the left side of his chest."

"You will relieve the pressure?" It was obvious to Elladan what was causing this. There was only one thing it could be, a build-up of some kind of fluid in the chest.

"Yes. It is needed." Rithlin was obviously drowning in his own blood at this moment. "His pulse?"

"Very fast and missing some beats." Elladan could barely count them.

"As I suspected. Quickly, I need a blade and a hollow reed." Gailarphen needed to work fast.

Elrond cursed under his breath. Why did it always happen like this when it was least needed? He needed all the help he could get with Legolas and with Elladan and Gailarphen taken out of the equation it made it harder to help him.

He gently rolled the thick herb paste into the compact ball that he needed and administered it with the flourish of old and hard-won experience, especially where this particular elfling was concerned.

"Estel, try to stop the bleeding from his tongue and keep talking to him! Where the Valar is Tarias with that water? Linnathon, I need herbs for his fever and likely will need them in abundance." Legolas almost jerked his arm free, nearly hitting his son in the face. "Elrohir, hold him!"

Valar what was this doing to the thin, beaten back? He could only hope that his recovery was not jeopardised at all. That would be the worst thing he could think of.

"He is very strong!" Elrohir was panting. It was taking all their combined strength to keep Legolas safely on the bed.

"That is very good." Elrond was very pleased at that announcement. Legolas would need his strength.

Then Legolas gave one last almighty jerk that sent an unsuspecting Elrohir skidding off to hit the wall hard and Glorfindel landed with a thud on his behind. Only Elrond and Estel remained holding him.

For a weary heartbeat no one moved, but then Glorfindel shot to his feet. Glancing over to Elrohir, he saw the young ellon was unconscious but safe. That knock to the head had been heavy… but, he was safe. First they had to make sure that Legolas was taken care of.

Elrond and Linnathon were already checking Legolas over, making sure that he was breathing while Estel applied pressure to the leg wound that appeared to be bleeding heavier than ever.

Elrond did not even look up from what he was doing. "Check Elrohir, we are covered here. Use that bed!" Elrond waved toward the next bed. At this rate they were going to have a full ward.

"Aye." Glorfindel did not need to be told twice as he moved to where Elrohir had come to rest at the base of the wall. He bent and gave a sigh of relief as Elrohir groaned and opened bleary grey eyes to regard him. "How do you feel, penneth?"

Elrohir raised a hand to gingerly touch his head. "I need to tell Legolas to leave the oliphaunts at home the next time he visits." There was a hint of self-depreciation in his tone. "I should have seen that coming!"

"We both should have. I think my rear is bruised, but not as badly as my pride!" Glorfindel helped Elrohir to stand. "Your head?"

"Sore and I am a little dizzy." At least he was not nauseous, though he wavered a little where he stood.

"Let us get you seated and I will look at you." Glorfindel supported him as they moved to the bed beside Bremoline.

"I will be fine. It is just a headache." Elrohir tried to protest. He ignored the snort of amusement that came from his brother or "That is Legolas' line!" that crossed through his mind.

"I will be the judge of that!" Glorfindel shook his head. It was bad enough that Legolas said that continuously.

"How is Rithlin?" Elrond removed the bandage on Legolas' leg, careful to not disturb the bleeding if he could help it.

"It is as Gailarphen feared." Elladan was in the middle of helping the healer and he did not want his attention taken away from the delicate task.

"And what is that?" Elrond winced at the blood that welled from the leg wound that he had previously stitched closed. Legolas had done a really good job on that. It looked as if some of the stitches had pulled free. He could only hope it did not involve the artery itself

"That there was bleeding into the lung. He is draining it now." Elladan was catching the bright blood in a bowl.

"That is bad. What about his leg?" Elrond was hand deep in blood himself.

"We have not had the chance to look." Gailarphen's voice was tense. "Legolas?"

"He pulled a lot of the stitches internally. Your finger needs to press there, Estel." He showed the young man exactly where he needed the digit to plug the hole that was bleeding.

Estel gulped, painfully aware that he currently stood between Legolas and Mandos. He would not be found wanting. If he had to spend the rest of his life like this, he would do so willingly.

"Yes, Ada." Valar was that his voice? Estel hardly recognized the quavering words as his.

"Good, you are doing well. I am pleased that you disregarded my earlier instructions." Elrond told him as he reached for the sharpened thorn once more. At least Legolas was too out of it to need any drugs this time.

"Ada?" Estel was not sure what Elrond was alluding to.

"When I told you to stop Legolas' tongue from bleeding, you did the right thing and looked to his leg." Elrond had not realised at that time how badly the leg was haemorrhaging again.

"Oh." That was all Estel could think of to say, but honesty made him continue.

"But, Ada, I was not listening properly. I thought you said his leg." It had been all that he was focused on.

"Then I am doubly glad and proud. Legolas could well have bled to death and we would not have realised until it was perhaps too late, I remain proud of you, ion-nin, very proud." Elrond looked up and was pleased to see that Estel held himself proudly, as well he should.

"I would do all I can for him." Estel's voice was soft and full of worry.

"I know that and so does Legolas. He would only ask that you be yourself, Estel. That is all that Legolas will ever ask of you." Elrond stated it simply, for that would be all that Legolas asked of any of them, simply to be the person he knew them to be, no pretence and no charade, just love.

"I know, Ada. I know." Estel face was softened by a scared, watery smile cast Elrond's way "It still does not mean that I will not yell at him for hiding this."

"Oh yes, I know." Elrond agreed. "Not that I think this would have made much difference had we known earlier. Perhaps he would not have lost quite as much blood had we been able to ride out and meet them, and perhaps the infection and poisoning not so rampant, but we did not even know they were on the way, so thinking that is futile. It will only make you feel worse. Knowing Legolas, he will heap the blame on the one he feels deserves it the most."

Nestoron and Tarias had finally arrived with buckets of warmed water, other elves following them with plenty to bathe Legolas.

"Knowing the Caun the only person that he will blame will be himself." Nestoron brought the first bowl over for their use. Without being asked, he crushed athelas into the water. Right now, Legolas needed all the help he could get. "How is he? I was told he had a seizure."

"Aye, a bad febrile fit, but he has recovered now. Could you make more of the antidote? I want him to have a few more doses yet. Foul creatures!" Elrond shook his head. The 'orc situation' as it was being called was getting worse. They seemed to be breeding faster than ever and in greater numbers. The reports that he had received worried him greatly, now with the report from Rithlin, albeit only sketchy, about what had been happening in Mirkwood, well, now he was just plain angry at whomever had commanded this.

"Of course. I prepared enough earlier so that I could give him more. Let me get it." Nestoron tenderly stroked the pale face of the unconscious Prince before standing stiffly.

"Your back is playing up? You are moving stiffly. Perhaps you should not have carried the water?" Elrond was all too acutely aware of how pained Nestoron's back could get.

It was also why they knew so much about back injuries. Nestoron's back had been damaged severely in a fall from one of the Great Eagles that lived in the Misty Mountains. The injury had been so severe that it was feared that the healer would never walk again. As it was, he still had huge problems.

The trouble had come of the quick healing that all elves were blessed with. It had turned to a great disadvantage in this rare case. The injury had healed far too fast. Even now, on very bad days if you looked carefully you could see the swelling over the affected discs. Bones in his back had fused together.

"It was only a little walk. I am fine, and the movement does me good. Besides, Faelien looks after me!" His smile was wide. His beloved wife always knew when he was hurting badly, their bond was that deep and true. "I also wanted to help Legolas."

Elrond nodded at that. He knew that over the days of his recovery Legolas would get many such visits. He had friends everywhere, but having spent so much time with the healers, he had a great many friends among them.

"I know. I expect all of you to drop by and see him." Elrond shook his head, even as he crushed more athelas into the warmed water, anything to help the prince.

"Of course, it is mandatory!" It was said with a snigger but then Nestoron grew serious once more. "He looks bad."

"Aye, he has lost a great deal of blood." Elrond sponged down the grey face.

"The orcs have much to pay for." There was a snarl in Nestoron's voice.

Elrond's face held a satisfied but grim grin. "Aye, though I believe that this particular group has already done so."

"Good." Nestoron knew that he should feel some remorse for the fell creatures that were their far-distant relations. But they were so dark and evil, so changed from the light creatures that they had once been.

"Aye, again I agree. Their numbers are growing by the day. Something is coming… and it is not good." Elrond could sense the threat, dark in his mind, almost beguiling, it haunted his reverie. He had not spoken of it to any, save for Glorfindel and Mithrandir, but he knew what it was, could almost taste it.

The Ring… that be-knighted One Ring was calling out to its Master, growing stronger by the day. Evil was coming, spreading and growing stronger. Elrond only hoped it was found by others, not the Fell Creatures that were compelled to search for it across all Middle-earth. They would return it to Sauron without a single thought.

Should that happen, Middle-earth that they knew and loved would vanish overnight. If he had any say in the matter it would not happen.

"The South?" It was a sharp question from Nestoron, denoting worries they all felt.

"Aye, it grows daily, a sleepless malice that creeps insidiously over Middle-earth." That was another vision he had suffered. A hooded individual he could not name spoke darkly of a sleeping malice. It had haunted him for weeks. He was being given a message, he knew he was, was certain to the depths of his fëa. But for the life of him he did not have any clue as to what it meant.

"I have felt it, we all have. It cannot be ignored. It seems to be tied into the very bowels of the earth, such discord." Nestoron shook his head. He was still in close contact with Faunryn, the Great Eagle that he had been riding the day he had fallen. The tales he had been told of orc activity and other fell creatures. They were multiplying too fast. Almost as if they were being prepared for war.

"Indeed, it is only through the grace of the Valar that Imladris is safely hidden and will continue to be so." Thanks to Vilya, but what would happen when the One Ring was brought to light? Would his beloved home be safe then, his family and friends?

"Praise Eru." Nestoron watched Legolas closely. "Just when Legolas is on an even keel things like this happen. It seems so unfair."

"Life can be very unfair, Nestoron, as you know too well, mellon. But we deal with it as best we can." Elrond also knew all too well the knocks and bumps that life could bring. His had not been an easy life, far from it.

"It is all we can do. Can I help?" Nestoron felt useless just standing and watching like this.

"See how Rithlin fares for me? He collapsed suddenly." If Elrond had the time to spare, he would have checked for himself.

"Of course. I will make sure they have all they need." Nestoron stroked the hot face gently once more before rising, still quite stiffly.

"The tea is not yet working?" Elrond's sharp eyes had missed nothing.

"Not as yet. It sometimes takes longer depending how bad the pain is." Nestoron would be drawn no further into this old debate.

Elrond knew better than to press. Nestoron disliked taking the poppy tea, it made him feel sleepy and out of control, a feeling Nestoron really did not like. He preferred to endure the pain than have his control taken away.

"If it does not work, you will let me know?" Grey eyes met hazel.

"Of course." Nestoron smiled at him before he moved gingerly away.

He moved beside Gailarphen, pleased to see that the movements of the two healers working over Rithlin were calm and unhurried. The crisis here was over for now it seemed.

"How is he?" Nestoron kept his voice soft though it was full of worry. As close as they all were to the Mirkwood Elves, the bonds between these Elves were even stronger. It had to be.

When you live a life that could end in violence at any moment you had to trust the person beside, in front or behind you. Without that trust the battle would be disastrous. Over the many centuries that Mirkwood had been fighting the Fell Forces that were a constant threat the bonds had grown and deepened to such an extent that the elves seemed to instinctively know what the other was thinking and was about to do.

It had saved more than a few lives over the years.

"He is doing better." Gailarphen looked up from stitching a reed in place; it would help to drain any more fluid that could possibly collect again even though he had drained the chest once. He frowned. "Are you alright, more to the point?"

"Aye, I am well." Nestoron's eyes shot up in surprise at the smothered snort that greeted this innocent comment.

"I wish I could believe that, mellon." Gailarphen suddenly sobered. "Your back is bad?" He did not like the pinched, pallid look on Nestoron's face and he had seen how stiffly he moved.

"Under control. I just spoke to Elrond regarding it." Well, it was partially the truth, and if it gave a few moments of peace, he thought it was worth it.

"Good that is wise, just take it easy, and no more lifting those buckets!" He glared at his friend. Of all the stupid things to do! He knows better than to lift anything.

"Legolas needed the water. He is very feverish." Nestoron knew it was his only defence. "But you have not told me how Rithlin is doing."

Gailarphen now turned his attention back to Rithlin. He was pallid, with a lingering blue tinge to his lips. This had been a close call. He was breathing, but with a hitch that sounded painful. "I have drained the blood that had built up. I will leave the reed in place to make certain this does not happen again. Already his breathing is much better. He may not be happy about it, but he will recover." There was amusement in Gailarphen's voice. Neither Nestoron nor Elladan needed clarification about what, or rather who, he was alluding to.

"Palanwen."

"Aye, Nestoron, Palanwen. She will be most unhappy with him." There was grim amusement know. They all knew what a little whirlwind she could be.

Palanwen was small, petite even for an elf, but her eyes sparkled with a fire that little could dim. But she also had a sharp temper and did not suffer fools gladly. She had little sympathy for those who hid injuries. She would be most unhappy with her bonded to be.

"Remind me not to be in Imladris when she arrives." Nestoron commented in a droll voice.

"I will be joining you!" At times Palanwen was worse than a heavy winter storm with winds that could uproot trees.

They all laughed a little at that as Gailarphen tested the reed's position. "Now we need to look at this leg and pray that it is not that bad." He rose to wash his hands again.

"Would you like me to help Elladan undress him?" Nestoron was eager and willing to help.

"Hannon le, that would save some time. How is Legolas?" He looked over his shoulder to the other bed. All seemed calm there so he relaxed a little.

"His seizure has stopped, but the fever has risen." Nestoron fretted about that. They had to bring his fever down or they would risk another seizure.

"That is not good." Gailarphen dried his hands and stood watching as they removed Rithlin's leggings.

When Rithlin's leg was exposed Gailarphen moved forward to check it. A long thin scratch spread down the thigh. It was not that deep, certainly nothing like Legolas had suffered, but it was red and hot to the touch. With a frown Gailarphen leaned forward, his lips pursed pensively as he noted that the damaged skin edges were just turning black. It told him that the orc's blade had been covered in poison.

He glanced up, eyes sharp on Nestorian's. "He needs the antidote."

"Poison?" It was not really a question from Nestoron.

"Aye, poison, the same type that Legolas received. At least we caught it early. Silly elfling." He could only shake his head at this, but he was not too surprised.

"Are you truly surprised? This is Rithlin, a stubborn Mirkwood Elf after all." Nestoron was not being facetious, just stating a fact.

"True, very true. We have plenty extra of the antidote made for Legolas. Can I ask you to get it for me?" Gailarphen felt Rithlin's forehead for signs of fever.

"Of course." Nestoron was already moving to the herb preparation table, where the antidote sat ready for use.

"I will get you some fresh water to mix with the athelas, Gailarphen." Elladan took the wash basin of bloody water away to change it. It also meant that he could stop and check Legolas for himself.

"Hennad, both of you." Gailarphen bent forward to speak into the elegantly pointed ear of the Mirkwood archer. "You are in so much trouble, penneth, and not just with Palanwen, hiding poisoned wounds like this. Anyone would think you were Legolas!"

A smothered snort from Lathron told him he had been heard by at least one person in the room.

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Elrond, meanwhile, still washed Legolas down with Estel's aid . Elrohir was slowly feeding him sip after sip of tea, both for the poison and for his fever.

"Why do you think the orcs attacked Legolas, Ada?" That worried Estel.

"I wish I knew, Estel. But hennad for mentioning it to me." He looked up and spotted Nestoron heading towards them. "Nestoron, when you are finished with that would you go and bring Ivorhen to me?"

"Of course, Elrond. How is Legolas now?" He asked anxiously.

"The same as he was the last time that you asked not ten minutes ago." Elrond told him with a small smile.

"I was hoping that there would be some change." Stupid, he knew but that was how he felt.

"Not yet. I imagine this will take a while and Legolas has to sleep off the fit that he suffered." Elrond would admit that he too wanted Legolas awake, but for different reasons.

"I will take the antidote to Gailarphen then go get Ivorhen for you." With a glance at Legolas he made his way back to the other bed and then out of the chamber.

"Estel can you check to see how warm Legolas' foot is for me?" He was still worried about that and would for some time to come.

"Of course, Ada." Estel moved rapidly to Legolas' feet and carefully checked the foot over as he had been taught, by touch, feel and sight.

The foot was still pale but pinking up nicely. It was also warm to touch which was better than it had been. Gently he felt for the pulse on the top of the foot. It took a few seconds to find it but soon he was counting along quite merrily. Satisfied he looked up.

"The beat is good and steady, Ada, and the foot warm and pink." He calmly reported.

"Good, that is one less worry. You should go and rest. We will all need to be fresh for Legolas, should he waken." Legolas would need careful watching over the next few days.

"I can rest later, Ada. I am not tired." Estel was actually wide awake. Worry did that to him and he wanted to know that Legolas really was alright and that he would recover and to do that meant being awake when Legolas woke.

Elrond turned critical grey eyes to his son. It was true that Estel had slept the night through the night before, but he also now had shock hitting his system. The shock of seeing his best friend so badly injured.

Estel looked pale and worried but otherwise alright. He would give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but if he seemed to be flagging later they would be having another discussion about this.

"Very well, Estel. You can help with Legolas for a while." His voice held warning.

The bright smile from Estel was answer enough. "Hennad, Ada. Shall I take over washing him down?" Anything to help his friend.

"Please, we also need to eat. Elladan, you need to take the opportunity to rest. Get some sleep." Elrond looked over to where his son was helping feed Rithlin the antidote.

"But Ada!" He had heard Estel's argument.

"Enough! I want you all to listen to me, healers as well! Legolas, Rithlin, Bremoline and all of the injured from Mirkwood are going to be in need of our help and support over the next few days. To do that you need to be rested and alert. To that end we will all be sleeping in shifts. All of us, myself included. I do not mind where you choose to sleep as long as you do. Is this understood?" Elrond looked at each elf and the young man before him.

They all nodded in agreement.

"Good, that is settled. So, Elladan, when you are finished here you and Tarias will get some rest. Then it will be Elrohir and Gailarphen. After that it will be Nestoron and Glorfindel. The, finally, Estel and I." That would mean he could keep an eye on his foster son.

"Very well, Ada, once I have finished here I will rest. But I will use one of the empty beds so that I am near if you need me." Elladan told him. He really did not wish to leave the chamber.

"As I said, I do not mind where you sleep as long as you do." Elrond smiled at his son and then bent to his task of checking the dressings around Legolas' many wounds. He would need another blood replenishing potion soon. He had lost so much blood. He also needed to write to Thranduil and let him know how his son was and that he had arrived, even if not exactly safe and in one piece.

The afternoon passed quietly and with no further major dramas. Their patients remained unconscious, but stable. They still washed Legolas down, his fever still being high, but he had suffered no further seizures, to Elrond'sgreat relief.

Nestoron and Glorfindel were resting now, settled into the beds they had chosen. Elrond and Estel still washing Legolas down, Elladan was chopping yet more of the herbs that they needed constantly.

Tarias was away once more getting more water. He had more than enough help from elves eager to see how the Prince was. They went away both disappointed and worried once they had seen him. But they were still eager to help him help Legolas. They saw it as only right as Legolas had always helped them in the past when they had needed it.

"When do you think he will waken?" Estel was eager for Legolas to return to them so that he could see he was alright. He worried about him, especially after the attack earlier.

"It still could be some time from now, ion-nin. Legolas really needs the rest. I know you want to see him well. But that could take some time." Elrond could not lie to his son.

Estel sighed in frustration and Elladan looked up from his work. He had never dreamt that when they had first introduced the Mirkwood Prince to the small Adan child that they had set the pair on the path of such a wonderful friendship.

"Be patient, gwador nin. I know that Legolas will return to us at some point. Do not begrudge him this rest for he will hurt when he wakes." Elladan had no doubt of that.

"That is true, Dan, and I do not want him to be in pain." His mind at rest once more he bent over the still Prince. "Stay asleep, mellon-nin, I do not want you hurting."

Elrond had to smile at that. These two were so close. His smile vanished when Legolas gave a low moan. Estel looked up startled.

"It was not you, Estel. I need to check him." Elrond gently picked up the hot, limp wrist wishing he never had to do this again. The pulse was still pounding along much too fast.

Legolas groaned again and then seemed to stiffen. Estel reached for him."Easy, mellon nin."

Glazed blue eyes blinked open, to close once again.

"Legolas, it is Elrond. You are in Imladris. Can you open your eyes for me?" Elrond asked him gently.

The blond head moved almost imperceptibly to one side and then the other. It was obvious to all what he meant though. No.

"Legolas? What is wrong?" Elrond frowned.

"Hurt. He… here." The voice was weak and breathless.

"I will get you something stronger for the pain. Elladan, poppy?" If the pain was that bad, he would need poppy tea. "Who is here, penneth?" Elrond's voice was gentle, as if speaking to a frightened elfling.

The reply came as a pained hiss. "He is! The orc who thinks he is Estel!"

"Legolas, there is no orc here." Elrond was very concerned to say the least.

"See… he has you confused too!" Legolas shot a sly glance at Estel. It was a look that the young man never thought he would see turned his way from Legolas, fear… and distrust.

"Legolas, it is Estel, no orc. I would never let the foul creatures into Imladris." Elrond somehow kept his voice calm. Legolas was obviously still quite delirious, lost in his fever world.

"He is an orc… wearing a pink skirt!" Legolas was adamant.

Elladan had to choke back laughter at the image his mind brought forth. An orc in a pink skirt? What was Legolas seeing?

"Legolas, it is I…" Estel began.

Legolas tried to move away, hissing as his wounds flared with pain. "Stay away from me, foul creature!"

"Easy, Legolas, you have not had your pain tea yet." Elrond stilled him. Then he looked to Estel with sadness. "Move back, Estel." For now. He mouthed.

Estel nodded, reluctantly moving out of Legolas' line of sight. He could only watch sadly as Ligulas then relaxed. This was not his friend, his friend would not think things like this.

"Where is the pain, Legolas?" Elrond needed to know this, so that he could help the Prince.

"Back and leg. So hot… thirsty." Legolas sounded plaintive.

Estel immediately moved to retrieve the water pitcher, to get Legolas some water and then he stopped. Pain filled him as he realised that his friend would not accept the water from him.

"I will get it for him, Estel." There was sadness and concern in Elrohir's eyes as he watched him.

Estel nodded unable to speak past the pain. Did Legolas really think he was an orc? An orc!

"It is the fever and delirium, Estel. You know Legolas would not normally say things like that. He loves you too much." Elrohir tried to comfort him as he poured the water.

"I know it just… hurts." Estel did not want to admit that.

"I can understand that. We will talk when he sleeps." Elrohir promised.

"Alright." Estel gazed at his friend, tears in his eyes. An awful thought had started to take root and once it started he could not stop it. He had to ask. "Elrohir, you do not think that there has been some brain damage caused by either the blood loss or the seizure?"

Elrohir paled. He had not even considered that possibility. "We will have to ask Ada, Estel. I sincerely hope not." But it was a possibility. "Let me give him this water."

"Alright." Estel wanted desperately to go and sit with Legolas, to help him. Knowing that he was not welcome cut him to the core.

Elrohir nodded and then hurried back beside the bed. "I have some water for you, Legolas. Just sip it slowly."

With Elrond's help, he aided Legolas to drink. Legolas had not lied when he said he was thirsty.

When Legolas had emptied the cup, he spoke in a low voice. "Has the orc gone?"

"Yes, he has gone, Legolas. Dan and I would never let one in here." It saddened him to see Legolas like this.

"I have the tea, Ada." Elladan stood back, watching all this.

"Hennad, Elladan." Elrond looked over to where Estel stood watching them, his arms wrapped around himself in a gesture of comfort. He nodded toward his human son as he accepted the cup, whispering for Elladan's ears alone. "I think your brother needs reassurance."

Elladan did not need telling twice. He handed over the tea and moved beside Estel, catching him in a hug.

"All will be well, Estel. Legolas will come through, our Legolas." Elladan squeezed his shoulder.

"He does not want me here. He hates me." Silent tears trickled down his face.

"Oh, Estel, you know that is not true. Legolas is delirious. He does not truly even know that we are here. When he wakes again, he will probably not even recall this. He will be sorry." Elladan knew that Legolas would be horrified that he had upset Estel in this manner.

"I know he is not to blame, not truly. I asked Elrohir and I will ask you. Do you think Legolas has some damage to his mind?" Estel nervously gnawed at his lip.

"I hope not, gwador, I truly hope not, but if there is, we will deal with it." Elladan knew that this type of fever could cause damage if left too long.

Legolas had finished the tea and Elrond settled him gently back against the pillows. "That will help you, penneth. We will let you rest a few minutes and then I will give you a potion for your fever. Do you think you could take some broth or porridge?" Elrond wanted to take advantage of the fact that Legolas was awake and at least with them, even if not fully cognizant.

"Not hungry." Legolas voice was still pained.

Elrond let that pass… for now. He would pick up on that later.

"You said your back was hurting. Is it any better? Where does it hurt?" He paused when Legolas frowned.

"Back and legs, pins and needles." Legolas grudgingly admitted.

"Once the herbs have worked and you are more comfortable I will look again. You have had the problems since the incident?" Elrond did not wish to name the creatures that seemed to haunt Legolas.

"Aye. I…" Legolas had to blink and look away. "I did not think I would ever see you again. Where is Estel? How did the orc change places with him?"

"Before we get into that I need to know what you remember clearly. What do you recall of the journey?" Elrond's heart had dropped at the question.

"Pain." It was said around a dry swallow. The fever was dehydrating Legolas faster than they could get the fluid in. "So much pain. Then they attacked."

"What happened, penneth?" It would be better if Legolas talked about this. They did not want a return of the nightmares that had plagued Legolas as a youngster.

"They attacked from nowhere. I thought they would kill Rithlin. They caught him in the chest." He had to pause to take a breath and a drink.

"He is well and sleeping. He was lucky you were so attentive." Elrond's voice was light. He knew how close it had been.

"I can not lose another friend!" There was a sob in his voice. "So many… and now Estel…"

"Legolas, Estel is still with us, he is only sleeping at the moment." So now he knew that there was no damage, and that this was simply delirium from the fever talking.

"He is?" There was hope in Legolas voice.

Estel looked up, pleased to know that Legolas really did care. It brought hope to his heart that his brothers were right, that his friend was still in there and not impaired.

"Yes, Legolas, he is. I made him sleep. He has been holding your hand since you arrived here. He was exhausted." Well, Elrond figured it was not exactly a lie. Estel had held his hand.

"Can I see him?" There was hope in the weak voice. Estel ears perked up at that. Legolas did still want to know him!

"Perhaps later when he has slept. I do not wish him to become ill." Elrond knew he was appealing silently to the kind fea that he knew Legolas to be. He would not wish anything to harm his friend.

"Estel is ill?" There was worry in Legolas' voice. It had worked. "Estel not the orc?"

"Estel is not ill, but he has been sitting with you and would not leave you even though he is exhausted. I have made him rest." Elrond told him gently, a small smile crossing his face.

"Good. I do not want him to become ill." Legolas' voice was weak and soft. "I am thirsty."

"You have a high fever and are dehydrated. I will make you a tea for that and you can have some more water." Elrond stood and crossed to the table and made the tea, Elladan was still comforting Estel although he looked a lot happier. He also added some sleeping herbs to the bitter brew. Now that he knew this was delirium talking he was a lot happier.

Elrohir took his father's place. "Shall I wipe that face for you? You look so hot." He smiled gently and then frowned. "Are you still hurting?"

"Not as bad, hennad." Legolas enjoyed having the warm flannel wipe his face. "The others are alright?"

"Yes, Ligulas, everyone is alright, even Rithlin, now. Bremoline is still asleep, but he had a concussion and needs the rest. You were the worst injured." He admitted softly.

"I was?" Legolas sounded surprised.

"Yes, you were." He stood as Elrond moved back to them.

"I am sorry I worried you all. I need to speak with Ada." Glazed eyes turned to Elrond.

"Maybe you can write to him when you feel a little better. For now, you need to drink this." He helped Legolas drink the bitter fluid in small sips, not wishing him to rush it. Then he gave him the fresh water. "Good, well done."

Legolas gave a small smile and then winced. The pain in his legs was becoming annoying.

"Do you need to use the necessary?" Elrond suddenly realised that Legolas had not been since he had arrived in Mirkwood. Not that he expected him to, he had lost a lot of fluid in both blood and sweat , but he needed to offer the use.

Legolas flushed bright red and looked away. It immediately alerted the healer's instincts in Elrond as well as his paternal feelings.

"Legolas?" He pressed again as he bent forward.

"Do not need to go." Legolas would not meet his eyes, seemingly embarrassed.

But Elrond knew it was more than that.

"Legolas what is wrong? When did you last go?" He looked around perhaps he should ask one of the party from Mirkwood, they should be awake now.

"Can not remember." It was a reluctant admission, to say the least.

"Legolas, I need to know. Are you having trouble going?" Alarms were going off in his head.

The flush deepened and Legolas nodded.

"How long?" It was urgent now.

"Since the fall, since they…" He could only shake his head.

"Do the healers know?" Valar, please say that Legolas had not hidden this. The shake of the blond head made his heart drop. "So let me see if I have this straight. Since your capture and fall you have not been passing urine properly and yet you have not told anyone?"

"Embarrassed." It was a mumble.

"Legolas this is serious. This could mean you have more damage to your spine than first thought!" His sons had all stiffened at that news.

Legolas could still not meet his eyes.

"Legolas, look at me." It was an order.

Legolas reluctantly looked up.

"I need to ask you some questions and I need to have them answered truthfully. I will know if you lie." It was not a challenge.

Legolas nodded reluctantly.

"Good. Do you have pain in your back?" That was the most important question that he needed to ask. Well, they were actually all important.

"Yes. It hurts a lot." Legolas had to hide a yawn and Elrond nearly groaned with frustration as he recalled the sleeping herbs. He would need to be quick."Do you have tingling in your legs?"

"Yes." Legolas admitted.

Elrond could have groaned this was like extracting teeth from humans. "Is it there all the time?"

"No, just now and again."

"Good, that is good and the feeling in your bladder?" That was good news.

Legolas flushed once more and mumbled under his breath.

"I did not hear that, Legolas." He was amused, Legolas could be so sweet and innocent even with his age.

"It comes and goes. Sometimes I think I can go and then I cannot, other times I can not tell at all." There was fear in the Princes' voice. "The orc keeps teasing me."

"Ignore him, he does not know what he is doing." Elrond knew it was the fear talking. "I do need to check your leg and back. Do you think you can stand to be moved?"

"I do not know." It was a small admission.

"Shall we see how we get on?" They had been joined by Tarias and Nestoron, Glorfindel also hovered anxiously.

"If you must." Legolas really did not want to move, he was so sore and hot. He truly did not want to jolt his leg…

"We will turn you and make sure that we move you only as much as needed." Elrond promised. The poppy tea should have helped. It was a sign that things were far from well with Legolas that he was still hurting this much.

"I trust you." Legolas looked at him with utter trust in his eyes.

"Hennad, penneth. That means a lot to me." Elrond gently brushed the hair from his face before turning to the others. "Glorfindel, I want you, Tarias and Nestoron to come to Legolas' left side and gently roll him. Elrohir, I want you to hold Legolas' leg still. Do not let it move if you can. Elladan, I want you to stay where you are. You are doing more good resting where you are."

Elladan nodded, hugging Estel lightly. The young Edain was not even fighting it, just watching his friend closely.

The five of them arranged themselves so that they could do as they had been instructed. Elrond watched them as they stood in a row and speaking softly to Legolas began to gently turn him.

He stood behind them, watching with concerned eyes as they log-rolled him without jerking him.

Elrond already knew that they needed to change the bedding, the blood from the wound had seeped underneath him.But what he saw as they moved Legolas worried him even more. For the bed underneath the Prince was soaked and not with blood.

He said nothing. If Legolas did not know…

"Good." the minute they had Legolas in position he moved. "Legolas while we have you here I am going to wash your back and change the bedding. It will save time later."

"Alright." The voice was full of pain and they all shared worried looks.

"Good, let me see what is going on here." He bent to look at the thin back. Legolas really needed to put some weight on, he was far too thin. The bones of his back stood out in stark relief and the scars from the whipping he had received looked bad even now. But it was the large lump that sat over one of the discs half-way down his back that worried him.

He reached out to gently touch it, for once praying that he had a pained response from Legolas. It was a prayer that was not answered. There was not a sound from Legolas. Not one single sound as he examined the area, not that he had expected there to be, not after seeing the bed.

He already knew that the back injury was worse than any of them had realised. The fact that he had been incontinent and not even realised it proved that. Not even Nestoron's back had been that bad after his fall.

"Can you feel this, Legolas?" He was pressing the back with all his might.

"No, but my leg is sore." Legolas admitted.

Well, that was good, and bad. Elrond reached for the cloth and began to wash the back. At least if Legolas could feel his leg, that was better than the other, but this was not good. Legolas would not be moving from this bed for some time to come. His leg had to heal as well.

Elrond quickly changed the bed but then stopped, looking over his shoulder. If they rolled Legolas now he would see Estel, that might not exactly be wise.

"Elladan, perhaps you should get some fresh air while we do this. It might help clear your head." Elrond nodded meaningfully towards Estel.

"Of course, Ada, it would be good to feel Anor's warmth." He led Estel from the chamber. Estel just looked back, reluctant to leave, but not arguing.

As soon as the door was closed, Elrond turned back. He met the worried frown of Nestoron. Yes, if anyone was more aware of what was going on here, it would be the other healer. He would know exactly what they were facing and more besides. He nodded to Nestoron, they would talk later.

"Legolas, we are going to roll you back this way, there is a lump where the bedding is rolled up, but we will try not to hurt you." It was the last thing that they wanted to do.

"I understand." The voice was muffled and full of pain. Legolas would need more pain herbs when they had finished.

"Good, you are doing very well. I am sorry we have to put you through this." Elrond hated it actually.

There was some sort of acknowledgement but they were already gently moving Legolas, wanting to get this over for him.

Soon Legolas faced right and Elrond's heart dropped. Legolas was pale, his eyes tightly closed and tears ran down his face. They worked quickly now to pull the sheets through and make certain there were no creases that could cause more harm. Then they rolled him back onto his back and straightened him properly.

"See to him." Elrond told them. They nodded that they would not leave Legolas while he was so distressed.

Elrond went straight to the herb table. The pain relief would need to be a lot stronger, both the pain and sleeping herbs. Legolas needed the respite even though he had only been given some a short while ago.

He made the tea, mixing the herbs quickly. He then returned to Legolas with the goblet.

"Drink this, Legolas. It will help, I promise."

Legolas did not even open his eyes, he just opened his mouth. At this precise moment he did not care, he just wanted all this to stop.

The chamber was silent as he drank the normally bitter brew without saying a thing.

"Well done, penneth. Now have some water to take the taste away." Elrond took the water from Elrohir. "Hennad, ion-nin."

Legolas opened his eyes when he finished that. "Hennad." His eyes were glazed and full of pain.

"You are more than welcome, Legolas. Try to sleep? The herbs will be…." He got no further as Legolas' eyes slipped closed and he relaxed somewhat as the herbs did their job.

"Thank the Valar." Glorfindel shakily wiped at his face. "I have never seen him in such pain."

"I know, and it is not just physical." That much was clear to him. "Whatever happened to Legolas has left more damage than I think any of us truly realised. As soon as Bremoline or one of the senior Mirkwood elves is awake I need to speak to them. There is more happening here than I can truly understand at the moment." Elrond was frustrated. Something had hurt Legolas' fëa badly and he would be damned before he let it continue.

"What do you think it is, Ada?" Estel had come in from the balcony that overlooked Celebrian's favourite relaxing place when she had been with them. The one that Elrond now chose to go to when was troubled because sometimes, when the need was dire, she would speak to him through the waters of the river.

He had Legolas to thank for that, for making him understand that it was Celebrian and not some wishful thinking on his part that he could hear a voice in the water.

Legolas had heard, listened and understood what was happening and he had only been an elfling in arms at the time.

No, if he could help Legolas at all, then he would. He had so much to thank him for. His sons, all three of them had been saved multiple times by Legolas' bow. Estel had been carried to his foster father all those years ago in those strong arms after being the only survivor of the orc attack that killed his parents. Elrond would never forget the sight of a sleeping Aragorn lying in Legolas' arms, one small hand clasped tightly about a fair braid, as if afraid to let go. Did Estel know who it was who had actually saved him that day? Legolas had been with the twins that day. They had found little Aragorn too frightened to cry, laying beneath the cooling body of his mother. Did he know that their bond went all the way back to that day when Legolas had vowed that nothing would harm his friend's child ever again?

"It is foul, whatever it is, foul and determined to take him from us. I will not let it." There was determination in Elrond's voice.

"Good, because neither will we." Estel's voice was stern.

"I am glad, for he will need all of our help." Elrond was resigned to that.

"His back is worse than you expected?" Nestoron moved to stand close to Legolas, a hand resting gently on the prince's thin arm.

"Yes, much worse. It could be even worse than it is, of course. He does at least still have some feeling in his legs." Elrond knew the other healer would serve as a good role model for Legolas as he recovered from this.

"Thank the Valar for that." Nestoron knew how worrying this was. "But, he was incontinent?" It was barely above a whisper.

"Yes he was, and seemingly unaware of it. I say seemingly. I am not convinced that he would have been totally unaware of it. This problem would have started before now." Like before they had even begun their journey.

"They would have known?" Elladan sounded shocked. He stood beside his foster brother. Legolas was incontinent? How could this have happened?

"I would think so, yes. His skin is in too good a condition to expect that they did not know." After all, how can you tell a Prince that he has been incontinent?

"We will have to keep a close eye on him." Nestoron sounded sad, as well he might.

"Indeed, with his fever and the blood loss…" Elrond let his words hang. Legolas was still in critical condition.

"All in a day at Imladris General." Estel's voice was a little sarcastic.

"Estel?" They all looked at him incredulously.

Estel had the grace to flush with embarrassement.

"It is just something odd that Legolas said the last time he was here. He told me it was something out of a strange dream. He called the House of Healing 'Imladris General', and it seems to have stuck." Estel shrugged his shoulders.

"That would be something that Legolas said." Glorfindel was shaking his head now, amused.

"Indeed." Estel and Glorfindel were both right. It was something that Legolas would say. It just fit his sense of humor. That wonderful, quirky delicious sense of humor they all loved and dreaded to be on the end of.

"We need a plan to help Legolas." Nestoron would not be diverted from his thoughts.

They all fell silent as Legolas moaned. "Orc… Estel, no.. saes.. Baw!"

"I wish I knew what he was seeing." Estel watched his friend sadly.

"Perhaps he can tell us soon." Elrond gently reassured him. "But for now, Nestoron is right, we need to make plans for helping Legolas." He straightened.

"What do you want us to do?" Estel was the first to offer, not that that was any surprise.

"We need to keep him comfortable. Elladan, you are in charge of that. Plenty of poppy tea, Legolas needs that for now rather than anything else." Elrond told him.

"Of course, Ada, I will prepare a supply." Elladan moved with purpose to the herb table again.

"Hennad. Elrohir, I want you to keep an eye on both Legolas' fever and his leg. Any sign of further infection and I need to know." It was the one thing that worried him.

"Of course, Ada." Elrohir could and willingly would do that. He would make sure that his friend did not suffer any more than he could help.

"Hennad. Glorfindel, I want you to keep a close eye on Bremoline, I really want a word with him as soon as he is well enough." Elrond ideally should talk with him now. He would know what he was dealing with then.

"Of course, mellon-iaur. and the same with Rithlin?" He looked over to where Gailarphen had returned to the Mirkwood warrior's side.

"Indeed. I need as much information as soon as I can get it." Elrond still gazed at Legolas. He would not leave this chamber any time soon, that he was sure of.

"I can understand that." Glorfindel knew they needed this information as of yesterday.

"Hennad. Tarias, can you make sure that we have plenty of water, herbs and bedding? Legolas is likely to be needing them. If you continue to make sure they are stacked and ready?" Elrond smiled at the young healer.

"Of course, Elrond." It had been many years since he had been a young healer starting out on his career and he owed Elrond and Thranduil so much.

"Nestoron, I have a very important task for you and Estel to share." This was going to be the big one.

"What is that, Ada?" Estel was eager to be included in this. He felt so bad at not being able to help Legolas already. All he had done was upset him more.

"I need the pair of you to stay with Legolas and make sure that he is not alone at any point. Estel you stay with him while he is sleeping for now, Nestoron will do the same when he is awake. We need to make Legolas see that, even though he is hurting more than he probably has ever done before, he is not alone. As soon as he realises that Estel is not this orc of his fever-dreams then we will review it once more." Estel could be there for hims as a friend and Nestoron could be there as a healer who knew exactly what he was going through.

"Of course." The two of them were happy to share this chore, not that either of them considered it a chore.

"Good. Gailarphen, I want you to continue looking after Rithlin and Bremoline for now. How is Bremoline?" He had been so caught up with Legolas he had not given the Mirkwood Gon another thought.

"He is getting a little restless. I am sure that he will be awake soon." Gailarphen told him gently. He had been watching as they had seen to Legolas. Had been more than aware of the pain that Legolas had been in.

"Good. That is good. We do need to eat." The caregivers, after all, had to look after themselves as well.

"I will organise some food, Elrond." Tarias was the only one was actually free at the moment. They had plenty of herbs, water and bedding for the time being.

"Hennad, Tarias. Could you also bring me some parchment, ink and quill? I should really write to Thranduil and let him know that Legolas and the others have arrived." This would not be an easy letter to write, but it also needed to be done.

"Of course." Tarias left the chamber with one last look at Legolas.

As the chamber door closed, Estel sighed. "Do you think that Legolas will recover from this back injury, Ada?"

"Yes, Estel, I do. The fact that Legolas can still feel his legs is hopeful. Nestoron has more experience with this than I do. What can we do to help?" Elrond turned to his friend.

"First,we need to prevent his muscles from atrophying." Nestoron had been thinking as they had made plans.

"Massage and exercises?" Estel was eager, at last something that he really could do.

"Aye, it will also help with the muscle cramps that Legolas will definitely have, they are bad." Nestoron tried not to shudder. They had actually been one of the worst pains he had experienced when he was recovering.

"What can you do for them?" Elrond frowned, not really recalling much of the early period in Nestoron's recovery clearly. He himself had been very badly injured as well.

"Faelien and I have made a cream that helps. It also soothes the muscles. Smells a little, but you tend not to notice that!" It was a wry admission.

"You have some ready?" Elrond was very interested.

"Yes, but not to hand. Faelien is on duty. She will be able to either get the ingredients and make it or go back to our talen and get some of the cream." Nestoron knew they had plenty of the cream back at their home. They always kept some available.

"Good, I will see if she will go and bring us some. Is there anything else that you need while she is there?" Elrond was pleased at that, at least they could help Legolas right away.

The three of them, Elrond included, had worked on these creams and teas. He would not let anyone use something that he was not totally at ease with. That was the Healer and leader in him.

"The pain herbs." They both knew what he was talking about, as would Faelien, the herbs that would help with the pain and not sedate him as the poppy tea would.

"Very good, I will just speak with her." Elrond really did not want Nestoron to leave Legolas, but neither did he want the rumours of this to get out so quickly. They could at least give Legolas a short amount of recovery time.

"Very good, tell her we will speak later?" Nestoron always missed her when they were working apart.

"I can do better than that, mellon-nin. Faelien will be helpful to Legolas. I will have her come and work with us." Elrond was pleased with that. It was rare to get an elf with such a debilitating injury so they could use her expertise in dealing with it.

They had all treated Edain with broken spines. Sadly, most had not lasted long, but what they had learned with Nestoron had been useful.

"Aye, she would be helpful." Nestoron relaxed back, it would also save him having to explain to her what was happening.

"I thought it might be." Elrond had to smile. The pair worked incredibly well together.

Even Glorfindel had to smile at that. The two healers could moan at each other like old human washer-women and yet their love was so deep it was incredible to see.

"Estel…." Legolas moaned once more, deeply distressed.

"I am here, Ligulas. I am here." Estel gently took his hand and tried to reassure him.

"Watch him, mellon-nin, he is coming. He will hurt you." Legolas tossed his head.

Even with the poppy tea Legolas was not having a peaceful sleep. It was hard to watch.

Elrond could only shake his head sadly as he left the chamber. He wished there was more that he could do.

Faelien was horrified and willing to go to their talen and help Legolas. That done, he hurried back to the inner sanctum after he had checked that all was well with both patients and healers. The junior trainee healers would be changing soon and the author of that worrying essay would be on duty. 'Dragon Pox', it defied imagination. It was also highly worrying.

There was another welcome voice to be heard when Elrond opened the door. Bremoline was awake.

"Good, Bremoline. Mae govannen." Elrond did not think that he had been so happy to see anyone awake for some time.

"Mae Govannen, Hir Elrond." Bremoline winced up at him from his pillows. "The others were just filling me in somewhat with what has happened."

"Good. You have eaten?" He did not want to just race in without checking him over first. He glanced over at Legolas. Yes, all was still calm.

"It is being seen to, hennad. Saes, what is happening?" Bremoline watched Elrond closely as he crossed to sit beside him.

"What do you recall?" It was said tentatively. Unless a head injury was incredibly large, most elves had perfect recall of their memories, and Elrond just did not want Bremoline to look at the darker memories that could plague them all.

"I remember the attack in Mirkwood, seeing Legolas pushed from the cliff with his hands tied to his back. Then seeing the state that his back was in and what those… those…orcs did to him….." Bremoline did not quite know a name word foul enough to describe the Fell Creatures after what they had done to his Prince. Still, they were all dead now.

"That must have been hard to see." Elrond could not help the wince, he knew he would feel badly had it been one of his four children.

"Very. We thought we were going to lose him for sure this time. But it was when he was attacked in his own chamber that we realised they would not stop until Legolas was dead." He would never forget the sight that had greeted him, never…

Flashback

The morning was fine, birds singing in the trees outside the open windows and animals frolicked in the grass nearby. Legolas' friends.

Bremoline felt better than he had for days. Legolas' vanishing act, while not deliberate (He did not ask to be taken after all) had made more work for them than they had realised.

To be taken like that! When they had found the orcs' hideout, he had felt relief. They had captured Legolas two days ago. Had it been his son, Brolinth, then he would have been there leading the charge. But Thranduil had to be more than simply a father at the moment, he also had to be King. Bremoline had seen the war that had waged silently in those blue eyes. Thranduil would have given anything to be with them, to liberate Legolas.

He had prayed long and hard that Legolas would be found well and not in the state that Híril Celebrian had been found in. The thought that Legolas could sail as a result sent shivers down his spine.

Once they were all in place Bremoline gave the signal to move forward. Silence reigned. An eerie silence that made them all nervous.

Bremoline lay his hand against the nearest tree.

/I am sorry to wake you, but I need your help./

/You wish to help the Prince/ The voice thrummed with worry.

/Yes we do. How many orcs are there/ He had known he would have aid.

The number when the tree gave it was manageable. They were only a few, but they could and would fight well, until aid arrived.

/Hennad, that means a lot. We will aid him soon./ Very soon if he had his way.

/Good, he hurts./ Just three small words, but it made his blood boil, the filthy creatures had hurt Legolas!

/We get him now./ It was said with a snarl. The Fell Creatures would pay for messing with Mirkwood Elves… if they lived that long!

Bremoline whispered to the warrior next to him, Calandor. "We move on my mark. The tree says that Legolas hurts." His voice was grim and he knew that the others would understand.

Slowly the whisper made its way around and soon all eyes were on him. When he was sure the time was right, he raised his right fist and pumped the air in signal. Once, twice and then thrice and all of them moved.

The fight, if you could call it that, was short and very intense. The Elves sustained many wounds, although none were major or life-threatening. But still they had yet to find a trace of Legolas.

Bremoline was the first to g into the cave, shivering as he did so. They all hated caves, Legolas most of all. Why did it have to be caves?

To the right side of the cave, it looked like a stake had been driven into the ground. At the top was some frayed rope, as if it had been cut in a hurry.

On the floor, forgotten, was a leather whip, it had so many strips to it that even from this distance he knew it would do a lot of damage. The ground around the stake it was dark as if some fluid had been spilt. From the coppery smell in the air it was blood at that.

"Oh, Legolas what have they done to you?" He murmured to himself. "Where are you, mellon nin?"

"Gon Bremoline!" The cry came from outside and he rushed back out to see the fight was all but over. Craban pointed up. Bremoline followed the line of sight and his heart clenched.

Far up, on the highest point over the cave, was an orc. That in itself was not too shocking. What was shocking was the sight of Legolas hanging limply over his arms.

Even from where they stood he could see the bloody ruin of the Prince's tunic. His hair was free of the braids that normally kept it contained. The blond hair was covered with dried blood.

"Wan'cha Prince back?" The orc seemed very pleased with itself, too pleased.

"I will not let you harm him further!" Bremoline's heart was in his mouth.

"'Ow ya gonna do that?" The orc stepped too close to the edge of the cliff. Way too close!

"You will see." He could see Calandor aim an arrow.

"It'll be too late!" The orc did not give them any warning, he just threw Legolas from the edge.

Bremoline tried to catch desperately to catch him, but it was just not meant to be.

Before Bremoline had even made it half-way to Legolas the orc was dead and Legolas lay sprawled on the ground in a jumble of limbs….

End flashback

"Bremoline!" The voice was above him and someone was shaking him, hard. "Bremoline, come back to us!"

Bremoline opened his eyes and looked about him confused.

"Are you back with us, mellon nin?" Elrond's voice was soft and full of worry.

"Aye, what happened?" He scrubbed his face with his hands.

"I was hoping you could tell me." Elrond reached to take his pulse. It showed that the healer was panicked about something. "You were telling us about Legolas?"

"Aye, and the orc." As he spoke, Bremoline's pulse sped up.

"Have you had many of these 'blackouts'?" Elrond peered closely at his face.

Bremoline looked reluctant before admitting in a low voice "One… or two.".

"Always when talking about what happened to Legolas?" Elrond had a good idea what was happening here.

"How did you know that?" Bremoline was stunned.

"Just a hunch. Are you sleeping well?" Now that he looked, Elrond could see the dark rings beneath his eyes.

"Not as well as normally. What is it?" Bremoline was attentive now as well.

"I think you are suffering from some sort of delayed shock. We will deal with that in a moment, and yes we can help." Elrond told him firmly. "What happened after Legolas was pushed?"

"The orc was dead within seconds and I made it to Legolas. It was obvious that he was badly injured. A fall from that height, there was no way he could not have had broken limbs. We fixed up a stretcher and made sure that he was strapped to it and could not move before we ruished him back to Mirkwood." Bremoline shuddered at the memory.

"You are doing well, mellon. I fear the memory is painful for you." Elrond tried to reassure him.

"Hennad." Bremoline gave a small smile. "When Doroniel looked him over she realised that his back was broken. That was bad enough, but then we had to turn him to see his back. Valar, I have never seen such wounds in my life!"

"Thranduil said in his letter that he had been badly whipped." Estel's voice was gentle.

"Whipped does not fit the description, I do not think there was a single inch that was untouched. It took more sutures than you could imagine to close. Then we had to wait. to see if Legolas would even wake, wait to see if he would walk again. It was a trying time." Was the mumbled admission.

For once Estel did not ask about how many sutures there were and Elrond was glad of that.

"We waited for what seemed like months before Legolas woke up. Two days later came the next attack. They got in through the window and killed the guards that Thranduil had set. How they got that close, we will never know, but all patrols are on the alert now." Bremoline smiled at the memory of chastising them all about being lax and even mentioned dereliction of duty. "But that was already too late. Legolas had Doroniel and Calandor in with him. They had just persuaded Thranduil to go and get some sleep when it happened. From what Calandor and Doroniel tell me there were about a half dozen of them, heavily armed."

"They were there to kill Legolas?" Glorfindel's voice was urgent.

"Yes, that is what the last said before he passed." Bremoline was angry at that still. "Calandor was badly injured, a sword to his left side. Doroniel was knocked out. I was passing and heard the commotion and managed to stop him just as he was about to deliver the fatal blow." The Valar had never worked as well as they had in that moment.

"They are both alright?" Elrond needed to know if his friends were well.

"Aye, they were recovering well when we left." Bremoline told him. "We waited until Legolas was a little stronger and Thranduil asked us to travel here so that Legolas was safe."

"The journey in itself sounds interesting." Nestoron spoke up from where he was washing Legolas' face once more.

"It was uneventful until we got to about three-quarters of the way here. Then the orcs attacked." Bremoline shook his head, they had been determined to kill Legolas this time, more than the other times.

"Yes, you said something about that." Estel looked up at that.

"Yes, how Legolas even stood let alone fought amazes me. He saved Rithlin's life, I am sure of it. The orc had him pinned against a tree when Legolas killed it. Then he could not move fast enough to get out of the way. Valar he was too ill to fight! He should never have been in that situation!" Bremoline was furious with himself.

"But he did join the battle, as we all know he would. If Legolas saw a friend in dire need he would not consider the cost to himself." Glorfindel did not need to go on.

A mumble and low moan from the one they were currently talking about "Baw! Estel, come back!"

"How bad is he?" Bremoline could see how bad, but he needed to know as well.

"He lost a lot of blood, the orc's blade caught an artery. It is sutured and the bleeding stopped but the blade was also poisoned." Elrond told him.

"The last thing I can recall was trying to stop the bleeding. So much blood everywhere." He looked down at his hands as if they were covered in the life giving substance.

"You did a good job, mellon-nin. Legolas remains with us. I do need to ask you something." Elrond could understand his worries.

"What is that, Hir Elrond?" Bremoline looked up a little dazed.

"Did Doroniel tell you how extensive the back injury was?" He needed to know this.

"She said that there was some swelling over two of the discs, causing Legolas to lose feeling in his legs. She was worried that perhaps there might be some nerve damage." They had all worried about that.

"That fits in. Bremoline, this may be embarrassing but I truly need you to be truthful with me. I need to know for Legolas' sake." He was determined to impress how important this was.

"Ask away." Bremoline would always tell the truth.

"Did Legolas have any problems on the way here?" Elrond really needed to know but would approach it delicately.

"What sort of problems?" Bremoline was still a little confused. His headache was enormous and it seemed to beat in time with his heart. It made thinking difficult.

"Problems passing urine, perhaps?" It was a gentle question.

Bremoline sighed and looked away. Then he seemed to gather his strength and looked back. "This will go no further?"

"It will go no further than with those in this chamber. I promise you that." Elrond told him seriously.

"Hennad. Legolas has had trouble passing urine. Ever since we left Mirkwood. I am not sure he even told the healers back there. Doroniel will kill him when she gets her hands on him." He shook his head sadly.

"You think that Legolas knew about it?" It only really confirmed what he was thinking.

"Aye, I would say so, although he did not say anything about it. I think he was too embarrassed."

"I can imagine that he would be." Elrond understood very well. Legolas was the Crown Prince of Mirkwood and did not like to show any weakness at all. It had been the same since childhood. The damage caused by Minerella's death lingered all these years later.

"Legolas has been having trouble passing water. He either cannot hold it in or he cannot feel that he needs to go. We never said anything, just carried on as if it was nothing. Doroniel emphasised that he needed to have his skin checked and clothing changed frequently. So that is what we did, just… got on with it." Bremoline shrugged. They would do anything for Legolas.

"He is lucky to have such loyal friends." Elrond gave him a small smile.

"What do you think it is?" He had not missed the worried frown on Elrond's face

"His back is badly injured. The riding and the fighting would not have helped. It is not your fault!" He had seen the guilty, pained look in Bremoline's eyes. "You had to get Legolas here. Did you expect that he would have to fight?" Elrond asked.

"No, no that was unseen. I would never have wished it on him." Bremoline rubbed at his eyes tiredly.

"Then, what is there to blame yourself for?" Logic won out, as it usually did.

"Nothing… I guess." Bremoline accompanied his shrug with a tired, rueful grin.

"Good. How do you feel?" Elrond was still concerned by how pale Bremoline appeared.

"I am well." Bremoline said it automatically and Elrond scowled at him.

"The truth, saes?" If Elrond heard that phrase once more he would probably strangle the speaker.

"I have a headache." Bremoline shrugged, his own discomfort was nothing.

"How bad? Let me see your eyes." Elrond was already reaching for a candle to check his pupils.

"I just feel a little sick." Bremoline admitted.

"Dizziness?" Elrond had finished with one eye and was looking in the other.

Bremoline's voice was small as he admitted reluctantly. "Aye… a little."

"You have quite a nasty concussion. I will make you something to help with the headache." Elrond was relieved that both of Bremoline's pupils were reacting normally.

"Hennad, that would be welcome." Bremoline tried to smile but it came out more like a grimace of pain.

"You also need to rest, as Legolas does. There is nothing you can do for the minute. So I want you to sleep and get better. Trust me when I say that Legolas has need of your strength and friendship in the coming days." Elrond was already cutting the herbs that he needed.

"I know and I will be there for him. I will always be there for him." It was more like a vow.

"He knows that." The voice was soft and full of understanding. Faelien had joined them, her arms full of pots and jars of creams and herbs.

"I know, at least I hope he knows. Mae govannen, Faelien you look as ravishing as usual." Bremoline gently bowed his head.

"Mae govannen, Bremoline and you are as handsome and charming as normal!" She smiled gently at him before moving to the herb table and placing her wares there. "All that I could carry, Elrond. There is more should we have need of it."

"Hannon le, Faelien. That should be plenty for now." He handed Bremoline the tea.

"Good." She moved to stand beside Nestoron, her hand resting gently on his shoulder. "Meleth, how are you?" She watched him worriedly.

"Stiff, but I have had some herbs." He knew better than to hide this.

"Good, we will keep an eye on it." Her smile was genuine and full of the love that they shared. "How is Legolas?"

"Very feverish still. We seem unable to break the spiral." Nestoron sighed worriedly. They had to get the fever down.

Faelien watched as Estel washed his friend's palled face. He looked almost as pale and just as worried as the others.

"Estel, sit and rest for a few minutes. I will take over for you." She gently pushed him into a chair. "Would you like some sweetened tea?"

"No, I am fine, just worried about Legolas." Estel admitted tiredly.

Elladan came over to give his brother a hug. He was aware that Legolas' words had hurt his brother more than he was letting on. But that he also seemed to understand that Legolas was alive and still with them also helped.

"All will be well, tithen gwador, you will see. Legolas has not left us yet."

"I know, Dan." He was grateful for the hug as he turned back to watch his friend, unaware of the sad smile that Elrond gave.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

It was so very dark… and cold. For once he was so cold he did not know what to do with himself.

His teeth actually chattered as he walked forward.

"So, you came back." The voice was familiar and more than welcome.

He turned towards it with a smile but froze. "You!"

"Yes, Legolas, mellon-nin. It is me." The smile was wide and showed a row of sharp teeth.

"I am not your friend!" Legolas hissed. "I could never be friends with one such as you!"

"I am sorry to hear you say that, after all we have been through." The orc actually seemed to be truly sad.

"We have not been through anything!" Legolas would not give any ground.

"So all the help I gave to you after the Spider attack two years ago was nothing? I helped you all I could!" There was sadness in those dark eyes.

"How did you…." Shock turned to anger. "What have you done to Estel?"

"Legola, how many times must I tell you that I am Estel?" The orc settled back on the ground, the incongruous pink skirt settled around it.

"Estel is not an orc. You are an orc!" His voice grew vehement.

It sighed and looked up sadly. Legolas felt his eyes tear up at the hurt reflected there.

"Legolas can you tell me at this point you can really, truly believe what you see?"

"What do you mean?" Legolas shivered. Now he was so hot that he felt he was burning.

"Answer me this, mellon-nin." He held a hand up to stop Legolas from protesting. "Are you hot now, when you were so cold a few minutes ago?"

"How did you know?" Legolas was incredulous. How could this Orc know what he was feeling?

"Because I am not really here." The orc answered the unspoken question calmly.

"I beg your pardon?" Legolas openly gaped at it now. What in the name of the Valar was he playing at?

"You heard me, Legolas. I am not really here and neither are you. This is somewhere you have created deep in your own mind to get away from thefear and hurt, the pain. And you are in pain Ligulas, you can feel it. The heat and cold that you feel are the fever that is ravaging your body. You created me. I am a mixture of the two things that you both hate and love. Estel and orcs. Why you made us one, I do not know, but please let me help you, Mellon-nin?" The orc appealed to him, his hand outstretched.

"Fever?" Legolas could not quite get his head around all of this. His head seemed to be full of fuzz and he could hear a deep buzzing sound.

"Yes, Legolas a fever. A big fever. You have had one seizure already because of it." The orc was more settled now that Legolas was talking with him.

"Where did this fever come from?" Legolas sank to his knees wincing as his leg flared with pain, a pain he had not been aware of before.

"What do you recall of your journey to Imladris?" Estel asked.

"I am in Imladris?" This was all too much. Really, did he expected him to believe all this?

"Yes, your party arrived two days ago, there were three of you seriously injured." Estel-orc was sad at this fact.

"Injured? Who?" That got Legolas' attention.

"Rithlin was caught by a poisoned blade, then he hid the wound. He is better and sleeping. Bremoline has a concussion, he is currently talking with Ada about how you came to be this badly injured. You must have been so scared, mellon-nin, alone with them in that cave." Estel wanted to comfort his friend but was not sure how it would be taken.

"Cave?" Legolas gulped at the mention of caves. So many bad memories, so many times caught in caves, like the first one he remembered, caught in nightmares on the way to Fornost. He did not recall much but it was dark and so scary for a young elfling.

"Yes, Legolas, a cave. You were taken by orcs and hurt. Do you remember?" Estel asked him gently.

Legolas' eyes were wide as he looked at the orc. Sudden pain lashedacross his back causong him to hiss.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Legolas had been asleep for some time. Not exactly easily, but sleeping all the same. Estel had again taken over from Faelien so that she could massage Nestoron's back. He was talking softly to his friend, recalling past adventures and hoping that there would be more as well.

Suddenly Legolas jerked in the bed, causing Estel to call out in startled alarm.

Elrond rushed over.

"You!" It was a hate-filled hiss from Legolas.

"Legolas? Penneth?" Elrond reached out to check his fever, his heart fikked with dread once more when he could feel the heat even before the hand reached the grey forehead. "His fever has increased!"

"What can we do?" Elladan was beside them.

"Herbs for the fever and ready some anti-seizure herbs, they will in all likelihood be needed if we do not get this fever down. Tarias, more water please for Elladan. Elrohir…"

"I will help Estel wash him down." He knew what his father was thinking.

"Good, I need to check his wounds, just in case." They had been checking the wounds frequently but you could never be too careful in cases like this.

"What about us?" Faelien stopped what she was doing.

"Carry on, or we may have another patient on our hands. I will ask when we need help turning Legolas." Elrond told her. That would be when they needed all hands available.

"As you wish." She was actually happy with those orders..She could feel the knots in Nestoron's back. He had to be in agony but was too proud to say. And they talked about Legolas!

"I am not your friend!" The cry was heart-rending in the extreme.

"Sidh, mellon nin, all is well." Estel tried to reassure the distressed Prince.

"I could never be friends with the likes of you!" It was a hate filled hiss.

Estel pulled back stunned and hurt.

Elrond stepped in. "He is feverish, penneth. He is not talking to you although it may seem as if he is."

Estel gulped and nodded. This was actually his worst nightmare come true. That the elves around him, his family and friends, would suddenly turn against him. Irrational, but true.

"Come back to us, Legolas." His voice was thick with unshed tears.

"We have not been through anything!" Legolas cried in frustration.

"That only proves that I am right." Elrond reassured Estel. Legolas was again having a conversation with seemingly no one.

"He is hallucinating?" Elladan asked, for his brother's benefit.

"Aye, the fever is that high. The tea, ion-nin?" Elrond asked, they had to get this fever down.

"It is ready, Ada. Here." The goblet was ready in his hands. He handed it over.

"Hennad." Elrond moved forward to give it to Legolas but stopped as Legolas spoke again.

"What do you mean?" This time there was confusion in the Prince's voice.

"Ada?" Estel was unsure as to what to do.

Elrond held his hand up to stop them. He wanted to hear what happened next. He had a feeling that Estel needed to hear it.

"How did you know?" There was alarm in the prince's weak voice now.

Estel wanted to calm his friend, but his father stopped him.

"I beg your pardon!" Such surprise in the familiar voice and yet also a strange need.

"I wonder what he is seeing. I wish I could help." Nestoron's voice was soft.

"Fever?" A hint of fear now. What ever Legolas was speaking with it seemed to be telling him the truth.

"Relax, Estel, this may work to our advantage." Elrond tried to reassure him.

"Where did the fever come from?" Was the pertinent question from Legolas and he seemed to be listening to the answer.

"Ada?" Elrohir could not stay silent.

"It seems to be helping. Look." Yes Legolas was a lot calmer than he had been just moments ago.

"I am in Imladris!" There was shock in Legolas' voice.

"Yes, Legolas, you are here in Imladris with us." Estel tried to reassure him.

"Injured? Who?" This time there was even more urgency in Legolas' voice.

"Legolas?" Elrond gently brush the wet blond hair from the sweaty face. He had placed the goblet on the table beside the bed.

"Cave?" There was a hint of panic in the Prince's voice as he ignored the question from Elrond. Estel shivered. He had discovered the last time Legolas had been in Imladris why his friend was so… wary of the caves that dotted Middle-earth. It made him shiver. This would only be making matters worse with what had happened in Mirkwood. They had all been too interested in helping Legolas to consider that factor.

"You are no longer in the cave, Legolas. You are safe." He gently washed the sweat from the pallid face.

The response he got was not the one that any of them had expected.

Legolas suddenly arched and gasped.

"Hold him still!" Elrond cried as he grabbed the stiffened arm. Valar, the damage this could do to the Prince's delicate back!

"Ada?" Estel did as his father asked.

"I think he is fitting!" As soon as the others could help, and they were at this minute flocking to help, he would check Legolas to make sure.

"I have the cream!" Elladan ran to his side with the bowl.

"Hennad." He swapped places with his eldest son and reached to check Legolas once more.

"My back!" The gasp stopped them all. No one having a seizure could speak!

"This is no seizure!" Glorfindel looked up confused.

"No, you are right, it is not." What was happening with Legolas? He wished he was there to witness what Legolas saw and help.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

"My back!" It blazed with agony.

"I know, Legolas. They whipped you badly. Your back looks like a map with the scars that they left. But that is not the worst of it." Estel was saddened to have to tell his friend all of this.

"Scars? What did they do that for?" Legolas had to wipe at his tearing eyes, once again he was hotter than he could ever recall.

"When do orcs need a reason to do anything, especially when there is an Elf involved?" Was the soft answer.

"Did they do anything…." Legolas could not stop the gulp and he did not think he was not being told the truth for some reason, it seemed too… real. "Else?"

"I wish I could say no, Legolas. They threw you from a great height. You broke your back." He knew how Legolas would take this.

"What? I can no longer walk?" There was horror in his voice.

"Yes, Legolas, you can. You rode to Imladris, although that must have been so sore and uncomfortable for you. You made it on your own for the most part." Estel was emphatic on that, Legolas had to remain positive and want to stay with them in Middle-earth.

"Why did I leave Mirkwood?" That puzzled him.

"There was another attack on your self in your chamber. Thranduil, your father thought it better that you be sent to safety and sent you to us. It is good to see you again, Mellon-nin." Estel told him sincerely.

"Was anyone else hurt?" There was fear in his voice.

"Calandor and Doroniel, although they are both recovering well. I am sure your Ada will send you a missive soon, Legolas, he would not leave you in the dark." Estel told him, he knew the Mirkwood King would not do that.

"Yes, I know." Legolas sighed and tried to shift and ease his back, it was difficult to do anything with it really, but after what the orc… Estel had told him it now made sense. "There was trouble on the way?"

"Another attack. All is well, Legolas, and you are safe."

"I know, I know I am." And suddenly he realised that he did know that. "Thank you, Estel, mellon-Nin."

The orc smiled widely and suddenly the orc was gone and in its place was…Estel!

"Estel!" There was joy in Legolas' voice.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

"Scars? What did they do that for?" Legolas asked.

Estel looked at his father, this seemed too much like a personal conversation with someone.

Elrond could only shrug, he had seen this before in fever patients especially Adan and it was not always good news.

"Did they do…" Legolas stopped and actually gulped. "…anything else?"

Elladan could not stay silent. "No, Legolas! They did nothing like that! You are still pure." He hoped. They had not been told that he had been subjected to that horror.

"What?" There was shock in Legolas' voice. "I cannot walk?"

"Yes, you can, Legolas. You rode here." Elrond's voice was firm.

"Why did I leave Mirkwood?" Legolas was at least asking relevant questions, but what answers was he getting?

"You left to come here, penneth, so that we could care for you." Nestoron could not stay quiet.

"Yes, I know." The admission was quiet and surprised them all. It was the first sign that Legolas had heard them since this conversation had started. "There was trouble on the way?"

So he was not answering them. They were all a little disappointed with that.

Elrond was suddenly aware that the fever was growing once more. They had to work at reducing it somehow.

"I know I am. Thank you, Estel, mellon nin." Legolas seemed easier in himself at least.

Estel looked up with such a pleased expression on his face it brought lumps to the throats of those about him.

"Legolas? Mellon-nin?" Did Legolas know he was there?

"So hot." The voice was a whisper once more. "Make it stop."

"I will try, Las, I will try." Estel promised him.

Blue eyes opened to look at him blearily.

"Estel. The orc has gone?" Sweat seemed to be pouring from the Prince.

Before Estel could answer. Elrond stepped forward.

"Legolas, I need you to drink these herbs for me." He picked up the cup.

"So hot." Legolas licked his lips. "Thirsty."

"This will help with that." Elrond told him.

"I will get you some water." Estel could have sung. His friend was back with him, back and knew him.

"Hennad."

Elrond was half-way through giving him the tea when Legolas shuddered. A great tremor that took both of them by surprise and then his teeth began to chatter.

"Legolas?" He took his pulse quickly. It was still too fast.

"S…so c…cold." Legolas could barely get the words out.

Elrond frowned and reached for his forehead. Where it had been boiling hot a second before, it was now icy cold.

This change so suddenly could not be good. It could do some serious harm, especially with Legolas already so ill.

"How do you feel, other than cold?" He was in healer mode.

"S…sore. C…chest h…hurts." Legolas closed his eyes and tried to lay still, tried to keep the pain away.

"How badly?" Chest pain? This was a new symptom and he was not happy.

"B…bad." Suddenly Legolas gasped and his hand raised to clutch at his chest.

"Legolas?" He had to know what was going on. He felt for the pulse once more. He turned to look at Elladan. "I need some…"

"Ada!" There was terror and alarm in that voice and Elrond turned back.

Legolas was limp on the bed.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

To be continued….

Hehehehehehehe

This is a replacement chapter as Shell managed somehow to post the wrong copy. I apologise.

Please let us know what you think?

Love,

SSS