Disclaimer: Tolkien's creations are still Tolkien's creations. I claim all the rest.
Summary: While attempting to cross troll territory, Legolas and Aragorn are captured by the large creatures. It quickly turns into a fight for survival.
A/N:Welcome to all my regular readers, and welcome to any new ones, who have come along for the ride. Love you all. Let me hear from you often.
And before you ask, yes, my evil plot bunny is alive, well and here with me. So those who know me, know what that means. :o)
One last comment. Thanks to all who reviewed the final chapter of "Dragonfire".
Let's not delay any further and get right to it, shall we?
The sun shone brightly from a clear blue sky, though it was still too early in the Spring and too far north for it to warm the morning air.
The path was wide and Legolas and Aragorn rode silently side by side, each lost in his own thoughts.
The journey thus far had been quiet and peaceful. There had been no mishaps, no injuries, no battles that needed to be fought. So naturally that that was about to change.
The two friends pulled their horses to a stop, when they came to the river they had known would be just ahead. The winter snows were still packed in the mountains upriver, and it would take at least another month of sunshine-heated air to cause enough melt to swell the current to overflowing.
The lowlands had seen the last snow storm until next winter, so crossing the river now would not be too difficult, however, neither friend made a move in that direction.
"You realize once we cross, we will be in troll country," Legolas said, eyeing the thick forest directly across from them.
The elf looked as if he half expected to see trolls hiding among the tall oaks. It was hardly a farfetched notion. Trolls didn't like intruders into their territory, so even those less-than-bright creatures guarded what they considered theirs.
Aragorn nodded his agreement. To his human eyes, sharp though they were, a big, dark, gnarly tree trunk would easily resemble a troll, who was also big, dark and gnarly. "I know," he replied, "but we have no choice. Considering the terrain that surrounds it, it would take us a week or more to go all the way around. Depending on what we encountered, it could take longer. I'm not willing to take that extra time. Lord Elrond is waiting for us. Besides," he added, "there aren't enough trolls to cover every bit of the land they claim, so we might make it through with no trouble."
Legolas stared at the man as if he had grown another head. The look said it all, so the elf didn't comment on that last statement. Instead, he said, "Lord Elrond has more patience than anyone I know. He will wait."
"Patient or not, he will be anxious for our return," Aragorn stated. He thought back to all the times he had snuck back into Rivendell and found the elf lord tapping his foot in a clear demonstration of his decided lack of patience with his wayward foster son. Admittedly, he had been a child then and not the full grown adult he was now, but still the image was a lasting one.
Legolas grinned broadly, remembering similar circumstances with his own father, though Thranduil never tapped his foot. He simply scowled his displeasure, and that was sobering enough to straighten up a mischievous elfling, at least until the next irresistible adventure beckoned. And they always did.
Returning to the subject at hand, Aragorn said, "His note said it was important we get there as soon as we can."
The grin on the elf's face was still there. "Yes, but he knows we do not always arrive when expected."
The ranger just rolled his eyes. How true that statement was. "Well, sitting here won't get the job done."
The elven prince didn't comment further. He knew Aragorn was right. They needed to get moving, because delaying wasn't going to get them any closer to Rivendell.
Their minds made up, the two friends nudged their horses into the swiftly flowing river. It barely reached half way up the stallions' legs. Splashing across, the animals showed no reaction to the ice cold water.
The far bank was broad and no more than a gentle slope so low it was easy to see that the melting snow would soon swell the river until it inundated the land far into the forest they now entered, making it almost a swamp until the water receded.
Moving onto dry land, Legolas and Aragorn both scanned the trees in an effort to make sure it really was just trees they were seeing. Even the elf had to keep his eyes focused on the dark trees, trying to detect movement among them.
Nothing did move, but it wasn't long before both elf and ranger were convinced they were being watched. The feeling was like an itch that couldn't be scratched, and it niggled at both of them.
"I know you feel them."
"Oh, yes." Legolas confirmed. "They are very near." His eyes continued to dart around him, as he spoke.
Aragorn was decidedly not looking forward to a running battle with the large creatures. "I guess that means we won't be moving through their territory unnoticed or unmolested," he replied grimly.
"Hardly. They would as likely put us in their dinner pot as not."
The man shivered at those unfortunately true words and added chilling ones of his own. "They'd eat us, because that's what trolls do."
Legolas turned and looked behind them. Still nothing moved. However, when he swung back around, he saw a troll to his left duck back behind a huge three trunk. "To the left."
"And the right," Aragorn remarked, having spotted two trolls, who were also trying their best to hide. Despite the fact the trees were quite large, the trolls weren't able to keep out of the sight of the keen-eyed elf and the observant ranger.
Trolls were faster on their feet than their size would indicate. Still, they couldn't come close to the speed of a horse, so as one, both Legolas and Aragorn urged their mounts into a gallop.
Both horses were experienced in running through thick forests, so they were able to avoid roots and maneuver through small thickets. Even so, they weren't able to move quite as swiftly as their riders would have liked.
Aragorn knew that if they could get past these few trolls, there was a better chance that they could keep from being caught by others that may be between them and freedom.
Trolls were too big to ride. Even the large draft horses used to pull heavy wagons, move large boulders and drag downed trees weren't strong enough to carry one of these creatures.
Continuing to negotiate the trees with expertise, Legolas and Aragorn outdistanced the trolls near the river. Both knew, though, that it was far too soon to feel relieved.
As the two riders moved deeper into the forest, they began to see more and more trolls appear. The creatures were no longer trying to avoid detection. They were now openly trying to capture or kill the elf and the ranger.
Before long it became evident that there were just too many trolls aware of the presence of the two friends for them to think they could escape.
Before they had gone a quarter of a mile, a net dropped down on them. They didn't even have a chance to draw their weapons.
Once in the net, they were pulled to the ground by a troll standing near them. The creature gave the net a single tug.
Aragorn and Legolas fell heavily. They rolled and squirmed, trying desperately to draw their daggers.
One troll, seeing the attempt, kicked Legolas in the side. The elf didn't pass out, but sparks swirled inside his head, as he tried to ignore the pain and focus his vision.
The same troll tried to kick Aragorn, but the man rolled far enough away so that the blow wasn't solid. He knew it would cause a dark, very sore bruise. "Going around doesn't seem like such a bad idea right now. Wish we had done it."
Instead of commenting on that remark, Legolas asked, between clenched teeth, "Can you see the horses?"
The blond warrior's face was being pressed into the ground, so he couldn't see anything but dirt. He was afraid the piece of rope that was biting into his nose was going to pull it off. Even with the pain he was in, Legolas was more concerned bout the welfare of the two stallions than about himself.
Aragorn, flat on his back, could see only the trees above him and the one troll who had kicked them. "No,"' he whispered in answer to the elf's question.
"We've 'em., too," the troll said, bending down and laughing in Aragorn's face.
The stench from the troll was almost unbearable to the ranger, and he came close to gagging.
Even Legolas, who was facing the other way, was nearly overcome by the foul smell. He thought of making a comment but didn't want him or Aragorn to get kicked again. Another blow like the first one, especially in the same place, and Legolas knew he would pass out, not to mention the probability of getting a broken rib or two.
Another troll came over, reached into the net and pulled Aragorn's sword out of its sheath. "Elven," he spat. "Magic for sure. Good. I need me a new sword." His voice was deep and rasping.
This one's clothes, while dirty and tattered, were in better condition than the other trolls the friends had seen before the net hit them. They were mostly covered by thick, coarse, matted hair, so it was a mystery why they even bothered with clothes at all.
This troll looked to be the leader. He reached down and pulled Legolas's knives loose from where they rested beside the elf's quiver. Holding the ranger's sword in one hand and the elven knives in the other, he announced triumphantly, ""My name be Hatch," he declared to the two captives, "and these'll be my new weapons." He glared around at the other trolls, as if challenging any of them to disagree. No one did.
Hatch then tossed his old sword to another troll, who was instantly beset by four others, hoping to get the blade for themselves. He won the brief skirmish by brandishing the sword and driving the others back with it.
Once he had secured possession of the blade, the rest of the trolls accepted his ownership.
Hatch had not interfered, because that was not a popular thing to do. Leaders ruled by strength against a single challenge. If he got in the middle of a fight between other trolls, they could turn on him, and he could be killed. Hatch was too smart, by troll standards, to take such a risk. And anyway, he didn't care who ended up with the sword. He had what he wanted, and that was as far as his concern went.
Suddenly, Legolas and Aragorn were jerked to their feet. Just as the net was flipped up off of them, both of their visible daggers were taken.
"Where's the other ones?" the leader demanded.
No answer was forthcoming, so Hatch put one of Legolas's blades against his throat.
Aragorn decided they'd be searched and their remaining knives would be found anyway, so he said, "In our boots."
Both knives were taken, which didn't sit well with Legolas. He hated being totally unarmed while in the presence of his enemies.
Aragorn shook his head.
"Only our brains, and you will find out about those soon enough," Legolas whispered, as Hatch walked away to converse with the troll that now possessed Hatch's old sword. Luckily, no one but Aragorn heard the elf's words.
Hatch motioned for the man and the elf to be brought forward, and they were roughly pushed from behind.
Hatch regarded the two captives, then looked intently at Legolas, pointing his finger at the elf's chest. "Try any of yer filthy elven magic an' I'll gut you with one of yer own knives. Understand?"
Legolas just glared up at the creature. There was no fear in his eyes.
When Hatch turned away, Aragorn whispered, "I don't know how yet, but we'll get free of these creatures before they can do us any harm."
Before Legolas could respond, Hatch yelled back, "Shut up, or I'll cut yer tongues out. Now git moivin'."
Another shove in the back closely followed the leader's command and was accompanied by the harsh laughter of derision. Anything that caused the prisoners any kind of upset, especially if it involved humiliation and pain, was reason for amusement.
Legolas gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. He would have dearly loved to punch any one of these foul beings in the face. He vowed that before he and Aragorn gained their freedom, more than one of these accursed creatures would feel the pain of an elven boot.
Aragorn noted the elf's attempt to control his desire to do some damage to these beasts. It was a desire he heartily shared.
Clearly both Legolas and Aragorn were determined to get their revenge. But first they had to survive.
Well, it didn't take long for our heroes to get into another mess, did it? I told you the plot bunny was back.
What do you think? Does this sound like an adventure you'd like to continue reading about? I sure hope so. As always, reviews are greatly treasured.