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Five days passed without word, serving to further silence a city gripped mercilessly by growing fear. It seemed even the sun lost its will to shine, a torrential rain having rolled in sometime in the night.
Delorah stood rigid by the entryway of the palace, the grand doors open just enough to allow for the summer humidity to escape. Her hair was taught as usual, not a fiery strand out of place as she peered into the grim weather through tired eyes.
Meticulous hands smoothed the black and ivory garb about her form, tugging the satin into place. One might say she seemed uneasy, almost jittery as she stood, waiting for perhaps the staff to awaken.
And just as thunder sounded in the distance, she spotted a hooded figure, followed by another. Her breath caught, lips pulled thin as she took in the soaked wool cloaks and sodden boots heading toward her. They beheld a weary stance, and she glimpsed traces of raven hair peeking from the grey hoods.
As they reached the doorway she backed away, expecting to be addressed. Instead they stalked passed, footfalls light upon the marble.
"Wait just a minute, you. You can't just come in here and expect to be seen!" She shuffled after them, reaching out to grope for what she could of the closest man's cloak. She managed to tug his hood free, revealing hair as black as night. As he turned to look at her she spied a pair of gray eyes encompassed by fair skin and a smile as kind as her king.
"My lady, while I do admire your spirit, I assure you..your King will be expecting us." She spotted the second man remove his hood as he continued toward the grand stairwell, and the one addressing her flashed a charming smile as he followed. Her eyes narrowed as she peered over her shoulders to the entryway once more before hurrying after them, continuing to protest.
They approached the doors of the grand hall, and the two began speaking in a tongue she had heard only her lord and lady speak. Begrudgingly she pushed her way by them, opening the doors to reveal the room to be empty save for Aragorn pouring over a series of maps, and his elf friend close by examining the letters.
"My lords, I do apologize. The hour is early and your worries are high, though these two were persistent and would listen to not a word." Though her apologies were lost as the tall pair stepped before her, another smile tossed her way. Aragorn's voice echoed throughout the room, then, and she sighed heavily.
"Could it be that the sons of Elrond have brought word?" The smile on Aragorn's face offered a warmth that betrayed the gravity of his tone. The twins chuckled in unison, embracing their brother as they met him halfway.
"Word arrived just last eve of our sister. Imladris is empty enough, dear brother, that we would not suffer this news by remaining behind. Fortunately, we have been stationed in Rohan these past months." Elladan's voice was music to the man's ears, for he had missed his brothers since the war.
"And we bring with us some information you may find useful." Elrohir chimed in, making his way toward the Greenwood Prince in greeting. Aragorn's eyes lit up at this.
"Yes, my brother is correct. As we traveled through the White Mountains, we spotted a small convoy gathered in the Morthond Vale. There were women and children there, caged, and men also. Perhaps seven at most." He traced a finger along the valley's outline on the map. Aragorn frowned, looking to Legolas. The prince nodded thoughtfully, sweeping a hand toward the image.
"We take course through Lamedon. We can overtake them if we cut them off." Elladan nodded, looking to his brothers.
"We can waste no time. Estel, you must stay with your city. Let us bring your beloved back." At that, Aragorn stood rigid.
"We depart at nightfall." He would hear no protests as he fled the room, maps in tow. Elrohir shook his head, patting Elladan on the back.
"I told you he wouldn't listen, 'Dan." But the elf shrugged him off with a grunt. Delorah sauntered over, taking from them their sodden cloaks and packs.
"Those people you saw..were they okay?" She stopped at the door, looking back to the twins for a response. Elrohir looked to her curiously, offering a curt nod.
"They looked to have been put through some trouble, though all stood on their own. Why do you ask?" But the woman had gone, presumably to cater to the staff. The elf sighed, accompanying his brother to follow after Aragorn.
Legolas smiled to himself, exhaling a soft sigh as he gathered the letters into his satchel. He drifted into thought as he allowed his feet to carry him toward his quarters, where he donned an evergreen cloak. He secured his daggers to their holsters at his back, though left his bow behind as he headed for his destination.
The grand doors had been fully opened, the rain seeming to have slowed to a light drizzle for the time being. The elf drew his hood up, stepping out into the vacant street. The citizens of the white city had taken to shutting themselves in, fearing that their home would come to further threat.
The stables came into view, and he spotted the pristine white main of his horse. The stallion tossed its head back in pleasure, and the elf assumed one of the stable boys was tending to the beasts.
As he entered, he stopped to admire the horses brought by the sons of Elrond. Two black mares, each bearing manes of silken quality. He smiled, running a hand down the broad neck of the closest. A sound to his left caught his attention, and he spotted a woman kneeling by the king's steed. He stepped over to her, demeanor polite.
"My lady, do you require aid? I know much about this horse." The stallion snorted and whinnied, shaking its mane out. Startled, the woman turned, revealing a pair of wide green eyes.
"Master elf! W-what are you doing here?" He recognized her as Delorah, and frowned when he spotted a letter clutched in her hand. She was fighting with the clasp on the horse's satchel.
"What are you doing with that..?" He stepped closer, tugging the hood from his head. The rain began to fall harder outside the stable, the horses growing uneasy beneath the thumping on the roof. Delorah stood, growing a pale shade as she shook her head furiously.
"You don't understand. You shouldn't be here. You should be out looking for those people." Still he inched closer, hand reaching for the letter.
"He has my husband. My daughter." Her words fell short as a knife was pressed to the elf's back. A cold voice penetrated the sudden silence, and Legolas felt a chill along his spine.
"She's right to caution you. You should not be so curious. It was not yet your time." The elf spun, throwing his hands into the man's chest. Their eyes met and blades clashed as Delorah fled, the letter clutched in her hand.
"You fool! Do you have any idea how long this has been in the making? You will not get in my way." His voice was crude and heavy, and in his eyes the elf could see the sleepless nights of late. Their blades locked, and the elf drove his knee into his assailant's gut.
The man cried out in fury, slamming his head into the fair being's face. Legolas stumbled back against the wall, blinking against the water building in his eyes as blood blossomed from his nose. It was all his attacker needed as he hurled his sword into the elf's shoulder. Legolas grunted, the blade pinning him to the sturdy beam at his back.
"You cannot protect him." The Prince's eyes widened, though before a word could be uttered the man slammed the hilt of his dagger into his temple, rendering him unconscious. For a moment he took a sick satisfaction from seeing the limp form, held up only by the blade that pierced him. Though he knew he had to act fast, and so he crudely yanked the blade free and gathered the body, slipping unnoticed into the rain to his carriage.
He tossed the elf into the back, binding his hands and securing a gag between his lips. The blood from his nose had caked along his face and into his hair as he laid on his back, though the man held no pity. He threw his fist into the already battered nose for good measure before slamming the back shut.
It would be hours before the elf awoke, the city far behind him and rain pouring in through the aged wood's cracks. A sharp, radiating pain erupted in his waking state, and he found himself unable to stifle a groan. He began to breathe heavily, eyes darting from side to side in the darkness. His shoulder refused to move as he attempted to roll onto his side, and his head was throbbing.
The road was uneven and hazardous in the heavy rains, mud threatening the path as the hours passed. The prince drifted in and out of consciousness, sweat clinging to his brow. And just as the pain began to fade and numbness crept upon him the cart came to a halt. He could hear muffled voices, though everything was a haze. The doors were opened and he was dragged forth by his legs, allowed to fall heavily to the mud. He moaned softly against the gag, his shoulder screaming as the wound was irritated further.
"Get on your feet, filth." A swift kick was administered to his side, causing him to curl inward. He choked against the cloth, mud filling his mouth as another kick sent a clump of earth into his face. He fought to get onto his elbows, only to be met with the crack of a whip and a searing pain along his back. Though against it all he managed to get to his knees, blinking furiously to clear the grime from his eyes.
Before him stood a man he recognized almost immediately. His mind flashed to the halls of Alhír and to the man that sneered at him any chance he may have had. He recalled a startling feeling of prejudice in the man, and now his suspicions were proven correct.
He was shaken from his thoughts when the whip came crashing down once more, sending his head reeling. He got to his feet, stumbling forward. The man continued to send the whip against him until he was stopped by a second man, one the elf did not recognize. He was a larger sort, hair a dusty blonde and features sharp as a dagger. He bore a scar along his cheek, though there was nothing truly remarkable about him.
"That's enough, Jamhir." The darker man sneered, spitting a crude discolored wad to the ground before trudging off. Legolas took this moment to examine his surroundings, and he realized he was at the caravan the brothers had spoken of. A camp was being disassembled, and a group of men and women were being ushered into a poorly-fashioned cage atop a cart. And before he knew it he was being led toward it and shoved inside, though at this point he could barely keep himself standing.
The cart began to move, and through his haze he realized a woman was tending to him. She had torn a portion of her gown and was using it to wrap his shoulder. Her eyes were lackluster and her hair was matted with blood. She did not speak a word to him.
"Where are they taking us..?" He spoke up, the red-headed girl across from him having removed his gag. She shook her head, wiping the tears from her green eyes.
"We have been gathered from separate places..they move us perhaps every other week.." He frowned, looking to the small group. Most of them eyed him cautiously, keeping to themselves.
And finally he succumbed to the darkness tugging at his mind.
Sort of a cliffy, but that's because I have a lot planned for the next chapter. I hope you enjoyed!
Please review, it sustains me.