Thranduil shivered as a cool breeze brushed past him. The sun hadn't risen above the trees yet and the forest was silent as he prepared to set out. He stroked his horse as he looked around at the guards that were accompanying him and noticed Irina standing in the back of the group, obviously struggling to get her horse under control. He grimaced as he realized the guards were pointedly ignoring her and strode back to help, handing his reigns to Arkin as he passed.
He grabbed the reigns from Irina and calmed the horse down, stroking its nose and whispering to it. Irina just looked at him, confusion evident on her face. But Thranduil knew she was not going to ask, and he handed the reins back to her with a smile before grabbing his own from Arkin and mounting. He motioned for her to join him up front and called the guards together as they prepared to leave, uncertain of what they might find.
He took one last look at the back of the group and was glad to see that Arkin had taken over the horse carrying Aragorn. The ranger was still unconscious and, while it worried Thranduil, he also knew that it was the only thing keeping Aragorn from screaming in excruciating pain. And that was something they could not afford if they wanted to stay hidden.
When he was satisfied that everything was in order he called for the group to move out and smiled slightly as the sun began to peak over the trees. Irina took the lead and seemed confident in where she was going, which was one less thing he had to worry about. Although he didn't want to admit it, he had begun to question whether or not she really knew where the cave was. But her confidence chased all that away and he concentrated instead on where they were going.
It was mid-day before they finally made it to a clearing where they could rest. Travel had been slower than anyone would have liked, but with Arkin struggling to keep Aragorn's unconscious body upright and stable on his horse they had had to slow down the pace significantly. The only good thing about this was that Thranduil was able to formulate a plan of some kind before they got to the cave. Although it wasn't much of a plan, it made him feel better knowing he had one instead of running into the cave blind.
"I'm going ahead," he said to Arkin as he dismounted. "I want to see what we're up against." Arkin nodded once and Thranduil set out towards the cave.
Thranduil sighed as the sun slowly set beyond the distant mountains, casting the forest into darkness. He watched it for a moment and then set out towards the cave where his son was being held captive. He slowed as he approached the side and stuck his head slightly around the corner, dimming his elven glow so the guards wouldn't notice him. He watched as a lone guard, a man too young for the position, paced warily in front of the entrance. Thranduil knew it would be easy to subdue the guard, but after that he didn't know what he was going to do. Walking through the front was out of the question, yet there weren't any other options that he could see.
He slipped back around to the side and looked to see if there were any other ways in from that side that he had missed earlier. He was about to give up when his sharp elven hearing picked up the sounds of someone screaming close by. He followed the sound to a small air vent set in the wall, barely big enough for Thranduil to look through. He hissed in anger at the scene that met his eyes and quickly got up, more determined than ever to find a way in at all costs.
Legolas groaned and shook his head to try and clear his vision. But the guard next to him punched him in the side of the head before he could finish. Black spots danced in front of his eyes and he closed them against the dizziness it caused. He had just woken up from Morohtar's most recent assault and he was starting to feel the effects.
Morohtar hissed at his side and grabbed his hair and jerked him up, causing his pain-filled eyes to open up slightly. A soft moan escaped his lips and Morohtar smiled as his eyes settled on him, not quite seeing the creature in front of him.
Suddenly there was a cry from the entrance and a guard ran in, breathing heavily. "My lord," he said, coming to a stop and saluting Morohtar.
"This had better be important…" he said, dropping Legolas' head roughly.
"I'm sorry my lord," the guard said, eyeing the elf warily. "But it seems there is an intruder in the forest somewhere, maybe more than one. They knocked out Brelin at the entrance." Morohtar scowled and motioned to one of the guards standing next to Legolas.
"Go with him," he said. "Find the intruder, but use caution. If it's who I think it is I want him alive!" The guards nodded and saluted again before quickly exiting the room.
"Now," he continued. "Where were we? Oh yes!" And with that he pulled out a knife and shoved it roughly into Legolas' leg, dangerously close to the bone. He cried out, unable to contain the sobs that racked his body through his pain-filled consciousness.
Thranduil slowed as he prepared to round another corner, listening for any signs of the guards that he knew were trying to track him. Hearing nothing he crept down towards the cave entrance.
Thranduil winced as the screams got more intense. He had recognized a while ago that the screams were coming from Legolas and his heart went out to him as the screams continued unabated. He was frustrated that the rescue was taking so long and worried at what his presence was costing his son.
/"This is ridiculous!"/ he thought in anguish as he came within sight of the entrance.
The screams abruptly stopped, and Thranduil hoped that it meant that Legolas had merely passed out. Unfortunately, that also made his task harder than it already was. Suddenly, his sharp elven hearing picked up the sound of someone approaching and he immediately moved off to the side, hiding himself behind a tree. He peered out of the shadows at the small human who passed by him and he took the opportunity to get inside and jumped out at the man. He grabbed the startled guard around the neck, holding his hunting knife tightly against the man's throat.
"If you want to live you will take me to my son," he hissed in the man's ear, pressing the knife down harder to show that he wasn't kidding. The man tensed under his touch and nodded to show that he would cooperate.
"Good," Thranduil said, pushing the human in front of him. The man nodded and continued towards the entrance. He followed the man down into the bowels of the cave, hoping that he wasn't too late to save his son.
Legolas closed his eyes and fought back the tears that threatened to spill over. He had been through too much and now he was sure that Aragorn at least was not going to make it. He almost wished that his father wouldn't come because he knew that there was no way the two of them would be able to make it out of the cave while avoiding guards. And if it came to a fight they would stand no chance.
A sudden noise outside from the entrance made Legolas look up, he was hoping that the guards were just checking to make sure he was still hanging there. But his hopes were dashed as he saw one of the guards come into view. He closed his eyes tightly and waited for the rough assault he knew was coming.
"Legolas?" a soft voice spoke into the dimness of the cave, Legolas stifled another sob. Now they were trying to be cruel to him. Pretending to be kind and torturing him beyond what he could handle. A soft touch on his shoulder made him flinch and he tried to curl in on himself and away from his tormentor.
"Man carnen achen, ion-nin? What happened to you, my son?" Thranduil whispered in horror pulled out his knife to cut him down. Legolas slowly lifted his head at the sound of the elvish words and started at the sight of his father kneeling before him.
"Ada?" he asked in disbelief. "Man cerich hi? What are you doing here?"
He chuckled. "Ni sí an edraith achen. I'm here to save you."
"You should not be here," Legolas continued as he dropped roughly to the ground with a wince. "It is too late already and you do not need to die as well."
Thranduil sighed. "Lasto beth nin, ion-nin, pân natha mae. Listen to me, my son, it will be alright," he said with an encouraging smile. "We will escape and save Aragorn."
"He was poisoned with morgul poisoning, Ada," Legolas said with a slight sob.
Thranduil looked him straight in the eye, wishing he could remove all of the pain that was there. "I will get the antidote and I will save him, but first we have to leave. How bad is your leg?"
He sighed. "I can't put any weight on it, he cut me too deep." Thranduil nodded. This was going to be harder than he thought.
Thranduil sat beside Legolas and brooded over their current predicament. He had thought long and hard over how to escape but everytime he looked at him he dismissed his plans as too hard for him to bear. He just looked too weak to be of any use.
"Legolas," Thranduil said. "Is it possible for you to walk at all?" He had been afraid to ask before, afraid to put too much pressure on him, but he had no other choice at the moment.
He looked at his father for a moment, trying to gauge his strength. "I'm not sure," he said, looking down at his leg. "I'll try though."
Thranduil smiled. He nodded as he stood up, shaky after not being able to stand on his own for so long. He stumbled slightly before straightening up and looking at Thranduil.
"I can do it," he said. He seemed almost disgusted by his weakened body, but Thranduil merely sighed and stood up next to him.
"Do not worry about it, ion-nin," he said, looking into his eyes. "I did not expect you to be able to, but we have no time to lose. If we are going to save Aragorn we have to leave now." Legolas nodded once before hobbling after him towards the entrance.
They quietly snuck down the hallway, making sure to watch for the guards they both knew were out looking for Thranduil. He looked back at Legolas and sighed mentally as he watched him wincing at every step. Normally that would have been no problem for him, but after not eating or drinking for days his strength was severely depleted.
Thranduil sighed again and continued down the hallway, trying to keep his senses alert for any sound of the guards. He couldn't understand why they hadn't run into any yet. Legolas had told him that Morohtar knew he was there, so where were all they? He smiled as he rounded another corner and saw the main entrance straight in front of them. They stopped suddenly however as a new thought occurred to him. Legolas stopped behind him and put his hand on his shoulder, a questioning look on his face.
"What is it Ada?" he asked, looking around to see what had made Thranduil stop.
"It's too easy," he said, looking around for a trap. "Morohtar knows I'm here and yet he doesn't have guards at the entrance? And we didn't see a single person on our way here… why?"
Legolas nodded, realizing what he was saying. "Do you think it is a trap?" he asked, motioning towards the entrance.
"I do," he said, trying to think of another means of escape. "But I don't know of another escape route." Legolas paused before motioning Thranduil to follow him back into the cave.
"Ada," Legolas said as he paused outside a dark corridor Thranduil hadn't noticed before. "Maybe this leads out. Morohtar is always coming from here.
Thanduil peered inside and nodded, leading the way and drawing his sword. They walked for what seemed like ages in the dark before they finally came to a door. Thranduil paused before pushing it open and peering inside. There was a single candle burning on a table, but otherwise the room appeared to be empty.
They entered the room and paused as they noticed the cot in the corner. Thranduil moved cautiously towards the lump on it and started as he realized Morohtar's head was all that was there. Legolas moved up behind him.
"What do you think happened?" he asked as he gazed with satisfaction at the head.
"I don't know," he said looking around again. "But I think we should grab the antidote and leave." And with that they grabbed the vial and left the room and the cave forever.
Aragorn moaned he began to regain consciousness. He kept his eyes closed and noticed that there was light on the other side of them. He frowned, knowing there was no light in the cave, and thought for a brief moment that he had died. He opened his eyes slowly and was surprised to see Legolas lying next to him. He frowned as he tried to remember what had happened when he noticed the giant bandage on Legolas' leg.
"Wha…?" he began, sitting up. Legolas cut him off however as he grabbed him in a tight embrace, knocking all of the air out of his lungs.
"Legolas!" Thranduil said as he turned the corner and saw Aragorn's face began to turn blue. "You're smothering him, let him go already." Legolas grinned sheepishly before letting go of him as he gasped for air.
Once he had regained his breath he took a moment to look at his surroundings and realized he was in Legolas' room. "How did I get here?" he asked. "And how did you hurt your leg?"
They just looked at each other and grimaced as they began to tell Aragorn all about their adventures after he passed out, ending by telling him about Thranduil's rescue and subsequent healing of him. Aragorn sighed with anguish at their torture. Thranduil merely smiled and handed him a cup of tea.
"You two need to leave him alone," he said with a disapproving look. "He has just barely survived Morgul poisoning and needs to sleep. Now go." They smiled at each other before Legolas got off the bed and limped out of the room.
Aragorn smiled at the Thranduil and took the cup of tea gratefully before draining the entire cup. He smiled at him before sleep began to take hold of him again.
/"It's good to be home,"/ he thought with a sigh as he drifted off to sleep.