The characters, except those I invented, belong to Tokien, you know the rest.

I want to again thank those of you who give me feedback, this includes . rouge solus, Knight Obi, robindragon, Chianna, Nimwen, Elise, Dimitri, Lena, Yuna Dax, Nanashinigami, Kellen and especiall I wish to thank Minka, sabercrazy and bryn, you are especially encouraging, writing reviews on each chapter. Thank you all for giving me the impetus to continue. Let's see how the lads are doing, shall we?

Chapter 11

Aragorn softly laughed at Legolas' question. "In truth, Elladan and Elrohir are like mother hens, so if I do not succeed in rescuing you, they will probably come barging in here. But I do have a plan. Do you think I would so rashly rush in without one?" He looked to his right at Legolas, who was tied face down to the small bed.

"In truth, Aragorn son of Arathorn, I do not know you very well." His voice was thoughtful tinged with fatigue.

Legolas heard some shuffeling, then Aragorn said, "There's a knife hidden in my right boot, can you pull it free?"

From his limited vantage point, Legolas could not see much, but he could feel the leather of Aragorn's boot against the back of his hand. Twisting his wrist and using his fingertips to find the top rim of the boot, he felt for the weapon.

"A little more to the … down," Aragorn directed him. His voice sounded strained and Legolas could only imagine what position the young man must be in to have his leg up near his own fettered hand.

He did find it. Using just his index and middle finger, he inched it out of the boot, then pulled it into his grasp. The blade was only three inches long, but it would do.

"Oh!" Aragorn exhaled. "I didn't know how long I could do that."

He continued to talk as Legolas slowly began to saw with the little knife through the hard rope. "You are right, Legolas. You don't know me well. I don't know you well. There is much I am curious about, but living among Elves most of my life has taught me not to ask questions."

"Dûno!" Legolas hissed. (1)

Aragorn did not question Legolas' command. He shut his mouth and tried to breathe as softly as possible. He knew from working in dangerous situations with the twins, that Legolas must be listening to something.

Elven senses are much keener than Men's. Legolas' attention was drawn to the dialogue going on downstairs as soon as the word "Tirillon" was mentioned again. He focused his mind on their words, even has his hand continued to slowly saw at his ropes.

"Yes, and his gear will bring us a pretty price, too," RaChay was saying. "Where are his weapons?"

"Here," Panks' voice responded.

There was a moment of silence and Legolas could hear footsteps.

"Ooo, these blades are as sharp as a razor," RaChay again. They've got artwork all over them. I guess those fancy Elves play with all their toys." A moment's pause then. "And this bow is unusual. It must be six feet long when unstrung."

Gritting his teeth, Legolas could picture the raiders pawing his belongings. He sawed a little more quickly, but the knife in his hand was not the sharpest of tools.

"Look at that," Lucky's voice was loudest. "RaChay, can't you pull it? Don't tell me that skinny Elf is stronger than you."

Legolas heard RaChay say a word he was not familiar with. From the man's tone, it must be a curse. "Maybe it's not his bow," Panks suggested. "If it is, he can't pull it in the shape he's in."

"We'll see." RaChay's voice reflected the anger he must have felt at being humiliated in front of his men when he couldn't draw Legolas' bow. Legolas exhaled. There were footsteps on the stairs.

"They're coming!" Legolas warned Aragorn, who immediately resumed his position on the floor, playing the part of a man badly beaten..

As quickly as possible, Legolas slid the knife between the straw mattress and the wooden frame of the bed. A heartbeat later, the door latch moved and RaChay stomped into the room.

"Is this your bow?" he demanded, shoving the bow before Legolas' eyes.

"Yes," Legolas answered.

"I don't believe it," Lucky commented, standing behind RaChay.

Panks entered more slowly, carrying a handful of fuel for the room's brazier and adding it to the flames as he came in.

"Then do not believe me," Legolas said. "I care not."

"Arrogant Elf!" RaChay brought the end of the bow down hard into Legolas' back. "You're my property now, got that? You'd better care what I believe and what I think." Then in a more controlled voice he said, "Here, Lucky, untie him. I want to see him pull the bow."

"Now, RaChay," Panks spoke up. "If that wound opens again, he could bleed to death. He's not strong enough to pull it now, anyway. Let it be."

But RaChay would not let it be.

As Lucky first untied Legolas' ankles, then his hands, Legolas hoped Lucky would not notice the frayed rope. For once that day his own luck held; Lucky didn't notice the cut in the rope.

Panks moved closer to the prisoners. "Get him up easy, watch the leg."

"Yeah, sure," Lucky muttered. "Sit up, Elf."

Pushing his hands under his chest, Legolas raised himself up gradually, also keenly aware of the pain in his leg. He moved slowly to sit up and used his hand to help his right leg to the floor. The world seemed to darken a bit as he sat, but he maintained control of his senses.

"Here. Pull it." RaChay put the bow in front of Legolas' face.

"If only I had an arrow," Legolas thought. He blinked away the darkness and looked up at his bow.

"He's got strange eyes," Lucky said, seeing Legolas' eyes clearly for the first time. "Every thing about him is strange."

Legolas reached for the bow, wondering how much strength he did have. Could he clobber one or two of them with it? But no, there were a few more downstairs and they might take their anger out on Aragorn and Panks had been almost kind to him. Using the only weapon he really had, Legolas raised his eyes and glared at Lucky.

An Elven glare could raise the hackles on a man. Few could return such a fierce stare. Lucky met his gaze only for an instant, then his face showed something akin to fear and he took a step back, raising a hand defensively. "He's got the evil eye!" Lucky warned. "Watch him, RaChay, he'll curse you. He'll curse us all."

RaChay seemed to consider this. "Draw the bow," were his only words.

Legolas held the bow in his left hand, tilting it to accommodate his sitting position, then pulled back on the string. Weak as he was, he could still pull the string the full length, but he knew he couldn't hold it without shaking, so he gently released it.

"You're more dangerous then I thought," RaChay spoke softly. "Lucky, tie him up and blindfold him, too. We don't want him giving anyone the evil eye."

The bow was pulled from Legolas' hands and Lucky pointed to the bed. Legolas lay down, but this time face up. He felt less helpless in that position. The men didn't seem to notice.

"I don't have anything to put over his eyes." Lucky straightened after securing Legolas to the sturdy bed frame. He had refused to look directly at Legolas' face while he worked. "I'll find something."

Panks bent over to make sure Legolas' wound had not started bleeding again. With a satisfied grunt, he stood and followed Lucky out of the room. RaChay stood for a moment looking between Aragorn and Legolas. "Try anything," he warned Legolas, "And you're friend will pay for it." To emphasize his point, he brought the end of the bow down into Aragorn's side. The blow brought a grunt from the Ranger.

RaChay left, again latching the door as he went.

"Deleb perglam!"(2) Legolas growled.

"Can you reach the knife?" Aragorn asked in Sindarin from his position on the floor.

"I think so. I will wait until Lucky returns before I try it," Legolas replied in the same tongue.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Vanasulë and Elladan dismounted and made their way toward the barn, telling their mounts to remain further back. There was little speech between them. The snow was falling softly, the wind dying down, and a great silence seemed to have settled over the land.

Elladan leaned toward Vanasulë. "Can one not as old as you use Dínenglam?"(3)

Vanasulë's bright eyes turned to him. "I can use it. Let us hope Legolas is well enough to hear me." Taking a deep breath, Vanasulë brought his attention inward, to the light that burned within all living things. If he went deep enough, he could find Legolas' light there, too. He silver eyes remained opened, seeing the world around him, even as he sensed Legolas' presence as if he stood before him.

"You are in pain."

Within the upstairs room, Legolas felt his mentor's essence touching him. "Yes, my friend, but it is of no concern. Aragorn is here with me."

"We thought as much." There was a touch of humor in Vanasulë's Dínenglam. He could also sense Elladan's attention on their conversation. "Estel rescued the woman and children from these villains."

"Yes, he said he had come to rescue me." Legolas smiled, his gaze going to the man who risked his young life to save him. "These men know of Tirillon. We must question them."

There was a long pause before Vanasulë responded. "I would not have you and Aragorn at their mercy just for information about Tirillon.. This little quest of ours is not worth your lives."

"Try not to kill them all."

"If you insist." More humor hummed between the two.

"Do nothing until dark. By then, if the luck of the Valar is with us, Aragorn and I shall be free of our bonds and long gone. If we are still here, attack then. These men fear the dark. They fear us."

"They have good reason to."

With a sigh, Vanasulë turned to face Elladan. The other's grey eyes had turned to look at the farmhouse in the distance. "It looks like your brother will not miss out on our visit this evening."

Elladan's dark head nodded slowly. "I sensed there were things he did not share with us." His gaze met the older Elf's. "They're both injured. Both threatened somehow."

"You have dealt more with Orcs than Men in your battles. Men are smarter, but they can be just as mean." He paused, thinking how to phrase what he had to say to Elladan. "The Orcs enjoy cruelty and torment. They play with their victims and torture them. Humans have learned much from the Orcs."

"Do you think they would torture Estel and Legolas? But why? To gather intelligence? They have no valuable information. What can these men hope to gain, but our wrath?"

"For sport. Like the Orcs, they get a certain twisted pleasure from the suffering of others," Vanasulë explained. "Though, unlike Orcs, men have the song of Ilúvater in them. There is always a chance they will heed the song and remember who they really are."

Elladan stared into the grey depths of Vanasulë's eyes, hoping to find some assurances there. What he found was not assurances, but things left unsaid.

"Estel is a man. I do not see these horrors in his heart." Elladan looked away from the other Elf.

"Yes, he is a man, but he has the blood of the Dúnedain, of Isildur and Elendil in his veins. His people were ever friends with the Elves, and he has been brought up by Elves. Is it any wonder that he is among the best of men?"

A smile tugged Elladan's serious mouth into a grin. "I guess not. Yet, he is not of the Firstborn, and he can see only this world. He will never hear the Dínenglam or see the Unseen."

"I do not know." Vanasulë turned his own gaze back to the farmhouse. "It is said that some Men can hear and see into the Unseen. They call it a seventh sense, or is it sixth sense? I am not as familiar with their vernacular as I once was."

"I did not know you ever had much dealings with Men," Elladan replied.

"Oh, yes. When we fought Sauron I was one of the Royal Messengers. I carried information betwen the captains of Elendil's armies, to Elendil himself upon occasion, and the Elf Lords. I did not dealt mainly with warriors, so I am sure my view of them was somewhat skewed that way.

"Many years later, however, I did have occasions to live among them for a while. The women were more considerate than the men, in fact, where I was, the men treated the women like chattel. It was most," he paused looking for the right word, "distressing."

Elladan looked to see that Vanasulë's brow furrowed in almost a pained expression. "Is that where you learned of the brutality of Men?"

Slowly blinking, Vanasulë turned his fair face upon him. "Yes, it is."

"That is a tale to be told some time," Elladan said in a lighter tone. "But not today, I think."

"No. Not today. Tell me of this Estel. I would know more of him."

Elladan smiled broadly. "Oh, there is much to tell you. Where shall I start?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The door to the upstairs room opened, and Lucky entered, a strip of cloth in one hand. "This is for you," he told Legolas with a wicked grin. Bending over the Elf, he tied the cloth over the entire top half of his head, effectively covering his eyes. He bound it tightly, then leaned down close to Legolas' leaf-shaped ear. "I suspect we're going to be spending a lot of time together, if we're going where I think. You'd better learn quick who's in charge here. RaChay can't stay awake all day, if you get my meaning, and there's things I can do to you that leave no mark."

Snickering to himself, Lucky straightened and looked down at Aragorn. "You'd better behave yourself, as well, my lad." He left them, firmly closing the door behind himself. They could hear his boots going down the wooden stairs.

"Such a charmer," Aragorn said sitting up again, speaking once again in Sindarin.

"The others are near. They will wait until nightfall to attack," Legolas told him.

Aragorn did not ask how he knew such things. He had witnessed many silent conversations between the Elves, which always ended abruptly when he entered their presence. His thoughts wandered back to Rivendell and to the beautiful Elf-maid he had encountered under the white birch trees there. "Legolas, I would ask you a question about the Elves."

Searching blindly with his fingers for the knife he'd hidden, Legolas said, "Ask."

"I have wondered and neither Elladan or Elrohir have a satisfying answer for me. How is it that the Elves ventured to Numenor in the days when Men were friends with Elves there? Why did the sea-longing not affect them?"

Legolas found the knife. As he carefully began to saw at his bonds, he considered Aragorn's question. "I know not the answer to your question, except that when the Elves visited Numenor the Blessed Realm was not yet sundered from this world. Maybe the Valar had not yet touched the heart of Elves with the sea-longing. I know, I have never felt it. They say, once it is upon one, that Elf can never be content in Middle-Earth again."

"Yes, it sounds more like a curse, yet its purpose is clear. The Valar would have all of the Firstborn with them in Valinor."

Legolas' work paid off. His left hand was free. Pulling off his blindfold, he set to work on his right hand's bonds. "It has always been the Valar's intention for us to join them there, yet some of us enjoy this land and would tarry here. I have known nothing but this land. I cannot imagine leaving it."

"Someday," Aragorn spoke thoughtfully, "I will travel down to Harad to explore its deserts and across to the Bay of Belfalas to see the spires of Dol Amroth. I want to know every stride of this world." Eagerness caused his voice to rise. "Legolas, have you ever ridden the green fields of Rohan or climbed the great mallorn trees of Lothlorien?"

Despite their situation, Legolas could not help but smile as he sensed the young man's enthusiasm. "Yes, I have been to Lothlorien, but the leaves have fallen in Mirkwood over two hundred times since then. I have never been to Rohan. I hear they have great herds of horses there. I prefer my own elven-horse. Besides, it is a land of Men. I have no business there." His right hand free, he sat carefully up and set to work on the remanding ropes about his ankles.

"I have seen much already, but there's always a new hill to climb, a new meadow to cross," Aragorn continued. "I have met my kin, the Dúnedain, also. They seemed as strangers to me, for in truth, I know my own people not. I plan to learn more of them once Elladan and Elrohir release me from their schooling."

"If they had their way, elvellon,(4) they would never release you. The day you are a hundred, they will still look upon you as young and needing their assistance."

"Nay, not one hundred," Aragorn sighed. "For I would flee them long before then. If not for this quest we have set for ourselves, I would have departed the morning after we met in the cave."

"Would you indeed?" Legolas sounded as if he didn't quite believe Aragorn.

"Yes, for my heart calls to me to explore."

"And do you like this exploring?" Legolas gestured around the room that was their prison.

A grinned tugged at Aragorn's lips and he looked up at Legolas, his right eye now swollen almost shut. "I would have it no other way."

To be Continued…

Sindarin words and English meanings
1. Dûno! : 'Silence!'
2. Deleb perglam : 'loathsome half-orcs'
3. Dínenglam :Silentspeech – this is one way the Elves have to speak among themselves – mind to mind. Maiar also have this ability, as described by Tolkien in "Return of the King" when Gandalf, The Hobbits, Galadriel and their party are heading north from Edoras and camp near the Gates of Moria:
Often long after the hobbits were wrapped in sleep they would sit together under the stars, recalling the ages that were gone and all their joys and labours in the world, or holding council, concerning the days to come. If any wanderer had chanced to pass, little would he have seen or heard, and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands. For they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro.
4. elvellon: Elf-friend