Are you listening?
Sing it back...
I'm still running away.
I won't play your hide and seek game.
What a dizzy dance...
What a dizzy dance...
Jimmy Eat World
Legolas stopped a fair piece up the tunnel, just
beyond the bend and
listened. He needed to know where they would take Aragorn. He
hated to leave his friend behind to his uncle’s warriors, but the human
had been right: they had had no choice. Leaning back against the
cool, stone wall he listened. Because once again, that was all he
He closed his eyes tightly shut as the sounds of the
down the hall to him. The ranger was not going easily.
Legolas banged his head softly back against the rock behind him. The
elves would just treat the human worse if he fought them, but he knew
that under the same circumstances he would not go willing either.
Shouts rang down the hall and he heard Aragorn cry
out, followed by the
sound of a body dropping hard to the floor.
“Pick him up and bring him back. Make sure he
can’t get away this
time,” the words of the captain floated to the elven ears.
“Oh, Strider.” Legolas eased down to the floor
and brought his
knees up to his chest, “I’m sorry.” The sound of the iron gate
being slowly raised alerted the prince that he had better be on the
move again, and quickly, if he hoped to keep his promise to his
Aragorn woke to find two large elves quickly binding
his hands together
in front of him with rope. He had put up quite a struggle,
injuring one of their party and taking another elf out completely
before they had overwhelmed him. He kicked out at one of the
warriors before him and was rewarded by a swift punch to his head from
the other, causing sparks to dance before his eyes. An odd ringing
echoed in his ears.
“Damn human.” The elf finished securing his
wrists and kicked the
ranger hard in the side. A sickening pain shot through Aragorn’s
awareness, clearing his mind momentarily as he painfully curled into a
ball, trying to protect himself.
“Don’t kill him Nynd. If you do Doriflen will
have you hanging
in that room of his,” Amon spoke harshly to the elf. He leaned
down and grabbed Aragorn by the hair, jerking the human’s head back so
the dark, pain-filled eyes were forced to focus on him. “Don’t
worry about your friend. As soon as we deliver you, we’ll go find
him.” The elf grinned wickedly at the man, letting go of his head
with a hard shove.
Aragorn’s head banged down against the stone floor,
the rough rock
cutting deeply into his temple. He winced, unable to stifle the
small cry the injury incurred.
“Get him up,” Amon growled and turned, pushing
through his men back
towards the room where Doriflen waited for them.
The human was drug roughly to a standing position
and hauled back down
the passage. Unable to get his feet underneath him, he cried out as his
twisted under the rough treatment. His escorts
merely laughed and turned into a small room, dragging their prisoner in
Doriflen stood in the center of the room, looking
down into a gaping
pit with a satisfied smile on his face. He glanced up casually as
his men entered, hauling the ranger with them. His glee turned
wicked and he motioned above their heads to a wooden bar suspended over
Two elves stripped the ranger to his waist, cutting
his tunic from his
body and hefted the human up so his feet were not touching the ground
as Amon threaded a rope over the bar and looped it through
One look into the hole below him and the ranger
lashed out with his feet, catching Amon in the chest and pushing the
elf back against the far wall. The two elves holding the
struggling human fought to maintain control of the man without falling
into the pit themselves.
The ranger’s frantic struggle stilled as the crack
of a whip split
the air. The fiery pain of a thin leather thong raced between Aragorn’s
shoulder blades and he arched against his captors, crying out at the
intensity of the touch.
Amon stood from the side of the room and slowly
prisoner, anger flashing in his blue eyes.
“Now behave yourself and let Amon finish, then you
and I will have some
time together - alone.” Doriflen laughed softly where he stood behind
Aragorn. “Won’t that be fun now?” He spoke quietly as the
warrior finished tying the ranger off to the bar. He jerked the
ropes taut, eliciting a soft groan from the man.
“Let him go,” Amon growled at the elves holding the
Aragorn shut his eyes tightly shut and moaned as he
was dropped, his
weight catching on his wrists and lancing pain between his shoulders,
tightening in a breath-stealing bind around his chest.
A sharp blow to his midsection caused what little
air left in his lungs
to expel. He tried curling into himself unsuccessfully, trying to ease
the pain from the blow and allow his diaphragm to breathe in.
“Now, Amon,” Doriflen chastised the elf lightly,
“that wasn’t very
“Sorry, my lord,” the elf laughed cruelly. “If
you need any help
with this whelp, please let us know.” He motioned with his head
to the entryway of the room and he and his men left.
“Now where were we?” Doriflen turned his
attention back to the
ranger, his grey eyes lighting on the man’s. The twisted glee in
their depths scared Aragorn more than anything he had endured so
The human hung limply from his bonds. Red stripes
decorated his back
and arms, his clothing was shredded from the repeatedly searing kiss of
the leather thongs.
Aragorn had stopped struggling long ago. He
concentrated only on
breathing as the tip of the whip bit across his thigh. A small whimper
escaped his lips but he did not open his eyes this time.
Consciousness was threatening to leave him.
“Legolas.” He whispered his friend’s name in a
state. He had slipped into speaking elvish as the struggle to remain
awake gripped his mind, “Legolas, where are you?”
Doriflen slapped the handle of the whip against his
leg as he walked
around the ranger. “Your little friend isn’t here right now. Not just
yet anyway. Are you still listening to me?” he asked, cracking the
pommel of the whip hard against Aragorn’s split temple as the human
allowed his head to fall forward. The cruelty was rewarded with a
soft moan but the ranger did not fight him or look up.
“Well I think our little session is over.” Doriflen
had grown bored. He
easily grew bored and his mind raced ahead to finding Legolas. He had
quite a treat in store for the elf prince. The smile that spread
across his face banished all thought of the ranger that hung suspended
before him. “I need to go spend some quality time with my
nephew. I have something rather delightful in mind for him.” He
refocused on Aragorn. “But don’t worry. I’ll come back and we can pick
up where we left off.” The insane elf’s laughter echoed off the
rounded walls of the room, entering into Aragorn’s darkness and it
seemed as though the pit beneath him swallowed him whole as he finally
fell into unconsciousness.
Legolas whirled around, his hands clenched tightly
into fists since he
had no other weapon... but there was no one there. He let his
breath out slowly and told himself he had to stop being so jumpy.
Thus far he had evaded the search parties looking for him, but he was
no closer to finding out where his friend had been taken. His
every step was hampered and his every move anticipated before he got
there like some sort of dizzy, off-kilter dance. It was
maddening. Now he seemed to find himself alone in the strange,
unknown passages, but the silence was almost more oppressive then when
he had been able to hear his pursuers.
The prince’s keen eyes tried to pierce the darkness
around him as he
hesitated in an arched doorway, considering the path before him.
A series of archways dotted the hall, but there were no turn
offs. The air was getting warmer and denser, so he thought he
must be descending deeper into the earth, although the floor did not
slant. Unfortunately, even Legolas could not see very far in the
thick semi-gloom that seemed to cling to the passages like fog.
His own home had been turned into a weapon to ensnare him and it made
the prince more than furious.
Suddenly the chains that held up the gate set into
the archway above
his head gave with a clanging groan and the sharp, spiked iron rods
rushed down at him. The elf barely had time to jump
forward. The next instant he saw the gate set into the second
archway, directly in front of him, crashing down as well. Not
willing to become trapped between the two like a rat in a cage for
Doriflen’s amusement, Legolas sprung forward, throwing himself to the
ground and rolling under the second gate before it slammed down into
its groove, only seconds after he cleared it.
Springing to his feet easily once more, Legolas
glanced back at the
spear-pointed gates that could have killed him. With a shiver he
realized that Doriflen knew exactly where he was. His uncle was
playing with him. He was forcing Legolas to go where he wanted
him and there didn’t seem to be much the prince could do about it,
except to not go anywhere.
“I’m not going to play your game anymore, Doriflen,
do you hear me?”
Legolas shouted at the cold, empty walls, feeling sure that somehow his
uncle could hear him. “Come down here and face me or let us
go! I will play your twisted games no longer!”
Before Legolas could draw another breath, the floor
beneath his feet
disappeared without warning as a trapdoor he had not realized was
there fell away, sending him tumbling downwards. The prince
tried to catch himself, but the pit he found himself falling into was
too large and the sides too far away for him to reach in time.
For a few moments the stomach-stealing jolt of
nothingness took part of Legolas’ breath away as he fell straight down
into empty darkness. Seconds later he hit something slippery and
slanted. The elf banged down into it sharply, slithered a ways,
rolled, and banged into it again, but it did not seem to slow his
descent. Rather, it seemed that he had fallen into a huge slide
that twisted and curved downward at a sharp angle. Legolas
pressed his hands against the sides of the narrowing passage he found
himself shooting down, but only managed to slow himself a little.
The friction tore at his hands and made them burn. Above him the
trapdoor slammed shut once more, locking with a bang and plunging his
rapid descent into utter darkness.
Moments later he spilled out the bottom of the drop
and free fell the
last part of the way, landing in a less than orderly fashion, although
he got back on his feet quickly enough. Straightening his tunic
and holding his sore hands, Legolas found that he was still in the
dark, in yet another area of tunnel work that was totally unfamiliar to
Legolas set his jaw. Obviously, not moving
wasn’t going to do the
trick either, Doriflen seemed to know his home even better than he did
and had everything planned out far too well for the prince’s
Legolas walked cautiously through the dark, feeling
the tunnel walls
with his hands. The rock was rough here, not at all like the
tunnels that he was used to, or even the unfamiliar ones that he had
been in earlier, and a strange smell clung close to the sides as though
the very air had been burnt here at one time. The elf's feet
crunched on the gravely floor and he bent to touch it, wondering
curiously what it was made of. The ground was rough, hard and
uneven as he brushed his fingers lightly across it. His hand
touched a wall immediately in front of him. The obstruction
startled him. He thought for sure he had been deposited in another one
of the underground tunnels, but this passage, if passage it was, turned
into a dead end. Feeling his way along the length of the wall he
followed the roughed stone in a complete circle. He was not in a
hall at all, but a large, circular chamber of some sort. His
fingers bumped the rim of a metal grate that sealed over a hole in the
thick wall. The metal was hot to the touch and he jerked his hand back
from it. He was walled in and the only way out seemed to be
hanging many feet above his head. However, he doubted that even
the way he came in would work as an exit, since the trapdoor was most
likely not intended to open from the inside.
A gnawing anxiety began to eat at the back of his
mind; he should know
this place. Something about it struck a chord in his memory...
but what? Bending down again to the ground he kicked at an uneven
spot, loosening the dirt, and grabbed the rock, bringing it close to
his face to smell it. The realization of where he was hit him
full force, the fear of it dropping like lead into his stomach.
He breathed in deeply, testing the air; it was acrid, old and the
stench of fire still lingered. Frantically he searched for the
chute he had dropped out of, trapdoor or no trapdoor - he was in a
The Forest River wasn’t the only thing that flowed
beneath their feet
here. Thranduil's palace had been built into a hill that was situated
over a catacomb of thermal pools. The pools were naturally
occurring vents in the earth’s crust that allowed magma to spill to the
surface in tiny, controlled amounts. They were deep beneath the
earth and had long ago been safely capped off by nature and the
ingenuity of the elves. However instead of sealing them over, the
original builders had decided to utilize the natural heat that
constantly rose from the pools. They had built grates over the
magma fissures that could be rolled back to allow the magma to seep
into repositories located deep, deep within the bowels of the palace
during the long winter months. When the rooms were partially
full, vents above the liquid earth allowed the heat to be drawn up into
the castle. At times the magma rooms were also used as waste
receptacles, to burn unwanted or hard to dispose of rubbish.
Legolas was shocked to realize that that was exactly what he had fallen
down, some sort of trash disposal. Waste sent down the chutes was
immediately destroyed when it touched the fiery pit. Every so
often teams were sent down to break the cooled magma up and carry it
out. The dense black material was put to many uses by the
elves. There was a crawlway that led to these vents from the main
halls, near the cellar, but in all his years Legolas, partly because of
his aversion to tight, dark places, had never been to the magma
repositories, and he had no desire to be here now. He needed to
find the chute he had fallen from and try to get out and he needed to
do so now.
Fear shot through him as a low groaning rumble
filled the room.
Warm, yellow light spilled in, followed by a wave of intense
heat. The elf turned to the far wall - the magma grate was
ponderously rolling away, allowing the slow-moving, liquefied rock to
enter the hollow that he was trapped in.
Legolas pressed himself against the wall behind him
and tried to calm
his breathing. He needed to think clearly if he was going to get out of
Sweat beaded on his brow as the room instantly
heated to well beyond
comfortable and was edging towards intolerable. In minutes he would
loose consciousness as the oxygen was heated beyond what his body could
endure. As the lava rolled slowly in, gaining speed as the grate
opened more fully, Legolas was able to see his surroundings clearly,
lit as they were by the fire that poured in behind him. He turned
and glanced above his head. The edge of the chute, set into the
wall, was directly above him, he could just barely grip it with his
fingers if he stood on the tips of his toes.
The fire hissed and spit behind him. He didn’t dare
look back for fear
of how close the lava was to his position. Hooking his fingers on
the edge of the smooth chute he pushed off the ground and vaulted up,
pressing his feet against the roughened walls of the magma
container. He barely held his grip as the lava washed against the
wall beneath him, throwing small particles of heated liquid rock up the
side of the cavern.
Slowly the elf walked his feet up the uneven wall,
careful of every
inch he moved - one misstep would be all it took and he would be unable
to escape. He could feel the sweat roll down his back between his
shoulder blades, pooling at the base of his spine above his belt,
stinging his injuries viciously. He tried to blow the hair that
matted against his face away from getting into his eyes.
Within seconds he pulled his upper body into the
chute and braced his
feet against the sides of the sharply slanting circular tunnel,
standing to a crouched position with his palms pressed flat against the
interior rock. The chute was incredibly slick and it was a
struggle to remain where he was. Climbing up would be even more
difficult, besides the fact that it was an almost certain dead
Legolas eased one hand to his face and brushed the
stray locks out of
his eyes. He glanced overhead and noted the vent grate in the
ceiling of the chamber, directly above the pit. The magma
continued to rise. In most cases only a small amount was allowed in and
then the grate was closed off. By the time the slow moving metal door
had fallen back into place enough lava would have filled the pit to
come just to the edge of the waste chute, any higher the magma would
plug up the chute and it to would have to be cleaned out. But the grate
wasn’t closing and the superheated liquid climbed ever higher.
Legolas had no doubt that his uncle intended to fill the pit and kill
He had one chance to survive and only one shot at
down on the edge of the chute he centered his thoughts on his objective
and balanced himself, trying to block out the sounds of the rising
Legolas pushed off from the waste chute and jumped
for the vent
grating. His fingers locked around the metal, hooking through the
holes in the screen that covered the vent. The metal was hot to
the touch and burned the soft skin on his hands. He hissed in pain as
he forced his fingers to tighten on the grate. With his right
hand he leaned out to the side of the metal plate and quickly unlatched
the catch, his fingers clumsily pulling the pin from the bolted locking
mechanism. The door of the vent fell open inward, dropping
Legolas dangerously close to the lava that was quickly
approaching. His shoulder wrenched as he caught his weight on the
fingers of his left hand that still held tightly onto the grating and
he cried out with the pain.
Glancing down at his feet he could see the magma
mere inches below his
boots. Using what strength he had left, the elf prince climbed
hand over hand up the scorching metal grate and pressed himself inside
the tight thermal vent. It was hard to breathe in the small
vertical shaft and the thermal winds that blew past him made him sweat,
causing his singed palms to be slippery as he pressed them hard against
the sides of the tight chute and climbed slowly up. His back
ached where it had been bruised and burned as he pressed against the
rough stone chimney.
For a few moments he had to battle back a swirl of
suffocating panic as
he remembered why he hated tiny enclosed places. The feeling of
being trapped was overwhelming. But he knew that somewhere above,
the vent had to open out into the palace... or at least so he hoped,
and he clung to that.
The magma hissed and spit below him barely, touching
the opening of the
thermal vent. The magma gate must have finally been closed for it rose
no more, as though unwilling to chase him into the tiny crawl
Light from the fiery rocks below him lit the shaft
as he pushed slowly
upward and he could see a vent that intersected his shaft, heading off
to the left. It was only a few feet above his head; he could make it,
he had to. He pushed himself harder. The promise of freedom
from the thermal vent made him move too quickly and he lost his
balance, sliding backwards down the hole before bracing himself once
more and stopping his descent. It would be a long time before the magma
at the base of the chute became cold enough to be stepped on. The
hardening black surface he could see below him now was merely a
deception, being less than an inch thick. However, as it cooled
the light in the shaft dimmed and Legolas began to panic anew. If
there was anything worse than being stuck in this miserable,
suffocating little place, it was being stuck there in the dark.
He rested his head against the wall in front of him
slowly, only allowing the hot air in as he needed to. The burning
oxygen scorched his lungs and the gases put off by the cooling magma
choked him. He had nearly reached the end of his strength and he
still had not made it to the intersecting vent overhead. Forcing
himself to concentrate, the prince inched slowly upwards, keeping his
hands and feet tightly braced and in contact with the rock face at all
times. Aragorn and his father were depending on him; he needed to
get safely out or they were all dead.
It seemed as if he had been climbing forever when
the fingers of his
left hand brushed the metal grate of the adjoining passage.
Undoing the latch somewhat shakily, he steadied himself for a second
then pushed off of the wall behind him, his upper body forcing the
grating open and falling into the smooth tunnel in front of him.
Legolas pulled his legs into the shaft as he crawled forward and laid
down on the stone. It was cooler in here and he let himself
relax. His hands ached and throbbed with the burns they had
sustained and his whole body was screaming at him from the slow crawl
up the thermal vent. He licked his dry lips and wished he had
brought a flask with him, although he was sure the waterskin would have
never made it this far.
Pulling himself deeper into the small shaft he was
relieved when it
widened out and dead-ended into one of the strange, secret tunnels that
burrowed into the hill below the palace. After pushing the gate
tumbled out onto the smooth rock floor and leaned back against the cool
wall, breathing in deeply. The air here was fresh and cooler than
the air in the vents had been. Closing his eyes he allowed his
body to simply relax. He doubted anyone would think him still
alive at this point.
As he sat there he began to listen to the sounds
around him, trying to
see if he could tell where he was. A soft moan caught his
attention and he quieted his breathing, listening carefully. The
sounds of a conversation could just barely be heard, although he
couldn’t make out the words. Standing shakily to his feet he
walked quietly down the hall to the source of the sound.
The sharp crack of a whip caused him to jump and he
strangled cry of pain that the instrument elicited. He had found
Doriflen's voice floated to him through the hall and
he crept closer,
rounding a bend in the tunnel and approaching a room with no door.
“I’m back. Did you miss me?” The elf
himself. “It’s good to see you awake again, ready to resume our
talk? Oh and your little friend, the prince, won’t be here to
you this time, although he gave it a good try.” His sentence was
punctuated by another whip crack and another small whimper. “He's up to
his pretty little head in hot water.” Doriflen laughed at his own joke,
“Or should I say hot lava?”
Aragorn glared at the insane elf. There was no
use talking back,
he had learned that lesson well enough. The thought of Legolas
dying at the hands of the traitor that stood before him swept an
uncontrollable rage through the human and he closed his eyes tightly
against the thought, willing himself to hear no more. It couldn’t
be true. It couldn’t... yet his hurting body had a hard time
holding on to that hope.
“Oh it’s true all right,” Doriflen said as if able
to read his
prisoner’s thoughts. “Maybe when and if there’s enough of him to
chip out, I’ll let you see the proof... but then again, I don’t think
you’re going to live that long.”
The young ranger closed his eyes, too weary and
hurting to battle
against the hopelessness of the insane elf’s words.
Doriflen watched his prisoner carefully. The
man hung, suspended
by his wrists over a deep pit that had been filled with spears standing
on end, and rooted into the very rock below with their sharp tips
waiting to end the ranger’s life. The elf had found this pit many
years ago. It had once been used as a storeroom but he had secretly
improved upon it, using it for far more evil purposes, unbeknownst to
his father or his family. The pit itself was only four feet
across, allowing easy access to anything that was suspended over
it. Doriflen could walk right up to his prisoner and touch him;
he had designed it that way, however, the edges of it were ringed with
razor sharp blades that had been embedded in the rock walls, ensuring
that anyone who fell through the small hole would not be able to stop
his descent. He had hoped it was still here when he returned and
had wanted to try it out on the man. It was fun toying with the
human, even without his nephew here to watch. He wasn’t nearly as
resilient as an elf and it was easier to torment him with words than it
had been with his own brother, or Legolas. He flicked the whip in
his hands casually and it wrapped around the man’s legs before he
pulled it back, ripping through the human’s leggings and leaving a red,
burning welt in its place. The ranger jerked and hissed with the
“Pay attention now.” The elf smiled wickedly
as the ranger opened
his eyes, straining to breathe. “This is important.” The former royal
outcast walked slowly around the man, striking him again with the whip
to emphasize his words.
Pure rage swept through Legolas as he peered into
Aragorn trembled slightly, his body obviously sliding into shock from
the abuse he had suffered. His wrists were bloodied from where
the ropes bound his hands, holding him in place above the open
pit. It was apparent to the elf that the man had taken a beating
before being strung up. His lip was split and blood crusted the
side of his face. Red welts striped his back, arms and legs where
the whip had bit into him.
Aragorn let his head fall forward, he had had
enough. Let Doriflen
kill him; he would play along no more. If Legolas was dead and
Thranduil beyond reach as his captor claimed then it was no use
fighting. Even if he escaped he wouldn’t make it out of this palace, or
Mirkwood, alive. The whip bit into his back, twisting him around
slightly. But he made no sound this time.
Doriflen was once more growing tired of his play
toy. It was time
to move onto something else, something more fun. A wicked smile
played across his thin lips. He reached out and caught the
ranger’s arm pulling the man close to him. Aragorn cried out as his
wrists were twisted hard in their bonds.
“I grow bored with you. Which is too bad for you.”
Doriflen pressed the
whip handle against Aragorn's cheek. He rubbed the hard leather
into the cut on the human’s temple and dragged the blood down the side
of his face. “It’s time to say goodbye, but it has been
fun. I think I’ll go pay my brother a visit. You know, you
and my nephew were never very close to finding him. He’s down in
a secret dungeon, one only he and I know of.” The insane elf gloated,
enjoying his own cleverness and rejoicing in anything that caused
despair in his victim. “We found it when we were children, when
we were still a family.” He bit the word out angrily, “Down behind the
storehouses at the bottom of the hill just above the river and through
the hidden opening. It doesn’t matter if you know now, because
you’re too late. Legolas is already dead and you’ll never live to
tell anyone of it. So you can die, with the knowledge that you
failed, utterly.” Doriflen smiled at the man. Aragorn flinched
away from the insane being, but there was nowhere he could go.
The outcast elf lord let go of the ranger, giving him a slight push so
that he spun helplessly. As he walked towards the door, Doriflen
flicked out a small blade and cut part way through the rope that held
Aragorn suspended. The entwined threads began to split under the
man’s weight and the ranger looked above his head in fear as the
tethers that held him started to unravel.
Doriflen looped the whip in a tight bundle and hung
it on the wall next
to a ring of spare keys that he kept handy in the room should something
happen to the ones that were secreted away in an inner pocket of his
He stopped and turned back towards the ranger,
smiling in satisfaction
as the rope steadily unwound.
“Say hello to Legolas for me, will you?”
Doriflen called out as
he exited the room.
Legolas ran back to the bend in the tunnel and
flattened out against
the wall, hoping that his uncle would not pass this way, but head out
in the opposite direction. The noise of running feet sounded down
the corridor and the elf prince listened intently as his uncle was
stopped and redirected.
“My lord, you are needed above.” One of
Doriflen's warriors had
been sent to fetch him.
The elf stood just before the bend in the hall,
indecision gripping him.
“Is it important?” he snapped.
“Yes, my lord. There has been a small uprising
and we were forced
to put it down.”
Doriflen stared down the darkened hallway to his
indecision. “Very well. I had wanted to go check on my nephew to
see... to see how he was holding up. But I am sure he's not going
anywhere.” The elf laughed cruelly and followed the warrior back
the way he had come.