Are you listening?
Sing it back.
String from your tether unwinds
Up and outward to bind.
I was spinning free...
I was spinning free...
Jimmy Eat World
Legolas waited until the sound of their steps had
hearing and ran back to the room where Aragorn hung. He had no
weapons on him and he noted the way that the rope was near
breaking. The human hadn’t acknowledged his presence at all; he
faced towards the back wall, his head hung down between his shoulders,
the ache in them too intense to fight. He was breathing slowly,
trying to still the pain that lanced through his body.
Indeed, Aragorn had given up. He didn’t watch
the rope as it
unwound. His heart was saddened by the news of Legolas’ death. He
wanted to believe the elf was just lying, but Doriflen was more than
simply insane, he was insane and he was smart, too smart. The
royalty couldn’t be allowed to live. He would have toyed with
them as he had with Aragorn and then he would have killed them too,
just like he promised.
The last piece of the rope slowly unwound and
Aragorn closed his eyes,
holding his breath as he felt himself fall.
But the spear tips never touched him and it was with
that he felt strong hands grab him from behind and pull him away from
the edge of the opening.
Legolas had watched the rope quickly untwist
itself. He had
little time before the ranger fell to his death. Bracing his feet
on the sides of the opening Legolas timed his rescue and pulled Aragorn
to safety as the last of the ropes separated, releasing their prisoner
into the elf's waiting grasp.
He pulled the human tightly against him and stepped
away from the
gaping maw in the floor of the room.
Aragorn twisted in the grip,
trying to see what was going on and slightly afraid that Doriflen had
returned and decided he had more games to play with him.
He heard Legolas' voice whisper in his ear as the
elf dragged him back
from the pit, “Strider? Strider?”
Legolas gently lowered his friend to the ground and
crouched in front
of the human.
“Legolas?” Aragorn asked in confusion.
The elf carefully pressed
his fingers against the man’s bruised lips, cautioning him to silence
when he looked into the confused, pain-filled eyes.
“Strider you do live! Yes it is I.” The
furtively out into the hallway as he gently held the man’s face.
“I need to find something to cut the ropes with.” Releasing his
friend the elf crept back to the edge of the pit and glanced in.
He could see the spear tips glinting in the soft light of the
glowglobes pressed into the walls. Carefully leaning down into
the hole he grasped one of the poles and with some difficulty snapped
the head off the shaft. The rough wood bit into his burned hands
as it broke and he cried out softly in spite of himself.
“Legolas?” Aragorn whispered, “Legolas, are
you alright? He
told me you were dead. He said he...” the ranger stopped talking as the
elf crept back to his side.
Moving quickly, Legolas slipped the sharp blade
between the man's hands
and slit the ropes, carefully pulling the bindings away from his
injured wrists, wincing with the pain he knew he was causing.
“I’m sorry. I have to get these off of you.”
“He said you were dead,” Aragorn whispered
brokenly. Ignoring the
pain in his wrists, he trembled slightly as he watched his
friend. His body was still in shock.
Legolas pulled his outer tunic off and ripped it
into strips, binding
the human’s torn hands gently. “I am not. You cannot believe anything
he says. Although I do have to admit that he did try very hard,”
Legolas answered sarcastically, busying himself with tending his
Aragorn noted the way Legolas was shaking slightly
and caught the elf’s
hands in his own and turned them palm up. “You're hurt.” He
looked at the blistering burns on the elf's hands. “These are bad,
Legolas. You need to get them taken care of.”
The elf gently disengaged his hands from the human
and continued to
bind up Aragorn's wrists. “I am not as bad as you are right
now. Now be still and let me have a look at you.” When he
was through he carefully rested the man back against the wall and
pressed his hands against the human’s ribs, trying to determine just
how badly beaten his friend had been. He was afraid that they
would have little time and that Doriflen would return at any
moment. The elf had been entirely too eager to see how his
handiwork had taken effect on his prisoners to stay away long.
The seriousness of their situation caused Legolas to move quickly.
“Were you beaten as well?” Legolas asked
softly, wanting to know
what other injuries they had to contend with.
Aragorn groaned and doubled over as the elf touched
his ribs. “Yes,” he
ground out through the pain.
Legolas took the man’s face in his hands and tipped
his head up,
inspecting the cut to his brow and the bruising on his lips. “I'm
sorry Aragorn. I’m so sorry. I wish I could have been here
sooner. I was trying to find where they had taken you when I was
The man nodded slightly, his eyes pressed tightly
shut as he dealt with
the pain that radiated through him.
“Relax and breathe slowly, the pain will decrease.”
him softly. He touched Aragorn’s temple gently, probing to see if
the human had any fractures or breaks in the bone near his eye.
Aragorn pressed himself back and wrapped his hands
forearms, repeating himself quietly, “He said you were dead.”
The elf met the sad, weary gaze of his friend and
pulling the human into his arms and holding him for a heartbeat. “No, I
am not dead, Strider. I am just fine.”
“You are not fine,” the man mumbled against him.
Legolas laughed lightly. “Well I look a far sight
you.” He pushed the man gently back and held him by the shoulders
as Aragorn quickly swiped away the tears in his eyes.
“I know where your father is.” The ranger
spoke softly, smiling
slightly around his split lip as he began to come back to himself a
little more. “We need to go release him and take back your
kingdom.” The fear was beginning to wear off and reality set back
in. His body ached fiercely but in his heart he was ready to end
Doriflen's tyranny once and for all.
“Then what do you say we go do just that? I
have had enough of
being the hunted one.” Legolas smiled back into the dark eyes that
watched him, glad to see his friend grabbing back on to reality once
“Here, these might be useful too.” Aragorn limped to
pulling down the large spare ring of keys he had noticed earlier and
tossing them to Legolas.
Legolas nodded. “Let’s go.”
“Try that one,” Legolas pointed impatiently as
Aragorn flipped through
the keys on the ring, trying different ones in the lock in front of
them. They had come across an inordinate amount of locked doors,
and although they all gave way sooner or later, finding the right key
was becoming an irritating and time-consuming task. It had fallen
to Aragorn when Legolas’ hurting hands and fingers had proved to only
slow the job.
“I already did, just give me a minute,” the ranger
muttered as he
shuffled through the keys as swiftly as he could, trying to ignore the
impatient elf behind him. As usual, the last key tried was the
one that turned the lock and the door in front of them pushed open
quietly on its hinges. For that at least, Aragorn was glad. He
and Legolas were both as tense as bowstrings. The hidden dungeon
Doriflen had described was not nearly so easy to locate in the maze of
twisting tunnels and hidden chambers as one might have thought. They
had taken several wrong turns and were only partially sure that they
were on the right track once more.
Legolas chafed at the delay. He was beginning
to think that he
had never known his home quite as well as he had thought. The
vast, hidden labyrinth down here was mind-boggling; that it had been
kept secret for so long was even more amazing. Any other time it
would have made the elf curious, but right now it only irritated the
desperate nagging in his heart that hated any further hindrance to
reaching his father. If Doriflen had decided to end his game and
kill both his nephew and Aragorn, as he obviously had meant to do...
did that mean the same was true of Thranduil? Would Doriflen want
to have him killed as well? And if they didn’t get there in
time... The prince bit his lips together tightly.
Aragorn passed the keys back to the prince so he
could use one hand to
steady himself against the wall as he walked, stealing a sideways
glance at his friend as they slid silently down the new hallway that
opened out before them. Legolas was very obviously on edge.
Every moment that went by seemed to be wearing heavily upon him.
Secretly, the ranger wondered what would happen if... if for some
reason they should find King Thranduil too late. The human
frowned and pushed the thought away. He did not want to see what
that would do to his friend; he did not want to even imagine it.
The short, dark passage that they were in opened out
into a medium
sized room that let into another, smaller room beyond, but it was this
room that held the friends’ attention, because here at last they found
what they had been seeking... and dreading.
Hanging limply against the far wall, a tall,
golden-haired elf dangled from a set of chains about his wrists.
The manacles fastened to the wall above the elf’s head, barely letting
his feet touch the floor. The King had been stripped to the waist
and dried blood covered the side of his mouth and chin.
Thranduil’s head hung forward, unconscious.
“Father!” Legolas cried, rushing forward, every
fiber of his being
crying out in sorrow and horror at the sight before him. They had
only made it halfway across the room however, when the horrible sound
of the door to the passage behind them being opened came to their
Footfalls and the echo of Doriflen’s voice, speaking
to his guards,
immediately told the friends that they were in trouble.
Grabbing Legolas by the arm, Aragorn started to drag
the prince into
the next room with him, but Legolas resisted, struggling against the
ranger’s desperate attempts to hide them, unwilling to abandon his
“Legolas, come on!” Aragorn risked a hissed whisper,
large. He did NOT want to get caught again. That would do
no one any good.
“I can’t leave him...” the elf’s eyes were torn as
he looked at his
father’s helpless form.
“You can’t help him if you get killed! I
promise we’ll return,
Legolas, I promise!” Aragorn hissed back. They dared speak no
more as the footsteps drew closer, but the ranger’s eyes pleaded with
the elf to heed reason and come with him before it was too
Against the wishes of his heart, Legolas gave in and
let Aragorn drag
him into the adjoining chamber at the last possible moment, before
Doriflen and his guards entered the room.
The second room was a dead end, and the two friends
could do nothing
but press themselves against the wall of the small enclave and hope
that no one would bother with the tiny, empty chamber.
Fortunately for them, no one did, not for the moment
“What? Not awake yet?” Doriflen’s cruel voice
carried clearly to
the ears of the two friends hiding in the next room, followed by a
sharp thwack of flesh striking flesh.
Next to Aragorn, Legolas tensed, balling his hands
into fists despite
the pain that it caused.
“Wake him up!” The command was sharp and Doriflen’s
men had obviously
obeyed somehow because several moments later a soft, low moan made
Legolas draw his breath in sharply.
“Greetings, brother,” Doriflen sneered. “Did
you miss me?”
The two friends could hear the twisted smile in his voice. “Sorry
I’ve neglected you for so long, but I’ve been having quite a lot of fun
with your dear son and his tag-along.”
Thranduil stiffened, but his face remained hard and
“Legolas is not here. You lie, Doriflen, you always lie.”
His voice was rough with thirst and pain, but still proud and
firm. It broke Legolas’ heart.
Aragorn shot a glance at his friend, but Legolas’
eyes were closed
tightly, his head pressed back against the wall behind him. His
father’s words echoed painfully through his head. ”Legolas is
“Not this time,” the elder elf gloated; pulling from
his robes one of
the long, ivory-handled hunting knives he had taken from his nephew
earlier. He twirled the blade lightly between his fingers,
knowing Thranduil would recognize it. “You see, he returned, he
and his little ranger friend. A bit too late to help you though I
fear. He’s still a pretty boy, brother,” Doriflen’s voice was
oily, taunting. “But stronger than the last time I saw him... it
takes so much longer to make him scream now than it did when he was
The words had the desired effect and the clank of
chains from the next
room told them that Thranduil had yanked against the manacles holding
Legolas’ chest tightened until he thought it would
ribs. He had seen Doriflen play this game on his father before,
when he was a boy. He hated that he was once again being used
against the ones he loved, as an instrument of hurt.
“Keep your hands off him, Doriflen!” The king
remembered all too
well the beaten, frightened, bloodied child he had finally recovered
from his brother’s clutches so many years ago. Legolas had almost
died. “If you hurt him I swear I’ll-”
“Oh please, you’ll what?” Doriflen mocked his
helplessness. “Besides it’s a little late for that... the boy’s
dead.” He laughed at his brother’s stricken face. “Oh yes,
quite dead in fact. It’s his own fault. He wouldn’t stay put, so
I had to take care of him. Roasted alive in one of the
magma-vents... You remember those, don’t you, brother? I would
have done the same to you years ago, if father hadn’t pulled you out
and spoiled everything... but no one was there to stop me this time,
unfortunately for you.”
Thranduil’s voice was thick and trembled with rage
“I’ll kill you, Doriflen! I swear I’ll kill you for this!”
A sharp snap, all too easily recognized as a whip,
cut the air,
eliciting a soft, stifled moan from the captive king.
Aragorn tensed and closed his eyes at the sound, his
injuries still incredibly raw and painful. Movement by his side
made him open them again quickly, just in time to reach out and grab
Legolas as the prince tried to push past him.
Aragorn shook his head in alarm, grappling with
Legolas to keep him
from going out there right now. Both of them were weary and in
large amounts of pain. Neither of them was in any kind of shape
to attempt taking on Doriflen and his guards in an enclosed area when
more warriors were only a call away.
Legolas’ face was painted with rage and pain and he
Aragorn as they heard the whip snap again, and again. The elf
wasn’t thinking, but he didn’t want to, he just wanted to stop what was
happening in the other room. He desired nothing more than to
throttle Doriflen and let his father know that he was not dead!
Aragorn winced at the stress the silent scuffle
placed on his many
injuries, but he would not let go, grabbing Legolas by the shoulders,
and forcing his friend back against the wall. Legolas hissed
softly in pain as his wounded back made contact with the stones, which
gave Aragorn the upper hand for a moment.
I’m so sorry,
Legolas, Aragorn apologized mentally for causing his
friend more pain, but the prince was not thinking straight and was
going to get them all killed if he wasn’t restrained from acting on his
heart instead of with his head. It was a good thing the occupants
of the other chamber were too focused on their own affairs to notice
the soft sounds of the scuffle in the far room.
Using Legolas’ moment of distraction to slide his
fist up against the
underside of the prince’s jaw, the ranger let it rest lightly against
the pressure spot that both of them knew would make Legolas pass out
for a minute or so if he applied any amount of force. “Please
don’t make me do it!” Aragorn mouthed silently, hating having to add to
his friend’s trauma like this when Legolas was obviously already very
upset and hurting.
Legolas stilled under his friend’s grip, not wishing
to fight Aragorn,
and knowing that the human was right... but that didn’t help the pain
that was tearing his heart out in time with the rhythm of the whip in
the next room. His hands gripped the ranger’s arms tightly as he
tried to calm down.
The prince’s eyes flashed, but the anger was for
Aragorn. “And what if it was your
father in the next room,
Estel?” he whispered, the words barely audible, save for the fact that
their faces were only inches away from one another.
Aragorn closed his eyes for a moment. If that
were Elrond in the
next room... he had to be honest with himself; he probably wouldn’t
have waited even this long. He probably would never have left
that chamber in the first place, no matter who tried to drag him
“Then I would already be out there and probably
already be dead,”
Aragorn whispered back. It was almost more lip-reading than
speaking between them, for the fear of discovery kept them both
virtually silent. “So I need you to be stronger and wiser than I
would be, and I think you are, Legolas.”
Legolas released his grip on the ranger, lifting his
hands slightly in
a gesture of acceptance and Aragorn let him go. Turning, Legolas
gripped the rough wall until his burned hands screamed, pressing his
forehead against the cool stones and trying to block out the sounds
from the next room.
Gently, Aragorn laid one hand on Legolas’ arm,
standing near his friend
and letting his forehead lightly touch the elf’s temple, listening to
the prince’s gulped, hurried breathing. He didn’t say anything,
there wasn’t anything to say, but he wanted Legolas to know he was
Suddenly the sounds stopped.