Elrond heard the commotion in the common room and
left his study to
investigate. He could hear Celboril arguing with the twins, an
occurrence that was rare. Stepping into the doorway the elf lord
quickly took in the situation and had to stop himself from laughing out
Elrohir and Elladan were holding a wet and dirty
ranger between the two
of them, the human’s feet barely touching the floor. The servant
was trying to press Prince Legolas forcefully out of the room
complaining about the dirt the two bedraggled beings had brought in
It was true; Aragorn was filthy from the fight he
and Legolas had
survived. Soot and ash discolored his overcoat where he had
nearly fallen into the fire. His boots were covered in mud and
his face was dirty and bruised. Prince Legolas fared no
better. He was wearing one of Aragorn’s old shirts and the left
shoulder was stained dark with blood. The elf’s face was as
bruised and dirtied as his human companion's although he had obviously
suffered more, attested by his split lip, and the half-lidded gaze that
betrayed his weariness.
“Not there either!” Celboril shouted, shooing the
elves away from the
couch that they were about to deposit their brother on.
“Put me down!” Aragorn growled, shifting between the
two. “This is my
house I can come into it dirty if I like!”
Elrond hid the smile on his face as Legolas dropped
into a chair much
to Celboril’s dismay, “Not there! Prince Legolas, you must go change.”
“I will. I will.” Legolas wearily answered the
servant. He was
too tired to think. The prince looked up and took note of the elf
lord standing in the doorway, trying to conceal his laughter.
As the room quieted and all eyes turned towards the
stepped in and brought the argument to a close. “Enough. This is
my house and I say who can come and go in it and how they may do
Celboril immediately stepped back and bowed
slightly. “Yes, my lord,
Elladan and Elrohir dropped Estel, and the young
human stumbled off
balance tottering back against the couch. He jumped up quickly
brushing off the seat and glanced guiltily at his father.
“It is well. Sit. It is only furniture.
Iit can be cleaned.”
Elrond glanced at Celboril with a small smile before turning his
attention back to Aragorn, “And you look as if you will fall down any
moment. I’d rather have you on the couch than on the floor.”
“I’d rather have you on the couch too, because I do
not wish to pick
you up off the floor. You’re getting rather heavy you know that?”
Elladan murmured to his human brother.
Aragorn allowed himself to fall back onto the couch,
kicking his leg
out at the same time and causing his brother to trip over him.
“Stop,” Elrond spoke darkly, glancing at the
siblings. “This is
not the way I wanted to end this day.” The elf lord looked over
at the prince and motioned for the young elf to join them as he took a
seat opposite the plush couch. “Please, Legolas, come sit over here. It
is warmer near the fire and more comfortable.”
Aragorn scooted over as Legolas joined him.
The two made for
quite a sight and Elrond looked them over carefully, shaking his head
slightly. “At least you are both walking and were able to enter the
house under your own power.”
“For the most part.” Aragorn glared at Elladan who
had walked around
Elrond’s chair and leaned against the back of the seat.
Trelan and Raniean edged closer to hear the
had stayed out of the room during the whole altercation with Lord
Elrond’s servant but, now that things had settled down, they moved back
towards Legolas, hoping to discover what had happened to their friend.
Elrond graced his human son with a stern stare.
“Aragorn, you and I
will have a serious talk when this is over. Patience is something
you lack yet, young one.”
Aragorn leaned forward, his demeanor completely
changed from the
cockiness that had spurred the argument moments earlier. “Father, when
you hear what has happened you may change your mind.”
“I have the feeling I may. I think I know
partly what you will
tell me already. But I will reserve my judgments for
later.” His gaze softened as he noted the way Aragorn’s eyes
begged him to understand. Something else had happened.
Breathing in deeply to settle himself, the elf lord caught the
hint of a familiar scent and his eyes narrowed. “Tell me what
“Well, I found Legolas.” Aragorn graced his father
with an impish smile
before glancing at his friend.
Legolas barely met the ranger’s eyes, his
countenance was somber and he
did not smile back. It seemed to Aragorn that the prince was
closing himself off, and the human scooted a little closer to his
“So you did.” The slight shift in emotions was not
lost on the elderly
elf and he smiled softly at the two of them. “And I am very glad that
you did, Estel.”
The same familiar smell hung in the warm air.
Elrond stood from
his seat across from the two friends and approached his son. He gently
laid his hands on the young man’s head. Bending down, the elf
barely touched the ranger’s hair with his face and breathed in deeply,
trying to catch the scent that had been evading him. The sweet,
clean smell of athelas clung to the young human.
“I thought I smelled athelas on you.” Elrond
reseated himself and
stared at his son, curious to hear what had transpired.
The ranger became suddenly nervous. He hadn’t
given a second
thought to taking some of the healing herb with him, honestly. It was
common enough in the wild, but feelings of self-doubt flickered through
his mind and he wondered if he had done something wrong.
Legolas shifted uncomfortably next to him, eyeing
the occupants in the
room before glancing at Aragorn.
The elf lord observed the slight exchange.
Noting Legolas’ unease
and the discomfort he had exhibited when the subject of athelas was
brought up, Elrond asked the other elves to leave them for a bit.
Trelan and Raniean were instantly reluctant,
unwilling to leave their
friend and wanting to know what had become of him during his
absence. Celboril immediately departed with the twins close
behind. They had no worries that their younger brother would tell
them in privacy later, when time permitted, what had transpired.
“Please,” Legolas looked over his shoulder at the
two Silvan elves,
“leave us. I will be fine and there are things I need to discuss with
With a slight nod Raniean pushed Trelan out of the
room in front of
him, allowing the prince the space that he requested.
Aragorn watched them all leave before glancing back
at the two elves.
“Shall I go as well?” He was uncertain as to whether or not his father
wanted to speak to Legolas in private.
“No.” The prince touched his arm, holding him in
“No,” agreed Elrond, smiling at the two friends as
they locked eyes. “I
would hear your part in this as well, my son. But I sensed that you,
Prince Legolas, were having difficulty discussing recent events with
the others in the room.” The elf lord glanced at the human. “The
fact that you were forced to use athelas worries me and says in and of
itself that your situation was far more grave than what I originally
“What did you think had happened, Father?” Aragorn
leaned fully back
against the soft cushions, realizing he was overly tired. The
fire snapped and crackled softly and the warmth from the blaze had a
“Maraen awoke this morning.” Elrond glanced at
Legolas, “She remembered
“How is she?” Aragorn questioned, concerned.
He recalled the last
time he had seen the young woman.
“She is well and will recover completely.”
“Recover?” Legolas glanced between Aragorn and
Elrond, “But he
said...” He stopped talking and dropped his head in his hands,
knowing he shouldn’t have been surprised. “I knew he was
lying. Never trust a... I never should have agreed.”
The words were a mere whisper.
Aragorn leaned down, trying to look into his
friend’s eyes. He
gently pulled Legolas’ hands away from his face. “You didn’t know he
Legolas exhaled with as much disgust as his weary,
hurting body could
muster and shook his head. Maybe he had known, maybe he
hadn’t. He had suspected that the wraith was hardly trustworthy,
but what other choice had he really had? “I should have killed
“He would have killed you.” Aragorn’s eyes flashed
angrily as he spoke,
“And then he would have
killed Maraen and the baby. You did the
right thing.” Legolas nodded silently before shifting his gaze to the
“Who is 'he'?” Elrond questioned softly. “Maraen
could only describe
him as someone or something evil and clothed in black, a dark lord.”
“He is.” Legolas’ eyes were fixed on the
fire. He allowed
the hypnotic weave and dance of the flame to flood his mind as he
thought back to that first day, willing himself to relax. It was
hard to relive the nightmare, so hard.
Elrond spoke quietly, beginning the tale from what
he knew. “Maraen
said that you found her after their home had been attacked by
orcs. She believes her husband was killed by them. I have
sent Moranuen to Taradin in hopes that the two of them can find the
girl’s husband. She claims to have escaped, whereupon she was
found by you.” Elrond glanced at the prince. The young elf simply
“Yes, I found her.” With a deep sigh Legolas
turned back towards
the elf lord. “She was too near her time to birth and the baby
came. We were within hearing of the orcs camp and the child gave
away our position.”
Legolas ran his hand back through his hair, pulling
the wayward strands
out of his face, “We evaded them for as long as she was able. But
in the end they overwhelmed us and we were trapped. And then he
came.” The elf shivered with the dark memory.
Aragorn draped his arm around his friend, “Its all
right, he’s gone.”
“Not gone.” Legolas glanced at his friend. “Fire
will not kill what
that one is.”
“Legolas?” Elrond leaned forward, his brow was
knit with a frown
as he followed the conversation. “Who did you encounter?”
The young elf swallowed hard, the answer difficult
to speak. “It was an
Ulaire, my lord.”
"A what?" Aragorn asked in confusion. He had
never heard the
elvish term and it surprised him.
Elrond sat back in the chair, unable to answer for a
few moments as the
implications sunk in. That something so evil should be so close
to his home was no small matter.
Glancing at his son the elf lord explained, "Ulaire
is the elvish word
for Nazgûl, Estel. Nazgûl or ringwraith is their
common name derived from the dark tongue." Aragorn nodded mutely.
“He was searching for something, I think. But
what it was, I did
not possess.” Legolas watched the elf lord carefully.
“He searched me for it also.” Aragorn spoke softly,
remembering the way
the wraith had probed his very soul looking, searching, desiring to
find what the ranger did not have.
Elrond glanced up sharply when the human spoke,
fixing the youth with
an indecipherable gaze. “He searched you?”
“I think that’s what you would call it.” Aragorn
looked over at his
friend for confirmation. “He didn’t exactly touch me, but it was
as though he could see through me and it felt like bands of darkness
wrapping themselves around me until I couldn’t breathe. Then he
let go. I wanted to resist him, I wanted to fight his will... but
something stopped me. Almost as if something was telling me I
shouldn’t.” The young ranger allowed his puzzlement to creep into
his voice. He was still a bit perplexed by that.
Elrond stood from his chair and walked towards the
against the ornate mantel. “It is well that you did not,
Estel. For then he would have seen you for what you are and it is
not yet time for you to be revealed to Mordor. The time is unripe
and you are not ready... not yet.” The elf lord sighed quietly,
the weight of ages seeming to come into his eyes. He understood
far more about this situation than his son or the prince. “It was
only a matter of time before they took up in search again.” He said
quietly. “I told them, did I not? It is moving... it will be
again. I had hoped we would have longer.”
“Father?” Aragorn had never heard his father
speak with such
“It is nothing to worry about yet, my son.”
Elrond turned back to
the two of them, “But the Council will need to know, and especially
Mithrandir.” A small smile pulled at the corners of the elf’s lips.
“Knowing him, that wizard already knows full well and just let it slip
“Well you are beginning to sound like him, speaking
Aragorn muttered sarcastically.
Elrond laughed lightly. “Go on, tell me the rest.”
Legolas recounted the horrors of being subject to
the evil being.
As he forced himself to tell Elrond about Aragorn’s capture and his
part in it and his near inability to stop himself from killing the
ranger, tears welled up in his eyes, spilling down his fair
cheeks. The prince looked away, brushing his palms across his
eyes quickly and blinking hard, ashamed of what he had to relate, and
of his own weakness now.
“I’m sorry.” He stopped speaking, dejectedly
staring down at the
floor, his breathing hitching as he tried to regain control of his
Aragorn kneeled on the floor in front of his friend,
forcing the elf to
look into his eyes. “I told you before it was all right.”
“I watched you fall over that cliff, fearing you
dead. I was
forced to leave before they found you and then when I saw you next I
handed you over to the enemy and tried to slit your throat. Now,
you tell me: what is all right about any of that?” Legolas’ voice was
soft and strained. He didn’t know how he could ever deal with
what he had done, with the darkness that had touched him.
The young human turned and implored his father for
“I will tell you, young one.” At the sound of
Elrond’s deep voice,
Legolas looked up. “The fact that you are here, free from the
Nazgûl’s control. The fact that you saved Estel by your
actions. Your will was not controlled by the evil and you never
stopped fighting it. The very fact that you sit in my presence
and acknowledge these things openly speaks of the good in you, which is
indomitable. That is what is
right about all that has happened.”
Legolas watched the older elf, weighing his words,
allowing the truths
to sink into his soul and vanquish the lies that had been eating at his
heart. “Yes, you are right,” he finally agreed. He
knew the truth when he saw it, and although lingering traces of guilt
remained, he tried his best to shake them off.
Smiling, Aragorn pulled the elf forward and
whispered, “I told you so.”
With a laugh, the prince pushed the human backwards,
tipping him off
balance. The ranger caught himself on his hands before he fell,
his mirth uncontained until a thought struck him. Turning towards
Elrond, Aragorn seated himself on the floor leaning back against the
couch and questioned his father, “Do you think we killed it?”
“The Nazgûl?” Elrond clarified the cryptic
question. When his son
nodded the elf lord continued, “No. Legolas was correct. Simply setting
him on fire would never release that tortured soul that is bound to
Sauron himself. The black-cowled figure you saw was merely one of
the corporeal forms taken by the Nazgûl, convenient for them when
they travel abroad.”
“Will there be any lingering effects from his evil?”
Legolas needed to
Elrond stood from his seat and approached the elf
prince. He pulled
back the young elf’s tunic and inspected the healing wound.
Satisfied that it would heal with the proper care, Elrond leaned down
and pressed the palm of his hand against Legolas forehead; closing his
eyes, he listened.
In seconds the elf lord withdrew his hand and smiled
down at the young
prince, “There is no darkness within you, young one. The athelas
has cured you completely. You have nothing to worry about.”
Elrond smiled at Estel and nodded to the young ranger, “Well done, my
son. You have used the athelas well.”
The elven lord walked to the far side of the room
and opened a tiny
drawer hidden behind the ancient books stacked on the shelves that
lined the wall. Retrieving a small object he walked back towards them,
explaining, “There is an old saying, a true saying. It is said
that, ‘The hands of the king are the hands of a healer’. ” The elf did
not finish the old prophecy, for now was not the time yet for the young
human to know his full destiny. This much was well uncovered for the
Elrond sat down across from the two friends and
opened his hand,
holding it out, palm up. In the center of his palm lay a
ring. It was made of two entwined silver serpents with eyes of
emeralds met beneath a crown of golden flowers that the one upheld and
the other devoured. The silver circle sparkled in the
firelight. Elrond held it out to Estel.
“Take it, my son. It is yours. It is part of your
Aragorn picked up the ring and slid it onto the
forefinger of his left
hand - it fit perfectly.
“The ring has been in Isildur’s family for
generations. It marks
you as an heir of that house.” Elrond smiled softly at the human.
He knew how hard it was for the young man to accept who he truly was
and so they had agreed to take it slowly. His son nodded his
head, looking back to the ring and admiring it.
“It is called the Ring of Barahir, for it was a gift
to Barahir and his
descendants in reward for the saving of Finrod Felagund’s life, many,
many years before your father’s father was born. It has come into
your family and has been known as an heirloom in the House of Elendil
for generations. And now, my son, it is yours. Your abilities in curing
Legolas with the athelas are only more proofs that you are Isildur’s
heir. In time your lineage will be known by all men, but for now
it is enough that you accept it.”
The ranger was fingering the ring. He slipped
it off his hand and
passed the token back to Legolas who was leaning over his shoulder
trying to glimpse it. The elf took the ring and looked it over,
running his fingers around the edge and feeling the intricate
detailing. It was a stunning piece, and the history that went
with it even more so, for Finrod Felagund, King of Nargathrond and
brother of the lady Galadriel, had perished defending the mortal,
Beren, ere this Age of the world began. The prince passed the
ring back to the ranger with a smile.
Aragorn slipped it back on his finger and looked up
at his father. The
elf lord was smiling sadly down at the human. His adopted son was
growing into the man he had raised him to be.
“Now up with the two of you. You are filthy
and wet and Celboril
will have my hide for letting you sit on ‘his’ couch.” Elrond
teased. “It is nearing the dinner hour. Go change out of
those clothes and clean up. There are fresh clothes in Estel’s
room.” As the two headed for the door the older elf stopped them.
“Legolas, I will want to look at that wound personally before you
retire for the evening. You did very well, young prince. Your
father will be proud.”
“My father,” Legolas shook his head somewhat
ruefully, but he grinned
with good humor, even if it was laced with exhaustion. “My father
is going to have my head next time he sees me, of that you can be
sure,” the prince muttered softly.
Elrond grinned softly. “I think not once he
has heard the entire
tale. He will be glad that you are able to return to him whole,
nevermind when. Trust
me, for I know a father’s heart.”
Legolas nodded, rubbing his aching eyes. He
was too tired right
now to worry about anything anyway. All he wanted at the moment
was to get washed and into something clean and be able to rest a little
before he had to face anyone else again. Eventually he was going
to have to confide in Raniean and Trelan, but not yet.
“Estel,” Elrond’s voice halted his son in the
doorway. “I would
have a word with you.”
The ranger smiled at his friend guiltily and walked
back towards his
father. Legolas wearily mounted the stairs and headed for the
guest room adjacent to his friend’s.
“Yes, Father?” Aragorn walked back up to the
older elf and looked
into the silver eyes.
Elrond pulled the boy near the fire, turning them
away from the door so
that any who happened by would not accidentally hear their conversation.
“What you did with the athelas yesterday, in healing
Legolas, few can
do. It is a skill that has been reserved by Iluvatar for the use
of royalty only. Be careful how you use this gift, but do not
hesitate to employ it when it is needed.” He glanced sideways at the
human who stood next to him, staring into the flames.
“I am still not used to this...” Aragorn struggled
for the right words
and Elrond let him have time to respond. “This heritage that I have
been given. I was truly happy simply being Estel, son of
Elrond.” He turned and locked eyes with the elf lord. “Is there
anything so wrong with simply being that?”
Elrond smiled softly and shook his head. “My son,
you will always be
Estel and no, there is nothing wrong with that. However the time
will come I think when you will be called to be even more than simply
the adopted son of an elven lord.” Aragorn began to protest but
the elf quieted him, placing his arm around the slumped shoulders of
the young man. “I said that the time would come, I did not say it was
now. You have plenty of time to simply be Estel.” He
laughed lightly as the ranger glanced up at him through strands of
wayward hair. “Do not trouble yourself with the future, today has quite
enough trouble all to its own.”
Elrond glanced behind them into the hallway.
The twins stood on
the threshold, their glances curious and worried. “I think your
brothers will be enough to occupy you for the time being.”
Aragorn glanced over his shoulder and threw the
elven twins a devilish
grin before Elrond redirected his attention. “This conversation will
remain between us and you may wear the ring or put it away as you
should choose. It is up to you.”
The ranger fidgeted with the silver circle for
several seconds. “I’ll
wear it. But I’ll still be called by my right name, my elven
name.” He clarified.
Elrond laughed and pushed the boy towards the door.
“As you wish,
Estel. Now off with you before Celboril calls supper. Do not
he will tolerate you at his table looking like that.”
“Nor will I!” Elladan teased him, ruffling his hair
as he walked past.
“What have you there, Estel?” Elrohir fell into step
with his younger
brother, walking tightly next to the human as Aragorn showed him the
ring. They traipsed quietly up the stairs, talking softly
together as Elladan joined his father near the fire.
“Told him more?” the younger elf asked his father,
recognizing the ring
his youngest brother was now wearing.
“Yes.” Elrond watched the two climbing the stairs,
“He has much to
think about. Perhaps you can lighten his mood.”
The elder twin snickered evilly, “Oh, not a problem
“Elladan,” Elrond turned to his oldest, “I said
torment. Now please go see to the warriors from Mirkwood.
Have them join us for dinner tonight.”
“I’ll see to it, Father.” The younger elf
quietly left and Elrond
turned back to the fireplace, watching the dancing flames.
So much had transpired in the past day that it would
take some time to
absorb it all but the fact remained that the Nazgûl were near and
searching. There were others who would need to know of Mordor’s
quest and he quickly penned a brief recount of Legolas and Aragorn’s
mishap. Sealing the notes with his signet ring he called a runner
and instructed the servant to stop for no one, but deliver the letters,
one to Lothlòrien, one to Isengard and one to the care of an
innkeeper in Bree who would hold it until the person it was addressed
to should turn up. With that chore taken care of, the elf lord
walked towards the dining hall, seeking the company of others.