Captive of Darkness
days later Legolas was greatly surprised to see a small company
approaching the palace gates, when an errand took him by one of the
windows in the tall watch towers.
prince froze; his heart speeding up as the wind caught and lifted the
banner held in the lead rider’s hand, revealing the emblem of the green
tree. These riders were from Mirkwood! Apparently his father had not
waited as long as Legolas had thought he would before dispatching
messengers in search of his wayward son’s party.
that kind of protectiveness might have irked the young prince just a
bit, but right now he was simply too glad to see anyone from his home
to feel anything other than breathless hope mingled with swirling
King Melèch would lock him away as soon as he knew that a party
Mirkwood had arrived, searching for their lost envoys. Legolas could
not risk Melèch being able to put his plan into action! No
risk, he had to attempt to contact the Mirkwood elves, and that meant
avoiding the guards who were probably coming for him at this very
his tasks unfinished, Legolas swiftly made his way down from the tower,
his mind swirling as he quickly sought to construct a plan of
action. The arriving elves would be taken directly to King
course, and the meeting would most likely take place in the King’s
great receiving hall. Therefore, his best chance of overtaking them
would be when they passed through the courtyard. The elf’s legs moved
Legolas pressed himself back flat against the wall, alerted by the
sound of approaching feet. Captain Dagred and several of his men
appeared in the cross passage opposite to Legolas’ position and the elf
held perfectly still.
"Spread out and find
him, and I mean now
or King Melèch’ll have our heads, got that?" Dagred growled to
confirming Legolas’ suspicion that Melèch had already ordered
Legolas willed the men to keep going straight and not take the side
passage that he was hiding in. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Dagred swung around the
corner and nearly stepped on Legolas before he saw him.
into motion, Legolas shoved the captain back into the two men behind
him, before turning and flying back up the stairs he had just descended
as fast as his long legs could carry him.
swore loudly. "Here we go again!" he scowled harshly as he and his men
chased the fleeing elf up the stairs. "You’re not going to be able to move
when I get through with you, elf!" he shouted angrily after Legolas. "I
don’t care how you do it, men, but catch him! If you don’t, it’ll be
of you taking his punishment. Is that clear?!"
fled swiftly in front of his pursuers, dashing lightly up the stairs
despite his heavy, cumbersome chains. The clanking rattle they produced
was horribly disturbing and served as an incredibly effective homing
beacon for his pursuers to follow.
short chains that connected his ankles also limited his usually long
stride, making Legolas feel clumsy and stilted. His feet slipped on the
steep, narrow stairs and he caught himself against the wall, but did
not stop moving. Taking a turn off at the next level, Legolas tried to
put as much distance between himself and Dagred as was possible.
down a long, tapestry-draped hallway at full speed, Legolas was forced
to pull up abruptly when half a dozen soldiers appeared in the cross
passage ahead of him. Nearly skidding on the highly polished floor,
Legolas backtracked swiftly.
in the passage between the two groups of soldiers, Legolas took a
desperate gamble and sprang lightly up, grasping hold of the curtain
rod above one of the tall windows that studded the hall. Swinging
forward feet-first, Legolas crashed through the window and jumped to
the ground, four stories below. There was nothing to catch hold of or
break his fall, so Legolas landed hard on the cobbles below in a shower
of broken glass. He landed on his feet, dropping into a crouch to
better absorb the impact, but he still felt one of his ankles twist
under him slightly at the sharp, jarring impact. Pain shot up his leg
as he sprang quickly to his feet, but the elf did not let that stop
unconventional exit landed him in the large, bustling yard behind the
kitchens. Unfortunately, this was the palace guards’ favorite place to
linger, where they could obtain free food and liquor from the friendly
Half a dozen guards
immediately sprang to attention when they saw him.
aside the pain that was spearing up his leg, Legolas broke into a run.
The main courtyard was only a few passages away from here.
"Stop him! Stop him!"
Dagred’s voice from above called down and the guards immediately gave
as fast as he could around the new limp he had acquired, Legolas
rounded the corner only to be faced with another score of guards
hurrying towards him from the opposite direction.
of the soldiers grabbed for him and Legolas spun away, jabbing one man
in the stomach with his elbow and flipping another lightly across his
and his men gained the ground level amazingly fast and now poured out
of the doorway on the right to further overwhelm the lone elf.
spun, jabbed and twisted his way through them for a moment and the
guards struggled to even lay a finger on him as he fought desperately.
The courtyard was so close; it was just around the corner...!
But it was too far for
the injured elf to reach.
hands caught Legolas’ swinging chains and jerked him off balance. He
fought bravely, but with over thirty soldiers attempting to bring him
down, the odds were simply too great.
His attackers bore him
down to the ground, jerking him to his knees under a hail of irritated
tugs and blows.
enraged boot caught the elf in the stomach, kicking him again and again
as Legolas wrapped his arms around his now screaming ribs and tried to
curl away from the abuse.
tears of extreme frustration and pain shimmered in the young elf’s eyes
as the soldiers ground him ruthlessly into the cobblestones only a few
yards away from his destination. But Legolas was too stubborn and too
proud to let them fall.
dragged the bleeding elf to his knees, forcing a pole between Legolas’
elbows and back. Hooking the slave’s chains to the pole, they trapped
his arms uselessly. Yanking him to his feet they marched him away,
cuffing and cursing him liberally for the trouble he had caused them
Melèch is going to have your head on a spit, boy!" Dagred
darkly as they locked Legolas up to await the King’s wrath. "You’ll beg
for death before we’re done with you!"
wrists were still fastened to the pole threaded through his bent arms
when he was dragged out of his cell to face a fuming King
Immediately, Melèch slapped the elf forcefully, snapping the
head to the side. Legolas was already in so much pain that a little
more barely seemed to register. In the time between his capture and his
dreaded audience with Melèch, Dagred and his men had been making
the Captain’s threat about what kind of condition he was going to leave
Legolas in after having been led on a second mad chase.
elf breathed heavily, falling forward to his knees when he was
released. One side of his face was slowly turning purple-brown with
bruises and he could hardly bear to stand on his injured ankle anymore.
had to try, didn’t you?" Melèch accused Legolas as he paced
before his prisoner. How close the elf had come to succeeding and
totally bollixing up his whole plan made Melèch positively
"You just had to try. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you! I
beat you, I work you, but you just refuse to learn!" Melèch was
no more. If you will not learn the easy way, then I will let those more
experienced then myself teach you a lesson you will not forget!"
Clapping his hands, Melèch summoned a servant who brought Unuth
Umbar into the room.
calculatingly between Melèch and the elven slave kneeling on the
floor. "You requested my presence, my Lord?"
Melèch folded his arms, glaring coldly at Legolas. "This slave
nothing but trouble. You are a man experienced in these matters. I
offered to loan him to you if you desired; well, he’s yours. I leave
to you and Captain Dagred and his men. Do with him what you will, but
do not be gentle and make sure it is something that he will never, ever
Unuth smiled cruelly as
he looked down at Legolas’ hunched form. "With great pleasure, my
Legolas’ chin in his hand, he pulled the elf’s head up, his eyes
sweeping the slave’s body. "This will be to my liking," the unsavory
man said, cupping Legolas’ bruised cheek roughly in his hand and
trapping the elf’s golden hair between his fingers.
spiked in Legolas’ pain-glazed eyes and a shudder that he could not
repress shook his frame as his body shied away from the man’s loathsome
Dagred’s knee in his back pushed the elf forward and held him still as
Unuth’s coarse hands dropped down to work the catches on Legolas’ tunic.
May it be an evening star shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road... oh how far you are from home
(Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
(Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now...
helplessly, Legolas hugged himself tightly as he rocked back and forth
in the darkness of his small cell. Silent tears that he could no
longer hold back coursed quietly down his bruised cheeks. He had
refused to cry when his tormenters had him, but now, alone in the dark,
the pain was too much to hold inside.
darkness around him was thick, suffocating, and what was worse, Legolas
felt as if the darkness was now inside him as well, eating up his soul
and leaving him empty and hopeless. It was said that an elf could die
from a broken heart; whether or not that was true Legolas did not know,
but right now the despair working on him certainly felt as if it wanted
to crush the life out of him.
Every inch of his body
hurt and he had no escape from the pain and the endless torment of his
memories of horror.
the door to the cell scraped open and Legolas pulled back tighter into
the corner, leaden fear clutching at his heart. Had they come back? By
the Valar... weren’t they finished with him yet?
quiet sob shook his shoulders as he tried to make himself impassive,
not wanting his captors to see his weakness. Yet even the elf’s strong
pride could no longer keep him emotionless in the face of his distress.
tall figure entered the room slowly and the door was closed behind him.
Legolas heard the lock slide back into place and the rough voice of the
guard called in, "Just give a knock when you’re done with him, but be
careful. Them elves is dangerous folk."
resisted the urge to pull even farther back into the corner. There was
no use fighting the inevitable and he would not let these people see
his fear if he could help it. At least there was only one this time...
the elf bit back the raw, choking lump in his throat.
elf did not raise his eyes because he found it easier if he did not
have to look, if his tormenters remained faceless. He had closed off
his extra senses long ago because it hurt far too much to feel anymore
than he had to. Locked inside himself now, Legolas hugged his knees
tightly and waited for the inescapable.
newcomer hesitated in the entry for a moment, his deep, sad eyes taking
in the miserable form of the young elf hunched in the corner. Naked
except for his chains, Legolas shivered from much more than cold.
The fellow crossed the
small room and knelt silently by Legolas’ side.
pressed his eyes shut, waiting, but the person beside him made no move.
After several moments the apprehensive stillness was more than he could
"Do what you’re going
to do, but do not toy with me," the elf ground out between his teeth,
his hands balling into tight fists.
"Still so proud, young
one..." It was Esgal’s soft voice, laced with incredibly sadness.
head came up abruptly. Drawn up inside himself he had not known it was
the other elf. For a moment he caught Esgal’s eyes, before quickly
turning his head away and dropping it down onto his arms with a shudder
that was really a barely contained sob. Somehow it was unbearable,
having the older elf see him like this. Legolas did not want anyone’s
is all right to speak if we speak softly," Esgal said in a quiet
whisper, for Legolas’ ears only. "The guards think I am here on other
business; they will suspect nothing."
made no response, but hugged his knees tighter. He did not know what
Esgal wanted and right now his hurting heart could trust no one.
Sliding his long grey
cape off his shoulders, Esgal draped it gently around Legolas’
young elf grabbed the edges tightly, hugging the soft fabric to his
body with trembling hands. Still he did not look up. His own shame kept
his eyes glued to the ground.
"What is your
business here?" Legolas asked softly, his normally flowing voice
roughened from physical and emotional pain.
heard what happened from Unuth," the obvious disdain and loathing in
Esgal’s voice was clear and sharp. "I... I could not find it in me to
leave anyone alone under these conditions." He laid a gentle,
comforting hand on Legolas’ back, but the younger elf stiffened at the
touch and Esgal withdrew quickly.
do not need your pity," Legolas blinked rapidly, trying to force back
the treacherous tears that wanted to betray him. His voice ended up
sharper than he intended.
was not put off. "That is well, because you do not have it," the elder
elf said calmly, but his voice was not hard. "Pity is for the helpless
and you, young prince, are not helpless. Neither are you permanently
marred. People can do what they will, but they cannot change you, they
cannot touch your soul if you do not let them." His words were strong,
but his underlying tone was laced with compassion. Esgal knew that Legolas
was hurting horribly and that it would take him time to recover from
this, but he knew the young elf would recover... Now Legolas just
needed to know it.
see in you a strength, young one, that tells me these chains are
temporary and that no bonds can hold your spirit if you choose not to
let them." Esgal’s voice was soft now and he lifted his eyes towards
the small, barred window near the top of the far wall. The moon had
just risen and Eärendil shone brightly between the bars like a
but faithful pinprick of hope.
know of what I speak, Legolas Greenleaf," the elf said slowly. "I have
been a captive, I have lived despair. I have seen war after war, each
one heralded as the conflict to end all conflicts. I have seen elves
slaughter elves. I have lost my brother to the mortal fate, and my
mother and father to the Undying Lands." Esgal took a deep breath.
wondered, Legolas, did you not, how I knew the name of Gil-Estel?" he
asked softly, the light of the star mirrored in his eyes. "Well I have
good reason to know it and know it well. Gil-Estel, the star of high
hope... is the light of my father’s golden ship." In a gesture of trust
and good faith, Esgal finally revealed himself for who he was.
radiance of the Silmaril burns on the breast of Eärendil, as he
across the sky to meet my mother, Elwing, who waits for him in her tall
tower..." the elf’s voice trailed off slowly as he gazed at the
twinkling star, the only sight he had seen of his father in centuries.
brother and I were prisoners when my mother threw herself into the sea
to save the Silmaril from capture. Our father was away. She found him
again, but I have seen neither of them since. Ours was a light
captivity, as it ended up, for our keeper became fond of us and treated
us like his own... yet captivity is captivity, son of Thranduil, and I
have endured far worse than that. I found the strength to go on, and so
will you." The elder elf’s eyes burned with sincerity.
Legolas looked up to
meet his companion’s gaze for the first time and the young elf’s eyes
were wide with shock and awe.
but that means... that would make you..." Legolas dropped into a
respectful bow over his knees, his golden hair brushing the floor.
Elrond," he whispered, slightly over-awed at meeting for the first time
one of the elves about whom stories and songs had been spun around the
fires of his father’s court for time out of mind. "Forgive me, I did
not know you... I have treated you ill, my Lord," the young elf
murmured, even more deeply ashamed of himself now.
Elrond bid him gently and Legolas obeyed, still trembling lightly. "You
saved me from discovery when I was careless enough to almost be caught.
I see no need for an apology," the Elven lord shook his head.
Legolas nodded slowly,
leaning back against the wall with aching weariness. "Why are you here?"
are disturbing things going on in Dorolyn that I do not yet
understand," Elrond said thoughtfully. "A shadow is creeping over the
land. Several have come to investigate in one way or another; none ever
returned. I came myself when I was convinced that the need was dire
enough. Melèch thinks me to be a lord from the land of Emyth
men of Emyth Muir are well known for their metalwork, but they are good
people. When a strange order from Dorolyn came to them, they were
perplexed and troubled by the secrecy that was demanded regarding it.
This was discovered by some of my people and an agreement was reached
between us that they would fill the order and I should take it, posing
as one of them. In this way, I hope to learn more of the situation and
Melèch’s purpose for the strange rings I brought him."
hurting head came up urgently. "Then you must know, you must warn my
father, his life is in danger. Melèch wishes to murder the
family of Mirkwood, yet I do not know why."
nodded, deeply disturbed. "These are disquieting tidings indeed, son of
Thranduil, but do not fear. This man will not succeed in his aims."
sighed softly, feeling a little better already because at least
someone knew what he knew, someone who had a far better chance of
warning his father’s messengers than he did at this point.
considered the younger elf somberly. He hated to leave Legolas in the
cruel situation he was in, but there was nothing he could do at this
time without endangering his cover. So right now the best he could
offer the young prince was hope.
not let your light go out, Legolas," Elrond encouraged, lightly
the younger elf’s shoulder. This time the prince did not flinch away
from his touch and Elrond gently drew Legolas back to rest against his
shoulder, stilling the young elf’s trembling with the incredible calm
and peace of his presence.
body relaxed slowly under the influence of Elrond’s strong presence and
healing touch that soothed both his injured body and hurting heart.
they gazed up at the small space of stars through the barred window.
"See? Eärendil is shining down on you, Greenleaf. He is watching
you, just as he is watching over me. Gil-Estel, high hope... Sometimes
hope is all we have Legolas, but it is enough, if only we are true to