Captive of Darkness
~~"The blood of your House sealed our sleep and the blood of your House shall awaken us
intoned, his huge hand tightening around the knife-like shard. The
cavern seemed to tremble with a breathless anticipation and a thin
trickle of blood ran down the young elf’s neck as the sharp rock cut
into his flesh. The instant it appeared, the stone beneath their feet
was powerless to struggle against the arms that held him. Ice formed in
his blood and circulated with every rapid beat of his heart. Closing
his eyes, he tried to accept the inevitable.
a flashing sword knocked the stone blade aside. Dagred and the other
man were caught unawares and stumbled backward in surprise.
stood protectively between Dor-Gor and the young elf prince. His turban
was thrown aside and he stood tall and unafraid, no longer hiding his
true identity. He had heard enough. He knew now the horror that
was nursing to unleash upon the world, his disguise was no longer
needed and he did not intend to let Legolas die, nor let his blood be
used to waken the slumbering doom around them.
back, creature of the ancient world!" Elrond warned darkly, holding his
sword tightly and glaring at the beast. "You shall not have him."
shrieked in rage. The cave trembled. The process had already been
started; it had to be completed or else he and all those like him who
slumbered here would return to the dust from which they came, never
more to stir.
His heavy fist swung
down towards the elf lord, but Elrond leaped easily aside, dodging the
scrambled to his feet and Elrond pulled the younger, wounded elf behind
him. They backed warily away from Dor-Gor and the two guardsmen who had
re-gathered from their momentary surprise and were now pressing in
was shouting for his other soldiers and swearing, absolutely stunned at
this sudden glitch in what had been a perfect plan. The fact that Esgal
was in fact an elf and a spy not only shocked but angered him greatly.
moved with surprising speed for his bulk, placing himself between the
two elves and the cavern mouth. He lashed out wildly, again and again,
forcing Elrond and Legolas to retreat backward, farther into the cave.
felt the earth tremble beneath him and knew that his time ran short. He
wanted the two elves dead, but he had not the time to pursue them.
Legolas’ blood had started the process. Any blood would finish it.
abruptly, Dor-Gor slew Captain Dagred and the other guard in one quick
move. The two guardsmen fell dead before they knew what had happened,
their blood spilling across the rocky floor. Unuth, unlucky enough to
be standing nearby, was next. It was not for nothing that these
creatures had earned their foul and bloodthirsty names. Melèch
realize the fire he was playing with, because the Gondrauko were
completely ruthless and given to killing without compunction.
Melèch shouted in rage. "What do you think you’re-"
Dor-Gor rounded on the king with a wicked look in his eye, blood
dripping off his hands. ~~"Finishing what I start."~~
could feel the stirring in the cave around him and it took his breath
away. Suddenly one of the menacing stone obelisks on their left shifted
and expanded outward in a shower of stone and dust, like some horrible
moth emerging from its granite cocoon.
Gondrauko stepped out, blinking his eyes and looking around. Yet it did
not seem disoriented, as one might expect after waking from so long a
slumber. Somehow, the creature seemed to know exactly what was going
on. Dark, dangerous eyes fixed upon the two elves.
pillar exploded outward in a shower of sharp, choking debris, and
another, and another. Elrond and Legolas blinked rapidly against the
grit in the air, coughing as they drew back in the face of the
overwhelming odds. Elrond tossed Legolas one of the long knives off his
belt and the two elves stood back to back, ready for battle.
arms wielded even thicker stone clubs, forcing the elves to jump and
scramble to avoid being smashed. Their weapons bounced uselessly off
the thick stone hides of their assailants and dust choked them.
aimed a quick, precise throw and his knife buried itself deeply in the
soft flesh at the base of one of the attacking Gondrauko’s throat. The
creature clutched its neck and fell to its knees with a loud cry.
Falling forward onto its face, it simply crumbled into dust at their
two elves had no time for wonder, because three other creatures were
already upon them. Around them, more Gondrauko were awakening, filling
the cavern with the din of their exploding rock cocoons. Legolas and
Elrond knew they stood very little chance of ever making it out of this
cave alive, but they were prepared to meet their ends bravely and make
the best stand possible.
looked around at the appearing creatures with horror. Not yet. This was
not supposed to happen yet! "Dor-Gor! You told me you had to have the
entire royal family’s blood..."
I forget to tell you? Royal blood to start it... any blood can finish.
I need more, Melèch! Bring in the rest of your men. I must
finish this now!"~~
lips pursed. He had been deceived. He was not ready for this awakening,
and he greatly feared that once he had served his purpose, Dor-Gor
would not honor their bargain. He was not ready for this yet... but he
would have to make do.
well!" Melèch agreed, summoning the remainder of the unwitting
were yet outside. "But first... a gift, my lord! I have a sample of the
armor we spoke of, a gift for you as a token of our future together!"
The king quickly procured the massive ring that Elrond had brought
Dor-Gor laughed. ~~"*Our*
future puny mortal king? I have no future with you. You have done all
you are useful for. Do you really think *I*, with all the power that is
at my command, intend to serve *you*? But, if your gift pleases me, and
if you bring my blood to me swiftly, I will think about letting you
bowed, scowling deeply, but holding onto his pretended calm. He passed
up the armor ring to Dor-Gor and helped him fasten it firmly around his
neck. As soon as it was in place, Melèch’s fake grin turned hard
mocking. "Beware of gifts from those you betray, Dor-Gor!" he hissed,
moving away quickly.
Dor-Gor’s eyes widened
in shock. ~~"NO!"~~ he thundered in sheer fury, tearing at the
collar around his neck. ~~"NO!!!!"~~
the matter?" Melèch sneered. "Don’t you like the special
had built into your collar? Dust, from the hills of Edil, the dust from
which you and your people came. As long as you wear that collar you are
subject to the commands of the one who placed it upon you, to my
commands. You will obey me whether you want to or not! Don’t bother
trying to get it off. I have been assured that it is completely
~~"You betrayed me,
Melèch!"~~ Dor-Gor roared, rising up to his full height and
glowering down at the monarch.
bad turn deserves another, Dor-Gor," Melèch said darkly, knowing
beast could not harm him personally so long as he wore that collar.
shrieked in hysterical fury and all hell broke loose. His minions
turned on Melèch’s men and the two elves found themselves
forgotten as their enemies fought one another. But the chaos did not
have long to last.
awakening Gondraukos began to tremble and writhe, and suddenly one of
them exploded into a rough, sharp cloud of dust, followed by another,
and another. The pillars of un-roused creatures also shook and began to
dissolve as their own magic worked against them. It was an effect that
no one had anticipated.
tremors shook the cavern, bringing down chunks of the ceiling and
stalactites fall like deadly daggers to the cave floor. Dor-Gor’s
unfinished awakening was going sour as its time ran out and the earth
trembled with the force of it.
looked around, his face grim and streaked with dust and sweat. He could
feel that this place was in its death throes. They had to leave and
leave swiftly. Legolas, who had dropped to one knee in painful
exhaustion, had much the same feeling. Elrond offered the younger elf a
hand up and the two of them were just starting towards the cave mouth,
when a huge section of the ceiling directly above them fell in.
threw themselves out of the way; falling apart from one another as the
sharp shower of deadly debris rained down upon the two elves. At nearly
the same moment, the entrance to the cave fell in with a horrendous
boom, blocking out the light and plunging everyone into almost total
blackness was suffocating as the cave shook and trembled, collapsing
upon itself amid the shrieking cries of men and Gondraukos. Somewhere
in the din, Elrond could hear Melèch screaming something
Dor-Gor bellowing as the maddened caws of Melèch’s hunting
confusion to chaos.
pushed himself to his knees, his head ringing. His long fingers found
blood on his temple, where a falling stone had grazed him. "Legolas?
Legolas!" he called his companion’s name, but the younger elf did not
ground heaved beneath him, and a great crashing sound filled his ears.
The elf lord glowed faintly in the darkness and, by his own light, he
found Legolas’ still form. Parts of the ceiling had fallen upon the
prince’s legs and chest. The elder elf tried to heave the chunks aside,
but Legolas was wedged firmly and he could not budge the young prince
by himself. Elrond felt worriedly for his companion’s pulse and was
rewarded to find that Legolas still breathed. The same rocks that had
trapped the prince had missed slaying him only because they landed upon
other rocks, imprisoning, but not killing, the elf.
"Legolas! Legolas, awaken!" the elf lord commanded,
shaking the young prince gently, but
moaned softly as he came back to consciousness, drawn more by Elrond’s
command than by any physical reason. Every fiber of his body hurt and
the darkness around them was frightening. When he realized he could not
move, his fear heightened. Extreme claustrophobia ignited in the
young elf’s heart and he struggled desperately with the rocks that held
him down. His efforts only caused the stones to settle down harder,
crushing more cruelly against his injured body. Legolas moaned in
terrified pain, his head still cloudy and reeling.
laid a gentle hand on the frightened prince’s forehead and Legolas saw
the outline of the elf lord’s glowing form through blurred, stinging
"Help me," Legolas’
lips formed the words without sound. His trapped lungs had no air for
speech. He was suffocating.
need not have asked. Elrond was already pulling at the stones once
more. They moved, but slowly. Too slowly. Taking Legolas under the
armpits, Elrond attempted to pull him free. The prince twisted and
tried to help, suppressing a cry of pain. Slowly, Legolas inched out
from under the deadly tangle.
cavern shook ferociously and a great rending sound filled the air. The
two elves choked on unseen dust. The trembling of the earth caused the
debris to shift, and Legolas could not help crying out as the pressure
on his legs intensified sharply with the settling of the rocks.
squeezed the young elf’s shoulders tightly, encouragingly. "You’re
almost free, Legolas, hold on." Even in the midst of all this ruin, the
elder elf’s voice was surprisingly calm and reassuring.
violent tremor seized the place and more debris rained down upon them.
Elrond dropped to one knee, putting his hand over his head and
crouching over Legolas’ head and shoulders, shielding the younger elf
from further injury with his own body.
was more light suddenly and they could just see that the latest cave-in
had opened a hole in the ceiling that must communicate with the outside.
renewed his efforts to free his companion, but Legolas shook his head
quickly. "Go!" he rasped urgently. "In moments it will be too late!"
did not respond, but with one more tug, he got Legolas free.
Half-supporting the younger elf, the elf lord rose. Together they made
their way swiftly towards the jagged fissure that had opened barely
three feet above their heads. They could not see the open air, but they
could smell it, and they could see the light filtering down. It was
their only way out and their only chance. They had to take it.
"Can you make it?"
Elrond inquired quickly, having to shout above the rending shriek of
the dying cave around them.
Legolas nodded, pulling
free of Elrond’s supportive hold, despite the pain it caused him.
shedding the cumbersome velvet outer-robes that would impede his
movement, the elder elf jumped nimbly up and caught hold of the stone
lip, pulling himself up. Bracing himself in the narrow, twisting
fissure, Elrond reached down, offering Legolas a hand up.
was dizzy and unsteady. Everything that had happened to him in the past
few hours had been entirely too much for his body to handle,
elven-strong though it was. He caught hold of Elrond’s hands and
somehow managed to clamber up into the fissure, but his vision blurred
double and his head throbbed in time with his over-rapid breathing.
the two elves scrambled upward, half climbing, half struggling their
way up through the narrow, almost vertical shaft. Both of them were
painfully aware that the fissure could close or fall in at any
moment, crushing them to death inside it.
The chains that still
connected Legolas’ limbs impeded his already difficult movements.
several unbearably long and claustrophobic moments of desperate
scrabbling, the two beings found themselves scrambling up, out of the
fissure and into the glaringly bright, but blissfully open air of the
still were not safe, for the earth trembled under their feet and, not
far from them, the ground opened up with a rumbling roar as it
in upon the cavern below. Elrond grabbed Legolas’ arm and half guided,
half dragged the reeling younger elf to safety.
reached solid ground not a moment too soon, for the entire hill came
down upon itself in a jumble of ruin, forever sealing the graves of
those buried beneath.
Elnon, Unuth, Dor-Gor... their own greedy scheming and lust for power
had destroyed them all, just as Legolas had said it would. Those who
sought evil usually found it, and it became their undoing.
spared a backward glance and shook his head, leaning slightly against
the thick trunk of the tree beside him as he caught his breath after
their narrow escape.
also leaned against the tree, the world wavering about him. The wave of
relief and loss of adrenaline as he began to realize that they really
were safe now was almost too much for his injured body to handle. His
knees buckled, refusing to hold him any longer.
Elrond turned quickly
and caught the prince, lowering the younger elf gently to the ground.
eyes were glazed with pain and his pupils dilated far too wide for the
brightness of the afternoon sun. Blood, sweat and dust clung to his
fair face and his chest heaved unevenly. Elrond knew his young friend
was in a great deal of trouble.
his fingers underneath Legolas’ iron collar in an attempt to better
feel the young elf’s pulse, Elrond scowled at the ugly chains that
still held the injured prince. He wished he could remove them,
but the manacles had been welded closed upon Legolas’ limbs and it
would take a metalsmith to unfasten them.
Legolas’ pulse was weak
and thready and much too fast. Elrond’s fingers came away bloody.
opening the front of the younger elf’s soiled, torn tunic, Elrond moved
the chains aside, running his hand lightly over the prince’s chest,
checking for broken ribs or any other possibly serious injuries from
the cave-in Legolas had been trapped under.
fixed frightened, pain-filled eyes on the elf lord as Elrond examined
him; unable to help his body’s terrified reaction to its own
helplessness and the painfully fresh memories of what other hands had
done to him not very long ago.
stopped suddenly when he caught the look in the young elf’s eyes and
realized that Legolas did not tremble under his touch out of pain only.
The young prince had been hurt. Horribly so. It would take him time to
get over the pain, physically and mentally.
pulled back slightly. "You do not have to fear me, young one," he
whispered soothingly in their native tongue. "I wish to help only. I
will not hurt you. You have my word."
know y-you won’t..." Legolas whispered with effort, and he did mean it.
He knew the elf lord meant him no harm, he simply did not have the
strength to harness his body’s reaction. The world turned first yellow
and then black before his eyes and it seemed that he heard Elrond’s
voice coming to him from a great distance away, through a long tunnel.
"Be strong, young one...
you are free. Do not let go now..."
head rolled to the side as consciousness fled. Elrond tried to bring
him around, but thought better of it. Scooping the elven boy up in his
arms, the elder elf displayed the unusual strength of his kind. He had
to get the young prince to some place where he could care for him, and
soon, or it would be too late.