One of Scatha’s underlings went into the stable and returned with a
heated running iron, the kind that was used for changing the markings
on horses. The brand had been put in the fire earlier in
anticipation of making those changes and now the flattened end of the
rod glowed red-hot.
Legolas closed his eyes when he saw them bringing it out, taking a few
deep breaths to dispel the wave of panic that was washing over him.
Scatha laughed at the elf’s reaction. “Guessed what that was for
did you?” he chuckled evilly, taking the iron from his underling.
“Well you’d be right...” he let the heated metal rest close to Legolas’
face and the elf could feel the blistering heat rolling off the
instrument. He tried to turn his head away a little, but Gram’s
hand tightened on the side of his head, pushing down harder on the
knife to hold him still.
“We mark horses to show we own them,” Scatha hissed cruelly as he held
the burning iron close to the elf’s face, letting Legolas know exactly
what he intended to do before he actually pressed the brand against the
elf’s cheek. “Well you can know for the rest of the very short
time you have left to live that I own you, and I will take the greatest
pleasure in being the one to control how you draw your last
Legolas closed his eyes, trying to steel himself for the pain he knew
would follow as Scatha pushed the glowing iron closer to his
flesh. The elf could hear Kynter and Avornwen neighing and
calling out desperately as the men dragged them further away.
Suddenly he felt the ground under his back tremble slightly; the
pounding of hoof beats.
The elf opened his eyes again just in time to see a dark, rearing shape
loom up over Gram’s sneering face, above his head. Bending over
the elf, Gram couldn’t see it coming until the horse’s hard hooves
struck him directly in the head, knocking him to the ground and killing
the thief instantly.
Scatha looked up in surprise and alarm as Gram fell, stumbling back a
Legolas seized advantage of the situation, jerking free of Gram’s dead
weight and rolling away from the heated iron by his face. He
rolled easily under the stamping horses’ hooves, but the creature did
not step on him. Springing to his feet, Legolas winced as he
tried to put pressure on his leg again. That did not prove to be
a good plan so he shifted his weight back to his other leg, hop-limping
slightly as he looked up at the large, dark form of the horse who had
come to his rescue. To his surprise it was not Avornwen or
Kynter. It was a much more recent friend.
The dark chestnut stallion cantered in a quick circle, scattering the
thieves like chaff before striding quickly past Legolas, offering the
elf the chance to grab hold of him, which the prince readily did.
“Hannon le, Firebrand,”
Legolas whispered as he clung to the horse’s neck, laying forward to
avoid the arrows that streaked through the night after him.
The horse nickered softly as it dodged one man and nearly bowled over
another. Legolas smiled faintly as they rushed down the dark
hill. “You’re right,” he said softly. “Some of us were always
meant to be free.”
Grabbing up two long, sharpened poles leaning against the fence as he
rode by, Legolas hurled the projectiles as deadly spears at the men who
were struggling with Avornwen and Kynter, felling them.
The Elvish horses swerved away and came to run alongside. Legolas
transferred smoothly from Firebrand’s back to Kynter’s. He knew
that Avornwen had been hurt in her fall and did not wish to stress her
with his weight right now. Avornwen followed along behind on her
own at a slightly slower pace.
As soon as Legolas was safely over, Firebrand swerved away, heading
back for the other horses which the thieves had just begun to calm down
and round up once more. Calling out to them in their own
language, the powerful stallion whipped the animals up into a frenzy,
beginning an all out stampede. It seemed to be Firebrand’s
opinion that they should all be free.
Legolas heard hoofbeats behind him and knew it was not the loose
horses. Two or three of Scatha’s men had mounted up and were
chasing after him. Legolas pressed his legs into Kynter’s side,
urging the horse to go faster.
Kynter stretched his neck forward, putting all he had into the
gallop. He was not naturally as fast as Avornwen was but he had
heart and would run until he dropped if his rider asked him to.
In the darkness everything was confusing and for a few moments Legolas
wasn’t even sure where he was exactly. Then he saw the tall fence
that surrounded the outer pastures of Émuseld loom up suddenly
before him in the darkness. Kynter never even broke pace but
leapt the wooden enclosure in one swift, compact move. Behind
them, the other riders cleared the obstacle with less grace, but kept
right on coming.
Avornwen had fallen behind somewhere but Legolas couldn’t worry about
her right now; he knew she would catch up with them. As
Émuseld and the waving bobbing torches scattered across the
hillside faded behind him the elf felt deep regret tugging at
him. He would have turned round, despite the danger, if there was
any hope that Fastred and Léod might still be alive... but he
knew that the only way they might have survived this long was if they
had already made it away into the hills. In which case going back
served no purpose. Legolas had to look to his own survival now
and that was not nearly as certain as he would have liked.
Kynter was doing his best, but the thieves had mistreated the two elven
horses gravely for their lack of obedience and his strength had been
depleted. Legolas, bending low over his neck and whispering
encouragement as they navigated the unfamiliar, rocky terrain, was in
little better shape.
His pursuers also seemed to know the terrain better than the elf did,
which did not help matters at all.
Legolas risked a glance over his shoulder and saw that two of the
riders were still hot on his tail, their jingling halters flashing
dully in the moonlight, almost like ghost riders. Legolas turned
back and pressed himself lower, pulling Kynter quickly to the side as
another arrow from behind whistled past his head, coming so close it
stirred his hair. Where the third rider had gone he knew
not. Hopefully he had lost them.
The elf’s leg was throbbing as he held on tightly, navigating the swift
turns and jaggedly bouncing landscape. The path he was on plunged
the elf down into a low, rocky gully with the hearth slanting steeply
upward on his left and steeply downward on his right, leaving no room
for any navigational errors in the darkness. Fortunately the
elven horse’s sight and balance was true and his rider steady.
Kynter’s hooves thudded and echoed loudly against the gravel floor of
the path they were racing down, blocking almost all other sound from
even the elf’s sharp hearing. Yet looking over his shoulder,
Legolas could see that the thieves chasing him, although obviously very
skilled riders themselves, were slowing and falling father behind on
the dangerous trail.
As Legolas whirled around a difficult, switch-back turn he suddenly
sensed something on the ridge above. Looking up sharply he only
just had a momentary glance of the third rider cantering his horse
along the upper ridge before the man pounced. The thief had
obviously known exactly where this path led and broken off from the
chase earlier in order to gain the high ground over their prey.
Leaping from his horse, the man crashed into Legolas’ side, grabbing
the elf’s waist and shoulders and flinging them both off of the elf’s
mount. Kynter started and reared, but Legolas and his attacker
had already hit the ground on the far side of the path. Landing
with a hard, breath-steeling jolt the two beings rolled over several
times, grappling as the momentum of the impact carried them over the
lip of this path as well. The elf and the human found themselves
tumbling sharply down the steep, rocky incline, locked in a fierce
The man had a knife in his fist and Legolas desperately held his wrist
as they tumbled over and over one another in the dark, the flashing
blade hanging precariously between them. Jerking the man’s hand
back when he was on the bottom, Legolas bashed the human’s knuckles
against the ground, letting the man’s wrist twist as their momentum
rolled them over again. The thief had to let go of the blade and
it disappeared into the darkness as they continued downward, unable to
stop their own rapid descent.
Legolas tried to fling the man away from him, but a large rock slammed
painfully into his ribs and back as they tumbled over it, making him
gasp and lose his restraining hold on his opponent.
They landed with a bone-crunching jar a few moments later, Legolas
pinned on the bottom. For the second time in less than a half an
hour Legolas’ head slammed forcefully back against the hard ground,
making his vision swim nauseatingly. The man on top of him had
fared little better, but took advantage of the situation, locking his
legs on either side of the prince and trying to pin him.
Legolas grabbed the hands that closed around his throat, trying to
dislodge them as the pressure cut off his airway. Quickly
trapping the man’s foot and arm with his own, the elf bucked up and
flipped the human over.
The thief rolled away just in time to avoid letting Legolas get the
upper hand and punched upwards hard, catching the elf in the ribs where
he knew Scatha had kicked the prince earlier.
Legolas winced and brought his knee down sharply into his opponent’s
gut. He just wanted to get away; the longer he lingered here the
more dangerous it became.
Unfortunately it was already too late. A sharp blow to the side
of his head from behind threw Legolas sideways. The elf’s ears
rang painfully as the other two thieves came into his view. He
struggled to his knees but couldn’t quite rise yet.
One of them grabbed Legolas’ hair, yanking his head up. The elf
could see their sabers gleaming dully in the moonlight as he tried to
battle the dizziness and pain sweeping over him. The logical part
of his mind was telling him he was not going to survive this, but the
stubborn part of him refused to listen as he pulled his legs under him
and gathered his strength, watching guardedly as the second man reached
out to grab his arm.
He would not die without a struggle, no matter how futile it would most
Aragorn was trying to still his laughter as he walked alongside his
father. The day was swiftly melting into the encroaching dusk but
they pushed on. The mountain range that the Dúnadan had
seen in Galadriel’s mirror was only a mile or so away now. Elrond
knew his son would not rest tonight until they had reached the exact
spot and had attempted to take the human’s mind off his worries by
asking him a simple question about the ranger’s finely tuned archery
skills he had observed earlier in the day. Aragorn had far
surpassed his early training that the elven lord had taken part in and
he was curious about some of the young man’s habits and forms that he
had picked up. The conversation had quickly degraded from there
as his youngest son attempted to retell the story of how Legolas had
taught him to shoot, ‘like a Silvan elf’.
“He wanted to know what?!” Elrond glanced at the man that walked
next to him unable to control his own laughter. He had heard the
mumbled statement but could not help goading Estel.
Rolling his eyes Aragorn sighed and fought the smile that pulled at his
lips, “I said that Legolas wanted to know who taught me how to
shoot.” He repeated himself more loudly still not meeting the
questioning gaze of the elf lord.
“Your brothers did.” Elrond replied simply, “And I helped in your
training.” He failed to see why the boy had become so hesitant in
retelling this particular story. “And so?”
“Well Legolas said that I was shooting like a female.” He
cringed, trying not to smile as his father faltered and turned towards
“A what?” Elrond stuttered in disbelief.
“You heard me.” The ranger stepped lightly away from the elf,
unable to stop laughing. “He basically said that all Noldor elves shoot
like females and that Silvan elves excelled in the art. Of course it
could have just been the way Elladan and Elrohir taught me but... I
don’t know...” He couldn’t help the taunting. It wasn’t
often that he was able to take his father by surprise. He could
see the elf lord glaring at him out of the corner of his eyes and
danced slightly farther out of reach.
“We most certainly do not shoot like females.” Elrond’s eyebrows knit
tightly together across his brow. He was trying his best not to
laugh and look stern but it wasn’t working. With a shake of his
head he glanced to his left so that his son could not see the smile he
hid and continued speaking, attempting to hide his mirth. It was
a long held argument and one he was not unfamiliar with. “I’ll
have you know if it weren’t for the help of the Noldor elves there
would be no Silvan elves left to practice their ‘famed’ archery
skills.” He protested good-naturedly.
“Well he thought I needed help nonetheless,” Aragorn moved back next to
the tall elf and glanced up into the blue eyes that watched him
closely, the mirth uncontained in their depths, “and he took it upon
himself to retrain me a bit.” The human stepped lightly in front
of the elf lord and walked backwards while he talked, trying to get
Elrond to look at him. The elf was doing his best not to
start laughing at the young man as he recounted how Legolas had
proceeded to compare him to one of the younger learners and teach him
slowly several of the more Silvan techniques of archery and warfare
with the bow and arrow.
They had left the safety of the woods a half mile back and the ground
had become rocky and uneven. Elrond reached out and grabbed
Estel’s elbow, turning the human back around as he stumbled slightly on
the shale rocks beneath their feet. Darkness had just set in and
the very last shades of dusk were fleeing from the sky as night threw
her blanket across the canopy above them.
“Careful now, my son, this is unsteady terrain. It would be best
if you walked facing forward.”
He smiled at the ranger beside him. The young man, the boy he had
known had grown so quickly into a man. One he was very proud
“Well you do know father, that Legolas was only teasing. I am
sure it was my lack that he was seeing and it did not in any way
reflect on you or Elladan and Elrohir.”
“Of that I am certain.” The elf lord deadpanned, staring straight
Aragorn simply burst out laughing and elbowed the older elf.
“Want me to teach a few moves?” He teased good-naturedly.
Elrond simply shook his head and allowed the smile he had been hiding
to steal back over my face. “Yes I would very much like to see exactly
what you know.” He humored his son. Years of living as a
warrior and fighting side by side with Celeborn had not left him
without knowledge of both Noldorian, Sindarin and Silvan warfare, but
he never grew tired of listening to the young man that walked beside
him. He delighted in his son and loved to spend time with the
boy. His heart ached dully at the knowledge that soon they would
be parted for a time as Aragorn began to take his place among
men. Pushing back the undesired wisdom that his foresight often
bestowed on him, he simply enjoyed the moment and the time they had
Aragorn smiled brightly as his father stepped closer and listened
intently, the elf’s hand laid gently on the ranger’s back as they
walked in the near dark.
Elrond was surprised when his son stopped abruptly, the young man’s
eyes fixed across the small valley they were walking towards.
Just beyond it was the hill, the one when at the right position, took
on the odd resemblance of an old man carved into the mountain.
"This is where Legolas was in my vision." He ran up the small
incline on their right and knelt at the edge of the precipice.
His fingers barely brushed the sharp rocks that covered the hill.
“This is the ground that I saw in my dreams. Only not from
here...” His voice trailed off as he crouched closer to the rocky
plateau searching. It was too dark now to see and he quickly
dropped his pack behind him careful of the area he was intent
upon. Frantically he dug through the satchel searching for
Elrond stood just outside the circle of the space that his son had been
so carefully inspecting, knowing that the ranger was searching for
clues as to what happened to Legolas.
“I need some light. A torch. Father?” Estel looked up
to find the elf lord already busy scouring the area for a piece of wood
or bramble to use. He came running swiftly back with a branch and
knelt next to the human as Aragorn struck the pieces of flint he had
retrieved from his pack, quickly setting the dry wood on fire.
"Here." Aragorn pointed to a section where the rocks seemed
displaced and slightly scattered away from the edge, directing his
father to bring the light closer.
"Estel, it will do no good to search tonight. There is no knowing
how much time has passed... or even if he has been here yet." The elf
lord touched the ranger gently on the shoulder. "Let us wait
until first light." It seemed too daunting a task to find any
clues in the dark.
Aragorn shook his head resolutely, his sharp eyes detecting the
scratches on the soft rocks. The pattern of the loose flakes of
shale that had been pushed aside and the barely imperceptible
depressions still visible attested to the fact that a horse stood here
on the edge of this cliff on its hind legs. His time with Gandalf
and the Rangers had taught him much and he was keener at tracking than
most men or elves. Whether it was an innate gift or a special
talent he had picked up he did not question it and Elrond was amazed as
he watched the young man methodically recreate the events, stepping it
out and speaking softly out loud as he worked his way through what had
happened on the mount days ago. Elrond had not had the
opportunity to see his human son at work before and found that he was
surprised at the boy's level of skill; the Dúnadan's eyes picked
up the slightest details that even the elf overlooked.
"There was a horse here, an unshod horse." His fingers pressed
into the slight indentations. "It was backed to the cliff, by
horses that had been shod. See these scuff marks on the
shale?" He crouched on the ground leaning forward and sweeping
his hands in a semi-circle around him, pointing out several sets of odd
scratched patterns on the rocks in the near vicinity. Turning
back he continued, his eyes searching the ground for clues, "And at
this point it reared up and..." He stepped to the edge of the small
hill and looked down. His gaze traveling into the canyon below
them and back up at the mountain that held the face of the man.
"Father! Legolas was thrown by his mount into the valley below! That is
were I saw him in my dreams and in the vision in the Mirror!"
Reaching out swiftly Elrond stopped the human from descending the cliff
face from where they stood. "Are you sure of this, my son?"
"Yes!" Aragorn was near panicked by now. He was positive of
the trackings he had found and desperation ate at his heart. If
Legolas had fallen and had not been found, if he had been
The negative possibilities would not let him rest.
"Then let us find a safe way down. And a path that will not
disturb any clues you may find at the bottom."
"But what if..." Aragorn didn’t continue his question, he
"What if we find Legolas and he is dead?" Elrond spoke aloud the
deepest fears in the young man’s heart. Estel stood perfectly
still, his gaze locked onto the older elf's. "If that is so then
we will have our answer and we will find whomever did this. But
in my heart, young one, I do not think this is what has
happened." Elrond tilted his head to the side slightly and gauged
the human before him. Testing Aragorn's own awakening abilities, he
asked, "Do you believe this is what happened?"
Closing his eyes and quieting the loud fears that shouted him down
Aragorn listened, to what he was not sure, but deep in his heart he
knew that although he had seen Legolas die in his dreams, it had not
been on this mountain or in this way. "No." He whispered
softly, “I do not think we will find Legolas at the bottom of the hill
nor do I think it is what caused his death, the death that I saw in the
vision I mean."
With a curt nod, Elrond pulled the ranger away from the cliff edge and
turned to their right, descending the hill by the natural slope of the
"Your tracking skills are excellent, my son." The elf lord
glanced at the ranger behind him as he led the way holding the torch
high so they could both see their steps in the dark. It would do
neither of them any good to twist an ankle on the loose shale.
With a small smile Aragorn shrugged. "I enjoy it. It comes
easy to me." He shook his head ruefully. “About the only
thing that does,” he added under his breath.
"It will aid you well in your future, I believe." Elrond shifted
down a few feet as the rocks slid beneath him.
“If I find Legolas alive then I will simply be grateful for it at
all.” Aragorn grabbed his father’s elbow and steadied the elf,
helping him to regain his footing as they reached the bottom of the
The man started to head for the base of the mountain beneath the
overhang when the elf stopped him, stilling his movement and cautioning
Elrond turned sharply to the south, riders were approaching, several of
them just beyond the next rise. There was shouting and yelling
and the elf could make out words in the broken sentences, their echoes
scattering through the rocky hills.
“Don’t let him get away...”
“Cut him off...”
“There sc...go aroun...”
“Follow me, someone is in trouble.” Whispering to his son, Elrond
quickly extinguished the torch he held and headed for the hill that
blocked their view.
Aragorn grabbed the elder elf and pulled him to the floor of the gully
they were in, pointing wordlessly to the ridge off to their left.
A lone rider had mounted the thin path and was using the high road to
get the upper hand on the situation.
They watched wordlessly as the man threw himself from his saddle off
the other side of the ridge. Sounds of a scuffle and frightened horses
echoed oddly in the ravine.
Elrond and Aragorn raced up the side of the hill, slipping and sliding
on the uneven ground. By the time they gained the high ground, a
group of men were standing over the form of another. The one they
had wrestled to the ground was unsteadily trying to sit up, kneeling on
the rough earth. He was forced to glance up at his attackers as
one of them grabbed a fistful of the being’s hair and jerked his head
In the soft light of the moon Aragorn could just see the blond hair
that spilled about the prisoner's shoulders. Legolas’ face was
hidden from his sight by the men that stood round him, their swords
drawn, but from Elrond’s position he could see the elf clearly.
Unslinging his bow and stringing an arrow in one smooth movement, the
elf lord sighted in on the back of the man directly in front of the
prince. The human was advancing on Legolas, his sword raised
ready to strike. Without asking, Aragorn followed suit. The
silent projectiles streaked through the night air slamming between the
shoulder blades of the men that stood before Legolas.
Legolas tensed beneath the man who jerked him upright, his eyes hard
even though he was finding it difficult to remain conscious. He
would take as many with him as he could if this were the end.
Breathing in deeply and steeling himself against the ache in his body
the elf leapt to his feet as Scatha’s men in front of him staggered
oddly; small gasps of pain barely escaped their lips before they fell
Taking the moment of surprise Legolas turned and smashed his fist hard
up under the remaining thief’s jaw, causing the man to stumble
backwards enough so that Elrond’s second arrow found its easy target in
Legolas stared at the thieves that lay dead on the ground around
him. He staggered away from them, his eyes seeking out whomever
it was that had stopped them. He had hoped to find Léod
and Fastred behind the rescue and was slightly wary when two cloaked
beings ran down the hillside towards him, looking nothing like the men
he had been working and living with the past couple of weeks. His
vision swam and his ears were ringing oddly from the blows to his
head. He staggered backwards as the cloaked figures gained his
side, holding his hand up warily to ward them off.
“Legolas?” Aragorn reached out and gently took the hand meant to
fend him off, pulling the elf closer as he quickly threw the hood of
his cloak back.
Elrond checked the men on the ground, satisfying himself that they were
dead and would pose no more of a threat.
“Father, he’s injured!” Aragorn called out as Legolas collapsed.
He barely caught the elf before he fell.
“Estel? What are you doing here?” Legolas was
confused. The Dúnadan was the last person he had expected
to see. He turned towards the being that knelt next to his friend
and was equally surprised when Lord Elrond pushed back the dark hood of
his own cloak and smiled down at the confused elf.
“Now I know that I am dreaming or treading the Halls of Mandos,” the
elf whispered softly, his hands clenched tightly in the folds of
Aragorn’s overcoat. “Lord Elrond?”
“It is I. Lie still, young one, you are yet among the living.”
The elf lord spoke quietly, trying to soothe the fearful expression
from the prince’s face with his words.
Estel was quickly evaluating the worst of Legolas’ wounds. His
gentle fingers found the bleeding welt on the elf’s arm and tipped the
prince’s head back to inspect the cut underneath his chin and the
ragged one that ran the length of his chest. “Legolas, I’m sorry
we were not here sooner.”
The elf glanced between them, frowning slightly trying to make sense of
everything, but his head hurt terribly and his leg was throbbing
again. His leg... he suddenly remembered the horses and tried to
Aragorn pressed him back down unwilling to let his friend up. The
elf’s wrists were bruised as well as his ribs and it was apparent that
the prince was disoriented.
“Legolas, rest easy now. You are in no shape to be up.”
Aragorn eased his friend back against him, holding the prince gently in
his arms. “I thought I lost you.” He whispered into the blond
hair, his head resting on Legolas’. “Father will find the
horses. Be still. Who were those men that attacked
“Thieves,” the elf prince answered softly; trying to stay awake was
becoming more difficult. “They were thieves.”
Elrond stood to his feet and whistled a high, piercing note. In
seconds the sounds of hoofbeats could be heard. Two horses
cantered slowly up, their heads held low, nickering and quietly talking
to the elves.
“Your horse and Trelan’s I take it?” Elrond directed the question
to Legolas. The elf had finally given in and lay quietly against
Estel. His head ached too much from the blows he had received and he
The elf lord quickly inspected the horses, finding their injuries and
easily removing the cruel halters that had been placed on them.
His sharp ears picked up the sounds of more men approaching.
“We must leave and quickly; you are being tracked.” He helped
Aragorn ease Legolas up to a standing position, allowing the prince to
lean against him for support as he led the limping elf towards the
“They are wounded as well and Avornwen fell. They cannot be
ridden.” Legolas was hesitant to mount the animals, unwilling
that they should be injured further.
Elrond nodded, “I know. It is apparent that they were ill-treated but
if we do not leave and now, I fear what may befall us.” He
glanced swiftly back the way they had come. “Whoever hunts you
has not given up.” He helped steady the elf prince as Aragorn
swung up onto Kynter’s broad back, reaching back down towards his
Legolas moaned softly as he seated himself before the ranger, his
weight resting against Aragorn’s chest. One of the human’s arms
slid gently around his waist holding him steady, while Estel’s right
hand carefully caught the elf’s forehead and pulled him back until he
rested against the ranger’s shoulder. He had no strength to
protest and the world swam sickeningly around him. As Kynter
slowly trotted off following Avornwen and Elrond, Legolas let his
fragile hold on consciousness slip and relaxed limply against
“Legolas?” Aragorn brushed the long unkempt blond hair away from
the elf’s face. “Legolas? Father I think he passed out.”
“It is well. If he has been treated only half as poorly as these
animals, we will be lucky. We cannot ride them far, they can not
carry our weight much longer.”
“Back towards the woods, there was a cave that way. It is large enough
to hold the horses, I found it while scouting out water; it is behind
the pool that gathered at the head of the small rivulet we
discovered.” Aragorn gently turned Kynter towards the wooded area
that butted up to the plains comprising northern Rohan.
With a nod, Elrond nudged Avornwen into a gentle gallop; his quick
hearing had picked up the sounds of the men behind them. “They
have discovered their slain friends. We must flee.” He glanced
over at his son, noting that the elf the young human held glowed
naturally in the dark night. “Estel, your cloak.”
Aragorn glanced down and caught the meaning of his father’s
words. The elderly elf had already dimmed the light that emanated
from him and pulled the hood of his cloak down over his head, shielding
himself from view. Shifting carefully Aragorn opened his own coat
and wrapped the edges of it around Legolas, to cover the glow that
emanated from the elf. Lowering his head until it rested near
Legolas’, the ranger let the large hood cover them both. They
could not risk being seen. In the shape they were in they would
not be able to outrun their enemies.
Night still held sway over the land as the elf and the human directed
the animals into the brightly lit interior of the cave Aragorn had
discovered the previous day. A warm fire sparked and burned
softly near the back of the cavern where Legolas lay deeply
asleep. Aragorn had tended to his wounds with the help of his
father and then they had seen to the horses. They cleaned the mud
from the animal’s hides and laved ointment on the cuts and scratches
that the horses had sustained from their cruel imprisonment.
The two animals stood near the entrance, watching the elves and the
human within, content to be back amongst the race that they trusted so
Aragorn dropped wearily down next to Legolas, his hand gently drifting
to the elf and checking the bandages that decorated his friend once
more. A deep frown marred his face as he pulled off his cloak and
draped it carefully over the sleeping form.
“Who would do this?” he asked quietly, his eyes not meeting the gaze of
his father, who sat on the opposite side of the fire. It was not
a question he expected a response to. The only one who could
still his curiosity lay sleeping beneath his overcoat. His heart
rested in the fact that Legolas still lived and that whatever the
tragedy he had seen in his dreams, perhaps it had been averted.
Elrond was not so sure. A deep sense of foreboding still obscured the
future, but he did not mention his fears to Estel. He had no answers
for his son’s questions. Standing from his resting place he
walked around the fire and seated himself next to the ranger.
“Get some rest, Estel. You will need it for tomorrow. I
think we will find all the answers to your questions then. And let us
hope that they are enough.” Elrond smiled at his son, shaking his
head at the human’s reluctance to sleep. “I will stand watch, and
Avornwen and Kynter are at the entrance. No one will bother us
With a small smile Aragorn stretched out on the ground behind his
father, his head near Legolas should the elf wake at all. Resting
his weary gaze on the dancing weaving pattern of the fire, he was
finally lulled to sleep.
Elrond gently brushed the hair back from the human’s face before
carefully draping a blanket over the sleeping ranger. He smiled
to himself. For now, at this moment everything was still and at
peace and he allowed himself to fully enjoy the calmness shutting out
the clamorings of the future and the worries of tomorrow. His
hand rested lightly on Aragorn’s shoulder, gently easing up as the man
moved slightly in his sleep. Perhaps they truly had come in time
and everything would work out well.